One of the most diverse industries today is none other than digital marketing. It is exciting to watch digital marketing trends because this world experiences fast-paced changes. There has been a dramatic increase in digital marketing jobs for freelancers. The trend of hiring freelancers for digital marketing roles has experienced significant growth in the past few years. According to studies, more people are hiring freelancers for running their digital marketing campaigns. While some digital marketing trends of 2018 are here to stay, there are some important trends for freelancers that they should look forward to this year.

These five digital marketing trends for freelancers have been circulating the industry and will continue to advance and become more popular. So freelancers, keep an eye on these pointers:

1. Artificial intelligence at its best

A number of industries are making the most out of artificial intelligence by incorporating it in different areas of work. Digital marketing has been revolutionized by artificial intelligence. The digital marketing is being changed for good with artificial intelligence because of its ability to gather, analyze and apply data. As it is improving continuously and its capabilities are advancing, it is a given that it is bringing changes in digital strategies and freelancers need to keep up with the changes to succeed.

2. Personalization should be a priority

The audience is looking for more connection these days. Gone are the days when you could just focus on the possible sales and profit and ignore the importance of discovering the wants of the customer. However, modern-day digital marketing trends indicate that personalization is a priority. Customers are the ones you have to target and freelancers should keep this in mind to establish loyalty in their audience.

3. Ads specifically targeting the audience

As artificial intelligence is now being used in digital marketing, it can help in improving ads that are now developed for specifically targeting a certain audience. These ads are highly targeted and they can lead to converted customers, which can increase your sales and brand loyalty in the long run. Freelancers should make use of these ads as they can be created specifically for the profile of your target customers. This will help you in getting the right attention and exposure you need for your services.

4. Social media is a must

As billions of people are using social media every day, it is no surprise that experts recommend that freelancers use this tool for marketing their own services. While you can use various platforms, it is a good idea to identify the platform used by your potential customers and start engaging with them. This involves sharing content like videos.

5. Don’t forget about SEO

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a vital tool for marketing your freelance business. It is essentially a way to optimize your digital presence on the internet. When your website is fully optimized, it becomes easier for search engines and their users to find you and avail your services.

Keeping up with these digital marketing trends will aid freelancers in expanding their services.

Author Bio:

Sidra has helped both well established and start-up digital marketing agency takes their ideas from sticky notes and whiteboards to fully develop robust manpower that serves vast specialized communities. Her expertise ranges from Tech Hiring to CXO level Blogging. Get in touch with her for more information.

What are some of the biggest changes in advertising in the last decade?

Advertising has changed drastically during the last few decades, from the printing press to pop-up ads, everything has changed. Apart from that, new techniques and methods have been introduced which raised the need for advertising. Advertising offers one of the best ways of communication: businesses can use advertising to promote their newly launched product or service in the market. Advertising is not for a particular group of people but rather for every demographic. It can be carried out using various advertising media that suits all the requirements of your business.

Advertising can be done using various methods and techniques which help to generate more outcome for a business. Now, the questions may arise: why must you take advertising so seriously? Why does it hold so much importance these days? Businesses have a large budget for advertising. It plays an important role in the growth and success of a business.

According to the marketing land report, the amount spent on advertising has increased rapidly: it has reached almost $207 billion till today. The industry represents that digital ad revenue in the US has reached $106 billion ,which is approximately 51.5 per cent of total ad sales. It is also predicted that the growth rate is going to increase by 30 per cent year over year.

Here’s a brief and condensed history of advertising changes during the last few decades.

Advertising during the 16th-20th century

Advertising media such as magazines and newspapers were introduced during the 16th century. First Weekly Gazettes was released in Venice, which gained popularity among the population. This advertising concept was soon adopted by other countries across Europe.

In 1650, commercial advertisements were carried out for mainly books and quack doctors. However, other industries began using advertising media as a means to promote their products and services.

The use of advertising gained increased momentum during the 18th century, which gave birth to the tradesmen’s adverts. La Presse was the first newspaper which was launched for paid advertising. This newspaper was introduced in June 1836 by Emile de Girardin, editor of the Paris newspaper. Soon his formula becomes very popular for advertising all over the world.

Display ads came into existence

British newspapers gained huge popularity among industries during the 1850s and 1860s. During the 20th century, the father of modern advertising, Thomas J. Barratt, started an advertising campaign for advertising various company products.

This advertising campaign used various images, phrases and targeted slogans for advertising. One of the most famous slogans of a British newspaper in the 20th century was ‘Good morning. Have you used Pears’ soap?’.

Mellin’s Food was the first brand that used 25 airship flights to advertise its brand in 1902. Later, radio advertisement came into existence in 1922. During that time, businesses had to pay $100 for 10 mins advertisement on Radio.

Introduction of the latest technologies for advertising

The introduction of VCRs brought a drastic change in the advertising world. During 1975, businesses started using VCRs to record various shows. After that, computers and the internet came into existence, opening a new scope and opportunity for advertisers.

Later in 1994, email campaigns and banner ads were introduced allowing businesses to reach their targeted audience. YouTube and Facebook both became very popular during the early 2000s. Now, the two companies have become some of the most successful advertising media platforms for business with a huge audience base.

The revolution of display advertising

WebConnect agency introduced advertisement placing tools in 1995. This tool helped businesses to know who was more affected by their advertising. WebConnect’s proprietary tool provided the data of customers, which helped businesses to know who had visited their website and for what purpose. It also helps the advertiser to track impressions, click-through rates, ad views, to name just a few insight tools.

Online advertising becomes king

According to a statista survey, there are 3.65 billion internet users worldwide, the number of internet users increases with each passing day. The number of monthly active users on Facebook was 2.2 billion in 2019, that means almost half of the internet users are on Facebook worldwide. Therefore, to reach this audience online, it becomes mandatory for businesses to develop an online presence.

