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Showing posts from 2014

Keeping Your Resolutions in Life and in Marketing

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With the new year upon us, it's time again to consider resolutions for the coming year. Unfortunately, most of us have a far easier time making resolutions than keeping them. Genuine lifestyle changes are difficult to achieve. If you're planning to make radical shifts in your daily life, consider the following:

Bite off small chunks at a time.

If you haven't run in over 30 years and are 40 pounds overweight, it's not reasonable to say you'll run a marathon by spring. Instead, set a goal of completing a mile a day for a certain number of weeks, then slowly increase your distance. Trying to get too much done too quickly can lead to burnout and discourage you from continuing.

Make the goals reasonable.

A person who's just learning to cook might never win a "top chef" competition, but that doesn't mean they won't be able to successfully cook a full Thanksgiving dinner. Set goals that are difficult enough to provide motivation and challenge, but ma…

What Preschoolers Can Teach Us About Marketing

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Anyone who's ever spent time with preschoolers in a classroom knows just how amazingly active the place can get. Children at this age are immensely curious about the world around them and work to absorb every bit of information they can. In their learning process, they not only start to understand their own situations, but also gain the tools needed to teach the rest of us some important lessons about marketing and running a business.

Be willing to try new things
Preschool is all about learning to try new things. Children who love to run around and get messy must learn to sit quietly and listen to a story, too. Children who want nothing more than to curl up on a bean bag chair and listen to book after book also have to learn how to engage in active play and run around. Preschool teachers understand that while we all have our strengths, to make true personal growth we must engage our weaknesses as well.

The same thing applies to your marketing. Perhaps you're great at develop…

The Rise of Big Data and Its Growing Importance in Marketing

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Big data has made quite an entrance into the world of marketing. Though it's largely been the playground of big brand names, many marketing professionals predict it will soon become an important piece of the marketing puzzle for companies of all sizes. Digital marketing has the power to produce an enormous amount of data about consumers and their spending habits, as well as what they seek. Companies that learn how to master this information to improve their marketing campaigns will be far better equipped to meet customer expectations and improve their bottom lines.

What big data can do for your company

With so many customers doing their shopping and research online, a nearly infinite amount of information can now be gathered on each potential lead. These details can provide you with clues to help you market your products more effectively and encourage visitors to convert into paying customers.

Why big data will become so critical

While the Internet has made it possible to work on …

Taking Your Keywords to the Next Level

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Keywords can be fantastic tools for attracting attention from potential customers. They help search engines 'tune into' your content and better match your pages to the queries people enter. Unfortunately, many companies use keywords at a very rudimentary level, failing to capitalize on what this simple optimization technique can do. Here are four ways you can easily improve the keywords you use on your website to bring in more visitors and increase your brand's visibility.

1. Use the language your customers use.

Select keywords based on the way your customers speak. Often there's a difference between how customers describe your industry and how you would describe it. Consider the types of jargon you and others in your industry commonly use when describing your products and services. Then compare that to how your customers tend to speak. If you sell a cloud-based service, for example, don't assume your customers know the latest tech language, especially if you marke…

Marketing Lessons from Shel Silverstein

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Shel Silverstein has taught generations of children lessons about life from his books of fun and goofy poems. People of all ages can appreciate his wit and what he has to say. As adults, it's easy to forget all those valuable words, but Shel Silverstein also has a number of lessons he can teach us about business and life. Here are four quotes from the famous poet that we should never forget as we begin to build and grow our businesses.

"Anything can happen, child. Anything can be."

This lesson can be very hard to remember in daily life. After all, most entrepreneurs have at least one force in their life telling them they're not going to succeed. Sometimes one of the most important lessons is learning to tune out the naysayers and finding the mental strength to succeed in the face of adversity. Form your dreams, identify your goals, and plot a way to get there.

"If the track is tough and the hill is rough, thinking you can just ain't enough."

Forging you…

3 Key Marketing Trends to Add to Your Strategy for the New Year

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Like many business leaders, you realize that digital marketing is here to stay. But you also know the marketing landscape is changing rapidly, which means that 2015 will bring many new ideas and necessities.

