Category Archives: Marketing Strategy & Ideas

Marketing Trends for 2017

Marketing Trends for 2017
Image: Pexels

Where will you be focusing your marketing efforts for the new year?

Marketing trends for 2017 may already be on your radar, but before I list the ones I think you should stay on top of, let’s take a quick look back. According to inbound marketing expert Hubspot, the top three marketing challenges for 2016 were generating traffic and leads, proving the ROI of your marketing activities, and securing enough budget for marketing activities.

Does this accurately reflect your marketing challenges?

With there being so much noise online coupled with the exhaustive competition for attention these days, marketing your business requires a lot of focused strategy. It is always a good time at the beginning of the year to review where your revenue came from in the previous year. Has your target market changed? Is it time to make some adjustments to your audience targeting, lead generation strategies and pricing?

Remember, how we do business has changed. Buyers are socially savvy. They do the research ever before thy knock on your door so knowing how to attract and draw customers is essential to your marketing strategy.

Here are the marketing trends for 2017 you should consider implementing:

1. Live Streaming Video

Video has taken over as the primary content delivery system. Video is so much more social, it puts a face to your brand and allows views to be part of the conversation – that is BIG. Again, according to HubSpot Research has found that 43% of consumers want to see more video from marketers in the future, while only 29% want to see more blog posts.

Video can be done in short segments via all social channels and offers a way to tell stories, build relationships, communicate with customers and pull back the curtain to your organization. Whether that’s one of one hundred 2017 is the year to try the platforms where your ideal clients might spot you.

Facebook live is the leader in streaming video. If you have a business page I encourage you to give it a try. To gain further exposure, either boost the post with $20 or create a strategic ad campaign promoting your video’s. Facebook is giving priority to video – time to jump on that opportunity.

2. Relationship Marketing

Are you building relationships or just pushing out content hoping someone will bite and be interested. Taking the time to develop relationships with customers, prospects and referral partners is a long-term strategy that will pay off. Investing in people that become advocates or champions of your brand will tell others.

I bought a new iPad over the holiday and had an immediate issue with it randomly shutting down. I called Apple care who took an amazing amount of time and caring to resolve the issue. Apple builds relationship equity consistently!

Investing in building relationship capital is what I hear more savvy professionals finally getting on board with. No longer is having the most LinkedIn connections valuable. What is valuable are the deeper, meaningful relationships that have been nurtured over time.

In the article I wrote titled, “Beyond LinkedIn: Mastering Relationship Drives Success” It is important to understand so much of what we do in business is virtual or digital, building relationships that are meaningful, long-term and focused on a serving mentality are the way to winning business. This may require a mind-shift in your thinking in terms of how you approach prospecting and connections in a thoughtful yet strategic way.

3. Influencer Marketing

Who influences your market, you know that person who others listen to as the credible resource?
There are always certain people that can influence a brand, or who stand out because their opinion means something. If you can focus on meeting and building true relationship with a few of those folks in time you could earn the respect to have them promote you! The mistake novices make is connecting with an influencer let’s say on LinkedIn, you send them a nice invitation and once it is accepted you send them a message telling them about your really great blog post abut XYZ and would they share it with their audience!

Yes, the right influencers establish credibility and build you up through each social media post or share with their followers, but the key is for you to serve them first. Can you share their posts, quote them in your blog post, promote their event or introduce them to someone? I encourage you to find the ‘giver’ inside and find ways you can serve before asking for something in return.

4. Content Marketing

If your website has a blog you can win in search if you develop high quality, longer posts. Bottom line, Google wants to see better content and will reward those sites that are producing it. What that means according to content marketing guru Neil Patel, “Make your article 4,000 words, add images, include authoritative discussion and create the best piece of content on the internet on that topic.” And Google will show that content above high ranking sites!

Okay, so now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor because you fainted over the idea of writing a 4,000-word blog post, I get it. However, consider this – all of us have the opportunity to dominate a niche if we focus on the topic we are known for, remain relevant and keep generating really good, quality articles.

I don’t think I need to explain what that means because you’ve read other people’s content where you really gained valuable tips or insights. In the social media niche, the best blog out there for quality content is Social Media Examiner. They have guest bloggers who produce high-quality content because each and every post teaches the reading something of value they could implement immediately.
The length of the articles is nowhere near 4000 words. The caveat to what I’m suggesting you do is to understand they have already established themselves and won’t lose much in search because they have dominated social media blogs for such a long time. If your blog is not established in top search results then I might encourage you to try a 4000-word blog post and track the results.

