How to Get More Exposure for Your Blog Content

Getty ImagesBy now you know that continually posting good content is a great online marketing strategy. You’re writing good posts, using attention-grabbing titles and sharing them on social media.

But you want more for your content.

You want even more exposure. And with good reason. More exposure can only mean better things for your blog. Here are some ideas to step up your content game and get even more exposure for your blog posts.

Free Options

Guest posting. Guesting on other authority blogs in your industry is a great way to get exposure for your own blog. Start by looking for popular blogs in your niche and follow them for a while. Read their content, get a feel of what types of things they write about and what their audience is looking for. Reach out to the author to see if they will allow you to write a guest post. Remember to include a bio with a link back to your own blog so readers can follow it.

Blog commenting. Commenting on other blogs is another great way to get free exposure. Starts with those authority blogs that we talked about. Leave comments on the posts. To get attention of their readers (and the blogger!) you will have to leave something much longer than “thanks for the great post.” Write something insightful, that shows you know what you are talking about.

Paid Options

Social media advertising. With so many people on social media, a good place to start is social advertising. Try:

• Promoted posts on Facebook. You can target who you want to see your post, picking age, gender, location, etc.
• Promoted tweets on Twitter. Like Facebook you can target who sees your tweets, choosing from things like location and interests.
• Targeting groups or communities in Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Paid content distribution. Another way to promote your content is by paid distribution. There are a several sites where you can pay to have your content distributed on popular sites. Check out:

Taboola
Gravity
Outbrain

Most of these networks will work with people or businesses that have budgets. For example, Outbrain lets you set a max daily budget.

Conclusion

Now that your blog is getting attention, you want to get grab even more attention. Try these free and paid methods to get more exposure for your blog and website.

Hiring a Ghostwriter for Your Corporate Blog – What You Need to Know

Image on Getty ImagesGhostwriting and freelance writing. They’re similar, but different. Some freelance writers ghostwrite, others do not.

Both can help your business by creating engaging content and compelling web copy. The big difference is that if you have your content ghostwritten, you get to take the credit for the work. The blog post can be published under your name, the whitepaper can be credited to you. Hiring a ghostwriter gives you all the glory, without all of the work.

How does this apply to your business blog?

When it comes to your corporate content, you want to be the one credited for it. Ideally, the owner or founder should be the name on the blog. Why? This helps establish credibility.

Unfortunately, there isn’t always time to maintain a blog and other website content.

Enter the ghostwriter.

Why hire a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters will work within your guidelines. Whether you are looking for a certain tone, blog post length, topic, title, etc., a ghostwriter will work with you. He or she will do their best to write your content as if it were coming directly from you. However, since they aren’t you, they just may put a slight spin on things that can help your content appeal to even more people.

Ghostwriters come with experience. While you are great at running your business, writing content for online audiences may not be your forte. But that’s okay because it’s where ghostwriters shine. Most come with years of experience under their belt, and they know how to utilize keywords, SEO practices and effective communication skills. Yes, you probably could figure it all out yourself, but you’re paying someone to do it faster and maybe better.

You still get the credit. Hiring someone to ghostwriter will give you the rights to the post, as opposed to publishing the posts under writer’s name. This protects the authenticity (and authority!) of your blog. Win-win situation for you right?

Conclusion

When it comes to your business blog, it’s important to have compelling content that will show off your authority and expertise. If you don’t have the time or skill to do the writing, hire a ghostwriter. A good ghostwriter will deliver well-written content written from your POV and voice, and give you all the credit for it.

Need tips for picking the right ghostwriter (or freelance writer!) for your corporate blog? Check out this post.

 

A Business Lesson From My 4-Year-Old – And Why You Shouldn’t Go Head-First Down a Slide

slideIt never fails. At least once a week when I pick up my son from preschool, his teacher starts the conversation off with, “I didn’t call you today, but …”

Last week he tripped and scraped his knee. The week before he ran into some piece of playground equipment and hit the side of his head. Yesterday, he went head-first down the slide a little too fast and landed face first in the sand. Yes, his face is scratched up. And yes, you can laugh.

I swear, this kid needs to be bubble wrapped for his own sake.

While I cringe each time I talk to the teacher, because ultimately I know she’s going to tell me how he hurt himself that day, I have to admire his balls-to-the-walls attitude.

It’s a great attitude to have in life. However, it’s not the way you want to approach your business. Why not?

Running a successful business takes more than a gung-ho attitude. It takes strategy and planning. And research. You’re going to need to do online research and market research. Do you own searches, but conduct surveys, interviews, questionnaires, focus groups. No matter how good your business idea is, it will fail unless you do these 3 things.

