As I mentioned in my last post
, I am really excited about Social Brand Forum 2014
taking place Sept 25-26
in Iowa (yes, I can't wait to be in Iowa again ;-) I recently chatted with Social Brand Forum founder Nick Westergaard
about the event. We chat about the format, the star-studded list of speakers and a SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE for 3Rhino Nation
. You in?
Want to connect with top social media marketing minds? People like Chris Brogan (yeah, THE Chris Brogan), Kerry O'Shea Gorgone, John Jantsch, Ann Handley and Jason Falls.
Want to connect with them in an intimate, affordable and fun atmosphere unlike any other conference? Well plan on joining me in Coralville, Iowa September 25-26 for Nick Westergaard's Social Brand Forum.
This will be my third year attending the conference and as someone who speaks and attends events all over this US, I have to say this is one of my absolute favorites. What I love about this conference is
- the amazing speakers. Last year's speakers included leaders such as my good friend Marcus Sheridan, the amazing Jay Baer, the one and only Gini Dietrich (even though she's a Bears fan, I still think she's fantastic), video guru and comedian Tim Washer. The speakers list for this year is another incredible all-star line up.
- strong>the incredible access to those speakers. I had breakfast, lunch and dinner with Marcus Sheridan, talked shop with Nick Westergaard, share tips and advice with Jay Baer and Tim Washer (see the pic below) and got to tease Gini (a Packers fan has to do what a Packers fan has to do).
- fantastic atmosphere and facilities: Yes I might be a bit biased because I'm a Midwesterner, but the down-to-earth attendees coupled with the wonderful conference facilities makes you feel like your among old friends and lifelong colleagues.
- the actionable tips and takeaways. This isn't about theory. Theory is great, but Nick has designed this conference to help people learn tips and tricks they can immediately apply to grow their businesses
- the amazing price. I'll be announcing a special code for my friends and friends of 3RhinoMedia shortly. So stay tuned.
I'll be sharing more about the conference in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, I recommend you check out this short video about the event. It's a fantastic opportunity and I hope to see you there!
By 3Rhino Partner Michael Popke
If you’ve been talking for months about beginning a blog for your business but still haven’t written a single sentence, either ditch the blog idea for good or overcome the anxiety that’s keeping you from making a statement on the web.
Do you dread the time you think it will take to blog, and blog consistently? Fear you might run out of topics? Don’t think you’re even qualified to write a blog? (After all, don’t experts write those?
Below are five things you don’t need to worry about when starting a blog. As long as you know your intended audience and general focus, you’ll soon realize that the process isn’t nearly as unpleasant and frustrating as you thought.
1. You don’t have to be an expert. Just write what you know. After all, you wouldn’t have even considered the idea of a blog if you had nothing worthwhile to contribute. Here are a few starter ideas:
- Compile a list of common questions your customers or clients ask, and then answer those questions in individual blog posts, using bullet points or a step-by-step format.
- If you’ve spent 20 years in your chosen industry, you have a wealth of insight and ideas to share with readers. Pick a topic and go.
- Share an observation you made regarding the work you do, and write a quick commentary on that.
Again, the point is this: Write what you know. Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert, your readers will.
2. You don’t need to cover the entire topic. Choose one angle or element of your topic and keep the focus there.
- You sell cars and trucks: Why is spring the best time to shop for a new vehicle?
- You operate a health club: How can your members update a tired fitness routine?
- Social media is your specialty: What are five ways to more effectively use LinkedIn?
- Fed up with how other people do things: How can you help them, say, write a better holiday letter?
There’s no need for an exhaustive effort. Somebody has already done that, anyway. And everybody else doesn’t want to read that much.
3. You don’t have to do a lot of research. Especially if you know your business as well as your customers say you do. Sure, you may need look up the latest sales figures for hybrid vehicles, double-check a few facts about cross training or find out how many people are members of LinkedIn. But you should be generating and sharing your own intellectual property.
4. You don’t need to write long. In fact, shorter is better. Particularly for blogs intended to be read for a purpose and not for leisure.
5. You don’t need to worry about your post going viral. Nor should you worry about that. Write for your audience — your customers and your prospects. If you write something controversial, or post a clever video or a funny picture, and it does go viral, congratulate yourself and get back to work. It’s never too early to start thinking about your next post.
According to Jayson DeMers of Forbes, the main components of a strong SEO strategy are the same as they has always been: to publish high-quality content that gets read and linked to by as many people as possible (ie, quality content and inbound links).
But in 2014, a third key element will joined the ranks of these two elements: social media. Social media and SEO do overlap, and to understand what is popular, search engines are looking to social media.
Now let's dig into this week's top three picks that will help you gain a better understanding of how to optimize your social media channels.
This post is an excerpt from HubSpot's ebook, How to Optimize Your Marketing Channels...a great read! For some, the word “optimization” conjures up thoughts of complicated mathematics and data analysis. At its core, however, the science of optimization is really quite simple: It's all about making improvements.
