Content is Currency

Developing Powerful Content
for Web and Mobile

by Jon Wuebben - Founder and CEO of Content Launch

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We look for profitability in all walks of life: from investments to entertainment, we are always trying to gain something. Similarly, a hot property on the internet are the searches by millions of users. When our prospects are seeking to find something; we should be ready to offer it to them. But, with thousands of companies offering similar products, how can one gain an advantage? Besides, how does Google decide that your website should be featured on its first or second page of results?

We already know that the pages that appear on Google are analyzed and presented based on ‘keywords’. ‘Keywords’ are the important terms or words that are used while looking for something relevant on the web. They are the same entities that your competitor is also targeting.

The only way to win the battle of ‘keyword’ targeting is developing an in depth knowledge of requirements and focusing on keyword profitability. Yes, most certainly, everyone in the same industry will be looking to gain advantage from a specific set of keywords pertaining to their business identity, but this doesn’t mean all the important words with are already taken!

Keyword profitability helps you understand this potential in the “power of words”.

The Demand – Supply Concept for Keywords

In an ideal situation, the words you are targeting for your content should be those which have a great demand and less supply. But, considering the stiff competition for such words, one may have to settle for a good demand and supply ratio. Example: If there are 100 searches in the demand section for a particular term, and a little more than 100 in the supply section; then such a keyword could work out to be profitable as getting ranked for it is relatively easier than for those terms which have a much greater supply when compared to the demand.

Your Grouped ‘Niche’ Keywords

One way to aggressively tackle this situation is keyword research that uses exact terms being searched on the internet and picking up those that can be grouped together. Suppose you are in the travel and tourism industry. A word like ‘Trips’ would be a good keyword. But “trips” is rather general and would be difficult to make a ‘profitable’ word, so you could turn to targeting grouped terms like ‘Trips to Chicago’, ‘the cheapest travel packages to Chicago’ and other such terms based on extensive study of the market.

Making the Most of your Keyword Research Knowledge

The catch is to pick up the lucrative opportunities you have in your niche. With the right direction and effort, you can be ranked for a new keyword phrase in less than three weeks. The ‘key’ here?

1. Finding your lucrative niche keywords with the appropriate keyword research

2. Analyzing factors pertaining to your website rankings: Search engine optimization, Keywords, competitor actions and user behavior.

Once you have managed to handle these, then you need to strategize and optimize. For instance, the niche keywords can be used for your innermost website pages and those pages can use the sub-niche key words linking to your main pages. In the example we looked at above, ‘the cheapest travel packages to Chicago’ could be your innermost page keyword phrase, while ‘Trips to Chicago’ could link to your main page.

With the way things are growing, any SEO Company will have to work on its feet to combat the challenges. It’s time you step forward and use your key ‘words’ effectively to make a big impact!

Author’s Bio:

Priti Pandya loves to blog on social media and its uses. She has in depth knowledge about SMO, SEO and works for an SEO Company which has been offering Article Writing Service for the past six years.

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I was recently a guest on the Business Owners Toolkit, talking about my new book and the importance of content marketing. check it out: http://bit.ly/wbdHEF

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It’s hard to imagine that just a couple of years ago we didn’t have the option to mobile upload a photo while on the go, check in at our favorite restaurant, “poke” that first crush from way back in middle school, or update a status about the latest happenings in our lives. Well, thanks to the phenomenon of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the world has been forever changed in the ways that we communicate and share information…and it has also changed the way that we do business.

If you are trying to build a brand, drive traffic to your website, gain new customers, and reap the benefits of a successful company, it’s no secret that utilizing social media is one of the best methods for achieving such goals. However, because many businesses jump into social networking headfirst and attempt to blindly navigate their way, they aren’t able to maximize their business to the extent that they’d like. To ensure that you don’t fall into this category, check out the following social media mistakes for businesses and how you can avoid them:

Mistake #1: Social networking without a plan. For any goal to become attainable, a plan of action has got to be implemented. This same rule holds true for enhancing your marketing through social media efforts. So before you get started, use these tips to create a detailed outline for an effective social media campaign:

• Define your purpose for using social media sites
• Identify your ideal outcome
• Determine your target audience
• Decide how you plan to connect with your audience
• Find out how to combine your social media strategy with other marketing campaigns
• Select someone to be in charge of maintaining your social media pages
• Find a way to track your success

Mistake #2: Social networking without promotion. So you’ve created an award winning Facebook page and now that the work is done, all you have to do is just kick back and relax, right? FALSE. One of the most common missteps of social network marketing is taking to the web with the notion of “If I build it, they will come.” With social media, you have the chance to obtain a large base of loyal readers and customers if you promote it both online and off. Get active by adding buttons to your company’s website that links to your social media accounts. Also spread the word by inviting current customers to “like” your business page or follow your company on Twitter. Great content is worth sharing so when you share it with your friends they are likely to in turn share it with theirs.

