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 I Learned to Become a Great Marketer

Marketing is definitely not easy. As a humble marketer for a startup in Massachusetts selling herbal perfumes and essential oils, I witnessed the uphill struggle to make our startup known.  Even though we have carved out a considerable share of the perfume market, we still have to compete with many other perfume brands to make ours stand out.

Rising up from the ranks of marketing personnel, I have learned four things that helped our startup survive its birth pains and thrive into a blossoming perfume business. I have learned some things that great marketers do.

I learned how to be creative to reach audiences

It is not enough to merely blast out to the public, “Hey we’re here! And we have organic perfumes for sale!,” especially when you are just starting. To create a solid customer base, I found out that creatively reaching out to customers would involve delivering the right message to the right people and not the general public. This can make your business and products more relevant to individual concerns and sentiments.

Studying how humans behave and respond to communication has also helped my work. Using my intuition, I thought that we could promote our herbal perfumes by tapping into the ‘organic products are good’ craze.

Later, when my colleagues and I gathered enough data on our consumers’ behavior, we were able to develop the right messages to reach our target audiences. That is where I learned how target-specific storytelling skills can make a brand relevant to consumers at a personal level.

Maximizing available technology was also a crucial aspect of this process. I learned how to use blogs, email, social media, and websites to spark discussions about our brand and to engage customers into meaningful conversations.

Email marketing, in particular, has been a great way to test our creativity. This tactic has required us to segment our subscribers into common-interest subgroups, since not all of our subscribers have the same reasons for wanting to try our perfume.

For each particular group, we had to craft messages that suit them explicitly, and this strategy worked! No one unsubscribed us from their email accounts. Building and maintaining websites are also great ways to learn how to reach audiences creatively. You have to make your websites user-friendly and pleasing to the eye while ensuring that your content answers your customers’ questions and suits their needs.

I learned the importance of building relationships

After learning how to reach out to our audiences more effectively, the next thing I learned is how to keep their trust and loyalty to my brand. Every marketer knows how difficult and expensive it can be to find new customers while keeping your existing customers loyal to you.

According to business strategist Frederick F. Reichheld, a 5 percent increase in customer retention rates can increase profits dramatically. It can be expensive to acquire new customers, so it may be cost effective to keep the customers you already have. Invesp, a blog that specializes in improving companies’ conversion rates, estimates that attracting a new customer costs five times more than retaining the customers you already have.

For me, these statistics were a revelation.  Through constant feedback and communication with our existing and potential customers, I learned how to improve our services and our retention rates.  We offered discounts and perks to some of our most loyal customers to show our appreciation for them and build our relationships in the process. Engaging them online helped strengthen our relationships.

Of course, regardless of our marketing efforts, I learned that trust and loyalty are primarily earned and kept by the quality of our product. Of course, this rule also applies to other products, such as cell phones and automobiles.

I also concluded that our sales strategies should also be linked with product design and development strategies to make our products more responsive to customers’ preferences and needs.  In the process, I learned how our products could be designed to retain our customers’ loyalty and also why I should use the right strategies as part of the marketing process.

I learned to be a consummate strategist and a daring tactician

Coordinating the way we reach out to audiences, the way we deepen our relationships with them, and the way our product development and improvement respond to customer behavior all required me to be a consummate strategist.

Examining the interrelatedness of individual efforts and coordinating them to achieve our sales goals helped make me a consummate strategist. At the same time, I learned the importance of being a daring tactician who can capitalize on a potential opportunity or turn a problem into an opportunity that could translate into quick gains to buoy the overall business strategy.

For example, we observed that our customers were looking for essential oils made in Java. They heard that the oils could provide relaxation for stressed workers like them. Using these observations and information, we found a supplier in Java.  We sold the oils and they were a hit!

Nevertheless, I learned that it was naive to merely copy strategies and tactics that have worked for others. Like other fields, the perfume business has its specific quirks and conditions, with its set of target customers and market situation.

Marketers should develop out-of-the-box ideas to achieve their goals and improve techniques that have been proven effective by other companies. They can apply their ideas creatively and tailor them to specific characteristics of their businesses to engage customers and drive sales.

I learned to use data to implement and revise my strategy

Without the ability to gather and interpret data, we risk running our business blindly and dangerously. We would not know if we are progressing, stagnating, or declining. Additionally, data interpretation skills help us measure and identify more concretely our customers’ needs, motivations, and their way of making decisions. This information can help us guide our marketing strategy to help us gain and retain customers’ attention.

Thus, I learned that we have to be able to interpret data and understand what it means. From here, we can make the necessary tweaks to our overall strategy and marketing efforts.  As I already had a fundamental grasp of customer psychology, I was able to avoid merely playing with the numbers. This was because I had the background context to understand the profound implications of these numbers.

Conversion rates, traffic generation, consumer behavior, rivals’ performance—what do all these mean?  The data only made sense when I combined them with my understanding of consumer behavior. These numbers showed me how effective our marketing channels are. Which ones are successful, which ones are lagging behind and which specific marketing efforts are working, both online and offline.

I had to bring these disparate pieces of data together to form a single comprehensive analysis and assessment of our marketing situation. From there, my colleagues and I were able to make decisions and adjustments to our communications strategy. This would help to influence our customers to respond positively to our calls-to-action and buy our organic perfumes.

Nevertheless, I also learned not to bury myself in numbers.  Qualitative research also matters. It provides the contextual narrative for your numbers, especially the big digits. Using information properly can lead to success.

 

Read more of our tips and insights from our professional contributors:

 Five ways to get noticed online

 

About the Author:

Charles Watson can be found at Comerica Park in Detroit, Massachusetts during this time of the year.  While not taking in Tiger’s game, he has his pen to paper as the head writer for Sunshine Behavioral Health.

Contact him here at: sunshinebehavioralhealth.com/

 

Tell me if this feels familiar…You are starting or growing a new online business.

You frequently have conversations with other people who also have a business, and walk away with lots of ideas. Every time you go online and watch your Facebook feed, or check your email inbox, you are presented with more ideas, opportunities, and things other people do that you could do too.

While you are excited about the potential in front of you, this feeling quickly turns to overwhelm and a sense of stress. You want to do it all, but for some reason, you don’t seem to do any of it!

Progress is slow at best, and you’re so frustrated because it seems like everyone else is getting so much more done than you. How is it these people can be so productive?

 

The Paradox Of Choice For Entrepreneurs

Recently here in Toronto where I am living presently, I’ve had conversations with some new friends who are at the early stage of their new online businesses.

These people have skills and knowledge to share with the world, yet they often feel paralyzed and frustrated by what seems like very slow progress.

The problem gets exacerbated because they are constantly stimulated by new ideas as all entrepreneurs are, and since their current project hasn’t completely taken off yet (or they haven’t committed to one yet), it’s easy to feel swayed by other things you can do.

You can even get lost by all the opportunities within one project. Do you create a short course or a flagship training program first? Or run a webinar, or focus on social media, or write a blog? What about looking for affiliates and doing a launch? Or maybe you should focus on private coaching now, or run some kind of lean test to make sure your idea works? Or first, hire people to build a team around you?

So many options!!!

If you don’t have a concrete foundation holding you on a path towards a result, it’s easy to jump to another path.

Unfortunately, this has the effect of destroying any momentum you have built up with whatever you had started to do.

The net impact of this is discord. You float around all the time and never feel anchored towards a goal.

You need the anchoring because it helps you with one very powerful technique…

Ignoring.

 

I’m Not Immune To This Problem

I’m not immune to the feeling of frustration and stress from wanting to get more done.

Every time I have a conversation with one of my super productive friends like Nathan Chan from Foundr, or see how much a top achiever like Pat Flynn produces, or hear how good someone else’s product launch did, or read an article about yet another person enjoying success with some new platform or app, I experience a desire to do it all!

On top of this, since I run a podcast where I interview successful people doing similar things to myself, I experience more envy, desire — and thankfully motivation too — to match the results of my interview guests.

It’s natural to compare your own results against the results of others. Unfortunately, we tend to be our own harshest critics, so nothing is ever good enough.

