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Weekend Favs July Nineteen

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

jjantschguitar

Part of my presentation at World Domination Summit

Good stuff I found this week:

Briefmetrics – Weekly email report for your Google Analytics data

Taco – Unified task list app that draws from all of the services you already use

PPC University – Great, free,  pay per click advertising course from Wordstream

How to Incorporate Brand Advocates into Your Marketing Strategy

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

When asked about how and why they make purchases, most people say that reviews and recommendations play a major role. That holds true even in the B2B marketplace—according to one study, 60 percent of B2B tech buyers look at peer reviews before making buying decisions.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, when it comes to your own purchasing decisions, are you more likely to trust an ad or a person who’s actually used the product?

The question is, how can you boost positive reviews of your business and how should that play into your overall marketing strategy?

Brand Advocates: Generating Buzz

Brand advocates are more than just loyal customers—they’re ambassadors. They’re people who believe in your business and who are willing to answer questions, write blog posts, and help you create favorable word-of-mouth buzz. They can help you by reviewing your products and helping convince leads who may be on the fence about your services to take the plunge.

Who are your advocates? Where can you find them?

Begin by identifying customers who have had a good experience with your brand.

  • Get in touch with people who are interacting with you on social media or on review sites like Yelp.
  • Find customers who’ve given you positive reviews on comment cards or surveys.
  • Ask your salespeople—which customers to they turn to for references? Which customers are most satisfied with their experience?

Try to identify potential advocates on a regular basis—every three to six months or so—to keep your pool fresh.

This should go without saying, but in case it’s not obvious: in order to keep your loyal customer base large and happy, you need to provide consistently great service. It’s not enough to be just “adequate”— most companies do that—you need to “wow” your customers with attention to detail and personalized service. Try to accommodate special requests when you can, and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Setting Up a Brand Advocacy Program

Identifying advocates is only half the battle. You need to decide what to do with them once you’ve found them. Here are some ideas about how you can leverage their power to help maintain a positive image for your brand:

  • Ask them to follow you on social media and comment on and share what you post.
  • Ask them to write positive reviews and testimonials on your site, review sites like Citysearch, or their blog and social media profiles.
  • Ask them if you can film them talking about their experience with your brand.
  • Ask them to contribute to communities or forums.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Ask them to write blog posts or create images for you.
  • Ask them if you can use their experience as a case study.
  • Ask them to speak directly (over the phone or via email or chat) to potential customers.
  • Ask them to come up with FAQ questions and answers or identify improvements for your website.

These are just some of the ways that brand advocates can be put to good use. You should get creative and decide on which strategies will work for your business.

You should probably start small. Ask potential advocates to do something easy at first, like follow you on Instagram or give you a five star rating on Google+, before moving on to bigger projects like testimonials and blog posts. You may also want to consider setting up some sort of rewards or kickback program where advocates get a percentage off, a nominal payment, or free products (à la Amazon Vine) for completing tasks.

You should also invest some time in mentoring and quality control. You should let your advocates be authentic voices for your brand, but you may also want to set some guidelines if, for instance, you plan on connecting brand advocates with potential customers directly.

How about you? How are you leveraging the power of brand advocates in your business?

Holly Cordnerhollycordner is a marketing manager living in Salt Lake City. She writes for Needle, which helps businesses of all sizes identify brand advocates and connect them with customers. Her first love is technology with tofu coming in a close second.

 

7 Examples of the Power of Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a powerful tool.

Duct Tape Selling

Photo courtesy of Sally Hogshead

Being invited to contribute content to an established blog is an opportunity to be introduced to someone’s network. When you share useful information and demonstrate command of a subject in this environment, it is a chance to create referrals and even clients.

But more than anything else, writing guest content and inviting others to do the same for you is one of the most potent forms of digital networking available today. Despite Google’s recent moves to crack down on “junk guest posting,” done organically it is the best way to generate valuable links and social signals. It is how you begin to develop strategic content and traffic partners that often lead to co-marketing and joint venture opportunities. It’s how you turn content into an authority building asset.

There’s nothing easy about it, you have to produce content people find valuable, you have to establish relationships with people who want to publish your content and you have to work equally hard at building a reputation for sharing and promoting other people’s content. But the payoff, over time, is substantial.

Below are seven examples of guest posts that members of my “network” ran in support of my book launch last week. This is small demonstration of how the power of networking online pays substantial dividends.

