Redefining a Marketing Consultant

Image courtesy of brainstuck.com

Consultants have a bad rep. They do, let’s be honest with each other here. So needless to say, when I first took the leap and actually quit my full time job to do this, people didn’t get it. I received comments and inquires like “so why are you consulting?” or “so what’s next?” or “you should ultimately go back to a full time role for more job security and advancement” and stuff like that. People didn’t get it.

Consulting is usually viewed as either done by money-hungry people who spit out the same advice to different companies and get away with it, or it’s what you do when you part ways with a company and simply need an interim solution (or can’t find anywhere else to go). When I myself worked internally at a company, I did not have the best experience with or view of outside consultants. I viewed them just as many others do, which is why I was (and continue to be) on a strong mission to redefine consulting. Do a quick Google Images search for “consulting”, for example, and you’ll see what I mean about consulting being wrongly defined and stifled.

chose to do this and still could not be more excited about my move to go off on my own. The entrepreneurial drive I felt to take the risk and start my own thing is certainly thanks to many people I’ve worked with in the past (you know who you all are!). Through my journey so far, I’ve connected with many other incredible consultants who are doing awesome work in design, marketing, development, you name it.

The Advantage

Consultants have the unique advantage to view industry trends and “best practices” from a bird’s eye view. Through working with various clients, I see trends come and go, new marketing channels pop up that grow in popularity, and am even able to transfer knowledge from what I’m learning working with one client to another. By seeing what’s going on at a greater scale, I’m more easily able to tell clients early on about something new to do, or not do, and transfer valuable knowledge across projects when applicable.

This isn’t something an in-house marketer typically has the luxury of doing. They’re embedded in one industry for one product for an extended period of time, so naturally their scope and creativity can become narrowed and too defined. I, too, have felt this way while in-house before, and it wasn’t the best feeling.

The Startup Sea Change

Since I was focused on working with early stage startups, I saw a unique opportunity to get involved at a critical point through consulting. I love startups and I hope to never leave the startup world. I joined it when I moved to Boston over four years ago and although I’m out on my own, I plan to stay in the startup ecosystem for as long as I can foresee. Startups don’t necessarily need (nor can afford) high-level strategists that just come in, spit out the same lines they used on the past five clients, and send over a bill for $20,000. They need someone who can both think high level and then dig in and do the dirty work. They also need someone who can work closely with the team to draw out ideas and also be available at odd hours on occasion (you know, for those 11pm website launches and such). I find that diving in to actually execute on the strategies I put together helps me even better understand the audience and industry of each client so much better, allowing me to constantly provide recommendations for marketing projects across the board based on what I’m seeing and experiencing.

For example, I was recently managing a client’s social media accounts while also developing their blog content strategy. I quickly learned through observing and listening on social media that there were a few key topics their audience did (and did not) want to read about. I was able to translate that knowledge into the blog content plan, and when it came time to write those posts, I knew exactly how to position them and share them.

What does it all mean?

This might be me rambling, this might be something many others feel, but regardless, I felt very strongly that it needed to be said. This topic/issue has actually been on my mind for several months now, but I just now decided to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, if you will) on it as I wanted to fully understand my stance on it, the consulting + startup ecosystem, and gather more experience and lessons learned on my end.

I do hope the general opinion about consulting will change for the better, and I’m already pumped to see so many amazing people taking the leap themselves and going into consulting full force — a great friend of mine included. Independent consulting (or starting your own marketing consultancy yourself as I did with KDMedia) gives you both the autonomy to be your own boss AND to decide your career direction at any point in time. In turn, it allows you to become even more valuable across the board in an area you truly care about.

I’m always looking to talk to awesome consultants to find new ways to work together, so please reach out if you’d like to chat! Or if you’d like to discuss a marketing project you have up your sleeve, I’d love to hear more! Simply email me directly at kristin@kdmedianow.com.

How to Gain Marketing Inspiration from Unusual Places

(Note: This post was originally written for marketingontherocks.com here)

Great marketing is much more than just using “best practices” or copying someone else’s successful tactics. It’s about being creative and trying new things that would be best suited for your audience and exact product or service.

