Tag Archives: marketing

3 Different Places to Share Your Blog

Customers, friends, and fans are always asking me how to drive traffic to increase blog views, and I love coming up with unique solutions that don’t involve paying advertisement money. Some people like to use money for traffic at first, but I have thrown away good money after bad enough online to know that you need a solid following and an understanding of your blog’s conversion before you drive traffic with paid ads.

share your blog

Get Heard in the Noise

That said, here are 4 quick places I am using to drive traffic to my blog.

  1. Local Facebook Groups – Many people use Facebook groups, but do you use ones that are focused on your location. I am part of many local groups that are smaller, but have great results when I share relevant content with them.
  2. Bloglovin – This is a fun reader that creates a social network around blogs. You can upload your blog there and you can Follow my blog with Bloglovin.
  3. Comment Sections – I know, links in comments are usually no-follow so they don’t help with SEO, but newsflash: comments on other people’s sites are written to other people. Go figure. If your comment is meaningful and relevant to their post, they and their readers will likely check you out. The WordPress dashboard is currently my #3 referrer after Facebook and search engines and ahead of #4, LinkedIn.

These are some ways I draw traffic. What are your favorite online tools for increasing blog views?

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Filed under The Art of Marketing

Staying in Business Through the First 4 Years: How the Art of Marketing Keeps You in Business

Have you heard the oft-quoted meme that 90% of businesses fail within the first 3 years? Or 5 years? Or 2?

Have you heard that 75% of statistics are made up on the spot? (Get the joke?) Yeah, business failure is one of those statistics, but according to a blog I found reading other blogs yesterday, the real number  is 33% of small businesses will close due to failure in the first 6 years.

In a similar manner, the NY Times tells us that there are 10 reasons small businesses fail, including the math doesn’t add up (too small a market, etc.), poor management (lack of focus and vision), and being in a declining market.

Whether it is 90% of businesses who fail or 33% of businesses, starting a small business is hard. One of the hardest things  you could possibly do. To make it easier, I am going to show in this post how marketing helps your business survive.

Defining Marketing

This paragraph definition for marketing is one of many I found at Heidi Cohen’s site.

The one idea I want to take from this definition is in the middle of the post:

“However, since the emergence of digital media, … [marketing] has increasingly  become more about companies building deeper, more meaningful, and lasting relationships with the people that they want to buy their products and services.”

Marketing is about relationships.

This is what has inspired me to look at marketing as an art form, as a collaborative creative process. If you have ever played in a symphony, you realize that certain types of art require a collaborative creative process. Marketing is one of these arts.

Good marketing involves input from customers, from the public, from your business alliance partners, and more.

The Back of My Head, Making Music

So, an original definition of The Art of Marketing:

The art of marketing is a collaborative process using the best of design, content, and analytics tools to create a beautiful process where customers are served by a business.

The art of marketing uses the best design, content, and analytics to beautifully serve your customers. Tweet: The art of marketing uses the best design, content, and analytics to beautifully serve your customers. https://ctt.ec/9XxtU+

Now, there are two types of great artists: those who work from their art, and those who work for their art.

Johann Sebastian Bach worked from his art; as a worship leader and performer, he was constantly creating music for his patrons in order to earn an income. He did not become popular until long after he died, when his art was discovered by Felix Mendelssohn.

Vincent Van Gogh worked for his art. He painted because his image of the world demanded an outlet. His first successful art exhibit of 71 paintings was in 1901, 11 years after his death.

Neither of these great artists are the ideal we want in a wealth consumption world, but when it comes to keeping your business alive through the first 6 years, they are both inspirational.

Surviving Business

Surviving the first 6 years requires a dedication to your business that many other people will not understand. “I am going to be rich.” is not a statement that will keep you going. A marketing minded mission gives you the strength to continue working when customers cancel, when your emails get ignored, when no one visits your website for weeks.

All of these things may happen to you, and what will you do to keep going when they do? The marketing mindset helps get through mortal wounds of a profit-motive business.

