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Easy to Follow Weekly Content Plan for New Bloggers

I get it.  The thought of continually having to come up with new blog posts is overwhelming…especially for businesses who are just now considering a content marketing strategy.  Focal Point works with companies in industries that range from manufacturing to healthcare to the non-profit sector.  Each time we start to talk about launching a new blog and developing a content plan, it’s always the same discussion.  The biggest questions are: what am I going to write about and how often do I need to post to see results?

The key to making a content marketing strategy work is to take all the guesswork out of it upfront.  The other important ingredient is to provide some flexibility in the schedule so a new blogger doesn’t feel as though he or she is failing if a post doesn’t get out right away.  All of us marketers wear a lot of hats and sometimes things just get pushed back.  This is why I try to simplify things as much as possible in this easy to follow weekly content plan.

It’s all about getting started, so here’s a sample content plan that would result with publishing 3 posts each week.  Ideally, there will always be a Monday post, but beyond that there’s some flexibility.  Most importantly, the topics for each post are super easy to come up with and you know exactly what type of post you’re going to be writing each day.  Take a look at this super easy to follow weekly content plan for marketers…

Monday – How to Solve a Problem

zig-ziglarThis is the bread and butter post to start the week off with a bang.  Every business gets frequently asked questions.  Every business solves some type of problem in some way.  This is your chance to tell that story.  Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and use the similar situation sales tactic from Zig Ziglar.  Basically it’s this – tell your customers how you solved a problem just like theirs for someone just like them.

This is where it’s a good idea to consider personas of current customers.  How old are they?  What types of hobbies do they have?  Remember, the more the story on how your company can solve a problem is exactly relevant to that person, the better off you are in the long run.

Need Ideas?
Think of this post as a FAQ section of your site.  What questions get asked all the time about your business?  A good place to start is simply by going through emails to see if any questions stand out.  Or you can take a moment to think about the questions that come in on your contact us form.  For example, a plumbing company may get asked how often a hot water heater should be drained.  Answering this question would make for a perfect blog post.

Another great place to look is in Google Analytics.  I wrote a post all about educating prospects to turn them into better paying customers and in that post I share these simple steps below that are perfect for uncovering problems that need solved:

  1. Log into Google Analytics
  2. Drill down to the report showing the keywords driving organic traffic (in Google Analytics it’s under Acquisition->Keywords->Organic).
  3. Use the search feature within that report to find keyword phrases using words such as “how,” “what,” “why,” etc.
  4. Write down the top 5 keyword phrases within each of these searches.

Tuesday or Wednesday – Industry News

Every industry, every business has some type of go-to news source.  It’s important to capitalize on creating content revolving around hot topics.  Not only does it help establish your company as a thought leader and expert in that particular niche, it also really helps improve organic search results.

Do not try to reinvent the wheel here.  Stick to a short recap on the news article, link to it with appropriate credit given and offer your thoughts on the topic.  It’s that simple to do, yet can be incredibly effective.

google-alerts

Need Ideas?
Search out industry news sources and make sure you are signed up to receive any emails they send out.  I know, I know, we all get too many emails, but in reality it’s still one of the best ways to make sure you don’t miss out.

Make sure you follow any industry news sources on Twitter and Like them on Facebook.  While some will be better than others at posting updates, there’s still a really good chance if something big happens you might see it here first.

Finally, there’s always Google Alerts.  Every single company should have Google Alerts setup for any and all keywords that pertain to services offered, brand names, competitors, etc.  Not only does this help keep you in the know with what’s going on in the industry, but it’s a great indicator at what’s important in the eyes of Google.

Thursday or Friday – Spotlight on People

176640173THUMBThink of this as your customer/employee spotlight.  Kick back a little, have some fun and put faces with names.  Maybe there’s a receptionist who has been answer the phone at your business for the last 15 years.  Why not give that person some recognition while allowing customers to learn more about he or she?  I’ve worked in this industry for a long time and inevitably a website’s “About Us” page is always one of the most visited pages.  Why?  Because people are interested in people…especially the people they do business with.

Likewise, your blog is a great place to feature customer stories.  Not only does it give your customers additional exposure, it shows that you really care about them beyond just a business transaction.  And when visitors to your site see a customer from a similar niche, they’re more likely to pay attention and relate to that content.

Need Ideas?
Look around you.  Everyone has a story to tell.  While some employees and customers may be a little shy, most enjoy a little extra recognition.  You could even go as far as to roll out a customer of the month and employee of the month program.  Right there is at least 2 week’s worth of content just talking about the winners and providing background information on the person being honored.

