Small Business

Moving Day. Come with Me and Come Back.

Posted on November 14, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Strategy, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Small Business | Tags: , , , , , , |

This Blog is Moving. Come With Me and Subscribe

This Blog is Moving and Will Now Be Known as 'the inbound-i blog'. Click the link and come subscribe for uninterrupted service. I'll miss you if you don't!

Dear Subscribers,

Today is moving day. I’m launching a new blog called ‘the inbound-i blog’. It’s a continuation and evolution of New PR Words and Music, which will remain here so that you can come back and access the 110 posts created here. When you click on the link to the new blog and read the first post, you’ll understand why I’m making the change.

While you’re there, please subscribe by email or RSS feed so that you receive the latest information, ideas and intelligence about inbound marketing without interruption.

The new blog is a result of the evolution of online marketing and my own business focus. In explaining why the new blog, there’s also some good information for you about the importance of tailoring your online marketing to maximize the use of inbound marketing analytics.

Come with me to the new blog for future posts and come back here as often as you like to re-read and to re-listen to your musical favorites.

I will, too.

The moving image is from the Flickr photostream of aldenjewell under Creative Commons license.

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Help Crowd-Source an Inbound Marketing Definition (There’s a Prize)

Posted on October 10, 2011. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Online Marketing, Small Business, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

Inbound Marketing - Crowd Source Definition

Question: What's the Definition of Inbound Marketing? Thanks for sharing your answer!

Can you succinctly describe Inbound Marketing? Do you have an idea but are not quite certain? Would you like to know more about what it is? Do you have absolutely no idea, but would be willing to take a stab at explaining it anyway?

Then this is the post for you! You just have to be prepared to share your take on Inbound Marketing in the comments. There’s a prize involved. Read on.

Why am I looking for a definition? I talk to companies about Inbound Marketing every day and each time I try to find the tidiest way to help people get it. I’m a pretty darned good communicator – been doing it professionally and successfully for decades. I’ve explained lots of complex concepts and technologies.

But Inbound Marketing seems tougher for some reason. Maybe it’s because people think they know what it is, and are resistant to accepting that there’s more to it. Eventually people understand, but given today’s short attention spans, we need a short explanation. Time is of the essence!

I’ve checked out Inbound Marketing groups on LinkedIn, the websites of fellow Inbound Marketing agencies, HubSpot’s website and Wikipedia, which was able to shed light on an earlier sense of Inbound/Outbound Marketing that I encountered once trying to explain it to a software company product development executive.

So far I’ve found nothing that encompasses all the parts and benefits of today’s Inbound Marketing in a way that’s quickly understandable. I’ve blogged about how people don’t get it. I’ve wracked my own brain for a tight definition and come up with something that I’m trying out in my networking groups and to audiences I’m speaking to in the near future. But I have a feeling I can do better.

So I decided to reach out to the online community of all stripes to see if we can crowd source something that works. There’s a prize for the best definition: A copy of Inbound Marketing  by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-founders of HubSpot. Brian coined the phrase Inbound Marketing.

Let’s have at it. I’m passionate about Inbound Marketing, know it works and want more companies to get it and buy in, so that they can start reaping the benefits. Plus we can have some fun!

Let’s get all the help we can. Please share everywhere!!

The image is from the photostream of tj scenes on Flickr.com under Creative Commons license.

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Blogging: Why Wouldn’t You Do Something That Works?

Posted on October 5, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Strategy, Content, Marketing Strategy, Small Business, Social Media, Writing | Tags: , , , , , |

Blogging Opens Doors

Blogging Opens Doors

Why would you not do something guaranteed to bring people to your website and introduce your company’s expertise and offerings? There are so many marketing efforts people chase that cost time and money with no guarantee that they’ll yield anything. So, I ask again…Why wouldn’t you spend a few hours a week on an activity guaranteed to pay off?

I’m talking about blogging. I guarantee you that when I write and publish this post today, I will get traffic. And I’ll get more traffic than yesterday when I didn’t post. I get traffic to my blog every day when I’m posting at least three times a week.

Some of it comes from publicizing the posts on social media. But lots of it comes from organic search – people searching online for topics represented in keywords contained in the posts — and they find me.

I almost talked myself out of posting today in favor of other things that require my attention. But I prioritized getting a post out – regardless of how short. Because I know it will get results. It will provide opportunities for new relationships and potential business.

That feels great to me and I hope that sharing this with you will be motivating and helpful. Success feels great. Blog for success!

 

Image from Ben Zvan under Creative Commons license.

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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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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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Web Crossroads: Quantity vs Quality

Posted on August 31, 2011. Filed under: Business Strategy, Communications, Human Business, Marketing Strategy, Small Business, Social Media | Tags: , , , , |

Is Social Media at a Crossroad?

Is Social Media at a Quantity vs Quality Crossroad?

For the past couple of months you may have been noticing some posts here complaining about  social media etiquette – lack of it, actually – over-commercialization and inattention to community that was the original hallmark of social media.

