A Simple Content Marketing Strategy

The Internet is a network of interconnected nodes of information (content.) The more densely interconnected the information becomes (the density factor) the more useful and valuable it is.

Data + Interpretation = “Meaningful” Information

Without ‘parroting’ the obvious, content (meaningful information) is what people seek online. And in all fairness what people really seek is an answer to some question. Further compounding the challenge is the fact people use words and phrases natural to them – not to a computerized search engine.

It’s quite the conundrum… What key unlocks the door to untold ’search’ riches?

Cornerstone Key Phrases

Keyword phrase demand and supply is at the cornerstone of content provision and armed with an understanding of the search terms, and the modalities of the user’s presentation (how a person perceives the world), you can begin to provide answers to their questions in the form of articles, white papers, blog postings, forum inserts and so on.

Writing is an art, and although most people think writing is easy they’d be incorrect in that assumption: bad writing is easy, good (or great) writing is hard work.

The Artful Dance

And writing to balance the needs of a human with the needs of a computer is an artful dance for sure.

But there is some relief, since the dawn of the Internet the search engines have aimed for purity of search. In other words the engines are attempting to understand the true meaning of your question so they can return the best possible answer.

This means that so long as you write truly to meet the needs of the people (and keep an eye on the engine requirements) you will undoubtedly be rewarded for your efforts.

The ‘Real’ Reason

Writing content so the engines find you is great, however the real reason for this publishing process is the embedded links back to your select sites. As you publish and share your content, those that pick up your work and republish it will also republish your links to your selected websites.

Article marketing (for this is essentially what this is) is incredibly powerful and results in a strong and wide web of connections and links back to your sites.

Of course you need to provide content that people want to read and share…

You’re Not A ‘Blue Chip’ Company, So Stop Copying Their Marketing!

‘Blue Chip’ or not, success isn’t necessarily tied to how good they are, but rather to repetitive advertising. Mega corporations of this world advertise to build distribution and brand awareness. They do ‘image advertising’ which melds certain emotional responses with their product, so you feel the same way too when you buy from them…

Soul For Sale

These large blue chip companies spend literally billions ‘buying’ your purchasing decision. GM spent over $3 billion just a few years back to make you hum “like a rock!” – And it worked. Brand marketing and institutional marketing works, but here’s the catch: you have to have a fortune to pull it off successfully. If you spent $3 billion on making people aware of your company, do you think you’d have issues with sales?

BS Alert!

It’s a fact most advertising is almost all fluff, puffery and unbelievable platitudes and generalities: cheapest, greatest, professionalism, quality, speedy, best and so on. You hear overused phrases like “We’re number one!” Oh yeah? These overworked phrases do nothing to impart anything unique about what you do and why your customer should patronize your business.

The Big Question…

Why would anyone want to waste marketing dollars hardly saying anything to anyone?

And the Answer Is…

It’s because the majority of us are following the wrong levels. We’ve been ‘trained’ to follow level 1 and 2 type businesses, when we (for the most part) are level 3.

There are 3 major levels of businesses serving our needs:

Level 1

…is the largest and represents the government. It is without a doubt the largest influence in our country today and is capable of changing the hearts and minds of almost all of us. You might also include religion in the mix as a level 1 influencer; however religion usually gets less involved in commercial activities.

Level 2

…businesses are the few thousand or so mega-corporations in the country. They are often large multinational chains and conglomerates and have billions to spend influencing your buying decision. These companies are the brand builders, the Titans of their own industries – some of their products are household names with decades of history and acceptance to back them up.

Finally there’s Level 3

…that’s you, me and practically every other business out there. Studies have indicated that most businesses (about 80%) are ‘small business’ – 80% of businesses operating successfully today are ‘level 3′ businesses.

Focus Is the Key

Level 3 businesses cannot rely on broad-based repetition-oriented advertising that builds brand awareness. It’s not that Level 3 businesses can’t or shouldn’t build brand awareness. And it’s not that they can’t spend a lot of money on advertising. They just can’t do it nationally on TV at $50,000 to $500,000 per 30-second spot. Level 3 businesses need to be more focused with their marketing in order to create successful action-oriented advertising.