Businesses are offered multiple advertising platforms in order to easily reach their target audiences. They are opting for multiple advertising solutions for their business to reach the audience they desire. Businesses are taking the support of developers and marketers to help lead their sales to the next level of success. There are many hire developers and marketers online who can offer the best solution for their business, which not only helps them to reach a huge audience base online but will also help them to boost their business globally.

The debut of PPC Advertising

GoTo.com introduced PPC in 1998: a pay-for-placement concept that later evolved to pay-per-click advertising. Using these platform advertisers could easily bid on search queries that contain relevant keywords. Before the introduction of PPC, cost-per-thousand-impressions and cost-per-mille (CPM) was used for deciding the cost of advertisements.

Search engine advertising was introduced by Google in December 1999, however, it doesn’t come into existence until the AdWords system was introduced in October 2000. Using the AdWords system, advertisers can easily create text ads which can be placed on the Google search engine.

Social Media Advertising

20th century was dominated to display advertising and PPC search and during this time, social networks such as YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook gained huge popularity among the online population. Facebook ranks second in digital advertising after Google. Nowadays, Twitter has become one of the best sources for advertising real-time content, whereas LinkedIn has become valuable B2B network. All these social media platforms offer an excellent advertising platform for advertisers.

The advertising industry has dramatically changed during the last few years and there’s no sign of it coming to a stand-still.

Learn more about advertising: The confusing world of advertising

Author Bio

Manoj Rupareliya is the Online Marketing Expert and Blogger. He is an experienced writer with expertise in the field of technology, blockchain, crypto, AI, Digital Marketing and SEO. All the blogs he writes are aimed at providing credible help and insights for readers who want to stay updated all the time. Linkedin | Twitter

How has digital marketing affected branding? Q&A with Chris Bullick, MD of The Pull Agency.

Bill Gates – somewhat belatedly – said The Internet changes everything. In reality, Microsoft was late to the party but Gates nailed it just in time. But has the Internet really changed everything for marketing? The way in which services and products are promoted and sold may be different, but are the fundamentals still the same? 

I interviewed Chris Bullick, Managing Director of The Pull Agency (which has just changed its name from Pull Digital). The agency creates brand propositions, websites and campaigns for clients that are challenger brands wanting to ‘out-think rather than out-spend the competition’.

 

CG: So Chris, has – as Gates proclaimed – the Internet really changed everything?

CB: Having started my career on the branding side when at P&G, and therefore having been around pre-Internet, I’ve always been intrigued by people saying that brand is dead … it’s all about Google and Search … anybody can start a dot.com business … long-term brand building no longer applies. The question, for me, is to what extent that’s proved to be the case and what’s the real impact of the digital revolution on the world of marketing and advertising.

I believe that, for a while, businesses felt that all that was needed for marketing was an army of geeks: I think that approach has been disproved. To my mind, the way digital has played out has proved that everything leads back to brand and that brand is still key.

CG: If a client contacts you for help with digital marketing, would you encourage them to let you evaluate their brand first of all?

CB: A lot of potential clients approach us because they think digital marketing will wave a magic wand or it’s a shortcut. My argument will always be that whatever you do will be much better applied if you get your brand into shape first. So we will always try to undertake an audit of a client’s brand and break that down into several components to understand what the brand narrative is, what’s the awareness like, how good the brand promise and proposition are, etc., etc. There’s really no point embarking on a marketing programme if those things aren’t in good shape.

CG: With so much focus on attribution and programmatic solutions these days, how do companies look to measure their return on investment?  Do they want to rank at the top of Google or measure ROI in other ways? 

CB: Marketing has been always been science and art. People think building a brand is a largely creative process, but creative is just a way to address something and solve a problem. You have to prove that what you do positively impacts on the client’s bottom line – and that’s enabled by digital marketing.

The old joke used to be that 50% of your marketing works and 50% doesn’t, and you don’t know which is which. But that’s changed and digital marketing lets you measure accurately – whether it’s attributing sales to an e-commerce client or getting leads. If it’s B2B, you can measure back to the source (so, where does that come from?). If it’s organic, what keywords are responsible? If social media, which platform? You really can find the answers to those questions nowadays.

The art side is still leveraging your intuition; it’s bringing creativity to bear, it’s impacting the emotional pull the brand can have on the consumer. But what digital marketing allows you to do is the truly scientific part. Even when working with a client on brand building, you need to agree on a whole set of cold-blooded metrics – it might be sales, it might be ROI, it might be cost-per-acquisition, which comes from sources like Google analytics. The latest buzz phrase is ‘big data’ – if you collect enough data and use enough processing power, you can find the answers to everything. But I feel that approach is being discredited: again, it suggests that if you have enough processing power you don’t need experienced marketers. I’m not sure I buy into that.

There’s a soft creative side to brand building based on the fact that human beings are irrational and subject to emotional responses, and there’s a scientific side which the digital revolution has fully enabled. If you’re managing a brand well, then you’ve got to have a pretty good grip of both sides.

digital marketing and creativity

CG: Has measuring digital marketing caused creative work to suffer? Are advertisers and companies less adventurous?

Yes, I think marketing went through a period – the first stage of the digital revolution if you like – where geekiness and techno-crats moved in and which devalued things like copywriting and creativity. But people are now seeing the power of creativity again as technology falls to the background slightly. Clients are still looking for that emotional pull. Think about, say, the eagerly awaited John Lewis Christmas TV ads. That pull can only come out of creative work: it doesn’t come from analytics.

CG: What are the major differences you’ve noticed about how digital marketing has affected branding?

The really big thing I’ve seen is how brand search has increased around tenfold in the last ten years compared to generic search. Everything’s been turned on its head.

Take Wiggle, the UK’s largest online provider of sports kit – especially cycling. Ten years ago the ratio of search for the phrase ‘bicycle parts’ versus ‘Wiggle’ was 10:1 in favour of ‘bicycle parts’. Today, the ratio of search for Wiggle as a brand is 10:1 versus ‘bicycle parts’.

