The Internet is the new Yellow Pages in several respects, but a major difference is the Internet allows for better results quicker and with more accuracy related to what you’re seeking.
This is key for folks trying to find the types of products and services your business offers. However, if they don’t know the name of your company how are they going to find you in their searches? --with keywords that describe what they’re seeking. So your company needs to figure out what keywords its ideal customers are using to search the Internet for the products and services they’re interested in, which may be the same kinds of products and services you offer.
Search engines can help match a seeker with a seller of what is being sought.
So how do you make it easier to be found online - start here (information directly from Google about search engine optimization).
Also, I’m a big believer in blogging. It creates new, valuable and regular content for visitors - giving them a reason to come back often and each blog post essentially is another web page to be searched by Google and a way for you to be found. So by blogging, in terms of SEO benefit, (to use a baseball analogy) you’re going to bat more often so your batting average and on-base percentage (i.e. being found online) will be higher. This translates into more opportunities to engage with prospects, convert prospects to leads right from your website and close more business. This is often called inbuond marketing, which is part of what I call your online brand communications strategy.
So if you’d like to ignore the Internet to help market your business you, I would not advise it. If you want to spend a lot of advertising dollars for traditional (outbound) marketing tactics that are no longer effective, you can, but you might want to consider Internet marketing, which could more easily and efficiently help your business grow in a cost-effective manner more quickly.
Here are a couple of supportive stats from HubSpot, an Internet marketing software company:
- Companies that blog get 55% more website visitors
- Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional, outbound marketing
Posted by: Nick Venturella
I'm not as adamant a Facebook user as most. For the B2B kind of communication I'm most involved in I gravitate more toward LinkedIn and Twitter, but I'm interested in changing that, or rather, just adding to my social media marketing mix in a more diversified way with better Facebook activity.
The graphic below came from Fast Company's most recently published April issue. The graphic is a visual representation of current Facebook stats. Not only is it interesting to look at, but if you read the numbers they're pretty astounding. For your convenience, I've also typed out the stats shown in the graphic below the image.
With so many Facebook users you are bound to find others in your niche for business with whom you can connect. Be sure to connect for the right reasons, be human about it and sincere and be sure to use proper social media etiquette (i.e. don't be overly self-serving)
Here's a good book that can serve as a basic intro to Facebook and some of the other major social networking sites:
The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani
Facebook stats from the graphic above:
610,736,920 member profiles – that’s one for every 11 people on the planet
Based on pageviews and users, Facebook is the No. 2 site in the US, behind Google and ahead of YouTube and Yahoo.
Every 60 seconds on Facebook, users send 230,000 messages, update 95,000 statuses, write 80,000 wall posts, tag 65,000 photos, share 50,000 links – and affirm or disparage them all with half a million comments
Zynga, Facebook’s biggest app developer, has 19 games that attract 275 million users a month, sabotaging about a kajillion hours of productivity (Damn you CityVille)
Facebook takes a 30% cut of all revenue generated through its virtual currency, Facebook Credits.
Virtual goods for sale on Facebook make up an estimated $835 million market
Each month the average user creates 90 pieces of content and spends 6 hours, 2 minutes, and 59 seconds on the site.
65% of surveyed teens admit to being “Friends” with their parents, though 16% said it was a precondition for joining the site.
More than 38% of teens have ignored a friend request from Mom or Dad.
Analysts estimate that Facebook pulled in $1.86 Billion in advertising in 2010. That’s expected to grow 118% this year, to $4 billion.
Americans make up 24% of users, followed by Indonesians (6%), Brits (5%) and Turks (4%)
Brands with the most fans on Facebook: Coca-Cola (21.6 million), Starbucks (19 million), Oreo (16.2 million), Disney (15.6 million), and Red Bull (14.7 million)
Lately I’ve been reading The Referral Engine (Amazon Affiliate) by John Jantsch, the author of Duct Tape Marketing (Amazon Affiliate). The Referral Engine is essentially about how to make your business a highly referable business to more easily generate leads that are likely to close.
