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  • Why & How You Should Get Team Members Involved in Business Blogging

    Many thanks to a Fluent client, Trevor Jones, Director of Marketing and Product Development at GWI, for authoring this guest post on business blogging. Whether your goals are brand awareness, improved search engine rankings or lead generation, or a combination of all three, blogging is arguably one of the most effective tools for accomplishing those goals. The biggest challenge is keeping up with generating fresh, relevant and useful content, particularly for professionals focused on billable hours. Take Trevor’s advice: ask for help, invite guest bloggers and share the workload with your team. If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you’re already involved in business blogging and understand why your organization should do it. Now that you’ve started, how do you sustain the effort over the long term? How do you keep it fresh and interesting? One of the very first things I would do is get help creating content, starting from within your organization. When building your blog, get other people from other areas of your company writing early and often. Include the company owner, technical people, service people, and financial people if you can. With the GWI Blog, I try to keep my own contributions to the blog below 50% of the total and honestly, I wish it was less. Be forewarned, most of the time it’s not an easy process.  Everyone in your company is busy, and not everyone places the same priority on publishing consistently and on time as you do.  There are some things you can do the help motivate people, but since that may not be fun for you, I’d like to cover WHY you should get others engaged before explaining HOW to motivate them. Why You Should Involve Coworkers in Business Blogging Spreading the workload. You were thinking this, so let’s get it out of the way because it’s not the most important. Yes, having others write articles means you won’t have to write them. What you will have to do is edit them. In my company, I also end up copying content from a Word Doc into WordPress as well, testing links, and choosing and inserting images. Gain a Fresh Set Of New Ideas. If the rest of your team is involved in writing articles, they’ll also be engaged in the process of coming up with new ideas. Keeping things interesting. No matter how interesting a person you are, having a variety of different voices and perspectives contribute to your company blog can make it more interesting for your readers. Envision yourself as a publisher making an interesting magazine. You want a variety of articles written by a variety of people. Targeting key personas. It’s very important that you have a developed idea of who you are writing your content for. Smart marketers develop buyer personas, imaginary people that have the traits of decision makers, gatekeepers, and key influencers in an organization. Once you have them, try getting the closest equivalent in your company to blog, including IT, finance, or administrative roles – if they’re effective writers this could lead to very well targeted content. How To Get Coworkers Blogging Get management on board. Before you ask employees to start writing content for you, make sure you win the support of management. Your campaign to get more contributions will never get off the ground without their blessing, and they can help you motivate the team. Ask for help. People are naturally motivated to help friends and co-workers. Many people will pitch in if you just ask. Make sure they understand the business value. Often coworkers say that blogging is always on their to-do list, but never rises to the top. Make sure they know how blogging impacts web traffic and sales, as well as how important it is for you to be on a regular publishing schedule. They’ll be more apt to prioritize the work if they accept that it’s necessary and have a deadline. Give them credit for their work. People like to be recognized for their contributions. At a minimum, make sure their name is on the page as the author of the post. Even better, mention them in social media posts promoting the article, list their bio on an authors page, or set them up for Google Verified Authorship so their name and face shows up in SERPS as the author. Show them the value of their unique perspective. People may be concerned about the quality of their writing, or think they can’t do as good a job as you can. Make sure they know that their perspective is unique and different and will make the blog more effective for your business. Start with their ideas, but have a topic for them too. The more ownership an employee has in an idea the more motivated they’ll be to write the article. That said, you don’t want the lack of an idea stop them from writing, especially early on. So get out there and get some help with that content! There are a few other strategies for getting the help if this isn’t enough, including next time’s topic: hiring outside writers.