This post covers 7 tactics for optimizing social content, but 3 stand out as being very important: using images or photos, using hashtags and usernames, and targeting specific groups and/or users.
I just love the caption of the photo on this post "Make Bill Nye proud. Use science to optimize your social media campaigns." unbounce does a nice job of showing us how to apply Conversion Rate Optimization principles to social media campaigns.
- DATE: Monday, June 9th
- TIME: 11:45 am - 12:30 pm CST
- HOW TO JOIN: You can call in 800-642-1234, post a question via Facebook, Twitter
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This is one of my absolute favorite topics. Social media, when used properly, is unparalleled in results in this area!
I love this topic so much, I teach a course at UW-Madison in the Department of Life Sciences Communication where we focus on personal branding and business branding. I've written on this topic for Mark Schaefer's amazing blog Businesses Grow (if you aren't reading the blog and are a marketer or interested in social media, you NEED to be).
Most people are surprised by how similar creating a brand for yourself and a brand for a business or client can be. Sure there are some differences, but overall, there are WAY more similarities.
So join me and learn how you can harness social media to grow your brand and your business.
If you're anything like me, you're juggling many duties, responsiblities and, while you'd like to do deep dives on topics of interest, you simply don't have the time.
But what to do when the topic of interest is valuable to your organizations' bottom line?
While you don't have time for a deep dive you also know you can't ignore it. Do you a) feel guilty b) ignore everything else going on and go ahead and do the deep dive or c) find a way to get the maximum results in the least amount of time.
As you can guess, the answer is "c". Like you, I am very big fan of tools and tactics that are fast, actionable and results-oriented. That's why I'm so excited to announce Nick Westergaard's Content Marketing Bootcamp taking place 6/5 in Madison, WI. It'll be a day packed full of actionable info and excellent networking opportunities.
So here are the details
- DAY: 6/5/14
- TIME: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
- COST : $145 (but use my "FOD" code to get $50 discount so you only pay $95). This includes a networking lunch.
- LOCATION: Madison, WI at Union South.
- WEBSITE TO REGISTER:branddrivendigital.com/bootcamp/ (use "FOD" discount code)
One of the best parts of my job is meeting passionate, driven, business owners who are dedicated to making a difference in the world. They do this by creating and running successful small to medium-sized businesses that provide jobs, great products and great services. And despite what you might sometimes hear, there are lots of people like this out there, making a difference every day.
I meet many of these folks when leading workshops or speaking. As you can probably guess, I teach them about the "why to" and "how to" of blogging, content marketing, social media marketing and email marketing.
I'm very, very passionate about this topic.
Why? I wholeheartedly believe if you, as an individual or business owner, leverage digital marketing , you will reach more people AND you will grow your website traffic, website leads and ultimately your business sales.
I have many, many case studies that prove this point. So it's fun for me to share what I've learned while meeting people face-to-face and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they realize the power of content and blogging.
Last week I had the pleasure of leading a small workshop in my local community. While I love traveling and speaking all over the country (another great part of the job), it's always fun to speak in my backyard and meet the people who are making a difference in my local community.
During the presentation, we had excellent dialogue about getting started with content marketing and blogging. Unfortunately, there's always more to know and not enough time to share all I want to share and answer every question the attendees have (hint: that's why we should be blogging).
So, I promised the attendees I'd share my slide deck from the presentation. Also, I promised I would do a series of blog posts answering questions we covered in the workshop with more detailed answers right here.
To kick-off this series, I'm sharing my slide deck below.
Regarding upcoming posts, I'll be addressing questions such as:
- What blog platform should I use?
- Should I do my own content marketing or hire someone to help?
- How do I set up a website and a blog?
- How do I find quality website hosting for my blog?
- What's the difference between a blog and a website?
- How do I make time for blogging and content marketing?
- Should I hire a consultant or coach to help me and my business get started? If so, what does a consulting contract look like? How much does coaching typically cost?
- Is all content marketing done online or do traditional marketing techniques still work?
Do you have any questions you want me to address? If so, please leave a comment below. I'd love to help you and your business make a bigger impact online ;-)
This week we will be focusing on NARROWCASTING VS. BROADCASTING. It's so important to remember that you can't be all things to all people. The smaller the audience, the stronger and deeper you can connect with them. The more you connect with them, the more benefit you will receive.
It's important to remember that the world is a big place, and for your business to be successful you only need to focus on the small portion of the population.
The articles we have chosen for this week focus on ways that you can narrow your audience to ensure better connections and success.
1. Why narrowcasting is better than broadcasting
I decided to write this blog post after repeatedly getting ask the question "Can my blog be too niche or too focused on a narrow audience?" The simple answer is no, it cannot be. If you try to broadcast to your audience, you will not be able to truly connect with any of them. You may find our follow-up post "Quick Tips: How to narrowcast (aka) focus your marketing blog" helpful as well.
2. The Narrowcast Approach to Newsjacking: Creating Content for Niches
Content Marketing Institute offers a case study involving "New EPA Regulations." They do a great job demonstrating how capitalizing on topics of niche interest give your organization a chance to show its ability to offer real-life solutions that directly pertain to your target’s business challenges.
