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Blueprinting As a Coaching Model

I’ve got another free eBook for you – keep reading!

I’ve experimented with various coaching and consulting models over the years and while I’m a big strategy before tactics kind of guy I like some things about a model I call blueprinting.

BlueprintingThe idea behind blueprinting is to map out a manageable set of steps each month based on proven areas of focus. The value in this approach is that it’s one that works for those businesses that have lots of tactical things they need to put into place, but lack a full time marketing person.

Over the course of the year they tick off items and make steady progress building a marketing system. All of the items that make the list are drawn from categories that make sense no matter when they get to them.

Each month the consultant gives a client a series of action steps and then essentially stands back and offers needed guidance and feedback. It’s a great way to create a year-long engagement that can be tailored to specific needs and budgets.

I’ve created a free eBook based on my Total Online Presence program using that annual blueprinting methodology. Don’t worry about when you start, just get started in month one and move through the steps. (Grab the free blueprint eBook here)

This is a coaching and consulting model that can be practically applied to many types of consulting practices once you develop the road map.

Enjoy! And let me know what you might consider blueprinting in your business.

What Integrated Marketing Looks Like Now

I’ve been playing the marketing game for over twenty-five years and the term “integrated marketing” has been around at least that long.

confluence of streams

photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc

Years ago, however, the concept of integration applied mainly to consistency in branding elements and a unified message in advertising, public relations and sales promotion. With integration a customer or prospect could experience the brand in a similar way and this built a stronger brands – particularly if the advertising message were memorable enough. Think – “Where’s the Beef?” the Wendy’s ad hit.

But then online channels, social behavior and customer voice came along and fragmented even the best attempts at integration.

Suddenly brands had to deal with dozens of new channels and things such as mobile shoppers and consumers armed with the ability to talk back and publish information, images and reviews about brands.

Organizations that were used to tightly controlling their marketing had seemingly lost control and attempts to catch up by putting QR codes on billboards only made the fragmentation worse.

Oddly enough, while many things in marketing have changed, some never really have.

Brands that get integration right understand that it starts with a simple unified strategy that projects and protects a single-minded message and voice. This is something I’ve been calling Clarity.

Clarity goes beyond some of the traditional definitions of marketing strategy as it suggests that an organization understand the one thing above all that they want to be known as and they use that as the filter for everything they do.

In many cases this one thing has no direct correlation to the products and services that a company provides and often rests on things like purpose and community.

Once clarity of strategy is understood it’s simply amplified by making it part of the culture of the organization. Once that’s understood you can go to work on integrating all the moving parts that make up the ways that customers experience a brand.

When Clarity and Culture are tied together as strategy, integration expands to include not only consistent branding elements, advertising messages, sales promotion, public relations but things like human resources, strategic relationships, customer service, and product development.

What this view suggests is the fact that integrated marketing today means that marketing must be integrated into everything the business does.

The view of integration

Once Clarity and Culture are in place you can deliver a truly integrated experience by viewing the many channels a business must manage as the convergence of streams. Rather than simply creating a consistent look, feel and tone you come to view the power of merging channels in support of each other.

  • Your advertising builds on your content strategy to drive awareness
  • Your SEO and social media efforts support and drive list building and email marketing
  • Your PPC campaigns drive conversion testing as well as content creation
  • Your mobile outreach supports social channels and drives offline actions
  • Your email marketing supports your social media and advertising efforts
  • Your public relations supports SEO and content efforts
  • Your customer service leans on social channels and content creation
  • Your analytics allows you to see the impact of integration instead of simply measuring the last click

The point is that in today’s marketing world the real objective is community building and in that effort integration is an exercise in the power of the convergence of streams built on and amplified through a single-minded strategy rather than then simply an attempt at a consistent set of tag lines and colors.

topamazonI believe the message of integration, particularly as it relates to the many new online channels, is such an important one I’ve written a new digital book called The 7 Essential Stages of Building a Total Online Presence and made it available exclusively on Amazon.com

The book not only expands on the theme of integration it outlines the importance of building the stages of content, SEO, email marketing, social media, online advertising, mobile and location and analytics and conversion as one unified form of integrated marketing.

