Don’t Forget About the Importance of Internal Marketing and Communication Strategies

10 11 2008

marketingplanSo you’re really psyched because you’ve been working hard on the marketing plan for your company’s hot new product.  You’ve worked on creating catchy packaging with eye-popping colors and a really cool, trendy logo.  You created a social media press release that you’re going to launch on PitchEngine.  You’re planning on setting up a Facebook fan page because thousands of people are going to flock around this product.  You’ve even started to figure out this whole social media and blogging thing that everyone keeps talking about.  This is definitely going to be the next coolest thing that everyone never realized that they needed but now won’t be able to live without.

A few weeks later your company launches the product and your inbound marketing plan is working perfectly.  People are subscribing to your opt-in newsletter, signing up for demos, tweeting, commenting and digging everything they can find about your company and this new product.  The phones are ringing constantly.  But, then you find out something pretty disturbing.  The sales team is having a hard time converting all of these leads to customers.  Immediately you begin to blame them.  I mean, they’re wasting the leads that you worked so hard to get for them!  Finally, one night you’re out for drinks with a friend of yours who is on the sales team.  You ask them why can’t the sales team convert any of these leads and they tell you it’s because they never received any training on the product, they didn’t know about the timing of any of the marketing campaigns, and that made them unprepared.  So, when they’re talking to leads, they’re fumbling through the call because they’re learning as they go.

This little story highlights something very important but often overlooked.  As marketers we sometimes get so wrapped up in planning and executing our marketing plan to the rest of the world that we forget that we also need a marketing and communications plan for our staff.  We can’t just assume that they know everything that’s going on just because we do.  It is important that we are constantly aware of this so that we avoid operating in a silo or out on an island.

As I was thinking about this stuff over the past couple days, I came across a post by Douglas Karr on this very same topic.  Thanks to him, I found this funny video on the topic of internal marketing and communication plans.

If you have problems viewing this video in your RSS reader, you can view the video here.

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Photo by: hulksjedi

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Crafting a Successful Buzz Strategy

5 11 2008

Today Maria Elena Duron takes over my blog for a guest post on creating a buzz strategy.  Maria is CEO of Buzz to Bucks which provides online profile management, social management and reputation management services to its’ clients.

buzzstrategyThis week I sat down with several clients to talk Twitter.  Their questions ranged from “how to?”, “what’s this?”, and “how much time do you spend”?  Developing a great buzz strategy begins with the greatest questions of WHY and WHO/WHOM.

  • Who do you want to be seen and know as?

This is the beginning necessary for an effective BUZZ STRATEGY.  WHOM is it important for you to interact with?  WHO needs to see more of you to get to know you?  WHO needs to know what you do and how you save the day?  WHOM can you engage to speak positively on your behalf?  WHO can do business with you or refer business with you?  WHO would be a good contact for you?

Answering these questions provides direction as to what methods to use to connect with the WHO, and even how often to connect with them.  Identify WHO they really are and include their likes, dislikes, and activities, along with the standard demographic stuff.  Then, go out and find groups of them. Where do bunches of them hangout?  Is it online?  In Twitter, in a forum, or in a chat room? Is it in LinkedIn groups, Rotary, Mother’s Day Out? Where you find many of them congregating is where YOU want to be.

  • Why do you want to be seen and known by them, and interact with them?

Every English paper that reviews stories always starts with questions like “what’s the purpose?” or “what’s the plot?”  These are the same questions you need to ask yourself, and then you can craft your success story on interacting with the WHO.  What’s the overall outcome you want from this?  Envision the happily ever after of this.  And ponder on whether the tools you’re using to get there are actually getting you there or whether they are just interesting.

Do not go any further until you, quite in detail, answer the first two questions of WHO/WHOM and WHY.  Doing anything else without answering those questions is merely a waste of time.

Visibility is first so that people will get to see you or even know that you exist.  Next comes developing credibility.

  • What can you do to create visibility with whom you want to interact with?

Easiest answer is to hang out where they hang out.  Frequent their hangout spots!  Watch and identify how often people need to hang out there to be noticed.  For example, if you’re considering Twitter as one of your visibility tools, then check how often people that you know (who mirror the people you want to know) are Twittering.  Now, if they’re not Twittering, why are you there?  If it’s interesting research, recognize that it is and move on. It’s not a visibility tool – it’s something you’re checking out, that’s it.  As you choose visibility tools, it’s important to remember not to confuse “activity” with “accomplishment”.  Where do you really need to be to be seen?  Pick TWO and get really good at being seen on those.   Think of things that you want people to know about you and that you wouldn’t mind repeated. 