5. Mobile – get your website up to speed

Google knows that the majority of internet users are accessing everything online via their mobile devices. If you want your website to be shown during a search on mobile you want to be sure your webpages are AMP ready. Accelerated Mobile Page (or AMP, for short) is a project from Google and Twitter designed to make really fast mobile pages. This is very geeky stuff, but here’s the bottom line, Google is saying they will give search preference to those sites that load fastest which will be those who implemented AMP pages into their websites.

Talk with your web developer about AMP pages for your website. If you want to understand more, here is a great article from industry expert, MOZ. https://moz.com/blog/accelerated-mobile-pages-whiteboard-friday

6. Personalized Content

It’s time to get more specific and personalized with your marketing. Go narrow with your marketing messages speaking directly to your ideal customer about the specific solution you offer to their problems, this means not communicating in generalities or trying to offer a one-size-fits-all solution. Audit your website and social media sites for your communication style. The goal is not to do business with everyone who needs what you offer, the goal is to do business with those people who believe in what you believe in. Tell your story, who you serve and how you help.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’
– Simon Sinek, “Start With Why”

Conclusion

Although I shared some marketing trends for 2017, it is important to always be communicating and speaking to those you want to do business with and influence. Tools change, trends change offering ways to leverage your marketing efforts. Taking advantage of these will keep your brand relevant.

What do you think? Is live streaming video something you can implement into your business this year? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below – JoAnne.

4 Ways to Educate, Connect & Engage Your Prospects

4-ways-educate-connect-engage-prospects

Content marketing has changed how we deliver our marketing messages. Long gone are the days when we pummel people with messages hoping to eventually get them to buy from us.

Marketing has changed because how we do business has changed. As consumer’s we have access to more digitally driven data than ever before. Most often we have already made the decision of what we want to buy, the decision is who do we want to buy from.

In today’s marketing to be successful we must educate, connect and engage with our target audience to earn a chance to sell them something.

“Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time. Worry less about sounding professional and worry more about creating remarkable content that other humans can relate to.” – Ann Handley

1. Educate by Answering Questions

Seems like this should be common sense and so I am amazed when I go to buy something and I can’t get a question answered. Recently I was doing research online for a specific product for my home and I did a ‘Google’ search for “Top Rated XYZ’s” and one blog popped up offering reviews of the product I was searching for. Now there is an opportunity!

Pay attention to the questions you are asked about your products or services and answer those questions on your website because that will show up in search results! You can also answer those questions in your newsletter, utilize live video on Facebook, or via a blog post. Content marketing is a term used for using a form of content to market – there are so many forms these days such as what I mentioned above and so many more.

The more you can answer questions your ideal customer has, then you become the authority. The ‘go to’ company who people learn from, gain trust in and eventually buy from.

2. Connect with Your Target Audience

To connect with your target audience, you need to know where they hang out. If you have a retail business do, they prefer the in-person connection? Are they social, if so what platforms do they frequent? How do they like to hear from you? Do they read online newsletters or are they from the era they want snail mail? If you don’t know the answers now is the to take a survey.

Connecting means more than sending a LinkedIn invitation or asking someone to join your email list. It means you are intentional and clear on who you want to attract and how you can best serve that target prospect.

3. Engage with Your People

Once you know where your audience is, you will want to set-up an engagement strategy. For example, if your ideal audience is on Facebook, have they liked your page? Do you post informative and/or fun posts that elicit engagement? Do you ask them to comment and share on your page? Again, sounds simple but so often I see comments ignored by businesses on all social media platforms.

In this crazy, non-stop digital world we are faced with thousands of messages every day. I believe people want to connect more deeply, they want to be seen and heard. If you are building a community, answering questions and simply showing up for people – well, that is a game changer.

Building relationships lead to trust and people buy from those they know, like and trust. Showing up and being engaged can drive revenue and those who are successful are winning. Engagement is an investment of time in your business but something you can’t ignore.

4. Reviews & Testimonials– people care about the opinion of strangers

When was the last time you bought something on Amazon? Did you read the reviews before you made the purchase? Have you checked someone out on LinkedIn to see how professional or credible they appear? Perhaps you checked out their recommendations to see what others were saying.

The point is, in today’s world we care about the opinion of strangers! In marketing, adding testimonials to our website and marketing materials adds to our credibility and trust factor.

