Blogging

The Thrill of Possibility, or Why I Love the Web

Posted on June 26, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Content, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Media, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

One of the main reasons I’ve always loved my career in public relations and marketing is the sense of possibility that pervades the practice. You start with nothing but an idea and you turn it into a campaign that can make something happen that would not have happened otherwise. Every time I’ve ever distributed a press release I’ve had the thought, “OK. Now let’s see what happens.”

Now that we work over the web, the anticipation and excitement of possibility is exponentially greater. With each tweet, blog post, social media release, Facebook post, new web page, free ebook offer, video on YouTube, each and every piece of content created, there is the possibility that life will change in some way. It’s a very motivating thought.

Here’s a short list of opportunities that have arisen or things that have changed in my life and the lives of others thanks to what we’ve created online:

I joined the Jazz in Business group on LinkedIn to connect two passions and met a business consultant/author/speaker/musician from the UK– Peter Cook. We’re networking across the web and learning more about each other’s capabilities. Despite geographic distance I believe that our friendship will lead to business some time in the future. Follow him on Twitter – @academyofrock. Or buy his terrific book on Amazon.

A friend made the commitment a year ago to blog every day. Not only did he grow traffic to his blog more than 10-fold, but last week received a book offer from a publisher who’d been reading his posts.

On LinkedIn I reconnected with a PR colleague who moved to another state a few years ago. The next week she introduced me to a business lead.

One Friday afternoon I dashed off a blog post that was selected for the WordPress Freshly Pressed home page feature out of some half-a-million posts that day. Almost two thousand new people visited my blog as a result, a number of whom became and remain subscribers. A shout-out to all of you. Thanks for reading!

A couple of years ago I created a hashtag #notatsxsw in jealousy of all those who were tweeting from the South By Southwest Festival in Austin with the hashtag #atsxsw. Immediately I got replies from a group of young #socialmedia folks in Chicago who were sitting around having a few drinks and lamenting that they weren’t there either. We began following each other. One guy @joshhersh – @joshicago – just launched an online business www.daycation.com – @mydaycation – which I was pleased to help him promote to my various communities.

Relationships I’ve built on Twitter and elsewhere have led to invitations for guest posts on significant websites – expanding my reach far beyond my own communities.

These are just a few business relationships and opportunities that have resulted from embracing the possibilities of the web. However sometimes the pay-off is REALLY life changing.

 Almost six years ago I sent a quick email to a guy who had a wonderful profile on match.com — and found Jeff Levine www.levinecounseling.com the love of my life!Jeff Levine in his Office

 Who knows what might happen when I hit the publish button for this post. But I’m excited about the possibilities!!!!!!!

What are some of the interesting things that have resulted from your online efforts?

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Centerpiece of a Successful Inbound Marketing Plan: A Proven Process

Posted on June 22, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Content, Inbound Marketing, Internet Traffic, Jazz, SEO, Small Business, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Two posts ago I promised to talk about having an online marketing plan. I got distracted but am now tracking back to this important topic. Part of the post will be about Hubspot, the Boston company that has embraced inbound marketing and made its mission to help businesses – including mine – coordinate and analyze their rather complex inbound marketing activities.

In honor of Hubspot – the centerpiece of my inbound marketing plan — I’m offering a musical post – my old friend, jazz scat singer and ‘hipster’ Giacomo Gates singing the Harry “Sweets” Edison tune Centerpiece, with lyrics by Jon Hendricks. Onward!

Centerpiece of inbound marketing: A proven process

Many small to mid-size businesses (SMSB) are confused about online/inbound marketing. They think that if they’re on Facebook and/or other social media they’re good to go. Or they’ll go out and hire an SEO agency to get them higher in search results. Let’s say that all builds traffic. Then what??

Traffic doesn’t help unless you convert it to leads and nurture leads to convert them to customers – or better, advocates for your company. Generating traffic is only the first top-of-the-sales-funnel step to building business using the web. And let’s agree that the web is our best chance for growth.