5 Reliable Ways to Use Content as a Referral Tool

I’m guessing you do great work. You add value everywhere you can, and people want to refer you on their own. Clients who get what they expected and have a great experience in the process want to tell their friends, neighbors, and colleagues about us. It’s a behavior that many people are simply wired to do. But, let’s be honest: we’re all busy. Read the rest at Copyblogger

The Sales Hourglass: The new way to approach selling

The Sales Hourglass is about taking customers and prospects on a journey they weren’t aware they were going to travel. I’m talking about a dramatic shift in the sales process. It’s not about tricking the customer or wasting their time; quite the opposite. It’s about making sure they arrive at the most helpful destination of all. If we look at our job like we are going on a journey with our customer, instead of simply leading them, it can really make the entire sales process quite a remarkable one. Read the rest at Freshbooks

Guiding the Customer Journey

Just a few years short years ago marketers were still heavily focused on broadcasting their message to create demand for their products and services. Today, a kinder, gentler form of marketing called inbound marketing relies primarily on the creation and distribution of content in an effort to “be found.” The foundation of the inbound approach is based to use heaps of content to draw people into you marketing funnel. And, while this has proven effective, many marketers simply interpret this to mean you create more demand by creating more content. Read the rest at Brian Solis

5 Ways to Generate the Right Kinds of Leads

Instead of sitting back and waiting for just any lead to “request more information,” you can significantly increase your chances of growing your business with the right customers when you understand how to define and attract ideal leads. By narrowly defining what makes a prospect an ideal lead, you can create processes for finding and attracting more of those. Read the rest at SuccessNet by BNI

Building Your Content Tool Box

Content is one of the most important (if not the most important) tools for marketing and sales pros today. Essentially, from a marketer’s point of view, content is about writing for the purpose of turning interest into purchase. There are many forms of content that must come into play to accomplish this. Content that creates awareness, trust, education, engagement, and conversion. Read the rest at Convince and Convert

Projecting a Great Customer Experience a Half Year Ahead

The hunt for new customers often starts with an attempt to make the phone ring or generate a click on a website. Yet the best way to generate calls is to focus on making an existing customer thrilled. What if your first thought in designing a new marketing campaign were to be about what you want the customer to think, say and feel about the product 180 days after purchase. Read the rest at Entrepreneur

How Salespeople Can Build a Superstar Online Reputation

If we’re being honest, we all prefer to do business with people we know, like, and trust. In today’s online world, however, trust building means something very different than it once did. Reputation and trust building used to be controlled by marketing. Now the Internet and social media give customers a bigger say in the creation and communication of how a company is viewed by the rest of the world. Read the rest at Salesforce

4 Realities of Inbound Marketing You Can’t Afford to Neglect

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Rohan Ayyar – Enjoy!

Inbound marketing and social media participation for brands are one of the most effective promotion tactics today. The whole world of marketing is now skewed towards “earning customers” instead of “buy, beg, or buy your way in” that outbound marketers follow, if this Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing infographic on Mashable is to be believed.

The fundamental shift in consumer behavior is certain now: individuals are in control of what information they choose to receive. Not only do they have options when it comes to brands while buying, but they can also choose who they want to hear from.

According to Mashable’s infographic, more than 84% of 25-34 year olds have abandoned their favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising. More than a whopping 86% of people skip television ads. At least 200 million Americans have registered for FTC’s “Do Not Call” list. Over 91% of email subscribers have unsubscribed from an email list they previously opted into.

Clearly, outbound marketing is having a hard time. On the other hand, inbound marketing works, but only when you go at it the right way.

Here are a few inbound marketing realities you can’t afford to neglect:

1. No one gives two hoots about your brand, product, service or whatever

This one’s hard. In fact, it’s the hardest truism about being in business today. Contrary to whatever you might think about your business, your prospective customers don’t really give a damn about you. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Does it mean all that passion, sweat, blood, and tears you put into running your business are for naught?

Customers aren’t overly concerned about you, and won’t be either, for as long as you beat your big corporate chest with your “campaigns,” you are just carrying out interruption marketing.

What the world does care about is solutions to problems. Your prospective customers are looking for solutions that can make their life better somehow, in some way. Whatever fits the bill – with respect to products and services – takes the cake.

2. Competition has no face

Once upon a time, all that a company would have to worry about – apart from producing goods and delivering services – was competition from similar companies selling similar products. Today, competition comes in new garbs everyday.

First, there’s the information overload that customers are slowly getting immune to (which means that they mastered the art of ignoring what you have to say). Second, the competition comes from smarter and leaner companies that have learnt the art of keeping customers engaged (with inbound marketing practices, of course).

If you’ve ever wondered why all that money being spent on campaigns never managed to bring in a dollar, it’s because of this competition overload. You just have a lot more to do today.

