5 Ways to Captivate Customers with Storytelling

Today’s guest post is from Corey Pemberton – Enjoy! 

Small businesses can’t match the marketing budgets of mega-corporations like Apple or Coca-Cola.

But maybe they don’t have to. They have another weapon in their arsenal that can help them level the playing field and stand out from competitors: storytelling.

Everyone has a story to tell

My Life Through Photograpy via Photopin.com

You can use storytelling to get your target customers’ attention and resonate with them on an emotional level. It works in every niche because it relies on human psychology instead of gimmicks.

Here are five ways to tap into the incredible power of storytelling to captivate customers:

5. Choose the Right Protagonist

Most businesses have spent a lot of time and money developing quality products or services. They’re understandably proud of what they’ve created. This creates a tendency to discuss what they’re selling at length.

But potential customers aren’t interested in your product or service taking center stage. They’re only interested in hearing about what you’re selling in a limited context: what it can do for them.

Choose the customer as the hero instead. Framing the story from their perspective helps you focus on what’s most compelling. It’s relatable because your marketing starts to sound exactly like the conversations already taking place in their heads.

4. Set High Stakes

Worrying about Middle Earth keeps us reading The Lord of the Rings. We keep watching The Devil Wears Prada to see if Anne Hathaway will ever stop suffering at the hands of her crazy boss.

Your agonizing decision between a ham or turkey sandwich, on the other hand, probably isn’t compelling enough to keep people interested. The stakes aren’t high enough.

A lot of your ideal customers are in a comfort zone of non-action. Many don’t even realize how much better their lives could be with your product or service in them.

What would happen if the “heroes” of your marketing stories don’t become customers? What if they do?

Make the stakes clear, and spell them out early on. By doing so, you give people a reason to keep listening—and encourage more to become buyers.

3. Appeal to Multiple Senses

Great storytellers pepper their stories with sensory details that spark the imagination; we feel like we’re really there, right in the middle of the action.

You can do this with your marketing too. Invoking the five senses paints a mental picture in people’s minds and gets them receptive to what you have to say.

A lot of businesses get bogged down marketing on strictly a logical level. That has a time and place, but it can bore people to tears if you don’t create an emotional connection first.

Use descriptive language and imagery to get your target customers seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, and tasting how different their lives would be with your product or service. Then support that with logical selling points like features and technical specifications.

2. Start in the Middle of the Action

Do you think Saving Private Ryan would have been better if it started with a thirty-minute introduction about the history of the Third Reich?

Me neither. The movie grabs you from the start by dropping you right in the middle of the action: soldiers storming the Normandy beaches.

You have only a few seconds to capture someone’s interest. If you don’t, they’ll find one of your competitors instead.

What do your customers care about the most? What keeps them up at night? Lead with your strongest points—ones that shake them on an emotional level.

1. Begin with the End in Mind

Ask a lot of small business owners about their marketing goals, and they’ll fill your ears with warm and fuzzy answers like “repeat exposure” and “brand awareness.”

Those answers might work for corporations with huge marketing budgets. But they aren’t helpful for smaller businesses looking for an immediate return on investment.

It helps to start with the end in mind. For every marketing material you create, what concrete action do you want someone to take after engaging with it? It could be joining your email list, scheduling a consultation, trying your software, etc.

Understanding where you’re going, hones your focus; it keeps you from rambling and losing valuable attention.

So, how do you use storytelling in your marketing strategy?
corey pemberton duct tape marketingCorey Pemberton is a copywriter and blogger for hire. He uses storytelling strategies to help small businesses and software startups get more leads and customers online. Feel free to stop by his website or say hello on Twitter.

 

 

 

How to Incorporate Quizzes To Amp Up Your Content Marketing Reach

When you put together your annual content marketing strategy, you may not have incorporated quizzes — and that’s okay. However, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to update your content calendar with a quiz or two, because they are easy to put together using quiz software, and they generally require no help from your development team.

