7 Tools For Grading Your Content Marketing Efforts

The term “content marketing” is rather broad because it covers a lot of areas from your blog, to free videos you put up on YouTube, to curation – at least that’s what it means to me. That may be why some of us are confused as to what to do.

Is putting up a blog enough? Should you be blogging a few times a day? Once a day? Several times a day week?

How do you know that you are doing everything you can to maximize the content you put out?

I love grading tools. Not so much because they are accurate. There’s probably not one tool that covers it all and it all depends on what you are measuring. What your goals are. However, they are a pretty good starting to point to ensure you’ve at least got many of the basic stuff covered.

This post on BufferSocial shows us 7 indispensable and free tools to grade your website. Check them out, use it and be sure to act on the reports.

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Screenshots courtesy of Bufferapp

Hey! Did You Know That The CEO Of That Mega-Brand Was Born Here?

How many times have you heard that one or similar stories to it? Such and such a rock star, movie actress or mega-mind was born here, they attended university or did their internship here. As if to say being from here had a role in that success. The real truth is every community across our fair planet has their share of rock stars. What all these individuals have in common is not so much that they’re from here but that they looked outside of here to realize their dreams and goals.

Most home-town business people and other talents and skill sets for that matter build their futures close to where they were born. Local stars and celebrities. And there’s nothing wrong with this. Nothing at all, but what is worth noting is those “star” individuals that dream beyond their noses. They are the ones with global aspirations. The local tool shop with global locations to supply a world market, local fitness clubs that franchise and branch out across the country and consultants who market globally to share their expertise. These are the people who recognize opportunities in risk by looking to unfamiliar territories and seeking to engage and profit from them.

Municipal brands (I think) are missing out on a great opportunity, one that is right under their collective noses. Most of them (that I watch) spend a great deal of resources and energy drawing the brilliant minds inward rather than retaining what they already have here. There is very little effort and resources encouraging home grown businesses to stay put and headquarter their resources at home. Our towns and cities try very hard to lure business and industry to them. They use corporate welfare to entice them, while putting the burden back on what businesses choose to stay at home. The sad fact is most “stars” recognize early on that their best opportunity lies away. In many cases taking valuable jobs with them.

Distant opportunities slowly suck the life out of many business communities who fail to witness the growing talents at home and do nothing to encourage their success until it’s too late. These true entrepreneurs are our youngest and brightest minds. As they leave the void is filled with businesses who are afraid to look globally, They prefer to follow rather than lead. They do not look to distant horizons but prefer to be big fish in small ponds.

The best this scenario can produce is events that bring these stars in life back to do a keynote and have all the local leaders anguish over what could have been. It’s time they stopped gushing, and started to adopting long-term strategies that not only encourage outside investment but inside as well.

15 Holiday Promotion Ideas To Keep The Register Ringing

The holidays are right around the corner. Are you prepared?

Holiday Promotions Ideas

 

The beauty of a small business is, we can be light on our feet. Besides, you still have a little bit of time and if you’re stuck with what to offer, this list should get you started.

The Add-On Bundle

Include a not-usually-offered or not-offered-before add-on to your product(s). It could even be a service.

Example: Get a personal coaching session when you buy this today.

The Value Bundle

Gather your best selling products and bundle them at a meaty enough price for you not to lose money but at the same time, give customers a deep discount compared to buying separately.

The Complimentary Products Bundle

Work out a deal with another company who offers complimentary products. Offer a free entry-level product, free trial, discount price or coupon that they can redeem at the other company’s store when they buy from you.

Example: Order a logo design, and get a 20% off coupon for web hosting at ABC host, or business cards at XYZ printers.

The Lifetime Access Deal

This works very well for continuity programs. Offer lifetime access at price that would make the product an incredibly low price if paid monthly over years.

Example: Don’t pay $19.99 a month. From now until the offer expires, get lifetime access for only $199 and never pay monthly again.

The One Year’s Product Deal

Slight different from the lifetime deal if that sounds too crazy for you to stomach. Offer one year’s access or one year’s worth of product for a great price.

Example: You’d normally pay $60 a year but for a limited time, pay only $30 and get the rest of the year free.

The 2 For One

When people buy two items of the product of your choosing, they’ll get both for the price of one.

The BOGO

This might sound like the same but it isn’t although technically the discount would be the same as the two for one. Offer a free item when they buy one.

