How Often Should I Blog?

The answer to this question is not an easy one. Unfortunately, there is just no cookie-cutter strategy for how frequently you should blog.

However, there are several points to keep in mind when seeking success with your blog…

You Have to Build a Reader Base

As a new blog, you will have to put some time into the content. Blogging is not a “build it and they will come” type of industry.

The internet is saturated with content, and you have to work to get your voice heard and noticed. Presence is key– let the internet know you are here and you have something of value to offer.

If you are starting out, you can post anywhere from once per month to a few times per month. This way, you are committed to getting your blog out there but not stressing yourself out.

If you’re running a more established blog, you have more flexibility. You can post once a day, a few times a week, once a week, or occasionally.

In any case, you will want to stay consistent with your output. The more content you put up, the easier it is for you to be discovered and for people to engage with you. Consistency helps hold people’s focus.

It’s About Quality, Not Quantity

What matters more than how much content you put out is the quality of content you put out.

Why do people come to read your blog in the first place? Because they are seeking some sort of value. It’s not of any concern to your readers how much content you’re publishing if it doesn’t offer something of substance.

Quality content is what generates engagement. Quality content is what generates leads.

Remember that the purpose of content marketing is to offer value and demonstrate expertise to your target market. This can only be accomplished if your content is delivering that purpose.

Blog Strategically, Not Just Frequently

Sure, blogging with some sort of frequency is important. If you consider that your content is your product, you will want to keep offering it so you keep people coming back. The success of content is measured in views, engagement, shares, and links. You need to keep this in mind as you dedicate time to your blog. It’s not always about creating a new product– or content –it’s about driving up those metrics.

One in ten blog posts is compounding, meaning that organic searches increase its traffic over time (HubSpot, 2016). And over its lifetime, one compounding blog post creates as much traffic as six decaying posts (HubSpot, 2016). Because of this, HubSpot dedicates time to update their old posts to capitalize on this traffic trend. So blog success isn’t necessarily dependent on your posting frequency, but more so the strategy you use to drive traffic.

Also keep in mind that the more content you publish, the more search engines will notice and the more you will have to work with. But at the same time, you don’t want to publish so much that you burn your readers or yourself out. The strategy is key in blogging.

Pro tip: Make use of guest bloggers, who can provide great content for you on your blog and freshen things up for your readers.

What is the Major Source for Your Blog Traffic?

Search engines, social media, or direct traffic? What source gets you the most traffic?

Search engines favor longer-form, quality articles. If they’re really good pieces they will continue to rank in search engines. If you get the majority of traffic from search engines, you can get away with posting less.

Social media, on the other hand, is far more demanding. If you get most of your traffic from social networks, you will need to be posting at a higher frequency. And that content is typically better if it’s short-form, in listicle format.

If you get most of your traffic from email subscribers, your frequency will fall in between posting to please search engines and posting to please social.

Experiment!

All of the most successful blogs have experimented with the frequency of their posting at one time or another in order to understand what schedule best suits their audience.

We strongly encourage you to do the same. Every blog is unique and what will work best for each blog is unique as well.

Summary

Every blog is different, but every blog must produce quality content if it has any hope at succeeding. Quality will always win over quantity. The strategy is more important than just frequency.

Bear in mind the source of your traffic when considering the frequency, but embrace that the internet is a fickle being and experimentation is the best approach to learning what works best for your blog.

Looking for more assistance with your blog? Reach out to CommCore Marketing with questions.

Guest Blog: How to Make Your Mindset Your Most Valuable Asset in Two Weeks

This month we are featuring a guest blogger! I met with a new friend, Tom Jenkins a few months ago and we started talking about the value and importance of having a positive mindset and outlook on life, this directly helps us overcome obstacles in our lives and is beneficial to us in the workforce if we simply have a good outlook on life and the day-to-day challenges that we face. I really like what he has to say and wanted to share it with you, too!

We’ve all heard the phrase million-dollar idea. Truth be told, most ideas are worth far less than a million dollars. In fact, most ideas are not worth very much at all. Ideas are great, but what separates the most successful business people or entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack is execution.

Jeff Bezos is the man behind Amazon. Amazon is crushing the retail world because they offer an extraordinarily wide variety of products, low prices, and fast shipping. Products people want, at low prices with quick shipping is not a novel idea. Almost anyone can tell you if you can launch a website that checks these three boxes you are going to be a big success.

Why Mindset Is so Important

Jeff Bezos built one of the most successful businesses of all time because he believed he had what it took to be successful. He knew if he chased his dream relentlessly he would be a success.

If this sounds like just another overly simplified success story, go to Relentless.com and see where that takes you.

Our mindset truly is our most important tool. This may sound like just another line from a self-help book out of the bargain bin at your local bookstore.

However, your mindset is your most important tool because it controls your actions. Your emotions become your thoughts, and your thoughts are directly responsible for the actions you take on a daily basis.

Changing your mindset doesn’t require changing your entire life. It’s a simple matter of consistently taking small steps to change your thought processes.

The concept of changing your behavior by changing your thoughts and feelings is a psychological principle known as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy may seem like a complex psychological principle only used by practitioners with advanced degrees. However, cognitive behavioral therapy in its simplest form can be used by everyday folks to change their thoughts and actions.

The first step in the process is to identify your negative or harmful thoughts. Once you discover what thoughts are holding you back, you can begin to take simple steps to overcome or reverse those thought processes and move yourself to a more positive frame of mind.

Changing your mindset to do away with harmful thoughts does not necessarily require laying on a couch and sharing your deepest, darkest inner thoughts with a therapist. There are several simple exercises you can do on your own to develop positive ways of thinking and begin achieving more positive accomplishments every single day.

Three Ways to Improve Your Mindset in Five Minutes a Day

Setting aside five minutes a day every day for two weeks can put you on the path to developing a truly life-changing mindset. Can you spare five minutes a day for a more positive mindset?

Journaling Daily

Taking a few minutes every day to put the thoughts in your mind on paper may not seem like something that could ultimately change your life. But, journaling helps you to process your thoughts and emotions. It allows you to bring clarity to a cluttered mind.

Many of us may be inclined to think we have all the clarity we need or that our mind does not have clutter. As an entrepreneur or corporate athlete, you no doubt have a lot on your mind. Between work, personal goals, and family obligations our lives are much more complicated and demanding then we may first imagine.

If you think journaling isn’t for you, consider trying it for just a few minutes a day for two weeks. If journaling is not beneficial you have lost nothing but a few minutes of your week, and you will most likely learn at least one valuable thing about yourself.

Affirmations

An affirmation is anything we repeat to ourselves out loud, in our minds, or through the written word. It has been proven we become what we think about most of the time.

The Reticular Activating System takes things that we repeat to ourselves and makes them part of our identity. It does not matter if these statements are positive or negative.

if we continually tell ourselves we have what it takes to be a top performer in our company our brain will naturally build being a top performer into our subconscious identity. Our subconscious brain accounts for 90% of our total brain activity. This is why repeating affirmations until they become part of our subconscious is an incredibly effective tool for changing our mindset.

Check out this great article for tips on creating positive and effective affirmations.

Meditation

Meditation helps to change the neurological pathways in our brain that deal with anxiety. As a result, regular meditation helps to reduce our feelings of anxiety.

Studies have found those who meditate regularly can essentially rewire the brain to make them feel more focused, positive and content. Regularly meditating has also been shown to boost the immune system.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder or an entrepreneur. Regardless of what path you’re on, our careers seem to be more and more demanding. Increasing your ability to remain positive, stay focused, and be content could be an absolute game-changer when it comes to what you are able to accomplish at work.

Meditation doesn’t require a yoga studio or fancy equipment. You can develop an extraordinarily helpful meditation practice by simply trying out a few techniques in a quiet room. Here is a wonderful guide on finding the right meditation technique.

Woman-Owned CommCore Marketing Celebrates Five Years in Business

[St. Louis, MO, August 15, 2019] CommCore Marketing, a certified Woman-Owned Business, announced its 5th anniversary as a marketing services business.

CommCore Marketing was founded by Laura DeVries in 2014 after spending 20 years in marketing for many businesses. Laura received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Webster University and her Master of Business Administration from Fontbonne University. She then moved onto working for several businesses in the area including a Fortune 500 company. After moving on to start her own marketing firm in 2014, Laura hired on three team members to expand her services to include project and brand management, online and social media marketing, content marketing, offline marketing, graphic design, and website maintenance.

Since founding CommCore Marketing, Laura and her team have assisted over 150 businesses in the greater St. Charles and St. Louis areas to improve their marketing, sales, and brand awareness. CommCore Marketing has also grown a strong reputation in the St. Charles community through Laura who is a 2018 Graduate of Vision St. Charles County Leadership, Board of Director for both the Cottleville/Weldon Springs Chamber of Commerce and Vision St. Charles, a member of the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce, and a founding member of the Protégé mentorship program.

While Laura excels at increasing sales and brand awareness, and creating successful marketing campaigns and websites, her skilled all-women team enable CommCore Marketing to provide much more to their clients. Anya Overmann, a St. Louis native and freelance writer, is the Content and Social Media Manager. Madison Bowlds, who comes from Evansville, Indiana, is the Marketing Coordinator and provides help with ad campaigns and Krista Von Holten originally from Paola, Kansas serves as the Projects & Graphic Design Coordinator.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that a business idea that was considered twelve years before CommCore Marketing’s inception would grow to be what it is today. We have a great team in place that provides consistent, professional marketing support to a host of industries and clients. We are so thankful for the numerous referrals and support from our community, clients, and friends and for the advice over the past five years. We are looking forward to great things in the future and the next five years in business.”

CommCore Marketing provides a full range of marketing services. To see a complete list of services provided and to learn more about working with CommCore visit https://commcoremarketing.com/marketing-services/.

6 Tips for Achieving Social Media Success as a B2B Company

A lot of B2B (Business-to-Business) businesses struggle with social media. And B2Bs have really been lagging behind B2Cs (Business-to-Consumer) when it comes to adopting social media for effective marketing use. But guess what B2Bs? You have consumers too!

If your B2B business hasn’t identified your consumers, and the people who make decisions to narrow your target, it’s time to kick it into gear. Once you’ve determined who you’re trying to reach, your social media strategy can be executed.

Let’s go through six tips for achieving social media success for your B2B business.

1. Create Content Worth Reading and Distribute it Wisely

First of all, any business– B2B or not –should be creating content to be relevant. It’s crucial to market your industry expertise and distinguish your brand’s value.

According to the 2016 Demand Gen Report, 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders. So if you’re not focusing on the creation of your content around thought leadership, you’re missing a massive hole that nearly every B2B buyer is asking you to fill.

If anything, you should be focusing your efforts on educating other businesses about why they need your product or service and how to use the product or service. Educating B2B buyers about problems they didn’t know they had can go a long way because these are problems, of course, that your product or service will fix.

Social media is a great way to get that content out there to other businesses. It’s important to note, though, that not all content is created equal, and you have to be careful about what content you decide to post where.

For example, some blog posts are better designed for the LinkedIn community, but rich media– meaning photos, videos, and other interactive media –are more fitting for Facebook or Instagram. Always keep in consideration that each social network has a different culture and preferred content formats, so posting the same content across platforms is not a good strategy.

Instead, adapt your messaging to align with the social channel in order to optimize engagement.

2. Build Your Brand Awareness by Being Where Businesses Connect

While you’re taking a moment to consider how to adapt your content for social, also consider who you’re adapting it for. Businesses began using social in the first place to build brand awareness, but optimal brand awareness comes from considering who you to know your business.

B2Bs have buyer persona and want to get qualified leads to conversions, like B2Cs. And just like B2Cs, B2Bs need to consider where their buyers like to spend time online.

LinkedIn is the best and most obvious solution for B2Bs looking to build awareness and promote content. It’s truly a professional’s social network. Sharing articles and commenting on one another’s work is a great way to start conversations with members of other companies and get them interested in your brand.

You might be thinking that LinkedIn is the only social platform that works for B2Bs, but it’s not true! It may be the best for lead generation, but if your buyers have presence on other networks, you will want to consider adding those to your social strategy.

Twitter, for example, is a good place to strike up conversation for lead generation. And given that a presence on Google+ can do wonders for your SEO, it’s great for any kind of content.

Salesforce also gets creative on Facebook, not focusing solely on selling their product but on making posts that their audience can relate to:

So while having a presence on LinkedIn is a necessity for B2Bs, also step out into the other networks where you have buyers and find ways to creatively connect with your audience.

3. Get Social and Build Relationships

Speaking of connecting with your audience, a major part of your social strategy should be being social. We’re all about content marketing here, but nothing can replace the relationships you build through social media.

According to HubSpot, 14% of all lead generation for B2Bs is driven by social media, and the numbers are probably higher for those who place a high focus on LinkedIn.

Social media has given B2Bs a glorious opportunity to build trust and grow relationships with potential buyers. Speaking with leads, answering their questions, and demonstrating real value will build real connections with people and companies that will transform acquisitions on social media into conversions.

It’s important to note that this relationship-building takes time and no amount of strategizing on social can push it forward any faster. You have to put the time and effort into actually be social on social media before you can reap the benefits of the business relationships you’ve built.

4. Advertise on Social Media

Social advertising provides an exceptional opportunity to stay in front of a qualified and relevant audience on their favorite networks.

According to a 2016 Regalix study, over two-thirds of B2B marketers worldwide devote dollars to social media advertising.

