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3 Ways to Ruin even the Best Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing can be an invaluable way to raise awareness about your brand, build loyalty among your ideal demographic, and be part of important conversations surrounding your industry. The right content marketing can set you up as an authority figure, can cement and illustrate your company culture, can even launch you into the next phase of your business. Coordinating social media, blog posts and content calendars, landing pages, ad campaigns and everything else takes a lot of effort – so it is a good thing you can get so much out of it.

Unfortunately, with content marketing, the best intentions aren’t enough. Here are 3 ways businesses can completely ruin an otherwise great content marketing strategy:

Inconsistency

Content marketing is not a stop sign on a long journey of building a business. It is more like your fuel tank – it is a vital part of moving your business forward. One of the top ways businesses ruin their content management strategy is by being inconsistent either in the timing of information being released or in their messaging. Take something simple like social media – one tweet a month, or even a week, isn’t going to drive you forward as a thought-leader or expand your reach deeper into your demographic. Actually, the opposite may happen. New customers may see your lack of engagement and question your legitimacy as a business. Well designed websites, consistent messaging, social engagement and social clout are all part of business basics today.

Rigidity

The more you produce content, the more you learn about your customers, your business and your product or service. Let content marketing be an experience that helps you perfect your vision. Rigidity can completely crash a content marketing strategy. Instead, adapt based on what you learn through feedback and analytics, grow alongside the expansion of your reach and be willing to admit when something isn’t working. Changes in things like Facebook or Google algorithms will require some flexibility and ingenuity to benefit from the latest iteration. What worked last month might not be as effective this month and it is important to recognize that as soon as possible, be flexible and commit to riding the ebb and flow.

Disconnection

There are two ways to ruin a content marketing strategy with disconnection – the first is disconnection from your customer and the second is disconnection from your competition.

Things like inconsistent messaging, or not responding to customer inquiries can ruin your strategy when it comes to connecting with customers. If your customer doesn’t think you understand them, has an experience that indicates you don’t care, or feels ignored then your content strategy will lose clout.

The other form is disconnection is being disconnected from your competitors. One of the beauties of content marketing is that there are a lot of tools to help you identify what your competition is doing. If you are disconnected from your competition you could be stuck wondering why your efforts aren’t turning into conversions, or why your social media posts aren’t getting the reach you expected. Take a little bit of time to see what your competition is doing in order to really be in the game and, as mentioned above, adjust based on what you learn.

Want more insight on content marketing from people who are passionate about getting your business seen? Contact us at Tulip Strategies, today.

PR and Social Media: The Blurred Line Between the Two Mediums

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If you’re new to the world of marketing you’ll soon learn that buzzwords are king. The industry specific jargon you’ve seen referenced time and time again will inevitably become standard issue within a couple of weeks of working “in the industry”. Unfortunately, buzzwords are not entirely progressive forms of communication– and eventually certain terms lose their relevancy and are replaced by newer concepts that often times mean the same thing as the term it replaced with a few more facets/implications attached to the definition. A prime example of this is ‘earned media’ and ‘owned media’. Before continuing, let’s make sure the definition and differences between ‘earned’ and ‘owned’ media are clear.

 

‘Earned media’ can mostly be attributed to Public Relations, or simply ‘PR’. If you’re working in the field of PR you probably spend quite a bit of time focused specifically on marketing the brand. The breakthroughs come when stories or advertisements are placed in a major publication or news outlet on national television. This is the type of accomplishment that prompts people into checking out your website because they spotted your brand name on something that is accessed by millions of people on a daily basis. When this occurs, you can consider the work you’ve done a success. This is the truest definition of earned media.

 

‘Owned media’ is the area of focus where social media reigns supreme. Owned media places a focus on content that you control such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The benefit of owned media is that you have complete control over the themes and messages that the brand you represent gives off to the general public. Though more risk is associated with owned media in comparison to earned media due to the owner taking full responsibility for what is being published about the brand he or she is trying to promote, the payoff can be valued at a much higher rate because it was self-generated and holds no obligations to other forms of media/outlets for its’ exposure. If owned media goes viral. The accomplishment is celebrated by only those within the company/brand. There is no need to thank or pay tribute to anyone outside of the immediate circle/union of developers/marketing team.

