Title Image

Content Marketing Strategy

Getting it right

Attention to detail is big for us at FocalPoint.

We believe in getting things right. The first time.

And – what we seek to get right that first time matters more than just about anything else. Like what’s really important.

Really important like…

  • Creating a product or a service you are truly proud of
  • Addressing a workable business plan that meets a real need
  • Hiring a team that cares about the dream and the details
  • Building shrewd creative marketing around your business model that will speak to your mission and your audience

About that last bullet point…

FocalPoint creates marketing strategy with an end point in mind. The tag line won’t simply be ‘catchy.’ It will support that business plan you lost sleep over.

We understand that there will be endless details to get right before you launch your web site and your social media plan. That’s the ground point where we work best together. Before you have something that you’re truly proud of. That’s an ideal place for us to be. So together we can create, double check, test, and launch with more than just a hunch.

We want to get things launched right— right alongside you and your team. Greeting success together after hard work ironing out what’s most important.

Er, what should I say about my business on social media?

What-Should-I-SayHere at Focal Point, we frequently talk to business owners and managers tasked with using social media as a part of their overall marketing plan. Often these folks can pull up their latest Twitter feed, link to YouTube, post on their Facebook page, and download their LinkedIN updates, but just aren’t very sure what to say when it comes to business use.

Staring into that void and pulling back is a fair feeling to have. After all, you want to get it right.

We hear you and we have some good ideas about how to plunge in – and get the tone and the content pitch perfect. This is why we work with our clients to develop strategies and use social media to establish them as subject matter experts in there industry, i.e., what you are great at doing or producing. Then, use that expertise to boost your credibility and value.

The trick is, not to simply tell folks you are an expert. Show them. Prove it by sharing interesting tips and developing relevant content in a journalistic style proving your are the expert in your field.

Anything that makes it easy for people to associate you and your business with excellence and expertise in your field is welcome. And the more interestingly you do this, the better.

What not to do? Boring stuff. Tweeting “Ron made #1 salesperson of the year” is yawn-able. Better is showing him getting that news while on on bike tour in Amsterdam in his dorky helmet and bike shorts…or maybe not, but you get what I mean! It’s more interesting and doesn’t come across as tooting your own horn. Businessman-on-BikeHumor cuts through the fences folks build to keep out advertising. And it helps makes companies like yours approachable, less stodgy, even cool.

One other thing about social media in business. The numbers rarely show direct correlations. And progress doesn’t happen right away. It takes time to build an image, enhance a reputation and create value. Keep the postings coming, invite others in your company to help, and stay open to new ideas.

So – jump off that precipice with your smartphone in hand, your fingers ready to tap, and your video on!

 

Need help understanding how to use social media?  Please contact us today to talk.

Chances are, you’re thinking about social media all wrong

Hitting-your-sweet-spot
Just about everyone is on the social media bandwagon. But chances are good that most folks using social media are misusing it and overlooking its real purpose.

At FocalPoint, we know that social media is about connecting with the people in your sweet spot. In other words, your customers, potential customers, those who are interested in what you do, or people with similar interests. Social media is about building relationships, establishing rapport and networking.

We also know that what social media is not about, is sales. In fact, using social media to sell is a real turnoff to those tuning in to your posts. Social media used correctly, is a gradual, organic development toward building trust in what you have to say. If your blogs and tweets are about sales and laden with calls to action, your followers will soon lose interest.

That said, effective social media will gradually generate more interest in your products and may build business as a result. But there is no direct link. It’s a gradual thing.

Social MediaRemaining active on social media sites is another big plus which is often overlooked. Multiple quality postings will not only increase awareness of your brand (name recognition as well us increasing understanding of who you are and what you do), it will also boost your company’s rank on search engines. But only if you produce regular quality posts. The more you post, the faster your brand will inch up Google’s search engine ladder. (We know because we track this information for our clients.)

Effective social media use will also show that you and your company are viable, contemporary entities that know what’s going on, know your business, and know how to communicate the knowledge to its best advantage.

Got a question about something with social media we didn’t answer? Ask us! Heck, we might even write a post about your question.