  • Talking Shop with Reporters: Public Relations Tips from a Panel of Maine Media

    There’s no better way to get candid feedback than to ask. Thanks to the Maine Public Relations Council’s professional development program “Meet the Media,” held Friday, June 14th at UNE in Portland, southern Maine PR pros were able to ask questions of four local reporters who represented daily and weekly newspapers, broadcast TV news and a national trade publication: Bernie Monegain, Editor, Healthcare IT News Amy Beveridge, News Director, News 8 WMTW William Hall, Staff Reporter, The Forecaster Seth Koenig, Portland Bureau Chief, Bangor Daily News Each shared their insights and practical tips for building effective relationships with reporters. Their responses to a few of our questions were full of great reminders: What’s the difference between a good PR person and a bad one? The panel described a good PR person as someone who remembers to stick to the 5 W’s, understands that deadlines are now practically imminent or in many cases, non-existent, and someone who knows the publication and refines their media contact list accordingly. My takeaway: always think about what I can do to be flexible and work within the reporter’s timeframe. In the age of online platforms, asking “What’s your deadline?” is a thing of the past. Is the press release dead? Fortunately, no. But it needs to be news, not promotional and it shouldn’t be overly complex and full of jargon. As Seth Koenig said, “We’re in journalism because we couldn’t handle science.” If a reporter is forced to Google half of the words in your press release because it’s full of scientific, legal or industry jargon, it’s likely headed for the trash. Any savvy marketer or PR pro should remember to know the audience. Help reporters understand the story first. It’s not going to be published if it’s impossible to read. What’s a good pitch vs. a bad pitch? Pitches can be perceived as good or bad depending upon the publication. A pitch to a weekly newspaper must align with their publishing schedule. To a trade publication, it needs to fit within the context of their subject matter and be of interest to their readership, which is often very specialized. In some cases, a second-day pitch can be very effective. Do you have a different angle on a story the publication just ran? Do you have a subject matter expert available to provide a fresh perspective? Bad pitches fall into the “not helpful” category. Don’t pitch coverage of an event if you haven’t cleared the venue for media access. Don’t issue press releases without a spokesperson available to comment. And a few final pieces of advice from the media panel: use social media (i.e. Twitter) to build and maintain your relationships with reporters. Keep in touch with them by sending updated lists of subject matter experts and make sure that you’re available, helpful and flexible when a reporter needs your help developing their story. Learn more about taking your story to the media through public relations and communications strategies.

  • Lessons from Apple’s copywriters…

    This blog post by Russ Henneberry on made me wonder: are Apple’s copywriters the real geniuses behind society’s lust for iPads and Macbooks? There’s no question that Apple hires the brightest technical minds to further their goal of giving us what we want BEFORE we know we want it.  But as a writer, I have to stop and admire the genius of Apple’s branding efforts. Writing like Apple: Less is more It could be easy to get bogged down in the technological features of Apple’s products. Battery time, display screens, HD video, web cams…the list goes on. A quick visit to Apple’s website reminds me of what great ad copy is all about: selling benefits by appealing to your customer’s emotions in as few words as possible. Apple’s iPad webpage isn’t cluttered with copy. A headline and two subheads says a lot: “IPad 2. Thinner. Lighter. Faster. FaceTime. Smart Covers. 10-hour battery. Starting at $499.” 15 words communicated the best features and the amazing benefits you’ll receive by buying your IPad 2. Just like Apple’s brand, the copy is concise, clean, clever and most importantly: effective. Learn more about effective copywriting techniques here.

  • Writing a positioning statement: a four part formula

    Branding is all about positioning. One of the most useful branding exercises is writing the positioning statement. We’re not talking about a sentence that one person within your organization can sit down and write in 5 minutes. Writing a positioning statement should be a thoughtful exercise. First things first, what is it? A positioning statement is a short description of your company’s target audience and a description of how you want that audience to view your brand. Many companies have mission statements, which are typically focused on the company’s core values. A positioning statement is different because it is intended for internal use to guide marketing and business development tactics. Larger companies might have a few positioning statements that are intended for groups, committees or industry niches. Here’s a breakdown of the formula: Positioning Statement = [Target Audience] + [Frame of Reference] + [Point of Difference] + [Reasons to Believe] Black & Decker’s positioning statement for DeWalt tools illustrates the components: “To the tradesman who uses his power tools to make a living and cannot afford downtime on the job (target), DeWalt professional power tools (frame of reference) are more dependable than other brands of professional power tools (point of difference) because they are engineered to the brand’s historic high-quality standards and are backed by Black & Decker’s extensive service network and guarantee to repair or replace any tool within 48 hours (reasons to believe).” This is not their tagline and is not used in external messaging. It’s intended to identify their main points of difference, why they’re different and the audience they’re targeting. The process of writing a positioning statement has multiple benefits: It forces you to identify your target audience. A surprising number of businesses haven’t identified their target audience. Or if they have, they might not be aligning their marketing, communications and business development efforts to reach that specific demographic. This is often because no one wants to turn away potential clients. Most companies have limited marketing budgets and must focus their efforts. Taking the time to identify your “perfect client” allows you to spend your marketing dollars most effectively. You learn a lot about your company and clients during the process of writing it. One of the key components is points of difference. To understand how you’re positioning your company to your audience, you must know how you’re different from your competitors. Pull your team together for honest conversations about your unique selling points. Gather any market research or client surveys and review the comments. Another critical aspect is reasons to believe. These are the things that back up your points of difference. Think of adjectives or reasons why a client should believe in your brand positioning. It serves as a reference as you implement other marketing initiatives. As you develop new messages and create marketing or communications materials, your language should support your positioning statement. Don’t use your positioning statement externally. Refer to it as you’re developing new strategies. Use it to remind yourself who you want to reach, what their needs and issues are, what makes you unique and why you’re different. Once your positioning statement is finalized and has the blessing of your internal stakeholders, it should be available to your marketing team or vendors as a reference point and reminder of your brand positioning. Learn more about strategies for branding here.