Mistake #3: Social networking without consistency. It can be very disappointing to visit a page and find that the last time it has been updated was four months prior. So once you’ve marketed your social media pages and gained a solid foundation of fans and followers, don’t expect to keep them if you update your accounts on a basis that is far from regular. To hold onto followers that continue returning, make sure that someone is in charge of maintaining your social media accounts offering valuable updates with pictures, company/industry news, specials/sales and other information that your customers expect to receive through their social media connection to your business.

Mistake #4: Social networking without connecting. The whole point of social media is to provide an outlet for communication. So without communicating, your quest for business growth via social media will sadly be done in vain. In order to build an online presence and a successful business, it is imperative to build relationships with your audience. When visitors or your social media pages comment, tweet or send messages, show them they are important by responding in a timely fashion and creating meaningful dialogs. This will also help you learn more about your customers and what they want so that you can make the necessary adjustments to improve your business.

Mistake #5: Social networking without comparing. To remain on top of your game and provide your fans and followers with not only the most cutting-edge social media experience, but also of course with the best products or services that you have to offer, it is crucial to check out what your competitors are doing. Investigate the websites and social media pages of big names in your industry to uncover how they are interacting with their own audiences and how their audiences are reacting. By staying in the know with a little research, you will be able to better your tactics and stay one step ahead of the competition!
Now that you are aware of the common pitfalls in social media for businesses, remember to keep the lessoned learned in mind as you enhance your company’s marketing strategy by Facebooking and Tweeting your way to success!

Cindy McDonald shares with us this guest post about social media mistakes for businesses and how to avoid them. In addition to giving online marketing advice, Cindy also owns Best Christian Dating Sites where she gives online dating advice to Christian singles.

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By now, most SEO professionals understand the basic guidelines for choosing a niche for their website:

  • Assess your experience with the topic.
  • Assess the popularity of the topic.
  • Assess the existing competition.
  • Assess the profitability of the topic.
  • If you’re not passionate about it, don’t cover it.

But in order to make a strong impression (or even survive!) in today’s highly competitive online content environment, you’ll need to get a little more creative and specific. Specificity is one of the most important keys to building a highly useful and accessible blog or website, and subsequently receiving the traffic levels you’re after. Blind specificity alone won’t suffice, however, and for this reason, we need to use all of the tools available – namely, Google Analytics.

Develop Your Existing Site Based on Interest

By using Google Analytics, you can easily determine which areas of your site are receiving the most traffic, and which have turned out to be duds. From here, you can continue to develop your most popular sub-niches while placing less emphasis on the ones that aren’t working as well. This is easier and more efficient than creating a whole new site, and benefits from the fact that your audience will already be familiar with (and trusting of) your brand.

Don’t do it quietly. Make a direct announcement on your homepage, letting your users know that you understand what they’re looking for more of, and that you’re about to deliver in a big way.

Develop a Brand New Site Based on Interest

In some cases, you may find that one section of your site is so popular that it warrants a new, dedicated site of its own. Of course, this isn’t a decision that you should take lightly, since we all know how much work it can be to create a brand new site. If you do create a whole new site, you’d better ensure that the niche is sustainable in its own right. Looking at long-term traffic numbers will let you know whether the sub-niche is a fad or something that could continue to grow in the months and years ahead.

Fortunately, the process of marketing the new site will be a lot easier if you’ve already established a solid base of interest on your original site. You can easily create some hype by announcing your new site and discussing the purpose it will serve on your home site, weeks before you actually plan to launch.

The bonus here is that creating an “empire” of various related sites may prove more valuable in terms of traffic and activity than pooling all of your eggs into one basket and focusing on a single, massive site. It also allows you to target related but unique audiences without forcing them to dig through content that might not pique their interest.

Analyze Your Keyword Rankings

Google Analytics allows you to check the rankings of your targeted keyword phrases in order to see how they’re performing. Using this information in combination with just a little effort can work wonders when it comes to boosting interest in your chosen niche. Examples include:

  • Bolding keywords.
  • Adding new content related to your most popular keywords.
  • Improving on-page SEO.
  • Link building with sites prioritizing the same keyword phrases.

