It is not the critic who counts…

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

― Theodore Roosevelt

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5 Ways To Be Engaging Leaders On LinkedIn

Most professionals do not have a LinkedIn marketing or social-selling strategy, let alone an online sales strategy that’s aligned to revenue objectives. If you want to be a sales and marketing leader you need to create a plan that will activate your LinkedIn connections. Think of LinkedIn as a professional social media network that you can use to connect, engage, drive demand and create lead opportunities.

Yet, strategy is the biggest difference between a sales or marketing team that drives demand and enjoys consistent revenue opportunities and one that just has a presence and lots of connections it does not engage with.

How you thought about these tactics?

  • After you make a connection, how do you follow up or build on that connection? Your goal should be to develop them into a lead.
  • Do you think about the content you are sharing or posting? The content should position and differentiate yourself.
  • What discussions are you creating? Will these discussions or conversations nurture your connection (or prospect) and provide value for to your business relationship? They should.
  • Have you thought about how to introduce your company and their content to your connection and move them from LinkedIn to your website?

Here are 5 strategies that sales and marketing leaders need to think about to be engaging on LinkedIn.

  1. Social Media Presence

First, review your LinkedIn profile. Did you consider your LinkedIn profile as a strategic tool? Your profile shouldn’t be a cover letter and a resume. You should be considering how to position yourselves as an expert in your field. The information on your profile should be interesting to your target connections, market and industries.

To convey your worth, find out what kind of value your prospects are looking for and optimize your LinkedIn profile to provide value to them. Your profile should be piquing interest and starting conversations with key decision-makers that lead to revenue opportunities.

  1. Thought Leadership

Don’t just use LinkedIn as a publishing platform. It is a good medium to push out content, but the content you are posting should be pulling your prospects in. You need to plan out what type of content you can provide that will convince decision-makers to contact you. The best way is to figure out the pain points that your target connections (and their companies) may be facing and what content you can provide that would position you as a thought leader. The goal is to have your connections take action.

  1. Targeted Connection Prospecting

Review your LinkedIn connections to see how many of them are “long-shots” or who could provide introductions or recommendations. Your connection prospecting strategy should define who your main and secondary prospects and influencers are, and it should include a plan to get them to respond to your communications. The goal should be to retain their attention, so you can provide value, develop the lead (or referral) and convert the lead into a client.

  1. Engagement

It’s not about how many connections you make or followers you have on LinkedIn or any other social media platforms. More accurately, it’s about how many people you reach and engage with. Engagement and providing value should be at the forefront of your LinkedIn strategy.

The best way to engage in social media is to create a community. In LinkedIn, you can create actual groups that you manage. Remember buyers are looking for quick access to trusted experts and relevant content that helps them with their business issues. Your custom, niche LinkedIn community is an effective way to give your buyers what they are looking for.

  1. Lead Generation and Engagement

Most of the prospects you connect with on social media (and LinkedIn) platforms don’t realize what value you could provide or why they need you. It’s best to develop a lead nurturing strategy for move your connections through a defined lead generation process. Nurturing these connections will provide them with value and will encourage them to reach out for additional information.

What you need:

  • A strategy to use your content (blogs, social media posts, case studies, whitepapers, third-party research, etc.) to support your business objectives.
  • Content that will engage and provide value. Think about the pain points that will address your target audience and connections’ needs.
  • A plan for how you will nurture your connections, prospects, leads and clients. How will you move them into your pipeline and get them to engage with you?

By developing an integrated marketing strategy you will be able to create a funnel that will provide value and lead opportunities in the future.

5 Metrics You Should Be Tracking To Help Increase Sales

Are you tracking and accessing metrics to improve you business? Here are 4 important metrics you should track to improve your business.

1. Total sales by time period

You should be tracking your sales by a time period that is relevant to your business (monthly, weekly, quarterly, annually). By tracking sales by time period, you know exactly how well you’re performing. You know if your sales are up or down versus the prior period, be it the prior day, week, month, quarter or year.

2. Sales by product or service

This metric tells you exactly what is performing (a.k.a. selling) and what’s not. This will help you to focus your business and marketing strategy. Declines in the sales of certain products might mean new product versions are required where as increases in sales means you need to support that product or service and make sure the capacity is there.

3. Revenue per sale

The easiest way to increase sales and profits for most companies is to increase the average revenue per sale. Tracking this metric will help you devise strategies to increase your revenue per sale and track the success.

4. Sales by lead source and activity

This metric will help you focus your marketing and advertising spend. The key here is to spend more on the advertising or “lead sources” that produce the most sales, and to stop wasting money on sources of leads that don’t. By tracking the lead sources for your sales, you can optimize your lead generation.

