Are Your Online Marketing Expectations in-line with the Truth?

For those of you who don’t know, I’m an on again-off again online dater. I work a lot at home… not into the club scene… don’t do blind dates… yadda, yadda, yadda. It’s a diversion for me – now.

But when I first started doing it, I was really into finding “the one.” My sister had just gotten re-married (le sigh), my ex-was on his way to the altar (ciao!) and I just felt like I wanted to be in the hand holding club too. I put on my very best law of attraction demeanor and went on an official soul mate quest.

Yes, I met someone great and we dated for a while. But the truth is that he was great for someone else, not for me. I’m a talkative foodie who loves to try new things. He loved to try new things, but wasn’t very talkative nor was he a foodie.

At the end of that spell, I came to a simple conclusion.

Sometimes you either have to alter your expectations or you have to move on. In that situation I chose to move on.

Expectations can you have barking up the wrong tree when you should be running down the mountain

Yesterday I noticed I was getting some traffic from the Warrior Forum so I stopped in for a brief visit. Apparently one of my readers had mentioned me as a press release writer. A good press release writer.

I popped over to say thanks and to explain how my service worked.

The person looking for a press release writer had previously hired someone else on the Warrior Forum. He wasn’t all that ecstatic about the work provided and was on the prowl again for someone new.

I explained that I write press releases for people who are looking for website traffic through Google News and other assorted websites. I don’t write them to catch the attention of an editor at The Wall Street Journal.

I relayed that if the person wanted true media attention they should ditch the press release strategy, build a list of journalists who covered his type of story and pitch them individually. That’s the most efficient way to get right to the source… and it works way better than sending out a press releases.

This is, in fact, what a lot of super expensive PR companies do. If they have a really good story, they don’t let a press release do the job of a well-tailored pitch. If I want bloggers to review a product, I don’t send out a press release, I email them personally.

Are your expectations leading you down the wrong path?

When I write press releases, it’s for traffic. Not for backlinks. Not for media attention. I want some honest-to-goodness click throughs. I want ebook sales. I want subscribers.

Do I get the backlink effect? Yes. As I relayed in the Warrior post, I have an affiliate marketing client I did 8 press releases for – 2 for each of his sites.

When the dust cleared, 2 of those sites had gained significant backlink juice from the press releases. Enough where they jumped to the first page in Google and in some cases to a top 3 position for a fairly competitive term. So indeed, press releases can be used for backlink power.

But to me, backlinks are a beneficial by-product of the release, not the main reason why I write them. I don’t find them to be as reliable for backlinks as I do for actual traffic. Resource and broken link building are the more effective ways to earn links, rather than trying to build them. Of-course, you need great resources, great content. Remember, when you do it at the optimal way, you’ll see following kind of inbound link graph (This is for Digital Renovators website, Halifax Website Design team):

I made it a point to stress these things when I wrote the sales copy at my new press release website. I wanted to avoid clients feeling like their expectations for backlinks or media attention weren’t met.

And that’s the purpose of today’s post.

Expectations in internet marketing often have a serious disconnect from the truth

In internet marketing, it seems like every tactic is usable for at least 2-3 different purposes. Take forums, for instance.

You can do research on them. You can ask and answer questions. Include your signature and you’ve turned your posts into an advertisement. You can get 1,000 forum profile links in hopes of spiking your backlink juice.

Yes, forums are used for several different purposes. But if you’re using them for marketing purposes, they usually work the best when:

(a) You participate on them, by helpfully answering other people’s questions;

(b) You include a signature.

Everything else (research, backlinks) is a beneficial by-product.

So when I see people get disappointed because they don’t get the positive backlink effect from forum profile links, I cringe a little. Their expectations are off kilter. Forum profiles can be used for backlinks. But that’s really not their intended purpose. If you use them for that purpose then you really can’t be disappointed when it doesn’t work out as planned.

No more than I can be disappointed in a guy who’s nice, but not a talkative foodie like me.

Understand the true purpose of the tools/services you’re using. If you’re using a tool for a secondary benefit, plan for the best possible results, but don’t expect miracles.

It’s a harsh, yet a very reliable metric for expectation joy in this business.

Written by Dahlia, blogger and eBook author.

How to Set Up Your Own Hair Care Brand

When you are setting up any business, you need to make sure that you have the basics in place before you begin. The hair care industry is dominated by several large businesses but there is still plenty of room for smaller businesses to enter the market, especially if you are planning to create organic products or have another niche in mind.