It’s not realistic to do it all, so there is always going to be some feeling of untapped potential (which ideally should fuel your motivation).

 

Commit To A Project (And Ignore The Rest)

I learned a long time ago that this feeling of wanting to do everything is a trap.

To make matters worse for new entrepreneurs, it’s much easier to fall into this trap when you don’t have a successful project yet.

When you’re not sure what your focus is, you easily jump from idea to idea. We all have plenty of ideas, but if you don’t have an active project that you build on every day, it’s too easy to change focus. There is no loss changing projects if you haven’t built something that has value.

This situation occurs in dating too. If you haven’t stuck with one person long enough, it’s easy to keep dating someone new every week. There’s no sense of loss when nothing is invested in creating something of substance.

When you do finally commit, it becomes much easier to ignore other opportunities. You don’t want to give up the momentum you already have with your current project, for something new that you have to start from scratch.

 

How I Get Stuff Done

Inside Laptop Lifestyle Academy I write a weekly accountability thread that all other members can see (some other members keep their own accountability thread too). In it, I set my weekly goals and report back what I did during the previous week.

This practice is helpful because it keeps me on track and it forces me to focus on priority tasks.

However, the reason this works at all is because I’ve become very good at ignoring.

The act of forcing myself to limit to just the three to five tasks I can work on in one week means I ignore everything else.

Since all or nearly all the tasks tie into the one short-term goal, it forces me to decide what project is most important this week.

It’s not just a way to hold yourself accountable, it’s a technique for setting priorities, which gives you the mental freedom that comes from ignoring everything else.

In my experience mental freedom is vital. For you to focus and get projects up and running, you have to have tunnel vision, at least short term.

You need a big long-term vision, which contains all the different things you want to do over a period of many years, but that many conflicting projects and goals will mess you up when it comes to short-term execution.

 

Ask Yourself These Questions…

Once a year I sit down and think about what is important to me and my business, and map out a list of project goals for the next year.

I consider all the options, all the potential projects that have grabbed my interest during the previous year, but I ignored to focus on my current project.

I also consider all the outcomes other people in my industry have achieved and ask myself if I would like to do what they have done.

My goal is to get really clear on what I want, without being overtly influenced by envy or greed or similar desires that naturally arise when you hear about other people’s success.

It’s important to be motivated by other’s results, but it’s more important to be true to your own goals, and how your strengths can be used to meet them.

These are the kind of questions I ask myself when going through this process…

  • Do I want to do the work required to get that outcome?
  • Am I being true to the cause that motivates me, or am I just thinking about the money I can make?
  • Is this the best use of my time given other projects I could focus on instead?
  • Can I get the same outcome doing something else that is better suited to my strengths?
  • What resources do I need in place to get this outcome?
  • Does this project fit in with the overall vision, brand and message I want to deliver to the world?
  • Are there synergies between this project and other things I have already done that will give me an advantage?
  • Fast forward twelve months from now, what outcome would make me happiest?

These are important questions because they give me clarity. Born from this clarity are the projects I choose to focus on during the next 12 months. I then sequence these projects in order of priority, giving more than enough time for each project, and make the commitment to ignoring everything else.

The decision to ignore is absolutely vital for peace of mind and productivity. When you ask yourself questions like the above you can be confident you are making the right choices for what you want right now, not something you feel you should do because other people are doing it or just because you like the idea.

 

What Are You Focused On?

I’ll end this article with an important question…

What are you focused on right now?

When you think of your answer to this question, consider whether your commitment to your cause is powerful enough that you ignore everything else.

Are you truly centered by this goal, or are you trying to juggle multiple projects that are not connected to the core outcome you desire?

Are you easily distracted by new ideas, or things that other people do, to the point that these potential ideas stop you from taking action on your current project?

If you’re not making progress on your current project, ask yourself whether you prioritized your current project for the wrong reasons?

Any time you come across an over-achieving entrepreneur, at the heart of their success is a burning desire. They are driven to succeed by single-minded focus to see their idea come to reality, combined with a sense of urgency to make it happen as soon as possible, and a joy in the process of creation.

What burning desire do you have?

Yaro Starak
Setting Goals

 

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

Think of a movie or television star…

…Now think of the movie or show they are most known for.

(Arnold Schwarzenegger = Terminator, David Schwimmer = Friends, Kate Winslet = Titanic, Julia Roberts = Pretty Woman)

Next, think of an author. What book are they best known for?

(Elizabeth Gilbert = Eat, Pray, Love, Paulo Coelho = The Alchemist, Roald Dahl = Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

Most well known creative people have a huge body of work, but there’s frequently one big break out success that they become known for far above everything else.

Humans are good at association. We remember things by connecting a person with an event or an experience we had with them or their work, often referred to us by another human being.

We like to compartmentalize too. It makes it easier for recollection and transmission to other human beings. We put things into ‘boxes’ in our brains with simple labels we can easily share with others when asked.

 

What Is Your Big Idea?

As an entrepreneur, your business success also comes down to one big idea that you and/or your business is associated with and eventually can become famous for (at least within your industry).

In my experience coaching new online entrepreneurs, one of the greatest challenges is clarity around their big idea.

Most people feel they have many positive attributes they could lead with, or interests they would like to explore. Hence they’re not comfortable narrowing to something they see as too small to represent everything they can do (or everything they want to do).

As a result, they end up going out to the world with a very broad generic message, like “we can help you lose weight” or “find direction in your life” or “make money in real estate“.

As you can probably tell, these are not big ideas. These are generic ideas, messages that literally thousands of other people out there also use.

The end result is getting lost in the crowd, struggling to get any attention or customers, and eventually closing up shop.

I don’t want you to go down that path.

Hence you need to come up with your own ‘Big Idea’, one that you are prepared to become associated with and shout to the world.

This is so important. Not only is your Big Idea your point of differentiation from competition and the key to standing out in a crowded space, it becomes a guiding force behind everything you do…

  • Your Big Idea is the core message that you stand for — your movement — which all your key marketing efforts draw upon.
  • It’s the concept that you derive your headlines from, which you use on opt-in boxes on your blog and on standalone landing pages.
  • Your Big Idea determines your elevator pitch, what you tell people you do when you meet them in person.
  • It’s where your blog slogan comes from, that short sentence or two which explains what your blog is about.
  • It also guides everything you say during podcast interviews, on live webinars, and when talking on stage.

Your Big Idea is similar to a USP (unique selling proposition), a term popularized by the advertising industry. USP started as a methodology for positioning a product in the minds of consumers against competing products.

Your Big Idea is also a part of your overall vision. Your vision is the concept you want to share, the ‘dent in the universe’ you want to make, as Steve Jobs so eloquently put it. Your vision is about spreading your Big Idea as far as you can take it.

Your Big Idea is the ultimate positioning tool. It provides a clear platform for you to stand on that is unique from everyone else. It defines what you offer to people, and is present in everything you do online for your business.

 

How To Come Up With Your Big Idea

The interesting thing about a Big Idea is you don’t decide exactly how it spreads. Your audience and customers, the people you impact, will ultimately decide the words used because they will communicate it to other people for you.

You know it’s working when people talk about you, recommend you, and when they do so, it’s very clear what you stand for. Your audience grows organically and customers preselect you (and your products) as clear solutions to specific problems.

You have some degree of control of course, because every time you write any words to market your business, your Big Idea is in there, either explicitly or implicitly. Having clarity around what it is, makes the marketing process so much easier because it gives you an idea to stand on, to represent, to share.

To get this process started, your job is to present your Big Idea in very clear, specific messaging, with a solid understanding of the environment you operate in and people you are communicating with.

Start with these two steps…

Step 1: Identify accepted practice in your industry

The best place to start when defining your Big Idea is to look at what is already occurring in your industry.

What are accepted practices, habits, sources of information or how people go about solving the problem currently.

If you asked a person who is a member of your target audience what they have done already to try and solve their problem, the answers they give you tell you what is currently accepted practice (whether it works or not is not as important as knowing what people think is the answer).