Research your competitors. Unless you have something completely new and innovative, you’re going to have competition. The goal of researching your completion is two-fold. On one hand, you want to see what’s out there, and learn how they market their business. And on the other, you want to figure out how you can set yourself apart.

Ask yourself:

What are my competitors doing that helps them be successful?

How can I be different (and better!)?

Ask consumers:

What do you feel is missing in the current products/services on the market?

Where would you like to see improvements?

Research your customers. What good is a concept that’s new and different if no one is really interested in it? Besides knowing your competition, you have to know your audience.

Ask yourself:

Who is my target customer? (Be very specific here-gender, family size, income, education level, location, etc.)

Is there really a demand for my idea?

Ask consumers:

Would you purchase my product/service?

What factors do you consider when purchasing it?

What would you consider an appropriate price for it?

Research marketing methods. Now that you know a little more about your customer, how are you going to reach them? How do you think they spend their time online and offline? Do they visit social media most? How about relevant online forums? Do they visit physical stores more?

Ask yourself:

How will I acquire my customers?

Based on the profile I created on my target customer, where do I think he/she spends time online?

Where should I market (both online and off) to reach those that matter?

Ask consumers:

(Just as them!) Where do you spend the majority of your time online?

Do you prefer digital or physical advertisements and coupons?

Conclusion

Starting a business shouldn’t be like going down a slide head-first. In fact, using the slide this way probably isn’t the best idea, at least not for my kid. Plan, strategize and succeed! (and don’t get a face full of sand)

Now to you: How do YOU plan your business? Leave a comment and share your best tip!

4 Ways to Brand Your Business with Printed Marketing Materials

bsueinss cardsWith so many people on the Internet, it makes sense that businesses want to focus on online marketing. However, offline marketing still has its place in the marketing world. Networking in person is still a powerful way to get through to consumers. Here are 4 ways your business can use printed materials to market and brand your business.

Business cards. Yes, business cards still have their place in marketing. These little slips of paper can easily be handed out at conferences, trade shows and just about anywhere else you meet people. Make sure that your business card have your contact information as well as your website link on them, and always carry some with you.

Direct mailers. If you are trying to reach a local audience, direct mailers are a great way to do it. Print up postcards or flyers and mail them to residents in your area to reach your immediate local audience. You may want to offer a coupon or discount as an incentive for new customers.

Calendars. People love getting things they can actually use, and calendars are great freebie to give out. They can help spread the word about your business if you remember to include your business information and website link.

Banners. Do you ever speak at trade shows or conferences? If so, printed banners are great way to spread your marketing message. Even if people don’t stop by your booth there is a great chance that they will see your large banner and still remember your business name.

Conclusion

Many businesses focus on online marketing, but offline marketing is still very effective. Utilize these 4 types of printed material to market your business and brand your name in your local community.

Now to you. Do you use printed material for your business? Leave a comment and share what works for you.

How to Create a Customer Survey That Gives You the Answers You Really Need

91902246One of the best ways to build a business is to strive for perfection in the eyes of your customer. Give them an exceptional customer experience time after time and they’ll remain loyal customers. They’ll spread the word about your superior business and you’ll grow and profit.

However, you don’t have a crystal ball or the ability to read your customer’s mind, right? So the next best option to get inside their head and learn what they need and want is to engage in conversations or to come right out and ask them. That is where customer surveys come into play. Here are 3 tips to help you create a survey that will really get you answers.

  1. Ask Open Ended Questions – Many surveys are set up with a rating scale or multiple choice answers. The rating scale doesn’t provide you with much, if any, information. The multiple choice selections are guided by your perceptions and assumptions. If you want to learn what your clients need and want then ask them. Give them space to answer the question. You’ll likely be surprised by the responses you receive.
  1. Keep Your Survey Short – No one, including you, wants to sit down and fill out a ten minute survey. Heck, you probably don’t even want to give a survey five minutes of your time – even if you LOVE the company. Your clients don’t either. Make your survey short and sweet. Ask the questions you need answered and leave it at that. You don’t need to pad the survey with any fluff. Short and focused is the most useful approach for both you and your customers. Need a guideline? Keep your survey to ten questions or less.
  1. Define Your Objective – What do you need to learn and why? Identifying your objective will help you create a focused survey. Identify the objective for your customers as well. Tell them why you need their help. It will motivate customers to respond and it will ensure that their answers are on target.

Conclusion

Surveys can be an extremely useful business tool. However, they’re only useful to you if your customers are willing to fill them out and if the information is useful to you. Keep them short, focused, and goal oriented.

 

How to Price Your Products and Services Appropriately

home business, product pricing, service pricingOnce you’ve created a product, how do you price it appropriately? There are many things to consider. How does your pricing impact your brand? What price will induce more sales? Which will result in more net profits at the end of the day? What price makes sense in a short-term outlook and what price makes sense in a long-term outlook?

