Author Archives: Eugene

The Problem with Marketing Consultants: You Are Being Lied To

Shocked

The other day I had a very interesting discussion over LinkedIn – one that got me worrying about small businesses trying to market themselves online.

It began when I received a message to my LinkedIn inbox. I don’t want to disclose any names here, so we’ll call the person JD (Jane Doe).

It started innocently enough. JD had taken notice of the fact that I run my own business. She wanted to “connect with like-minded people” and was curious about what type of marketing I do to promote it.

Naturally I was excited to connect with someone new. I responded with a laundry list of things that I do and mentioned that I do have social media accounts, but they are not a main priority.

JD’s response almost floored me. Here it is verbatim: “Social media is huge. Its the number 1 way to market. Why don’t you use it?”

The Problem with Marketers

You may think that “floored” might be an exaggeration here. But it’s not. I didn’t literally end up on the floor, but I was left very unhappy, almost angered.

The number 1 way to market? Really?

To whom? What am I marketing? Who am I trying to connect with? What am I trying to sell? What are my goals?

How can someone who hasn’t spoken to me about what I am trying to accomplish with my business blindly tell me that social media is the #1 way to market?

And what does “#1 way to market” even mean?

You see, I don’t believe in generalities. Even if something works for 99.9% of businesses, I don’t want someone telling me that its right for me without talking to me about needs first. And if someone tries to do the same thing to you – you should run the other way…fast.

Heck, I even wrote an article about why you should ignore social media!

The Madness Continues…

I knew exactly where this conversation was going to go. JD was going to try and pitch her social media consulting to me. But I didn’t want it.

Being stubborn, I decided to probe further. I asked what “#1 way to market” really means and told her I disagree with the notion. The fact is, marketing methods depend on each business’ unique situation.

To claim that anything is the “#1 way to market” is to essentially call every business identical. (Tweet This).

To my surprise JD’s counterargument included a statistic. I like statistics. They often lie. But I still like them.

Her response:

“[...]89% of business are on a social media platform. It doesn’t matter what you product, service or idea is social media is the leading source for marketing in todays eco. “

Marketers are Liars

89%?

89 percent??!!?

89 per-f’n-cent?!?!?!!?!?

Seriously?

I’m often shocked at how many businesses don’t even have a website in today’s day and age. And websites are far more established than social media. They’ve been around ages compared to social media.

There are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics. But this is just ridiculous. The only thing that 89% of all businesses do is try to make money (and even then I’m not so sure :) ).

And what’s more…apparently it doesn’t matter what your product or service is! I can tell you one thing for sure. If you’re trying to market to my grandmother, you have no business doing anything on a computer (much less social media).

You Are Being Lied To…

The reason that this interaction bothered me is that it gives all marketers a bad name. Social media may not be right for you. And if you are convinced by extreme statistics to try it, and it doesn’t work, you are probably going to stay away from working with another marketing consultant.

I know I’d be weary. Bad experiences condition us to be more cautious.

And that’s a shame. Because there are plenty of people that can actually help you. Like my friend Dov Gordon, or Danny Iny. Or even me :) .

Picking the Right Tool

While I focus a lot on content marketing on this blog, I’m not going to make the claim that it’s necessarily right for you. It’s not the only form of marketing I use either – it’s just the focus of this blog.

I’ve mentioned here before that it is a tool; a method.

But before you pick your tools you have to evaluate your situation so that you can pick the right ones. Jumping aboard the social media train because someone blindly tells you its right for you won’t do you much good (unless you get lucky).

If you’re still looking for the right tool, feel free to contact me. If you do, I promise to do the following…

  • I won’t blindly tell you that a tool is right for you (yes, even content marketing)
  • I won’t throw any statistics in your face
  • If I feel that I am incapable of helping you, I will do my best to point you in the direction of someone who can. 

Your Two Cents: 

Am I over-reacting and taking this to heart? Or am I right to feel this way?

Have you had a bad experience with bad marketers before? If so, how did it effect your future interaction with consultants?

