5 Ways Writing A Book Will Supercharge Your Online Presence

lead-generationLet me tell you right off the bat, writing and publishing a book is a lot easier than you think.  In September of 2014, when I became a Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant, I provided a list of ten reasons why joining the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant network is a no-brainer for digital agencies.  On top of all those reasons, I had no idea that the network would lead me to becoming a published author after just a few short months of joining.

The backdrop to my story is that I attended the Duct Tape Marketing Annual Summit last year.  Shortly after that amazing three-day event, fellow marketing consultant Ray Perry of MarketBlazer, Inc. approached me to write a book with three other Duct Tape Marketing Consultants.  Last year, Ray and another group of DTM Consultants published a great book on referral marketing called Renewable Referrals, and that book became an Amazon Best Seller!

Fast-forward six months, now I am part of an amazing team of fellow consultants that has launched The Small Business Owner’s Guide To Local Lead Generation – another book that is well on its way to Amazon Best Seller status.   Aside from an awesome foreword written by John Jantsch, we have an incredible list of endorsements from the likes of BNI founder Dr. Ivan Misner, Copyblogger’s Brian Clark, New York Times bestselling author Michael Port, and many more thought leaders and tech company CEOs.

Now that you know a little about what we’ve accomplished and how we got here, let me explain why publishing a book results in a seismic boost to your online presence:

  1. Online Authority. Creating and publishing a book in your niche provides an instant boost in personal authority and elevates your status as an expert.  From creating book and author pages on Amazon, to launching a book via press releases, podcasts and online marketing, these activities provide an overnight boost in authority that most of your competitors will not have.  In other words, you are no longer just “Your Name”, you are “Your Name, author of…”
  2. Online Trust.  Getting thought leaders in your niche takes some effort and creativity, but it’s easier than you think (assuming you have good content).  Asking an influencer to provide a quote for a book about their niche reinforces their position as a leader in that niche – so in many cases they will be motivated to provide a book quote.  Once you have multiple industry authorities blessing your book, all of your content suddenly becomes more credible, trustworthy and interesting.
  3. Organic SEO.  If you launch a book effectively, you will also create a standalone book website.  All of the marketing that you do should lead people back to the book site, the same way we doing now in this guest blog post.  Our book site already ranks highly on Google for “local lead generation books” and is quickly climbing for more competitive generic terms such as “local lead generation”.
  4. Social Media Exposure. Book launches, by their very nature, create buzz.  With careful and strategic coordination, you can dramatically amplify your social media exposure by leveraging your own network, as well as those that have supported your book.  From tagging tweets and posts, to simply notifying business chambers and local media, you will find many venues and organizations that will be motivated to share your story on social media.
  5. Conversion Optimization.  If you are a regular consumer of John Jantsch’s content, you already know that creating great content in a way that draws ideal customers into your digital channel is a core Duct Tape Marketing principle.  By promoting and offering an actual book on your website, you now have a killer conversion hook that will convert more first-time web visitors into loyal content consumers, and thus on the path towards conversion.

The above list is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of benefits.  Perhaps one of my favorites is that this book has become my new business card.  There is nothing like walking into a sales meeting and dropping a book on the table with credible endorsements.  As a busy agency owner, I really have to be careful how I invest my most treasured asset: time.  So when I tell you that book publishing has become a new cornerstone of my own inbound marketing strategy, I am not saying it lightly.  Yet, I have already signed on for another book project and will publish my own book this fall titled:  New SEO: Search Engine Optimization For Web Designers & Small Business Owners.

Trust me, if I can write a book, you can too.

phil-singletonPhil Singleton owns and operates Kansas City Web Design, where he and his team provide custom WordPress and Magento web development, and Kansas City SEO, where he provides search engine optimization services to companies with hundreds of thousands in revenues to hundreds of millions.  To get more SEO and Internet marketing tips and advice, and learn more about Phil’s book writing adventures, follow him on Google+.

