Tag Archives: business

Is Business Blogging Now Wasting Your Time?

business-blogging-wordpress-O'C&K

I was scrolling through previous O’C&K blog posts and came across one we wrote in 2013. It was titled An online presence is just smart businesshere. The content didn’t include blogging per se, but I thought that despite it being three years old it was still relevant.

This made me think about the relevancy of business blogging today and pushed me to write this blog. One thing is clear, though – it is even more vital nowadays that you manage your online presence in a pro-active manner.

Part of this pro-activeness would be aligning your blog activity with specific business goals such as awareness, credibility and even lead generation. A note of caution however – your blog will be a waste of time if it is not laser focused on and distributed to, a specific audience.

More and more we are hearing about content shock and the sheer tsunami of information available online. In this post, we are not going to approach this topic but will talk about why we think businesses should still blog. As usual, we will also provide some tips on how you might get better at it.

Just one caveat for this post – we are talking about business blogging and not personal blogging. Most personal blogs are a hobby or are a way of making money (from ads).

A business blog is simply another marketing tool for your business. Not unlike using social media channels, a blog can support your business activity by driving traffic to your website and help you to be part of a conversation.

Another point of difference is that a personal blog will reflect personal experiences (usually). A business blog will talk about topics that relate to your business. For instance, all O’C&K blogs fall under one of 5 sections – outline on the right-hand side of this page.

Each topic complements how we help organisations with their business objectives through Smarter Marketing. As a consequence, our Smarter Marketing Blog provides real tips and timesavers directly to our target audiences.

Why bother with business blogging at all?

As alluded to above, every time you post a fresh blog post you create a new opportunity for somebody to visit your website, to read it and subsequently share it with a new audience. You are also improving the chances of your website ranking on search engines for that particular blog topic. A third advantage is that blog posts provide your business with fresh content to share on your other digital channels.

Depending on your own time, or whether it is outsourced, business blogging can be a relatively low-cost way to get your website found by business prospects. What you do with them on your site is a completely different story and probably a topic for a separate blog post.

As important as the quality and relevance of your content is, what is equally important is – knowing your audience. Usually, the topic for any of our blogs, reflect a particular issue that we are helping a client with. This, we find anyway, keeps the tips provided – real.  One way we approach each post is by answering the following questions:

  • Who will we be talking to
  • What do we want them to know
  • How do we want them to feel
  • What would we like them to do after reading the post

However, we believe that this last question is evolving. In the current inter-connected world, the power has shifted to the consumer. The thing is you cannot ‘get’ them to do anything – but if you help them somehow they might decide to share the positive experience.

For instance – we will be sharing some pointers with you in the next paragraph. If you think they would be relevant to say a colleague or friend, would you share this post with them?

How can your business blog turn a scanner into a reader?

You might have spent hours / days / weeks researching, writing, editing and distributing your prize blog and then what? Nothing – no shares, no likes, no sharing, no site visits.

Yes, this happens but it is not always about your writing skills (or lack of). Think about it – most of us don’t read articles anymore – we scan them. The trick, therefore, is to make your blog post scannable.

Nine tips and timesavers for making your blog post more scannable:

  1. If you have a general topic you want to write about – break it into a few different, shorter posts
  2. Explain up-front what the blog is going to be about
  3. Try and stick to about two sentences per paragraph and even some with only one
  4. Use subheadings (min-headlines) frequently – they are the stepping stones from Headline to Conclusion
  5. If you mention a number in the introduction paragraph – use numbered bullet points
  6. Insert tweetable quotes throughout the content – they are a visual break and a CTA all in one
  7. Internal links make your site stickier and external links provide proof of research
  8. Don’t be afraid to be yourself – use italics and bolding – just don’t overdo it
  9. When finished re-read the formatted elements of your blog and see if they help the post flow

Where does business blogging fit into a marketing strategy?

We’ve already mentioned that your content must be interesting and relevant to your audience. It also has to be well positioned or it will not be found in the first place. So rather than just trying to attract any type of reader your blogging should form part of a bigger content marketing strategy.

