3 Ways to Master Social Media Content Marketing.

 

1. Draw the reader in quickly with action and surprise.

Focus on the headline and first 10 words. Make it a game; make some new thing happen in six words or less. Use quirky verbs, surprising examples, uncanny twists. Seth Godin is the master of this. “Short order cooks rarely make things happen,” one recent headline proclaimed, with the subhead “How far does your agenda extend?” Or take Mr. Money Mustache, who almost always begins with a story: “It was a beautiful evening, and I was enjoying one of my giant homebrews on a deckchair I’d placed in the middle of the street…” You keep reading to make sure he doesn’t get run over!

There is a shift toward long-form content on sites like Medium and LinkedIn. Content marketers have coined the phrase “10x content” for social content that delivers radically new ways of thinking and solving problems. But even the best content is entirely lost without a way to reel your reader in, so focus there first.

2. Show how things changed in a palpable moment.

Once you have your readers’ attention, you keep them engaged with simple, human stories — a story in which something happens and the protagonist is transformed. Bernie Sanders’ campaign has mastered the fundamental dynamics of storytelling. His marketing team highlights individuals who embody the campaign’s promise. Take Sanders’ “America Beyond” YouTube video: a young boy grows up so impoverished he uses buckets of snow to flush the toilet. He does poorly in high school. When he later lands at college, he discovers he’s a great student. He becomes a teacher, with the hopes of helping every student understand his or her full potential. If your business isn’t building momentum on social media, you’re moving backwards. Who are your core customers? What are their stories? How does your product or service change their lives for the better?

3. Use specific details to deliver your message.

On the Internet we’re overwhelmed with visual detail: perfectly cropped and filtered photos, sunsets and selfies, and products galore. In a sea of visual stimulation, authentic stories are increasingly valuable. Every sentence matters. When you work with an implicit story structure, the readers experience your message through their own memories.

It’s a bit counterintuitive, but the more specific you are, the more powerfully your story will resonate with other people.

You can also use details to paint a picture of the future. Arizona State University asks a simple question — ”What if we could detect diseases before symptoms even appear?” — to draw visitors into their commitment to medical research.

Your brand is the accretion of these fleeting but memorable moments, when your company speaks to customers through the stories of our shared human experience. To succeed in social media, you need to maintain a cliché-free zone. Real people don’t respond to marketing lingo. Young people arrive suspicious, and will click out the instant they sniff anything inauthentic. As the world spins faster, and your customers’ attention is harder and harder to maintain, storytelling draws your customers into your vision and sustains their connection with your products and your brand.

 

4 Content Marketing Lessons to Learn from everyday examples like Netflix

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If there’s any content marketing prodigy that you should pay particular attention to, it’s Netflix.

Very few companies have led the spawn of an entire industry, and still managed to stay ahead of the curve. The streaming video service closed 2016 with 93.8 million subscribers, up nearly 20 million from the year prior.

Its strategy is very tactical, and it plans to keep it that way. Have you ever heard the company publicly speak to its methods of exposure? Netflix is extremely covert in the area of marketing; you’d almost think it’s Magic Leap.

Even if you’re not in the media business, there’s a lot to learn about how Netflix approaches content and goes about amassing an audience. It is an excellent example of content marketing leveraging its product, data and social media. Here are four takeaways every content marketer can learn from Netflix.

Build the experience through standalone products.

Seemingly, Netflix doesn’t place the most value in traditional marketing. Its approach is much more innovative, even to the extent of creating standalone products to extend the experience of a new show. In the era of 360 video and artificial intelligence, no idea is too large. Netflix is not afraid of walking this line and more often than not, it provides a tremendous return on investment.

For example, Netflix recently commissioned the third season of the highly touted Black Mirror, which explores the scary possibilities of technology. To promote the show, Netflix actually created the app Rateme that was the conflict and downfall of the first episode of the season. It did something similar with a Stranger Things web tool, which allows users to create content with the show’s font. Also on the list are Netflix socks, among other consumer products that make light of the culture of its dedicated audience.

Content is not distinct to the confines of an article or a video. Many times, content marketing is a product or a standalone experience that gets the conversation going and creates the opportunity for the audience to get involved in the show’s universe.

Invest in original content.

Netflix invests in original content so much that it can almost market itself. Entrepreneurs and marketers specifically should learn to invest effort and finances into the kinds of content that have proven successful with their audience.

In the last three months of 2016, Netflix added 1.43 million new U.S. paying subscribers. In 2017, Netflix plans to spend nearly $6 billion on content. For context, ESPN spent $ 7.6 billion on content in 2016.

Such an investment may be necessary for the growing competition of streaming video services, but solidifying a budget to create quality content is not a strategy that is unique to just media companies.

Data is certainly the differentiator.

