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Not Your Grandma’s Social Media Tactics For Coaches or Consultants 2019

SOCIAL MEDIA TACTICS TO ATTRACT YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER

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In this article, I’ll discuss social media tactics that are essential to your client acquisition strategy.

As a coach or consultant, traditional marketing and advertising can be costly. Typically, we have smaller budgets compared to the big brands. However, we can still compete.

I’m going to focus on providing simple social media marketing tactics that are free, but not the same old crap you’ve read before.

When I started my business, I believed Social Media Marketing was posting a summary of my blog with an image and link back to my website.

Whoa! That was a long time ago. And damn, I was dead wrong.

Here’s the problem (now): We’re facing a decrease in organic reach (free) and increase in social media ad spending by businesses.

Social media platforms want us to “pay-to-play.” It makes sense. They make money off of advertising. Reducing organic reach creates a demand for ads!

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WE SHALL OVERCOME!

For your social media marketing strategy to work, you need an extremely targeted approach, engaging copy, visuals that stand out from the crowd, cross-promotion, and a content repurposing strategy.

But, before we jump into that, we need to get the annoying part out of the way.

Build Your Business Profiles on Social Media

Building your business profiles is the annoying part of this article. But, it’s imperative. When someone visits your profile, they need to know who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.

Spend time building your social media profiles on relevant platforms for your target audience. You’ll need to determine the best place to provide your valuable content – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

The audiences on each platform will have slightly different preferences on how they consume content. For example, Instagram is all about crisp ass images and short videos.

Only create social media profiles that you will keep up to date. If you don’t keep your profiles updated, you’ll lose your audience.

Think about it this way. Would you bring a client into a messy, outdated, and unorganized office? It’s the same concept.

Your contact information and product/service offerings are the most critical parts of your social media profile. The goal is to convert your audience into customers. In two sentences or less, tell them who you help and how you help.

Follow the KISS Method, keep it simple stupid. Get rid of any coaching jargon and use simple language - I help coaches find clients through developing client attraction strategies.

attracting ideal client

Target Your Ideal Customers on Social Media

Gone are the days when you open up Buffer (social media automation), select every social media profile, type the same 2-3 sentence message, paste the link, add a few hashtags and schedule your post.

Hot damn that was easy!

Not any more.

Each social media platform will have a few different tactics to target your audience. I’m not saying you should stop posting articles. Continue doing that.

But, if you want to compete for free … you’ll need to makes some tactical changes.

Hashtags

But, I already know about hashtags. Hmm… I’m sure you do. But, I bet you puke out a heap of hashtags at the end of your content.

Your goal is a free content marketing strategy. You need to be very calculated with your hashtags – no more puking.

Find a few that your ideal customer would follow. Avoid using the most popular hashtags. Discover the niche and more targeted ones.

But wait, I want to be seen by the masses! No. No, you don’t. You want to be seen by your customers. Likes, followers, shares, and comments mean nothing … if nobody is purchasing.

When you use viral hashtags, you’re posts get drowned out by the crowd. When you employ targeted hashtags, your posts have a higher likelihood of staying at the top of the feed and being seen by your target audience.

The only exception might … and I say might … be jumping on a “trending” hashtag. To find targeted hashtags you can use https://ritetag.com/.

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Social Selling in Niche Social Media Groups

Sure, you’ve heard this before. Join Social Media Groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Every marketing guru tells you to join Social Media Groups. What they often leave out how to use social selling to generate leads.

The size of the group doesn’t matter. You want active and engaged social media groups where people are asking questions, carrying on conversations, sharing, and commenting — not just dropping a link to their latest article.

You’ll need to experiment a little to find engaging groups. I’ve joined and left a lot of groups in my time. I’ve joined large groups that were complete rubbish. They were worse than a honeywagon on a hot summer day. If you don’t know what a honeywagon is … the picture below will help.

Find niche social media groups with your target audience. Comb through the posts looking for opportunities to provide value. Participate in conversations. Ask questions and answer questions. Provide recommendation and advice.

Then, when you see an opportunity to provide value + a link to your latest piece of content within the comments, do it. This is classic social selling.

Start a Social Media Group

Be careful about starting a social media group. Groups take a lot of time and energy to start, grow, and maintain. However, if you do, you’re in complete control of that social media group.

You set the rules. You decide who joins, who can post, what people can post, and you have your little hunting grounds with a perfect set of ideal customers. Many coaches and consultants find great success here.

 

Stand Out from the Crowd

You’re writing (copy) should reflect personality. Your images should be of high quality and eye-popping.

Show off your wit and humor. Everyone is tired of being sold to all the time. People want to be entertained by social media, even when they’re learning!

Our attention spans are shrinking. I believe we’ve hit an all-time low … less than a goldfish!

If you DON’T have entertaining and engaging copy, plus fan-freaking-tastic social media visuals, you’ll blend into the same shit, different day feed.

You can easily create social media images on Canva for free!

Mix up your visuals. Use infographics, memes, GIFs, cartoons, or videos. (Check out this article on how you can do this for free).

REALTED ARTICLE:

How to Find Instagram Pictures as Awesome as a Flying Giraffe

Video. Video. Did I say, video? Live videos too!

You’ll probably suck creating videos at first. I did and sometimes still do. But, we’ll both improve over time. Don’t worry too much about producing amazing videos. Some of the most popular videos are filmed and edited right on an iPhone, nothing else.

During your videos, ask questions, tell stories, loosen up, teach, and preach! Don’t be a robot, and this is where I currently struggle. I’m still getting used to the camera. But, tomorrow or the next day, it will all come together.

Kind of like a caterpillar coming out of a cocoon, my bomb personality will show up. Your personality will too.

Mix up your visual content between imagery and videos. Again, show some personality. Have a fun time. Don’t be a douche.

When your content is entertaining and engaging, guess what? People will like, comment, share, look you up on Google, go to your website, etc. You won’t even have to ask for it.

But, it’s OK to add a call-to-action in your content graciously. 

When your audience engages with you, you better ENGAGE BACK! Get a conversation going. All of the social media algorithms look for conversational engagement.

Don’t just say, “Thank You.” Instead say, “Thank you, Jane. Quick question, what would you improve?”

Cross Platform Promotion

Use your email list to promote your social media content. Wait, email marketing isn’t social media. I know, right? However, when you post on social media, not all of your followers will see it.

You can share your post URL from Facebook and LinkedIn in an email message. Drive your email list to your social media site. Or, ask them to visit, share, and comment on your posts.

Your next question: “Where do I find my Social Media post URL?” Watch the videos below:

 
 

For Instagram and Twitter, post on one platform. Capture a screenshot of the post. Then, promote the post, via an image, on the other platform. A little confusing, so I’ll show you a screenshot below. In the example below, I’m cross promoting my Tweet on Instagram.

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When you perform this social media tactic, if you have followers Twitter, but not on Instagram, your Twitter followers might decide to add you on Instagram too and vice versa. Thus, you increase your exposure across platforms.

These tactics are not only cross-platform promotion but also content repurposing strategy.

Content Repurposing Strategy

If you REALLY want to become a social media tactics and content marketing wizard, develop a Content Repurposing Strategy. First, I’ll give you the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) explanation. Then, I’ll give you a specific example using my plan for the article I wrote on “How to Start a Coaching Business from Scratch.”

First, you create a piece of long-form content (Blog Post, YouTube Video, or Podcast). Second, you repurpose that long-form content into shorter or visual pieces of content. You post the long form content as you usually would. You also post the shorter or visual pieces of content.

You can use the shorter or visual content as stand-alone or drive your audience to your original long-form content.

Here’s how I’ll use Content Repurposing Strategy for my “How to Start a Coaching Business From Scratch” post.

  1. Cross-promote the long-form written content on my social media and to my email list

  2. Record 1 long-form video for YouTube

  3. Pull 10 informative and insightful quotes from the blog / video, turn them into “Quote” images to share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest

  4. Build an infographic to share on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest

  5. Create 5 short videos on key topics for Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook

  6. From the 5 short key topics videos, use REV to create transcripts. Use those transcripts as to start 5 new blog posts that go deeper on the subject matter (more long-form content)

  7. Shall I go on? I’m sure by now, you can see how one long-form piece of content can be repurposed into at least 20+ other piece of content.

  8. Last, use the social media tactics we’ve discussed above to hyper-target and promote your content

time blocking

MY-LANTA! We’ve covered a lot of social media marketing tactics. You might be asking yourself, “How do I find time to do this?”

Excellent question. Here’s what I do.

I time block. I block off time in my calendar each day or each week to execute these social media tactics. I’ve developed a system and process. It took a little time to test, learn, and refine. Now, I have a smooth process to balance working with my coaching clients and marketing my coaching business.  

But, that doesn’t stop me from evaluating the process at the end of each week. I also spend at least 1-hour on Friday, reviewing all of my business systems and processes. Then, I look for areas to simplify, automate, and improve.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, start with one of the tactics. Get good at that tactic. Then, slowly add other social media tactics.

Once you scale and grow, you can hire freelancers to manage your social media outreach. Until then, start small, hyper-target your audience, and have fun!

I hope this post helped. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. If you found value in this article, I’d appreciate you clicking the social sharing buttons on the left of the page. Have a wonderful day.

 Stewart Swayze

P.S. – If you'd like to create a steady flow of clients, schedule a free 1-Hour Strategy Session with me. Let's talk!

 

WANT TO ATTRACT MORE CUSTOMERS FROM YOUR MARKETING (WEBSITE):

FREE MARKETING DOWNLOADS

SAY HELLO ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transitions Coach that helps you move from Employee to Entrepreneur and a Marketing Coach for Coaches, Consultants, and Solopreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel below.

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How to Find Instagram Pictures as Awesome as a Flying Giraffe

Pictures for instagram
 

Why Develop an Instagram Marketing strategy

When you're a self-employed coach or consultant, it's imperative to develop a client attracting Content Marketing Strategy to generate leads.

Leads are your life-blood to finding high-ticket clients.

Imagine having access to 1 billion people, 60% of which are actively looking for new products and services. Well, that’s Instagram. 

After focusing on other social media platforms, I recently started growing my Instagram business account (ShapeShift Lab). I have a long way to go!!! But, I couldn’t ignore the opportunity to access such a huge market.