A content marketing strategy will ensure that you address such elements as

  • Goals, schedules and an editorial calendar
  • A supply of keywords / phrases / topics that are relevant, useful and shareable
  • Improved content so as to avoiding the selling-your-wares trap
  • Improved SEO and SEM
  • Planning for metrics such as email opens, mentions, reviews, queries and leads

Conclusion

From an audience point of view, every blogger is clamouring for attention and it is getting more difficult for the reader to sift through the noise to find what matters to them. Blogging does make sense for your business but can be a waste of time if you don’t address the noise problem. It is entirely up to you what you do to help your customers filter the noise.

I mean – why should anybody care about your blog (or your business) unless it helps them in some way.

Your blog is a way of putting yourself in a position to contribute in an area that your audience is already focused. For instance, social media allows you enter conversations that are already taking place. You need to talk about their issues, in their tone of voice and then just listen and learn.

Talking to yourself isn’t much fun nor is it profitable for business.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

11 Good Networking Habits That Will Grow Your Relationships.

business-networking-Irish Biz-People

IrishBizPeople Event

Recently we received a reminder that a popular series of networking events for Irish SMEs is starting up again in October. Dubnet events are business ‘get-togethers’ for people who, more than likely have engaged online through social media. It is, in essence, an opportunity to build relationships – which is critical in business.

As I was registering (it’s free to attend), I realised that, in general, I look forward to these networking events. Mainly because we all know that leads / new business does not come knocking on the door. Instead, opportunities are usually found attached to people and such events as Dubnet (or groups like #irishbizpeople on Facebook), is a perfect platform to meet such people.

People either love networking or hate it. Whichever one you are is determined, in our opinion, by your attitude to meeting new people. A lot of the time people put stress on themselves, even before they attend an event. Here are some of our thoughts to help with any pre-event stress.

  • Don’t worry too much about first impressions. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in because what you wear shouldn’t make or break a relationship.
  • Appreciate that most of the information that will be presented (by speakers) you’ll have heard before, but that’s not the point – face-to-face engagement is.
  • You should really behave yourself around the free food and beverage opportunities but do be ready to hang around a little afterwards, if required – after the formalities, people usually relax more and be themselves.
  • Don’t try to be a professional networker and learn your ‘lines’ by rote – talk about what interests you, just be genuine and sincere. People, just like yourself relish real conversation, preferably stories.
  • Don’t worry about leaving the company of someone who is selling to you. They probably just want to spread their business cards around anyway. Spend longer with people you enjoy

The wrong question – “So, what do YOU do?”

I’ll probably get in trouble for this statement, but I honestly believe that when people ask you this question they don’t really care about the answer. So the challenge, therefore, is for you to help them care. Don’t try and cram everything into that 20-second elevator pitch – just make your response different or interesting enough to grab their attention.

This means answering with something that is totally unique to you. Your personality should shine through and make them realise that you are a human being – not a prospect! After doing that, you might draw them in further by suggesting a common problem SMEs have, by way of a question, e.g.“You know how little time small business owners have to review their marketing?”

Usually, this leads to the ‘great minds think alike’ moment and you can then mention your elevator pitch, as part of the conversation, describing what you do.

With regard to elevator pitches – I can’t remember where I came across this simple formula so I have to use it here without appropriate credits:

“I help/teach ________ (ideal client) to ________ (feature) so they can _________ (benefit).

The caveat here however, is that if you can’t move through the stages as alluded to above, naturally – don’t attempt it. It will come across as being contrived and at worse a sales pitch. Stick with rule #1 – be authentic.

Tips and Timesavers.

We wrote on this topic on numerous occasions previously and one that seemed to resonate with people was this one – 11 Bad Networking Habits. For our tips in this post, we are taking a more positive viewpoint and would offer these suggestions:

photo-montage-friends-network

Before you attend, change your attitude to focus on meeting friends rather than business contacts.

uncomfortable person

Remember many other people are just as uncomfortable as you are – which quite often is just shyness.

smiling and networking

Did you know that people make a snap judgement on whether you’re trustworthy after 35 milliseconds of looking at your face – smiling indicates trustworthiness.

be prepared for networking

Before you head off to the event try and do some research in advance. Find out what type of event it is, its theme, a list of attendees and the speaker’s names.

business person networking

Prepare a 10 second introduction about yourself. This is not an elevator pitch it is a warm introduction to a potential conversation.

smiling person networking

Be more interesting. As mentioned above – give the person you’re talking to, something more to work on. Don’t just give your name and your job. Try telling them the benefit of what you do.

what about you networking

And how about you? Is much better than: So, what do you do? Don’t you think?