 

Though the differences between earned and owned media are apparent– the dividing line that separates these two forms of marketing has slowly begun to dissolve. The way in which the field of marketing has been developing so far in 2015 shows that no aspiring brand can reach the pinnacle of publicity without both earned and owned media. On top of that, good strategists must be able to differentiate what is working for their brand and what is not in a much more efficient manner than ever before. If even two hours a day are spent cultivating a network through a medium that has yet to produce any sustainable/profitable results, that medium must be severed from the brand’s overall marketing strategy so the time spent on that approach can be delegated to something that is proven to be more useful/efficient. While the overall goal of a marketing team is fairly cut and dry, the approach in which they take in order to achieve success is one with many twists and turns. The bottom line: adaptability is one of the most crucial traits in developing a successful team that can adequately market a budding idea. Otherwise, publicity will always be an uphill battle.

 

The Three Principles to Successful Business Blogging

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Whether you are the owner, operator or admin of a company or brand’s website, blog work is essential to successfully networking with neighboring sites and associates that could eventually help you grow your network. Here are a couple tried and true principles to routine blog posting that will not only help with consistency but also aid in SEO work as well.

  1. The lengthier the better. If an article is roughly 300-500 words the search term you associate with the post should be mentioned 3 to 7 times spread out through the length of the post in its’ entirety.
  2. Make your posts as SEO-friendly as possible. Keywords need to be used in the subheadings and a priority must be placed on making the main topic of the post as easy to identify as possible. Meaning the reader should know the subject of the post within the first one to three sentences. Images attached to each article along with a meta description are also crucial for reader accessibility and for search engines to prioritize your writing over other random websites that have no relevancy to the topic you’re trying to address.
  3. Content must be updated regularly. That doesn’t mean blow up the blog section of your company’s site with useless posts that have no merit or calculatable wealth. All posts published must serve a purpose. Whether that purpose is to provide advice on business ventures or to simply update and educate readers on the product or brand that you are determined to successfully market. There is no room or time for wasted language on a successful company’s site. Every amount of space must be used with the utmost efficiency– plain and simple.

 

Digital Content: How to Develop a Successful Strategy

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Digital content strategy– despite being nearly halfway through 2015 this remains a difficult term to define and confine to one specific or universal description. Best case scenario you can characterize digital content strategy as a collection of ventures directly associated with every single one of your digital channels. It is the only surefire approach to making sure that audiences are engaging and interacting with the content you provide on your website to the point where the viewer of the content feels compelled to share it with other people in his or her network to see.

There are a number of routes you can take in creating a digital content strategy. As a disclaimer, this is a challenging task, but one that will pay off in dividends if properly executed. Based off the collective knowledge gathered from a number of prominent PR specialists, here is a step by step guide on how to get this particular venture moving in the right direction as soon as you begin:

-Who are you trying to communicate with? The answer to this is simple: everyone. The larger a network you have through your marketing campaign the easier it will be to raise the rate in which your content is shared.

-What is the approach you are taking to engage with potential customers/clients? If a customer or client has an issue with the product or concept you are responsible for developing how fast will it take you to rectify the issue? Will you add more value to compensate for the problem at hand? This is where customer/client feedback is key. Without your target audience providing you with recommendations on how to better present your overall package it is very difficult to evolve past the first initial stage of your overall vision.

-What outcomes can you measure/keep track of? Where are you looking to do the most amount of development as a website? Audience size? Brand recognition? Focus on your primary goal and dedicate the majority of your time to tracking the initial measurements of growth in that one particular area.

-What content on your site performs the best?

Establish which articles or sub-categories on your site have gotten the most hits. Is there a trend in a particular topic you cover that gets more views than any other area? If so focus your attack on the most popular subjects and grow the rest of the site from there. It only takes one article, video or image to go viral for a site to become a hit overnight. Keep this in mind when trying to bring all areas of the site up to speed at once. Doing this will only slow down the progress on your most successful venture that’s currently receiving a lot of attention. Feed that source. The rest will follow

 

The 7 Traits of a Good PR Leader

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  • Speed Over Power: The pace of the world is always changing. And by changing I mean getting faster. Faster in making mistakes; faster in correcting them. You must lead the charge in almost every setting that resides in the office. Spin the globe as hard as you can and hold on for dear life.
  • Adaptability-- Make Yourself Malleable: Immediate gratification will be expected from your clients (See above). You must be able to flourish under constraint and unavoidable variables that will undoubtedly cause you and your team stress. Grit your teeth and press forward.
  • Be Bold, Supreme Confidence is Your Friend: Companies and Clients alike don’t care where a good idea comes from. It doesn’t matter to them if the next brilliant marketing campaign comes from the bottom of the totem pole. Entry level employees must have the courage to voice their visions when they feel as if they are truly onto something.

