The New Rules of Content, Marketing and Service

The new rules of effective marketing now requires that content is part of the strategy conversation in almost every business.

new rules

The word content itself has a lot of hoopla around it today, making it difficult for many small businesses and organizations to think and approach it with the clarity needed and discover the role it plays in the customer life cycle.

On a strategic level, content must mean more than a blog post, status update or tweet. You must think about your content achieving a strategic business goal or objective. Building an asset to serve your small business and organization over time.

The Future of Marketing (with Content and Service)

The future of marketing is about guiding a journey that the customer wants to take. Customers need guidance and an experience that allows them to behave like they want to behave.

If you aren’t creating content that shows customers how to get more out of what they just bought or how to do something, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to provide customer service in a format and way that customers increasingly want.

The New Rules of Content, Marketing and Service

There are lots of ways to attract prospects to your business, but the true measure of marketing success is always retention. When it comes to retaining your customers, one of the most effective marketing tools is what is I commonly refer to as customer content.

Customer content educates at a higher level, builds on trust and leads to customer loyalty, which leads to customer recommendations, which means more customers and is the best way to employ content in a strategic manner.

Suppose you own a company that offers HVAC services you may want to offer customer content that tells your customers how to troubleshoot before calling a service representative or how to lower utility cost or what key information to provide when a HVAC representative is present.

Providing this information could save the customer money (and you) on a service call; and positions your business, as an expert. It also demonstrates that your business cares about its customer experience, not just the monetary transaction.

Once you’ve got your customer content, consistent distribution is king. Of course, your website is the number-one place to host it. Include it as part of your customer service page. Share links to the content in your newsletter, on your social media profiles. I would even go to strategic partners with a similar target market and ask them to share this content with their customers and you’ll do the same.

Expand on your customer content by:

  • Creating content to answer common problems or questions customers have with your service or product.
  • Developing content that shares creative ideas for getting more advanced results from your service or product.
  • Upsell additional products. If there’s a complementary add-on that increases the results your customers get, include it.
  • As a bonus, customer content not only answers customer service questions, but also serves to drive traffic to your website and build your business’s reputation. Using keywords that ideal customers search for will help you be found, earning the attention of these prospects and also spread awareness of your business.

Done right, customer content allows your small business and organization to create content that achieve business goals, becomes a business asset, and positions you to keep existing customers and attracts new ones.

Selling to VIP the Very Invisible Prospect

I recently was contacted by an international prospect that found my business through content online via the search engines. During our conversation this international business owner said, “she read my articles, downloaded my ebook, my approach really reasoned with her, and she knew that I could help her organization and would like to explore ways to make this happen.”

This very scenario signals the change in the buying process for B2B marketers and business owners.

“Marketing and sales has changed because buying has changed.” 

Today’s buyers are invisible until they’re ready to purchase. They don’t call up a company and ask for a brochure or wait for a salesperson to come calling. Today’s buyer does their homework online, asks their network for suggestions and essentially creates their own brochure.

Much of what you have to do to attract and be found by that buyer is call inbound marketing and inbound sales and it applies across the business in audience development, sales and even service.


Marketing Teachable Moment: What is Inbound?

Sharing is caring and inbound is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your ideal customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.


That buyer is constantly invisible and for business owners to sell to them they must employ what’s now become the foundational sales and marketing tactics that will carry a company’s marketing efforts into the next decade:

Content Marketing

Content is the new branding it’s how invisible buyers come to know, like and trust you and your firm. The goal of content marketing is consumption, then behavior. Education, then decision.

Business owners and b2b marketers must publish content that focuses on the problems and desires of their prospect and customer. Healing prospects and customers true pain points with content (okay, a bit over the top, but true none the less).

Teaching vs Selling

You need to tell stories, share examples of other people’s success and start to paint a picture of how you can solve the customer’s problem. I feel with this approach, the trust barrier is removed. It’s a great way for other people to relate to you as someone who delivers value, without the exchange of money.

Some of the best ways to attract people to you is to teach through workshops, seminars or articles.When you develop a reputation for being someone who can teach people, then you get invited to places where you have the opportunity to sell.

P.S. Good blogging is a form of teaching.

Building a Platform

This is the final piece to the puzzle.This content must be located on a digital property you own and control. It is where your suspects, prospects, customers, and advocates come together. It can be as simple as a:

  • weekly podcast,
  • quarterly magazine,
  • monthly newsletter,
  • forum,
  • TV show,
  • daily blog or
  • as complex as a self-hosted community.

