Monthly Archives: May 2016
Simplifying and automating some of everyday processes allows a business to effectively scale the productivity of its marketing, while retaining the quality of its work.
To facilitate productivity as a marketer, identify which parts of the company’s workflow can be automated with cost-effective tools. These tools must suit the size and needs of the marketing team and improve upon the quality of work delivered across marketing channels.
Here are five tools to help foster productivity across the marketing functions of a business:
# Social flow. Scheduling social media posts is critical for keeping up with the amount of relevant content that an organization ideally would generate in a timely manner. Social Flow helps businesses manage the distribution of their social content by alerting a team when the company’s audience is discussing related topics to its core offerings and brand graph. The tool lets organizations know when to chime into relevant conversations their audience is already having.
The tool’s algorithm analyzes real-time conversations on the largest social networks to help businesses identify trends in these conversations, to inform future efforts in creating relevant content. The tool also assists with advertising on Twitter and Facebook, based on the success of existing organic content.
# Nimble. Seamless relationship management is a challengetoday since professionals interact with one another across many different platforms, including email, LinkedIn or Facebook. Nimble is a tool for small businesses, entrepreneurs and other professionals seeking to more effectively manage their relationships with one dashboard.
The tool aggregates content from email, social networks, existing contacts and elsewhere to provide the insights necessary to build relationships with clients and connections. The tool cost $15 a month a user and offers unlimited messages and full access to all its third-party integrations.
# vCita. Streamlined invoicing, calendar management, call-to-action options and client management can save a marketing team valuable time. vCita is a platform offering all these features to users for integration with their existing tools like Gmail, WordPress, PayPal, Constant Contact and more.
Calendar management with vCita enables users to schedule an appointment right on a company’s website without their having to send messages back and forth via email. The call-to-action functionality adds a widget to a website so that visitors to a site can be converted into potential customers, by alerting them to services, letting them to pay for an offering and schedule appointments through the automated system.
# Hemingway. Creating content on a regular basis is important for a business so it can grow its customer audience, increase interactions, builde trust and drive sales. The Hemingway app can help improve this editorial content without taking up too much of a staffer’s time or requiring the help of another editor.
The free app reviews written content and identifies sentences that are hard to read, too lengthy, excessively using adverbs or similar words or phrases or passive construction. Paste text into the app and it highlights any issues.
# Circulate.it. Automating aspects of employees’ participation on social media is another way to increase efficiency while saving staff time. Circulate.it lets members of a marketing team create a simple newsletter that can be delivered to other employees in an easy-to-share format with either an individual post or a list of a few post suggestions, optimized and ready for sharing on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This helps organizations tap into the collective reach of employees on social media by automating some parts of the sharing process.
This way an organization can tap into its employees’ vast networks without overcomplicating things. Such activity can drive more conversations and awareness for the business in the long term. The cost for the tool starts at $9 a month for 1,000 shares, a price point ideal for a small business.
At a networking event not too long ago for which 500 people attended, the speaker who was on stage directly before my presentation asked the audience, “How many of you came here hoping to do some business today, maybe even make a sale?” The overwhelming majority of the people in the audience raised their hands. Then he asked, “How many of you are here hoping to buy something today?” Not one person raised a hand.
This is what I call networking disconnect. I find it ironic that people are so “disconnected” about a process that’s intended to be about connecting people. This kind of disconnect leads to poor results, which in turn leads people to believe that networking doesn’t work. From what I’ve experienced over the past 26 years, along with the results I’ve witnessed with hundreds of thousands of people around the world — networking works just fine.
My advice: Do not confuse direct selling with networking. Of course, there is always someone out there who says, “But, Ivan, I’ve made sale before by attending a networking event.” I’m not saying it doesn’t ever happen, but it occurs about as often as a solar eclipse. You’re crazy if you think the odds are in your favor to “sell” at a networking event.
So why go to a networking meeting? You go because networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. Sometimes you go to increase your visibility and to connect with people you have never met. Sometimes you go to establish further credibility with people you know. And sometimes you may go to meet a long-time referral partner and do some business. In any case, the true master networkers know that networking events are about moving through the relationship process and not just about closing deals. Visibility leads to credibility which, with time and effort, leads to profitability.