  • How do you develop credibility?

Credibility comes from interaction.  People need to sample your character and competence.  There’s an old saying that states, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  How do you show you care?  You interact.    Let’s say someone sends out a great link to a site that’s very helpful for you?  Then, let the person who sent it to you know.  Give them feedback.  Be lavish with gratitude.  Be helpful.  If someone is seeking resources, has a question or a need, help them.  Send links or articles or another connection you have that would be able to help them.  Refer them to books.  Recommend sites.  Be helpful.  There’s a myth that “You give – then you get” in networking.  And, while I think “Givers gain” is a catchy little phrase, I believe it leaves the impression that if you give to someone then you can expect to get something from them.  That expectation may taint the interaction and actually keep you from gaining anything.  It can leave someone with the taste that you’re not helping sincerely.

Better to think “give, give, give, give, give, and you will get from the great feeling of giving”.  Then, when you get something directly from that, it’s a delightful extra!  The goal in building credibility is creating relationships.  Relationships, whether online or offline, still take time.  In our instant gratification microwave society, relationships still take time, yet they are solid when built.  People speak positively about people they know, like and trust.  It’s important to find a few that you feel compelled to help and connect with, and develop, know and like – trust will come.

The object is to help people learn how to carry the message of you to people they know – that’s what BUZZ STRATEGY is about.  Write down the WHO/WHOM and WHY.  Then, find TWO avenues that you will use to connect with them.  Then, find TEN people that you’ll interact with and watch the BUZZ grow.  Establish this first – then we can talk more about EXPONENTIAL BUZZ GROWTH!

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Photo by: Unhindered by Talent

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Solutions Stars Video Conference Brings the Conference Directly to You

27 10 2008

On October 29th from 1p EST to approximately 3:30p EST, you will have the opportunity to watch 32 leading business, marketing, and social media experts.  The best part is you don’t have to travel anywhere and it’s free!

Network Solutions is hosting the Solutions Stars Video Conference to explain to small business and entrepreneurs how the Internet can benefit their businesses.  This conference will focus on nine content areas:

  • Building Web Presence
  • The Social Opportunity
  • Start with Listening
  • Strategy Drives Outreach
  • You Need Social Networks
  • To Blog or Not to Blog
  • Visibility Through Search
  • Rising Above the Noise
  • Time Demands

While the fact that there is a free conference which you can watch from the comfort of your office chair or couch is cool enough, take a look at a short list of some of the presenters:

If you don’t know who any of these guys are then spend some time going through each of the above links.  Every single person on the list of 32 is someone who you should be familiar with!

What makes this so interesting for me is that the format reminds me of the Pixelated Conference Series that I participated in at the beginning of the month, thanks to Chris Brogan, Mitch Joel and Bryan Eisenberg.  I will definitely be tuning in on Wednesday, will you?  If not then you’ll be missing out a great opportunity to learn a lot about business, marketing and social media in just a couple of hours.  Did I forget to mention that it’s FREE?!?!

To attend all you have to do is return to the Solutions Stars Video Conference site at 1p EST on Wednesday.

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Content is Nothing if it’s Not Authoritative: Creating an Effective Content Strategy

20 10 2008

Here is a guest post by Kari Rippetoe who blogs over at The Caffeinated Blog

Ok, I’m a fan of Dancing With The Stars (we all have out guilty pleasures, right?). So, the other day I was watching retired NFL player Warren Sapp dance the samba, which basically consisted of him standing around shaking his big, defensive tackle hips while his professional ballroom partner Kym Johnson danced around him. Because of this, the consensus among the judges was that their dance “lacked content”.

So, what does this have to do with your business website or blog? Well, think of it this way: is your content standing in the middle of the dance floor, not really doing anything, or is it dazzling the audience with all the right moves and making you and your business look professional – like you’re an expert?

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “content is king”; but your web content is nothing if it’s not authoritative. I’ve seen more websites and blogs than I care to admit that just slap up any old content without regard to what will actually interest their audience. This sort of rubbish falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • Horribly written articles and blog posts rendered completely useless and nonsensical by keyword stuffing.
  • Regurgitations of press releases and news articles without reaction from the blogger or relation back to the reader.
  • Sales pages disguised as articles designed to push readers towards a conversion rather than pull them in with valuable, relevant content.