  • 1 billion people use Instagram every month, more than 500 million log on every day

  • 95% of U.S. Instagram use Youtube

  • 500 million people use Stories every day

  •  60% of users discover products on Instagram (that’s 600+ million people)

  •  80% of users follow at least one business

To stand out from the crowd, your photos on Instagram need to be creative, well designed, and aesthetically pleasing. 

Sometimes it's hard to find free aesthetic pictures for Instagram. However, I'm going to reveal my favorite places to find the absolute best pictures from Instagram! Who knows, you might end up having one the most liked pictures on Instagram!

And … all for the low price of FREE. 

The way I'll lay this out is by first, providing my best stock photo websites. Then, I'll give you links to the most popular galleries by category.

Where to Find Cool Pictures for Instagram

Pexels- Pexels is my favorite stock photo website. You can find just about any category of photo on this site. The site contains an easy to navigate search bar and suggestions based on Popular Searches, Popular Photos, Top Photographers, and New Stock Photos.

Pexels also shows you similar photos while allows you to select a series of photos that fit will into a theme. 

All photos have a Creative Commons license, so you don’t need to provide attribution.

Gratisography– Gratisography contains interesting, entertaining, and funny pictures for Instagram! 

I use the images from this Gratisography to stand out from the crowd. While extremely professional, using these images allow you to be different and show you fun side.

Pixabay– Pixabay is an intuitive site that’s easy to navigate. It contains 780,000+ free photos, vectors, and illustrations.

All photos on Pixabay are licensed under the Creative Commons

Unsplash- Unsplash has a wide variety of professional photos for Instagram.

You can use their search bar to find the pictures you’re looking for, but consider browsing their curated “Collections.”  These collections are based on popular themes to help you find a series of photos.  

Using their pre-selected collections saves as you build your Instagram feed with high-quality photos.

Stockvault- Stock Vault is a free stock website where photographers and artists upload their own photos, textures, graphics, and illustrations. In their search bar, you can also search by color. 

There are thousands of photos available. Attribution is not necessary.

Cool Instagram Pictures by Popular Category

 Although the categories are the same, you’ll find that each site has its own style.


Cute Pictures for Instagram

CUTE PICUTRES FOR INSTAGRAM


MOOD PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM

mood pictures for instagram

artsy pictures for instagram

ARTSY PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM


BEAUTIFUL PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM

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BUSINESS PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM



 

DON’T FOGET TO EDIT YOUR PICTURES FOR INSTAGRAM

One last note, don’t forget to edit your pictures as well. I highly recommend Canva as a free graphic design website to edit pictures for Instagram. The site is packed full of free templates and designs to make your Instagram feed stand out from the competition.

In fact, as I was writing this post, Canva acquired Pexels and Pixabay creating over 1 million additional free images and vectors available right at your finger tips.

With the huge market opportunity that Instagram provides, it’s time to add Instagram to your content marketing strategy. 

If you’d like to discuss developing an integrated client attracting marketing strategy, schedule a free 1-Hour Strategy Session with me. There’s no obligation.


WANT TO ATTRACT MORE CUSTOMERS FROM YOUR MARKETING:

FREE MARKETING DOWNLOADS

 

SAY HELLO ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transitions Coach that helps you move from Employee to Entrepreneur and a Marketing Coach for Coaches, Consultants, and Solopreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel below.

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Knowing the Difference Between Sales and Marketing Helps You Grow Your Business

What is the difference between sales and marketing?

Updated: May 23, 2019

If you're a solopreneur (coach or consultant), you ARE the sales & marketing department. If you're a small business owner, you may not have a lot of employees within the sales and marketing functions. 

However, knowing the difference between sales and marketing will help you develop a systematic approach to growing your business.  

The easiest, but not perfect, way to understand the difference between sales and marketing is to consider "Customer Touch." 

  1. Are you speaking directly with the customer? (Sales)

    • Examples: Phone calls, in-person meetings, events, etc. If so, you are likely engaging in sales. I'll explain the "likely" in the next section. 

  2. Are you indirectly interacting with customers? (Marketing)

    • Examples: Creating Content, Building Facebook Ads, Sending a Newsletter, Surveys/Polls, etc. 

Now, let me explain why I used the term "likely" above. Sometimes you'll engage directly with customers, but purely for marketing purposes. The best example of this would be interviewing customers and prospects to gain insights. 

Developing a Sales and Marketing Strategy

Once you understand the difference between sales and marketing, devote time to design an integrated sales and marketing process. 

The goal of your marketing efforts is to create the appropriate materials and resources to generate leads, enable selling your products and close deals, plus, retain customers - Block off time to develop your marketing resources.

The goal of your sales efforts is to convert leads to prospects and prospects to customers. A secondary goal is to collect any feedback that will improve your marketing efforts - Block off time to execute your sales efforts.

Try not to combine the two efforts. If you do, you'll risk confusing your customers and potentially upsetting them as well.

As you think through your sales & marketing strategy ask yourself, what marketing tactics do you have to:

  • Qualify to understand your ideal customer profile (buyer persona)? 

    • Market & Competitive Analysis or Buyer Personas

  • Market to attract leads aligned to your ideal customer profile?

    • Content Marketing, Lead Magnets, Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing, etc. 

  • Sell to convert your leads into prospects?

    • Sales Call Scripts, Product/Service Presentations, etc.

  • Close to acquire your customers? 

    • Sales Call Scripts, Custom/Personalized Proposals, Common Objection Answers, etc.

  • Delight to retain your customers and generate referrals?

    • Reward Programs, Content Marketing, On-Going Support, Cross-Selling, Up-Selling, Down-Selling, etc. 

My Last Piece of Advice

You need to establish a process to review your sales and marketing strategy. Win or Lose:

  • What went well?

  • What can you improve?

  • What feedback will you consider?

  • How can you increase efficiencies and decrease costs? 

My Monday's are blocked off to build my marketing resources. I've devoted Tuesday – Thursday to Sales and client calls. Fridays, I review all of my business systems, process, strategies, and tactics. This includes analyzing my sales and marketing tactics to find incremental improvements. Small steps lead to massive action.

Stewart Swayze

"Become the Cause" of Your Life, Career, and Success

www.stewartswayze.com

ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel below.

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How to Create Multiple Revenue Streams for Your Coaching or Consulting Business

Creating Digital Products for Coaches & Consultants

Growing your coaching revenue
 

As a Coach or Consultant, growing revenue strictly from providing services is flat out tough! 

You’re only one person with limited time and resources. Maybe you have a few contractors or part-time employees, but:

  • You can only increase your coaching rates so much before you’re priced outside the market and start losing clients

  • You can only take on a certain number of clients before you have ZERO time to work ON your business or live your life

  • Or, you just want to MAKE MORE money!

How do you solve for this challenge?

Creating Digital Products.

 Look, if you’re solving a problem for clients, big or small, if you’re providing a solution – there are people out there happy to pay you for it. 

 You can pick and choose different consulting and coaching models to meet the needs of clients. You can design multiple price points to capture a larger market.

With multiple digital products, you develop new revenue streams that you can up-sell, down-sell, cross-sell, and increase the life-time value of a client.

You can add the digital products to your established consulting or coaching packages. You can use your digital coaching products as a loss leader. Now, you’re not only selling coaching or consulting services, but also selling digital products. 

 Once you build the digital consulting or coaching product, you can go to sleep and wake up with more money in your bank account without lifting a finger. Shoot, you can even go on Upwork and hire someone to build your digital product for you (at low cost).

Your digital consulting or coaching products can take on many different forms. You know what works best for you and your clients. You also know how you want to design your life.

 You are the author of your business. Create consulting or coaching products that grow your revenue and compliment your coaching packages.

DOWNLOAD your guide to 9 PRODUCTS TO GENERATE MULTIPLE REVENUE STREAMS for your coaching or consulting business. 

How to Create Multiple Revenue Streams for Your Coaching Business

 

WANT TO ATTRACT MORE CUSTOMERS FROM YOUR MARKETING:

SAY HELLO ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel  below.

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1 SNEAKY TRICK TO INCREASE YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE LIKES (Video)

Increase your Facebook Page Likes for Free

increase your facebook likes free

In today's video, I'm going to show you one sneaky trick I'm using to grow my Facebook business page. How many of you want to grow your Facebook Page Likes? As a pure consultant, I focused on LinkedIn. Now I’m a hybrid Coach & Consultant, I’m expanding my focus to Facebook. My goal is to organically grow my Facebook Business Page as much as possible.

I’m Stewart Swayze of stewartswayze.com. I’m an Executive Coach for Career Development & Transitions and a Marketing Consultant for Coaches, Consultants, and Solopreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics, so if your interested in developing your career or marketing, subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Check out my links to my freebies at the end of this post.

Hit Play or Read the Text Below

WANT TO ATTRACT MORE CUSTOMERS FROM YOUR MARKETING (WEBSITE):

VIDEO SUMMARY:

Why is it important to have likes on your Facebook business page? As a consultant or a coach, you're producing content. Facebook makes it harder and harder and harder for you to reach your target audience organically. Organically meaning free.

They're trying to drive you to pay for advertisements. That makes sense. They’re business themselves, right? So, the more likes you have on your page, the more opportunity you have for your content to be seen by potential prospects that can turn into a customer.

Or, for someone to see your content, share it with their network, and then someone from their network either likes your business page or becomes a prospect as well. Trying to grow your Facebook page organically is extremely hard. This sneaky trick to increasing your facebook page likes is going to help you out a lot.

SAY HELLO ON SOCIAL MEDIA

ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze, I’m a Career Transition and Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs. I release new videos every week on those topics. If your interested in developing your career or marketing your business, view my YouTube Channel  below.

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A Solopreneur's Guide to Content Curation

Solopreneur Guide to Content Curation .jpg

What Is Content Curation?

Content curation is the process of finding and providing 3rd party content that is relevant to your buyer persona or audience. You, the curator, find the best and most trusted content from sources on the Internet and then share it with your followers on social media platforms or via email marketing. 

Why Is Content Curation Important to a Solopreneur? 

 First, as a Solopreneur (Coach, Consultant, or Freelancer), you don’t have a marketing department full of content creators. You ARE the marketing department. To have a well-rounded Content Strategy, you need to use Content Curation. Curating content reduces your workload. You can provide value to your audience without spending hours generating 100s of blogs. 