The Reactivation or Return Bonus

Give customers a bonus when they re-activate their account or return to buy from you. You could offer a discount in place of a bonus but you’d want to be very careful that this is a short term deal and not to be repeated too often. Otherwise, you may end up with people who cancel just to wait for the re-activation bonus later on.

The Pick 3 Deal

Similar to the bundle deal, except this time, you let the customer choose what they want in the bundle.

The 10 Orders & Get Free Deal

Our local grocery store runs this deal regularly. You get a free holiday meal when you shop there 20 times. They do also require each receipt to be at least $20 to qualify and though 20 sounds like a lot. They start the campaign quite early so you have about 10 weeks to earn it.

Your customers may not need to shop with you that often, so you can always adjust the number of qualifying orders e.g. 10.

The $10 off $50 Deal

Instead of giving a straight discount, get them to spend a little bit more with you to qualify for the discount.

The Store Credit Deal

Offer customers store credit or store dollars when they buy from you today.

Example: Buy this today and receive a $10 credit you can spend right away or on your next order.

Private Sale

Reward your most loyal customers by giving them a special offer not found elsewhere. An alternative is to reach out to performing affiliates and offer a special deal just for their referrals.

The You Might Also Like This Offer

Dig into your customer data. Find out who purchased what. Offer them a bonus or discount for a similar or related product. If you don’t have one, consider an affiliate product. You may need to reach out to affiliate managers for the products to do this but can be well worth your time.

The Upgrade Deal

When a customer orders a product, offer them a better product or a higher end package. Something they would consider an upgrade for less than the normal upgrade pricing.

Example: Package A is normally $10 and Package B normally $30. When a customer orders Package A, offer them an upgrade to Package B for only $10 more.

Create a Memorable Business Card That Nails Your Brand and Gets You Noticed

If you still have a perfunctory business card, you know just something thought of at the last minute and maybe even worse; printed out on your computer you’re not taking your business seriously. You know the kind that you punch out of a sheet?

Create Memorable Business Cards-100314

You’re missing the point of having a business card. The point is to let someone know your brand and make them curious enough to call you when they need what you have to offer.

Business cards are another way to brand your business. You don’t want to be branded like everyone else, boring or worse… standard. Right?

You want business cards that people look at and remember you, your business, and what you can do for them. Consider getting special cards for events and regular cards for other uses.

With today’s printing technology you can have your information printed on almost any surface and your business card doesn’t have to be the normal shape or even size. Think outside the card, if you want to get noticed, but you still want the people you meet to be able to carry your card so don’t go too nuts as you don’t want them left behind.

Know Your Customer – Before creating any business card design it’s important to understand your customer and what they need to know. Of course your business card needs all the normal stuff on it, how to contact you, your website and so forth. But how can you get through to the person looking at the card that you have what they need? You know who they are and design the card with them in mind.

Consider Your Industry – For example if you are serving people in the construction industry how can you make a card that appeals to them?  This is an excellent way to think outside the card and create a card that is either 3D or can be constructed into a 3D card by the receiver later. The card again, needs to appeal to your ideal client more than to you.

Start With Your Logo – You probably already have a logo, which can be how you start your business card design idea. You want to keep this the same throughout your business card design too, but also make it stand out. If you don’t have a logo yet, this is your chance to really think outside the box and come up with something new.

different business cardsMatch The Brand You Currently Have – If you already have a lot of marketing collateral you likely already have colors, fonts, tag lines and what not. You still want people to know it’s you, but you want them to be impressed by your card which will make them impressed by your business too. Plus, it’ll ensure that they really look at it and take notice.

A good business card will tell your audience who you are, what you can do for them, and how to find you. It will do all this with the right fonts, the right colors and the right designs that will stand out so that they won’t soon forget you. You can use a standard card, or you can think outside the card and use other materials.

It’s up to you. Don’t be afraid to get creative so that you can be remembered and get noticed. I have a friend who owns a chocolate shop, her business cards are chocolate, and they’re okay to eat because they’re wrapped with the right information which is also printed on the chocolate.

However, the final thing that’s most important about a business card is to actually give it out at events. So many opportunities can arise whether you’re at an event or not. You might even meet someone while waiting on line at the grocery store or in the doctor’s office. Have your cards ready to give out and give them out liberally to get the most from them.