Where Does a Quiz Fit Into My Strategy? 

Before you decide which channels to promote your quiz, you should ask yourself, “What is my number one goal for this quiz?” 

In some cases, your top goal may be to drive a bunch of social traffic. Conservative website Media Research Center saw immediate success with their first two quizzes, resulting in nearly 100,000-page views between the two of them. The first one, “7 Questions All Marine Corps Fans Should Be Able To Answer“, has been taken more than 65,000 times, and the second one, “12 Simple American History Questions All Patriots Should Be Able To Answer“, has been taken 127,000 times.

In other situations, your goal should be to  convert existing visitors on your website into email subscribers or customers. In that case, placing the quiz on your homepage or a very popular page on your site makes a lot of sense.

For example, Zenni Optical placed a quiz on their site helping consumers decide which eyeglass frames were best suited for their specific budget and lifestyle. Over 140,000 people took the quiz resulting in 7,000 new email subscribers and a $124,000 increase in revenue! 

Zenni Optical

And Zenni Optical isn’t alone. When online collectibles retailer Sideshow Collectibles wanted to increase awareness for their Court of the Dead brand of collectibles, they decided to run a quiz. For their campaign, they created a quiz that invited fans to discover which fictional character from Court of the Dead best represented them.

Court of the Dead

The results? The quiz was taken over 27,000 times, brought in 15,000 new email subscriptions and generated 1,800 orders delivering $75,000 in revenue! Of those 1,800 orders, 1,220 were first-time customers! 

How to Make a Quiz Go Viral 

The recipe for making a quiz go viral may not be as complex as you think. Here are the ingredients you must have to make it work:

  • The quiz must be relevant to the audience. A quiz like, “Which season best represents you?” may not be the best way to promote your shoe company. You could instead ask a very relevant question such as “Which shoe represents your personal style?” Keep it relevant and simple.
  • There should be an incentive for taking the quiz. When Court of the Dead ran their quiz campaign, they offered a coupon and guaranteed entry into a giveaway. Keep in mind that not every incentive needs to be monetary. For example, if you’re a university looking to generate email leads for your English degree program, you can put together a grammar quiz and have your participants share the results for bragging rights. After all, being able to brag about your intelligence is a big incentive for many people.
  • The quiz must be user-friendly and mobile-friendly. One of the key elements for getting a quiz to go viral is to make it easy to take. Moving through the questions should be effortless and quick — on both desktops and mobile devices. Qzzr, a quiz software company, reports that roughly 53% of all quizzes being taken are on mobile devices! Don’t miss out on this big piece of the pie! Also, make sure the quiz is easy to share. Offer buttons for users to share on Facebook, Twitter, etc. once they reach the results page.
  • You must ensure people take the quiz. “If you build it they will come” is an outdated concept. The competition for your audience’s attention is too big to ignore. The burden to make your quiz campaign successful rests with you. Placing the quiz in a high traffic channel is the number one step towards generating desirable results. This may mean your homepage, your social media channels or even spending money building Facebook ads to direct traffic to the quiz.

The quickest way to fail is to not recognize a quiz campaign as a true marketing tactic. Similar to all of your other content, you must promote your quiz campaign and drive traffic to it. When you follow these steps, quizzes will become a staple of your content calendar for years to come.

Chris Kilbourn 1Chris Kilbourn is a content strategist at Qzzr, an online quiz tool that allows you to create quizzes and post them anywhere. In past lives, he was a professional rock star (seriously), and he built and sold 2 successful companies from the ground up. You can connect with him via email at [email protected].

5 Content Metrics Every Marketer Needs to Analyze

Today’s guest post comes from Campbell Macdonald – Enjoy!