  • “I cannot get clients.” – Consistent content creation is key to getting new clients. A marketing artist creates for the joy of creation and failure to acquire new clients is motive to find other solutions while continuing to work on your business. In the 10 years I have been learning marketing, I have worked at over 10 different jobs and business ideas, including giving maternity shots to over 7000 cows. If I can do that while practicing my art, what can you do to provide while your business grows?
  • “My clients don’t pay enough.” – Art understands different levels of involvement. Some people want to enjoy art, some people want to participate. Some patrons need a single small item, others want consistent new content. Combining art and business understands that diversity in customer levels is key to practice.
  • “I don’t have enough  products or services.” – Marketing is about finding the product mix that your customers need. Art is about creating for the joy of it. When you combine art and marketing, you will create out of habit and this problem will be reversed.
  • “I don’t know who my ideal client is.” – This is understandable if you are just starting out. As an artist, remember that your first client is yourself. I have heard many marketers say that you are not your own ideal client, and I disagree. Your first client is yourself, because if you do not enjoy what you do, why do you expect anyone else to?
  • “I don’t have ANY clients.” – Find something else to do. Seriously, if you have no clients, find some work to do and find a place where you can get paid to do your work. Online, I have found work at Freelancer, Thumbtack, Wyzant, and Blogmutt. Offline I have found work from my coworking spot, my church, family, and local music stores who needed teachers. Keep looking for a client until you find one, and you might learn something about your own aesthetic along the way.

The First 3 Years

Getting through the first 3 years of a business is going to be the hardest part. But, treating your marketing as an artist will help in all aspects of your business.  As such, here are the final 5 areas the art of marketing will help you grow your business through the first 3 years and beyond.

Plan to Fail

I once heard of an author who bought all the copies of his first book because he thought it was not fit to publish. I have seen master potters throw 3 to 5 pots, breaking them down each time, until they find one they like. It took me 4 years to realize I was a poor violinist, and another 4 to actually sound good.

Artists fail all the time.

In business, do not plan all your success on one product. This does not honor your target market, does not help you plan for a product lifecycle, and does not give you opportunities to succeed when you do fail.

If you plan at least 3 product lines (currently mine are writing, consulting, affiliate sales, full-service marketing, tutoring, and violin teaching), you can succeed financially even if you have a 66% failure rate.

Give Yourself Time

Do not start a business when you need income yesterday. Two of my business failures were because I tried relying on them to provide for my family too early. Here are some things you can do to give yourself time to start a business:

  • Get part time work – Many part time jobs are easy enough that you can think through your business while doing repetitive tasks.
  • Drastically cut costs – What can family, friends, and customers do to help you out? This is the point where bartering makes sense, and if you have to spend time living in your parent’s house or your brother’s spare room, that’s ok.
  • Learn to DIY – You don’t know how long it will take to find something that clicks. During that time, you might have to do a lot of menial tasks because you cannot afford to do otherwise.

Learning an art takes time, and you need to give yourself that time in your business. Make certain that you are actually making enough money to pay for your four walls (food, housing, transportation, clothes) before you cut the cord to your part or full-time job.

Test, Change, Test, Change

In marketing speak they call this split-testing (try out two variations of a marketing theme and keep the better one), in music it’s called woodshedding.

Again, you don’t know what will make your business successful, so practice many things and keep what works.

Build Collaborative Relationships

The vision of the solitary artist is as romantic as it is false.

Vincent Van Gogh would still be a moody artistic failure if it wasn’t for his sister-in-law’s belief in him, even after he died.

Handel’s Messiah never would have been performed without  the support of nearly one hundred other musicians: violinists, trumpeters, flutists, choral singers, operatic stars, and more.

The more your business grows, the more you will need collaborative relationships.

Focus on Your Art

Starting a business is not for everyone. Mike Rowe tried to work with his hands many times before he built a business empire in show business about people working with their hands. There are still many successful business people who work within other businesses, and there is no shame in that.

If you want to start a business, it has to be larger than your desire for financial or schedule freedom. Starting a business, growing a business, and keeping a business is a passion, you need passion to drive it.

For me, my marketing is my art, for a counselor it is the finished product of healthy children. For an inventory handling business, your art is happy clients enjoying your product.

The art of marketing is a great tool to ensure that your business continues now and in the future. If you do not have the time or energy to do your own marketing, why don’t you send me an email and see if I can help you with your business?

 

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Filed under Business and Personal Improvement, The Art of Marketing

Saturday Book Review: The Foundation Series

Sci-Fi on a marketing blog?

Yes, because content marketing seeks to understand content of all genres, even if that content style may never be used.

Foundation Series

One of the more popular novels by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, the Foundation (7 Book Series) is a complete saga regarding the end of a galactic empire and the beginnings of a new one. Known for his psychological theories and imaginative surprises, Asimov’s novels have withstood the tests of time fairly well.

The plot of most of the books is not as important as the intricate philosophies Asimov portrays, taking sociology and psychology and theoretically applying them on a galactic scale.

Non-Evergreen Content

This is a marketing blog, so one marketing issue you will note if you read this series is that, like most sci-fi, the technology the author imagines becomes obsolete by modern standards. In marketing, you often want evergreen content that you can keep referring to over time, but you do need to realize that technology is rarely ever long-lasting.