As a B2B, you definitely want to be getting your name out there via social ads. Even if you’re still skeptical of the ROI on social media for B2Bs, you’re losing traction that you don’t advertise on social while you’re competitors are getting the leg up.

5. Supplement your Social Following with a Healthy Dose of Email

As you build your following on social, it’s a good idea to support engagement and activity with some good ole’ fashioned email. Some marketers believe that email is dying out, but this isn’t so.

In actuality, 79% of B2B marketers credit email as the most effective distribution channel for demand lead generation efforts. (Content Marketing Institute, 2018).

So B2B marketers should really be supplementing their social strategy with email. This can be accomplished a few different ways:

  • Incentivizing your email recipients to join your social channels by offering promotions only available on social
  • Sending monthly newsletters of your best blog content
  • Directing them to your social channels by promoting contests or giveaways

Your email recipients need to know what’s in it for them for following you on social, so make sure you make that information clear in your email marketing.

6. Retarget on Social

Your followers may fit your buyer persona to a tee, but just may not be ready to buy yet. Retargeting your followers on social media can help convert them into paying customers— or at the very least get you at the top of mind.

By placing a retargeting code on your blog and landing pages directed from your social media, you can keep out in front of everyone who’s interested in your content.

It also can be helpful to retarget in the form of social ads. Maybe a potential buyer of yours got close to the sale but didn’t complete it. You can put specific ads out in front of this buyer to keep that purchase in his mind. Facebook is especially good at this.

Conclusion

Social media marketing is not just for B2Cs– it’s time to leave that mindset behind. Social can and does work for B2Bs if done correctly and creatively. Be sure to wisely choose the social networks you use (always prioritize LinkedIn), focus on building trust and relationships through engagement, and turn out worthwhile content. Social ads and retargeting efforts are always a good idea, and supplementing your social with email marketing is an assured way to grow your following.

Need help with managing your social media? Contact CommCore Marketing to get started!

Do I Have to Use Social Media for Marketing?


If you’re asking this question, chances are you might think social media is just a passing trend or a buzzword used to please young people. You might think the benefits of social media are debatable and not worth your time or resources.

Allow us to explain why social media is really a must.

In 2018, a whopping 97% of marketers were participating in social media. (Lyfe Marketing, 2018). 3.2 billion people use social media worldwide (Awario, 2018) – that’s almost half of the world’s population!

This is without a doubt a significant statistic, and to dismiss it as a passing trend is far too hasty – and quite honestly foolish.

Here are several reasons why you should absolutely be involved in social media:

Pull Marketing

Social media is all about pull marketing. Pull marketing is designed to attract customers by offering relevant and valuable content to the target audience in optimal positioning.

This, as opposed to push marketing which pushes the marketing out in front of anyone, is a far more strategic, considerate, and meaningful way to market. In other words, pull marketing is more impactful because the customer finds and chooses you based on the value you provide.

Social media allows users to choose what they see. This offers a huge opportunity to marketers, and this is why it’s become so integral to business – with the right positioning your marketing efforts via social media will work wonders.

Improved SEO

Search engines are the most iconic of pull marketing tools. Chances are you’re already aware that you want to have a good ranking on search engines in order to get more web traffic.

It’s also true that if you have more presence on social media, your search engine rankings will be improved. Google knows that strong brands use social media and will reflect this in its rankings. It validates your brand as legitimate and trustworthy.

If you’re putting effort into ranking well on search engines, it’s really hurting you if you don’t have an active presence on social media.

Increased Conversion Rates

Social media has proven to give business higher conversion rates. Businesses on social media are almost humanized because of the way they are able to interact with people. It’s truly a place

where brands can act like people and it feels more like person-to-person contact than person-to-business.

In fact, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing (HubSpot, 2017).

Having a higher number of social media followers tends to prove your social worth— people see your brand as more credible and trustworthy and therefore are more motivated to do business with you.

Cost-effectiveness

Social media marketing is far less expensive than any traditional marketing costs. Advertising on television, radio, or in print can cost a huge portion of your budget. But organic social media use is free.

84% of marketers found as little as six hours of effort per week was enough to generate increased traffic (HubSpot, 2014). That’s just a little over one hour per business day to start seeing increased results.

Paid promotion on social media is relatively inexpensive too, and easy to use.

Incredible Customer Service Tool

Because social media is all about connection, every interaction you have on social media is a chance to showcase your customer service publicly. It’s incredibly easy for people to offer you feedback, and each time you have the chance to respond is an opportunity to show you care about your customers.

Social media adds such a personal touch to a business that people actually enjoy interacting with businesses in this way.

Your Competition is on Social Media

With 97% of marketers on social media in 2018, if you aren’t on social media now, your competition definitely is. And you are seriously missing out. Your competitors will have a real leg up on you if you’re absent from social media. However, if they aren’t on social media, this is a huge opportunity for you to seize.

Conclusion

Don’t delay, get yourself on social media! The longer you wait, the more leads you will miss.

For assistance in growing your social media presence, contact CommCore Marketing.

Video Marketing: 4 Reasons Why You Need It 

 

Back when ranking on search engines was the main motivator for content marketing, marketers were all about written content.

Now it’s all about video. In fact, almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. So there’s a reason that every single major media platform is becoming video focused…

  • Facebook users consume 100 million hours of video every day (TechCrunch, 2016)
  • 82% of Twitter users watch video content on the platform (Twitter, 2015)
  • 45% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content strategy into the next year (HubSpot, 2018)
  • 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • When Instagram introduced videos, more than 5 million were shared in 24 hours (AdWeek, 2013)
  • Video will represent 82% of all IP traffic in 2021. (Business Insider, 2017)

When it comes down to it, video just offers a whole different level of connection to your audience. But there are deeper reasons beyond just jumping on the video marketing trend that are of benefit to businesses.

If you haven’t started using video as a part of your marketing strategy yet, here are four reasons why you should.

1. Video Educates

Here’s the thing about inbound marketing: it all starts with awareness and education.

After the awareness stage of the A.C.E. funnel, buyers want to learn more. And what do you typically do when you want to learn more? You hit up Google. But are most people more likely to read an article about it or watch a video?

According to Pearson Prentice Hall, 65% of the population consists of visual learners.

The overwhelming majority actively seek out video visuals to educate themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about creating an awesome blog, but the statistics speak for themselves. The video format is simply where most people seek value.

So it’s really silly not to give the people what they want— which is videos. I talk a lot about social distribution and how to get your value out there. Video is indisputably pertinent to distributing value.

If you want people to be educated by what you have to offer, then put it in a video.

2. Video Earns and Retains Audience Attention

55% of people consume video content thoroughly (HubSpot, 2016).

We at The Modern Marketer have discussed how short the average attention span when it comes to reading articles. Most people only read about 1/5 to 1/3 of an article. So that being said, and considering the statistic above, you would think capturing attention with video marketing is a breeze, right?

Not quite.

Just because you create videos doesn’t mean people will pay attention. Just like with written content, it doesn’t mean you can simply create it and people will flock to engage with it. Millions of videos are being uploaded every day, so there’s a lot of competition to consider.

Content is still king. You have to go deeper to provide value that’s worth people’s attention. You have to earn that attention still.

The best strategy for grabbing that attention through video is to create it consistently. You still want to be providing value that your audience wants to see, but by keeping it up consistently you can engage people at different angles and perspectives and effectively cut through the competition.

Consistency will always be key with the content you put out in any context. But video is especially crucial to invest in consistently because of the ROI. 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI (Adobe, 2015).

So the benefits of video really do pay off. You just have to be able to consistently deliver that value.

3. The Most Intimate Form of Marketing

Video is by far the most intimate of all contextual formats. Through what other medium do you have the opportunity to be as raw, transparent, and upfront as you can be with video (particularly live video)? Certainly not through written content.

Marketing is all about storytelling. Video goes beyond just the intimacy of showing an audience your body language and the way you speak. It teaches people how you think.

That aspect of video is perhaps the most significant benefit of all. If you’re on the path of thought leadership, this is the best format to really put your brain on display and show people some of the deepest value you have to offer.

And over time as your thoughts change and evolve, this will reflect in your videos. People get to see your story play out in front of them.

Your growth as a brand and as a person is so well documented in video that if you lost everything tomorrow— your audience, your clients, your advocates —you have an entire archive of your digital assets there to provide value.

Video truly personifies who you are as a brand and documents your story well beyond any other format.

4. Video Gives You a Reputation for Wisdom

No matter where you are in business, whether you’re just starting up, you’ve been in business for years, or maybe you haven’t even started yet— you have an idea.

Putting that idea out there is an integral step to brand awareness, right? So when you put that idea out there through video format, you’re presenting an opportunity to demonstrate to an audience a type of value that is very seldom replicated: wisdom.

But it doesn’t come right away, and it doesn’t come to everyone. Everyone can talk a big game. Everyone can call shots and miss. But if you really, truly know what you’re talking about you can amaze people by speaking your vision into existence.

Value can also be heightened in videos when you speak about a trend. People always want to hear about the latest thing and what it will do for them. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. People always want the latest information.

That relevant value does wonders for your reputation and adds value to your brand as a whole through wisdom.

Conclusion

If you haven’t been convinced yet that video marketing is for you, then you’re making a big mistake. Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users (Aberdeen, 2015).

Don’t hesitate to include video into your marketing strategy: no matter your industry, video has the opportunity to impart value and heighten your marketing game like nothing else.

For guidance with your video marketing, contact CommCore Marketing.

5 Key Strategies to Unifying Your Brand Identity

When it comes to branding, it’s critical to be consistent wherever you promote your brand. Both online and offline, your promotional efforts have to align with each other to be effective. Wherever your business has a presence, your brand identity needs to be clear.

When searching on the internet, people are not thinking of going offline to discover more about your brand, so neither should you. Your website is the ideal platform online to create a brand image with continuity so that any user who comes across it knows exactly who you are.

But how exactly does one create a lasting brand identity on a website that can also be leveraged offline? Here are five tips that will guide you in unifying your branding identity.

1. Use Branding Basics: Your Logo & Brand Colors

If you haven’t already branded your business with a set of colors to use and a brand logo, this is the first thing you should do. You may not think it’s a priority, but these visual factors play a strong role in keeping your brand lodged in the minds of viewers.

First things first: your logo. If you haven’t already, get a logo designed ASAP. There is no shortage of graphic designers who are willing to help you design a logo. Then be sure your logo is on every material you put out as a business– your website pages, business cards, letterheads, etc. When you pick your brand colors, you need to consider that each color has psychological impacts. Red tends to convey feelings of excitement or intensity while gray gives off feelings of balance and calm. Do some research into the meanings of each color and decide from there which colors communicate the feelings you want to be associated with your brand.

Then– stick with the colors you pick. This will help reinforce your brand in a potential buyer’s mind. When you’re not consistent with color schemes, your brand becomes less memorable.

2. Use Language that Aligns with Your Brand

Your brand voice is incredibly important. Just like with your brand colors, you need to use language that speaks to your ideal buyer and client base. If you’re not sure what

language to use with the people you want to reach, start by considering how you want your brand to feel to your audience.

Write down a list of words and pick just three that you want to use for the base of your brand in the form of text. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Authoritative
  • Fun
  • Cheerful
  • Formal
  • Laid-back
  • Provocative
  • Dedicated
  • Trendy
  • Considerate
  • Informative

What words jump out as ones that would work with your brand? If you’re a lawyer, you probably wouldn’t want to choose “fun, trendy, and laid-back.” These words might fit with a bowling alley brand, but a law office might be better off using words like “formal, informative, and dedicated.”

Brainstorm your list using words that could apply to your brand. You can find a list of more brand voice descriptors here. Then consider the tone and description of your voice. Will you use slang or formal language? Will you use long-winded sentences or short, pithy sentences?

These are all things to consider before writing content for your brand. Language is important in conveying your identity.

3. Use Relevant Imagery

Images you use on your website or any other materials your business puts out there must be high-resolution and quality, however, these are not the only factors you need to consider when selecting images for your website.

A picture really is worth a thousand words (or more). With that consideration, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Someone viewing your website, social media profiles, or brick-and-mortar business wants a real glimpse into the brand that they’re researching.

Many brands choose imagery as if it’s just a checkbox on a list of how to create a good brand. These images are often stock images that are vaguely related to the brand. But

why would you use imagery that’s open for public use to describe your brand– a brand that you want to position as unique?

You need to use original imagery that truly describes your brand and gives viewers an idea of what you’re like. Include images of your staff, your products, and services, your office. All of these original and unique images communicate a sense of trustworthiness to viewers because it’s more transparent and authentic.

4. The Essential Branding Info

About Us

Many businesses neglect to make use of this opportunity to distinguish themselves from others in their industry. No matter what your brand does, you should always have a page on your website describing who you are and what your brand values are. This is the chance to get explicit about your brand mission and vision and drive home what makes your brand unique as compared to your competitors.

Once you have that information on your site, you can use the same verbiage on social media, at networking events, and on marketing materials to uniquely position your brand.

Contact

This may not seem like it belongs in a discussion about branding, but it’s imperative to connect the dots between branding and business. If a person who wants to reach out to your business cannot find contact information, your brand is in serious trouble. You’re a business; you want people contacting you! Make sure anyone who goes out of their way to find how to contact you can do so easily. Include as many contact methods as possible: phone, email, physical address, hours of operation, etc.

5. Get Social

Many brands think of social media as a to-do item on a list to be a successful business. But social media is not just a nice addition to your brand– it’s an extension of your brand.

