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How to Target Local Customers With Facebook Ads

Do you want to connect with local customers on Facebook? Have you considered targeting them with Facebook ads? Facebook ads offer a quick, easy, cost-effective way to reach consumers in your local area. In this article, you'll discover how to get your business in front of local customers using Facebook ads. #1: Choose Your Ad [...]

This post How to Target Local Customers With Facebook Ads first appeared on .
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How to Pin Your Facebook Carousel Ad as a Page Post

Do you want more organic traffic from Facebook? Have you considered pinning your ads as Facebook page posts? In this article you’ll discover how to drive organic traffic and conversions by pinning a Facebook carousel ad to your page as a post. #1: Set Up Your Facebook Carousel Ad First, you need to create your Facebook [...]

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Getting More Sales with the Buyer's Journey

Getting More Sales with the Buyer's Journey written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

How does someone decide to buy a product or service?

This is answered by the customer life cycle or sometimes called the Buyer's Journey. The sale is made when a buyer goes through three key phases: Awareness, Consideration and then Decision.

In the Awareness phase, a buyer starts from being problem aware to researching about their needs and then setting up priorities for their purchase.

In fact, you'll be surprised that "57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier"(CEB). This means that they would be doing their research online, with reference to influencers, and authorities on the topic before they even make an inquiry.

Therefore, the most important way to reach out to potential buyers in the awareness stage is to be there when they are researching by having an online presence either by SEO, paid online ads or content marketing (and importantly Re-Targeting). The goal is to get potential buyers into your mailing list by offering them access to information (e.g. ebooks or whitepapers) or tools (e.g. assessment tools).

Once they "Know" you and are in your mailing list, you can send them educational material and progressively profile them with Marketing Automation, to discover their fears, problems and priorities. When they start to engage with your content regularly, they are starting to "LIKE" you.

In the Consideration phase, the buyer has shortlisted a few possible solution providers, and may be doing additional research. How would you stand out at this stage? The answer is authority and social proof. Authority can be inferred when you are quoted in industrial journals, influential blogs, and media interviews. And social proof can come from solid Case Studies and good client testimonials. This is the time when the potential buyers start to "TRUST" you.

When the potential buyer eventually makes an enquiry, can you offer a way for them to "TRY" your product or service? This gives them an easier way to assess the value of your product or service and lowers the risk of them making a wrong decision. This could come the form of samples, free demos, free consultations, one-dollar-trials, money-back guarantees etc. You could also provide assessment tools or gap analysis reports to help them to see how your solution can best help them achieve their goals.

A finally in the Decision phase, how can you help the buyer ease into the buying process? Just making it convenient to "BUY", can actually help you close more sales. For example: providing installment plans, discounts, free perks from partners etc.

The stages KNOW, LIKE, TRUST, TRY, BUY are the first 5 phases of the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass.

To examine this in a more detail, let's take for example the Marketing Hourglass strategy for a consultancy business illustrated below:

1. KNOW stage.

To get potential buyers to know you, you post blog articles and run ads on facebook targeting at a specific demographic that you want. The viewer lands on your conversion optimized landing page with rock-star copy-writing, and downloads your eBook, becoming a lead. In addition, the lead explores your website, downloads more content, gets progressively profiled, and subscribes to your newsletter. IF the viewer does not opt-in, you can re-target them with different ad copies on Facebook or websites they are likely to visit (using Google Re-targeting on Display Network) until they become a lead by opting into your list.

2. LIKE stage.

To get your lead to like you, you give away valuable content via emails that helps them in meeting their goals. The content you send are not salesy but educational, in multi-media formats: article, infographics, videos, images. You also invite them to your facebook page, where they can see more edutaining content you post. You know they are ready to move to the next stage because they have been opening your emails, clicking links, watching videos, visiting specific web pages. (you can achieve this with lead-scoring via Marketing Automation). IF the lead is not engaged yet, try sending them material relating to a different pain point.

3. TRUST stage.

Sharing successful case studies from actual customers, and social proof in the form of high ratings, positive reviews, and even video testimonies go a long way in establishing trust. The prospect now sees your services through the lens of happy clients. The call-to-action at this point is to invite the prospect to "TRY" your service or product. In this instance, the prospect is invited to join a webinar, where they are expected to request for a FREE gap analysis report. IF the lead attended the webinar but did not take up the free gap analysis report, you could send them a self-help assessment tool, with more case studies, or endorsements from influencers.

4. TRY stage.

After the report is generated, the prospect is invited to a complimentary 30-min consultation to go through the report, highlighting the gaps and potential for improvements. This allows the prospect to experience your expertise as a consultant and evaluate cost-benefit of engaging your services. The ideal outcome of this stage is for the prospect to request for a proposal. IF the prospect attended the webinar but did not take up the free gap analysis report, you could send them a self-help assessment tool, with more case studies, or endorsements from influencers.

5. BUY stage.

Three days after receiving your proposal, you schedule a follow-up call to explain the process of engagement. The prospect is happy with the proposal and signs the consultation agreement contract, and makes the first payment. You enter into the project fulfillment stage. IF the prospect did not accept the proposal immediately, there could be 2 reasons: "Price" or "Unsure of the ROI". You could offer more favorable payment terms, throw in some freebies, make a limited offer discount, reduce the scope or send them more justifications from customer success stories and testimonials.

Automating the Buyer's Journey

All these follow-up actions require a coordinated marketing effort, diligent follow-up. Marketing Automation ties up all these activities by adding rich information about prospects as they interact with your content, setting up tasks and reminders, sending them personalized messages according to their pain points and priorities.

In the "Know-to-Like" stage, an email campaign sequence comprising of articles, videos, infographics are sent to the lead. Each activity: video watch, email open, visit to pages, answering of surveys, completing quizzes, joining the facebook group etc are tracked and scored. Once a predetermined engagement score is reached, the "Like-to-Trust" sequence can be launched.

In the "Like-to-Trust" sequence, the prospect is invited to a webinar, where they will be offered a free gap analysis report, and a free 30-min consultation to run through the report. Reminders are sent to the prospect 3 days before. If they missed the webinar, we would send an email with the links to the replay and the gap analysis form. We could also get a sales rep to give them a call to get some feedback, further qualifying the prospect.

In the "Trust-to-Buy" sequence, the prospect attends the consultation call, which ends up with 2 possible outcomes: (1) they ask for a proposal (2) they say they are not ready at the moment. Automation can be set according to the outcome, setting up a task for the proposal to be sent for (1) and sending them follow up or down-sell a self-serve product for (2).

Outcome 1 - Send proposal:

Outcome 2 - Not ready yet:

To know which part of the buyers' journey the prospect is at is crucial the lifecycle marketing strategy. Marketing Automation is almost always essential for lead nurturing, lead scoring, profiling, personalization, and other analytics to measure the level of engagement, and triggering the offer at the right time.

Brendan Yong is a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant specialized in marketing automation based in Singapore. His company Empathi Solutions helps Asia-based clients build Marketing Systems to Grow Predictable Revenue using Infusionsoft CRM as the primary marketing automation tool.

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Massively Expand Your Audience with Guest Posts

Massively Expand Your Audience with Guest Posts written by Alex Boyer read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: typewriter via photopin (license)

You’ve written a great blog post. It’s timely, poignant and well written. Most of all, it is stuffed with valuable information for your audience. What if I were to tell you that you should share that post with another blog and publish it as a guest post? You would probably call me crazy and ignore my advice.

When you work really hard on a piece of content it is easy to be possessive. “I want my best post to draw traffic to MY blog, and my blog alone!” But posts like this can do even more for your blog and business on another blog. It can expand your audience in ways that your blog alone can’t.

Why Submit a Guest Post? 

Guest posting on established blogs and outlets is a great way to spread your influence among their already established audience. If your content speaks universally or even to a niche of their audience, you’re likely to get some eyes on that post you maybe never would have been able to reach before.