The Paleo Diet: Lessons for Marketing Anything!

paleo diet

paleo dietChances are fairly high that you may have heard of the Paleo Diet. It is a new craze among the health-conscious. I, myself, am not so health-conscious and have heard of it – so I assume that a lot of other people have as well.

When something takes off like this I get intrigued – strictly from a marketing standpoint. How did it happen? What makes this concept stand out from all the rest?

I decided to look into it a bit more and break it down. And I’ve concluded that a concept is very easy to sell, even if there are logical fallacies, if it has a few ingredients.

Note: I must warn you, if you are a follower of the Paleo Diet you may not like some of what I have to say. I’m not a huge fan of “diets.” But the marketing takeaways are pretty great :)

Here they are:

1. An Existing Audience (with a problem)

I probably don’t have to explain how huge the health, weight loss and dieting market is. It’s enormous – especially in the U.S. which happens to be fairly overweight as a nation.

The good news for marketers in this industry is that we are a society of consumers – always willing to buy (especially if we have a problem we need to solve).

The Paleo Diet addresses people with an issue, and promises our 2nd ingredient…

2. A Solution

Here is where the Paleo Diet has seen a lot of success in my opinion.

The Paleo Diet doesn’t just offer a solution to one problem. It appeals to a pretty large scope of people…

Have a weight problem? Follow the Paleo Diet and loose those extra pounds! 

Not overweight but just want to be healthy? The Paleo Diet is designed to work with your genetics so that you can live a long and health life! 

3. Perceived Uniqueness

Let’s be perfectly honest. Paleo Diet followers might get pretty angry with me for saying this (as I’ve seen arguments about this online), but the Paleo Diet is essentially a low-carb diet.

There may be slight variations to what people might traditionally think of as a “low-carb” diet, but not enough to warrant a whole new name.

I know this because I have access to registered dietitians who have told me so. They have reinforced my idea that the whole thing is essentially a marketing ploy.

So, it turns out that to make something unique all you have to do is give it a new and catchy name. (Tweet This)

4. A Theory

Here is the bonus ingredient that can totally change the face of your marketing. You need a theory. And if you can get “experts” in your field to support that theory, you are golden.

In this case, experts can be scientists, dietitians or really anyone in the medical profession. You have a single person’s support, and you can quote them ’til your face turns blue.

In fact, in order to sell you don’t even need a theory that is fully accurate, it just needs to sound accurate (Tweet This).

Let’s take a look at a prime example with the Paleo Diet. The theory is that we should stick to the same diet that our cavemen ancestors had because genetically we are basically the same.

Robb Wolf provides a simple table of what is, and isn’t, allowed in your mouth if you partake in the Paleo Diet. According to his list, vegetables are OK to eat.

But should they be?

According to scientists, the vegetables we have today are nothing like the ones that are cavemen ancestors had to choose from. So should it really be OK to eat them?

And why should we assume that this will make us healthier anyway? People are living longer than ever and most do not follow the Paleo Diet.

And if we are still practically the same as our cavemen ancestors, why aren’t we still living in caves and fighting mountain lions? Perhaps we should stop using modern medicine too. Cavemen didn’t have it. Maybe we’ll all live longer :) .

Emotional Targeting

The conclusion here is that people don’t look for theories to validate something as being accurate or effective. They look for theories that play to their emotional needs.

People need something novel; something new. They want the latest and greatest. They want a solution to the problem.

And psychologically, it’s easy to believe that the problem still exists because the solution hadn’t. But now it does. So people buy.

Now time to go eat some bacon and drink some beer :) .

Target Audience: How to Simply and Accurately Identify Who Is Listening To You

Identify Target Audience

Identify Target AudienceAs I discuss in Content Strategy 101, defining your ideal customer can make a huge difference in your content marketing efforts. This gives you a specific target audience to speak to.

Although at face value it seems like an easy thing to do, many businesses find that figuring out exactly who your ideal customer is can be quite challenging.