Think of it this way: there are more eyes on social media sites than there are on your website or inside your store. Instead of leveraging people off of social media, engage them directly where their attention is. Your social accounts should be just as active as you are in your business.

Be sure to link all of your social accounts to your site and make it easy for people to find your various social channels when they’re on your website. Social media should be a big part of your branding strategy.

Conclusion

The key to brand unity is to be sure to be consistent with your logo, brand colors, language, and imagery you use. Make it as easy as possible for people to learn about who you are, and make it easy for them to engage you where they’re already giving their attention. Want more guidance on unifying your brand’s identity? Reach out to CommCore Marketing today!

 

What Are the Biggest Mistakes You Can Make on Social Media?

There is plenty to get confused about when it comes to navigating social media marketing. Afterall, social media is still fairly new in the world of marketing.

But there are some basic, yet important, things you will want to avoid when it comes to social media marketing— particularly if you want to make the most of your time, efforts, and money.

 

 

Here are several things to avoid and, more importantly, how to avoid them:

Not Knowing Your Target Audience

This is the biggest mistake when getting started on social media. It’s really the biggest mistake you could make when getting into marketing, period.

It is crucial to know who you are aiming to sell your products or services to, even if it’s a broad market.

Here are some questions to help you draw up a clear picture of your target audience:

  • How old is your ideal customer?
  • What gender?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they do?
  • Are they part of a family?
  • What kind of income do they have?
  • What are their interests?

Be sure to do your research first!

Jumping In Without a Plan

This is a common mistake and is often due to the pressure for businesses to get on social media. The consequence is a seemingly purposeless profile, which will likely become a dud in mere weeks of its launch. While your business should have a presence on social media, you need to have goals, intent, and strategies in mind before you get started.

Make a plan. Keep in mind that social media is a time investment, and you will need either a team or a very dedicated and consistent person to manage interactions on any platforms on which you choose to operate.

Not Committing to Social Media Long Term

Many businesses are hyped up right after the launch of their new social media. But in a couple months, they either forget about posting or become discouraged with the lack of success from the page.

It’s easy to get discouraged with social media— it’s a time commitment after all, and success doesn’t just happen after day one.

Instead, you must invest in and dedicate energy to it. The results are slow at first but the longer you commit, the more results you will see. Take at least 10 to 20 minutes each day to manage your social media accounts– responding to messages and comments, engaging with other pages, and generally being present are all parts of this management.

Too Much Automation

Having a program do your social media posting for you seems ideal, right? Wrong.

Many businesses make the mistake of having every blog post automatically post to social media or having the same exact content post to more than one platform (like Facebook posting to Twitter, or Twitter to Facebook).

Each social media platform has its own language, format, and context. So posting the same exact thing to Facebook and Twitter is a waste. Users can almost immediately pick out an automated, thoughtless post as opposed to one that was posted with thoughtful intent.

Be careful with allowing apps to update your social media with blog posts. It can get spammy very quickly if you’re not careful. Know the difference between automation and scheduling.

No Lead Generation Strategy

Social media is great, but if you don’t have some sort of strategy in place that drives traffic to your website or blog, you’re really missing the point of social media marketing altogether.

You don’t want to waste time and energy building a following and not get any customers out of it.

Always provide a call to action!

Not Posting Enough

Going to a Facebook page and seeing that they haven’t posted in months is one of the most discouraging things to see as a user.

Maybe you’re busy and don’t have enough time to post on social media. But you need to be posting. Make time to sit down and schedule the posts ahead of time, or delegate this task to someone else.

There’s no definitive minimum for posting, but it’s a good goal to post at least a few times a week.

Posting Too Much

On the flip side, posting too much is also an incredibly off-putting behavior. Spamming your page with loads of posts is a great way to get your business page blocked or have your posts hidden.

Each platform is different in terms of what’s considered “too much” but you should definitely not exceed five posts per day on Facebook or 15 posts per day on Twitter.

Be sure to also spread out your posting. Do some research on social media insights to find the best times to post.

Overloading with Social Media

There are so many social media sites out there nowadays— Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, the list goes on and on.

The worst thing you can do is try to have a presence on all of them. You will spread yourself far too thin, and will totally overwhelm yourself.

Focus on one platform to master. Just one to start! Facebook is the most ideal in getting started in social media marketing.

Conclusion

Don’t get caught making any of these mistakes! Do your research, plan ahead, and stay focused.

Have questions about your social media marketing? Reach out to CommCore Marketing to talk about how to maximize your results on social media

What is ROI?

ROI is Return on Investment.

This is actually not a new term, as entrepreneurs and the like have been using it for decades to describe the measurable success of marketing and advertising.

Before there were established metrics for digital marketing, anyone could claim themselves as a “digital marketing guru” and sell desperate business people a variety of un-measurable methods of digital marketing.

That era was like the Wild West– self-acclaimed gurus were essentially scamming businesses, just hauling in money without any real knowledge of what they were doing… because no one really knew what they were doing when it came to marketing online without any way to track or measure it.

Fortunately, that era has passed and we now have far more ability to measure the success of our digital marketing efforts as well as a wealth of data to support the marketing choices we make. But…

 

Measuring Digital Marketing Can Be Difficult

Nobody wants to, or should, throw their money at digital marketing without being able to later evaluate the ROI. Yet despite improved metrics, businesses still experience difficulty when it comes to measuring ROI as it relates to digital marketing.

90% of global marketers are not trained to calculate ROI and 80% struggle with being able to properly demonstrate to their management the business effectiveness of their spending, campaigns, and activities (The Fournaise Marketing Group, 2014).

Between content marketing and SEO, social media marketing, and online ads, it can all get tricky to track. This is in part due to the fact that we try to track our digital marketing with the same traditional methods that we use to track traditional marketing– like TV ads, radio, newspaper, etc.

There are far more factors involved in digital marketing and it can get very confusing when trying to measure the new ways with the old methods.

A Simpler Measurement

It’s far easier to measure ROI for digital marketing by calculating the revenue to cost of marketing ratio.

For a good ROI ratio, we recommend 5:1. This means that for every one dollar spent on marketing, you yield five dollars in sales.

What should count into this ratio?

  • Cost of content production
  • Pay-per-click ads
  • Display ads
  • Social media ad campaigns
  • Cost of outside marketing and ad agencies

Measuring in terms of a ratio makes it far easier to determine whether your digital marketing efforts are worth the cost or not. If you only make a 2:1 ratio, for example, you’re only really breaking even. In that case, your efforts might not be worth it.

That being said, not every marketing effort can be measured perfectly. Oftentimes content can generate leads months after the content is published. With this in mind, you can see how this might be difficult to track.

This is why the ratio is ideal for measurement. It’s ongoing, it’s all-encompassing, and it’s simple.

There Are Tools to Help You

You don’t have to stress over measuring your ROI. Analytics software and software programs like HubSpot, Marketo, and Google Analytics all provide tools for you to more easily measure ROI more efficiently.

So create an ROI ratio goal for your business and focus your marketing efforts on achieving this goal. This will be far less stressful on you and make your digital marketing efforts that much more justifiable.

CommCore Marketing can help you measure your ROI and improve the return on your marketing investments. Reach out to CommCore today.

A Crash Course in Content Marketing

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action (Content Marketing Institute).

 

 

 

 

Content can mean:

  • Blog articles
  • Web pages
  • Landing pages
  • Books
  • Photos
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Social media posts
  • Ads
  • Flyers and other print material

Content in any of the above formats can provide value to an audience. And if it is both relevant and consistent enough, it will drive profitable action from your audience.

 

Content Marketing Actually Offers Something Your Customers Want

Traditional marketing is becoming far less effective while content marketing is on the rise. Why?

Because content marketing provides what traditional marketing doesn’t: value and relevance.

When you understand how the buying cycle works, you can start to see where content marketing succeeds and traditional marketing falls short:

 

  • Awareness: The customer becomes aware there is a solution to a need they may have
  • Research: Upon becoming aware of a solution, the customer will educate themselves on offerings of solution
  • Consideration: After deciding they have obtained enough information about the solution, the customer will compare and evaluate the tangible solution offered by different vendors
  • Purchase: Once the customer has selected a vendor to fulfill their need, they will move forward with the transaction

Traditional marketing is good for the last two steps— offering an option, a sales pitch, and a call to action for how to buy the product or service.

Traditional marketing is also known as push marketing which is all about pushing the ad message out in front of anybody.

Push Marketing vs. Pull Marketing

In push marketing, there’s no room for the first two steps of the buying cycle.

But with content marketing, the first two steps are the most important. The aim is to raise awareness and then educate an audience on a solution they may not have previously considered.

By tapping into the first two steps of the buying cycle, content marketing does a great service to consumers by offering them honest, valuable, and relevant information. There are no strings attached. There is no luring and no shady sales tactics in content marketing. It is honest and upfront.

This is why this type of marketing is otherwise known as pull marketing. Because it is designed to attract customers through search engine optimization, which allows the consumer to find brands through relevant searches.

The consumer is pulling marketing to themselves that they find relevant and of value.

When the first two steps of the buying cycle are accomplished by you, the marketer, you have established ethos with the consumer. With that trust, you can establish customer loyalty far more effectively than any form of traditional marketing can.

So How Do You Get Started?

First, you need a plan. Like with any marketing, it’s not wise to just throw money at something and trust that it will work simply because someone told you it would.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I trying to achieve with content marketing?
  • What media make the most sense for my target audience?
  • Which social platforms do my target audience spend the most time on?
  • What kind of content schedule can I commit to?
  • What kind of content should I create?

When you have answers to these questions, you have the skeleton of a marketing plan in place, which is all you really need. You shouldn’t wait and dither around until the cows come home. Having some content out there is better than having none.

So then, it comes down to execution.

You have a few options when it comes to executing your content marketing.

  1. Do it yourself
  2. Assign the role to someone in-house
  3. Hire a professional content marketer to do it for you

Pros & Cons of DIY

Pros:

  • Saves you money
  • You have full control of your brand voice
  • You have full control over your content distribution

Cons:

  • Huge time commitment
  • Takes a lot of energy away from your business
  • You have to stay up to date on the best content marketing practice like SEO and the best times to post

Pros & Cons of Doing it In-House

Pros:

  • Might save you money
  • Takes the job off your plate so you can focus on building your business
  • Might be more reliable than doing it yourself

Cons:

  • Takes away some control of your brand voice
  • Your in-house staff person may or may not be a good writer, and they may or may not have the aforementioned skills required to be a good content marketer

Pros & Cons of Hiring a Professional

Pros:

  • You get high-quality professional work
  • You get someone who’s highly considerate of your brand voice and your target audience
  • You work with someone who understands the context of a larger content strategy with your goals in mind

Cons:

  • You relinquish a lot of control of your brand voice
  • A good writer might not quite fit your budget if you’re not fully invested in content marketing

Some freelancers will charge you per hour, some will charge you per word,

  • but many professionals with marketing experience will charge per project

Interested in learning more? Email us at LauraD@CommCoreMarketing.com or call 314.308.0799.

What is SEO?

Search engines, like Google, use search algorithms to rank page results that come up when you put in a question or keyword. We try to optimize our content to appeal to or influence these algorithms with SEO techniques. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

SEO is simply the act of attempting to improve search engine rankings by showing relativity and their authority. Higher ranking can mean more web traffic, and more web traffic means a better shot at creating conversions.

Relativity is what Google deems what you would most likely find relevant as results to a given search term. Authority has to do with the number and quality of links from other pages. It’s kind of like an Internet recommendation—the sites with more and higher quality links have more trust and credibility than ones that have fewer links.

 

Mobile-friendly

However, relativity and authority are not the only factors Google’s algorithm cares about. The developers at Google are always working to update the algorithm so Google becomes an even better tool to us. Since everyone started using smartphones, Google decided a couple of years ago to add “mobile-friendliness” into their algorithm.

That means sites will be ranked lower on Google if their site doesn’t have a readable and easily usable layout on a smaller screen.

So, how do you optimize your rankings on Google?

  1. By creating content that uses words and phrases people use when searching for products and services related to your industry
  2. By having your content linked and shared

In simple terms, you’re trying to establish relevance and authority within your industry on the search engine.

 

Keyword Research

When you create content that really offers something useful to the market of interest, you’re doing a great service to your target market. They’re getting good advice from you—for FREE! People love getting valuable information for free.

To make this valuable and free information more accessible, we do research to find out which keywords and key phrases are most optimal to be used in your content so that people who are interested will have an easier time finding it. Hence, more traffic!

You might be thinking “well, hey I know what words and phrases my target market is using. I’ll just load my content up with these words!” Not a good idea. This is called keyword stuffing, and Google will penalize your site in the search rankings if too many of the same words or phrases end up on the page together, or too close to each other.

Google isn’t stupid. The algorithm helps it read your content so it can rank it for user experience. Ultimately, search engine ranking all comes down to user experience.

Keywords are just one on-page factor that contributes to SEO. Other things to consider include:

  • Slug (this is the part of the URL that comes after the site name.)
  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Header tags
  • Alt tags (tags on images)
  • Internal links

 

Create Authority by Creating Value

When you get more traffic, more people will want to share the valuable information you have to offer. Google will take note of this and say “Hey, this site must have something of value to people, we better put it up higher in the rankings so it’s easier to find!”

And just like that, you’ll have more authority on Google. But you can’t just be shared or linked to by any old website. You could have 10 really poor quality websites linking to your content and that wouldn’t mean as much to Google as one really high-quality website linking to your content.