Guest posts can also help with search results. If a guest post of yours gets viewed enough, it can show up highly in searches for your company or name. This means more of the top results are related to your business, and there is less opportunity for your competitors to move up in the rankings. If the article is timely and the outlet is well-respected, you’ll even get listed in the all important “News” list of Google search.

Follow The Rules

Every website accepting guest posts has a different process. Some have a less structured system that requires you to reach out to and establish relationships with their bloggers and editors much like you would when pitching a news story. Others that accept guest posts on a regular basis may have a strict policy. If this is the case, be sure to follow their instructions to a tee. You don’t want your post to be ignored simply because you didn’t format it correctly.

In addition, many guest post outlets will have content calendars that help guide their themes every month. Don’t try to shoehorn your topic into one of their themes, instead find the theme that fits your topic best. Your post can wait (unless it has a specific news angle) so it doesn’t need to be published right away.

Speak to Their Audience

Ideally, when identifying guest post outlets, you’ll want to find outlets with audiences that are close to yours. By finding these outlets, you won’t have to spend as much time adjusting the content to speak to their audience, and more of their readers are likely to begin to follow your blog.

But this doesn’t mean you must stick to blogs that only cover your subject matter. You can expand beyond your immediate industry, but be sure to make your post relevant to the audience of the blog on which you’re guest posting. If you’re going after a marketing blog, be sure to approach your subject with a marketing angle.

Share, Share, Share

Once your new guest post is live, you must be willing to share all across your social channels. Get your audience to embrace your post and the outlet. The publisher will do the same.

In addition, be sure to follow up with the publisher once your post is live. You’ll want to get information on how many shares and views your post got. That way, you can use these stats as support for your guest post pitches in the future.

Ready to start guest blogging? At Duct Tape Marketing, we publish guest posts weekly. If you are interested in reaching a small business marketing audience, you can apply to guest blog here: http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/contact-duct-tape-marketing/

Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

Related posts: 5 Most Popular Guest Posts of 2013 In 2013 we added a new weekly feature to Duct... 5 Easy-To-Use Blog Post Formats If you’re starting a new blog for your business, you... 3 Tips for Creating a Strong Connection between Audience and Content It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing...
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Freelancing in the Cloud

Freelancing in the Cloud written by John Jantsch read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

Kate Kendall via Twitter

Marketing Podcast with Kate Kendall

Running a thriving business, with or without employees has become so much easier today. You have at your fingertips, through the use of marketplaces and technology, access to the greatest talent available in the world. You can hire that talent virtually or rent  that talent by the hour to get that very specific request filled.

The Producer Model as I’ve taken to calling it (h/t to Brian Clark) allows anyone with a game plan and some hustle to assemble teams of talent to take on much larger projects and competitors while staying nimble enough to pivot towards the next promising opportunity.

Tapping talent marketplaces for programming, legal, design and pretty much anything you might need on your team is a great way to build a thriving business while you work from anywhere in the world.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Kate Kendall, CEO of CloudPeeps and founder of The Fetch. We discuss content marketing and the need for small businesses that may not have the resources to hire full-time marketing help.

Questions I ask Kate:
• How do you get the most out of freelance or remote work?
• How does CloudPeeps work?
• Do people go to CloudPeeps to fill positions permanently?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
• Why investing in a marketplace startup model is difficult and why you must plan long-term
• Why the “Remote Work” movement is catching steam
• Why freelancing sites like CloudPeeps must evolve to scale

Related posts: Office Not Required Marketing podcast with Jason Fried My youngest daughter works for... Making Sense of the Cloud for Small Business Marketing podcast with Rhonda Abrams (Click to play or right... Color As Branding Element Marketing podcast with Kate Smith (Click to play or right...
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How to Find More Customers With Twitter

Do you want to find new customers for your business? Have you considered searching for them on Twitter? Thanks to public updates, searchable bios and a plethora of third-party tools, you can find customers on Twitter easier than you can on any other network. In this article I’ll show you how to find your current […]

This post How to Find More Customers With Twitter first appeared on Social Media Examiner.
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The most important business lesson comes from two crazy brothers who built a flying machine…

When Wilbur heard about Otto Lilienthal’s death, he became obsessed. And he passed that obsession on to his brother Orville. Here’s what happened:

Lilienthal, better known as “Flying Man,” worked tirelessly on gliders that would allow men to fly, but on August 9th, 1896, he crashed, fell fifty feet from the sky, and broke his spine.

Scary. I know. But Wilbur and Orville caught the bug. They wanted to build a flying machine too…

…And even though, as David McCullough writes in his new book “The Wright Brothers”, “they had no college education, no formal technical training, no experience working with anyone other than themselves, no friends in high places, no financial backers, no government subsidies, and little money of their own. Or the entirely real possibility that at some point, like Otto Lilienthal, they could be killed,” they could not be deterred.

What happened? And more important, what does this have to do with you?

As you know, the Wright brothers went on to create the world’s first flying machine…

…And the reason why they succeeded can help you in your pursuit of starting – and growing – a profitable and successful business. As a matter of fact: the most important thing you can learn about business comes from these two crazy brothers who wanted to build a flying machine.

Here’s why:

After the Wright brothers analyzed Lilienthal’s work, they found the problem. For flying, as David writes, the Wright brothers realized “the chief need was skill rather than machinery,” and “In the five years Lilienthal had devoted to gliders and gliding, he spent a total of only five hours in actual flight.”

How could Lilienthal develop the necessary skill of flying with only 5 hours of practice?

He didn’t. He died. And that’s why the Wright brothers planned to do things MUCH differently.

Lilienthal thought about it. The Wright brothers practiced it.

Lilienthal made calculations on paper. The Wright brothers made adjustments to their glider.

Lilienthal flew fifty feet in the air. The Wright brothers stayed as close to the ground as possible.

Lilienthal stayed in his head. The Wright brothers stayed in the air.

And that was the secret.

You see, when you’re looking to start – or grow – a business it’s easy to make the same mistake Lilienthal made.

You can lock yourself up in the room and plan something perfectly, and then swing for the fences. If you fail, it hurts. And it hurts bad.

Or you could do the same thing the Wright brothers did.

Get something out into the world as fast as possible and make adjustments along the way.

The latter is the Wright way to do it. And beginning next week, I’ll show you HOW.

You see, what most people don’t know about my story is this: I registered Social Triggers as a domain name back in 2009. I knew I wanted to build a business, but I wasn’t sure what that business was…

…And I made the same mistake Lilienthal made. I kept planning, and planning, and planning, and I wasted the full year of 2009. And then I did the same thing in 2010. I wanted to build a business, but I couldn’t get out of my head. And I made NO PROGRESS.

That’s when I finally said screw it. I launched Social Triggers in March 2011, and the rest was history. Fast forward to today, and you’ll see that Social Triggers is now a multi-million dollar business.

When I launched, did I know how I was going to make money?

Nope.

Did I realize that Social Triggers would have an org chart like this?

Nope.

And yet, here I am.

How did I do it?

Well, beginning next week, I’m going to release an all new series of training material. There will be videos, worksheets, webinars, and more.

Much of it, at first, will be no charge. And then, towards the end of the series, I’ll announce a new online training course.

You will get a ton of value.

So, look for an email from me next week.

For right now, answer this question:

What in your business have you been putting off for “someday?” Share that in the comments and tell me why you’re putting it off. Is there a big problem you’re facing? Is there a question you need answered?

The more specific you are the better!

Additionally, if you know someone else who will benefit from this, please pass this on!

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How to Write Better Sales Copy (Use This One Tip)

A friend asked me for help. She’s a coach, and she sells a high end coaching package… But she needed help with her sales copy.

I fired up her page and that’s when I saw it. A HUGE mistake. A mistake that’s so detrimental she may as well have flushed her chances of making sales down the toilet.