Through running KDMedia, I work with a variety of clients that each need a tailored, innovative marketing solution. That requires having a deep set of tactics for different industry verticals and audiences while also being open to completely new ideas. Each day I’m working with my clients on new creative ways to spread the word and obtain customers, so I find it extremely helpful to be on the lookout for new ideas everywhere I go.

Where to Begin

Would you ever think that a trip to CVS or reading a mall brochure could provide fresh ideas? Me either — until I really opened my eyes. Stores can be really interesting places to observe product placement, display stands, store flow, in-store promotions, etc. Although a place like CVS may be far different from your SaaS product, you can still observe high level ideas that you can then tweak and customize to your own product. For example, a brand such as M&Ms may be running an in-store promotion that sparks an idea for a promotion your audience may appreciate. Or, you may discover interesting insights on how products are placed together (or not placed together) which can draw out ideas on your product placement (i.e. should you be in an online marketplace? Partner with a tangential company?).

Keep your eyes open the next time you’re out running errands or on a leisurely stroll down the road or in the mall. Be observant of everything around you and how things are done to gain inspiration in unthought-of ways.

Pay Attention to Emails

You know those inbox-cluttering email promotions and newsletters that you soon delete or unsubscribe from? Before putting them in your digital trash, check out the email. Is the design well done? Does it have clever copy? Is it offering or announcing something enticing?

I have a folder in my inbox called Marketing Examples and every time I receive an email with a piece of inspiration, I save it. Then, when I’m developing a new email marketing campaign, I sift through the ideas I’ve collected and take bits and pieces out of each to create a fresh, new idea.

Listen

When was the last time you actually digested what your mom said recently about her reaction to a new product? Or jotted down notes after having a discussion with friends about their thoughts on the latest Geico commercial. No matter who it is (well, usually) I pay close attention to how people talk about marketing campaigns and products to see how people react. It’s only half the job to figure out what you’re going to do — the other half is to understand how people will perceive it. Will you perhaps offend the wrong people with some of your copy? Does the color of your website not resonate with your audience? Does your deal seem too good to be true? Even if the person giving their two cents isn’t anything like your target audience, it’s never a bad idea to listen to what they say to at least understand that everyone is going to have a reaction to things and take into consideration what people will react like to your campaign.

In a Wrap

Always keep your eyes and ears open for inspiration everywhere you go. No matter where you are, what you’re looking at or whom you’re talking to, take note. You never know: your next genius idea could come from the oddest place or most unexpected conversation.

Now it’s your turn: Where have you gained unusual inspiration for marketing programs? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

The Art of Startup Marketing: Defining Channels and Strategies

(Note: This post originally appeared in Marketing on the Rocks where I regularly contribute. You can read the full post here.) 

Signing up for classes each semester back in college was a boring task to say the least. Accompanied by your school counselor, you drudgingly went through your major’s curriculum to pick out which of the more-than-unexciting math, science and liberal arts classes you *had* to take. But then came the more exciting part — electives. Which 1 or 2 courses could you take each semester that were completely chosen by you? What I loved about electives was choosing them allowed you to find a topic you really felt matched what you wanted to do or learn about. After all, it would probably have a more personal and direct impact on you now and in the future (at least that’s how I viewed them — most of the time).

Wait a second. Why am I talking about college course selection when this blog post is about social media channels and your brand? Well, the selection process has a lot in common. When you’re first deciding on your online marketing strategy, an undertaking I help a lot of my clients with, there are channels you decide to have a presence on because you just have to be there (i.e. you really need a blog and to be on Twitter) and then there are “elective” channels (i.e. Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, etc.)

Simply put, there isn’t a set playbook for which channels your specific brand should and should not be on — it’s all a matter of customized selection based on what your product/service does and where the audience for it hangs out.

Deciding this is not an easy process — but figuring out where to spend your precious time, especially in the crazy busy early days, needs to be strategic. I think about this exact undertaking day-in and day-out for my clients, so I’m going to try to break it down for you in a straightforward way:

Define Your Brand’s Goals

You should never go into a marketing program or channel without first knowing your goals. That’s like going up to the podium to speak on an important topic in front of a captive audience and having no script and no understanding of who is listening. It just won’t work — or at least 99% of the time it won’t, and right now you can’t risk that 1%.

