Marketing ideas for the shoestring bourgeoisie.

Brand Conversations: Not Just On Your Twitter Feed

social media marketing

Are you in charge of running a company’s social media campaign? If so, you know that your brand receives all kinds of feedback from followers on social media.

In day-to-day monitoring and community management, social media managers are faced with both positive and negative mentions about their brands. From complimentary praise to harmful attack, social media feeds reflect what people think, feel and write about brands and products.

For marketers, this is of top concern. They should be aware of how their brand is being perceived. The three Cs for marketing teams are Content, Conversations and Community. How is the brand developing content? How are marketing teams leading and responding to brand conversations? What’s the community vibe of a particular product and brand?

Dedicated Twitter feeds, like the Twitter stream of iAcquire NYC, are growing in practice; Facebook pages are optimizing the use of social opt-ins and digital marketing firms are selling social services to clients across the entire online spectrum.

But it’s not the only thing. Where’s the conversation about your company happening? It isn’t just on your social media stream. It’s happening in forums, online webinars, LinkedIn chains, street level marketing events and brand-sponsored tours. How can brands utilize these areas to drive partnerships, bring in new customers and offer up new branding opportunities? Let’s take a look:

Buzz Marketing (aka Word of Mouth Marketing)

As Forbes rightly points out, word of mouth marketing just keeps getting better. Why? It’s a sign that a company is doing something right, and many people are driven to want its product or service. Brands can use teaser and buzz marketing campaigns to build conversations around some of their customers’ best testimonials. For years TV ad campaigns have used customer testimonials. More recently, there are buzzworthy tee-shirt campaigns in urban centers, delivering messages (and sometime free swag) to passers-by.

Street Marketing

Consumer brands should look to street marketing activities for many of their offline campaigns. They can set up booths at city festivals, sponsor local industry functions, and align themselves with local non-profits or worthy causes to boost their community partnership standing.

Marketing Forums

Marketing leaders on all fronts should follow industry insights to benefit their daily roles. LinkedIn hosts a number of industry forums to follow, as do local professional associations. Global and international associations have forums worth following, too.

TV Advertising

A great TV campaign can spark online and offline conversations about your brand. A great product, along with a great message, good timing and a link to the current cultural zeitgeist will help any TV ad campaign. From “Where’s the Beef’ years ago to the best TV ads of 2013, great TV ads can capture a brand’s audience and get them talking about and engaging with the brand. TV ain’t dead yet.

Industry Webinars

Marketers can learn a lot from hosting, sponsoring and participating in online webinars. Direct feedback from customers, competitors, and potential new business partners is invaluable to marketing teams. The key to making a webinar valuable is understanding essential industry topics that need further discussion. If your timing is right, then your webinar can have long-lasting benefits. Set it up with a provocative title, invite the best marketers, and host it with one of these top webinar platforms.

Once marketers spend some time off Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, they may find there is another, sometime deeper, discussion taking place. Online and off, it’s time to manage the discussion of your brand, with the audience that suits your company best.

big data

Guest post by Lucy Kim. Lucy is a mom and avid environmentalist who runs a social media company from her home.

Marketing Idea #127: Silent Auctions

silent auction

Not only do silent auctions bring in money for your cause, they can also be a great marketing idea for nonprofits seeking new donors. Because you’ll need to do a little pavement-pounding to collect the items up for bid, you’ll have the opportunity to forge new relationships within the local retail community, leading to future revenue.

Get Organized

Putting together a silent auction is a lot of work, but it isn’t as hard as you may think. The first steps are to organize your mission statement, write a letter to potential donors, and create a form through which they can submit donations of merchandise or gift certificates. Set up deadlines on when the items need to be collected and when the auction will begin and end. All this information should be in the cover letter handed out to local business owners and managers.

Recruit Sponsors

Next, you’ll need to take a walk. Have two or three of your employees canvas several retail strips within your community. Make sure they can speak intelligently and passionately about your cause. Widen your search for items by advertising the auction on social media and Craig’s List. In your online advertisement, you’ll have the opportunity to reach out to potential bidders, too. As donations roll in, take a photo of each and share them on Facebook, Twitter, or your nonprofit’s website to further entice the bargain-hunters and philanthropists you aim to reach.

Select the Venue

An essential part of a successful silent auction is finding one high-traffic venue willing to host a board of items for a few days to a couple weeks. Small, locally-owned coffee shops and organic grocery stores are both excellent options. Typically charitable, they’ll also be hungrier for cross-promotion.

Promote, Promote, Promote

Once you have a bevy of items, a venue, and a schedule, continue to promote via print and social media. Customers can register online, receiving a bidding identification number in the process. Set up your auction board with attached photographs and space for bidders to write their I.D. number and bid amount. Don’t forget to supply pencils.