I share the mistake (and more important, how to fix it), in this video. And if you want to generate more leads and sales from your site…

…watch it right now:

Do You Make This Mistake Writing Your Sales Copy

The short of it? People know their products and services inside out. And they are often very good at what they do. They can hop on the phone and explain why people would LOVE their service…

…but when it comes to explaining it on a web page, it’s almost as if they run around the house screaming, “I DONT KNOW WHAT TO WRITE!”

And that’s because writing sales copy is weird. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever done – and that’s why people make these silly mistakes.

Also:

P.S. Do you struggle with writing sales copy? If the answer is yes, I’d love for you to share your BIGGEST issue with it in the comment section.

Do you struggle with headlines? Openings? Leads? Email copy? Please describe the issue in detail. I’ll read every single one.

And if you’re looking for an EVEN BETTER WAY to improve your sales copy, I highly suggest you download this free guide.

Improve your sales copy TODAY by writing a persuasive guarantee. Download this FREE ebook and I’ll give you 39 (copy and paste) scripts for your next guarantee.

What’s next? Watch this video:

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Quick Fixes to Polish Your Online Presence

Quick Fixes to Polish Your Online Presence written by Guest Post read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

You want to go to dinner, but your regular pizza place is packed. You turn to Google. You want to order flowers for your mom for Mother’s day. You turn to Google. You have a new candidate coming in to interview this afternoon. You turn to Google. You heard someone say that they recommend an auto mechanic. You turn to Google. Every day, people are turning to Google to find things that they need, be it a product or service.

Have you ever Googled yourself? Or your business?

If not, you should stop for a second and go check yourself out. What you see is essentially your online presence, your virtual resume. This is what people see when they are looking for your product or service, you or your business.

Yes, you might think that your Facebook page and website show the epitome of what you are, but do they show up when you are Googled? If not, it’s not lending as much as you thought to your online presence.

What will show up when you are Googled are the networks that you are the most active on, if they are public. For example, this is what it looks like when I Google myself:

We’ve got my Twitter and my LinkedIn at the top, followed by images. There are also things on here like past jobs and blog posts that I have written.

What does it say when you Google yourself or your business?

Now, how do you get this Google search to be a little more of what you want people to see? Here are some quick tips to polish your online presence:

Consistent profile picture – My “Google myself” example is the perfect example of what not to do with your profile pictures. To present a polished and consistent front, it’s important that all of your public social profiles (from Pinterest and Instagram to LinkedIn and G+) to your author pic on the blog should be consistent. A nice, professional photo of your face, sized correctly, has proven to enhance interactions and connections. People love putting a face to a name, and this is your chance to do that. To stick with the theme of consistency, if you’re a business – ensure that your logo, company name, and website are consistent across all your platforms. There is nothing more confusing than having different versions of your company name or logo on various sites. For your business to show up in Google, make sure you register with Google My Business, and that this information (hours, contact info, etc.) is consistent with the information found on your website. Next, what do your profiles, blogs, and websites say about you or your business when someone does find them and click through? Ensure that your voice is consistent, your contact info is easily accessible, and that visitors know what you and your company are about when they get there. Content, Content, Content – The more content produced across your various platforms, the more Google is going to pull your website, social media, or blog up to the top. Google loves fresh information. My Twitter and LinkedIn are at the top of my Google search because a) my Facebook has privacy settings and b) I update them both a ton. At Duct Tape, we produce a ton of content. When you search “Duct Tape Marketing” you gain access to all of our sites and platforms, and even a link to Amazon to purchase the Duct Tape Marketing book. Pretty good, right? 

If you’re active online, your online presence can be overwhelming. There are online ads, SEO efforts, massive websites and dozens of social media platforms, but what do people see when they search you? These quick things to check should help your audience start turning more of the results you’d like them to see when they look you up.

Kala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels, praying for summer or tweeting about marketing, coffee and cats @tadasunshine.

Related posts: Creating a Strong Online Presence for Marketing Success It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing... 12 Month Total Online Presence Action Plan Last week I wrote a post that addressed the overwhelming... 5 Ways to Use Social Media and Your Online Presence to Drive People Offline No matter what your business sells, how it sells it...
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Meerkat and Periscope: How Businesses Are Using Live Mobile Broadcasting

Are you interested in live mobile broadcasting? Have you tried Meerkat or Periscope? To learn about mobile broadcasting apps, I interview Brian Fanzo. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with […]

This post Meerkat and Periscope: How Businesses Are Using Live Mobile Broadcasting first appeared on Social Media Examiner.
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3 Advantages to an Experiential Web Presence

3 Advantages to an Experiential Web Presence written by Guest Post read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

I spend a lot of time online. Whether it’s at work researching and managing my clients, at home browsing my favorite blogs and shopping, or on the go using Uber and Google Maps, I usually always have a way to access the Internet. Throughout all of my Internet time, and in the last few years especially, I have noticed a shift in how businesses portray themselves online. Gone are the days when there was a specific formula for mapping out website navigation, organizing content and images, and displaying a prominent call to action. Now with greater accessibility to the Internet through various devices, coupled with the advancements of modern technology, browsing the Internet has truly become an experience for the user, with tremendous advantages for businesses.

Just as a brand’s physicality is an experience in itself, the digital presence of a brand should reflect that experience in a similar light. The evolved user experience is no longer the traditional model of providing information. It’s using technological enhancements, like responsive design, better navigation, higher resolution visuals, storytelling capabilities, and many more techniques in order to attract your visitors, keep your visitors, and finally, convert your visitors. Below we elaborate on these advantages of an experiential website.Advantage: Attract your visitors.

1. Advantage: Attract your visitors.

There are many ways to create an experiential website. When you find your creative team to design and develop it, part of their market research entails researching your competition and your customers. They will be able to tell you what your competitors are doing correctly and where they are failing, so that you can take the opportunity to surpass them. More and more companies are investing in the user experience, because their customers are expecting it, especially those of the millennial generation. The importance of responsive design and mobile marketing, for instance, is more important now than ever, as studies have shown that businesses that incorporate this into their experiential website, are thriving. Take advantage of the opportunity to stay ahead of the competition and attract visitors to your website!

2. Advantage: Keep your visitors.

When users have a positive experience on your website, they are more likely to return. This in turn provides you with loyal customers who then become brand advocates, in other words, your greatest referral database. The research that is used to attract your visitors is additionally applicable to the ways in which the website will retain them and keep them coming back for more. Bounce rates have exceedingly increased, due to the lack of an experience. Once you have this research that demonstrates what your users are looking for, it will be far easier for you to tweak your user experience to their tastes. Give your customers a seamless digital experience so that they can find all of the information they are looking for, when they want it, all while enjoying it. The best way to retain your visitors is to constantly and continuously give them what they want!

3. Advantage: Convert your visitors.

We often hear from business owners that the user experience of their website comes secondary to their bottom line, which is to simply have a digital presence so that they can increase online sales. They don’t know how to justify the ROI of an experience. However, now that we know that your visitors are looking for these experiences and transforming into brand advocates because of these experiences, we can expect to see results in the sales cycle and in revenue flow. Guesswork and experimentation are no longer necessary when your users are entertained, moved and understood via your website.

In an increasingly data-driven world, businesses are finding ways to understand the motivations behind consumer behaviors and then applying that knowledge to a website that gives their potential and current customers a unique and memorable experience specifically catered to them. As a company experienced with the user experience, we at ParadigmNEXT hope that you take these 3 advantages to your advantage and launch a beautiful digital presence, with the focus being an experiential website.

Yana Nirshberg is the Co-Founder, Managing Partner and Creative Director at ParadigmNEXT, Inc. ParadigmNEXT is a digital marketing consulting agency headquartered in Chicagoland. We service brands both directly and via their nominated agencies, ParadigmNEXT delivers a seamlessly integrated Brand Experience and a greater measurable return on marketing investment (ROMI). Services we provide include brand identity, integrated marketing, inbound marketing strategy, art direction, web-design & development, startup incubation and product development services to a wide array of clients ranging from bootstrapped startups to successful longstanding companies. We’re deeply rooted in the tech startup community in Chicago and abroad, and have great relationships with emerging seed funds, VC’s, startup founders, and collegiate entrepreneurs.

