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Small Business

Do You Need Technology for Content Marketing?

on June 15 in Content Marketing, Small Business | 0 comments

In this post, we address whether you–as a small business owner–need technology for content marketing. Technology here refers to marketing automation software or a platform. You may or may not need a big technology investment to support your content efforts.  This is one of our Business Breakdown posts. We break down a marketing headline, explaining who it’s intended for and what it means to you as a U.S.-based small business owner, microbusiness owner, SOHO, or sole proprietor. The Source “How Tech Can Help B2Bs Elevate Content Efficiency” from The Details about Technology for Content Marketing “Nearly eight in 10 B2B marketing professionals worldwide used website analytics tools, the top response, and about three-quarters leveraged No. 2 marketing automation solutions. In comparison, just over three in 10 used collaboration or project management platforms to coordinate and track such efforts.” (Q2 2015 polling by Starfleet Media) The Audience and Participants For international marketers in B2B companies. We don’t know how many companies participated in the studies. We don’t know the sizes of the companies surveyed, either. The Purpose To show how inefficient content marketing can be. To show the gap in technology use. Project management software or a content-marketing platform, for example. The conclusion is the ineffiency is caused by the lack of tools or too many tools. The solution for B2B marketers is technology for content marketing–and more specifically a platform. What You Need to Know As a small business owner, microbusiness owner, SOHO, or sole proprietor, know this:  1. If you’re going to produce or curate content, measure it. Chances are, you already have Google Analytics. Use it. You need that technology for content marketing at a minimum. And to know what to measure, too. (Update: Buffer has an awesome blog post about using GA more effectively and what to measure.) 2. Have a defined process for measuring and what you do with the data. Having a data-driven culture helps too. If all that sounds overwhelming, my associates and I can help. 3. Don’t take on too many technology tools. More to manage, more expense. Not always more results. Technology for technology’s sake is not smart. Unless you can afford to have technology as hobby. 4. Automation may or may not be your best bet. Before you rush out and...

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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.    ...

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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 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...

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Q2 2014 Challenge

on March 17 in Small Business | 0 comments

Small business owners, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and marketers alike need inspiration sometimes when it comes to growing their companies.  One growth strategy is product line extension, with the understanding that “product” can be broadly defined. Your challenge for the coming quarter is to consider how you might expand and extend what you are doing in terms of product development currently. We must make time for this kind of strategic thinking if we are not only to continue operating but improve as well. Be sure to share your thoughts and results on this quarterly challenge by posting your comments below. For inspiration, check out this example from Clean...

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Start with a Goal

on October 2 in Small Business | 0 comments

It sounds so simple. And it’s a message that’s so pervasive. Yet putting goal-setting into action can range from being an exercise that begins with positive momentum but becomes difficult to maintain to virtually non-existent due to day-to-day demands.  Nevermind full-on strategic planning, which can be too daunting, misguided, or cumbersome for some business leaders! So, what can you do?  Especially if you aren’t prepared to start setting goals by yourself today? The first step: Eliminate the barriers. I’ve noticed a lot of the resistance is really just lack of motivation. I’ll bet if we asked small business owners, executives, practice directors, and managers the majority would say that they want to set goals.  The trouble is . . . it’s not a necessity because it’s not urgent, it’s not (yet) associated to a tangible desired outcome, and perhaps there is greater fear associated with doing the mental work.  Fears such as:  What if I don’t know what I need to do?  What if I find out what I need to do but can’t afford it?  What if it’s a waste of time and energy?  What if I miss opportunities because I’ve neglected my “regular” tasks? One way to eliminate the barriers is to actually talk to a marketing person (surprise, surprise!).  You can’t know what to focus on in terms of marketing activity without strategic goals, and these often escape even the most intelligent business leaders because they are simply lacking outside perspective. To eliminate the barriers and start building momentum for a strategic marketing approach today, download our free strategic planning...

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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...

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