Each stage includes action plans, tools and links to dozens of resources. The digital book is currently on sale for $4.99. If anything about this message resonates you’ll want to spend the five bucks to add to your education and experience in this important area of business.

Marketing Is a Habit, Not an Event

Marketing podcast with John Jantsch

Get this 12 month blueprint as a free eBook here – Total Online Presence Blueprint

Live by the calendar

photo credit: Russ Neumeier via photopin cc

Business owners often view marketing as something they must finish so they can get back to work.

Marketing, as I’ve stated often, is never done, it’s just another system that you must operate at the highest level possible at all times.

With that in mind, you must view marketing as a habit. It must be something that invades your daily routine. You must identify and keep two or three high priority marketing activities at the top of your project list each month.

One of the ways that I’ve been successful at pushing this “live by the calendar” mentality is to get business owners to create a monthly theme of focus and build their plans around this focus. You can practice this idea with a monthly content theme or a monthly action plan theme.

Once you have your monthly focus you can develop projects, resources and partnerships related to your theme. You can create weekly staff meetings that keep your theme alive and measured. And, you can start to make daily marketing habit appointments with yourself and others to continue steady progress in this all important arena.

When you take this month by month approach you’ll find that progress happens, things get moved forward and the view of marketing looking back over six months of this practice looks pretty astonishing.

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I present the audio version of a month by month action plan aimed at helping you build a Total Online Presence.

I take you down a 12 month journey and prescribe a theme for each month along with six to eight action items. The idea is for you to choose no more than three items each month and attack them until finished.

You may also find slides I prepared for this talk to be helpful.

12 Month Total Online Presence Action Plan

Last week I wrote a post that addressed the overwhelming amount of things you need to focus on in order to build a Total Online Presence. I broke it down into 12 months of action themes to make it easier.

I received so much feedback on this approach that I decided to conduct a live online seminar and reveal a set checklist of steps for each month.

The Total Online Blueprint Seminar was a hit!

We had over 1500 people sign up for the session and during the live program the hashtag for the event #dtmTOP trended globally.

The overwhelming consensus of those that participated is that there’s a great deal to do when it comes to building a Total Online Presence and the highly practical nature of the action steps I shared was just what people wanted.

Consider a few comments from participants:

 

 

Replay the online seminar in its entirety below.

You may also view and download the slides I used here.

During the session I also introduced a new small group coaching program where I will take up to 10 coaches and consultants through an 8-week intense program aimed at helping them build a Total Online Presence. The program also includes a complete online portal of training and resources for each participant.

If you know you need to invest time and resources into enhancing your effectiveness with online marketing or you would like to obtain more knowledge and resources to share with your clients, this could be the perfect answer.

Check out the entire Total Online Presence coaching program here: (Don’t wait, we start Feb 5th!)

12 Month Total Online Presence Blueprint

I’ve been taking business owners through the beta of my Total Online Presence Program of late and the comprehensive nature of this mindset is certainly reinforcing the overwhelming amount of stuff there is to do online if you are to tap the full potential of building a Total Online Presence.

Total Online Presence Blueprint

photo credit: someToast via photopin cc

That was a really long sentence to say – “Dang, there’s a lot you have to do to get this right.”

But here’s the good news (or maybe it’s the horrible news), it never ends, you’re never done, it’s just part of who you have to become. What I mean is there’s no point in worrying about getting it all done this week or this month unless you only plan to be in business for a month or so.

You must come to think of building a Total Online Presence as an intention and a continuous work in progress. (I’m conducting a live online seminar the subject of this post January 22nd if you want to get into even more specifics – Enroll here)

With that in mind, I present a 12-month plan of attack or blueprint for working on your presence in the coming year. I’ve long taught this “live by the calendar” approach as I think it helps business owners, who wear many hats, get above the overwhelm by taking it topic by topic and manageable bit by bit in an attempt to forge something that looks like continuous progress.