If you feel like reading some more here are some awesome examples of non-traditional business cards that might spark your creativity.

29 Cool Business Cards

One of the most clever usable business cards shown here is also a cheese grater.  As you can imagine something like this would be quite expensive, but at the right event you won’t soon be forgotten.  People would actually get use from it and think of you each time.

On the more practical side I love the tearable divorce business card. You can tear it and offer it to a friend, while keeping the information for yourself. Tearable business cards can be used for all sorts of business and won’t really be that much more expensive. Your customers, and those to whom you offer such a card can easily share with others.

Many of these examples aren’t totally efficient for every day, but they work great at events to help make you stand out. What’s more is that you can carry over some elements of the design to your regular business card for normal use. Entrepreneur.com says that you should copy other people’s business cards and stay standard to your industry. I don’t necessary agree. I think you should do what you can to stand out and get noticed within your budget.

What does your business card look like? I’d love to see them if you have created something different.

Image © Depositphotos.com/realcg

5 Signs it’s Time to Sell Your Business

There comes a time in almost any business where you want to retire or move on to another product and the thought of selling comes to mind.

But, how do you know when the right time to sell your business is? How do you know when to do it so that you can maximize your profit?

5 Signs its Time to Sell Your Business-091914Here are five ways to determine when it’s the right time to sell your business. Plus, if you’re just at the start-up phase, it can give you some insight on how to set things up so your business is salable.

  1. The Market Is Right – People might have expressed interest in your business already, which means the market might be telling you that it’s time to sell your business. Just because someone offers you money today, doesn’t mean it’ll be on the table later. When an unexpected offer comes in give it some serious thought.
  1. You Have Competitors Who May Want Your Business – When you have some close competition there is a chance to that one of your competitors might want to buy your business in order to eliminate the competition. If you have a few or more that you go to battle with over customers make a list of them for later.
  1. Your Business Is As Successful As You Can Make It– You’re not in debt and your business is profitable every month. You make plenty of sales and have a large email list, fan base, and social media following that can translate into even more success and up the price of your business as you sell these assets. But, you feel like you’ve done as much as you can with the business and someone else can likely take it farther.
  1. Your Business Isn’t Dependent On You – This is one of the biggest keys and one that can be repaired if you’ve branded your business to be all about you and your name but, if you’re the only one who can make the things that you sell, then you may have a problem. If you’ve designed your business with the future in mind, you’ve created a business that can continue long after you’re gone.
  1. You’re Ready To Move On – You’re at the point where you’re not excited about your business anymore, you feel like you’ve done all that you can with your business. Alternatively, you are ready to retire. It’s been your plan all along to have an exit strategy so that you can eventually retire or start up another successful business.

Selling a business isn’t a sign of defeat, rather it’s a sign that you’re truly free to do what you want with your own business and that you’ve thought about your exit strategy from the beginning. It’s an excellent way to run a business, and having given it thought you’ll know when the right time to sell is.

How To Stop Selling and Start Educating.

I’ve just completed a workshop teaching branding to graphic design firms from Canada and the United States. As part of that training, confidence in selling is a crucial element in delivering branding 10587534_sto their customers. On the surface it would appear that selling is a crucial first step. “Selling” is a difficult skill for many of us – myself included. It’s something I work at tirelessly. Defining my brand and working at it is one part of my overall branding strategy. To me selling is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t so much sell, as participate in a conversation. This conversation involves engaging the potential customer is a discussion about their brand challenges and understanding just what it is that hinders it.

Sometimes the barriers are self-generated. These are things such as culture or negative past histories. We all know people who get in the way of themselves simply because they don’t believe they have what it takes to deliver on a desire. That lack of confidence holds them back. Other barriers are market driven like bad economies, dying industries etc.

I recommend to businesses they should immediately change the conversation and watch opportunities present themselves. Customers cringe at the thought of someone selling something to them. Whereas they embrace conversations that help them. They also enjoy talking about themselves. I often enter into conversations where i am providing entry level branding advice on the spot. This is a great opportunity for me to show how fast I am on my feet, and how confident I am in what I do by my willingness to share. It’s no different than when in a networking situation – the wisdom is that you give before you get.