I would actually venture to say that most businesses don’t bother to try to figure out who their ideal client is. And if they do, it isn’t before they launch, but rather after they are already up and running.

Even then, getting to the core of who you are attracting can be very useful. It gives you the ability to adjust your content to cater towards that audience. Or maybe it helps you realize that you’ve been attracting the wrong people all along :) .

Sure, you can use a survey to see who your audience is, but then you are relying on responses. That means that people have to take the time to respond to your questions. There’s a much easier, almost effortless way, to collect key demographic information from your audience.

And all it takes is one click of a “Like”…

Using Facebook to Identify Your Audience

There’s plenty that has been said about Facebook and privacy issues. But the bottom line is that it can be a great tool for businesses and marketers trying to find exactly who they’re talking to. 

While most people are busy passing around cat pictures, you can tap into the insights that Facebook provides to paint a clearer picture of the individuals who are interested in your products and services.

To tap into the information that Facebook can provide, you just need to follow a simple four step process:

  1. Create a Facebook Page
  2. Get People to Like Your Page
  3. Analyze Your Insights
  4. Refine and Optimize

Create a Facebook Page

I won’t dive into too much detail here because there are plenty of resources you can find that will take you step by step through the page setup process. In fact, the actual process takes you through the necessary steps.

So you may just want to head on over to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and just jump into it. Or, to learn more, you can go to http://www.facebook.com/about/pages.

There are a few things you want to focus on when you create your page:

  • Your Timeline Cover – This is probably the first thing that most people will notice when they come to your page, so you want to make sure that it sends a clear message of what your page is all about.
  • Your “About” Section - If people are extra curious, they will check out this section to learn more about you. This gives you an opportunity to go into more detail about the product/services/etc that you provide.
  • A Landing Page - You can create a landing tab for new visitors to your page. Facebook took away the ability to auto-load this tab for first time visitors, but it can still be very useful if you are driving traffic to your page from external sources or ads. While this is normally a great way to collect subscribers, for the purposes of identifying our audience your call to action should be to “like” your page.

If you are unsure of how to set up a landing page for your Facebook Timeline, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income has created a great video to walk you through the process of creating a Facebook Landing page on Timeline:

YouTube Preview Image

Now I want to mention something important. When you are on the final stages of creating your page, Facebook will ask you to promote your page by letting your friends know about it. Don’t do this!

Inviting personal friends to your business page will throw off the Insights and make your stats far less accurate – it defeats the purpose of this whole process.

Getting People to Like Your Page

Once your page is set up and ready to go, you need to start attracting people to it in order to analyze who “likes” it. Attracting the right audience her is obviously important because you want your stats to be accurate (hence…don’t invite your friends).

There are a few places from which you can draw people back to your Facebook page. I will focus on two: your website and Facebook itself.

Facebook

For the purposes of this strategy, the fastest way to collect enough likes to start paining a pretty clear picture of who your audience is, is to create Facebook ads.

There are certainly free ways of getting likes through interaction on Facebook, but this takes a time investment. Running ads is pretty cheap, and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad (assuming that’s the way you set it up).

Setting up an ad on Facebook is pretty easy. You just go to http://www.facebook.com/advertising and click “Create an Ad.”

You do need to have some level of understand of who might be attracted to your website in order to target your ad. You don’t want it showing to too many people because you click-through-rates will suffer. And Facebook charges you less per click the better your click-through-rates are.

But you probably already have some knowledge of who you are targeting. If nothing else, you know what their interest is – because that is what your website is all about.

If I were to run an ad for Content Strategy Hub, for example, I might target individuals who already like Content Marketing Institute on Facebook.

Your Website

Your website is another great place to draw “Likes” for your Facebook page.

As you can see in the sidebar here, I have a Facebook widget through which people can “Like” the Content Strategy Hub page. Some people just prefer that over giving out their email address.

Then again, some do not. I also have that same widget on the “confirmation” page when someone subscribes for updates from this blog. And this, in my opinion, is actually a more valuable source of “Likes” for your brand new page because it is coming from people that have subscribed to you.