  • What’s the Difference Between Marketing and Business Development?

    Marketing. Business Development. I hear these words used interchangeably all the time. If you want more business, everything you do to achieve that goal could be called “business development,” right? Maybe. That mindset is a bit confusing and can quickly lead to unmet expectations. If you think you need marketing or business development support, you should first understand how they differ and where they overlap. What is marketing? Marketing is about identifying your key differentiators, developing your message and establishing a positioning within your market(s). Think advertising, event promotion, website content and building thought leadership through public relations – these are all marketing strategies (or at least first cousins to marketing). What is Business Development? Business development is about making connections. It’s building upon the brand that you have established through marketing efforts to connect your audience to your products and services. It’s prospecting (think networking events), qualifying leads and then converting those leads into clients. Business development is all about creating relationships. Some in-house marketing directors wear both marketing and business development hats. A talented marketing generalist with some business acumen can provide strategic advice and coaching in both areas. But the truth is that the efforts are quite different and usually require a different set of skills and expertise. Marketing and public relations people tend to be creative. They’re usually good storytellers and know how to develop a message through a brand look and compelling marketing messages. They create new and interesting ways to build awareness for your brand. They’re scouting opportunities and thinking of new ideas. They also probably pitch stories to the media, write content and provide creative direction and/or design. Business development people are actually selling. They go out and develop business, sometimes without realizing that they’re even doing it. For many professionals, business development takes training, coaching and a couple of steps outside their comfort zone. Whether they like it or not, lawyers, accountants, financial advisors and other providers of professional services MUST wear a business development hat. A marketing person may be great at formulating messages, but the relationship your client is buying is not with them – it’s with the advisor they have grown to trust with their business. Where do marketing and business development overlap? The sales cycle for most professional services is longer than ever. Once you have identified a qualified lead, your marketing efforts can’t stop. Nurturing leads over a long period of time is critical for retaining top-of-mind awareness. The marketing side of lead nurturing may include sharing branded content and educational opportunities through email marketing, event marketing and social media outreach. Marketing should also provide business development with the sales tools they need to convert a warm lead into a client (proposal language, presentation training/support, slide decks, printed collateral and even branded thank you notes and gifts).  The true business development side may include personal emails, follow-up phone calls, one-on-one meetings/lunches or golfing together. Which do you need? Marketing or Business Development? When it comes to developing a business development strategy for your firm or business, marketing is an essential piece. Likewise, a branding and marketing strategy should be built with your business development goals in mind. The two not only complement each other, they depend upon each other – but that doesn’t make them the same. As you consider your marketing and business development goals, think about where your firm currently has strengths and weaknesses. You may find that you need more exposure and new marketing tactics for generating leads. Or you might find that you have warm leads, but just need sales training to help convert them into clients. Learn more about how integrated marketing and communications tools can support your business development goals. Want to schedule a free 30 minute brainstorming session with us? What is your name and organization? What is your email address? Tell us briefly about your business. Who is your audience? Are you looking for long term support or a short term campaign? What are your top objectives in working with a marketing agency? For example: brand awareness, media coverage, lead generation Do you have experience working with a marketing agency? What is your estimated annual marketing budget for hiring an outside agency? Anything else you want to share with us? Would you be interested in a free 30 minute integrated marketing brainstorm session over the phone? CAPTCHA Phone This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Δ