Nearly every marketing initiative involves a healthy dose of trial and error; it’s the only way to know what works and which areas need improvement. But without the right information guiding your content decisions — or none at all — you could seriously derail your content marketing strategy. small_4291948239

Still, many B2B marketers rely on assumptions to inform their content decisions. In fact, Content Marketing Institute found that only 21 percent of B2B marketers say they’re successful at measuring ROI. Resorting to biased, faulty data not only blinds you to what readers really want, but also drains your time and resources.

Your content marketing strategy should be fluid, iterative, and evolving based on the insights you discover from a comprehensive performance analysis. It takes time to manually sort through specific data points and information to extract key insights that drive business results, so knowing where to look is critical.

To understand how well your content marketing strategy is performing from an objective perspective, you need to analyze these five metrics:

  1. Social: The number of social shares your content receives gives you an idea of how valuable it is to your audience. If they share it with their networks, then they found something truly useful that advances the conversation.
  2. Traffic: An effective content strategy helps boost traffic over time. Tracking unique visitors per day, week, and month for each post gives marketers a baseline for success and month-over-month growth.
  3. Conversion rate: Measuring how many readers took a tangible action is a telling indicator of success. Actions such as downloading gated content, signing up for a webinar, or purchasing from your e-commerce site advance leads through the buyer’s journey. Always ask, “What can my team do to increase engagement and conversions through content?”
  4. Leads: Lead generation and qualification are two key aspects of the conversion rate. By tracking leads as they move through the funnel, you can deliver more targeted content that expedites the sales process. A common practice is to start with lightweight, educational content for top-of-the-funnel readers before offering in-depth articles and webinars that engage more qualified prospects to move deeper into the conversion process.
  5. Team performance: Measuring the performance of individual content creators on your team can also reveal key insights into effective content creation. You can evaluate whose content drove the most leads, shares, or conversions, then analyze their creative process to determine best practices that your team can implement. Most importantly, you can recognize the value that content creators bring to your organization.

To put these metrics into perspective, look at Bizible and how it assesses its blog’s impact on the business. The company wanted to understand exactly what drove viewership of content, so it looked at blog posts’ performance, including page views, social shares, time spent on the page, leads, and revenue. It uses the framework from successful posts to guide editorial decisions and produce content that converts.

For example, Bizible’s strongest-performing post shared data from its LinkedIn Ads campaigns. It started a conversation with the company’s target readers and shared tips, wishes, and tactics based on its experience with paid social. The company experimented so readers didn’t have to, and sharing this data was a meaningful way to add value and incite click-throughs.

When done right, measuring content performance can accelerate your business objectives. Having the ability to definitively know what performs and recognize employees who drove real business revenue is also a great way to boost morale and foster a little positive competitive spirit.

Content marketing is a powerful way to increase brand awareness and drive sales. By using reliable performance metrics to make decisions, you can capitalize on viable opportunities for growth.

FINAL-CAMPBELL-HEADSHOTCampbell Macdonald is the founder and CEO of Pathful, an analytics tool that helps content marketers get the information they need to increase sales conversions. Since founding Pathful in 2012, Campbell has revolutionized content marketers’ ability to understand how consumers engage and interact with their website at every step of the sales funnel. Previously, Campbell founded several other startups, including Own Your Deal, Parking Mobility, and Thick Solutions, and has a background in product development and management. He currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Social Media Marketing This Year

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from our newest team member – Alex Boyer– Enjoy!

photo credit: shutterstock

You have always been told your business needs a presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but you have yet to see tangible results. Don’t give up! Here are five simple steps to kick-start your social media this year.

Set a Goal

You should set a basic goal for your social media activities for the year. This can be something simple like “increase participation in specials or sales,” “interact with existing customers and strengthen brand loyalty,” or something more complex like “Create a personality for your brand.” Every social media post for the year should in some way help you achieve that goal.