I’m only part way through the book, but one of the lessons that stands out is the idea that most business operations fall into two general camps: wired businesses that utilize technology and social media, etc. and more traditional off-line businesses that are more person to person relationship-based. Here’s what I like about what Jantsch is getting across. Jantsch basically says that if you’re a wired business you need to find ways to develop more person to person interactions and relationships, and if you’re more traditional business you need to find more ways to utilize technology to help further connect. A referable business has a good balance of both.
These days one can use technology to help conduct their online brand communications toward the goal of generating and furthering business relationships, but we can’t forget that technologies are tools. There are still people behind the technology, and vice versa, people need help connecting further, farther and faster in today’s economy simply to keep up, so those who typically don’t want to embrace technology will find themselves left behind if they don’t.
However, the commonality here is that people run businesses. Technology can help you run your business and that’s a good thing, but it’s only a tool. Likewise, tools are good, but the real value in any business is the relationships created and maintained between people.
Posted By: Nick Venturella
I read a good post today, Raidious' Three Pillars of Social Media.
Raidious is a content marketing firm. In this post they break down some of the basics your company will want to be aware of with your online brand communications.
Basically, they break it down into three sections (or pillars): content, monitoring and moderation.
I really like what they had to say about content:
"...content is king regardless of the platform. Content is anything you post on your pages in order to interact with your customers. This could be a Facebook post, a tweet, photo, video, link, etc."
That's what I wanted to focus on for this post, content vs. platform.
I adhere to Raidious’ philosophy that the engine behind successful inbound online brand communications is regular valuable content. The content (and backlinks) is what helps your SEO. It matters less which social media platforms you use to distribute your content as long as when you do you’re making valuable connections toward new and strengthened business relationships.
This is also why it’s increasingly important for companies to have a blog as part of their website, so they can own their content. Think about it, what if Facebook ever crashed and your company lost everything that was on that platform...if you own your content you could rebuild a presence more easily on a new platform.
Posted By: Nick Venturella
Inbound Marketing, Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the founders of Hubspot.
If you want to know the ins and outs of what I often refer to as online brand communications, or inbound marketing, this book is a must have.
Hubspot is an inbound marketing software company that happens to offer a ton of informative blogs and other valuable information for marketers looking to continually learn about content marketing and best internet marketing practices. The book offers a similar level of great information from giving a history lesson as to why traditional marketing methods no longer work to defining inbound marketing as a cost-effective way for businesses to leverage the power of the internet.
If you’re interested in getting into social media marketing for your business and practices that will help your business get found on Google then I highly recommend reading this book.
Yesterday I read the Content Marketing Institute’s blog post titled, 12 Reasons to Put Blogs at the Center of Your Content Marketing, written by Heidi Cohen.
Beyond the useful tips in the post there was a line that really stood out to me in regard to blogging as a central piece of your online brand communications strategy, which was...
“From a marketing perspective, you need content at every step of the purchase process that educates and entertains without overtly promoting your offering.”
What I thought was interesting was the idea that content - various forms of communication - often in the form of the written word, is educating prospects leading them down a specific path toward a sale, but often in an entertaining way and with the prospect’s permission, because the prospect wants to go down that path.
What I’m getting at is writing good content that produces results is part art and part science, but more importantly, when it works, it works because we’ve successfully put together information on a subject that a prospect wants to know about and we’ve optimized our content online properly for that prospect to find the info we’ve created that they were seeking.
By creating the content a prospect is looking for and putting it out on the internet in a way that that prospect can find it - with a stripped down simplistic view of it - we’ve essentially empowered prospects to sell themselves.
So why is social media important to your online brand communications, or internet marketing, or inbound marketing, or content marketing - whatever you want to call it? You get the idea - it goes by many names with many facets. For the purposes of this post I’ll refer to it mainly as online brand communications.
When you really break it down into its simplest parts, what does it look like? What is at the heart of this kind of social marketing?
The basics about the appeal of online brand communications for businesses begins here:
Communication and Relationships
It all revolves around communication and relationships. Communication is the vehicle driving connection with others to form relationships (both personal and business relationships).