For example, if your goals are to build a massive and engaged audience around your brand, then you need to identify the social channels (and perhaps even the sub-channels in them) that have the most active conversations and engaged users. Perhaps that’s LinkedIn groups or Google+ groups or even Reddit.

If your goals are to achieve a large number of signups off the bat, you should be looking at channels where you can use a model to predict what amount of effort and/or dollars you need to put in that can almost guarantee users (and a profit). For example, if you put $1,000/day into AdWords, you can expect X signups/day. (Note: this number all depends on your audience size and the competitiveness of search terms within your industry).

Whatever your top goals are, start from there and then identify where it makes sense to start achieving them. I recommend no more than 2-4 top goals, since the fewer but more targeted you have, the better likelihood each will be reached.

What channels are your customers on?

Now, it’s great that you know your goals, but we’re not done with goal identification yet. Your customers (and/or potential customers) have their own goals. And their goals are reflected in what channels they choose to spend their own time on.

Do the Research

A fairly quick way to discover where your users are “hanging out” online is through some simple searches. Identify some keywords related to what you do, job titles of target customers, your product category, etc. Basically, find top words and phrases that relate to your business and the problems you solve, and search for those on:

  • Google to see what type of content results from your search terms, whether it’s online forums, blogs, events, etc. Whichever channels appear in the search results from the past year is a great indicator for where people are talking in the industry
  • Twitter to realize the search volume for those words and phrases (and also who is talking about it? Influencers? Prospects?)
  • Search for LinkedIn groups using keywords and phrases to see what groups comes up. Are there some with tens of thousands of users who are actively discussing relevant topics? And what sources are the links they’re sharing coming from? Or, is there a slim list of groups that are comprised of 300 people who update once a month?
    • If LinkedIn seems inactive, check other channels such as Reddit, Quora, Spiceworks, etc. (who is on those channels depends on your industry)

This should give you a great starting point at understanding where people are talking, how often, and what they talk about. There are many other ways to go about doing this (and if you’re lucky enough to have someone on your team who is the target audience, they can give you a bunch of quick tips to speed up the process, so don’t forget to tap their knowledge!) but searches are a good way to get an initial understanding.

Once you understand both your internal goals and then where your customers are spending their time, you’re ready to move on to how to speak about what you do.

What do you want to be known for?

Now, determine what you want to be known for. (Note: Do this before taking much of any action on these channels) This is typically decided upon during initial brand positioningdiscussions.

You’ll need to answer these top questions, among others:

  • What is your core value proposition?
  • How is it unique from all others who compete in your space?
  • What are the benefits you offer to users (Note: don’t talk in terms of your features — people only care about what’s in it for them)

Once you narrow down the top benefits and have decided on the value prop, you’ll have a fantastic starting point for the core ideas and themes that your brand should be known for.

Typically when I work with clients on their blog strategy, for example, we whittle down the top 3-5 themes that each blog post will be based around. These themes come from what the core value prop is and the benefits, as it all needs to tie together. So for example, one benefit you could be known for is team efficiency. You can then write blog posts around this theme, share content across social media reiterating this theme, speak at events on it, etc.

Now What?

In the end, companies shouldn’t just join a social channel or start a marketing program “just because it sounds good”. Even if it’s a “free” channel like Facebook, it doesn’t mean it makes sense to be there. I always encourage people to start from the top with their goals, then put a strong focus on their customer and break the strategy down by themessaging those people will appreciate on those channels.

Now enough from me, I’d love to hear your stories on you went about finding the right channels and what the successes were after doing so. Please tell me in the comments below!

Also be sure to subscribe to new posts on Marketing on the Rocks where me and three super smart marketers contribute on honest, impactful marketing topics. See you over there! 

3 Ways To Break Into The Boston Marketing Scene

boston

Breaking into a new industry is certainly not an easy task — doing it in an entirely new city is another feat, but an exciting one at that!