Second, content curation helps build your Personal Brand. As a content curator, you become the filter and expert resource on specific topics or themes that add value to your prospects and customers. You find content, read the content, and write a few short insights on why it’s relevant to your followers. Then share it with them. By providing small and relevant insights on the curated content, you can build brand authority over time. 

Third, you learn! By curating and reading the content, you stay abreast of all the trends, topics, tools, and news within your area(s) of expertise. It’s a win/win scenario. You learn, and your audience learns. 

Fourth, it breaks up your sell, sell, sell strategy. People are tired of getting slammed by sales pitches all day. If you over-promote, your audience will unfollow you, ignore your emails, and stop visiting your site. 

Where Can You Share Curated Content?  

Content Round-Up Blog Posts – Pick a theme relevant to your audience. Let’s use “Email Marketing.” Now, find five good, but different articles on Email Marketing. Read each article. Write a short paragraph summarizing the article with your twist on the key insights. Hyperlink the articles and provide the correct attributions. Boom, now you have a value-add blog post that you can share with your audience on social media as well.  

Weekly Email Newsletter – Just like the Round-Up Blog Post, first find relevant content. Then, organize the content within your newsletter. Next, provide context or your insights. Last, send it off to your email list. You can include curated content alongside your content. Or, you can send this as a separate Content Round-Up email. The option you choose is up to you.

(Note: Your “theme” doesn’t have to be as narrow as “Email Marketing.” Just make sure to organize the curated content around a topic and not a random slathering of unrelated articles.) 

Social Media – Of course, you’re going to share curated content on your social media platforms. Social Media is the obvious one! As you curate the content, share it with your social media followers. Don’t forget to add your insights as well. One more thing, highly consider tagging the author or company in your post.

What Tools Can Help Me Curate Content? 

  • Pocket:Install Pocket’s browser extension and app for easy curation. As you read an article, save and tag (categorize) it for future sharing.. 
  • Twitter Lists: Twitter can be horrendous. Create Twitter Lists to organize the accounts that you follow. By using Twitter lists, you can save or retweet great content provided by those you follow.
  • Scoop.it:Select a topic and Scoop.it not only generates the most relevant articles to view and share, but also includes complementary topics and other Scoop.it users to follow
  • Feedly: Use Feedly's free option to aggregate news and articles to share with your audience on social media or email.
  • ContentGems: ContentGems scans hundreds of thousands of articles from the best online sources and presents a stream of relevant content

Now that you have the basics of content curation down, get out there and start sharing awesome content! 

If you're new to Solopreneurship, I recently wrote an Introductory Guide to Service Based Solopreneurship. It’s free and 100+ pages packed with content on starting and marketing your business. DOWNLOAD IT HERE

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Sales and Marketing Strategy - How to Increase Market Share

How to Increase Your Market Share

I originally answered this question on Quora, but adapted it for this post. 

Like a lot of questions on Quora, it’s is hard to answer without having information on the product, service, industry, competitors, etc. I’ll try to give some thoughts that might help.

Unless the market expands, you are working with finite numbers. Therefore, to “increase” market share you either:

1.    Take market share from a competitor

2.   Convince non-participating prospects in the Total Available Market (TAM) or Serviceable Available Market (SAM) to purchase your product

a.    Simple example: The TAM for Rooftop Solar Panels (Homeowners) is $10M. 3 suppliers are in this Market. Your company has a 10% market share. Competitor 1 has a 10% market share. Competitor 2 has a 20% market share. But, 60% of Homeowners are not participating. Theoretically, this 60% is part of the TAM, so “Not Participating” has a 60% market share. “Not Participating” is one of your hardest competitors. Let me say that again, choosing not to purchase IS A COMPETITOR.

There’s a lot of analysis, strategy, and tactics that a business can deploy to take market share from a competitor. I’ll list a few traditional tactics and then some non-traditional:

 

Traditional: High level, everyone should know these

1.    Marketing - You conduct competitive intelligence. You develop better Marketing Strategy and Tactics to drive more non-participants to your products or switch market participants from their current suppliers (competitors) to your products.

a.    Your marketing machine is so good, when people think of X product category, they only think of brand/product.

2.   Sales - Simple, your sales team is better. They go out there and attract non-participants and switch market participants.

a.    Your sales team is so good, everyone loves them, they have the best relationship, and people only want to buy from you.

Non - Traditional: More tactical

1.    Contracting - Better terms and conditions (T&Cs) than your competitors

a.    Example 1 - Your competitors ask for payment within 30 days, you offer your customer 60 days. Your customers can hold onto their cash longer with you.

b.    Example 2 - You assume more risk within your T&Cs. Your competitors try to push all the operating or product risk onto the customer. You assume more risk and offer extended warranties.

2.   Pricing - Your competitor wants all the money upfront and at Net 30 terms, but you:

a.    Offer traditional financing options - They can pay over time

b.    Offer better discounts

c.    Offer performance contracting or similar - Example 1 - Your product will reduce the customer’s cost. The customer pays you based on the actual cost reductions each month. This is continued until the product or service is paid off. Example 2 - Your product will increase revenue. The customer splits the actual increase revenue with you until the product / service is paid off.

d.    Switching from a CAPEX to OPEX transaction. There are different ways to do this. Example 1 - You hold the product on your books. Your customer pays a fee to use the product. Could be leasing or lease to own. Example 2 - You sell the product to a financial institution or partner. That financial institution holds the product on their books. The customer pays the financial institution for use of the product. Another similar example in software is SAAS.

e.    Price at 0 or negative margin - This is risky and only works on very specific cases. You sell the “product” at 0 or negative margin b/c you will make up the margin on aftermarket sales & services. Spare parts, labor, data, etc. In all of those areas you should have really high margins. Once the product is purchased, the customer has to come to you for them.

3.   Joint Technology / Collaboration Agreements - You partner with your prospects or customers in joint R&D. Lock them into your products b/c you are sharing costs, profits, intellectual property, etc.

a.    They are committed to you and your product / service b/c they benefit from using it and you selling it

4.   Master Agreements - You offer to sign master agreements, simplifying the contracting process and locking prospects / market participants into long-term agreements

a.    You reduce your customer's supply chain / contracting costs. Simplifying the process, agreeing on T&Cs, pricing, etc. upfront means less time negotiating, working through AP … and so on.

b.    You offer discounting or rewards programs within your master agreement. When they hit a certain $value of purchases, they receive a discount or reward.

There are many more ways to increase market share. Almost too many to list. But, I hope this helps give you a few ideas. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Stewart Swayze

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ABOUT STEWART

Hi. I’m Stewart Swayze

As an Executive Coach, I support successful and ambitious professionals that are developing strategic and tactical options to outperform their peers and the market through career development or a career transition. This includes moving from employee to entrepreneur.

As a Marketing Consultant, I work with coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs learning how to create compelling marketing plans to break through the clutter and create sustainable growth for your business.  

Either way, you transform and “Become the Cause” of your life, career, and success.

I am your confidential partner, advisor, sounding board and coach. I guide you through exploring alternatives, opportunities, and weighing options.

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Answer to: What is Market Intelligence?

What is Market Intelligence?

What is Market Intelligence? Let’s keep this quick and easy, outline style! If you can fill in the information from this outline, you’ll have a tremendous amount of Market Intelligence. I’ve also provided links to relevant articles that I’ve written.

Customers

  • Voice of Customer (Read More)
  • Purchasing Habits
  • Preferences
  • Needs
  • Challenges
  • Demographics & Psychographics (Customer Personas)
  • Answer to: Why are they buying your products / services, etc.

Prospects

  • Voice of Prospects (Read More)
  • Purchasing Habits
  • Preferences
  • Needs, Challenges
  • Demographics & Psychographics (Customer Personas)
  • Answer to: Why aren’t they buying your products / services etc.

Competitive Intelligence (Read More - Using Open Source Intelligence to Analyze the Competition)

  • Who are your top competitors?
  • Communications Intelligence - gathering and analyzing publicly available marketing, communications, and sales resources
  • Technical Intelligence - gathering and analyzing of publicly available technical and product information
  • Financial Intelligence - information gathered from analysis of publicly available financial history
  • Human Intelligence - gathered from a person on the ground (sales, field marketing, etc)

Risk – A Simple PEST analysis should help

  • Political – Risk that political decisions, events, or conditions will impact the profitability of a business or value of an economic action
  • Economic – Risk that macroeconomic conditions such as exchange rates, government regulation, or political stability will impact an investment or business entity
  • Social - demographic and cultural aspects of the company's market
  • Technological - technology issues that impact delivery of product or service to the market

Product

 Market

I'm also running a "You ask, I'll Answer" campaign. So if you have any questions on Marketing, Sales, or Strategy, let me know. You can shoot me an email at stewart@stewartswayze.com

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to tag me in a comment or connect with me via social media.

Stewart Swayze

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You Ask, I'll Answer: How do you determine & test product market fit?

This question came in pretty quickly via email. I’m up late writing this post (1:15am when I'm writing this), so you can see I’m very excited about it. Thanks David!

First, I’m going to propose a few questions and provide some thoughts on determining if you’ve reached product market fit. Second, I’ll provide some ideas on how to test.

Please remember, there’s a reason why we have new iPhones 1-2 times per year and constant software updates. Apple is testing product market fit. The software and hardware iterations are tests. These tests provide feedback. The feedback provides data. The data allows Apple to innovate and adapt to the market … Kind of scary, but reaching product market fit isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. You have to constantly adapt to the market and competition. Test, iterate, preserve, pivot, test, iterate, etc.

Lack of sales, lack of or mixed feedback is … feedback. You just have to listen to it. Dig deep. Talk to your customers and prospects. Get them to reveal what you need to know.

On a side note … one of the best ways to do this is via awkward silence. Ask a question, have them answer, then sit in awkward silence. Most humans hate awkward silence. Most humans will break the awkward silence and a lot of times reveal what they are really thinking.

Yes, it takes time to reach that sales hockey stick, but there are early indicators that you haven’t reached product market fit.

Question: What would your customers say if you asked them to describe your product? Could they tell you the features and benefits? Could they provide you with accurate outcomes on how it will quantitatively help them? Ask them what they are willing to give up (cost, data, time, etc) to use this product?

Thought: Find a small business owner that handles credit card transactions. Hand that business owner a product from Square – The Credit Card Processing system. Ask this business owner to answer the questions above.  Could they do it?