Here’s the process of pricing your products and services appropriately.

Think about Brand and Positioning

How you price your products affects how your product is perceived.

Do you think Mercedes would still be prestigious if it were priced at the same price tag as a Ford model?

On the other end of the spectrum, Southwest Airlines is known as being the cheapest airline. The price isn’t just about product pricing; it’s an integral part of their brand and overall marketing strategy.

Before you price your product, think about your overall brand strategy. Make sure your price ties into that brand.

Start at the Market

If you’re new to the market, it’s usually a good idea to price your product at the market. Why? Because the market has already proven that they’re willing to pay a certain price. Other companies have also shown that they’re able to make a profit at that price.

The exception is if you have a good brand-related reason to deviate. For example, when Apple came into the MP3 player market with the iPod, they were many times more expensive than any other player on the market. They could do it, however, because their product “put 10,000 songs in your pocket.”

Think about the Back End

As a rule of thumb, when you increase your price, you’ll get less sales. When you lower your price, you’ll get more sales.

Sometimes fewer sales means more net profits. After all, if you make 10 sales at $1,000 each, that’s more than 50 sales at $100 each.

The goal then in most cases is to find the optimal mix of sales volume and profit per sale.

It’s important to keep your backend sales in mind when you’re gauging your price. Sometimes it’s better to take a smaller profit up front, if it results in more customers in your customer base.

Conclusion

These are some of the most important factors to take into consideration when pricing products and services. Start with the market price, then change it according to branding and marketing strategies.

7 Ways to Market Your Home Business

marketing, business marketing, online marketing One of the greatest challenges of any home based business is bringing in customers. Unlike a physical storefront, with a home based business nobody is going to just “walk by” and make a purchase. You have to be proactive. You have to get your message in front of your customers. You have to draw people in.

Here are seven different ways to market a home business.

Word of Mouth

This is one of the most common ways of marketing a small business. Start with your social circle. Deliver great quality and ask your people to share/like/refer your work. Often times, people don’t think to refer a business unless they are asked to.

Craigslist

For many service-based businesses, Craigslist is a fantastic tool. If you’re a photographer, graphic designer, massage therapist, guitar teacher or any other kind of freelancer, Craigslist can send you a lot of traffic. Even if your business is based online, you can advertise your services in different cities to reach more clients.

Host Events

Creating events is a great way to build your brand name and build your credibility. When you create an event and put yourself in front of a room, people automatically assume that you know what you’re talking about. As your event grows, so will your influence. Clients and buyers will come to you naturally. If you don’t want to create your own event, grabbing a booth in a trade show is a great marketing tool too.

Search Engine Optimization

Try to get your website(s) to rank in the search engines for specific key phrases. This takes a lot of work up front, but once you’re up in the rankings you’ll be getting tons of absolutely free traffic.

Pay for Web Traffic

You can make a lot of money if you’re willing to spend a bit of money. Paid web traffic can be a great way to bring in more customers.

Popular avenues include Google AdWords, Facebook PPC, paid banner advertising and paid email marketing.

Partnerships

Look for other people in your industry who would want to partner with you. For example, say you teach a real estate investing course. You might look for real estate agents, estate planners and asset managers who deal with the same client base as you.

Do joint projects, joint events, joint mailings and other such partnerships to share your customer and contact base. You all win as a result.

Email and Newsletter Marketing

Finally, start your own newsletter. Your newsletter can be in email format or it can be an actual printed newsletter.

Newsletters allow you to build a relationship with people over time. They’ll come to trust you more and more as you consistently deliver quality content. People who would never otherwise become customers will eventually make the jump.

Conclusion

These are seven different ways you can grow your home based business. Customers aren’t just going to come to you – you need to go out and get them. These seven tactics can help just about any home based business expand and grow their profits.

How do you market your home business? What do you find works best for you?

Tips To Create An Effective Business Budget

creating a budget, budgeting, expensesMost business owners understand the value of creating a budget. However, few actually follow through and those that do go through the effort make mistakes. These mistakes cause headaches, stress, and debt. When your budget doesn’t work, it’s way too easy to let it go. Instead of fixing the budget, it’s pushed under the desk and ignored. That’s not great either. The solution is to work to fix budgeting mistakes and create a more effective business budget.

Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room

One of the biggest mistakes when creating a budget is to not leave any extra room. The budget is pushed to the limits and spend every penny each month. The trouble with this approach is that the budget will be busted on a consistent basis. Overestimate what you need and leave some room for emergencies.