Let Them Know Who Won

Once the auction has ended, collect the bids, and notify all winners by the contact information required for registration. Appoint a time and place to pick up and pay–perhaps your non-profit headquarters over the course of a week. After that week, if a winner has not collected his item, default to the next highest bidder. This part of the process usually takes a while, with winners floating in and out over the course of several days.

Now Go Launch Your Silent Auction

A successful silent auction can bring in hundreds, even thousands of dollars depending on what type of items you receive and how many you collect. While a fair amount of hard work, it’s an excellent way to spread awareness of your cause and pull in revenue at the same time.

Contact us for more advice on how to make your small business or nonprofit a success.

A Review of ‘Killing Us Softly’

killing us softly

Have you ever noticed how an actress or model looks seems to play a more vital role in an advertisement than the message they deliver? In her presentation, Killing Us Softly, Jean Kilbourne elaborates how an ad sells better than the product itself. Why? An ad can convey esoteric concepts, as well as simple product value. Concepts such as love, sexuality, dreams of success or normalcy are underpinning currents carried by most of today’s advertisements.

Advertisements tell us who we are and who we want to be. They define a person in ways that even their own heritage cannot. With every other woman on the television or in the magazines looking fair and beautiful, girls in their teens assume this is the norm by which to conform. The kind of clothes, the shoes, the makeup, the must have handbags and even minor accessories like headbands and gloves attract these young minds easily with their color and glamor.

As Kilbourne points out, lured into believing the airbrushed world of advertising by a young age, it becomes easy for girls to lose track of their identities, growing uncomfortable in their own skins. This has been the case with majority of the models in the past decade. Too many stories tell of models and starlets falling into hospitals or rehab centers, where the worst cases face traumatic disorders—sometimes leading to death.

According to Jean, advertisements carry only one main message these days for women and that is to look good. She illustrates examples where women celebrities have admitted to the high degree of photo retouching in their own advertisements. Quoting supermodel Cindy Crawford, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

sexy peta ad

Most women in cinema and fashion have fallen prey to the post-production effort to make them appear slimmer, taller, bustier or fairer. Kilbourne gives various examples of entertainers and models (Kiera Knightley, Jessica Alba and Kelly Clarkson, to name a few) who have been Photoshopped to achieve magazine-worthy looks. Not all actresses have gone along with this quietly, Kilbourne says. Titanic star Kate Winslet has publicly announced she looks nothing like her image on the cover of the British GQ magazine.

Kilbourne feels this treatment of women is equivalent to an act of indirect violence. To live up to this airbrushed ideal, many women resort to dieting and other fast and dangerous methods to reduce their weight. Prime examples here, she says, are the models who grow thinner and thinner, year after year. A dire example, Ana Carolina Reston died of anorexia after being called ‘too fat’ by a modeling agency. Kilbourne asserts such cases have now become an all too common occurrence in the fashion industry.

Continuing her argument, Kilbourne points to the growing objectification of the female form. Many of today’s advertisements are more focused on certain physical attributes of women, further contributing to the not-so-subliminal emphasis given to an unhealthy, unrealistic ideal. The direct impact this has on a woman’s self-esteem is often neglected. This objectification of women has evolved into a form of social violence, Kilbourne says. It has become a public health issue that threatens every female around us and it places upon us the responsibility to hedge our daughters against it.

In today’s world advertisements market the women and not the product. You see nudity in everything. From a simple CD cover to a beer advertisement, women are portrayed in varying levels of nudity. What once was a crime is now a trend. So the most important question asked here is, what is being marketed to women? What does she think when she goes to an agency and is asked to strip off her clothing along with her dignity? In the age where money is paid for any kind of service, most women do not really understand the repercussions of their actions. Either they are too desperate and in need or they simply are not educated enough to look for a better job.

sex in advertising

Jean Kilbourne has done a marvelous job hitting the right points to convey the depth and seriousness of the issue at hand. Her inspired determination to enlighten us about the imagery we are allowing at the newsstands is a wake up call.

As a father of two daughters (and two sons—not to overlook them in the whole self-image crisis,) I have a keen interest in sheltering my children for as long as possible from the damaging effects of “news-stand beauty.” Jean’s message in Killing Us Softly is loud and clear. I pray it takes us by the throat and gives us the good rattle we need to wake up and break out of our dive.

Matt

big data

Update: August 8, 2013

Dove has done it again. This time, they’ve taken their argument for natural, untouched portrayal of beauty straight to the creatives holding the smoking gun. This time, it’s in the form of an Easter egg–a hidden message or feature in software. When the guilty, image-enhancing creative attempts to apply the skin glow effect advertised by a free Photoshop plugin, they get a message meant just for them. Brilliant.

