I don't know how I hadn't come across this video before, but it's pretty funny and informative about inbound marketing and how it works.
Essentially, when you use blogging (creating and publishing valuable content), geared toward your target audience, and optimize it with keywords related to your business, it will raise your organic search results allowing those who are likely to be your customers to find you online (this is the inbound part--they're drawn in). Once on your site, if visitors value your content, and you're continually produce more new content regularly (blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, etc.), visitors will hopefully continue to come back to your site and eventually become customers.
It's a great way to build online awareness, generate leads and create a loyal following.
Here's some additional recommended reading on the subject of inbound marketing (affiliate).
A strategy for the time dilemma, part 2
Scheduling social networking time
When life is busy and you’re trying to consciously build your online brand communication efforts with an inbound marketing strategy it’s not easy to always find time to review and connect with those you distribute content to on your social networks.
You know it’s important to join the conversation as that’s how you build relationships online, but unless you take a strategic approach to it the day can slip away and your relationships can suffer for it.
My advice is to schedule some time each day, week and month to do a few simple things that will help you participate in conversations, build your networks and attract more readers to your content.
Daily social networking activity
Each day you should spend at least 15 to 20 minutes updating your social networks. You can certainly change your status and/or tweet something interesting. Use Ping.fm or TweetDeck, or some other service to efficiently take care of all your social networks in one fell swoop. Beyond that, make sure to respond to messages, and potentially wish folks who have a birthday on that day a happy one. Find at least one new person to connect with and follow or friend them, but make sure it’s meaningful to follow them--have a genuine interest in them before following them or requesting to be their friend.
You may want to also take around 10 minutes to “listen” to what others are saying about you and/or your company throughout various social media. You can use sites like Social Mention and Yelp! to help with this.
Weekly social networking activity
Each week be sure to absorb info and respond. Take at least 30 minutes to really pour over a few blogs from your industry and respond with added helpful info or comments (this is a more focused effort than your daily blog skimming). Use LinkedIn Answers and provide relevant answers to various questions that you absolutely can answer. This gets your name out there and positions you as a credible expert in your field. Post LinkedIn or Facebook Group discussion topic, or ask a question in a discussion, and be sure to respond when people answer you.
Monthly social networking activity
On a regular monthly basis it’s important to track and measure the results of your daily and weekly activities. Even if informal, it’s helpful to have an idea of how things are trending due to your efforts. You may want to track the number of new friends and followers you obtain, but probably more important is the number of new viable business and/or off-line relationships you gain from your efforts. So it’s a good idea to track how many of your new friends and followers have resulted or contributed to new business for your company. The simplest way to do this is to look at your new business coming in and simply ask where they found you, or if you know they’re a friend or follower on your social networks you can likely correlate that your social media activity had a bit to do with it. This is obviously not a sure fire way to track this, but it’s certainly better than nothing. However, if you use opt-in landing pages for various content that you give your customers and potential customer that can be a more accurate measurement of new business lead conversions.
If you find time to do more by all means take advantage of it, but these are a few simple things you can do on a regular basis to build your social networks and engage with those in your networks. The point is regular, even small, efforts will add up over time. Over time you’ll be able to see real progress from your efforts.
A Strategy for the time dilemma, part 1
A blog building strategy
Have you ever heard the expression, "Busy people get stuff done," or something to that effect?
Essentially, the idea is that if you want something done, find the busiest person you know and have them help you.
Busy people for some reason often will find a way to get things done in a timely fashion. Because they're busy they know how to manage their time, and get things done.
But what if you just don't feel like you really have the time to spare, or if you're like me, you can make the time, but by that point you find you don't have the energy to complete the task (writing a blog post, thoughtfully responding to a business inquiry, etc.).
So, what do you do? You can certainly find a capable busy person who is highly motivated and able to help you complete your project/task, or you can figure out a way to manage your time and build a strategy of being able to complete stuff in a relatively small window of time.
A constant content strategy
Blogging regularly is a problem I hear about a lot. Here’s my approach (for more about how to write within a framework check out Chris Brogan's post) :
What’s in a domain name extension?
When choosing a domain name for your business or endeavor you have several options to choose from: .com, .net, .biz, .tv, .info, and the list goes on.
There are several schools of thought on why you should always strive for a domain ending in .com. The main reason, which is definitely valid, is that .com is the most common, and frankly expected. How many times have you remembered a business name, but not their web address, typed in the business name followed by .com and ended up on that business’ home page? It’s that very reason why .com is the most suggested domain suffix.