For example, take two popular restaurants in the Kansas City area: Grunauer (@grunauerKC) and Blanc Burgers and Bottles (@BlancBurgers). Blanc uses social media to remind their customers of daily and nightly specials, and release photos of new burger creations. Gurnauer forgoes the daily specials and instead uses their Twitter account to create personality for the restaurant, cheering for local sports teams and commenting on news stories. Both restaurants have significant social media following and every post from both fulfill their respective goals.

Draft a plan

Now that you have a goal to achieve, it is time to draft a plan for your social media year. You should start by creating an editorial calendar. Use your calendar to list your yearly sales events, local events (such as high-profile concerts or local festivals) and holidays. Keep an eye out for obscure holidays like “Talk like a pirate day” or “National Cheeseburger day,” as these are very popular on social media. You can even pre-draft social media posts for each of these events for use later.  If you ever reach a point in the year where you don’t know what to post, use this calendar for ideas.

You can even use the editorial calendar to plan “messages of the week,” content themes that you can use for a week or month at a time. For example, you can have your blog posts for a month focus on sales strategy. That way, you have a uniform starting point for each of your posts.

Social Specials

Give your customers a reason to interact with your social media by giving them “Social Specials”. These can include giveaways or discounts in store. Ask your fans to “Like this post for 10% off this week” or “Retweet for a chance to win.” In the case of discounts, you can even ask customers who come into your storefront if they have social media, and then tell them they can get a discount if they like your page. This will not only expand your social media following, but also engage users that are already customers. Plus, posting promotions on social media is cheaper than printing coupons in the newspaper.

Create a Dialogue

Social media platforms shouldn’t be used simply to distribute your messages, they should be a 2-way street between you and your customers. Use Twitter, Facebook, and your blog as a customer service tool as well. Allow your customers to come to you with their complaints, and address them promptly. Also, thank supporters for their kind words and share their positive reviews.  This gives your customers reason to interact with your social media pages, and creates a sense of community around your company.

Never Stop Creating Content

Finally, the most important step to getting the most out of your social media is to create content. You need to continue to create engaging, exciting content to draw new fans and keep your current fans’ attention.  You cannot forget about social media and must post regularly. The steps above should help you keep a steady flow of content for your supporters, but it is ultimately up to you and your team to keep executing. Your social media following cannot grow without content.

Social media marketing should be an important part of your marketing plan. Follow these five simple steps, and your social media presence is sure to grow over the next year.


Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. It is his job to create and scour the internet for the best content for small businesses. In addition, he will continue to grow the Duct Tape Marketing community through interaction with clients and consultants in the Duct Tape Consultant Network on our website and through Social Media. Alex has a background in political marketing, where in-depth opposition and messaging research is critical to a successful campaign. He is focused on taking those tactics and using them to help your small business grow and reach more potential customers.

How to Promote Every Piece of Content You Create

You’ve written a series of useful blog posts and done everything you’ve told to optimize that content for your most important keyword phrases. Now it’s time to post it to your social media profiles and sit back and enjoy the rush of traffic.

Several years ago this scenario may have been true, but today content marketing has become so competitive that you must include significant promotion as a core element of your editorial process.

Buffer Scheduler

Yes, of course, tweet your blog posts several times (I love using the Buffer Scheduler as you can add a tweet now, in 10 hours, in a day and in a week all at the same time.) Add Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ posts that highlight why someone might want to read your posts and then go to work on getting your posts in front of other people’s targeted audiences.

When we build content plans for our clients today we always include what we call an influencer program that over time can help us significantly increase the reach, traffic, engagement and leads from the content our clients produce.

Below are five steps we take in building an influencer program

Find Influencers

Step one, of course, is to find the Influencers we want to target. By Influencer, we loosely mean other content producers in our chosen industry who we believe to have a following in our ideal client pool.

There are a variety of tools you can employ to find such folks. Currently, I’m quite fond of BuzzSumo’s influence ranking tool but I also employ Topsy and Followerwonk to help validate and expand my list of potential partners. (Inkybee and BlogDash offer powerful paid plans as well.)