Just about four years ago, I approached this exact opportunity. I had just graduated college, was living in Connecticut at the time, and was looking to move to and start a career in Boston. But I had one problem: I hardly knew anyone there and I only had marketing internship experience.

What did I do? The short answer is: network, network, network! There was much more to it than that, though, and certain types of networking that I found much more successful than others.

Here are the top three ways to break into the Boston marketing scene…

Read the rest of this article on MarketingontheRocks.com

I originally posted this on MarketingOnTheRocks where I regularly contribute. Please continue on to read the article and check out the new site! 

5 Features You Need in an Ideal Marketing Metrics Tool

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

Let’s face it: you probably have not found the perfect tool to measure all your online marketing activities. True, you may have found one that was ‘just good enough’ but still doesn’t give you exactly what you need.

Truth be told, in the grand scheme of things, social media and internet marketing is generally still new. With that comes developing metrics tools that do not quite fit our exact needs yet.

The great part about being in an awesome city like Boston is that we all know we’re in it together to figure out the best ways to use social media, optimize internet marketing campaigns, hone in on our funnel, and optimize conversion rates. We all want the same thing. We all work together to help get the results we need.

A few months ago, I was searching for that ‘perfect’ metrics tool, so I went to oneforty’s Managing and Measuring Social Media LinkedIn group to find an awesome group of people suggesting many tools. After an exhaustive search through, I decided write an article on my website about the Pros and Cons of Social Media Metrics Tools to give members my honest feedback on each tool I tested.

Through the process, I tested about 20 different tools, and found a few that actually fit the bill. While I did settle for a few ideal ones, none were perfect – even when combined.

As a marketer myself, I’ve identified the five critical metrics an ideal solution should have to help you become better at your job.

  • Middle of the funnel statistics: Sure, Google Analytics can show you what referral traffic brought people to your site and your checkout system can tell you how much revenue you received – but what about in between those activities? What steps did these people take between visiting an outside link, to getting on your website, to purchasing? Did they visit the blog? Did they watch a demo video? Did they engage in a chat with a support representative? If you can figure out which activities people perform most that convert to sales, then you can optimize that funnel to get even more conversions.
  • Customizable charts and reports: If you are a visual marketer like me and/or need to report marketing metrics to your boss or your advisory board, you need an easy way to compile specific bits of data. If a tool gives you the ability to create custom reports with specific data points, great! On top of that, if they can provide you with bar, pie, and graph charts (among others) to depict this data visually, even better! The easier you can present this data to others, the better your work looks.
  • Percent changes amongst data points: Want to know how many people came to your site and purchased between April and May? Even better, wouldn’t it be great to know the increase or decrease in this traffic month to month? This can help you determine what you did right and wrong and how to optimize each channel with specific content and sales drivers.
  • Dashboard activity: Wouldn’t it be great to log onto your metric tool to see a customized page of all the data you need to know up front? Some tools I currently use do this (Raven SEO Tools for example) but not for every aspect of my marketing program. It’d be great to choose the top 4-5 KPIs (key performance indicators) they need to know at a given time and be presented with that data as soon as they log in. That would make my day SO much easier, and probably yours as well.
  • Ability to visually see conversion rates across mediums: You may have multiple tools in place that can track social media traffic conversions, email campaign metrics, and press-related data. What if there was one single tool that showed traffic, conversions, and percentage change across all these channels at any given time period? To me, this would be the absolute most critical piece of data to know. That way, not only can I better understand the overall performance of our marketing activities, but so can everyone else in a visually pleasing way.

Of course, this list can go on and can be altered depending on the industry you’re in, marketing challenges you face, and marketing programs you are running. This serves as a guideline for some of the most important aspects of a metrics tool you should look for before settling for the one that seems to be ‘good enough’.

If you have other major KPIs you are tracking and metrics features you need to correlate with them, please leave your feedback below to add to this list.

Just like in Boston, if we can all help each other figure out the main things we need to track as marketers, hopefully the ideal solution will appear sooner than expected to satisfy our needs and help us all become better at our jobs.

