Top 5 Signs You Need to Rethink Your Marketing Strategy

Whether your business is new, expanding or has been around for years, I believe there are some tell-tale signs that business owners and managers cannot ignore when it comes to their marketing strategy. Below is my top 5 list based on my own experiences and conversations with business owners over the years.

Remember! Marketing, smart marketing, can be your company’s engine of growth if you know how to approach and measure it.

5) New/Increasing Competition
There are certain external factors every business owner knows they have to closely monitor in order to be successful. The business climate and economy. Regulations affecting the space in which they do business. Innovations and new technology within their industry. And, of course, the competition.

Whether it’s a brand new competitor that just arrived on the scene or an existing competitor that recently launched a new product/service or jazzy new marketing campaign of their own, (smart/creative) marketing can sustain the blow your competition will throw at your business. Hone in on what makes your business different. Dust off that old value proposition and re-examine it. Refresh your marketing collateral (or create some strong marketing collateral). Develop a content marketing strategy. Whatever your new marketing plan entails to fend off the competition, be creative and be aggressive!

4) Current Status Quo/Campaign is Not Producing Desired Results

Here’s a scenario I come across quite frequently in speaking to business owners and operators. Their company is doing well. Not bad but not great either. They haven’t been really doing anything different from a marketing perspective over the last few months to a year… content with the status quo. But their current strategy is not driving the needle.

There is a time for every business owner or marketer to pull the plug on a weak, ineffective campaign. I believe any campaign should be monitored weekly (if not daily) and re-examined closely every quarter to see if significant changes need to be made. Now, you have to give a marketing campaign some time to “dig its feet into the turf and take off.” However, if after 6-8 months there is no real progress on the metrics you set prior to the campaign, then it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board and rethink your strategy.

3) Its Been Years Since You Refreshed Your Brand

Bread is not the only thing that can go stale. Your brand, business and image can absolutely go stale if neglected. And nobody really wants to do business with a musty, worn-out business. Not today with all the competition and choices available to your clients and prospects.

It can be a host of things… your logo, your Website, your packaging, your marketing collateral, your presence at events, your advertising, your emails, your message. And the list goes on and on. All these things, very important components of your business, can go stale. Perhaps your business does not need a complete makeover. But your business and everything that makes your business, must be kept fresh, compelling, interesting and vibrant. Especially in today’s world!

2) Lack of Brand Identity

Your company could be brand new or it could be several years old. Doesn’t matter. If your business, small or large, lacks a brand identity it will only go so far then plateau out. This is true whether you are the only company in your space (pure monopoly), one of a few companies in your space (oligopoly) or one of many sellers in your space (monopolistic). Your sales will max out, far below where they could be, at a certain level if your company lacks an identity. Stay tuned for my piece on what brand identity is and how to create and maintain one, but your brand identity can be communicated through your logo, the quality of your marketing pieces, your value proposition, your customer service skills, and more. What’s your company’s brand identity?

1) Decreasing/Flat Sales

And the number one sign you may need to rethink your business’ marketing strategy is, has to be, decreasing or flat sales figures. It’s what every other reason is really tied into… sales, aka: the bottom line. If your company’ sales have flat-lined, then you either need to start marketing or adjust your current marketing efforts. I firmly believe marketing can truly be a company’s engine of growth… as much as any other factor in a small business or large organization.

Many people still automatically think ads (print or online) or traditional advertising when they hear “marketing efforts”. Better yet, even more people still think “expensive” when they hear “marketing efforts.” These are fallacies. Smart, creative and compelling marketing does not have to include ads or have to be expensive.

These are my top 5 signs you need to rethink your marketing strategy. Not the top 5 signs. I would love to hear your thoughts! I invite you to post a question or comment below.

Using Press Releases For More Than SEO

Many search engine optimization companies use press releases in their real estate SEO campaigns, but I would say an overwhelming majority do not get anywhere near the full benefit of their press releases for their clients. That’s because most real estate SEO companies using press releases have no experience in what’s called “earned media.” All they know is “pay-to-play” media, because that’s the easiest kind to get. You pay for press release distribution, you get your press release…well, distributed. Simple, right?