As you look back on your past year's marketing and start developing plans for the year ahead, now is the perfect time to review some of the expected trends for 2015, so you can begin incorporating them into your campaigns. Here are three trends to consider.

The art of personalization

Developing relationships with prospective customers and nudging them closer to conversion is certainly nothing new. We all know that customers appreciate companies who care about them on an individual basis and take the extra time to address their concerns.

In 2015, however, the idea of personalization will go from a 'nice extra' to a necessity. Consumers have started realizing they're in control of more of the buying experience. They'll continue to seek companies who are willin…

What Politicians Can Teach Us About Audiences

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The midterm elections may have wrapped up just a few weeks ago, but many are already turning their attention to 2016 and who may or may not make a run. In living rooms across America, people are letting out a collective sigh, knowing that when the next political season begins, they'll be bombarded once again with advertisements trying to convince them that one candidate or another has the experience and ideas necessary to take the country in the right direction.

While it's easy to grow weary of political advertising, if you ever stop and just focus on the message, instead of the politics involved, political candidates can actually teach us all a few things about marketing.

Politicians understand their audience

Successful politicians are master marketers. They construct narratives, brand stories, and reputations, and they work to inspire loyalty and admiration. But one of their most intriguing campaign techniques is the art of tailoring their message to the audience they'r…

5 Tips for Developing Content That Will Resonate With Your Audience

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When developing content for your website and marketing materials, you want to create pieces that will resonate with your audience. This will encourage them to read what you've produced, share it on social media and with friends, and -- most importantly -- remember what you said. Strong content will enhance brand loyalty and improve the success of your entire marketing campaign. Here are five tips to help you create more meaningful content.

Analyze your buyer personas

Buyer personas exist to give you insight into the people you're trying to reach, so use them to produce the best types of content. Gather information such as:
the challenges your customers are facing
circumstances that prevent them from buying
their budget
their goals
This type of information should give you clear guidelines about the kinds of content these people will pay attention to. If you don't know the answers to these questions, interview your existing customers and take surveys of your target population.

Loo…

What We Can Learn From Children Learning to Play Together

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Imagine a preschool classroom filled with three- and four-year-old kids, each eager to play with a certain toy firetruck. The disagreements over whose turn it is quickly draw the attention of the teacher, who is immediately inundated with different versions of the story. According to one student, it's her turn because one of the little boys in the class has been playing with it "all afternoon." The little boy counters with, "No, I haven't! And besides, you'll just break it anyway!"

The teacher sits down and attempts for the hundredth time to teach her students about the virtues of sharing. She explains that by sharing the toys, the children will be able to develop much more elaborate games and have a lot more fun. Playing together will give them a chance to explore new ideas, create new characters, and have all sorts of adventures with the firetruck. She is only partly successful.

In an effort to maintain the peace in the small classroom and reinforce…

5 Metrics You Should Measure in Every Marketing Campaign

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Measuring your marketing campaigns is the best way to determine the success of your efforts. Without accurate measurements, it's easy to be misled by regular market fluctuations or emotions. A few key areas can help you gain important insights into how your campaigns are performing and where they can be improved. Here are five metrics you should use in every marketing campaign, no matter how small it might be.

Where your traffic's coming from

It's important to measure your rate of traffic and know where your visitors are coming from. Identifying how many people click on your ads, follow links from other sites, or find you through search engines will make it easier to identify what aspects of your digital strategy are having the most success and which ones need more work. This data will also give you a better idea about what keywords and offers are the most attractive for customers, so you know which ones need the most attention.

Similarly, with mobile devices representing…

What We Can Learn From Writing Holiday Wish Lists

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As the holiday season approaches, children across the country will sit down with paper and crayon in hand to spell out exactly what they hope to get during the upcoming festivities. This year, Frozen-themed toys are likely to top many lists, as are the latest video games, some popular action figures, and other toys that have been flying off the shelves. Many children will compare notes with their friends at school to get ideas about what to ask for and to see what's already on other people's lists.