So, ten years ago, if you wanted to build a business on the basis of that type of Google search result, you did everything you could to be in the number one slot for bicycle parts. You’d probably start a business called bicyclepartsonline.com and maybe even deploy so-called ‘Black Hat’ SEO techniques to reach and hold that number one search slot.

However, people have now found their favourite online brands – and search for generic items has been replaced by search for brands. For consumers now, the brand name ‘Wiggle’ is synonymous with ‘bicycle parts’ so they simply type in ‘Wiggle’.  Although Wiggle has invested in SEO, they’ve put their real effort and investment behind building the brand. That’s why they’re number one in their category.

Brand Analysis

CG: How has that affected Wiggle’s marketing spend?

The majority of Wiggle’s revenue will now come from brand-related search, and they bid on their own brand term in paid search. Type in ‘Wiggle’ and the first result you see is a big Google ad from Wiggle. Now it may be that half the consumers searching with Wiggle-related terms are clicking on that. The result next down from that will be the organic search result. It may seem counter-intuitive that you’re forced by Google to spend on your own brand, but the reality is that the cost-per-acquisition (getting a sale from someone clicking on the Wiggle ad) is probably 30p or 40p. The cost-effectiveness of this dilutes the cost of bidding on generic search terms, so the overall cost per acquisition or ROI is much lower than that of competitors with weaker or less searched-for brands.

So the latent value of a brand can be indicated better by what used to be the slightly vague term ‘brand equity’, which was notoriously difficult to measure. Now, all of a sudden, you can measure that – it’s a massive turnaround. For Wiggle, it means they can afford to spend an awful lot more on non-brand terms such as ‘bicycle parts’ because the fantastic ROI they get on a brand-name sponsored search pays for all their other advertising on Google. That’s a perfect example of brand value.

CG: Lastly Chris, any predictions for the future of digital marketing?

CB: In the last year alone, I’ve seen Facebook come forward to challenge Google in a whole load of ways that I didn’t necessarily expect. I think that Facebook, because of the way in which it profiles people, is getting stronger by the day. Google may be very good at profiling people’s intentions, but it’s not so good at understanding them as individuals.

 

About the author: Caroline Gibson

Caroline profile pic

Caroline has been a freelance copywriter for over 15 years, with clients ranging from international brands to small businesses looking to become big businesses.
Before then, she worked for some of London’s leading ad, branding and design agencies. She has experience in every sector – from finance to health to drinks – and has won awards in every discipline.

This article was first published by Caroline Gibson

I wanted to briefly discuss what I would like to call OVER BRANDING or OVER MARKETING. As we all know it is important to generate a buzz about a product, film, song or something new. But there is a line that one can cross when too much is simply too much.

Spreading the word is all well and good, but eventually, if we over promote or over brand then we can start desensitizing consumers (or customers) to our message, product or service. A good and probably easy example is music. When a new song is released DJs begin playing it, and if it is popular they play it even more. This can be good to begin with and cause the song to grow on some people who were unsure if they like it. However, it can also hurt the song in the long run. Eventually, the song can become tired or even annoying when played every ten minutes.

This example can be carried over into marketing and advertising. The goal is to spark interest in what we are marketing. However, we do not want to irritate the consumers and or customers. Therefore we have to gauge how far we can take a campaign or thought or product without making it too obnoxious. Over marketing, branding and promoting can turn people away quickly or even cause a distaste for what we are trying to sell.

I think a current example of overdoing something at the moment is Star Wars. The name Star Wars alone will easily generate enough buzz to promote the new film. Add Disney to the mix and you have sparked an even bigger curiosity in the film. However, at the moment, you can not enter a store without being bombarded by images of Star Wars. Do not get me wrong I will watch the film…but I want to share an example of how over doing something can be somewhat pointless, sickening and mind-numbing.

Star Wars BrandingIt is wonderful to pair up products that help promote the film, however…when I see Star Wars mascara sitting on the shelf in Germany I have to really debate if the marketing teams have not gone too far. Like I said, the hype is already there and you do not need to promote the film with things such as mascara. Personally, a limited edition Nutella jar (like what they did for the new Peanuts film) would have been a better way to go rather than partnering up with a mascara line to promote the film.

Do not get me wrong, there may be one or two collectors who want to add that to their collection. But will a product like mascara generate even more interest in seeing the film? Probably not. Like I said, the hype is already there and I think that their marketing teams are doing a good job…overdoing it a little. But this extra marketing will not increase the box office number (which will already be huge). It is better to pick and choose how to promote something versus overdoing it.

Of course, there are a million examples of over branding and marketing…and, even worse, there are a million examples of not doing enough.

At a certain point, it can cross a line where people become complacent. Things can get old or boring fast…and as marketing professionals, we really want to avoid creating that movement. We want to keep the hype going and keep that bond with the consumer. We want to keep what we are selling at a high value and in the mind of the consumers. We do not want them to walk into a store and see something [that makes them] immediately feel like they want to vomit.

Let’s go back to Star Wars and Disney…because I do want to point out some things they did right (even if they have done too much). I think the partnership with Air Hogs was brilliant [setting] off a media frenzy that drove fans wild! New Star Wars toys that were not only innovative but cool. Air Hogs flying Millennium Falcon or mascara…hmmm…which had a stronger effect? Which looks dumb (sorry)? As you can see there are smart moves, and then there are moves that will simply leave people scratching their heads. I think the promotion itself of the film could be a good case study…what types of promotion, branding, and marketing generated more buzz and what simply was not worthwhile.

Kudos to the Peanuts film which kept their marketing simple in Germany. Partnering up with Nutella… creating the jars and giant Christmas Kinder Eggs with Peanuts toys inside! Smart move. Honestly, I do think they could have done more marketing, however, in Germany since convincing Germans to see the film is probably a little more difficult than convincing Americans to do so. But they kept it relatively simple and [it was] not blasted in our faces. Thus, we are not tired when we see Snoopy in the store. Granted I do not think Snoopy can compete with Han Solo as far as box office sales go. But that is to be expected. One thing that does surprise me with the two, neither Star Wars or Peanuts targeted Kids Meals or Happy Meals in Germany. Which, to me, would have been a great way to push their marketing further.