Thumbs up at networking

Give compliments that might encourage conversation. Make sure you accompany your observation with a question to continue the conversation.

networking and meeting people

Make people at ease and don’t wait to be approached. Why not talk to the person who isn’t talking to anybody?

groups of people networking

Don’t be afraid to join a bunch of people who are having fun. If you are part of a group having fun, be conscious of others trying to join in. Open up!

girl-attention-listening-networking

Be nice to everyone by paying attention to them and if you must move on – do it with compassion.

Conclusion.

Hopefully, our tips above will help you build some good networking habits. Making a few little adjustments to your attitude to networking should make meeting new people, building relationships and converting leads, a second nature to you. The main point to remember is that relationships are how you grow your business. Don’t be scared to reach out and establish real connections.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Why Breaking These 6 Rules Could Improve the Digital Influence on Your Business.

digital-influence

Recently, we downloaded the 2015 report on the Irish Digital Consumer, published by Shane O’Leary. It contains many excellent insights into the state of online activity in Ireland.

Then, last Thursday, we attended an informative morning event organised by Meltwater, to discuss digital influence. One of the speakers was Adrian Weckler (Technology editor of both The Irish Independent and The Sunday Independent), who opened our minds with regard to global technology trends, and in particular, about social media channels.

Here is Adrian’s article that I read in an issue of www.independent.ie titled: “Your business guide to what sites are working on the social scene”, which will give you a feel for his presentation.

All of the above gave us food for thought about the digital influence on a business. In particular, we wondered whether businesses realise how much their buyer’s journey has been radically changed, due to technology. We believe that it is because of this changing environment, that us marketers, and indeed all businesses, must grasp the new realities and align appropriate strategies to them.

Irish Digital Report Extract O'C&K

When you think of it – digital is a very disruptive influence.

The thing is, not only has digital disrupted entire industries but it has transformed the way that people buy things. One of the biggest changes is that the ‘purchase journey’ is not linear anymore. It’s not linear because we (the customer) are inundated with information helping us to make our choices.

Even if we feel we have done enough research – due to being ‘connected’ all the time, we keep on discovering more information that might influence our purchase decision. The challenge for businesses nowadays is to acknowledge that discovery can happen at any time or place.

As you can imagine in such an environment, businesses relying on outbound marketing only, will not survive the competition. The old adage of ‘spraying and praying’ comes to mind, once more.

One solution is inbound marketing which can lead the customer to the information that they seek and that you provide for them. And that’s where digital influence comes into play. It’s not just about campaigns anymore – it’s about engagement with and involvement where, your prospects are looking for information – usually online.

As alluded to in our last article, here, the end goal for a business cannot be the short-term gain of a ‘purchase’ anymore. Because of digital influence on connectivity, the satisfied (or not) purchaser will share their experience through a myriad of channels with friends, family, colleagues and of course, strangers. These prospects may convert at some time in the future.

You could almost say that decision making has become crowd-sourced. Therefore, businesses need to lose their sales-focused communication and learn how to be part of the buyer’s conversation – wherever that may be.

The demands on the modern marketer’s role have also been influenced by digital. Now they need to nail down web analytics, SEO, display and search ads, social and mobile as well as physical brand touch-points.

In addition, new marketing technology will be required so good negotiation skills will be required to get the CEO and finance people on board.

Reading Shane’s report, mentioned above, and listening to Adrian Weckler, businesses should be in no doubt where they stand. There is a big gulf between where we are now and where the personalised, relevant and consistent experience that customers expect is.

Digital shouldn’t be a marketing box that you ‘tick’.