We’ve Got it All Wrong!

You see, the problem we have is we’re exposed to level 2 advertising in our daily lives and because we see it ‘everywhere’ many people assume that’s how it’s done. Regrettably that is a dangerous assumption, and is often accompanied by a false sense of marketing know-how… “I’ve been immersed in this stuff my whole life, I must know something about it.”

Business Suicide

This line of reasoning is fine if you work for a level 2 company, but it’s business suicide if you’re a level 3 company and you copy a level 2 strategy. You simply don’t have the tenure, the history, the money, the resources and the staying power. Level 2 advertising is not about getting people to take action, it’s about the brand.

Take Action

Getting people to take action is critical for ALL level 3 businesses. It’s what keeps you operating. It’s about getting the prospect to move past that confidence gap and buy from you – to realize that your product or service is the perfect solution to their problem.

Be Direct

What all level 3 businesses must do is develop their marketing messages more directly. Target them where their prospects will see them. The messages must compel the prospect to do something – call in, visit the shop, check out the website, mail in a card, but do something. Move that prospect ever closer to saying “yes”.

Marketing Your Small Business Online: Strategy & Checklists ~ A kick-start presentation with printable checklists, course ebook & more. 

I’m a 3… are You?

Remember, level 2 is about building a feeling that is attached to a product or service, level 3 is all about action. You’re not ‘blue chip’ (yet) so don’t copy their advertising and marketing strategy – your bank account will thank you for it!

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PS. Remember, I’m in the business of helping you communicate your value in ways that make your perfect prospect notice you and then contact you. That’s good copywriting and I do that. Let’s connect!

Is Your Website a Beautiful “Hotel Nowhere?”

Lately it seems I’ve been explaining to more and more people about Internet Marketing. You see, for some reason, folks think that IM (Internet Marketing) is really all about putting up a great looking website. It’s not – it’s so much more than that.

In fact, although a website is a crucial piece in the online marketing puzzle, you can still beat the best-looking website with great online marketing. And what still surprises me is after all the education, all the articles, all the proof, people still think, “If you build it (better) they will come!”

Sorry to disappoint folks – but that’s a dangerous assumption.

— Just Do It Over

For instance, I was just speaking with a prospective client; they were explaining to me their newly developed site was not working for them as they had hoped. During their explanation, they told me they had a ‘solution’ for their problem – they were going to replace all or part of the site with Flash elements.

I politely explained to them Flash wasn’t necessarily going to solve their problem and what they had on their hands was a beautiful ‘Hotel Nowhere’ website, lost in the Internet Wilderness. A ‘do over’ wasn’t going to solve their problems. Permit me to explain my analogy – I think you’ll like it.

— Hotel Nowhere 101

A Hotel Nowhere website is beautifully designed one, it may have some Flash animation, perhaps some cool rollover images, maybe even active menu buttons that pop up and disappear as you move across them. It’s likely to have shading and other graphical elements that are visually appealing. And it’s probably got some words written on it too…but they’re secondary to the ‘look.’

The #1 problem with these types of websites (and some are not as bad as the image I painted above) is that they all suffer the same affliction…

They’ve been built in the middle of the Internet Wilderness!

Now let’s think about this for a moment. What good does it do to knock down your nice shiny new ‘Hotel Nowhere’ website and build another one in the same spot if no one knew about the last one?

If your Hotel Nowhere website is ‘out there’, how do you expect people to find you? A real hotel needs roads leading up to the hotel, it has tour guides, maps, TV shows promoting vacations at the resort, radio adverts telling people about the next special, advertising in the nearby towns, agents and reps out there talking it up and generally promoting it and creating buzz.

In other words, your ‘Hotel Nowhere’ (your website) needs to be promoted and connected to the rest of the world AFTER it’s been built. Simply knocking it down and building another is a waste of time!

— Going from Room to Room

If we continue the Hotel analogy, you need to know your lobby is your main page (usually index.html or default.html) and it’s where guests arrive once they’ve been brought to your hotel. By the way, the bus or coach analogy is a good one for search engines – think traffic and you’ll start to see the imagery.