Let’s say that your niche is broadband wireless internet reviews, but you notice from keyword analysis that your audience is most interested in how that topic applies to small business online connectivity. Instead of targeting a relatively vague keyword phrase like CLEAR 4g review, add specificity and cater to your audience’s needs with something more targeted like “CLEAR 4g review for small businesses.”

Explore Other Forms of Content

In your quest for increased specificity and better connectivity with your audience, you may find that on-site, text-based content has its limitations. If the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true, then a video is worth at least a million.

You’ll score big points with your audience if you choose a niche that’s conducive to video content, as well as other media-rich formats such as PDFs. For example, you might create a product review site and produce videos featuring hands-on reviews rather than simply writing about your experiences. As a bonus, this makes it obvious to your audience that you actually have some real experience with the products you’re discussing.

Explore Other Forms of Online Content Delivery

At this point, viewing a web page on a laptop or desktop computer is becoming old-school. According to recent studies, around 65% of Americans will have a tablet PC, a smartphone or both by 2015. More immediate estimates put this figure at 50% by the end of 2011.

The take-away? If you want people to regularly visit your site, it had better be optimized for smartphones, tablet PCs, and the smaller screen sizes and shorter, more sporadic browsing sessions that go along with them. This only enhances the already-strong case for short, punchy boxes of content with strategic keyword bolding and appropriate, eye-candy-like pictures to catch the interest of even the shortest attention spans. Again, some niches are more conducive to this than others.

Make Your Best Content Even Better

Just because certain sections of your site are wildly popular doesn’t mean that they have no room for improvement. In fact, you should be looking at these areas as a golden opportunity rather than a goal that’s already been accomplished. Do whatever you can to make the existing content even better, including various SEO techniques (bolding, mixing up important keywords) and adding new similar content to complement the existing material.

Written by Mitch O’Conner exclusively for the Content is Currency blog

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It’s human nature to want to fit in. In our day-to-day lives, we’re constantly trying to fit our ideals and personalities into the little sub-groups that society has built for us. We want to be comfortable among our fellow humans, to be regarded as “one of the guys or gals.” But this attitude also pervades the Internet content world. It’s easy to go with the flow when it comes to creating web content. You can simply pick a title that makes sense for your needs, check what other people have done, and make your ideas just different enough to pass a Copyscape check and not inspire the wrath of the duplicate content gods.

But while I’m not suggesting that you show up to your next parent-teacher conference meeting in a cape and top-hat for the mere sake of looking different, it is important to set your content apart from the rest. To bring new and unique ideas to an Internet sadly lacking them. If your content is suffering from an identity crisis, perhaps it’s time to consider your own.

Starting With the Title

Consider for a moment that you have an assignment to write an article called Wireless Broadband Internet Providers. Obviously, your client wants the article to be a valuable resource for website readers, but there’s also some implied SEO going on. Your first instinct will probably be fairly typical — maybe provide a short, boring history of whatever you can find in the Wikipedia article on Internet companies, followed by some equally boring sections like “How to Choose a Wireless Broadband Internet Provider” and “Wireless Internet Providers and You.”

When you’ve finished writing, the article probably won’t look anything like the one I linked above. Instead, it will more resemble another submission to something like Ezine or ArticlesBase — content that no human is ever meant to read, and no search engine may ever index. In looking back on what went wrong, you might be tempted to start with the title of the article. Maybe the topic itself is too boring? Should it have a snappier, more journalistic feel? Maybe you should figure out the CSS to make it appear in Comic Sans font.

In truth, the title doesn’t have all that much to do with the problem. Titles work a great deal like subheads — they should be clear in what information they offer, not necessarily creative. In fact, overly ambitious titles can obscure your message to the point that few people will be interested in the content, and the majority of readers duped into clicking your title might bounce off the page straight away. Without your title getting too long, you must follow these simple rules:

  • Satisfy any SEO requirements. If you’re writing an article to target a keyword phrase, it has to be in the title.
  • Don’t get too cute. Nobody knows that you’re talking about if you write the title “Your iPad Unplugged – A Wireless Tale: Reloaded”
  • Be specific. Even the title “Wireless Broadband Internet Providers” can be more specific by promising to answer a specific question – who, what, where, when, why, how?

