It’s becoming increasingly important to have ‘digital assets’ or documents and webpages that offer value to a targeted audience. If you’re self-employed or trying to manage an Etsy account or a Shopify store, this may seem like an impossible task. My first suggestion is to create a blog. Don’t panic. There are simple ways to create and manage a blog without becoming a blogger.
The single most important tool to keep your digital marketing simple is to plan. Keep a calendar of dates that are relevant to your brand, your product, your city or your target audience. Anticipate what's coming up and the times when you have to get creative and fill in the blanks. It will save you scrambling.
Creating seasonally relevant material needs to be part of a bigger marketing strategy so your other efforts will support you during seasons with higher Internet traffic (i.e. competition). If you haven’t been using a big-picture strategy, don’t worry - now is a good time to start so let’s do this!
What does it take for you to really get in the groove on a work day?
If you work for yourself, you understand what I'm talking about. Some days it's super easy. You just sit down at the computer or get on the phone and boom. Stuff starts to happen. But other days, getting started can feel like pulling teeth.
I love the days where I sit down and knock my to-do list out of the park. I know the feel of that place and the delivered deliverables are the evidence that I have been in the zone. It's easy, it's effortless and it flows.
It can totally make you feel like a ROCK STAR!
But here's the thing. For me that kind of focus & productivity isn't always something I can just pull out of my hat. Some days are better than others, of course.
I know, how bad can it be right? At least that's the view of those relying on someone else for a paycheck. It's pretty common for me to hear how lucky I am to work for myself and surprising how often people expect me to be available on a whim. Or they ask what I'm doing on a work day, when like everyone else, I'm working. There are some realities you need to plan for if you're self-employed. As with all aspects of business, the clearer and more realistic you are, the easier to grow, develop and achieve your goals.
Last post, I asked you to start thinking about the easiest way for you to get into the game. And by ‘get in the game’ I mean make a commitment to start using social media for marketing. The best approach, in my opinion is to keep it super simple and be honest about what you can either afford or are willing to commit to. And then make that commitment.
At the end of the day, do what you have to do to get in the game. Or throw in the towel and walk away. It’s a waste of time, effort and money to do this halfway. It will result in nothing except for the public knowing that you are making a lame attempt at engagement. That will send potential customers straight to the nearest competitor they can find on social media.
This post, I want to offer up some actionable items to make this more clear for you.
Here are a few of those:
TIP: It is not necessary to be active on every social platform - in fact it's not smart to try. As part of your commitment to your social marketing efforts, pick the top 2 social platforms your audience is likely to use & focus there. (Click To Tweet)
Here’s a challenge I come up against A LOT from people who want to use social media to market their business. They are inconsistent. Either they can’t afford the costs associated with hiring someone to do it for them or they think they can manage it themselves. So many entrepreneurs and business owners don’t find using social media second nature. The thought of doing it themselves is overwhelming and they never start or try it for a short period and then abandon ship. Ever go looking for a business on social media (YES! People do that ALL THE TIME) that hasn’t posted in a year or more? Ugh. Not good.
Sometimes what's effective for marketing on social media is a matter of basic common business sense. For example, if you’re clear about who your audience is, you can be clear about your marketing approach. Trying to convey one message to numerous demographics will water it down and reduces your chance of actually connecting with any of them. Growing your business by letting people know you, like you and trust you is still the cornerstone of growing a small company. All that has changed with the onset of the internet is how we communicate with them.
A year or two ago, it was common practice for professional digital marketers to say that to be successful on social media, your content had to be ‘authentic’. But now, the term ‘authenticity’, when it comes to online marketing or more specifically, content marketing, has become kind of passe.
That buzzword always made me a bit crazy anyway. It's not very actionable. What does it mean to be ‘authentic’ and how does that translate to an effective marketing strategy?
As with any industry, the digital marketing industry has its own collection of buzzwords that are used to describe an approach to or way of being online related to marketing. In tech related industries, things change quickly so the buzzwords should too.
Marketing can be tricky for small businesses these days. There are so many elements that need to be implemented or at very least considered as a piece of any marketing plan. The landscape has changed radically over the last 10 years and it continues to change rapidly.
Many small businesses feel that if they can't get it right, there's no point. But the reality is, there are a few things you can do yourself to ensure you aren't completely ignoring this vital piece of a marketing strategy.
Search Engine Optimization is what makes your digital presence visible to search engines. Try these easy tricks in order to not get buried under those who ARE executing all the working parts of a well-rounded marketing plan. While it can be a very complicated thing to get right, using these strategies will at least help you get in the game.