 

Linking Structure

In fact, if you do have poor quality websites linking to your content, Google might actually penalize you! Why you might ask? Because years ago before Google ranked sites on quality, everyone was trying to get as many links to their website as they could to manipulate search results.

Google caught on to this and put a stop to it. Now you can’t have any old spammy site linking to you. You have to have sites with good authority linking to you. Just like with people, in the search engine ranking world, you are only as good as the company you keep.

This is called backlinking. In addition to backlinking, other off-site ranking factors can include:

  • Citations
  • Reviews
  • Social traffic
  • Paid search results

(Yes, your paid ads will affect your organic rankings!)

 

Conclusion

Don’t get on Google’s naughty list, do SEO the right way. (Also known as white hat SEO.) Create valuable and useful content with researched keywords and phrases, strong links, and thoroughly optimized on-page elements—content so good that people have to share!

 

Is Your Content Good Enough to Cut Through the Noise?

At this point, you get it: content is integral to your marketing efforts. You probably understand that it builds a foundation on which you can build your business because it gives you credibility and authority.

But to what ends are you creating this content?

At one point or another you’re going to hit a wall with content creation and wonder what this is all for. If you don’t know the answer to why you’re creating content, your passion and thoughts and ideas are going to dry up and fade away.

The reason behind your content creation should lie much deeper than to simply check off a box on a list of things to market your business well.

Your content is an extension of yourself— the written and spoken pieces of yourself that will stand out amongst the noise of all the other content out there. 

So what do you want said?

 

If your voice isn’t heard, it doesn’t exist

It’s harsh but it’s true. There are plenty of voices out there and most of them are just adding noise. We can all agree that to at least be recognized, our voices need to be heard.

The culture, the value, the methodologies, and the things that go on behind the scenes in business are the things that really matter. If these things only exist inside your head, that’s fine and dandy, but if nobody knows about it, it doesn’t exist.

So you have to create content for the sake of being heard, for being seen, and for adding something of value to this world. Documentation is not a checkbox, it’s a means to creating something bigger than yourself.

That being said, if that “something bigger than yourself” isn’t seen or heard, it cannot actually be bigger than yourself.

 

Video is the best way to communicate your voice

The best way to get your voice out there and heard is through video. Period.

You may think this whole video marketing thing only applies to people who are extroverted and outgoing, but that’s not true.

There’s personality inside of everybody. You don’t have to be an off-the-wall, energetic person just to justify doing video. It’s okay to be yourself on video everyday.

Every single platform out there is tailoring to video. So if you’re going to create content that resonates, then you have to be on the cusp of what’s actually happening. Communication is never going away and it is always evolving.

This means your brand will forever have to learn how to communicate effectively. And in this modern day, that means being on video.

 

Consistency is the means to an end

Consistency is a marketing strategy. Just doing it once or twice isn’t going to work.

And it’s not just about staying consistent, it’s about retaining attention. Sure, your consistent videos may draw new attention, but are they retaining that attention?

That consistency is merely a strategy for building something bigger. There’s no guarantee you will retain attention just because you show up regularly.

You have to create that reason for people to show up.

 

Give your audience a reason to keep coming back

You have to strategize how you’ll retain attention. Don’t be that brand that fades out over time.

If you look at what’s going on inside your content strategy right now, is it driving people that show up multiple times a week? And if there are people who do show up multiple times a week, how many more can you get to do the same?

Your strategy for retaining attention is simple: develop authentic relationships with people using your content.

 

Give yourself a reason to keep creating content

If you want to be an ever-flowing source for content, you have to know why you’re creating it in the first place.

So is your content good enough to cut through the noise?

At the end of the day, you’re not just creating content to knock out your agenda or your client’s agenda. Where’s the greater meaning in that? We’re in business to tell our stories because these stories are worth being told.

So what are you really doing? If you’re just here to own a business, that’s all your content will communicate. Document what you want remembered.

 

Following through with your content

Are you inspired to create your content? Maybe so. Will you be just as inspired a week from now? A month? A year? Maybe not.

When you get all wrapped up in your to do list and your emotions, you exhaust yourself. You lose sight of what really matters.

So ask yourself: why are you creating content? Are you doing it because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do? Or are you creating it because you truly want to resonate with your audience?

Think about it. It’s not something you’re going to figure out after one day. It’s a continual process you work on everyday.

And as you figure out what you’re leaving behind, continue to document. Don’t just document the good stuff, document the bad stuff too. The best content is formed from storytelling.

So keep on documenting for the sake of something greater, and you will produce amazing content.

5 Free Tools to Help You Optimize Your Social Media

Overwhelmed by social media? Struggling to keep up with an online presence? At times, we all struggle to keep up. It’s a time investment. That’s why it’s helpful to have tools that make the task of managing your social media a little easier.

Here are five free tools you should know about:

 

  1. Evernote

 

Evernote is an app and web extension that enables you to clip web pages and images, organize notes, and find text in images. It also has a messaging feature so that you can discuss and share your notes with your team. Evernote is almost like an Internet notebook.

 

  1. WeTransfer

WeTransfer is a web-based file sharing service. It’s as simple as entering the recipient’s email address and the files you are sending. WeTransfer allows up to 2GB to be sent for free. It comes in super handy for quickly sharing content to schedule on social media. 2GB is a lot of data to be able to send quickly for free!

 

  1. Buffer

Buffer is a useful tool for scheduling and publishing posts across multiple social platforms. It also features analytics and allows for multiple users to collaborate at once. You can schedule posts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. If you use multiple social accounts, scheduling posts can be done just once by clicking on the desired social channels.

 

  1. Canva

The easiest way to make quick graphics is Canva. Even if you aren’t much of a graphic designer, it’s easy to create beautiful branded graphics. Canva has many easy-to-use features and you can even create graphics with sizing for all and lets you create graphics with sizing for all the different social platforms.

 

  1. Grammarly

 Grammarly is a web extension and app that edits. It empowers you to edit everything you type – from work documents to your emails to your social media posts. This is the easiest way for you to improve your communication. No more excuses for grammar mistakes!

 

Conclusion

Don’t stress about your social media! Take advantage of the free tools available to you and look around to see what else is out there. You might be surprised by what you can do for free!

Local Women Owned Small Business Entrepreneur Graduates from VISION St. Charles Leadership Program

DeVries portrait. May not be used or reproduced without permission.

Local Women Owned Small Business Entrepreneur Graduates from VISION St. Charles Leadership Program

 Laura DeVries, founder and principal of CommCore Marketing, LLC and 2017 recipient of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s Women Owned Small Business certification, graduates from the VISION St. Charles County Leadership Program.

 The VISION St. Charles County Leadership Program’s mission is to educate community and business leaders by providing experiences that will increase awareness, develop leadership skills and motivate participants to be actively engaged in St. Charles County. 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the program.

 DeVries was selected as one of 30 applicants to participate in the 9-month program. “The program changed my perspective on everything,” states DeVries following her April 26, 2018 graduation ceremony. “As an independent company, I didn’t know what was happening in my own back yard. The VISION program changed that by putting me in touch with a phenomenal network of people, events, and settings I otherwise never would have encountered.”

 An element of the VISION program is to create a class project. DeVries’ group developed the Protégé Professional Mentorship Program whose purpose is to enhance the leadership qualities of St. Charles County’s emerging workforce. Its primary function is to match mentees (protégés) with mentors (luminaries) to help teach, develop, and grow future leaders.

 “Through the leadership program, I’ve become a better business owner and more involved in the community. It’s been an emotional, life-altering experience for me.”

 For more information, contact Laura DeVries, CommCore Marketing, LLC at laurad@commcoremarketing.com and 314.308.0799. For more information on the Protégé Professional Mentorship Program or to participate as a protégé or a luminary, visit www.visionprotege.org

https://commcoremarketing.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauradev

https://www.facebook.com/CommCoreMarketing

https://twitter.com/CommMkt

Need A Little Help? Hire A Freelancer!

There’s no doubt the work landscape has changed with the rise of the internet. Unprecedented connectivity has allowed us to break free of the 9 to 5 work schedule and commuting to an office space. It has also yielded a growing workforce of “alternative workers.”

Alternative work is characterized as unsteady or temporary— such as work as an independent contractor or through a temporary help agency (Quartz, 2016). Businesses everywhere are hiring more freelancers as opposed to full-time workers. Why?

 

Saves You Money

 When you’re only in need of help for specific projects, why hire somebody to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? A full-time employee with salary and benefits can be expensive. Whether a freelancer charges you by the hour or a flat monthly retainer fee, a freelancer is far less of a cost than a full-timer.

You can actually save 20-30% a year by hiring freelancers. Yes, even with the higher hourly and flat rates of freelancers they are less expensive to hire!

 

More Flexibility

 Freelancers don’t need to adhere to a 9 to 5 work schedule, so they have more flexible work hours. That means you have someone to take care of work beyond your business hours such as engaging on social media, responding to emails and messages, and making website changes and tweaks.

 

Expertise

When you hire a freelancer, you’re hiring someone who specializes in a field or fields and has spent time honing their craft. You don’t need to invest your time and resources into training this worker like you would with a new full-time employee— or teaching yourself the skills you need to do it yourself.

Here are some great jobs to outsource to freelancers:

  • Writing, blogging, website content creation, marketing content creation, or editorial management
  • Web design
  • Graphic design
  • Social media management
  • Marketing strategy
  • Virtual assistance
  • Coding/web development
  • PR/influencer outreach
  • Photography
  • Video production

 

Fresh Ideas & Quality Work

Sometimes it’s helpful to just get a pair of third-party expert eyes on your projects who are willing to bring their fresh perspective to the table. Freelancers who have been working independently for awhile tend to have a variety of experience and can therefore offer something unique to your business.

Plus, because freelancers make a living off of repeat work, you can be assured that a good freelancer will communicate well, have good customer service, and strive to give you their best work. Freelancers have to continuously prove their worth in order to maintain their job because they’re not permanently on your payroll. Don’t you want an employee that’s held more accountable to the quality of the work they promise to deliver?

 

Less Risk

Because freelancers are not technically employees, they don’t have the same rights and legal obligations that salaried employees do. If you find that a particular freelancer just isn’t a good fit, they are easy to replace. There are no shortage of freelancers out there and you can shop around to find one that you can form a strong working relationship with.

 

Conclusion

 If you need some extra help with some projects in your business, you should strongly consider hiring a freelancer. It’s a low-risk, low-commitment option to get a job done by a specialist with experience.

If you’re in need of a freelancer referral, get in contact with Laura for a solid recommendation.

9 Tools for Optimizing your Social Media

By now you know that social media for your business is a must but, if you have any experience with it at all, you’re probably aware of how time consuming it can be. Managing your social sites can be even more cumbersome than managing your website.

Luckily, there’s no shortage of tools out there to help you manage your social strategy. Here are nine to get you started:

 

  1. Evernote

What It Does: Evernote is both a web extension available on most browsers and an app. It allows you to clip webpages and images, find text in images, and keep all your notes organized. It also has a messaging feature so that you can discuss and share your notes with others.

The plus and premium versions offer features like saving important emails and annotating pdf files. You can essentially build your own web database with this software and compile a rich resource of content to use on social media.
Who Else is Using It: 200 million users

 

  1. Feedly 

What It Does: It’s a content marketer’s dream. Feedly aggregates content from web browsers and mobile devices and compiles it into useful news feeds for the user to customize and share. You can monitor news by getting keyword alerts from Google, and it even connects with various softwares like Evernote, Slack, and Trello to optimize business usage.

Who Else is Using It: MIT, Zendesk, Foundry Group, and 12 million other users

 

  1. MeetEdgar

What It Does: This is a social media management software that you definitely need to know about. MeetEdgar uses and reuses your best content to optimize post views. Edgar offers a categorized library with types of content. You can then schedule the type of content to post at the right time on the right social channel and Edgar will take over from there, week after week. Then Edgar stores the content for later use so he can share it after he runs out of material thereby optimizing post views.

Who Else is Using It: Neil Patel, DigitalMarketer, CopyHackers, Canva, ProBlogger, Foundr, and thousands of other users

 

  1. Sprout Social

What It Does: Like MeetEdgar, Sprout Social is a social media management software with features including a unified Smart Inbox, social CRM tools, advanced scheduling tools, social media monitoring, sophisticated analytics, and team collaboration tools.

Who Else is Using It: UPS, Ticketmaster, Stanford University, Bentley, Hyatt, Evernote, Grubhub, and 17,000 other users

 

  1. WeTransfer

What It Does: WeTransfer is a web-based file sharing service. It’s a really simple platform that only requires your recipient’s email address(es), your email address, and the files you are sending. You can send files as big as 2GB for free.

This is a great tool for quickly sharing files to schedule for social posts.
Who Else is Using It: Enough users to send 10 billion transfers in 2016

 

  1. Iconosquare

 What it Does: This is the go-to tool for scheduling Instagram posts. What stinks about scheduling Instagram posts is that because Instagram doesn’t share their API, auto-posting is not an option. With Iconosquare, however, you can schedule posts and get notifications when it’s time to post. Plus, the analytics are some of the best and most in-depth out there for the platform.Who Else is Using It: FourSquare, KemperSports, Krupp Group Public Relations

 

  1. CoSchedule

What It Does: CoSchedule is a social media management tool, but it’s also a very powerful collaborative calendar. You can organize all of your social media posts, content, events, and tasks in one place. Plus, the ReQueue feature finds optimal posting times and fills in the gaps in your social calendar with your best performing posts.Who Else is Using It: Convince & Convert, Borshoff, Foundation Recovery Systems, Florida Realtors

 

  1. Buffer

What It Does: Buffer is a handy tool for scheduling and publishing posts across multiple social platforms. It also features analytics and allows for multiple users to collaborate at once.Who Else is Using It: Fortune Magazine, Business Insider, About.com, Seattle Times, the Denver Broncos

 

  1. Canva

What It Does: If you want to make quick and easy graphics but you’re not much of a graphic designer, this is the perfect tool for you. Canva is loaded with easy-to-use features and lets you create graphics with sizing for all the different social platforms.

