Posts Tagged ‘website’

Attract More B2B Prospects with Content Marketing

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

This week’s guest is Paul Heron, CEO of Complex2Clear, a Toronto-based communications agency specializing in proposals, content marketing and websites for companies selling B2B services.

 

If you’re reading this post, chances are you think strategically and work at staying ahead of your competition in innovation, quality, delivery and client experience.

But who, besides your employees and your clients, appreciates how much value you deliver? Do outsiders generally know and admire your company ─ or do you often find yourself starting from scratch when explaining your key benefits and track record to new prospects?

If you’re in the “starting from scratch” category, consider content marketing, a powerful tool for building positive awareness about your business.

Content marketing is the practice of creating and sharing useful information prospects and others can read, listen to or watch via blogs, e-newsletters, white papers, research reports, magazine articles, industry presentations, webinars, case studies, podcasts, videos and others formats.

The idea is to demonstrate that your company is innovative and expert, but also generous in spirit ─ willing to share valuable knowledge freely with others. You gain recognition for being both smart and approachable and become the logical first stop for anyone shopping for your products.

Content marketing is among the fastest growing trends in marketing (to prove this, Google the phrase). Once available only to large consulting and financial services firms with research and printing budgets, it can now be practiced by anyone with a website.

Sound interesting? Here are some tips and a high-level schedule to help you get started.

CONTENT MARKETING TIPS

Start with research: Where is your community online? How can you best reach them? What kind of information would prospects find useful? What frequency makes sense ─ for you and your audiences?

Focus on your core message: Remember, this is a marketing initiative, not a creative writing exercise. It’s critical that each piece of content support your brand. Creating random blog posts about whatever’s on your mind is not content marketing.

Start small: Don’t overcommit. It’s better to publish monthly (or quarterly) and increase frequency, than to start weekly and burn out in a few months. Decide what resources you have and fit your campaign to your capabilities.

Set up your website to support content marketing: Use a contact manager and forms to begin building a list of people to whom you can push your content. Enable Google Analytics, so you can see which site pages attract and retain visitors to guide your content development. Here’s a video and free website audit tool to help you in this process.

Manage information quality: Make sure every item you publish is valuable. Your growing list of subscribers following your content is a business asset. Protect it with a process that ensures they receive consistent quality. Assign one person to review all content before publishing.

Avoid infomercials: This shouldn’t need to be said ─ but never stray into advertising in your content marketing. Along with poor quality (see above), it’s the fastest way to burn off your audience.

Set goals: Content marketing takes time and money. Set goals, track your costs and measure results to ensure it’s a good investment of your resources.

SCHEDULE

1. Confirm you have the appetite and resources for a content marketing initiative. Be realistic. A content marketing campaign is a long slow process. If you can afford to, consider using an outside agency to supplement your internal staff.

2. Brainstorm ideas for content to share. Use a facilitator and generate lots of topics. Plan to repeat this exercise every few months.

3. Rank each topic’s potential impact and time/effort to develop. Segment high-impact topics into several items to increase mileage. Identify your priorities and low-hanging fruit. Plan to revisit important topics every 6 months or so with an update.

4. Identify a subject matter expert for each topic. Who will be responsible for each item? This person may not be the writer; he or she could generate bullet points and review the draft for accuracy and completeness.

5. Set your priorities, channels and schedule. Frequency is important. When managing resources, consider publishing shorter items to increase frequency. The aim is to be top-of-mind when a prospect needs your services.

6. Document your plan, assign responsibilities and deploy. Manage your content marketing campaign like any other business process to enjoy maximum success.

You can contact Paul at 416-619-9208 or paul@complex2clear.com

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Our Internet Is Not Their Internet

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Our guest this week is Paul Chato, CEO at Your Web Department™, the world’s first and only hosted website management system that lets people update and design their websites without programming. It’s hard enough to succeed in one career. Paul has succeeded in four different pursuits. See below…………

 

The Internet we are celebrating and using today is the slimmest approximation of what the Internet will eventually evolve to, assuming there is some kind of end point. Kind of like the reverse of the big bang theory. We have a better idea of where the Universe is heading than how it all began and while we know how the Internet started we have no idea where it’s going.