All industries go through particular trends and the hair care industry is no different. Keeping an eye on the trends is a good way to work out how to pitch your own products. For example, you might notice that there are lots of products using coconut oil recently and decide to join the fashion with your own coconut products. Alternatively, you could look at the current trends and find a gap to fill instead.

Product Design

The beauty industry – and the personal care industry by extension – is often all about marketing the best version of your customer to themselves. Your products are there to make them feel fabulous and look amazing and so the product needs to do exactly as promised.

Where most products just need to be functional, yours will also need to look and smell attractive to your customers to persuade them first to buy it and then to use it on their hair and body. Your product design may also be affected by the niche of the market you are targeting. For example, if you are going for the organic market, you may choose not to add colorings to your product or may only use natural colorings.

You should also think carefully about where your product is most likely to be placed in a store and how it will look on the shelf. This is important because your customers will have expectations based on where they find your product in store and will be able to make a comparison with other similar products.  This is where packaging comes in.

Packaging

Your packaging design is the most important asset you have to tempt customers to step away from their usual products and try yours instead. If you have poor packaging, it doesn’t matter how good the product inside is, it will take a long time to persuade people to try it. This means that once you have an idea for your product, you need to figure out what will be highlighted on the packaging to sell it.

Many shoppers don’t really think about what they are buying; instead, they work around the store picking up the things they usually get and are attracted to bright colors and interesting shapes much more than they are fancy descriptions. Knowing this should certainly impact the way you package your product and you should be able to describe your brand to a 5-year-old successfully.

Hair care products come in all different shapes and sizes but it still takes a good eye to identify the kind of bottle that will stand out for all the right reasons. This time last year, Dove, an international beauty brand based in the UK discovered that their 6 new bottle designs based on female shapes were an idea better left in the boardroom than transcribed to the store shelf. While their aim was to promote body diversity, they came across as patronising instead of motivating.

However badly the PR stunt went for Dove, what they did show was that a different shape could stand out a mile on the shelf. Perfume bottles are another great example of how this works and could be a good source of inspiration for your own design. Once you have an idea, talk to a company like C.L. Smith about creating a mockup and seeing how the design works practically as well as aesthetically.

Create a Business Plan

Now that you have your product and packaging, you will need to create a business plan to figure out how to progress your business. The perfect business plan is your opportunity to prepare yourself for the future and figure out what you are all about. Writing a snapshot of what your business goals are and how you plan to achieve them will really help to focus your mind and keep track of your progress.

Costings are certainly one of the most important aspects of your business. While mock-ups and samples can be quite expensive, ordering in bulk will often drive the cost per unit down – you just need to be certain that you will be able to sell everything you make. You should factor in all your expenses including office space, supplies, staffing, marketing and even basics like transport to ensure that you understand how much you need to earn to keep the business running.

You should also think about how you are going to fund your business to begin with. Setting up a service business might be quite a cheap operation (especially if it’s literally just you and a laptop) but running a business that sells products is much more costly to set up. Not only will you have all the costs above, but you won’t have any income just yet to cover those costs as you will in the future. You will also need to factor paying off your loans into your profit margins.

This is also a good place to start working out what your marketing strategy will be including costs and projections. Your marketing campaign at the beginning of your business will be very different to the campaigns you run when you are better established. With this in mind, you might like to run the costs of a few different ideas to allow you a more dynamic approach to your marketing strategy in the future.

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Image Credit: Stock Snap

Marketing

The initial purpose of your marketing campaign is to raise awareness of your new brand. This means that rather than persuading people to buy, for now, you are just persuading people to have a look and get familiar with your branding. For most businesses, social media marketing is one of the best ways to do this as it allows you to target lots of people you think will be interested and encourage them to follow you in some way.

Competitions are a great way to encourage people to share your social posts and can be a very cheap method for raising awareness. For example, you might ask people to submit before and after photos of their hair after using your product to win a prize. They will then share their picture (with a related hashtag for your brand) and all their friends will see it. The more people you can persuade to join in, the more brand awareness you will achieve.

At this stage, the more impressions you can get, the better so you could also think about giving away some freebies. Samples are a great way to give people a taste of your product in the hope that they will like it and choose to buy more. Lots of hair care companies team up with magazines to distribute samples but you could also go to events or set up on a busy high street to get similar results. Just make sure that your branding and packaging is all recognisable so that your customer know exactly what to look for next time they go shopping.

Once you are a little more established as a brand, you can start shifting your attention from brand awareness to conversions. Content marketing is the ideal way to do this as it sits in the middle of the two giving you a chance to get in front of more people while persuading them to buy. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to show off your knowledge and establish yourself as a brand leader.