First off, how is your website? How new the content is on a website is relevant to search engines. New material is more likely to be seen and delivered to searchers. That means if you haven’t had an update in a long time, you’re not helping your cause when it comes to showing up in searches. Besides being current, it’s important that you include ‘keywords’ – words that people are searching for when they look for your product or services. The easiest way to decipher what keywords are important is to use Google’s KeyWord Planner. You have to have a Google Ads account but you can have one just to make use of this awesome tool. Make sure that words that are being searched are actually ON your website. Note: since this was written, I was introduced to answerthepublic.com which takes advantage of the latest technology in keyword research: keyword data visualization. My only hesitation with this amazing tool is that currently you can’t examine Canadian search results. However, if it’s relevant to your niche, go ahead and use the US function.
Another simple, often overlooked trick you can use both on your website and in your blog is to name your photos prior to posting them. Using keywords in the naming of your photos can be helpful as those words are search engine visible. Who knew, right? You do not need to use a visible caption to make this true. I just wanted to give you an example.
You may not like the next suggestion but the reality is you need a blog. Before you react, let me clarify that you don’t need to become a ‘blogger’, per se. But a blog helps you in a few different ways that you just can’t afford to miss out on. For one, it ensures content is current. For two, it clarifies your expertise. Who doesn’t turn to a Google search when looking for some specific information? Why not be that resource for people who could be future clients or at very least recommend you to friends and increase your digital reach? If you want a bit more information on the reasons you need a blog and how to make use of one (without hiring new staff!) check out my post from a few months ago: 5 Reasons You Need A Blog. Take a look at this blog from Stella Bayles. It’s a great example of how simple you can make a blog while getting the results you want.
Once you’ve researched your keywords and have a sense of what people search when they search your industry, it’s time to update all your social media profiles. You are on social media, right? Turns out the pages of social media sites are very visible to search engines. One of the most consistent mistakes I see, is people make is not taking time to fill in every line on their Facebook page. And don’t kid yourself, you need a Facebook page. Facebook is the Google of social media so not being there is missing an amazing opportunity. Yes, it’s tricky to grow & utilize a Facebook page – you may need to hire a pro to get it really working for you – no shame in that – in fact it can save a lot of time, energy and money while delivering results. The point is, you are missing massive opportunities if you aren’t using these simple tools. Plus the last 5 years have proven that digital media is becoming THE place to connect with clients. Putting it off, or being lazy about it, only means you’re being pushed further down the rabbit hole when it comes to digital visibility and digging out will be tougher and tougher as technology and related marketing tools keep getting more complex.
While this is an oversimplified version of how SEO can help you compete in the digital landscape, it is a starting spot. As with all marketing strategies, there is often no better choice than outsourcing. But whatever you chose, make sure you take advantage of the simple things that can truly make your marketing goals easier to achieve.
If you’re a small, local-based business and you’re struggling with SEO, reach out - I may be able to help with a new, powerful small business tool for ranking on search engines. Or feel free to ask any questions. I’m always happy to help.
Lately, with world events as they are,
the content on social media is pretty
dark and pretty volatile. I’m finding
it upsetting & I know I’m not the
only one. The number of folks I see
who are `quitting` or taking a break
from social media is kind of shocking.
Not to mention how horribly people
are treating each other in reaction to varying opinions on heated topics.
t occurred to me that as a content creator, it is my job or maybe my duty, to start doing something different. Maybe I won`t single-handedly change the direction of content creation, but I am kind of in a position to do something. And so are you if you create content for yourself or your company.
So let’s start by looking at how we can create non-political, non-divisive content in order to increase the consumption of content that doesn’t start conflict and create stress. In doing so there is the potential to slow down engagement with the type of content that is fueling fires online. Due to the supply & demand nature of online content, this could possibly slow the creation of conflict-inducing material. After all, content is simply a commodity and what gets created is dictated by what gets consumed.
So here’s my call to action for all the content creators out there - let’s start creating the content we want to see in the world. What if we, as content creators, create content that counteracts the current intensely political, angst-filled atmosphere? What if we create material that makes people smile, makes people feel good & helps lighten the angst of today’s political climate?
While video, is leading the way in terms of high engagement, live stream video is being consumed 3x faster than regular video. What can you live stream in your day that’s fun, entertaining and positive?
For example, at the bank today, I gave a very eager dog a treat. Her body language the moment she walked in suggested she knew she would get something & her attempt to get to the person with the treats in her pocket, was pretty sweet. That would have made great live stream material!
Images with text on them get more engagement than those that don't as well. So what about an image of that same dog with some kind of funny text beside it? And it could be tied in with banking/business/dog to make it relevant.
Keep in mind that content always needs to be brand specific so while the dog thing may work for me, it may not work for you. But what will?