I have come to the conclusion that all we have done so far is digitally recreate a semblance of our present and near past, and stamped it “The Future.” Sort of like those Disney Epcot displays in the 80’s. We try to find old friends on Facebook. We look up ways to fix the washing machine pump. We had home delivery of newspapers, now we have newspaper apps. I could go on, but you get the idea. We have created an Internet us oldsters find familiar and comfortable, but the problem is that people 30 years old and younger have no idea why we are fascinated by this stuff. We have deluded ourselves into thinking we have built the future. We have not. Shockingly large swaths of what we have built will be disposed of in less than 5 years after my generation’s influence wanes.

For instance, few of this cohort read the New York Times in any of its forms. Ditto for local papers. They don’t listen to Talk Radio. They have a tight group of trusted friends. They find what they like. YouTube is still cool, I think. Entertainment in many forms is hot (I include sports and eating out here). They text amongst themselves. They search for specific answers. There is less serendipity in their lives – not including the 5 Korean Kimchi restaurants Siri has found for you. There is no looking through an encyclopedia for Schweitzer only to get distracted by the history of schnitzel. Heck, there is little interest in Schweitzer. Never in our history has the past been so disposable. And let’s not even get onto the topic of politics which we’ve managed to make uninteresting, bitchy and irrelevant.

We are not creating stupid people but a different people. The impact of their influence is only now being felt and understood. One thing’s for sure, we are entering into an era of hyper-consumerism and hyper-entertainment. Buying stuff in quicker, cooler ways will intensify. The Passbook feature in Apple’s iOS 6 points to this as does NFC (being able to buy stuff with your smartphone). But don’t be shocked at the speed with which our cherished Internet institutions will be ditched.

Physical structures provide an anchor to the present and a connection to the past. The Internet provides none of that. A website can be gone in an instance. Ironically, the predictions of the death of bricks and mortar stores at the start of the Internet big bang had it completely wrong. We know that now. Physical stores are hugely important in this age of hyper-consumerism. They are Brand Anchors. They are movie stars.

Retailers are ‘stars’

Anyone can buy stuff from Home Depot online but when you choose to go to the actual store people get that, “OMG, I’m actually at the store!” buzz. Buying something from a Lululemon outlet is like getting an autograph. Retailers must view their stores as their ‘stars on tour’. Come visit Canadian Tire. Get the t-shirt.

So, hyper-consumerism/hyper-entertainment I can see. The Internet will be unrecognizable in 10 years, but my crystal ball is cloudy as to how that will transpire. Are you ready to embrace this new Internet? If you’re a business, you’d better start thinking about it. Me? Just wake me up in 10 years.

More About Paul:
At first pursuing a potential career in nuclear physics, Paul chose, instead, to develop his creative skills. After graduating from Ryerson’s Radio Television Arts program he started Chato Art Ink, one of Toronto’s more successful independent design firms. He stopped designing to take up comedy, helping to form the now legendary Frantics Comedy Troupe, and will be forever remembered as Mr. Canoehead, “Canada’s aluminum-headed crime fighter.” Paul then joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation rising to the position of Head of TV Comedy. After considering a move to Los Angeles to take up a position as VP of Development at a major Hollywood studio, Paul instead chose to exercise his interest in computers. He started Electramedia and in the intervening years produced the hugely successful CD-ROM game Jewels of the Oracle, hundreds of corporate presentations, videos and Internet sites. In 1997 Electramedia switched its focus 100% to the Internet and most recently has become Your Web Department™.


If you would like to contact Paul email him at
paul@yourwebdepartment.com

Increase Your Profits In 20 Minutes A Day…

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Our guest this week is Adam Green, founder of Maple North Internet Marketing, a Toronto-based online marketing firm specializing in search engine marketing, social media marketing and Google Analytics consulting.

The title may read like an overused infomercial – but if you’re reading this, you are interested in the offer.

We drive traffic to clients’ websites to generate sales, leads or increase brand exposure to help their business grow. So I’m often asked: “What’s the secret to online marketing?”

It’s really quite simple. Look at your analytics stats daily. Analytics, in the online world, are your website statistics. They track your visitor activity, traffic levels, goals and so much more.

So step 1, make sure you have some form of analytics installed starting today. I recommend Google Analytics as the system is quite robust – and it’s free.

Think of your website like a retail store or sales person on the road. How do people interact at your location/with your people and what types of behaviour have lead to sales in the past?

