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Content Is Online Currency: How Much Should You Pay?

Money Grab

 

When you’re online, well before money enters the scene, there is another kind of exchange rate: time and attention for content.

Recent surveys reveal that 90 percent of B2B buyers prefer to do their research online. There is certainly no shortage of material for them to peruse. Businesses provide content in exchange for a prospect’s time and willingness to consider them a supplier source.  

This exchange is a powerful form of marketing. But how much is this content worth? As a writer, many people call me with vastly different perceptions of a content budget, expectations, and needs. As someone tries to solidify an action plan and budget I recommend they factor in the answer to this one question: how much value will you get from your content?  

Continue reading Content Is Online Currency: How Much Should You Pay?

Respectful Selling

 Handshake

Aretha Franklin demanded it. Rodney Dangerfield got none of it. Your clients want it. And, if your business communication materials don’t have it, you are sunk.

The magic word here is respect.

Respect has a significant and (all too often) underappreciated role in business and marketing communications. What is it, exactly and you can you make sure your site expresses it?

Continue reading Respectful Selling

4 Common Subject Line Mistakes

I must be getting old...

Email. It has become as familiar to us as brushing our teeth. Many businesses use its easy, affordable, and instant communication abilities for their marketing campaigns. But don’t let email’s ease-of-use and large numbers lull you into thinking all your letters are reaching your prospects.

What do I mean? Well, an email really consists of two main parts: the subject line, and the body (the body can be broken into other sections but we won’t go there today).

Continue reading 4 Common Subject Line Mistakes

10 Places to Put Stories in Your Marketing

Stories allure readers

Narrative. –noun 1. a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.

People like good content. This is probably why over the past couple years there has been a lot of focus on the power of narrative in marketing. Understanding why stories are so popular will give you your prospects’ coveted perspective and help you use stories more effectively in your own marketing campaigns. I’ve suggested ten places for stories in your marketing communications to get you started. Continue reading 10 Places to Put Stories in Your Marketing

Blogs: Opportunity or Waste of Time?

image of a door knockerTelephones. Automobiles. Television. Personal computers. Cell phones. At one point each one of these inventions was seen as an excessive luxury embraced only by a fringe population. Today it’s difficult to imagine our lives without them. It’s time to add blogs to that list.

Blogs have redefined the way we gather information and share opinions. A recent MarketingSherpa article states that many B2B marketers report that it’s their team’s blog, not the company homepage that is now the most popular entry point for visitors. When it comes to total views, Continue reading Blogs: Opportunity or Waste of Time?

10 Article Ideas for Your Blog or Website

Fuel your content
Fuel your content

So you have a website. Ten years ago, even five years ago, it was perfectly acceptable to have a static website that sat there and did nothing but occupy space.

Times have changed. Websites are filled with content, they’re interactive–they engage readers, build communities, introduce your company, educate prospects, engage prospects, establish credibility…need I go on? Today, businesses have a myriad of tactics and tools available to allow them to turn their website into their marketing and relationship building hub. All of it hinges on quality content. Continue reading 10 Article Ideas for Your Blog or Website

7 Surfer Questions: Does Your Website Have The Answers?

Let’s banish any notion that the internet as a marketing and communication platform is only a trend. There’s no trend, it’s a reality of business communications and customer engagement. Given this reality, why do so many websites fall short of providing the information their visitors need?

There’s more at stake than a missed opportunity. Missing content risks depreciating your brand. Here’s what you need to know.

Most people turn to the internet more than any other source of information and support, including experts and family members according to a survey by The Pew Research Center. Whether you’re the Head of IT looking for a more efficient software solution, a high net worth individual investigating personal risk factors, or a a parent comparing schools: everyone approaches their search with the same list of questions whether they’re aware of them or not.

Knowing this can help you refine your site and increase its effectiveness. Here’s some help on assessing your website’s current communication strengths and weaknesses. Pinpoint the spot on your website where it answers the follow visitor questions and see if it aligns with the accompanying recommendations. If you can’t find it, it’s time to write it.

1. Am I in the right place? So basic. So essential. A visitor cannot become a prospect and later a client unless they know your site is exactly where they need to be.

Accomplish this by naming your ideal target near the top of the page or state their problem in a clear concise way. Within a few seconds of landing on your page the reader should be able to say, hey, that’s me! This site is talking to me.

2. Who are you and do you have what I need? Be clear about what you’re offering and why it’s a benefit. Drop the mind-numbing business-speak. Your words should be in your client’s vernacular, not the industry jargon (unless, of course, that’s how your clients speak to you).

This information should be offered immediately after the reader realizes they are indeed, in the right place.

3. Who else have you done business with? Testimonials, case studies, and online portfolios are all ideal places to include this information.

4. Will you be able to solve my challenges? Your prospect is looking for specific examples that relate to them. Here is where case studies and success stories accomplish some heavy lifting. Many websites fail on this front. They are so busy listing their mission statements, work ethic, state-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge knowledge that they forget to provide examples of a problem a prospect can relate to.

5. Do you have any educational material I can download, review and show my team? Until this point your site has been talking about how your company is a problem-solver. It’s time to cough up some proof. Blogs, articles, white papers, reports, guides, how-to pieces: all of these demonstrate that when it comes to helping clients you walk the walk. Why? Because these documents help the prospect solve a problem.