How to Use Your Content Platforms to Gain Valuable Customer Insights

Audience data 240x180You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on industry research or surveying your audience — most small businesses already have plenty of data collection tools right at their fingertips! The savviest businesses utilize their content to gain invaluable insights into their customer and potential customer base to understand what they want most- here’s how you can too!

Google Analytics

To get a good baseline for who your audience is, use your website’s Google Analytics data. On the left sidebar, click audience, then explore the demographics, interests, and geo sections. The location, age, gender, industry and topical interests of your website traffic is all displayed in these section. The interests section of your audience report contains particularly insightful gems. Affinity Categories relates to the other lifestyle interests they have, while In-Market Segments shows you their product and purchase based interests. Other Categories hones in on the most specific topics of interest or activities.

Blog Topics

Which blog posts get the most shares, views, or impressions on your blog and across your social networks? It’s important to distribute your blogs across a wide variety of platforms to get a feel for as many different segments of your audience as possible, as well as to get a better sense of the piece’s success. Sharing your blogs widely across the web also brings more traffic back to you site, and continues to feed into what your insights.

Downloaded Resources

You should make a few helpful pdf downloads available on your website. Not only is this a great way to capture emails, but it’s also a useful tool to see where your audience’s interests lie, or what problems are currently affecting them. Make sure all your resources relate to your business in some way- it wouldn’t be particularly helpful to learn what someone’s favorite color is or where they would most like to vacation.

Emailed Content

Whether you use a full on CRM like Salesforce or a simpler service like MailChimp- take note of what content your readers are clicking on. When sending them blog updates, industry news, or new services offered- note where their interests lie. Deliver more, similar content to see if you can hone in on the specific topics they care most about. Optimize your newsletters for key learnings.

Quizzes

People love quizzes, especially on social media. It’s also a genius way to learn more about your audience than any other technique. An easy tactic to start is a quiz themed to “What ___ Are You?”. Make sure you come up with questions that will help you in your your quest to understand your audience, such as “do you like to attack and solve problems, or do you seek the advice of others?”.

Facebook Insights

Immediately upon logging into Facebook, navigate to the left side menu and select Insights. You’ll find your Facebook audience demographics under the People category. Be sure to also note the section for when your fans are online to see what types of content you should be sharing to this audience. Lunch hour readers prefer entertainment, while morning browsers are primed for news. Long reads are best for the evening and weekend. For many brands, their Facebook audience consists of different groups, using Facebook at different times. Optimize your Facebook posts for greatest potential to collect the most audience data possible.

Twitter Analytics

Every user can now access their Twitter analytics. Similar to Facebook, Twitter’s Analytics lets you see basic audience demographic information (do you see any differences between your Facebook and Twitter audiences?) as well as an overview of your tweet performance. Twitter add-on Followerwonk assesses the bios of your followers to provide you with insights on their interests and how they describe themselves. You can see who else your followers tend to follow, what they tweet about and Followerwonk points you in the direction of new groups to go after (moms who love DIY or dads who like soccer).

LinkedIn Audience

When viewing your company page, select Analytics. You’ll see a concise listing of your posts’ performance as well as audience demographics. LinkedIn shares what level of professional attainment your followers are: entry-level employee through owner or VPs. You can also select Industry and Job Function from the audience data drop down menus. It’s highly advisable to appropriately tailor your content to appeal to the right level of reader: decision maker or someone who might suggest your company to the decision maker.

 

pro pic 150Diana Mackie is a small business writer, specializing in marketing and content. Diana writes for AllBusiness, Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Duct Tape Marketing and many other publications. She is currently the Chief Content Officer at Funding Gates. Diana attended Fordham University and now lives in New York City.

 

5 Ways to Produce Eye-Catching Content Without a Designer

photo credit: kaboompics

photo credit: kaboompics

There’s nothing like great content. I create it for work. I create it for fun. Crazy? Perhaps. Especially since creating good, visually appealing content is a huge challenge faced by many.