But what if you were different for the sake of being memorable. I personally chose nickvmedia.net for two main reasons (and I do also own nickvmedia.com): First, I truly think that my domain name with the .net ending lends itself well to being memorable when actually spoken out loud--Nick-v-media-dot-net. Here’s what I mean...With the “N” in my name, Nick, and the “N” in net, when spoken has a bit of a sing-song feel almost like an alliteration. So, when I meet with folks who may have an interest in visiting my site I’m always sure to tell them my web address at least three times, and it’s usually because of the sing-songiness of my web address when spoken that helps people remember it. Second, the fact that it’s not a .com can be memorable as well. I’ve been told on several occasions that my web address was remembered specifically because someone made a mental note that I have a .net domain, rather than a .com domain. The sheer fact that it’s different can be memorable.
However, the bottom line for those in the market to purchase a domain name is this: Do what makes sense for you. I don’t think you can go wrong if you’re marketing your site well. I would suggest that if it’s available and you have the means, buy both your domain as a .com and a .net.
Just because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean you have to do it too, or that it is necessarily the “right” way.
Like when you're in a relationship and your significant other can finish your sentences...that's sort of the idea behind Google's new Instant search engine. The new release will offer search suggestions as you type, which means more of a need to refine your SEO search terms.
HubSpot wrote a nice post about Google Instant. Feel free to read it.
Here's Shama's take on Google Instant from The Marketing Zen Group
Why prompt decision making wins
Christine Kane is a musician, entrepreneur and really a life-style mentor to many. Christine, talks about living creatively, essentially how to live the life you want, which is a creative journey whether you call yourself a creative or not.
Anyway, in one of her blog posts, How to have unwavering faith in your own ideas, Christine mentions something about making quick decisions. I think this is important to expand upon because in my own entrepreneurial life and for those I often work with, it is common to question and over-analyze the decisions we make day-to-day about how we’re going to progress our endeavors (no matter how large or small the effect of the decision may be). I think one reason, entrepreneurs especially, fall into this analysis paralysis is that there is no one right way to be an entrepreneur. Perhaps, it comes down to having too many choices. Choices about the direction you take your business, about the web host you choose to use, about what shade of blue should be the accent color in your company’s logo.
The thing is, every choice is the right choice, depending on what you do or don’t do after making the decision. I’m talking about simply relying on your gut a bit to tip you one way or the other about choosing a route and making it work. I’m definitely not talking about making rash or uneducated decisions, but rather, limiting the amount of time you linger on actually pulling the trigger on making a decision.
Sometimes, you get to a point when taking too long to decide on something can have a negative outcome. You know, like in high school when you finally built up enough courage to ask that special someone you’ve been interested in to the homecoming dance only to find out that they’re already going with someone else. Had you just been comfortable enough with whatever his/her answer would be and been able to move on from there you would have likely found someone else to go with and still had a good time. Instead, the event of asking got built up so much in your mind that when the outcome wasn’t what you wanted, it became more damaging than if you hadn’t built it up so much. Thus, setting you back further than before, and it’s hard to rebuild that confidence after over-analyzed decisions have gone awry.
What I’m realizing is the over-analyzed decision process comes down to this: the unknown. Fear of not knowing what the outcome will be if you choose a particular route over another is usually what forces people to make no decision or potentially destructive decisions. You need to build confidence in yourself enough to realize that you’ve come this far in your life and in your career that clearly if a decision doesn’t pan out the way you had hoped you have enough knowledge and skills to figure out a different way to move forward.
You can build your decision-making confidence by starting with small decisions that come up. Set a time limit for yourself as to when you have to make a decision by, and make it a shorter time limit than you normally would be comfortable with. Then, once you reach the time limit, if you haven’ already made a decision, make one right then and there based on what you know and your gut reaction. Then don’t look back. I guarantee you’ll figure out how to move forward, even if you discover that you might have been better off making a different decision. I like the saying, ‘good now is better than perfect later.’ If you wait for the “perfect” time to make your decision, or the “perfect” situation you’ll likely miss a “great” opportunity now.
I’m currently reading, The Zen of Social Media Marketing, by Shama Hyder Kabani. So far it’s a good read with some new-to-me nuggets of information and other not-so-new-to-me bits of info, but certainly worth the refresher.
One great thing worth reiterating are three principles for an effective website, Educate, Market, Sell.
For small businesses it’s vitally important that you first have a website, I would recommend a site that also contains your company blog, or better yet, a blogsite that leads with your company’s blog and is also home to the rest of your company’s traditional website info.
Having a blog allows you to create and publish regular content, which is a great place to educate your target audience on an on-going basis. Also, new regular content is a reason for those who like what you post to come back.
Other parts of your site, like your About page, Products/Services page, Portfolio,etc. are the areas of your site that market your wares to your target audience.
Finally, throughout your site you need to ask for the sale with strong calls-to-action, or at least ask for a way to keep in touch with those who visit your site by asking them to sign up for email newsletter.
- Educate site visitors about who you are, what you do and the value you provide
- Market to site visitors by showcasing the value of your products/services and capabilities
- Sell to site visitors by asking for the sale or for visitors to sign up for your email newsletter