Write these ideas down on a list. Let me help you with a few:

1. We tend to close a sale when our sales reps use a case study.
2. We often get a “yes” when we discuss a specific service offering.
3. Customers purchase our products when they spend more than 5 minutes in our store or come back 3 times.

Step 2 is to consider how these questions relate to your website and what information it delivers. Do you have the case study in question on your website? How often is it visited? Can a visitor find the case study easily in your navigation? Should you make it available on your home page?

If your business gets more sales through an entry level service, how is that service portrayed on your website? How many people visit the page and what path do they take to get there?

If your retail stats show your customers’ purchase behaviour increases after “x” amount of store visits… guess what? You can see how often they visit your site in your analytics stats also.

Step 3 is to encourage repeat visits. Take some time each day and look at your web stats. Are you leveraging your email marketing list? Are you engaged in banner advertising and remarketing to drive traffic back to your website?

Create a baseline and begin to test ways to improve your website to grow your profits.

These 3 simple steps embody much of the secret to online marketing. Start using them and, in the 20 minutes a day you spend on them, you will increase your profits.

You can contact Adam at adam@maplenorth.com or by phone at 416-616-8597

How Redesigning Your Website Can Challenge Your Business Model

Monday, June 11th, 2012

 Marie Wiese is founder of Marketing CoPilot and the author of the eBook, “Quality Visitors. Quality Leads.” Marketing CoPilot helps business owners turn their website into their best sales tool.

So you have decided to redo your website. Good idea. Today’s website is more than a corporate brochure; it’s your frontline sales team.

You have selected a marketing consultant to help you determine strategy and messaging.

You have hired a designer who starts to build your new site and suddenly you grind to a halt.

What happens when you go to add to content?

Suddenly you realize that the way you have been describing your product or service doesn’t work on the web. Suddenly you realize:

– There is no clarity around your offer
– You have no differentiation in what you are selling or describing to prospects
– You don’t have a compelling story to tell in social media

Why does developing a compelling web presence for your business suddenly challenge your business model?

Here is a real life story of one business owner and what changed when it came time to articulate their business on the web.

In December of 2011, Marketing CoPilot launched a new web presence for SPM Learning to help drive lead generation and establish a web presence to find customers and nurture existing relationships. The team at SPM Learning agreed early in the process that in the game of selling learning solutions to large corporate customers, a website and web presence needs to:

  1. Clearly state your value proposition in eight seconds or less on the home page.
  2. Be compelling enough for someone to take a next action on the site.
  3. Have content, messaging and compelling actions on the site that lead to more than a visitor passively perusing course listings.

In other words, the process of selling learning courses needed to change and so did the story.

SPM Learning was struggling with an issue that many business owners face when presenting their companies online. In an era of customers who want content that is “all about me”; are demanding relevant content online to make a buying decision; and, are well into the buying process long before you hear from them, just posting product information is no longer good enough.

Here’s a good test:

– Go online and search for “leadership training”
– Review the first five organic search results you get (skip the Adwords)
– Look at what people are actually selling in the top five results

In my top five search results, I get companies selling commoditized training courses. There is no differentiation amongst them and likely they are competing on price.

For SPM Learning, they realized quickly they did not want to be in this category, yet the content they were providing for the website, and the way they were articulating their business, was putting them there.

Upon launch of the new website (www.spmlearning.com), we were able to see in the first 30 days using Google Analytics, where people were landing, what they were reading and what they doing on the site.

And guess what?

They were not looking at course listings. We launched a blog strategy for SPM Learning to change the conversation and drive traffic to the site based on engagement around “learning solutions” and the complete process of leadership training for employees, not just buying courses. The click through rates that SPM Learning enjoys on their blog activity and email marketing has improved by more than 30% and they have built better engagement around the topics of learning solutions. This helped position their company as more than course listings.

Before you hire a consultant, talk to web developers or write a line of copy, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is the most important action I want someone to take on my website?
  2. How will I help them take that action?
  3. How will I articulate the “offer” and what they can buy from me?
  4. How much information can I share to guide them in the process?
  5. Could my current business model and what I am selling translate on the web to let prospects “self-serve”?

Your website is one the most important business tools you have today. Use it wisely for your business and it will pay back in spades.

You can contact Marie Wiese at 416-436-7931 or marie@marketingcopilot.com

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