Consider the ‘Google’ effect…you are out doing errands and stop to do a Google search on your mobile device for something. You check out the Google reviews before making your decision. Google is rewarding businesses with 5- star reviews online by pushing more search traffic their way. Google believes review are that important.
If your business does not have a Google business listing I recommend you do it today and encourage people to leave you recommendations.

marketing-dish-facebook-reviews

Conclusion

Implementing these four steps into your marketing strategy will build deeper and more meaningful business relationships. People will be more curious because you show you care in ways that are helpful and valuable to those people who are wanting more from you.

Marketing: Smorgasbord of Ideas to Grow Your Business

I attended the annual Social Media Rockstar Event in Minnesota this past week with some really insightful leaders in marketing and social media. The conference offered a smorgasbord of ideas to grow your business. Here are some of my takeaways that I hope you will find value in for your business.

Keynote speaker Nick Westergaard, author of “Get Scrappy – Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small”

nick-westergaard Social Media Rockstar event

Nick suggested we get smarter about marketing. Start with smart steps:

1. Start with a sound strategy – Why, What, When, Where, Who & how
2. Know your why – is your marketing goal to gain more sales, PR, brand awareness, market research? Before starting any marketing, you must be clear on your why.
3. What means what will you do and who are you trying to reach. What channels or media will you use to accomplish your why.
4. Where – If you market is millennials than consider investing in a Snap Chat strategy.
5. Who & how – Create questions around who are you serving and what tools will you need to accomplish this.

Create Content that answers questions. What do people most want to learn from you, your niche or industry that solves their problems and create all your content that answers those questions.
An interesting statistic Nick mentioned was, 70% of people still prefer to receive information by email versus social. In fact, there are twice as many email accounts than people on Facebook and think about this – we are shown 63GB of media on a daily basis online which is an incredible amount of content.
When you have loyal followers on your email list they look forward to getting your messages.

Four Simple Content Hacks

1. Relentlessly repurpose you content.
2. Utilize historical content – example, throwback Thursday
3. Curate relevant content – most small businesses can’t create enough content!
4. Get user generated content – interview you clients, get case studies, ask for comments on social media – simply incorporate your users into your content.

How to Influence Your Customers

Lee Odden, author of “Optimize”, CEO and co-founder of Top Rank Marketing presented on How to Win Social Friends & Influencer Your Customers. Lee’s presentation focused on influencer marketing which has been all the buzz particularly the past year or so.
WHY? The pressure to create new content is on. 62% of a marketers time each month is spent on content creation. (Source: Kapost).
With this pressure, your content must be influencing your customer in some way.

Lee Odden Social Mediarockstar event

Customers don’t trust ads, he reported there is a 41% growth in ad blocking and 198 million ad block users worldwide. So who do customers trust? The answer is each other!
How do you stand out with influence?

Lee suggests you co-create content with influencers. He provided examples such as:
Cambria – the company with the high-end countertops has incorporated celebrities into their marketing
• Deluxe has incorporated Shark Tank into their marketing starting “The Small Business Revolution”
Be Charming, a Pandora Store at the Mall of America – got bloggers and customers involved to build community and utilizing the customer experience into their marketing
My Minnetonka – yes the moccasin company crowd sourced pictures of their customers wearing their products.

“Co-creating content with customers makes them more influential”- Lee Odden

The examples above add authenticity to their marketing because they use real people. It provides a variety of content, creates engagement and participation gets action. Influencer marketing fits into your content strategy with some planning. You can elicit customers to deliver content and you can find people already known for what you want to be known for and find a way to incorporate them into your marketing.

If your goal is to work with industry influencers I recommend you check out Lee’s ebook called “15 Ways to Fail & 25 Ways to Win with Influencer Engagement.”

Utilizing Customers Reviews to Influence

The final keynote was delivered by Aaron Weiche, of Get Five Stars. Today we consumers are savvy. We care more about the opinion of others when it comes to making a buying decision. Whether that be where to eat dinner out or our next purchase on Amazon. We read reviews!
Aaron said “90% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase and 73% of those read between 2-6 reviews. Aaron went on to say that review older than 3 months were no longer relevant.” Wow, that blew me away. So the tip here folks; you need consistent and quality reviews!

Where should you get reviews?