 

6 Approaches to Effective Marketing to Millennials

If you’re still marketing your message the same way you always have, chances are good you’re missing out on motivating top potential customers, the Millennials. This is true even if you are taking advantage of new social media forms of communication. You need to make sure you are using them in a way that aligns with how Millennials think and behave.

Millennials The young adult generation born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials are rapidly increasing their spendable income. Along with Gen-Xers, they are the future – and they need to be communicated with in a way that resonates well with them.

A marketing message that speaks to the older generation is going to come off tired and boring to Millennials. That said, some marketing truths are still solid.  These truths include telling a compelling story and offering an appealing, honest and humorous take on your product or service.  Allow me to offer up 6 quick things to think about before planning your next online marketing campaign…

6 Things To  Consider Before Spending Your Next Marketing Dollar

  1. Boredom is the kiss of death. Millennials thrive on edgy.
  2. They are multi-taskers, used to balancing many activities. They look for flexibility in hours, products and usage.
  3. Millennials crave individuality and identity. They want to be heard and understood. When you provide a micro-narratives (small unique stories that rely on human experience) rather than meta-narratives (generalizations), you picque their interest.
  4. They research, absorb and analyze new information far more quickly than Boomers.
  5. They love humor in unexpected places (including at your expense).
  6. They want to give back and will seek out organizations that do the same.

That’s asking a lot of your marketing. But the good news is that in today’s market, you can put smaller, more individualized marketing programs together in a variety of different places to target the Millennial market. That’s where we come into the picture.

Focal Point Understands Millennial Marketing

customer service_Focal_PointAt Focal Point, we know Millennials will research the organizations that interest them. We can help you build a solid online presence in a variety of mediums. We’ll make sure you are found in the right places with the right message.

Once you’re found, you will need to be memorable. So, we’ll help create a brand identity that will look good on small screens like cell phones and large screens like High def TV in interesting colors that say something subtle or brash about what you are all about. (Tall order, we know.)

We also consider using humor because it works so well with the Millennial crowd. That is, provided it is self-effacing, or sly, or edgy or pokes fun at something they can relate to.

Lastly, we’ll show you how to talk about your flexibility in a way that is approachable. And share what you’re doing in the community, too. Millennials are not as selfish as advertised. They get that giving back thing. Big time.

Start Marketing To The Millenials Now

If you are getting the idea that Millennials are pretty cool consumers, we couldn’t be more pleased. Now, let’s get this passionate, creative and edgy conversation started!

Why Your Free Content Isn’t Really Free

Not Free

Free Content Doesn’t Exist

I am a big proponent of putting out free content on a regular basis to drive leads.  I understand that the most effective forms of content marketing are all about solving problems, answering questions and building trust.  The fact that educating leads turns them into better customers is not lost on me.  And while I say all of this and use the term “free content,” I understand that it’s never truly free.

Content Costs Customers Time & Effort

There’s time invested on my part to do research, create the content and promote it.  But most importantly, there’s time and effort costs that I am asking of my website visitors, followers and customers to consume the content.  While this may not be a financial cost, it’s a psychological cost and one that’s equally important  This is something that’s often overlooked by many marketers.  They believe that simply putting content out there is enough and are baffled when it doesn’t drive results.

I was recently on a webinar with folks at marketingexperiments.com and this was a big topic of discussion.  One thing they pointed out is that regardless of the type of content that’s a part of your marketing strategy, you’re asking the potential customer to answer “yes” several times as they take small steps toward becoming a lead or a sale.  The key element in all of this is telling the story and getting the sequence right.  The illustration used in the webinar was to think of all types of content as you would a video production and I have to say I like that comparison.  Let me explain…

All Effective Videos Have A Good Sequence
Think of all of your content marketing, regardless of the medium, as if it were a video production.  What I mean by that is don’t start with the end in mind.  While the call-to-action is important, just like a video production, the stage must first be set.  The visitor must understand what the problem is or why your story matters if you want them to continue to watch.  All content marketing is this same way.  Before you ask for an email sign up and before you ask for a whitepaper download, you must first take the visitor along the right sequence.