Facebook Likes from blog

So if this is the only source of traffic you rely on for your Facebook page, it will definitely be the most accurate in my opinion. But it will also take you a longer time to collect enough data for it to be considered significant.

Analyze Your  Insights

Once you collect enough “Likes” on your page you can dive into your Insights to see what’s going on. I would say that you should aim for a minimum of 100 “Likes” to get a level of statistical significance.

You can access Insights through the Admin Panel that is available at the top of your Facebook Page for you. Click the “See All” link to get your stats overview:

Facebook Insights

Once inside the Insights tab, click on the “Likes” link to see just who you have been attracting. You get stats like age, sex, geographical location and even where your likes came from. Here is a snapshot of one of the breakdowns of the Content Strategy Hub page:

Facebook Stats

This is just a portion of the available stats. As you can see, this gives me a visual representation of age distribution, as well as gender distribution. Genders are evenly split at 49.2% male and 49.2% female – which leads me to question the other 1.6% :) .

I am now beginning to paint a clearer picture of who my audience is.

Refine and Optimize

As you gain and more and more knowledge of your audience, you can start refining and optimizing your entire marketing process.

For example, some marketers may discover they have a large gender bias in their audience. You should then create content that caters to that audience – or change the essence of your business. CSH is clearly not gender-specific, as proven by the stats above.

However, if I were to run an ad campaign in the future I would target the 25-54 age group. This covers over 77% of the total audience on my Facebook page.

It’s also interesting to see the gender discrepancy in the 18-24 age group, which is offset by the 45-54 group. Perhaps this is something worth investigating further, perhaps not. We’ll see :) .

Refining and optimizing your ads will lead to higher CTRs, which in turn will lead to cheaper ads. And refining your content to suit your target audience will result in a loyal following.

Your Two Cents:

Do you have a Facebook page for your business? Do you check the insights? Did they help you discover anything about your audience that surprised you? Do you know who your target audience is?

Don’t forget to sign up for updates form Content Strategy Hub below!

Naked Marketing: How to Get Confident In Your Birthday Suit

danny iny naked marketing

danny iny naked marketingThrough Danny Iny’s “Naked Marketing Manifesto” we learned the importance of getting naked. But getting naked can be scary. What if people don’t like what they see?

Luckily, there are some things we can do to reduce the risk of rejection so that we can prance around in our birthday suits in full confidence. And confidence is sexy.

From first impression (public content) to full exposure (paid product and services), we can increase the likelihood of attracting the right people. And we can make them happy by looking good clothed, but looking great naked.

Let’s get started…

Dress Appropriately

First impressions do matter. This is how you’re going to get someone’s attention – something that is an absolute necessity if you’re ever going to get to the point of getting naked. Right?

By checking website statistics you can see which content is the most popular among visitors. you can also see how they are getting to that content to see how you are attracting people.

There are plenty of tools out there that you can use ranging from WordPress plugins to standalone applications; from free to paid. However, you definitely want to start with a Google Analytics accounts. It is free and gives you an immense amount of features and information. There’s really no reason not have one.

Checking these stats gives you the ability to paint a more accurate picture of who you are attracting, and what they are looking for.

What do your most popular posts have in common? Is there a certain headline format that resonates with people? Is there a certain content type, or maybe a subject line, that people are really liking?

This allows you to create more content that will be more attractive to your ideal customers. Or, on the other hand, it might reveal to you that you aren’t attracting the right people at all.

This is like purchasing a wardrobe to create a great first impression. Once you figure out what clothes you should be wearing to draw the attention you want, you can buy more of them. Dressing like a hippy might not be the right way to go if you are trying to attract lawyers (although you never know, but you know what I’m saying :) ).

Information like this also allows you to create a much better “semi-naked self”…

Give Them A Peek

So you’ve realized that your wardrobe accentuates certain parts of your body that your ideal customer is really attracted to. Give them more of it!