Google My Business
• Google Reviews – on your Google+ page
Claim your business on Yelp
Bing Places
• Facebook Business Page Reviews
• LinkedIn Recommendations

Steps to gaining online influence with your customers

1. Become customer feedback and complaint friendly
2. Respond, remain calm, own it, resolve complaints
3. Understand their story is your story – use in your marketing
4. You can start today!

“Complaints are the new material of which a better business is built”- Aaron Weiche

16 Killer Marketing Tactics for 2017
–>>download this FREE Ebook
Social Media Rockstar 2016 ebook

Grow Your Business Being More Human

Grow Your Business Being More HumanI think businesses have lost the concept of being more human.  How frustrated have you become when you called a customer service phone number and all you get is a recording and after you spend 5-10 minutes clicking on numbers to get the recorded message to hopefully answer your question.  How about this recording that says press 1 for ‘self-servicing actions” – what?

I believe we have come to the fork in the road of online marketing including social media and the human need for interaction.  I think it is time to ask ourselves how much can you get from a computer conversation?  Do you feel as a consumer that the company really cares about you when you receive a canned email message, or you consistently reach a recording or the only time you see people are through images on Facebook?

Grow Your Business Being More Human

Although most of us thrive on human interaction, there are exceptions like teenagers and some millennials.  As business people if this is your market you have to meet them where they are with technology.  Business has changed no doubt about that and most of us have already made the decision about what we want to buy using technology resources, the question usually is “Who will I buy from?”   I recommend a mix of both technology based interaction with human interaction.  it is time to get away from solely relying on technology to connect with prospects and customers.  Here are some ideas for bringing human connection back into your business:

1.) Pick-up the phone occasionally and speak to your customers.  Thank them for their business and ask if there is anything else you can do for them.

2.) Make an effort to speak with customers one or two times per year with the goal of learning why they do business with you.  Not only will this please them but you will gain important information about your business.

3.) Call a client and invite them out for a cup of coffee just to make a human connection and not to sell them something.

4.) Network in person versus relying on social media.

5.)  Shake someone’s hand – yes that may seem old fashioned but many important deals were made with a hand-shake to seal the deal.

6.) Personalize your marketing, let your customers know you are listening and refer back to things they have said at every opportunity.

7.) Make your goal with social media to eventually take the conversation off line. Building a deeper more meaningful relationship.

“What happened to a handshake? Business people don’t do that anymore. Trust is human, human interaction and real conversations. We need more handshake friends, discussion, business partners or handshake leaders – we won’t find our own sense of fulfillment, happiness and trust .” Simon Sinkek author of Start With Why

 

Be mindful and focus on the person in front of you

I have a twenty-something daughter who thinks it’s okay to carry on a conversation with a friend via text while talking with me at the same time.  Some of you can probably relate!  But what that has taught me is to be mindful and present to the person I am with and to listen intently.  I ask myself the question, “Don’t they deserve my full attention and not just a part of it?”

I have always been inspired by this quote from Maya Angelou

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said , people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Grow your business by being more human was illustrated in an article I read in Inc.com by HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah.  I have paraphrased one of the most important point he makes;  “Harnessing the power of consumer advocacy is the answer. A delighted B2B customer is a long-term customer: He will tell friends and colleagues, and if he leaves his job, he’ll take your business with him.  Humans don’t buy from companies; humans buy from humans, so solving for humans is every smart company’s primary goal.”

Think about how you can grow your business by being more human and pay attention to big brands that are doing it through inspiration, motivation and leaving you feeling something deep within.  One of my favorite commercials this year is from Marshalls/TJ Maxx/Home Goods company whose holiday commercial says “Imagine a world where the holidays were about people again, this Season Bring Back The Holidays – Those 4 Little Letters, It’s All About L.O.V.E  Not S.A.L.E “  You can watch is here, let me know how it makes you feel.  https://youtu.be/9wKjXpsiK3E

 

Make Relationship Marketing Your Priority

social-meda-rockstar-event-2015I recently attended the Social Media Rockstar Event, a one day conference in Minnesota focused on bringing updated social media tools and  topics to the attendees.  From the beginning of the conference I could see a theme of making relationship marketing a priority emerge from many of the speakers.

It is critical to understand how we have done business in the past has changed because the way in which consumers buy has changed!  The new buyer has digitally driven access to more information meaning that they have already made a decision on what they are buying in advance because they’ve done their own research, the only question left is – Who are they going to buy from? and that decision is made by earning trust through the relationships the buyer has made.