Who Else is Using It: Over 10 million users

 

Conclusion

No matter what tools you decide to use to help manage your social media, make sure you take advantage of the many free tools out there. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to helpful software!

 

9 Tools for Optimizing your Website

When it comes to marketing in 2017, you want your website in tip-top shape for your users. Your website is your digital storefront. A slow-functioning site, poor user experience, or less than stellar content might as well be a dingy, unkempt shop that has your name and reputation on it.

But let’s be real— when you’re busy running a business, it’s difficult to stay on top of your website. Even if you outsource your web management to save yourself time, you can run into snags. Not every freelancer or agency can be trusted to produce the quality work you deserve. Going back to improve outsourced work is a waste of your time and money.

So how do you manage to optimize your website when you’re busy with clients and the thousands of other things you do to keep your business growing?

Luckily for you, there are some tools out there to help make the task of managing your website easier. Here are nine tools you should know about:

1. Copyscape
Whether you outsource your content or have it written in-house, it’s important that your content is not plagiarized. But you can hardly take the time to double-check by Googling chunks of your content line by line.

Enter Copyscape.

It’s a cloud-based content scanner that tells you how unique your content is, and whether or not it’s duplicated from some other content out there on the web. While the free version of Copyscape won’t scan unpublished content, the paid version allows you to scan content in draft form.

2. SEO for Chrome
If you’re a Chrome user, you know how useful toolbar extensions can be. SEO for Chrome allows you to instantly check up on your search engine ranking compared to your competitors. You can also analyze SEO to analyze PageRank.

SEO is available for the Firefox toolbar as well.

3. Google Webmaster Tools
This is an incredible free tool that sets you up for success when it comes to SEO. It includes very helpful features such as HTML improvements, a structured data testing tool, removes URLs, and a data highlighter. This is an especially helpful tool because it’s made by Google, the number one authority on search engine rankings.

4. Open Site Explorer (formerly SEOMoz)
This tool created by Moz offers a wide selection of optimization tools.
Some notable features include:
● Quickly finding backlinks
● Link analyzation with data demonstrating how those links can influence your ranking
● Competitor site comparison
● Free for a limited number of queries per day

5. Google Adwords Keyword Planner
This tool is the one-stop shop for figuring out what keywords you want to use. The Keyword Planner is perceptive and user-friendly, providing a rough estimate of traffic for each keyword, a mix and match keyword planning feature, and the ability to save multiple keyword lists.

6. KISSMetrics
Google Analytics is great for giving you insight into your website, but KISSMetrics takes it up a level. KISSMetrics gives you data on who specifically is visiting your website and taking action. This information is far more valuable and takes your insights deeper.

7. CrazyEgg
Have you ever wondered how a visitor’s eyes move across your web page? CrazyEgg gives you heat maps of your website that gives you insight into where your visitors click and how far down the page they scroll. This is especially helpful for determining where to place calls to action on your page.

8. Test my Site by think with Google
Did you know that most sites lose half their visitors while the site is loading? You can retain visitors simply by speeding up the load time of your site. Test my Site allows you to plug in your URL for free and gives you feedback on how fast your site is compared to others, and suggestions on how you can speed up your load time.

9. Sumo
Sumo is software as a services (SaaS) that helps you grow website traffic and conversions. This software works effectively to build lists of leads by placing unique pop-ups and share buttons in optimal locations on your pages. Sumo also features heat maps and real-time visitor analytics.

Conclusion
Don’t get caught with a less-than-optimized website. Take advantage of these tools, especially the free ones. If the ones listed above don’t fit your fancy, there are a plethora of other tools out there to improve your website.

10 Tips on How to Avoid Getting Your Email Overlooked

In the age of SEO and social media marketing, one type of marketing still reigns supreme in terms of online conversions: email marketing. But email is so widely used by businesses that unless you know how to write a stellar email, your emails are likely to get lost in the overloaded inboxes of your prospects.

There’s nothing worse than managing to convince someone to give you their email address, carefully drafting a sales email and sending it only for you to check the stats and see a low open rate.

So here are 10 tips on how to avoid getting your email overlooked and make sales instead:

1. Use a sender name that’s familiar

Prior to even starting on the subject line, it’s important to consider what name will appear in a recipient’s inbox when they receive an email from you.

Because people are so wary of spam, even if you write an amazing subject line with amazing content, if your sender name comes up as a company name or your job title you won’t see a very good open rate. Instead, you want to use a sender name that’s more personable like your first name. If you feel your first name isn’t enough you can put your first name “from _____ company.” That way people get an idea of the email’s contents but it’s not like getting an email from a complete stranger.

2. Keep the subject lines short

Your subject line is one of the most important parts of the email. Think of it as the headline of your email— the few words that will convince a recipient whether or not to read the body of the email. With many people using email on their mobile devices these days, you need to consider that a long subject line will likely be cut off.

Reserve the longer sentences for the body of your email and focus on getting the main point across in the subject line. Try to limit it to no more than 70 characters.

3. Keep the subject line concise

Because your recipients are already flooded with emails everyday, your subject line needs to get right to the point of the email. You do want to entice the recipient, but if you’re too vague, they’ll likely skip right over your email.

For example, “We’ve got an offer for you!” sounds interesting but it is also vague. Think about how many other email marketers have offers for their recipients… it’s every single one of them!

What is the offer? Think specifically about how this email will benefit the recipient.

A better subject line than the example above would be “Seize the chance to win tickets to the #1 summer festival.” In this example, the topic of the email is clear and to the point. There’s no guessing games, and it’s still enticing to open.

4. Use personal language

Just like how you want to be personable in the sender field, you also want to make the rest of the email personal. Don’t talk about your subscribers list or use language referring to a group of people. Speak as if you’re having a one-on-one conversation.

Emails that include the first name of the recipient in the subject line have higher clickthrough rates than emails that don’t (The Science of Email Marketing, 2014).

This is just one way you can make the email more personal and stand out in the inbox. You can also personalize your emails by referring to specific locations either in the subject line or in the body of the email. For example, sending location-specific offers or deals.

No matter what you decide to do with the subject line, always use “you” or “your” in the body so it still sounds like you’re addressing the recipient directly.

5. Use action-oriented verbs

Your email marketing is essentially a series that should lead your recipient through a sales funnel to a call-to-action that eventually encourages them to buy. That’s why it’s best to use verbs that encourage the recipient to take action.

Subject lines that start with action verbs are more enticing because they instill excitement and engage the recipient in the present moment.

An example of a less actionable subject line might be: The circus comes to town
An improved, actionable subject line is: See the Greatest Show on Earth this weekend only

The second example uses “see” to give the reader an instant sense of what they can do, as opposed to the first example which sounds more like an objective news report.

Using actionable verbs throughout the body of the email is also more appealing as they maintain a vibe that encourages the recipient to take action.

6. Create a sense of urgency for more clicks

Phrases like “today only,” “right now,” “available until 5 p.m.,” or “1 day left” build a sense of urgency. It puts a deadline on the actionable verbs.

Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate (HubSpot, 2016).

Timing these urgent emails are great for clicks too. For example, sending an email on a Friday afternoon with a subject line “Where to get the best happy hour deals this evening” is very relevant to a recipient in that moment and is far more likely to be opened.

Don’t hold back with the language of urgency in the body as well. Reminding the recipient that they have limited time to take advantage of your offer will encourage more clicks.

7. A/B test your subject lines

Different subject lines will work for different businesses. That’s why it’s best to experiment a bit with which subject lines your email list is most receptive to.

A/B testing is a sure fire way to track with certainty which of your subject lines work best for your specific audience.

Figure out what your audience likes— do they like subject lines that include their name or just addresses them as “you”? Perhaps they prefer a line structured as a question. Continue to test your audience and tweak the subject lines until you find the ones that give you the best open rate.

8. Nurture your prospects before you sell

If a recipient gives you access to their inbox, you need to be considerate of that. It’s not an invitation for you to flood their inbox with sales copy. That will put you on the fast track to the junk mail folder.

You need to nurture your prospects until they’re ready to buy. Give your recipients a reason to trust you, become a source of information. If you’re friendly and helpful, your prospects are far more likely to become buyers. If you’re designing an email automation campaign, write three nurturing emails to send first, then two calls-to-action.

9. Make calls-to-action clear and direct

When you’re asking your recipients to take action, you only have a couple chances before they find it annoying you keep asking them to do something. It’s important to be very clear about what you’re wanting prospects to do.

Make it so easy for the recipient of the email to follow up that even the most technologically-challenged people could take action. Remind your readers why it’s in their best interest to buy and tell them directly what you want them to do next.

10. Insert multiple links in the body for calls-to-action

It makes it even easier for people to take you up on your call-to-action if you place multiple links to the same page within the body of the email. This will make it even more unmissable for your reader and super clear about the action they should take.
Conclusion
Don’t fall victim to the boring and forgettable email promotions. If you’re putting effort into email marketing, make sure that they’re personal, concise, and clear about the action you want them to take after you’ve established credibility with your recipients. With these tips, you will be sure to see more conversions out of the inbox!

Why You Need Visuals in your Marketing

In just the past year, we’ve seen some big changes to the popular social media channels that we know and love. Facebook came out with Facebook live, and more recently, Facebook stories. Twitter recently launched a live video feature, Instagram came out with live video and IG stories, and Snapchat came out with lens filters, stickers, and memories. Are you starting to notice a pattern here? It’s all about the visuals.

And for good reason, too. Humans are visual creatures. We’re incredibly better at remembering pictures than we are at remembering text. This is partially because reading is so inefficient for us. Our brain sees words as a lot of tiny pictures, and it takes time for our brain to read those words and then process them into images we can understand.

But when we see images, we process them so much faster. In fact, according to a study by Brain Rules, when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. But if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. So the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is really not some kitschy, cliche phrase— it’s the truth. The fact is that we simply process images faster and more efficiently than we do text.

Source: Mammoth Infographics

 

So if you haven’t started using visuals in your marketing strategy yet, it’s time to evolve with the times. Last year, 37% of marketers said visual marketing was the most important form of content for their business, second only to blogging at 38% (Social Media Examiner, 2016). The hard truth is that if you aren’t using visuals in your marketing, you’re losing.

So here are some different visuals you can incorporate into your strategy, and how to best use them:

Images

When writing a piece for your blog or some other form of content, splitting up the body of text with some relevant images is a good way to keep people engaged with what you’ve written. In fact, articles with images get 94% more views than those without, according to marketer Jeff Bullas. Keep in mind that people’s attention spans are shorter than ever and text-heavy content is more difficult to get through.

Images are also important to use on your social channels. Studies show that Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without images (BuzzSumo, 2015) and tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images (Buffer, 2016). Regardless of the social platforms you use, make sure you’re including relevant images on any posts you make.

You can get creative with your images too. These don’t just have to be your classic photo taken by an iPhone (although those work just fine). They can be memes, which are just images paired with humorous captions and widely embraced by Millennials. And it’s easy with tools like Meme Generator.

 

Or they can even be screenshots. Often, screenshots are a good way of visually explaining how something works— be that your product or service, how to sign up for something, etc. It also builds trust between you and the viewer. It makes them feel like they’re sitting right there with you looking at your computer screen and the internal workings of your business. You can even draw on screenshots and point out specific things in the image. Awesome Screenshot is a handy tool for this.

 

For the sake of not infringing on copyrights, but also to add your own branded touch, it’s best to use your own original images. There are tools out there like Canva which allow you to easily create unique and engaging images for free. You can also use good quality photos for free from photo-sharing sites like Flickr. But if you do use someone else’s image, be sure to credit them with the rights to the image.

Video

Videos are steadily on the rise for the most effective form of marketing. By the year 2020, video marketing will make up 79% of global internet traffic (Tubular Insights, 2017). Videos are altogether more engaging, entertaining, and captivating to viewers.

And there are plenty of different types of videos you can create to amplify your brand voice and add extra value to your marketing:

  • Tutorial videos – 4x as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it (Animoto, 2015)
  • Animated voiceover videos
  • Product demonstrations
  • Customer testimonials
  • Webinar

Whatever you choose to do, make sure your videos make sense with what you’re doing as a brand. A Moz study shows that posts with videos receive nearly 300% more inbound links. Just like with images, include videos in both your content marketing and social media marketing strategies.

More than 60% of marketers and small business owners said they plan to increase investment in video marketing in 2017 (Animoto, 2016). Make sure that you are one of those marketers.

Live Video

As I mentioned in the beginning, all of the most popular social platforms seem to be updating to integrate the live video feature. You might ask: “Why live video and not just traditional pre-recorded video?” Well, live video is far more interactive. You get to engage with the person speaking in the video, right there in the moment. This is an incredible opportunity for marketers in every industry.

Facebook users spend three times more watching live videos than they do watching traditional videos (Animoto, 2016), and the equivalent of 110 years of live video is watched on Periscope, the Twitter-owned live video streaming app, every single day (Periscope, 2016).

Not only is live video more interactive, but it shows a sort of rawness and transparency that traditional video doesn’t. It makes the broadcaster seem considerably more human and accessible. And that, for viewers, makes brands much easier to connect with.