WRAP UP…

The point we should take away from this article is that it is important to promote, brand and market things. We must remain conscious in knowing if we have not done enough or if we have done too much.  Being continuously blasted with a message can dull the senses and make the consumer immune to the message. Not doing enough can push the product, brand or service forward. We have to find that happy medium where we generate the right amount of buzz that informs the public without leaving a sick taste in their mouth.

 

CHALLENGE…

Share your opinions on products, services or brands that you find to have over promoted, marketed and branded below in comments.

 

About the author: Kenneth Shinabery

Kenneth Shinabery

Kenneth is a creative from New York City that is currently living in Europe. He is part of several Adobe programs such as the Adobe Influencer DACH program and Adobe Community Professionals Program as well as Wacom Evangelist. As an internationally published writer and content creator, Kenneth has spoken at conferences across Europe. Topics include: Creativity, Social Media and Community Development. One of his crowning achievements is having produced two full-scale creative conferences for Adobe in Germany.
Visit Kenneth’s portfolio at:  https://kennshinabery.myportfolio.com/
Or connect with him on LinkedIn:  https://linkedin.com/in/kshinabery

This article was first published by Kenneth Shinabery 

When I first work with my clients, I give them a very special gift.

A billboard on the Eden’s Expressway, just as you join the Kennedy into Chicago.

It’s a beautiful piece of all white, real estate space where one can inform the thousands of passing cars as to why everyone should care about your product or service.

Of course, it’s not a real gift, but as an exercise in just imagining that billboard, it gets the juices flowing and makes for sweaty palms for my new clients – as big decisions need to be made! I also give them specific rules for that billboard which dictate that they can ONLY say one thing AND it has to be the fewest words possible (and visually driven too).  Most people only get 6 seconds to take in the message of a billboard, so it should be succinct and grabbing. This exercise is always the most difficult of tests because my clients tend to want to say everything (and the kitchen sink).

You’ve all seen billboards that don’t follow these rules.

Headline: Johnson & Smythe Undertakers. The north shore’s leading coffin makers! Come in today to see our fabulous range! Mention this billboard and get a 20% discount!

Copy: New wood samples available. Visit our website. www.mycoffin.org Open 9-5 Monday thru Sunday. Right off the expressway! 800-MY-COFFIN. People are dying to come and see us!

Image: 14 coffin samples with pricing information (and a map!)

The passing motorists just about get time to read “Johnson” before they have to change lanes or pick their collective noses.

It’s like the owner has said:

“We’ve paid for all this space so %#%-dammit we MUST fill it with information!”

The drivers just see a blur of typography (and mahogany) and move on. A well-designed billboard can leave the viewer breathless for more. Like a tease at a strip club or a hint of a claw foot under a tablecloth (for our Victorian readers).

This is why I love billboards. You have no choice but to identify what is at the heart of your brand and say it loud and proud. Billboards are the shorthand to a brand’s soul. [It’s] the most difficult message you can write, yet, executed correctly, the most powerful summation of your brand imaginable. This is not to say that all the things your brand is dying to tell the world are not important, it’s just they need to be prioritized and kept for more viewer-friendly mediums.

The billboard allows you to cut to the chase and work out what you REALLY do as a company. I even used the billboard technique to write scripts for television commercials. When you are faced with too much information, designing the billboard gets to the core of the message. Just try doing it for your homepage!

So take a second and draw an oblong to represent a billboard.

Place your phone number and/or website address somewhere in the space.

And simplify your message.

Remember. It is less about you (and your company) and more about them (the viewer). Engagement happens when customers see themselves in your message.

TICKING CLOCK SOUND

DING!

Times up!

I told you it is difficult.

One of my favorite billboards is for Four Seasons heating and cooling. It is a type-driven message simply stating: “Your wife is hot!” with a logo and phone number.

It gives the viewer a chuckle and reminds them to think about HVAC, in an engaging way.

One example of a well-executed billboard did cause me issues, as a young parent. It masterfully used simplicity in its messaging. A coy winking girl beckoning me to visit “Babydolls,” (a gentleman’s club).

My kids were desperate to go as they were convinced it was the mother lode for Beanie Babies or at least a Beanie Baby outlet center!

“Kids, I don’t think that’s what it is selling … Hey look over there it’s a billboard for McDonald’s!”

The billboard worked too well, but for the wrong reasons.

One client asked me what my billboard would be and I showed them the following (presuming it would be the same epic Chicago location):

Headline: “Welcome to Cleveland!”

Copy: “It’s time you got your message right.”

Logo: Brandstorm

 

(Screech of brakes)

 

About the author: Phil Gayter

Phil Gayter

Phil worked as a creative director at global giants Leo Burnett and Euro RSCG in Chicago. He currently has a brand and creative consultancy called Brandstorm, and helps clients of all sizes find their voice and correct pant size.

 

When you advertise your business, do you give the advert a title – or a headline?

Ads (a.k.a. “adverts”) with a title often are also “upside down adverts” which you need to avoid if you’re going to get the maximum number of leads and enquiries from each of your ads.

Never forget that an ad – even a small, low-cost ad in a local magazine or “handbook” – needs to offer readers something “in it for them…” not just a title being your name or what you do.

Don’t forget that old-but-very-relevant point … “what’s in it for me” is what sells.

That means, to grab attention and hold it, you need to start your adverts with a strong headline. Not a title.

Titles are what we used to write at school when we were writing essays or other pieces of work. Although they may identify who you are and/or what you sell, they do NOT offer any perceived benefit to readers.

A perceived benefit is what will get readers clicking, phoning, emailing or whatever your “call to action” suggests.

Titles versus headlines: how could we make these work better?

Here’s our first example…


(name) Garage Doors & Gates

Spares and Repairs
Quality Garage Doors and Gates
Automation to Existing Doors
Free Competitive Quotations
Established since 1984

(phone number)
(website URL)


There is nothing – and I mean, nothing – to suggest why these garage doors and gates are any better than anyone else’s.