It helps to have a good strategic grasp of the big picture, a process and a plan. Or you may expend a lot of effort in online activities, but with no clear idea of how or whether it will help you get to your business goals. Even I whose business is helping others build their web presence have struggled with my own efforts. We haven’t been doing this stuff all that long, after all. Read this recent blog post and you’ll see what I mean. A process and plan definitely help.

I remember complaining to Hubspot founder and CEO Brian Halligan – who practically invented inbound marketing with his partner Dharmesh Shah – that I know Hubspot works and believe in the process, but time was so tight and I was hoping to do it soon – on and on.

Brian listened to my excuses and with a big grin on his face said, “Get with the program, girl. You just have to commit to it and do it.” Well, he was so cute and he’s so brilliant that I couldn’t argue with his advice. I didn’t even mind that he called me ‘girl’. He got away with it, I got with the program. And so can you!!!

However you decide to pursue building your business online, you have to put a plan in place that addresses the following:

  • Get found
  • Convert
  • Analyze

Each of these pieces has a number of moving parts and choices to make.

Getting Found

To get found, you have to build great searchable content. Blogging works best. You have to optimize your site and the content you create. That’s where SEO comes in as a supporting player. Not a be-all-end-all.

Convert

To convert the traffic you’ll build, you’ll want to offer useful content in exchange for contact info. At first, when a potential buyer is in the information gathering stage or they don’t know your company yet, maybe all they’ll be willing to give for your content is an email address. That’s fine. Keep cranking out helpful content and eventually they’ll be willing to give more in return.

At this point you can nurture the relationship with emails or even phone calls – more direct interactions. The better relationship you build, the better chance you’ll make the sale when your prospect is ready.

Case in point is my relationship with Hubspot. I partook – and still do — of the incredible volume of content they produce – often feeling like an absolute glutton – until I pulled the trigger and became a customer. In the interest of full disclosure, as an inbound marketing consultant, I’m also a Hubspot Partner and Reseller.

Analyze

The most critical aspect of your online marketing plan is analytics. Hopefully you use a web analytics program. Google Analytics is very robust — and free. So no excuses. Google keeps adding features so that you can track most of your online existence these days. If you don’t measure what’s working and what’s not, you can’t refine your online plan to the make the best use of your time and budget. None of us small/medium company entrepreneurs have anything to waste – so measure.

I promise you can make progress toward your revenue goals if you first understand the process of inbound marketing, choose the right tools/tactics and analyze your activities. You’ll be accountable to your prospects, customers AND your bottom line with a process as the centerpiece of your plan.

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In Defense of True Journalists

Posted on June 15, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Communications, Media, Newspapers, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

First, apologies. I promised this post would follow up the last with a system for online marketing. I’ll deliver that next post. Today, however, I attended an event that got me thinking about journalists and what they’re going through in the evolution of media and have some thoughts to share.

This afternoon I attended the annual meeting of the Fairfield County Public Relations Association, a PR professional organization founded in 1958. I proudly served as its president in the mid 1990’s.

Coming out of the PR profession, I’ve spent my career interacting with journalists, offering them story ideas, articles and sometimes just the camaraderie of people who make up two parts of an equation.

As much as the rise of the Internet has changed the lives of PR people, I believe it’s changed life more for journalists. I recognize that the web lets me take my clients’ stories directly to their constituents. I can bypass the media and go direct to our audiences with useful information that they will embrace.

I blog and write a monthly column for a business journal. I share with you my experience, expertise and take on what’s going on in the online marketing world. But I’m not a journalist and don’t pretend to be.