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo shows me what kind of content Jim Connely – a small business influencer – shares so I can know what he reads and where he likes to get his information.

Segment Influencers by customer persona

Next we build a spreadsheet of influencers segmented by our client’s differing market segments or personas. Many businesses seek to gain influence with different levels of stakeholders. For example, a company might need to interact with the CFO and the purchasing agent, and we need to create profiles of influencers for both. This is true as well for businesses that serve significantly different industries of market demographics.

We add as much social information as possible to the spreadsheet as well as relevant notes. This process can be automated to some extent using a CRM with unified communications and social built in. Tools like Nimble are very powerful for this purpose.

Build relationships first

Now that have our list we go to work on building relationships. We never pitch story ideas or ask for links or tweets until we’ve established relationship based on value. One of the first things we do in most cases is to follow every member on our list by putting them in Twitter lists and Google+ Circles. We also subscribe to their blog feed using Feedly, as well as their newsletters and other forms of content. Obviously if you want to build a relationship you must take the time to get to know their content habits, behaviors, and needs.

Next we begin the practice of sharing their content with our follower, posting relevant and useful comments on their content and, where appropriate, featuring their content in our own blog posts, emails, and newsletters.

All of this effort is aimed at gaining some recognition and building a relationship based on mutual content goals. At this point, we may reach out and directly share something that we think they might find extremely relevant – hopefully something they might want to blog about or use as a data point in an upcoming post.

Add guest blogging to your editorial plan

In addition to our targeted Influencers, we also build a list of potential guest blog post opportunities. We are looking both for places that we can post and potential writers that may have great content to share on our blog. The reason this is such an important element is that we can often find blogs that won’t respond to covering some topic, but would love a well thought out blog post.

In addition, when we add guest posts to the mix of content on our own blog we often find that our content is more diverse and we start to build relationships with bloggers who wish to promote their content featured on our site. Of course, we also vigorously promote our guest posts run on other blogs.

You may find there is some cross over here from your influencer list, but we also use keyword searches on BuzzSumo and Topsy adding the term “guest post” to help build our guest post plan.

TopsySearching Topsy to turn up guest post possibilities for my chosen topic.

Expand with strategic partnerships

Finally, we look to blow up one or two significant pieces of content every so often. We’ve found that one of the best ways to do this is through collaboration and cobranding.

Our first approach is to take an eBook, tip sheet or case study and offer to let a strategic partner or Influencer cobrand the already proven content to share with their audience. This often allows us to gain introduction to large groups of prospects and is welcomed by partners who know they should be producing more content.

Another approach is to jointly create a long form post, infographic of even eBook with a strategic partner. Quite often one partner may have big data to share while another wants to showcase their killer graphic design skills and collaboration creates an impressive end product that just may get picked up by numerous blogs and influencers as you co-promote with your partner or partners.

Yes, content marketing is work, but it is the most effective way to generate leads for any business that wants to compete on expertise and authority rather than price.

How and Why to Conduct a Meaningful Content Audit

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Liz O’Neil Dennison – Enjoy!

Content AuditYou’ve probably heard that a content audit is essential for driving engagement and revenue with content. But what is it, exactly? Why do you need one? And how do you do begin to tackle such a laborious task?

Read on.

What Is a Content Audit?

A content audit is a qualitative analysis of all the content your company has ever published online. It exposes where your content actually lives, how it’s performing, and where the thematic gaps are.

Before you can audit your content, you need to create a content inventory, a comprehensive list of the name, location, and description of each asset published by your brand.

Why Conduct a Content Audit?

If you don’t know what content you have, and how it’s performing, you can’t improve. The key to driving more leads, traffic and revenue through your content marketing is by identifying holes in your content deliverables.

With the content audit, you can understand which buyer personas and buying stages are poorly resourced, find and share content internally, access historical performance data, and identify what content should be archived or removed entirely.

