How To Use Storytelling To Build Marketing Messages

Everyone loves a good story, right?

Many brands are using this to their advantage by creating powerful stories based around the brand. See how 4 brands are putting this strategy to work for them and making it big.

How To Use Storytelling To Build Marketing Messages-032615

How to: UNSELL. BRAND!

If you’re out there selling something – stop it right now!

Stop selling and start branding. Your brand has a story to tell. Educate your buyer so they have all the knowledge they need to make an intelligent decision. If you start selling, they’ll just roll their eyes and try to get away from you. They won’t trust you. Find out where their anxiety lies, and show them a way out with knowledge. Encourage them to compare. You’re approach will be refreshing to what they see.

I take myself as an example. I position myself as the branding expert. I have an 8 page brochure that educate’s my customer on “How to give their brand a boost.” The whole point is to help them position their company as the first choice (of their buyer) rather than just more of the same.

SNAFU Branding Brochure

You often hear that people don’t like to read much anymore. It’s not that they don’t like to read, it’s more that they don’t like to read copy that benefits you more than them. Give them information that makes you the first choice. You have to show your confidence and give away information that empowers your buyer.

Branding as an empowering tool draws to you customers who also value knowledge. It drives away buyers who fixate on price alone. These are not the customers you can grow on. You’ve heard of “price wars,” well this is a battle that only deep pockets can win. If that isn’t you, then it’s time to change the game to one of an intelligence strategy.

Don’t concern yourself if the competition starts to copy your model. That means they have their eyes off the ball and squarely on what ever it is you’re doing. You can’t control them, so keep your brand out front. Their ignorance can only help you.

It’s like I always say: “Lead don’t follow.”

Facebook Groups For Business Case Study: 90 Day Low Carb Challenge

This is the third case in a series about using Facebook Groups to grow your brand, engage with your community and of course, ultimately, market your business. Today’s case is:

90 Day Low Carb Challenge and Bonus: Weekly Marketing Challenge founded and managed by Lynn Terry

Facebook for Business - Part 4

At the time of writing, this group is over 40,000 members strong. A mind boggling number. Lynn is a natural at engaging her people so let’s find out how she does it.

Why Did You Start Your Facebook Groups?

”If you build it, they will come” only works for Kevin Costner. :) When it comes to getting traffic, which is what we all want and need, the key is to know your market – and get in front of them. To do this you have to find out where they are, then (and this is the important part!)… meet them there (where they already are).

My biggest Facebook Group is actually for my low carb blog at TravelingLowCarb.com. It currently has over 40,000 members (and growing by the hour!). I started the group to help my readers experience RESULTS.

If you can keep your audience seeing results they will continue to open your emails, click / like / share, recommend you to friends – and more importantly, they’ll continue consuming products and services, which equals SALES!

The key to Facebook Groups is to come up with a creative angle that gets people actively engaged in your topic.

In the case of my low carb group, it’s a 90 Day Challenge that doesn’t just put content in front of them… but gets them actively involved in eating low carb. We’re eating together, losing weight together, and we’re even creating new content together! Many of my blog posts are “crowd-sourced” from the group, or inspired by topics my members bring up in the group.

My new WMC group was started as a way to reconnect with people in a fresh way – outside of blog comments and emails. It’s a very focused group, based on a focused task/topic with a specific objective, and the purpose was to attract “action takers”. Any group or community you create should have a strong objective, and mine was to get in front of people actively growing their businesses… and also to create a more public mastermind group with these types.

Why Facebook Groups over a forum on your own site?

I already have a forum on my site at ClickNewz.com and I use that to host my Private Brainstorming Group. It’s a good platform for that because it’s private. Unlike Facebook Groups (unless they are “secret”) lurkers and trolls cannot make their way into the group.

As for ”why Facebook Groups”, the answer is simple: they’re HOT right now. People like them. They’re super active. It’s an easy way to get people engaged. And unlike Facebook Pages, Facebook actually promotes Groups for you – free. They recommend relevant groups to people based on what their friends are joining, or based on their updates and preferences. You can’t beat that kind of free marketing!

A forum is great for membership platforms, but a Facebook Group is better for a more public community.

Why did you choose to have a closed group?

With a closed group, only the members of that group can see the posts and replies. It gives members privacy on specific topics that they don’t necessarily want to share with their family and friends, such as business strategies or weight loss.

A secret group cannot be found on Facebook unless you are specifically invited, but a closed group can be found in searches and anyone can ask to join, so it’s the best of both worlds!

What’s one thing you’d suggest people do to grow their groups?