I truly hope the definition and characteristics of true journalism stay alive. Journalists are committed to reporting the facts. They vet their sources. They report on what’s going on more than they opine. They’re trained to have a nose for what’s newsworthy. So do PR people, but journalists are charged with digging to get both sides of an issue, rather than advocating for only one side of the story.

importance of Journalists

Journalists play a key role in our democratic society

The keynote speaker for today’s meeting was Julia Hood, president of the Arthur W. Page Society, a membership organization for senior PR and corporate communications executives. Julia pointed out that PR people are supposed to advocate for our clients, despite recent crises to the contrary (i.e. Facebook/Burson-Marsteller). It’s our charge to be truthful, but not necessarily impartial. That’s the role of journalists. Nonetheless, I’ve seen fabulous reporters dumped from newsrooms as daily newspapers struggle to evolve and figure out their role. Who will take up that slack?

The incoming president of FCPRA, Marian Salzman, CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America pointed out rightly that, although corporate America has lagged behind, hyper-local is the current focus of people and the media that reflects their interests. Hyper local media is experimenting with combining professional and citizen journalism as a way to cover the local news, taking advantage of expanded digital platforms.

That’s interesting and it’s good that they’re employing some journalists, probably not at great pay levels. But I hope we don’t lose the desire to support the kind of skeptical, truth-seeking journalists I’ve discoursed and partnered with to get great stories out, negotiated and disagreed with over newsworthiness and whether something represented a trend, cursed out under my breath when they just didn’t get something I thought was important.

Many of these incredible pros have been riffed out of newsrooms because of downsizing. I spent time with a few today. PR leaders like Bob Dilenschneider have added some of these amazing – now former – journalists to his global PR consulting team. I am intrigued about what they in conjunction with an evolving PR profession will envision together for the future.

What they provide needs an ongoing place in our culture and our political system. It’s not melodramatic to say that they are at the heart of our democracy — moreso than any politician who claims that turf for him- or herself.

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How to Succeed Online – But Not Without Trying

Posted on June 14, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Small Business | Tags: , , , , |

The other night I watched the Tony Awards. I’m really not a fan of awards shows, but living not far from The Great White Way, the Tonys give me a preview of what I might want to grab tickets for. What do the Tonys have to do with online marketing? Nothing, really, but one of the featured shows sparked my thinking for this post.

I’ve considered seeing “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” I saw the original with Robert Morse and the last revival with Matthew Broderick. So I wanted to watch a number from the current revival starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.

How to Succeed Playbill

Daniel Radcliffe needs Wizarding Ways to Succeed in Online Marketing Without Trying

As I waited for the segment, I thought about how many people I’d spoken with about inbound marketing during the business week who said, “Yes, but isn’t that a lot of work?” If the name of the show were “How to Succeed Online Without Really Trying,” Mr. Radcliffe would be wise to hang on to his wizarding ways. Because that just doesn’t happen in the real world.

Using your web presence to build revenues entails an array of efforts. But so did a well integrated traditional marketing program when people didn’t have voice mail, tiVo and other ways to avoid the marketing messages we pushed out. When it comes to online marketing, I think that people still don’t feel comfortable with the some of its elements. Maybe they’ll pick one or two things like being on Facebook or LinkedIn. But that’s not enough.

It starts with understanding your customers, recognizing that they’re already online – and that’s where you have the best chance to connect with them. Of course you have to do a bit of homework to find out where on line they are. The Internet’s a big place after all (World Wide Web, remember?)

But the Web is also a very searchable place; so finding them is do-able. Then you have to attract them, give them reasons to trust you and respect your knowledge, and be the company they turn to when they’re ready to buy.

It is a process that takes a lot of work – although it’s not as much as many may imagine. You may have to do some things that fall outside your comfort zone, like write a blog on a regular basis, or share your expertise in Twitter tweets. But I’m sure that the added revenues will more than make up for the time investment. Once you buy into the logic and have a plan, you can succeed. You just have to try!

Now having a plan and a system is the key concept here. I’ll talk more about that in the next post.

Do you have an online marketing plan? If not, what are your roadblocks??