In order to make your networking efforts work, you need to embrace a “relationship networking” mentality. Here are five things to remember when attending networking events:
# Don’t go there to sell, go there to connect.
# Have meaningful conversations with people you meet.
# Follow up with people you found interesting or who you can help in some way. Don’t follow up to sell them something.
# Meet these people in a one-to-one setting, learn more about them, and ask them: “how can I help you?”
# Go for the long-term relationship, not the short sale.
Blogging can be a great way to draw new customers to your business website. But if your blog hasn’t been updated in months or all your posts are thinly disguised sales pitches, your blog marketing plan could backfire.
Here are types of blog posts that can draw new visitors and help build customer relationships.
# Customer success story. When you receive a great testimonial from a customer, ask for permission to turn it into a post. Use the post to solicit more customer stories.
# Create an award. Giving a “best of” honor is guaranteed to get attention. Readers will want to check out who won, and all the finalists will likely share the news in social media.
# Share your customer feedback. If you use customer comment cards or do customer surveys, turn some highlights into a post.
# Reveal industry secrets or expose lies. When you promise totell people what others won’t, it’s sure to be a hit.
# Tell the story of your origins. Everybody loves to read aboutother people’s dreams and challenges, so write about why and how you started your business.
# Share a highlight. What were the big milestones in your company’s history? Tell about an important moment and how it changed your business.
# Keyword posts. Check your Google Analytics to see which keyword searches bring customers to your site. Then do posts on those topics.
# Discuss future plans. Give readers a sneak peek at what you’ll do in the coming year to start generating interest.
# Review a book. If you’ve read a book you think customers might like, give it a write-up.
# Review a product or service. This shouldn’t be one of your own products or services or a direct competitor’s offering, but rather a related item your customers might want to learn about.
# Comparison test. Provide even more value by comparing two or more related products or services.
# Post a video. Create variety with a video post. You can give a sneak preview of a new product or show a promotional event.
# Make a podcast. Record a quick interview with an expert, or just give a few of your own useful tips.
# Create an infographic. Fact-filled, graphic posts get shared a lot on social networks. This infographic got more than 10,000 retweets.
# Report on a conference. Quote inspiring speakers or tell readers about the latest trends and ideas from the conference that you’ll be implementing.
# Mention a popular post. If you notice a post by a popular blogger in your niche getting a lot of attention, add your viewpoint and link to the original post. Be sure to let that A-list blogger know about your comment and link.
# Disagree with a popular opinion. Get traffic by stirring up controversy and taking a contrary position.
# Riff on the news. How are current events affecting your customers? Run a Google Alert on certain keywords related to your business or industry to find relevant news items to discuss.
# Compile a link roundup. If you notice several interesting opinions on a topic, you can pull them together into a single post of the best ideas.
# Play off the familiar. Mention a celebrity or a pop culture touchstone and your readers will instantly relate.
# Answer the questions everyone is asking. An FAQ post shows you’re responsive and saves customers time.
# Pose your own question. What would you like to know about your customers? Just ask, and let your readers create the content.
# Talk about trends. You convey authority when you tell how things are evolving in your industry.
# Go behind the scenes. Give readers a photo or video tour of your plant, customer service desk or the backroom of your store.
# Explain how you do it. Do you have a special way you make your product, handle returns or welcome new customers? Describe your process.
# Staff profiles. Give a human face to your company by introducing new or seasoned employees.
# Show your charity work. If your business gives back to the community, post a video or photo essay of that park your staff cleaned up.
# Gush about your idols. Talk about the blogs you read regularly or the thought leaders who inspire you. Be sure to alert those bloggers and business gurus so they’ll spread the word.
# Have a debate. Invite someone who disagrees with your views to do a “Point/Counterpoint” post.
# Talk about your blunders. Everyone loves to read aboutbusiness failures. End your post by telling how you’re fixing the problem.
# Create a regular feature. Do a “customer of the week” spotlight or create a monthly collection of the best online articles that match your customers’ interests.#
# Write a series. If you’d like to teach customers something complicated, break the topic into several parts. Series are an effective way to turn casual readers into subscribers.
# Make a prediction. Everybody wants to know what may happen in the future, so share your opinion.
# Conduct market research. Are you wondering which product name would attract more customers? Hold a virtual focus group on a blog post.