Are you ready to deal with it?

3. Marketing is the new way of giving

Capitalism was almost a result of selfishness. Ayn Rand was a staunch advocate of “self-worth” and “self-preservation.” She wrote whole tomes like Atlas Shrugged to get that point across. That was then.

Capitalism is still about making a profit. It’s just the way profits are made has changed with inbound marketing. This new line of marketing calls for “selflessness.” It calls for giving away more than you ask for. It calls for altruism, generosity, and spreading buckets of value through content, information dissemination, and relationship-building on social media.

Take whatever route you like, just make sure you give.

4. Inbound is harder than outbound

Most rookie entrepreneurs believe that since inbound marketing is relatively cheaper than traditional marketing, it ought to be easier. As they say, “Talk is cheap.” However, it’s easy to forget that work comes at a premium.

Inbound marketing is harder than traditional marketing. As a matter of fact, marketing is always hard as Drew Williams of HubSpot candidly explained. There are a whole lot of things to get used to. Businesses have to produce an unimaginable amount of content. There’s social media, there’s content (which itself stretches into blog posts, videos, podcasts, slide decks, infographics, curated content, and a whole lot more), which companies have to produce at an alarming rate.

Then there are multiple channels to tap into. Marketing itself is now a hodge-podge of tasks, departments and functions. Teams need to put their heart into all of these. They need to learn and use sophisticated tools for manifold tasks ranging from project collaboration to publishing, from web analytics to video conferencing. What’s more, they need to be effective at that, produce results and justify ROI.

How do you go about inbound marketing? What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in getting inbound leads? How do you convert these to sales? Do you have any new tactics or strategies to share?

Rohan Ayyar bio photoRohan works at E2M solutions, a premium digital marketing firm specializing in creative content strategy, web analytics and conversion rate optimization for startups. He is an avid blogger, with posts on Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today and Moz, among other places. Rohan hangs out round the clock on Twitter @searchrook – hit him up any time for a quick Q&A.

Increase Rejection to Grow Your Business

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Andrea Waltz  - Enjoy!

YistheDestinationgraphic-webIt seems ridiculous.  After all, most business owners and salespeople alike operate from a place of fearing or, at best, avoiding opportunities to be rejected.  If the goal is to close sales and build the business, how would getting rejected more often possibly work?

The simple answer is it is in the avoiding rejection that the greatest opportunities are actually lost. The strategy works on the premise that when you increase opportunities to be rejected and hear more ‘no’s’, that your opportunities for yes’s, or whatever it is you are seeking, will also increase. You could say it is a numbers game.

For example, we’ve all heard the line, “Would you like fries with that?” A question so popular, the phrase itself encapsulates the entire philosophy of what it means to “upsell.” Of course, it is true: the mere act of increasing the amount of product you show and services you offer increases both the yes’s and no’s you will hear. It is not only a fool-proof formula, but one of the great undeniable laws of the universe.

What’s the issue?

Most people have grown up in a “Go for Yes” world. In that world, closing is good (the yes) and rejection (no) is bad. If you get a “no” you must be a failure and doing something wrong.   Unfortunately, it’s this emotional baggage and poor belief system that that holds us back from asking more questions, talking about additional products and services, or going after that big, scary client we’ve always wanted to land.

As kids, we had a natural sense of tenacity that has somehow been drummed out of us. So as adults, business owners find themselves doing everything within their power to avoid hearing “no”, sabotaging their growth and ensuring mediocre performance. As we go on, the entire world of opportunities starts to shrink because they only look for the yes’s – the low hanging fruit, the “easy” sales, leading to average results over time.

Try this:

Go out of your way to intentionally increase your failure rate. You read that right; intentionally increase the number of times you hear prospects and clients say “no” to you.  And, if the key to success is to increase our no’s, then it only makes sense to celebrate our setbacks as well. If someone turns you down, celebrate it! When was the last time you rewarded yourself for failing or hearing a no? Probably never!

How many total “no’s” did you personally obtain yesterday?  Last week?  Last month?  Now it’s time to start.  For this to work, you’ve got to get into action and step outside of your comfort zone.  When you start hearing no’s and start thinking differently about no, you will create the mind shift that is required to get back to that persistence you had as a kid. And, in the process opportunities will come into your business and life because you are finally willing to risk and wanting to ‘fail.’

To achieve significant success in today’s world, failure and hearing ‘no’ is not just a possibility…it is a requirement. We must see success and failure for what they truly are: not opposites, but opposite sides of the same coin. In other words: Yes is the Destination, No is how you get there.