Giving Your Content a New Identity

One of the first steps to creating content that stands out from the rest is to carefully consider your audience. If you are writing for a techie crowd, they’ll have certain expectations that you’ll need to fulfill. Your content will need to be brief and to the point, but it will also need to address some of their common expectations. For example:

  • You might include a small widget to help sort lots of information into a simple tool.
  • Make friends with bulleted lists and step-by-step instructions.
  • Keep your language as simple as possible — don’t worry about not ending sentences with prepositions, for example.
  • Organize your content clearly under multiple, descriptive subheads.

The University of Maryland University College (who obviously wanted to be as specific as possible when naming their college) offers some good advice on addressing an audience, creating an audience profile, and thinking about content purpose in their Online Guide to Writing and Research. Among their best tips, they recommend:

  • Identify your target audience
  • Think about how you expect your readers to use your content
  • Cover any possible multicultural considerations
  • Address the audience’s attitude coming into the article, and their likely reaction leaving it

After you’ve decided your audience and purpose for the article, your challenge is to create a thoughtful, valuable, and important piece of content that readers will at least enjoy, and at best think of as an authority piece — a valuable resource for the topic. Rather than copying what every other writer has done with the same sort of article, give the topic a fresh perspective.

  • Start with an interesting story (no more than a few sentences) and try to relate the topic to your audience. Ask yourself why your readers should care about the topic.
  • Write from a position of authority. Even if you don’t know what you’re talking about, pretend like you do.
  • Write logically, starting with the most important information and working your way down.
  • Keep everything simple. Most readers will scan the content anyway — so get your most important message across right away.
  • Don’t try to include every piece of information on the topic you can find. Just give the readers a short and sweet look at your topic from a fresh viewpoint.
  • Don’t write a college term paper – they’re boring to read and boring to write.

If you consider your audience and purpose, you’re 90% of the way there with writing a piece of content that stands out from your competitors. You might target a smaller audience than you would with a general “every basic thing about this topic” article. The audience you do target, however, will be more engaged with your writing, more interested in what you have to say, and will be hungry for more. And trust me, when your content begins to appeal to a more engaged and selective audience, it will soon be your competitors struggling to find their identities.

Written by Mitch O’Conner exclusively for the Content is Currency blog

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6 Ways to Leverage Your Content

A while back, Jon wrote a post about “leveraging” your content. It got me thinking about the whole issue of leveraging – do people really just keep writing new blog posts and then forget about them while they’re archived into oblivion? Let’s say a blogger posts three times a week (a conservative estimate for some). By the time a month passes, they’ve created 12 original, high-quality pieces of content. At the same time, they’ve been obsessing over on-page seo, keyword research, link building, promoting the brand, and expanding the site, hoping that eventually they’ll start making more money. The next month, things just continue as normal. But blogging doesn’t need to be this much of a grind! Use what you’ve already created to your advantage. All of that content can be used in other areas to drive traffic to your site, get leads, and make conversions. In continuing with what Jon has already pointed out, there are at least seven specific ways that you can leverage content you’ve already created to your advantage.

Create an Ebook

If you often write about similar topics, start organizing your past articles into categories within an overall theme. For example, if you run a financial blog, you could start compiling every post you’ve ever written about investing. Then, you could start organizing your articles into categories such as “stocks,” “mutual funds,” and “real estate.” Before you know it, you’ve just compiled the chapters of a book that could interest beginning investors. Even though the articles are already available on your blog, people will often prefer to receive their information in a clear, concise and organized format that’s all in one place and free of ads or banners. You can offer this ebook as a PDF for sale on your site, or you can offer it for free to people who become members of your site or join your email list. Also, you can try submitting it to a directory such as Scribd.com, DocStoc.com, DocShare.com, eBookDirectory.com or GetFreeEbooks.com. These directories may provide some of the content exposure that your site needs to increase traffic.

Make Some Videos

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed the explosion of video content on the Internet. But it’s not all just sneezing pandas and laughing babies – if you’re not making some videos, you’re falling behind in the latest marketing techniques. Use your content to create a video by:

  • Making a “How-To” – If you have some articles that describe how to accomplish a task, a video that actually shows you going through the steps can be an excellent addition to your site.
  • Make a Collage  – If you sell or review many different products, make a promotional video that displays the products while you read the review or description that you’ve already written. Take the site, Halloweenexpress.com for example. The homepage is filled with text and image links to different categories of costumes, which the reader has to sift through to find what they want. This site could probably lower their bounce rate and increase their time on site stats by presenting a video titled, “Adult Costumes at Halloween Express” right on their homepage.
  • Getting Your Face Out There – People like to see a face behind a business – it increases trust. Simply making a video of you reading – any – of your content will allow your customers to feel more comfortable about buying from you. Even if you’re not selling anything, recording yourself reading your articles can add a personal touch that will keep some readers coming back.

