Tag Archives for " Marketing "

The 2016 Digital Marketing Recap: The Marketing Drive ep22

What happened in the world of Digital Marketing in 2016? How did Google, Facebook, Twitter and the general state of social media evolve? Here’s what we need to keep top of mind as Digital Marketers going into 2017.

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Building and Managing Your Audience : The Marketing Drive ep 8

There’s a lot of doing in the day-to-day of the modern marketer, so much so that there isn’t much time to stop and think about our audiences. I’ll be talking about:

  1. How to build an audience a.k.a the “Minimum Viable Audience”.
  2. How to identify your existing Audience.
  3. Why we need to know our audiences.
  4. The importance of build a relationship with our audiences before we try to make a sale.

Handy References for Building Your Minimum Viable Audience

Props and high fives to Bastian Ernst from WildAudience for his excellent post: I’m building an engaged Audience First before starting my Company – And Why you Should too – I couldn’t agree more.

The See Think Do Care framework by Avinash Kaushik.

Welcome to Episode 8 of The Marketing Drive!

I’ll be covering the latest and greatest marketing, business and start-up tips every day from the road.

Dan Nedelko Living the Agency Life: the ups, the downs of agency life. How to build your agency successfully.

Marketing Execution by Honeypot Marketing: every day we’re launching, reviewing and optimizing marketing campaigns.

Marketing and Business at Marketer Knows: marketing resources from the trenches by real Marketers who do it everyday.

How to survive as an effective marketer without losing your sanity. Marketer Knows is a community for marketers who are in the trenches each and every day.

In today’s episode I’m talking about sticking to a Marketing Playbook, executing “on point” in an agile manner and a little bit about what I’m going to be talking about in the Drive every day!

Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

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Beautiful sunsets in Algonquin Park

Is your brand communication strategy back asswards?

When we think about brand and communications messaging often the tactical “feature” message wins out over the motivation a consumer might have when making a decision about where to align their loyalties. In reality, the most effective brands in the world start from the motivation and move into the tactical “features” the deeper you dig. Some brands that do it right? Apple & Tesla. Food for thought.

Communications and brand marketing communication direction.

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How to create a great social media content schedule

Yeah that's right, I'm doin' that.

I often run into examples of poorly executed social media “programs”. Generally this comes from a highly undervalued view of social media, poor planning and an under-estimation of the complexity of the channels.

Quite often this will lead to an inconsistent and off-topic communication plan when it comes to talking to your fans or brand advocates through social media channels. Here are a few things I see happen all the time:

  1. You talk endlessly about yourself, your product and special offers. You’re talking at your consumers, fans, brand advocates not to them.
  2. You talk endlessly about completely off-topic content. Try to be relevant to your brand values.
  3. You are always borrowing the content of others. You have content in your business, I know you do. Now use it.
I’m going to give you some insight into a process I’ve used over the years at both Honeypot Marketing and ArtBarn Media in order to put together a simple, effective and organized social media communications program.
Step #1 – Define your company (brand) values. 
This is not a complex or overly difficult thing to do. In 3-5 simple words or basic statements describe what you stand for and what makes your company or you different. What’s it all about?
Let’s use the simple example of Bob’s Restaurant.  It’s a mid-range restaurant in a small urban center of 130,000 people, the market is competitive but Bob’s been at this for 35 years. It’s a family owned business with a loyal following, Bob is passionate about his work and the food that is produced. There is a focus on local suppliers, fresh daily specials and events which are catered and also regularly occurring weekly events.
At the most atomic and basic level, the things that make Bob’s Restaurent different are in fact: food, events, people, environment. We’re avoiding complexity and intentionally keeping it simple.
Step #2 – Expand on your values…
Now let’s dig a little bit deeper (but not too much) into what those atomic brand and company statements mean…
  • Food – the food is made fresh everyday, daily specials are always unique, the ingredients are from local suppliers, the chef puts creativity into every special and plate.
  • Events – events are unique and frequent, from daily events to special events we are always dedicated to creating amazing experiences for all of our guests.
  • People – our staff are the heart and soul of our business, we care about each other and work hard to make our workplace fun and exciting even though it can be stressful at times.
  • Environment – we’ve spent years, countless hours and invested in the ambiance of our business, we are always looking to make our restaurant feel like home, a comfortable atmosphere where our customers are comfortable and welcomed.
Step #3 – Build a content plan based on your values.
Okay, we’re getting there! Now that we’ve laid out our company in a simple and concise manner we can build out a content plan that makes sense. We’re going to build content and messaging that always supports the values above and communicates these to our fans on all of the social networks we are engaged with daily.
When building out a content plan it’s very important to plan, create and schedule. This will ensure that you’re not running around every day trying to create content in an ad-hoc and chaotic manner. We’re going to use photos, videos and small stories to communicate the points in Step #2 in a casual, fun and engaging manner.
  • Food – we’re going to take 50 pictures of all of our menu items, the chef is going to give us a brief description of each and what makes it unique.
  • Events – we know that 50% of our events are planned. We’re going to use the creative we’ve already made, take photos at the events and also re-use photos from our previous events.
  • People – we’re going to take short videos and take pictures of our staff. We want to tell their story and we also are going to take pictures of staff in their environment and show some behind the scenes peeks for our customers.
  • Environment – we’re going to take some pictures of our restaurant, the ambiance and tell our story. How did we get here? What did we do that was a challenge? We want our customers to understand and feel the same passion we feel for this business.
Step #4 – Pick a couple of days and get that content together!
Get a decent camera and video camera, plan out a couple of days and then simply build out a database of the content in Step #3. Use Flickr to store photos, load up videos on YouTube and get all of your content organized.
This is not a huge job, especially considering that we’re building out a schedule that we can then have posting to our social media profiles on a regular basis. By doing this all at once you can work it into your workflow once a month or every 6 weeks. It will be very manageable, trust me. 🙂
Step #5 – Use a social media management software package.
I prefer Hootsuite for it’s ability to tie into multiple social networks, multiple team member support, scheduling and authorizing posts. The most important thing here is the scheduling portion. Take a few hours and write your content, lay it out so that you’re posting your content at the appropriate time of day and also planning it out so you’re not flooding the channels all at once.
If you’ve never done this before then use your intuition on the most effective time of day to post content, social media isn’t magic, it’s a channel that allow you to talk directly to your customers and potential customers and allows them to talk back. Using the restaurant example above, posting food features 1 hour before lunch or dinner would be a logical and intuitive place to start.
Once you got some analytics data, you can then go back and start to see what content, what voice, what time of day and what rich media is the most engagig to your fans. You can revise all of this in fairly short order.
Step #6 – Implement your schedule and prepare for real time posting!
Congratulations! You’ve just off-loaded 60%-70% of the daily overhead of your social media program. Now you can focus on the real-time updates, cool events that happen and monitor your channels to provide responses to inquiries.
Your messaging will be on point and relevant to your business without being too blunt or being so completely off-topic that you’re simply adding to the white noise of social networks. You’ll be engaging and unique to your customers (turning them into brand advocates) and will give you the opportunity to reach into their networks naturally.
How can you prepare for real-time posting? Make sure you and/or your staff have capable smart phones and are comfortable with providing updates, photos and discussion with your customers. Be prepared, because the more successful you are with your social media program the more prepared you will have to be to respond to your networks.
Wrapping it up.
There’s alot more to your social media plan than I’ve covered here. Landing pages, contests, engagement strategies, partnership programs and more advanced content campaigns are all a part of  a highly successful social media plan that doesn’t suck.
The goal of this post is to give you a head start when implementing your own social media plan and community management. It’s an important first step as it provides the organization and foundation to move into more advanced and effective program elements.
Social media marketing will lift your business, doesn’t matter if you’re a large enterprise or a local small business. Hopefully the simple steps above give you a jump start into your social media planning.

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You need an email marketing plan.

In today's drive, my intro and outro music are pretty much awesome. Someone drive off the road on the 401, thankfully everyone was fine. Email marketing is still a very important part of your communications and marketing mix regardless of your start-up size. It costs no money to get started, it takes time.

The Startup Drive

The Start-up Drive Ep.2 : Email marketing still matters.

Start-ups, small businesses, medium sized, and companies of any size will benefit from a strategic plan for email marketing (if you heard yesterday’s podcast then you’ll get that one). Here are a few ideas for making sure that you’re not discounting the powerful and low cost addition to get your communications consistent and relevant.

Any additional thoughts, tips or experiences for those just getting an email program put in place?

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Planning for marketing versus a marketing plan.

Planning for marketing versus a marketing plan. I cover why a marketing plan written in stone will do you no good at all, especially when you’re moving quickly and defining your product or service. I give up a process I’ve used successfully dozens of times in both the online and offline business worlds. Press Play below to get started listening to the podcast!

Planning for marketing not a marketing plan.Introduction and Summary – Episode 1: Planning for marketing versus a marketing plan.

I’ve decided to resurrect my podcast in order to be more relevant to a wider audience, in addition to it being easier and more convenient for me to record a short ten to fifteen minutes podcast on my drive into the office every morning.

I’m anticipating that it will be a podcast full of tips, anecdotes, gripes, strategies, tactics and techniques that I’ve used over the years and in my day to day adventures in the world of startups and marketing.

If you know me then you’ll know that I have a number of concurrent projects happening all of the time. The concept of the “lean startup” is not new to me. It’s actually called bootstrapping, or, “starting up without any money” – this concept is as old as commerce itself.