If your content falls into any of these categories, than I hope you can take something away from this post – because you’ll do wonders for your brand, online reputation, marketing and communication efforts, and business in general by forming and implementing a strategy around engaging, authoritative content.

Now, I’m not here to tell you that this sort of content strategy will be easy. It will take some hard work and dedication on your part, because it’s certainly not a “set it and forget it” option. You will, however, reap the rewards once you start offering your buyers content that targets them and their needs with consistently valuable information.

So, how do you form an effective content strategy? Here are some points to think about:

  • Determine your goals. Why do you want to add content to your site, and what would you want that content to do for your business? Would you use blog posts or articles to talk about your products or services and increase press coverage? Give your take on industry-related news or relate it back to your readers? Offer advice for relevant problems your readers commonly face? This will give you a better idea of what kind of content will be written, as well as how the content can eventually be promoted.
  • Scope out the competition. What are your competitors doing? Do they have blogs, a resources section with articles, or maybe videos and podcasts? Take the time to read/watch/listen to their content in order to determine if a) there’s a possible gap you can fill, and b) if you can implement similar ideas for your business.
  • Research your target audience. In order for your content to be of value, you need to create it around topics that interest your target audience. Check out forums related to your niche to find out about relevant issues they may have, as you could develop content that addresses those issues. You can also gather some excellent (and free) research from social bookmarking sites to find out the kind of content your audience likes (check out my post on how to use social media for market research).
  • Recruit content creators. Who knows more about your business, industry, or niche than you? You’re an excellent candidate for creating content – but you don’t have to be the only one. Your research should uncover some topics for which some pretty valuable content can be developed, so now you can recruit others to contribute. These can include:
    • Employees at your company with knowledge in niche areas of your business
    • Friends or outside colleagues who know the industry and can offer a unique, expert take
    • Industry experts who would be willing to contribute in exchange for a little good PR and/or a backlink
    • Freelance writers who have knowledge of your industry and can provide regular, authoritative content based on your needs
  • Decide how often to update content. This is up to you and completely based on the needs of your business; however, it’s recommended that you update your content at least 2-3 times a week to keep it fresh and your readers coming back for more.
  • Decide how your content will be promoted. Content does have to be promoted, whether it’s to your existing customer base or to prospective customers. There are so many ways to promote your content, it would take up a whole new post; but a few to consider are email, social bookmarking and networking sites (look for ones related to your audience or niche market), and blog directories.
  • Keep the conversation going. Customer engagement doesn’t end after the content is posted – that’s where it starts. They’ll comment on it, ask questions, and try to start a conversation with you. Why? Because they perceive you as an expert, and they want to know that there is a person behind the company logo. It’s up to you to respond in a timely manner and keep them engaged. Part of your strategy should definitely address who will be your community manager or chief conversation officer, responding to comments and questions from your audience and engaging readers on external sites where your content is being promoted.

No longer is content just words on a page – it has to inform, interest, and engage. By creating a strong content strategy based on your goals and centered on the needs of your audience, you’ll achieve sustainable results that will reap rewards for your business for a long time to come. More than that – your customers will be dazzled by your moves!

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Photo by: pshutterbug

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Creating a Web Presence for Your Company

8 10 2008

We will continue with Day 3 of our Pixelated Conference Series tomorrow.  In the meantime, you can check out our two previous conferences on productivity and personal branding.  But, today we have a guest post from Susan Payton.  Susan Payton is the Managing Partner of Egg Marketing & Public Relations, as well as the blogger behind The Marketing Eggspert. She enjoys helping businesses develop an effective marketing strategy, using Marketing 2.0, email campaigns, and social media.

If you’ve turned on your computer at all in the last five years, you know the Internet is the future for marketing your business. While you may not be a techspert, you can still use the Internet to establish your business’ place in your industry.The key is being in as many places online as you are comfortable being. Some examples:

· Company website
· Blog
· Press releases
· Mention on other websites
· Comments on blogs/forums

Having a website for your company is non-negotiable. Many people only do business with companies who have a website. It shows you understand the value of being online and that you have invested the time and money it takes to develop a professional site.

