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content marketing plan Tag

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

Here 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.

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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.

 

3 Quick Ways To Simplify Online Marketing Strategy

Simplify Your Online Marketing Strategy Now

So often as online marketers, we get caught up in the excitement of the “next big thing.”  We set our sights on hitting the online marketing home run or viral campaign.  It’s times like these when we need to simplify our overall online marketing strategy and get back to the basics of what works.  It’s the daily work that paves the way for the big successes.  And it’s getting back to the basics that will help when you’re struggling.

Below are some tips and reminders of basic online marketing and social media strategies that will always work no matter what the latest technology or next big idea might be.

Ask Why & Subtract
Let’s get right to it.  I know you may have read the intro and thought, “oh great, more things to do.”  Well, actually in this first point I am going to ask you to do less.  Stop for a moment to think about all of the different marketing activities you do on a daily basis.  Now, ask yourself why.  Go through each activity one by one and ask yourself why you’re doing it?  Does it tie back to a common purpose, help you accomplish a goal or help move business forward?  If you are unsure on the answer to these questions for any task, stop doing it.  You see, life is a lot like marketing – when things just aren’t adding up that often means it’s time to subtract.

Start Subtracting

Create A Content Plan
Content marketing is a big deal.  By now most digital marketers understand that they need to be producing content as part of an overall online marketing strategy to generate traffic from Google organic search, social media and more.  Yet, many still do not have a plan.

Several big name digital marketers will swear by a content calendar.  I am not going to tell you that you have to do that, because I don’t think it works for everyone.  What I am going to tell you is that you do need to have some sort of plan.  Something that eliminates the guesswork.  Something that makes it easy to answer the question – what are we going to write about today?

Here’s a blog post I wrote about how to create a simple content marketing plan.  It’s based upon the concept of creating themes for each day of the week and writing about those themes/topics on that designated day.  It’s that easy, yet it can be so effective.  Why?  Because it eliminates all of the guesswork and provides a direction in which to move.  And sometimes we just need that direction.

Recycle Your Best Stuff
You’ve created the perfect blog post.  The content is compelling.  The image is stunning.  The call to action is easy to follow.  It’s sure to be a smash hit!  Excited to tell the world all about it you go about your social media marketing by posting a link to it on Facebook, sending out a Tweet and posting the image on Pinterest with a link.  This post is even so good, you send out a new email to your loyal subscribers.  Then you wait…nothing.  A few hours go by and now you have 1 like on Facebook, 2 retweets on Twitter and 2 click thrus on Pinteres and Mailchimp shows a few people are opening the email.  But then the rest of the day goes on and the numbers are still the same.  And a week later, still the same.  While something is better than nothing, this is far from the results you wanted to see.  Frustrated you chalk up the loss and move on.

Unfortunately, this is a scenario I see play out in social media marketing and online marketing in general time after time. It truly is sad, because it’s selling yourself short.  You’ve spent time developing that content.  A designer was even hired to make sure just the right image was created.  This blog post was a big time investment.  Now you just need to understand that as much effort as you put into creating the content, you need to put even MORE effort into promoting it. 

Recycle Content

The simple fact is that people are busy.  A very small percentage of your audience saw that Facebook post and even fewer noticed the Tweet.  It’s also entirely possible that your next big client was out of the office when you sent the email and in an effort to cleanup her inbox just went through deleting emails as fast as possible.  Timing can be everything and sometimes it’s not the right time.  So change the time and try again.  Alter the subject lines or teaser text.  But whatever you do, RECYCLE the best content over again.

Ready to Talk Online Marketing Strategy?
Let’s set up a time to get together soon.  I’d love to help you simplify your online marketing plan, so contact me today!

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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

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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!

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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!

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