This video from HubSpot is humorous, but useful in that it displays the difference between inbound and outbound (or pull vs. push) marketing efforts.
By utilizing a company blog, social media, email marketing and other such efforts to distribute valuable content to a targeted audience (your ideal customers) you will be better positioned to be found online and create online conversions whereby you're capturing valuable prospect information in return for offering valuable content to that prospect. Thus, you're building a pipeline of prospects that you can continue to nurture with valuable content until they're ready to buy.
For the purposes of our video, let me ask, when was the last time you looked something up in the phone book vs. Googling it?
Essentially, that's how inbound marketing works--create content, boosting SEO, get found online, create conversions, nurture prospects until they buy, improve the process and start again.
On my Resourceful Musician Blog I recently published a guest post.
What was great was that the content from the guest post came from someone reading and enjoying the blog, contacting me through the blog’s contact form, offering a personal note, an explanation and the guest post content for me to review.
What was nice about it, was that it was made easy for me to use the post as a guest post. Sure, if I didn’t think the content was fitting for my audience I could have kindly denied the guest posting request. However, my point is that the post was ready to go if I liked it and thought I could use it.
Guest blogging is a great way to build your own audience while often bringing your audience to a another blogger’s crowd.
If you’re interested in guest blogging as an audience growth strategy or if you would like others to be guest bloggers on your blog a nice community created to facilitate just that is MyBlogGuest.com. It’s a free online community where you can view guest blog posts that are ready to be published and introduce yourself to the author to ask permission to use the post, or you can write a post and offer it up for others to post on their blogs.
If you’re interested in blogging as a business strategy check out Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett’s book ProBlogger (amazon affiliate).
There is a definite branding value to writing blog comments on other well-read and well-respected blogs that you follow. Chances are good that you have a blog or two that you read regularly and view their authors as experts on the topic of which they write.
It’s likely that you’re not the only one who follows a particular blog because of the value received from reading it. So add value to the blogs you follow by adding a point or two in the comments section of the blog. Or share a scenario that’s pertinent to the blog topic...something that enhances the value or creates interesting discussion surrounding the original post.
The idea is that by offering comments that add value to a post by another well-known, and/or widely read blogger can not only help to enhance the blog on which you’re commenting, but expose you to that blogger and his/her audience. (Plus, for those readers interested in finding out more about you it gives them an opportunity to link back to your website.)
Here are some benefits of commenting on blogs:
So write value-adding comments. Feel free to offer your comments on this post.
So, I was flipping through various radio stations as I was driving this morning, and I came across an interview with the rap/R&B/hip-hop producer and artist, Jeremih (pronounced Jer-a-my).
I’m definitely a sucker for artist interviews. I like to learn about the artist’s thoughts and intentions behind an album.
As I was listening to the interview I drew a strong parallel to blogging and business, and in some similar ways, blogging and business are just like the music industry. Here’s what I mean...Jeremih’s new album “All About You,” features other well-known artists like Ludacris, 50 Cent and others. Those big names allow Jeremih to communicate his brand with some leverage, capitalizing on the larger fan-base of those other, well-known, artists featured on Jeremih’s album. By Ludacris and 50 Cent agreeing to be featured on Jeremih’s album their fan-base is exposed to Jeremih, and essentially a positive endorsements is given for Jeremih’s album and music to the audiences of both Ludacris and 50 Cent.
In blogging and business a similar thing can happen. Think about posting guest blogs from other well-known bloggers in your industry, or asking if you could write a guest post for their blog--it’s at least worth asking, and the cross-pollination of audiences can be beneficial for both parties.
This sort of thing happens in other aspects of business, too--not just in blogging. For example, when your company builds a referral network with other companies to help each other out.
Say, you’re a lawyer working with small businesses and you often refer clients who need an accountant to a well-deserving accountant friend of yours who you trust and know does good work. Well, your client benefits because they’re getting a qualified referral from someone they trust, your accountant friend benefits because he/she is getting a qualified potential new client from a trusted source and you benefit by building more good-will with both your client and your accountant friend.
