Twitter 101: How To Craft the Perfect Tweet

Two twitter birds fall in love holding a red heart background. Vector file available.

photo credit: bigstockphoto.com

You’re a small business owner, trying to make an impact in the wild world of social media. Twitter is tempting. It’s not only a slick way to share your branded content, but it’s also a great platform for sharing other news and tips you think your community would enjoy.

The fact that Twitter exists in the first place, however, suggests our own collective impatience as a culture. If we wanted lots of words and links filling up our smartphone screens, we’d head over to Facebook. The twitterverse is a different type of platform, where people want things short, fast, and very much within their control.

Here’s how to play by the rules of Twitter and craft great tweets in the process.

Keep It Short(er)

How much shorter can you get than 140 characters? We all have so much to say, it almost seems unfair. But, how about 120 characters? Why, you ask? Because shorter tweets are … well, shorter.

Shorter tweets are easier to read, and better for retweeting. Those extra twenty characters you’ve kindly sacrificed will now be more easily usable for your followers. The extra characters allow them to add their own handle and hashtag if they wish to retweet and/or create a modified version of your tweet. At 120, there’s less risk of your precious message being cut off or truncated – all the more reason to tweet those extra characters forward.

Front Load

When crafting a tweet, put the main topic of your message as close to the beginning as possible. Consider these variations.

  1. 25 ways to make customers smile through great service.
  2. 25 smile-inducing customer service tips.
  3. 25 retail tips to keep your customers smiling.

Which one of the above tweets tickles your fancy? If you guessed “1” … you’d be wrong. It’s okay, it happens. For best results, “3” is your best bet. Tweet “3” not only explains that you’re about to share retail tips, but it also details how many tips there are – all within the first three words. This is called front loading. Wait, am I suggesting that we’re all so impatient that we need to put the crux of our info at the front of our sentences? Yup.

Keep It Low

So much about Twitter is real estate. The available space you have to craft your tweet is a tiny one. Avoid the tendency to capitalize the first letter of every word, as we might do on other marketing platforms. Rather than Stopping the Eye with Random Capitalization … let the eye flow.

This may seem strange – to ‘not’ want to clash against the rest of your customer’s twitter feed. If all tweets look the same, isn’t it a good idea to use some varied capitalization to catch the eye? Nope. The Twitter experience is a smooth uncluttered scroll. It’s best to go with its flow. Think of random capitalization like bad fashion; you’ll stick out, but for the wrong reasons. Stick with lowercase.

No Tricks. All Tweets.

Recently, I saw a headline, “A Dolphin and a Dog Meet … and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!” I immediately thought to myself, “Self, what do we know? We know that dogs are inherently friendly, and that dolphins are even friendlier. So, I’m going to guess that the dog and dolphin get along swimmingly.”

And, wouldn’t you know it, I was right. They got along just great. Which sort of annoyed me. These types of tweets and headlines are click bait. “Click-baity” headlines are like those faux-Oreo cookies your supermarket sells. They’re tempting. They’re cheap. And, they’ll make you feel bad as soon as you’re done with them.

People are on twitter because they want the facts and they want them fast, with no filler. Setting up a tweet so that people “have” to click the link to see which direction your story is going to go just isn’t nice. So, be nice. Be clear. Save your followers some time.

FoScreen Shot 2015-06-26 at 3.14.43 PMr instance, assuming you had the aforementioned stellar interspecies video clip, why not tweet something like: This dog-meets-dolphin video clip is a thing of pure joy. With only 140 characters, it’s not a time to be mysterious. Keep things honest, and you won’t hate yourself in the morning for tricking your followers for a cheap click.

 

Improve Your Images

A quick Google-ing will tell you that tweets with images work, big time. Tweets with images are 94% more likely to get retweeted, and 89% more likely to get favorite’d over tweets without images.

What kind of images work best? The easiest answer is relevant ones. If your tweet is in regards to a report or stat-filled article you’d like to share, include an image of a graph. Be sure it’s still clear enough to be read on a mobile device. If it’s not, use a screenshot of a portion of the graph.

If your tweet is not about data, add a cool, conceptual stock image that ties into the topic at hand. Twitter is a good place to have some fun and to express your brand’s personality, and images are a clever way to do just that.

Conclusion

Play by the rules that Twitter set up from the get-go. Keep things informative, short, fast, and clear. Doing so will keep your followers engaged and informed while building trust between them and your brand.