There is no rule that says you have to hire a pricey graphic designer in order to generate beautiful, design-rich content.  Of course, design specialists are a great resource to have on a team – but, for many earlier-stage businesses, increased costs and headcount may not be ideal.

Luckily, a universe of tools exist that enable quick content creation for even the non-designers among us – whether it’s as simple as a quick meme or as elaborate as an ebook. Slim, bootstrapping teams could wear a designer hat and produce the rich content quickly and inexpensively by enlisting some of these fantastic content-producing tools:

Capture the moment with Skitch

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.16 PMSkitch is a great app that helps brands tell a visual story – and it’s free! Grab a quick screenshot on your device and mark it up with arrows, boxes, text and more. Skitch lets you mark up images, digital assets, PDFs, and other files with arrows, callout boxes, text, and more.

I find that at least once a day I use Skitch’s “Screen Snap” function to grab all or part of my screen for use in content. I don’t need to plug my captured image into another program for further cropping and other editing since the all-in-one features of Skitch enable me to do so right in their app. A great time saver and useful tool for supporting your talking points with a rich visual design.

Skitch is owned by Evernote but does not require an Evernote account to start using. Try it out and screengrab to your heart’s content.

Don’t use any old font, use Dafont

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.42 PMSick of using Times and Ariel in your creative. Aren’t we all? Luckily, resources like Google Fonts, Font Squirrel and more offer a wealth of wonderfully designed, open-source fonts to add a little character to your characters.

I like Dafont for its abundance of options that range from general purpose to highly specialized. Each font is well-tagged so the site’s great search function could pull up just what you’re looking for. Simply download, install and use a desired font in graphics, presentations, ebooks and more – just make sure to check for any attribution requirements.

Pound out a quick infographic with Piktochart

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.07 PMThere’s nothing like a good infographic to capture an audience and teach them something new. When it’s simple to create in just minutes and free, it’s all the more reason to inject them into a content strategy.

Piktochart is quick and simple for anyone to create professional-looking infographics, reports, banners, and presentations. An intuitive interface and simple drag-and-drop features help a designer-less team fake it until they make it.

Get instant access and “start creating in 30 seconds,” as the site’s homepage describes. Start yours from scratch, choose from customizable free templates or step up to Pro for some more options.

Along with the vast library of templates, you can find over four thousand graphics to really spruce things up, or get more custom and create your very own images. When generating visual creations to represent your brand, avoid a clunky MS Paint design and make them look professionally mastered at low commitment.

Become an author with Guides.co

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.14 PMHave what it takes to write an informative eBook but lack the design skill to bring into fruition? Guide.co offers the perfect solution.

We’ve all experienced the power of eBooks, in educating an audience, adding credibility and thought leadership status to a brand and capturing more qualified leads. But the more comprehensive the piece of content the more time and budget it consumes.

Guides.co provides a useful, plug-and-lay model to take on the burden creating an attractive body for your killer copy. Like Piktochart, Guides.co offers multiple templates to kick off your design – and easy-to-use customizing features help to guide your guide to fit your brand.

Guides.co even goes the extra mile and hosts your content on their site for the world to discover!

Get interactive and think ThingLink

ThingLink adds a totally new form to social media that brings life to your content. The tool makes interactive visual graphics easy to make and void of the premium price tag.

The site integrates with others like YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vimeo to pull in sounds and videos to add to your graphic.

Register for free or get a few other advantages with a membership – but you might not need to spend the extra cash. The tools basic features enable users to design quite rich, interactive videos and images to incorporate into a content marketing strategy.

Even better, once completed, ThingLink lets you tag your piece and share with your social network along with their own community. Interact with other creative ThingLink users for ideas, inspiration and feedback.