Ready to Create Your Content Plan?

It’s this simple to get started.  Our team can help you come up with the ideas that will fuel your content marketing plan for months to come, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Contact us and let’s chat about how we can get your company blog off the ground today!

This Company Is Hitting A Social Media Marketing Home Run

New year’s resolutions are in full swing and people everywhere are trying to improve their health.  Whether it’s losing weight, eating better, or exercising more, millions are determined to make 2015 the year of change.  With so many different options out there, an effective social media marketing strategy can make all the difference in the world.

There’s one company out there that I see using social media particularly well, so I spent some time taking a closer look at their strategy.  The company I am referring to is Beachbody and one of its driving forces is fitness trainer, Shaun T.   If you haven’t heard of Shaun T. , you’ve likely heard of one of his home- based workout programs – Insanity, Hip Hop Abs or T25.  The thing that really stands out to me about the way social media is being used in this case is that even though there is a large company with several products to sell, at the end of the day they still understand that social media is all about people connecting with people not big brands selling to people. Let’s take a closer look at what I mean…

Empowering People Translates to Social Marketing Success

With over 1.2 million likes on his Facebook page, Shaun T. has an incredible reach and platform to promote his products.  It’d be easy to get greedy by going overboard with promotional content (though Facebook is really working to discourage this now).  But instead you will find posts with free workout ideas, recipes that can be made on-the-go, and encouraging videos about staying on track with goals.  The content on this Facebook page is all about a person connecting with his fans on a level that’s much deeper than just seeing him in a workout video.  He even goes as far as to share very transparent posts about wanting to skip workouts because he’s too tired or caving in and eating junk food.  As all of us know, these struggles are very real, yet we often think these “celebrities” don’t have to go through them.  By humanizing the brand, he becomes much more authentic.  Fans of the page feel like they actually know the person behind the videos just as they might know one of their regular Facebook friends.  This makes asking for the buy much easier and much more natural when the time comes by building BLT (Believability, Likeability & Trust).

People Want To Buy From People

The social media strategy used by Shaun T. to launch the latest workout video, Insanity Max: 30, has been very well received.  Rather than continuously promoting the product, he started educating his audience on the exercises from the video ahead of time by posting free short workout videos.  Branded as the “Holiday Edge” workouts, these exercises could be done anytime, anywhere and were perfect for the hectic holiday season when many people fall off track.  This made the launch of the actual product a natural extension of something he was already doing.  In fact, followers were actually looking forward to and counting down the days to the release.  That type of loyalty across social media is something we all hope for.

Insanity Max 30

Re-purposing Content Across Social Media Channels

I use Facebook as my primary example, but the social reach extends well beyond just Facebook.  The other thing that stood out as I spent some time analyzing things is that nearly every piece of content is being re-purposed effectively.  All too often we get overwhelmed with all of the social media outlets available. forget that not everyone follows us on every platform and people definitely don’t see everything we post.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  I urge every customer to get the maximum mileage from every single piece of content and Shaun T. is definitely doing that here.  Each post is being re-purposed for Instagram, Twitter and might even be a topic on an upcoming podcast.

For example, a video may be posted on FB that also appears in an edited version on Instagram, is also part of a Tweet with a similar theme and even makes its way into a podcast as a topic.  So essentially the content is developed one time and repackaged for each social channel.  And it’s done so with a purpose.  This significantly cuts down on the development time and greatly extends the shelf life of social marketing efforts.

4 Questions We Should All Be Asking

As I wrap up this mini case study, I think there are 4 questions that we should all be asking:

  1. How can we add a human element to our social presence?
  2. What problems can we solve that make our audience better customers?
  3. How can we incorporate multimedia content into our social plan?
  4. What ways can we re-purpose our content across social channels?

If you can answer these questions, I think asking for the buy, click or conversion becomes much more natural.  Make selling a natural extension of what you’re already doing…not the ONLY thing you’re doing.

Need Some Help?

I’d love to talk about your social media marketing plan, so contact me now and we will make it happen!

Is It Time To Double Your Investment in Video?

