Last week I was attending the Cult Gathering at the stunning Fairmont Banff Springs in the Rocky Mountains that I’m so very proud to call my backyard. Cult brought together some of North America’s top brands to talk about what has made them so successful. From an energy drink that broke 3 world records with their space diving project, to a tourist and convention bureau that had their ad go viral when it was banned from playing during the Superbowl, story after story unveiled one common thread they felt lead to their success ……. Read more
Let’s start by looking at a couple of success stories.
One of my favourite companies to watch is Red Bull. I remember drinking Red Bull over 25 years ago in Austria and was shocked when it became an international sensation and created what was then a new beverage category known as Energy Drinks. Today not only does it dominate in its market with over 40 Billion cans sold in 166+ countries (5.3 Billion in 2013 alone) but it has expanded so much into content marketing that it has its own publishing house.
While many people are aware that Red Bull supports extreme sports most don’t know that they also own their own Music Academy. Why? Because the company’s mission is to “give wings to people and ideas.” They want to inspire the body and the mind and it shows in all their marketing.
One of their most incredible marketing feats was the Red Bull Stratos project when Felix Baumgartner sky dived from the edge of space. If you have never seen the entire video, I highly recommend it (though I find it hard to believe there’s anyone out there who hasn’t seen it). Here’s the short intro to give you a taste of what they accomplished.
In fact if you want some entertainment some time, check out any of Red Bull’s ads online. Not only are they fun and adrenalin pumping, but they remain consistent to their slogan – Red Bull Gives You Wings. What you will NEVER see is a product dump. They won’t talk about its taste and they certainly won’t justify why you should buy it? What they will accomplish is their mission – to inspire the body and mind.
Back in 2003, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority was launching a new campaign that the Super Bowl refused to air. The Super Bowl had a policy not to air any commercial with inferences to sports betting and with Las Vegas being a gambling mecca, it felt it needed to reject their ad. There is nothing like forbidden fruit to raise curiosity so when the ad played shortly after the event, viewership went through the roof and the LVCVA successfully launched a campaign that has made “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” a common household phrase. Here’s the irony. The ad the Superbowl rejected had no references to gambling.
Again what you won’t see is emphasis on the product or on gambling and casinos yet they attract over 40 million visitors a year. Cathy Tull, Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority explained that they know that Vegas isn’t for everyone and they aren’t trying to justify it to the non-Vegas fans. Their mandate is to stay true to their audience and to continue to provide the ultimate experience to the loyal die hard Vegas visitor.
Of course, it’s easy to justify successes like these when you have a huge marketing budget. It’s important to remember though that companies like Red Bull weren’t always big. What they did was stay true to their mission and their target market no matter what!
So my challenge to you smaller companies out there is this:
Are you spending your marketing dollars justifying your product or connecting with your audience?
In other words if your promotional material is “we” or “I” focused, it’s time to change it to “you” focused and make it about your target market. It’s also time to take a stand for what you believe in. You do what you do for a reason. There is something that truly matters to you. Are you getting that across to your audience every chance you get? If not, give it a try. You might just be that next marketing success story.
On a recent trip to Boston, I was enjoying Quincy Market, when I came across a delightful street entertainer. I don’t know about you, but I love a good street entertainer – you know, one that engages the audience, is exceptional at what they do, and makes you want to stop and watch. What was of particular interest with this street performer, though was how much he made at the end of his gig. I estimate that:
And let me tell you, he was talented, but he also used some great savvy marketing techniques to help him along the way. It got me thinking, “if he can incorporate all of this in 30 minutes, shouldn’t we as small business owners be able to incorporate them daily as well?”
It’s not surprising that location matters in marketing, yet often we forget. Well this performer picked his location well. He set up at the end of Quincy market, where people are typically exiting armed with something to eat. It was a nice open area with staggered steps that meant everyone could sit down and easily enjoy the show.
It was lunch time. Peak time for large number of visitors to be found at a popular Boston destination known for its lunch fare, and a time when people are taking a break and looking for a bit of entertainment while they enjoy their culinary delights.
Before you even knew he was there, you could hear the crowd cheer, making you curious as to the origin. He was great at getting the few first attendees to promote for him and as a result, increased his target audience tenfold!
It’s one thing to attract customers, but in the service industry, you need to deliver or you won’t get paid. He wowed the audience with his skills and daredevil antics, while keeping it light and full of humor. In other words, he made it worth my time and money.