 

A Desire for Positive Change for Oneself: A recent study showed that the most successful people in the world don’t look at failures as things they did not benefit from. Failure is an integral part of developing as a professional and as a person. As long as your mind is in the right place positive change will occur regardless of if you succeed or fail initially. The failures will eventually get fewer and farther between and success will soon become the only thing you know.

Strategic Brand Development

Branding is that part of your marketing plan that sets your business apart from others in your industry and lets your customers and potential customers know what’s unique about your company. Your branding can include every aspect of your business, including your logo, website design, how your employees answer the phone, your office decor, your social media pages and every public-facing aspect of your business.

Every business can benefit from branding, but small businesses especially need good branding to set them apart from their competitors. Entrepreneur magazine calls developing your brand a journey of self-discovery, and that’s a good way to look at it. To get the most from your branding efforts, you need to meet with key employees and define:

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What makes your company unique?
  • What words and qualities do you want customers and potential customers to associate with your business?

The best brands answer those questions … and ask again and again as they grow.

Good strategic brand development

How does a small business with a limited budget get the most from branding? Below are a few strategies to consider:

1. Splurge on a dynamite logo. Your logo makes your business and all of your marketing materials distinct and unique. A great logo can impart your business philosophy, your company’s personality and your strengths all in one graphic. This is a must-have for any new business. If you’re bootstrapping your business, issue a call for submissions through a third-party freelance service like Odesk or Elancer.

2. Create a voice. Like a logo, the “voice” is the way you tell your company’s story, and it helps define your company’s personality. Progressive Insurance is an example of a company that uses a character – Flo – to represent the company’s voice. Other examples:

  • Coca-Cola is the voice of proud Americans
  • American Express’s voice is well-heeled, intelligent, sophisticated and worldly
  • Nike’s “Just Do It” speaks confidence
  • GoDaddy’s voice is a little rebellious, edgy and humorous

3. Tie it all together. For your branding to be successful, you need to have all aspects of your marketing plan interlinked. Your website should mention your print publications. Your print advertising and direct mail should mention your website, and so on.

4. Get the most for your branding dollars. Start-up companies, by definition, lack huge marketing budgets. To get the most from your branding dollars, invest first in the essentials—a great logo, a great website, business cards and someone to manage your social media and email marketing efforts. As you grow, you can add other components like point-of-purchase displays, direct mail marketing and logo items.

What are other examples of brand voices? Share your thoughts in our comments section.

SEO Terminology

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important tools for improving your company’s standings in search engine results pages (SERP). A well-optimized webpage will appear on the first page of a Google search; excellent SEO will put you in the top three of organic results. Online advertising network Chitika says the No. 1 result on Google SERP gets nearly one-third of all traffic while the No. 10 website will get only 2.4%. If you are new to SEO, the first step is to learn the lingo.

Search Engine – A website devoted to helping Internet users find websites.

Keywords – People type keywords into a search engine to find websites. Keywords for laundry soap might include laundry soap, detergent, clean clothes and washing clothes. Webmasters try to guess which keywords their customers might type into a search engine and then pepper those keywords in strategic places throughout the website. They also use SEO tools from companies such as SEMRush and Moz, to gather data from users and competitors to determine keywords.

SERP – Acronym for search engine results page. A SERP is the page you see when you perform a search on Google or other search engines, such as Yahoo and Bing. Chitika reports that fewer than 6% of users go beyond Page 1.

Backlinks – Rather than finding your website on a search engine, people might also find out about your website from other sites. A link from any website to your website is known as a backlink. The better the quality of the site, the more it helps your site rank higher on SERPs. A backlink improves the credibility of the less popular website.