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 6.01.30 PMBrian Masefield is the social media and copy manager of Bigstock, an online marketplace for royalty-free photos, vectors, and video. For more design tips, you can follow Bigstock on Twitter.

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+.

Will Online Marketing Help You Save Money?

39111767_s

photo credit: 123rf

Online marketing is a rapidly-evolving new world, and there are subject experts for most of its related topics — digital strategy, social media, search engine optimization and marketing, website design and development, e-commerce, content management systems, etc.

The list goes on and on, with a lot of acronyms thrown in, leading us to be involved in conversations that sound like a foreign language.

Rather than reading “Online Marketing for Dummies,” it’s easier for many of us to “prefer” to abstain or have someone else make a decision for us.  But the reality is that marketing fundamentals never change, and with a few quick insights, we can be more than adequately prepared to make some decisions to charge forward with online marketing.

Firstly, as always, understand your objectives:  Are you trying online marketing to save money, help with branding, or generate sales?  Each of these reasons will drive a different strategy.

Will online marketing help you save money?

 Absolutely!  But, I don’t suggest quitting traditional marketing cold turkey.  The plan is to use a multi-media campaign and to experiment with different online programs to check their effectiveness with your buyers.

First off, saving money comes when people find you online.  That means you need to be easily found, which means you can start with on-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is set up during the programming of your website.  How good is your website — Is it set up to be found with meta tags?  Is it mobile-device friendly?  Does it need to be?

If you want to reduce the amount of money you spend on your traditional marketing budget, then you want to invest in your website so that people can find you. Also, success is measurable when you take advantage of the analytics to show that the right people are finding you online.

How does online marketing help with branding?

 Check out social media.  Your brand should be mentioned all the time, and you should be monitoring that chatter.  Why do people like your brand? Why are they frustrated with you?  The more you “listen” on social media, the more you will understand the perception of your brand so that you can respond or embellish.

You can become your own brand advocate, placing strategic messages on various sites, encouraging traffic to your website (so critical to online marketing) to learn more.  You can hire community managers who respond to customer service needs in real-time so that your brand presence is both real and virtual.  This helps with the customer experience, ensuring you have strong engagement and maintenance of your customers.

Sales campaigns can be driven completely virtually

– by providing targeted promotions through AdWords and Banner Ads, you can run A/B tests to see which messages are resonating more with your buyers.  You can track your website “stickiness” to learn how long visitors are staying on your site and to maximize conversions – converting website visitors to buyers.  You can also track referrals – are people coming to you because of Yelp, Facebook, or emails?  If you find one is more impactful than the other, then it’s clear where you should be investing your time and resources.

Note that sales campaigns are most effective when your brand is already well recognized – whether that is through traditional or digital marketing.  So if you want a successful sales campaign, make sure that your marketing campaigns are established and strong.

My goal was to try to explain online marketing in more traditional marketing terms.  In fact, I may have ended up creating more questions for you.  But if that’s what I did, I hope that you now at least know what you don’t know, rather than being immersed in a lot of millennial language that makes little sense.

Online marketing is not going away.  It’s a way of promoting business that we all need to embrace, and it’s a wonderful complement to traditional marketing.  Because there are so many niche areas, though, it’s better to start with some basic initiatives and feel good about them, before moving onto all the “bells and whistles.”

I suggest to first start with a foundation of a website, email blasts, and social media to ensure a strong ROI from your marketing investment.  Then you can add e-commerce, advertising, and prescriptive analytics for exponential growth.  That’s something that even Bartleby’s Lawyer-boss would advocate.

 

Aruna Naomi Inalsingh 010515Aruna Naomi Inalsingh of Ani Marketing Service has been practicing marketing for over 20 years, helping private, public, and start-up companies in the US, UK, Asia, and Russia increase their revenue streams. By aligning marketing strategies with business objectives, Aruna likes to integrate branding, promotion, and communication programs.  With the expansion of print marketing into online marketing, Aruna has adapted the traditional content strategy to include content planning to be used for websites, blogs, and social media communities.  The result is a range of memorable and effective campaigns that include strategic messaging, print collateral, and online marketing. 

How To Succeed At Content Marketing On A Small Budget

Here’s great news for your small business: You can succeed at content marketing without spending a fortune. In fact, you may be able to out-content market much larger competitors with much larger budgets. In this article, we’ll review a simple, focused approach to creating a content marketing campaign that is affordable and effective.

shutterstock_95024107Why You Will Succeed: Quality Trumps Quantity

Large companies sometimes turn content marketing into link building campaigns for SEO — putting the emphasis on the number of links, and hence the number of articles published. But whether for Google or people, high-quality content achieves the best results.