OK, they might not be any better.

But doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t share why customers could benefit. Let’s explore the one main clue here: “established since 1984.”

In itself, the fact that the business has been going for 34 years doesn’t mean much. But what if we make those 34 years work a bit harder?


34 years’ experience to keep your garage and garden secure

Let us quote on providing you with the latest in top quality garage doors and gates – at sensible prices.

Fed up with opening garage doors when it’s cold and wet?
Let us automate your garage door, and gates, with state-of-the-art technology … super efficient and super cost-effective.

Need spares, repairs and other maintenance? We’re there with what you need, when you need it.

(name) Garage Doors & Gates
Established 1984
The technology to give you the latest value – and the experience to know how to.


Now, on to another classic example of an ad that has been devised by people who know little about marketing communication … with a title instead of a headline that makes it even harder to understand just what the ad is promoting.

It’s fair to say that this ad appeared in a publication that is local to the rugby team, so people with an understanding of rugby will recognise the name and know where the stadium is, etc.

But what about people who don’t?

Read on …


(name of rugby team) WITH STYLE

(4 big photos of banquet set up, restaurant set-up, gravy being poured over main dish, and frantic-looking rugby player running like hell while holding the ball.)

Contact us to discuss premium packages for the 2017/2018 season

Sales@(name of rugby team).co.uk

(phone number).


Why should anyone be attracted to your, er, ad (we don’t get what you’re selling until the bottom, if at all) because you think you play rugby “with style?”

What your ad is trying to sell, is some sort of stylish kudos associated with the amazingly great game of rugby football. OK, many people love it and I’m not saying they shouldn’t. But just slapping up a title that depends so heavily on people guessing what your actual offer is, even though you provide visual clues, makes your brand look conceited and arrogant.

Instead, turn that content around so potential purchasers of hospitality can grasp why they should…and before they do that, what on earth it is that you’re selling in the first place? “Premium packages” of what? How about the following…


Celebrate something special this rugby season – with (name of rugby team)

(photos brought down to a less vulgar size, with captions, e.g. “choose our banquet format for up to XXX guests” … “delicious catering with a wide choice of menus” … etc.)

There’s nothing more thrilling than watching the (name of rugby team) live, on the spot … and it’s even better when you can enjoy our hospitality at the same time. Whether it’s for a single table or for a large group, you and your guests will have an occasion to remember.

Get in touch now for more information about our premium private entertaining packages for the upcoming season … and to make sure you can reserve the dates you want.

(Name of human being, not “Sales) @ (name of rugby team).co.uk

(phone number.)


And our third contender for the titles-versus-headlines prize appeared in the last article in this series, as an upside-down advert.

It also qualifies as a title ad – such a shame, because re-written with a headline it is so much more powerful.

First, though, the original…


Cake Decorating Supplies

for Amateurs, Professionals and Enthusiasts alike

(two separate long lists of items, in random order)

We have all the Baking and Cake Decorating supplies to complete your wonderful creations!

(address and contact details)


Although it’s fairly clear what the ad is about, once again the fact that it has a title – not a headline – means you don’t get any idea about why we should buy from this supplier of cake decorating stuff.

The fact that they “have all the baking and cake decorating supplies” doesn’t offer much incentive to go there and buy from them. And the rather limp-wristed “to complete your wonderful creations” is a bit soppy, slightly patronising, and gives the impression of being a desperate last attempt at attracting business from readers.

So how about the following, instead?


Are you a cake baker who needs some help to complete your wonderful creations?

Whether you’re an amateur, professional or a keen enthusiast, we have all the best quality baking and cake decorating supplies you need, whatever masterpiece you want to create

XYZ Cake Decorating Supplies

Choose from …
(One list here, in alphabetical order)

(Address and contact details)


Have you ever used a title rather than a headline for your advertisements?

And would you now convert those titles into headlines?

Please share your views!

 

About the author: Suzan St Maur

Suzan St. Mauer

This article first appeared on Suzan St Maur’s award-winning writing resource website, HowToWriteBetterHTWB … with more than 1,500 articles and tutorials on a vast range of topics from business to fiction, training to comedy, by Suzan and many other writing experts from around the world. An experienced expert in marketing communications, Suzan is now an author coach, book publishing consultant, and best-selling author.

This article was first published by Suzan St Maur

Especially – but not only – if you run an SME business, do you know how to express your “USP?” (Unique Selling Proposition/Point?) And do you know why your USP is so important to support your brand?

Recently this topic came up at a very lively regular business networking meeting I attend and I was surprised that some members of the group hadn’t really considered either a) the importance of a USP for any business or b) what it should be based on. Here, then, are some tips on how to identify yours and make it work for your business.

Your USP is not just about what makes you unique

Much as the initials refer to “Unique Selling Point” or “Unique Selling Proposition,” the term – these days – is somewhat misleading.

I know: you have sweated blood and tears over many sleepless nights to create a product or service of which you are intensely proud, and quite rightly so.

You steer your business out into the marketplace and want everyone to see how your creativity, hard work, business acumen and everything else have culminated in the product/service to beat all others.

Don’t get me wrong. This is a perfectly natural, understandable and justifiable reason to be extremely proud of your achievements. We’ve all been there. Trouble is…

Your customers and prospects do not give a flying you-know-what about all of the above.

Why?

This is something all of us in SME businesses (and much bigger businesses, come to that) have had to learn the hard way.

Consumers, whether B2C or B2B, are not interested in how hard you have worked, what you have sacrificed, even how effectively you have researched, refined and developed your product or service.

Consumers/ customers/clients are only interested in one thing:

What’s in it for me?

Often when I’m asked to help an emerging new business with their marketing communication either directly or via an agency, I find it’s down to me – the doom gloomer – to make this point to the folks who have worked so hard, and still are working as hard, to make their product/service the best in its class.