So you have people in your lobby. If you expect them to stay you’d better give them a darn good reason to ‘stick’ around. And if you want them to explore your hotel you need to give them a map. Oh yes, and more importantly, you will need to ensure that they can get from room (page) to room.

It sounds goofy, but many sites are built with no ‘doors’. A door is a link between pages. I know, you think that I’m wrong – sure You can click on the button and be taken to a page. But did I tell you that search engines are visually impaired?

They don’t see the picture buttons or the image maps like you do; they look for text so they can ‘read’ it. If your doors are not described via text links too, you can expect a lobby full of visitors for about 2 seconds before they get back on the bus and leave.

— Going from Hotel Nowhere to Hotel Somewhere

Building the site should be the second phase of the project – the first phase should have been creating the architectural Internet Marketing plan. However, this is often not the case and the I.M Architect (consultant) is usually ONLY called once the client realizes they have a ‘Hotel Nowhere’ website on their hands!

The good news is that even if you have done things ‘backwards,’ it can be remedied quite easily, and a good I.M Architect (consultant) can work with your designer and other web resources directing them accordingly for proper changes.

In addition, a good I.M Architect will also help you develop other strategies and tactics for connecting your website to the rest of the world and into your overall Internet Marketing plan. Then, and only then, will you start to significant differences. Your once Nowhere website will have become a found Somewhere site.

Online There’s a Sucker Born Every Second

The great P.T Barnum once said “There’s a sucker born every minute” and with the advent of the Internet those same snake oil salesmen, con artists and charlatans are back – this time with the power of technology to ‘prove’ their rakish claims. So now (paraphrasing P.T) ‘There’s a sucker born every second…online!”

For instance, if I gave you the very best oil paint, the best brushes and the best canvas do you believe you could be Picasso or Van Gogh? Of course not – they had great creative skill learned patiently over their lives. In fact, if memory serves, Van Gogh couldn’t even afford the best tools and yet was still able to produce beautiful (if somewhat strange) artwork – now that’s skill.

I’m sure you’d agree the tools do not make the master. Yet every day on the Internet we are bombarded with claims of push-button success – mastery at the push of a button. Admittedly the allure of this dream is tempting, who wouldn’t hope for such a thing, but we need to temper our fantastic wishes with a healthy dose of skepticism.

We give too much ‘authority’ to technology – probably because many of us simply don’t understand the details. Some newer technology is so fantastic it almost seems like magic. However, I can assure you after more than two decades of working with computers there is no magic.

But what has that got to do with online and Internet Marketing – a great deal actually. A computer is a finite state machine; this means that the rules of its operation are fixed – even if obscure. It simply cannot deviate from the rules encoded within it.

So I ask you, do you really think someone ‘out there’ has cracked the code required to express a sunrise, or write real heartfelt poetry? What about defining the rules for creating a news story, or a love story?  And just in case you think they have – remember this – once defined, the rules are finite. Imagine the same sunrise every day… how boring!

Now I agree and accept we can define basic templates and to some degree there is ‘filler’ content that we can auto generate – but the real meat of any story, any copy, and any creative piece needs a person to inject it with life. Computerized language parsing is one thing, but true creative expression – now that’s an art form beyond the scope of a PC.

So why am I telling you all this, because it was only yesterday I received yet another ‘exciting new offer’ for some silver bullet claiming to put my online promotional efforts into the stratosphere through automated content creation and syndication. Knowing that quality content creation is king, and being a curious sort I followed the link – plus it always pays to keep an eye out for good examples of marketing.

Anyway, what I found (and I won’t name the product) is a well packaged and well presented idea…with one hell of a big hole in it – it downplayed the importance of the quality content creation aspect. It minimized the absolute requirement for creative skill and allowed the prospect to believe that the tools would make the master – “Just push this button and out pops a masterfully written article for syndication…” Hmmm.

