Archive for September, 2011

Social Media Does Not Equal Inbound Marketing

Posted on September 30, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Strategy, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Small Business, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

 
Welcome to Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is a bigger, more strategic concept than Social Media

When someone asks me what I do for a living and I say, “I’m an Inbound Marketing consultant and they get that blank stare, I try to help them by saying, “Online Marketing,” as a potentially more understandable explanation. Almost inevitably, they then say, “Oh. Social Media. We’re doing that.”

Then I say to myself, “There’s still so much education necessary to help people understand that:

  • Inbound Marketing is a total process for growing business online
  • Social media engagement is one important part of implementing Inbound Marketing, but to really make social media pay off, you first have to understand its purpose in the big picture.

 Here’s a list of what Social Media is good for:

  • Identifying people online who can buy your products/services or refer others who can.
  • Cultivating relationships with those individuals.
  • Publicizing your website, blog posts and other valuable original content to drive traffic.
  • Providing outposts for your company other than your website to engage with audiences in different ways.

This is all great and these activities can stand on their own to a point. But Inbound Marketing as an overall approach:

  • Originates from a more strategic than tactical mindset.
  • Looks at marketing as a driver of growth and takes business objectives and metrics into consideration.
  • Is concerned with not only creating online traffic but converting it to sales.
  • Tailors tactics to address a prospect’s progress in the purchase cycle.
  • Incorporates analytics to measure success and set productive marketing directions.
  • Offers ROI proofs.

So if your company has a Facebook page, a Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Google+ account – even if you’re blogging like crazy in addition to your social media efforts – and you’re not sure what it’s actually contributing to the bottom line, it’s time to graduate to the next level of online marketing. Start thinking and implementing like an Inbound Marketer.

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A Marketing View: 20 Steps to a Website that Maximizes Business Growth

Posted on September 26, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Strategy, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Small Business, Website Design | Tags: , , , , , |

Grow Your Business Online

Marketing Strategy is the First Step to Growing Business Online

In the past, if you wanted a new website – or to redesign an existing one – the first step was to find a web design firm. This was fine when your website was an online brochure.

Today, if you make your first concern the design and look/feel of your site, you’re missing valuable opportunities to use the web project to refine or redefine your business focus, to add new business lines – and to get found.

A marketing/business consultant is well suited to help you in this effort and is a prudent first stop. Getting an outside eye on your business and online marketing can yield fresh ideas about how you can use your web presence to grow.

Then find a good design/web development firm capable of implementing your brand identity and web strategy, offering technical advice, and organizing your content for usability. Your marketing consultant will undoubtedly be able to help you source the right partner.

Here are 20 steps to structuring a website project to maximize business growth:

1. Review and audit your current marketing, as well as new marketing approaches you’d like to add.

2. Be able to articulate, “What’s our business?”

3. Do a lot of competitive research. Look at other sites. See what your competitors are doing or not doing. A good consultant will come up with ways that you can leap-frog them with your expanded web presence. (Tip: SEO utilizing current best practices provides fertile soil for growth. Most businesses simply aren’t doing it, or doing it right.)

4. Be sure to answer the question: “Are there any new products, services or offerings related to our core business that we can and should add?”

5. Make sure you’re focused on the right customer.

6. Identify your market positioning.

7. Think out of the box to identify all stakeholders and key influencers.

8. Interview a few of them

9. Develop your key messages – the most important ideas you want to convey consistently to your audiences.

10. Do your keyword research – identify the words/phrases people are actually using to search on line for products/services like yours. (Hint: Not necessarily the words you’d use to search for them).

11. Organize your site by developing a sample navigation. Be sure to include a blog if you want to drive maximum traffic to your site. Have your consultant recommend internal linking strategies to help users work efficiently through your site.

12. Decide: What existing content can be re-used? What content should be scrapped? What new pages do you need to develop?

13. Determine the level of control you want or need to have over your website. What edits do you want to be able to make in-house without tech assistance. We recommend having as much control as possible if you want to use your website to help grow your business.

14. Source a web designer/developer who works in technology platforms that will accommodate the level of control you desire.

15. Provide the navigation and all the guidance you’ve developed in completing the steps above to your web developer. It will help them prepare a realistic budget.

16. Write/develop the content for all of your pages – including all SEO information for each page, any photos, videos and other media you’ll want to use – and provide the content to the web developer.

17. Get into the design process and have fun with the visual.

18. Code the site in accordance with the provided SEO, content and linking strategies. In the case of website re-do’s, make sure to properly re-direct existing pages and to retain important backlinks to the site.

19. Test and tweak for usability.

20. LAUNCH!!

Emphasizing business and marketing strategy first in the web development process has never failed to yield new directions for our clients’ businesses.

The illustration “Dollar Sign in Space” is by DonkeyHotey under Creative Commons license.