Friends, and friends of friends
Users of social media do so to stay in touch with friends (maintaining relationships with digital communication through a social media platform that makes it easy to do so). Users also use social media to discover new information and people (often being introduced to friends of friends in their current network - sharing and communicating among them, which exponentially spreads communications and builds farther reaching relationships - this leads us into the next bullet point)
Heard it from a friend, who heard it from a friend
Discovery plays a significant role in social media and certainly in online brand communications for businesses. For each relationship maintained online, that person is a potential source of new information that can be shared with you easily because the two of you are connected online and the social media platform makes it convenient to review newly posted info from one another and others with whom you have relationships. So for example, if you and I are friends online, you likely have a whole bunch of other friends or connections online beyond me, most of whom I’m likely not directly connected to. I’m only peripherally connected by my association with you, and the same is true for you with many of my connections. Because of these varying degrees of separation and the ease of transferring communication among friends and friends of friends (due to exponential levels of direct and indirect connections) social media platforms make it easy to rapidly discover new info shared by you, your friends and your friends’ friends.
Word of mouth on steroids
Because information can be shared rapidly and exponentially across social media platforms, by way of these one to one online connections that often have vast additional indirect connections of friends by association, so many observers can see and spread the original one to one message quickly like word of mouth on steroids. That quick and rapid reach of messages delivered in a word of mouth fashion, and the cost-effective use of online social media platforms, makes this way of communicating and building business relationships attractive to companies.
Recommended reading: Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series), By Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah
posted by: Nick Venturella
I'm a big fan of David Airey's site and design blog. He just recently posted a blog about a logo design request he received, similar to other job requests he receives from time to time. This request had the potential client telling David exactly what they want their logo to look like, and that they essentially just need a designer to execute their design.
The point of hiring a designer to help create and develop your company's logo is to utilize someone's creative talents and experience (a skilled designer) to work with you and offer a design that is better than anything you could have come up with on your own. If you already know what you want why would you pay someone else a bunch of money to execute the design?
Leave the creative heavy lifting to the experts. A good designer will want your input and will listen to your thoughts and concerns. From there it will be apparent that the designer understood what you wanted and pushed your vision further than you could have on your own.
That's why you hire a designer, or a writer, or someone to help you build a strategy, because they have talent and experience and a creative approach that can elevate your initial thought of what could be in these realms. Otherwise, you're really just looking for someone to simply execute your own ideas, which is totally fine, but if you're not really an experienced designer, writer or marketer the end result may be less than it could be.
I will say that I am a proponent of empowering solopreneurs and small businesses with tips, tools and advice to help them discover and/or create their own marketing materials as a result of their small budget and need for cost-effective solutions. This usually becomes a learning tool for the small business - they learn enough to be dangerous and get what they need done for the time being (and some actually find that they have some talent in these areas, which is great), but most do what they need to for their businesses current start-up necessities and move toward hiring a professional as they build their company beyond those beginning stages that required such tight reigns on various costs.
The result is they learn a bit about what goes into the design, writing and marketing strategy-building process and they gladly hire an experienced brand communications specialist to do the heavy lifting with a better understanding of what they're paying for.
So, I’ve recently enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (Amazon affiliate), which is a 91 day personal finance course. I do alright with my personal finance, but I’m always looking to improve.
One thing that really resonated with me in the first session was Ramsey’s description of money as being amoral. Amoral, means something is neither good, nor bad, it simply is. Ramsey speaks of money being amoral, neither good, nor bad, but it’s what we as humans do with it that makes it seem good or bad. The choices we make with money to become greedy jerks, wealthy goodhearted folks, poor resentful people or working class good souls is up to us as humans - the money just is, it doesn’t care one way or another, it’s amoral.
That got me thinking about social media, and many business’ fear of the chaos that realm may bring onto their brand. Social media is amoral, it’s neither good, nor bad, but what businesses do with their marketing and online brand communications in that arena could impact your company and it’s brand in a positive or negative way.
Something to think about.
Posted by: Nick Venturella
The following is a visual representation of an Online Brand Communications content strategy. This is an attempt to help visualize and somewhat simplify the flow of info/content in such a strategy.
Let me know your thoughts by commenting.