Question: If you are wondering if you have reached product market fit, aren’t you answering your question? (Adapted from Erie Reis).

Thought: There is a reason why you are questioning if you’ve reached product market fit. Maybe it’s not selling well. Maybe you’ve received mixed customer & prospect feedback.  They think it’s cool. It might work, sounds interesting, and is very innovative. Yet, only limited numbers are purchasing.

Question: If you’ve launched and promoted your product, are your customers & prospects calling to discuss more? Or is it just the press or tech enthusiasts?

Thought: Think about the lines when a new iPhone comes out. That’s a little extreme, but it serves as an example.  If you’ve had a well-planned launch and marketed it properly, is anyone calling? Even just to find out more information? If your customers, prospects, press, and techies are calling … you’ve probably reached market fit. If it’s just the press and techies, but no customers or prospects, then you might want to re-visit your product. Or, are you still “pushing” information down your prospects throats only to find they don’t have the best gag reflex?

Question (if applicable): Is it an easy sell to your own company? Is your own company using it? Are they readily adopting the product and it’s producing great results? Or, are they forced to use it? 

Thought: There are cases when companies build products that could be used within their own organization. Yet, they don’t use them. This can happen for various reasons. But, it could be a leading indicator that you don’t have product market fit.

Question: Are the customers that purchased your product willing to become product evangelists? Sure, some customers want data privacy and confidentiality. Yet, they can still provide you generic recommendations. Maybe even voice of customer, anonymized case studies, or other social proof. 

Thought: Again, there could be a lot of reasons for customers not publicly going on record for your product. Try to dig into the root cause. Determine if it’s confidentiality or if the product isn’t up to expectations. If it’s not at expectations, this could be preventing them from recommending it.

How do you test product market fit?

1. Surveys: Well duh, right? But, are you asking the right questions? Think of these surveys like an NPS. Keeping it simple, I’ll provide 3 questions below.

a. How likely are you to recommend this product to a colleague? (adapt the term colleague to the right audience, Ex. Another business owner)

 i. Sliding Scale 1 – 10

ii. Provide area for commentary – Ask why?

b. How would you feel if you could no longer use this product?

i. Very Disappointed, Slightly Disappointed, Not Disappointed (it’s not useful), & I no longer use this product

ii. Provide area for commentary – Ask why?

c. What type of impact is this product having on your organization?

i. Very Positive, Somewhat Positive, No Change, Somewhat Negative, Very Negative

ii. Provide area for commentary – Ask why?

2.    Ask for customer testimonials

a. Social proof is a sign of product marketing fit

b. Will your customers go on record and recommend it? That’s a test

3. Give it away for free! (Kind of…): If your product provides a financial benefit, give it to a TBD number for free, then share the financial benefit (Basically, set up performance contract pricing with a test group of customers)

a. If you are stating your product will reduce costs, then benchmark your customer or prospects current costs

b. Then find an agreeable value for them to pay you in based on the % reduction in costs

c. If your product will increase revenues, repeat the above but with a split in increase revenues

I’m open to feedback and more questions on this subject. This is one of the hardest questions to answer for startups and new product launches. There are many thoughts, theories, and experts chiming in on the Product Market Fit discussion.  I hope I’ve at least provoked thought, if I didn’t fully answer the question.

Thanks again for the question. I'd enjoy answering more. 

Stewart

 

 

 

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10 Tactics: How to Build Your Personal Brand on Instagram

How to Build Your Brand on Instagram

 

10 Tactics: How to Build Your Brand on Instagram

I 100% know Instagram is a powerful marketing tool for many brands. Marketers cannot ignore over 400 million users. As a self employed consultant, I recommend most solopreneurs start their social media marketing with only a few profiles.  Build, Learn, and Scale. Typically this is Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Yet, this depends on where their audience hangs out. I’d never recommend replacing Facebook or LinkedIn to build your personal brand. Swapping Twitter for Instagram could be a relevant strategy. In fact, this could be a very relevant social media marketing strategy for anyone that's self employed. 

Most of my business traffic comes from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I’ve experimented with Google+ and Pinterest as well. Now, I’m developing a marketing experiment with Instagram. I compiled a little research on Instagram Marketing. Melyssa Griffin and Courtney Seiter from Buffer have the most comprehensive guides to Instagram Marketing. Here’s what I’ve learned from both:

1. Have a defined goal or strategy

Don’t go into this blind. Like any other marketing activity, have a defined strategy or marketing goal for building Instagram. Is it brand awareness? Driving traffic to your site? Selling products? Instagram is different from all other social media sites. You can only have one link in your bio. Use it wisely and align it to your brand goals and marketing strategy. For me, my Instagram Marketing Strategy is to provide value and Marketing Goal is to drive website traffic. I’m a solopreneur with a personal Instagram account. For this fun experiment, I’m going to create a business account. The main reason for this … Instagram analytics! I love data.

2. Post Often

Your audience will check their IG accounts at different times. Post often, at least 1-2 times per day, but ensure you are posting at the appropriate times as well. Know your audience. When do they check their Instagram account? Plus, Instagram is rolling out a Facebook algorithm based timeline. Consistency is a key element to getting your posts seen and appearing at the top of the timeline. - Courtney Seiter Buffer

3. Reciprocity:

Melyssa suggests “Liking Photos in Your Niche.” I totally agree. In business and in life, reciprocity goes a long way. By supporting and commenting on other people’s photos, they will return the favor.

4. Engagement:

As with all social media, you need to engage your followers. Engaging with followers is a Social Selling tactic. If they comment or like, thank them. Create ways to generate conversation. Interact and provide value.

5. Collaborate & Co-Brand:

Find brands, businesses, or other Solopreneurs to collaborate with or co-brand. Consider joining forces with a local business and charity to co-promote an event.

6. Create a Unique Hashtag

Of course you should have your brand hashtag and use it often. You can also create hashtags for specific events, contests, niches, etc. Which leads me to the next one …

7. Use popular hashtags for your niche

People get caught up on this. How do I find the right hashtag for dog walkers? Honestly, there are many different suppliers that charge money for hashtag research. You don't need to pay a dime. You can also use this amazing thing called “The Google.” Just throw in your search, “Popular Instagram Hashtags for Insert Niche Here.” You’ll find plenty of information. Read through a few articles and find the hashtags that fit your marketing goals or brand.

8. User Generated Content

Ask for, use, and give credit to user generated pics and videos. You can do this by generating a specific hashtag. Then “once people start using your hashtag (and YOU use it, too!), then you can repost images from your followers (giving them proper credit, of course!).” - Melyssa Griffin

9. Ask Your Followers on Other Social Media to Follow Your Instagram

This is simple, but sometimes a forgotten tactic. Your audience might not realize they aren’t following your Instagram. Or, they might not realize you have an Instagram. Either way, get on your other social media platforms and ask them to follow you.

10. Run a Contest

I don’t know about you, but almost every day I see people on all social media sites sharing photos or posts b/c they might win something. Same concept here … people love contests! So find something to give-away that your followers want. Give them a reason to share, post, comment, etc.

Special thanks to Melyssa Griffin and Courtney Seite from Buffer for the great information. 

“Courtney writes about social media, diversity and workplace culture at Buffer. She runs Girls to the Moon on the side and pets every dog she sees.” @courtneyseiter

Melyssa helps “heart-centered hustlers grow their audience and income online.” @melyssa_griffin

Has your brand had a positive experience with Instagram Marketing? What would you recommend to other brands?

Stewart Swayze

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How to utilize your network to promote your business

How to promote your business

Step 12 of the “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy

Utilize your network to promote your business

I like to call this network marketing. It’s primarily developing a strategy to use your established network to market your business, find clients, and cultivate prospects. It needs to be a mutually beneficial strategy. If you use your network, provide them value as well. Below are a few tips on using your network to find new business.

Turn your family and friends into your evangelists!

The first place to start is with the people that know you well, your family and friends. They all want to see you succeed. Turn them into your word of mouth marketers. When you share content on social media, have them like and share it too. Sharing creates a significant impact on your social media and local marketing. They have friends that have friends that could be potential customers. Use them. Choose 5-10 people and ask for their help.

Before you ask for something from your network, give them something of value

When you are creating a business, tell everyone you interact with on a professional level about your business. Including your accountant, attorney, banker, barber/stylist, etc. Let them all know you are open for business and seeking customers. Ask if you can give them your business card, maybe even leave a few extra cards for them to hand out if they come across anyone. Let them know you’ll send people their way too and do that! If you do, ensure that they know you’ve sent them a new customer. This referral exchange creates an informal referral system.

If you don’t have an office, try finding a Co-Working space

Get out of your home or office. Network at a Co-Working facility. Take part in their events. Don’t be the jerk that’s only trying to sell your products and services all the time. Develop relationships first. Help solve a few of your co-workers' problems for free. Then, find an opportunity to offer your services for a fee.

Download your Outlook and LinkedIn contacts into a workable excel

I’m going to assume you have Outlook and LinkedIn contacts. You can download both into a .csv file, then convert it to Excel. Inform your contacts, if they don’t already know, that you have started a new business. There are a few schools of thought here. You can be direct and try to sell them immediately. Or, you can provide your necessary information (website address, service offerings, etc.) and let them know you are producing content they may find valuable. Get them engaged, build a relationship, and then sell. You’ll need to be the judge on the approach to your network.

Segment and prioritize your contacts to develop a Network Marketing Strategy

My recommendation is that you review your contacts and segment them into different groups. Then, develop different approaches for each group. Segmentation will help you create a Network Marketing Strategy. As an example, Segment 1 you meet in person, maybe buy them lunch. They are mentors, advisors, or potential prospects. Segment 2, you call on the phone (if you have their number). They are people that can introduce you to other contacts or live outside your state. Segment 3 you send a personal email. These are people you respect, maybe don't know as well, but want to develop a relationship. If you are starting out, don’t spam anyone with a generic mass email. Take the time to email them with a personal note.