AJWHeadShotFeb2013-WEBRichard Fenton & Andrea Waltz are the authors of “Go for No!” a short powerful story written specifically for business owners and sales professionals in every industry who must learn how to face failure and rejection to be successful. Visit http://www.goforno.com or get ongoing NOtivation at www.facebook.com/Goforno.

The Future of Marketing Is Organizing Behavior

I made the following statement in some social channels recently – “The future of marketing is less about demand creation and more about organizing behavior.”

The comment stirred quite a reaction. Many people fervently agreed while others simply wanted to know more. So, here’s what I mean by that statement.

The foundation of inbound marketing is based on the notion that people need to be drawn in to your marketing funnel by way of content – that you need to be found rather than go out hunting. And, while this has proven effective, many marketers simply interpret this to mean you create more demand by creating more content.

The problem with this thinking is that it’s really just the age old marketing funnel approach polished up with more information.

Today, marketing is about guiding a journey that the buyer wants to take rather than forcing them into the journey that fits our business model.

People don’t really need more information, they need insight, they need guidance and they need an experience that allows them to behave like they want to behave.

Over the years I’ve identified seven behaviors that most buyers desperately want to experience on their way to becoming loyal customers. Organizations that get this and create and organize opportunities for people to experience these behaviors at any point along the journey will win.

Buyers want to travel an often crooked path that allows them to:

  • Know – They want to give permission to the companies they want to know
  • Like – They want to learn to like and respect companies that might be addressing their needs in a way that makes sense to them
  • Trust – They want to see that their friends and others they relate to have come to trust certain organizations for a variety of reasons
  • Try – They want to be able to prove to themselves that buying from certain organization won’t make them look foolish
  • Buy – They want to discover that there are companies that make the buying experience as awesome as the marketing experience
  • Repeat – They want to develop ties to organizations they can count on and that allow them to forget about other options
  • Refer – They want to have such a remarkable experience with organizations that so exceed their expectations they are compelled to share with the world how smart they are

If organization are to address these behaviors, marketing, sales and service must participate as one in guiding the relationship. The traditional silo walls must come down. Sales must participate earlier in the buyer’s journey and stay later. Service must become more social and marketing must learn how to personalize content while bringing front line sales people into the creation of messaging and positioning.

Inbound marketing, outbound marketing, inbound selling and social service must overlap into every possible outpost on the buyer’s journey. Every marketing, sales and service initiative, process and campaign must be designed to organize the behavior the buyer desperately wants to experience.

hourglass functions

Use this grid to audit your own behavior and touchpoints looking for opportunities and gaps.

 

 

 

5 Ways Buying Facebook Fans Can Hurt Your Business

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Chris Norton – Enjoy!

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photo credit: pixabay.com

Amazingly, many brands still measure social media success based on ‘counting metrics’, not on more meaningful indicators such as engagement, referrals or share of voice. Fueling this is the ongoing trend toward buying fans; usually bots that offer nothing of value what-so-ever. However, what many don’t realize is that this approach can in fact be actively harming your brand online. So, how can fake social media fans and followers be damaging? What kind of metrics should you be interested in, and why should social marketing success never be measured in LIKES alone?

1. Fake Likes Don’t Help Credibility

Purchasing of Likes may give your company an impressive image at first glance, but this alone isn’t enough to build a good reputation. With well-known crackdowns on fake accounts from the likes of Facebook in recent years, chances are your new ‘fans’ could suddenly disappear, or worse still, you could be publicly named and shamed. Think of the consequences; should you be exposed as buying fake fans, you risk instant scrutiny from the online world who won’t be shy in making their feelings known, and in the long term, this could damage your brand integrity, especially if you profess to be a transparent organization.

2. Fake Likes Don’t Turn A Profit

Contrary to popular belief, having a social media page full of fake likes or followers generally won’t help you achieve your marketing objectives – including driving sales. Anyone buying fake fans should check out their insights, and they’ll quickly see the majority of the accounts – even if they are real – are based in countries that they don’t even operate in. The same goes for any call-to-actions you are making through your social networks. How can you expect people to click through to your website or engage with your content if they’ve got no interest in your brand what-so-ever?

3. Fake Likes Don’t Measure Success

Many businesses, especially those starting out, believe the amount of Facebook fans are a measure of their company’s success and brand awareness. It is not. In fact, fake fans and followers can make your brand look worse online. If you’ve got a highly engaged online community of a few hundred, then any content you share will be received warmly, discussed and shared. In simplistic terms, Facebook’s algorithm will recognize this, and will then broaden the reach of the post to your wider community. Conversely, if you’ve got 1,000 fake profiles, then the initial reach of your posts will be worse, given that it’s being sent to un-engaged bots, not real people. This will subsequently reduce its natural reach, as Facebook’s algorithm recognizes this lack of engagement and interest in your content.

