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Are Your Words Killing Your Brand?

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

Are Your Words Killing Your Brand

photo credit: BigStock

While there are hundreds of definitions of the word “brand,” my favorites come from the World English Dictionary. As a noun: “a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular product.” And as a verb: “to give a product a distinctive identity.”

Most of us keep our brands in mind as we develop product packaging or choose color schemes for websites. However, all too often, we arbitrarily pick words when writing marketing copy and content without so much as a thought about branding. Generic word choices fail to evoke an emotional connection and attachment to our brands that, in turn, can actually harm recognition and growth.

Good Examples of Brand-Oriented Words

Let’s watch a couple of videos and I’ll show you what I mean. Have a pen or keyboard handy and jot down the words that catch your attention or make an impression on you.

Video #1 – Gillette Body Razor

Did your list contain these words/phrases?

  • Terrain
  • Rugged
  • Control
  • Off-road razor
  • Take you where you want to go
  • Confidently

What do they all have in common? They are words commonly classified as masculine/manly. They give a visual impression of a man’s body that this target audience will want to be associated with. Sure, Gillette could have written video copy that said something like, “Trying to shave your body is way different than shaving your face, dude. You’ve got all those curves and you can cut yourself if you aren’t careful. Our new body razor pivots and makes it easier to shave across uneven surfaces.”

That would be accurate, but it wouldn’t live up to the brand. That type of copy also wouldn’t get anywhere near the same reaction as calling a guy’s body “rugged terrain” that requires an “off-road razor” for shaving. The copy is specific to the brand as well as the precise target segment for this product.

Video #2 – USAA Insurance

Right away, from the first words spoken, I picked up on the phrases:

  • Mine was earned
  • Handed down
  • Generation to generation
  • Superior level of protection

 

To wrap it up, the voiceover copy used “begin your legacy…”

What do those phrases say to you? For me, I get the message that USAA insurance isn’t just bought, it has to be warranted. Because USAA only provides insurance to military families and their dependents, you have to be part of a somewhat exclusive club. That immediately adds value to any brand because it separates the company from the mass marketplace.

In addition, the terms “handed down,” “generation to generation” and “legacy” show that this product has value and is worthy of being considered an inheritance of sorts. That boosts the perception of this brand instantly.

Is this practice just for video copywriting? Absolutely not! It’s for writing website copy, social media posts, blog articles or any other type of content you produce. Your brand, and the words that represent it, should stretch fully across the entire landscape of your marketing efforts.

Do This Before You Kill Your Brand

Performing this quick exercise will help you discover the best words to support and promote your brand. Once you have a good idea of the communication style you want to use, you can boost all your marketing copy and content with more power to persuade, engage and remember.

1. Determine How You Want Your Brand to Be Known

Create a list of words/phrases that should come to the minds of your target audience when they hear the mention of your brand.

2. Get a Copywriting Thesaurus

Books like “Words that Sell” by Richard Bayan are excellent for giving you different, enticing words to use, so your copy doesn’t sound ordinary.

3. Ask Yourself Questions

How do your target customers perceive themselves? Are they stereotypical manly men? Are they power women who kick corporate butt? Whatever it is, add to your list words/phrases that relate to their world in the areas of work, play, relationships, goals, self-perceptions, etc.

As you discover more about your customers, expand your list of words so you have a never-ending source of nouns and verbs that capture attention and remembrance for your brand.

Karon-black-150pxKaron Thackston is President of Marketing Words helping businesses convert better, rank higher and sell more. Having worked with companies including Gorton’s Seafood, American Boating Association and others, Karon builds success through copywriting, SEO copywriting and conversion techniques for businesses of all sizes. Download Karon’s “Copywriting Makeovers” ebook for real-world case studies that can equip you to boost the performance of your website.

The Biggest Stereotype About Marketing Automation

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

It’s not our fault that most of us associate marketing automation with complex campaigns run by advanced marketers in bigger companies.

That’s how it took off in the last decade.

But that stereotype is threatening the future of small businesses…

How It All Began

We know content marketing works.

We also know that more information is being created every 48 hours than the entire amount we made before 2003.

So, every 2 days it becomes harder to create content to engage people, especially those who are interested in what you do and are likely to become your customers.

This is a serious problem.

Roughly 5-7 years ago, a group of companies saw what was happening and did something about it.

They were HubSpot, Pardot, and Marketo, among others.

These companies knew it would be almost impossible to succeed at content marketing without streamlining the process. So they started automating tasks their corporate clients needed, and combining them in one place.

That was the birth of marketing automation platforms.