Enjoy!

Big Data and the Future of Digital Marketing

marketing big data

It’s no secret that the world of marketing has become increasingly sophisticated in the ever-evolving world of digital media. This new complexity is derived from marketing data becoming exponentially more massive and fueled by today’s discerning, fluctuating consumer base. Big data is here, and it’s changing everything.

What is Big Data?

We produce and consume roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, and 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years alone, according to IBM. Whether we like it or not, all of the data we’re dealing with and managing in the web marketing space is big data. In a nutshell, big data is information that is gathered from social media, GPS, photo sites and general Internet browsing — pretty much anywhere that thousands of users congregate to post and download information produces massive data sets referred to as big data.

Big Data: The Future of Marketing

Five years ago, the idea of web marketers leveraging big data to deepen their understanding of potential customers was laughable. The cost alone of backing up terabytes upon terabytes of marketing data on a daily basis was almost overwhelming. But now with the advances of storage, managing big data in the marketing environment is easier than ever. Many companies are taking advantage of online backup comparison sites that help ensure realistic and affordable prices for online data storage.

Beyond the lowered cost of managing big data, big data-centric social businesses have received a lot of interest from investors over the past few years. Many of these social businesses — Facebook, LinkedIn, Vitrue, Buddy Media, etc — are all resources that marketers use on a daily basis. This is all outstanding news for the marketing community. Never before in advertising and marketing have millions upon millions of users all congregated in the same place. But the big problem with this social business trend, according to Business Insider, is a lack of effective measurement.

This is where big data analytics come into play. It allows marketers to gain sophisticated data on millions of users and social impressions in a single, unified big data analytics dashboard.

Big Data in Healthcare

One of the major industries benefiting from big data technology is healthcare. Big data technologies are making it easier for healthcare professionals to manage data that both helps increase the efficiency of mission-critical healthcare processes and makes it easier to help patients of all kinds. With the right systems in place, healthcare facilities can easily understand and deliver data to patients and other professionals throughout the facility. Big data streamlines these healthcare processes through a combination of virtual administrative assistants (not unlike Apple’s Siri), data mining and analysis, data collection and market analysis, as TechTarget notes.

Big Data in the Entertainment Industry

Big data is even reaching its way into the marketing sector of the entertainment industry. Take the film industry for instance. The film industry needs to embrace this new era of big data to keep up with the growing demands of tomorrow’s moviegoers, opines Steve Canepa on Business Insider. This idea of big data and entertainment industry marketing even trickles down to the video game industry. As more games become social and rely on sophisticated user data, the only way to keep up is through the use of big data technologies.

big data

Guest post by Sarah Phelan, everyone’s favorite IT gal. She does tech reviews on the latest in virus protection software and web hosting.

11 Ways to Market Your Fundraiser Offline

ways to market your fundraiser

If you are intending to raise funds through a charity event, there are marketing techniques that can help greatly both online and offline. Depending on your desire and budget, you can try a number of promotional activities for your charity event. If you have taken care of online marketing and are now looking for offline marketing ideas, then read ahead for tips to keep your momentum building. There are many offline ways to market your fundraiser effectively and without spending much money. The best advice is to be creative, enthusiastic and passionate towards your goal of raising funds for your charity. However, if you are still stuck on how to market your fundraiser through offline techniques, then you can include any or all below given offline marketing ideas to promote your fundraiser in the most effective way.