This sharing of ideas is an example of the psychological phenomenon known as 'the bandwagon effect.' From the activity of writing a Christmas list itself, to the toys that appear on it, children are influenced by what their peers are doing. This principle impacts all of us, no matter how old we are or what the subject matter is. Regardless of how independent we'd like to think we are, the truth is we're all heavily influenced by what our peers are doing.

According …

How Much Personality Should You Add to Your Company Blog?

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Many businesses struggle with the value of adding personality to their professional blogs. You might have heard that customers like to get to know the people behind the company brand to help build those crucial relationships, but you've also heard that blogs are supposed to be centered around building value for your customers. How are you supposed to reconcile these two seemingly opposing ideas?

Balancing your blog

Your blog should really be doing both. The key is learning to balance the blog. The primary focus of your blog should always be providing value to your visitors. These are the posts that are most likely to bring new visitors to your site, answer their questions, and convince them that you're an authority worth their attention. In general, you want about 75 percent of your blog posts to fall into this category.

There are some visitors, however, who read your blog because they've gotten to know your company. They already know they can trust your judgment, so they…

How to Fix Your Call To Action

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Your call to action, or CTA, is easily one of the most important parts of your website. It's where you find new leads and convince your audience you offer something worth exploring. Whether your CTA invites people to sign up for a newsletter or download your latest ebook, all CTAs are not created the same. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when developing this critical part of the website.

The words

The words on your CTA are critical. Most people will be skimming it, so it's important to make your offer's potential value obvious to everyone who sees it. Use precise, clear language that explains what customers are going to receive. Bullet points are fantastic because they're particularly easy to skim and tell the audience exactly what they're going to receive.

The words you use in your CTA should also line up with the text around it. For example, if you offer home cleaning services and are offering a free download on the safest cleaners to use around …

Finding Your Crowd... On Social Media

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Imagine you just moved to a new area. It's a small city with a bustling population. The local college attracts many young adults to the city, especially on the weekends, while local businesses ensure the professional crowd is also well represented.

Being new to the area, you want to find a place to go for dinner where you can meet some locals and start to get to know your new neighbors. Friday afternoon, you head into the first restaurant. It's bustling with activity and has great music, but at a volume so loud you can barely hear yourself think. You look around and realize that the crowd is mostly college kids. Surely, some of them are great people, but this isn't really the crowd you're looking to get to know. You might make a connection or two, but it will likely be significantly harder to form meaningful relationships.

So, you head out to the second restaurant. As you walk in, hardly anyone looks up. Most people seem to already be finishing their dinner, and the …

Just What the Teacher Ordered: The Business-Building Benefit Marketing Reports Provide

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By the time most of us graduated from high school, we were well acquainted with researching, writing, and editing reports. College often meant more of the same.

While few would list report writing as a "highlight" of their academic career, those hours spent compiling reports were not spent in vain. Sure, report writing helped many of us learn how to plan out a project and conduct research, but they also taught us a bit about the topics we were researching, too. By forcing us to look in depth at the various subjects we were studying and analyze them from a number of different angles, we gained a far better comprehension of the subject matter than we might have if we had just read the textbook.

It's important to remember those benefits, especially when it comes to marketing your company.

How marketing reports are like your old school reports

Like their high school and college counterparts, marketing reports can also feel frustrating. People often view such assignments as…

Designing a Landing Page that Converts Customers

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Landing pages are a fantastic way to convert leads into customers. A potential customer sees something that interests them. They click your call to action link or scan a QR code on an advertisement and end up on a page specifically designed to convert them. So how do you maximize the potential of your landing page?

Make the value immediately relevant

Landing pages are typically created to entice potential customers who have seen something of interest. When people arrive at the landing page, you want to capture their attention by showing them immediately the value you have to offer. Use a short paragraph or a bulleted list to outline exactly what the customer can hope to receive from you.

To make the value even more obvious, include positive customer reviews regarding the product or information you're offering. A line or two of customer recommendations at the bottom of the page will help boost sales, as prospects will feel encouraged to join the group of already satisfied customer…

3 Marketing Lessons Netflix Has Taught Us

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Over the past few years, Netflix has revolutionized how people think about television and movies. As people have become increasingly disenchanted with cable options and the price of TV, Netflix has risen to become a major entertainment provider. Recently, the service has even begun producing movies and shows of its own. Whether you subscribe to Netflix yourself or know someone who does, here are some valuable Netflix-inspired lessons to consider for your company.