Why They’re “Too Complex”

Since the key with any great campaign is delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time, one of the things the industry became focused on was automating emails. Specially, creating complex trigger scenarios so that you could deliver those messages on an individual basis, ideally converting more customers.

Now we send over 294 billion emails a day.

Unfortunately, that complexity plagues the stereotype of marketing automation. It’s what most people think of when you mention the concept.

Besides the price.

And while it’s certainly useful for businesses with significant traffic, the cost and time involved is prohibitive for many smaller companies.

The Irony

The irony of marketing automation is that it’s viewed as complex and time consuming – yet the goal is to simplify tasks and save you time reaching your most profitable customers.

It’s simply a way of automating mundane tasks, so you can be more effective and reserve those spurts of energy for creative projects.

Due to the rapid adoption of content marketing, and the associated challenges of creating successful inbound campaigns, it will become more crucial than ever for all businesses to start adapting these time saving techniques.

In fact, some may be doing it without even realizing it:

  • When you use an SEO tool like Yoast to optimize your blog, that’s marketing automation – because instead of learning the rules, Yoast shows you what to do.
  • When you use a plugin to automatically share posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social channels, that’s marketing automation.
  • When you schedule your tweets using a service like Hootsuite, Buffer or TweetDeck…
  • When you monitor mentions of your business on the social web using Meshfire or Google…
  • Even when you use canned email responses to answer common questions…

It’s not about saving 1 hour by doing something different.

It’s about streamlining the process, so you save 3 minutes here and 8 minutes there at every step along the way.

With marketing automation, everything counts.

What’s next?

The demand from businesses with smaller budgets and time requirements is growing.

While the first wave of automation platforms was built for enterprise teams and budgets, we’re now seeing companies like ScribeContent, Orbtr, Spokal, Nurture and others designing platforms specifically for smaller teams, making it easier for anyone to create successful content campaigns.

Raab Associates recently showed that over 75% of companies adopting automation platforms in the USA are now small and micro businesses. And B2B Online shows that over 50% have fully integrated automation into their marketing.

 

photo credit: B2B Online

photo credit: B2B Online

 

Here’s the catch.

As it becomes easier for small businesses to leverage tools to make their content better, it will become easier to create better content. This means the quality of content that businesses need to produce to attract potential customers (and nurture them over time) will increase.

This is fantastic news for customers.

And it’s good for small businesses too, because those who can implement time saving techniques into their marketing practices now will have an even better chance of getting ahead of their competition and succeed at doing what they love.

Henry Ford was right.

Automation leads to great things.

AlexandraSkeyAlexandra Skey is the co-founder of Spokal, an award winning marketing automation platform for small businesses, and author of Zero Friction, which explores the future of online retail and will be released in fall 2014.

She lives on the west coast of Canada and is obsessed with customer experiences, horses and kiteboarding. You can connect with her on Twitter.

 

5 Tools to Make Your Email Smarter, Faster, Better

I believe that email is with us for a while longer. Despite the attempts of well meaning app makers and social networks, email is not dead. In fact, I get a ton of email from those same social networks that were going to kill email off.

email

photo credit: tompagenet via photopin cc

Email, like it or not, is the one tool that pretty much everyone has, everyone uses and everyone checks on a daily basis, so business use of email isn’t going anywhere soon as an external communication tool.

I say external, because I believe some tools like Basecamp, Yammer and Quip do allow you to replace some internal email and work better in teams that need to collaborate, discuss and track frequent iterations of conversations.

The key to making email flow externally is to find tools that make it smarter, faster and better with the way you work.

Below are five such tools that I’ve worked into my email toolkit.

Contactualy – I suppose you could call Contactually a light CRM tool, but it really shines when it comes to managing relationships that happen via email. It features lots of email functionality such as scheduled sending and open tracking but it also helps you prioritize your most important relationships and put them in “buckets” that prompt you to stay in touch if you have not communicated with someone within a designated amount of time.

Rapportive - This is a pretty simple browser plugin that keeps contact and social details from anyone that sends you an email in the sidebar of your email reading pane. That way when you get an email from someone your know or don’t know, you’ve got some pretty handy information at your fingertips.

Signals – This email addon from Hubspot does one thing very well – it tracks your emails and lets you know when someone has opened it. To me this helps in a couple areas – you know someone got your email and you know when they might be most receptive to a follow-up nudge or question.

Assitant.to – If you’re like me you’ve wasted a lot of time going back and forth with people trying to schedule meetings and phone calls. I don’t like those scheduling apps that make people go to a page, pick a time and add all their contact info. Assistint.to taps your calendar and allows you to send someone up to 3 times – they just pick one and it automatically creates calendar invites for both parties.