A few other words of advice

 

  • Don’t always ask a network contact for advice without ever offering to pay for it.
    • Example: If you keep asking for legal advice from a contact that's a lawyer.  It might be different if this person is your mentor. If not, you should pay for his/her advice.
  • Don’t have alternative motives.
    • Example: Scheduling a meeting with someone in your network for advice, but then using the meeting as an opportunity to sell him/her something.
  • Make introductions for other people in your network
    • Reciprocity goes a long way

If you use your network strategically, it will go a long way to helping you grow your business. As you do this, introductions will happen, and your network will grow. Keep track of those too. You never know where your next customer will pop up. Also, you may end up with a tremendous opportunity, but don’t have the full resources to tackle it on your own. If you have a reliable network, they can help and support you with resources. 

This concludes the in-depth 12 Steps to Executing a Free Digital Marketing Strategy. With your comments and feedback, I'll continue to update each step. Sign up for my newsletter or check back for more valuable content. 

Stewart Swayze

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Want to know how to uncover your own golden $3B segment?

how to uncover your own golden $3B segment?

Want to know how to uncover your own golden $3B segment?

Have you ever conducted a full-scale Customer Profitability Analysis?

I’m not talking about simple revenues or contribution margins by customer. I mean a full-scale analysis that includes “Cost to Serve.” This analysis will determine the full profitably for each customer. Many times we push this report onto the accounting or finance departments. I wholeheartedly disagree with that. Your marketing team should conduct it. A Customer Profitably Analysis is one tough cookie to complete, but it will be worth every effort.

I once led a team working on a giant Customer Profitability Analysis. First, we had to gather and clean detailed data from 4 different databases. These databases spanned across finance, sales, operations, and marketing. Each department tracked unique customer information and called the same data something different. Next, we had to normalize or harmonize the data into one large excel. Last, we had to analyze the data to present a clear picture of customer profitability. You want to have an excel that you can manipulate and view data from all different angles. Once we completed this process, the Customer Profitability Analysis was a treasure-trove of information.  

Why should your marketing department conduct the Customer Profitability Analysis? 

They will uncover more information than just profitability. I’m willing to bet once you’ve completed the analysis; your previously defined value props, customer personas, market sizing, and segmentation will all change. In fact, they will improve. The marketing department will find more “ah-ha’s” in this analysis than any other piece of market information. 

You might think your most significant or key accounts are your most profitable. I’ll challenge that assumption. They’ll bring in the most revenue, but won’t be the most profitable. You might also think your smallest accounts would be least profitable. Again, I challenge that assumption. Once you determine your cost to serve and full customer profitability, a lot of assumptions will fall apart. 

You’ll find new opportunities and alternative ways to serve your customers

If you conduct an in-depth analysis like this one, you’ll be able to find new opportunities. Plus, identify alternative ways to serve your customers and cut wasteful spending. In fact, from the analysis my team conducted, we identified a new $3B segment. The segment was sitting there right in front of everyone for years. You are probably asking yourself, “How can a $3B segment be overlooked?” Great question. All eyes were on the traditional and significant revenue streams. The group we were consulting missed the combined mass of smaller, non-traditional revenue streams. It only too minor tweaks to capture these customers. 

The other important factor, they could capture this market through less costly sales channels. They already had the skeleton for inside sales team and e-commerce. We recommended a small tweak to the current portfolio, a few marketing materials, some messaging, and bam, market activation.

Here’s the not so fun part

As I mentioned above, your company will have it’s own way of collecting, storing, and analyzing customer information. You'll find it spread across different departments and databases. As you start pulling together the data from each department, you’ll find discrepancies.  Don’t dismiss these as just a data quality or data input issues. Find the root cause. Search for the workarounds.

Challenge your team to ask, “why?” Why are we tracking it this way and is there a better solution? Why aren’t these departments working together? Why are there workarounds? What you’ll find are gaps and workarounds that are causing two major problems. One, your organizational nightmare is negatively impacting your customers. Two, this nightmare is raising your internal costs to serve your customers.  

Add Voice of Customer to your analysis

I’d also recommend conducting Voice of Customer (VOC). Conduct VOC once your marketing team develops an in-depth understanding of the quantitative numbers. Launch your VOC campaign as you move into the qualitative demographics/psychographics. Sure, conduct an NPS study, but also call a decent sized sample of customers and prospects. You should include old customers that you may have lost and disgruntled ones too. VOC will only add another layer of data to your analysis. 

Define goals outside of understanding profitability 

Yes, the primary goal is to determine customer profitability. Through centralizing customer data into one place, I guarantee you’ll find your golden nuggets. Enough to make this problematic analysis worthwhile.  I’ll list a few goals below to challenge your team to answer by the end of this analysis. 

Customer Profitability

  • Are your Key Accounts your most profitable?
  • Can you reduce your “cost to serve” through adjusting your channels?
  • Can you identify new Cross-sell and Up-sell opportunities?
  • Segmentation & Targeting
  • Can you identify any new segments?
  • Are you targeting the right customers & prospects?
  • Can you serve a “prospect” segment through lower cost channel?

Customer Personas

  • By analyzing the data, did your customer personas change?
  • Do you need to adjust your value prop(s)?
  • Look-Alike ProspectsCan you identify prospects that are currently considered low on your list with attributes that look-alike current profitable customers?

Customer Satisfaction

  • How can we improve customer satisfaction through cross-functional alignment?  (Sales, marketing, finance, and operations teams)

Work with a cross-functional team to develop the strategy and tactics needed to increase profitability.  Go out and capture the newly identified opportunities.

Have you ever uncovered a golden nugget through a profitability analysis? I’d like to hear from you. 

Stewart Swayze  

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Sweet, Simple, and Easy to Implement SEO Techniques

Easy to Implement SEO Techniques

Step 11 of the “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy

So, you’re a small business that has a local or regional market. Or, you’re an early stage startup with some traction. You might be asking yourself, does search engine optimization (SEO) matter for me? The answer is yes! It does. You cannot ignore SEO. Plus, the earlier you build SEO into your standard operating procedure, the better.

SEO comes in two different forms - on-page and off-page. On-Page is your website, coding, and content. Off-page SEO is links back to your website, social media, reviews, etc. To help with SEO, you’ll need to tackle both. I’m not going to get super complicated and technical.  When we are just starting out, simple is best. As we scale, we can add more complicated SEO techniques.

Keywords within your content and website are one of the easiest and most important aspects of SEO

Take a little time to research keywords or key phrase development (long-tail keywords). Proper SEO can ensure your company appears on the first page of Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

Use high-ranking keywords specific to your industry, topic, website, etc.

The keywords you choose depend on your customer’s challenge, audience, strategy, etc. Put yourself in their shoes, what would you search for on Google? The unaware population will search based on the problem, not a specific product. Research and use keywords that rank highest around the problem you are trying to solve.

There are plenty of free tools to find keywords. There are plenty of free keyword tools. I’ll list a few below:

Don’t overcomplicate keywords

When you are first starting out, don’t overcomplicate your keyword usage. Find a relevant set of keywords. Add them to your website, blogs, and content (on-page). Continue to refer to this set of keywords as you develop new content or update your website.

Start a blog and produce high-value content

As we’ve touched on before, content is king! Blogging with high-value content is essential to SEO. Ensure you use keywords in the body, titles, headlines, and subheadings. Share your content on social media (off-page).

Search engines crawl your website and the contained content. They determine if the information is useful. Create original content that answers questions your audience types in search engines. Ensure that you create content on a regular basis.

Use SEO Website Tools

Use free website analysis and content performance tools. The free version of the Varvy SEO Tool provides website and content performance information. It will also list the domains linking back to recent social media mentions.

Sign up for Google Analytics and create custom reports. You can choose many different variables and metrics.

SEOCentro SEO Analyzer is a tool that analyzes:

  • Social media ranking

  • Site usability

  • Online reputation

  • Meta tags

  • Site speed

It even gives information on top performing keywords.

Link the content within your site (on-page) and back to your site (off-page)

Your content might reference items located in other content within your site. Use hyperlinks to connect the two pieces of content. Remember to promote your content on social media. Always provide links back to the content on your website. This helps SEO, promotes traffic back to your site, and increases your authority rankings. If you’ve heard the term “backlink,” now you know what it is.

Use the free version of Open Site Explorer. This tool helps tracking links coming back to your pages - https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/.

Consider using free PR Services

You might be thinking that PR doesn’t exactly sound like SEO strategy. Think about it. Your press release will spread across the World Wide Web and shared on social media. It will contain keywords and links back to your site. This creates buzz, awareness, and traffic! SEO heaven.

If you are a local or more regional business, you’ll want to create local business pages

You’ll need to create local business pages. Plus, claim your business on Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Google, Yellow Pages (YP), etc. In SEO world, this is called local citations. When someone types a search for Dog Sitter Springfield, MA ... your business comes up. You can read more about this on Moz Local.

Provide complete and accurate information on each page

Ensure your contact information complete and the same across each business page. Your phone number, hours, address, website, etc. Add several photos of your location. Chose the correct business category. You can select more than one category if applicable. I’ve listed a few tools below that will help you find and claim your business on various local sites.

https://moz.com/local/search - Moz uses data to score your business

Use Google MapMaker to search for your business and phone number. You can determine if there are duplicate listings for your business.

Ask for customer reviews. Don’t be scared, just do it!

Social proof goes a long way. Ask for customer reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Foursquare, etc. Search Engines look for customer reviews. Not only will this help with SEO, but also with increasing local traffic. 

If you are hyper-local or hyper-regional, use long-tail keywords that include your location

Ensure you have local or regional keywords within your content. This will help search engines associate your business with your exact location. Example: You are a photographer in Austin, TX. You scatter "photographer Austin, TX throughout your content. When someone types “Photographer Austin, TX” into Google, you have a higher likelihood showing up in the first page results.

Focus on these few SEO tips in the beginning. They are easy to do and free. As you grow, consider hiring an employee responsible for SEO or third party provider. 

Next week we’ll discuss using your network as a marketing tool. Feel free to sign up for my newsletter to receive these posts and other articles in your email.

I hope this post helped. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. If relevant, please share it with your friends and network. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Stewart

 

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7 Steps to Simple & Effective Email Marketing

7 Steps to Simple & Effective Email Marketing

7 Steps to Simple & Effective Email Marketing

Step 10 of the “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy

Now that you have a blog, social media profiles, and content … it’s time to develop email marketing. Social media continues to gain interest, but email remains king. Combining social media and email marketing allows you to add a personal touch. The combination will enables you to offer products & services in both locations. I’ve listed 3 email service providers below. 