I genuinely feel for them at this time, but feel obliged to share the harsh truth. Customers and prospects just don’t care, unless they can see what’s in it for them.

So, where next with your USP? And how do you get it working?

Define not what you do, but what you do that helps customers and prospects

That’s the bottom line. Your USP is what you do that helps businesses and their owners to do a variety of things, but essentially it’s what addresses and deals with their key “pain points.”

“Pain points” are what keeps your customers and prospects awake at night: pain, i.e. business problems, that your product or service can alleviate.

That’s where your USP needs to focus.

Use the opportunity that taglines present

Getting to grips with a tagline that represents what you do and how it can help prospects is covered here on HTWB, and here is a short excerpt from it:

“With your tagline being an important element in your branding and marketing, often it’s hard to reconcile what expresses the “what’s in it for you” in terms of brand values … as well as including a keyword or three to help Google bump you up into the top pages. So how do you combine the two?”

…and the article goes on to share what you need to do to make sure your tagline achieves precisely that. Do have a read of it, as you’ll find it very helpful.

Use the “SO WHAT” test to drill your USP down so it’s perfectly sharp

This is another means of ensuring that your USP achieves that all-important “what’s in it for me?” criterion.

Actually, the “SO WHAT?” test is a valuable tool to use when judging any number of different promotional phrases, taglines and other iterations including your business networking 60-second pitch. It works on them all! So check it out here on HTWB.

If you’re in a hurry, though, what we’re looking at is to take your USP and work it through as many “SO WHATs” as you need to get down to a robust “what’s in it for me.” (This process may reveal quite a lot more about your market positioning, your competition, etc. than you bargained for!) For example:

We’re the best kitchen designers in XXXtown
So what?

Our kitchen designs are better than the others in XXXtown
So what?

Our kitchen designs work better for you than any others in XXXtown
So what?

We’re better at designing a kitchen that works for you than anyone else in XXXtown
So what?

We listen to your kitchen needs and design what’s right for you
So what?

We have the experience to know what your new kitchen needs
So what?

We get what your new kitchen really needs – and deliver it
So what?

Delivering your new kitchen exactly to your needs
So what?

The experience to create your new kitchen exactly to your needs
So what about the money?

The experience to create your new kitchen exactly to your needs and budget
So….OK!

What other elements do you think we need to create the ideal USP?

Please share your views…

 

About the author: Suzan St Maur

Suzan St. Mauer

This article first appeared on Suzan St Maur’s award-winning writing resource website, HowToWriteBetterHTWB … with more than 1,500 articles and tutorials on a vast range of topics from business to fiction, training to comedy, by Suzan and many other writing experts from around the world. An experienced expert in marketing communications, Suzan is now an author coach, book publishing consultant, and best-selling author.

This article was first published by Suzan St Maur

Last weekend I spent Sunday writing Action Plan 3 for my EJ Insider Interviews Club members, featuring Daniel Scocco and Joe Gilder.

The action plans are short reports I write that come out once per month to members. I re-listen to the two new exclusive interviews I release that month and write down what I believe are the key leverage points used by my interview subjects to make big money online.

It’s a powerful exercise because it forces assessment of what the one or two unique things that a person, usually a blogger, does that results in much higher income than usual.

These reports highlight the keys to making six or even seven figures a year from a blogging or internet business.

What’s incredible about this process is how often the leverage point is not very complex. It’s simple – anyone can do it.

Most of the time what gives the person the ability to earn hundreds of thousands to even millions online is just doing one thing really well.

There are of course many other things that the person does, but it’s just one aspect, sometimes two, that create the conditions to make significant income.

Same Path, Different Shoes

Daniel Scocco is the founder of several blogs, with DailyWritingTips.com and DailyBlogTips.com his most popular.

If you are a long time reader of this blog, or listener to my podcast you probably have heard of Daniel before.

For the EJ Insider I did a brand new interview with him to cover how he runs his blogs today.

Joe Gilder on the other hand you probably have never heard of. He’s one of those guys who does internet marketing, but he does it in a non-business or money making niche, so you might say he’s more “underground”. His market is teaching people how to set up home recording studios, and his blog is HomeStudioCorner.com.

Joe’s interview was particularly good because of how textbook a case study he is when it comes to following the online business formula I have been teaching for years.

       Joe Gilder’s Passion Is Making Music

He has a passion (music), he turned it into teaching content, he started a blog and email newsletter, then sold a product, and then another, and on and on.

This year he is on track to make $300,000, with 13 products, including two membership sites.

What’s also amazing about Joe’s story is within six months of starting his blog and newsletter, he did a little product launch to his 500 person email list and sold 50 copies!

That’s an incredibly quick result, which as you hear in the interview, is one of Joe’s strengths – his speed of implementation.

When it came to writing the action plan for these two guys, it was interesting to see how similar they were in terms of how they create an audience, yet how completely different the way they make money is.

It’s as if they were walking the same path but wearing completely different shoes.

How A Blog Can Make Money

For the sake of the beginners, a quick recap on how blogs can make money in three dot points…

  1. Advertising
  2. Sell other people’s stuff for a commission (affiliate income)
  3. Sell your own stuff or your time (products and services)

That’s pretty much it when you look at it from the top level. All forms of blog monetization fall into one of these three categories.

Daniel and Joe both built blogs that primarily attract traffic from Google. Joe also uses YouTube.

They follow the fundamentals of good blogging by providing pillar content for their audience, answering questions that a group of people go looking online for answers to.

Daniel then uses advertising, primarily Google’s AdSense system to make about $100,000 a year. He has guest writers, paid writers and does some writing himself too.

That’s where Daniel’s blogging story mostly ends because he is focusing on a software company now. His blog is basically a cash-cow. It attracts a lot of traffic and the income from advertising is passive and consistent as a result.

Joe on the other hand didn’t bother with advertising or affiliate income and went straight to products. He has less traffic than Daniel, but he makes a lot more per visitor because of his large range of products.

My own personal story is somewhere in between these guys. I lean more on the product side of the fence like Joe, and believe that is the best path for a person who has a smaller audience.