  1. Build a team: A team — i.e. your battery of friends, some volunteers from your fundraising campaign and family members — can contribute towards promoting your fundraiser. A big team like this can create a good buzz about your charity event. Marketing of your fundraising event can be done by knocking door-to-door and telling them about your cause and campaign as well as by word of mouth publicity. The more number of people know about your charity event, the higher are the chances of increasing funds for the cause.
  2. Posters: Posters have always been a very effective offline marketing idea. Get your poster done from a person who will charge you nominal or do it for free. Keep the posters attractive with the message written in bold. People looking at the poster will get the message clearly and instantly. Also try and stick your posters at strategic locations, i.e. where people are more likely to see. Posters can be stuck near schools and churches. You can also ask your local shopkeepers and medical stores to stick it in their premises. People coming to buy groceries and medicines can definitely have a look.
  3. Flyers: Just like posters, leaflets or flyers can also help a great deal. You can either give flyers door-to-door (which requires efforts and time from you and your team), or ask your local newspaper vendor to include your leaflet with every newspaper they drop. This can help promote your fundraiser quickly and to a lot of people at once.
  4. Announcements at other events: Official and unofficial functions and events keep happening every now and then. You can take advantage of such events to promote about your fundraising event. School sports days and annual day function, church meetings or congregation, an event organized at your local club, etc. can all serve this purpose. You can talk about your fundraising campaign to event organizers and include a short announcement about your charity event and your intention to raise funds to a large group of people present there, at the end of the event. This way you have a great chance of marketing your fundraiser to a group of distinct people in a straightforward and easy manner.
  5. Phone calls and direct speaking: If you feel that your offline marketing efforts like distributing flyers and sticking posters are not being seen by people, then you can make a direct call. Get a list of all previous donors and make them a phone call. You can also stand in front of a school or church and tell passersby about your intentions to raise fund for a noble cause. This is a direct way of spreading message about your fundraising event. While speaking to people, use emotional, strong and persuasive words. It works best.
  6. Public Service Announcements (PSAs): PSAs are a good way to market your fundraising event. Radios, magazines and even newspapers are effective in putting your message across to a large section of people. You can speak to local radios and get yourself included as a guest. You can discuss about your intentions and persuade listeners to donate generously. Similarly you can have a small section in a magazine or newspaper where you can advertise about your charity event.
  7. Hold contests: A wonderful way of marketing your event and get people interested is by holding contests. You can hold quiz contests, kite -flying contest or any other contest that involves minimal spending on your part. You can keep a sponsored prize for the winner to make the contest more engaging and competitive. This is also another good way of promoting your fundraising event.
  8. Get in touch with associate groups and clubs: As an independent volunteer and as a frequent fundraiser, you can get in touch with other affiliate clubs and groups that are known to make generous contributions or considerably help fundraisers through their unique ways of promotion. Find out about them and get in touch.
  9. T-shirt fundraisers: This is another very popular charity event marketing technique. If you have a social cause and want to seek funds then you can first get your and some of your friends t-shirts printed with the cause of your charity. Leave an e-mail ID beneath. T-shirt fundraisers are not only a popular idea, but also help you communicate your thoughts to a number of people, without actually conversing with them.
  10. Contact local businesses: There are many local businesses who would love to contribute to a charity. If they donate funds, then it would not only help them save money in tax but also showcase their responsibility towards the community. You can first try contacting established businesses, as they have a wider reach and can promote your cause effectively. If the business is very keen on helping, without donating funds, then you can move a step higher in promotion by including your message in their product. You can then try contacting lesser-known local businesses. Tell them it is not necessary that they donate funds, but they can be of great help if they promote the fundraising event through any ideas that are feasible for them.
  11. Try to convey your message through public speakers: There are many orators who know how to weave magic through words. If you feel that your persuasion powers are not that effective, then you can definitely seek help from a public speaker. Get in touch with someone who often visits schools, clubs and other events to speak on a given topic. Talk to them and ask them to make a message supporting your charitable cause and the need to collect funds to sustain good work in the community. This will help immensely.

These are just 11 offline marketing ideas to promote about your fundraising event. Now you know ‘how to market your fundraiser’ through offline techniques. With creativity and a bit of elbow-grease, you can certainly come up with more unique marketing ideas to promote your charity event and make it a success.

SEO Case Study: Content is NOT King

content is not king

The prospect wanted to go after the key phrase “corporate wellness Michigan”.

They had their heart set on this term. Now, this was not really based in any kind of keyword research they had done. They were in the corporate wellness business and, by golly, they wanted to dominate the search results for corporate wellness in Michigan. Their logic was sound.

They said they had been trying to rank for this term for about 6-7 months, and they were stuck at page 3. They had all sorts of content in their website. The term “corporate wellness” was woven throughout. Yet for some reason they just were not able to get pass the top of page 3.

So we conducted a little experiment!

The prospect contacted us on a Thursday and by Friday we had decided we were going to try this experiment, so we bought a domain. The domain we purchased was not even an exact match domain (EMD). We went with “corporate wellness”, then put the little “MI” in front of it so it read “micorporatewellness.com”.

Next, we stood a few things on the page. Not a lot of content, mind you; a page title, a sentence or two, an image and a link.  “Corporate Wellness Michigan” is the title for this particular page. We placed it in the title and meta tags. We were even bold enough here in this case to say, “Dear Prospect, you want to rank for this? Please click here.” After that, we pointed a couple links (literally, two) back at this very fresh domain.

Ranking Corporate Wellness Michigan

Turns out, we were able to rank this site by day six.

corporate wellness michigan day 6

All we did is buy a domain, stand up a barebones site, put a couple backlinks facing it, and by day six we had this brand new website on the first page of Google. Not too shabby.

And two weeks later? We were at the top of the search results!

corporate wellness michigan week 2

Keep in mind, nothing changed at this page since the day we built it. We never added any more links going back to it. Yet there it was, on the top of the rankings for those statewide state results. The same search this prospect could not attain on their own, even after six months of trying.