1. Showcase your personality

Your email service provider can automate sharing original and curated content with your contacts. You want to establish yourself as a content creator and 3rd party filter for your audience. This can be via regular emails containing your blog or a more formal newsletter. You can use templates, add your content, and schedule the release.

When you publish a new blog post add it to your email marketing and/or newsletter campaign. Always include a link back to the post on your website. Add a short descriptive “teaser” sentence and the title of the blog to increase clicks back to the post.

2. Encourage engagement from your audience

Ask questions. Provide links within your email and ask for comments on the blog post hosted on your website. Determine a consistent email or newsletter frequency. The frequency is up to you - weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

3. Provide social sharing options

Include social sharing options within your email marketing. Add a footer with an opt-in to your newsletter or ability to download premium content. If you provide premium content your audience will look forward reading your emails.  

4. Your audience is your friend. Personalize your emails and build trust

Skip the generics. Write your emails and newsletter as if you are speaking to one person. That person is someone you respect. Your audience is a friend and you want to help them.

Develop trust with your audience. Provide a clear opt-out option. Don’t be sneaky with your sales pitch. Be upfront when you are selling them something. Show empathy and compassion for their challenge. If you provide value and build trust, selling them will be much easier.

5. Spend time developing good subject lines; there are tools that can help

Craft subject lines that reveal exactly what your audience will learn if they read your email. Numbers and text that provoke emotion work well.

You can also read this post from Digital Marketer.

6. Refrain from sending novels

Keep your emails short, sweet, and to the point. Don’t send a novel. Make the text scannable. Break up your content, provide short subheadings and images. This helps guide your audience through the email. Your audience is busy … make it easy for them read.

  • Free Copy Analyzer to from Hemingway Editor to analyze & simplify your message (this thing is awesome!)

7. Know your metrics

Most newsletter and email marketing services like MailChimp offer reports and analysis. Look for trends. What’s working, what’s not working, and adjust to the data. There will be patterns, try to understand those patterns to develop and improve better campaigns. 

Your email marketing technique will take some time to develop. Start out by using templates from your email-marketing provider such as MailChimp. Edit your text via the Hemingway Editor, and write catchy subject lines. Always provide value to your customers and gain feedback. If you use these tools, you’ll be well on your way to a great email marketing system.

Next week we’ll discuss some basics for Search Engine Optimization. Sign up for my newsletter to receive these posts in your email or you can visit my blog every week.

I hope this post helped. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. If relevant, please share it with your friends and network. Looking forward to hearing from you.

 Stewart

 

 

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How to build a simple scalable social media marketing strategy

How to build a simple scalable social media marketing strategy

Step 9 of the “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy

Social media marketing is important to your inbound marketing strategy

Maybe you’re a small business, solopreneur, or startup. Traditional marketing and advertising can be costly. Social media marketing is important to your inbound marketing strategy. Plus, can do social media marketing for free. Now, we all know there’s no free lunch in life. What you’ll save in money, you’ll have to pay in time and sweat equity.

If you don’t have social media profiles for your business, it’s time to build them. You’ll need to spend some time to build out your social media profiles on a few sites. Your audience preferences are diverse. Where they consume content online will be different as well. Some will prefer to receive content on LinkedIn, while others on Facebook. Depending on your audience, it might be Twitter or Pinterest. You’ll need to determine the best place to provide your valuable content.

Build your relevant social media business profiles

First, I have a recommendation. Instead of building profiles on every single social media site, start with 3-4. Luckily, you’ll be using marketing automation tools to help. Buffer and Hootsuite automate distribution across different social media sites. 

You can use KnowEm as a tool to search for your business name across multiple social media sites. There might be other businesses using the same name. If this is the case, you need to find a simple, but related alternative.

Ensure your social media profiles are completely filled out

Only create profiles that you will keep up to date. If you don’t keep your profiles active, then your audience won’t follow you. Think about it this way, would you bring a client into a messy, outdated, and unorganized office? It’s the same concept.

Your social media presence is an external office that prospects and customers are visiting. These profiles help them determine if they should conduct business with you.

Your contact information is one of most important parts of your social media profile. Ensure it is complete, accurate, and visible. The goal is to convert your audience into customers. It's simple; they need your contact information. Use the exact same contact info for each profile. There are a lot of businesses that list different addresses or phone numbers on each profile. It’s easy to forget an area code or suite number. This can screw up your SEO or worse, confuse your potential clients.

Create two primary objectives and two secondary objectives for your social media profiles

You’ll need to determine your social media goals & objectives (G&Os). Keep these simple. Limit yourself to the 3 or 4 G&Os. Maybe have two primary objectives and two secondary objectives. Examples few would be:

  • Brand Awareness

  • Thought Leadership

  • Generate Leads

  • Customer Retention

  • Generate Traffic

  • Answer Questions

  • Competitive Positioning

  • Build Trust

Use owned and curated content to share value with your social media audience

Let the audience know your plan to provide them value on social media. Clearly communicate the plan and give them a reason to follow you. Adding photos or gifs to your content increases interaction such as sharing, liking, commenting, and purchasing.

It is vital that you share content on social media on a consistent schedule. If you plan to share your blog post on Mondays, share it every Monday! Automated scheduling tools allow sharing even when you’re on vacation, traveling, or in meetings. This is hard. I struggle with it too! When lots of work and priorities pop up, you have to schedule a time to get it done.

Ensure you can engage with your audience through comments, social sharing buttons, and connections

Make it easy for your audience to add comments, share your content, and connect with you. If someone leaves a positive comment, give thanks. See if you can get them to write a full customer review. Share the review with the rest of your social media following. If it’s a negative comment, respond appropriately and take action.

Be human, not robotic, and develop social media relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask for social proof or reviews. Social proof and product reviews are a powerful marketing tool!

Schedule time to interact with your audience

You have limited time and resources. Schedule 15-30 minutes a day to respond to comments, answer questions, and give thanks. We’ve also only established 3-4 social media profiles. You should be able to engage on all sites if you keep up with it daily.

Once you scale and grow, you can hire people to manage your social communities. Until then, start small, remain focused on a few objectives, and have fun!

Next week we’ll discuss Email Marketing. Feel free to sign up for my newsletter to receive these posts in your email.

I hope this post helped. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. If relevant, please share it with your friends and network. Looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Stewart Swayze

 

 

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How to create a simple, but value-added content strategy?

This is the 8th post of a series: “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy.”

Focus on creating & curating quality content that is engaging and sharable

For some people the thought of content creation is a scary. However, for the purposes of this post, we are going to keep it simple. This post is designed under the assumption that you have limited time and budget. I’ll even share a few marketing automation tools to help as much as possible. The goal is to get you started with content creation, as you learn and grow, you can develop a more robust content strategy. Remember to focus on creating quality content giving less importance to quantity.  

There are hundreds of books and articles on Content Strategy. Content Warfare by Ryan Hanley is a book I recommend. For this post, let’s boil down content creation into two simple goals – Attract prospective buyers and retain current customers. Content is one of the most important driving tools for your inbound marketing strategy.

  • 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content. - Marketing Tech Blog
  • 68% of consumers spend time reading content from a brand they are interested in. - The CMA

Content Distribution - 30/60/10 Owned, Curated, and Promotional

The 30/60/10 ratio is a simple rule to get started with your Content Strategy

  • 30% Owned – Your blog, videos, pictures, infographics. Owned content is what you have created
    • Why only 30%? – You’re just starting and don’t have a ton of owned content yet
  • 60% Curated - Links to other content that is related to your industry, brand, or company. You will share, but include your thoughts, recommendations, or point of view along with the link
    • You to become a central thought leader, people look at you as the filter of good content
    • You have more opportunities to engage with your prospects and customers on topics that are relevant to them
  • 10% Promotional – Your calls to action, marketing, and sales pitch
    • Why only 10%? – People don’t want to read, hear, and see you talk about yourself all day
    • Don’t oversell on social media, people get turned off really quickly. Seek to provide value

In the beginning, keep your content topics simple

Let’s not complicate topic creation. You have a product, service, or some sort of offering. You know your industry, prospects, and customers. Let them hear from you.

  • Answer FAQs
  • Provide Thought Leadership & Expertise
  • Solve Common Customer Challenges
  • Share Industry News and Insights
  • Tell Your Brand Story
  • Share Company News, Events, and Stories
  • Provide Industry Statistics relevant to your customers

Choose your topics based on your goals. A few goals to consider:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Thought Leadership
  • Generate Leads
  • Retain Customers
  • Generate Traffic
  • Answer Questions
  • Competitive Positioning
  • Build Trust

78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content want to build good relationships. -TMG Custom Media

Centralize your Owned Content within a blog

For your owned and original content, centralize everything within your website, and on your blog. Not only will this help bring people to your website, but also this helps your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

First, create content in the form of a 500-1000 word blog post. Once you create a blog post, you’ll use that same post to create new forms of content and promote across many different platforms (see below). Your blog posts will provide information from the bulleted topics above. Don’t forget to add a simple Call to Action at the end of your blogs. Examples include – Following you on social media, signing up for your newsletter, providing feedback, etc.

Use your blog to create new forms of content

From that single piece of content, you can expand it into other forms – a Podcast, YouTube Video, Infographic, Webinar, Meme, etc. The type of content will depend on your audience and goals.

From voice of customer and understanding where your audience hangs out online, break apart your content … change from written word to video, words to a podcast, and pictures to memes, etc. Find the most important nuggets of valuable information and share it with your audience in multiple formats.

  • Neil Patel breaks down 15 Types of Content to Drive Traffic

Schedule and automate your content distribution

To reduce time, schedule your posts and sharing. Depending on your website host, you could have limited, but built-in capabilities for sharing content to various social media sites. There are many different content distribution tools, but two good options are Hootsuite and Buffer.

Hootsuite: “Manage multiple networks, schedule posts, and engage
your audience, all in one place.”

  • Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, Instagram and FourSquare
  • Plans: Free, Pro ($9.99 / Month up to 50 profiles), and Business (Contact for pricing).

Buffer: “Buffer shares your content at the best possible times throughout the day so that your followers and fans see your updates more often. Get the most out of each post.”