We all know data matters, but are you sure you’re leveraging the right metrics? Netflix uses data to predict behavior and to help create a better experience, ultimately inspiring a lot of its marketing.

Inside the product, Netflix tracks your browsing behavior; what time you watch content; when you pause, rewind or fast forward; and what kind of content is viewed on which day. Using this data to understand consumer behavior, it can both suggest the right content in the product that makes you stick around longer, as well as adjust its marketing content to fit your interests.

Netflix used big data to promote House of Cards. User behavior was very much the deciding factor on its series rollout of marketing collateral.

Before a series is released, there’s typically one or two trailers made to build the buzz. For House of Cards, Netflix made 10 different cuts of the trailer and served you a trailer based on your previous viewing behavior. If you watched a lot of Kevin Spacey, you saw the trailer that included more of his scenes. If you happened to actively rate and suggest David Fincher’s work as a director, you were shown a different trailer.

Through Netflix’s algorithms, it can determine who might be interested in new shows and can cater content that will be best received, according to its data. How are you using data to steer your marketing content for better engagement?

Netflix’s success in original programming is not by accident; its data having a large influence on its content marketing is a technique we should all mimic.

Help virality happen.

There’s so much talk about “going viral,” but do we ever explore the science behind it? Netflix has a knack for catching virality, and it stems from making content easily shareable and having a consistent and honest brand voice.

Netflix is known to provide content that pairs well with social media, helping insert itself into everyday conversations.

Above is a landing page where Netflix hosts a Rolodex of funny gifs featuring your favorite Netflix series, allowing you to share on Facebook, Twitter or even download for your use.

 

4 Ways to Make An Irresistible Offer Without Selling.

Learn how to overcome fears of public speaking and over-selling-no matter the presentation.

4 Ways to Make An Irresistible Offer Without Selling

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death.

Death is number two. Does that sound right? “This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy,” said noteworthy comedian, Jerry Seinfeld. However, there is something even more fear-inducing than public speaking.

How do you feel about selling from the stage?

Exactly.

But what if I told you that there was a proven formula for delivering powerful selling presentations without coming off as the dreaded slick salesperson? I bet you’d be a little more excited to get up on that stage, webinar or live stream and start selling.

No matter if you’re selling products, booking one-on-one sessions, or even trying to raise money for a charity, consider what I’m about to share with you.

It may shock you to learn that I used to dread speaking and selling. But once I learned these 4 key points, and discovered the power of selling one-to-many, I was hooked.

Try these strategies—you won’t be disappointed in your results.

1. Start backwards.

A powerful presentation starts with the end in mind.

Most people make presentations starting at the beginning. First, they think of the introduction; then, they teach the audience something (which by the way, doesn’t make for great sales). Finally, they put their pitch deck together.

I turn that on its head. Instead of beginning with the introduction, I start by creating an irresistible offer. Every great presentation should call their audience to take an action with an irresistible offer. When you make the right offer to the right audience, you will sell. And when the rest of your presentation is built around that offer, you will sell more than you ever thought was possible.

Once you have your irresistible offer, think about how to sell it with transformational stories. Tap into your audience’s emotions by showing them their problem and then presenting your perfect solution. Then, when you’ve created the rest of your presentation, make an attention-grabbing introduction video that you can use for your introduction.

2. Tell stories that overcome their objections.

If you’re looking for a way to really engage your audience, keep their attention, and answer their objections, tell great stories during your presentation. Remember to tie your stories back to your offer, and think about your audience’s main objections. They usually come down to not having enough time or money, not trusting you, or not knowing who you are.

The best stories speak directly to those objections. For example, you could share how you were once living out of a van in the Walmart parking lot, and then you became successful using the exact steps your offer provides. When you share your transformation, your audience will see themselves in your story, and they will believe that they can be successful, too—if they purchase your offer. Don’t underestimate the impact of the right story.

3. Be (seen as) the authority.

When you go on stage and act like the authority, even if your “knees are knocking” from fear, people will believe and respect you.

4. Relax and rewind.

I see so many speakers who go to conferences and wait until the night before to prepare their presentations. I’ve seen them in the lobby, typing feverishly away at their PowerPoint slides late into the night.

That’s because they’re not thinking about their speaking engagements as sales opportunities. If they knew how much money they could make on stage, I bet they would prepare a lot more ahead of time.

According to Boundless’ textbook on delivering speeches, “While rehearsing, you simulate the real speaking experience so you know what to expect…and ultimately feel more secure with your ability to perform in the actual speaking situation.” Your audience will feed off of your energy while you speak. So make sure you’re prepared to give them your best.

The next time you do a presentation, try these 4 strategies. Your audience will love your energy, they’ll be convinced by your storytelling, and they will buy from you—all without feeling like they are being sold.

 

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform.

These are my recommendations.