Want to see the page? (You probably want to see the page.) Here it is.

corporate wellness michigan page

This single page is the whole site. That’s it.

So, you know the whole notion that content is king? And how, in order to build up an authority site, you must produce reams and reams of blog posts, each thousands of words long, and they have to be so captivating that people will link to you naturally and (blah, blah, blah)—all the junk we been hearing ever since the Panda and Penguin updates from back in 2012?

It’s junk.

Content is NOT king, folks.

Content helps, especially on the long game (this experiment was a very short game we played) where it’s important to keep people at your site. You eventually want to show that people are staying on your page. Google likes pages that are sticky. With good content, people tend to stay at a website longer and when they linger longer, your bounce rate decreases and your page views increase. Google uses these metrics as social proof by which to weigh the value of your website, so—at some point—you’ll want high quality content on your website.

Again, if we wanted to keep this domain and really turn it into authority-ranked site, we would want to do something more to the site to build it out, but this was just an experiment. Do we have any desire to keep it and build it into authority-ranked site? No, not really. Not unless something happens along the way; maybe the prospect wants to buy this?  For now, it’s just an experiment to boast about and to use as a lesson.

Note: In this case, in this niche, competition was not terribly strong.  We saw things like indeed.com showing on the top of this search results. Usually when you see job sites coming up at the top for search results (when you weren’t searching for jobs,) what you’re seeing is Google not knowing what else to put up there, so it begins filling in the blanks.

P.S.- “Corporate wellness Michigan” was not a well-loved search term to begin with, so the notion that the prospect could not rank for this within six months? They simply did not know what to do. This is why they came to us.

So you there you have it, folks. I hope you enjoyed this presentation! Have questions? Leave them in the comments.

Want more leads through your website? Fill out our SEO questionnaire.

Harmonizing Your 2013 Marketing Strategy is Simple, Really

2013 marketing ideas

Harmonize your marketing channels by “seamlessly coordinating messages and offers across all offline and digital channels that include: point of sale, direct mail, call center, social, mobile, web and email,” suggests Chief Marketer Network. Email campaigns alone will not get you noticed. With the Information Age comes easier accessibility to any businesses that are active online. With that comes the challenge to get recognized and stand out from the rest. It’s now more important than ever to align your message/brand across all platforms in order to reach a diverse demographic.

Streamline Your Marketing Strategy

What exactly are the best marketing tactics to gain recognition for your brand? It’s actually simpler than you might think. Mix your campaigns by sending quality, focused direct marketing through the mail, followed by a smart email campaign and then an astute social platform. By tapping into physical mail as well as email methods and social media, you’re maximizing the potential of your marketing campaigns. And, if you need an advertising revolution, the unconventional is becoming the norm with guerrilla marketing. While it may seem simple, don’t miss a step.

Direct Mail

Small businesses are now coordinating and streamlining marketing messages across different advertising platforms. In-house organization systems such as Pitney Bowes mail services give easy access to marketing and communications tools that help small businesses do this. Don’t send direct mail to just anyone. Study demographics and target market your print collateral. You can gather this information from InfoUSA and USA Data to gather specific leads more likely to benefit you with this method of advertising. Small business consultant Evan Carmichael suggest you keep these things in mind when creating your direct mail:

  • Set an objective
  • Include an incentive to take action
  • Proofread, edit, proofread and edit again
  • Write a captivating headline
  • Do a test run

Phone

What happened to picking up the phone and calling someone? It’s not dead—personal communication, you know. Be sure to target this type of marketing specific to geo- and demographics. Don’t call a household in Florida and offer them a Jack-in-the-box coupon. The closest location is two states away in either direction. However, you could call a household in Miami and ask them to take a quick survey on their most recent experience with your new Miami business-finder app.

Web

Getting active on the web is imperative in the 21st century. Create a unique website and coordinating landing pages. All of these forms of contact can lead customers to your landing page, which captures their information and helps you convert them into legitimate leads. People need prompts. They need to be directed through the magical maze of the web. You don’t want to run the risk of getting them lost in your site and eventually directing themselves away.

Social

Become active on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Add sharing buttons to your email newsletters and your web content for social media integration. You have to be a part of the game. Crowd-sourcing is the new word-of-mouth. Once you are placing yourself on several social platforms, you will have people sharing your valuable content and traffic will increase. If you’re not social, you might be left out of the game.

Mobile

SoLoMo marketing — social, local, mobile. By activating a mobile device at any onsite location, one can instantly be connected to his social graph. Utilize smart phones in your small business marketing plan by incorporating QR codes in your direct mail, email and web materials in order to entice current and potential customers to your site by offering them reasonable offers and rewards.