Infographics

Infographics are an awesome tool for visually depicting complex statistics and data in a digestible and compelling way. Designing a good infographic does take a bit of skill, as the layout and design is crucial in making the content understandable to the viewer. But by combining the right colors, shapes, and fonts with the most important, accurate, and contextually relevant information, you can turn the most boring statistic into something exciting.

Bloggers in particular are a big fan of infographics. The best infographics are shared and circulated around the internet at a high rate, which means a lot of publicity for the brand that produces that infographic and heightened credibility for you.

Conclusion

You absolutely must include visuals in your marketing. Visual content hits the human brain faster and harder than any other form of content out there, leaving a greater residual impact on your brand. If you can create quality visual content that engages people and you promote it consistently, your brand is guaranteed to grow. Whether it’s images, videos, or infographics, start integrating more visual content in your content and social media marketing. It’s not a suggestion— it’s a must!

How to Improve Your Facebook Marketing: Part 2

Last year, we shared tips on “How to Improve your Facebook Marketing.” We offered eight tips to really get your business moving on Facebook. Let’s review, shall we?

• Make a Facebook Business Page. Essential for your branding on social media and comes with great built-in analytics to measure the success of your Facebook marketing.

• Post 5 to 10 times weekly. A great frequency for keeping your audience engaged without wearing out your welcome on their newsfeeds.

• Include photos and links in your post. Visuals are more tempting to click-on, and links make good teasers.

• Keep most lines of text short. Shorter lines of text are more digestible than longer lines of text.

• Have a goal for every post. Each post you create should have intent. Text posts, link posts, and photo and video posts each yield different types of engagement.

• Have calls-to-action and contests. Motivate your audience to engage with your business, and simultaneously generate leads.

• Use Facebook data wisely. Keep your eyes on your Facebook Insights— often!

• Always continue to experiment. Social media is living and breathing. It changes quickly, just like people. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try something new!

Now that we’ve reviewed the tips from Part 1, are you ready for more?

Let’s talk about ways to further optimize your marketing on Facebook…

1. Provide unique and valuable content

This may seem obvious, but there are so many brands on Facebook using stale or recycled content that simply doesn’t appeal to their audience. You may feel pressured to just keep getting content out there so that your page doesn’t look inactive. But remember, that quality will always beat quantity.

Always keep your audience in mind when you create content. What will interest them? What will add value to their lives? What does your business offer that others don’t? If you can create real value for your audience, you not only establish yourself as an expert but you’re halfway through the sales process.

2. Use Audience Insights

Studying your Facebook Insights regularly is essential when it comes to finding which posts your audience best respond to. The Insights also provide valuable information about who your audience is. This helps you target your content and create formats that work best for the people who are already engaging.

Maybe your audience likes photo posts and doesn’t like text posts. That is data-led understanding of how to best engage your audience. Pay attention to the feedback you are getting on your page. This should serve as a measure for constantly optimizing your content.

3. Boost Posts

Facebook offers a really easy way to put your posts in front of a more targeted audience, and can show up higher in that audience’s feeds. This can increase reach by 50% or more.

But it’s also important to know which posts are boost-worthy because there is a small cost to boosting. Posts that promote a product or service offered by your business are obviously a good idea to boost. But also, posts that direct people to your website or promote a limited time campaign your business is running.

4. Email Acquisition from Newsfeeds

Many Facebook marketers will have call-to-actions all over their Facebook pages.

Contests and calls-to-action are great as custom tabs on your Facebook page, but it’s likely that many great leads out there aren’t ever going to see these tabs because they aren’t visiting your page. That’s why meeting the users where they spend the most time on Facebook— their newsfeeds —is optimal.

A program called ActionSprout allows you to reach Facebook users by offering a button to encourage direct action right on their newsfeed. Users can click a “Sign,” “Support,” or “Demand” button on your post and they will be redirected to a page to complete the action.

This is a fantastic piece of software to integrate into your Facebook marketing efforts because it so easily supplies calls-to-action!

So these are just a few tips to keep you going. But always keep in mind that Facebook, like all social media, is an ever-changing medium. Our social media marketing efforts should always be intended to direct users away from the source and to our website or blog. The purpose of social media marketing, when it all comes down to it, is to generate leads.

Keep experimenting on Facebook to see what works for you. You will never know what works best until you try! But until then, we’ll be here to offer a helping hand with your social media marketing success.

How to Improve your Twitter Marketing Part 2

You may remember last year when we published “How to Improve your Twitter Marketing (Part 1).” After a year of advancement in social media marketing, we’re back again with another five tips for you to best market your business on Twitter.

Experiment with Twitter ads. Similar to Facebook ads, Twitter can promote tweets with your goals, specific audiences, and budget in mind. You can select the goal of driving more traffic to your website, increasing followers, increasing tweet engagements, or increasing brand awareness. These ads can be targeted as broadly as geographical location to as specific as audience behaviors.

There is much to be tinkered with in establishing your audience. Much of social media advertising is really trial and error to find what best works for the people you are trying to reach. So get experimenting, and when your ad campaign is over, be sure to review the results so you can improve for next time!

Make lead generation cards. Did you know Twitter could do this? Twitter has a service to set up a lead card that allows you to capture email addresses and the corresponding Twitter account with a simple click from Twitter users. These are great to use in accordance with specials and deals, and will systematically increase your leads.

Don’t be afraid to share content multiple times. On different social media platforms such as Facebook, this is more often than not a “no-no.” But Twitter is different — the timeline on Twitter is a live streaming feed that does not necessarily boost things you will most likely be interested in. Not everyone is on Twitter at the same time, and most will not seek out your profile if they’ve missed a tweet of yours. So tweeting the same content multiple times will drive more engagement than if you tweet it just once. You can also use it as an opportunity to experiment with different text or images when you’re sharing for a second, third, or more times.

Check Twitter chats. This is a great feature of Twitter because the people using it are actively interacting. There are a wealth of different topics within Twitter chats and those topics related to your industry are likely to contain good business opportunities like generating leads, building relationships, and establishing yourself in the industry.

Plan ahead, create a schedule. It’s best to plan at least two to three weeks ahead in the Twitter world, particularly surrounding holidays and special events. It can also get difficult to constantly stay on top of Twitter from day to day. Planning ahead will free your time up to follow live trends and focus on generating leads.

We hope these tips were helpful! Remember, you always want your Twitter to be used as a vehicle to direct audiences to your original website or email content. Bare this in mind when you set your goals and strategize.

How to Improve Your LinkedIn Marketing — Part 2

In “How to Improve Your LinkedIn Marketing Part 1,” we offered five tips for making the most out of LinkedIn. Let’s quickly review those tips:

● Connect with everyone: The more connections, the more opportunities
● Add your company profile: Establish your actual business on LinkedIn, not just on your personal profile
● Publish an article once a month: Establish yourself as an industry expert, build rapport and stay relevant
● Endorse others: Support others professionally because the more you give, the more you get in return
● Join targeted groups: Join niche networks within LinkedIn to spread your message faster and make more efficient connections

So now that the “Part 1” tips are fresh in your mind, let’s move onto to some more tips that will get you to make the most out of your LinkedIn…

1. Perfect the Summary Section of Your Own Profile: This section tends to be overlooked. If you know that many people prefer to go to LinkedIn rather than your website, you will understand how important it is to be pitching your best within the LinkedIn summary. You only get 2,000 characters in this section so it’s important to speak directly and persuasively to your audience. It’s recommended to speak in first person, use complete sentences, and at the end of the summary section include your contact information. Sure, it’s available to them elsewhere on your profile, but why not make it even easier for them to contact you?

2. Beef Up Your Company Profile: Add a photo! The default icon is boring and discouraging for viewers. Add lots of links — to your blog, to your website, to your social media accounts. Don’t be that company that’s only known on LinkedIn. Get the branded URL. During editing, you can change the URL from a combination of numbers and letters to something more on-brand and easy for people to remember.

3. Answer Questions, Ask Questions: A really useful and underused feature of LinkedIn is the Question & Answer. Similarly to publishing articles, answering questions thoughtfully establishes your expertise and increases your visibility. Users are drawn to those who are able to provide the best answers within online communities. There’s even a rating system on LinkedIn like on other online forums to highlight the best answers. Make a point to sit down and answer some industry-related questions once a week.

Inversely, it’s also beneficial to ask good questions on LinkedIn. This will not only yield good answers, but good connections.

4. Make Use of the Introduction Feature: Did you know that your 1st-degree connections on LinkedIn can introduce you to their 1st-degree connections? This is a great tool for seeking prospects for sales. By requesting an introduction from one of your connections, that person can set up a message introducing the two of you. And voila! — a prospect connected!

5. Make Use of the Recommendation Feature: Did you know that you can write recommendations for your connections and also request recommendations? By going to a connection’s page, clicking the “Send a Message” drop-down menu, and selecting “Recommendation,” you can write a nice message about that connection that will appear on their page. We highly recommend this recommend feature because they set connections significantly apart from their competition, and writing the connections builds rapport between you and that connection.

Not to mention, it motivates connections to write recommendations for you as well. You gotta give some to get some! But don’t be shy in requesting a recommendation from someone if you know their words would look attractive on your page.

Make the most of your LinkedIn! As we said in Part 1, you want to limit yourself to three social media sites to really focus your marketing efforts. LinkedIn should definitely be one of the three. Your efforts on LinkedIn will drive meaningful connections and yield prospects that would take you much longer to get offline or through any other social media site. For more information about features on LinkedIn, check out the LinkedIn help page: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin

How Brands Are Missing Out on Facebook

It’s no secret nowadays that successful brands make the most of social media marketing– especially on Facebook.

You see advertisements every time you log on, whether they be sponsored ads or ads that pop up on the sidebar. Facebook makes sure you see them because it makes all its revenue off of selling your information to businesses.

Maybe you have even previously created a Facebook ad for your business. But if Facebook ads aren’t created with the right goal in mind, they won’t be helpful to you in bringing quality potential customers.

There’s considerably more that you can do on Facebook to maximize your marketing efforts. Here are a few tips:

    1. Make Your Website a Priority
      When creating an ad, many businesses will place focus on the metrics Facebook offers – Likes, Reach, Engagement – in order to measure the ad’s success. This isn’t wrong, but these metrics can be meaningless unless you’re driving quality traffic.What is quality traffic?

      Quality traffic is people who have a legitimate interest in your brand. These are the people who will answer your call to action and yield legitimate leads to sales. This is an audience that actually cares about you.Anyone can see a post, like it, or comment and share it. But unless your content inspires people to go a step further and make it to your website, your Facebook metrics won’t mean very much to your salespeople.But how do you actually build a quality audience? That brings us to the next tip.

    2. Create Original and Helpful Content
      Sure, sharing funny memes, videos, and photos that regularly circulate Facebook can get you more attention. But unless your brand offers content that’s original, relevant, and useful, there’s no motivation for your audience to have a genuine interest in you as a brand.

      Creating original content will provide a value to your brand for your audience. Most of this content should have little to do with your product. Depending on your industry, you will want to create content generally based around it. For example, if you are a real estate agent, you could create content answering questions like…

      a. What are some common real estate misconceptions?
      b. What is a buyer’s agent?
      c. What are some tips for first time buyers?

      With this type of content, you will be able to start creating a quality audience base that ultimately ends up at your website.

    3. Share, Promote, Build!
      Once you’ve created your content, you have to share it and get back to focusing on your Facebook metrics. At first you won’t get very much engagement. This is because most people aren’t interested in your content – but the people who are will be the people who click, and those are the people you really care about!

      Promote this content – this is what you want to spend your ad dollars on. The more value you have to offer, the higher the quality of your audience will become.

      Building a quality base that will respond to your calls to action is key in Facebook marketing.

So don’t just make your Facebook marketing about what happens on Facebook – create original content that drives people back to your website. Create actual value that will attract a quality fan base. Once you have a quality fan base, your opportunities will expand.

 

Facebook Ads: Why and How to Use Them

Surely by now, you’re familiar with the advertisements that pop up on your Facebook Newsfeed. They can appear on the right hand side or within the actual feed while you’re scrolling. Some of these ads can seem targeted specifically, sometimes too specifically, for you. If you’ve experienced this before, you have experienced the magic of Facebook ads.

 

More and more businesses are moving away from traditional advertising channels to advertising on Facebook. But why? Because it works! Facebook ads are able to target audiences that no other medium can – not even Google!

 

Yes, it’s true, not even the almighty Google has the targeting power that Facebook has.

 

The truth of the matter is that with Google, you can only advertise to the people who search for keywords related to your product. That’s a pretty limited audience and there are a limited number of keywords that you can use for any product. Then, when you take into account that your competitors will also bid on these limited keywords, Google Adwords can get pretty pricey.

 

Do you really want to be pouring money into a bidding war on an already limited audience? Maybe not.

 

Here’s where Facebook is different than Google: It doesn’t matter what your users are searching, all that matters is who your customers are. Rather than targeting web users with keywords, you’re targeting real people with jobs, interests, and personalities.

 

The Custom Audiences feature on Facebook allows you to target or retarget a very specific niche of users. This laser-focused type of advertising has proven so successful that even B2B companies are finding Facebook ads useful.

 

It’s fairly simple to create your own Facebook ad. You can go to Settings in your Facebook account and then ‘Facebook Ads Manager.’ First, it will ask you what your objective is. Do you want to promote your Page? Send people to your website? Increase conversions on your website? Raise attendance at your event? Reach people near your business? There are 12 different objectives you can choose from.

