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.

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