This tool will syndicate your content to a myriad of possible publication venues (which is fantastic.) It will help you learn with resources and support (which is wonderful)…but what it cannot do, what it could never do – is overnight make you into something that you are not. Learning any skill takes time, ability and patience (and for each person it’s unique.)

So the next time you are offered a ‘cure-all’ for your online Internet Marketing success which includes automatic content creation, remember this: GIGO – “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” And using technology to publish garbage more effectively doesn’t improve its quality – it’s still garbage, there’s just more of it!

And lastly, Marketing 101 tells us to aim for uniqueness and differentiate ourselves from the pack. Does a rules-based auto-created piece of content sound like it will make us different from all the others doing precisely the same thing?

That’s my 2 cents worth for the day

PS. I ghostwrite and copywrite for a limited number of select clients. If you’d like to get in touch we can see if there’s a good fit.

The 7 Subjects That Sell Well Online

Are you an expert in any of the following subjects? Have you ever considered ‘publishing’ your knowledge? Information is the new universal currency and profiting from your knowledge is easier than you may think.

FREE REPORT: Turn your passion into profit.

In no particular order, here are the 7 subjects that sell well online:

Small Business

Advertising, marketing, PR, selling, Internet marketing, copywriting, mail order, management, negotiation, deal making, and related entrepreneurial topics.

Business Opportunities

How to get started in specific careers — e.g., make money as a copywriter, photographer, registered massage therapist, locksmith, electrician, graphic artist; get rich quick offers; franchise offers.

Self Help

How to be a better person, find happiness and fulfillment, live more spiritually, overcome anxiety and depression, attain enlightenment, improve your relationships, and discover your true calling or higher purpose.

Relationships

How to pick up girls, how to find a mate, dating advice, parenting, advice for singles, advice for couples, divorce, adoption.

Major Consumer Purchases

How to buy a used car, find and buy a home, sell your home, buying a boat, buying a vacation home, select a diamond engagement ring, plan a wedding, plan a funeral.

Investments

Make money in the stock market, mutual funds, financial planning, retirement, gold and precious metals, energy stocks, currency trading, options, commodities, futures, real estate, coins, collectibles.

Medicine

Health, fitness, nutrition, weight loss, disease prevention, medical treatments, alternative medicine, exercise, meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture, dietary supplements, overcoming infertility, avoid heart attack or stroke, joint pain, memory improvement.

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FREE REPORT: Turn your passion into profit.

7 Ways To Accidentally Get an Online Brand

Lately, I’ve been promoting using strategic content to develop and actively protect your online brand and reputation. I’ve found people have little or no knowledge of their personal brand and how it is often created for them – whether they like it or not.

I’m advising people to actively create their own Personal Branding & Online Reputation Strategy and then implement it ASAP! The objective is to pre-empt any bad news or negative content. Be proactive, not reactive. Dominate the basic search results in advance so as to assure a suitable reaction from anyone surfing for You.

I point out that “being Googled” is now a part of the hiring/buying process and it often reveals more about you than peeing in a cup or a cursory background security check! Think office party antics, camera/video phones, and ’shared’ email.

The head in the sand tactic is no longer working (did it ever?) Create your online brand before it gets created for you. And if you don’t think it can happen to you, double-dog-dare me to prove it to you…

7 Ways To ‘Accidentally’ Get an Online Brand:

   1. Someone mentions your name in a blog posting

   2. Someone mentions your name on a social networking site

   3. Someone mentions you in a press release

   4. Your kids list their parents on their FaceBook page

   5. Your family shares pictures of you on a shared photo server

   6. Your home videos end up on YouTube

   7. And there are more (disgruntled employees, an “ex” and so on…)

Think it can’t happen to you… THINK AGAIN.

Marketing Your Business on Twitter

Twitter is a real time micro-blogging platform that uses very short messages to share information. It’s format is similar to SMS text messaging without the fumbling thumb typing.

 

What I’ve been asked — more than a few times lately — is this:


“How can I use this social media platform to market my business?”


Here’s a few simple, yet powerful ways to put the power of Twitter to work for you:


Continue reading “Marketing Your Business on Twitter”