The real power of press releases, however, is far more than just the SEO benefit. Yes, SEO is important. We have to know how to optimize press releases using keywords in order to pull off a successful “newsjacking” (a powerful public relations strategy for earned media taken to the online world where search engines help shape the news cycle). For the average SEO company, however, that is simply outside their area of expertise or training. We SEO’s need to approach press release as an opportunity to share real newsworthy information with real journalists who might want to write real articles. Be smart about keyword optimization, and you’ll get the SEO benefit as a side-effect.

To get the most impact from a press release, and to land real-world interviews with reporters who can quote you as the authoritative expert in your real estate market, it takes at least a basic understanding of how “news” works. Most real estate agents don’t think they have anything “newsworthy” to offer a journalist. Maybe they’re right. But chances are good that with a little creativity and strategy, those same agents who were bland and boring yesterday (in terms of newsworthiness, at least) could be tomorrow’s media rock star.

You see, getting interviewed for a newspaper, magazine, or trade journal article is not a matter of luck. Yes, there is some luck involved, because you can never write a press release or pitch a story with a guarantee that it will get traction and get published. It takes creativity, hard work and persistence to land an interview for a feature story. First, let’s start with the creativity part, and start locally. Brainstorm a list of publications in your area that you think might cover any aspect of your business its in normal news cycle. The newspaper is an obvious choice, but it can also be the local business journal, your Realtor association newsletter, or anything else you can think of. Now expand that list to statewide and national publications.

The creativity comes in as you think of every possible angle on the news that’s currently happening to come up with some way of “inserting yourself” into the story. Think of neighborhoods you specialize in, current inventory in your market, real estate trends in the region or the national marketplace, etc. What unique insight might you have to offer?

Everyone has something unique they can offer. I believe that, even if you don’t. You just haven’t devoted enough time and creativity to finding what your “unique selling proposition” is when it comes to the media. You might have a U.S.P. for sellers, or for buyers, but do you have one for the media? Now’s the time to brainstorm what you have to offer and develop one.

Are you an expert in short sales on the buying end? How about helping sellers get out of a burdensome mortgage they can no longer afford, and avoiding foreclosure in the process? Or finding “screaming deals” on luxury homes for your clients. Or helping a well-known corporation with a high-level executive relocation? These are all subjects you may be able to insert yourself into with a quote, or other information that may help the reporter write a good story.

Now comes the hard work and persistence. Once you have identified a niche area of expertise that you can talk with some knowledge and authority about, you need to write a press release and/or pitch a story idea directly to a reporter or editor on your brainstormed list of publications. This involves either coming up with a newsworthy announcement (a report you’re releasing, or comments you’re making on the subject, etc.) or contacting a reporter with a story “pitch.” That means you’re not just writing a press release, but writing to a reporter suggesting a particular story idea for their consideration.

I know I’ve oversimplified this. You’re probably saying “Easier said than done.” Yes, you’re absolutely right. That’s why it’s called hard work. It’s not easy. But let me assure you, it’s worth it. Every time you’re quoted in a publication as an expert, it makes it easier for journalists to find you and talk to you for another one.

Getting quoted in a story in the local newspaper will make you a rock star in the minds of your colleagues and your current and future clients. I had a client get called by a journalists for an interview for what turned into front page article in his local newspaper a few days later. His broker gave him kudos and called him a rock star, and better yet, he got a call from a buyer with a $1.2 million budget for a home.

Did his website jump in rankings as a result? You bet it did!

Moving from a press-release-as-SEO-strategy to press-release-as-earned-media-strategy is not going to happen for most SEO companies, though. The SEO industry is too stuck in a rut of producing mindless content for the sake of online publication, with little view toward human consumption of the material. I could be just a bit biased, but I believe it’s far better to start with an SEO company that understands how to get real earned media coverage for its clients. A good local company is not that hard to find if you do your due diligence, but if you are still having problems finding a good search engine optimization agency to work with then feel free to give us at Serp Doc a call and hire our MN SEO firm We work with businesses all across the United States. IF you would like to know more about or company then you can check out our short video below describing our services or contact us on LinkedIn: Serp Doc of Minneapolis

Pinterest For Business

“I didn’t realize Pinterest was also for marketing – I only look at it for decorating tips.”