PageRank –Google ranks websites 0 to 10, with the most authoritative websites ranking 10. In late 2013, Search Engine Watch reported that Google updates page rank less and less because it’s based on the number of links you have to your site. Google and other search engines have been shifting away from links and toward quality content in their algorithms.

Above the fold – Websites that appear at the top of search engines results, visible without having to scroll down the page. A website appearing above the fold gets more clicks than those that appear below it. It’s an old newspaper term that referred to news stories that appear above the fold in racks.

SEM – Stands for search engine marketing. You use SEM to market your goods and services on search engines. There are two main types of SEM: SEO and pay-per-click.

SEO – Any process that increases page rank on a search engine results page.

Clicks – In SEO terminology, a click occurs when an Internet user sees your website on a search engine result then clicks on the link to visit your site.

Click-Through Rate – Sometimes called CTR, click-through rate is the percentage of people who click on your link out of the total number of people who see it on websites. If three out of ten people who see your link click on it, for example, you have a 30 percent CTR.

PPC – In pay-per-click advertising, you pay a set amount of money for every click on your ad. PPC ads usually appear on the right side of search engine results pages. Before you jump into PPC advertising, keep in mind that 70% to 80% of users ignore paid ads, according to Search Engine Journal.

Black Hat SEO – An aggressive approach to SEO using unethical practices, such as keyword stuffing. Many search engines ban websites using black hat SEO practices.

White Hat SEO – Above-the-board SEO practices that result in organic results. Examples include using keywords in permalinks, article headlines and page titles.

Social Profile Maintenance

It’s not an overstatement to say that social media sites have changed the way the world does business. It’s difficult to ignore the fact that Facebook alone has more than one billion registered users and Twitter has 500 million users. And, these two powerhouses are not the only social media sites available to businesses; there are more than 400 such sites today and more are being added each month.

Social media profiles and your small business

Your company’s social media profiles are often the first exposure potential customers have to your product and/or services. Just like having an attractive sign in front of your store, you need your social media “sign” to reflect your company’s image, personality and professionalism.

Your social media profiles are also a good source of information for customers. They list such things as your contact information, hours and the forms of payment you accept. It also sets up a forum for you to get to know your followers, customers and influencers. For these reasons, it’s important to put a set of procedures in place to ensure that your social media profiles are updated on a regular basis.

Updating your social media profiles

How often should your company update its social profiles? The short answer is you should update your profiles every time your company makes a change in its hours, address, product mix and other vital customer information. However, just as you wouldn’t allow a display in your store window to fade, you shouldn’t allow your social media “signs” to languish without updates. There’s always something new to add:

  • Media coverage
  • Awards, recognitions, certifications
  • Employee profiles

In addition to keeping your profile current and fresh, it’s also important that you be consistent and provide the same information and voice throughout all of your social media profiles. Although it’s tempting to market your business on every social media platform, a wiser course of action would be to embrace only the number of platforms that you and your staff have time to manage – and those that are most relevant to your industry.

The bottom line

Social profile maintenance doesn’t have to occupy all of your time. However, because these pages are often the first impression a potential customer gets of your business, it’s important that they not only have correct and updated information, but that they accurate reflect the personality of your company.

Branding: Consistency in Name, Image, Message, and Marketing

Branding is something that small businesses and startups often wait to do. This is a major mistake, because branding, in essence, is how people readily identify your company, what you do, and how well you do it. Although setting up your business, raising funds, and making sure you’ve got all systems in place are important, that doesn’t mean that branding should take a backseat. It needs to be addressed prior to your offering your products or services to the public. If that is not the case and you are up and running without any branding, then get to it now.

What is Branding?

Branding is the method by which you define your business or company through three basic elements: your company name, image or logo, and written communications, with the briefest such written communication being your catchphrase.

As an example, consider Apple. The name itself has implications of knowledge, innovation, and health. An Apple is the fruit of knowledge, is supposedly what hit Sir Isaac Newton on the head, giving him the idea for gravity, and it is instrumental in the famous phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” These are all great connections for a company that was groundbreaking in that it’s initial focus was on making computers so easy to use that anyone could utilize their great power and potential.