  • 4 reasons to create a social media editorial calendar

    A hard and fast deadline is a powerful motivator. When it comes to generating fresh content for multiple social media channels, planning in advance can mean the difference between higher search engine rankings and leads and a failed online strategy. There’s a reason why publications plan their editorial calendars well in advance of printing. Everyone involved in the success of the pub knows the topic, target audience, responsible party and deadline associated with the content. If your business is just getting started with online content, there are reasons for using a blogging or social media editorial other than organization: Get the creative juices flowing – There’s nothing more frustrating to a busy business owner or marketing manager than feeling the pressure of getting a blog post up. Many businesses have great intentions of engaging with their customers by providing informative content and boosting their SEO efforts, but fall down when it comes to frequent publishing. Search engines are looking for frequent and fresh content, so planning ahead by simply developing a month’s worth of ideas is a worthy exercise. Google Docs has templates for a social media editorial calendar or a blogging planner available by searching under Calendars & Schedules. Better yet, they’re free! Revisit your keyword ranking strategy – If your website and blog are optimized for search engines, you should have a list of keywords and keyword phrases you want your site to ranked for. Revisit that list and think about blog topics that relate. Sit down with your list of targeted keywords and the editorial calendar templates and think about topics you know your customers are searching for. Remember to write blog posting titles that include keyword phrases. Shoot for 5-6 topics with a goal of publishing weekly. Find relevant links and sources – Follow SEO and blogging best practices by including outbound links to other sources. Look at your list of topics and spend some time researching credible websites, blogs and online news sources to find content. Remember, a blog post doesn’t need to be a novel. Simply sharing informative content (an interesting article or video) with your online community with a comment from you is a great way to stay engaged and build exposure for your website and brand. Some blog posts can be longer and more informative while others are intended to share links and content. Plan your social media strategy – Decide which social media sites you’ll use to share content and how you’ll distribute the information as you publish it. Set dates and alerts to make sure that once a blog post it live, you’re also tweeting and posting a link on Facebook or LinkedIn. Remember to consider your audience. If you’re a business targeting other businesses, LinkedIn is likely the best home for your content. If you’re targeting consumers, Facebook is ideal. For most businesses, a strategic mix is the right choice. If you’re already blogging or maintaining your company’s social media presence, you’re well aware that the planning is easy to put off. Set a realistic goal to plan and follow your social media editorial calendar for 1-2 months. You’ll be surprised how a little bit of organization can lead to spikes in your web traffic! Need help generating new ideas or writing fresh content? Email me to discuss your social media strategy.

  • The power of the call-to-action: How to give your prospects turn-by-turn directions

    Remember the days of taking road trips with actual maps? I’ll never forget making the trip back to college from Maine to Pennsylvania with my sister with no cell phones and nothing but a stack of AAA TripTiks in the glove box to get us there. Thankfully she had a great sense of direction and the patience to actually read the maps. Me, on the other hand…I’m not very patient. And when it comes to getting where we need to go, most of us appreciate good directions and the most direct route from point A to point B. A few ways to use calls-to-action to increase engagement: Use CTAs on your website: Calls-to-action (CTAs) is a term widely used in Internet marketing. You should have a CTA on every page of your website. It depends upon the message and your target audience, but professional services firms can use graphics or text as a CTA. “Learn more about our work with non-profits”…“Start building your marketing plan now”….“Join our email list” or “Download this free Ebook” – those types of CTAs tell the web visitor what to do next. By placing them in strategic locations, you’re giving readers shortcuts and directions. And when they convert, you’re improving lead generation by having the opportunity to engage, either by giving them more information or capturing their contact information with the promise of following up via email, phone, etc. Use CTAs in print, broadcast or online ads: The concept of a call-to-action isn’t just for Internet marketing. Advertising copy should include a clear call-to-action. Sometimes this is subtle and more focused on branding…. “Learn more about us at” or maybe it’s very direct and time-sensitive…”Sign up for our design workshop by May 10th.” “Like us on Facebook” is a call-to-action! Nearly all advertising copy will direct readers or listeners to your website, so make the URLs short and easy to remember. Don’t forget about day-to-day emails: Slow down a little bit when you’re writing emails and think about a call-to-action. What is it that you’re trying to accomplish? What is the logical next step? In most cases, it’s appropriate and effective to suggest a next step…ask if you can send them information, schedule time for coffee or lunch, etc. You don’t want to be pushy, but you also don’t want to miss opportunities to engage that might be easily solved by including a polite call-to-action. Include CTAs in your email signatures: Here’s an opportunity to encourage email recipients to interact. Include your website URL, social media profile buttons or links and a link to your blog. And if you’re hosting an event, customize your e-signature for a designated period of time with a CTA that drives visitors to the event website or registration form. Spend some time thinking about how to incorporate calls-to-action into all of your marketing efforts and even your sales pitch. Give your audience the shortcuts and clear directions you want them to take.  Learn more about the power of using CTAs on your website to improve lead generation. Sources: Hub Spot, SitePoint

