Small Business Marketing Strategy & Process Development

B-to-B

Reasons You Might Start with Content Marketing vs. Social Media

on June 18 in B-to-B, Content Marketing | 0 comments

If you’re a microbusiness owner–and especially in the consulting field–you might feel pressure to jump on the social media bandwagon. (Unless you did years ago and are now regretting it!) Content marketing (as opposed to social media) may be on your radar, but you’re not sure you need it or where to begin. Or maybe you haven’t heard of the term “content marketing” before. (If so, this post from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) from 2012 is useful.) In any of these scenarios, taking a larger, more strategic view of your online (and offline) marketing is always a good idea. And according to CMI, “successful social media starts with solid content marketing processes.” Here are a few specific reasons you might want to start with content marketing: You have existing “content” that can be re-purposed or re-packaged but you’re not sure how. The “news” on your website isn’t new . . . and you have no way to attract and retain website visitors. (Public relations may also be part of the solution, but well-orchestrated with lead capture efforts.) You haven’t invested in social media channels yet and you want to be strategic and deliberate about what you do–knowing that maintaining a consistent brand is important. You understand the importance of thought leadership and you have heavy-hitters on your team, but not all of them will want to be “tweeting” and “Facebooking”–and that may not make sense for your company anyway. You need to create a company presence online–beyond just your personal gravitas–which means achieving the right balance of voice unification (based on your brand and culture) and individual style plus division of labor. Your website isn’t converting leads and/or you are not measuring effectiveness. Without a clear plan to capture leads that’s well-executed on your website, all the social media in the world won’t help. You will increase traffic with social media, but not necessarily business. Did you start with content marketing? If so, why? What did we miss? Are you considering it? Weigh in...

Read More

Why Hire a Strategic Marketing Consultant?

on January 25 in B-to-B | 0 comments

Business owners, internal marketing stakeholders, and entrepreneurs might benefit from hiring a strategic marketing consultant, but often aren’t aware of the circumstances that would prompt such a decision. Also, there is a lack of understanding about the problems a marketing strategist and consultant can solve, resulting in leaders asking “Why hire a strategic marketing consultant?” To answer this question, consider the following with respect to your organization: Are you creating enough demand for your offering? Are you attracting the right clientele and prospects? Are you confident you are investing (both time and money) in the right marketing activities? Do you have the appropriate levels of marketing expertise on board to succeed? (Do you have both strategic marketing and tactical execution covered?) Are you able to measure and respond to market changes and/or trends in your client and prospect bases? Is your marketing activity providing the results you expect? Does your culture mirror your brand so that no matter who interacts with your company or staff they have a consistent experience? Are your online and off-line marketing activities coordinated and well-designed to work in tandem to achieve your sales goals? Do you have clearly defined, compelling differentiators that result in prospects choosing your services over the competition? If you answered “No” to any of these questions, you might consider making strategic marketing a priority in your organization.  If you are an action- and growth-oriented leader who recognizes that turning those “No’s” into “Yeses” will make a big difference in your marketing effectiveness, let’s discuss the plan of attack.  Unfortunately, too many leaders believe they must “go it alone,” when it comes to marketing strategy and feel isolated in their roles, but when they hire a consultant, they reap the benefits of collaboration and innovation. Want more? Sign up for our...

Read More

How to Create Content Out of Thin Air

on May 1 in B-to-B, Content Marketing, Local Phoenix, Small Business | 0 comments

Have you been bombarded with “Content Is King” and similar messages (especially over the last two years) but left wondering how you are going to create content out of thin air?  If you have asked, “Where do I begin?,” this article is for you.  Here are four potential drivers for your content marketing and content development efforts. Data Looking at data you already have–or planning a targeted market research effort to collect new data–will allow you to create expert-level content and provide valuable (aka sharable and interaction-worthy) information to your ideal clients. Prospect Types Are you focused on a particular business model, channel, buyer persona, or industry?  You can create specialized content using the most appropriate media for distribution for each type of prospect.  Like all content development efforts, this can take planning and prioritization, but having the content to back up value propositions for (and create connections with) each prospect type can assist in lead and demand generation. Prospect Stages Your prospects need different information at each stage of the sales cycle.  By carefully considering where they are and what questions and needs they have, you can create content to attract prospects, qualify them, build trust and credibility, nurture them, and drive a buying decision. Brand You may have heard talk about brand stories, storytelling, branded content, and so on but maybe you haven’t invested in developing your brand. With an established brand, content development as well as sharing becomes easier, as your criteria for content is specifically derived from your company’s “owned emotion.” While branding (or re-branding) efforts do so much more for companies than merely providing a content touchstone, a solid, accurate brand promise in place can also drive everything from new terminology to content tone to creative and media decisions.   Phoenicians and Valley of the Sun Small Businesses:  Need more inspiration?  Need to create content? You’re invited to a Content Marketing Solutions Workshop, where we will review content strategies and execution best practices–and of course get you started!  For more information on upcoming dates and times, contact us.    ...