Step 2: Identify what is unique about you and/or your solution

The next step is to find a point of contrast about what you do compared to everyone else. You look for unique aspects of your system, your methodology, your story, your way of communicating – something that is not common, that stands out and will make people pay attention.

You’re looking for an angle to tell a story from, to present compelling facts that cut through the normal ideas in an industry.

You might have unique technology (Dyson’s bagless vacuum cleaners), or a special technique (Tony Horton’s ‘muscle confusion’ in P90X), or have lived through a powerful experience (George Forman won gold at the Olympics and was a two-time world champion boxer, making his cooking grill special).

You can tap into scientific studies to back up your claims (eat fewer carbs to lose weight), or wrap it around a compelling idea (eat like our ancestors – the Paleo diet).

Bear in mind you likely offer the same outcome as someone else in your industry. There are a lot of diets each with their own unique spin on the same thing – how to lose weight. The outcome in this case matters, but it’s what is unique about your way of delivering the outcome that gives you the powerful message, the Big Idea.

 

Counterintuitive Marketing

The two-step process I have just presented to you leverages a concept known as ‘counterintuitive marketing’.

I was first exposed to this idea by Rich Schefren (you can hear him talk about it during his interview in my Exclusive Interviews Club).

Rich gave the example of counterintuitive marketing with this phrase –

How To Lose Weight By Eating More Food And Exercising Less

This is a brilliantly simple example of counterintuitive marketing. It’s a powerful headline that goes so far against accepting practice that you have to know more.

On top of going against what is common knowledge, it also appears like a far superior option too. You can eat more and lose weight? That sounds too good to be true, I have to take a look at this.

As you can imagine, when you have a really powerful counterintuitive Big Idea, you can take it to media outlets and instantly get exposure. What is unique, new, and dramatically different from how things now demand attention, especially if they are tied into a desirable outcome a lot of people want.

 

How Does Your Idea Make People Feel?

It’s important when considering the elements that make up your Big Idea that you factor in two outcomes:

  1. There is the practical, tangible outcome you help people gain
  2. There is the feeling they experience as a result of being exposed to your message

Big Idea taps into emotion. It’s a movement, a cause, something strong enough to stir action.

You might be helping people lose weight, but you are doing it so no more children have to go through the pain of losing a parent to obesity-related death.

The way you communicate is a significant factor. Since you deliver the message, how you present it will impact the emotions your audience feel when exposed to your work.

This is why as bloggers we do so well writing in our own ‘voice’ and sharing aspects of our lives through platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Your voice, writing style and everything that shares your personality, add flavour – feelings – to your Big Idea.

 

Start With A Headline

The Big Idea might seem like an abstract concept, and in some ways it is.

You’re working towards refining an idea that represents something simple at its core – solving a problem for people – but wrapping it up in a unique system, with a powerful emotional story.

It will take time to refine your Big Idea and find the best language to present it. As you learn more about your audience and your industry, how you can best stand out and find your unique place of service, will evolve and become clearer to you.

To begin with, I recommend you focus on creating one powerful headline, which you can use on your email opt-in forms.

Each headline you write is a summation of your Big Idea – it represents a part of it, a narrowing of focus to highlight elements that will help you grab attention and stand out.

Years ago I was working on my first key headline to use on my email opt-in forms and as the tagline for my Blog Profits Blueprint free report.

At the time blogging was hitting the mainstream, with lots of news coverage about bloggers making money. I noticed a trend in the stories about how hard bloggers were working to make a living. Twelve hour days spent writing ten to twenty blog posts was the ‘formula’ most bloggers at the time followed. A few bloggers actually died because they stopped sleeping for days at a time!

Even my peers back then like Darren Rowse (problogger.com) and Brian Clark (copyblogger.com) wrote about blogging being hard work and not a passive source of income.

Bear in mind this was before Tim Ferriss popularized the idea of a 4-Hour Workweek (a great example of a Big Idea!), so people were not talking about low labour online income methods much back then (‘Lifestyle Business’ was not a well-worn phrase yet).

It just so happened that like Tim, I was following the 80/20 Rule. I had created a blog that made a full-time income, but I was only writing once or twice a week.

I had taken the smart step to become an email marketer along with my blog, which gave me much more leverage than other bloggers at the time who relied solely on lots of traffic to up their page-view count to make money from advertising.

Consequently, the first headline I used was this –

ScreenShot20140902at12.37.12pm.png

I wanted to show people how to build a Laptop Lifestyle blog business, something that could earn $100,000 a year or more, but once up and running only required an hour or two to maintain.

The accepted practice in the industry was to work long hours writing lots of blog posts every day and then you might make a full time living. My Big Idea was you can write one blog post a week, spend two hours a day on your business, and still make a full-time income.

People were naturally curious what was different about what I taught that could require so much less time. I had the business model thanks to email marketing added to blogging to back up this claim (and yes to maintain my income at that level really did only take a couple of hours a day).

Around the same time as I worked on this first headline I began to see many other examples of Big Ideas in my own industry and how famous these people and concepts were becoming.

Jeff Walker had his ‘Product Launch Formula‘. Rich Schefren had his ‘Internet Business Manifesto’ including a groundbreaking flow chart, Mike Filsaime had ‘Butterfly Marketing‘, while Ed Dale and Frank Kern had the ‘Under Achiever Method‘. Today I can think of more examples like Ryan Levesque’s ‘Ask Method‘, Navid Moazzez and ‘Virtual Summit Mastery‘, and Nathan Chan’s ‘Instagram Domination‘.

Some of these Big Ideas simply ride on the back of new platforms (Instagram), others took what was accepted beliefs (start a business online by yourself and make passive income) and completely rocked them (Rich Schefren’s flow chart showing that it was a completely false idea and he had a better one).

 

Now It’s Your Turn

I’d like you to sit down and think about everything I covered in this article. Jot down concepts, ideas, words and phrases that describe what you do, how you do it, emotions, stories and outcomes for your audience.

Your Big Idea will be fuzzy at first. Over time it will become clearer and clearer. You will start to rely on certain stories and concepts that you share over and over again in all kinds of online media to spread your message, all representing that one Big Idea.

Next, I recommend you work on your first headline born from that Big Idea.

Remember specifics matter. Things like numbers, time frames, names of people and places, objects, products, brands, popular culture labels and news events are critical ingredients for a powerful headline. When you write a word or phrase, ask yourself if there is a more specific word or phrase you could use instead.

You can then use this headline as your email opt-in offer in landing pages and on your blog. Hopefully, this will take you down a path to more and better headlines, each helping you present your Big Idea to the world in a more concise and powerful way.

Stick at this long enough and you might find one day what you do, and what you sell, become synonymous with a certain idea. That idea will spread, with you and your business, bringing new customers and opportunities with it.

 

You’re Going To Need Help

Coming up with Big Ideas for marketing is not easy. It can take years, especially if marketing is not something you have practiced.

You need to synthesize a lot of information together, then attempt to come up with powerful words to convey your ideas. This requires you combine entrepreneurship, advertising, marketing, copywriting and a whole host of other skills together. Even if you are used to these things (as I am), it is still difficult. I anguish over every headline and title I write, wanting to be concise, clear, yet have a breakthrough idea.

When you get it right though, amazing things can happen. Just one good Big Idea can carry you very far. Many of the examples I’ve laid out in this article have led to multi-million dollar businesses, which would not have happened if the Big Idea wasn’t present to help them cut through the noise and garner exposure.

I’d like to offer you my help. I just opened the doors to my membership coaching community called ‘The Laptop Lifestyle Academy‘.

It’s one part mentoring, one part education and one part community.

In the context of you finding and refining your Big Idea, you get to speak to me whenever you need help. I run coaching webinars every month, plus you have access to a membership community and live Slack Chat for members only.

All of this comes as part of your membership in the Laptop Lifestyle Academy for a low monthly or annual fee.

I’ll see you inside the Academy.

Talk to you soon,

Yaro Starak
Refining Big Ideas

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

I received an email recently from one my newsletter subscribers named Zsolt, who is from Hungary.