 

Once you’ve selected an objective, it will prompt you to name your ad campaign and fill in some basic information. Then you can start defining your audience. After selecting the basic demographics of your audience — locations, age range, gender, and
languages spoken — you’ll move onto the detailed targeting where you can select specific demographics, interests, or behaviors or your audience. This is where you can get creative! You might be surprised how specific you can get, and just how much of an audience each of these specifications has.

 

For example, if you wanted to target an audience that buys eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious products, you could do so by entering the drop down menu and selecting Behaviors > Purchase behavior > Buyer Profile > Green Living. This specification on its own yields a Facebook target audience of over 33 million people. Not, bad huh? You can also add Connections, or people who have a specific kind of connection to your Page, app, or event.

 

Once you have specified your audience, a little meter on the right hand side will tell you whether your audience is broad or narrow, and about how many potential users your ad will reach. All that’s left to do is to select ad placement (it’s recommended to set this on “automatic”) and set your budget and schedule. You can set a daily or lifetime budget, and you can make your ad run continuously or have a start or end date.

 

Once you’ve done all that, you create the Facebook ad, place the order, and you’re good to go! Facebook makes tracking your ad’s success easy, allowing you to customize the notifications you receive. So give it a try and watch your conversions grow! If this seems daunting or you simply don’t have the time, contact us and we can help connect your business to the rest of the world using Facebook Ads.

 

5 Ways to Digitize Your Marketing Efforts

It’s important now more than ever to visualize your company as a virtual space rather than just a physical space. The world of online modern marketing may seem daunting to some – especially those who have grown comfortable with the good old-fashioned paper and telephone methods of marketing. Fortunately, we have some tips to help immerse your business in the digital world!

 

1. Set up a presentable and practical website
A business’s website is like a virtual shop window. When people search for services and products online, much like in person, they search for something that will allow them to have the easiest and most pleasant experience possible. Thus it’s important to have an organized, good-looking website.

 

It should be easy to navigate and provide potential customers with all the information they need to know. Quickly, a potential customer will move on to another business if they find it too difficult to find the information they are seeking.

 

Don’t have any idea how to build a website? Do not fret. There are many businesses you can hire to design your website and to customize it to your needs.

 

2. Sell products and services directly online
While an organized and informative website is key, customers still may be too discouraged to proceed with using your business if they cannot order the products or services they want directly from your website. While you may think that asking a potential customer to view your website and then pick up the phone to call you is not a big deal, it’s actually still more effort than is necessary for your potential customer.

 

If you have provided enough information for the potential customer to understand your products or services and they have an idea of what they want, why not just eliminate the extra step of using the phone? Ordering online is far more convenient when you know what you want. It also requires less time from the business because they don’t have to spend so much time on the phone with customers!

 

3. Engage customers via social media
Part of what makes the internet so amazing is that you can connect with so many people in such a revolutionary way. So why not take advantage of this resource of connectivity? Building a network can be a great way to build your customer base.

 

If you are mostly involved with business-to-business sales, then LinkedIn is the place to be. This is a social network of professionals and allows you to keep in close touch with clients and associates.

 

If you are doing more B2C, then Facebook is a great starting point. Facebook is helpful for reaching out to potential customers – especially with the use of Facebook Ads.

 

Engaging people on any social media platform is key to building relationships and creating an image. If someone “Likes” your Facebook page, you can “Like” their page. Showing any sort of presence on social media at all also alerts Google that you are an active business and you will be rewarded in the Google algorithim by appearing closer to the top of relevant searches.

 

4. Tap into mobile efficiency and loyalty
With more than two-thirds of all Americans owning a smart phone, it’s a good idea to get on board with the mobile trend. Many businesses are now creating their own apps in order to build a customer base. Not only do these apps make it easier for customers to order products and services, but it also creates brand loyalty. If your customers have put in the effort to download your app—that is a notable level of loyalty! This also creates value for your business because you can more easily track these customers who have downloaded your app.

 

5. Create more valuable customer data
In this new age, tracking consumer behavior has never been so easy. When you have an online presence with a website with orderable products and services, active social media pages, and mobile accessibility – you are able to access a wealth of data on marketing and sales. This information is crucial to growing your sales. With an online presence you can determine who is buying your products, where these customers are located, how they found you, what time they ordered your product, what platform they ordered your product on, and so many other interesting and helpful information. How convenient that websites and social media have their own built in trackers for you to collect this data?! And you can always further make use of this tool by submitting customer surveys.

 

Growing your knowledge of the online world is important to understanding how to improve your marketing. We hope these tips were helpful!

 

What Are Cookies and How Can they Help your Business?

Mmm, cookies. Delicious, right? But I’m not talking about the kind the Girl Scouts sell. I mean the Internet kind. But what are Internet cookies? We hear them referred to often, especially when browsing.

 

An internet cookie is actually just a tracking device that stores information. When you visit a website, a small text file with an unique ID tag is saved to your computer and the website saves its own copy. This file can store various information — like which pages you visited on a site or how long you spent on a certain page. When you revisit the site, it can recognize you by matching up your ID tag in the database.

 

As long as a computer user’s cookies are enabled (there’s an option to turn them off), and the computer user fills out a form when they visit your site, a cookie will be created. Cookies are only created when a visitor fills out a form on the site — not if they just visit the site. Many people opt to disable their cookies so that sites cannot track them.

 

Now that you know what a cookie is, you can begin to understand why they are an enormous asset to businesses. They are able to pull useful marketing data in an unprecedented fashion.

 

First of all, they can tell you how a visitor found you — a digital “How did you hear about us?” Survey that’s completely automatic. As any good marketer knows, lead tracking is imperative in effectively growing your business. So a cookie will tell you how a visitor arrived to your site — whether it was organic, a paid search, or a referral from another website. Once you know how your visitors find you, you can find more of them.

 

Cookies can also tell you how many pages, and what pages, a visitor has viewed. This is important because by observing visitor patterns, you can determine who’s a serious lead. The more pages a customer visits, the hotter of a lead they are. Even better if the customer visits the site numerous times, which a cookie can also track.

 

Perhaps one of the best uses of cookies is that they can notify you when a visitor is on your site. How cool is that? They can let you know a potential customer is thinking of you right then! You can use this information to reach out to the person, since your business is already on your mind in that very moment.

 

There are many analytic tools you can use to track cookies: Google Analytics, Hubspot, Facebook Insights, Twitalyzer, ClickTale, Compete. No matter the analytic tool you decide to use, you should definitely take advantage of what cookies have to offer! When used to their fullest extent, they can work wonders for your business on the web.

10 Tips for Creating Great Content

We all struggle from time to time with keeping an audience engaged, particularly when it comes to the Internet. There is such a vast amount of content on the Internet that you really have to produce something uniquely enticing in order to cut through the clutter. This can be very challenging. And because your relevance depends on regular activity on your social media sites, it’s even more imperative that you learn how to consistently create quality content. Here are some tips:

  1. Create Original Content

    One of the best ways to distinguish yourself in your industry is by creating something original. This means offering a new and fresh perspective and not dishing up the same ideas that have already been written.

    Originality is not only important in terms of branding but also Google searches. The Google algorithm will lower the ranking for pages with content that’s simply copied. So be creative!

  2. Pull Them in with a Good Headline

    Journalism 101 will teach you that the headline is more important than the content itself. According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read your headline but only 20% will actually go on to read your content!

    On the Internet where there is endless content to access, you only have a few seconds to pull a reader in as they are scrolling down an endless stack of content. People will only read something that sparks their interest. So you have to make that headline a grabber! Phrases that make the content sound like need-to-know information are best.

    Ask yourself: What sort of title would make you want to read a piece?

  3. Cut out the fluff

    No one really wants to read the extra embellishments that add body to a story– especially when there is already so much out there to capture their attention. People want to get right into the good stuff that drew them in the first place. So cut to the chase, keep it brief and to the point.

  4. Keep it Accurate, Keep it Credible

    Nothing ruins a blog faster than discovering inaccuracies. So when you cite facts, be sure to include credible sources. Consider where you’re getting your information and, after you determine it’s a credible source, you can include the link directly in your writing. This not only provides an opportunity to boost your authority on the subject matter but it also helps Google figure out how to better categorize your content in searches.

  5. Make Your Readers Think

    After reading your headline and deciding to read your content, the reader will decide within the first few sentences whether or not they want to continue reading. You must explain in your introduction why they should care and what the reader should expect to read in your piece. Be up front and be creative.

    Telling stories is a great way to tie your content together and keep your readers engaged. If a reader finishes your piece with new thoughts or questions in mind, you have done a fantastic job.

  6. Make it Practical

    While reading an article by an expert is an engaging act in itself, it’s difficult to take advice unless you understand how to use it. After you have introduced an idea, be sure to provide examples so that the reader has a better idea of how they can apply your advice. After all, your goal in writing is to help others accomplish something.

  7. Deliver Answers… and Quickly!

    The reason someone clicks on your article is generally not to just hear your musings. You’ve sold them with your headline and now they want to know what else you’re selling. Don’t beat around the bush or they will be gone in the click of a button. Be direct. Provide answers. Give your reader a reason to believe you know what you’re talking about.

  8. Add Imagery and Videos

    Supplementing text with a visual is an excellent way to better illustrate your point. Plus, many people are more stimulated by visuals. The social media app Instagram surpassed 50 million users in one year (the fastest growing media platform in history) due to its unique nature of an all-visual type of social media. People are simply drawn to photos and videos. So why not use that to your advantage?

  9. Ask Your Readers

    Sometimes the best way to find out what will interest your readers is just to ask them. Getting their feedback will not only help you generate ideas but you will also build rapport with your readers giving them the impression that you are easily accessible and helpful.

  10. Examine Your Stats

    The great thing about social media is that most platforms come with built-in metrics that help you gain insight into your viewership. Looking at page views, clicks, comments and shares can help you reflect on what your readers enjoyed the most and the least. By looking at your landing page and outgoing traffic, you can see what kind of topics and searches people used to get to and from your page. All of this information can help to define your future content.

Remember, a lot of content writing is about trial and error. It is important to try many different things and see what works and what doesn’t — and when and why. The more regularly you post, the more you will learn.

 

 

How to Improve Your Twitter Marketing

Twitter is a great marketing tool when used with the right techniques. Some struggle to understand the benefits of Twitter, saying 140 character isn’t enough to get your message across. But the truth is there are 304 million monthly active Twitter users and you can directly interact with your marketing audience on this platform. For those of you who aren’t so keen on the Twitter lingo, use this for reference:

@handle – the @ symbol followed by a Twitter handle is used when mentioning or “Tweeting at” somebody.

DM – short for direct message. This allows you to send a private message to a person you’re following.

Following/Follower – someone who subscribes to receive your updates.

Hashtags – the # symbol followed by a word or phrase which organizes your updates for Twitter search engines.

Retweet – abbreviated RT, is the equivalent of sharing. You’re tweeting a Tweet already posted by another user.

Tweet – the updates you post to Twitter in 140 characters or less.

Now with these terms in mind, here are some tips to help up your Tweeting game:

  1. Follow and regularly interact with your industry experts and influencers. Just as you do in face-to-face networking, you want to build relationships with those important names in your industry. When you follow these people and businesses on Twitter, you are establishing your brand. Interacting with them on Twitter by Retweeting, mentioning, “favoriting” Tweets, or sending them a direct message builds important relationships. Better yet, you’re helping them and they’re more inclined to help you.
  2. Tweet regularly. Staying relevant and at the top of mind as a business on Twitter means maintaining an active and breathing profile. Tweeting just once a week or once a month isn’t going to cut it. This platform moves so quickly that what is trending changes from day to day. So in order for you to not only be remembered but grow your following, make it a habit to Tweet daily. Not only do you want to Tweet daily, but you also want to Retweet and Favorite tweets so that you’re getting noticed and being a part of the relevant activity.
  3. Use images and videos. Visuals increase clicks on Twitter. Including images and videos also makes your Twitter more interesting and people will more likely keep you in mind, and get you more Retweets and favorites.
  4. Offer special deals and discounts to your Twitter followers. Promoting offers such as “the next 25 followers to retweet this will receive a 25% off coupon” will get your Twitter abuzz. This sort of strategy can be used in tandem with other social media sites, having those sites direct more traffic to your Twitter page.
  5. Track your mentions and respond when appropriate. Twitter is a great way to bring customer service to the forefront of marketing. When people mention your business on Twitter, be sure that you’re keeping tabs on what’s being said about you. If someone mentions you with a compliment, you can thank them and engage with them further. If someone mentions with a complaint, you can address their complaint and see if you can resolve their issue. If people see that you handle customers on Twitter well, they’re more likely to keep up with you.

These are just a few suggestions to improve your marketing on Twitter. As your following grows, these tactics will continue to facilitate good marketing techniques. Remember that while a good Twitter presence is important, you ultimately want your Twitter to direct people to original content on your website. Posting teasers and links to entice people to read your content is the means to the ends of increasing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ratings.

For Entrepreneur DeVries, the Risk is Worth the Reward

MOSourceLink

Linking Missouri’s Businesses to the Right Resource at the Right Time

by Sarah Mote | Sep 23, 2015 Leave a comment


Laura DeVries, the director of communication and marketing for a St. Louis office, had an opportunity. During her 19 years of marketing experience, she recognized that small businesses and entrepreneurs needed marketing help in order to focus their attention on what they did best.

On the verge of transferring to another company, Laura instead decided to start her own business, CommCore Marketing.