Email

Don’t promise something you can’t deliver. (Rule No. 1: If you say “Free!” it better be free.) Email is a powerful tool if you know how to use it, especially if you have a small company with a smaller marketing budget. Getting crafty with your headline can lure current and potential customers in just as easily as a bad subject line can get your efforts deleted in one click of a button. Forbes reports that adding personalization in the subject line increased open rates by an average of 40 percent. Consider making an offer the customer can’t refuse in the subject line like, “Private Invite: Respond before Friday at five.”

Guerrilla Marketing

When all else remains stagnate, implement the outrageous … release the beast. Small-scale stunts offer a low-cost solution to your marketing woes. Remember 2002, when Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins sported a goldenpalace.com henna body tattoo on his back during a middleweight boxing match? A measly $100,000 helped that company become a household name. Guerrilla marketing intercepts public spaces and engages the consumer to have a memorable brand experience.

POS (Point of Sale)

While having an inventory system may seem not to have anything to do with marketing, it has everything to do with keeping your business running seamlessly. This in turn gives you an advantage because your processes are smooth, allowing you time to focus on your marketing. Having point-of-sale system software is fundamental in centralizing your business. Organizing your brand and inventory can help determine what type of marketing is working and what is not. Inventory control is essential in maintaining the efficiency of your operations, allowing you to make better use of your staff.

nonprofit affiliate network

Stephanie Cole is a freelance writer from North Carolina.

Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival, March 3, 2013

Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival

Welcome to the March 3, 2013 edition of the Marketing Ideas 101 blog carnival. This edition was originally scheduled for February 5, but.. well.. best laid plans and all. Thank you all for your submissions (over 50!) Here are the 14 finalists. Enjoy!

Matt

Blogging & Social Media

Jon Rhodes presents How To Get A Guest Post Published posted at Affiliate Help!, saying, “This article shows you some of the thought processes of a guest post publisher, which can be looked at to help increase your chances of getting published.”

Dana Sitar presents 6 1/2 Things To Stop Doing on Twitter in 2013 posted at DIY Writing, saying, “As much as I love all my tweeps, though, I can’t help but still be completely annoyed at some common bad practices on the network. I know if you’re committing these faux pas you probably don’t even realize how annoying they are, so I’m sharing this post to enlighten you and give you a chance to make things right as we start fresh this new year.”

Meg A. presents How to increase your online influence in just 30 minutes a day posted at Bloom Online, saying, “Three simple ideas to help you build your online influence and reach, build your network and increase your sales.”

Astrid van Dorst presents Further your Social Media Plan posted at Cloud Analysts, saying, “30+ tips to further your social media plan, from the strategic to the practical.”

Ink’d Content, LLP presents Facebook Releases Killer Rabbit posted at Ink’d Content, saying, “Facebook made big waves last week by announcing its first new product in seven years: Graph Search… and it subverts the need for the rest of the Internet.”

Deena presents Twitter Primer for Authors posted at E-BookBuilders, saying, “This was a beginners informational post I did for authors but the same information applies for small businesses just getting started with Twitter as part of their social media efforts.”

Creativity & Inspiration

Byteful Travel presents How to Release Attachment to Outcomes & Embrace Joy in the Present Moment posted at Byteful Travel, saying, “Have you ever felt like you weren’t doing enough? That, no matter how much you created, you could still do better? Have you ever had a feeling of quiet doom in the back of your mind? I know I have, and the good news is, you’re definitely not alone. It seems to be pretty common among creative and intelligent types, and today we’re going to explore the antidote: non-attachment.”

Marketing Best Practices

grimm560 presents This Should Be Called 12 Essential Marketing Tips For Up And Coming Artists, But Its Not posted at Grimm Factor Music, saying, “This post was created to give some ideas to up and coming musicians that may not know how to best set up their inbound marketing campaigns or if their efforts thus far have not gotten them far.”

Angela Giles presents Tweeting Tips For Newbies posted at Showcasing Women, saying, “This is an article I wrote for best practices for tweeting. Thanks for the consideration. Learn. Share. Thrive. Angela!”

Marketing Ideas

Theresa Torres presents 6 Tips for Pitching Your Startup to the Media posted at Business 2 Community, saying, “If you’re a business owner, there are traditional and nontraditional ways that you can use to get the word out about your product or service. Here are some tips to help you get customers’ attention better.”

Peter J. Buscemi presents Leverage Marketing, Sales Development, Sales Enablement & Executives to Sell posted at Four Quadrant, saying, “Every company has a finite set of resources so it easy to understand why each functional area is usually at or near full capacity with Sales being no exception.Assume the sales pipeline has six primary phases that include: qualified opportunity, forecast, technical win, executive win, contracts and closed won.”