I have a niche site where a single post was drawing in the vast majority of the traffic. This could be for a number of reasons. Maybe it was the most optimized of all the posts. Maybe it was the only subject I wrote about that people were actually searching for. The bottom line is, I hit the sweet spot with it.

I realized that this is what people want. I created a free report focused on the topic and greatly increased my opt in rates. Once people are attracted to you they want to see more – they want to see you naked (something that the general public can’t see). 

But in this case, you don’t want to just take it all off. This was a free report. If they want to see you completely naked, you have to make them work for it :) .

Take It Off

Your relationship will eventually get to a point where you have to get naked. It’s the only way. Throw you inhibitions to the side. You may not feel completely comfortable with it, you may not feel good enough…but you have to charge real money.

The good news is, if you’ve given enough “sneak peeks” you should know exactly what your customers want to see. And you can show it to them.

That way you won’t get the dreaded feeling of rejection when you reveal yourself. Rather, you’ll get a very excited individual on the other end.

The more “sneak peeks” you put out there, the better set-up you will have to look great naked – and to have a slew of happy customers.

Free reports…free training…free webinars. These are all great “sneak peeks” to see what peaks your audience’s interest.

Once that is figured out, make sure to over deliver on value while pricing fairly. That way, you look even better naked than expected. You always want the customer coming away wanting more, rather than being disappointed by what they just saw.

Create a Workout Routine

The best way to look great naked is to stay in shape. Physical fitness is a genetic sign of health – something that is considered attractive (by most people). And the best way to stay in shape, is to work out.

Working out only works if you have processes that you stick to. That way, you can measure your progress.

Measuring your progress not only gives you motivation to keep going, but it also shows you when you have plateaued – so you can throw in a little muscle confusion – optimize what you are doing to improve your results.

So here are a few things you can measure to see just how sexy you look naked…

How Attractive Are You at First Sight? 

Any work out routine should start at step 1 – your baseline. Where are you now? Are you grabbing people’s attention enough that they want to eventually see more ;) ?

How many visitors are you actually turning into subscribers?

You can get this number very easily if you use Aweber. Simply go to the “Web Forms” tab and you will see the conversion rate for any form, for any list.

This paints a pretty clear picture of what wardrobe people are finding “attractive.”

In the case of Content Strategy Hub, the highest conversion rates for my opt in forms tend to be either on landing pages (such as my Free Updates page) or on pages where I am giving something away for free (like my Get Started Worksheet).

This makes perfect sense, of course. Anyone clicking on “free updates” is already poised to sign up. And who can resist a free gift?

The feature box, which shows up at the of the blog homepage and top of every post, has a much, much lower conversion rate. And this is also to be expected. Almost every visitor that comes to Content Strategy Hub will see that form (even the ones that got here accidentally).

But are conversion rates the only thing that matter? Of course not! Which brings us to…

Are You Staying Sexy?

It is important to stay attractive once you have reeled in the customer. Just because you looked good naked once, doesn’t mean they’ll stick around forever. You need to keep them coming back for more.

One way to see if what you are doing is working, or if you need to change your routine, is to see if people are sticking around.

There are two things to measure here. Are people sticking around on your mailing list or are they unsubscribing? And are people staying with the paid product or service you provide, or are they asking for a refund?

The latter of the two is easy – you notice when people ask for a refund.

I am proud to say that the refund rate for Grow Your Business Blog is close to 0%. And that’s not because no one has purchased it :) . People just like my naked self.

The latter of the two can be a bit more tricky, especially if you are offering several “sneak peeks” to attract customers.

Again, Aweber makes things easy in this case.

One way you can track what people are finding attractive, and signing up for, is to create hidden fields in your forms to track where the subscriptions are happening. This way, you can link each subscriber to the exact location they subscribed; be it a landing page or the feature box.

The other option, for people who don’t want to mess with any code, is to create a separate list. This is a bit more messy than the first option, but it does have an innate benefit.

It let’s you instantly see how many people subscribe and unsubscribed from each list.

While my feature box has lower conversion rates, it also has much lower unsubscribe rates than some of my “sneak peek” freebies.