If you’re looking to get an e-commerce site off the ground yourself with minimal technical capabilities, I recommend Shopify for the theme store, plugins and built-in tutorials. Shopify is all-inclusive when it comes to an ecommerce platform, meaning you can get all you want in a “one-stop shop.”

If you have some technical capabilities and want to expand on the out-of-the-box offerings that Shopify offers, then I recommend going with WooCommerce. As an ecommerce platform, WooCommerce is more robust and has many more plugins at your disposal. Keep in mind that WooCommerce can be more challenging when it comes to customizing and coding requirements.

If you need to build an ecommerce site that is completely customized, I recommend a platform like nopCommerce, which is trusted by more than 27,000 store owners. If your business needs something extremely customized, a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce makes it difficult to complete these customizations. NopCommerce is a great option for those .NET developers.

My agency has helped guide countless entrepreneurs on their ecommerce journey. Here are some of the steps you need to take to get started on yours:

1. Start with a theme.

Your theme helps to reflect your identity throughout your site. Themes control your website’s style, look and feel. Rather than paying a developer a lot of money to customize your entire site, you can simply choose a theme and have them add your products and images within the theme you choose.

Think of it like moving into a home. While you certainly don’t have to build the home from scratch, there still is a lot of work involved to move all of your furniture into the home, decorate it, and make it livable. Each major platform will have a variety of different themes to choose from. Some are free and some can range close to $200 in cost. It all depends on your preference.

2. Choose a platform.

Shopify
If you are looking for a simple e-commerce website that won’t require much housekeeping, but still has a classy design and great customer service, go with Shopify. According to e-commerce-platforms.com, Shopify is the most popular ecommerce platform. Shopify offers 20 templates that are free and about 120 more that you can pay for.

An upside to Shopify is that everything is hosted and supported by Shopify, so if you have any issues, there’s one point-of-contact and no reaching out to another host or development company.

One of the downsides is that if you go with a free template, you could run into other online stores that look very similar to yours in terms of the overall look and feel. The paid versions of Shopify can help differentiate your online store a little better than the free versions. Another downside to Shopify is that you are redirected away from your domain name during the checkout process. Shopify also doesn’t allow you to customize the checkout page — you are bound to what Shopify gives you, minus the logo and customized CSS changes. This could be a big disadvantage for many e-commerce store owners.

Even if you don’t have development skills, you can finagle your way around Shopify to get your site up and running. Shopify’s 24/7 support can also handle some of the technical details for you, but there will be a fee involved. There are ample plugins for Shopify, such as adding a color swatch if your product comes in multiple colors or a plug-in to integrate your storefront and ecommerce store with Square.

If you are looking for a hands-off approach where you can just sign up and have an ecommerce store launched in no time, Shopify is your best bet. Just be cautious if your store gets bigger and more customization is involved because you could be limited.

WooCommerce
WooCommerce is an open source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. The key takeaways from the prior sentence are “WordPress,” “open source” and “plug-ins.”

If there is something that you need to add onto your site that is more complex and requires customization, WooCommerce is going to be a better route. “Open source” means you can modify your store freely and there are no limitations. A closed platform, which is what Shopify is, means you can only modify your store to the extent that Shopify allows.As your business grows, often times, you need new features added onto your ecommerce website, and WooCommerce gives you this flexibility.

Let’s say your ecommerce business heavily relies on key calendar dates for delivery, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. WooCommerce has a plugin that will allow you to add a calendar on the shipping page and select a specific date you want the package delivered. You may be limited with Shopify if you eventually want this feature added.

WooCommerce also offers thousands of different store designs through WordPress themes. You are less likely to run into the same exact design if you take the WooCommerce route. Many business owners are familiar with WordPress, which makes a seamless transition over to WooCommerce.

With WooCommerce, you also own and have complete control of your own data. Shopify controls your data since you are redirected away from your domain during the checkout process.

Ready, set, launch.

My development agency has worked with the majority of ecommerce platforms. The reason we recommended Shopify and WooCommerce is because both fit a certain need depending on your business type and what your wants and needs are. As I mentioned earlier, if your ecommerce site needs to be completely customized, we recommend a platform like nopCommerce.

I recommend that before building an ecommerce site for your business, create a Word Document to give to your developer listing all of the wants and needs you have for your business. Share this Entrepreneur article with him or her to see what route they recommend. The biggest mistake we see is that business owners rush to tell a developer they want an ecommerce site built without listing out all of the requirements involved. This will cost you time and money in the long run. Also, make sure the developer has plenty of experience with ecommerce sites. This will make your development process more seamless.