  • Event Marketing: Do the pros outweigh the cons?

    Event marketing is notoriously time consuming and expensive. If you’re on a shoestring budget, hosting or sponsoring events can be a risky investment. The time spent on planning, designing invitations, mailing costs, advertising and venue and catering expenses all add up fast. Many firms are turning to webinars and online meetings to minimize venue expenses. Webinars have many benefits, but they lack the ability for face-to-face introductions. Event marketing can be very effective for professional services firms — if done right. Gaining one great client can easily give you a substantial return on your investment. But it’s not always realistic to convert a room full of listeners into a handful of great clients, especially when you’re selling higher-level professional services. Don’t jump to deeming your event a failure if it didn’t generate billable work in the short-term. There are other intangible benefits to keep in mind: Exposure. Speaking on a subject reinforces that you’re the expert. Don’t forget that the advertising and related public relations around the event are great branding opportunities. Lead generation. Other forms of marketing and PR establish you as the expert, but events bring those leads together into one room. Now you have an audience of real, live breathing people who want to hear from you. This is your chance to introduce yourself, and get their contact information for follow-up. Client nurturing. Not all events are about meeting new leads. Educational and social events allow you to provide your existing clients with helpful information and a chance for some face-time. Social events let you show your appreciation for the client’s business. With these benefits in mind, events can still be risky. Their effectiveness can be difficult to measure, especially if direct business isn’t an immediate result. Here are 4 ways to improve your event ROI: Set goals. Reevaluate why you’re hosting the event in the first place. If a seminar hasn’t been effective for a few years in a row, revisit the strategy. Align your goals with your firm’s strategic objectives. Be sure that the event is designed to reach your target audience. Try to measure the results of the event in previous years. Have a “pre” and “post” strategy. Whether you’re hosting the event, or attending an industry tradeshow, develop a simple pre-event strategy. Think about who you want to meet, how you’re going to spend your time during the event, and how you’re going to follow-up after. Huddle up with your team and devise a simple plan. Coming back to the office with a stack of new business cards gives you a new list of leads for follow-up. Don’t overlook the follow-up phase. Provide value. Educational events shouldn’t be all things to all people. Be mindful of the topic. What’s keeping your client (or desired client) up at night? What’s happening – or about to happen – that affects them? Be very careful that your event title and marketing materials clearly explain who should attend and exactly what they will learn. Work on attracting qualified leads. And don’t panic if your registration numbers are a little bit lower than you expected. If you’ve marketed the event right, you’ll have quality leads outweighing quantity. Leverage. Make the most of your event marketing efforts and leverage it. Turn the topic into an article or ebook for your website (the published content is great for SEO!). Follow-up with everyone who attended on LinkedIn and Facebook. Add attendee contact information to your e-mail marketing list. Write a press release about the event and update your professional bio. Event marketing can be worth the time and energy if you plan ahead and follow through on the pre-event and post-event strategy. Learn more about integrating online lead generation with event marketing.