Despite all the warnings and threats, you read and hear about, however, there is absolutely no point in embracing digital, just because everybody else is. But in saying that, when you do, it should be stressed that there is a difference between attending a conference / training session / reading a book and undertaking social media for yourself, and learning from your mistakes.

Can we just say that a lot of social media theory sounds great (and looks great when it works) but like everything else – success is not that simple. Digital shouldn’t be a box that you tick.

Just like any marketing activity, your digital visibility should be based on business objectives. You may require external assistance to align suitable channels to target audiences, but we don’t believe that you should hand over your online presence to a ‘guru’.

Do you need a ‘specialist’ to know all the rules and guidelines?

Yes, there is etiquette, and a specialist will provide you with case studies and statistics for almost everything online. But remember – you are unique and your business is different. You just need to be aware of where digital can influence the achievement of your business objectives.

Of course, you should not dismiss the notion of hiring a marketing specialist to assist you. If you do, here are some questions to ask them about their own social media activity before signing them up:

  • Which channels were most successful for you in your own business – key metrics?
  • How do you determine which type of content to distribute in each channel?
  • Which tools do you use to analyse and identify business opportunities?
  • What tactics do you use for boosting engagement in different channels?

What these questions will help you with is to find out about the experts. Like, have they learned the ‘rules’ of social media from books rather than practice and if they have a marketing background.

What’s our advice? Do what works best for you and if you don’t know what that is, then, get external help from experienced operators. Oh, and if you decide to go it alone, here is a good social media checklist we happened upon recently, from www.thewholegraingroup.com

Tips and Timesavers.

Social media is dynamic in nature and that’s not just the platforms and features. The people that use social media are dynamic also. Therefore, your social media strategy should be dynamic.

Sticking with a social media strategy that you devised many years ago might not be a great idea. Times change and so do the so-called rules. Here are six ‘rules’ that you might consider ignoring or even breaking:

  1. – Don’t post pictures of food – ‘you are what you publish’ is a strapline from a curation tool we use online called www.scoop.it, (what we like is the sentiment of the line). Whatever business you are in – post about that and it doesn’t matter what that is. Pets, food, nails, hats, sport, health, anything. That’s what your target audience wants – so ignore the begrudgers.
  2. – Stick rigidly to a plan – there is no way that the plan you developed 3 years ago is still relevant. Are you staying with Google+? Are you on Snapchat, Tumbler, WhatsApp – are your customers? It is a good idea to constantly evaluate current platforms, tools, tactics and content sources.
  3. – Be on all channels available – gone are the days where a business had to be present on many digital channels to manage its reputation. It is far more important to use channels that link your customers and your business objectives. Not all channels are equal in the eyes of your customers.
  4. – Post online as much as you can – please do not play the vanity numbers game. The best way to figure out when and how frequently to post is to monitor the engagement metrics. When and what are people liking, clicking, sharing and commenting on? Give people what they need when they show they need it. ~You don’t have to stick to what works for somebody else.
  5. – Write the newer tools / channels off – a look at Shane’s report above will very quickly outline that not all social media channels are new toys for teens. Also, monitor what your competitors are doing online – the bottom line is, if you can engage your prospects / customers in a particular channel (cool or not) – do it.
  6. – Don’t repeat the same post – but the reality is that you have to really. With the decline in organic reach, you need to get as much value from your hard work as possible. For instance when this blog is published, we will post tweets (with different descriptions) say 4 times on day 1, 3 times the next day, twice the third day and then automate it weekly for a period. But be careful – each channel is different. On LinkedIn – we will only post an extract of this blog on the day it’s published.

Conclusion.

We can’t guarantee it but if you break some of the rules above you might start to realise the influence that digital has on your business. Earlier, we warned you about employing social media gurus and suggested some questions to determine their suitability. Now we’ll finish off by giving you four phrases from a client’s view, that lead us to believe that they are not aware of digital influence:

  • “We’re not too worried about the content element, you can look after that”.
  • “We need to be on social media because we’ve noticed that our competitors are”.
  • “Social media isn’t measurable so we don’t spend too much on it”.
  • “Why change, we’ve always done it this way and it has been successful so far”.