For some reason it’s the new rage in the world of technology startups, so I’ll refer a bit to that audience but in reality this should be useful for any entrepreneur, small business owner or marketing/business professional making their way in this new digital economy that has developed.

Episode 1: Planning for marketing versus a marketing plan.

I cover why a marketing plan written in stone will do you no good at all, especially when you’re moving quickly and defining your product or service. I give up a process I’ve used successfully dozens of times in both the online and offline business worlds.

Click the play button to get started, and please forgive the noise, I really am driving while I recorded this!

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Social Media Strategy – June 21

Today’s tip is pretty simple and doesn’t require brain surgery – don’t use it as an after thought.

There are well over 500 million people on Facebook and a shocking number of them log in every single day. This is an incredibly powerful communication medium, not a “nice-to-have if there is any budget left over”.

So how is interacting with your consumers (ie social media) still an ‘elective’ marketing activity for some brands? Simply put there are many people today who would have said this the following if they were in their marketing positions over a hundred and fifty years ago at Western Union:

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of “
communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

That’s a real quote from a Western Union internal memo from 1876.

Today’s social media strategic tip – create a full fledged program, don’t use already overworked staff to fill in half heartedly and definitely do not expect to become a star brand without any effort (meaning no resources, plan, communication strategy or tactics to engage your audience).

At the end of the day you’re not interacting in social media at all, you’re simply talking to the people who buy your product. People (ie consumers) like to deal with (read: buy things) other people (example: that’s you!) they know.

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Promoting Your Facebook Presence

I’ll bet you have some great Facebook Strategies you’ve implemented like the ideas below. Add a comment below and the best suggestions will be added to this list with a link back to your site.

I know social media marketing is a hot topic these days and there are a lot of companies attempting to get their foot in the door with social networks. The appeal of these networks is incredible, mainly for the viral and exponential nature of the system.

My network is a connected graph with exponential growth possibilities. My 400+ friends all have approximately 350 friends (on average and informally) if any company can get their foot into the door and illicit a response from my friends and their friends then the brand spread and effectiveness of that “sharing” can be astounding.

Does your Social Media Strategy Make Sense?

Social Media Strategies

In addition to that it’s much more than the one way conversation that Television, Radio and even a Landing Page can provide. I get feedback, I gain key influencers, brand advocates and it’s the consumers doing the marketing for me. This dynamic is much more than a shift, it’s a paradigm shift in the way we consumer, promote and self market to each other.

So what does this mean for the average company and internet marketer?

Well to be quite honest it means that you’re not likely doing anything with your social media presence. The fact is that the vast majority of companies out there are not effectively utilizing their Facebook presence.

Having said that I have informally seen a great deal of excellent brand identities on Facebook. I’m also going to ignore some of the more popular examples here like Ford, Starbucks and Heinz.

I’m looking at smaller operations that have actionable changes you can make that will help you make more of your page, presence and ROI. Some of my personal favorites are:

Northern Edge Algonquin Park
Echo Valley Ranch and Spa

Looking at these three, and yes all of them come from my casual usage of Facebook rather than any in depth digging. These are quite simply excellent pages that keep me interested, returning, visiting and interacting. This is isn’t a massive empirical case study, this is me looking at things that just “work”.

Let’s break it down what do these people do that most people do not do on Facebook?

  1. Mention users by name. They thank new members and reference them directly. This is a great way to start a 2 way conversation.
  2. Utilize events. I’m always surprised at how few brands actually maintain the events on their page through the events application. It’s not only a great way to determine participation, it helps to organize the event as well.
  3. Allow user submitted photographs. This is a key for the travel and tourism sector since it’s so applicable but it’s something that many brands can leverage. Think about it, lots of room here for innovative ideas.
  4. Respond to comment threads without sounding impersonal. By actually naming the commentor and responding like a real live human being rather than a 2 dimensional drone then there is a ton of opportunity to interact directly with your users and build strong relationships.
  5. Asking questions. This doesn’t have to be exactly polling per say. Just update the status and ask a question, you might be surprised at what comes out of it, like lots of comments and even more visitors and people interacting with your page which is the goal here.
  6. Exclusive Facebook only Offers. I get alot of grief for ever bringing this up but it’s a key way to get new users. I know you have users on your main domain already, maybe they are members of your facebook presence, maybe not. But do not offer the same thing to both, welcome them to join you on Facebook to become eligible – exclusivity is important, plus joining you doesn’t cost a thing.
  7. Nifty, groovy, neato Facebook applications. Now obviously if you have the budget creating an extremely useful custom Facebook application is preferable here since it makes you stand out from the crowd in a big way but for those on a shoestring budget consider adding even the most simple applications like Social RSS which will automatically post your content from your blog or news site onto your facebook page without human intervention. It’s simpe, it’s free and it keep your content flowing on Facebook. There is nothing worse than a stale page.
  8. Add notes to your Facebook Page. This means unique Facebook only content. Yeah that’s right, only on Facebook. This increases the exclusivity of being a member, if you clone your current efforts then you will severely reduce the attraction and interaction on your page. What is the point after all of having members who do not interact? Nada, zip, zero.
  9. Use videos. Not high production quality videos. I mean grass roots real live videos, simple, fun and engaging. Think about a walk through of your office, handheld videos from events. This is Facebook and Social Media Marketing is not the same as traditional marketing. You don’t need a fancy intro, a bit of camera jiggle is fine and non scripted videos make people like you more, you’re real. You are after all real, aren’t you?
  10. Incite conversation. This means being controversial but not rude. We don’t want to get people angry (unless your goal is to rile people up into action) but you do want to get them talking on a controversial debate. Why not? Play the referee, being on either side of a debate will alienate people to you and we definitely do not want that.