No matter what it is, it’s where you direct all internet traffic. Why? Because this is the place where you can best sell your ideas, services or products. You control the microphone and determine who has backstage access.

Any organization, from solopreneur to marketing and sales department, that is not focused on guiding a customer journey through content and personal connection is bound to be left behind in the buyer driven environment we live in today.

4 Marketing Process Elements to Activate Your Marketing Plan

A powerful, action-oriented marketing process is an essential part of every organization, and offers an enormous opportunity to differentiate and grow your business.

marketing plan-starting

There are undisputed benefits to developing a marketing process— a marketing process activates the marketing plan, creates control, guides priorities, generates accountability and provides a way to measure your results— along with lead generation, sales, and customer service processes to grow.

The general rule is: the more you install a marketing process, the greater the return on your investment.

However, developing a marketing process with the tools, strategies and tactics you need is not easy. It requires planning, thinking time, ideas and installation, long-term vision, internal and external expertise and often a willingness to do something and get it done.

More than anything, it requires the ability to be patient. It takes a while for prospects to trust you, and if you change your marketing, media, and identity, you’re hard to trust. Success comes to those who begin with a plan, and have the patience to move beyond the need for instant results.

4 Marketing Process Elements to Activate Your Marketing Plan

1. Plan your marketing using a strategy-first approach to clearly identify your target market, define your positioning and create an identity.

Discovering your target market or ideal customer is a foundational element of getting any business on track.

Your marketing requires a positioning strategy for success. You’ve got to carve out a mental position in the mind of your target market or ideal customers.

Your identity is everything a customer or prospect sees and hears about you and, most of all, what they remember about you. The basis of an identity is who you are and what you do.

2. Build a marketing foundation which consist of an online content platform, social media profiles and marketing content.

When I’m talking about an online content platform this is a digital property that you own – a website, a podcast, a quarterly magazine, a weekly newsletter, slideshare presentations, or even a TV show. You have to be the producer of the content and create an asset.

Social media profiles are a great place to start because that’s where the attention of ideal customers is shifting. It’s also very, very important to understand you don’t own these profiles, your’re renting them.

3. Implement and execute the marketing strategy with the right promotional and lead generation tactics.

Proper implementation and execution of today’s lead generation activates (no matter the size of your business) consists of always communicating, sharing information, and solving problems, all through an educational approach that blends the use ofpublic relations, networking, referrals, and advertising.

4. Maintain marketing over the long haul by putting lead generation, sales, and customer service processes in place.

The main reason marketing efforts fail is because they require too much time.

How much of your employees or your time is spent re-inventing the wheel when it comes to your marketing and selling?

With marketing processes in place, everything you’ll need to attract, educate, follow up and convert a lead is right there. Organizations can even put tools and processes in place to automate many of their marketing functions.

Webinar: How to Be More Referable

Learn how to build your business through referrals.

Download this paid webinar to learn how to become more referable and create a referral motivation that gives you a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.

 

Building the Marketing Strategy: A Blueprint For Start-ups and Those About to Start

I’ve been teaching, advising, and consulting start-ups for a handful of years now and there is a missing link to marketing success.

strategy

Building a powerful marketing strategy (one that’s perfect for your start-up) is often that missing link to marketing success.

The key to getting any start-up on track is three fold. First you must discover your target market, then you must create and communicate your positioning and thirdly build your identity and brand.

Most start-up founders start marketing without any real marketing strategy other than to sell something to someone.

Meghan Codd WalkerI will say that anyone who wants smart, modern marketing ideas that really work, Patrick is your man.

Meghan Codd Walker, Principal at Zuula Consulting, LLC

How to Create a Marketing Strategy That Is Perfect for Your Start-up

In this unique LIVE in-person seminar, you will save time, money and yourself from the frustration of information overload by learning how to develop a marketing strategy specific to your start-up, a step-by-step process to discovering your target market, the best way to create and communicate a powerful positioning, and set the foundation for building a highly recognizable identity and brand.

During this one hour seminar we dive deep into strategic processes every start-up and those about to start ought to consider as he or she sets out to grow his or her business.

Seminar Topics

Discovering Your Target Market – The first step to building your marketing strategy is to define who makes an ideal customer for your start-up. In this opening segment we outline all the steps that go into a start-up discovering their target market.

Creating and Communicating Your Position – A clear positioning is the rock that start-up growth is built on. Pricing only matters to prospects when they can’t tell the difference between your products and services and a competitor’s. In this segment we focus on the tools needed to create a powerful positioning strategy for your start-up. We will find and communicate your start-up’s unique point of difference.