Something Asimov wrote in the 1950’s (people flying around the galaxy using slide-rulers), becomes completely obsolete by the time he finished the series in the 80’s. In the same manner, if you are writing a blog on best SEO techniques, you need to realize that any technical gimmicks included in the blog will likely become obsolete in the next Google update.

Are Humans Predictable?

The most interesting part of the series is the idea that one person was able to take sociological data from the millions of human worlds and the billions of people on each world to predict the course of galactic human history. For a marketing professional, this philosophy is very tempting to embrace wholeheartedly.

  • We predict conversion rates.
  • We determine Return on Investment.
  • We plan marketing strategies, product releases, and more based on statistics.
  • We forecast sales, income, and more.

And yet, this series shows that humans love change and create change so much that you cannot predict anything with accuracy. By the third book of the series, Asimov introduces mutants who change his core operating timeline. He then introduces an organic world in which all atoms and groups of atoms (including humans) are part of the whole.

This reminds a savvy reader of why marketing will always be part art, as well as science.

Humans love unpredictability. Asimov knew that if he wrote a series of books that were completely predictable, they would not have continued selling.

Should I read the Foundation Series?

Do you enjoy classic sci-fi or philosophical inquiries into modernistic thought?

If so, then yes, you should read the series.

If the very question sets your teeth on edge, skip the series and rest assured.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on some of the product/service links, I will earn a referral fee. 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Reviews

7 Attributes It Takes to Succeed in the Art of Marketing

Art is more than just a skill; it is a commitment to creative habits, to learning and crafting an aesthetic. I remember still towards the middle of my high school experience when I had to face the choice of whether I wanted to become a professional artist on the violin.

I had played violin since I was four and was one of the best student violinists in 100 miles, but I knew that I would have to be much better if I wanted to develop that into my lifelong profession.

I decided to keep it a hobby.

Qualities of an Artist

Although I did not commit then, I knew what it takes to succeed as a professional artist, as an innovative creator. Fast forward an indeterminate number of years later, I am committed to a different art.

This art includes design and composition, writing and performing. It also includes leadership, relational intelligence, mathematics, and writing skills.

But, the skills necessary for an artist are not as important as the character traits it takes to survive and thrive as an artist; hence the reason I did not succeed as a professional violinist (I still play and teach), I did not have a fundamental artist’s trait: passion.

So, here are 7 character attributes you will need to succeed as a marketer.

Passion for the People, Product and Process

When you are marketing, passion for the product does not cut it. There is such a tremendous learning curve for each marketing system, you get to learn about ideal customers (people), business partners (people), the process by which you get a product or service to the market (process and product). And without passion, why would you learn all that!?

Faith

As a Christian, I understand faith in something larger than myself, but even if you are not a theist, you still need to have faith that the world is not coming to an end tomorrow and that the universe is generally in your favor if you do the right activities. Also, you will need tremendous faith and trust in fellow humans, because marketing is all about understanding both your ideal customer (target market) and your co laborers in the marketing project.

Extroversion of Some Degree

Introverts can be marketers, but they will have to break out of their comfort zone substantially. Why? Because marketing is about getting the right products, services and brands in front of the right people at the right time so that they can enter into a relationship with that brand.

Marketing is about people. Yes we get to play with technical things in the dark of our living rooms, alone, after the kids have fallen asleep, but without people to look at our work, we will never be able to earn a living.

Resting

Rest. Another one of the attributes that I attribute to my Christianity, but there are many good reasons beyond religious ones to incorporate an attitude of rest into an artistic marketing mindset.

Did you hear when the CEO of Yahoo missed a major meeting with advertisers because she slept in? She is well known for saying that people who need 8 hours of sleep a night are wasting time.

This is silly. From an artistic mindset, rest helps you recover from work, get a new viewpoint on your creative process, helps your brain restart, and helps you incorporate diverse strands into the creation you are making.

An unrested artist creates factory products; this marketing, be different and rest.

A Learning/Teacher Heart

If you want to truly learn something, teach it to someone else. This truism is essential to marketing, because you will be constantly learning and teaching others. Marketing and sales are designed to creatively bring customers into relationships with a brand where commercial transactions take place. You cannot do that without understanding basic principles of teaching.

A Diligent Heart

I did not commit to violin because I knew that I would have to practice at least an hour a day and max out at 5. Every day except rest days. I did not want to commit to that, but it was necessary.

In the same way, I do commit to work on learning and practicing marketing an hour a day. When I am busy writing for clients, I still need to spend at least an hour learning and practicing.