Month 1 – Create a Listening Station

Setting yourself up to actively monitor what’s being said to you, about you, about your market, your competitors and by your customers, is step number one. Employ a combination of free and paid tools such as Google Alerts, Google Reader, HootSuite and SproutSocial to filter, aggregate, follow and monitor your online presence and establish a routine of processing, acting on and sharing this information on a daily basis.

Month 2 – Set-up Foundational Content Calendar

Using your own brainstorming combined with some smart keyword research from a tool like the Google Keyword Tool, set up a calendar of monthly themes that will make up the focus of your content for each month. This can be a mix of your own content, guest content, video, audio and related content produced by others. The content created around these foundation themes will become the backbone of your SEO efforts. (I wrote more about a Total Content System here.)

Month 3 – Get More Sharable

This month you’re going to work on several fronts. You are going to audit everything you’re putting out there and make it easier to share. That means adding social media buttons to all of your content through WordPress plugins such as Sociable, adding ways for people to share your emails and adding sharing options to your printed and offline materials. In addition, you’re going to start exploring ways to share more of other people’s content. Drawing links to your content is essentially networking and you start this process by filtering and sharing good stuff that your followers and readers want to know about. One of the best ways to do this is to scan your blog subscriptions and employ a tool like Buffer to share 10-12 great finds each day.

Month 4 – Create a Point of View eBook

This month comes with one and only one task – create an eBook that will be the backbone for your lead capture program. By creating a content tool that summarizes how your firm is different by either presenting highly valuable content or outlining your unique methodology you create the foundation for trust building while giving people a reason to start a conversation beyond Twitter. This also gives you a tool to start reaching out to potential strategic partners for list swaps and cobranding opportunities.

Month 5 – Clean Up Your Content Delivery Platform

It’s time to take a good hard look at what we used to call your web site. Content delivery now means your blog, podcast, videos, eBooks, newsletters and brand assets placed in other networks around the web such as YouTube and Slideshare. And, of course, this also means your web site, your email capture process, your contact process, your about us page, your on page SEO factors and your page load speed.

Month 6 – Become Serious About Landing Pages

Now that we are producing keyword rich content it’s time to start driving people to get that content, to download that eBook, subscribe to your content updates and to connect for specific events and presentations. This month you’re going to get serious about creating landing pages for very specific purposes such as signing up for your email newsletter, downloading your eBook or attending a free educational online seminar. You can use outside tools such as Unbounce or internal tools such as Premise to help create landing pages with lots of functionality. Once you learn the mechanics of what makes a good landing page you can replicate the process to test and personalize for a variety of environment and occasions. Here’s a great primer on landing pages.

Month 7 – Revamp your Email Communication

This month you’re going to get serious about remaking your basic email newsletter as well as employing autoresponders to help follow-up with prospects and customers. By adding your monthly content theme material mixed with other people’s content you’ll produce a far more valuable newsletter that people want to receive. In addition, you’re going to start using your ESP’s tools to segment and personalize content for different audiences.

Month 8 – Tackle Social Profiles

I know that with all the emphasis on social media these days that waiting until month eight to mention it may seem odd. My view is that without addressing many of the steps that I emphasized in the previous months, social media participation is simply a distraction. Now, I can make a case for claiming and building profiles whenever you can, but serious consideration should be focused here now. Get serious about claiming, completing and enhancing your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook profiles. Don’t stop there, branch out to industry networks, Yelp, Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest profiles. Consider a service like KnowEm to create even more profiles.

Month 9 – Address Social Integration

Now that you’ve built profiles it is time to start going deeper. Choose the social network that allows you to reach the greatest number of prospects. Depending upon your business this might be LinkedIn or it might be Facebook. I believe that most businesses need to up their game in a number of networks to cover the favorite for their entire market, but it’s important to also get much deeper in at least one so you can learn how to engage in a way that attracts leads and converts fans and friends to email subscribers and customers. Then you can expand that effort.

Month 10 – Work Out Conversion

This month your entire focus should be on the conversion process. So many business focus on generating traffic when the money is in, well, the money. This begins with understanding everything you can about the usability of your web site, A/B testing your landing pages and setting up analytics goals and funnels to track every ad, call to action, headline and offer. Tools like UserTesting.com, Google Experiments and Google Analytics make up a nice low-cost toolset for these functions.