Despite the clear values of the content audit, very few marketers actually conduct one. That’s because auditing content is a notoriously painful process. It can take weeks, or even months, to find, analyze, and document each asset your company has ever published online. But it doesn’t have to.

How to Conduct a Content Audit without Pulling Your Hair Out

Auditing your content isn’t rocket science. But there are critical steps all marketers must take to ensure their audit will be actually be useful. Here are the top five:

Step 1. Create Your Inventory

Before analyzing your content, you need a comprehensive list of it. Perform an inventory of all of your content across all of your brand domains, including social. If you’re going about this manually, document the name, URL, and description of each content asset in a spreadsheet.

If you have a significant body of content to manage, you’re better off just typing your brand URLs into a tool like The Content Auditor, which will automate this inventory process for you.

Step 2. Identify What Content Categories Matter Most

Get the most out of your audit by understanding what content categories are most important, both internally and externally. Your audit should provide a map of those attributes across your entire content library so you can see where the holes are.

For example, tagging content to buyer personas allows you to see what personas you’re ignoring. Tagging content to your buying cycle tells you if you need to dedicate more resources to building top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, or bottom-of-funnel content. Common content categories to tag include:

  • Author
  • Publish date
  • Persona
  • Buying Stage
  • Theme
  • Buyer-centric or product-centric
  • Product line
  • Blog category
  • Keywords
  • Content type
  • Competitor
  • Primary call to action
  • Content pillar
  • Social shares
  • Comments
  • Redundant, outdated, or trivial (ROT)

Include these categories in your excel spreadsheet and tag each asset appropriately or, if you’re using an automated tool, scroll through your online inventory to tag content.

Step 3. Map Your Content

When you’ve tagged all of your assets, you’ll end up with a pretty cool content map. You’ll be able to see which personas, buying stages, and themes you’re serving with content, and where you need to step up.

Sift through your content map and identify where the holes are. Then, brainstorm easy ways you can fill those gaps. Perhaps there’s a whitepaper or eBook you can repurpose to serve a different audience. Or you can plan to ramp up your social promotion to feed the top of your sales funnel.

Content Audit

photo creditcontentauditor.com

Step 4. Analyze the Performance of Your Content

What content is performing well, and what isn’t? Your audit should include key content KPIs so you can see what themes, content types, and messages are resonating with your target audience.

Track metrics like social shares, traffic, leads, and revenue. And align your findings around four key areas: production, engagement, performance, and content scoring. This way, you can make informed decisions about future content marketing efforts.

Step 5: Present Your Findings

Once you map your content through your audit, present your findings in a coherent way.

Don’t just include the data from your audit. Suggest what that data means for your company’s future marketing strategy.

Expose the content holes in your major themes, personas, and buying stages. Suggest how you’ll fill these gaps by repurposing existing content, archiving or removing irrelevant content, and producing more of the kinds of content that have proved successful. Propose new processes to support these changes.

Get Auditing

You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you are. And with tools like The Content Auditor, marketers no longer have an excuse for avoiding what Rebecca Lieb calls “the cornerstone of content strategy.” What you don’t know can kill you. Stop living in the dark, and get auditing.

Content Audit AuthorAbout Liz O’Neil Dennison – Liz is content marketing manager at Kapost, a software that allows marketers to develop, manage, distribute and analyze their content from one place. Prior to Kapost, she advised big brands like AT&T on their content strategy at Location3 Media, a digital marketing agency. And before that, she spearheaded global marketing campaigns for ONE, an anti-poverty advocacy organization co-founded by Bono. She loves beekeeping, running and exploring the mountains with her dog. Follow her at @lizkoneill

Be Everywhere: Connecting Social Media to the Real World

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jeremy Miller – Enjoy!

duct-tape-be-everywhere

photo credit: flickr

Social media is a powerful set of tools for marketers to connect with prospects and clients, but social media has its limitations.