That a pretty basic actionable breakdown of things you can work into your social media marketing strategy without breaking the bank or hiring a team of 10 people to manage. This stuff is easy, so get on out there and start optimizing your own Facebook presence, these actions have a huge ROI and lead to many many good things.

Anything else that I’m certain I’ve missed? I’ll bet you have some great Facebook Strategies you’ve implemented like the above – comment below and the best suggestions will be added to this list with a link back to your site.

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Work from Home – Short Task Review

If you’re like me you might have specific requirements for small tasks for a client or a project at any given time. Now that doesn’t mean I want to hire a number of full time employees (to be honest, I can’t afford that and the projects simply don’t require it).

So off an on I am constantly looking for low cost ways to have a temporary workforce out there for any number of tasks. It could be some content I need written, link built, social media mentions. The list is pretty much endless and it also causes me some headaches.

It’s tough to find a group of people out there. I could easily place Craigslist or Kijiji ads but that’s time consuming and a pain.

That’s why when I ran into Short Task I was pleasantly surprised. The basic idea is this:

  • You have some tasks you need performed online for a specific project.
  • Short Task connects you to a marketplace of people who can complete that simple task for you.
  • Your workforce will work at home.
  • You pay.
  • Task is completed.
  • Everyone moves on with life.

It’s a cool idea and uber convenient so I thought I would include a Short Task Review for those of you who have never used it before.

Short Task divides their site up into “Seekers” and “Solvers” which is pretty straight forward. If I’m a solver I can perform the tasks that are in their Marketplace.

Once you login into http://shorttask.com you’ll see “Tasks” in the Main Menu. Select that and then you can filter based on Keywords or Amount Offered.

I just checked a few of the tasks and started at $9.00 – I also got a few hits for $15.00 tasks. Not a bad payout if you get yourself into a system and become quick and proficient with this. You won’t retire tomorrow but you could make a nice supplementary income from this type of work if you take it seriously plus you can work from home.

Having looked through the Marketplace I’d also suggest you stick to the $3.00-$8.00 categories. These could be completed relatively quickly (less than 15 minutes) if you’re a decently quick writer and are relatively good with a search engine (so you can find the sites you need to find).

The higher paying categories look like they want some pretty in depth research done for $15.00. If you think about it, if you can post a quality comment in 10 minutes for $3.00 you can make $18.00 in one hour easily. Instead of spending that single hour on one in depth research article.

That’s just a thought though.

From the perspective of a Seeker, I like it. I can assemble a relatively strong human work force in minutes by posting tasks and having people complete them for me. If I took $300.00 of a budget here and wanted to build some links for instance I could easily post it for $3.00 and would be able to get 100 human edited inbound links.

Neat idea. You should check out Short Task whatever side of the coin you might be on.

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JustHost.com – Web Host Review

If you’re anything like me, a webmaster with numerous sites on numerous different web hosts then you’ve run into all sorts of different types of companies out there who can fulfill your web hosting needs.

Generally what I’ve found is that most web hosts will try to tack on a bunch of extra service fees once you’re setup with them, and we all know once you’re in and setup with a web host that moving is the last thing on your mind. Generally having a profitable website is the goal, not hosting issues.

Here are a few things I really like about JustHost.com – one click installs of Joomla and WordPress and tons of free addons included with a low cost hosting account. Also you get a whack load of free advertising credits.

For a low cost host, the almost $100 in free advertising credits with Miva, Google, and Yahoo made it worth my time to go and sign up.

The setup was quick and easy, and I had a site setup in minutes. Now of course there is design and content work to take care of but at the end of the day I’ve just saved myself a fortune in time by giving JustHost.com a shot.

You should check them out as well!

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