You probably already know I’m a fan of stories in marketing. He had an impressive background that made you realize you weren’t just watching any street performer. In his story, he shared his credible details in a humble format. He’s been doing this for 10 years, all over the world, but Boston is his home and (of course) his favorite place to perform.
Not only did he come out and justify donations but he named his price. In a world where $2 is probably the norm, he asked specifically for $5 if they had it, pointing out, “where can you get entertainment for 1/2 an hour for as little as $5.”
His marketing paid off. After he finished his performance, I counted a good 50 people who came and donated (including myself). I can tell some gave him more than $5 from his response and I assume some gave him less, so I think I’m conservative in estimating he made $200. Not bad for 30 minutes of work.
I know that we are encouraged these days to take advantage of so many of the great marketing tools out there like Social Media, SEO, Google Adwords and some still successful offline tactics. But every now and then, it’s refreshing to have someone remind you of the good ol’ fundamentals of successful marketing. I urge you to take a quick look at the foundation of your own marketing and see if this street entertainer has perhaps nailed the beasics better than your firm.
Now that the New Year is upon us, many small business owners will be taking time to reflect on their marketing strategies for the New Year. This year their timing couldn’t be more perfect. With the changes to Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm settling in, companies need to look at a fresh new approach to their online strategies.
Gone are the days of using services that either create or provide shoddy content and link that content to substandard, irrelevant sites.
Gone are the days of just focusing on keywords.
Gone are the days to ignore the importance of content and online marketing.
This is good news to those of you that feel you are good at what you do and should be recognized in Google rankings for providing quality information to your target market. Now the key question becomes where should you focus in 2014?
After spending considerable time reviewing suggestions from today’s top though leaders, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be the Top 5 Online Marketing Tactics to Focus on in 2014. These tactics to me, go beyond just the benefit of increasing your SEO Rankings in 2014.
They are solid tactics that will more importantly help to:
It’s important to note before we get started, that tactics only work effectively if you can clearly answer these strategic questions:
While keywords may have lost some value, both Google and your market still need to know what your site is about. Today that means relevant rich content. You will want to make sure your Page Title, H1 tags and content explain what your site is about, but in 2014 you want to make sure that the keywords aren’t overused (spammy), are unique and relevant to the page and that you pay more attention to other long-tail phrases your market might use. In other words, use a more conversational tone.
Eric Enge summarized a lot of the “New School” ways to optimize your site in this great diagram. Use it as a guideline to keep your website relevant.
It’s a no brainer that you need to ensure your website pages are current and up to date, but more importantly, you want to make sure you have a vehicle to continuously add great content. This vehicle is your blog and adding engaging content to it regularly is key in 2014. This can be a mixture between great content that you have created, along with curated content (content from other writers and sources out there on the web). What’s interesting about the content you create is the evolution of the blog post itself.
Whereas years ago the average was around 500 words, today the average is over 1000. In fact studies show that longer blog posts are read more and shared more. Other elements such as engaging photos and videos also increase readers and engagement. That doesn’t mean everything you create needs to be lengthy however. The increase of smartphones, dictates that some posts still need to be more digestible and therefore shorter.
Long story short, the average length of your content needs to be longer (1000 words) and you should include pictures, videos and Infographics for better engagement.
If you website is not yet “responsive” or you don’t have some sort of plugin like DudaMobile that helps make it mobile and tablet friendly, then make it a priority for 2014. I have seen this very simple change increase traffic to a website by up to 30%. Mobile also plays nicely into Google’s new algorithm. For example, when someone has activated their current location and searches for a “hairstylist nearby,” Google will respond with possible locations. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you can lose a possible customer.
Just like ensuring your site is mobile friendly, you need to also make sure it can be shared.
Part of your online credibility comes from others sharing your information. This is hard to do if you don’t make it easy for the reader to do so. I’m astounded how often these are missing, especially on blog posts. This is going to be even more heavily weighted in 2014, so make sure you have this feature added to your website, if you don’t already.
Social media sites certainly have mixed reviews. Since 2012-2013 we have definitely seen the shift from “should I be on Social media” to “which sites should I focus on.” Generally business owners have gravitated to maybe one or two sites. In 2014, you will want to expand your social media presence, as social engagement plays a more important role in not only Google rankings, but also how people interact online. If you are wondering where else to focus beyond Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – take a closer look at Google+. More specifically:
Last but not least, look for ways to add rich, relevant links back to your website. This means sites like junky article submission or blog posting sites should no longer be part of your strategy. Instead you want to look for credible guest blogging opportunities and other credible PR opportunities.
