Content Marketing Strategy: Pain Relief For Your Business

content marketing strategyFailing to plan is planning to fail.  We’ve all heard that saying before.  And when it comes to content marketing strategy failing to plan can lead to extreme pain. As social media and content strategist Jay Baer puts it:

Content marketing strategy isn’t a nice to have, it’s a requirement.

We agree. So we’ve put together a few basic guidelines to get you started.

Feel the burn

The extreme pain of not planning your content marketing comes in a couple of forms.  The pain of having to scramble constantly to come up with ‘something to post.’ The pain of looking disorganized and inconsistent resulting in a drop in traffic. The pain of confusion in your market because you keep sending mixed messages or jumping on the latest bandwagon instead of sticking to your brand message. The pain of losing traffic and customers as an overarching result of poor planning.  Ouch.

Treat the pain with strategy

Your content marketing strategy should incorporate a number of things we’ve been discussing in our post.  Your online presence, selecting social media, choosing content, developing story ideas, and your brand’s approach to blogging. We recommend you begin by establishing the ‘why’ behind your content marketing and creating objectives from your answers. Next, determine your key differentiators or what sets you apart from your competitors.  Use this information as the foundation of your strategy. And don’t forget to include a keyword strategy that creates a synergistic thread woven through everything you post.

Treat your audience through research

Throwing a bunch of content stuff against the wall to see which customers stick is a waste of your time, energy and money. A key element of your strategy is to know your audience as fully as possible.  Define who they are, what they look like, what they buy and what they need.  The more vivid the picture of your customer the better.  It makes the job of creating and choosing content much easier. And it attracts and engages the right customers.  Not to mention delighting them with content that has some real value for their lives.  Make sure you talk to real customers as part of your research.  Don’t rely solely on internet data.

The Strategy step in our Five Step Process allows us the opportunity to do much of this heavy lifting for our clients.  Need a hand with your content marketing strategy? It’s ok; most businesses do.  Let’s get you started today.

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Posted in (1) Strategy, Business Issues, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Business Secrets And Content Marketing: Where Do You Draw The Line?

Business secretsOver the past few months our blog’s focus has been on the benefits of telling your business story, blogging and content marketing as a lead generator.  We noticed that many of the clients we work with are concerned about sharing too much. Whether you call it ‘sharing the secret sauce’ or ‘giving away the farm’ folks seem hesitant to go deeper into valuable subject matter.  So we developed a couple of questions to help you determine just how much to share.

Is the information truly proprietary?

Try this simple test: consider whether the information you are sharing could truly be called proprietary or different enough that it would hold up in a legal intellectual property challenge.  Be careful not to confuse ‘proprietary’ with how you chose to do things.  It’s often the process of how you do business that is different than the actual product or service itself.  Exceptions would be in the technology development, defense, and pharma industries where information security is an ultimate priority. And of course, the recipe for Coca-Cola.

How could my competition use this information?

It’s highly likely that your competition is paying attention to everything you post online. And if that’s the case, take it as a compliment that you are doing something right and they consider your company a viable competitor. First, consider whether the information you are sharing is something they already know.  It’s likely that your competitors already have or could gain that knowledge from a number of sources.  Second, if you share the information will they be able to use it in a way that impacts your business. Knowing how you do what you do is one thing.  Successfully replicating what you do is another story entirely.

Have we given away everything?

Believe it or not, the goal of content marketing is to give away everything you can. As Jay Baer states in his article on this topic:

The goal of content marketing is to give away everything you know, but to do so one piece at a time. Provide free information snacks that create interest in your knowledge meals.

The name of the content marketing game is value.  Provide value, expert insights and information that readers will be hard pressed to get anywhere else.  And to provide this level of value you will need to go deeper into your subject matter.

What may have felt like a risk only a few years ago has now become standard procedure when it comes to sharing information about your business and process.  We know.  We help our clients with content marketing strategy and implementation.  Let us help you make your competition sit up and take notice.

 

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Posted in Blogs, Business Issues, Content Marketing, Online Marketing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Challenges Behind, Challenges Ahead: 2014 And Vision 2020

2014 was filled with challenges, a few surprises and plenty of learning for my team at Evolve Systems.  I was fortunate enough to take a week long retreat this January and spend time reflecting on all that happened as well as all that we have planned for the future. To be honest it was a lot to ponder and a bit overwhelming.  So I decided to share our story of 2014 and our Vision 2020 with you, our faithful friends, colleagues and fans. It has been rather therapeutic to put this in writing and post it to our blog.  I hope you find it helpful as you reflect on your own ‘state of the business’.

2014: A year of challenge and surprise

I hesitate to describe 2014 as a year of challenge and surprise because every year in business could be defined that way.  Challenges are for meant for learning and we did our fair share from two in particular.

Challenge #1: Losing clients unexpectedly. The result was lost revenue. But our takeaway was to learn what we could from the loss and move on. Don’t dwell on it.  Pick yourself up and go get new clients.  We did, and we are stronger for the experience.

Challenge #2: Losing an essential employee unexpectedly.  The result was a brief episode of panic and worry about replacing her.  But our takeaway was that a little planning goes a long way.  We had worked with this employee to create a manual that outlined her role and responsibilities.  That one thing made replacing her and training the new employee much easier.  We did, and we are looking to implement this type of process documentation across the organization.