Related posts: 7 Natural Advantages of Small Business Next week I’ll travel to the Middle East to meet... Experiential Design: the Importance of Cohesive Event Branding Today’s Guest Post is by Tori Atkinson – Enjoy! Event... Creating a Strong Online Presence for Marketing Success It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing...
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10 Reasons to Start Blogging

10 reasons to start or resume your business blogging efforts.        Related StoriesEvergreen vs Hot Topics – Which Is Best?Simple Ways To Create Fresh ContentThe 25-75 Rule of Content Making and Promoting 
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How to Use Your Content Platforms to Gain Valuable Customer Insights

How to Use Your Content Platforms to Gain Valuable Customer Insights written by Guest Post read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on industry research or surveying your audience — most small businesses already have plenty of data collection tools right at their fingertips! The savviest businesses utilize their content to gain invaluable insights into their customer and potential customer base to understand what they want most- here’s how you can too!

Google Analytics

To get a good baseline for who your audience is, use your website’s Google Analytics data. On the left sidebar, click audience, then explore the demographics, interests, and geo sections. The location, age, gender, industry and topical interests of your website traffic is all displayed in these section. The interests section of your audience report contains particularly insightful gems. Affinity Categories relates to the other lifestyle interests they have, while In-Market Segments shows you their product and purchase based interests. Other Categories hones in on the most specific topics of interest or activities.

Blog Topics

Which blog posts get the most shares, views, or impressions on your blog and across your social networks? It’s important to distribute your blogs across a wide variety of platforms to get a feel for as many different segments of your audience as possible, as well as to get a better sense of the piece’s success. Sharing your blogs widely across the web also brings more traffic back to you site, and continues to feed into what your insights.

Downloaded Resources

You should make a few helpful pdf downloads available on your website. Not only is this a great way to capture emails, but it’s also a useful tool to see where your audience’s interests lie, or what problems are currently affecting them. Make sure all your resources relate to your business in some way- it wouldn’t be particularly helpful to learn what someone’s favorite color is or where they would most like to vacation.

Emailed Content

Whether you use a full on CRM like Salesforce or a simpler service like MailChimp- take note of what content your readers are clicking on. When sending them blog updates, industry news, or new services offered- note where their interests lie. Deliver more, similar content to see if you can hone in on the specific topics they care most about. Optimize your newsletters for key learnings.

Quizzes

People love quizzes, especially on social media. It’s also a genius way to learn more about your audience than any other technique. An easy tactic to start is a quiz themed to “What ___ Are You?”. Make sure you come up with questions that will help you in your your quest to understand your audience, such as “do you like to attack and solve problems, or do you seek the advice of others?”.

Facebook Insights

Immediately upon logging into Facebook, navigate to the left side menu and select Insights. You’ll find your Facebook audience demographics under the People category. Be sure to also note the section for when your fans are online to see what types of content you should be sharing to this audience. Lunch hour readers prefer entertainment, while morning browsers are primed for news. Long reads are best for the evening and weekend. For many brands, their Facebook audience consists of different groups, using Facebook at different times. Optimize your Facebook posts for greatest potential to collect the most audience data possible.

Twitter Analytics

Every user can now access their Twitter analytics. Similar to Facebook, Twitter’s Analytics lets you see basic audience demographic information (do you see any differences between your Facebook and Twitter audiences?) as well as an overview of your tweet performance. Twitter add-on Followerwonk assesses the bios of your followers to provide you with insights on their interests and how they describe themselves. You can see who else your followers tend to follow, what they tweet about and Followerwonk points you in the direction of new groups to go after (moms who love DIY or dads who like soccer).

LinkedIn Audience

When viewing your company page, select Analytics. You’ll see a concise listing of your posts’ performance as well as audience demographics. LinkedIn shares what level of professional attainment your followers are: entry-level employee through owner or VPs. You can also select Industry and Job Function from the audience data drop down menus. It’s highly advisable to appropriately tailor your content to appeal to the right level of reader: decision maker or someone who might suggest your company to the decision maker.

 

Diana Mackie is a small business writer, specializing in marketing and content. Diana writes for AllBusiness, Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Duct Tape Marketing and many other publications. She is currently the Chief Content Officer at Funding Gates. Diana attended Fordham University and now lives in New York City.

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Can You Make More Money With a Small Email List?

You hear it all the time: the money is in the list. It's the reason the interwebs are full of people promising you insane numbers of followers and subscribers if only you'll buy into their plan. But is it really worth it to grow an email marketing list just for the sake of seeing those numbers increase? I don't think so. In fact, I believe that when it comes to your email list, bigger isn't …

The post Can You Make More Money With a Small Email List? appeared first on Mirasee.

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Lead Generation – A Complete System

Lead Generation – A Complete System written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

 

Leads are the lifeblood of every business. Clients are actually the lifeblood, however, without leads there are no clients, but that’s a topic for another post. Today I want to focus on how you get enough appointments, phone calls and contacts to grow your business in a systematic manner.

Lead generation is essentially a game of channels more than tactics. Meaning you need to find the right mix of channels that allow you to profitably attract a high enough number of leads over and over again in order to feed your growth objectives. You don’t simply assemble a few tactics; you master a few channels.

A channel for lead generation purposes is simply a broad way to gain access to your prospective audience – so referral generation is a channel, sales is a channel, SEO is a channel, and speaking is a channel – and there are countless ways to master every channel.

It all starts with channels

I believe that there are 16 marketing channels available to us today. (About ½ of which are additions from the last decade or so.)

The real job for any business, depending upon where they are in terms of their growth goals, is to get very, very good at getting clients in just a few of these channels. Trying to master or even dabble in them all is the fastest way to get stuck in the idea of the week rut.

A business just getting going may need to root around in marketing channel test mode to figure out which channels can produce sustainable growth while a more entrenched business may be better served finding ways to cut back and optimize the channels that are already working.

Here’s quick rundown of the various channels to choose from.

Referral Marketing– This includes intentional word of mouth activities, viral tactics as well as intentional referral generation Public Relations– This includes activities aimed at receiving coverage in traditional media outlets Online Advertising– This includes the use of pay-per-click platforms, social networks, display ads and retargeting Offline Advertising– This includes advertising in offline print and broadcast outlets such as magazine, TV and radio Content Marketing– This includes publishing, optimizing and sharing educational content that draws search traffic, links and subscribers Sales Playbooks– This includes the creation of specific actions aimed at mining, generating, nurturing and converting leads Email Marketing– This includes the use of targeted and automated email campaigns based on conversion actions Utility Marketing– This includes the creation of useful tools that stimulate traffic, sharing and brand awareness Influencer Marketing– This includes the practice of building relationships with individuals and outlets that can influence pre-established communities Search Engine Optimization– This includes on page and off page optimization activities aimed at generating organic search engine traffic Partner Marketing– This includes co-marketing activities run in collaboration with strategic marketing partners Social Media Marketing– This includes the act of building engagement on established platforms and networks such Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as targeted industry platforms Online Events– This includes events such as webinars, demonstrations, and workshops conducted using online tools Offline Events– This includes events such as workshops, demonstrations, seminars, trade shows, showcases and customer appreciation events Speaking Engagements– This includes the appearance of company representatives in sponsored speaking engagements at events such as industry conferences Community Building– This includes the intentional act of building and facilitating a community around a shared interest or topic related to the organization’s industry

So the first trick is to look at your business today and determine your most effective channel currently.

While this might seem like a simple thing there can be variables that make it tougher than it might appear. For example, if you convert all of your leads via personal sales calls, it might be tempting to say that sales is your most important channel. But, if all of those appointments come about because people find your website when they search, then SEO or content might actually be your most effective channels currently.

Conversely, many businesses land a significant portion of their business by way of referral, but don’t even consider it a lead channel in the marketing mix.