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Blogging Lessons from Dumas: More Words = More Money

Posted on May 31, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Content, Inbound Marketing, Internet Traffic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Yikes! It’s the last day of May and to my horror I recognize that I haven’t yet posted to my blog this month. Yesterday something I read really got me focused on this.
Under CC by clicsouris
For years I’ve subscribed to a great free vocabulary builder called A Word a Day. (It also includes an often-inspiring Thought for the Day.) Monday’s word usage example was from an article in the Christian Science Monitor by Erik Spanberg about Alexandre Dumas’ the Count of Monte Cristo. Spanberg explained that Dumas’ tendency to be wordy – even overly wordy – was “induced by the simple formula that the more he wrote, the more money he made.”

Fast forward to our online world and the formula holds true in spades. Hubspot — which put the oomph in Inbound Marketing — has done research that shows that businesses that blog get 55% more website traffic. And the more you blog the more traffic you get and the more opportunities to convert visitors to leads who will become customers by and by with proper nurturing.

Indeed I teach this to my clients and spend chunks of my billable time helping them to post regularly. All of a sudden I find myself suffering from Shoemaker’s Child Syndrome. I know for a fact that my business will grow faster if I blog more, yet here I am scrambling to not have a goose egg next to my May archives.

It’s not that I don’t write. I co-author an article every month for WestFair Online and its Fairfield and Westchester County Business Journals. I began writing for Technorati this month and provided a guest post to Network Solutions. These kinds of efforts definitely contribute to a broader web presence which is good for getting found. But more consistent blogging will get me more traffic faster and – more important – provide better value to you the subscriber.

So, how did I get into this non-posting mode? In all honesty, the way I positioned my blog – as a music as well as information/experience-sharing venue – has made it difficult to be as spontaneous as I need to be to post more. As much as I love selecting just the right tune from my jazz collection to share with you as you read, it’s very time consuming and I don’t often have the time anymore.

With this post I’m changing the model. The blog is still called New PR Words and Music, and I’ll still share music with you whenever I have the leisure. But when I’m pressed for time – which is most days – you’ll get words and images. I vow to do my best to make them helpful for you and your business.

Many entrepreneurs have proved that trial and error — and flexibility – pave the path to success. What have you changed about your business or your life in general that’s helped you to do better?

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Letting it go: Accepting that we only control so much

Posted on December 23, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Blogging, Communications, Content, ecommerce, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

snOMG - Blizzard of 2010 - Baltimore, MDTo accompany a holiday-time post about accepting what’s out of our control in order to live productively, enjoy listening to jazz pianist Oscar Peterson’s take on ‘Let it Snow!’. Vibes player Dave Samuels gives it a tropical feel. Heading south anyone?

One year ago I was looking forward to 2010. The end of 2008 and most of 2009 had been really tough in the crisis economy. I had taken the enforced ‘downtime’ to change direction, learn, re-think my business and career, work out frequently and get very fit. In effect, I worked on controlling what I could control.

Come January 2010, I hit the ground running with new collaborators, a new set of ideas and tools to offer clients — and optimism. 2010 turned out to be a year of accomplishment.

Fortunately, the economy improved enough that some other hearty souls decided to launch a new business or expand one. Some of these fellow optimists became clients.

I’ve worked steadily all year helping these clients build their Web presence through inbound marketing. For most, we’ve started by creating or re-doing a website so that it can support interactive functions. You have to walk before you can run.

Out with the old. In with the new.

As we’re about to ring out 2010 and welcome 2011, I have to – once again — admit shock that it’s flown by so fast. Come January 2011, I’m going to hit the ground jogging. I’m assessing how to take my own business and my clients’ to the next level. With great foundations in place, we’ll all be very busy.

I’m writing goals for me and my clients. We’re in a technological world that keeps evolving faster and faster. No one has all the answers. This year I feel inclined to take it a bit slower.

Adrenaline was helpful. In a way it’s more difficult this year when much is already in place. But I’m even more optimistic. My vision of what I can control is different but it’s becoming clear.