Creative Habits

Like all arts, marketing and sales require persistent commitment to habits of creativity. Twyla Tharp, a dancer, has a great book called The Creative Habit. Look it up.

Is the Art of Marketing for Me?

If you are reading through these attributes and think, that sounds hard, it is.

The art of marketing is a commitment that takes significant amounts out of you, but if your passion for what you are marketing, who you are marketing, and why it is important is great enough, you will put up with any amount of labor to practice your art.

I still play violin, but I do not really practice. I also still sing, but I do not practice that either.

I do practice marketing

What art do you practice in your day? How do these attributes reflect on what you are passionate about you are doing? Please leave a comment!

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Why You Should Write and Publish Content Outside Your Niche!

Wahoo! Today is controversy day in my 30-day challenge (Exactly 15 days behind, but who cares?).

While I love and understand the principles behind creating relevant content for a specific audience in mind, this post is about writing for yourself.

Content marketing needs to be focused, relevant, helpful, and targetted to specific questions and needs. Good content is shared, linked to, and talked about and increases user engagement on your website.

But, how do you find out what good content is? Analytics plus a big dose of experience are necessary for fine tuning your content creation.

I want to talk about experience; specifically, I want to talk about the experience we all need as writers to craft a conversational style, to practice writing our thoughts and viewpoint while getting valuable feedback from real audiences about what works, and what doesn’t work.

5 Types of Writing I Do That Will Not Generate Money

Woah!

A bit presumptuous, you think? All of these types of posts generate money for someone, but they are not my niche (business marketing materials), but I still write and publish them on various forums.

  1. Politics – I know, there are political commentators who make millions of dollars doing it (Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh, to satisfy and enrage both the American Left and Right). But, I am not one of them and will likely never be one, because I get so bored with it. I practice writing about politics for multiple reasons though: sometimes I find something interesting, I get so tired of people’s ignorant comments, or I want a challenge.
  2. Poetry – I don’t often publish my poems, but sometimes I create something that I want to share with more people than my wife (who always laughs at my poor love poems I write her. Don’t worry, they are designed to make her laugh because they are poor poetry).
  3. Fiction – I have not written much fiction before, but I am starting a new sub-domain today about a group of people who incorporate Greco-Roman styles of fighting with local self-government during the Zombie Apocolypse. Why? Because I find the idea interesting (see my reason for politics above). I read fiction voraciously, which means I have and will continue to write it, even if it never makes me a penny.
  4. Spiritual Instructions – I love God, and I love others. I love teaching about loving God and others. I love being repetitive. Love, lovely, do…..
    OK. Enough of that. But seriously, I write about spiritual and religious topics because of my passion for them. I have not received direct payment from them, yet.
  5. Tributes – When someone dies, I mourn them through my writing, whether that is remembering my close friends and family on Memorial Day or remembering a teacher that I met once.

These are my 5 types of writing that I do because I love writing, what do you write just for the joy of it?

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5 Tools I Am Using Right Now To Help Generate and Promote Content

Content writing is geared towards getting people to read your website. You provide value to readers, give them something to talk about, and generate buzz.

What tools do you use to research content and get it in front of other people?

There are many great tools that you can use for writing content and marketing it. Today, though, I just want to present you (represent for some of them) the tools that I am using this week for myself and for my clients to create, research, and promote content.

5 Tools for Writing and Marketing Content

  1. Trello – Yes, I have spoken about Trello before, but it is now being used for more in my business. A client I recently landed uses Trello for their planning and strategy. We integrated well together.
  2. BuzzSumo – I have just started using BuzzSumo to research content, industry thought leaders, and successful marketing channels. The free version is rather limited and the starter pack is not cheap, but it is incredibly useful for a proactive content planner.
  3. Buffer – Yep, I still love Buffer. It gives me tools for planning and scheduling social media posts, tracking their efficiency, and rethinking my strategies.
  4. Google Webmaster Tools – Where do people find your site from on Google? What keywords are you starting to rank for naturally? What clicks do searches get to your website? These are all questions you can answer with Google Webmaster Tools.
  5. SumoMe Plugin – Sharing, tracking, list building and more. What’s not to love about SumoMe?

While I have to wrap up this post to head out and teach a young man English reading and writing, what are the tools you use to research and generate content?

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Filed under Content Writing Tips

A Simple Guide For Citing Sources

In SEO terms it’s called “anchor text,” but for many people it is a simple question “How do I link to an outside source?”

As shown on this excellent blog by the Hoth, the way you use links matters to search engines. If you only link to the keyword you are trying to rank for, your post or page may be penalized for “keyword stuffing” (more on that here) by Google and other search engines.

While those posts help you understand a little about links, I want to offer the following observations about citing for business and personal blogs and websites.