I heard these words recently and my initial though was really? With social media closing the gap on traditional marketing with prominence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, why would anyone be surprised that it has tackled Pinterest too? Then it hit me – marketing tactics aren’t so obvious on Pinterest because they perfectly align with the purpose of Pinterest.

“Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” – Pinterest mission statement

If you business provides “things” that people find interesting, then it won’t be hard to succeed on Pinterest. Simply posting products and services provides much visibility and even virality. When users “pin” to their Pinterest boards, they are basically saying to their followers, “I think this is interesting, and I think you will too.” The more you post, the more others will find interest and will ultimately share with followers of their own. Sometimes all it takes is an impressive comment or unique photo to catch pinner attention, and once the ball gets rolling, there’s no telling how much exposure one pin could get.

So if you haven’t already, share your products and services on Pinterest. It’s as easy as pasting a URL, selecting a picture and writing a comment. Whether we realize it or not, even those decorating tips are part of a successful marketing strategy!

Why Should You Start Marketing Your Business To Smartphone Users

Smartphones have become a ubiquitous part of daily life, particularly for the younger set. Those of us who remember when cell phones first came out, roughly the size of a brick and just as heavy might be a bit bemused by the latest advances in technology. Nowadays, it seems as though the latest smartphones can do everything but physically make you dinner. There are definitely enough apps out there, however, to have the phone tell you how to make dinner, at the very least.

On that note, apps are another way to harness the power of mobile marketing. This is an especially good one for startups to consider, as app development and implementation is actually one of the best ways to get the most out of mobile marketing for your money. For those who aren’t exactly in the know, an app is short for the word application. Since smartphones are like mini computers but don’t work in the exact same way, there are certain programs that companies have developed to help smartphones function more like a traditional computer. These programs are the apps.

Apps are extremely popular in todays day and age, particularly given the prevalence of smartphones. There are apps that specialize on everything from coupons to fashion to locating others in the area for potential dates. What does this mean for people who are interested in mobile marketing? Creating an app is a great way to get your message across to users and help enhance your overall marketing presence.

Companies can use apps to great advantage. Many larger companies either sell or give away apps to interested consumers, and then they pack those apps with either deals or great content to share with the consumers who have installed the apps on their phones. Having an app that centers around your business and products is a great way to keep your loyal customers up to date on what your company is doing and how they can serve the consumer better.

Not to mention, apps are definitely cutting-edge insofar as technology is concerned. If you are able to offer you consumers an app for their smartphones, you are signaling to the consumer that both you and your company are hip to the technological savvy of the populace. You will be able to get your customers information on an as-needed basis. Apps can even help customers locate your stores or outlets if they should happen to be in an unfamiliar area and have a sudden Jones for your product.

So if you are looking to break into the world of mobile marketing, you should most certainly give app development a second look. If you can get your idea into an app and onto the phones of your consumers, your consumers will most certainly be giving you a second look as well and a third, a fourth, a fifth, and as many more as fast as technology can travel.

Great Content Equals Traffic

The question which is asked by many bloggers, including myself, is – how can I drive more traffic to my site? The answer (not the only one of course!) is quite simple – create great content, and keep posting, as often as possible, at least 3 times a week. The more often the better, since search engines increase activity around the website which comes up with original content, posted frequently. It is possibly the simplest organic way to increase traffic to the site.

The advantage of posting great original content in your chosen niche targeted to a particular audience is that not only it is favored by Google and other search engines, but it gets shared on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and others. As more and more people come to your site as a result of this exposure, you start gaining points as an expert in your field. This is undoubtedly the best way to build brand recognition for your business. Sharing funny or informative videos related to your subject, writing articles for newspapers and magazines, including online versions, posting podcasts, being a guest blogger for other blogs, submitting articles on article websites – all this increases your exposure with your audience. As time goes, they will begin to recognize you as an authority in your field, and your brand recognition grows with it – a wonderful “side-effect” of traffic influx as a result of those extra hours of work you have put into content creation.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF CONTENT YOU CAN CREATE?