SEO & Driving Traffic

Chief Dodo presents See How Easily You Can Get More Traffic With 6 Simple Steps posted at Dodo University, saying, “An Article Highlighting 6 tips on how to increase the amount of traffic to any blog.”

Susan Wowe presents SEO Tips | Guest Posts For A Win-Win posted at Online Business – Make Money Online, saying, “Use guest blogging to build up traffic to your websites.”

Harrison presents Link Building Demystified for Small Business (VIDEO) posted at eSpire Marketing, saying, “Find out what link building is, why it is important to your small business, how it drives traffic, and where to get started in this week’s edition of Whiteboard Wednesday.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Pick Your Customers Wisely (or Prepare to Pay the Price)

marketing ideas 101 pick your clients

Chris Lema, VP of Software Engineering at Emphasys Software is a WordPress advocate. He maintains an informative, engaging blog at chrislema.com where he regularly discusses the in’s and out’s of WordPress development, best practices and client engagement. In his post Two Kinds of Customers, he describes two common scenarios in the web development world:

Customer #1: The Savvy

They’re clear about the tasks they want to assign you and have reasonable estimates about how long it should take. They want to know about your availability and cost to see if they can afford you. […] they want a web site, they know they want WordPress used as their CMS. They know that some themes are better than others, so they’re ready to pay for one of the more popular and well-coded ones. […] You get off the phone, having enjoyed your time and no more than a minute goes by before it rings again.

Customer #2: The Neophyte

This customer sounds like they don’t know a thing about what they want. […] They’re not clear on the tasks or why you might be the right answer. They don’t know anything about technology […] And they’re hoping you have time and aren’t too expensive to help them. […] They have no sense of budget and can’t grasp what aspects of the project could be done in minutes verses days. […] All they know is that they need something – and of course, they’ll know it when they see it.

Chris’ big question:

If you could only pick one customer, which do you pick?

pick your customers

At first blush, Customer #2 is the kind of customer I think we all cut our teeth on and eventually strive to get away from. Of course, there are always exceptions to every stereotype. Some of these Customer #2 types turn into fast friends, great advocates and long-time clients, while Customer #1 projects can fall prey to phenomena like bad technical karma, long response times and “design by committee”.

Still, stereotypes exist for a reason and Chris has held up these two for us to consider.

We who have been in business long enough to have been knocked around by customers who think we wave magic wands that materialize websites (widgets, whachamahoozits, whatever.. you name it..) eventually begin to gravitate toward more savvy clients. Why? Less heartache, higher-profile projects and “professional grade” budgets and attitudes.

Yes, margins can be wider for that lower-hanging, Customer #1 fruit. If a customer just needs to migrate to a WordPress platform (as many do), an outsourced migration can offer a wonderful return. We’ll do those too, so long as the prospect answers an extensive questionnaire designed to solidify their vision. If they don’t survive the questionnaire process, we figure they weren’t serious about their project and we have managed to keep our attention on the folks that matter most; those who already know us, like us and rely on us for web and marketing services.

My recommendation: Develop a questionnaire to help you address the price-comparing tirekickers. Include all the questions you typically need to answer in order to develop a proposal. Include questions about their budget, timeline, goals, audience, tone, and competitors. All of this will assist you in bringing together a project that fits the client and it will serve to separate the chaff from the wheat.

P.S.- We recently ‘fired’ a prospect who said he didn’t have time to answer our web design questionnaire (a 7-page Word document.) He wanted an overhaul to his ecommerce site, but resisted updating the look and feel to accommodate a new cart (WooCommerce). When he said he couldn’t find the cart on the example we gave him (it’s located prominently in the horizontal navigation bar) we knew disaster lay ahead. In our eyes, that project was not worth the $5,000 he said he was willing to invest. We have ZERO interest in doing work for folks who don’t have time to invest in their own projects, resist change for the new and better, and have problems navigating websites based on common user interface standards.

Once upon a time–when we were hungry for work–we may have taken this client under our wing. In this case however, I let them know we would not be a fit for what he was looking for and I respectfully referred him to some other web designers in town.

What would you have done?

In support of your efforts,
Matt

Writing and Buying Articles: Is iWriter Right For You?

marketing ideas iWriter review

If you have a blog online, you need articles to ensure the success of your blog. If you want to make extra money online, then writing articles for other people is an excellent way to get money quickly. An online writing service called iWriter caters to both people wanting articles written and people wanting to write articles. But is iWriter right for you?

online writing

For People Who Want to Buy Articles

If you need articles written for you, then iWriter can definitely be your best friend. There are not too many downsides for people requesting articles.

Personally, I have not seen anywhere else who offers articles as economically as iWriter. You can get a 500-word article for as low as three dollars. That is cheap!