Make Relationship Marketing Your Priority

Marcus-Sheridan-The-Sales-LionThe keynote speaker, Marcus Sheridan known as the Sales Lion said not to look at business as B to B or B to C, it is time to focus on P to P or People to People which really means we are all in the business of building trust.

They key is knowing what questions people are asking about your business and then your job is to answer those questions at every opportunity.  That means on your website, in your marketing materials, on social media and of course when you meet them face to face.  Marcus related the story of his first business which was building fiberglass swimming pools.  He discovered one of the #1 questions people asked was “How much does a fiberglass swimming pool cost?” So Marcus answered the question directly on his website which has resulted in his website being #1 in search results of pool companies because he answered the question everyone was searching for in Google.

Listening to your prospects and answering their questions should be your top priority.  We want people that offer us some value in the buying process, by becoming a great resource  you show you are credible and thus build trust so when that consumer who already did the research will choose to buy from you!

Honest and transparent content is the greatest sales and trust building tool in the world.  – Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion

Create Better Relationships, Drive Better Results

I was privileged to be a speaker at this event and spoke on the topic of Social Selling. If you are not familiar with the term social selling,  I want you to know it is NOT about selling, rather it is about connecting and serving others in a deeper, more meaningful way.  I know that the deeper, more meaningful relationships I build result in my getting more business and more specifically for me I have and continue to get many referrals.

The steps I follow are:

1.) Know & understand my target market
2.) Research where to find those people.  I leverage LinkedIn’s advanced search tool and compile a list of people I want to know.
3.)  Engage these people with an invitation to my LinkedIn network, follow and engage with their posts, offer to be a resource or jump in the conversation and provide meaningful conversation.
4.)  Follow target connections on other social platforms – engaging their posts and blog when possible
5.)  Develop a content marketing plan that builds my authority and credibility.  Post content on social media that is relevant and useful
6.)  Provide my email subscribers the same relevant and useful information to solve their challenges
7.)  Consistently show up!  This is a huge credibility builder for me because people recognize I am always around both in-person and online.

Teaching what you are an expert in shows you actually want to be a great resource, you are committed and willing to share your knowledge. This could be in the form of blogging, speaking, workshops and educational marketing materials.

Read my LinkedIn social selling tips HERE.

Consider relationship building as a long term strategy.  Remember you have to earn trust before asking for a sale.

Marketing: What Customer Experience Do You Deliver?

Your marketing efforts should include the customer experience you provide.  The better experience you provide a customer the more likely they will be a repeat customer as well as a customer who refers.  Let me share a recent experience I had to illustrate what I consider a really great customer experience.

Marketing customer experienceI was out for dinner with a group of eight people.  By most restaurant standards that is considered a large party.  As soon as our party was situated we were immediately greeted by s smiling waitress who inquired if we were celebrating a special occasion due to the size of our group.  We explained that we were, in fact one of the women was completing her masters degree and we had just come from the nearby college where we attended an event.

The waitress took our drink order and was back within just minutes with all eight drinks in hand. She immediately advised us of the evenings specials and offered to take out order.  The ordering process and food delivery was flawless and quick.  I observed that this waitress had many other tables but at no point did we ever feel neglected.

At the end of the meal she cleared out plates promptly and only one person proceeded to order dessert.  The waitress came back with the dessert meant for one but was obviously much larger in size and said after everyone got a look at the dessert she was sure everyone would want a taste so she said “I made it a little larger and brought spoons for everyone to give it a try.”  WOW, what a lovely gesture and yes she charged us for only one dessert.

To top off the experience when our waitress brought the check she said to my friend for whom we were celebrating,  “we would like to provide your meal complimentary in support of your academic achievement!”

Needless to say, this waitress and the restaurant went out of their way to provide such an amazing customer experience that I have told many people, I’m sure the other people in our party have done the same and here I am writing about it.

When you provide an exemplary customer experience it can be shared quickly and is so valuable.  In today’s world where there are so many online review sites I encourage you to leave  reviews when you receive great service.  I also encourage you to ask your customers to write reviews for you.  Make it simple by providing them a link to the site where you want them to place the review and when they do, be sure to respond and thank them.

If you receive a negative review you have the opportunity to respond and make it right. Oh and if you are in Minneapolis or St. Paul, be sure to check out Highland Grill where I had such a great customer experience.

Want another example of a great customer experience? Read my article about Whole Foods.