  • 3 Ways to Stay On the Content Writing Wagon

    It’s easy to fall behind on producing fresh, custom web content. I write and edit blogs and websites for a living and it’s tough to set aside time for my own content writing. But if you’re serious about reinforcing your brand online, engaging with online communities and making your site visible to search engines, resist the temptation to fall off the content writing wagon! Great Content is All Around You Isn’t that good news? You simply need to repackage it. PR Web describes easy ways to take a topic and reinvent the way you deploy it. Here are three tricks for quickly repurposing your content: Read your own website. You generated the content – landing pages, services descriptions, case studies, client testimonials. Ask yourself again: “What do I want to be found for online?” If you’re a housecleaner who is branching into green cleaning practices and want to be found for “green housecleaning in Portland,” create a short page of content on this very topic, optimized with supporting keyword phrases. Expand upon your original services page to generate a short page on green housecleaning. Write a blog post to support the new page (Are you using a new method or cleaning technique?) Describe it on your blog and be sure to include a link to your new page at the end of your blog post. Give a publication legs. Have you issued a press release lately? Any new team members, recently completed projects, new products or awards? Edit a press release into an authored article on a timely topic or into a case study featuring your capabilities. Case studies and news items often justify a web page of their own, or at minimum, you can write a shout-out on social media sites to drive interest to the “new” page of content. Repurpose customer feedback. Do you receive emails or questions from customers via email or social media? What are their primary concerns? Write a how-to blog post answering a popular question. If the topic is meaty enough, consider issuing an email alert to your contact list and post the content on your blog and social media pages. If your content ideas are prolific, but you need help with copywriting, SEO or on-page optimization, contact Marnie to learn more about how an Internet Marketing Plan can improve your online presence and boost sales. Source:

  • How to apply a short psychology lesson to your marketing content

    In my next life (or maybe even in the next chapter of my life) I vow to study psychology. I am truly fascinated by how the human brain functions. My challenge as a marketer is to apply what scientists and psychologists have discovered about how we think, decide and remember into my professional work. One of my favorite resources is Neuro Web Design by Susan Weinschenk. With a Ph.D. in Psychology and a successful career in user experience consulting, Weinschenk’s book validated why I love writing and using case studies to sell products or professional services: People love hearing stories. Think about it. Children grow up hearing stories. Weinschenk explains that we naturally communicate the events of our daily life in the form of stories. You may not consider yourself to be a story-teller, but most of our communication tells a series of events in the form of a story. She also explains that we recall more of the information if the content is broken into digestible chunks. People are visual. Did you know that the visual part of your brain takes up half of its processing power? Weinschenk explains that this is why most of us remember things we see visually. This is a powerful statistic for marketers. When it’s tempting to create a text-heavy piece to get as much information in front of your audience as possible, remember that people will recall the information if it’s presented in shorter chunks with heavy use of imagery. People are attracted and respond to stories + pictures. Try incorporating a story-telling tone to your web or marketing content and add more photos. Together, the appeal of a photo coupled with an interesting story will draw your reader in and help them recall (and hopefully retell the story to others – word of mouth advertising isn’t dead!) the information for a longer period of time. Weinschenk’s book is targeted toward web designers, but the concepts can be applied to printed marketing collateral, proposals or presentations. Think about your company’s work and your successes over the past year. Can you tell a story about how your services helped your client or improved your community? Did you use a novel process to take a project from start to finish? A great first step for developing marketing concepts is to spend the time identifying potential stories and think about how the story might help solve your customer’s business challenges.