Adding the power of channel leverage

The reason this idea is so important is due to something I’ve been calling channel leverage. The power behind channel leverage is simple – it’s far easier to generate even more leads in a channel that’s already proven effective than it is to jump in and explore new channels.

So this would suggest that once you find a channel like referral generation that’s driving leads you should expend a great deal of energy finding more and more ways to leverage this channel rather than simply accepting that you are receiving all the leads you can.

This applies to cross-channel leverage as well. So, if referral generation is your greatest lead channel then you should consider tactics in other channels like content, speaking or public relations as ways to enhance your referral generation channel.

For example – creating content that makes it easier for your strategic partners to introduce and refer you is a great way to use content marketing to further leverage your referral success. Creating a free workshop and reaching out to groups that need speakers is a great way to think about using speaking as a way to have groups refer you. Promoting your referral program that supports local non-profits is a great way to use PR to enhance your referral program.

Each of these tactics could be considered fairly commonplace as stand-alone promotional initiatives, but with a channel leverage mindset, they make up an integrated playbook of cross-channel support – more like multipliers than add-ons.

Below are three fully developed lead generation playbooks that could easily apply as significant channels for, say, a consulting business. As you read through each and glean ideas to apply to your lead generation, think about how much powerful these three approaches could be when you think about how well they could work together.

3 Fully Developed Lead Generation Playbooks 1) Your content funnel

The notion of getting someone to your website, landing page or content of some sort and enticing them to exchange their email address and other contact information to get something they are looking for is pretty much standard marketing fare these days.

The idea of bait for lead capture has certainly evolved, though. There was a time when all you needed was a lead capture form and message that asked people to sign up to capture an email, but then people got very tired of all the email this generated.

Smart marketers realized that they needed to offer something valuable in exchange – an ebook, webinar or free trial of some sort.

Even so visitors started getting harder to convert as more and more sites featured pop-up, slide in and scrolling calls to sign up and download.

Today, and who knows how long really, marketers have tapped the seemingly insatiable hunger for useful, actionable, educational content and are employing highly targeted “content upgrades” to effectively convert visiting traffic to lead funnels like never before.

The basic idea behind a content upgrade is this – Write a really great, useful blog post and then when people show up to read it offer them an “upgrade” to the content in the form of a checklist, video, or case study relevant to the topic in exchange for  content details.

Less content, more value

Brian Dean of Backlinko told me that when he discovered the power of the content upgrade he started producing content less frequently while focusing on creating posts so full of great content they couldn’t be ignored. He then married these posts with a content upgrade that ensured a large percentage of the traffic these posts received (sometimes from the thousands of shares and links from other sites) also turned into leads for his various SEO offerings. (Listen to Brian on a recent Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.)

In this post on Dean’s site Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List you’ll find a link to download a handy checklist of the top factors. Dean claims that the addition of this checklist increased conversion on this post by 785%. Not too shabby.

I do think there’s a move towards less content, but better content and the content upgrade philosophy plays right into this. The days of writing wispy daily posts may be coming to an end – at least for highly competitive industries.

Precisely segmented visitors

Another important factor to the multi-variant content upgrade is that it helps you segment visitor interest.

Very few people are that interested in the generic ebook or report you wrote several years ago, but they are terribly interested in how to do that one specific thing they searched for – all the better that you now have the ability to know what they are looking for and tailor your response to that specific need.

Think about the implications for this when it comes to email marketing follow-up. You now have a much more focused idea about what your subscribers care most about and tailor your follow-up with this knowledge and even use it to create more complete products and courses based on this interest.

Better automation and follow-up

One of the drivers of this form of lead capture is better automation technology. The days of one size fits all pop-up boxes are over. My current favorite toolset Thrive Leads offers WordPress users what amounts to a Swiss Army Knife of various form creation options.

The Thrive Leads plugin allows you to create up to a dozen variations of inline forms, light boxes, welcome mats, and slide in two-step sign up forms. Every form can be executed on a single page or post, and every type of capture campaign can be tested against variations.

This type of powerful form creation coupled with lead nurturing campaigns using a tool like Infusionsoft makes the content upgrade an almost unfair competitive advantage.

Developing content upgrades

I wrote a post some time ago on something called Facebook Dark Posts. Google smiled on this post and shows it whenever someone goes out there searching for this trending topic.

If I happened to have a course or ebook on Facebook I could easily capture highly targeted leads by adding a content upgrade to that page.

One of the quickest ways to identify great candidates for immediate content upgrade opportunities is to look through your analytics and find your most popular content today and consider ways to personalize a content upgrade for these posts.

You can find your most popular pages in Google Analytics by going to Behavior –> Site Content –> Landing Pages

Another great ploy is to use a tool like BuzzSumo to identify some of the most shared content online based on the keyword phrases that relate to your business or ideal client.

My guess is you can easily identify a post that is getting tons of shares that you might be able to both up the game on and create a content upgrade for.

My guess is that in the example above for Backlinko Brian found a post for the top 100 factors and created the top 200 post that kicked that already great post in the rear – add a content upgrade and watch your list explode!

Landing page pioneer Lead Pages has long been a promoter of the simple content upgrade for conversion. Here’s a great post with 21 examples of content upgrades to get your mind humming. (Pay close attention to the content upgrade offer you’ll get on this page too.)

What makes a good upgrade

You don’t have to overthink the package for a content upgrade. In many cases what you’re looking to do is simplify information not make it more complex. People want relevant snacks more than the full manual.

One of the easiest content upgrades is a checklist based on a how to post. People like checklists and they are easy to create. Take a 100 factors kind of post and reveal the top 10 in detail in an upgrade. (Similar to Backlinko post above) Create a list of tools related to a particular type of advice – I could easily add the top 10 tools to use in creating content upgrades to this post on content upgrades Compile a list of links from around the web telling people how to do something based on the tool they use – set up lead nurturing in Infusionsoft, Act-On, Aweber, etc. – the best part is you don’t have to create all of the tutorials you just have to find them. Create or compile a swipe file – if you are telling people how to get influencers to write about their business, share exact scripts and emails they might use as an upgrade. Offer a screencast showing readers exactly how to do what you’ve written about in your post.
Partner with a tool provider – write a post talking about how to do something and contact one or more provider of a tool for actually doing it and let people enter for a chance to get this tool for free. People love templates – if you write a post giving advice offer to share a template, completed example or form they can use to do what you’ve suggested.

I think it’s time to make content upgrades a big part of your content marketing and lead capture game plan.

2) Speaking for leads

A lot of folks dream of being a sought after, highly paid speaker (some people wet themselves at the thought of it as well.) But, in this education based marketing environment we find ourselves in today, speaking for leads may be the best approach ever.

Getting up in front of a highly targeted, interested group of prospects and demonstrating for 45 minutes or so that, you’re not only a very likable chap, you know a heck of a lot about something they need, is today’s most effective form of lead generation and conversion all rolled into one.

So forget the paid speaking career for now and start speaking for leads. Let’s say you sell a pretty standard $4,000 web design package. Would you be better off charging a sponsor group $2,500 to share your brilliance or speaking for free and walking away with 20 hot prospects that eventually convert to 6 immediate design engagements? (I’ll do the math – that’s $24,000) Any business, regardless of industry, can benefit from this approach.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind to make your free speaking career pay off big.

Step 1: Get referred

You can create your own workshop events, but one of my favorite strategies is to approach two potential groups and offer to present great information to their clients and networks. The key here is that you have a topic that is very hot and seen as very valuable. This is not a sales presentation; it’s an education and value add tool. Approach your two partners with the idea that you’ll present a great topic, they offer it to their customers, and they get to cross-promote to each others attendees as part of the deal. You simply get referred in as the expert. (Every time you do this you will get asked to speak at an event one of the attendees is involved with as well.)

