Friday, January 27, 2017

Don't Have A Webinar if You Have Nothing to Say

I sat through a 17-minute webinar last week. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of presentations that are brief-and-to-the-point. 

This was more like a fluffmercial. Please, don't be that guy. 

I'm going out on a limb here to say that webinars are gonna be huge (HUGE) in 2017. There are oodles of video tools to make webinars fast, cheap, and fairly good-looking. We're accustomed to watching videos to learn how to do almost anything. 

If you're reading about marketing trends (especially while drinking KoolAid) then you know hosting a webinar is on the top of the list of cool, must-do marketing tasks for 2017. They're also practical, and not complicated. You create helpful content - or reuse what you already have - wrap it up in a nice audio/visual package, and smile as you collect information on all the prospects who sign up to see your presentation. 

It's practically perfect - assuming your presentation is worth the audience's time. 

Make Your Webinar Better Than That

The mercifully brief webinar I watched last week wasn't worth my time, and I suspect most of the audience could say the same.

Here are the top 3 things that were wrong with it: 

1. The headline promised a whole lot more than the webinar delivered. In fact, the headline was almost as informative as the rest of the webinar! Grrrr. (This is how people get jaded, btw.) 
2. The last minute of the webinar focused on signing up listeners for the next webinar. I did the math: that's nearly 6% of the content worthwhile only to the company that produced it. And, I'm betting, it wasn't effective. #LoseLose
3. The way-too-general, way-too-brief presentation gave me the impression the company is absolutely NOT an expert in its industry, ergo, I am much less likely to do business with the company now than I was before I attended the webinar. I think we can safely call that an "unintended consequence." #oops

So the Point Is: Say Something Useful

Content Marketing is a great idea if you actually have content, that is, something to say that is useful to your audience (prospects). Whether it's a white paper, webinar, email campaign, brochure (remember those?) or website, your content needs a purpose. 

'Nuff said. 
Looking for a jaded marketing consultant to help you hone your message, look like an expert, and get your useful content to the right audience? Here I am

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Excellent Example: Content You Can Use from MailChimp

Kudos to MailChimp for sharing a LOT of helpful data that allows companies to realistically evaluate their email marketing results - whether they are MailChimp customers or not.

Is It About Time You Tried Email Marketing? 

The piece I'm referring to includes bounce and open rates for several dozen industries (most of which, I'm guessing, are of the B2C variety). What's more, MailChimp sorts the stats by company size and industry AND offers tips to improve your email marketing program, from message creation to timing. 

Honestly, most white papers aren't this informative, and this piece is not gated in any way - it's available to view without coughing up so much as your email address. Nice. 

By the way, it's current - the company's benchmarks were compiled in 2016 and updated in January 2017.

What Makes This an Excellent Example of Marketing Content? 

This is an excellent example because good content educates prospects -- as this does -- without a hard sales pitch. At least in the middle of the sales cycle. 

Of course a sales pitch - even a strong one - can qualify as great content, but it's all about timing. The pitch usually comes at the end of the sales cycle, or up front for a different type of product. More on that in another post. Right now it's time for us to both make good on those plans to make better use of email marketing in 2017. 

New to email marketing and still learning the lingo? More help from those content-marketing monkeys: Soft vs. Hard Bounces and what it all means. 

Not doing email marketing yet, but think it's time to start? I can help.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Clickbait Makes for Great Writing Prompts

I don't write fiction but if I did, I think I'd see writing prompts everywhere. 
In fact, with delightful inspiration popping up on nearly every web page I visit, I just might start writing fiction. 

Stay amused, my friends. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Website Content and Considerations - an Excellent Example from Salesforce Partner Pardot

I agree completely with everything in an article on website lead generation that Pardot posted recently.

Completely. With everything.

So, while I don't have permission to publish it here in its entirety, I highly encourage you to read it - if you'd like to get more out of your website, that is.

you want users to come back to your websiteGo ahead; read it. I'll wait. (You'll come back though, right?

HEY, Welcome Back!  Now that you've read the article, you know that Pardot really walks the talk when it comes to using marketing content for lead generation.

Because that was a pretty darned good example of marketing content, wasn't it? I love it when that happens.

Who Needs Content? Businesses That Need Leads

I just might make it required reading for all of my clients. At least half of my clients are small- to medium-sized businesses who believe that they're too small to follow all the "rules" of marketing and/or they just don't have time to think about marketing. OK, to be fair, they really don't have time.

But what Pardot said is exactly what I keep telling them. If you want your website to help you attract customers and increase sales, you need to:

  1. KNOW your customers and what they want
  2. Make sure your website helpful, from their perspective and 
  3. Create content that makes buying from you (among other things) easier on them.
Good content not only helps you grow your business by generating pre-qualified leads, it also helps to maintain those customer relationships, leading to repeat and referral business. In case you're into that kind of thing... 
_ __ _ _ __ _ __ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _

Need help creating content? Sharing it? Or making better use of the content you've already got?
I specialize in marketing small- to medium-size businesses. See my website for more info.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Picture Yourself Not Plagiarizing

Plagiarism is theft, it's wrong, and it's rampant. In 2016, it's hard to sell the ignorance defense convincingly. It's 2016. We've had Google for a good long time.