I also recommend trying to track sales by activity as well. This can include sales per click or impression (for digital marketing), sales per lead or phone call and networking or events. Most sales people say that sales is a numbers game. If you go to more events, speak to more prospects, and issue more proposals you’ll close more sales. It’s true. You need to track the results and effectiveness of each of these efforts to see what is working so you can do more of it. You also identify what’s not working, and can fix it right away.

5. Revenue per sale

The easiest way to increase sales and profits for most companies is to increase the average revenue per sale. Tracking this metric will help you devise strategies to increase your revenue per sale and track the success.

The goal of tracking metrics is to provide you with the information and ability to alter business and marketing strategies to increase your revenue.

6 Tips for Developing Interesting and Engaging Content

While content may not be easy to right, however it’s a necessary marketing strategy. It’s important to engage your experts and thought leaders to help develop valuable content for your target market(s).

When developing content you should consider a few things:

  • Products or services most desired by consumers may be affected by seasonality
  • Content should be built for the long term and the short term
  • Readers will only consume content that is easy to understand, fast to read and if it provides value

Here are 6 helpful tips for developing interesting and engaging content.

1. Discovery and Brainstorming Meetings

These meetings can help you plan and discuss the fundamentals for content creation. This includes:

  • Marketing strategy: Discuss what has been working and what hasn’t. Then adjust your content types and distribution strategy accordingly. This will help you become more efficient and increase your results.
  • Ask questions customers do: Use those questions for building content. The whole point is to develop content that will provide interesting and engaging content that will provide value and satisfy a client’s need.
  • Publications trending: Have your content published and linked to the company’s website. Back-linking is an important SEO strategy.

2. Marketing and Industry Research

Research is an essential tool that will help drive your business, marketing and content marketing strategy. It will also help you understand your audience so you can build an engaged online following (including social media). It’s important to stay up to date with information related to your industry. If you know what’s going on, your consumers will be more confident in the company and the content you build. The objective is to become a valued thought leader that people go to for information and ideally your services (or products).

3. Content Calendars

This is a must-have. Planning your content marketing and keeping your plan updated and responsive to market trends (sourced by tip #2) will help you execute your content creation. Personally, I love to use Excel. Be sure to include:

  • Social media (what the post will say, the link it will go to, image it will include, and date/time), traditional content (blog posts, infographics, case studies, etc.), press releases and events.

There are many free templates on the internet – I recommend using these:

– Social Media Calendar: HootSuite or Hubspot

– Editorial Calendar: Hubspot

4. Keywords

Keywords should be researched (in tip # 2), included in your content marketing strategy and included in your content marketing calendar (tip #3). A keyword based content strategy will help you increase your organic online search rankings on terms that your potential clients would be searching for. This will also help you align your topics with the search results for your industry or market. It’s important to remember that keyword-optimized content is fine for SEO, but interesting and engaging content should be based on customers’ expressed desires and questions, which will help you to provide value to your target audience.

5. Be Dynamic and Keep It Fresh!

Stay on top of market trends and more importantly topical content. Be reactive and adjust your content calendar (tip #3) accordingly. Consumers will want new content, but not all the time. Also, consider changing your content format, depending on your marketing and content objectives. Examples include: blog posts, infographics, videos, social media posts, images, contents, ebooks/whitepapers, case studies, brochures, case studies, testimonials and press releases.

6. Feedback & Results 

Last, but definitely not least, you will need to gather customer feedback and tracking your performance. This will help you gather feedback from your market and to adjust your marketing and content strategies moving forward.

6 Tips for Developing Interesting and Engaging Content

While content may not be easy to right, however it’s a necessary marketing strategy. It’s important to engage your experts and thought leaders to help develop valuable content for your target market(s).

When developing content you should consider a few things:

  • Products or services most desired by consumers may be affected by seasonality
  • Content should be built for the long term and the short term
  • Readers will only consume content that is easy to understand, fast to read and if it provides value

Here are 6 helpful tips for developing interesting and engaging content.

1. Discovery and Brainstorming Meetings

These meetings can help you plan and discuss the fundamentals for content creation. This includes:

  • Marketing strategy: Discuss what has been working and what hasn’t. Then adjust your content types and distribution strategy accordingly. This will help you become more efficient and increase your results.
  • Ask questions customers do: Use those questions for building content. The whole point is to develop content that will provide interesting and engaging content that will provide value and satisfy a client’s need.
  • Publications trending: Have your content published and linked to the company’s website. Back-linking is an important SEO strategy.