Step 2: Make a deal with the sponsor

You are a highly sought after speaker willing to waive your fee only if they permit you to elegantly reveal that there is a way for attendees to acquire your products and services and that you will also be offering some free stuff in exchange for contact information of those interested in the free stuff. Make it known that you have no intention of selling, merely informing. This approach raises the value of your presentation and gets you what you need as a lead generation opportunity. This can be a deal breaker for you or the sponsor. If you over promote, don’t expect to get asked back, if they won’t allow you to acquire leads, don’t bother.

Step 3: Educate like crazy

Don’t be afraid to give away all of your secrets. Some folks suggest you should just tell them what they need, but not how to get it done. I don’t agree. If you tell them how some may think they can do it themselves, but those who want what you have will realize through your specific details, how tos, and examples that you do indeed possess the knowledge and tools to help them get what they want. Educate and you won’t have to sell!

Step 4: Collect those addresses

In some cases people will rush up to you after a thought provoking presentation and ask how they can buy, but, in case they don’t, make sure you give all attendees a valuable reason to share their contact information for the purpose of follow-up. You can offer them the slides to your presentation, a free resource guide related to your topic, or a more detailed report based on the topic, in exchange for business cards. If you don’t have this preplanned, you’ll find you won’t get a second chance to wow these folks. Of course, I hope it goes without saying that you should also have a follow-up process. Write a hand-written note, add them to a pre-written drip email campaign on the topic, or call them up after the event to measure their engagement.

Step 5: Simple call to action

When I first started speaking in the manner I’ve described here, I would pour my heart out, mindful of not selling, and then come to the end and there would be this awkward moment when I knew people wanted to buy something, but I didn’t have an offer. Well, I quickly learned that didn’t serve either of us very well. If you provide great information and a clear road map to solve someone’s problems, you’ll often find them wanting you to reveal how they could take the next step. But here’s the key – in that environment, they want a deal for acting right now. Not every audience or speaking engagement will present this opportunity, but I’ve found that in a straight free speaking gig, where I’ve been given permission to introduce my products and services, this 3-step approach is well received.

a)tell your audience right up front you’re going to give them great information and tell them at the end about what you do

b) about half way through, after you’ve built some trust, take a quick minute to reveal, for instance, a paid workshop or program you have coming up, tell them the price and go on

c) at the end answer questions, make free offers, and, almost as an afterthought, agree to let them also bring a friend to the event you mentioned at the same price if they sign-up today. (You’ve just made the event half price in their mind, turned them into a recruiter, and given your potential attendee a valuable tool to offer to a friend or colleague) So, all of a sudden, anyone considering the offer is now highly motivated by this compelling change of events. Don’t hard sell this, simply put it out there and let people do the math. Don’t risk tainting your wonderful information with a sales pitch, but don’t leave those who want to buy without an option either.

3) Strategic Partners

One of the most overlooked sources of leads for any business is the rich pool of non-competing businesses that serve the same target market.

Identifying a group of “best of class” providers in your market and finding ways to gain access to their customer base is one of the quickest ways to flood your business with new opportunities.

Many businesses get this idea, and some even actively strike up the occasional strategic partner deal or lead swapping campaign, but few tap this approach to the full extent.

For the right business, a strategy devised to make your business irresistible to potential strategic partners may indeed produce that greatest ROI of any marketing activity.

The key to building a powerful referral network is to adopt the proper point of view—in this case, the point of view of your customer. As you identify and recruit members to be part of your team, you should always filter your list based on this question: “Would I feel 100 percent confident referring my best customer to this business?” If a potential strategic or referral partner can’t pass that test, then don’t even consider entering into a referral relationship.

If you adopt that mind-set you will never attempt to add a referral partner based simply on what you think they can do for you—and that distinction is huge. If you always ask yourself what a potential relationship might mean for your customer, you will most likely stay on the right track.

One of the most powerful things you can do to increase your value in the eyes of your customers is to become a wealth of information and resources related to all of your customer’s needs, even if they may be unrelated to what you sell or provide. If you or your business can become known as the go-to provider for any need under the sun, you can develop a very important place in the mind of your customer.

Below is a systematic approach for doing just that.

Step 1: Discover

The first step is to identify the partners you would like to attract. You may be able to find some of these potential matches from your own experience and research, but your customers can also be a great source of suggestions. Ask them about other businesses they like doing business with.

Think in terms of building an entire team of first-rate providers as though you were going to go to your best customers with a suggested list of partners for every need they have.

Step 2: Recruit

Now that you have your initial list of candidates, it’s time to reach out and introduce yourself and your idea for partnering.  This is an important step and one that many get wrong. Instead of simply cold calling these prospects and suggesting you could work together, (a step that others are probably pitching them) reach out and ask them to show you the best way to introduce them to your customers. If you are recruiting potential partners that your clients recommended make the common connection between your shared customers a starting point.

When you make this type of invitation you get their attention in a way that is potentially beneficial to them and that will make all the difference in helping you stand out.

Perfect Introduction in reverse process

The Perfect Introduction is a tool that we use as a way to properly educate referral sources. It gives the referral source a clear picture of the ideal target client, a way to communicate what you do and the comfort of knowing how you work with prospects. This is something that we have most of our clients (especially professional service providers) complete and use in their own business as part of their referral lead generation process.

The Perfect Introduction in Reverse uses this tool as a way to recruit referral network partners. It is a very low-key way to find good referral sources, introduce your business in a creative manner.

Here’s why this works. You won’t simply try to introduce your business to this potential partner – you are going to do a reverse introduction. In other words, you are going to reach out to them and ask them to introduce their business to you with the idea that you could refer them to your network.

This is why it’s so important that no one is on your list unless you are serious about referring business to them.

Steps in the system

Create a list of 20-30 potential referral sources. Other businesses that work with small business owners and that you either know for a fact or feel operate in a way that would make you confident in referring them to your clients and network. (Think loan officers, insurance, financial planners, accountants, lawyers, print shops, graphic designers, web designers, software companies, computer consultants, leadership and HR trainers, sales trainers) Send the Perfect Intro letter (sample follows), your Perfect Intro and the Blank Perfect Into (sample) to each of the potential sources. Keep track of the phone calls, returned forms and file for later use. Follow-up with responsive prospects to learn more about their business and help them better understand what you have to offer Step 3: Ignite

If you’ve completed steps one and two as stated above, you should have a handful of potential strategic partners interested in telling you more about their business and open to allowing the same from you.

This is the place where your plan is going to really standout. Most potential strategic partnerships fall flat because neither partner takes the initiative to make partnering both easy and logical. Simply sending a letter to all your clients saying you are now partnering with ABC Corp. isn’t going to benefit you, your partners or your customers.

If you want to ignite your strategic relationships then come to the table with a winning, prepackaged way for them to immediately benefit while introducing you to their customers.

Create content opportunities – Invite your partners to contribute to your newsletter, act as a guest on your podcast or blog. Giving your partners exposure by way of content gets them exposure and you content. Consider taking this up a notch and create a group blog optimized for all of the partners.

Co-brand content: Create a valuable report or ebook that provides lots of great information that you know your customers will gobble up. (You should be doing this routinely anyway) Take this field-tested free report and offer it to your partners as a tool they can provide to their customers and prospects. Allow them to co-brand the information and use it freely. They know they should be providing this kind of education to their customers, and now you’ve just made them look good and gotten your name in front of their customers in a logical way.

Conduct video interviews – Set a meeting with your partners and use the opportunity to record an introduction video so you can have content to run on your website letting the world know about your partners. This will show you mean business.

Acquire special offers – Get your partners to contribute a product or service that you can use as a way to enhance your offering. Free business cards for every logo purchased or free flowers when you make a reservation for dinner, free tickets to give away in your marketing, or free HVAC check-up when you get some plumbing work. This is a great way to promote your partners while adding real appeal to what your marketing. Make sure you create real perceived value here.

Make referrals – Make it a habit to consciously go out of your way to refer business to your partners. Don’t wait for people to ask, do it as part of your Monday routine. This is how you become someone that lots of great providers want to partner with, but you also increase your value to your customers by consistently helping get what they need in every aspect of their life.