Blog articles for your own blog.
Guest posts for other blogs.
Articles for your site.
Broadcasts to your forum.
Videos – funny, controversial, informative, or demonstrations.
Photos of work you have done.
Videos of work you have done.
Humorous or inspirational photos and videos.
Reports.
Ebooks.
Books.
Booklets.
Flyers.
Business cards with interesting content on the reverse.
“How to” advice in the form of short broadcasts, photos, videos.
Events – seminars, webinars, workshops.
Newsletters.
News alerts.
Useful tips posted regularly.
Emails – with interesting content, not just sales links.
Opportunity leads.
Requests to take part in an event, interview, guest posting on your blog.
Freebies – make sure that it is a great one, not a washed-out PLR.
Insider tips that cannot be found anywhere else.
Sharing your knowledge and opinions on the subject you are an expert in.
Inviting others to be guest bloggers on your blog.
Advertorials.
Advertisements.

WAYS OF DISTRIBUTING CONTENT

Your blog.
Your website (e.g.membership site, commercial site, information site).
Social media groups & forums.
Social media networks.
Other websites which relate to your niche.
Other people’s blogs.
Online forums outside social networks.
Wikipedia.
Article directories.
Yahoo answers.
Email marketing – to your own list.
Email marketing – to your JV partners’ list.
Affiliates.
Seminars.
Webinars.
YouTube and other video networks, such as Vimeo.
Social bookmarking sites.
Online & offline newspapers & magazines.
Networking events.
Specially organized events – workshops, courses, seminars.
Taking part in exhibitions.
Online community.
Offline community.
Create your own FB group.
Other people’s groups.
Fan pages.
Cross-referrals.

There are 3 main factors which will help you create great content again and again – knowing what you business is about (your niche), knowing your target audience, and knowing their needs. A great way to find out what your target audience needs is to ask them to complete short surveys (use SurveyMonkey.com). Not only it will give you tons of subjects to write about – knowing what your audience needs will enable you to separate them into groups and be specific as to what you offer to each group. Needless to say, both you and your customers win from this – they get what they want, so stay loyal to you, and our business and reputation as an expert in your field keep growing. Which can only mean good news for all!

And remember – you don’t have to do it all yourself! Look for ghost writers, article writers, other product creators – many will do a lot for a relatively small fee. Use places like odesk.com, outsource.com, and even fiverr.com. I have heard that many very productive relationships started on Fiverr.com.

And one more tip – if you want more comments on your blog, go post on other people’s blogs. Not only will you gain exposure through your URL on their website, but often they will return the favor by posting a comment on your blog, especially if your comment has been of value to them. But please do avoid posting general comments, and never ever use comment submission services to do it! Your comments will go into a spam box, your website ranking will inevitably suffer, and so will your reputation.

I hope you have found this post useful for yourself. Please feel free to share your views below.

The Value Of Regular Blogging

I have read recently that the reason people stop reading blogs is because those who write them stop posting. Simple but true. So why do we stop posting? Well, there are of course a number of reasons, or better – excuses. I can think of a few for myself actually. However, no matter how good they are, it will not make up for lost readership. So we better keep it up.

Apart from the obvious benefit of having your own broadcasting platform helping us to connect with potential customers, blogging is excellent for accountability – and this works for anyone, even those who blog for themselves. When we give promises to ourselves without writing them down, they can be easily forgotten. If on the other hand we do write them down, we stand a much better chance of getting things done, since it has been recorded. Blogging gives us an extra benefit of readership – and responsibility. So those goals we proclaim – we better keep working towards them, and follow up with our action plan, to maintain our credibility – to ourselves and our readers. A lesson to myself and perhaps you can learn something from it too.