Remove The Friction
While putting together the best sequence, remove all possible points of friction.  Too much copy is a point of friction.  A video that takes forever to load is a point of friction.  Asking for too much information in order to sign up for something is a point of friction.  Take time to think through the sequence you’re asking potential customers to follow and make it as smooth as possible.

The Ideal Customer Sequence
Just like a well planned video production, here is the ideal customer acquisition sequence that can be applied to all forms of content:

1. Orient the Visitor – quickly communicate why they are there
2. Build Credibility – explain why they should listen to you
3. Get to the Good Stuff – tell the story/solve the problem
4. Point of Difference – show what makes you/your business the best
5. Call to Action – ask the customer to take some type of action

Let’s build your perfect customer sequence.   Contact Focal Point now to get started with a strategic marketing plan!

0

How to: Deliver the 1-2 Content Marketing Punch

My last 2 posts really got me thinking about the 2 different types of posts that should be a part of every content marketing plan.  I often think businesses publish these 2 types of posts naturally, but don’t take the time to think about the strategy behind it and set realistic expectations.  Let me explain how using these posts right way can be just the 1-2 content marketing punch you’re looking for…

The Easy to Follow Content Plan for New Bloggers post I published a couple of weeks ago, is one that will never “expire.”  It’s what many marketers like to call “evergreen” content.  While my post from last week about my 5 of My Favorite Super Bowl Ads is definitely a post with a shelf-life.  Both types of posts are equally important to any effective content marketing plan and it’s important to understand that ahead of time.  To explain, I will dive deeper into each type of content and offer up some tips for making it all come together.

What Is Evergreen Content?

Evergreen content has no expiration date.  It’s always relevant no matter the day, month or year.  For example, let’s say you are an auto mechanic.  As part of your content marketing plan, you’ve decided to create a series of how-to videos.  two of those videos happen to be: how to change a flat tire and how to jump start a car.  This content is evergreen content.  Fundamentally, these two things are never really going to change.  Furthermore, a potential customer could need help changing a tire or jump starting a car on any given day of the year.  The shelf-life of this helpful content is potentially forever.

What Is Shelf-Life Content?

Shelf-life content is seasonal/cyclical in nature and/or has an expiration date.  For example, let’s say that same auto mechanic also included in the content marketing plan a video covering winter driving tips and other about ways to keep your car cooler in the summer.  Both of these could be very useful posts, however, they both will also be very seasonal posts.  When it’s summer, odds are that winter driving tips videos isn’t going to get very many views.  But when winter rolls around, the summer video is going to be more popular.

Both Types of Content Are Equally Important

The question I get asked quite often when having this discussion is: which type of content should I invest my time and money in producing?  My answer is always both.  It doesn’t matter if we are talking about video content, email campaigns, or even infographics – in order to deliver the 1-2 content marketing knockout punch you need to have both.

Here’s why: content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.  But it sure does help if you’re able to sprint every other mile.  Pretty crazy analogy, I know, but not taking into account the elite athletes who sprint the whole thing – could you imagine if the everyday runner was able to do that?  Well that’s what having both types of content is like.

You see, for a business it makes sense to consistently publish helpful, evergreen content week after week.  But where you might really see the big spikes in sales or traffic will be around the shelf-life content.  Maybe it’s a Valentine’s Day campaign with a huge sale that really drives revenue in the month of February.  Or maybe every year Christmas time is absolutely critical to the success of the business.  All year long you’ve built the relationships, established trust and educated your potential customers.  By the time these key dates on the calendar roll around, you’ve got a bigger email list, larger social media following the marathon becomes a sprint you can win by accelerating sales like never before.

Ready to Start Your Content Marketing Plan?  Get in touch with me today!

3 Quick Content Creation Tips

So now that you know the importance of the 1-2 content marketing punch, here are 4 quick tips that are sure to help with creating both evergreen and shelf-life content.