If you end up making a group of similar high-quality videos, try offering them up for sale as a paid subscription. Otherwise, just post the videos wherever you can – YouTube, DailyMotion, related niche sites – to increase exposure. Also, pay close attention to any positive comments you get on the videos – these could be great leads.

Social Media & Bookmarking

This was one of Jon’s main points. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can be great places to simply post your content again. Assuming you’ve done some legwork and have developed a social media presence, you can keep your profile updated with your latest content, whether it be blog entries, infographics, or video. A good strategy here is to “tease” your social media followers – give them a piece of content that will pique their interest, then inform them that they can get more information at your site. Check out this popular makeup blog’s Facebook page for a good example of this. In addition to social media, be sure to bookmark your content on sites like Reddit, Digg, and StumbleUpon.

Repurposing

This is a bit of a divisive issue – some bloggers will tell you to submit your already-written content to article directories like Ezine or Squidoo in order to increase exposure and direct targeted traffic to your site. This is certainly a viable option; however, to maintain the integrity of your articles and avoid any sort of duplicate content concerns, you may want to consider repurposing of ideas, rather than the content itself. For example, if you’ve written a post about “what it’s like to work from home,” think of all the similar posts you could write with ease – “avoiding distraction while working from home,” “setting up a home office,” etc. Then submit those articles to directories.

You can also repurpose some of your content to be used in press releases. A typical blog post won’t be professional enough to appear as press release content, but you probably have some articles written that can quickly be fixed up to put in a press release. Then use a site like PRWeb to distribute it.

Send Some Emails

“The money’s in the list” – you’ll hear this phrase often while researching Internet marketing. It’s often true – a large, targeted email list can be a great tool for getting people to visit your site and buy products. So, why not use some of your best, already-written content in your emails? Use content that will get readers to actually visit your site. This can involve some of your most intriguing titles – things like “Top 10…” “Best…” and “Weirdest…” can be great for attracting traffic.

Create a Membership Section

If you have a decent amount of traffic already, try putting some of your most insightful content in a paid subscription-only section of your site. Again, try teasing your visitors by providing an intro to a great piece, then telling them that the rest is only available for paying members. Setting a price point will be up to you, but it’s often helpful look at how much other bloggers in your niche charge. Remember this though – if you’re going to charge your readers, you’ll need to show them that you can provide extremely authoritative, excellent content, as well as other benefits such as coupons, promotions, contests, and private forums.

 

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I saw something online recently that basically said, “Content IS Marketing”. I thought, wow, how interesting. I had never seen it put quite this way. Its simplistic but I think it really resonates. Why? Because in today’s business environment, whether B2C, B2B, a local company or global firm, its all about how your customer receives and perceives you as a company. And the content you put in front of them will inform that communication like nothing else.

Put a bunch of traditional, “look at us, we’re a great company” content in front of them and you have just done a poor job of marketing. Show them case studies, reports, free information, videos on best practices, etc. and you’re doing a good job. What else would be appropriate? Asking their opinion, getting them to fill out a survey, offering them a free something – all of that is good.

I recently provided some consultation for a company that offers insurance products to consumers. They showed me their first email. They sent it to 150K people. This was the first time anyone on the list had every received anything from the company. They asked me why no one responded.

The call to action/offer in the email? …“Get a Quote”.

Wow. I was pretty blown away. Not so much because this is what they were trying to do – thousands of companies still just don’t get content marketing. But because they absolutely had no idea what they were doing wrong.

Sending an email blast with a blurb about your company and your products and then providing a “free quote” button WILL NOT WORK. And its just bad marketing. In their case it was “Bad Content is Bad Marketing”.

So, ask yourself, what are we doing to address prospect and customer needs? How can we build the relationship by going out of our way a little bit?

How do you do this? Here is a simple way to think about it: Lets say someone new moves in next door to you. Over the first couple weeks, you may notice what they drive, whether they have kids or not and maybe a couple things about their interests based on what you observe. How would you connect with them? Would you hurry over, knock on their door, go into a big spiel about who you are (not asking questions about them) and then ask them to help you with yard work the next weekend?