Paying it Forward: An Old Fisherman Exemplifies What Marketers Should Know

fishermanDo you ever counter certain types of people in life that give you a new perspective on something – whether it be a lifestyle, attitude, opinion, etc.? Yesterday, I had a very unique encounter with an older man who appeared homeless and fishing on one of the Charles River docks in Boston.

It was about 5pm and I had only sat down by the dock to enjoy the evening sunlight on the river for about ten minutes when this man walked up to me. Naturally, when a stranger walks up to me I tend to tense up, not knowing their intentions. However, this man was looking for something very unique.

I found out afterwards that he spoke only Russian so he could not communicate with me. This man walked up to me, handing me two plastic cups and making a water-scooping motion to me with his hands. After a second, I understood he wanted me to fill these cups with river water for him because he could not bend down to do so himself. He nodded to me and went back to his fishing area. I watched and saw him take out some bread rolls, break them up into smaller pieces, and soak them in the cup of water. I then realized he was using this wet bread as bait for his fishing pole.

Not even five minutes after he first approached me, he came back over. In his hand were three candies. He was giving me candy in return for assisting him with getting water. All he could communicate to me was “Russian candy”. Sure enough, when I looked at them, the wrapper had Russian wording on it. I thanked him, he nodded, and went back to his area.

At that point I thought to myself, “Wow, just by me doing something so seemingly minuscule for this man, he was courteous enough to pay it forward by giving me a treat.”

This made me think.

You never know what others need in life, and how much a small act like filling up water means to them. I started to think about how this relates to marketing and customer service. During our busy everyday lives, we do and receive small acts of kindness, not really thinking twice about it. Other times, we are treated rudely and/or ignored – many times by bad customer representatives. On multiple occasions, I’ve experienced this with both a bank and cable company (not naming names – it’s beyond the point).

However, what if more encounters with businesses, clients, partners, etc. were as genuine as my prior encounter? What if everyone paid it forward? Small acts of appreciation can mean the world to someone.

Some business example of paying it forward are:

  • Sending a personal thank-you email or even a gift card to a valued customer that has either been a good reference, blogged favorably about you, or has stayed loyal through ups and downs in the company’s lifetime. While they may just be great customers because they truly enjoy your product or service, it never hurts to show them it matters to you.
  • Creating a special product feature that a specific customer requests. While it may gain you little to no revenue, if it is a fairly simple and quick feature to roll out, it will mean a lot to that customer. It (1.) Shows you truly care about the needs of your customers and (2.) Demonstrates that you take in customer feedback. If a business went out of their way to do this for me and the feature simplified my daily life, I would probably be a forever-loyal customer.
  • Giving a valued customer some press exposure. I first was impressed by the idea of doing this when talking with a friend who spoke to a reporter regarding an awesome customer’s business. My friend was speaking to them not for the intent to get his business exposure, but to highlight a customer. Since the customer was running a small business, this press exposure was huge for them. I’ve since spoken to many other people who do the same thing and I have done it myself as well.
You get the point. There are so many ways you can be a truly genuine marketer, sales person, customer service representative, etc. Just by taking a step back, recognizing what is simple and meaningful in life, and acting on it can go miles towards making others happy, rewarding them, and being a genuine business person and business.
Now it’s your turn. What are some ways you can pay it forward in your everyday life? Are there any instances where you’ve already done so or others have done this for you? Please share!

Social Media Day- Is it The New World Media Horizon?

social media horizon

Editor’s Note: This is a contributed guest post.

Social Media Day isn’t just some vague recognition of social media. It’s actually something entirely new in human history. The human race has never been in instant contact with itself in real time before, without the limitations of nationalities, language and political boundaries. This was a unique event, where cultures could actually mix. It’s also a new sort of human interaction, “SEO for the soul”, as well as social media marketing, the newest, biggest thing in marketing.

The big day was a pretty good indicator of how strongly social media is influencing the world. Social media sites are making news in their own right now, and the response to Social Media Day was a lot bigger than the simple old broadcast cross links to other countries.

This was only the second annual Social Media Day, and it went off the scale in terms of participation.