Building Your Identity and Brand  – We will cover this a great deal in this fast paced seminar. Anytime a customer or ideal customer comes into contact with your start-up, there are experiencing your start-up’s identity and brand. We will be covering all the elements that can either support your company’s identity or detract from it and the only way possible to build a solid brand.

Indispensable Marketing - The 7 Elements of Small Business Growth - Blurb

Space is limited to keep this seminar very EXCLUSIVE

February 18th – one hour – Limited to 10-15 participants

How to Build a Marketing Strategy That Is Perfect for Your Start-up

RVA-Startup-

February 18th – 9:00 am – 10:00 am – 1703 N Parham Rd Suite 100 Richmond, Virginia 23229

Just to reiterate, not only do you get one hour of LIVE in-person advice from Patrick laying out how to create your start-up marketing strategy, but you also get:

  • Worksheets
  • A chance to ask your questions before and during the event
  • Connected with other entrepreneurs
  • Did we mention it’s only $75?

Investment: $75 

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The Difference Between Content Marketing and Content Selling (and Why It Matters)

Both the marketing and sales world has changed over the past decade with the introduction of content and information sharing technologies. In order to learn more about this change and what marketing and sales people can do, I have created this post to talk about how tried and true content marketing tactics translate into the new practice of content selling.

contentselling

In the following, I will share the new thinking needed to succeed, what the difference is between content marketing and content selling, how start-ups and organizations should rethink content strategy, and what the future holds.

Marketers and Sales People Thinking

Marketers think about things like ideal prospects, ideal customer profiles, unique selling propositions or value propositions, reputation management, authority and education – those are things that today’s salesperson must both understand and contribute in the creation of.

Salespeople think about things like personalized information, engagement and relationships – those are things that today’s marketers must both understand and participate in.

It’s time to unite Sales and Marketing thinking under the same roof.

Enter Content Marketing

Content marketing has changed how businesses sell to other businesses and consumers. The need to produce content in marketing has grown as today is more about being found—earning the attention of ideal prospects or ideal customers—and less about going out and hunting. Especially if you’re interested in marketing successfully (and who isn’t at this point), you can’t escape hearing about content marketing. It’s everywhere you look, or listen.

Content marketing is the creation of free valuable content that has a marketing purpose. That purpose is awareness, educating and building know, like and trust,with ideal prospects or ideal customers, enough to do business with you. The goal of content marketing is consumption, then behavior.

Enter Content Selling

Content not only has a marketing purpose but a selling purpose as well.

The key difference between the two content applications is that while Content Marketing is broadly cast at an ideal prospect or ideal client persona or description, Content Selling is focused on an actual individual prospect or customer needand is utilized on a much more personal level. And since sales owns the relationships, socially savvy sales reps are becoming content publishers and curators, finding and sharing content that is interesting and relevant to actual prospects or customers. Some are even using LinkedIn Pulse or personal blogs, to boost their thought leader status among real buyers.

Another key difference is that the use of Content Selling is based on the notion that you and the buyer have identified that there is a problem to be solved or something to be fixed.

Any organization that wants to get found online, differentiate their business, attract prospects, convert leads, engage their customers and ultimately grow their business needs to get serious and strategic about content marketing and content selling. There is nothing novel about content itself. Every company creates content, but content marketing and content selling is using content for a distinct purpose: to attract, engage and convert.

The 5 Secrets to Become More Referable (Audio and Presentation Download)

Join Patrick McFadden for an Online Seminar and Learn the Secrets of Becoming More Referable

In this session we will reveal the 5 secrets to growing your business by tapping the awesome power of referrals.

paypal-logo

Small businesses say good-ol’ customer referrals remains the most effective marketing strategy, according to a recent report from Infusionsoft.

wom

If you’re not focused on creating referral motivation, one that gives you a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace, your business won’t survive long in the marketing world as we know it today.

Join me in this online seminar to build your Referral Strategy.

In this content rich session, we will cover:

  • How to approach your referability logically and practically
  • How to build a simple referral strategy based on proven referral generating techniques
  • The precise order you must work in order to be most profitable
  • How to become the obvious choice business that gets talked about
  • How to know where to invest your dollars and time
  • and so much more

If the pace of change for marketing – specifically generating referrals – seems to be moving faster than you can keep up, you’re not alone.  Take action today.

Just to reiterate, not only do you get 30-40 minutes of LIVE audio from Patrick laying out how to create your game plan for being more referable, but you also get:

  • Audio and Presentation
  • Instant Replay access to the seminar
  • Did we mention it’s only $27?