Review Your Budget

It’s not enough to simply create a budget. Reviewing the budget is an essential part of the budgeting process. Take a look at your budget at least one a month. Look for areas where you overestimated, underestimated and where you can cut costs. Remember, a budget isn’t set in stone. It’s supposed to be an evolving guide to help you stay in control of your business finances.

Set Goals

Your budget gives you the ability to track and review the data which means you can use it to set goals for your business. For example, you can use it to set cost cutting goals. “I want to cut my marketing costs by 10% while increasing my sales by 10%.” You can use analytics, expense reports, and sales data to evaluate your success.

Create Good Systems

In addition to finding a budgeting system or software that works for you, also remember that hiring providers, reviewing expenses and assessing your analytics are all part of your systems too. If an excel spreadsheet works better for you than a budgeting software, then use it.

If your contractors are breaking your budget, see if you can negotiate a deal or rework your needs so that you can afford them. There are many small steps you take each day that either support your financial success and an effective budget, or they detract from it. Identify what’s working for you and release what isn’t.

Conclusion

Good budgeting practices lead to a better and stronger business. If you’re not sure how to budget or if you’re budgeting in the most effective manner, get help. You’d hire an expert to help you build your website, if you need help building a budget it’s good business sense to hire a financial pro.

How to Choose an Autoresponder

email list, email, autoresponderWhile many people focus on social marketing, email marketing is still a powerful business building tool. In fact, dollar for dollar more businesses enjoy a higher ROI with email marketing than social marketing.

One of the keys to a strong email marketing campaign is an autoresponder that fits your needs. If your email marketing is becoming time consuming, your system isn’t working for you or you’re just getting started with email marketing, a good autoresponder service is essential.

Your Autoresponder’s Job

The job of an autoresponder is to make your email marketing not only easier for you to manage but to also provide a better experience for your subscribers. For example, some autoresponders allow you to send both text and html messages. Your subscribers can choose which type of message they’d like to receive. When comparing autoresponders, make sure you have this option.

Visually Interesting and Value

The ability to upload images, embed videos and other files is a feature that can help you create visually interesting and more valuable messages. Not all autoresponders off this ability. Templates make it easy to create a unique format for your messages while working within a framework. Conversely, it’s also nice to have an autoresponder service that allows you to create custom formatting.

The ability to schedule email messages and to create follow up messages and broadcast messages should be a feature that any autoresponder provides. If you happen to come across one that doesn’t, skip it.

Data to Grow Your Business

Analytics are a must as is the ability to split test. Again, the job of your autoresponder service goes beyond scheduling. It needs to make it easier for you to build your business and analytics are one of the tools to help you get the job done. Look for systems that integrate with your other technologies and marketing tactics. For example, if you use Facebook then it’s great when you have an autoresponder that integrates with Facebook and includes share buttons in your messages.

Growing Your List

Evaluate the cost based on the current size of your list and how big you believe your list will grow. Some autoresponders assess their monthly fees by the size of your list. If you have a list of 999 then your account may be free but if your list is 1000 it could cost you $30 a month.

Want some suggestions? I name 2 of the big ones under the Tools I Love page.

Choosing your autoresponder can take a little time but it’s well worth the effort, when you can focus on strategy and not worry about the technology.

 

 

How to Write an Open-able Email Message

ID-100175794If email marketing is your goal, it is essential that your recipients open your emails. Your emails need to be written in such a way that it inspires people to click on your message, and click on any links in it. Here are the components of a compelling, open-able email message.

Parts of a Great Email Message

The subject line. The subject line is the first thing your recipients will see so it makes sense that this needs to capture their interests and make them want to read the entire message.

The greeting. Most opt in forms will give you the option to ask your subscribers for their name. Utilize this information to personalize your messages to help you build that personal relationship that can result in a higher ROI.

The body. No matter what you’re writing about, your email body should have substance to it. It should have a purpose, and some sort of call to action. Before composing your emails, think of what the goal for each one is and ensure that the entire body reflects it.

The footer. There footer area is where you can add links, social media buttons and an unsubscribe link. It is an extra area that you can use to increase your outside engagement and build trust.

Extra Tips

Your entire email should basically be one catchy, relatable, actionable message. Beyond that, you want to make sure that all your marketing emails reflect you and your brand. Sticking to one persona will help shape your subscribers’ idea of who you are and what your brand stands for, ultimately building trust.

And lastly; test, test, and test some more. There are many different facets that you can test. Check your emails for typos, check to make sure they look good in different browsers, split test your templates to see what works best with your audience.

Conclusion

Email marketing is the great way to build trust and get sales. But to do that, your readers need to actually open your emails. Follow these tips to write messages that people actually want to open.

Over to you: How do you ensure that your email messages get opened? Leave a comment and share your best with the rest of us.