Go forth and design

Designing is not easy. Supplementing the talent of an experienced designer will save costs but could indeed reduce the effectiveness of a content strategy. However, since more basic content is better than no content at all, getting your engine running with intuitive and affordable tools is key.  Helpful apps that enable the everyday entrepreneur or busy marketing generalist to design without breaking the bank or eating up your time is lifesaving.

Have any questions about improving your content strategy? Contact me! 

VinceVince is a passionate digital marketing specialist with a track record of evangelizing technology to modernize business development and brand building in the startup through enterprise levels. Skilled in strategic data-driven campaign management, Vince focuses on demand generation programs that influence growth, including marketing automation, social media, digital advertising, search engine optimization, blogging, public relations, video and event marketing.? Vince is a well-established Twitter influencer under @vince_tech and Founder of Boom Digital, a boutique digital marketing agency specializing in supporting the growth of early-stage startup companies through social media, content marketing, and design.

 

Why MORE Marketing Isn’t What You Need

photo credit: Unsplash

photo credit: Unsplash

Your marketing isn’t quite getting the results you want. In fact, it seems like the latest “thing” is taking far too long to work.

So you decide that what you really need to do is add another tactic to the mix because it just may be the thing that helps you reach your goals. As a small business owner or entrepreneur, does this scenario seem familiar?

You’re not alone. We’ve all been conditioned to believe that more is better. More marketing must equal bigger results. Right?

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Trying to be everywhere and continuously adding to our lineup of marketing tactics is likely working against you. When the focus is simply on adding more marketing to the mix, often it’s simply adding to the noise instead of cutting through to reach your ideal clients.

What if instead we decided to try a different approach to our marketing?

After coaching thousands of solo-preneurs, I realized the ‘be everywhere’ mindset of more marketing was backfiring for my clients. They were completely overwhelmed with the unending list of marketing tactics and frustrated that instead of doing what they loved, they were spending all their time marketing!

Our solution? Do less and do it better. By focusing in on their business sweet spot, we can determine the right marketing strategy for their business. When your marketing is in alignment with your business sweet spot, suddenly you’re playing to your strengths. It’s a “lean” approach to marketing mashed up with leveraging your zone of genius.

Here are a few ways to help you cut the marketing that’s not working and find your business sweet spot:

#1. Assess What’s Really Driving Results in Your Marketing

The average small business owner uses multiple social media channels, along with any combination of email marketing, blogging, podcasting, video, search engine optimization, and the list goes on and on. The reality is that few of us can do all of these things well, and we’re diluting our results when we’re spread too thin across strategies.

Take some time and make a master list of everything that you’re focusing on in your marketing. Then look at each one with a critical eye to determine if they are working for you. Keep this objective! Can you tie your strategy back to a measurable result? Having a large follower count on Facebook doesn’t matter if you aren’t able to convert that number into relationships and ultimately, sales.

One of my favorite ways to check in with my marketing strategy is to think through your top clients from the past 6 months. Simply making a list of your top 10 clients, then asking “how did they find me?” can cut through the confusion quickly! In fact, despite being an online business, I’m amazed that over 50% of my private consulting clients come from a personal referral. Now I spend more time focusing on nurturing referral relationships!

When reviewing your list, see if you can cut it down to the three most effective things. Then assess if you can let the rest go. You may quickly find ways to trim the fat or at least open up your eyes to gauge the real ROI on your marketing activities.

#2. Discover Where You Truly Shine

We all come to the table as business owners with our own unique set of skills, experiences, and personality traits. Some of us are at our very best in the maven role where we can build a large platform and shine on stage. Others may do their best in more intimate small group or one-on-one situations where they facilitate meaningful change and mentor clients.

There is no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy.

As a complete introvert, I’ve found that attending large events or conferences completely stress me out. Instead of feeling excited, I feel depleted. It takes days for me to recover! Not the best strategy for me – my marketing is much more effective when I leverage my strengths as a writer and teacher.