Read More

The Alternative to Firing Your Clients: Better Screening

on May 1 in B-to-B, Small Business | 0 comments

In my earlier post Firing Customers: Why and How,  I referenced Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails. This is a book by Scott McKain and although I haven’t read it yet, he has published an informative article on MarketingProfs.com: Why You Should Fire (Some of) Your Customers.  Herein, he recommends who to keep and who to discard by category (very helpful!) and  smartly states: “We spend more time than we really have to give pleasing a customer we never should have solicited in the first place.” (Emphasis mine.) This last bit by Mr. McKain leads me to the crux of this post: Better screening.  I admit that I have fallen victim to a big name, a glowing referral from a colleague, and a market underdog with potential (if only they’d been open to change), but I am trying—and encouraging my marketing strategy clients to try—to do a better job of what I call “selective engagement.” With a little process development and strategic thinking, small businesses can establish criteria for selectively engaging clients who are well-suited to their business models and financial goals. This includes ideal client persona development as well as the means to attract them and the process of identifying them.  With this type of planning and supporting processes in place, you can prevent the firing mentality or  “culling phase” and instead be more exclusive with building your client base upfront.  Yes, this takes great effort, bravery, and budget, but given the alternative—having to gracefully back out of an engagement—it might just be worth it. Today I came across an excellent example from a marketing person I respect, Allan Starr. In his Marketing Monthly newsletter,  he states his criteria, including this specific requirement, “If a client doesn’t at least believe they are better than their competitors, we don’t take them on (we are opportunity agents, not turnaround artists).”  Starr makes a bold statement about what his company does and what they need from potential clients, which will allow prospects to identify or walk away.  (Bravo Marketing Partners, and feel free to refer those who need more confidence to us. Agencies have different criteria, after all, and we like to connect with fellow service providers.) As many marketing colleagues acknowledge, it can be hard...

Read More

What We Can Learn From Rockstars

on March 9 in B-to-B, Small Business | 0 comments

Rockstars have magnetism and devoted fans – both good things for small businesses. Here’s my brief rundown of what we can learn from them: 1. It’s all about the show. Whatever’s going on behind the scenes doesn’t matter when we hit the stage. 2. Sometimes the lead singer and guitarist must pull the weight and/or create a distraction so the others can take a break. 3. Humility goes a long way with a crowd. So does insecurity and modesty if you can find a way to work that in. Occasionally. And compliments don’t hurt either. 4. Audience participation is key. Let them (dedicated fans) show they know their stuff. It increases engagement and long-term commitment. It doesn’t hurt to acknowledge newcomers and make them feel welcome too. 5. Find someting different to do and flaunt it. I don’t lip synch, we dont play short, dinky concerts, whatever it is do it and draw attention to it. People leave repeating it. 6. Make every crowd feel like the best – or at least unique in something. Acknowledge them for that. 7. Introduce spontaneity to keep yourself and your team motivated and entertained. 8. Recognize your opening acts and highlight their strengths. If they fit with your values and you can explain that, even better. 9. Care about something and make sure your fans know what it is. It might be a cause or it might just the favorite song you wrote. But say it loud, long, and strong. 10. Pick the right tool for the job and don’t be afraid to change it up. Sometimes it’s a gut thing, sometimes it’s for show and sometimes it’s a necessity. That’s it! Rock on small businesses of Phoenix, Arizona and the...

Read More

Evaluating a Marketing Person: Criterion #1

on September 3 in B-to-B | 0 comments

Criterion # 1: Sufficient Experience . . . As Evidenced by LinkedIn (or other professional online network) Background: I get asked sometimes by friends (even those who have made hiring mistakes in the past) about how they can “screen” an independent contractor or small marketing agency based on its leadership and what to look for.  This is the first in a series of  posts providing an answer to the questions: “How can I evaluate a marketing person (independent consultant or contractor) to help achieve my small business goals?” and “How can I be assured that I am engaging a qualified professional?” About the Criterion: Look at past and current titles as well as dates of employment listed and duties performed to see if the individual has held positions in marketing that are aligned with the services they are offering and you are requesting.   Consider the collective marketing experience and level of responsibility for results as well as accomplishments. Serious Red Flags: No previous work experience within one or more marketing departments or agencies Only one prior position in a marketing department and/or agency, especially if for a limited period of time, before going independent No recommendations directly related to marketing work or positions More Causes for Concern: Recommendations not related to the type of marketing services you are seeking The website links provided are broken or point to parked or expired domains A summary lists evidence of leadership and experience but no former positions (with dates) are provided as support No prior companies listed except the current marketing business A summary that provides ambiguous company goals All prior experience in an industry other than marketing Profile cites age and/or founding a company as an indicator of marketing expertise No actual marketing results/outcomes provided in recommendations or work detail If you have had experience with evaluating expertise using LinkedIn or another professional network profile, please share your stories.   (Future posts to address other criteria and evaluation methods; stay...

Read More