2. Marketing and Industry Research

Research is an essential tool that will help drive your business, marketing and content marketing strategy. It will also help you understand your audience so you can build an engaged online following (including social media). It’s important to stay up to date with information related to your industry. If you know what’s going on, your consumers will be more confident in the company and the content you build. The objective is to become a valued thought leader that people go to for information and ideally your services (or products).

3. Content Calendars

This is a must-have. Planning your content marketing and keeping your plan updated and responsive to market trends (sourced by tip #2) will help you execute your content creation. Personally, I love to use Excel. Be sure to include:

  • Social media (what the post will say, the link it will go to, image it will include, and date/time), traditional content (blog posts, infographics, case studies, etc.), press releases and events.

There are many free templates on the internet – I recommend using these:

– Social Media Calendar: HootSuite or Hubspot

– Editorial Calendar: Hubspot

4. Keywords

Keywords should be researched (in tip # 2), included in your content marketing strategy and included in your content marketing calendar (tip #3). A keyword based content strategy will help you increase your organic online search rankings on terms that your potential clients would be searching for. This will also help you align your topics with the search results for your industry or market. It’s important to remember that keyword-optimized content is fine for SEO, but interesting and engaging content should be based on customers’ expressed desires and questions, which will help you to provide value to your target audience.

5. Be Dynamic and Keep It Fresh!

Stay on top of market trends and more importantly topical content. Be reactive and adjust your content calendar (tip #3) accordingly. Consumers will want new content, but not all the time. Also, consider changing your content format, depending on your marketing and content objectives. Examples include: blog posts, infographics, videos, social media posts, images, contents, ebooks/whitepapers, case studies, brochures, case studies, testimonials and press releases.

6. Feedback & Results 

Last, but definitely not least, you will need to gather customer feedback and tracking your performance. This will help you gather feedback from your market and to adjust your marketing and content strategies moving forward.

Affordable Marketing Strategies

How much should I spend on some basic (or I’d say required) marketing strategies? Fees can range depending on the age and size of the company and national, local or global marketing goals. This should help get you started:

Branding
Inexpensive: 99designs can help you design and build up your brand (roughly $400, but it doesn’t include additional collateral: business cards, letter heads, email templates, etc.)
Good: A small agency may charge between $4,000 to $5,000 and should include all necessary collateral
Great: More than $10,000 and this is if you are going to a large agency who is creating your entire brand book, story and collateral, among other assets

Website
Inexpensive: Wix or WordPress can be a do-it-yourself website and can be free (minus time and effort)
Good: For a WordPress site designed to look like your brand, it will usually cost you around $3,500 (or more if you need a shopping cart)
Great: At least $15,000 – the price will depend on the objective, functionality, automation, design, etc.

Social media
Inexpensive: Do-it-yourself or hire an intern
Good: Between $1,500 and $2,500 for a small agency
Great: More than $4,000, which would be contingent on the number of platforms, listening software, amount of real-time interaction and PR integration (great tactic)

Advertising
Inexpensive: Word of mouth, tell your family and friends!
Good: Some social media marketing (between $300 and $500/month) and targeted display advertising ($500/month)
Great: Full social, outdoor, print, digital, pay-per-click will set you back at least $5,000/month (or more), but you’ll definitely have a presence

Content
Inexpensive: Do-it-yourself or hire an intern
Good: A freelancer platform like Odesk.com (you can name your own price)
Great: Agency content usually runs $250 and $1,000 per piece depending on word count and graphics

Events
Inexpensive: Show up and network at other people’s events
Good: Cross-market with another brand with the same target audience
Great: Full events strategy. For production teams, small event start at around $5,000

While marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all these tactics should help you establish some presence and budget accordingly!

Have You Tried Twitter Ads? Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should

Twitter has become a great tool for markets and companies. This social media platform is sometimes overlooked when developing a social media and/or digital strategy. Most companies focus on Facebook, but this post will focus on Twitter and how Twitter ads can help leverage and expand Twitter’s ease of use and viral outreach. Twitter ads can help you offer timely, relevant and useful information targeted at a geographic specific area (even as close as a postal code).

Here are 4 reasons why you should consider Twitter ads as a tactic in your digital marketing arsenal:

  1. It’s easy to set up, use, target and monitor
  2. You can target specific areas (cities, towns, postal codes, new office locations, target markets/locations, etc.)
  3. You only pay for results that you set and manage (budget, followers, engagements, retweets, comments)
  4. Drive Mobile Foot Traffic (with geo-targeting and messaging)

Twitter’s geo-targeting features have enabled businesses to tailor their marketing strategy and increase their local presence. By providing users with thoughtful, helpful, useful content you will increase engagement and your online exposure.