Here are some other things you could try:
These are just a few. The internet is FULL of content and methodologies to get ideas from. The point is to get you thinking outside the box. I want to encourage you to stay away from current events that are emotionally charged and really look for ways to tie your brand’s message into the lighter, fluffier, funnier side of life. Right now, that will really make you stand out.
Hope, Fun, Giving & Community are the words I’m going to leave you with to start your brainstorm sessions on how we can brighten the world, one piece of good content at a time.
As someone who works online, I'm always looking for the most effective ways to get my ideas and expertise out into cyberspace to ensure I'm getting my little corner of the digital world.
Like it or not, having a blog that gets consistent attention from you has a lot of benefits that shouldn't be ignored. A lot of my clients and those I coach, are overwhelmed at the idea of writing consistently. I have to remind y'all that my mission is to help you find the most simple & streamlined ways of managing your digital media.
So don't poo-poo the blog idea until you hear me out. Really, it's much more simple than you think.
Here are my top 5 reasons why blogging is so important:
3. SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT: I constantly hear people say that they can't figure out what to post on social media. Even when they have an excess of material. And that's not good. The only thing worse than no social media presence is a bad social media presence, meaning inconsistent, last minute, thoughtless posts! A blog is an easy solution for this by providing an anchor for you. You have ideas, concepts, images, a topic you've assumed is of interest to your audience - a focus! Use images and material from the blog as social media content which ultimately will send people back to your site. Google likes this too and so will you!
4. HONE YOUR WRITING SKILLS: I read a fantastic quote this week that I posted on Twitter - "Copy writing is the number one skill that every entrepreneur should learn" ~ Derek Gehl YES, YES and YES! If you're doing anything related to business, you must be able to write. This is doubly true if you're doing anything related to marketing your business. So at very least, use your blog to get better at writing. It's a skill you MUST have. Luckily the internet has provided us a much more casual platform for business writing than in days gone by, so don't fret. Just write.
5. LET THEM KNOW YOU - Social media was designed as a peer-to-peer network. Technology has supported that trend and over the last 5 years, we've seen how easy it is to connect with almost anyone, anywhere. It's important for businesses to stay transparent and although there needs to be some professionalism included, you need to remember that people expect accessibility. A blog allows your audience and potential new clients to learn about you, as does your social media content, which we already decided you can easily pull from your blog posts. So take advantage of this easy to use platform to highlight things about your business that are interesting and useful!
I hope these 5 points help you realize that you've got to be on top of blogging. Not to necessarily become a blogger, but to leverage what the web has to offer artists and entrepreneurs. Don't miss out because you're over complicating the whole thing. Keep it simple, be creative and join the 21st century!
Business Strategy First, Marketing Strategy Second ~ Catherine Mellon
I've been more interested in planning the new year than cleaning up the old one! But I know at the end of the day I'll regret that. Luckily, I did manage to find an ounce of discipline last week and I managed to get the old year neatly wrapped up in a nice, neat little bow so I can move on.
I've had a series of years I call my apprenticeship years and I am now ready to step into my true professional persona. Focus comes from clarity and my apprenticeship years have helped me become really clear about my skills & my passions which are the foundation of my business. But there are a few things that need to happen before we go rushing off into the new year all willy nilly, and that is some planning.
If you're like me, then you may cringe a bit at the minute details that need your attention. After all, I'm an entrepreneur, don't you know! I have visions to envision, dreams to dream up and ideas to execute. If there's one thing my apprenticeship years have taught me, it's that without a plan, that 'entrepreneurial spirit' will run me, my business and my bank account, right into the ground. So, we start the year with a plan. After all, it's tough to plan a marketing strategy without a business strategy. Makes sense, right?
So on that note - Have you done an overview of your year? Are you starting to work on your business plan? No matter how small your business, you need a plan. A marketing strategy without an overview for the entire business can be a waste of time & money. For January I encourage you to set your intention to PLAN. I found this fantastic article that has resources for a few different types of business planning. If your business is larger than a solopreneur or small business, or has big goals such as finding investors or growing internationally, you may be interested in some of the amazing tools you can find at the Canadian Business Development Bank. Along with a fantastic business plan template, there are all sorts of articles designed to help you consider all the factors that will potentially influence your success. Even though it's technically designed for Canadian businesses, we're all pretty cool up here so go on and use it as a resource. We don't mind sharing!
Your business plan will include a sales & marketing section that will include your marketing plan. If you are an artist, photographer or designer and you need help with your digital marketing, let's connect! My courses are launching shortly and I have a ton of goodies coming your way in 2017. The first step is to get them all into a plan. Happy 2017 & happy planning!
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Catherine Mellon is an Online Business Consultant who has been helping entrepreneurs & small businesses use the internet to grow their business since 2014.