2015: A year of change and growth

The one word that defines our focus in-house is communication.  We organized a staff strategy session to create a list of goals and strategies as a group.  We also held a team building session in 2014. The results spilled over into the new year with a measurable shift in our internal culture toward teamwork and communication.  Growth will be driven by a refreshed business plan that leads us to expand our reach beyond the local to a regional presence and client base.  2015 will also be a year of growing our team in the technical, project management and sales departments. And a final item from our list: update our own website.  Whew.

Vision 2020: Our five-year plan

Focus and a clear vision for the future. That’s the concept behind Vision 2020.  Five years from now we will ring in the year 2020. As we work to develop our longer term strategy we will be partnering with you, our clients to become an integral part of your Vision 2020 as well.  The ever-changing landscape of the internet, apps, mobile, social media and ecommerce will require our constant attention.  Yours and ours combined.  We will need to partner with you, side by side, in order to stay relevant and keep our companies growing. So we are developing a program to partner with you more effectively.  More to come on this exciting new concept!

I do hope this summary has been helpful and piqued your interest in Vision 2o20.

What is important to your business in the next five years?  What type of technology partner do you need to help you get there? Comment below or contact me with your ideas and let’s build Vision 2020 together.

 

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Blogging For Business: A Powerful Lead Generator

Power of bloggingEarlier this month we recommended seven questions to ask yourself before posting a blog. Why? Because blogging for business topped the charts as the number one area of increased activity for marketers in 2014 and is trending upward for 2015. The folks at Yahoo Small Business recently reported 45 stats about blogging for business but these three stood out:

  • Businesses that blog more than 20 times a month draw five times more traffic than those that blog less than four times a month.
  • Businesses that blog have 97 percent more inbound links than businesses that don’t.
  • B2B marketers that have blogs generate 67 percent more leads than those that don’t.

The fact remains that blogging for your business, when done well, is a powerful business tool.  Take a look at these suggestions to amp up the power of your business blog.

Put yourself out there

In our article on storytelling for business we talked about being brave and experimenting with styles and topics.  Don’t shy away from an unpopular opinion if has business relevance.  Encouraging candid, open discussion and debate on a topic in fact-based professional manner can energize your business and your audience.  Just be careful not to fall into an emotion based debate as you run the risk of having everyone lose sight of the point.

Involve your customers

Customer stories in particular seem to resonate and engage readers very effectively and offer a dual benefit.  Benefit #1: when a prospect can ‘see’ themselves or identify with a current customer’s situation the potential to convert them to a lead is much greater.  Benefit #2: the customer quoted or featured in your article multiplies your reach by sharing the piece with their social media audience.  Bonus: it’s a great way to strengthen your relationship with that customer as well.

Be consistent to develop trust

The first statistic we mentioned above talks about blogging 20 times a month.  Hopefully that number didn’t send a shockwave through your brain. In reality, there doesn’t appear to be a perfect number for how often you should blog. What matters more is consistency when building your readership and social media followers. Being consistent and strategic about how you promote the blog is equally as important. Think about each blog needing a campaign style approach to promotion.  Use a modified or scaled back campaign, but well planned just the same.

One last statistic from the Yahoo report:  Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog. Wow. A powerful tool that needs to be part of your online marketing plan.  Let us help you harness your online power tool.

 

 

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Undercover Boss And The Value Of A Fresh Perspective

undercover boss

Photo credit: CBS Studios

A recent episode of Undercover Boss followed the CEO of a large retail apparel chain as he worked with his employees across several locations.  At the beginning of the show the CEO described an aggressive plan for growth that would double the number of locations in about a year.  By the time he had completed his undercover journey his focus had shifted significantly.  He became intent on addressing issues he discovered ranging from simple policy changes to major investments in technology. A fresh perspective can change everything. And a web presence audit can provide that same fresh perspective for you.

The case for a web presence audit

An audit brings important insight to what you may or may not be leveraging to help improve your return on investment.  We talk a lot in this blog about the rapid changes in social media, search engine functionality and overall internet evolution.  An audit helps you sharpen and focus your time, money and efforts more effectively.  Most often the findings in an audit result in improved website performance and conversion through enhanced SEO.  An audit also identifies current successful practices that you should continue.

The competitive advantage

The CEO in the TV show discovered that his customers’ overall experience was pretty poor. Prior to going undercover he had no idea.  His undercover audit revealed some critical issues and provided the opportunity to improve the situation.  An audit will give you that same fresh perspective and the chance to make important changes.  Taking the time to understand how your internet presence compares to your competitors uncovers big areas of opportunity. A new design, better user experiences and better search engine optimization helps to attract and convert more prospects. And if your competition is staying current then you are probably behind.  If they aren’t staying current then it’s your opportunity to pull ahead.

The more comprehensive the better

The TV show followed the CEO as he worked in a variety of roles across multiple locations. An audit is fully comprehensive in the same way.  From understanding your objectives and ideal prospects, current branding, audience, web architecture, SEO and content to social media and measurement practices the audit covers the full spectrum of your web presence. These details give you the basis to build strategies and select tools to satisfy your target audience and use your online presence to meet your objectives. The point: sharpen and focus your time, money and efforts.

We don’t think CBS will be approaching us anytime soon to pitch a new show around our web presence audit.  But if you are a business owner you definitely need to go ‘undercover’ and get a fresh perspective.

 

 

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