Chuck Price created a great Quick Start Guide to Guest Posting that outlines a great approach to take to start increasing your reach and relevance online.
If you are wondering if online PR submission is still worthwhile, I would say yes. However you need to change your approach to a more conversational tone and watch your formatting. In other words don’t jam pack your press release full of a keyword and have the anchor text go to an irrelevant link on your website. Your press releases and links need to be newsworthy and helpful. You should also pay more attention to the authority of the PR Site you are using. A good rule of thumb is to look more at sites like PRWeb that require a fee to submit a release. Typically they rank better in authority and not surprisingly, could get you actual media exposure.
I’m sure as 2014 unfolds, more and more online marketing tactics will continue to present themselves. To keep things in perspective and to not become overwhelmed, remember – Google is trying to ensure that people just like you and me get good quality results when we search solutions online. So if you provide quality, helpful content to your audience, regularly and in an authentic conversational tone, you will continue to survive and thrive in Google’s online world.
Google loves its animals and now it has launched one of its newest changes to its Search Engine algorithms – The Hummingbird Update. I like the way Dan Sullivan of SearchEngineLand used the analogy of Google being like a car and Hummingbird being like a whole new engine, even though some of the other parts necessary to run your car have remained the same (which means Penguin still matters to some extent as well).
According to Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President at Google and head of their core ranking team, Google Hummingbird will affect about 90 percent of the search requests submitted to Google. The focal point of the change is more relevance to “conversational search,” meaning a better understanding of concepts, meaning and intent, instead of just focusing on individual keywords.
Let’s say you ask “where is the nearest flower shop” in a Google search. Instead of a term like “flower shop” being important, Google is trying to give you a better result by understanding what you mean by “nearest flower shop.”
So what does this mean to you and how can you leverage this important change in your marketing?
I’m sure you know already that paying attention to the questions your clients and prospects ask makes for great content for your blog and newsletter. Now these questions are even more powerful. So here are some great techniques that can help:
The whole idea behind Hummingbird is to provide the user with a better quality search result. So it is going to be pulling the user away for “sales” talk to useful information. That means you need to be providing rich, relevant educational information on your site and other important websites as well. This means you might need to hire a writing service and an SEO service to help create a larger amount of content and then to help you get it out to the right places.
In a sentence, Content Marketing needs to become an even bigger part of your overall marketing strategy. If you would like us to do a free audit of your website, to give you a few pointers, let us know. We’re happy to help.
Every Monday, I am usually checking the Google analytics of my clients and am impressed by those that use Facebook as to how much traffic I see coming to the corporate website via this Social Media Channel. Am I surprised? No. You might be asking why. If so, check out these interesting stats:
No of people who check Facebook EVERY day
128 million Americans
14 million Canadians
If you do the math that is approximately 40% of the population of each respective county that is visiting Facebook EVERY day!
That means if your target audience is ANYWHERE in North America, over the age of 13 with access to a computer, chances are they are pretty heavily represented on Facebook. Therefore ignoring this hub as part of your marketing might not be the best call.
So, why am I impressed to see the traffic coming to my client’s corporate websites? Because BEING on Facebook doesn’t help your business….but USING Facebook effectively can. Facebook just recently launched an updated version of their Facebook for Business Resource. It’s definitely worth checking out. Not only for how-to’s on the points listed below, but also for some great success stories that can help you creatively promote your page.
While I’m sure this list is far from exhaustive, here’s some savvy, simple and cost effective ways to start marketing your small business on Facebook:
Here are 14 Great Reasons Why
Interesting ideas, tips, important industry/company updates, conversation starters, promotions and contests are what bring your page alive and when coupled with the other points below, these are what will grow your followers and increase traffic to your website.
Calls to action can encourage your Facebook followers to LIKE your page, share your posts, visit your website, participate in a contest, try your product/service or subscribe to your newsletters/blogs/YouTube Channels/other social media channels, etc.
There are so many creative ways to do this that can dramatically increase your results. You also need to think differently about these ads. Unlike Google where people are searching for something specific, on Facebook they are typically there socializing. That means your ads need to stand out, entice and distract them from their conversations in order to take action.