He had a really great question regarding what business models still work online. Specifically, he was referring to the more social web 2.0 world of blogging, podcasting and social media, versus traditional internet marketing formats.

This is the part of the message Zsolt sent me that covers his question (republished with permission) –

Over the past years I have played with blogging and even had some success with an astronomy video blog. But these experiences tought me one thing: blogging is not really my thing. I just could not keep posting on a regular basis. Blogging is a marathon, a long term commitment to putting out great content and build a loyal following over several months, maybe even years. It’s just not my cup of tea. I am not good at it.

I have been pulled more to the “traditional” IM route. You know, setting up optin pages, sales funnels, creating automated systems to sell online courses. I do like to teach, creating educational materials, and I do love setting up systems and automating the process. But the web is full of people saying how this day and age traditional internet marketing is dying and you need to be social, be everywhere, blog, build a following on FB, etc. In other words, you need to put yourself out every single day and create content day in and out on various social platforms. If you don’t do it, you won’t survive for long. At least, this is the impression I get.

So I guess my question is: what’s your take on this? Am I doomed if I try to build automated sales funnels around my courses (my niche is positive psychology and well-being) without building an authority blog and a following first? As I look around on the web, many marketers still follow this approach (like Eban Pagan, Jeff Walker, Rich Scheffren, etc). Their approach resonates with me more than the “social, web 2.0 or whatever” approach. But I constantly doubt myself. Driving paid traffic to a squeeze page then following-up with solid content, video series, webinars and yes, a pitch too at the end is still a viable approach these days?

Zsolt

This is such a good question I felt I had to reply using a blog article so more people can benefit from the discussion.

Having straddled the worlds of blogging and “traditional” internet marketing for years (it was part of my original positioning strategy online), I have a strong understanding of the two different models.

Just recently I reflected on what model I want to follow as I re-launch the premium training arm of my business. This is of particular interest because as I observe my peers from both blogging and internet marketing, I see one group earning a lot more money than the other, yet often working less.

This has been the case since the very beginning when I started blogging and studying internet marketing. The two worlds have certainly merged in recent years, however, it does appear, as Zsolt talks about, that the social model requires a lot more work than the internet marketing model, yet most of the internet marketers I know are millionaires, where the pure social content people are not.

 

What Is The Difference?

As I see it, the key differences between the social content authority model vs traditional internet marketing, are –

Social Authority Model

People who blog or podcast or use video, what David Siteman Garland calls a “mediapreneur”, focus on a content hub. That hub might be your blog, or your YouTube channel, or your Facebook page. Your hub is then extended using other kinds of social and new media to bring back traffic.

Your focus is on distributing content on various channels and then leveraging your audience for income streams that traditionally have been advertising or service-delivery focused. However, in more recent years product creation has become part of the monetization strategy too.

Traditional Internet Marketing

Internet marketers, on the other hand, focus on landing pages with opt-in forms, where they invite people on to an email newsletter, then deliver content through that medium. Using the list as the relationship building tool, the internet marketer then sells products, usually information products they have created or affiliate products from other people.

Although nowadays it’s common for these two worlds to overlap, you can still sense there is a distinct difference between an “internet marketer” and an online media publisher.

 

Baggage

When you listen to some of the more social-media focused entrepreneurs, especially those who started in the last five years or less, you can hear the disdain they feel for the “internet marketers”. They try very hard to avoid the label of internet marketer because of the baggage the term comes with.

The baggage, to put it simply, mostly comes from the copy – the words – used to sell. In fact, you might say that it’s really copywriters who are to blame more than anyone else for the poor reputation.

Claims of instant riches, false limited offers, packages valued at tens of thousands of dollars available for a special price of only $7 – it all becomes a bit much very quickly.

Now without getting into a debate on the merits of copywriting spin and how much it impacts conversion (I’ve written about this before), it’s safe to say that we all have a tolerance level for what we consider too much hype.

As a result of what kind of impression we want to make and what we personally deem too hypey, we decide what kind of language to use and what kind of offers to make when we sell our products.

On several occasions over the years after launching products, I’ve received emails – even sometimes on the same day – that have presented polar opposite views of the language style I just used to sell with.

One person would accuse me of being too hypey, state they could never trust me because my sales page looks like it was written by a snake oil salesman.

Then another person would email me praising the lack of hype in my language. How refreshing it was to find such a down-to-earth marketer.

If I focused purely on profit then I should only worry about conversion when it comes to the language I use. However, there’s more to it than just that.

Your personal brand matters. How you are perceived impacts the kind of reputation you have. Reputation and relationships matter for conversion too, even more so than the copy on your sales page in my opinion.

The best path forward is to stick to whatever your natural style is. You will attract people who like your style, and people who do not will leave. Assuming enough people like you, you will have a business.

 

Conversion Blogging

I’ve never had a problem with being called an internet marketer. This is probably because I find internet marketing very effective. I’ve learned some very powerful ideas from other internet marketers.

That being said, I was a blogger first, before I began to implement internet marketing techniques.

When I published my “Conversion Blogging” video back in 2008 I felt it represented well the two worlds I had operated in as a person who grew up blogging, and later applied internet marketing to the mix.

Conversion Blogging Video

Nowadays it’s nothing revolutionary, but when I started out it was rare to find someone who used a blog and then drove traffic to landing pages, used email marketing and sold products using sales pages.

Back then the blogging ethos was grow your traffic, increase your page views and use Adsense to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that model and advertising of course still works well, but I did a lot better including internet marketing in the mix.

What I find particularly fascinating, and what the question presented by Zsolt at the start of this article alluded to, is the distinct differences still present today between the two groups.

 

Adam Short Vs Pat Flynn

One of the best ways I can illustrate the differences between a social content marketer and a direct response internet marketer is to take a look at two people I admire and respect online, who use different models but actually teach the same thing (or at least almost the same).

Adam Short is the man behind Niche Profit Classroom (NPC), a training membership site that teaches you how to build niche sites that can make anywhere from a few hundred dollars a month to a few thousand. You follow the system and keep building sites until you make enough money to meet your goals.

I’ve promoted Adam on EJ several times over the past five years. His NPC program, in terms of income generated, is the most successful affiliate product I have ever recommended.

Pat Flynn needs no introduction. Although Pat is known for many things, it’s safe to say that his primary audience has the same goal as Adam’s – he teaches you how to build profitable niche websites. People follow Pat because they want to set up their own near-passive income website.

Chances are you have heard of Pat, but not necessarily of Adam. Pat, a proponent of the “be-everywhere” formula uses all top forms of social media marketing and content marketing, including a blog, podcast, youtube, facebook, twitter and various other sites.

Adam may have a presence using these tools, but he is hardly prolific on them. His main focus has been running webinars for affiliates, who send him traffic to an opt-in form. He then runs the webinar, which is 90% teaching content, followed by an offer to join his NPC program.

It’s impossible for me to know who works harder out of these two guys, but I’m fairly confident simply because of the breadth of tools that Pat makes use of that he puts in more hours. Adam is not nearly as famous and spends his time working his niche sites, his one training program and delivering webinars for affiliates.

Adam doesn’t need to publish a super-fresh blog or do regular podcasts or maintain a social presence. He has several thousand paying members in his program and keeps new ones coming in thanks to affiliate marketing (and probably other methods I do not know about).

Pat works hard to establish a strong personal brand. He’s branched out to books and speaking gigs, turning into a true media personality.

Now you might say these two guys have different goals. I don’t think Pat does as much as he does just to make money. He does it because he loves it and is driven to build as big a profile as he can.

Adam might not want to be as well known publicly or to produce so much content on so many different channels, so focuses on his core product funnel.

 

Who Makes More Money?

I can’t be certain who makes more money, but of course, we do know that Pat publishes his monthly income reports, so assuming we rely on those we have a pretty good idea how much he is making. At the initial time of writing this, he earns around $50K to $60K in profit a month, so probably around half a million dollars a year or more. (Currently, he’s doing over $250k a month now)

That’s some good coin for sure.

Adam doesn’t publish his numbers as openly as Pat, but I do know some details from back when I was promoting him. NPC had a consistent 3,000 to as many as 5,000 active paying members.