No, you wouldn’t.

Over multiple visits and encounters, you would slowly build rapport and trust and perhaps offer them a free gift at some point.

I’ll tell you what – in the past twenty years, in the 6-7 places I’ve lived, three neighbors of mine – just three – have come to my door and given me a Christmas gift, a welcome to the neighborhood gift or for no reason at all, brought freshly baked chocolate chip cookies over. And you know what? I will never ever forget it. I would do anything for those neighbors. Without any prompting, they came to me and offered me something nice, something of value in hopes that we would become friends. Its pretty powerful stuff and you know what? It works.

That my friends, is content marketing in action.

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I recently had the opportunity to interview Michael Stelzner, author of the new book, “Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition”. The book reveals a new way to grow your business that involves focusing on the needs of others, giving gifts, working with outsiders, and restraining your marketing messages. Michael is also the Founder of Social Media Examiner, a fantastic resource for any web marketer.

Michael is one of those rare guys who really walks the talk and is truly leading the discussion on what works in the world of marketing. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the book, its one of the best business books of the year for sure.

My interview with Michael:

Q: I know the book is targeted towards small businesses and marketers. For the small business owner, I think it’s a no brainer. They will get it and understand it. For the marketers, there may be a challenge with some of them – the traditional, conservative, Corporate America types. How do you talk these folks and get them on board with what you are recommending in the book?

MS: One thing I would do is share the example of Hubspot. Growth of 350% in the past year and the venture funding they just got from Google and they don’t do any advertising at all. All their content is free. And they are getting 25-40K leads a month.

The other thing that I would say to a business, especially a larger business is this: the people you are trying to reach are suffering from a couple problems. First, they are being attacked by marketing messages at every single turn. They’ve tuned out completely. They aren’t paying attention anymore.

Second is that they don’t trust you. Just have them take a look at the Edelman Trust Barometer, which said that only 1 in 3 consumers trust businesses. I would also ask, “Are these things that you’ve been doing working?” Is it getting better or worse? I’m almost willing to bet money that they’re getting worse. So, marketers at any size business realize that things need to change.

The fact is, what every business wants is to have their own audience, instead of relying on a costly middleman. You can eliminate the need for print, mail, internet display advertising, radio and television. I’d say, “If there was a way to completely eliminate these, would you be interested?” You can become the publisher and get people coming back time and time again and have a loyal following that shares your content with their peers. That resonates with business people and marketers at any size organization. I think that’s how you start the discussion.

You can also show them what Proctor and Gamble is doing with ManoftheHouse.com, which targets dads. A few years ago, they knew the economy was changing, that dads were taking on a new role in some cases where they were going shopping, so they decided to do the equivalent of a soap opera. Proctor and Gamble funds just about every soap opera that’s ever existed. They created the shows in order to have an advertising medium. So they launched ManoftheHouse.com. They didn’t market it at all. Instead they brought expert dad bloggers to the table and started creating great content and got over a million unique visitors coming to their site a month and they are just over a year old. These are the kind of stories that resonate for businesses of any size.

Q: Mike, you have done a lot with Social Media Examiner since your launch, doing a lot of things right. And I say, wow, this is a great example of tremendous focus that you and your team have had in order to experience this kind of growth. How did you find it within yourself to have that laser sharp ability to focus on the important things to achieve the growth that you have?

MS: Good question Jon. I had previously done this in a different niche, which was the white paper world. Back then, I was creating great content to help freelance writers figure out how they can become more profitable writing white papers for corporations and I also focused on the marketer working for the companies to empower them on how to utilize this popular technique of using white papers for lead gen. So, I had come from a space where I was laser focused.

And I knew the value of developing a niche and when we launched Social Media Examiner in 2009, one thing I noticed was that there were thousands of bloggers talking about social media but there was hardly anyone that was going deep on a regular basis. So I thought, I want to differentiate by starting a magazine, not a blog. Because I came from writing and knew a lot of writers, we’re going to produce content that is exceptionally high quality and all of our articles will be at least 1000 words. I wanted to create evergreen content that would be just as valuable today as it would be a month from now.

I also knew that if I could recruit people who were experts – I didn’t care if they were known or not – I could maintain a super high quality level of content. The vision was always to create a movement and to be commercial free by the way. I promised that we wouldn’t market or promote anything until we had at least 10K subscribers.