Soon you’ll start to notice that the “Videos” tab on Facebook brand pages everywhere is looking strikingly similar to YouTube.  From the featured video section to the ability to organize videos into playlists, Facebook is going to be implementing some of YouTube’s organization features.  Truth be told this is long overdue, but the timing makes perfect sense as Facebook is investing more in video lately.  As you might have noticed, the auto play videos of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge filling the news feed have transitioned full steam ahead to videos highlighting brands everywhere.  From McDonald’s using Facebook videos to set the record start about what’s actually in their food to Jerry Seinfeld posting video sneak peeks of his hit series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, videos are only going to continue to show up more and more.

Jerry Seinfeld

As I was thinking about this trend (it’s not just Facebook), I thought more about the reasons why video just makes sense for every business.  I really think it’s as simple as this – the majority of people don’t want to read.  Your potential customers, probably don’t want to spend a great deal of time reading about your business.  And if given the choice, they’d prefer to watch a 2-3 minute video instead of reading all about your company history.

Here are 2 really good reasons to think about doubling down on your investment in video.

Videos Can Easily Be Repurposed
Let’s say you’re in charge of managing the company blog.  Things are off to a good start and you’re publishing 3 posts a week.  Traffic is increasing, then all at once it happens….

You hit a dry patch.  Suddenly you feel like you’ve already talked about the 3 points of difference over and over.  No matter how long you stare at the computer screen, the words just don’t want to come to you.  Then you start to think about that great story the CEO was telling just the other day about how the company was started by his dad back in the 1920’s.  Knowing that his time is limited and you’d be hard pressed to get him to sit down to write a blog post, you start thinking about what to do.  Then the thought dawns on you…it’s time to add some video!

Suddenly the 2 minute video you record of your boss telling the story is not only your most viewed video on the website, it’s the top performing blog post.  Because after he told the story on video, you were able to write it all out, add the historical photos and create the connection to the company through words as well.

Sometimes video is just easier.  And once the video is created there are so many ways to repurpose it – including creating a blog post or multiple blogs.  That same video could also be turned into a podcast.  Now you’ve got another way to reach customers on the go.  Come to think of it, the YouTube Channel sure could use some love lately.  Now you’ve got a video to feature when someone visits your channel. There’s so many ways to go with video once it’s created.  Video really is the ultimate piece of content to repurpose.  Invest the time and money to have the video content created by a professional once and think about all of the ways to get extended mileage.

People Are Watching Less Traditional TV
Odds are you or someone you know has cancelled their cable service recently.  Like Netflix bringing about the end of Blockbuster, cable companies are headed for trouble.  Why?  More people than ever before are watching videos online.  Well, that and people are sick of paying the high prices for cable service.  But more than ever it’s all about watching what you want to watch, when you want to and on the device that you want to.  With other low-cost services out there such as HBO, who will offer standalone streaming starting this year, Netflix, Hulu Plus and HD antennas available to get all the local channels – cable box after cable box will continue to get turned in.

netflix-logo    hbo_go_logo_feature

What does this shift mean to your business?  It means that since behavior is changing, there’s going to be more attention placed in online video.  More people online watching video = more chances to be seen = greater opportunity for conversion.

How Are You Using Video Now?  Is It Time To Double Your Investment?

I understand that for many marketing professionals, the whole thought of “doubling” an investment may seem a bit overwhelming.  I’m not literally talking about money here.  The point I am trying to make is that when looking at a marketing strategy, if there’s one type of content that I see paying the biggest dividends now and in the future – it’s video.

I’d strongly urge anyone reading this to take a moment to think about their video marketing strategy.  Think about how one video could become a blog post, podcast, social media post, email topic, etc.  Also, understand that not every single video needs to be a complex  video production.  In fact, I’d recommend a two prong approach.  Think about what video content you can turn out quickly and consistently with limited setup, such as; video case studies, client testimonials or mini educational videos about your business or industry, now think about what other types of more involved videos would complement this content and allow you to extend your brand message.

But whatever you do start thinking about it now.  Because I promise your competitors are.

Want some ideas?  I’d love for you contact me to talk video strategy. 

My 4 Top Marketing Posts from 2014

What a great year it has been!  I want to take a moment to thank all of my readers and clients who have helped make this another successful year for Focal Point.  As a small business in Indianapolis, we couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful community and your support.

To bring things to a close for the year, I want to share 4 of my most popular articles all about marketing trends and things to look forward to 2015.  One thing I learned this year in my writing is that some of my most well received posts were all about creating a strategic marketing plan moving into the new year. Whether this is your first time reading my blog or you’ve been here before, I know you’ll find some valuable information below.