Listen anytime on your computer!

You’ll immediately be email with a link to the presentation. You’ll have access to premier content and you can play it anytime you want.

4 Types of Content That Every Business Must Create

Selling with educational content (via a blog, webinar, seminar, newsletter, magazine, workshop, report, eBook, tip sheet etc.) is not about convincing someone to buy something that they don’t want or need. Rather, it’s about overcoming objections to buying from you.

how-to-content

Effective marketing now requires that educational content is part of the strategy conversation in almost every business. ( Get more insight in this free eBook: 7 Components of a Successful Marketing Plan)

The word content itself has a lot of hoopla around it today making it difficult for many organizations to view it with the granularity needed and discover the role it plays in the customer life cycle.

On a strategic level, content must mean more than a blog post, status update or tweet. You must think about your content achieving a strategic business goal or objective. Building an asset to serve your organization over time.

You must also think in terms of your content as a marketing tool that moves suspects to prospects, prospects to customers, customers to advocates and in this effort there are at least four types of content that you must address.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Suspect Content – Everyone in your target market

When your entire target market is not aware of your company, product, service or the benefit it offers, then the first objective of content is to simply build trust.

Trust can be built through:

  • Blogs
  • Customer Reviews
  • Articles

At the heart of every transaction is TRUST and in general, trust is what’s in short supply. If more people trust you more, everything else will fall into place. There’s a really big gap between someone being aware of you (which is really hard) and someone trusting you, enough to invest in you or buy from you.

Prospect Content – Anyone who has taken action to solve a problem that you can assist them with

There’s an huge difference between awareness and action. Putting something in the world for awareness is useless if it doesn’t lead to taking action.

As the market begins to trust you and competitors enter that market. Prospects will seek a differentiation….your unique approach, your solution, your message and your organization.

At this stage you need to you need to educate about that differentiation:

  • Special Reports
  • Marketing Kit
  • Seminar

People want to be educated not sold. They will sell themselves if you just stick to educating.

Customer Content – A person or organization that has bought products or services from you

You’ve done all this work attracting and educating now show your customers how to get the most out of what they just bought. This builds loyalty and community.

  • How to get the most out of – product or service information
  • New Customer Kit
  • Q&A Sessions

This is were most organizations stop their marketing but you should continue it if you want repeat sales.

Advocate Content – A person or organization that tells others and basically sells for you

This last stage of the customer lifecycle is one that gets overlooked in view of content. Ultimately, great content has the ability to help your advocates spread the word and increase awareness, generate leads and convert prospects .

  • Referral coupons
  • Access to “behind the scenes” content
  • Customer appreciation events

Think about this

Here’s the deal. This closely resembles the customer life cycle for every market. It begins in stage one and closes in stage four As you can see this presents some challenges for business owners and organizations, namely, they must adapt or perish.

You may enter a new market and clean house, only to fall behind when competitors enter and steal market share. The business of successful marketing and selling is about constant improvement. Constant change.

New Survey Shows That Online Marketing For Small & Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) Is Effective

marketing-research

Here’s a fact about online marketing that’s actually shocking.

The 2014 annual SMB Internet Marketing Survey by (BrightLocal)  is out, and it includes a number of surprising findings.

Most notable is this: 75% of small & medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) say online marketing is effective.

Attracting Customers to Their Business

When you dig into the study’s findings, 32% find internet marketing to be ‘very effective’ at attracting new customers. 75% believe that internet marketing is ‘effective’ or ‘very’ effective at attracting new customers. 4% don’t do any internet marketing

Most Effective Tactics For Generating New Leads & Customers

8% find word of mouth to be the most effective channel at attracting new customers. 20% find SEO to be the most effective channel at attracting new customers. 51% say online channels are the most effective at attracting new customers.

SMB Success Metrics

31% – Phone calls are the most valued success metric. 20% – Both website traffic & Search Engine rankings.

Different types of businesses will be concerned with different KPIs as success metrics. An Ecommerce business for example, will be more concerned with online metrics, whilst a local retailer might be more concerned with customers walking through the door.

For the majority of SMBs, the amount of phone calls to a business is considered the most important metric. A call is considered a more solid lead because the customer has taken the time to track down a phone number and make a call. There is more friction in taking this action than in searching-clicking-completing an online form. So if a customer is prepared to take this step then they are more committed to using that business. And it gives the business owner / manager / sales guy the chance to provide more information and close the deal.

