Content Marketing – What Can It Do For Your Business?

Content marketing – the latest buzzword in Internet marketing.

content_marketing2This article is going to explain what it is, what it is not, how you can use it to drive traffic to your website and ultimately generate extra business. But only if you do it correctly.

What is content marketing? In summary, it involves providing content via your website, or blog; content that will be of interest to potential customers and cause them to treat your website as a rich source of information. The idea is that they will see you as an authority in your field and be more inclined come to you rather that your competitors. Content can take the form of text, image, video or audio. 

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Give Your Website The Hook

How does your website capture people’s attention?

Mcrazy_guitarist1any years ago I played guitar in a band. No you won’t have heard of us so I won’t even tell you what we were called. We played very local gigs around our hometown in Yorkshire, England.

I specifically remember one gig we played, in a small mining town near Doncaster. I remember it because it was the gig where we learned how to connect with an audience.

The gig was in a local village hall with an audience of local teenagers. We played the first set of about 40 minutes and after each number, got no reaction at all. It was as if those teenagers were either brain dead or deaf. Some of them probably were. It was that bad.

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Your Website Is Live. What Next?

Your websiteInterestingly that is a question that I rarely get asked after I’ve completed a website for a small business.  But it is a question that everyone with a new website should be asking.

Why? A website in itself will not do anything for your business because it is a marketing tool and like all tools it has to be applied in order to be effective. As such, that website that you’ve just had built and launched has to be used as part of your marketing efforts.

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Think You Don’t Need a Website? Here’s Why You Do

Heads in sandI recently had a conversation about a website with a local business owner here in Tenbury Wells.  When I pointed out that he hadn’t got a website his response was that he didn’t think he needed one because it wouldn’t bring in any additional business, most of which came from local referrals.

You know what, he was right on that! But he had missed the point. I think he was sticking his head in the sand!

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What’s the Purpose of Your Website?

So you’ve decided that you want a website? What’s the first thing you’re going to do? Look at the websites of similar companies to yours and get an idea of the design you’d like? Approach a number of web designers and get a bunch of quotes? Start designing it yourself? Sign up for one of the self-build services such as 1&1 My Website?Website Planning

 

Pick any one of these and you’d be on the fast track to throwing away your money and effort.

The first thing you need to do is to decide what you want the website to do for you; decide what the purpose of it is in other words. What do I mean by this?

There are a number of different types of website and the results you should expect from each vary. For the purpose of simplicity, here are three of the most popular types.

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Is Technology Affecting Your Productivity at Work?

Wasting time at workA recent article in the Daily Telegraph “Internet ‘fuels procrastination and lowers productivity‘” started me thinking about my own experiences (I’ve been developing and using internet technology in business for over 30 years), so I thought I would post my guidelines for using email.

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Spending a Fortune on Marketing? Try Inbound Marketing

You may have heard the term “inbound marketing” bandied around recently. But what does it mean?

Inbound Marketing

Traditional, or “outbound marketing”, involves sending out messages about your products or services to potential customers. Outbound marketing uses methods such as advertisements in newspapers, periodicals, radio, television, telemarketing and cold calling. The key characteristics of outbound marketing are an advert and an audience. You effectively push that advert in from of the audience.

But people are now becoming immune to this kind of marketing. Do you watch TV adverts and get a message about the product or company? Or, like me, switch off and ignore it? What do you do when you get a cold call about mobile phones or anything else? You probably find them irritating or down right annoying. I do.

Outbound marketing is becoming increasingly ineffective. So what can you do? Enter inbound marketing.

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How Not to Lose Money in Your Business

“Britain’s small businesses could be losing more than £800m of sales a year by not taking credit and debit card payments”.

So says a news story that is currently doing the rounds. Whether or not you believe the figure of £800m, the fact does remain that many small businesses such as, corner shops, local tradesmen, market traders, and numerous mobile businesses, can’t take card payments.

PayPal card reader

These businesses an only accept payment in cash or cheque. I don’t know about you but I rarely carry much cash around and I never carry a cheque book so, no card payment, no sale.

On the other side of the fence, I hate it when customers give me a cheque. They put a cheque in the post, which can take who know how long to arrive, given the vagaries of the Royal Mail, and then it takes another 5 days to arrive in my account after I’ve paid it into the bank.

The excuse for not accepting cards has been that card payments are expensive. But that’s not true any more.

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Hummingbird – Google Search Has Changed

Recently Google announced, what it described, as a “complete overhaul of its search algorithm”. Codeworded “Hummingbird”, the update is aimed at making search results much more relevant to users. Hummingbird seems to have created quite a stir so I though I would give you my take on it together with some practical advice.

Google Hummingbird

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16-Year Old Uses Internet to Devise a Test for Cancer

I recently came across this amazing story about a 16-year old , Jack Andraka, who recently devised a revolutionary medical test for detecting the almost always fatal disease, pancreatic cancer. I urge you to watch the 10 minute video below. It will blow you away.