It all starts with the creative angle. You need a strong “WHY” to motivate people to join and participate in the group. What would get your market actively engaged? If you have a knitting blog, start a “project of the month” group where you lead your community through fun projects together. This could be really fun with seasonal projects!

Like anything else, you have to promote your new group until it takes off on it’s own. Use it as a call to action in relevant informational blog posts, post invites on your social media channels, etc. If you’re doing a new craft every month, or a new challenge every 30 days, this is a great time to ramp up the invites!

What are some suggestions you can give to help keep the group orderly and not overrun with SPAM or off topic chatter?

First, create rules and policies and put them in a Pinned Post at the top of the group. Nobody will read them (lol). You should make sure they are there, though. I also include a line like, “I reserve the right to remove content or members at my discretion.”

I simply remove off-topic posts, and if people complain I refer them back to the rules (the Pinned Post). I also teach my community how to move off-topic posts, spam and arguments out of the feed. I tell them not to respond, but to click “Report / Mark as Spam” so that it goes into moderation. I can then delete the post, or clean up the comments (if they unravel, which they often do! lol) and put it back in the group.

And of course, once your group grows large enough – or just active enough – bring on moderators. It helps to find someone who has an incentive to help out, like another blogger in your niche that you trust and admire.

What’s the one thing people must do to keep their group members engaged?

Three things: Education, Inspiration and Interaction.

Wait, you asked for one… :)

Ask engaging questions, hit emotional hot spots, invite them to share personal experiences or brag about their achievements, challenge them to do something specific, host giveaways and drawings, share helpful tips & information that they can apply immediately (actionable tips), etc.

Just be actively involved, with the goal of helping every single member see RESULTS. :)

What’s the one thing people should avoid in setting up or structuring their groups?

Don’t be afraid to be TOO topical. General is boring. Get strategic with your angle, and consider the best way to use a micro-topic in your niche to help people see fast results.

You also want to be “real” with your community, and also let them feel like PART of the community. I monetize my low carb group of course, and I’ll often be very conversational in my disclosure as a means of letting them “contribute”. Example:

“Taking advantage of these FREE offers is what helps keep this group running – and free to you! I earn a few cents for every coupon print session, which is peanuts… but every little bit adds up to help keep me here helping YOU every day. Thank you for your support!!”

^^ This went along with free printable grocery coupons for low carb items, and again for a Whole Foods Market giveaway campaign I ran. People like giving back, or feeling like they are contributing to “their” community. Especially when they are getting something out of it. :)

I will also say, from my personal experience, that you really shouldn’t do “30 day, 90 day” etc type groups. Keep it open ended. People join all the time, and then think they can’t participate if you’re in the middle of a “timed” project or challenge. Avoid confusion and keep it ongoing instead.

How does having a group translate to growing a business, (increasing sales, reaching new customers, etc) which is the end goal for most of us?

As I mentioned earlier, Facebook will actively market your group FOR you, which really helps you increase your reach and get in front of new people consistently. Your members will do that as well, telling their friends and family or inviting people into the group, so the group will gain momentum and start growing on it’s own once you get it going.

Thanks to my active low carb group, Facebook is now the #1 source of traffic to my blog. I share links to informative blog posts in response to common questions, and create blog posts for questions that get asked a lot – for the same purpose.

The goal is to get as much traffic back to my blog as possible – both for ad revenue and product sales, and for “traffic numbers” for my Media Kit (to attract sponsors & advertisers). I also monetize directly in the group by sharing offers, featuring a “product of the week” and discussing it, etc.

Tip: Create a “one page” – a landing page for your group (ex: 90DayLowCarbChallenge.com). Facebook is “rented land” so I promote my landing page when using it as a call to action, or inviting people to join. That way if I ever lose my group for some reason, or Facebook goes the way of MySpace (lol), I only have to edit ONE page on the internet.

The page gives them all the information they’ll never read (lol) in the Pinned Post at the top of the actual Group, and it also includes my recent blog posts and social links. And most important of all… it includes an opt-in form to join the email list for “Official Group Updates”. :)

I use incentives to encourage people to go to the page and “get official updates by email”. Sometimes I’ll mention that it’s the only way to let them know where we’ve moved in case our group disappears from Facebook (ack!).

I also use the list to notifiy them of upcoming meetups, let them know about contests and giveaways, to get free tips & creative ideas, etc. The incentives you use will depend on the topic if your group of course, but the goal is to build that list!

Above all, to see results (traffic, revenue, growth) you must help your community see results. Start and run your group with that in mind: “What can I do to help them see results?” It’s a question I ask myself every single day when I log on to Facebook.

cheers

-Lynn Terry

p.s. If (and only if!) you’re a serious action-taker, you’re welcome to come check out the WMC group

You can check out and model my “one page” here: http://www.90DayLowCarbChallenge.com. Credit goes to Kelly McCausey for that brilliant idea!