# Create a contest. Offer a prize for the most interesting customer suggestion or use of your product.
# Take a reader poll. SurveyMonkey makes this easy. Or you can simply set up a poll on your business Facebook page and draw readers to “like” your page.
# Share poll or contest results. Don’t leave readers hanging; do a follow-up post to announce the results.
# Read your competitors. If you’re out of ideas, see what topics are drawing a crowd on your competitors’ blogs and give your own take on those subjects. You can even link to your competitor’s post. Readers will think that’s cool.
# Display a sense of humor. Everyone loves business owners who can laugh at themselves when something goes wrong at the office. Consider giving a “how-to” post a funny spin.
# Show your passion. What aspect of your business gets you excited? What customer experience was especially gratifying? Tell those personal stories.
# Share your vision. If you’re different from competitors because of your philosophy, talk about it.
# Informational, how-to. Is there more than one way to use your product or service? Describe one of the less common uses in a how-to post.
# Tips and tricks. Don’t have time for a step-by-step how-to post? Give readers a few random suggestions for how to get more out of your product.
# Celebrity Q&A. An interview post can be quick and easy if you simply email questions to an expert of interest to your customers. If you have some dream interview subjects, go ahead and ask if they’ll participate. You’ll probably be surprised how many say yes.
# Be inspiring. Sometimes, customers would just like to feel good. Write about something you found inspiring in the course of your day or how you keep a positive work culture.
# Resource list. You could spotlight your vendors, companies you partner with, or a list of good books related to your business.
# How you got the idea for your product. This is an opportunity to credit team members and tell an interesting story about product development.
# A day in the life. Give customers an hour-by-hour account of a typical day at your company.
# Offer something special. Announce a party that gives your best customers a first look at a new product or create a giveaway just for blog subscribers.
# Round up the best of your blog. If you think some of your best stuff is buried in the archive, repost your 10 favorite posts from the past year.
The ability to network successfully can be one of the greatest assets in business. It allows some people to find incredible opportunities, while others just watch from the sidelines. Here are the most important habits to develop :
# Learn their ‘story’
Ask successful entrepreneurs to tell you how they got where they are. Most people think of this as an exercise in rapport building, but hearing these stories can tell you a lot about a person’s approach to business. The more you understand your networking partner’s mentality, the better you can add and extract value from your relationship.
For example, some entrepreneurs pride themselves on working 16-hour days and doing whatever it takes, while others focus on being strategic and waiting for the right opportunities to open up. These are clues that can not only allow you to see what people value, but also what working with them might be like.
# Make small promises and keep them
No matter how small a promise you make — such as sending an email or returning a phone call — delivering on that promise reflects on your character. By following through on your word, you start building a reputation for trustworthiness, which is exactly how every great networker wants to be perceived.
# Add value
One of the most powerful networking practices is to provide immediate value to a new connection. This means the moment you identify a way to help someone, take action. If, for instance, you know someone in your network who can help a new connection with a problem, drop what you’re doing and introduce the two individuals.
# Ask insightful questions
Before attending networking events, get the names of the people who are expected to attend and search social media sites like LinkedIn to figure out which topics they’re probably most interested in. For people who are already in your network, don’t assume you know everything they’re up to. Find out what they’re currently working on — or perhaps struggling with. This attention to detail can go a long way at your next one-on-one lunch or dinner meeting.
# Share a memorable fact
When someone asks, “What do you do?” don’t give a canned elevator speech about your company and career. Mention something personal that defines who you really are. Maybe you have a passion for playing an instrument or an obsession with collecting antiques. These are also “things you do,” so make it a point to share them. Such personal details can help lighten the mood and get people talking.
# Keep a list
What’s your routine after attending a networking event or meal? If your answer is, “I go home,” you’re probably going to miss out on opportunities. Write down important topics that came up at the event. This habit can help prevent opportunities from falling through the cracks and give you something to reference in conversation the next time you meet. You can also develop a reputation as someone who’s on top of things.
# Reward your ‘power’ contacts
Keep a list of your top five to 10 networking partners and do something each week to add value to one person’s life or business. You might send them a book or set up a lunch to introduce them to one of your other contacts. This habit can help you be proactive about staying in touch with your most powerful contacts. Just as with fitness or investing, the most successful people are the ones who choose to be consistent in their actions.