The reason I want to share this with you is because Jack, having no previous medical training and not even knowing what a pancreas  is, managed to produce the test by extensive research on the Internet.

I’ve previously expounded, in this blog, about the power of the Internet but Jack’s story illustrates this to a tee. A mere thirty years ago it would have been almost impossible for a layman such as Jack to achieve such a feat.

If the internet can do this and enable Jack to produce such a result, just think what it can do for your business.

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Six Dos and Don’ts on Writing Blog Posts

Clients often ask me what they should write about in their blogs.

Small Business BloggingIt’s easier to answer this question by turning it around to say what they shouldn’t write about. I’ve also included some general points about what you should do in the list below.

  1. Don’t write sales pitches. A blog should be informative not a platform for sales pitches. So stay away from blog posts that try to pitch your products. The purpose of your blog is to attract interest and, whilst you might be interested in the latest variant of your xyz widget, most of you blog readers won’t. The only exception is if you’ve just brought out something so different, or even revolutionary, that it will immediately attract interest.
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Understanding Computer Jargon – Part 1

Computer Terminology

Are you bewildered by some of  the terminology that computer geeks like me use? If so, read on.

As someone who has been in the IT industry for many years I tend to use words that, to me, are commonplace. However, for many people who have only got to grips with technology recently, or who are still trying, many of these terms are baffling.

So I thought I would start a series of posts to try and explain some of this terminology in layman’s terms. This first post in the series is really just an introduction. Future posts will go into more detail.

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What To Use Instead Of Google Reader

Google ReaderAs I posted on this blog back in March this year, Google reader is being withdrawn by Google after 1/7/13. Google’s announcement claimed that the number of people using the product has declined and Google wants to focus its efforts on fewer product offerings. Despite protests from users of the product, it seems that Google is still going ahead with the closure. So what’s the alternative?

I looked around and finally settled on InoReader (https://www.inoreader.com/).

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Have You Updated Your Website Design Recently?

Microsoft Website Circa 2008

Do you wear the same things that you wore 10 years ago?

The answer is probably not because, the fact is, that fashions change. Not just in clothes or movies of TV programmes; fashions change in website design too; and changes in the online world tend to happen a lot faster than in the offline one. To give an example, I came across this interesting site to show how some popular websites have evolved over the years.

But the change is not just down to fashion. With web design, technology plays a largepart.

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Most Website Are Useless. Here’s How To Make Yours Effective

Most websites are useless, a complete waste of money and don’t do a thing for the businesses they serve. But it needn’t be like that.

Then a miracle occurs

You may think that, as someone who develops websites for clients, I’m shooting myself in the head by coming out with this statement. But the fact is that I hate to see my clients wasting their money and that’s exactly what I see when I look around the web at many of the websites out there.

The simple fact is that a website is a tool that will enable you to communicate your marketing messages to existing and potential customers in a way that, if done properly, can be extremely effective in terms of results and cost saving. But to do this involves investment in terms of money and time.

I’m continually contacted by potential clients asking for minimal sites (I’ve even been asked for one page websites) in the belief that this will give them a presence on the Internet on the cheap and magically start bringing in business. Well I’ve got news for all the people who think like that. Don’t bother.

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How to Kill Your Blog Stone Dead

Pushy SalesmanWhat do you write in your blog? The worst thing you can do is to use your blog as a sales mouthpiece where you continually write posts promoting your products.

I see this all the time even with some of my own clients; even after I have explained to them how to use their blogs,

You see, the problem is that, these days, people are inundated with sales messages to the point where they are immune to them, and even where they are turned off by them. Your website pages should advertise the products and services that you provide. What’s point of writing a blog if it’s going to contain more of the same?

What should your blog be used for? It should be used to demonstrate your expertise. Post articles about trends in your field of business; your opinions about what’s going on in your field; educational posts about your field; results that you’ve obtained for your clients. All these things will demonstrate your expertise.

Your aim should be to establish yourself as an authority and expert in your field of business so that potential customers will trust you. If your blog makes you come across like a pushy sales person, then it will simply push people away.

I’m not saying you can’t talk about the occasional special offer or promotion that you’re running. But the main thrust of your blog should be informative content.

How do you use your blog? Are you pushing people away?

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Know How: To Get Things Done

Getting Things Done - GTDA client calls you to ask why he hasn’t received the quote he requested last week. You pause, try to remember and then think “Oh s**t”. You remember opening his letter and throwing it in your in tray so you realize that it must be somewhere under the stack of paper that’s in there.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been in this situation at sometime or other. But in today’s fast moving world, “stuff” (i.e. all the things that come at us such as letter, emails, texts, telephone requests etc.) comes at us so fast that keeping up with it con become a nightmare. How can we handle it? …..