The NPC product was about $67 a month back then, so if we take the lower number of 3,000 active members, that’s about $200K a month (at the initial time of writing this). Up to half of that is going to go out to affiliates, leaving $100K. There are expenses to take out of that money, but also other income streams to add to it as Adam did affiliate marketing and I believe had upsell products too, not mention his own niche sites that at one stage he claimed were making $90K a month too (that was a long time ago though!).

My educated guess is that Adam’s company takes home over a million a year in profit, at least it was a few years ago. As I stated, these are all best guesses, and I have no idea how well Adam is doing today, so don’t take this as factual. I’m no doubt wrong about all the numbers I have quoted, but at least we have a ballpark area to play with.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say Adam takes home about double what Pat does. I suspect he works about half as hard too.

Does that make Adam, the “internet marketer”, the winner against Pat the “social content marketer”?

Maybe. There are way too many variables at play to really do a straight comparison. However, the fact they are effectively teaching people how to get the same outcome using the same vehicle (niche sites) makes this a compelling comparison.

 

What Should You Do?

What I find valuable about doing this kind of comparison is to look at the models other people are using, what kind of money they are making and what tasks they are performing to earn that money.

There really is no right or wrong way, only options.

Do you want to be more like Pat, or Adam, or Neil Patel, Darren Rowse, or Brian Clark, or Eben Pagan, Rich Schefren, or Chris Guillebeau, Marie Forleo or Katie Frieling, or Amy Porterfield, or any of the other countless internet marketers, bloggers and social media experts out there.

Of course, you can’t “be” one of these people, but you can model them. You can take what you like about what they do, implement their systems, use the same tools as they do and fuse that with your own unique way of doing things.

I find this incredibly valuable because it helps me to figure out what model to use to make a certain amount of money (if you don’t have a model that can make the kind of money you want then you’re just silly). I also get excited about doing certain things and not others, so seeing how I could personally fit in is very helpful.

I hate keyword research and building niche sites that I don’t care about the subject matter, so I’m not going to follow Pat or Adam in terms of their core teaching system. However, I will borrow from both guys when it comes to selling my own products or building my blog.

The smart thing you can do is cherry pick ideas from others and focus on the methods you like the most. Combine your personal strengths with a business model that can deliver good leverage, and get busy.

 


How Much Traffic Do You Really Need To Make $100,000 A Year?

I learned early on that growing your traffic by trying to ‘be everywhere’ is too hard. Instead I focus on just one simple goal when it comes to getting customers online. Learn a smarter traffic strategy in my free email course, click here to sign up.


 

What Is Your Strategy?

As I was putting together this article I reflected back over the last 12 years I spent making money using all kinds of different online methods.

One thing that stood out was how much of a difference strategy makes when it comes to choosing what you do online. Each technique can be used in different ways depending on the strategy you are following, and the outcomes can be dramatically different as a result.

A social content marketer thinks differently to an internet marketer. They enjoy doing different jobs, which is why they follow different models.

To help clarify what I mean, here are some examples of techniques and how you might choose to use them depending on what kind of online marketer you are.

Advertising

Advertising is a very common method to earn money online with. The potential problem with it is you send people away from your site. It seems strange to spend all this time generating traffic only to send it somewhere else, but that’s actually a very common business model.

You might call it being the middleman for attention. You get paid to attract traffic and take a cut to send it somewhere else.

Potentially you can earn a lot more if you capture that attention and use it to sell your own products and services. The connection is smoother – come to my site, learn about me, then buy my products. It’s a walled garden.

If you follow a product funnel model this makes sense, however, you might not want to create products and deal with everything that comes with it. Hence you prefer the ease of advertising income and focus on giving your content away for free on a blog or other social platforms.

Some industries are not great for products, so advertising is the best option in this case as well.

Conversion Vs Content

This is an interesting distinction. You might say that traditional internet marketers are much more focused on conversion than social content marketers.

A conversion person is very different from a content creator. They both might use the same tools, but they enjoy different aspects.

One might hate writing an article but loves testing the headline on their landing page. Testing might be a pain for a blogger, but they love writing articles and seeing how much traffic and social shares they attract.

Both people can do well online, but it’s critical you know what you are good at or what you have the motivation to become good at, and how that connects with the strategy you are following.

Leverage

I recently wrote about leverage and how absolutely vital it is if you want to make significant income online.

In my experience having a product funnel is a much higher form of leverage than having a large social following. A person with a list of 1,000 buyers on an email newsletter can make so much more money than a person with 10,000 followers on social media.

While it might not always be the case, based on my observations traditional internet marketers, because of their focus on conversion and finding buyers, can earn a lot more money from a much smaller audience.

The monetization method plays a part here too. You get a lot more leverage when you are selling people $1,000 products compared to getting paid ten cents when a person clicks an ad.

Of course, as I mentioned before, not everyone wants to focus on a product funnel. Just because one path appears easier to gain leverage from, if you hate the work required to make it work, it’s not going to work for you.

Sometimes the leverage comes from your enthusiasm for what you are doing.

Email Newsletter Vs Blog

This last comparison is very, very interesting.

I feel confident saying that in almost all situations an email list will convert better than a blog if you want to sell something.

To be fair, a blog isn’t as direct a response mechanism because people do not open up blogs every day the way they do email. Email can’t be “found” on the internet by search engines the way a blog can. The content needs to appear on a website, like a blog, for it to be discoverable by new people.

You might say blogging is a front-end vehicle to attract prospects, where an email list is the next level up, the tool you use to convert those prospects into buyers.

I’ve been a proponent of the synergy between these two tools for years. However, I do find it very interesting to see guys like Eben Pagan do very very well focusing on email without really having any blog component.

If you take Eben’s most successful company, his Double Your Dating business, you will find a fairly static content website, backed up by one massive long email autoresponder sequence.

His success comes from the list, which grows using various channels like affiliates and paid advertising. If he was using a blog instead of an email list to deliver his content, I doubt he would do as well as he does.

 

The Lines Are Blurred But There Are Clear Winners

When I wrote back privately via email to respond to Zsolt from Hungary, I said he shouldn’t worry if he doesn’t like blogging or doesn’t want to be found everywhere online and have a massive social following.

If he wants to focus on traditional internet marketing using opt-in pages to build a list, then sell his training products via email, that can work very well still.

In fact, it might actually be the highest leveraged path available for an internet marketing training business.

The lines have blurred between internet marketing and social content marketing for sure, but the fundamentals haven’t changed.

An email list still converts best. Products still make you the most money if you have a small audience. Conversion still matters most when it comes to profits.

If you want to factor in fame, influence, cult of personality and the power of the social sphere for viral distribution of ideas, then for sure, social content marketing is powerful.

At the end of the day, however, a business is driven by profit, so if you don’t make sales it doesn’t matter how many people read your article or know your name.

There are plenty of marketers out there right now who no one has heard of, who may not even have a Facebook account or have made a youtube video or ever written a blog post, yet make huge amounts of money online.

All they do is find buyers, build relationships via email and then sell products that meet people’s needs and wants. It’s as simple as that.

Of course, if you happen to like blogging, or video, or podcasting, or spending time connecting on Facebook, or tweeting all day long, these can be amazing marketing tools as well. You always have options when it comes to how you build your audience.

Yaro Starak
Blogging

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

Myths are woven into our DNA.

We have heard about the Loch Ness Monster, the Yeti, dragons and other man-made creations and legends that live more within the imagination than reality. But without those tales, the tapestry of our lives would be a little less.

Who wants to take away the fairies, superheroes, and Santa Claus. Stories are intrinsic to what makes us human.

The art of storytelling is part of every culture. Sharing the events of the day around a campfire, the kitchen table or the company water filter often sees us conjuring up a romantic image of the compelling wordsmith and the entertaining jokester.

“Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story” is something that needs to be embraced.

Content marketing is an art and a science

Content marketing has become an art and a science with a dash of promotion in the mix. Like any good cake recipe, the right types of ingredients and the quantities will be the difference between success and failure. In that mix sit terms like engagement, trust, and credibility. All good, but on their own, the cake won’t rise.