Rate and review – If at all possible become of a customer of every one of your partners. This will make you a much more authentic referral sources (as a user) and allow you to test and filter the truly great experiences. Follow-up on this by actively writing reviews and ratings on Yelp and other online sites.

Create events – Figure out how to bring your partners together to network and create deeper engagement. Let each partner have a day where they educate everyone in the network. Create workshops and offer to conduct them for your partner’s customers. Develop a day devoted to topics that your partners can present useful information on and have everyone promote the event.

The win-win workshop: Take your same valuable information from the above example and turn it into a workshop. Now you can go to your partners and offer to provide this workshop, either in person or online, free of charge to their customers. No selling, just great information. Now, if you want to really get them excited, go to two potential partners and suggest they cohost the free workshop. This way they not only get to provide great information to their customers, but they also get to meet and mingle with some potential prospects from the other partner’s business.

Step 4: Promote

The last step is to find ways to promote your partners and make them glad they got on board with your program. Create opportunities for them to meet your customers, teach them how to create and promote content, provide a blog for all your partners and allow them to contribute posts related to their field, conduct video interviews and tours of their businesses and run these on your site, put together events and allow them to present and invite guests.

When you take this platform approach to partnering you go from being a nice idea they may get around to some day to an irresistible marketing partner they can’t stop raving about.

So there you have it – that should keep you busy for a few months! Since you read this far I’m guessing you found some value in this book length post, so I hope you’ll share it with others.

 

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How to Use Pinterest Analytics to Improve Your Marketing

Do you want more from Pinterest? Have you considered using Pinterest analytics to inform your marketing decisions? When you know where to look in Pinterest analytics, you'll find actionable information you can use to improve your Pinterest strategy. In this article you'll discover five ways to use Pinterest analytics and improve your Pinterest marketing. #1: [...]

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Supercharge Your Marketing Campaign with Visual Content

Supercharge Your Marketing Campaign with Visual Content written by Guest Post read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

From choosing which products to buy, to interacting with other humans via a smartphone screen, much of our lives are now filtered through images. Research shows that in the age of tweets and Snapchats, humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish! This has been further compounded by the rapid adoption of mobile technology, which now revolves around compact, clean, and concise visual information.

As the world’s volume of digital content grows by 200% each year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for traditional marketing methods to reach consumers – hence why more and more marketers are incorporating visual content into their campaigns. However, unless a video is particularly well executed or an image is brilliantly composed, you’ll get passive views at best and people switching off completely in the worst case scenario. Your grasp needs to match your extended reach.

Types of visual content

Let’s do a quick rundown of the three most powerful forms of visual content available to us:

Video and motion graphics

Since the dawn of HTML5, video has become so utterly integrated with the web experience that we barely even notice it anymore. You might have observed that many sites, such as that of GoPro, have filled traditional ‘banner’ or ‘header’ space with full-screen, high-quality video frames. That’s because digital video – be it live action or motion graphics – is the cornerstone of digital visual content today.

Video content enables brands to speak directly to viewers through an audiovisual narrative – giving products a human voice. People are much more likely to give videos the time of day, and this is reflected in statistics: posts with videos receive 300% more inbound links than traditional text posts.

However, video falls flat in one major way. It is too inescapably linear; to communicate a message in its entirety requires that viewers stick with a video for a good few minutes. Striking a fine balance between grabbing attention and informing viewers comprehensively with video is difficult. Tools like YouTube analytics can provide some assistance, but unless a video is exceptionally well-made, the problem of attention span still remains.

Infographics

Simply put, infographics combine textual information and graphic representation in order to inform and explain. They do this by breaking down large chunks of information into small parts to create a succinct yet informative narrative. This is where the potential of infographics resides – in enabling viewers to quickly scan and process a lot of information.

If properly constructed and promoted, infographics can maximise engagement through capitalising on the combined strengths of visual and textual data. However, their efficacy rests largely on the quality of the layout, script and visual elements.

Designers (like us) have to juggle concise language with impactful imagery. If an infographic fails significantly in these areas, it will not be effective.

Presentations

Slideshare is sort of like a Youtube of presentations, allowing everyone easy access to an endless database of informative and well-made digital presentations. Most significantly, it represents the perfect platform to share concise, visual/textual content. In 2013, 45% of the presentations on Slideshare averaged 24 words per slide, and the number of images used increased by 53%. As the platform develops, the quality of presentations is rapidly rising.

Presentations offer one obvious advantage over infographics: they can convey much more information whilst retaining the benefits of visual communication. However, this has restricted them from the general public to an extent – many of Slideshare’s users are themselves involved in business. As such, any product or service you market using the platform must be very specifically audience-oriented.

Injecting visual content into a campaign

It’s important to note that each visual form has its own particular function and place, and is not appropriate in every circumstance. The primary function of visual content should be to inform or entertain first, and to sell second. For example, you wouldn’t use an infographic to advertise a product directly – and if you did, it probably wouldn’t be as effective as a good video ad.

Visual content shouldn’t just be seen as a fix-all bandage you can slap on any digital marketing campaign. It’s no replacement for market research, SEO analytics or blog campaigns, for example. However, if used in conjunction with conventional marketing techniques, visual content has the potential to truly supercharge your digital marketing campaign.

Sterling Williams is the Lead Conceptual Designer at Mammoth Infographics. His background is in graphic design and internet marketing. When he’s not helping clients to turn their ideas into infographic masterpieces, he enjoys creative writing, playing with his labrador and honing his jiu-jitsu skills.

Related posts: Using Visual Media to Boost Your Marketing It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing... Why You Must Add Visual Content to the Mix Look around these days and you’ll find it’s hard to... How to Combine Words and Pictures for Brand Value Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing...
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4 Ways to Create Social Media Ads That Stand Out

Are your ads getting noticed as much as you’d like? Are you looking for ways to grab your audience’s attention? Successful social media ads entice consumers to watch, listen to or click on the message. In this article you’ll discover four ways to create social media ads that stand out. #1: Script It for Broadcast […]

This post 4 Ways to Create Social Media Ads That Stand Out first appeared on Social Media Examiner.
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How Top Brands Improve Customer Retention on Facebook

Do you nurture relationships with customers on social media? Want to decrease customer acquisition costs? When you cultivate relationships with social media, you improve customer retention and ultimately boost your bottom line. In this article I’ll share how top brands use Facebook to improve customer retention, and how you can apply their tactics to your […]

This post How Top Brands Improve Customer Retention on Facebook first appeared on Social Media Examiner.
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How to Use LinkedIn Showcase Pages for Business

Are you looking for more ways to use LinkedIn for your business? Have you considered showcase pages? LinkedIn showcase pages enable you to promote certain products or services to specific customer segments. In this article you’ll discover how to use LinkedIn showcase pages for your business. What Are Showcase Pages? Showcase pages are an extension […]

This post How to Use LinkedIn Showcase Pages for Business first appeared on Social Media Examiner.
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Proveen Strategies for Local Lead Generation

Proveen Strategies for Local Lead Generation written by John Jantsch read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Mark Z. Fortune and Kevin Jordan

Every local-based business wants to improve their local lead generation process. Leads are the life-blood of your marketing efforts. The best salespeople can convert those leads into sales, but without leads even the best sales force on the planet can’t bring you more business.

That is why lead generation is one of my favorite subjects to discuss, and the topic of a new book from a group of my friends and Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultants called Local Lead Generation: Proven Tips to Help Grow Your Business.

My guests for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast are Mark Z. Fortune and Kevin Jordan, Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultants and co-authors (among others) of The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation: Proven Strategies and Tips to Grow Your Business. We discuss the new book, how to improve your total online presence.