  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest
  • Plans: Individual Plan (Free), Awesome Plan: $10/month, Small Business Plan: $50/month, Medium Business Plan: $100/month, Large Business Plan: $250/month

Through content curation, you’re the filter for your audience’s valuable 3rd party content

Content curation is finding information relevant to your audience across a diverse set of sources. Then, sharing it strategically through your social media and communication channels. We’re all constantly overwhelmed by information, insights, and data. By curating valuable content you become the trusted filter for your audience. You already read articles, have thoughts, opinions, and insights. It’s time to share them.

As you collect that content, provide your audience with a short insight or thought, then the link. You can even ask a question to engage them in a discussion. To make this easier, I’ll list out a few tools below.

  • Pocket: Install Pocket’s browser extension for easy curation. You can download the app on your smartphone for cross-platform usage. As you read an article, save and tag it to Pocket for future sharing.
  • Twitter Lists: Twitter can be a horrendous. It turns into a streaming mess if you’re not using Lists to organize the accounts you follow. A list is a curated group of Twitter users that you can create or follow. You can retweet great content provided by those you follow.
  • Scoop.it: Start with a topic of interest and Scoop.it not only generates the most relevant articles to view and share, but also includes complementary topics and other Scoop.it users to follow. 

To get started with content curation, pick tools, start using them, practice, and learn from the response or engagement of your audience.

Don’t over-promote your products and services through the content you develop

People are tired of getting slammed by sales pitches all day. If you over-promote, they’ll turn you off, ignore your emails, and stop visiting your site. Use the promotional portion of your content very strategically. Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t sell or promote your products and services. I’m suggesting is that you need to be very careful how often. To help you control your content development ratio (30/60/10), develop a very simple editorial calendar.

Keep your content simple in the beginning. Creating value is better than complication and creativity (expensive publishing software, crazy cool graphics, etc.)

Since you are probably starting out, keep it simple. Don’t try to be too creative. Focus on “value” over complication and creativity. Get your content out there, test different types, learn what your audience wants to consume. Ask them how you can improve and what they want to learn. If you are providing valuable owned and curated content, you’ll draw prospects to your site and keep your customers satisfied. This is the essence of Inbound Marketing. Sales will happen naturally, your promotional content will help to augment your other sales activities.

Visit again next week when we’ll discuss developing Social Media. Or, sign up for my newsletter to receive these posts in your email.

I hope this post helped. How did you develop your content strategy? What tips do you have for new content creators?

Stewart Swayze

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Quick and Easy Steps to Creating Your Business Website

8 Quick and Easy Steps to Creating Your Business Website

This is the 7th post of a series: “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy.”

Creating a website for your business is fairly easy. Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly have drag and drop templates with good support forums. Alternatively, you can hire someone to build a WordPress site. This will significantly increase your cost. 

1. Secure a domain name

You need to secure a domain name. It should be your business name or something as close as possible. Some providers allow you create a domain name for free. The provider will slap branding all over your site and even in your domain name. I recommend spending a few dollars per month to get your own domain. You can find coupons for domain names by searching Google.

I like to keep it simple and use Google’s domain registry service. They partner with several site creation services such as Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. This makes it’s easy to integrate everything into one location. Google provides an optional custom email service as well (@yourdomain). Google Apps for Work includes helpful business tools to include video meetings, shared calendars, and online storage. 

2. Create a logo

For some reason, a lot of people get hung up on logos. If you don’t already have one or want a new logo, I'll list out a few different options. 

Free: You can use free software or sites like Canva to create your own logo for free. 

Low Cost: Go to Fiverr search for logo design and have someone build one for you. Logo designs start at $5 and up. If you go this route, choose designers with outstanding reviews from other customers. It's an inexpensive option, but remember, you get what you pay for. 

Medium Cost: You can use design contest sites. These are a little more expensive, but the quality should increase compared to Fiverr. Check out design contest site reviews on The Crowder

High Cost: Hire a local or freelance graphic designer. I recommend this option. It’s the most expensive option, but you’ll be very happy with the results.

3. Pick a hosting service

I’m going to assume you’re using a do it yourself provider like Squarespace. If you want to build a WordPress site, I’d recommend hiring someone. The DIY sites are, for the most part, SEO and mobile friendly.

Picking a DIY provider will depend on your business, goals, and budget. I cannot recommend a specific provider for you, but I can provide a resource that will help you decide. Jeremy Wong at Website Builder Expert wrote an article that reviews several providers. He even has a comparison chart. First, read this article - “DIY Website Builder – Even You Can Build & Publish a Website.” Then, choose a provider that fits your goals.

I use Google’s Domain registry services, consider one of their partner providers.

4. Choose a DIY template

The DIY providers, like the ones I’ve listed above, provide easy to use templates. Pick a template based on your business. Most of the providers have recommended templates. There is no reason to over complicate your site. Keep it clean and simple. When you grow, you choose to pay for a more robust website design.

5. Create at least 4 sections for your site

There are tons of strategies on building the right website. Keeping it simple, I’d recommend 4 sections: About, Products / Services, Blog, and Contact.

Write each section, review it with friends, family, colleagues or a mentor. Edit, Edit, Edit. You want to avoid any spelling or grammar mistakes, it happens, but do your best to avoid those. 

  • About section: Provide basic introductory information in this section. Include company information, experience, basic product information, and why someone should buy your product or service. Since you're selling something, include a value proposition towards the top of this page.
  • Products / Services section: Add more detailed information about your products and services. This is where you can add Customer Outcomes to market your products. You can also provide any relevant technical information. 
  • Blog section: This is your central location for owned content. We’ll discuss content strategy in a later post. Your blog will allow you to create and share content on your site and social media. Most DIY website providers have social sharing options built into the templates. Build an email opt-in form to collect email information from site visitors. Email opt-ins will be vital to your email and inbound marketing strategy.
  • Contact section: Provide clear contact information - Name, Phone Number, Address, etc. Your website provider should have a built-in template to create a contact form. You might receive spam if you include your email address on your website. If you want to reduce spam and track emails, add a contact form. It’s your option.

5. Take advantage of your website footer

Your website footer is a perfect space to add your social media profile buttons. These buttons allow people to visit and follow your business on social media. You add contact information, email opt-in, site navigation links, terms of service link, and a privacy policy. Orbit Media has a good article on website footer best practices.

6. Add pictures to your site

Be creative. Add relevant and professional pictures to your site. You can search Google for “free stock photos” to find pictures that fit your business. At the most, they might ask you to provide credit for the photo. Don’t use copyrighted images without permission. Be careful you don’t overload your site with random and unorganized images. Most DIY templates will provide gallery options.

If you’re a photographer or someone that needs to add a lot of images, consider adding a Gallery as a separate section to your site. 

7. Don’t write long paragraphs on your site

This is a best practice from content strategy, but it also applies to websites. Most visitors scan. Write short, digestible, and scannable paragraphs. Keep your paragraphs around 3 to 4 sentences max. Use other techniques such as bullets, numbers, or bolded key points.

8. Build something basic, get out there, learn, and grow

Try not to spend weeks building the most perfect and professional site. It’s more important you get the site up and running as quick as possible. That way you can start creating content and connecting with your audience. Do a little bit of research. Take a couple of days to build and edit your site. You can adapt your website to your expanding needs.

Next week I’ll discuss Creating Content. After that we’ll move into Social Media, Newsletter / Email Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization. Feel free to visit my site or sign up for my newsletter to receive each post in your email.

Stewart Swayze

 

 

 

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Creating Customer Personas To Beat Your Competition

Creating Buyer Personas To Beat Your Competition

Customer Personas

If you are following my “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy,” you’ve defined a customer challenge, tested hypotheses, conducted voice of customer, analyzed your competition, and developed customer outcomes. Now it’s time to create customer personas, also known as buyer personas.

Consider your resource restrictions and requirements

First, you have limitations to consider when defining your target customer. Don’t try and service the entire market if you are just starting out. Find a solid niche. Prepare to target and serve them well. If you succeed in a niche, you can expand into larger markets with more offerings at a later date.  

Growing your customer base beyond your capabilities sounds like an awesome scenario. Your company and product are so damn good that you have too many customers. I wouldn’t want to stop or slow anyone down from growth. However, there’s a fine line here. If you cannot serve your customers, they will likely leave or the competition will swoop in to save the day. Also, if your product cannot handle the load, it may crash. You can do some early testing and forecasting to help prepare for future growth.

Beat your competition by developing your customer personas from an alternative perspective

The more unique a persona, the easier it will be to differentiate yourself from the competition. Your competition might define customers using demographical information. If this is the case, create a customer persona based on psychographic data.

For example:

Competition’s Persona with demographic driver - Millennials, based in NYC or the Bay Area, working in the tech industry, highly educated, w/ high disposable income. 

Your Persona with psychographic driver - Individual contributors and managers in high tech, that enjoy autonomy, value personal growth, have limited time, but use e-based offerings to continue their education and learning. 

Look at your customer’s behaviors, values, & beliefs. Where do they purchase (Channels)? When do they purchase (Seasonal, Quarterly, Inspirationally)?

Who are they (Managers, CEOs, Mothers, Fathers, etc.)?

Create Customer Personas from your Customer / Market Challenge, Competitive Analysis, Voice of Customer, and any other data

You will tailor content based on your customer persona and position within the marketing funnel. We’ll discuss content strategy in a later post.

To create a customer persona, fill in the information below. 

  • Background – General Background information

  • Demographics – Age, Sex, Location, etc

  • Psychographics – Behaviors, Beliefs, Level of Organization, etc.

  • Pain Points/Challenges – What are the pain points and challenges they are experiencing?

  • Goals and Objectives – What are their G&O’s? How will they use or consume your offering?

  • Needs, Wants, Desires – Based on your VOC, what are their needs, wants, and desires?

  • Quotes – During your VOC, did you capture any good quotes? Do they fit a potential persona? Or, can you create a descriptive quote that generalizes the persona?

  • Product - In general, describe how your offering will help the persona

  • Outcomes – What is the measurable result a customer will experience when they purchase?

  • Marketing Message – Take your description from above and turn it into marketing messages. More formal and a bit longer than the description of how your product will help. How would you describe your product, service, or offering to your target customer?

  • Elevator Pitch – What’s your 30-second elevator pitch to get in the door?

  • Common Objections – Brainstorm, list out any common objections and how to overcome them. If you don’t have any yet, try to find a few you think might come up. As you gain more information, fill this out. Begin creating FAQs with answers.