4 Questions Every Business Should Be Asking This Time of Year
It seems like just yesterday that I hit “publish” on this post, yet here we are at the end of the year.  Originally published at the beginning of Fall, this post is all about taking the time to evaluate your online marketing plan throughout the year.  How can you define what “success” means to your business without having some sort of plan in place?

As we head into 2015, this post can serve as a reminder to schedule time in your calendar during the new year to take a look at your big wins, the areas where you fell short and put a plan in place to improve performance throughout the year.  I recommend making the time to do this on a quarterly basis.  This seems like the right amount of time to get good data on if your marketing plan is working while giving you enough time to make adjustments as needed.
Find out all 4 questions to ask yourself in the full post here!

stock-photo-26981117-drawing-businss-concept

 2 Must-Haves for Every 2015 Online Marketing Plan
Is your 2015 online marketing plan sign, sealed and delivered?  Well, you better take a moment to make sure these 2 things aren’t missing.  In the world of website design and social media marketing, this articles covers 2 of the biggest trends that absolutely will make or break your success in the coming year(s).
Discover the 2 must- haves for your plan here!

2015 Online Marketing Predictions

3 Movements Every Digital Marketer Must Watch Now
There are some big movements taking place in the digital marketing world that’s for sure.  As marketers, it’s important that we are aware of these dynamic shifts as they will greatly impact the way we reach our potential customers and they way our customers do business with us.

In this post, I go into more detail on each of these trends and even include a special video about some major changes Facebook will be rolling out at the start of the new year.
Don’t get left behind – check out this post here! 

Apple Watch

New SEO is Now Online Branding?
In my latest post prior to this one, I pose this very serious question.  It has been said that SEO is dead, but is is possible that online branding is simply taking it’s place?

With Google acting more and more like a human and less like a robot, it’s more important than ever to establish a good online reputation and brand trust.  I recently watched a webinar from Rand Fishkin of Moz where he unveiled some of the big changes and tactics to position your brand for growth.
Get all the key points on how to increase your online branding here!

Google Search

 

New SEO is Now Online Branding?

As 2014 comes to an end, this is the time when marketers naturally reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one.  Over the past couple months, I’ve written about must have’s for 2015 marketing plans and some dynamic shifts in Internet marketing as we know it.  But I wouldn’t be considered an online marketer if I didn’t touch on one of the most dramatic changes we’ve seen over the last couple of years – the evolution of SEO (search engine optimization).

I recently participated in a webinar with Rand Fishkin from Moz entitled: Cracking the SEO Code for 2015: Tactics to Love vs. Leave and I’ve got to tell you he pointed out some pretty eye opening things.  These are things that many online marketers are doing wrong and things that must change if there’s any hope in your website showing up in Google.  I’m going to break it all down with a few major points from the presentation.

Gone are the Days of Traditional SEO
The good old fashioned tactics of trying to match on-page for exact phrase keywords by using the phrase in the domain, headings, within the content and links are just that – old fashioned.  That’s no longer what SEO is about.  In fact, Rand pulled up several Google search examples showing the first few results not even mentioning the exact keyword phrase at all in the traditional on-page SEO way.

It’s now about understanding user intent and moving away from keyword matching to topic association.  What topics are you the authority on and what type of content naturally revolves around those topics?  Sure, keywords are naturally going to be used, but it’s not necessary to setup a new page for every single keyword – it can all be grouped together into one page with info around a specific topic.

Google Search

Google is Becoming Smarter
Google is functioning more like a person and less like a robot.  It’s getting better at understanding user intent.  It knows what people actually want to read based upon social signals and the searcher’s  behavior.  Results are also becoming more personalized and it’s increasingly difficult to “dominate” a keyword or phrase across the board.  It’s now about what Google is able to associate with your brand vs. what keywords you’re using.

Real Brands are Winning Search
Google is now learning more toward rewarding brands.  Brands are what people know and trust.  Brands are what create quality content that people actually want to read.  The days of being able to setup a website, publish a few articles and expect to instantly begin getting traffic for the keywords your site is targeting are history.

Ranking well in search engines such as Google is now about being in more than one place, developing a reputation and consistently producing different types of useful multimedia content.

Winning at the New SEO is Winning at Online Branding
If you want to be successful in getting your website to rank well in search engines such as Google and get a good deal of organic traffic, it’s imperative that to truly understand your company’s brand.  What are the unique strengths of your company and how can you create a truly unique online experience centered around those strengths?