The idea of “believing” in media is perhaps a little over the top these days, but in terms of putting social media into practice, there’s no doubt that Social Media Day was a big success. 90 countries across six continents were involved. The general meetups were more than double last year, another sign of expanding horizons in a medium which is still, let’s face it, in its very early infancy.

The truth is that social media is an entirely new medium and nobody’s really too sure what it can do.

It’s evolving in ways nobody would have dreamed possible. Nobody really knows how many people there are active on the social media sites, but it’s somewhere around at least three quarters of a billion people at the very least. That’s the biggest single demographic on Earth for any kind of media, ever. Facebook alone has more people than the entire United States.

There’s another interesting fact becoming obvious. The marketing industry is trying to get into this gigantic electronic super-power’s buying power. This is also the most mobile market on Earth.

The truth is that social media is very unlike any other kind of media, able to react quickly to information and spread the message around the world on its own terms.

Cynics may note that this means that marketing, of all things, is becoming a social media enabler, adding more commercial power to the social media phenomenon. History tends to follow the money wherever it goes. Facebook, for example, is becoming a lot better organized as the Facebook marketing companies figure out that social media is simultaneously the ultimate impulse buying point of sale and the most demanding.

Homo Consumer Sapiens can be a tough customer. Social media users are also real online users, determined to get what they want, looking for real information about their purchases, and trying to get the best deals. Social Media Day showed that there’s a new human reality at work, changing lifestyles with a few clicks. Don’t be surprised if the next Social Media Day or the one after it turns into the biggest media event in history. It’s just a matter of time.

“How Do I Get Involved in a Startup Company?”

get involved in startupTwo years ago, I never really knew what a ‘startup company’ was. Being from a small town in northern Connecticut, all I knew about were the large insurance corporations and chain restaurants and clothing stores. (Truth be told, it wasn’t surprising I didn’t know of any startups, as there are not that many in Connecticut). As of today, I’ve been working for a startup, Backupify, for 14 months. Did I ever see this coming? Absolutely not. Am I glad I’m here? Absolutely!

Many friends have approached me asking the exact question proposed in the title of this blog post. “So, how do I get a job at a start up company?” Truth be told, it is tough if you don’t know the right people. It took me a few months to carefully network and feel out the startup culture.

When people tell you it’s all about who you know, they are right. When a small company like a startup is looking to hire, they are very reliant on referrals and recommendations of good hires as they cannot risk making a wrongful hire.

In short, below I’ve answered the most common questions I’ve been asked regarding getting into a startup:

How do you know who to contact?

First, determine what it is you’re looking to do. If you’re into marketing like I am, start contacting marketing professionals in the area (either via email or Twitter) to make an initial connection. Thankfully, through college, I received a marketing scholarship from an organization based around Boston, so those were the first people I went to when I was looking for a job.

Essentially, network creatively. Find out what topic of interest you want to start a career in and find others who are doing just that. Get their attention either by chatting on Twitter, sending an email or attending an event and making a personal introduction. I was able to meet many very successful marketers around the Boston area by doing just that. After you’ve made your first successful networking contact, they can surely help you branch off and meet others.

How do you know what events to attend?

It’s always good to make a personal connection. If you can attend the events that admirable professionals in your industry are attending, that is a great start. You can also get recommendations about events and conferences from your first few contacts. I’ve found that some networking events are more valuable than others. Here in Boston, there are events where it is just a social gathering involving small talk and beer. Then there are conferences with learning sessions and breakout networking times. I value both for different reasons. I started going to both when I began crafting my way into the Boston startup scene. I found that the social ‘drink-ups’ as they’re called were great to have casual conversations and get your name known. You may not learn too much, but there sure are a lot of people to meet. That’s actually how I got involved being a writer for BostInnovation.

Conferences are a great way to learn and get your name out there. Conferences tend to be larger, so it’s always important to find out who is going and make a point to meet them there.

How do you know when to take a chance?

Working for a startup does involve some risk. Unlike an established brand or corporation, startups are small and often bootstrap or VC funded. This meaning that there is a limited cash runway and hard work involved to push through the competition and challenges to make it to the top. Before I accepted my job offer with Backupify, our CEO Rob May made a point to explain to me exactly what taking a job at a startup meant. It meant there was risk of failure, hard times among the good times, and long hours. Thankfully, I was up for all of that – but many are not.