A blog is the easiest and most obvious way to start your content marketing and you should think about the kind of things that your customers will be interested in reading on your site. For example, they might like to know how to use your hair mask or whether cold water is really better than warm with conditioner. You could also create video tutorials that can be shared around social media – especially on Instagram. The more content you produce, the more likely it is that people will keep coming back to your site and the more entrances they have too.

Setting up a hair care business and brand is never going to be easy in such a diverse and crowded market. However, if you have a great and original idea that could be just what the market needs, you should follow your passion and set it in motion.

Like any other business, the hair care industry requires plenty of research, detailed planning and excellent marketing to ensure that you stand out and get noticed. However, you will also need to have lots of flare and passion for this competitive industry and be certain that what you are planning to offer can’t be found anywhere else. It’s a tough ask, but if you get it right, the rewards will be amazing.

The Five Areas Of Marketing Experts Will Excel In

Starting out in business can be overwhelming. When you have an idea that you love and that you know can work, you’re often excited to get stuck in. But before long, you’ll realize that a lot goes into running a business. And you can’t always manage everything on your own. In fact, it’s impossible. As your business starts to grow, you can’t spend 25 hours every single day doing admin, making sales, taking care of customer service, watching the finances, running operations, and marketing the business too. You’ll never have the time! Instead, you need to delegate. And even more so, you need to make sure that you’re delegating to people that are going to be experts in each area, particularly when it comes to marketing. Because you’ll often get the best results when you work with people that really know what they’re doing.

  1. PR

When it comes to PR, you will always want to make sure that the time spent on this is going to get the best coverage possible. If you don’t have the contacts, then you won’t even be able to come close to what an experienced agency or PR consultant can do. When you’re thinking about running an event or working with influencers, PRs can pretty much nail this for you too. You just have to stand back, enjoy the results, and pay the bills.

  1. SEO

Right now, you may think you know keywords, but do you really? Are you putting as much time as possible into getting your site to rank well on Google? Are you even doing any off-page SEO at all? If not, then you need to leave it to the experts. When you have an SEO agency or consultant in place, they will be aware of the latest techniques and policies, so that your SEO can always stay fresh.

  1. Advertising

Next, you have advertising. And if you’ve never created an ad before or even tried to set up a campaign, you may find that you’re pouring money down the drain by trying to do it yourself. Of course, you could learn, but this is better outsourced to advertising agencies that get results. If you know you want sales or traffic or customer or anything else, then leave it to those in the know.

  1. Social Media

From here, you then have social media. With so many different platforms to consider and a whole host of noise being made on all of them, do you know how you’re going to stand out? Probably not. But a social agency will know exactly what strategy your business needs to make waves and engage with your audience. So hire one and let them do their stuff.

  1. Copywriting

If you know that you can’t create great copy, you could spend more time trying to get it right, or you could just cut your losses and get someone in to do it for you. Compelling copy matters on everything from your website to your newsletters. So make sure you have the right writer on the job.

Your B2B Business Will Do Better With Video. 4 Ways To Get Started On A Budget

…You better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone”. A line from Bob Dylan’s famous song ‘The Times They Are a ‘Changin’, could not have realyed the message any better. The digital age has flipped conventional business practices on their head.

Cisco’s white paper on the Visual Networking Index suggests by 2019 videos on the internet will contribute to almost 80% of the traffic.

While conventional marketing methods will yield results videos are becoming increasingly more important.
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A great example showcasing this growth is Notify Fox. After posting their first explainer video on YouTube they garnered more than hundred new users. The same video also helped them significantly improve their customer conversion.

When you think videos you probably imagine big production costs, expensive equipment and the works. Good News- That is a thing of the past. There is help at hand.

With new age video making techniques you can create and edit videos at half the cost and the results will surely take your business to new heights.

Here is a list of things you can do to get you started on a shoestring budget.

KISS it all the way

Keep It Short and Simple- You’ve heard this adage being applied to almost everything under the sun. However, with videos it is even more relevant.

The hyper social age has changed the way we look at things. This has resulted in the average attention span being reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds!

A short and to-the-point video has the potential to go viral and get your business the attention it requires.

Case in point being Zendesk’s promo video. This one minute promotional video managed to garner over 116K views on Youtube.

With this kind of response Zendesk managed to drive home their core point of building relationships between organisations and their customers.

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Takeaway: Grab attention and keep it. A short video with all the relevant information will drive home the point. 

Get crafty

Don’t let limited resources get in the way of your creativity. You will have to be resourceful and make the best use of what you have.

Who knew an empty bottle could be used as a tripod. This gives turning trash into treasure a whole new spin. Plus the added benefit of saving money.