4. Fake Likes Will Mess With Your Metrics

A strong understand of social media metrics is essential if you ever want to improve your social media success. This includes knowing what content people are engaged with, and gaining an understanding of your online community’s dynamics and norms. However, the influx of fake profiles – which offer nothing in the way of engagement or meaningful action – will only impede your ability to measure your community’s behavior, leaving you with a dense smokescreen to negotiate.

5. Fake Likes Can Be Harmful

It’s often the case that the illegitimate individuals behind the fake likes and followers are professional hackers who use unsuspecting members of the public as their guinea pigs, without them even knowing a thing about it. The software in use by these people is also harmful to computers in general as spam links are commonly sent when the hackers are working their black magic. For any brand serious about behaving ethically online – which let’s face it, you should be – then buying fans should never be an option.

ChrisNortonChris Norton is MD at specialist social media and PR agency Prohibition.

Why You Don’t Need to Go Viral to Make Video Marketing Work

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Amy Harrison – Enjoy!

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photo credit: ARMLE via photopin cc

A viral video is the dream of many marketers and business owners. One smash hit can transform a business’s reach overnight. And it’s not just big brands like Blendtec and Old Spice dominating the video market. Newer companies such as Dollar Shave have exploded onto the scene largely due to their viral video presence.

The myth of viral for small business

While it can be a game-changer to be suddenly watched by the world, most small businesses don’t need this level of exposure to see results. If you could grow your audience by a few hundred, or a few thousand engaged prospects, would that make a difference to your inquiries, leads and sales?

The pressure to go viral can have a negative effect if you think:

  • You need a perfect video with high-end production to stand out
  • You need to create something wacky or crazy to get attention
  • If your video doesn’t go viral, you should can it and forget it

If you think video isn’t worth it unless you’re a YouTube star, you could be missing out.

Smaller audience, bigger rewards

Last year, I started a light-hearted sketch show called Content Marketing…Stripped!  I’ve created just 18 short videos

None of them have ever gone viral.

Most get around 100-300 views, but site traffic is growing, subscribers are up 75% and I’m seeing increased social media engagement.

Most importantly, they help attract clients. I’m closing sales faster because leads are more qualified. After watching, prospects say they feel they know me, would enjoy working with me and contact me based on that. I’ve never woken up to a phone call from The Tonight Show, or asked to comment for the New York Times, but this consistent creation of short videos has improved my marketing results.

Where to start? How to get results from a non-viral video

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A still shot from Content Marketing… Stripped!

Even a simple video of you talking to camera can build rapport and engagement with prospects. So why not break out your camera, and start planning your first simple marketing video using these steps?

1.     Focus on your customer’s problem first

Solving a customer’s problem is a great idea for your videos. Think about common “how do I…” questions your customer has that you can solve. For example: “How do I create a customer profile for my marketing?

2.      Ask yourself: what is the impact on my customer if this problem is left unsolved?

In the above case, without a clear customer profile, you don’t know what marketing will work, and you can’t attract your ideal target market to your business.

3.    Don’t just state the impact, illustrate it

Rather than simply tell your customer that it’s important to solve this problem, see if you can give them examples and illustrations to prove it, for example:

  • Wasting time and money on marketing that doesn’t make the phone ring
  • Attracting the wrong clients and losing time on sales calls you’ll never close
  • Getting the wrong referrals because people don’t know who you serve

Video lets you be creative in how you present this information, you could think up a quick sketch, or unleash your whiteboard skills. Even if you’re just describing your examples, it’s better than simply telling your viewer that it’s important to solve their problem.

4.    Provide tips to solve it

Once you’ve illustrated the impact of the problem, provide useful tips viewers can use straight away.

5.    Remind viewers that you have products or services that can also help

In addition to free tips, don’t forget to let them know you can solve their problem directly with links to your contact, services or product page.

Start small and dip your toes in

If the goal of going viral has been putting you off, give video a try, there might be some low hanging fruit that you didn’t realize was ready and waiting for you.

Harrisonamy 150x150 (1)Amy Harrison trains companies to write better content, faster. She provides live content workshops for clients in Europe, and online training sessions for the wider world. You can find her Content Marketing…Stripped videos here and she was a featured speaker at the 2014 SXSW Interactive conference.