The best tactic to employ here is what Rand referred to as “modern content investments.”  What type of content marketing plan can you put together to create information that is:

  • One of a kind – it could take weeks or months to develop it, but no one else ever has
  • Relevant – extremely on point with user intent
  • Helpful – solves a problem or multiple problems the user is facing
  • Uniquely valuable – there’s a high level of worth to the info you’re providing
  • Great UX – the content is easy to consume/interact with on all devices
  • Likely to spread – who will share this content and why?

What to Do Next
Take the time to really think about your brand.  Not just the way you see it, but the way your customers do.  What do you want to focus on and what problems are you trying to solve?  Now, every single piece of content you put out should easily be tied back to solving those problems or discussing those topics to create the ultimate brand association in Google’s eyes.

If more brand development needs to be done, that’s OK.  The sooner you can nail this down, the easier it’s going to be to understand how you’re going to be able to win at the new SEO – online business branding.

Need help?  Contact me to talk online branding strategies.

3 Movements Every Digital Marketer Must Watch Now

As always, there are a lot of changes going on in the digital marketing world right now.  From the ever evolving social media networks to new technology to radical shifts in the way traditional services are delivered.

One thing is for sure, 2015 is going to be an exciting year.  A year where I think digital marketers are really going to have to think long and hard about the way they are reaching customers.  As I was thinking today, there are 3 things that come to mind that I will to be paying attention to in the new year.  Things that, while not exactly related, have the potential to represent big changes in the marketing world.

Facebook Algorithm Changes

There is a lot of buzz in the social media marketing world right now around upcoming Facebook changes that will begin in the new year.  To sum it up, basically Facebook is going to give even less visibility to “overly promotional” posts.  While most businesses understand that their fans do not want to see “overly promotional” content in the first place, it’s still unclear exactly where the line is going to be drawn.  One thing is for sure, it means even less organic reach for Facebook brand pages.  And if you are a social media marketing manager or just happened to inherit that responsibility at your company – you know organic reach has already dropped significantly.

What does it mean?  Well, it simply means now more than ever if digital marketers really want to reach people on Facebook in a meaningful way, it’s going to require a budget to do so.  Facebook is continuing to adopt a pay to play model and that’s not going to change anytime soon.  This also means that other social networks will quickly follow and begin to move toward this model.

The other thing that this means is that some companies will simply drop their Facebook page all together.  One notable company to already do so is Copyblogger.  A very well known name with over 35,000 likes and they dropped it.  Why?  Because the ROI on the organic side just wasn’t there.  I highly recommend watching this eye opening video (it’s a bit on the long side, but 100% worth it) regarding Facebook advertising.

WATCH: Facebook Fraud

Wearables

Wearables are everywhere right now.  I’m not just talking about smartwatches here, I’m talking about fitness bands like the Jawbone Up 24 and Fitbit Flex.  We are now able to monitor more than ever and get data in real time.  The more connected we become throughout the day, the more avenues digital marketers will have to reach customers in new ways.  While the messages may be the same, the delivery and strategy behind reaching people at the exact moment in time on the exact device that’s right for them will present new marketing challenges. 

I expect all of this to be taken to another level when the Apple Watch is released.  When a player like Apple comes to the market, it has the ability to really change everything.  If Apple gets its watch right on the first try, we will see an accelerated growth and mass adoption come very quickly.

What does it mean?  This means one more place potential customers will be looking at your marketing message.  It means making sure your message reads well on an even smaller screen.  Making sure your website is 100% responsive – even on a watch.  Basically, it means one more thing to add to your overall marketing strategy when you think about your typical customer life cycle.

Apple Watch

Uber-Sumer Movement

By now most of you have probably heard of services such as Uber (rideshare and taxi service company that gets you a driver in minutes via an app) and Airbnb (services that allows you to rent a place to stay from local hosts in 190+countries), but have you heard of Feastly?  Feastly allows “everyday” people to become cooks and essentially turn their house into a scaled-down version of a restaurant. 

This shift powered by the millennials of  everything being right now.  People are becoming used to getting things immediately, the way they want it and how they want it.  Instant gratification is being taken to a whole new level and it’s becoming expected from consumers.

What does it mean?  It means taxi services, hotels and even some restaurants are potentially going to have to reinvent themselves or die.  These concepts could be what services like Netflix were to Blockbuster.  It’s a radical shift, but it’s one that’s very real and cannot be ignored by marketers.

Uber

What Do You Think?

How do you think these changes will impact marketers in 2015 and beyond?  I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. Contact me.