There are definitely advantages and opportunities when you expand your network of relationships. Be on the lookout for them and build positive reciprocal relationships to capitalize on them.
Learn more about Brand Communications and how to use it with your Inbound Marketing efforts
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 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) :
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
I’ve been reflecting lately about the economy and the many folks still out of work these days. While the economy has recently shown signs of slight improvement it hasn’t been enough to stop the unemployment hemorrhaging.
Now, I don’t claim to have the answer, but personally I’ve found that my own pursuits, at least in my field of marketing, have benefited from my continuous personal marketing efforts.
As a marketing professional I am constantly branding myself, reading up on my industry and exploring ways that I can experiment on my own with marketing initiatives that I think are useful--to myself and potentially other businesses (or potential employers).
I’m definitely fortunate that I’m not currently looking for new employment, but when I was in that boat I kept churning away at my own blog and entrepreneurial web presences trying out things that I may not otherwise have had a chance to experiment with in any previous employment. My thought was that I’m marketing myself and my capabilities, and I’m building my own brand (and essentially a portfolio of what I can do), all the while continuing to network with trusted contacts (that’s extremely important). As I got potential employment nibbles I made sure to make known my personal efforts and demonstrate how those efforts could help the potential employer at hand.
My point is, the fact that I never gave up, and never will give up, on improving myself to consistently be marketable to others and grow my skills has landed me more than one role in my career.
My best advice for anyone out of work (and I’m not trying to be insulting if you’re already doing these things with what currently feels like little luck) is to continue to be proactive, think entrepreneurially, take action as opportunities arise, network like crazy and never give up.
According to HubSpot.com, as posted in a recent Mashable/Business blog, small businesses with corporate blogs receive 55% more traffic than small businesses that don’t blog. That’s over half!
Considering the monetary upfront cost of blogging (nearly $0), I don’t understand why more businesses aren’t benefiting from building online relationships by publishing value-added content (blogs) for their target audience. Especially if it means generating more business in cost effectively.
The Mashable post mentioned offers 10 Tips for Corporate Blogging. Below are my five reasons why you can’t afford not to blog:
1. Your customers are seeking information to questions they have about your industry and services…if you’re not blogging about it your competition is and your potential customers are finding them and buying from them.
2. If your potential customers are finding info and answers to their questions from your competitions’ blogs then it’s safe to say that they’re also thinking of your competition as the expert in your industry--that’s top-of-mind brand association that is hard to shake.
3. Blogging can increase your organic search engine results…if your company website or blog posts are not coming up high on Google searches for keywords related to your business and industry then your potential customers are navigating toward your competition who is ranking high on search engine results because of their blogs.
4. Have you ever done an internet search for a topic of interest and come across a “how-to” blog post from a few months ago that still comes up in searches and is still relevant? ...Blogs have a long SEO shelf-life, which can help your traffic now, in a couple months and even a couple years.
5. Have you ever opted-in to an email list to receive a valuable whitepaper or ebook of info filled with useful take-a-aways...over time your blog posts could be compiled to create an opt-in ebook to offer valuable, useful info for your potential customers...when they opt-in, those are potential leads, nurture them and convert them to valued happy customers...that’s how the competition is winning customers over you.
If you’re like me you probably still use email a lot. I know there are a lot of electronic communication alternatives these days with the abundance of social media available, and yes, I do use all of that too, but I also use email in conjunction with social media. As it turns out, so do many others.
Your email signature can be another tool used to grow your social media presences in an exponential way.
I’m talking about adding your social media links to your email signature. If you think about how many folks you engage in email correspondence each day, week, month, year, etc. the amount of direct exposure you can give to your social media presences through your email signature is huge.
I recently issued a standard email signature complete with social media links at a company I work with, and I made all of the social media links bit.ly links to track the click-thrus of the social media links added to the email signatures. In less than 2 months the collective click-thrus for 4 social media links in their email signatures was 12,617. That means that 12,617 opportunities were created for individuals to learn more about that company through their social media efforts. That’s 12,617 opportunities for additional brand awareness, potential referrals and lead generation that didn’t previously exist--just by adding social media links to an email signature.