Create a descriptive name and share each Customer Persona

Create a name for the persona. Add a profile picture that helps visualize each Customer Persona. Share each Customer Persona with a small, but cross-functional set of colleagues. If you are just starting a company, share these personas with friends, family, or a mentor.

Gather feedback and refine your Customer Personas

Once you’ve shared your Customer Personas, ask for feedback. Determine if you need to refine anything. Try not to overcomplicate the process. Prioritize the feedback and only refine as required. 

Next week we’ll discuss a website with a blog. After that, you’ll begin developing a content strategy aligned to your customer personas. This will allow you to target prospects and retain any current customers. I welcome any feedback. Don’t forget to visit my blog or sign up from my newsletter.

Stewart

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How to Develop Brilliant Customer Centric Outcomes

How to Develop Brilliant Customer Centric Outcomes

Customer Centric Outcomes

If you are following my “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy,” you’ve defined a customer challenge, tested hypotheses, conducted voice of customer, & analyzed your competition. Now it’s time to develop customer centric outcomes.

An outcome is the measurable result a customer will experience when they buy your product or service. Will they see a 15% increase in productivity? A 10% reduction in operating expense? It’s the total value and experience you provide. If you have a cleaning service, it’s not just a clean house. It’s the full experience the actual value to your client.

What if you not only provided a clean house, but also a free home organization assessment? The outcome of a clean AND reorganized house could tremendously impact your customer’s life. This would be easy to do, just link up with a local home organization consultant. The consultant would probably say “yes” because then you get them in front of more clients. Free for you, free assessment for your customer, added value, and a differentiated experience. Marketing and selling based on customer outcomes will set you apart from your competition. You become more than just another supplier. You are a strategic supplier. 

Why are outcomes important?

In the Competitive Analysis post, we discussed using the Internet enables you to keep a watchful eye on your competition. This allows you to develop differentiation strategies. In this same way, customers are more empowered, prudent, and a bit skeptical. Customers are no longer concerned with features and benefits. They want outcomes.

Outcomes aren't a new concept. But, they aren't used enough. If you truly want to differentiate yourself and become a strategic supplier, you need to develop outcomes.

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want to buy a quarter-inch hole!” - Theodore Levitt

Most decision makers no longer have time to learn about your products and listen to your feature / benefit pitch. You and your competition just repeat the same old crap time and time again. Just envision Charlie Brown’s teacher, “wah, wah … wah.” Boring as hell and not helping you. Your customers simply want outcomes, and measurable end results.

How do you develop customer-based outcomes?

To develop outcomes we need to shift your mindset a little. Move away from the old school 4P’s of Marketing: Product, Place, Promotion, and Price. Instead, let’s use a different set of P’s. Scott Santucci of Forrester defines the new set as:

  • Problem: What are the customer’s problems?

  • Pattern: How will your solution solve their problems?

  • Path: How will it be purchased and can you help facilitate the decision cycle?

  • Proof: What is the quantified value the solution will deliver?

Develop Measurable and/or Quantifiable Outcomes

If you are following the “12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy,” we’ve started covering the first 3 P’s: Problem, Pattern, and Path. To develop outcomes, we need to quantify the value our solution can deliver. Remember, a feature / benefit is Product X costs runs on an open platform and costs only $5. A solution is Product X integrates your Marketing Automation Programs into one platform. An outcome is Product X increases your email marketing team’s productivity by X%. It saves you $Y in legal fees by cross-verifying opt-ins. This ensures your team is compliant with the new email marketing regulatory requirements.

Outcomes are metrics for success that help clients meet specific and measurable goals. It’s no longer just the solution. It’s the end result.

  • Productivity

  • Efficiency

  • Customer Satisfaction

  • Increased Revenue

  • Decreased Cost

  • Increased Market Share

  • Measurable, Strategic, and Specific to your customers

I challenge you, no matter what product, service, or offering you plan to market / sell, you can find measurable outcomes. If you cannot think of any, this is a perfect time to reconnect with your customers. Why not ask them? Any information they provide you specific to outcomes is data. The more data you get, positive or negative, the more you can improve. If your product is currently in development, this is a perfect time to have an outcomes conversation with potential customers. Dig deep. Find out what desired outcomes are important to them. Test and pilot your beta product. Use the Lean Startup Principles – Build, Measure, Learn – Preserve, Pivot, Iterate.

Next week we’ll discuss developing Customer Personas. You can also sign up for my newsletter to receive these posts in your email.

I hope this post helped. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. If relevant, please share it with your friends and network. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Stewart Swayze

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Brilliant Voice of Customer Hacks to Test Market Fit

Brilliant Voice of Customer Hacks to Test Market Fit

Voice of Customer

This post is part of a series, 12 Steps to Begin Developing and Executing a Basic Digital Marketing Strategy."

Today we’ll go a little deeper into Voice of Customer (VOC). So far you’ve completed the first three steps. You’ve defined the problem, developed a set of hypotheses to test, and completed a competitive analysis. The next step is testing everything through VOC. The best way to learn about your customer is to ask them. It's important to remember a few things here … VOC means ask questions, actively listen, and do not under any circumstances try to sell!

"THE BEST WAY TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMERS IS TO ASK THEM" - CLICK TO TWEET

There are many different ways to collect VOC. Some of these include customer interviews, focus groups, surveys, general observations and/or test customers. For this exercise we’re going to focus on interviews and surveys. Both of these methods are easy and free to conduct. 

It is important to ask open-ended questions. A simple way to construct open-ended questions is to start with Who, What, When, Why, and How? If you need to use leading questions, begin a question by painting a small picture… yet, allow your customers to fill in the rest. Try to create questions that allow you to cover several hypotheses with one question. Actively listen and dig deeper by asking them “what else?” Another valuable tactic is summarizing through feeling. “I feel as if…” then provide your summary and ask if you are correct. They will either confirm or reject your summary, but provide more information.

Massage your VOC questions based on your audience and channel

Before I jump into the types of questions you can ask, let’s cover a little bit of background. When you develop your own questions, you’ll need to massage the questions for the type of VOC channel you are using and audience. There are 1000s of different questions, tools, data you can use to conduct in-depth VOC. In fact, there are startups and huge companies that focus on helping companies collect VOC. As an example, 9Lenses is an awesome company I’ve worked with before.

Our goal is to develop a basic marketing strategy. We want to get your offering on the market as quickly and efficiently as possible. As you scale, gain funding, or increase revenues, you can develop more robust VOC systems. This includes collecting VOC data from several places within the buyer journey and a product’s life cycle.  

What types of questions should you ask? 

  • Background – Ask questions to gain general background information. What’s their role? What do they have responsibility for? How long? Get a general sense of whom they are.

  • Demographics – Age, Gender, Location, Income Level, Marital Status, Occupation.

  • Psychographics – What are their behaviors, beliefs, and preferences? How do they prefer to learn about products? Where do they purchase? Who / what influences their purchasing decision? What is a typical day for them?

  • Pain Points/Challenges – What are your customer pain points? What challenges they are experiencing?

  • Goals and Objectives – What are their G&O’s? How will they use or consume your offering?

  • Needs, Wants, Desires – What do they need to solve their pain point? What do they want that’s value added? What’s nice to have, but not required?

  • Outcomes – What metrics do they use to ensure a product or service has met their requirements? How does it make them feel?

  • MVP – If a manufacturer or service provider offered you “X”, (describe your MVP here) would you listen to them? Would you consider purchasing their product / service? Why or why not? What else? Be careful not to sell. Present the basic MVP, actively listen, dig deeper, but do not sell.

  • Common Objections – Why don’t they currently use a product or service to help them? If they do, what do they like about it? What would they improve? If they were the manufacturer or service provider, what would they do different?

Where can I reach potential customers to gain VOC?

There are 3 immediate answers. If you have current customers, start with Step 1. If you don’t, move to steps 2 & 3.  

1). Ask your established customer base. The 1st one is simple, but only applies to anyone that already has customers. You can do this via the phone, surveys, or in person.

Even if you have customers, conduct steps 2 and 3 below as well. A few months ago I executed all 3 steps for a financial services firm. This firm thought they knew everything about their customers and prospects. We uncovered a 1B+ market they weren’t serving. Plus, found a few, let’s call them, “counterintuitive” perspectives from their current customers.

2) Walk outside your door. More than likely you live in or are close to a relatively populated community. Head out your door and speak with people in your community to collect VOC. I list out a few examples below. Read these over, and adapt them to your business, offering, and location. List as many places as possible. Don’t worry about finding the perfect place. Get a long list going and prioritize later:

  • Hosted Events at the Small Business Administration, Chamber of Commerce, Meetups, Incubator/Accelerator Programs, Job Fairs, etc.

  • Academic Institutions, Entrepreneurial Centers & Co-Working Spaces

  • Friends, Colleagues, your High School, Undergraduate & Graduate School Network

3) Online: To reach out and connect with potential customers online, you’ll need to find out where they “hang out.” Some specific online examples include: 

  • Quora, Medium, & Blogs

  • Startup Networks, Websites, & Online Boards

  • Social Media – LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups, Google+ & Twitter

Before bombarding social media groups with tons of questions, read and understand the guidelines for each site and group. If it’s a group, join. Then, take some time to read the content already provided. Maybe comment on a few posts. Then ask a single question. When you receive comments, kindly ask people if you can follow up with them.

For Quora, the whole point is to ask a question and have an expert answer. Again, follow the same example above. Ask, listen, and connect.  On Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you can create survey using SurveyMonkey, Twitter polls, or some site like that. Make your survey professional with some sort of graphic, picture, etc. Don’t just post a comment, "Take my survey" with a link. Also, try to limit your surveys to the most important questions (10-15 max). SurveyMonkey provides tips on conducting surveys on social media.

Once you’ve completed steps 1, 2, and 3, analyze your data. Take a step back, share the info with friends and colleagues. Then provide it back to your potential customers. Ask for their thoughts and perspectives. Did your hypotheses stand up? What should you adjust and refine?

Now we’ve completed your initial VOC. We’ve defined the problem. Developed hypotheses. Tested those hypotheses with VOC. In Step 5 (next week) we'll use this information to develop Customer Outcomes. Now you know exactly who your customers are and where they hang out. Plus, have a good understanding for a Minimum Viable Product.

If this post has helped you, please share it with your friends and network. As always, I welcome feedback and comments. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Stewart Swayze

 

 

 

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