Not all of your customers are active on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And not all of your customers are allowing social media to affect their buying decisions.

Go beyond social media. Engage your customers on all fronts, and create the impression that your brand is everywhere.

Make your brand highly visible

Marketing sets the condition for the sale to happen.

As John Jantsch says, “Marketing is essentially getting someone that has a need to know, like and trust you. Of course then you must turn that know, like, and trust into try, buy, repeat and refer.” This is what he calls the Marketing Hourglass.

Moving a customer through the Marketing Hourglass is accelerated and enhanced with repeat exposure. An experience with your sales team can be heightened and reinforced with social media, and vice versa. Each interaction with your brand builds upon itself and moves the customer through the seven stages of the Hourglass.

Create the impression your brand is everywhere

Let’s move beyond theory and consider a company example from my upcoming book, Sticky Branding.

Brilliant is a rapidly growing staffing firm with offices in Chicago and Southern Florida. The company specializes in recruiting accounting, finance, and IT professionals for mid-sized companies.

The firm’s marketing strategy is to be everywhere. Jim Wong, CEO of Brilliant, says, “I want us to be everywhere, or I want people to think we’re everywhere.”

To create the impression the brand is everywhere, the firm employs three core programs to engage its customers:

  1. Sponsorship: Brilliant sponsors events and associations that serve small- and mid-sized companies in its geographic markets.
  2. Content Marketing: Brilliant publishes weekly email newsletters that are tailored for its audiences. The company has four business units, and each one has corresponding email programs.
  3. Social Media: Brilliant places the most emphasis on Facebook and LinkedIn, because these are the social networks that both employers and job seekers are actively involved in.

Sponsorship is Brilliant’s primary vehicle for participating and supporting its communities, while content marketing and social media are designed to reinforce and enhance that investment.

Jim says, “It builds confidence in our brand. It’s like, ‘I saw them online, and then I saw them sponsoring our conference last month. They’re everywhere.’ Popping up everywhere leads prospects back to us, and it sets the condition for a sale.”

Promote with purpose

To move customers through the seven stages of the Marketing Hourglass — know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer — requires marketing with purpose.

The question, or the challenge for your business, is what else can you do?

Where can you engage your customers with purpose? Facebook and LinkedIn are a great way to engage your clients online. What about in person?

Like Brilliant, develop three to five recurring programs that engage your customers over and over again to create the impression your brand is everywhere.

When your customers see your brand again and again they will think of it first when they have a need. And being considered first is a powerful position for your brand.

JeremyMiller_150x150Jeremy Miller is a Brand Builder, Keynote Speaker, and president of Sticky Branding — a brand building agency. After rebranding his family’s business, Jeremy embarked on a decade long study of how small- and mid-sized companies grow incredible brands. He knows what it takes to grow a Sticky Brand and how you can do it too. His upcoming book, Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers and Grow an Incredible Brand, will be published in January 2015.

Social Selling and Content Marketing: A White-Hot Combination

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Robert Rosenthal & Natasha Sekkat – Enjoy!

Social Selling

photo credit: canva

“Social selling” and “content marketing” sound like trendy terms you’d hear at a cool conference. But we’ve never cared much about what’s fashionable in marketing and sales. It comes down to what works. And the combination we’re about to describe has the potential to change almost everything.

First, a couple of quick definitions: Social selling is about building your personal and business brand through social media. Content marketing is the use of educational and even entertaining content in marketing.

Traditional Sales and Marketing No Longer Cut It

You may have noticed buyers don’t behave the way they did a generation ago. One reason: the explosion in easily accessible information. By the time you walk into a dealer to buy a car, you’ve most likely done research online. Car buyers are no longer at the dealer’s mercy.

When your parents needed a new refrigerator, they probably headed to a local appliance store. But these days, you might jump on Facebook, ask for recommendations, and receive five suggestions from friends in as many minutes.