On the other hand, one of my colleagues adores attending events. She always makes great connections and walks away with new clients for her corporate consulting work. But spending most of her time behind a screen? Just the idea of an editorial calendar makes her feel restricted.

Not sure where you shine? Think about what your clients and community most thank you for. Alternatively, consider where you are most energized and what type of work you most enjoy. By tapping into that information, you can find clues that tell you how to best focus your marketing.

#3. Simplify and Streamline Your Marketing Strategy

Look at where you shine. Compare it to what’s working. You’ll likely find a clear pattern connecting the two – that’s your Sweet Spot! That’s where you should focus the bulk of your marketing time and energy to get the most powerful results.

By working in your sweet spot, you can jump off the marketing hamster wheel and say yes only to those marketing activities that are most aligned with what best works for you and your business.

What things have you found that are in your marketing sweet spot? What activities is it time to let go of? Share in the comments below.

RachealCookSquare-150Racheal Cook, MBA is an award-winning business strategist who believes entrepreneurs can grow their dream business while living their dream life, right now. You can connect with Rachael and get more of her mindful marketing advice by joining the Fired Up + Focused Challenge.

 

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Defining Your Marketing Strategy

Today’s guest post comes from the newest member of the Duct Tape Marketing team Kala Linck – Enjoy!

It’s February already! That means another year of customers, products, and sales. What are you doing to reach your customers, promote your products and improve sales? Did you set goals for the upcoming year? How are you going to reach them?

Photo Credit: From TyrrellMarketing.co.uk

Photo Credit: From TyrrellMarketing.co.uk

This is where your marketing strategy comes in. What is a marketing strategy? How do you create one? Don’t worry, that’s what I’m here to help with.

A marketing strategy combines all of an organization’s marketing goals into one comprehensive plan. The goal of a marketing strategy is to increase business and grow awareness of your organization. There are several pieces of information you’ll need in order to create this strategy.

First, what are your sales goals? At the end of the year, you’ll need to have something to determine that your marketing efforts were effective.

Do you want to increase sales by 10 percent? Would you like to sell more of a certain product or service? At the end of the year, what numbers will tell you that you’ve had a successful year?

Second, what marketing efforts do you currently have in place? You will use this to ensure that current marketing efforts are being utilized and consistent throughout the year, and to determine which you would like to add or take away.

Do you have a website? Do you participate in social media? Have you purchased radio ads or a billboard? Have you noticed that some of these are more effective than others?

Third, what is your target audience? This will help determine the channel you use to distribute your message, what your message is, and even where to focus sales!

Who buys your products? Where do they hear about your company? What needs do they have that your products or services meet?

Last, what are your key messages? These messages should align your products and services with your target audience. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your organization.

What needs improvement; what is being improved? What are customers saying about your organization? How do your products and services meet the needs of your target audience? What products and services do you offer?

As you start to flush out what your organization offers, to whom, and how you can best reach your audience to meet your goals, your marketing strategy will start to unfold.

When you begin putting this together, focus on the big picture first and then later, the specific tactics you will use to accomplish these big picture plans. Your marketing strategy statements should look something like this; “We will make our target audience aware of our improved customer service for returns to increase online sales by 5 percent.”

Need some help putting together a marketing strategy and then creating tactics to meet your goals in 2015? Talk to a Duct Tape Marketing consultant.

profKala is a specialist in digital marketing, who loves nothing more than picking up a newspaper and tuning into the local stations. She’s worked with clients spanning a variety of industries and knows that people are the heart of a successful business. Currently enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute to receive a certificate of integrated design, she believes in continuous learning. She loves to travel and try new foods, and documents her travels in her blog. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Using Large Business Tactics on a Small Business Budget

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Jesse Aaron – Enjoy!

You won’t find your local pizza shop in the Super Bowl advertising line-up, but you will find Papa John’s there. You won’t find your local shoe store sponsoring an Olympic team, but you will Nike there. However, there’s a strong chance the regional Papa John’s and Nike outlets have not heard of the local charity run or annual Turkey bowl.  Although their brand presence and marketing budgets are vast, they don’t always have their finger on the pulse of local events – but small businesses do. They’re engrained in the fabric of communities and they can use that to their advantage.