If any of you is thinking along these lines – contact us immediately 🙂

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

 

What Is It About Content Marketing That Makes It So Effective For Building Influence?

building influence

Building influence in your industry sector amplifies your marketing efforts. Having influence can impact the attitude of people to your brand and potentially change their purchasing behaviour.

One of the most effective ways of building influence is through the use of content marketing. We believe that it is one of the most powerful tools that any business should have in their arsenal.

It can achieve many things if done right. It can position your business as an industry leader and provide sales leads, but interestingly it can also be used for building influence.

In the current ever-changing and connected marketplace, providing useful content that makes your business a go-to resource is an effective way of providing a positive customer engagement.

Providing value is the way for building influence.

Through positive engagement, businesses can build relationships and subsequent influence.  At a practical level, having influence will help a) people to buy into the brand, b) to differentiate themselves from competitors and c) to get the team to buy into a founders vision. How do you build this influence? – by providing people with some type of benefit. The recipients have to appreciate the benefit / value provided or they won’t be influenced.

Think about the people who have influenced you in the past. It may have been your parents, a teacher, a sports coach, a work colleague or even a friend. Whoever it was – you probably valued them greatly. Doing so makes them an influence in your life.

Therefore, our point is that content marketing can be a powerful tool to help build influence by providing benefits to your target market. If you can solve a problem or just answer a question, without asking for anything in return, they are more likely to favour you if deciding to purchase a service you supply.

Let’s face it – people are really only interested in what your business can do for them. So they will be interested in your brand if it engages them by making their life easier somehow. It’s not about you – it’s about them.

People are hungry for relevant and reliable information.

Admittedly, nobody is going to put up their hand and say “influence me” but they do want the availability of good information so that they can make quick decisions. This can be for personal or business reasons.

The problem is that there is a tsunami of information being made available online and offline every day. As a result, it is becoming extremely hard for many people to sort the relevant and reliable information from the time wasters. Good content marketing can help them with this dilemma.

We will look at content marketing in a little more detail. Customers want information to help them take the ‘next step’ in a decision process and businesses want it to help build their customer base. Let us say you have decided to assist both parties by providing information. Before you start doing so we would recommend you have a look at our four general principals which you need to commit to:

  • Decide to use content marketing as a strategy (see below)
  • Consider how you will develop content that will be relevant to your audience
  • Agree on a consistent style and delivery schedule
  • How will you facilitate your team in providing good, quick and real content

We have found that if you create content based on your own experience, recipients can empathise more and will view it as being more valuable to them. For instance, the driver of the content of this post arose from a client meeting from last week.

They have decided to pay more attention to their online presence and to commence building thought leadership in their industry. Accordingly, we have embarked on a plan of activity to achieve that objective. In doing so, we thought we might share our thought process with you.

Effective content marketers build a plan of activity.

I guess the hardest part of starting off is putting together a content marketing plan. Here are 7 elements we recommend that you consider:

  • Curate a list of your current content – website, blogs, social media, brochures, newsletters.
  • Determine where your target audience is – what are they listening to / talking about (e.g. google analytics).
  • Align your communication for consistency – tone, keywords, interest, educational, engaging, of value.
  • Choose appropriate channels and tools – social media, video, audio, images, presentations, software (e.g. Hootsuite to help with time management).
  • Plan around specific events – industry events, public events, seasonality, PR/advertising  campaigns etc.
  • Place your plan in an actual calendar – one, three, six or twelve months, whatever suits.
  • If you don’t have the time, get help* – you will be planning, creating, editing, curating, distributing, measuring etc.

* If you do decide to get external help, look for evidence of, i) previous work samples, ii) who influences them, iii) SEO / SEM knowledge and iv) how much they expect to be paid.

Tips and Timesavers.

I think we can agree that no matter how fantastic your product or service is – if nobody knows about them, your business will not survive. Marketing is an essential part of business growth and using a content strategy is a relatively cheap way of gaining a foothold in your chosen market. Quite often these markets are dominated by large companies so not having to compete on budget, levels the playing field somewhat.