1. Change Your Environment

Whether it’s writing a blog post, planning a video production or brainstorming a social media marketing campaign – we all get into a rut sometimes.  I’ve found that more times than not, it’s just a matter of changing up your environment.  Get out of the office, go to a coffee shop, try working in the morning or later at night.  Whatever the normal routine is, breaking free from it is often just the change of pace you need.

 2. Have Monthly or Quarterly Themes

This can greatly help to simplify things.  By planning ahead about the type of content that will be created, it’s easy to determine which pieces should be evergreen and which should have a shelf-life.

3. Answer Questions

Open your email and look at the last 4-5 questions you answered from clients or prospects.  Is it possible to turn those questions and answers into blog posts, videos, etc.  Each one could probably be classified as evergreen or shelf-life content and can easily fit into your content marketing plan.   Need more questions to answer, check out Quora, Reddit, Inbound.org, etc.

SEO TIP:  over half of all search queries use 3 words or more.  This means people are searching for answers to questions.

Need Help with Your Content Marketing Plan?  Contact me to help develop a strategy that makes sense.   

* Muhammad Ali photo from Huffington Post

0

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!

0

Educating Your Prospects for FREE Makes Them Better PAYING Customers

Everybody wants somethings for free, but businesses need to make money to, well, stay in business.  So what if I told you that giving away free information to your prospects actually results in better paying customers?  Would you believe it?  In fact, as a business, giving away free information might be one of your best content marketing strategies.  Let me explain…

Your Customers Want To Feel Empowered.

They’re reading online reviews, watching how-to videos and listening to podcasts.  And they’re spending more time doing these things prior to purchase than ever before.  A large part of your marketing strategy when it comes to content development should be putting a plan in place to educate your customers by providing them with free information.  The reason why is simple – if your prospects/customers don’t find you when doing this type of research, they’re going to find “someone else.”  That “someone else” is going to be your competition.  Let’s jump right into a couple of case studies to show you what I mean.

Case Study: Lowe’s Fix In Six

One of my favorite examples of a business that does a great job of educating its prospects and turning them into customers is Lowe’s.  Just take a look at this Vine video…

Pretty cool, huh?  Who knew that real mayo could help remove wood stains?  Side note – I haven’t actually tested this yet, but I am taking Lowe’s word for it.  Now that’s some pretty useful information.  Information that doesn’t really directly make Lowe’s any money (last time I checked they didn’t sell mayo at Lowe’s), but indirectly goes a long way at establishing them as the authority in home improvement projects.  While it’s just 6 secs in length, I am willing to bet a few hours (if not more) went into planning and shooting just this one video.  This type of video marketing is clever and resonates well with customers.  It’s no secret that people don’t like being sold to.  But what they do like are helpful solutions like an easy way to remove water stains from wood and they’ll remember the company that published this info.  Not only will they remember it, but they will share it with others.  Furthermore, the types of people searching for and watching videos like this one are….BINGO….you guessed it….people who like to do home improvement projects AKA Lowe’s target market!

Case Study: Pampers

Let’s completely shift gears from home improvement to baby care.  Pampers has a content marketing strategy that includes producing videos which showcase quick and easy baby tips.  These short videos cover basic topics that new parents are sure to be searching for such as tips for traveling with a baby or how to get your baby into a sleep routine.  While Pampers products are shown during the videos, there is not a hard sell. Again, it’s about being the brand that puts the information out there that your customers want and need – especially during a time when they might be establishing brand loyalty for a necessary item like diapers.  Take a look…

Develop A Content Marketing Plan To Put This Into Action

Now, it’s time to put these tips into action and develop a content marketing strategy that will help move your business forward.  Here’s how to get started…

  1. Log into Google Analytics or whatever analytics platform you use.
  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.

So, what happens next?  First you must realize that in just those few minutes you have uncovered the golden nuggets of your business. These are the questions or problems that people finding your site are trying to answer/solve.  If you can help prospects easily find the answers and possibly even expand upon each one with other variations then you are establishing trust.  And once you’ve earned their trust, it’s far easier to earn their business.

How do you go about answering these questions?  Contact us and we will help you develop a content marketing strategy to do just that!