Small-business owners understand their business inside-out and know how to talk to customers and prospects. Thus, they are in a position to write highly authoritative and useful content — content that high-profile, influential websites and blogs in their niche are eager to publish. Such content holds several important benefits for small businesses:

  1. Improving brand image
  2. Establishing credibility
  3. Expanding brand awareness
  4. Generating sales leads and referrals
  5. Creating natural links that greatly improve the firm’s SEO visibility

shutterstock_164492432How to Succeed: A Hands-on Approach

The secret weapon to small-business content marketing is you. You know what to write about. You know how to write about it in ways that influence customer perception and action. You know the top publishing sites and may already have a dialog with some of them. Set realistic goals of publishing two articles per month and proceed as follows:

  • Set aside one to two hours per month to brainstorm topics with your team. Create a simple editorial detailing topics, key points and a target-publishing site for each article.
  • Set aside two to four hours per month to write two articles. Find an editor, either on staff or freelance, to edit as needed. The level of editing you need depends a lot on your writing skills; don’t be deterred if you are not a master writer. For more insight on editing, click here.
  • Set aside one to three hours per month to pitch your articles to publishing sites. You may be able to delegate this assignment to your top marketing person.
  • Task a staffer to monitor published articles. Keep track of the number of comments and social shares each article produces, as well as how many visits to your website were referred from publishing sites. Have this person alert you to any comments that need your response. Spend one hour per month reviewing performance data.
  • Continuously improve your efforts by looking for new publishing sites, and monitoring customer/prospect feedback and questions from whatever sources for new topic ideas.

This content marketing to-do list requires a little over one day a month from the writer (you) — and not much at all in the way of hard costs.

How to Succeed: Stay Focused on Off-site Articles

It’s tempting to expand into other types of content marketing once you’ve gotten your off-site article publishing off the ground. But take care: spreading yourself too thin could lead to mediocre execution on all fronts. Here are reasons not to venture out too quickly in certain content marketing avenues:

  • Social Media. You can labor for years to build a sizeable, engaged and relevant following on your own social media sites. Far easier is to piggyback on the established social media communities of your publishing sites.
  • Company Blog. An on-site blog is certainly a good thing, but doing it properly will consume a lot of internal resources. Effective blogs require the steady production of high-quality content and energetic marketing to develop an audience. Additionally, a blog should have an underlying SEO strategy that adds another layer of complexity and cost.
  • Visual Content. Infographics, video, slide presentations and photography have a huge “cool” factor and attract attention from valuable publishers. Nevertheless, visual content is expensive to produce and hard to do effectively, even with a substantial budget.

If you see your initial content strategy gain traction, based on lead generation, social shares, anecdotal evidence and other relevant factors, you can always expand. It’s a great problem to have — much better than trying to do too much and getting nowhere.

sn-brad-shorr-2Brad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director of Straight North, an Internet marketing firm serving business of all sizes with their content marketing needs. You can read Brad’s work on Moz, Smashing Magazine, and About.com.

How Working Collectively Can Create a Better Customer Experience

Today’s Guest Post is by Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, Jamie Patterson-Kaulmann – Enjoy! 

via PhotoPin

via PhotoPin

The concept of the Marketing Hourglass is ubiquitous in the marketing world. An improvement on the traditional marketing funnel, it expands the traditional funnel by adding a back half to the equation and putting the focus of marketing on the total customer experience. In the same way that John has introduced the Marketing Hourglass as a systematic way to improve your customers’ experiences, he has also advocated for focus on strategic partnerships as a way to add additional value to your customer.

Today I’d like to talk to you about the power of collectives and how not only projectizing your organization around collective knowledge and your strategic partnerships, but how actually forming strategic networks can add exponential value for everyone involved. There are several ways you can leverage the power of your network to provide increased value to your customers by working with partners to increase their knowledge, provide them additional services and create projects around their needs.

Leverage collective knowledge

One place to start is by looking within your network or extended network for anyone who could augment your expertise. Look for people with whom your combined expertise could add value across functions and disciplines in areas where you might not personally be an expert. An example of this would be a former executive at a company I once worked. Bob Stangarone recently formed an agency Stangarone and Associates, a powerhouse of Aviation Industry experts who collectively provide value across all disciplines and knowledge areas of the industry.

The Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network is another prime example of a network of independent companies working together to provide collective value to the market. We frequently work together and share experience to provide added value to our customers. The beauty of this type of network is that any customer who engages with one network consultant gains access to the collective knowledge of 80+ other marketing consultants in the network.

Form a collective network

Work on becoming a super connector. By looking at your network differently and placing a priority on finding opportunities to bring people together who can add value to each other and who might not have had the opportunity to work together otherwise, you become even more valuable to your entire network. This is especially true when the parties you bring together might have seen each other as competition previously, and you help them see how they can actually add more value to the market together than was possible independently. If you need some inspiration, look to the following examples as guides.

Collective entrepreneurship is epitomized in female entrepreneur Lisa Chuma, who created the Women’s Expo shortly after immigrating to Switzerland. Her Expo allows women business owners to present their products and services to the Swiss population, but her guidance and leadership has created an environment where many of the women now work together to provide enhanced packages and services. This not only has the added value of providing better products and services to the market, it has increased the respective customer bases of everyone in this network.

Unity Mark, a fellow Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, is another example. Their UnityMark project is a social directory platform that allows non-profits and cause-based projects to develop powerful online profiles so that the real story behind their cause can be heard, found and shared. It is a place where businesses, consumers, and causes can connect, communicate and support each other.

And lastly, www.addictlab.com is a platform in existence for almost two decades which encourages sponsors, members, and clients to come together from anywhere in the world to collaborate on innovation co-creation projects. They have recently launched www.yourownlab.com, a platform where you can create your own innovation lab for creative collaboration.

When looking to build a collective network, think of yourselves as a neural network. In a neural network, not all neurons are firing all the time; they only fire when they are needed for delivery of the task at hand. By forming such a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive network and bringing together your respective communities into a larger community, you provide more people with the power to collaborate, increase ideas and provide a value far greater than what would have been achieved independently.

Patterson-Kaulmann Jamie 2 (1)Jamie Patterson-Kaulmann is the founder of Alight Business Solutions GbmH, dedicated to helping mission-driven small businesses implement systematic, workable agile and marketing solutions. Jamie is a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and a PMI certified PMP. A displaced Kansan, she currently resides in Switzerland with her husband and daughter. For more articles like this, visit the Alight Business Solutions blog or connect via LinkedIn.

How to Build a Blog with 100,000+ Monthly Page Views

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

how to build a blog

You’ve probably heard that blogging is a great way to generate leads and sales for your business. John has talked about blogging many times on this very blog. And the truth is, it does work, many companies have seen stellar results from creating compelling blogs and building large audiences around them.

But why is it so hard?

While this may be true, building a successful blog is much harder than it sounds. I’ve been blogging for a long time. I ran a personal blog and a number of different niche blogs during my time as an Affiliate Marketer. I wrote hundreds of posts and did various “link building” tactics to try and rank my blogs to get traffic. This did produce some results, I got a bit of traffic and a few sales, but it never turned into the lead-generating-cash-machine I dreamt about every night before bed.

It was only when I started blogging for my startup Process Street did I start to see some real numbers and results from my efforts. We are still in early days (the blog is about 6 months old) but we recently hit the 1,000 subscriber mark and are now receiving over 100,000 page views every month!

traffic stats

What changed?

So what did I do different this time than all the other times I blogged?

The answer is content promotion. In my early days of blogging, I would spend 90% of my time writing content, once it was done I’d share it on my social media properties then move on to the next post. I now spend just 30% of my time on creating content and 70% promoting it.

content creation vs content promotion

This does not mean I write lower quality content by any means, in fact, my content is much higher quality now, I just write fewer posts. Like much fewer. I was writing up to 10 articles a day across my various blogs, now I am lucky if I manage to get 1 per week out. But when I write, I write longer, more detailed, more personal, more actionable and more impactful posts than I ever did before. This is not by chance, this is part of the carefully curated content strategy that I came up with from watching some of the greatest SaaS content marketers in the world like Buffer and Moz.

Creating high quality content is absolutely necessary to build a blog that people read, share and link to, but creating high quality content is only half the battle (or 30%!). High quality content is not useful if nobody sees it. Today, I have a team of 3 Virtual Assistants that focus on promoting my content, and not just content on my blog, I have them promote guest posts I write on other peoples blogs (like this one) plus any post that links to one of my products or posts.