A blog is a valuable tool that can help you establish yourself or your company as an expert in your field. Many top companies have blogs today, including Southwest Air, Dell, and of course, That’s Great PR!

Press releases are great for building web presence and SEO. While you may or may not end up on Oprah as a result, you will diversify the places your press release (and also your URL) end up on the web. Your release will be distributed on major news channels, like Google News, as well as industry sites, and bloggers in your niche will pick it up as well.

This will lead to mention on other sites. The very nature of PR today is that it is viral. What starts in one place will quickly spread faster than you can blink. And that’s a good thing.

By leaving comments on blogs and forums, you’re leaving a breadcrumb trail. Just be sure to include the URL to your site in your signature. And only post relevant conversations, because the purpose is to communicate, not blatantly push your company’s agenda.

So how are you getting exposure online for your business?

Ways to Establish You or Your Business as THE Expert in Your Field

1.    Put out regular press releases. Keeping a steady momentum will increase your placement on search engines.
2.    Participate in conversations online. In forums, on blogs, in social media platforms.
3.    Start a blog about what you know best.
4.    Attend conferences.
5.    Get speaking engagements.
6.    Write a book or ebook.
7.    Get interviews.

Make Search Engines Love Your Brand

Search engines love press releases. When you write regular press releases and have them distributed online, more reporters, bloggers and future customers can find you. Before you know it, you’ll be sifting through a pile of interview opportunities and orders for your product!

[Disclosure: That’s Great PR! utilizes Egg Marketing & Public Relations for some of our email marketing services.]

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When Your Brand Becomes the Product

15 09 2008

Red Bull was founded by Dietrich Mateschitz and officially launched in 1987.  Ten years after its launch Red Bull was finally brought to the United States first being introduced in California.  In 2000 Red Bull had approximately $1 billion in worldwide sales.  In 2006 more than 3 billion cans of Red Bull were sold in over 130 countries.  Red Bull now accounts for approximately 50% of the energy drink market in the United States and up to 80% in other countries with an approximate 65% overall market share.

Those are just some quick and dirty facts about Red Bull to help frame the what is really interesting about Red Bull.  I think one of the most interesting aspects about Red Bull is how their brand has become the product (energy drinks).  Even though there are now over 150+ competitors in the energy drink space, most people I know still refer to energy drinks as Red Bull.  Red Bull is commonly mixed with Vodka and is one of the main ingredients in drinks such as Jagerbombs.  Even when a bar doesn’t offer the brand and instead uses a competitor, you will still hear people request Red Bull and Grey Goose or Red Bull and Vodka.  In my opinion this is one of the best things that can happen for a brand.  Since the brand becomes the product, the demand for the brand increases.

One of the reasons for Red Bull’s success, besides being the first to this niche market, is how good they are at buzz marketing.  Red Bull sponsors events such as windsurfing, snowboarding, cliff-diving, break dancing, art shows, music concerts, video games and several other sporting/social events.  Red Bull also hosts the Red Bull Flugtag which can be best understood by watching this video:

So what can we learn from Red Bull? Of course, most of us can’t afford to sponsor extreme sporting events, art shows or the like but we can do things differently than the rest of our competition.  Try to be the first one there.  If not, then do it differently then those before you.  Try new things.  Explore new options.  Don’t do the usual.  Don’t be like everyone else.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  Be interesting.

Red Bull is known for always trying to market their brand differently in new and creative ways.  It is because of this that the brand has not failed or fallen off even though it is now in an extremely competitive space.

Now I turn it over to you – what are other products that you can think of where the brand has become the product?  I can think of a few but am interested in others thoughts.

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Photo by Dawn Ashley

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Crafting an Inbound Marketing Strategy

28 07 2008

The HubSpot team just posted a video of a presentation that they recently gave.  The topic of discussion was about developing an inbound marketing strategy that incorporates SEO, blogging and social media to drive results.  They did an excellent job describing the synergy that is formed when you utilize all 3 in your marketing strategy.  Best of all is that their suggestions are completely free and just takes an investment of your time.  Granted, you could get into PPC campaigns, purchasing of themes for your blog, etc but at the basic level, which will produce great results, this strategy is free and ready to be implemented.

The video is about 40 minutes long.  If you don’t have time to view the video right now, at least take a look through the slides which are available for download at SlideShare.

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