Research, research, research

We know it's important to research our potential audience and customers, but Netflix has taken that research to a whole new level. Just consider the research that came with the company's production of its own original shows. Netflix researched everything from viewing habits to actor popularity to the types of shows and movies people like in order to create the perfect recipe for success.

Conversely, Netflix has also shown us the importance of research with its hiccup a few years ago when …

Never Underestimate the Importance of Customer Satisfaction

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Customer satisfaction is essential to any company's growth. When you meet or exceed a customer's expectations, they can do wondrous things for your reputation and even give you free advertising by recommending you to others. However, if you fail to meet their expectations, you'll likely never see them again. In fact, they might even complain about their experience on public forums, such as social media.

The value of customer satisfaction

According to Bain & Company, it costs 6 to 7 times more to find a new customer than to keep an existing one. Holding on to old customers and building customer loyalty gives you the chance to improve the bottom line drastically compared to a mindset that focuses exclusively on finding new customers.

Satisfied customers can also be fantastic brand advertisers. In the age of digital media, both complaints and compliments can go viral. A customer who takes to Twitter to speak about a poor customer experience can influence untold numbers …

Improve Your Integrated Marketing Campaign in 3 Easy Steps

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Integrated marketing campaigns give companies the chance to reach their potential customers on a number of different platforms. A well-orchestrated campaign branches out across several platforms to reach the target audience wherever they might be found. Not all integrated marketing campaigns are created equally, however. Here are three steps you can take to start maximizing the benefits you receive from your integrated campaigns.

Step 1: Create a specialized landing page

Your integrated marketing campaign is aimed at bringing people from a variety of platforms and sources to your company website. Rather than just bringing them to your homepage or service page, however, create a specialized landing page that will directly speak to these visitors based on what they learned about your company through the advertisement.

A quality landing page will have certain characteristics, including clear, concise information about the value the customer is receiving and an easy-to-use form to fill o…

Maximizing Your Use 4 Top Social Media Platforms

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If you don't use social media personally, it can seem difficult to understand why it's such an important aspect of digital marketing. You might be tempted to think, "Well, Facebook is the biggest of the social media platforms, so maybe I should just post everything on there in the hopes of reaching the most people." What you need to realize, however, is that social media is not just a publication service. It's a community.

While there is overlap, different platforms are known for attracting different people and different types of conversation. You're not going to have much luck unless you understand the crowd each one attracts. Here's a quick breakdown of the top four social sites -- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ -- to help you get a feel for each platform and how to connect with customers on them.

Facebook
Facebook is easily the largest platform with an estimated 1.3 billion users. The site is known for being the perfect place for users to d…

Finding Your Position on the Field

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The 2002 movie The Rookie focuses on Jim Morris, a high school science teacher who managed to play major league baseball long after what most athletes would consider their prime. It's an entertaining feature and stays impressively close to the real-life story of Morris, who pitched in the major leagues from 1999 to 2000.

The audience learns at the opening of the movie that this father and high school science teacher had always loved the game of baseball. He had excelled at it during his youth, but due to various circumstances, he had to give it up before be was able to play in the big leagues.

While coaching his high school baseball team, Morris makes a bet with his team that if they can win their championship, he will try out once again for a professional team. During tryouts, he manages to amaze everyone with a fastball that falls just shy of 100 mph. This paves the way for his triumphs.

The Rookie is definitely a "feel good" movie. It's the type of film that mot…

Keeping the Ship Afloat . . . In Business

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We've all heard the expression "keeping the ship afloat." Anyone who has ever spent time on an actual ship knows that keeping a boat afloat and getting it to the intended destination is no easy task. Ships of all sizes require a considerable amount of work from everyone on board, and we in business can learn a great deal from these professionals when it comes to keeping our own companies running and moving in the right direction.