So what is content promotion and how do I do it?

Well I’m glad you asked. It just so happens that I created a very detailed and in-depth checklist that you can follow to promote your content. This checklist is responsible for driving at least 1,000 visitors to every post I have written, it in itself is a huge piece of content that took me 3 days to create! Now it’s all yours. Use it yourself or hand it off to a VA and watch the visitors roll in.

Grab my content promotion checklist below and supercharge your blog today.

vinay headshot process street 100x100Vinay Patankar is an ex digital nomad and startup growth specialist. He is the CEO of Process Street, a platform that manages recurring processes for teams and turns businesses into automated, self growing machines. Find him on Twitter, Google+ or his Blog. Sign up for a free trial of Process Street here: http://process.st

What Customers Want

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

photo credit: shutterstock

photo credit: shutterstock

The only consistent in the wants and needs of internet users is change. This has less to do with finicky temperaments and more to do with the change of the infrastructure of the internet itself. The gap in demands of internet users now compared to ten years ago is just as vast as that between the technologies of each of these two eras.

For online entrepreneurs—or anyone with a website, really—this means that incorporating what your customers want to see online is determined just as much by human nature as it is by keeping current with internet trends, and updating accordingly.

Fortunately, the things people want are not fundamentally different from moment to moment, and are grounded in a few fundamental principles. Knowing these will help optimize the changes you do choose to make in accordance with new developments.

Device Functionality

While the idea that making sure your site or content works on the device being used to access it sounds like common sense, this becomes a little bit more complicated in practice. Currently, internet access occurs from two primary categories of devices: computers and mobile devices. As most are aware, computers are on the decline and mobile devices are gaining popularity.

This is worth noting because, while making sure your site had a mobile component was good enough in the past, in certain cases, mobile should now be the focus of your site’s design. A quick look at a few sites, both big and small, offering currently popular services will reveal a clean, minimal design, ideal for mobile devices.

While mobile access is the biggest factor in the current look and function of the internet, it’s worth looking ahead to new developments, such as 3D printing or “the internet of things” for an idea of how internet use might look in the future. While these two innovations might not necessarily determine the look of the internet in the future, keeping up-to-date with these and other new technologies and offering functionality before other, similar sites, is one way to offer an edge over competitors.

Easily Viewable Content

When providing content to your customers or viewers, your goal is likely not just for it to be viewed, but for it to be understood. This is how content generates sales: with new information, customers now want what it is you’re offering. Accomplishing this is a multifaceted feat: form is just as important as function. While creating quality content has its own set of best practices, the currently dominant shape of popular content is in videos.

Some cynics believe this to be due to a decline in attention span. However, for younger generations, short videos fit into a schedule determined by short periods in between classes or brief study breaks. While a detailed article can likely only be skimmed in that period of time, a short video will get its point across, and, if it’s good, be shared with other young consumers on their breaks.

However some surveys even suggest that people watch even long online videos without any qualms. Small videos are nowadays being incorporated not just on websites and social networks but even within ads. Videos have been popular since the early days of YouTube, but with Instagram, Vine and Snapchat each changing how videos are viewed, and in turn increasing their relevance in consumers’ lives, video marketing is expected to be more important than ever.

Social Media Relevance

In the case of Snapchat specifically, these are not just videos but disappearing videos. With messaging apps on the rise, private, individualized content is likely to be the shape social media will take in the future.

Whether or not things continue in this direction (sites like Ello offer alternate, privacy-centric solutions), staying up-to-date with social media trends is key for business relevancy. While creating a Facebook page was a great tactical move for businesses in the past, Facebook is beginning a slow decline. And when knowing what customers want before they do is starting to determine the speed of marketing, starting a new campaign on a site that’s even just beginning to go stale could offer diminishing returns.

While the ideas above offer some ideas of how to meet customers’ needs, both conscious and subconscious, new news could leave internet users suddenly wanting something they never knew they wanted before. To market to this group successfully, staying ahead of this news, when possible, will ensure your campaign exists even before your customers know that you have something they want, offering an immediate source of gratification. In a constant state of change, keeping one step ahead of that change, while requiring a little more risk, will also lead to the highest rate of success.

author_markMark Kirkpatrick is an online writer and tech enthusiast in Los Angeles, California. In addition to researching how technology affects every industry, he also contributes to 1800-Number.com’s blog with his knowledge of business communications and innovations in virtual office tech.

 

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.