Q: In terms of all the different types of content you can produce, from white papers to e-books to site pages, social media and more, when you approach a company that’s just getting started with all this stuff, how do you prioritize the deliverables with that company?

MS: What I say is this: if your business is the rocket ship, your content is the fuel. People consume the content and the more people that consume it, the faster your rocket moves. So, I talk about two different types of content in the book: the first is called “primary” fuel and the other is called “nuclear” fuel. So primary fuel is the kind of stuff that you need to create every couple days. It has a 72 hour shelf life, its like gas in your car. It will get you so far, then you need more. Things like how-to articles, success stories of businesses that have absolutely nothing to do with your business, interviews with experts, that kind of stuff.

Your nuclear fuel is what you use when you need a big boost. Just like real nuclear fuel, it takes longer to create; it needs to be used carefully and strategically. Nuclear fuel could include doing a survey and then coming out with a report.

We come out with the annual “Social Media Marketing Industry Report”. When you give things like this away for free, you get tremendous exposure. We had 40,000 people read our last report, written up in the Wall Street Journal, all over the place. You do these types of things at strategic points: when you are starting or launching, at different times throughout the year to boost you forward, faster. White papers and contests are other forms of nuclear fuel. We do a contest called “The Top Ten Social Media Blogs” where we get judges like Scott Monty from Ford Motor Company, Ann Handley from Marketing Profs, and ask readers to nominate their favorite blogs. When we announce the winners, we give them a cool badge they can put on their site, they talk about it, everyone gets excited and it creates tremendous buzz.

Q: In looking through the Table of Contents for the book, and one area that really got my attention was chapter 5, I really like the idea of “Reciprocity Marketing”. Michael, can you tell us a little more about what that is?

MS: Robert Cialdini in the book, “Influence” wrote about this thing called “the rule of reciprocity” and basically what it said was if you do something good for someone else, they will have an innate, almost uncontrollable desire to want to return the favor.

Now what I talk about in the book and I know you haven’t seen it yet, and you may disagree with me, but I say people have abused the rule of reciprocity. Marketers have felt that if they create content, they can compel people to do something against their will and I like to use a boat as an analogy. We’ve been taught for so long that if we quietly just get in the boat and row out to the right place on the lake, pull out our handy dandy reel and special lure and drop it in, and jiggle it a little bit, we can force people against their will to comply and what Cialdini warns about is the negative side of reciprocity and how it can be abused.

So what I suggest is this: instead of relying on the rule of reciprocity, just give without expecting anything in return, which is a really crazy thought for the marketers out there. Everybody is about “give to receive”. I say just give. Remember what I said earlier: nobody trusts marketers anymore. Why not just give? Why not just establish trust and get our customers lovin us. You want to know what happens then? People sing your praises from the roof tops.

I got an email from a guy in Victoria, Canada and he said, “I am so appreciative of the stuff you guys produce. If you ever want to give a free event ticket to someone who lives in my area, I will drive out with a Starbucks coffee and hand it to them and if it’s a woman, I’ll give her a bouquet of flowers and he went on to say,  “I will literally dedicate an entire day of my life to whatever you need, that’s how appreciative I am.” How many businesses want customers like that? It’s amazing. And its by constantly giving people so much great value that some of them are going to love you and become raving fans. And that’s the best conceivable situation. We don’t really need to trick people anymore; we can just do great things for them.

And at their core, everyone wants great information, they want access to great people and they want recognition. If you can figure out how to create content to feed those desires, you don’t really need to ask anymore.

That’s fantastic stuff Mike. I know what you mean exactly. Many times, I’ll go to local business events and give away a couple hundred copies of my first book and people look at me in shock, wondering what I want from them. And I say I don’t want anything. I say if the book helps you, great. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. Its amazing psychology to see what happens in that moment.

MS: Yeah, and what’s great about content like a book is that its highly scalable. You can give it to hundreds, thousands, even millions of people when it’s online. It’s a smart move that most people don’t think about. What most companies do is they hide their best stuff behind some kind of wall and force people to pay for it. If you can impress people in this way, by giving away this great content, then you can grow. And that’s exactly one of the keys to success with Social Media Examiners growth.

Q: Mike, one last question: if you could provide one reason – just one reason – why my clients and my blog visitors need to pick up this book, what would you say?

MS: What I would say is if you need to change and you know that the techniques and tactics you’ve used haven’t been working very well, and maybe even deep down in your core, you’ve been feeling kind of sleazy about some of these things you’ve been doing, or your business is kind of hurting, this is a new, yet proven way to essentially become the publisher.