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For lighting, use daylight whenever possible, The results will pleasantly surprise. You will not only save on the costs but also on time. No need to set up bulky equipment.

Make use of the space you have. You don’t need a fancy setting for a great video. A neat room with a bright wall will do the trick. A rented studio will not only inflate your costs but will also take away that personal touch from your work.

Get your friends and family to pitch in. This will not only lighten your load but also let you spend time with your loved ones. A total win-win for everybody.

For those seamless dolly shots or tracking shots you can use your office chair with wheels. Just make sure the floor is not uneven and your camera is still.

Takeaway : Lack of resources should not bog you down. Be hands-on with your approach and learn on the fly. Use everything you can.

DIY with ease

Yes, you’re not a professional videographer, but that should not stop you from making awesome videos. Your smartphone can help you create videos quickly and with great ease.

The quality of videos will however depend on practise. If there are award winning movies are being shot through smartphones then it couldn’t be that difficult , right?

The movie ‘“Tangerine” directed by Sean Baker was entirely shot on an iphone. It won accolades at the Sundance Film Festival and the Academy for Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences acquired the phone for their museum.

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Invest in a durable hand grip or rig for your phone. This will stabilise your shots and the videos will come out neater.

Takeaway:  Your smartphone can help you make great looking videos without any fuss. All you need is a full charge and some patience.

Edit to please

Now that you’ve shot the video, you need to add some finesse to it. Use an online video editor to add final touches to your work.

You can add background score, transitions, 3D effects, the options are endless. Work the video editor to your advantage and get that awesome video in no time.

A superb video editor like Lightworks can make you job easier. This phenomenal video editing tool will help you edit your videos and make them look super professional.

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For people with limited desktop space, cloud based video editing is a great option. You can save all your work on the cloud and access it from anywhere anytime.

Takeaway: Use online video editors. You will not have to buy expensive software and the results will still be awesome.

Conclusion:

Videos, if done right can help your marketing strategy immensely.

Make sure to keep your video precise. No one wants to see lengthy videos with a drab end. A short film with on point information will check all the boxes.

Use all the available resources at your disposal. Video making is an expensive proposition so take your time thinking about the story you want to tell. The more time you spend thinking  before shooting,  the less you will spend on post production.

Have fun, If you don’t it will show in your videos. Keeping things light is the key, your stress can easily rub onto your crew.

Try and maintain a sense of humour. With it you will be able to diffuse a situation or even get work done faster.

So, keep these points in mind and don’t let your budget get in the way of awesome videos for you business.

Build Your Bottom Line with These 4 Surprising Business Strategies

When it comes to tracking your company’s growth, very few numbers are as important as the bottom line. As a business owner, you should constantly be on the lookout for new ways to increase your bottom line without sacrificing your core ideals. Here is a quick look at four proven tactics that will boost your bottom line no matter which industry you are in.

Hire a Good HR Team

According to one recent study, companies are now spending more money than ever on litigation costs. There is no surefire way to completely protect your company from all legal troubles, but hiring a good HR team could help you avoid a wide variety of issues. Your human resources team can help you come up with a comprehensive plan to avoid expensive problems such as workplace injuries and unlawful termination lawsuits. They can also gauge employee satisfaction and reduce your turnover rates.

Focus on Cheap or Affordable Marketing

Traditional advertising mediums such as television and radio spots are still effective, but smaller companies don’t always have the resources for those types of campaigns. A strong online presence will allow you to reach millions of people from around the world at a fraction of the price. At the very least, your company must have an eye-catching website and active social media accounts. Those spaces will give current and future clients multiple ways to easily contact you if necessary.

Create a Knowledge Base

If you are losing clients because of inefficient support, then you need to work on a solid knowledge base. Depending on which industry you are in, your clients might benefit from any mixture of white papers, how-to guides, and online video tutorials. Creating that content and then offering it to clients for free will also reduce the amount of time that your employees spend on customer support. Those guides and videos are especially important if you are providing a product or service that has never been seen on the market.

Build Camaraderie with Team Meals

Many business owners are surprised to hear that corporate catering can be an extremely powerful tool when used properly. Instead of sending your employees off on their own to have lunch, you might want to consider scheduling at least a few communal meals a year. In addition to potentially receiving tax deductions for those meals, you are also going to boost your staff’s efficiency and improve company culture. Offering healthy meals can reduce sick days and increase productiveness as well.

No single growth strategy is going to work for every business, and that is why you need to test out at least a few different options. As you try out these various tactics, you should carefully track their success to see which are working and which can be left behind.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

 

What is mobile marketing automation?