If you have not started writing a blog yet, do. Even if you keep your posts short. In fact, it is best to keep them short – to start with anyway. Consider it to be your diary and confidant. Make a post daily – write about your day, and what you have achieved, what you have learned, experiences and revelations you are comfortable sharing. Aim to make your blog post valuable not just to yourself, but to those you share it with. That is unless you don’t care if anybody else reads it, or just you. If you are in a business and your blog is related to what you do, then make sure that there is value in it to your followers who are your potential customers. If it is a personal blog – well, most personal blogs are just that, unless your readers know you already and are interested in what you have to say. Nothing wrong with just writing for yourself though.

Talking about accountability, I have just finished updating records for my solo business. You see, I started buying solo ads in December, and started diligently recording my purchases. However, at some point there was a slack in my system, and I stopped updating the records. Eventually I started wondering what on earth is happening with it all. Who was bringing me the best deals, who was not so good at delivering, which squeeze pages converted better than others, and so on. I had no idea about how much I had spent in total, per subscriber, what I had spent on buying related products… Well, my business went into a freefall.

So 3 days ago I decided to give my business a bit of a break, and started bringing my accounts up to date. And you know what – it was quite therapeutic in a way. It brought a feeling of control over my business back into my life. I have now updated the buying spreadsheet, and created 5 others as well – for selling solos, swaps, giveaways, clickbanking, purchased products. I will probably think of at least 2-3 more, but so far I am happy. I will aim to update my spreadsheets at least once a week, to keep me in charge of what is happening, and in the know about my progress. My suggestion is – whatever business you are in – keep those records up to date – don’t fall into a trap of thinking that you can catch up later, because later a lot of things get forgotten, information gets lost, and you simply don’t know what is happening and whether you are running a viable business.

I am now aiming to create a mind map of my business overview – goals and tasks for the next 3 months – to give me an overview of what I am aiming for, and tasks I need to do to get there. I am using a mind mapping software called Xmind – www.xmind.net. It has a free option which works perfectly well for me. There is another one called Freemind – that it totally free – www.freemind.sourceforge.net. Check them both out. I like both, but the interface of Xmind looks more attractive, so it’s my favorite.

Another point I wanted to talk about is organization. I am not great at organizing myself, and this results in wasting a lot of time. Recently I came across this wonderful website – www.astrid.com. I have looked at quite a few of them, and Astrid has been the best so far. It is easy to use, has a great layout, and is free to use. Ah, and in case you forget where your tasks are – it is such an easy name to remember, don’t you think? 🙂

So, to sum it all up:

1. Writing a blog post should not take too long – aim for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Blogging helps us to keep ourselves accountable and get those tasks done on time.

3. Establish your own schedule for posts – I aim to post once a week now. When I started writing my blog, I was posting much more often. See how it fits your day and reasons for blogging.

4. Business bloggers and those with the aim to create a following – think what value you are providing with your posts to those who read them.

5. Keep those records updated at all times – tomorrow you will have more stuff happening, and you don’t want to have to clear a pile-up of information and tasks. The obvious benefit is that your business (or personal stuff) is always clear and manageable, and you know where you are going with it.

6. Mind map bigger projects.

Well, I hope that you got some value from this post, and I will see you next time.

Reach Your Target Audience Through Content Marketing

Are you reaching your target audience? Are your audience reading your post ? Apart from your brand mission, identifying your target audience is the key point for success of your content marketing or any marketing event.

So, how can you make sure that you are communicating with your target audience with right content? There are 3 major steps to keep in mind and practice them regular that will help you conquer your desired market.

Recognize what your audience wants from you
This is the first and major step to reach your audience. You also need to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. You need to be one of them to reach them. You have to think from customer point of view and not as a business person. By seeing from your potential customers view, you will find where you are lacking.

Identify the best medium to communicate with these people
Find what is the best way to reach your target audience? Start finding where your target audience find the most of the information what they are looking for? Find what channel do they use Television? Radio? News paper or Webpage? For example is your target audience your local audience, then you don’t need to Google the world to look for your target audience.

Sites To Publish Content
Find the popular sites in your niche with high number of real and active followers on Social media sites , high number of blog subscribers ( I mean a real one, not the followers which you buy from sites like FIVERR), sites that are regularly updated with story worthy content and have active participants.

Try publishing on such sites, as your content will reach your target audience , your real audience who are really interested in your content.