Month 11 – Start Employing Smart Advertising

Here’s another category that lots of people want to jump right into. It’s true you can run some Google AdWords and maybe generate traffic before you ever create any kind of organic presence, but I believe that your advertising gets far more effective if you can use it to create awareness for strong content offers, have a firm foothold in some social networks, are testing and tweaking your conversion tactics and are prepared to capture leads and build the kind of trust that helps you fully monetize your traffic.

Month 12 – Develop Mobile Friendliness

We end the year by looking at ways to tap the fact that almost every one of our prospects and customers have mobile devices that allow them to shop, search, research and buy products and services from local and global companies. The need to make your content mobile and tablet friendly is essential. Once that is taken care of you can branch out and explore mobile advertising, location-based offers and SMS communication knowing that the foundation built over the past year will allow you to maximize the growing mobile space.

Even at over 1400 words I realize that for some all I’ve done is whet the appetite for more specific direction. If today’s post has piqued your interest in this important subject, join me Tuesday, January 22nd for a live online seminar where I will dive into all twelve months with a list of specific actions you can take for each.

Total Online Presence Blueprint Online Seminar – Jan 22nd – Enroll here

7 Most Important Online Marketing Tactics for Any Small Business

Building an effective online presence these days has moved beyond the realm of the occasional event and into the daily routine of the marketing department. It doesn’t matter if it’s just you, as opposed to the traditional definition of department, online marketing must become a habit that’s practiced daily.

photo credit: cleev.

Now, I also recognize that there are many things calling for your daily attention. And, for some folks, the new set of online actions simply represents more to do with each passing day.

It’s import therefor to focus on the highest payoff activities to maximize the return on time spent.

Below are what I believe are the most important online marketing tactics for any small business. Focus on these actions before trying the chase this week’s new, new thing.

1. Research and revisit a catalog of keyword topics

Your entire content strategy should be informed by a catalog of themes and topics you visit and revisit in a predictable manner. You must commit to researching a core set of keyword phrases and topics and building an editorial calendar that helps you stay focused on your core “chapters” of content.

2. Produce content people will share

Once you’ve developed a plan for the topics you intend to cover on a frequent basis, you must learn how to produce content that people want to share. This, of course, differs for every industry, but there are proven techniques that can help start the sharing engine.

The most important element is value. Value is generally found in showing people how to do something they want to do, where to find resources that can make their life easier and providing insight into an industry challenge or trend. It’s no secret that list posts, such as this one, draw more attention and shares. Also, consider using video, audio and striking images as part of the content mix.

3. Use social networks to enhance email and attract links

Turn to social networks as a way to create awareness for your content and network for links. Share other people’s content as a way to increase value and attract links. Amplify your best content as a way to build your email list.

To me this is the immediate payoff for social network participation. It’s not about thinking of clever things to say, it’s about creating pathways to sharing that goes back and forth. Social media will always pay if you view it in this light.

4. Claim vast amounts of real estate

Go out there and build your Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, even if you have no time or plan to build large followings. Create YouTube, Slideshare and Picassa profiles. Claim and enhance your Google+Local, Yahoo and Bing Local profiles.

This free real estate will help you start to build depth to your presence, attract a few links and populate search results for your company name as you work to build a library of content and links from other sources.

5. Drive leads to landing pages

You must embrace the use of landing pages for all of you advertising, email marketing and social outreach. House your free content and promotional offers on highly optimized landing pages and use these pages to capture targeted leads and start the education and conversion process over and over.

6. Split test as much as you can

Testing is often an after thought and that’s a shame. Businesses that get in the habit of testing everything, right from the beginning, have such a competitive advantage over those that leave everything to chance.

Little tweaks to images, headlines and call to action buttons can create massive swings in conversion, but only if you test one against another to see the results of a change.

When you start to spend money on driving people to landing pages this is the make it or break it tactic that winners employ.

7. Use funnels to measure and drive conversion

I am a very big advocate of moving prospects along a series of commitments or steps on a path to educating, building trust and ultimately getting a sale.