So what are some of the myths that have emerged around the digital content campfire?

Myth #1. Build it and they will come

Content marketing is synonymous with the term inbound marketing. Add the other phrase “attraction marketing” to the discussion and people think that content on its own will produce traffic and leads.

The misunderstanding of the true meaning of these terms leads people to think that just creating the content will attract opportunities and produce business changing marketing strategies.

Content marketing is two words and content is only one of them.

Myth #2. Content creation is more important than the marketing

This follows on from the first myth.

The creatives and the writers of this world often fall into this trap. Their misguided mantra is often “I create and therefore I will succeed”.

Sorry, that won’t do.

Some of the best artists of this world often had a “hustle gene” or a partner that went out and made it happen. Salvador Dali, the famous Spanish surrealist painter was a painter that was not only the creator but the marketer. He maybe took it a little bit too far.

But he knew how to get attention.

In a digital world, the sheer noise, velocity, and volume of content creation mean that the marketing is 50% of the game.

Viral content is often associated with luck.

Publishers like Buzzfeed and Upworthy have made us realize that leaving it to luck is not an option. Content marketing success is now more science, big data and the relentless pursuit of optimizing content for sharing and traffic.

Myth #3. Tons of ordinary content is enough

What is ordinary content?

To me, it means a bland 400-600 word blog post that is missing a voice, insights and an x-factor. Visuals are also vital.

I could go on but you know what I mean.

Ordinary content shouts out these messages. I don’t care, just having a go or maybe it reveals an underlying lack of confidence that says “who would want to read my stuff anyway”.

The competition for online attention is getting harder and when I started 6 years ago the content standard required wasn’t as high.

This is one of the first blog posts that I published on March 25, 2009. This will not do today. Disclaimer: But, don’t let that stop you from starting the content marketing journey.

content marketing myths

Some recent research by Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media about the standard of content for bloggers (and content marketers) is revealing with 1.500-word posts becoming mainstream.

Content marketing is growing up.

Taking something from “good to great” means more reading, more polishing and maybe some deeper research. It means wrestling and wrangling the content into an art form that reveals your brand purpose and mission.

But I forgot something. Passion.

Being passionate about your topic is often the difference at the end of the day. Content that is written just for inbound links and search is often missing the heart and soul of what awesome content is all about.

Myth #4. Content marketing is more about search engines

Google’s mission “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” has sometimes lead to an abomination or two in content marketing strategy execution. Their motto “don’t be evil” is maybe something that good content marketers should embrace.

Writing content that is just written for search engines should be made a sin.

Write for humans, touch their emotions and your content has a much better chance of being shared with viral velocity.

Myth #5. Good content marketing doesn’t need much technology

Social media and content marketing are almost like kissing cousins.

Related, close but not the same.

When content marketing emerged, the technology that surrounded it was either raw or non-existent. Using social content was seen as a manual job otherwise it was not proper.

The thinking was often that “using technology made social, not social”.

The reality is that content marketing is many moving parts. This includes images, videos, blog posts, many social networks, multiple media, metrics, optimization, email, search and more.

You will need technology, apps and digital marketing technology platforms to create, publish, launch, manage and measure “at scale”.

This means marketing automation platforms like Hubspot, Infusionsoft and Marketo are becoming essential for even small to medium businesses.

It also means using technology and apps like Shuttlerock that enable you to crowdsource content from your readers, fans, and advocates.

Make it easy for your marketing team to collect, curate and publish brand content.

content marketing

Myth #6. Content marketing is just about giving away free content

Bloggers are the epitome and essence of content marketing. Many bloggers (and content marketers) have fallen into the trap of only giving away free content. They forget to ask for something in return. They think that conversion from traffic to leads and sales will happen on its own.

You need optimized  “Calls to Action”.

Want something for free like a free PDF then I need an email in return. Want to read that ebook. That will be $7 thank you. Want some premium resources and maybe online training then the credit card needs some loving.

Great content marketing achieves 3 goals. It’s a lot like dating. Attraction, seduction and commitment. In digital marketing that translates to the following.

  1. Traffic
  2. Engagement
  3. Conversion

If you don’t achieve the last goal then you are doomed to fiscal failure.

Content marketing myth

Want to make break-through with your Content Marketing? Hire a professional. Click to see profile.

Myth #7. Content marketing automation is evil

Content first has to be created, then it needs to published and finally it needs to be free to be pushed out into the big wide digital world and achieve its mission. That will mean it may have to achieve many roles:

  • Growing brand awareness
  • Building credibility and trust
  • Drive link building
  • Create thought leadership

For a noisy world with 2 billion smartphones and 1 billion websites, this means that automation will be a necessary evil. Some call it inhuman and others call it smart. My mantra is this:

Automate the content distribution but not the conversation

This means you can be authentic and smart!

Over to you

Are you using digital marketing automation software as part of your content marketing strategy? What is the standard of your blog posts?

 

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 have an online business then your website is your store front. Your website not only has to promote your products or services, it needs to do much more than just showcase what you sell. It has to engage with your site visitors. It has to educate and inform them. The higher the quality of your product or service, the more you have to lead them into the sale.

Businesses that promote very high valued items or services can forget about trying to sell directly to their customers from a website. The approach has to be very different. In fact it has to be primarily one of education, providing facts and figures, so that the prospect becomes interested and wants to find out more. It has to tease the site visitor right up to the sale.

Professional copywriting is an investment in your business

In all cases, the website content or sales copy has to be of the highest possible quality. It has be unique, compelling and include valuable information. It should “talk” to the website visitor in a friendly, yet persuasive style. You may only get one chance to convert a site visitor to a re-hot lead, so it’s worth investing in copy that works.

Many small business owners tend to write their own copy and this is a big mistake.

There are many websites around littered with spelling and grammatical errors, enough to put off even the most indifferent of potential customers. Using a professional copywriter to create high converting copy is an investment in your business… period!

Best email marketing practices for real success

For those who prefer to market their products or services with email, you would be wise to think hard about how to get your email opened. Everyone receives so much spam email these days how are your emails ever going to stand out? Successful email subject lines are priceless because if they don’t get the email opened then the rest of the copy is totally useless. And it doesn’t stop there…

Even if the email is opened there is no guarantee it will get read, unless you can make the email content interesting, intriguing and educational. This means short punchy sentences with sub headers and bullet points throughout. You’ve only got about 2 or 3 seconds to attract your customer with an email so you have to make the very first sentence count. And then don’t forget the call to action. NEVER try to sell anything in an email. It will never work.

Video voiceover scripts that tell a story

Video marketing is fast becoming the number one choice of marketers everywhere but there’s one big problem. Many videos do not tell a story. People love stories no matter how boring they are. You have to think of your video as a mini film production.

Many TV advertisers have got it right but very few video ads measure up. The main reason is the script, particularly the voiceover script. A professionally written script can increase conversions 10 fold.

It really doesn’t matter what you want to promote by video, the short story works every time. The visual part of the production engages the viewer, which gives you the opportunity to put your message over in a way they will remember. And humor works with video, as does furry animals and small children. Make it memorable and sales will follow.

Don’t sabotage your own success

If you value your business and really want to be successful then hire the best possible copywriter you can find. An experienced direct marketing copywriter can turn your fortunes around.

About the author: Bill Knight

photo-1

I’m Bill Knight and I’m a freelance copywriter and Internet marketer. My colleagues at Anglox and I, provide copywriting services for business, including direct response copy for web pages. We also produce articles and press releases… and much more. Other services include bespoke web and graphic design and our flagship service is video production, advertising and marketing services for small businesses.

This article was written by Bill Knight

When marketing, you inevitably experience some campaigns succeeding far beyond your expectations while others hit without much response at all. What makes the difference? In many cases, it’s whether or not you appealed to the hot buttons of buyers – the emotional needs, values and concerns that convince people they simply have to spend money on certain items.

Apart from reading up on common motivational drives, you can carry out a series of action steps that sensitize you to observe such drives at work in yourself, in others and most especially in the population you are hoping to sell to. Try these exercises.