Even though the timing was right and the opportunity was ideal, she had a problem. “My biggest obstacle was myself. I feared taking the plunge and failing,” she says.

Her scary moments built up fast when she became responsible for all aspects of her business. “Too many things were coming all at once and I struggled most with the technical side of running a business.”

Not willing to quit, Laura sought advice from small business owners she knew and respected. She asked questions. She asked for referrals and introductions. “Everyone was friendly, helpful and happy to offer guidance.” Laura advises anyone in a similar situation to reach out to their professional network.

Whenever doubts and fears roll in—what if the phone doesn’t ring?—Laura reaches out to her contacts again. “Take a step back and realize it’s going to fix itself, but you must be patient,” Laura says, while admitting patience can be tough some days. “Making it happen also requires setting realistic goals and being accountable to yourself.”

Working strange hours in order to spend time with the family is a great satisfaction. It’s rewarding to be in charge of her life, her business and her success.

Laura knew she was making a positive impact when she overheard one client tell a potential client that she now sleeps better through Laura’s help.

“Knowing that I’ve made that much difference for someone makes it all worthwhile.”


Ready to Get Something Started?

MOSourceLink has a network of more than 400 Resource Partners, nonprofit organizations ready to help you start, grow and scale your business. Start with our Resource Navigator to find help near you. Still stumped? Give us a call and we’ll connect you with the right resource, right now.

Post provided by Kris Edens, a copywriting and blogging resource for small business. She resides in Festus and enjoys networking, writing and the entrepreneurial community.

Link to complete article here.

Why Follow the Mobile Trend? Top 5 Tips on Mobile Marketing

There is no doubt about it: We are a high tech society. With the avalanche of technological innovations in the past 20 years, we now prioritize connectivity through instant access and mobility. We have gone from simply marveling at dial up internet on our desktop computers to grumbling and groaning with impatience when the 4G on our smart phone is taking too long to load a web page.

With 60 percent of online browsing now done on mobile devices, to remain relevant, businesses must adapt with this mobile marketing trend. This means not only having an interactive website, but a mobile-friendly website. As of April 2015, Google has changed its algorithm to prioritize websites that are better to view on mobile devices– with larger text, links that are easy to click, and “responsive design” that changes their look depending on the size of the screen.

Websites that aren’t so mobile-friendly are penalized in the rankings, and are therefore pushed down in the list of Google searches. This means businesses both large and small must become more mobile friendly to be successful!

Here are the top five tips for marketing to the mobile audience…

  1. Get Mobile-Friendly
    As mentioned above, unless you want to be deemed less relevant by Google, it’s time to make your web content more mobile friendly. You need to create ads that are compatible with all screen sizes and screen resolutions.
  1. Create Quality Content
    Similar to creating content that uniquely positions yourself online, you want to create content that immediately attracts users. With a smaller screen, you need precise, on target material that is compelling enough for the reader to remain interested in what you’re offering. Keep in mind that mobile users have a shorter attention span and will move very quickly on to another page unless what they’re reading is actually interesting.

    Use a headliner that’s inviting to the reader and gives them an immediate idea of your business and products or services. Mobile users are wary of ads and therefore will lose interest unless you are both to-the-point and compelling.

  2. Get Personal
    Because it is so easy to interact with more users using mobile social media, it’s not a bad idea to let down some of your rigid professional vibe and get personal with your audience. Creating a Facebook page for your business, showcasing your products and/or services, inviting users to review, and asking for feedback will build trust between you and your users.

    As any good businessperson would do, you will want to answer customer enquiries in a timely manner and treat them with respect. This will build good relationships between you and your audience and will reflect well very quickly on your business.

  3. Stay in Touch
    Maintaining the good relationship between you and your market means staying in touch with your mobile customers. Otherwise, your customers may forget about you and move on to something else.

    A powerful tool for mobile marketing is SMS (Short Message Service Marketing) – you can send your users interesting offers preceded by a personal greeting. With the opportunity for these users to opt in to these offers, you can be sure that they are actually interested in what your business has to offer. Additionally, creating a community forum where these users can interact with you and each other builds even more opportunity for you to do business.

  4. Reward Your Regulars!
    When you’ve established an interactive community of customers, you can reward their engagement by providing special offers from time to time. Examples of this include offers to customers who “like,” share, or tweet information about you on your various social media platforms. Not only does it make users feel special, but it keeps their eyes peeled for more offers in the future.

 

Get engaged with your mobile market today! For assistance in getting started or continuing mobile marketing efforts,
you can contact Laura today!

Hiring Out: When and Why to Delegate Your Marketing to an Independent Contractor

In this time of technology and online social chatter, it’s important to get your name out there. But more often than not we find ourselves so busy and wrapped up in our work for clients that we forget about our own marketing efforts. So what do you do if you don’t want your business lost in the endless sea of media clutter but don’t have the time or resources to do it in-house? In many cases, it’s better to hire a freelancer to assist you with your marketing needs…

No full time marketing staff person?

If you don’t have staff dedicated specifically to marketing, this is an instance to consider an independent contractor. Depending on the size of your business and your budget, an independent contractor can accomplish the work you need done without having a set number of hours that you’re obligated to pay them for. This can be easier on your budget when you’re not sure exactly what you want or need in terms of marketing. Marketing consultants are available to help you, and are flexible.

Don’t have time for marketing yourself?

When you simply don’t have the time or the energy to spend thinking about marketing strategies and projects, having a freelancer with marketing experience can relieve much of your business-related stress. A flexible marketing consultant can be a lot of help to growing your business, freeing up your time to focus on what you do best.

Why should you hire out?

Great candidates for independent contract hires are experienced contractors. Those with many years of experience understand multiple industries and can quickly apply their knowledge to your specific business needs. Seasoned marketers have the know-how to accomplish what you need to grow, with efficiency and gusto!

So when hiring a freelance marketing consultant, you will want to start with two or three marketing initiatives to make their work realistic and achievable. If you’re struggling to come up with a couple initiatives for your freelancer, you can always consult them for ideas. Remember that these are generally creative people who want to help you grow your business!

CommCore Marketing is here to help with your marketing needs – from brand management to online and offline campaigns to graphic design and much more. Contact CommCore Marketing today to get your business noticed and growing!

Do You Have a Value Statement?

What is a value statement? A value statement is a declaration of a business’s top priorities and beliefs. These are used not only to remind employees of what a business’s goals are, but to connect with targeted consumers.

 

Your value statement, like your brand, will set you apart from other businesses. When it comes down to it, what do you really want to accomplish with your business? What do you really want to engage in your potential customers to make them identify with you? Remember, your business isn’t just about what you want, it’s also about what your customers want.

 

With so much media clutter out there, it’s important to be unique. If you look and sound like everyone else, then you are just going to blend into the clutter — and that’s not what great brands do. How can you set yourself apart? Think about it from a consumer’s point of view. If you were a consumer looking for the services your kind of business offers, what would you want that business to look and feel like in order for you to trust it? What kind of priorities would you want that business to have to earn your business?

 

Answering these questions will not only help you determine what your values are, but they will help you determine your target market as well. People don’t want just a service or product — a service or product is the bare minimum. People want a service or product that they can relate to and makes them feel something. A value statement brings in those feelings that help people connect a service or product to their business needs. So decide what it is you value, and what you think it is that your customers value, and create a statement that cultivates those feelings.

On Budget? Here’s Three Ways to Spend Those Marketing Dollars

When you’re on budget and you have a bit more time to focus on marketing, there are several things you can do to grow your business’s reach.

  1. Outsource if you don’t have the time:
    It’s easy to get caught up in work for our clients, so wouldn’t it be easier to have someone else do our own marketing work? Hiring in someone to do those odd jobs that we don’t quite have the time to do is a great way to get things done. College students and recent graduates are great candidates for this type of work because they are eager to gain experience and eager to make money. Basic marketing does not require a lot of experience therefore you don’t need to hire someone who will cost you an arm and a leg. And, younger people are already adept at using technology and social media.
  2. Focus on Social Media:
    In this day and age, it is absolutely imperative to have a web presence. Nearly everything is done online now, so if you can’t be found on the web, it’s as if you don’t exist. Three of the most important social media outlets to be on are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

    1. Facebook is such a multi-faceted network that allows people, businesses, organizations, events, news, and campaigns to be followed and interacted with. You want to be not only on Facebook but active. Even the smallest interactions on Facebook remind people that you are there, and that has far more impact than not being online at all.
    2. Twitter is as close to live-action social media as we can get right now. In 140 characters, we deliver a message to the world. It’s short, sweet, and constantly flowing. It allows businesses to interact directly with people in its market and vice versa. Your presence on Twitter means that you really exist in this moment and you’re ready to do business.
    3. LinkedIn is less common-people oriented, and more professional-oriented. This is the kind of social networking you want to do in order to maintain business relationships and find new business connections. People don’t necessarily always remember your business, but they will remember you.
  3. Create a professional quality brand identity:
    It is important to always be checking up on how your brand is being perceived. Is it being perceived positively? Is it being perceived the way you want it to be perceived? Is it even on anyone’s radar? To get your brand bumping around people’s heads, you need a logo. A visual to represent your business is important because it’s an immediate and easy association to your business. Ask yourself what you want people to remember about your business and how you can represent that in a logo. Another classic way to get your brand out there is by printing business cards. You will want a design that’s easy to read and includes your logo, name, business, phone number(s), website address, email address, and physical address (if applicable). Don’t leave off your email! The less information you provide, the harder it will be to contact you and the less people will be motivated to use your business.

Marketing is all about building a presence, relationships, and drumming up business. The only way your business will grow is if you make an effort to reach out!

The Importance of Networking

When we’re busy running our businesses, we hardly think we have the time to build relationships with other businesspeople. But the truth is that your success really is dependent not only who you know but who knows you. The connections we build with others are ultimately what drives our ever-changing realm of opportunity.

 

Networking is about making connections that lead to enduring and mutually beneficial relationships. There are many networking groups and resources out there established for the sole purpose of cultivating these connections. Whether it be your local chamber chapter, a prestigious international networking group such as BNI, or just a virtual network like LinkedIn, there are many chances to begin reaching out to other businesspeople.

 

When we build these relationships with other businesspeople, we’re giving these other people a unique position in their minds. We become more than just “that guy who runs the carpeting and floors business”; we become “Brian, that guy who runs the carpeting and floor business with the wife and three kids and heck of a golf record.” When you’re associated with more than just a business in someone’s mind, when more of your personality is remembered by others, then your business begins to stand out. We rise and remain at the top of mind.

 

Networking also makes doing business much more friendly. When you know and like the person you’re doing business with, you’re much more happy to do it. People do business with those they like and trust. The more people who know not just your business, but you, the more your referrals you will get. You want to be on people’s minds — that’s where REAL advertising takes place.

 

So make sure you get out there and communicate with businesspeople in your communities. And if you personally don’t have the time to get out there and network, send someone to do it for you. Get someone out there who will be a good face for your business. The more relationships you build, the more opportunities for success you will have.

Brand Consistency: Why You Need It

Building a brand is tricky. You want people to think of your business uniquely. Ideally, you want to create a “vibe” that not only connects you with your market but associates a specific meaning within the mind of the consumer. In order to establish such a position, this requires a synchronicity between your brand strategy, brand message, and brand appearance. In other words, you need consistency.

 

Once you have established an idea for your brand, you begin to actualize this by putting out a message. Who are you? What do you offer? How are you different from the competition? These are the questions your message will answer. And once you have your message — stick with it. The longer you continue to put out your unique message, the more familiar it will become to people. And the more familiar it becomes, the more you build credibility. When it comes down to it, the consumer will seek out people and services that they recognize. So it’s important to be persistent with the same message — branding doesn’t happen overnight!

 

Your brand appearance should be consistent with the brand message. Think about it this way — the brand message is the meaning that you desire people to associate with your brand, whereas the brand appearance is how your message is actually perceived. You want to always be working toward closing the gap between your desired perception of your brand and the consumer’s perception of your brand.

 

Be aware that even the subtleties of your brand have an effect on the perception of your brand! If you’re a spa business and you want to brand your business with the colors black and red, your message may not be consistent with your appearance. Black is a very mysterious color often associated with fear and insecurity and red is often associated with high energy and sometimes aggression or anger. The associations that people have with black and red are not ones that would communicate a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation — the feelings you seek from a spa. So this would be an example of a lack of consistency between brand message and brand appearance.

 

Matching your brand message to your brand appearance is achieved through a brand strategy. Not all methods work the same for every message. If you are going to claim to be a “local” expert, then you need to do something truly local with your look and feel. If you’re a St. Louis local for example, one strategy to accomplish this might be to associate yourself with St. Louis sports teams like the Cardinals, the Blues, or the Rams. But this particular strategy may not work if you’re claiming local expertise as a bar owner, because most bars in St. Louis already associate themselves with the St. Louis teams. So another strategy to establish your brand message of “local expertise” may be in order.

 

When building a brand, cohesion is also key. However it should be noted that cohesion and consistency are not the same thing. By definition, consistency is doing the same thing predictably, whereas cohesion is doing things in a way that create unity. You can be successful in positioning your brand, having cohesion between your message and your appearance, but if you aren’t consistent your brand won’t last. Cohesion establishes your brand, but consistency builds it up. If you keep changing your message, people won’t be able to keep up with who you are and they will lose interest or forget about you.

 

Therefore it is important to find a look and feel and stick with it. Because the more you repeat a message, the more space it takes up in a person’s mind. Consistency is key!