  • The one word you shouldn’t use (as much) on your website

    Most marketers should revisit their web copy with a big red pen. Some of the largest brands and well-respected companies make a common mistake in their website messaging: they use the word “We” far too often. “We have the largest group of certified experts”…“We won 20 awards last year for our amazing work,”…”We, We, We…” It’s the number one word that copywriters, business bloggers and marketers need to redline from your content whenever possible. And it’s so easy to fix! Instead of talking about “We,” think about editing your content into customer-focused copy. How can you edit a simple sentence into a statement that identifies your customer’s problem and addresses their needs. Web marketers need to be particularly aware of this because if your online copy doesn’t speak to your customers, potential customers will bounce right off your website and on right on to your competitor’s. Here’s how to rethink “We” focused marketing content: Evaluate your current web copy. It’s always humbling to take constructive criticism, but it’s well worth the exercise. Future Now’s “We We Text” calculator is a great resource that will score your copywriting for customer-focused content vs. sentences that are focused on you and your company. Replace “We” with “You.” Customer-focused content discusses a problem and how a product or service will fill a customer’s need. Rather than filling a web page with information on the features of what you provide, starting thinking about your customer’s problems and what benefits you can offer. Try to edit as many sentences as possible by getting rid of “we do this” and replacing it with more sentences that contain the word “you” or “your” with a message the truly speaks to the customer’s interests. Know your customer. To write truly customer-focused web content, explore the concept of buyer personas and persuasion architecture. “Waiting for Your Cat to Bark” by Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg is an excellent tutorial on understanding the various modes of behaviors your web visitors are in when they’re making buying decisions. The way you address their unique needs with online content will help move them through your sales funnel. To learn more about buying personas and customer-focused copy, check out Mahoney Internet Marketing’s blog on Internet Marketing best practices or the FutureNow Resource Center. Need help wielding that big red pen? Contact me to discuss your copyediting or online marketing best practices.

  • Top 3 Reasons Why LinkedIn is Key to Social Media Marketing for Businesses

    Of the social networking tools available, there is one that professional services firms shouldn’t overlook: LinkedIn. Sure, there are plenty of other important Internet marketing players: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Yelp are widely known and have a great deal of marketing value. I have used all of these sites to varying degrees. But for professionals who need to maximize their time spent on social media marketing, LinkedIn shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s true that a LinkedIn profile is organized a bit like a resume, but LinkedIn goes far beyond jobseeking or recruiting purposes. I think of it as a multi-pronged tool that offers numerous benefits. Here are my top 3 reasons why I encourage clients to have an active LinkedIn presence: Build top-of-mind awareness for your brand. It’s great to create a LinkedIn profile, but actively using LinkedIn means that you’re sharing some content via status updates, sharing articles or promoting your own hosted events. All of this content keeps your name front and center in your network’s news feed. And when you’re sharing useful information that’s relevant to your expertise, you get the benefit of frequency and branding rolled into action. [Tips: Everything in moderation. Don’t publish useless information or annoying “here’s what’s on my task list today” updates. LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. Be relevant, helpful and informative. Strive for weekly updates.] Improve search engine rankings. I would love to give credit to whoever coined the phrase “Google Juice.” I can’t take credit, but it’s true that LinkedIn profiles have amazing search engine optimization value. Try searching your own name in Google or any other search engine. If you have a LinkedIn profile already, that profile is very likely to be the top result. This is great news if you are using your LinkedIn profile to the fullest. Visitors can check out your profile, and immediately learn about you, your services and understand what makes you unique. They can also quickly identify how to visit your website and click through from the profile. This is why it’s critical to at least put some thought into the summary, headline, and skills portions of your profile. [Tips: Think about how humans search for information online. Your official title may be “Principal” but that could be true for many industries. Make it clear in your headline and summary who you are and what you do. And don’t forget a photo! Put a face to your name. A LinkedIn profile without a photo looks unfinished.] Form new relationships. A LinkedIn “connection” may be a colleague you know well or someone you’ve never met who is a peer in your industry. As you build your network of connections, find ways to turn some of those connections into relationships. Social networking shouldn’t be completely online. It’s an online tool that opens the door to new working relationships, so use the online introduction as a mechanism for taking that relationship offline with a face-to-face meeting. Use LinkedIn’s email message box to send follow-up thank you emails or invite key connections to events. [Tips: Quality over quantity. Be strategic about your network. Don’t use the default LinkedIn language for requesting a connection. Edit it to something personal. If you’ve never met them, explain why you want to connect. “I’m a marketing consultant looking to connect with other graphic designers in the Portland area. Do you mind joining my network?”] Social media has changed the way we do business. But it hasn’t replaced the value of face-to-face relationships. Clients won’t buy your services based upon your LinkedIn profile alone, but it’s an excellent tool for building familiarity, credibility and initiating an in-person meeting. In a future blog post, I’ll cover LinkedIn profiles in more detail. By comparing and contrasting a good profile from the bad, you’ll see how a little extra thought and effort can pay big dividends. Learn more about Internet Marketing and how to use social media tools like LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website.

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