Small businesses have these advantages manifest as we convert the marketing tactics and campaigns of large businesses into a smaller formula. Let’s explore a few of them.

Strategic Branding Opportunities

Red Bull has molded their brand image to offer shareable and engaging media channels. Think of Felix Baumgartner and his record-breaking free-fall from 128,000 feet above the Earth’s surface. His most prominent sponsor was Red Bull. What they’ve done is affiliate their brand with various stunts and events that are complete media magnets. Even if nobody is paying close attention to the brand and sponsor information, these televised events will be shared for years to come and because of that it’s next to impossible for the brand to go overlooked.

Now, there’s absolutely no way that a small business could hope to match that kind of media coverage, at least not right away. That said, it’s entirely possible to create something highly shareable and engaging that spreads like wildfire, or becomes a social phenomenon so-to-speak. That shouldn’t be your focus or goal, however.

A small business can adopt a similar strategy by sponsoring local events and charities. Attending talent shows at neighboring schools and featuring one of the local acts is a great way to simultaneously promote localization and attract eyeballs. Who knows, they might be the next Felix Baumgartner.

Take Advantage of Emerging and Real-Time Marketing Opportunities

oreo

photo credit: Oreo’s Twitter Feed

This doesn’t pertain to any one brand, but instead several. Ever notice how the big names always seem to tie their marketing and advertising campaigns into real-time events and opportunities? For example, just take a look at how Coca-Cola and Oreo have tied their brand messages into the Super Bowl.

Along a similar vein of tied-in-branding, small businesses can hop on any relevant trends that sprout on social media. Remember the ice bucket challenge? Everyone and their cat posted a video of that, but the playing field was open to everyone. Countless brands and individuals of all sizes were scoring views and traffic due to their creative take on the challenge.

Create Content Based on Popular and Relevant Search Terms

Another playing field that can be a bit more forgiving than traditional advertising is the results page for search terms. Google factors in locations so when someone starts looking for pizza both local and chains will show up. Pizza Hut will never be able to compete with a locally renowned pizza shop.

When we start looking at the most popular and relevant search terms about our business we uncover paths to content. For example, if we sell mice traps and we notice many people are searching for tips on how to trap mice humanely, we could make both physical and digital cards to send out to customers and friends.

For small businesses with a creative team, we can reimagine search terms as visual content. I came across a great example of this recently with an infographic showing how much Americans spend on cars.  I was searching for the average price someone spends on a car and this was just a small auto-parts shop, but they effectively turned a popular search term into an engaging piece of content.

Flex and Flaunt Expertise

Famous brands consistently try to market themselves as the best, the brightest, and the biggest. Almost every hot tech company today can fuel that initiative because they attract the best and the brightest – but not of all of it.

According to a survey commissioned by the Freelancers Union, 34% of the American workforce freelances. The small web design shops and creative studios can easily home talent on part with the largest businesses. Think about the local mechanic or barber who has dedicated their life to the trade. We’re accustomed to seeing slogans like “#1 practice” or “top-rated in the area” and while this is definitely effective branding, more can be done to actually show expertise.

Blogs and video channels open the door to create educational materials such as tutorials and guides that can help convert potential customers. Local events also present opportunities to demo products or teach classes. Universities are also constantly on the lookout for experts of various industries to give lectures and in-class speeches, which can open your own business to fresh talent.

Jesse AaronJesse Aaron is a community manager and freelancer writer. He runs a blog and forums about social media marketing on Mashbout.

 

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Jolynn Oblak – Enjoy!