Gmail screenshot with Assistant.to meeting scheduling

Gmail screenshot with Assistant.to meeting scheduling

Boomerang – This add on allows you to get reminders when you want to resurface an email thread or if someone hasn’t responded in a set number of days. You can also write a bunch of emails in the evening and have them scheduled to send around coffee break time the next day.

I have all five of these services connected to my gmail account and rely on parts of each for my email workflow. I currently use Google Apps for Gmail and Chrome browser as each of these integrates with Gmail and all have Chrome support and extensions.

5 Ways Your Website is Hurting Your Bottom Line

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Jake Magleby  – Enjoy!

Marketers have touted the benefits of an online presence for businesses for years. However, starting a business website is only the first step. For many would-be Internet business gurus, their bottom line is falling short of what it could be. Make sure your business is competitive on and off the Internet by avoiding these five common mistakes.

1. Unresponsive Web Design

If you haven’t optimized your web design for multiple devices (i.e. mobile phones, desktops, and tablets), you could be driving traffic from your site. According to eMarketer, local mobile searches are expected to exceed desktop searches by 2015. This means your site needs to operate seamlessly across devices in order to compete.

Smartphone

photo credit: Flickr, leo_prince008

Unresponsive designs equal cumbersome navigation and a frustrated user. The more intuitive the design (and navigation), the higher your conversions will be.

2. Slow Loading Time

Time is money, and Internet users are impatient. If you can’t deliver page results within a few seconds, you could be losing valuable traffic. According to Kissmetrics, a one-second delay in page response can result in 7% loss in conversions.

While there are many ways you can improve your page load time, consider focusing on these areas:

  • Minimizing HTTP requests
  • Optimizing images
  • Compressing larger pages
  • Combining CSS sheets

Akamai found that 47% consumers expect a web page to load within 2 seconds, and 40% will abandon the site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Don’t lose out on conversions before visitors even have a chance to see your content.

3. Unreliable Hosting Services

Small business website hosting services come in various packages. However, whether you host on a shared server, a dedicated server, or something in between, your web host should be able to do four main things:

  1.  Provide 24 hour tech support. If something goes wrong on your website, you need a guarantee that tech support will be able to help you right away to ensure the site is running properly as soon as possible.
  2.  Guarantee at least 99.9% uptime. When Amazon experienced a 40 minute downtime in August 2013, they incurred a $5 million total loss. Though a small business may not suffer revenue loss on such a grand scale, downtime directly affects your bottom line. Look for host providers like Midphase, that offer 99.9% uptime to ensure the best results.
  3. Protect your data. Most hosts will back up your web data on a separate server. This protects your information in the case of a costly security breach.
  4. Scale their services. Make sure that your hosting service can accommodate business growth and scale their services to meet your expanding needs.

If your host cannot fulfill these four promises, you could be setting yourself up for lost business.

4. No Calls to Action

Call to ActionTo turn visitors into repeat customers, consider adding a call to action after a purchase on the thank you page. Invite them to share the offer they purchased with their friends; encourage them to sign up for a newsletter; or ask them to “Like” you Facebook or follow you on Twitter.

Though you’ve already earned one conversion, a call to action can turn your single conversion into a loyal customer.

 5. Lack of Optimization

You can’t rely solely on branding to generate online leads. Marketing Charts found that 39% of customers for online merchants came from searches. What does this mean for you? You need to optimize your site for search and usability; because if people can’t find you, they can’t purchase from you.

There are many aspects to a good SEO strategy, but keep in mind these basics:

  • Include relevant keywords in your meta descriptions, title tags, and alt texts.
  • Update your contact information.
  • Add relevant keywords to your content and copy.
  • Share posts, deals, and information via social media.

Optimizing will increase your visibility in the SERPs, the traffic to your site, and ultimately your online conversions.

Though there are many factors that affect a company’s bottom line, taking time to improve your website will be worth the effort. If you have already done most of these things, investing in data analytics, such as Google Developers tools, is a great way to identify more nuanced problem areas with your website.

Evaluate your traffic patterns, click-through rates, and individual page conversions to discover small but significant ways you can improve your site and your bottom line today.

Jake MaglebyJake Magleby 1 has written extensively about effective marketing, sales, and financing strategies to help small business owners succeed in the fast-paced and ever-changing business world. He also has an interest in education and development.

How to Get Past Cold Calling

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Andrea Hewitt – Enjoy! 