1. To warm up to the idea of emotional hot buttons, go to your closet at home and pull out four items of clothing you haven’t worn in a year. Then ask yourself: Why did I buy this? Why have I kept it? Listen for wishes, hopes and fears in your answers.

2. Find a marketing pitch of yours that didn’t work well and identify the emotional needs it appealed to. Then look at one that did persuade buyers and identify which needs it targeted. Jot down any insights that emerge.

3. Get a bunch of friends together and open up the Yellow Pages to a random page. Imagine that you had to compete with those vendors with an offering that cost twice as much as theirs. How would you persuade customers to prefer doing business with you? Repeat on another page. What did you learn about emotional reasons for buying?

4. Attend an industry meeting or conference and during the coffee breaks, ask everyone what their biggest challenge or obstacle is this year. Also ask your informants what business issue has most kept them awake at night over the years.

5. Create a free report related to what you sell. Sign up for a Google AdWords account, if you don’t already have one. Create at least three little text ads for your report that appeal to different emotional needs. Test these against each other to find out which hot button reigns supreme in your market.

6. Once you’ve identified your strongest text ad, create another version of it for the same report that’s somewhat more rational and straight-laced, and yet another version with more emotional hot sauce. Then test these against each other to determine what level of enthusiasm clicks most with your crowd.

7. Find or buy a small notebook. Then tomorrow, throughout the day, pay attention to all the ads that come your way. Jot down the reasons to buy presented in each ad. The day after tomorrow, scan through your list for at least three fresh reasons to buy that might make sense for your business.

8. Go to Trendhunter.com and browse its lists and sublists of trend reports. Phrases like “experiential eating,” “hobbitats,” “nerdy nuptials” and “pity journaling” will jolt your creative thinking about motivators into overdrive.

9. At a networking meeting or any other business get-together, identify the difference between people discussing something they very much care about and those delivering their information from habit. How did you tell which was which? Research shows that people get much more animated and engaged in reference to the values, needs, beliefs, feelings and experiences that truly drive buying behavior.

About the author: Marcia Yudkin

marcia - profile picMaster marketer Marcia Yudkin is a leading advocate of no-hype copywriting and the author of 17 books, including Meatier Marketing Copy and Persuading People to Buy. She mentors people with good writing skills who want to set themselves up successfully as freelance copywriters/marketing consultants, as well as introverts who want to know how to use their talents and strengths in business to attract clients without exaggeration, manipulation or lying.

This article was first published by Marcia Yudkin

The recent lawsuit brought back old marketing discussions I used to have about Red Bull. Though I’m not going into detail about the legal case here, it was interesting to note that the overall underwhelming nature of the product was called into question. It doesn’t give you wings? We all knew that, but it’s complete underperformance compared to the competition is an interesting topic to explore, particularly with the product’s popularity.

The fascinating element in Red Bull is the success while there is no specific advantage the product has over the competition. Not in caffeine, quantity, varieties, price or accessibility; Red Bull has competition that leads in every angle, except image. I had a friend who worked with them a while back, and we would argue about the product, but there was no factual arguing that Red Bull was a superior product. In the market of performance beverages, it lags behind, except in product value which is superior to practically anything on the market.

Some approximate ratings of comparable products:

Brewed Coffee – Cheap – approx. 100mg a cup

Monster – $3.00 – 160mg a can

Red Bull – $3.00 – 80mg a can

NoDoz – approx. $20 for 60 caplets – 200mg a pop

Notably there is an energy drink culture. The marketing and image surrounding Red Bull gives is superiority in energy drinks, and it separates it from pill and coffee related products. You don’t see athletes popping pills (for obvious reasons) or having a cup of coffee before an event. Still I loved to sit and discuss how Red Bull maintained such a valuable image despite the apparent lack of value in the materials.

Originator

There were other caffeine products on the market, but Red Bull revolutionized energy drinks. It became cool, and in a way, normal to see people slamming a Red Bull at school, at the bar and on the road. It may have been wrapped in a sports image, but the average consumer needed something to handle the everyday. It was the growing Red Bull product that captured the coveted ‘iPod’ or ‘Kleenex’ of it’s market. It didn’t matter what you ended up grabbing in the convenience store, you still would call it grabbing a Red Bull.

This position of becoming the description of a market, rather than just an option within it, gave Red Bull the household recognition title.

Size and Simplicity

There is a larger sized version and additional flavours now, but there is prestige to the silver can. It’s tough to describe, but it’s like the difference between a Starbucks cup and a McDonald’s. I prefer the taste and price of McDonald’s, but the image is arguably far less luxurious. The same goes for Red Bull, where holding the original, in it’s higher cost and everything, means more than holding a competing beverage.

They were in no rush to get an assortment of flavours either, calmly and patiently producing a couple options. I feel this wasn’t even necessary, and it might still be an experiment, but it shows a confidence that Red Bull has to the image of their brand.

Performance Excellence

It may be true that the drink itself isn’t the best, but it sure works with the best. Sports and athletics are saturated in endorsements, but Red Bull goes after the top names only. Everything they do, they do fantastically; their magazine is great, they have their own sports teams and everything is branded top notch.

There’s much more to say, but I wanted to get the thoughts rolling in people’s minds as to why products like Red Bull continue to lead despite the actual product’s value.

About the author: Sean Kopen

photo

With a unique, story-based approach to writing, Sean Kopen is an experienced content marketing specialist and instructional designer. Review some of his personal stories and perspectives at his website www.seankopen.com

This article was first published by Sean Kopen

Saving for most of us was encouraged from an early age.

The piggybank was placed somewhere safe. The shiny coins clunked and clinked into the slot that locked away the pennies until that visit to the bank. The coins of various shapes and sizes were added up by the man behind the counter. They smiled at our 7 year old selves and gave us that receipt that confirmed the growing bank balance. The treasured bank passbook kept the visible tally.

Some of us were better at it than others. Deferring pleasure is harder for some.

As we grew older we were told to invest in our future. Saving for that important roof over your head was part of that dream. For the entrepreneurially brave, the investment was maybe in the startup venture.

The old passbook was that first visible step.

Hidden and virtual

But assets in a digital world are often hidden and virtual. The bank passbook is now a mobile app where you view your account balances and transfer money from savings to investment accounts. The credit card is now your currency. Your online brand is not to be touched but experienced. It is to be viewed, listened to and shared.

The  21st century assets are actual and authentic but this new reality is digital and ephemeral. And some of us struggle with that. Concreteness in the past was truth.

So…. because they are ephemeral doesn’t mean they are worthless. In fact the social web has given exponential power to our virtual assets. Virtual content moves better than physical entities. The friction is low and the amplification is global.

The numbers are big

When social media launched the millions were big numbers. Global audiences mean billions are the new million. Here are some social media facts to ponder.

  • 4.5 billion likes are clicked on Facebook every day
  • 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every 24 hours
  • Over 42 billion messages a day are sent on WhatsApp

The opportunity to reach the world has never been easier. But the competition is more intense.3

The challenge

Your challenge in this new, transient and moving morphing landscape is to make your digital assets to stand out, be visible and noticed in a crowded and noisy world. They need to grow……..and move. Creation is not enough. Brand and business building hasn’t changed but the medium has.

There are also many questions.

What are the crucial ones to focus on? What are the vital, high yielding but sometimes slow growing assets that we sometimes neglect because they aren’t seductive, obvious or acceptable to our old ways of thinking and habits.

Here are 10 digital marketing assets that you need to build, nurture and magnify.

#1.  Online brand and positioning

There are two key levels to this.

The soft perception called “brand” and all that it stands for. Positioning…..It could be aspirational, quality or price. Is your brand memorable or eminently forgettable.  Does your web brand make them laugh, inspire or are you serious and informative? This is hard to measure but the human reality is that brand impressions are everything. Humans feel, dream and bleed.

Then it’s the hard facts
that are defined by what the digital data tells you. The measurement of brand.