These days, so much activity seems to be related to numbers over substance. Get as many followers as possible. Maybe they’ll help you monetize your blog. Maybe you can sell them something right away and get your revenues up. It’s all about me, not about you. Relationship building is going by the wayside.

The counter measure to this phenomenon seems to be happening on Google+. People – mostly online-early-adopter types – are building different kinds of connections. They’re savoring the non-reciprocal nature of the place and experimenting, including communicating interests and passions other than what they share on their existing business and social networks.

Why is this happening? I say that it’s out of a dissatisfaction – and perhaps a fast-cycling nostalgia — for the hopes they saw in social media. Instead of companies getting on board for the journey, their inevitable push for results and ROI is grating against the notion of building trusting relationships that will lead to longer term rewards.

Among other recent blogs I’ve read  expressing this thought, a couple of days ago social media consultant and author Jay Baer wrote a post on his well-regarded blog railing against the expectation that’s been developing that online marketing should be easy and yield instant results. I felt compelled to comment on his post having written with a similar sentiment recently.

Although it’s a young marketing approach, it seems to me that online marketing is at a Quantity vs Quality crossroads. Are you experiencing any evidence of this. This is an important conversation to have and hope you’ll join in.

The image is by Soundlessfall under Creative Commons license.

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Tuesday Tweets for August 30, 2011

Posted on August 30, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Business Strategy, Communications, Content, Marketing, Small Business, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Twitter Tweet Reviews

Reviews of Tweets from My Twitter Timeline

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets for August 30, 2011 — where we take a look at tweets from my Twitter feed for do’s, don’ts, best practices – and sometimes just for fun. Keep in mind that what we examine here is in no way personal. We’re all learning about building audiences online. In that spirit, if you disagree with my assessments, let me have it! I’m learning, too!

This week we’re adding an extra special treat – a musical accompaniment to your read. Be sure to hit the play button if you’d like to smile.

The most frequent comment I hear when I broach the topic of adding Twitter to the social media mix is, “We have an account, but have no idea what to do with it.” So I decided that it might be useful to use this week’s Tuesday Tweets to show how a number of businesses and organizations are using Twitter to move toward their objectives.

@NewsTimes It should read $15,000. Good catch! #correction RT @JackBouffard @NewsTimes $1,500 or $15,000?

Here’s a daily newspaper using Twitter to interact with a reader to flag and quickly correct an error in its reporting. This is the kind of nimble use of social media that might help traditional media evolve and survive.

@TheArtsCenterNY  Red Cross is here until 5:30PM accepting blood donations! By taking a short time to donate blood, you can save lives.

This arts center is using Twitter for real time promotion of a Red Cross blood drive – a nonprofit boosting another nonprofit’s mission, helping its community and boosting its own engagement and value at the same time

@dancommator Social Media Check-In Promos Reward Frequent Branch Visits http://t.co/EJ… via @FinancialBrand #financialservices #banking #sociallmedia

Can you believe that a few banks are reversing the trend of pushing customers from bank branches to online banking, and are using social media check-ins to encourage branch visits – and human contact! This retweet could be a harbinger of a new era of bank service. One can hope!

@ScottMonty RT @ThePeoplesFleet : Help @abetterla win $5K by simply watching a video! Check it out here: http://t.co/Ic… #tpfla

Another smart nonprofit is using Twitter to boost its chances to win a $5000 grant from Ford by asking folks on Twitter to vote for them. Using the hashtag gets them beyond their own followers.

@AMAnet New programs added to the AMA’s upcoming events calendar — Webcasts are FREE! —http://t.co/6t…

The American Management Association is using Twitter to get the word out about a new free Webinar series, a great way to develop its membership.

@1day1brand  Are you ready for a bold new brand? Complete our assessment below, and we’ll email you the results right away – http://ow.ly/6…

@1Day1Brand used this Tweet to recruit participants to take a survey that was designed to subtly (sort of) educate about its brand building seminars and generate leads. A bit obvious, but not bad.

@MichelleDamico Change supply parents into demand parents. I tell principals: parents yelling at u are engaging. #CPS #Brizzard #chicagoPublicSchools

Thanks to live tweeting, an address by the Chicago Public Schools Superintendent gets wider attention. You can get similar visibility and leverage for your organization’s spokesperson and amplify public speaking engagements.

@HourWestport Connecticut Humane Society is having an emergency Cat Adoption Event. Locally try theWestport location:455 Post Road East, 203-227-4137

Another local newspaper is using its Twitter bully pulpit to get out community news that it probably doesn’t have room for in the print edition.

@SierraSez  It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a bus? More details coming soon…you won’t want to miss out on this.

An enterprising tweet creates anticipation for one that’s yet to come. I’ll put up a Twitter search for @SierraSez so that I’m sure not to miss whatever it is. Curiosity is a powerful motivator! ;-}

@MagicSauceMedia Looking 4 SRProduct & Co Evangelist 4start-up in search,aggregation,content & semantic search space. Loc: San Fran or NYC.Email me w/leads

And we’ll end with a highly practical – and hopeful – tweet. Here’s a company using its Twitter updates to seek and hire a new employee.

It would be great if you’d share the creative ways your business or organization is using Twitter.

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

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