Your posts only reach about 16% of your followers, but boosting exposure of these posts for as little as $5 can increase exposure dramatically, and can be directed not only to your followers, but also to your targeted audience on Facebook.
If you can offer a free eBook, special event or a free trial of your product or service, try using Facebook ads to drive traffic directly to your website instead of only to your Facebook page.
YOUR INVESTMENT TO GIVE FACEBOOK A TRY
Time to create a Facebook business page – 30 minutes
(granted this can take longer when you make it fancier and add more functionalities over time)
Cost to create a business page – FREE
Time to post on Facebook – 15 minutes per post
Cost to post on your Facebook page – Free
Min. Cost to boost a post – $5
Time to set up boosting a post – 5 minutes
Min. Cost to advertise per day – $5
Time to create an ad – 5 to 30 minutes
Time to monitor your Facebook effectiveness – 15 minutes at the most per day
It’s easy to come up with reasons as to WHY a tactic such as Facebook may not work for your business. Believe me, I hear reasons all the time, like:
“ I’m not a Facebook user”
“I’m marketing to businesses, not consumers”
My response remains the same. Don’t knock it until you give it a decent try. It will cost you little in time and money to do so, and the payoff could be well worth it!
Is branding really important? Cidnee will share some marketing insights on the importance differentiation makes to small business success.
Does direct mail still work effectively in today’s marketplace? It can, but Cidnee will share with you a few pointers you need to consider to make this small business marketing tactic one of your Strategies for Success.
Intuit is running a contest where they are granting small businesses $5000 to do something cool in their business – check it out for your own business here!
We have currently posted our wish as the grant would help us develop some software for small businesses that create strong marketing plans easily and affordably. Winners are decided by votes.
So if you could click on the link below and vote for us, we can help you and/or other small businesses like you even more than we currently are.
Thanks for your support!
According to Pew Internet & American Life Project back around 2008, only about ½ the North American population even used online devices and a mere 8% were deep users of the web. Today North American internet users have climbed to 79% (US Census Bureau) with a whopping 90% of these users claiming they use the web to help them make purchasing decisions (Fleishman Hillard 2012 Digital Influence Index).
So it’s no wonder that a website that acts like a static brochure of your company is now a dinosaur in the digital world. Here are some criteria to help see if you’re website is hip and happening or pathetic and passé?
Do you have user friendly navigation and quality content?
There is so much that can be said here and they say a picture can say a thousand words. This wonderful infographic is a must when deciding on effective web design.
Are you coming up on Google (at the very least locally) for key search terms?
To have a site that no one can find is devastating. While it’s great to have a nice looking site, if it’s not being found it’s useless from a marketing perspective. You need to focus on your Title Tags and Headers Tags and ensure they have the right keyword search terms (keyword research here is a MUST). You need these keywords in your content, you need new and fresh content with your keywords in them, you need links to your site from other credible sites, you need to make sure your pictures use the keywords in their alt tags, you need to be registered on Google Places, you need a sitemap, and this is just the beginning! If you want to see how you are doing, try many of the free website grading tools available online, then start making the necessary changes.
Do you have Google Analytics installed and do you monitor your traffic at least once a week?
To have a website and not know how it’s performing is like investing a ton of money into an ad campaign and not caring if it provides you with results.
The good news is that Google Analytics are still free and luckily most web developers can easily add the proper code to the pages on your site and even set up a report to arrive in your inbox once a week. I like to look at the following at least weekly and then deep dive twice a month in to other areas:
How many unique visitors am I getting? How long are they staying on the site? What is my bounce rate? Where is the traffic coming from, including referring sites, what are the most common search terms, and what pages are the most popular?
Do you have multiple forms of media (video, photos, audio)?
To assume that everybody is going to read the content on your site is a bit naïve in today’s market. I recall a leader in web trends saying that before long websites will become mostly video in format instead of text. Why not start preparing, by climbing on the YouTube express and even creating a few Infographics of your own. Not only do multiple mediums appeal to different tastes, but they can then be strategically used on other online sites like YouTube, Pinterest, Slideshare and more. This again gives you more online exposure as well as valuable links back to your site.
Do you treat your website as just the hub to your entire online presence?