Cold calling is proven to lead to high levels of anxiety for at least 40 percent of sales people during their careers. That’s why every company should strive to get to the point where they can stop relying completely on cold calling and finally see hot leads coming down the pipeline.

Unless you become a giant corporation, which is not the case for most companies, you’ll still be tracking down new clients through cold calls. It’s the perfect way to touch base with many potential customers that wouldn’t find you otherwise.

But how do you transition to less cold calling and more customers coming to you? Start with these four steps and you’re sure to see more hot leads coming your way:

1. Provide a great product or service

The easiest way to draw people to your brand is to have an incredible product or service to offer them. Find a need in whatever market you want to break into, and make something great to fill the void. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Find something that needs to be updated and create a better version. If your product is good, people will talk about it and you’ll start to see positive feedback that could attract potential customers.

2. Network every chance you get

If you focus on a specific industry, get to trade shows and use the opportunity to spread the word about your products. If you’re trying to sell to a specific region, go to local festivals, gatherings, and any opportunity for you to mingle with community members and leaders. Hand out as many business cards as you can, then let the customers come to you. Utilize every opportunity to hit the pavement and you’ll be sure to build awareness of your brand.

3. Create an awesome web presence

One of the main ways you can drive leads to you is to have an incredible web presence. If it’s been a couple years since you built your site, create a more modern design. Think of your website like a book—people are judging it by the cover. You also need to make yourself search engine optimized (SEO). For example, if you own an ice cream shop in Duluth, Minnesota, when people search Google for “ice cream in Duluth,” you want to be the first result. Start increasing your SEO by conducting a site audit. This step will point out problem areas that you can work to fix so your site starts performing higher in the rankings.

4. Cultivate a good reputation

Build relationships with the movers and shakers in your industry. If there are publications that many of your potential customers read, contact them with well-written press releases about new products and updates. Or ask if you can write something for them to get your name out there, educate your audience and demonstrate your authority. If there are professional organizations or chambers of commerce that are trusted in your area, get in touch with head honchos and convince them your company deserves public attention. Getting those people on your side and talking about you will lead to more inquiries.

You’ll also create a stellar reputation by having solid customer service. If you consistently go above and beyond for your current customers, they’ll do word-of-mouth marketing for you by bragging to their friends and colleagues.

Once you’ve tackled these first four steps, you’ll be on your way to finding the balance you desire between cold calls and hot leads. This won’t happen overnight but if you take your time and take pride in your exceptional product or service, you’re destined to get where you want your business to go.

Andrea Hewitt Andrea Hewitt is a content writer at StorageAhead, a web marketing company. She spends most of her time writing blogs that help others grow their businesses. She loves tackling a variety of topics and if she’s unfamiliar with one, she’ll do hours and hours of research until she feels like she has enough authority to write about it.

 

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!

Clapperboard

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

internet face (1)

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.

Why The New LinkedIn Publishing Option is Worth Your Time

LinkedIn recently starting rolling out a new content program that allows LinkedIn profile holders to add long form blog posts. The program piggybacks a bit on the Influencer program launched in 2013 that features long form content from folks like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Maria Shriver and Mark Cuban.

LinkedIn has been on a bit of a content tear over the last few years snapping up tools like Slideshare and Pulse as well as creating programs like the Influencer program and building topic based communities inside of Pulse in an effort to battle networks like Facebook for more and more of your online time.

In announcing the latest publishing program LinkedIn had this to say:

“Starting today, LinkedIn is opening up our publishing platform to our members, giving them a powerful new way to build their professional brand. When a member publishes a post on LinkedIn, their original content becomes part of their professional profile, is shared with their trusted network and has the ability to reach the largest group of professionals ever assembled. Now members have the ability to follow other members that are not in their network and build their own group of followers. Members can continue to share their expertise by posting photos, images, videos and their original presentations on SlideShare”

The opening process is a rolling one and is said to only include about 25,000 profiles initially. If you are one of the chosen ones you should have received an email from LinkedIn alerting you, but you’ll also notice a little pencil icon in you status update box as in the image below.

FirefoxScreenSnapz092

I’ve been testing the program and believe it has some real upside for many business owners and marketers.

Engagement is high

I’ve added four posts currently and all appear to be getting a nice amount of pageviews and engagement. The thing I noticed right off the bat and truly appreciate is the engagement is coming from people I don’t currently interact with so my content is gaining exposure into some new places.

LinkedIn automatically showcases the content as recommended reading for relevant profiles.