Online this is accomplished by combining landing pages, offers, email marketing and follow-up to build on each stage.

Google Analytics allows you to build funnels that match your paths and score and analyze each phase of the funnel so that you can understand not only the impact of each element, but your entire conversion system.

Yes, I know, there’s more to do than you can possibly get done, so focus on the highest payoff tactics and what you do get done with produce greater results.

5 Ways to Generate More Email Sign Ups

Getting more email subscribers is job #1. Email is and has long been the number one producer of return on marketing investment for businesses large and small.

Acquiring the contact information of someone who has expressed at least a mild interest in what you do and has given you permission to tell them a great deal more about what you do is the first, and perhaps most important, task.

There are few businesses today that can get by on traffic and eyeballs alone. Today’s marketer must get access, permission and time on the screen. Today’s marketer must have multiple opportunities to build enough relationship capital to convert trust into a sale.

Email marketing, combined of course with advertising, referrals, public relations and a total online presence is the complete package.

List building is an essential element of email marketing today and takes a strategic approach in line with its importance.

It’s no longer enough to slap an email sign-up form on every page of your website and call it done. You must focus attention to detail and expand your thinking on list building to get your “value exchange” or “reason I would give up my email address” in front of more of the right people at just the right time.

Below are five tactics for list building today:

1) Feature with content

There is an assumption in this post that you are producing high quality, educational content – the kind that draws links and readers. Now you’ll want to explore ways to promote your list sign up as people engage with this content.

Many WordPress theme frameworks today (Genesis and Thesis) allow for what are being called “feature boxes.” These feature boxes make it easy to place a sign up box at, say, the end of each blog post or top of your blog home page. Placing your email offer where people are reading and enjoy your content improves uptake.

2) Content partner share

One of the most important ways to entice email subscribers today is by offering long format content in the shape of an eBook. Generally, this is content that deeply tackles one subject in a way that’s appealing to your target client.

Once you’ve gone to the effort to produce this content reach out to other businesses, the ones that know they should be offering content to their customers, and allow them to promote your eBook by way of a special co-branded sign-up landing page.

3) Thank you suggest

Once someone signs up to receive your offer it’s good form to redirect them to a “thank you” page that gives them assurance that all is well, what to expect next or other details.

Consider partnering with three or four other “high quality” content producers that you would recommend to your readers and suggest subscriptions to these partners on your thank you page.

If each of the partners involved performs this action you’ll see more subscribers by way of referral.

4) Advertise

If your content, such as an eBook, is attractive enough you may find that advertising is an effective way to create list sign-ups. Of course this assumes that your conversion and measurement activities are such that you at least have some idea of what an email subscriber is worth long-term to your business.

You can effectively promote an eBook through Facebook Promoted Posts or by purchasing solo ads in newsletters related to your market.

5) Endorsement swaps

One of the most powerful ways to quickly add subscribers is for another list owner, one that has built trust with their subscribers, to send a mailing endorsing your eBook or newsletter content.

Now, while this is obviously a great tactic, it’s one that requires many things. No list owner will risk their reputation endorsing low quality content and neither should you. This is a tactic that takes time as it’s best done with partners that you have established a very trusting relationship with either by way of reputation in your industry or by directly working on other projects.

Build these relationships, create some killer content and approach your partners with the idea of sending an email offering their great content to your list while they do the same.

7 Stages of a Total Online Presence Seminar Archive

Yesterday I conducted an online seminar to over 1,300 small business owners and marketers and covered the big picture approach to integrating all the online moving parts such as content, SEO, Email marketing, social media marketing, online advertising, mobile, location, conversion and analytics.

Needless to say, this is important stuff and this is fast moving stuff.

Below is the archive of the recording of this event for those inclined to dive in and learn more about this total picture approach.

During the call I also introduced a beta program based on the Total Online Presence content that includes 6 live sessions with me and a full online training portal. The program starts Oct 4th and is priced at about 1/3 of what the program will eventually sell for. As of this writing there are a couple spots left. Check out the beta program here