At the end of the day, what businesses need to do is have their own audiences instead of having to rely on others and eliminating all those expensive costs that are associated with traditional advertising. If you want a super loyal fan base that sings your praises from the hilltops, shares your content with their friends on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and others, then get this book. Experiment with it. I think it could change your business.

***

Wow, what a great interview! Whether you are a new business owner, seasoned marketer or someone simply interested in business, be sure to pick up a copy of Michael’s book, “Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition”.

It could be the best thing you did all year 😉

Thanks Michael for your time…and for writing such a great book.

 

 

 

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Content Is Soul

Content has been coined many things; you’ve heard the term “Content is King” and of course, we know that content is “Currency”. But today I’d like you to consider that content is also one other thing…soul. As a copywriter or small business owner, the idea of “soul” or passion should be what drives your business and inspires your content.

If done correctly, the story of your brand and the message it conveys will capture your audience and leave them inspired. After all you’re not just selling a product or service, you’re selling the story and yes, sharing the “soul” of your business with your target market.

So what is the soul of your business? Take a couple steps back from the daily grind and reflect.  This way, no matter what marketing avenue you choose, your content will represent the passion that drives you.  Start by doing a little brainstorming, get back to the answers to this key question: why do we do what we do?

And ask yourself some questions…

  • Why did I choose this path?
  • What benefits am I offering to my customers?
  • How has it changed my life and how will it change the lives of others?

Content isn’t about creating jargon or corporate speak for a new brochure or e-mail campaign; it’s about inspiring your client, so remember what inspired you. Write it down, don’t worry about making it eloquent just make it meaningful. You may not be the most skilled of writers and that’s okay, getting it down is half the battle. Once you’ve established the heart of your company, hire a good copywriter.

Content Launch (www.contentlaunch.com) has a great staff of writers representing several industries that provide a customized discovery exercise for your company or product – and then go to work by writing the best possible content. Our copywriters are skilled professionals who know how to transform your ideas into SEO optimized content with soul; leaving you to do what you do best: pursuing your dreams.

 

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What’s your Content Voice?

Putting Together a Content Style Guide

One of the content “sins” that I see being committed almost daily is the lack of voice or personality in website content. Having worked and consulted with hundreds of companies in the past eight years, I can testify that many companies don’t even know what content “voice” is to begin with. And of course, there are always those companies who are straight up rookies when it comes to their websites and actually ask me if we could “just copy some content from another website” for their new site. Whoa, slow down there Nellie! That may be one of the worst things anyone could ever do to a new site, right? Well, lets break through the clutter…

So what is content voice?

It’s the unique brand and/or personality that your company communicates with in the pages that make up your site, the updates on your social media profiles and the blog posts that you write.

Some company branding personalities are upbeat and quirky, others are funny, still others are serious and professorial. The default, of course, is NO content voice. This is what’s known as the dreaded “corporate speak” that you see on most company websites. Its that boring, bland prose that we’ve seen so many times: “XYZ Company is a provider of ABC services and is the largest supplier of these services to companies worldwide, blah blah blah…” This stuff litters the web…its all over the place. And this is not to say that there is never a time to use this approach, just understand this: it usually isn’t very effective.

When my company works with a client to develop a content strategy plan, we will work with them to establish the content voice. This is accomplished by creating what’s called a content “style guide”, which essentially defines your company positioning, voice, offerings, using words, ideas and concepts that communicate your brand story. It serves as a foundation for the website content we end up developing for them.

What are the benefits of developing a content voice for your company?

  • You set yourself apart and start becoming distinct in the mind of your prospects and customers
  • Helps build stronger relationships with your visitors, prospects and customers
  • Helps you compete more effectively in a challenging economic landscape
  • Makes it easier to develop future content
  • All the benefits of branding, from a web content standpoint

Which companies have distinct content voices?  Apple, Starbucks, Method, Origins, and Bliss are a few that come to mind. Also, many ad agencies and other creative professionals do a great job with content voice. What’s a nice and easy way to get started with the content voice process? Brainstorm some ideas. Find out what makes your company unique and interesting. Then write content that communicates to people why and how you do what you do, and what you do better than the rest. Make it original, but not too strange. Ensure that it reflects your brand messaging.

The bottom line: Stop being so bland and uninspiring with your content. Get rid of the industry jargon and catchphrases and be yourself! Get a content voice…today.

 

 


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