There have been a lot of new terms that business people, customer service representatives, and marketers have come to know over the last few decades. Take mobile, for example: Where once we used to be desktop or laptop based work spaces and free time, in the past few years mobile has re-made how we do nearly everything. And mobile has grown at a pace that few expected when it was first introduced. In fact, mobile-only users are now expected to top over 50 million in just a few years. That means those people may not even have a laptop, at all.

So marketers have to figure out how mobile users are different than other users, and marketers also have to figure out how to use automation when possible in order to make their more complex job easier. How do they do that? This graphic explains it.

What Is Mobile Marketing Automation?

5 Key Points of Successful Marketing Strategy

There is no other way to navigate the tumultuous world of marketing than to plan ahead of time and put everything down in writing. Things like promotion and branding are not something you can do sporadically, haphazardly, or in isolation from other core business aspects.

That is why a sound marketing strategy is integral to achieving success. It lays out objectives, means of executing them, and channels of message delivery. What is more, it fleshes out your ideas and visions and offers them to the scrutiny of market realities. So, it is time to assemble a skeleton of your strategy and set the foundation for long-term success. Here are the crucial moving parts you must have in place.

Goals as guiding lights

On the broadest level, marketing strategy is aligned with long-term business aims and aspirations. It supports strategic planning and takes an overarching view of the business organization as the whole. For this to really work, there must be a high-level of coordination across strategic documents and different departments and teams (especially those like sales).

Furthermore, a marketing strategy is supposed to define clear, specific, realistic, and measurable goals. Some of the most common objectives that companies pursue are increasing word of mouth, generating leads, retaining profitable customers, tapping into new markets, successfully introducing new product/service, etc.

Market research

Research is the cornerstone of any solid strategy. A thorough market analysis requires you to grasp multifarious factors such as the size of the market and its growth potential. Moreover, it is used to uncover target customers and gain deeper insight into their habits, behavior, spending patterns, lifestyle preferences, etc.

So, dive into demographics and historic online data. Another staple of market research comes in the form of competitive analysis. You should scope out what others are doing and try to draw lessons from their experience. Finally, focus on your own strengths and weaknesses, trying to emphasize the former and offset the latter.

Segmentation and targeting

The next stage involves making the leap from theory into practice. Namely, once you have identified your target customers, you have to segment them into different groups according to their varying needs and characteristics. This approach, which is the opposite of a scattergun tactic, will allow you to target with precision and come up with personalized and tailored solutions.

Ideally, you should get a clear idea of how your products and services match expectations and how you can offer something that others cannot.  Use your unique value proposition (UVP) and unique selling point (USP) to highlight the benefits that you have going for you.

Tools of the trade

Good communication is the key to really getting your messages across. This is to say that your strategy has to determine the key ingredients of your marketing mix, which is the combination of all the tools and channels you are going to use. The two mainstays are digital and traditional advertising and it is a good idea to employ them both in synergy, to your maximum advantage.

Thus, it would be wise to delight customers with tangible items like free catalogs, but also communicate via social media and other online channels. Use word of mouth PR, advertising, print media, shop displays, promotion, and whatever works in the context of your target audience. Investing in marketing is not the cheapest activity for companies,  but even if you are a freelancer you can consider applying for personal loans and start promoting your business ideas.

Keeping it in check

What is left is a system of checks and balances that hold your marketing strategy together. They typically fall into the marketing plan segment, a longer and more detailed document. So, set up a budget as well as a timetable for reaching objectives. Allocate resources optimally, where they matter the most and bring the maximum ROI.

Finally, designate tools for keeping track of performance indicators and evaluating the impact of your campaigns. You might want to take into account various telltale signs like the number of clicks on the page, time spent there, conversion rates, social signals, etc. There is an ocean of data out there and cutting-edge tools for gathering and processing it lie at your disposal.

On top of the game

If you want to piece through the marketing noise out there, work out a clear path of action and master the art of planning, designing, and implementation. Lay the groundwork for detailed market research and analysis. Use facts and figures as building blocks of your campaigns. Sketch the logistics of distribution channels and set the tone for how the products and services will be presented to people.

Monitor the results of marketing activity and achieve victories on both fronts, both the digital and ‘real world’. Bear in mind that your strategy is not set in stone. Things change fast, which means that you might need to make regular updates and tweaks to your plans and strategies. Using five vital elements, you should be able to spread the word, produce healthy recurring revenue, and get ahead of the pack in 2018 and beyond.

Guest author, Raul Harman, is a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. While he’s not enjoying football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com