FirefoxScreenSnapz093

Search results are immediate

All of the posts are showing up in Google searches for pretty specific content within hours of publishing. LinkedIn content has always been highly regarded by Google and this platform might offer content producers who don’t currently rank highly another vehicle.

And, while links you might embed in your posts are most likely the “no follow” type, with page views numbering in the thousands for most of my posts, I’ve got to believe those links are getting some clicks.

FirefoxScreenSnapz094

It’s about authority

Published content that collects social signals and shares does wonders for an author’s authority and for many the LinkedIn publishing platform might be one of the best places to get exposure, build engagement, pick up +1s and send Google an authority message.

I’ve decided to amplify the content outside of LinkedIn to see how much initial attention I can drive to it and I’ve also placed a link to my Google+ profile in the short bio at the end of each piece to help Google add this to my author profile.

I recommend that you take a look at this publishing avenue as another potentially potent place to distribute your message and spread your expertise.

What’s Best for Your Marketing Right Now?

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

New Year New Plan

Photo credit: Tatiana Popova/Shutterstock

It’s the best and worst time to be a marketer.

It’s the best, because marketers are empowered with infinite resources — data, robust tools, and high-yield customer acquisition channels.

But it’s also the worst, because the marketing landscape is more cutthroat than ever — never before has the competition for audience attention been so fierce.

In 2011, AOL and Nielsen estimated that 27M pieces of content were being shared each day.

Imagine what that number looks like today.

Virtually every marketing team has committed to investing more in content production, social media marketing, and inbound marketing this year. That’s because leaders finally have the tools that they need to prove the ROI of their spends.

As media budgets increase, however, there will be much more pressure on marketers to stand out. We’re all after the same audience eyeballs — and these consumers are tired of seeing the same messages over and over and over.

2014 is the year that you need to stand out — and you’re going to need to put up a strong fight.  Forge your own path. Outsmart the crowd. Test creative and innovative ideas.

It’s time to reinvent the wheel. Here are some ideas to get started:

1. Create World-Class Content

Content

Photo Credit: Stokkete/Shutterstock

Everyone is blogging.

Let me repeat that: everyone is blogging. If you’re just launching your content marketing plan, you’re still behind the crowd.

But this position actually works to your competitive advantage.

A fully fleshed out content engine is expensive to maintain. The investment yields significant rewards, but think about it — when you’re already big, it’s impossible to reinvent your strategy.  If you’re just starting out, you have infinite potential to try something new.

Have an idea? Run with it.

Neil Patel exemplifies this concept. He’s gone where no marketer has gone before and routinely spends $20K-$30K to create in-depth guides like The Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing. These are 30,000+ words and over 200 pages in length.

Beginners guide

His goal wasn’t to copy anyone else but to set the bar high and truly be exceptional.

If you have an amazing idea and are able to quantify an ROI, do it. You can always start with a test, measure response, shift angles, and scale. With so much momentum in the content space, now is the best time to do it.

2. Build Relationships with 800-Pound Gorillas

500 lb gorilla

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The beauty of online marketing is that it’s collaborative. Our industry is one where peer support is high. We want to partner up and help fellow companies succeed. We are constantly looking to exchange value and help one another grow.

When you’re just starting out as a marketer (or are finding your stride), it will help to align your company and team with now-big companies that have been exactly where you are now.

800-pound gorillas have the advantage of an audience, customer base, and reputable product. As a small company, there are plenty of ways that you can help that 800-pound gorilla, while also growing your own company. Offer to provide content to blogs like HubSpot’s – they get your awesome content, and you get exposure for your company. You can also look to form strategic partnerships through software integrations. Take a look at the Unbounce partner marketplace for inspiration.

Unbounce

Even as a small business, you can add value to an 800-pound gorilla. Give more than you expect to get, and you’ll see value in return.

3.  Find New Communities

kites

Photo Credit: jannoon028/Shutterstock

In terms of community-building, social media platforms are only the first step. Find communities where your customers are hanging out. Join conversations with fellow marketers on websites like Inbound.org and GrowthHackers.com.

GrowthHackers

In addition to finding opportunities to promote your company, look for new skills to learn (and people to learn from). Listen more than you speak, add great questions, and add value. Care about your community, and you’ll be surprised whose attention you’ll get.

Your Thoughts

You pick #4. What are your marketing goals for 2014? What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned last year? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’re excited to learn from you and keep the conversation going.

Chris KilbournChris Kilbourn is the VP of Strategy at Fit Marketing. In past lives, he was a professional rockstar (seriously), and he built and sold two successful companies from the ground up. You can request a consultation with Chris and his team at Fit Marketing here.