However, the cheapest articles are written by the most nubile writers. Most of these writers have been negatively rated by other people buying articles, or they are just starting out on iWriter. Obviously, if you get someone who is just starting out, you could end up with a really great writer at a really low price, however you are rolling the dice here because most the writers in the basic category are not excellent writers. More like “writers in waiting.”

The great news is—if you’re willing to spend a few more bucks—your article will only be seen by the top writers on iWriter (the ones who have been consistently rated as “premium” writers.) There are some really talented writers in the 4-stars-and-up group, and there are even more masterful writers in the elite group. These folks will cost you twice as much, but that is still a cheaper price than any other article-buying site once you figure in your time to rewrite that pathetic little article you got on the cheap.

You Choose The Articles You Want

You get to dictate what kind of article you want, what keywords you want in the article, what your article purpose is for and any other instructions at you want to include. This can take a few minutes, but it helps you get an article that meets your needs.

No matter who writes your article, you can choose to accept it or to reject it after you see the full article. This is quite unique to iWriter. Other article buying sites only allow you to see part of the article before you decide to buy it, to hedge against plagiarism.

One of the great features of iWriter is that you can send your requests to specific writers. This means once you find that excellent writer, you can specifically request them for every future article. A huge time saver!

Even though iWriter’s focus is articles, you can also get e-books and article rewrites done. Again, buying e-books on iWriter is much cheaper than buying e-books anywhere else. However, as of now, there is not much formatting the writers can do. Authors can write the content for you, but you will still need to format the book. Still, this can save you hours and hours of writing if you want to create a report or e-book.

Is iWriter Worth It For Requesters?

Absolutely. If you can find yourself in elite writer who understands what you want in an article, you are set. You’ll be paying less than most people on the Internet for content that is just as good.

And of course, if you simply want a deluge of almost-readable articles stuffed full with keywords for SEO purposes, then there is no other place like iWriter to get articles. You can buy hundreds of articles from basic writers at a very low cost.

»Visit iWriter.com

online writing

For the People Who Want to Write Articles

If your intention is to make some extra money writing articles, then iWriter can be a great option for you, depending on how well you write. Writers do have slightly fewer perks than requesters, however. First, the good news:

The Plus Side to Writing for iWriter

Once you become an elite writer, you can choose to write any article you want. Every day there are hundreds of articles available for you to write. In fact, you will notice there are new requesters almost everyday because iWriter is growing at such a rapid pace. (Good news for writers!)

This means your income potential is only limited to how much, how quickly, and how professionally you can write. If you have a good grasp on the English language and can write quickly, you can potentially make a full-time living off iWriter.

If you impress enough requesters, you will never be short of work.

Requesters are able to choose their favorite writers, so you can easily become a favorite writer of many requesters and therefore always have work available and (as a bonus) earn more money.

You earn a percentage of each article you write. As of the time of this article, iWriter takes 29% of the total cost of the article. This means if you’re writing a 700 word article, the cost to the requester five dollars and you, as a basic writer, will earn $4.05. However, if you get a personal request to write the article, then you earn another 5% of the total price paid. Therefore, getting people to request you definitely works in your favor over the long run.

As a writer, you also earn extra money through tips. When a requester accepts the article, they have a choice to tip. If you can find generous requesters, tips help supplement your income.

The Downside of Writing for iWriter

Let’s face it; rejection sucks. At iWriter, requesters can reject your article without reason. If you are someone who takes an hour or longer to write an article, this can greatly affect the amount of money you make. Wasting an hour or two on an article that doesn’t earn you any money can really chew glass. However, if you own other blogs, you may be able to repurpose those rejected articles, or try sell your rejected articles at other places such as Constant Content.

For writers, probably one of the largest drawbacks of iWriter is the effort required to get yourself upgraded to elite status. Currently, you must write 30 articles at a basic level before you are allowed to move up to premium or elite status. If you write slowly (but you are a good writer) this can require saint-like patience. Nobody wants to earn a few bucks for a lot of work. The two ways to get through this seasoning period? Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and choose to write longer articles (which earn you more money.)

The other drawback is that you are graded on a five-star system. Requesters give you a star rating when they accept or reject your article, and this can greatly influence the amount of money you make. A basic writer is one who receives an average of 4 stars or less. A premium writer has an average of 4-4.6 stars. And an elite writer has an average of more than 4.6 stars.

While most requesters rate you fairly, there are many who may give you 4 stars for no apparent reason. Understandably, this can become very frustrating when you are trying to work your way up to elite status.

Is iWriter Worth It for Writers?

It can be. If you

  • can work yourself up to an elite status,
  • have good research skills or knowledge to write from,
  • have people who request articles from you, and
  • can produce an article with an hour,

then iWriter can be an excellent place to earn a part-time or full-time income from!

»Visit iWriter.com