  1. Academic – The APA citation style is the most commonly used academic system. Owl at Purdue has the best resources for understanding APA, MLA, and other academic writing. Seriously. If you want to learn more about academic citation, go spend a few hours over there.
  2. Average Web Content – I know this isn’t very technical or jargony-sounding, but average web content covers pretty much everything you will write online. For general content, you can cite your source in one of three ways: you can use a parenthetical aside (e.g. here is a random post on floating caskets), you can use an in-text link to a relevant article, like I have done multiple times in this post, and you can use the name of your source, set apart by commas, like telling you I found a great SEO article by Addicott Web.
  3. Technical Whitepapers – Writing more technical whitepapers is a great way to repurpose content for business professionals. For whitepapers, links inside the text of the page can be distracting and frustrating since they will often be turned into PDFs and printed off. For flyers, whitepapers, or other products that can be used both online and offline, I always cite the naked URL so that customers can copy/paste or type in the address manually if needed. When you include the full URL link, always remember to remove the UTM parameters (Check out Niel Patel’s blog for more on those).

That’s it! There are three main types of writing an online content creator needs to consider citing sources in, and of those three, the average web content has incredible flexibility depending on your preference and your target market.

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Why You Should Never Close Another Sale

 

Preparing for Door-To-Door Success!

Preparing for Door-To-Door Success!

Knock, Knock.

Knock, Knock.

Ring-a-ding. Ring-a-ding.

“Hello?”

“Hi, are you the mom of the house?”

“Yeah, wait what’s this about?”

“Ok, great. My name is _____ and I am the student who is in the area helping parents plan their student’s educational success.”

…15 Minutes Later…

“OK. If you just sign here, I’ll get your order in process and be back to deliver your books in a few weeks.”

“Wait, what about______?”

“I totally understand how you feel, ________ down the street felt the same way, but after she realized that these books are __________, she was able to make a decision to purchase that same day. I am trying to meet with all the families in the area, so I do not have the time to keep coming back. So, if you will just sign here…”

I hand her the pen. She signs. It’s a good day.

Every year, thousands of students in multiple industries pou Continue reading

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Filed under Inbound Sales

7 Great Apps for Managing Marketing

If you look at any Google search for business marketing apps, you will see a long list of the newest and greatest, as well as different tools that have nothing to do with fulfilling your needs as a small business owner.

business apps   Google Search

Many of these apps are designed for large departments and enterprise level businesses who need to manage their marketing content on multiple social media channels, who need to manage servers and other hardware, and who have a regular budget for marketing technology.

The following 5 apps are useful for creating content, marketing content, and managing your business marketing online. The great news is they all come with free versions!

Buffer – Small business owners do not have time to be on Facebook all the time. I am building a content and inbound marketing business using social media as a primary marketing channel, and I don’t have time to be on social media all the time. Buffer is a way to get your business in front of your potential customers when they are online, without being there yourself. It is, basically, a post-scheduling app. Use this app to manage multiple accounts in their pro version, and use their photo sharing and editing software (Pablo) to get more bang for your proverbial buck.

Pop-Up Ally – I am just moving my pop-up management from SumoMe to Pop-Up-Ally on WordPress. This pop-up manager is designed to give you complete control over how prospects on your website are turned into leads. You can easily set the pop-up to only come up as they are leaving your site, when they have scrolled to the end of your post, or some other event-based pop-up. There is a free plug-in on WordPress if you do not want to upgrade immediately.

Hootsuite – Hootsuite is the app for managing social media profiles, and the first 3 are free. While Hootsuite has some automation features similar to Buffer, it is geared towards active participation in multiple social media platforms, while Buffer is geared towards setting up automatic updates of your social media profiles.

Canva – Canva is a great resource for finding and sharing photos to social media platforms, within posts, and on other online resources. Since memes drive the internet, any business marketing online needs a great photo editing platform that is integrated online.

Awesome Screenshot – Awesome screenshot is for creating photos that are instructional in nature. You can take any screenshot on your computer and edit it with highlights, pop-out comments, and in-photo texts.

Screen Cast Omatic – This is an essential tool for creating instructional videos, recording webcasts on your desktop and more.

17Hats – Although there are many CRMs out there, 17Hats is designed specifically for small business owners who need to manage more than marketing in their business software. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management software and it is one type of the many business management systems available to streamline business processes, track communication and finances, and generally make life less hectic for busy business owners.

These are 7 apps that I have used for managing various aspects of marketing online, and I hope that you will be able to use them to benefit your business marketing ventures in the near future!

Please leave a comment below about any apps you use for marketing or sales.

 

 

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