Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to Write Content that Grows Your Business :Content Marketing 101

There has been so much talk about how valuable content is for marketing purposes over the past year--everywhere you look online, you hear about it; I've even heard radio and TV ads about content marketing. Experienced online marketing professionals know that content marketing is vital for business success--because it works! However, that does not mean that you must pay thousands of dollars to anyone--you can do it all yourself, get a little bit of help, or outsource it completely-- without breaking the bank!

Your readers-- your audience--potential customers and clients-- even current customers-- want to see what you know about the industry you work in or the products you sell, and they love to see that you care enough to share your expertise with them.

There is really no need to overthink writing content for your business-- what you want to do is give people valuable information about your product, your brand, your industry and everything related to it. That might sound like a tall order, but taken in small bites, it is a lot easier. Here are some tidbits to whet your appetite:

  • Content is critical for helping you establish your online presence and build your brand. Today's consumers fully expect to find updated and useful information about businesses online--disappoint them and they may move on.  Even if you have not written anything since high school, you can tell people about your business, right? 
  • Think about what you will write, but don't think too long.You need to post regularly to get and keep your audience attention. At least three times a week is optimal; more is better.
  • Put together a calendar that says when you will post, and what you will post about. It's crucial that you post about what is important to your audience. 
  • Plan your work, work your plan.  This means having a strategy in place for your content---what do you want it to do for your business? Drive traffic to your website? Increase sales? Brand you as a subject expert? Answer the "why" question and it will help arrive at the correct "what" to write about. 
  • Schedule time for your content writing. Making yourself a calendar each week that plans out the content you intend to publish helps you stay on track. 
  • Get help if you need it; these things take time and time is at a premium for most business owners. There are many good writers available with lots of content writing experience and a good understanding about how to engage your audience.
  • Engagement is not just a buzzword--it is one of the most important aspects of content marketing.  You want to draw your audience into conversations...they will tell you if you've delighted or disappointed them, and also what they want from you and your business. Participate actively...respond to all interactions! 
  • There is no magic bullet in content marketing;  in all likelihood, you will not wake up to thousands of new followers tomorrow. Beware of anyone who says there is, as they are likely attempting to extract cash from your wallet. But, if you consistently post good content, you will see steadily increasing followers. 
  • YOUR website is critical. Yes, it is great to share your content via social media, blogging on other websites, and platforms like Tumblr, and StumbleUpon (those will gain you many readers), but you must have your own home online where you send people.
  • Tell your story. It could be about why you started your business, how you decided on a name, who your first client was, or why you love what you do. The idea is to make sure your passions show, and to plan your content to reinforce it as well.
  • Content does not have to be written articles... you might use lots of images, memes, cartoons, and even videos if you enjoy that more. In fact, you want to use lots of visuals, as people respond by liking and sharing visual posts more often. Concentrate on what you like to do, but keep your audience in mind as well. If you use videos, try and post the transcript as well-- some people (this writer included!) would much prefer to read the text.
  • Write about what is unique and interesting about your business, your employees, even your customers. You might choose an employee of the month, and a customer of the month to spotlight on your blog, for instance.
  • Read. A lot. Seriously, in between all of your writing, you should be reading what your competitors or related businesses are writing about. At the least it will give you some ideas and insights about your industry; and might jog something in you that will lead to your next great blog post.
  • Listen. Even more. Set up Google Alerts for the name of your business, your product, your personal name as well. Do Twitter searches for anything in your niche, and if you see questions asked that you are able to answer, jump in and help!
  • If you have a local business, focus on local events, news, and happenings. Why are you excited to live and own a business where you do? Tell your readers!
  • Promote your blog and your content like crazy...online and yes, OFFLINE! Have no idea how to do that? Check out this great blog post, 43 Ways to Promote your Blog Offline, by one of my favorite bloggers, Sadie at SlapDashMom...and you will be inspired! Sadie is real, funny, and yes, real funny, too!
To summarize-- 1.Write about what excites you! Write about your business, your employees, your city, your products, your customers...you cannot go wrong writing about what you are passionate about. 2.Write often. Even in the earliest days when it seems like no one is paying attention-- there are people reading your work and looking forward to it. 3. Engage with your audience, by any means possible. That really is all content writing is about...nail that down and keep it up, and you will find lots of traffic and engagement for your business...and lots of business! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Win $100 and an Awesome New Book-- FREE Entry!

 I am happy to be involved in helping market this book for Phillip Michael Cash with this giveaway. Not only can you win a copy of his latest, but you can win $100 in PayPal instant cash! You cannot beat that-- and it costs you nothing to enter!

On the planet Darracia, an ever-widening social gap between its inhabitants is causing turmoil that is fracturing a once peaceful world. Struggling with his identity, nineteen year old Prince V'sair must harness the power of the elusive Fireblade, the secret to a warrior's heart, in order to overcome his uncle Staf Nuen's lust for supremacy. Will the energy of the Elements guide the young prince to his true destiny or will Staf Nuen conquer Darracia? 

After the success of his first three books (Brood X, Stillwell, and The Hanging Tree) Michael Phillip Cash has fulfilled a dream and created his own epic fantasy world. Schism: The Battle for Darracia is the first book in a planned series.