I’ve spoken with many colleagues who started their career off at a standard corporation, being a number among thousands of other employees, and just living day-by-day, not enjoying their job. I’m always interested to hear how one day they snap and realize they want to enjoy their career and find a company and a job that is truly rewarding. Many times, landing a position at a startup company can be just that opportunity with exposure to almost every activity in the company including being involved with executive decisions, being challenged like never before, and having a say in the direction of the company.

I’m thrilled I took the leap into the startup world as my first career job. It has been the most rewarding, creative and challenging job I could have ever wanted.

What other questions do you have in regards to learning about startup culture? If you made the move from a ‘regular’ job to a startup, what was your experience like? I’d love to hear from you!

6 Ways To Improve Your Company’s Social Media Marketing

Using social media marketing can be a very good way to develop true and strong relationships with others online. Using it to develop formal and often very important informal relationships can be very beneficial to your business. Here are some points that you and others in your company should consider so that you stay at the top.

  • Minimize junk. Are you falling into the trap of putting every little detail about your life online? It is important that you keep focused on why you are involved in a certain group or medium. Remember that each of your posts needs to be important. Unless you are Brad Pitt and there is a mountain of followers drooling on your every word, make sure that you and others in your company are relevant.
  • Keep it consistent. As with every element of your company’s operations it is important that you keep standards of communication. Setting rules regarding tone and appropriateness for all of those in your company is of utmost importance. This may take some of the fun out of it, but one mistake could spread and be very damaging for your business. Perhaps you should consider those working for you have both their own personal and professional profiles.
  • Management. Some amount of randomness may be beneficial to creating and keeping interest, but using certain software programs to manage, schedule and assess the effectiveness of your company’s posting will be greatly beneficial to understanding your SEO efforts. Perhaps there are better times and better ways that your team can be collaborating (working together), and only analysis of your efforts will allow you to see this. There are several premium and free-ware options available.
  • Encourage participation. Having the technical means and the content to stir debate amongst your followers and readers is extremely important. Making sure that you have your networks set up correctly so that you have specific areas for participants to engage in, and you can moderate, are of the utmost importance. The two skills of being a good content developer, and intangible asset, and having the technical know-how, are extremely important.
  • Ahead of the curve. Learning from others in your industry can be very beneficial, however, it is those who are ahead of the curve, and dare to do something different, that often reap most of the rewards. You will need to use your imagination and creativity if you are to stand out. Respect the intelligence of your readers and understand that they are already getting used to many of the same tricks to get their attention floating around out there.
  • Keeping it real. This must be one of the all-time important factors of any company’s activities. Remember, people are not stupid, and as soon as they even get a hint that your company is not being real, they will drop you in a flash. Just because you are not communicating face to face, don’t think that they cannot read between the lines. Let them know where you stand from the beginning unless you and your people are extremely experienced in true guerrilla marketing.

It is important to not get overwhelmed with the potential and possibilities of any campaign. Some people believe in an online social Karma. Take on your company’s online activities like any other element of your business, step by step, and seek professional advice, after all it is your financial future.

 

 

10 Ways to Become a Better Marketer in 2011

It’s that time of year again when we’re all evaluating what our new years resolution will be this year, and wonderirng how long it will last this time. However, there is one resolution that should never fail to work: become better at your job. Social networks come and go, ‘best practices’ succeed and fail, and your company is constantly changing. What if there were some sure-fire ways to keep a resolution to always get better at your job, no matter what is going on around you?

Follow these ten tips to learn how to become a better online marketer in 2011:

1. Read. Determine which bloggers and experts in your industry you’d like to learn from. Chances are, they have a blog. Pick 2-5 expert bloggers and subscribe to them. Take time out of your day, even if it’s a half hour, to read what they have to say. By reading their posts, you’ll learn new perspectives and techniques. I take time to read Dharmesh Shah’s blog, Darren Rowe’s ProBlogger blog, and Chris Brogan’s blog. From all the other blogs I subscribe to, these provide the most value.