And for several years now, Google has had a tool at our fingertips to help us stay legal. So, use it.


Also, your mom just called. She wants me to remind you that just because "everyone" is doing it doesn't make it right.

More opinions on the subject, and a nice explanation from a lawyer, can be found with a quick - what else? - Google search. Although it's not the freshest piece on the subject, I'm fond of CNET's article on the subject.
I don't like thieves, and I definitely don't want to be one. When managing websites and social media accounts for my clients, I opt for original art first, vendor-supplied art second, and then search for images "labeled for reuse" - and credit the source in most cases when I use them. Need some help managing content that will get you more sales - and no letters from lawyers? Get in touch

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

3 Basic Business Communication Tips

Super easy things you can do to improve your business communications, now. Oh, and they're free.

How to Close an Email Message

If you spend more than a nanosecond thinking about how your email will be received when your intended recipient reads it, you're my kind of person.

Hence, I enjoyed this article and agreed with most of its message.

Bonus points if you spot the typo/grammatical error in the list.

               Read before you send. 
                          'Nuff said.

                                     Keep the content coming. 
Blog. Post in forums. Update your website. Email your customers. Ask for (and share) referrals and testimonials. 

Leads from inbound marketing cost WAY less than those generated by traditional advertising/outbound marketing. 

I'm not making this up; it's 62% less if you ask Mashable. HubSpot says companies that increase their blogging from 3x-5x/month to 6x-8x/month see leads double and B2B companies that post 1x-2x/month get 70% more leads than those that don't blog. 

What do you mean you don't have time to post to your blog? This didn't take long! If you'd rather spend time on your business instead of managing your website or blog, ask somebody* for help. 

*somebody like me :D

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Speaking Opportunities: Content Gold Mine!

While it is hard to deliver a speech that garners praise from wildly different audiences (thank you, Michelle Obama) most public speaking opportunities fall in the "preaching to the choir" column.

Generally, a public speaking gig is gift. Typically, your audience wants you to be there and they want you to do well.

Exception: when you are presenting dissenting opinions in a public/civic meeting. 
In which case, practice deep breathing and take a friend along for moral support!

public speaking: dying on the platform
No one likes public speaking. Or at least, virtually no one will admit to enjoying it. But speaking opportunities are excellent lead-generation activities - it's old-fashioned, effective marketing at its best. And, while you might find it uncomfortable, making a good impression during a live presentation is actually pretty simple.

Plan Out Your Talking Points

Your audience wants you to do well, but they also want you to be prepared. There are oodles of different methods. I prefer to write a rough draft of what I want to present. That usually takes the form of a narrative - in the "letter to a friend" style. Then I read it out loud.

Yes, out loud. Practice makes prettier presentations.

Practice Doesn't Make Perfect

But it sure helps! Take that rough draft, or outline, or list of things you want to say and just say them. To a friend, your cat, the mirror. Just say it. Out loud. You can't deliver a speech without speaking practice.

This isn't brain surgery, folks. Practice OUT LOUD. Edit your message, revise, and practice your talking points again.

I say "talking points" rather than "speech" because most people think a speech is something you memorize, and memorizing your talking points will almost always backfire. You'll go on autopilot, then forget what you said and repeat something...or leave something important out.

So practice your message, refer to your talking points, but don't memorize a speech.

DO outline your talking points. (Outlined in a slide presentation is ideal, if you're using slides, of course.)

What Should I Talk About? And How is Speaking a "Content Gold Mine?"

Time to deliver on the headline! Public speaking opportunities really are a content gold mine. 
Here's how you can come up with great material and make the most of your public speaking opportunities:

As you prepare for the speaking event, dig into your own mine of content about your business or organization. Reading a blog post verbatim isn't a great idea, but gathering your primary talking points from some of your most popular blog posts, web pages, even FAQs is smart. In fact, it's kind of silly not to do that. (Why reinvent the wheel?)

The person, organization or event that has engaged you to speak is also a rich source of information. Ask your contact what he or she would like you to speak about. Ferret out as much information as you can about the people in the audience. Where will they come from? Why do they want to hear from you? What matters are most pressing to them? As you review your existing content pull what is most likely to be helpful and interesting to your audience.

Once you're prepared to deliver a dynamite presentation, get ready to learn more while you're there! The people you're speaking with are not only a "captive audience" but something of a focus group. As a speaker, it's completely fine to ask questions of your audience and gather information from them. (So record the presentation or take notes.)

Maybe they love your company. Hate your latest product release. Have a wish list of things they'd like to see next season... whatever feedback they offer is truly gold, and should be helpful as you market (and work to improve) your business or organization.

Maybe Public Speaking Isn't So Bad...

Try these practical tips the next time you have an opportunity to speak to a group, staff a booth at a trade show, or even as you just work the room at your local Chamber of Commerce meeting. You might find that you're soon looking for more public speaking opportunities, and even enjoying them!

~   ~  ~    ~  ~   ~    ~  ~    ~

PS: When you're speaking, make sure that what you're saying makes sense. Go easy on the industry jargon and Corporatese. Want help preparing for your next presentation? I can work with you to make sure you get your message across, and make the most of the information you collect at your next speaking engagement!