To share Schism: The Battle For Darracia with the world at large, author Michael Phillip Cash is generously giving away $100 in Paypal Cash and a copy of this book. (Please make sure to check disclosure for full details) Does the Fireblade burn within you? Do you have what it takes?

Enter in the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

 Disclosure: This giveaway is arranged by Away We Go Media on behalf of  Michael Phillip Cash who is responsible for the giveaway. My blog, Virtually Capable Marketing, was asked to help co-host the giveaway and was in no way compensated for this post.
The winner will be selected at random by Rafflecopter.
The giveaway is open Worldwide, however if the winner is outside the US the book will only be a Kindle download version. The winner must have an active paypal account and will only be paid in US dollars.
Giveaway begins on Feb. 21st at 12AM MST through March. 8th at 12AM MST.
Winner must respond within 48 hours to an email sent or an alternate winner will be chosen.
This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any other social media outlet.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

No Budget Marketing for New Businesses

You finally have your new business open, all your sweat and tears paid off and you have hung up your sign and thrown open the doors (even if only virtually in the case of an online business) and....crickets. Where are all the customers?

Likely, they are at your competitor's business or website-- because they do not know you exist. Time to change that! It does not have to be expensive, and you can do a lot-- in fact all-- of your own marketing--if you have the time and patience.

So what can you do without spending money that will help drive people to your door?

First, make a huge announcement! 
Open for business-- and tell people what your business is about. Do this physically at your location if you have a brick and mortar business, as well as online. If you have social media accounts, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter-- shout it to the rooftops and ask all your friends to share it for you.

Grand Opening Events
Yes, even online businesses should have grand opening events and invite everyone you know to your event. Offer a special discount or perhaps put together a contest to generate excitement and get people talking about your business.

Determine your Strategy
Where do your customers and prospects hang out online? That is where you also need to be. If they are Tweeting, it won't do you much good to hang out on Facebook. Figure out where your target customer is, and go there!

Set up Processes 
Social media marketing can feel overwhelming without a process in place. Further, it will often get put on the back burner if you do not schedule it into your important tasks for the day. Use inexpensive, and sometimes free, tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and Twuffer to help manage the process and set up a lot of posts at one time, but be sure to personally respond to likes, follows and comments-- your customers are reaching out to you, so respond!

Create Great Content
Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard that in 2014, content is King! Writing compelling content for your business profiles is critical, and it goes far behind just writing a short blurb. People today expect good writing along with videos and images as well. If you don't have time to do a
ll of this-- it might be something to consider outsourcing, but there are great images to be had from many sites online-- just be sure that you choose those which are "free to use and share". You can add your own touches with image editing software. Be sure to include blogging in your content creation activity-- you will be happy with the traffic it generates, believe me!

Network, network, network
Networking with potential customers in groups they belong to online, or connecting with related businesses to work together can help get the word out about your business. Also be sure to ask family, friends and employees to help you launch your marketing efforts. Be sure to connect with influencers and thought leaders in your niche as well. 

Testimonials for YOUR Business

In the brave new world we live in, where everything and everybody is Googled-- it is critical that prospective customers can find you online, and that they can see at a glance why they should do business with you. Testimonials and online ratings are a great way to showcase your skills, services or products. 

Just Ask! 

So how do you get these testimonials, you say? Why, you simply ask people for them-- as simple as that! Clients that you have done a good job for will be happy to write a few sentences about your work. Here is one that Chris Hobson, the CEO of BIOBLISS, wrote for me after I setup their social media marketing for the company: 

"Denise has been phenomenal in helping us engage with our audience through all social media tools, including our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and beyond. We would highly recommend her to anyone looking for an expanded social media presence."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Comprehensive Weekly Social Media Checklist

In my quest to get super-organized for the New Year, I set about searching for a social media checklist that I could use to track all my activities for each of my client's social media pages. I found lots of awesome material, but not one editable checklist that could do all that I wanted it to do, which was this:

Social Media Weekly Checklist

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Pinterest 
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Blogs
for all of my different clients. A tall order? No doubt-- but doable for sure. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 Great Marketing Tips from My Favorite Internet Gurus

Pardon this slight Google+ verification interruption: Google+

Staying up to date with online marketing is a full-time job in itself, so there is no way to read everything that is "out there" in cyberspace. But still, I need to keep up with changes, trends, important news, and of course Google's latest moves. Thankfully, there are some people in the industry that do not have ADHD like I do (Look, Squirrel!) and stay on top of all these things. Even better, they share!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tweak Your Business's Social Marketing for 2013

Photo courtesy of KROMKRATHOG via FreeDepositPhotos.net

Because of the success of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it seems that a new site is launched every day. Some of these websites are very successful--- think Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Other sites sometimes struggle to gain followers. After all, it is hard to draw people away from a site where all their friends hang out, unless something truly unique is being offered. 

The social media landscape today is not what it was a year ago. Who expected Google+ to shoot up so quickly in the rankings and overtake Twitter for the number 2 spot? The point is, we need to continually adapt to the changes that come our way and find new ways to capitalize on them for our businesses.