Why You Should Be Using Videos In Your Marketing

If an image is worth 1,000 words than a video is probably worth a million (depending on length and quality). The main point is that videos can be used to convey viewpoints and messages in clearer and simple fashion. As a result, videos can increase engagement and help support your sales and customer service. Here are 3 reasons why you should use videos in your marketing:

1. Customers enjoy videos (across multiple platforms)

People watch videos on many devices, computers, tablets, smart phones, etc., which means that you can reach them on the medium of their choice.

2. Videos build credibility

Just think, video testimonials, or product demos help customers trust your company and brand. Videos also demonstrate your confidence in your company and what service or products you are offering.

3. Videos really impact buying behavior and can increase sales

Building off of tip 2, consumers find videos helpful when they are making purchasing decisions (or signing up for a B2B service). You may also be able to attract and impress new customers, by utilizing videos. 

Key Video Takeaways:

  • Be direct. Keep video intros clear and short, don’t distract from the video’s main goal.
  • Be concise. Don’t try and say everything in your video. Make a plan and a script that helps your customers take the ‘next step.’ I would recommend staying around the 1-2 minutes range.
  • Set an accurate budget. You don’t need to spend a fortune, but you need to make a quality video that reflects your brand.
  • Survey and communicate with your target market to find out what questions they ask and then answer them clearly in your videos.
  • Demos work (especially more than an explanation).

Here are 5 Ways to Create Shareworthy Content

Is your content engaging and shareworthy? Here are 5 quick tips to help you create shareworthy content:

  1. Start a conversation
    Write your content so it reads like a conversation. End the content by asking a question or encouraging feedback in your social channels and providing links for readers to do so.
  2. Share conversations from your social channels
    Include content from your social channels across all your social platforms and in your various online channels. Show tweets where your brand is mentioned, share blog/Facebook post comments and invite consumers to join into the conversation.
  3. Format Appropriately
    Content formatted in accordingly can lead to increased social sharing. Create lists of tips or best practices, announce industry events, provide solutions to common problems and highlight important industry news.
  4. Enable sharing of multimedia content
    Providing links to your photos, videos, podcasts or other interactive content is recommended. The goals of your multimedia content should be creating interest, providing valuable information and encouraging social sharing through the use of sharing links.
  5. Recap your most popular social content
    Include a list of your “best of” content from your social channels. Include your most popular blog posts, your most re-tweeted tweets or your most commented Facebook posts. Share this across all your online marketing channels.

The Top 5 Ways to Use Social Media for Branding

A brand can help you (and your name) stand out from the crowd. There are many ways to brand and social media is one you should use. Your ability to use social media for branding will greatly depend on having a clear underlining fundamental understanding of social branding concepts.

Benefits of using Social Media for Branding:

  • Virtually Free
  • Wide Audience Base
  • Comprehensive Multimedia support
  • Massive untapped potential

 

1) Facebook Fan Page

Facebook Fan Pages are amongst the best social media tools for branding simply because it has amazing potential to build a great fan following for your business. There’s no other social network in the world with over 1.15 billion active users, 16 billion pieces of content, 11 million active pages and almost 60 million users becoming fans of Facebook Pages each day.

2) Twitter

What can 140 characters of text do to establish your brand? A lot! Twitter is a great brand for building a reputation. You can reach out to millions of prospect customers with a few twitter clicks. You can access twitter from your computer, your phone – from the twitter website or through any of the thousands apps available for twitter. Twitter allows you to start conversations with like-minded peers/ prospects, share valuable news and information, build your audience, stay connected with latest events and finally build and monitor your own brand and reputation.

3) LinkedIn

LinkedIn is known for its networking capabilities. It’s very important that you take advantage of that. Start by adding people you know to your network. Then, when you’ve built up a good-sized network, you can start to see people from your friends’ networks. It’s a great way to interact with and meet people who could be crucial to your industry or business.

LinkedIn allows you to participate in conversations, which gives you a great opportunity to be a voice for your industry and show how much of an expert you are. Join some groups that relate to your niche and get in on the conversation. This will also help you to network with people in your niche.

4) YouTube

Most customers like to see brands in action rather than go by word of mouth. YouTube offers a great way where you can show videos of how your brand works and how you’re superior than your competitors. Create your own branded channel on YouTube and see the world of difference that it makes to your online audience.

5) Blog

I love to read about a brand before I get associated with it. In today’s modern age, many consumers think alike and are keen to spend some time reading about brands before they commit to them. A blog is a great place to showcase your brand. Coupled with SEO and smart tags, blogs are a great way to establish your brand online. Blogs help spread brand-awareness as well as serve as a great medium to educate users about the details of a brand and business.