3. How to Narrow Your Target Market
This article helps sum up why broadcasting doesn't work with the perfect quote by Tammy Lenski. "The big danger is that without a target market, it's like standing in a park shouting in the wind," she says. "When you have a target market, its like standing in a park and talking to a specific group of people."
In my last blog post, I spoke about the importance of narrowcasting. Though I've talked about this topic many times in the past, it's still something most people need to hear. Why?
When I speak around the country or when I first meet with clients, one of the questions I like to ask people is, "Who is your main audience?" Can you guess the most common answer to this question, the answer given by businesses and individuals who are struggling mightily with their marketing?
If you said, "the general public" you're right.
There is NO GENERAL PUBLIC. People don't see themselves as the general public. Instead, they see themselves as unique, with special wants and special needs. The more we can determine those special wants and needs, the more we can help that audience solve their problems and become a thought leader for them.
HOW TO DEFINE YOUR FOCUS: USE THE FRACTAL TREE
So how to you narrow your focus? How do you speak to a small, passionate audience? Let me give you an example from Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping.
THE TRUNK: Let's say you are in the travel industry. You might initially say you want to help everyone who travels. But if you stop and think about it, there are many, many different reasons people travel.
THE FIRST BRANCH: Now let's narrow down the topic of travel. Does our audience want to travel for business or for leisure?
When someone is traveling for business, what are they concerned about? Are they concerned about having the best hotel with great views and being on the beach? Of course not. Instead, they are more concerned about convenience, cost and comfort.
But what about those traveling for leisure? Do they care about being close to the beach or the mountains, etc.? You bet they do. When traveling for leisure or pleasure, the customer wants to see, do, and experience different things than the customer traveling for business.
THE SECOND BRANCH: So let's say we are going to focus on leisure travelers. What's our next step?
Now, let's get more narrow on the leisure travelers. Do all leisure travelers define "leisure" the same? Again, the answer is no. For some, the idea of a leisurely vacation might be zip lining through a jungle canopy, mountain biking in Utah or taking on whitewater rapids in West Virginia. For others, these types of activities are anything but relaxing. They define leisure as sitting on a tropical beach or lounging around at an all-inclusive resort.
THE THIRD BRANCH: If we decide to focus on relaxation leisure travel, we could go even a step further. We could focus on people who travel to relax who also like to vacation with their pets vs people without pets. See how narrow and focused we've gotten.
We are now concentrating on creating content for people who like to take leisurely, relaxing travel vacations with their pets. With this type of focus, we can now create very targeted and helpful content.
Some argue that this focus is too narrow. I disagree. One highly successful organization that focused on just this audience is Fido Friendly. They provide high quality content to pet lovers who want to travel with their pets. Because they provide content for such a focused audience, they have become a "go to" source and industry expert on this topic.
The result is a highly successful, profitable business.
KEY TAKEAWAY AND HOMEWORK
Don't be afraid to be focused on a small audience. if your audience is passionate about their topic and finds it of value, you can position yourself as a trusted, reliable source of helpful, credible information while building a profitable following.
So ask yourself, do you have a narrow focus for your key audience? Are you helping the key audience that is responsible for the majority of your income? If not, you now know how to refocus your efforts.
One question I often get asked is this, "Can my blog be too niche or too focused on a narrow audience?" The simple answer is no, it cannot be.
THINK NARROWCASTING VS. BROADCASTING
In the not-too-distant past, American television consistented of 4 or 5 primary stations: ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and a local station. This was the hayday of broadcast marketing. Because consumers had limited TV viewing options, marketers could create TV commercials and be guaranteed a large audience. Not only that, but there were no digital video recorders to allow viewers to skip commercials, so marketers had captive audiences.
Today? It's a very different story.
Check out the number of TV channels available on cable today and the sheer number of stations available is overwhelming. Channels have become hyper-focused on small audiences. At one time the sports media giant ESPN had one station. Today they have 8. Same goes for popular channels like the Discovery Channel.
With so many options available, audience numbers have become dramatically smaller because consumers can find content that speaks directly to their interests.
For example, in the 1950s the popular TV show I Love Lucy had a Nielsen rating of 67.3. This means almost 7 out of every 10 TV viewers were tuned in to watch the show when it was on.
Fast forward 20 years and the top rated show for that decade had a rating of 34.0.
Today the top rated show earns a 12.3 rating!
My point is this. Too often we focus on pleasing everyone and trying to create content for "everyone." The problem with creating content for everyone is you end up creating content for "no one."
Consumers want content that speaks directly to them, their interests, their desires. Cicero famously said, "If you wish to persuade me you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings and speak my words." If you try to broadcast, your audiences will be so different, you will not be able to create content that will really connect with any of them.
The smaller the audience, the stronger and deeper you can connect with them. The more you connect with them, the more benefit you will receive. As Jon Loomer, Facebook marketing expert said, "Instead of swimming in an ocean of sharks, sit in a kiddy pool by yourself. It’s how you will be discovered."