This raises a few questions…

Are my “sneak peeks” attracting the wrong people? Are they the wrong “sneak peaks”? Should I stop offering them altogether?

All questions that can be answered through the “work out” routine as you improve and optimize your processes.

 

Increasing Sales Through Blog Navigation

In a previous post I compared blog navigation to the New York Subway system. Sure, there are local stops that people want to get off at. But some people need to get to the important stops faster – and you need them to get there faster too.

These more important “stops” are your money pages.

What makes a blog profitable? It can be boiled down to two simple things.

The first, is you need something of value to offer – to sell. This may seem like a no-brainer, but too many people don’t offer anything for sale and then wonder why they aren’t making any money.

And the second part of the equation is getting people to visit your “money pages” – the pages where you are providing your premium offer – be it a service or a product.

So how do you get people to your money pages faster? You make it easy to navigate there.

Here are a four examples of leading blogs that are doing just that – making it easy for visitors to navigate to the money pages (the important stops on the train).

Smart Passive Income

Smart Passive Income Navigation

Pat Flynn covers a lot of different topics on his Smart Passive Income blog, but the general premise is right in the name – creating passive income for yourself.

And Pat has done a wonderful job of doing just that by talking about it. You can see his impressive income numbers from his monthly income reports. And a lot of that income comes right from his blog through affiliate earnings.

To expedite the process, and save people a lot of browsing time, Pat crated a “Resources” tab in his navigation (2nd one from the right).

On that page, Pat lists the tools that he uses to create his passive income streams. Some of the tools are free, some are paid. And Pat gets an affiliate commission for many of the paid tools that he lists there (assuming someone purchases through his link, of course).

Pat has stated himself that the “Resources” page is a big earner for him.

Socialmouths

Socialmouths Navigation

Francisco Rosales runs one of the leading social media blogs on the net over at Socialmouths. And on his blog you really only have 3 choices of where to navigate.

You can go to the blog homepage. You can go to “Who Is This Dude?” (which is his about page). Or you can go to “Let’s work together!” where he describes the services that he provides (along with some testimonials from happy customers). There aren’t many options of where to go, so you are more likely to land on the money page.

Lewis Howes

Lewis Howes Navigation

Lewis Howes has quickly grown a very large and successful online business. He offers multiple products focusing on different aspects of online marketing (such as LinkedIn, Facebook and webinars).

His site’s navigation also offers view options. In fact, there isn’t even a “Home” link (but you can always click the header image). There are only 4 links, and if you notice, 2 of them are money pages.

The “Speaking” page is clearly a money page because this is where he gives you information about hiring him to speak. And the “Store” link gets you to a list of his product offerings. You probably also noticed that the “Store” link is highlighted to stand out from the other navigation links. Can you guess where he wants you to go?

Copyblogger

Copybloger navigation

Copyblogger has become a bit of an internet marketing empire. Brian Clark and his team have grown the brand to encompass many aspects of content marketing. They are trying to give you solutions for anything you might need.

As you can see from the Copyblogger header, they are promoting four products – each providing a separate solution.

What I really like about how they did this, though, is the labels of the navigation links.

For instance, one of their products is “Scribe SEO.” But they didn’t label the link to that “money page” with the product name. They didn’t even label it as “SEO.” Rather, they labeled it with the outcome you would want by using their product: traffic.

The same goes for their landing page tool: “Premise.” They aren’t selling you on a landing page tool – they’re selling you conversions.

Very powerful.

Ok Ok… Content Strategy Hub

I guess I should mention a bit of what I am doing here at this blog.

I am always tweaking little things here and there. If you notice, I too have a “Store” link in my main navigation bar. But I decided to take it one step further to promote my product: Grow Your Business Blog.

Most people have an opt-in form at the top of their sidebar. I used to as well. But I decided to take up that real estate with a link to my paid product. Again, I am trying to get people to my “money page” faster.

This is just a test, of course, so we’ll see how it goes. The only way to ever truly know if something will work or not, is to test it. (Tweet This)