  • Is your brand shared more than the competition.
  • What keywords or hashtags are used when it is tweeted or shared on Instagram.
  • What brand content attracts the most traffic.
  • What is the brand sentiment. Positive…Negative?
  • What are the star ratings for your brands online reviews. 5 star or one?

Looking for a place to stay, eat or visit, then where do most of us go? It’s online. You can live or die in the hospitality industry on those metrics. Ratings on TripAdvisor can make or break a business

Brand building is a digital asset that is both easy and hard to measure. But the reality is that every discovery of your brand is building a digital asset and leaving an impression.

So……be everywhere. Be ubiquitous.

#2. Your digital hub(s)

Despite websites being with us for a generation the website is often treated like an online brochure. Design, set and forget. The website, the blog and the online store are your core assets in a digital world1. But for many small and medium businesses they are an afterthought. Often they are considered an expense.

But Google and the social web doesn’t tolerate silence. The digital properties need feeding and nurturing.

What does that maintenance and ongoing optimization look like? Here are some of the essentials.

  • Add a blog and publish keyword rich content that inspires and informs your prospects.
  • Optimize your site for search engines. Google will send 50% of the traffic for free.
  • Make sure that it is a lead generating machine with calls to action and lead capture.
  • Add customer service and marketing chatbots that answer questions and queries.
  • Make your site is easy to follow and share on social media
  • Add video for engagement

Virtual assets that are built around a digital hub are now big business. Just recently the Linkedin “Digital Hub” was sold to Microsoft for $26.2 billion after being established only 14 years ago.

Your mindset on this needs to be one of investing in the future and not as a painful expense to be tolerated. The return from your marketing machine (read “website”) will surprise you if it is done well.

#3. Content

On a social web you are defined by content. That’s it.

That image you share on Instagram, that video on Facebook or that in depth post that displays thought leadership are all completing that online jigsaw puzzle. One piece at a time your image, your influence and persona is emerging. If you think about it for too long you will start to be daunted or maybe even excited by the potential of content.
Every piece of content leaves a perception, a trail and becomes the virtual you.

Offline your content is often hidden, never published or sits on your desk.  It’s audience was restricted by its concreteness.

The power of online content is that once you let it free then it moves about the web and into corners of cyberspace. Now it is crawled and indexed by search engines and is shared on social networks. It emerges on search results.

Many people are daunted by creating online. The fear of being judged and criticised holds many people back. But that is where you grow if you are brave enough.

Yes…..at first your writing, videos and media maybe a little rough around the edges. It will not be perfect. But all diamonds all start out a little rough.

Content has a big job description

Most think inform, but it must do much more than that. Let’s try inspiration, education, entertainment and selling.

Content should take the customer on a journey. It starts with free content that highlights your best ideas and insights. It ends with them paying for mastery and education if you are selling info-products.

Free: Blog posts and online articles are the start of the conversation with your prospects.

Gated: Gated content will be the free ebooks and premium content that is an exchange of value between the producer and the consumer. The payment can be an email or just a share.

Paid: Paid content – This starts with maybe a $10 ebook and goes through to premium online courses and coaching programs.

Along the way you are nudging and cajoling with tweets, Instagram post and LinkedIn updates. Content needs to be ubiquitous and persistent.

Content needs to move to thrive.

#4. Influencer relationships

The rise of the digital influencer has been made possible by the social web. They are the people that have built a personal online brand around their passion. Often it has taken years of publishing, promoting and building a loyal band of followers. They have built credibility and trust in their niche.

Influencers also have distribution superpowers. It might be on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat. But don’t forget YouTube and even email. Brands big and small are realizing that getting access via the new influencer gatekeepers is something worth doing.

You can build those relationships directly or outsource it to the emerging influencer platforms.

  1. Building them yourself will need a process that starts with an introduction on social or via email and getting their attention can be tough. But offering free content in the form of a blog post
  2. If you don’t have the time or inclination then an influencer marketing platform that does it for you can be the way to go.

#5. Social networks

Social networks have often had an image problem. Superficial and a waste of time is often mentioned by the men in suits. They are sometimes seen as the source of spreading those brand stumbles at speed. As we all now know, bad news travels fast on social.

The CEO’s are also asking “that” question. How does social produce a real return? The challenge in digital is to measure the source of that first click that moves a prospect from awareness to the final destination. The sale. The big questions we ask? Was that on Facebook and email or a website visit from a search engine? Or was it an online advertisement?

Social media excels at building awareness at the top of the marketing funnel. But then you need to do something with that initial discovery. In a digital world that is a messy process.

“So…..the selling journey online is more like a matrix than a linear funnel”

Crowd sourced marketing is also what your social media community provides for free. Your social network tribe will take your content and share it with their followers. The bigger your social networks the larger your online distribution. It is that simple.

So always be building your digital distribution. It can be free, viral and it’s yours.

#6. Virtual communities

Social networks are only the start of true virtual community building. One shared tweet is not a relationship it is just a sliver of acknowledgement. But it is the start of building a virtual  community and other digital asset.

But we need to move from weak ties to strong ties.

Connecting with someone on Twitter is just the start of the conversation. That is a weak tie. Then it may move onto connecting on Linkedin or even a coffee. The role of Skype as a virtual coffee shop or meeting place cannot be underestimated. This is where the relationship can move from interested to highly engaged.

One of the most used virtual community building platforms today is the private Facebook group.

#7. Social proof

Ever seen a brand on a list? The top 10…..the top 100?

In the past before this digital world emerged, it was often hand selected and very subjective. It was who you knew.

But something has changed.

Social proof is now very much data driven. The big data tools are crawling the web and finding the loud voices that are an indication of online authority and credibility.

In amongst this date are are other visible social proof evidence.  Case studies, speaking showreels and getting listed on third party sites as an authority are all important. Appearing on big websites with global like the New York Times, Forbes and Huffington Post can be defining for a small brand.

Online social proof can move you from invisible to visible and…..credible.

#8. Online joint ventures

Collaborating in the past was often complicated.

The questions and barriers to working together were many. Geography and distance was just one of those. Then it was the questions such as, does this person, influencer or brand have an audience that is worthwhile? Is it the right one? What’s the proof?

The big question. Who do you trust?

The arrival of the trust economy has been made possible by the transparency of the social networks. Their influence and credibility is often visible for all to see. The ability to track clicks and conversions has made online joint ventures and global affiliate relationships possible.

Technology has also changed the trust game. Cookies and tagging and tracking tech are now enablers of online trust backed by hard data.

Give before you get

The human reality is that you need to give before you get. This has been a given in the real world for millennia. Building trust, relationships and reciprocation before you need it.
One way to start before asking for help is to leap in and start promoting another bloggers. Help them sell products and build their audience.

Later the people you have helped to market their products, promote their courses and make some money w
ill be more than willing to promote your new venture.

Help other people first before asking for something in return.

The online world works the same way as the offline world.

#9. Your email list

In an uncertain and fast changing digital world one algorithm change can kill your business if you are playing at mono-channel marketing.

We all know how Facebook’s newsfeed change killed many brands singular social media tactics. Google’s ongoing technology tweaking of its organic search rankings algorithm is also in the mix.

Relying on one channel is a dangerous game. Getting as much control of your content distribution and client and community conversations is an asset worth building and nurturing.

Email is one way of doing that. It is not controlled by Facebook or Google.

So build your email list now.

It is a marketing asset that goes from open….to click….to sale.

#10. Data

Content is what defines you online but its data that measures the impact and results.

This new digital asset is the new gold. It tells you what content performs, what landing pages work best. What products get the most clicks and sales.

So start capturing data and then learn from the insights it reveals. The data will tell you what needs optimizing and what needs to be forgotten.

Keep collecting your data and act on its insights. It can double your leads and sales.

It’s a long term game

Investing in and building virtual assets takes a mind shift that some of us struggle with. Why? Because we can’t touch them or see them.

But a website that has authority with search engines, a loyal online community that shares your content and brand with passion and digital trust and collaboration are an investment in the future.

It requires patience but the digital world is not going away and earning the ephemeral is money in the bank. But sometimes it just doesn’t feel like it.

But you need to start today.

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