There are many ways of over complicating content marketing, but the concept is relatively straight forward.

Create and curate good and reliable content, promote it in the right places and thereby offer value to your audience.

As alluded to above, undertaking a content marketing strategy has to be a conscious decision by you / your management team. Let’s look at five steps you might take to build your strategy into one that will get you noticed:

  • Firstly, ask yourself why do it in the first place? Consider your overall goal – is it to provide a specific solution to customers, to reinforce a brand positioning, to generate sales leads, activate a sponsorship etc.
  • Secondly, determine (with your colleagues / external survey) what type of content your audience wants to receive – how to videos, tips via a blog, infographics, ebooks etc.
  • The third step is to decide where the content will feature i.e. paid, owned or earned media. Your allocated budget will determine to which extent these channels are used for distribution. Either way there should be a mix of these elements.
  • The penultimate step is to decide who will run your content marketing efforts. As mentioned above, if you don’t have the resources (i.e. a dedicated person / team) get help. Agreeing responsibilities, up-front, will help determine your capacity to create and distribute your content.
  • The final step is to consider how you will measure success. There are many tracking tools out there that can provide you with mountains of data. Choose the one that provides real insights into how you’re doing and how you can improve.

Conclusion.

So why are more businesses making content marketing an integral part of their marketing strategy? We touched on it earlier in this post. We believe that it is because if you want to build influence with your audience, you need to be providing as much value as possible.

This is why content that offers a distinct benefit that makes your customer’s life easier, will earn you the right to influence them. However your content must be relevant if it is to provide value. How can it do that?

It should answer a question that is being asked by your audience. At least it should be content that tells the reader how to solve a problem. Perhaps you could give your audience information that may be hard to get elsewhere. Or alternatively, you might provide content that makes your audience think about a topic differently

Whatever style you decide upon, if you want to persuade someone to take a particular action, you must find a way to benefit them. If you provide relevant value, you will grow your influence.

 Content marketing is a way of making your brand useful to an end-user beyond what your product or service offers. ….O’C&K

“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Business Marketing – building relationships with effective communication.

christmas business marketing

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

7 ideas for SME’s marketing online this Christmas.

Whenever the owners of small or medium sized businesses ask us about business marketing, we respond by separating the two words. We suggest that, business is about building two things; trust and relevance and marketing is about building one; a relationship. The tool needed to build all of these, is communication.

You can talk about any type of ‘new’ or ‘old’ marketing you want to, influencer marketing, engaging marketing, broadcast marketing, transactional marketing – it doesn’t matter. People connect with people and communication is how that happens, in whatever way that works for both.

Wanting a relationship is human, it is only the type of relationship that differs. As a result, organisations (of any size) must seek out ways, online and offline, which build relationships. Use any method you want to, social media, traditional advertising, growth hacking – just make sure that you are creating an environment for a person to have a positive engagement with you / your brand.

If you think about it, in this digitally enhanced and fragmented world of customers – building a relationship that can’t be copied or stolen, may be the only differentiator, in business. How do you build such a relationship? – By using consistent and effective communication.

Business marketing is about communicating a relevant story.

Let’s be fair, some organisations are embracing the notion of consistency in their communication. Almost every day we read about the tsunami of organisations entering into the content marketing and / or storytelling space. The trouble is that sometimes, this is not done in a consistent and effective manner, because they are storytelling from a traditional advertising mind set.

To me, this is a waste of time. Personally, I don’t want any of my timelines interrupted by a tweet, a Facebook or Google+ post, advising me about a great product! No, for me social media is -s-o-c-i-a-l…. I don’t want to discuss my holidays with my bank manager (even if she, ahem, paid for it). Educate me or entertain me – that’s it.

If you want to share a story that includes your brand, make it a compelling and authentic one that I might be interested in. Also, tell me the story where and when I want it. I might want to check out a service of yours on my mobile but I may read about your story in a blog, on my tablet. And if it’s that useful yes, I’ll share it with my friends on my social media networks. Lastly, please make it different to all the other ‘stories’ because my time is precious.