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Lessons from the 2011 Inbound Marketing Summit

Posted on September 20, 2011. Filed under: Business Strategy, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Media, Online Marketing, Small Business | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Inbound Marketing Summit 2011 in Boston

The Inbound Marketing Summit 2011 Was Packed With Ideas From Top Experts

My Twitter account was hacked last night, so no Tuesday Tweets til I get things back to normal. Instead, I’ll share more learning from the 2011 Inbound Marketing Summit (#IMS11 if you want to follow it on Twitter), which I attended last week in Boston.

I put up a couple of quick posts while I was there, but now that I’ve had a chance to process the experience and review my notes I can offer you more in depth reporting and some key takeaways.

As in the past two years that I’ve attended, the speakers were the top names in marketing and media – online and offline. I’ll be sharing highlights of their talks over the next week or so – starting now.

Differentiating Your Company from the Competition

After a welcome by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who talked about the opportunities for tech companies in his state, Harvard Business School professor Youngme Moon gave the opening keynote on the topic of marketing differentiation. This is a favorite topic of mine as I see so much boring sameness out there, industry to industry. Translate that to mean loss of opportunity.

In true HBS tradition, as she put it, Moon explained ‘being different’ via case studies of IKEA, Mini Cooper and Apple. These ‘different’ companies have built very devoted customers and share certain qualities that we can all try to emulate:

  •  Nurturing the seemingly crazy ideas that lead them to buck the status quo and become ‘different.’ (Think about launching a tiny car to the U.S. market in an age of SUVs.)
  • Embracing their negatives. According to Moon, the genius is often in the negatives.
  • Being willing to ignore critics.
  • Not over-listening to customers, who can tell you how to improve, but not how to be different.
  • Being passionate beyond belief – the extreme version of caring and believing.

Do You Really Need to Be On Google+?

Chris Brogan, who’s been evaluating Google+ in depth since it launched in June tackled the subject of why we need another social network. His answer: Technology Evolves! We need to go where our people are.

Brogan pointed out an array of now-defunct – or almost defunct – technology and sites to make his point. Do you remember Friendster? Does anyone log onto Geocities these days?

Beyond its ‘clean’ visual look, Google+ has added social functionalities that have been missing and that Twitter and Facebook have now responded to with similar features. Selective sharing has been embraced, along with the video conferencing capabilities of which people are making varied and creative use, i.e. holding intellectual ‘salons’ of gurus and regular folk or hosting international customer support forums.

But the most powerful reason to have a Google+ presence is that it’s the first social network that combines social with search. Google no longer indexes Twitter, but being on Google+ might just help you come up higher in organic search results than those who aren’t.

Middle of the Sales Funnel in the Spotlight

HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan used his speaking slot to address the shifting sales funnel. The first few years of inbound marketing have focused on stretching the top of the sales funnel by attracting more traffic to our websites and other online outposts and then converting the traffic to leads.

Inbound marketing 2.0 will be about how to better nurture leads through the middle of the sales funnel so that we develop a significant enough relationship to convert leads to customers when they’re ready to purchase. HubSpot recently acquired the company Performable, which has focused on middle-of-the-funnel technology that will now integrate with the HubSpot platform.

The key takeaway from Brian’s talk is that this shift in focus to the middle of the funnel coincides with the shift in power from the sales rep to the buyer created by the ability to research products and services online before buying. This has created a paradigm shift in the relationship between marketing and sales.

The new realities of buyer power require bigger marketing departments to handle the lead generation and nurturing processes and a smaller sales force that can concentrate on converting to customers the highly-qualified and sales-ready leads that marketing turns over to them.

More to come! Have you begun shifting your marketing to take advantage of new thinking and online tools?

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Report #2 from Inbound Marketing Summit

Posted on September 15, 2011. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Small Business | Tags: , , , , |

How much better does it get for online marketing geeks? Former Apple chief evangelist and author Guy Kawasaki spoke about his book Enchantment this morning. His updated take on How to Win Friends and Influence People gives a fresh take on how to connect offline as well as online in a digital world. He definitely models his first premise: Be Likable!

The day ended with Fast Company writer Dan Heath offering wisdom from his NY Times bestseller Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. Perfect for inbound marketers who are working to change marketing so that it works for today’s realities.

Between the two talks HubSpot founder and CEO Brian Halligan updated us VARs on the direction the company is taking to help companies embrace the changes in the way they must market to be successful.

Let me share with you that it’s such exciting stuff. Successful marketing has never been easy or without sufficient investment.

At least now, you can finally see the results of your marketing investment – of dollars and time – in concrete terms. More than ever before you can integrate your efforts for great efficiency and with maximum control.

When I get back to the office I’ll share more specifics. Just thought I’d give you a small rundown and a bit of the day’s energy.

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Report from the Inbound Marketing Summit

Posted on September 14, 2011. Filed under: Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media |

This will be a short post to share a couple of key takeaways so far at this Summit of inbound/online marketing pros.

It’s been interesting to hear what the experts are saying about the direction of marketing. Lots of talk about segmenting audiences down to the level of the individual customer. It’s great to have the vision that we can all become Amazon.com inthe next few years.