Leveraging inbound marketing strategies can help small business grow their customer base and save money. There are two basic types of marketing – inbound and outbound. The focus of each is different and they involve different strategies and techniques.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing, also referred to as interruption marketing, involves getting your marketing message to the largest number of people possible through advertising, cold calling, direct mail and other aggressive techniques that interrupt people in their daily lives. Seth Godin writes extensively about interruption marketing in his book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers. Outbound marketing is a marketing model that requires a lot of marketing messages to be pushed out through various channels in the hope that the right message makes it to the right person. This is an expensive marketing model.  So what options exist today that are cost-effective and deliver results for small businesses?  In Hubspot’s 2014 state of inbound report, we find evidence to support the position that inbound marketing has the potential to deliver better results than outbound marketing.

“Half of marketers across B2B, B2C, and nonprofit sectors ranked inbound as their primary lead source, exceeding the average (42%) of all other channels combined.”

Here are 4 key reasons that inbound marketing is the right investment for small businesses who are looking for an effective marketing method for customer acquisition.

1. The Price of Inbound vs. Outbound

Outbound marketing is a very expensive endeavor.  The average cost per lead in North America is significantly less when using inbound marketing strategies. [Source: Hubspot state of inbound report, 2014].

hubspot cost per lead b2b

photo credit: State of Inbound 2014

The costs associated with outbound marketing often involves printing and mailing materials or spreading your message through television, radio or other media, making it out of reach for smaller businesses. Inbound marketing is less expensive and anyone with the right skills can do it. You create your website and blog with content that is targeted to your primary market and with a good content marketing strategy, you can attract prospects to you. You do most of the work on the front end building your site, optimizing with SEO and building a website traffic strategy. Social media is a relatively inexpensive way to find your target market compared to traditional advertising and print media.  According to Hubspot, over the last 6 months, companies are relying more on Social Media, Blogging, Email Marketing and SEO for lead generation than traditional, outbound marketing [Source: Hubspot state of inbound report, 2014].

The diagram below from, Moz compares the benefits and tactics of interruption. With so many marketing messages thrust into our daily lives, it’s no wonder that consumers are ignoring these constant messages.

Interruption marketing and inbound marketing

photo credit: Moz

2. It Offers Better Two-Way Communication

One huge advantage of inbound marketing is that it’s a form of two-way communication where the customer interacts with the business in a dialog. They post on the company’s Facebook wall, comment on business blogs, or take part in contests. When they participate, they become invested and engaged. People want to be in control of the information they get and this makes them more receptive to your message. A great example of a successful inbound marketing campaign that illustrated this beautifully is the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign which was unprecedented in its use of social media to engage, motivate and respond to voter’s needs.

3. People Won’t Tune out your messages. Period!

Outbound marketing means putting your message in front of people whether they want to hear it or not. As a result, its techniques are often intrusive and annoying. People have begun to tune it out. Inbound marketing puts your message in front of your target market and if you employ the right content marketing strategy, they will be compelled by their own curiosity to see what you have to offer. In fact, blogging can yield 13 times increased ROI over a year [Source: Hubspot state of inbound report, 2014] and B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not. [Source: Social Media B2B].

4. Inbound Marketing for Non-Marketers

Inbound marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. To market traditionally through direct mail or cold calling takes a certain amount of aggressiveness and sales skill. With inbound marketing, you provide valuable content like whitepapers, infographics and blog posts that help attract your ideal customer. It’s not “selling” in the traditional sense, so it’s more appealing to those who hate the image of the pushy salesman and may feel uncomfortable pushing their message.

Clearly, small businesses can benefit in many ways by adopting an inbound marketing strategy. Think of inbound marketing as the magnet to acquire the right customer and start today with a plan for how your small business can leverage it in 2015.

tbITPFIpJolynn Oblak operates Oblak Marketing & Consulting, a marketing consultancy that offers digital training products that help entrepreneurs to grow their business by leveraging inbound marketing strategies. Jolynn brings more than a decade of direct & inbound marketing success to help businesses drive their products and services to a larger clientele by developing effective sales funnels and marketing plans that will turn prospects into customers and customers into lifelong fans. She shares actionable tips on business blogging, social media marketing and more via her blog. You can get in touch with Jolynn via her website at www.jolynnoblak.com or via Facebook or Twitter

12 Simple Ways to Improve your Small Business Blog

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

angry man with computer

photo credit: Anton

As a business owner, you’re always keen to try new things. So when you heard that blogging was a great way to improve website traffic and brand awareness, you thought you’d give it a go.