What Path Is Right For Your Blog?

I bring up these examples because it shows that you shouldn’t just follow other people blindly.

Subtle aspects — things you may not know until you actually start blogging — will dictate your choices when it comes to the business model you run your blog under.

Your niche might be small, which makes advertising not such a great option. However, if a you foster a very loyal following (a tribe or 1,000 true fans) who spend money on your products, you can do very well.

Perhaps you don’t want the hassles of product creation, customer support and setting up systems to deliver and sell your products. You might like the idea of just writing a blog and have your income be mostly passive. In this case advertising and affiliate promotions are your best choices.

Some markets don’t have many affiliate products, some have many. Some don’t have high priced products, or subscription products, which can make a big difference to your bottom line, if affiliate income is your main bread and butter.

Then there are considerations like will an email newsletter work well in your industry and do you even want to maintain one?

I remember talking to Alborz Fallah about his blog Car Advice (also featured inside the EJ Insider Interviews program) and how email newsletters have never been that effective for them. They have millions of visitors per month coming to the blog, hence advertising is their best source of income.

Then there are small businesses who use blogs, but the blog is not the business. It’s a tool to bring new people to their website, but the website is about selling products or services.

All of these examples represent models you can follow. These are strategic choices that very much dictate how you grow a blog. There is no one-size-fits-allmodel when it comes to blogging.

Experiment

None of these choices are set in stone once you make them. You can experiment, in fact I suspect you will have to before you find the right mix for you and your audience.

It’s a learning process — one that is very hard to predict before you have an audience.

Everything is guess work until you have real live people paying attention to you so you can see how they react.

You won’t know what content resonates well, or what language works best, or what problems are the most important, or what people are willing to spend money on, or if they click ads or not, until you have readers who by their actions, or lack of action, answer these questions.

That’s why, as with Daniel, Joe, myself and all other successful bloggers, have one thing in common – they create value for other people and then build upon their success.

That’s really all there is to it. You build the building, and then decide which furniture fits best.

About the author: Yaro Starak

yaro - profile picYaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

This article was first published by Yaro Starak

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bing Network. All opinions are 100% mine.
Effective search engine advertising is about delivering the right message, to the right person at exactly the right moment.

It’s answering people’s questions, whenever they have them, in the most personalized and accurate way you can.

As advertising technology continues to evolve, yes your ability to achieve this becomes easier, but user expectations of real-time understanding and intuition grow just as fast.

If you don’t keep up, your ROI from paid search will continue to deteriorate.

As we move into the next wave of the digital revolution, you will be able to deliver highly intelligent advertising messages, backed by enormous amounts of personal and behavioral data on your prospects.

The future of search engine advertising is exciting, but blink and you’ll miss the opportunity.

Real-time expectations, personalization and big data

People want information, and they want it now. And with a sea of data and insights available to advertisers this expectation can only grow.

It will become the norm to type a query into your handheld device and get a real-time recommendation based on your location, preferences, demographic information and a thousand other data points.

Advertising personalization will go BEYOND basic remarketing.

The ads you see won’t just be about the last web page you visited, they’ll be tailored based on years of behavioral cues and off and online activity. This is your digital footprint, and brands will be able to capitalize on it.

Ads will be triggered based on the weather outside, the store you just walked past, or the birthday party you have coming up next weekend. And these ads won’t just pop up in search engines. They’ll be everywhere. In mobile apps, across your favorite websites and even on digital billboards.

BIG data is more than just an email address and some website history. It’s your shoe size, your dating history, the type of books you read, the ads you click on, the ads you don’t click on, every car you’ve ever bought. All of this information is being aggregated in a way that will change the paid advertising industry.

Your smartphone, powered by Siri or Cortana, will recognize that it’s your Mom’s birthday today and suggest stopping to pick up flowers as you approach the florist on your way home. As it turns out, that specific florist has a sale on and you were just told about it by a computer.

This is what search advertising will evolve to be.

Voice search and multi-platform advertising

Voice search is primed to overtake text-based search, and advertisers will need to adapt.

It requires a new approach and a deeper understanding of the natural human language.

Not surprisingly voice search is powered by technology such as Cortana, Siri and Google Now, which are all owned and operated by the search engine giants.

Then we have mobile…

Sure it’s not groundbreaking to suggest that mobile search is the future. But as an advertiser it’s even more important than you think. 3 out of every 4 people who search for something locally on their smartphone, visit a business within that day.

As more and more people start searching for geographically based information on their phones, there is more and more opportunity to personalize the advertising experience for them. And it’s not just about showing a relevant ad in a search engine result. To win in the future of search advertising you will need to expand your ad’s visibility across multiple devices, and on multiple platforms.

Bing alone powers tools such as Cortana, Xbox, Windows, Microsoft Office, Twitter translations, Siri and Amazon search. And that is just scratching the surface. Your ads will need to create touch points across multiple platforms in a person’s day, with each touchpoint being more and more personalized.

Wrap

Search engine advertising has come along way in the last decade, but the biggest changes are yet to come.

Some of what we can expect is predictable based on the trends and innovations we see today. But most of what lies ahead is beyond our imagination.

What we do know is that data, real-time expectations and personalization are rapidly becoming significant influencers over how we deliver advertising messages to our prospects.

Are you ready for the next wave of the digital advertising revolution?

About the author: Jeff Bullas

jeff - profile picJeff is an entrepreneur, blogger, author, marketer and speaker and works with personal brands and business to optimize online personal and company brands with emerging technologies, content, social media technologies and digital marketing. He has spent most of his career involved with information technologies, telecommunications and the web.

This article was first published by Jeff Bullas

If you’re a small to medium-sized business, and you’re trying to grow your business but you’re drowning in a mountain of client emails, and your inbox is overflowing with too many sales and support questions, then you need help.