I’m assessing the foundations built in 2010 and what they will support in the coming year.

I’m hoping that you’re also thinking about you and your business about now: How to give up what’s in the environment that you can’t control and keep moving ahead. What are you planning for 2011?

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It’s Awesome When Your Content Connects!

Posted on December 5, 2010. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

This post is dedicated to the thousands of bloggers around the globe who read my last post when it was featured on the WordPress homepage showcase, ‘Freshly Pressed’. First of all, it was amazing to have one of my posts selected from almost half a million posted that day. Second of all, the response was humbling and heart warming. A special thanks to those who commented or hit the ‘Like’ button to share it and welcome to those of you who subscribed.

Although our blogs provide a doorway to the entire world, when people comment on a post it reminds me how much a one-to-one connection it is. So today’s musical post is “Just You, Just Me”, played on several overdubbed tracks by one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Bill Evans. Bloggers, it’s from an album ironically titled, “Conversations with Myself” — how our writing often feels.

For businesses, I believe in blogging as a way to share one’s expertise and create thought leadership. Because of its search-ability online, the content we create helps people who are looking for not only our products and services, but also our knowledge and experience, to find us. The knack is to share that info in an authentic and human way that connects.

At the moment we hit the keyboard, it’s hard to know whether what we write will resonate. We can write with our “Buyer Personae” in mind as David Meerman Scott explains in his book, “World Wide Rave”. But when we launch our content into cyber space, we can only hope it reaches its intended destination. Connect With content

The gift of the Internet is that when we connect, it lets us know! Whether it’s your WordPress blog stats, Google Analytics, Hubspot analytics or any of the robust tools out there, the value of our efforts is knowable.

When I wrote the post “10 Reasons Why I ‘Heart’ My Blog,” I didn’t say to myself, “OK, I’m going to sit down now and write some remarkable content.” I was thinking about people I speak to who are not convinced that they can or should blog. In my head I was talking to them and at the same time reminding myself that I want to dedicate more effort to my own blog.

What happened was a post that ended up connecting in a far bigger way than I ever intended. There have been other posts I’ve written that I thought shared meatier information. No one could have been more surprised than I was to receive a flood of response to this post that I wrote on a whim when I had a spare hour to think about blogging as an enjoyable path to success for my clients and myself.

The result reinforced for me in a very personal way that what I’m advocating for others works! When your content really connects it is the most awesome thing!!

Please share some of your stories about how your content has connected.

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10 Reasons Why I “Heart” My Blog

Posted on December 2, 2010. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I do love my blog! I’m happy it’s there when inspiration strikes. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate the many benefits it provides to me personally and to my business. Clients and prospects often ask me if they HAVE to have a blog. Well no one has to. But I thought I’d share a few reasons why they may want to. I look forward to hearing why you love your blog!

To reflect how I’ve come to feel about blogging, here’s the beautiful song, “Love and Passion” sung by its composer Milton Nascimento (also heard a few posts ago) in duet with the wonderful Sarah Vaughan from her album “Brazilian Romance”. Please enjoy listening!

I love my blog because:

It’s a creative outlet. For someone whose career is based on providing creativity for others, it’s strangely pleasurable to be creative on my own behalf.

It’s a chance to get ideas out of my head and into the air where others can help either confirm or deny their validity.

It’s a place to share my passions for language, marketing and music.

It helps me educate my clients and prospects so that they can better understand how what I provide can benefit them.

It’s an opportunity to reveal a more playful side of myself than in a traditional business setting.

It does wonders for my SERP visibility. For some search terms my blog helps me dominate page one, two and three results!

It helps me think about past experiences – business and personal — and put them to work in a present or future context.

It brings people into my life who I might never have met otherwise.

It imposes a certain discipline on my own marketing.

It constantly surprises me and makes me smile!!

At the risk of this sounding like a premature New Year’s resolution, think I’ll give my blog even more love in the coming year.

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