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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

5 Tips for Small Business Owners To Pick a Content Marketing Expert

Content marketing continues to grow and for good reason. It enables businesses to leverage their expertise in a real and demonstrable manner, at a relatively low cost. So, why aren't more small businesses taking advantage and incorporating content marketing? The answer is simple.  They just don't have the expertise or the time.  There are many excellent marketing practitioners who live and breathe content marketing. At the same time, there are many people who profess to understand content marketing and do not. Here are 5 tips for getting started when seeking your content marketer:
 
Image Courtesy of doublinx.com

1.  Think Strategically

One of the first things that a content marketer should ask about is your strategy.  Good content marketing consultants will interview you about this and ask thought-provoking questions.

2.  Develop Personas

In order to curate content, it is essential that your content marketing professional be able to develop personas, should you not already have them.

3. Act with Integration in Mind

Content should not be created only with social in mind.  An integrated approach must be taken.  Be sure that your marketing consultant has the expertise to leverage and implement an integrated marketing approach.  Don't be dazzled by someone who knows how to set up a Facebook Page or Group.

4.  Execute Based on Best Practices

 Be sure to ask questions to determine if your consultant knows how to make use of the right channels at the right time.  For example, recommending to post updates to Facebook at the wrong times with the wrong content will result in poor results.  This also applies to quality over quantity.   Always look for consultants that focus on quality first.

5.  Focus On Long-term Results

As tempted as we are to want things to happen immediately, marketing is something that takes time.  Your consultant should be prepared to guide you through the process and make adjustments as needed.  Remember we are dealing with consumer behaviour and influencing behaviour takes time. 

These are just 5 starting points to get you thinking.

Looking for more tips for small business?  Check out:  25 Cool Online Resources to Grow Your Business.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

12 Reasons to Do a Communications Audit Immediately

Communications is at the core of success and therefore, a periodic communications audit is critical to ensure that you are meeting the changing needs to your stakeholders.  Here are X reasons to do a communications audit immediately:
Image Courtesy of www.bcrealtysolutions.ca


1.  You are no longer getting the same level of employee feedback as you once did.

2.  Your external stakeholders are no longer engaged.

3.  Repeat Customers have diminished.
  
4.  Your Top of the Funnel Sales Leads have decreased.

5.  Regulators or legislative bodies claim that they don't know what you are doing.

6.  The media report that you are not available for comment or did not respond by time of deadline.

7.  Your read rate of online newsletters has decreased.

8.  Employee retention is an issue.

9.  Employee sick time is increasing.

10.  Labor relations is an issue.

11.  Investors are not happy.

12.  You don't know what medium is the right one to communicate with employees, customers, stakeholders, regulators, media, etc.

The good news is that a communications audit can be done to determine strengths and weaknesses between management and employees and management and external parties. The focus can be exclusively on the internal or external relationship, or both.  An audit will not only determine strengths and weaknesses, but it will also determine the channels of choice for specific audiences, frequency of communication and how different types of communications should be addressed for specific audiences.  

For more information on Communication Audits, check out:  8 Key Steps for a Successful Communications Audit





Friday, September 6, 2013

25 Cool Online Resources to Grow Your Business

Small and medium business owners are always on the lookout for great resources to help them grow, but they don’t  always have time to research, read, and sort the wheat from the chaff. So I've done the preliminary work for you. 
Here are 25 helpful small business resources covering everything from naming your new business to creating content for your marketing strategy, to increasing sales. 
Image courtesy of Entreprenuer.com
In no particular order, here a list of SMB resources you're going to want to bookmark:
1. Entrepreneur Solutions Playbook – 25 Small-Business Challenges [PDF]: A great discussion on the Top 25 Small Business Challenges
2. The Simple Guide to Branding Your Small Business [Infographic]: Looking for great advice on branding?  Check out this visual.
3. 5 Startup Naming Rules from SXSW: This article discusses how to position your business, including Do's and Don't's.
4. Facebook – Small Business Page: Great up-to-date ideas and information for small businesses plus you can contribute your ideas.
5. Six Best Practices for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy: Whether you're just getting started with content marketing or you're at it for awhile, this article to shares best practices.
6. Small Business Mobility Meets Big Business Needs: Learn more about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
7. Reuters Small Business Resource Center: Looking for a well-rounded source for starting a business, employment law and more, check out this resource center.
8. CNN Small Business Community: Join the CNN Small Business Community for interesting posts from CNN Money.
9. Smart Bizz – Small Business and Startups Internet Technology Resources: Another good source for a broad range of subjects from e-commerce, productivity and more in this resource center.
10. NFIB – National Federation of Independent Business, the Voice of Small Business: From healthcare to sales and customer service to finance and accounting, get topical posts to help you advance your business.
11. Smallbusiness.com – a Free Wiki: Get local-based information based on your State.  Check out this community portal to learn the latest happenings in small business.
12. Wall Street Journal – Market Watch: Looking for an aggregate of great news-related posts for your small business? This is another great one-stop shop.
13. CitiBank Small Business Resources: Learn more about risk and financial security.
14. AT&T Strategies and Insights:  Access posts on how to attract customers, increase sales, build relationships and more on this handy site.
15. IT Business Edge – Small Business Computing: Get how-to guides, small business tips and more on this site.
16. Bank of America Small Business Community: Learn about small businesses of the month, ask the community questions and more.
17. Network Solutions - Small Business Center: Get a roundup of small business news all in one spot.
18. Cisco Small Business Resource Center: This center has articles, customer stories news and more all in one spot.
19. Small Business Guides: Get the latest guides on financing, training and events.
20. Go Small Biz: Looking for a go-to on tax/accounting, sales, HR, risk and tech in one spot?  This could be your go-to.
21. All Business - Your Small Business Advantage: Get access to the top stories, All Business experts and more.
22. Information Week SMB Technology for Small and Midsized Business: Get access to weekly email updates, SMB stories right from SMBs and more.
23. Microsoft Business for Small and Midsized Business: Learn new ways to use Microsoft tools get tips and marketing research.
24. DuctTape Marketing Blog: Blog posts, free ebooks and information on courses abound this site.
25. AMEX Open Forum: Recently redesigned, exchange advice, get ideas and learn small business success.
Note:  a version of this post appeared on the Salesforce blog that I wrote for them in August of this year.