But help isn’t just answering emails. Perhaps you also need help in…

  • Selling your products and services when pre-sales questions come in.
  • Promoting additional or alternative offers, including affiliate ones.
  • Building a knowledgebase for your clients to answer common questions.
  • Gathering positive feedback to help build testimonials of happy clients.
  • Responding to and deflating negative feedback that only gets you down.
  • Upselling and cross-selling in the backend, increasing your sales volume.
  • Escalating only those issues that strictly require your personal attention.
  • Or reducing refunds by digging a little deeper and offering alternatives.

In short, getting help isn’t just to answer support emails. Customer sales and support assistance, like what we offer at Workaholics4Hire, frees up your time to allow you to work on your business rather than in your business, as we act as sales representatives for you while being advocates for your customers.

Once you hire a team of dedicated, knowledgeable, North American customer care assistants handle the heavy lifting in the backend with your clients, you can then have more time to market and grow your business — and even improve the frontend with feedback and recommendations.

It doesn’t matter if you sell gaming software, used cars, flooring tiles, downloadable music, web design services, or anything in between, Workaholics4Hire’s Customer Sales and Support Agents are well-versed with multiple online marketing tools.

We take the time to learn your specific products or services, build quality templates and articles, and save you a ton of money in different ways. First, let’s look at billing.

Affordable and Simple Customer Service Billing.

The most common question inquired by a new customer support clients is, “How much can I expect customer support to cost?” Our billing structure is simple and extremely cost effective.

We charge our clients a scaled flat monthly fee, which is determined by how much time we need to spend working on your desk.

No two customers are alike, and no two customer support systems are alike either. We value our clients very highly, so we do not bill you according to email volume alone. This would be highly costly for you, and that isn’t what we want for our customers.

Clients who have a high volume of emails may not necessarily need a lot of support. As a matter of fact, high volume is often a result of high spam hits rather than valid incoming customer queries.

Warning! If a company charges you a low “per ticket” price (and I use quotes here on purpose), they are likely charging you for spam tickets as well as genuine tickets that require a Legitimate Human Response, or LHR for short.

But even when they strictly charge you per LHR, the actual cost may be shocking…

The Hidden Cost of Price Fractioning

“Price Fractioning” or “Price Reframing” is what many service providers will use to disguise the actual price of what they are selling. The tactic is to break it down into its lowest/least common denominator in order to make the price appear smaller, when in reality it is quite costly.

How do you know if this guise even works?

Let’s try this.

Have you ever heard, “It’s only going to cost you less than the price of a cup of coffee?” Colloquially known as the “Cup-of-Coffee Tactic”, Price Fractioning is commonly used by customer support service providers. And although it is not unethical, it is certainly deceiving.

They do this because they know that most business owners will not have the time to sit down and do the math, and frankly, it is very easy to look at a low “only-$2-per-ticket” price tag and think you’re getting a great deal.

So we did some comparing. To help make things perfectly clear and transparent, we used our actual rates with real clients to see what they would have paid if they had hired someone else to handle their customer support.

The results were shocking!

We knew we saved our customers money, but even we didn’t realize just how much:

 

Turns out, our prices are 50% cheaper than the guys who charge $1 a ticket, and 75% cheaper than the guys who charge $2!

With small desks for example (which happen to be the bulk of our clients), the average monthly cost of $2-per-ticket providers came to $1,992 a month. Even those providers from overseas who charge $1 came to $996 a month. But our actual monthly charge is $500.

How Are We So Affordable?

We keep your costs low because it is in our best interest to do so. After all, we’re here to make your customers’ experience amazing, and we’re on a mission to improve your sales by making sure your customers are thrilled.

By doing this and doing this well, we not only keep your customers happy, we also keep you happy, and we keep our staff employed and happy. And as your business grows, so does our own. We grow along with you.

We only bill according to how much time it takes to perform work for your customer support account each day. Not per ticket or email, but based on the overall volume of work your desk requires.

Since you choose the range of services you want us to provide, you stay in control of your costs. You can always start with fewer services and upgrade when you are ready.

If you don’t know how much time your desk would require, simply make sure to choose according to your budget when you fill out your free assessment, and we can always scale back if you need us to.

Customer Support Rate Cards

We provide general customer support to begin. These include password fixes, billing issues, general inquiries, access or login problems, presale questions, etc. Most of our clients only ever need general support for almost everything that arises in a help desk.

Problems with webhosting, scripts, and software require specialized technical expertise for a correct response to such difficult issues. So if a question comes in that’s highly technical in nature, we escalate to you, your team, or your programmer. But handle the rest.

We provide accurate and detailed information about your account. No hidden fees and no surprises! Each month, your account manager sends you the in-depth billing report. This way, you can be certain of exactly how much you are paying for customer support each month.

We believe in total accountability, and this commitment to you is reflected in our help desk service invoicing and billing system.

After setting you up with your client service account, we watch your account carefully to determine the average amount of time our team needs to spend each day, and set up a monthly subscription for the baseline average.

This subscription can be upgraded or downgraded at any time as your needs change. You will only ever need to communicate with one person — your very own Customer Support Team Manager.

This one person will handle all the details, and is ultimately responsible for the quality of your customer support and for reporting each month.

Freeing Up Your Time, Energy, and Sanity!

Ultimately, without a customer service team dedicated to handling clients for you, often the duty falls on you, thus taking your time away from growing your business — time better spent on creating, marketing, and selling products and services.

Either that or the duty falls to other full time employees who already have enough on their work plate who might end up resenting their jobs, such as salespeople who get pulled into fielding issues when they should be making sales calls. That translates into lost revenue.

By outsourcing your customer service to a trained, dedicated customer service staff, you can keep everyone happy while ultimately maximizing customer value and opening up new possibilities of revenue for you.

About the author: Michel Fortin

michel - profile pic

A copywriter and consultant for close to 30 years, Michel was instrumental in selling millions worth of products and services. His most notable success is a salesletter that sold over a million dollars online on launch day. Today, Michel is a best-selling author, in-demand public speaker, and highly sought-after marketing consultant.

Click here to view the original post by Michel Fortin