Be smarter about your business marketing because time is precious for everyone. Your time is spent concentrating on growing your business and marketing has to play its role. To do so, however, your marketing must respond to people’s needs and desires. You have to acknowledge this if you are to earn people’s attention.

The fact that you can’t force anybody to listen to your story anymore, means that you have to ensure that you are part of their story. You’ll read many blogs, articles and books on the need for data management, new technology, automation, targeting, optimisation and measurement. But without being authentic when marketing your business, people won’t care and you’ll end up being a busy fool.

Building blocks for smarter business marketing.

Even before embarking on your storytelling journey, there are some building blocks that should be in place, especially if you are a small business with a small marketing budget.

  • Identify your USP. Choose one thing that differentiates you from competitors and build around that.
  • Be clear about your audience. Don’t waste time on an audience that will never buy your offerings.
  • Use the right channels. A channel should get new customers, and/or build relationships / reputation.
  • Start off with a clear business model. Ensure correct pricing – from a customer’s point of view.
  • Enjoy yourself. Do things you enjoy and that fit with your company’s values.

Tips and Timesavers.

We mentioned above about a business building relationships. Last week one of our Facebook friends, contacted us for activity ideas, to sell products online between now and Christmas. We do apologise for mentioning the ‘C’ word so early in November. However, as we can’t all afford the big TV campaigns, some of the ideas below may help to level the online playing field for SMEs, in the coming weeks.

  1. Maximise social: If you’re planning some offline activity such as a flyer (QR codes), a trade show, a Christmas market stall – broaden your activity impact using social media. Have early-bird discounts, talk about the advantages of shopping early and online. Use each channel / audience in a different way and invite them to get involved (by sharing). If you have a range of products think of using Pinterest.
  2. Site optimisation: track search activity and re align landing pages and search terms. Have you access to FAQs or a sizing chart (fashion). Use large thumbnail images, quick view buttons and testimonials. Make sure the check-out process is simple.
  3. Create an experience: Set up an advent calendar. Each day have an offer on a particular product, have a discount, a 24 hour competition, a quote, a picture – anything that raises awareness or drives people to your site. (O2 have done this in Ireland in the past offering music downloads). Use Instagram to give people gift ideas.
  4. Get emotional: Email is still a personal channel. Use an online ‘pull strategy’ to encourage people to send their gift ‘wish list’ to you. Get them to write a story about why they would want to give one of your products to someone they love. Maybe the best story would get a free gift etc. Their email would give you permission to mail your catalogue to them, for inspiration.
  5. Be generous: Create Christmas themed gift cards. Offer free discount cards – people tend to spend more than the card offer. Promote a BOGOF offer which would help people to solve their gift buying problems by getting two for one! How about free posting?
  6. Be helpful: Delivery countdown. Remind your online followers that there are only ‘x’ amount of days left to ensure pre-Christmas delivery. Let them know if a particular product is almost out of stock.
  7. Be human: Set up a scheduled tweet. Don’t go overboard on this but there is nothing wrong with a little Christmas cheer – schedule a ‘greeting tweet’ for Christmas Eve or Day.

Hopefully, some of these might ‘spark’ an idea of your own.  We want to ensure that you have a turkey stuffin’, wine sippin’, santa hat wearin’, cracker pullin’ bit of fun, this Christmas season.

Outsourcing your content management.

To finish, I’d like to return to the notion of organisations entering into the content marketing and / or storytelling space, in an ineffective manner. Sometimes the task of ‘storytelling’ is delegated to the overworked marketing team (or development person) that are trying to get their heads around data management, new technology and customer’s increased expectations.

The obvious answer is to outsource. However there is a caveat here also. Traditional agencies may lack digital knowledge and digital agencies may lack strategic know how. There is a new breed of content and editorial agencies but the trouble is that they may well lack brand knowledge. Perhaps we will eventually get an integrated model that can understand both the editorial mind set and the brand management side but in the meantime, make sure you all agree the deliverables up front.

“Here’s the plug folks – at O’C&K we combine our own experience and that of our ‘contacts community’ to deliver brand management, engagement strategy and storytelling into a seamless experience for your brand. Let us know if we can help”.

  If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K