6. What’s it like to work with you? You know those educational materials listed above? The prospect hasn’t even hired you and your generosity is helping them. They’ve helped me and I haven’t even hired them. Imagine what they could do if I pay them!

7. What’s the next step? Your landing and home page should lead the reader by the hand to the next step. Tell them in no uncertain terms what you want them to do. You may want to send them to another part of your site to learn about your services, gain more confidence, learn more about your company, etc. Be sure to tell them.

In addition to articulating the recommended next steps you should have your contact information easily accessible. Don’t bury it in a drop down menu or in small print on the bottom. It’s not a treasure hunt, it’s a website. Make it obvious.

We could stop here but there is one more thought prospects will have churning inside their minds before they push the “contact us” trigger.

8. Are you worth the effort and expense? This is an underlying concern your prospects will have as they review everything on your site. While all your efforts serve to reassure a prospect that your organization is worth it, there is a humble tool that most websites don’t use to its full capacity: the FAQ page. Expand your FAQ page to address all the naysaying issues and concerns head-on. Anticipate your prospect’s tough questions and write them in plain view.

Now you have the questions. It’s time to go to your website and find the answers.

P.S. If you still believe you can just shrug off the importance of having a robust website with killer communication let me gently point out that you’re reading these words on a website…online.

On that note, did you find what you needed?

K. Marley is a professional content writer who helps businesses communicate their value to their prospects and customers. Make contact at http://www.kmwordsmith.com

Originally published on: Jun 1, 2010

Who’s Your Mentor

Classroom with Three Figures

By guest contributor Luis Martinez

The word mentor comes from Greek mythology.  In Homer’s tale of the Odyssey, Odysseus had a son named Telemachus. Odysseus needed to go and fight the Trojan wars.  Realizing he would be away for long periods of time, he asked his trusted friend, Mentor, to tutor and teach his son Telemachus. So the noun – mentor – traces its roots to that era. Today we use the noun, mentor, as a verb; we talk about mentoring someone.   Continue reading Who’s Your Mentor

10 Resolutions Revived by Case Studies

Do you hear that fizzle? That’s the sound of all those collective business New Year’s resolutions fading away.
The secret to keeping a resolution is in how you set your goal. Instead of goals that rely on the unpredictable behavior of others, establish goals that give you the control and accountability. Continue reading 10 Resolutions Revived by Case Studies

The Surprising Answer to What’s Missing?

3D Character and Question Mark

By guest author Luis Martinez

Looking at my work and life experience from both sides of the desk–as an employee, manager and even company owner I often wondered, what was out of balance when things weren’t going right? You know the feeling. When you do the work, give it your all, are fairly compensated and the end result still doesn’t taste good? What’s up? What’s missing?

Appreciation. That’s what’s missing.

Think about it.  Why do you sometimes feel empty after having done a great job chasing down a problem for a customer?  What is that kick-in-the-stomach feeling when the boss seems oblivious to great results from your efforts, and instead picks on some trifling detail? If you are a manager or business owner, why do you shrug and shake your head when an employee leaves your business after training them and teaching them a new craft for months, or years?

Appreciation would have made all the difference.

Appreciation isn’t always about financial compensation. Despite being well paid you are bound to have days when you feel, well…unappreciated.  Attempts to measure appreciation are personal: we each recognize an exquisite balance between tangible compensation (salary, bonus, benefits, insurance plans, company car, window office, etc.) and intangibles (a smile, a letter of gratitude, a congratulatory email, a pat on the back, a warm referral, etc.). 

When either tangible or intangible compensation is out of proportion to the other, we know it.  At the extremes, we won’t stay in a company where we are paid appropriately but the management or the culture is unappreciative or in some cases, downright toxic.  We all have examples. I once quit a company that was the top in its industry. The work was interesting and could even be described as prestigious. Sadly, the mental abuse nullified my handsome salary.  So no, money is not enough. 

On the other end, if you work for a company that is cash strapped, and the owner and management is well behaved, friendly, accessible, approachable and appreciative but misses payroll from time to time, well, you have only so much patience for them.  Appreciation is good but you still need to pay your bills. 

Appreciation is necessary on both sides of the desk.  The manager/owner wants to see smiles and supportive gestures from employees who recognize the opportunity presented to them. The employee or contracted worker wants managers to express gratitude for a job well done, a customer appreciating a problem resolved, and recognition from peers. 

Let’s challenge ourselves to be the change we want to see. Reach out to someone right now at this very moment and let them know how much you appreciate them. Better yet, incorporate appreciation into your company culture. Consider infusing your internal communication with:

  • cards,
  • thank you letters,
  • recognition in newsletters, and 
  • personal emails.

Establishing a company culture of appreciation will send a positive message to potential hires and keep you and your organization well-balanced and mentally satisfied. In case you’re wondering there are bottom-line benefits here. Customers aren’t the only ones who spread word-of-mouth. You and your staff use word-of-mouth to communicate your organization’s credibility. All things being equal who wouldn’t prefer to do business with the organization with a reputation for appreciation. So try it. You’ll like it. And if you do please let me know…I’ll certainly appreciate that you did.

Luis Martinez is the owner of Gran Altura’s, Getting There. He has many years experience coaching and advising employees, peers, and executives and has held senior level assignments at Fortune 500 Companies. Join the ranks of highly accomplished individuals. Get the job and attain the status you deserve. Learn more about Getting There.