Facebook Groups For Business Case Study: IM Super Friends

This is the second case in a series about using Facebook Groups to grow your brand, engage with your community and of course, ultimately, market your business. Today’s case is:

Internet Marketing Super Friends, founded by Mike Hill.

Facebook for Business - Part 3

Why did you start the Internet Marketing Super Friends Facebook Group?

To prove that we could take the largest group of people who were thought of to be “greedy” and make “giving is the highest currency”.

Why Facebook Groups over a forum on your own site?

Because everyone was doing forums and not coming to the people where they were! I had told many clients to build a group, but none listened. So I did it myself to prove it can grow, and boy has it. We are moving members to a forum as an addendum to the group, but not in lieu of the FB wall.

Why did you choose to have an closed group?

It was originally open for years so that those who we did not immediately “approve” could still see the content. Only in 2014 did we close it to the public to encourage more open sharing.

What’s one thing you’d suggest people do to grow their groups?

Be the change you seek. Set your intent and know that people will follow you if you are not afraid to lead and be yelled at. We were scolded and yelled at for years, but we stayed true to our rules and in the end, people just keep coming.

What are some suggestions you can give to help keep the group orderly and not overrun with SPAM or off topic chatter?

Zero Tolerance Policy. Do not set precedence and don’t break your own rules. If you have sponsors, thats one thing, but don’t spam your own group.

What’s the one thing people must do to keep their group members engaged?

Engage yourself, set the culture, and be sure to feed the soul of the group. Know that its not “their group”, its the groups group.

What’s the one thing people should avoid in setting up or structuring their groups?

Vanity, it will kill you.

How does having a group translate to growing a business, (increasing sales, reaching new customers, etc) which is the end goal for most of us?

Depends on the intent. For us, the business is secondary to the groups intent and a by product of giving.

Facebook Groups For Business Case Study: Foodaplenty

This is the first case in a series about using Facebook Groups to grow your brand, engage with your community and of course, ultimately, market your business. Today’s case is:

Foodaplenty Blog Network, managed by: Foodaplenty

Facebook for Business - Part 2

At time of writing, the group is at 420 people with new members joining everyday. It’s among one that’s very active on Facebook but beyond that. Foodaplenty does a great job of involving their members in various projects that are outside of Facebook like their Must-Try Favorite Recipes from Foodaplenty Blog Network Members. Very smart! So we asked them how they do it.

Why did you start the Foodaplenty Blog Network Facebook Group?

One of the key ingredients to a successful online business is connection to others in your niche, but I find that many bloggers tend to work in isolation. When you have friends, you have people who will promote your content, share your products and provide you with valuable insight and advice. I wanted to create that for food bloggers, so they could support one another.

In addition, there is benefit for us. Obviously, the group gives us an avenue to introduce members to our products and servers. But more importantly, if we create a great environment for food bloggers, they are going to become our cheerleaders and help our business grow. It’s really a win-win for everyone.

Why Facebook Groups over a forum on your own site?

Over the years, I’ve set up a number of interactive groups and forums and have always seen the tremendous value in bringing together likeminded people for discussion and to support one another. Tapping into Facebook’s large and captive audience is a no-brainer. It’s a place people go to daily, so they’re always reminded of your group. While starting a forum in 2002 made sense for me, it would be much more difficult to gain traction in 2014 with the social media distraction out there.

Why did you choose to have closed group?

One drawback to Facebook Groups is that people tend to see them as public property. By keeping the group closed, we have control over things from the very beginning. You can’t come in unless we say you can and you have to follow our rules.

Add to that, while the group isn’t Secret and we know that nothing on Facebook is really private, we did want to provide some kind of privacy to our members. We wanted them to be able to discuss business-related issues without having them broadcast to the world in general.

What’s one thing you’d suggest people do to grow their groups?

I’d suggest not worrying too much about the numbers, but providing value to your members and ensuring there is value for yourself. If you focus on numbers, you’ll fill your group with less targeted and not as engaged members.

To grow your group, use your other online assets to bring people in. Tell your mailing list and blog members. One technique that really works well is to make a post within the group that will be of interest to your subscribers or blog readers and tell them about it. They just have to ask to join the group to participate in that post.

Also, encourage your members to promote your group as well. Tell them they can invite people. If you have an affiliate program that can create links to outside websites, give them an affiliate link to your group. That way, they can earn a commission if a member eventually makes a purchase from you. Oops that was kind of like two or more things. :)

What are some suggestions you can give to help keep the group orderly and not overrun with SPAM or off topic chatter?