Its image, the apple, has changed over the years, but overall it has remained consistent. There has always been an apple in the company’s logo, and for much of the time, it’s had a bite taken out of it. That bite tells us to feed on the knowledge, information, and tools that are associated with Apple’s products. By the way, the first Apple logo featured Sir Isaac Newton sitting under a tree reading with a highlighted apple above him, ready to hit him on the noggin.

As a company develops, catch phrases change and evolve, as do images. Some of Apple’s most successful phrases include, “Think Different,” “There’s an App for That,” “Byte into an Apple,” and “The Computer for the rest of us.”

Defining Great Branding

Great branding is, first and foremost simple. The McDonald’s Golden Arches and name, the definitive Coca-Cola cursive lettering and use of red and white, and the Google name displayed in alternating colors of blue, red, yellow, blue, green and red are all uncomplicated and, yet, definitive.

According to Interbrand, a brand consulting company owned by the Omnicom Group, in 2013, the most recognized brand, which used to be Coca-Cola, is now Apple. Coke dropped to third, while Google came in second and McDonald’s fourth.

How to Brand

Successful branding is based on two basic elements, defining what your enterprise does that makes it stand out, and, then, ably capturing the essence of your company in name, image, and text.  It’s not necessarily easy, and that’s why many people turn to advertising and branding professionals to take them through a process where they can discover exactly what their brand should be.

Adjusting Your Brand

It’s rare that a brand will remain static. The best brands do seem to offer stability in their name, and look, adjusting and refining as the company develops and evolving throughout the years. So, once you’ve found your brand and defined it, you’ll want to recognize when and how it should change, and what aspects to transfer from its last look to its next incarnation.

Making Your Company Yours

Do not relegate branding to an afterthought. It is the primary way in which you can build public recognition and trust. Great branding gives you instant recognition and evokes a positive reaction from the public. If you are falling short in your efforts to brand, consider a collaborative approach or utilizing the services of those who are professionals. Once you decide on your brand, use it everywhere, including on your website, products, brochures, business cards, and anything else associated with your company.

Remember with branding you’ll have to “think different” in order to come up with “the real thing” and “have it your way.” (Interesting, some of those phrases sound familiar, don’t they?) Brand successfully!

The Advantages of Direct Mail Marketing

A growing digital world has created many new ways and places to market to your consumer. Staying alert to advanced marketing practices is imperative, but it shouldn’t pull you away from tried and true techniques like direct mail marketing.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is an excellent way to provide direct information to your current and prospective consumers. Tapping into a source that can provide you with a list of emails, in a demographic that matches your company, gives you the opportunity to reach out to a new audience. While utilizing an email list may be similar to fishing in a lake with hundreds of fish and hundreds of fisherman, it doesn’t hurt to cast your line.

To stand out against the competition, having the bait of choice helps, and that is why building your own personal database completely changes the game of email marketing. You are now emailing people that have specifically requested to receive emails about your company, and are all the more likely to read them.

There are many ways to collect email addresses. You can add a prompt on your website, asking visitors to enter their information to receive news from your company. You can reel them in with discounts and private sales, explaining that by providing their email address they will be alerted of future promotions. Or if you are an ecommerce site, you can require that an email address be provided for the sale, and a check-off box to allow email correspondences. Creating a database of emails will help target your future direct mail campaigns to interested parties.

Snail Mail

Although email is the preferred method of delivery today, it wasn’t too long ago that direct mail marketing strictly referred to the mailers delivered to your home by the post office. While some marketers may say snail mail is dead, we wont. In fact, we think direct mail marketing is a great asset to many businesses, and for those with a mature demographic, it’s vital. Only 45% of seniors have Internet access and without direct mail marketing there are not many other effective or affordable means of advertising to this age group.

In addition, with the advanced technology of spam filters and sorting features (Gmail, for instance, divides mail into three folders: personal, social and promotions) it is becoming increasingly difficult to get your message to its recipient. Snail mail on the other hand, has a much greater chance of reaching the person or resident in which it is addressed to.
Mailing lists available to companies is also much greater in size than email lists. According to Market Scan, only 20% of postal addresses are reached through email. Imagine all the potential consumers you are never reaching by keeping your direct mail marketing strictly online.

Tulip Strategies is a cutting edge marketing & PR firm providing start-ups and established firms with smart solutions to propel your brand forward. For more information on how we can help your brand, please visit us at http://www.tulipstrategies.com/