Power has indeed shifted from seller to buyer. They want less of a pitch and more value from you. They have an ocean of information at their fingertips, so you’d better know your stuff. And with the opportunity to quickly research prospects online, there’s no excuse to pump out generalized messages.

Traditional marketing may be summed up in three words: sell, sell, sell. But product pitches often perform far worse than presentations that contribute more value. Great marketing is less self-centered and more buyer-centric.

Not Your Father’s Sales and Marketing Approach

When 20th century sales reps called new prospects, buyers generally knew nothing about the reps. Today prospects look them up on LinkedIn in seconds. Buyers ask themselves, “Is this someone I want to do business with?” It’s a whole new level of transparency.

Traditional sales reps were known for aggressiveness – and a willingness to repeat a pitch. Constantly. But that won’t work (and may even backfire) in social selling. If you keep posting comments like, “This (product name) is the best thing ever,” you’ll be ignored – or worse.

It’s better to proactively share advice or respond to a prospect’s post with a mention of a white paper on how others have addressed a similar issue. Or even provide a link to your company’s position on a particular topic. Your response should feel like community service and be adapted to your personal brand.

Content quality and quantity is key. Excellent content is super-relevant and informative. Even fascinating. Reps doing social selling regularly work the top and bottom of the funnel – and points in between. Marketing content needs to help prospects at every funnel point. It should never be, “Here’s our latest propaganda,” posted in the same manner to every prospect by every sales rep.

Of course, you can’t keep offering the same stuff. That’s why the best content marketers figure out how to regularly produce lots of high-quality content that fulfills prospect needs and business objectives. Your content should be strategic.

And remember, the best marketers tend to be the best testers, so be prepared to experiment in your content marketing and social selling. Think trial and error.

Listening for Opportunities

Here’s a potential game-changer. On LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and countless other sites, prospects tap into their networks by posting comments on what they’re researching and buying. They often use predictable words and phrases: triggers that could indicate a potential purchase. Naturally, you want to optimize your site accordingly for search engines, But if you efficiently sift through the noise on other sites to identify fresh prospects, you may have more opportunities than you’re able to handle. You may want to use Google Alerts or another tool to have these posts appear in your in-box as soon as they’re available, or focus on a small number of message boards or other sites.

Whatever you do, don’t get overly aggressive. Be consultative. And don’t overload prospects with information. Content that gets consumed most often tends to be concise: short videos, infographics, or other quick but useful presentations.

This is your chance to position yourselves as thought leaders. Or as an excellent content curator. Social selling is also about building your personal brand. It’s important to add your own touch to what you publish. Sometimes that simply means playing matchmaker and connecting people who may be useful to each other.

By all means, bring your personal life into your posts. That’s right – mix industry, product, and personal information. Show your kid’s artwork if you’re in the mood. Give prospects a chance to really know you and build a connection.

Commitment Is Key

The hip and highly profitable stuff we’ve described – social selling and content marketing – require commitment from the top. You can’t drop it into a dial-for-dollars or batch-and-blast culture and expect it to take hold. New technology is often needed, and if the team won’t use it, you may be unable to move forward. So get commitment for all this – along with the budget and time to make it work – from the top of your organization.

Now get out there and rock the world.

Robert Rosenthal Head Shot Arms Folded Igor Pic 5-2-14Robert Rosenthal is President of Contenteurs, a content marketing agency that has developed dozens of record-breaking marketing campaigns. Robert is author of Optimarketing: Marketing Optimization to Electrify Your Business – recently the #2 marketing book in Amazon’s Kindle Store. Robert holds a B.S. degree in marketing from California State University, Northridge.

 

 

Natasha Sekkat 150-150Natasha Sekkat is Global Director, Inside Sales Centers of Excellence at EMC, with 15 years’ experience in technology sales and sales management. She’s a graduate of UPenn and Wharton, with an MBA from Boston College. Natasha lives in Sudbury, MA with her two young children.