Sadly your business blog hasn’t produced the results you wanted. Hardly anyone is visiting, no one is commenting, and you are losing the motivation to keep up with your regular posts. So what do you do if your blog is tired, stagnant, or you feel as if the content isn’t reaching the right audience?

Before you give up on your blog, here are 12 tips to kickstart your stagnant business blog and ensure all your hard work pays off:

  1. Have you gotten started on your blog? If you’ve been thinking about blogging for your business more than you’ve actually been blogging about your business, it’s time to get started. I love the free get started blogging guide at First Site Guide for simple, image-based direction for getting your blog up-and-running.
  2. Are you using social media to help grow your audience and promote your blog content? Perhaps it’s time you started. Don’t head straight for Facebook, though – think about where your audience is most likely to hang out and what they might be interested in. Pinterest and Instagram are growing social sites that love visual content and how-to tutorials.
  3. If you’re writing product tutorials (or any kind of tutorial), include images, videos, diagrams and other visual content. Not only is your piece more likely to be useful if it contains visual guides, but the images themselves will be shared on social media, expanding your reach.
  4. Ditch the “blog” moniker. Many people don’t actually read “blogs” and will assume your blog content is all company and product updates, even if you’re writing fun and useful articles. Call your blog tab “Articles” or “How-to guides” instead.
  5. With every Google update, guest blogging is becoming an obsolete form of generating backlinks. However, guest blogging is still a powerful way to grow your audience, as long as you aim for quality over quantity. Write a post on a lifestyle blog related to your industry; for example, if you’re a tourism company, create some content for a travel blog.
  6. Do you have an old blog post that still pulls in decent traffic? Update the post with new information and better images, tighten up the prose, and republish it with a strong call-to-action.
  7. Use an editorial calendar to plan your posts weeks and months in advance. This editorial calendar should be part of your company’s marketing calendar because you’ll need to plan content around your various campaigns.
  8. Create a top-ten list associated with your industry or product. For example, if you make and sell scented candles, compile a list of the top ten scents for getting rid of a bad mood.
  9. You don’t have to “create” all your content yourself – compile posts of “curated” images, quotes and videos related to a single subject. As long as you attribute all the creators, you can republish their content and create a picture resource for your readers. For example, if you’re an interior designer, you could compile a post of 25 beautiful rustic kitchen designs to help your clients dream up ideas for their kitchen.
  10. Create a playlist in Spotify for an occasion associated with your business. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, you could create a romantic wedding playlist. Publish this list on your blog and share it on other music websites.
  11. Create a list of popular books in your industry. Choose books by popular industry leaders, and focus on interesting titles that cover a range of abilities. For example, if you were a fashion designer, you might include books on sewing techniques, on the fashion industry, and biographies of famous designers. You could even use Amazon affiliate links to make a bit of extra money when someone clicks through to buy a book.
  12. Have fun! Blogging for your business is a lot better than researching keywords for search, or sending out hundreds of press releases in the hope of getting coverage. Embrace it!

Do you have a business blog that just isn’t working? How are you going to turn things around?

author pictureSteff is the author, blogger and heavy metal maiden behind steffmetal.com, a blog about loud music, alternative subcultures and her adventures living off-grid in rural New Zealand. Steff writes dark fantasy fiction for adults; her latest book, The Sunken, a dark steampunk fantasy set in Georgian London, is now available on Amazon. Sign up for her author newsletter and receive a FREE short story.