John Jantsch the fearless leader of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network of which I’m a part introduced me to this great concept of the hub and spoke model of your online presence. It’s important you claim your online real estate and then post various forms of content to these other sites, encouraging them to visit your website. According to Universal McCann’s Wave 6 study, company websites are losing ground to social media sites in terms of credibility and popularity. These other sites, are places people will be seeking valuable information and engaging with your brand (see below) coming then to your website to show them how you can help them solve a problem or achieve a desired result. Implementing the hub and spoke model increases you online presence tenfold if not substantially more!
Are you allowing prospects/customers to ENGAGE with you?
Websites used to be a one way street. You shared information with readers and that was it. Not in today’s world. Now people want the ability to communicate back. Your website should encourage conversations by including a place for people to comment, share ideas and become part of a community. You should promote downloads of quality information via eBooks, Subscriptions to your newsletter, Surveys or Forms that help visitors find answers to their problems. Finally you website should definitely include some calls to action.
Can you easily change the content on your site and are you?
Needless to say, if Google relies on content to help with their search engine results, you better be adding to and updating it on a weekly or (at a bare minimum) monthly basis. This means you need to be able to change your own content and not rely on an outside source.
Did you know that according to HubSpot, sites that blog at least 20 times per month generate 5 times more traffic than those that blog only a few times per month?
Content is king in today’s online marketing world – it’s time to claim your throne if you aren’t already.
Is your site mobile and tablet friendly?
Just like landlines are giving way to mobile phones, so are PC’s losing ground to tablets and smart phones. In fact Fleishman-Hillard found in their global 2012 Digital Influence Index that 2 of the 3 consumers they surveyed, use a mobile/smartphone to gain information on a brand, product or destination at least 3 – 4 days a week.
That makes it a no brainer that your site better pull up quickly and be easy to navigate on these devices.
To be clear, this doesn’t just mean your site comes up on a mobile device. It means that instead of a tiny, tiny, miniscule version of your site, there are nice big buttons that allow me to get what I need easily and even call you in one easy click of a button.
If you want to see an example of what your site should look like – go to Dudamobile.com and type in your URL.
That’s why today’s websites are now built with what is called a responsive theme that automatically adjusts the site to different sized devices.
If you want to get a quick idea how your site is fairing on some of the above elements, check out HubSpot’s free Marketing Grader. It’s a great quick snapshot of your current website’s performance.
So how do you feel you did?
Hip and Happening
Better than I thought
Retro and proud of it, or
Definitely time for a new site
One of the best ways I know to get something new done that really matters in your business is to give it the importance it deserves. There are few ways you can do this.
The first is to understand the role it plays in your business and/or life. You may have come across this grid before, but it’s always a good wake-up call.
Year End Tax Submissions
Long Term Planning
Learning & Empowerment
Many phone calls
Some Phone Calls
TV, Gaming – time wasters & escape activities
Normally we address what is urgent and not-important over what is important but not urgent. When we are trying to make changes to our marketing this typically falls into this “important, not urgent grid.” So the key is to first RECOGNIZE its IMPORTANCE and then obviously find a way to MAKE it URGENT which leads me to my second point.
Think about treating this new activity like you would an important client or prospect and schedule it in your Outlook (or Google, or whatever you use) calendar. If you had a meeting in your calendar with a client, or potential client, you wouldn’t cancel it to check emails or answer a call or to get paper for the printer. So start making appointments – real appointments that you keep and don’t allow distraction. Be careful though. Making one BIG appointment in the week (e.g. many, many hours) is dangerous for two very good reasons.
Reason 1: If you do have to cancel it (for something that falls in the urgent/important category) you have now lost an entire week’s worth of productivity.
Reason 2: Long hours for anything new might seem daunting, especially for a new habit, so it can make it unproductive and “un-fun.”
Look instead to breaking it down into multiple, manageable chunks over the week, then monthly and quarterly appointments as well.
Finally, the third way to ensure you will begin making headway on a new marketing activity is to stop trying to go it alone. Accountability also breeds urgency. Consider hiring a coach and/or announcing to your followers or friends your intended new path. You can also work with another like-minded peer and form an accountability partner model. This latter model is highly effective as long as the two partners involved state the ground rules ahead of time. In other words, look at how often the two of you want to communicate, what level of information you feel you should be sharing and what the consequences are if the deadlines are not reached and what the rewards are if they consistently are.
Here are few habits I intend to change to help me transform both myself and my marketing through more writing:
Feel free to hold me accountable.
So what new marketing habit do you want to integrate this quarter?