Questions I ask Mark and Kevin:

What are some of the common mistakes small business owners make? How do I get customers to visit my website? Why shouldn’t you just buy traffic with pay-per-click?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

Why it is so critical to focus on local search and local lead generation How reviews draw customers into your store What the role of social media is in local search Related posts: 50 Simple Lead Generation Tactics If you’ve read this blog, or anything I’ve written for... Lead Generation for the Complex Sale I had a great conversation with Brian Carroll, author of... The 3 Cs of Lead Generation Lead generation is a numbers game and a momentum game....
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How to Republish, Repurpose and Reinvent Your Content Using LinkedIn Publisher

Want to give existing content new life and greater visibility? Looking for a way to publish more often without much extra work? Use LinkedIn Publisher to consistently provide useful content for your audience, gain visibility and build your professional identity without writing anything new! In this article you’ll discover three ways to give existing content […]

This post How to Republish, Repurpose and Reinvent Your Content Using LinkedIn Publisher first appeared on Social Media Examiner.
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Turn Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine

Turn Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine written by Alex Boyer read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing website generates leads, does yours? Created using placeit

Your website is a very powerful tool in your marketing toolbox. It is completely customizable, flexible and is the base for all of your marketing efforts in the modern world. Without it, you would be missing out on the countless people that search for your industry and product online.

But even with a powerful website and a content marketing strategy, most websites don’t instinctively collect leads on their own. You could have all of the website visits in the world, but unless you have an opportunity to nurture those leads and convert sales, those metrics are just hollow numbers that may not affect your bottom line.

The most useful websites to small business owners actively collect leads for the owners to convert. They have mechanisms in place that get their visitors to volunteer their information. With that, you have a lead that is not only well informed about your brand and product, but has also expressed interest in learning more.

Preparing the site

Before you can actively seek your visitors’ information, you must first have the infrastructure to collect that information. There are numerous tools that allow for lead capture on most websites. You can have a subscription plugin, something like WPSubscribers. This tool allows you to put a widget in the sidebar, header or footer that allows your customers to submit their information (you’ll see something similar on the right of this post.)You may have seen several sites with popups (you may have even encountered ours on this site.) These can be created by tools like Smart PopUp or PopUpAlly..

Of course, most of these tools can be integrated with the email service you already use. If you aren’t using email services like to reach out and collect email lists, you really should, but that’s a topic for another day.

So how do you get them to submit their information? Well, as usual, it all begins with content.

Give them value

An email address is valuable these days. So many people look to keep their inbox as free as possible. It means something to most people to hand it over. That is why you must be willing to give them some value in return.

Be prepared to create something special in return for their email addresses. Most businesses create weekly newsletters to send to their customers. Here at Duct Tape Marketing, we offer our “Best Stories on the Web Weekly,” a collection of some of the best small business marketing tips and stories on the web. It just takes a bit of time to curate and load into an email blast, and you’ve got a valuable piece of content for your audience.

Another strategy is to offer an eBook or White Paper in exchange for the information. You’ve heard of companies that use this strategy. In my hometown, there’s a local lawn service company that offers a “Guide to choosing the right lawn service” for free. The white paper offers very valuable information without selling, all while providing their salespeople the information they need to follow up and complete the sale.

You can even collect your content in themed eBooks and get more mileage out of the great content you’ve created in the past. These are very similar to white papers, just a bit longer.

Your website is powerful, but you can lose business if you can’t use it to gather leads and close sales. Unlock all of its power by turning your website into a lead generation machine.

Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

Related posts: 3 Simple Steps for “Makin’ It Rain” On Your Website Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing... 50 Simple Lead Generation Tactics If you’ve read this blog, or anything I’ve written for... Lead Generation Is About Being Found Traditional lead generation tactics, directory advertising, trade show participation, half...
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Classic Podcast: How to Differentiate Your Business

Classic Podcast: How to Differentiate Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Bernadette Jiwa

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, we’re turning the clock back to 2013 and one of the most popular, and one of my favorite interviews of all time. We’re revisiting my chat with Bernadette Jiwa, and we talk about her then new book Make Your Idea Matter. Since speaking to her, she has published three more books including The Fortune Cookie Principle, Difference and her latest, Marketing: A Love Story. You can visit her very popular marketing blog, The Story of Telling here: http://thestoryoftelling.com/

Jiwa is someone you should be following if you’re not. She created her brand by doing one thing very well – creating content people love.

She’s the leading voice these days on differentiating your business and someone that has proven you can build a large and loyal following through content.

Questions I ask Bernadette:

How writing a book based on a blog is different than writing a “Big Idea” book How do you define branding in a small business setting? How can a single moment play into the definition of your brand?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

How to differentiate your business and not be boring How to decide on what to write How your customers are involved in the creation of your brand 

This week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is MarketingProfs. Do you have the write stuff? Unleash your inner writer by downloading the latest MarketingProfs marketing writing kit for free! Visit: http://mprofs.com/ducttape

Related posts: Nobody Talks About Boring Businesses Marketing podcast with Bernadette Jiwa Perhaps one of the most... Podcast On Small Business Radio I recorded a podcast on Small Business Radio this week... Small Business Marketing Podcast with Ken Evoy I had the opportunity to visit with Ken Evoy, Canadian,...
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Your Customers are Talking, Are You Listening?

Your Customers are Talking, Are You Listening? written by Alex Boyer read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: DSC_8727 via photopin (license)

We’ve written at length in the past about how to use social media to broadcast your business’ message, but this is only half the equation of social media marketing. The truth is, you shouldn’t just be using social media as a means to reach your customers, you should try to leverage it as a means to reach you and your business. This all starts with listening.

You have a relationship with your customers, one you want to be as positive as possible. As in any relationship, it is a give and take. Your customers give you their business and their loyalty. You must return that by listening to their concerns. Maybe if you listen, you’ll even be able to gain insights on how to earn even more business.

Think about how your customers use social media. They aren’t broadcasting messages or promoting sales. They are giving snapshots of their everyday lives. They are voicing their passions, interests, viewpoints and most importantly, their frustrations. Paying attention to this can help you avoid frustrated customers and bad reviews. It will also give you valuable insight upon your customers, and help you identify ways to better serve them.

But how do you listen to your customers? Start by creating what John calls “Listening Stations” on social media. Here’s how:

Create Twitter Lists

When Twitter introduced lists in 2009, they had intended for them to be used widely to allow users to create essentially custom timelines. While they haven’t been used as widely as initially intended, they can be incredibly valuable for business owners.

If your customers are on Twitter, add them to a list exclusively for your customers. That way, if say you are a plumber or contractor, you’ll know if they are complaining or complimenting your service even if they don’t tag or mention your business. You can also recognize when all of your customers are talking about the same thing, and perhaps you can enter the conversation. You may even be able to make generalizations about your customers that can add depth to your ideal customer personas.

Search for local posts on Twitter

Search Keywords and Business Name

Use searches on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for your keywords that you have identified as part of your SEO strategy. You can even narrow your search to simply posts near you on Twitter (Example above.)

Simply searching is a great way to keep track of what is being said about a specific topic. Using the keywords you identify can not only give you an insight on the conversation occurring about your particular industry, but may also give you ideas of topics to cover when creating content. If a particular subject or question comes up frequently in social media, it is more likely to be shared, boosting your social influence. You can also keep an eye on the discussion surrounding your competitors this way.

If you don’t want to search frequently, use tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to keep track of hashtags or searches in real time.

Alert yourself

Another great way to automatically listen to your customers is to set up alerts on your desired keywords. You can set up email alerts for social media using Social Mention, and receive daily notifications right in your inbox. Track your business name, any keywords you want to monitor and perhaps even your competitors. This won’t be real-time, so it may be faster to keep an eye on your live feeds you created above, but it can give you a nice daily overview if you want. You can even create alerts using more powerful tools like Buzzsumo.

Listen: It’s a great habit

Your customers want to be heard. Their comments on social media and blogs are valuable to you and your business. Get in the habit of listening to what they have to say, and you can earn their loyalty.

Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

Related posts: 5 Ways to Get Your Customers Talking Word of mouth marketing is considered by many to be... Listening in a Digital Age Listening to the wants and needs of your markets and... Do You Know What Your Customers Are Really Saying? Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing...
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