The truth is – and lots of my colleagues here agree – we still have a lot of work to do before most companies are using the existing tools effectively and even embracing the new marketing realities in the first place.

I’m posting this between sessions, so no photo today.

Will share more tomorrow. Follow the hashtag #IMS11 on Twitter if you want to get the flavor of the conference.

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Tuesday Tweets for 9-12-11 #IMS11 Edition

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Content, Small Business, Twitter | Tags: , , , |

Usually we review tweets from my Twitter timeline here – for learning and for fun. Today is a bit different.

In an hour or so I’m heading up to Boston for the Inbound Marketing Summit #IMS11 and the HubSpot User Group (HUGS) and VAR Day. So here’s a demo of how useful Twitter can be prior to attending a conference.

BTW…If you didn’t give yourself a smile last time, be sure to hit the audio player for the new Tuesday Tweets theme song!

@CPollittIU @BeeFain Stop by my “Redefining Influence” session tomorrow and we’ll talk #IMS11 cc: @chris_c_lucas

@stevegarfield Inbound Marketing Summit: Breaking the @RecordSetter World Record – Most people shooting video at the same time http://t.co/9TqvDsI #IMS11

@peterstringer Looking forward to my sports & social panel at #IMS11 tomorrow w/ @RedSox’s @azeigler20 & moderator @ButchStearns http://t.co/LCSQSo8

@BrainSell SugarCRM CEO, Larry Augustin, Speaks at Two Industry Events this week, including #IMS11 with @Brainsell! http://t.co/GQcpItv

@Heyruh Fellow IMSers!!! Need a new marketing-optimized website? PaperThin is giving one away in this contest.  http://t.co/QopitNe  #IMS11

@CichLee Ready for @FutureM, #ims11 & #HUGS2011 w/ my shiny shoes, curiosity & mission to must find best company to hire me. #hubspot #NewtoBoston

@ThePulse RT @abonde: some very cool @FutureMBoston events this week to get everyone geared up for #IMS11 – see http://t.co/6N9S563 for info #socialmedia

Etc…

The Tuesday Tweets graphic is from Freshalex Online under Creative Commons license.

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9/11 Legacy: Better Communication

Posted on September 11, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Human Business, Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , |

 

9-11 Memorial Greenwich Village

We began communicating better right after 9/11 starting with impromptu memorials like this one in Greenwich Village, NY

 

Since 9/11 ten years ago, much has been said about the role that lack of communication played in the tragic event.

Our various national security offices failed to connect the dots among various pieces of intelligence that may have led to foiling the evil plot. Simply they didn’t speak to one another.

On the ground on that day that changed our lives forever, first responders did not have equipment adequate to communicate moment-by-moment events to each other. This led to unnecessary further loss of life.

I recall the frustration and fear that came from the inability to confirm whether friends in the city were safe or lost. Cell phone communication with New York was lost.

Today we hear of credible – though unconfirmed — terrorist threats that enable us to thwart attacks. When we see something, we’re encouraged to say something – and we do.

New York Mayor Bloomberg spoke today of the advances in equipment and technology now available to our first responders when they go into harms way.

When cell service is down because of man-made or natural disasters – like the recent hurricane – we can turn to Twitter, Facebook and other social media to keep abreast of news and stay in touch with loved ones.

I received a group email today from Scott Heiferman, CEO of MeetUp, the offline networking group he co-founded as a direct result of his experience of community and personal communication in his New York neighborhood in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. He chose today to tell the story.

Although ten years after 9/11, we are paradoxically divided as a nation, its encouraging that we are more earnest communicators. We share our thoughts on blogs and elsewhere online. We get offline to gather in person at meet-ups, tweet-ups and town meetings to voice our views.

Maybe the goal of the decade to come should be to hone our listening skills and try to recapture the commonality we felt as a country right after that fateful and dreadful shared experience.

The image of the Greenwich Village 9/11 Memorial is from Paull Young under Creative Commons license.

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A Relationship Between Labor Day and Education

Posted on September 5, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Business Strategy, Education, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

 

 
Labor and Education

President David Dubinsky discusses workers' education at an ILGWU luncheon for students and teachers at the Center Hotel, April 10, 1937.

Two thinkers who I respect blogged about some aspect of education in the past couple of days. Seth Godin offered a rather chilling history of how our modern education system is tied to the workforce and capitalism. It’s a must read: http://bit.ly/rmdTYh

A new friend and fellow Philadelphia native – marketing consultant Jim Matorin – @cannes53 – wrote about the new classroom. http://bit.ly/obPWbN

I commented on Jim’s blog that what education needs to focus on is what students need to learn in order to score one of the rare jobs available these days that will contribute to the future of work.

To synthesize the two posts – and I encourage you to read both of them – in order to positively influence the future of a global economy, education must foster tech-aware and savvy practitioners who feel empowered to trust their own knowledge and intellects.

I don’t think that’s where education is at the moment. And I believe that’s where it must go.

Image from Kheel Center, Cornell University under Creative Commons license.

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