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Do Businesses Really Need a Website

Does my business need a website

One of the LinkedIn groups that I subscribe to recently had a post entitled “Do Businesses Really Need a Website”. The post referred to a survey that has recently need done where 24% of businesses surveyed replied that they didn’t have, or need, a website. My comment to that post was that most of these businesses who don’t have a website would be out of business in a few years time because of the increasing demographic trend towards the use of online technology by both consumers and suppliers.

Having given this more thought I’m now of the view that not all businesses require a website. However, I still stand by my claim that businesses that don’t embrace online technology will, at some time on the not so distant future, be out of business.

Many business’ website are useless. They are static online brochures that never get updated from one year to the next. And I’m not just talking small businesses here. Some of the larger businesses have websites that never get updated despite having spent thousands to set them up.

The key to unlocking the power of the Internet to promote business is to use it to hold a dialogue with your customers and prospects. The dialogue can be through a blog or social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or iTunes, or whatever arises in the future. That dialogue doesn’t necessarily require a website. Many small businesses do very well just using Facebook. The key here is regular interaction with your audience.

Some people think that all these things that I mention are a passing fad that they can ignore. That is a big mistake because almost everyone, nowadays, is carrying around a computer. It’s called a smartphone.

SmartphonesSmart phone are now ubiquitous. They’re everywhere. Actually I hate the term smartphone. These things are actually personal computers. Yes I know that the term personal computer is used, wrongly in my opinion, for a desktop computer, but these so-called smartphones are really personal because we carry them around with us and use them all the time, not just for phoning people, but for all kinds of applications including accessing and interacting with people on blogs and social media site.

The fact is that technology is now in the hands of the people in the street. Most people under the age of 30 are 100% comfortable with it. What’s more, the development of that technology is accelerating and, overall, making it easier to use. So businesses that think they can carry on marketing by simply placing ads in the local paper and having Yellow Pages paid for entries, are fooling themselves.

Embrace the new technology now and start a dialogue with your customers and prospects. Fail to do that and at some point, in the not too distant future, you will go the way of the dinosaurs. Oh, and of you do have a website and it’s a static brochure site, then you fall into this category as well.

 

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Make your website stand out in the crowd

The Oatmeal

Here’s a website you’ be crazy not to look at - http://theoatmeal.com/

What’s the best way to get your points over to your readers?

Let’s face it, no one wants to read pages of endless text even if they do spell out all your important messages. Images are great but don’t really get the points over. I’ve always argued that the best balance is a combination of the two, but even then, whilst you will probably get your points over to your readers, how much impact will they have? Will your readers remember your message a day, a week, or a month later.

How to use a semicolonThe Oatmeal website uses a unique cartoon style that is often hilariousness, whilst at the same time covering some topics that would otherwise be boring. For example, check out the item that explains how you should use semicolons. For me, semicolons were always a bit of a mystery. I now understand thanks to The Oatmeal cartoon;  the impact it made was such that I won’t forget.

I found the Tech section to be highly amusing as well (I would wouldn’t I?).

The Oatmeal is different from other websites. It stands out; it’s highly effective; it shows what can be done by sidestepping out of the mainstream. I’m not suggesting that we all start drawing cartoons. The Oatmeal was created by a highly talented comic strip artist, Matthew Inman. However, in a world where there are more web pages that people on the planet, we all need to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

How do you stand out from the crowd? I’d be interested in hearing your ideas.

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Decide on Your USP Before You Do Anything Else

What’s your USP?

On of the first things to decide before you even think about putting your business online is to decide what your USP is. Your USP will form the main theme running through your website, and other marketing activities, both on and off-line.

USP – Unique Selling Proposition

The unique things that a business offers to its customers that make it stand out from its competitors

Sadly many businesses appear not to have given a moment’s thought to their USP as the following story illustrates.

Here in my local town, Tenbury Wells in the Welsh borders, things tend to be a little bit behind the times, particularly so when it comes to local businesses. This is not a prosperous town, or even a prosperous area, so small traders need to do all they can to generate business just to stay afloat.

I noticed that over the recent Easter period, the local High Street traders have organized a poster campaign aimed a persuading people to “support your local shops over the Easter holiday period”.

Incredibly many of the shops have their ”support your local shops” posters displayed alongside their list of Easter opening hours showing that the shops are closed on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. A few are even closed on the Saturday afternoon.

The main thing that these local shops have going for them, in other words their main USP, is that they are convenient. I don’t have to drive 20 miles to buy a box of screws or to buy pet supplies, and I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for that privilege.

So I ask myself, if convenience is their USP, why do they make it inconvenient for me to buy from them? Do they know what their USP is? Have they given any thought to it? I don’t believe they have. I think many small businesses simply set up shop and go through the motions without any thought. The same it true for many small business’s websites.

So, if you are looking to put your business online, decide what your UPS is before you do anything else.

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