Top 6 Stats from SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2014

  1. 37% of SMBs plan to spend more on internet marketing in 2015
  2. 32% say internet marketing is ‘very effective’ at attracting customers
  3. 50% of SMBs spend less than $300/month on internet marketing
  4. 31% – Phone calls are the most valued success metric
  5. 64% of SMBs surveyed handle their internet marketing in-house
  6. 35% of SMBs are contacted every day by SEO agencies

The study gives you a better understanding of the attitudes & usage of internet & mobile marketing by small & medium sized businesses (SMBs).

Successful Marketing Requires Doing

Doing marketing is always the hardest part. Successful marketing essentially boils down to everything you DO or SAY that your ideal customer sees and hears. CEOs, business owners, entrepreneurs, managers, directors are all typically remarkable at their technical expertise, whatever that is. The point is that you mostly likely didn’t take on that responsibility or start the business because you love marketing.

HardWorkofDoingIt

Marketing is doing and doing leads to having – whether that’s revenue, profits, leads, or awareness.

Marketing strategies don’t fail in the mental creation. They fail in implementation. Ensuring effective implementation of marketing strategies is one of the highest payoff activities for success. A successful marketing plan will never produce results without successful execution behind it.

When it comes to getting marketing done, we’ve learned that start-ups and organizations can take their business to the next level by doing these three things.

  1. Choosing action items. The act of choosing, is the act of succeeding. When creating a marketing plan part of the deal is that you can’t get everything (tactical activities) that you possibly want done. The best way to approach the situation is by choosing marketing strategies and tactics that align with your business goals. Do you need press releases for awareness goals? Will the website need updating to capture qualified leads? Is researching main competitors a priority for communicating a unique position?
  2. Managing marketing activities. Measuring and control are parts of good management. Using a simple chart or marketing dashboard to monitor marketing initiatives and accountability will increase implementation effectiveness. If you don’t have a chart or dashboard, use the plan itself as a weekly review tool.
  3. Daily follow-ups. When it comes right down to it, marketing plans fail because those responsible for getting specific tasks done aren’t being followed up with. Following up and checking due dates on a regular basis will increase the effectiveness of your marketing. Poor execution will always trace back to poor follow-up. This is tough for start-ups and small business owners because of distractions, deliveries, and everyday business routines that have to be done.

The key to successful implementation of a marketing plan is execution, the actual doing of the planned marketing activities.

Initiatives don’t get completed by stating them on paper – they require an installation (action, management, and follow-up.)

3 Epic Marketing Shifts Business Owners Must Know

Marketing has gone through many changes, especially in the last decade. Our marketing focus has shifted from traditional print to online, from direct mail to social media, e-newsletters and blogging. Not to mention the speedy adoption of mobile devices and consumer’s addiction to real-time communication.

times are changing

 

To help sketch out the reinvention of marketing and put it in a larger context, I’ve compiled three epic marketing shifts business owners must know about and that has changed the way you market forever.

Advertising and marketing are no longer the same thing

For 100 years marketing meant one thing and we could all agree what is was: “advertising.” That meant a plethora of TV commercials, billboards, outdoor media, glossy magazine ads and jingle radio ads.  It was a method used by traditional mass marketers, that gave big companies the opportunity to make average products for average people.

Let me say here, that marketing and advertising are not the same thing. They used to be, but they’re not the same thing anymore. Everything is marketing – the name of your business, products and services, how you comport yourself, determining whether you will be selling a product or service, how you run your business, the method of manufacture or servicing, how you bid on projects, the colors, size, and shape or your product, how you perform for clients and customers, the packaging, how you build relationships, the location of your business, the advertising, the PR, etc. You’re either judged on these things, or you’re being ignored.

All media is now optional 

Business owners must fully understand, that in a noisy world “attention” is worth quite a bit, and ought to be cherished. That all media is now optional – no one is going to look at your content, Like your status update, retweet your tweet,  or open your email unless they want to.

Every interaction comes with a cost. No, not in dollars, but in something worth even more: the attention of the person you’re interacting with.

The network effect is the most powerful 

The network effect answers one key question: Does it work better if my friends use it too?

The classic example is the telephone. The more people who own telephones, the more valuable the telephone is to each owner. This creates a positive externality because a user may purchase a telephone without intending to create value for other users, but does so in any case. Online social networks work in the same way, with sites like Twitter and Facebook becoming more attractive as more users join.

Business owners need to fully understand the power of the network effect and how they can (with some creativity, enthusiasm, and energy) employ tools or processes that makes their product or service more valuable the more people use it.

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