Challenge your comfort zones. Drive yourself to succeed. Don’t let the words “it’ll never work” or the “time just isn’t right” ever pass your lips. I believe confidence comes from challenging yourself and believing that customers really do find you a source of value. An expert lies within all of us. Don’t trap yourself by assuming you know how others think of you. Sometimes that blank stare isn’t that they can’t believe how stupid you are but it is more, they are pondering the brilliant thing you just exposed them to, and they’re wondering how they can use that nugget to their advantage. I experienced that last thought more times than I can image when speaking to groups of people at a speaking event or in a sales meeting. Lack of confidence makes you think the worst. But when you believe in what you’re saying, those blanks stares are gold mines to opportunities.

It makes me smile to realize that the quietest person in the room is actually your biggest advocate. The word ASSUME feeds on a lack of confidence and is the biggest killer of opportunity. When you assume the worst – worst is what you get. It’s not a hard concept to understand. Because I am aware that I have a difficult timing reading people, I have learned not to assume what lies before me. I often watch that person closer and give them time to react to what I’m saying and I’m often rewarded. All of this within the confines of a conversation on branding. I don’t think you can sell branding as much as you can build a hunger for more knowledge. Satisfying that hunger is something even the most shy can deliver. Imparting knowledge is enjoyable and the thanks awarded following such an exchange doesn’t feel disingenuous or contrived.

Trust in your experience. There lies the root of your confidence, and with that powerful conversations await you!

Online Advertising How To Crash Course

To grow, every business needs new leads and new customers. Without a steady incoming flow of new customers, you would hit a plateau and eventually decline. There are different ways of achieving that but the quickest is to advertise. Doing it online means you get results faster. So how do you do it? Read on for a quick online advertising how to crash course. Let’s begin.

Online Advertising How To Crash Course

Who Are You Advertising To?

Do you know? Everybody is not an acceptable answer. While each online advertising marketplace you use will have their own target market options, you still need to clarify this up front. It’ll save you some time digging around later on and definitely make it easier for you as you navigate the different advertising marketplaces. So paint yourself a picture of your ideal customer.

  • Are they 30 – 40 year old men?
  • Women?
  • Do they have children?
  • What do they like to read?
  • What do they like to watch?
  • What is their idea of entertainment?
  • What other interests might they likely have?
  • What stage of life would they likely be in?
  • What could be their next lifetime milestone – e.g. Getting married, having a baby, children going to college, retirement.

Some people tell you, to only have one clearly defined target group. Personally, I think that depends on your product. Some of us have products that appeal to different types of people. They may consume your product differently, and even buy for different reasons. They are still a target group. So define these groups if they apply.

Who Are Your Competitors?

You may think it strange to think about competitors for advertising. Truth is, this just goes to show how far online advertising has come. You want to list out your competitors because in most ad marketplaces, you can target your ad to people who follow or are interesting in your competition. This is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of. So know who your competitors are. Brainstorm and list as many as you can. Consider also indirect competitors.

Prepare Your Advertising Materials

Again, each online advertising marketplace will have their own requirements but there are a few things you can prepare ahead of time. Among the key things, is your core advertising message. What exactly are you advertising?

Are you promoting a sale? Do you want people to opt-in to your mailing list? Sign up for a webinar? Install an app? Pick up the phone to call you? Complete a survey? Download a cheat sheet?

Once you know this, then you can create some ads. For banners, this is somewhat easier because popular sizes are uniform across the Internet. For text ads, prepare a few variations since each channel will have different word count limit so you need to have some flexibility.

It would seem obvious, but in case it isn’t, prepare your landing pages. Make your landing page deliver or match up to your ad’s promise. Consider – what would you expect to see if you were clicking through your ad? Do everything you can to make it easy for people to take the next step so you’re maximizing your ad spend.

Locate Ad Marketplaces

Now comes the fun part. Placing your ads, but first, you need to know where. Here are some great places to get started.

Many of these places make it really easy and it’s all self-serve. Some may also assign a rep to help you. The actual steps differ from one network to another. In general, what you need to do is create an account, select your target and enter/upload your ad.

More Online Advertising How To Resources

Is it really that simple? The short answer is yes. However, this isn’t called a crash course without reason. There are a multitude of things that have been simplified and in some marketplaces, you have to make sure you’re playing by the rules or get kicked out. To cover those, this post could end up as book.

Thankfully, we don’t have to because some fantastic online advertising how to resources already exist. If you’re committed to advertising and want to make sure you don’t waste time nor money, check out the Bring Your Own Traffic course.