This has always been important to me and is all about control. You want to make sure members know this is your group and they can’t do what they want. There are a few key factors in accomplishing this:

  • Using a closed group, or even a secret group, if that’s appropriate for your situation. If you allow anyone in without barriers, members will tend to see the group as public property.
  • Brand the group name with your business name. Make sure the name makes it clear who owns the group.
  • Use the pinned post to establish the rules, but use care when writing the rules. You don’t want to sound militant, but want your rules to sound like logical points that keep the group beneficial to everyone involved.
  • Create “spam” posts for your members. We don’t call them “spam” posts, but “Master Threads” and they are designated places where people can promote themselves. For example, we have a “Master Latest Blog Post” thread. This helps us avoid a proliferation of self-promotional posts and it’s also a central area where people kind the latest work of their fellow members. In a group that is designed for mutual support, this is important.
<– This is a great tip!

A lot of people think their group should be really active and have a lot of posts each day, but I think that creates group fatigue and members are more likely to turn notifications off. I’d rather have fewer posts and have more members keep their notifications on, so they’re aware of new posts right away.

What’s the one thing people must do to keep their group members engaged?

Always think of how you can help your members. The more you think about them and what they want, the more they’re going to pay attention. Don’t make posts because you think you should post. Put some thought into it and post things that will be helpful to them or will get their attention.

What’s the one thing people should avoid in setting up or structuring their groups?

I’m not a “never” kind of person. I think people need to determine their own needs guided by their individual goals…so I can’t answer that. Just make sure you think things through and understand why you’re doing everything.

How does having a group translate to growing a business, (increasing sales, reaching new customers, etc) which is the end goal for most of us?

Again, it comes down to knowing what your audience wants. When you create a highly-targeted group that would benefit from your products and/or services, the connection becomes easier. They’re going to WANT to hear about what you have to offer.

The easiest way to connect your group back to your business is to get people into your opt-in list with free tools or resources they’ll want to opt into, so do that regularly. You can also offer members special discounts or advanced notice of products. Just make sure to keep a good balance where members feel the group itself is beneficial, rather than just a commercial for your business.

Facebook For Business: Use Group Power

It is true there are plenty of other social networks that are very popular, many of them have specific targets and depending on your business, they could be more effective for you. At this time, Facebook is still a major destination for anyone online, around over the world. That’s pretty hard to ignore.

Facebook for Business - Part 1

How to we make use for Facbook for business?

  • There’s Facebook Pages, which apparently are no longer very effective.
  • There’s Facebook advertising, however they are also getting stricter by the day on their advertising rules. It’s not uncommon to hear about people having their ad accounts shut down for no reason.

Is there still a good way for a small businesses to reach their audience there?

The answer is – yes, with Facebook Groups.

I’m a member of a number of Facebook groups. Many are – sadly, a source of spam, not managed very well, or simply inactive. A handful of them, rise up to fill my activity stream constantly throughout the day.

Not only that, they invite me to get involved – which I do – further keeping the group’s conversations in everyone’s stream. I know who the group founders are, who the admins are, and who are the movers and shakers who contribute regularly.

While I’ve not kept track of the statistics, I tend to click on their blog posts and product recommendations. I’ve even purchased products from their recommendations more often than I care to admit. Sometimes, without very much convincing.

It’s powerful, and knowing that – it got me thinking, why not start a Facebook Group for the business?

Great idea, but remember those groups I mentioned earlier? The last thing you need is a group with your brand on it, that is overrun with spam, out of control members, or… a ghost town. Neither one of those lend your business a positive brand image.

And as you can well imagine, nurturing a group takes time. Do we really have the time to start yet another thing? How do you make sure your returns exceed your resource investment? I had no idea, but I do know a few founders of very successful Facebook Groups. Why not ask them?

And That I did. What they had to share is pure gold.

Because the responses have been so good, I’ve decided to split them up into separate posts which we will publish over the next few days. We have a very nice mix of groups in different niches so you can see that groups can work for many businesses. Here are the links to the three case studies:

You’ll learn:

  • How they grew their members
  • How they keep their groups clean and active
  • How their business benefits from the group
  • And more

Preparing Your Business for a Natural Disaster

Many of us don’t even want to think of a natural disaster wreaking havoc with our lives but it is a reality that it could happen. Obviously some areas are more prone to hurricanes, twisters, floods, etc. but disaster can strike anywhere. Are you prepared? Is your livelihood, aka your business, prepared? Here’s an infographic that covers much and will give you some things to think about to prepare your business.

Natural-Disaster

Boston University Master of Science in Management Online