2. Use analytics to your advantage. With so many free analytics tools available today, from Google Analytics to Facebook Insights and free trials to many other tools, use them to your advantage. The more metrics-driven you are as a marketer, the greater the decisions you make will be. Metrics don’t lie, so if you are seeing a trend, act on it. If you need to make a case in your favor, use metrics to prove your point.

3. Use your valuable contacts. Each of your contacts, whether in your company or industry, has something to offer. Schedule a half hour coffee meetup, lunch meeting, or plan to attend an event where your contacts will be to talk with them. Find out what marketing projects they’re working on, what has led them to success and failure, and what some of their own marketing theories are. This will help you learn a wide array of marketing views which will allow you to create a customized marketing approach to your company using a variety of their ideas.

4. Keep an open mind. Never discount an idea until you can prove it won’t be beneficial. Many people become close-minded and stop innovating when they find a comfort zone in a company. Don’t fall victim to this. Instead, always keep an open mind. Whether you’re reading a blog post, attending a webinar, speaking with someone at an event or brainstorming yourself, consider every idea as valid. By not closing out an idea ‘just because’ will not help you grow as a marketer. Instead, explore new ways to market your business.

5. Take some time to evaluate your marketing tactics. Think back on what marketing campaigns and activities you’ve done in the past month. What worked? What didn’t work? What would you like to see done in the next month? With this, build upon your successes, learn from the failures and create new ways to improve your efforts.

6. Maintain your own personal brand. I’m guilty of ignoring some of my personal brand by using the excuse of being too busy at work to take time to write for this blog. I’ve realized that it’s always important to maintain your personal brand even though you’re busy building up the brand of your company. Whether it’s writing a weekly blog post, following up with people on Twitter, building out your connections on LinkedIn or making an appearance at a monthly event, do it. Your personal brand is something that can never be taken away from you and can make you more valuable at your job.

7. Pay attention to industry leading companies. Determine which companies are leading the industry and practicing cutting edge marketing and technological methods. Is there a company that’s doing an outstanding community management job? Follow them on social media and see what tactics they use and who they engage with. Do you admire a company for always staying innovative, using the latest technologies? Follow their blog, attend the events they do and do a weekly news scan to keep on top of what they are doing. This will give you a good sense of their work ethic and ways of finding ideas.

8. Never forget original marketing theories. Theories like “the customer is always right’, “test, test, test”, and the like are always important. Just because there are new theories and technologies to use doesn’t mean old ways don’t work anymore. Instead, the new ways, for the most part, build upon the old ideas. You also need to consider your target market. While there are iPads, Twitter and text messaging mediums, your target audience may prefer the traditional radio advertising method to learn about companies, products and services. While it’s great to know about a new technology and theory, take into consideration how your target marketing would respond. If you think they’re in their comfort zone with the traditional ways you contact them, stay that way. Eventually they will migrate to the new ways, and you can either nudge them that way or go there with them.

9. Always be a step ahead of the competition. Set up alerts, subscribe to their blogs, follow them on social media and go to the events they go to. It may even help to create a spreadsheet to track what major announcements they are making and any sneak peak insights you may have about what they are going to do. That way, you can either pre-empt what a competitor is going to do, follow along with it, or simply be aware of it. Never get caught blindsided by your competition or a surprise new competitor.

10. Keep it real. No matter the technology, medium, or method, always be real with your customers. This aligns well with point #8 as it means to never forget the voice of your company and keep it the same throughout all types of communications. If you’re company is known as a bubbly, conversational company on TV ads, magazine ads and through in-person meetings, keep that same tone and attitude while interacting with customers on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It’s also important to always be honest and upfront with a customer. The last thing I want a company telling me is that they will be more than happy to give me a month free trial because I was unhappy and then boost up my fee every consecutive month. That won’t make me happy. If I was used to them being very accommodating, I’d be even more taken aback by this approach. Just keep it real.

I could go on and on with ways to become a better marketer, as I’m learning them every day, but I know your time is valuable and I’m sure you have some ideas of your own to share. Please leave your resolution to become a better marketer this year in the comments section!

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