0

4 Questions Every Business Should Be Asking This Time of Year

Well, October is here and Fall is officially upon us.  You know what this means – the holidays are quickly approaching as is the end of the year.  Yep, I said it; 2014 is coming to a close and 2015 will be here before we know it.  It seems like October is that magical month when businesses take a long hard look at what they’ve accomplished throughout the year, what they can wrap up in the last few months and begin planning for the new year.  I recently wrote a post about the 2 Must-Haves for Every Online Marketing Plan in 2015 and I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on that post.  So today I wanted to follow that up by sharing with you some of the questions that every business should be considering this year as it relates to a marketing strategy.

Strategic Marketing Plan

 

What Are Our Big Wins So Far This Year?

Think about the first 9 months.  What are the 3-4 big wins that stand out to you?  Maybe it’s a big deal that you closed or a social media marketing campaign that was very well received.  What did you accomplish that helped you or your business move closer to where you want to be?  Whatever it was, take a moment to think about why it was successful.  All too often, we get caught up in the day-to-day stuff and forget to take a step back to evaluate things.  And I’ve got news for you, if you don’t get this done in October there’s no way it’s happening in November or December.  We all know how crazy that time of the year can get, so take the time to search for those golden nuggets NOW and learn from them.

Where Did We Come Up Short?

No doubt, there will be some areas over your overall marketing plan or business strategy where you’ve fallen a bit short.  It’s much easier and more beneficial to identify those things now rather than at the end of the year.  Let me cover that again, think about and begin dealing with your shortcomings NOW rather than at the end of the year.  Sometimes we get too caught up in moving forward forward forward, that we forget to look back at things we might be able to easily fix now.  Maybe earlier in the year you were working on a website redesign and rushed things a bit when it came to the content development convincing yourself you’d come back to it later in the year.  Well, now’s that time.  Or perhaps you were thinking about getting some commercial photography work done for your new product line to update your online catalog, but just didn’t get around to it.   It’s important to identify these things now, and I will tell you why on my next point.

How Will You Make the Most of the Next 3 Months?

After taking a step back to look at your big wins and places where you fell short, think about how these things fit in with what’s left of your 2014 marketing plan.  What can you learn from these successes and setbacks so far to make the most of where you’re going next?  Your answers to these questions my change the plan moving forward.  Perhaps your original marketing budget didn’t have enough built in for social media marketing or hadn’t taken into consideration the benefits you might get from producing an online video to follow up with the one you rolled out in quarter 2 that was so successful.  While it’s always important to stay on budget, where you allocate that budget needs to always be open for review and discussion especially this late into the year.  And I’ll tell you one thing – doing things the same way you have always done them in the past is a recipe for getting left in the dust of your competition.  In other words, just because you spent X on a TV commercial or radio ad last year around the holidays and included that same budget this year doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest.

What’s The Plan for 2015?

Now that you’ve taken some time to look at the first 3/4 of the year and make sure you’re on the right track for the last quarter, it’s time to turn your attention to next year.  The good news is that by answering the first 3 questions, it will make building out your 2015 marketing strategy much easier.  Start by visualizing where you want your business to be at the beginning of the new year.  Let’s say the New Year starts off with a bang and everything is going great – what does that picture look like for your company?  Now, ask yourself that same thing about the end of the year next year.  Next it’s time to work backwards – what do you need to do to connect the dots from the most successful year beginning to the most successful year end?  Identify the mini-goals that need to be achieved along the way so you have nice, bite-sized chunks to tackle one at a time.  If you’re in the right business, answering these questions is sure to get you excited for new year.  After all, there’s no reason why it can’t be your best yet.

Answer These Questions NOW

I am going to wrap things up by echoing what I said earlier.  NOW is the time to answer these questions. I say this for 3 simple reasons:

1. It’s not too late to get back on track even if 2014 isn’t finishing the way you had hoped.

2. It’s never too early to start planning for the new year.

3. End of year/holiday craziness will soon ensue.

Need help with your strategic marketing plan?  Here’s how we can help

0