The importance of clear leadership

Ships are not democracies. A captain always leads the ship's crew and directs activities on board. Captains have considerable experience sailing ships and know what needs to be done to make the trip a success. Their ability to see the larger picture lets them direct their subordinates. They don't waffle in making decisions and have confidence in their abilities.

Like any good leader, however, a captain also willingly listen. Captains will take advice from their advisers in certain situations, and then …

How Does Email Fit Into a Modern Marketing Strategy?

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Given that most people despise spam email, it can be difficult to see how email can fit into a successful marketing strategy. Isn't blasting potential customers with email part of the old, outdated marketing system that's now viewed as ineffective?

Yes, and no.

Yes -- when you send potential customers unsolicited emails, especially using email lists you purchase from a provider.

No -- when your email messages are used purposefully as a means of initiating conversation with your leads and helping them along the sales process.

The truth is that more than 3/4 of your customers prefer to receive marketing communications by email compared to other methods. It's also true that 95 percent of online customers use email, with the vast majority of them checking their email at least once a day. When used properly, email can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with your customers reliably and consistently. Here's what you should keep in mind to make sure you're getting t…

Business Lessons From the Wizard of Oz

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The Wizard of Oz is an exciting tale that has delighted people for several generations. When young Dorothy is magically transported from her home to the magical land of Oz, she and her companions must outsmart witches and other dangers in an effort to find the famed Wizard of Oz, who they believe can help her find her way home and grant her companions gifts of their own. Upon finally finding the wizard, however, they learn that he is not some great and powerful wizard after all. Instead, he's just an ordinary man behind a curtain, projecting his voice and image to appear to be a magical being. Still, in the end, Dorothy does learn how to get back home.

The Wizard of Oz and Business

There are two key lessons we as business leaders can learn from the wizard. In one situation, he's an excellent example of what we should do. In the other, he does the exact opposite of what would be appropriate in the business world.

What the wizard gets right

In Oz, the wizard regularly projects h…

Are You Using Keywords Correctly

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When it comes to search engine optimization, few topics are as popular as the use of keywords. To hear some people describe it, keywords are the secret to success; if you just use specific keywords in your text enough, people will flock to your website. But think about the last time you read something that was clearly "keyword stuffed." It probably sounded awkward, unnatural, and a bit forced, didn't it? You probably didn't take the information or the website too seriously. Fortunately, it is possible to use keywords effectively to entice visitors, give them confidence they've found a good source of information, and still sound completely natural.

Selecting the keywords

When choosing keywords, think about the words customers are commonly searching for online. Monitor the number of searches that are done for different keywords, and then choose a few you'd like to target. These should be keywords directly related to your business, so you can use them naturally …

Building a Championship Team at Work

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Postseason baseball is in full swing. After six months and 162 games, only a handful of teams have earned a chance at becoming World Series champions.

Putting together a championship-quality roster is no easy task. Tryouts, trades, drafts, and injuries all play a part in the process. Teams must find the right mix of players who can bat, pitch, and field. Just as importantly, though, they must consider team chemistry, too. Is everyone playing together? Are internal rivalries or personality clashes going to get in the way of a cohesive unit? Can those clashes be overcome for the sake of success? In the end, it often takes experience to get it just right.

What businesses can learn from baseball

When you set out to select members for your own professional team -- your business -- you must give it as much thought as a baseball coach and general manager. Sure, you should carefully review resumes and interview candidates, but in doing so, try to avoid the temptation to simply fill a role, …

How Football Can Help Us Build and Grow Our Business

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With football season now in full swing, fans across the country are watching their favorite teams fight for a shot at postseason glory. Football is a sport that requires athletic prowess, analytical skill, and a considerable amount of strategizing. As such, there are many lessons we can apply to the business world. Here are just a few to consider.

Study the competition

Football teams are known for their intense studies of opposing teams. Coaches and players alike will spend hours analyzing footage from past games to get a feel for how their opponents work together, what plays they go to frequently, and what strengths and weaknesses they bring to the field. They use this information to develop their own strategies and to see where their opportunities lie.

As business leaders, we should do the same. It's not enough to just occasionally glance at the websites of the competition. Instead, we should be analyzing their moves, seeing what works for them and what doesn't, discovering…