 

 

10 Laws of Social Media Marketing.

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Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It’s vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and — perhaps most importantly — your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. The Law of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

8. The Law of Acknowledgment
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.

9. The Law of Accessibility
Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

10. The Law of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content.

 

 

How to Sell Apps: Handling Common Objections

images (1) There is no point in sugarcoating it: sales is synonymous with rejection. A salesperson faces rejection every single day, no matter how good their product or service is. If you are selling apps to small businesses, the constant objections can be discouraging. You might be thinking it’s part of the job, and there’s nothing you can do about it. While it is part of the job, you can learn to handle objections in the most productive way. This doesn’t mean telling your prospect they’re wrong, it means helping them come to a different conclusion on their own accord.

In the process of persuading them, it’s important to distinguish between sales objections and brush-offs. “While objections are authentic, brush-offs are excuses. Objections are far more serious than brush-offs.”

In the process of persuading them, Micro Intellects says it’s important to distinguish between sales objections and brush-offs. “While objections are authentic, brush-offs are excuses. Objections are far more serious than brush-offs.”

Here are the most common sales objections to selling apps and you can handle them:

1. Sales objections about price

Examples:

  • “It’s too expensive”
  • “There’s no money”
  • “We don’t have any budget left this year”

Selling a product or service to small businesses is arguably even harder than selling to big bureaucratic companies. A small business owner will almost always reference their limited budget as an objection. It is your job to help him or her justify the cost.According to Abraham Baxter,a small business consultant, the best way to do this is by “breaking down your total cost into smaller amounts that are attached to smaller services so the client can see why your price point is what it is.” Most importantly, demonstrate how an app can help the small business save money and increase revenue. After implementation, it will basically pay for itself in a couple of months.

2. Sales objections about competition

Examples:

  • “I can get a cheaper version of your product from someone else”
  • “I can get a better product/more features product with a competitor”

Find out what is happening below the surface here. Is your prospect also talking to a competitor? Are they using this objection as a way to drive the cost down? Or does your prospect think the competitor offers a better product or price? To counter these objections, focus on the unique value that your app will provide for their business that they won’t be getting from a competitor or an alternative product. For the former, explain how the features you offer compare to the competitors’ offerings. For the latter, show how other marketing and operational projects will not yield the same results. Overall, you need to emphasize its worth, not its cost.

3. Sales objections about product

Examples:

  • “I don’t see what your product could do for me”
  • “I don’t understand your product”
  • “I don’t see the potential for ROI”
  • “Apps are just a fad”

These objections are actually requests for more information. Be able to answer these questions in depth, explain exactly how your product can solve specific problems. Use case studies of previous clients to demonstrate how an app provides track able results and accomplished goals. “Nothing sells quite like hard numbers,” says Micro Intellects. Furthermore, apps are relatively new when it comes to small business application. Therefore, you need to show how mobile apps have become a necessity for any business trying to grow (or even survive). A small business owner, then, often needs a shift in perspective from seeing an an app as a mere add-on to their marketing portfolio to a full fledged mobile solution. To formulate your argument, check out our blog article debunking the myth of an app as an add-on.

4. Sales objections about change

Examples:

  • “I’m okay with the way things work right now”
  • “I don’t want to change the way we’ve been doing things for years”

Often these small businesses have existed for many generations, hence they don’t want to mess with the status quo. Get the client to see why they need to make the change. Share research that shows how apps are becoming crucial for small businesses to survive. Together with the client, take a look at local competitors and their tools. Showing that competitors are far ahead can open the small business owner’s eyes to what needs to be done. In addition to the fear of change, small business owners are often already overwhelmed by all the new tools they need to keep up with, such as social media, online reviews, mobile websites and so forth. Put them at ease by showing how an app easily fits into their current strategy with minimal effort.

5. Sales objections about trust

Examples:

  • “You don’t seem to have the necessary experience to do this”
  • “I’ve never heard of your company”

As an app salesperson, you are not just selling a product, you are also selling your services as a mobile marketing expert. For that reason, you should not approach the small business owner as a salesperson. Instead, be a small business advisor. Advise them on their marketing efforts, by showing them where there is room for improvement. Sharing these observations, without asking for anything in return, will build trust. Be honest about your expertise, and be willing to share testimonials and case studies that will diminish your prospect’s feeling of uncertainty. They need to be confident in your ability to help their business.

6. Sales objections about timing

Examples:

  • “It’s too much for me to take on right now”
  • “I’m too busy”
  • “Call me again in a couple of months”

If the lack of time is an issue for your client right now, chances are it will still be an issue in six months or a year. To overcome this objection, you need to make the decision to hire you a no-brainer. More specifically, explain how you will help to set everything up, as well as be there for ongoing support. Depending on the arrangement you make with your client, you can take over the entire app endeavor (i.e. design & build, promotion, push notification etc.), making it as convenient as possible for a busy small business owner. Show them that you will go that extra mile to make their app a success.

check out our blog article debunking the myth of an app as an add-on here and here.

 

How Big Data Analytics Is Solving Big Advertiser Problems

Big data can help make sense of the information gathered, such as retention cost, average transaction value and even customer satisfaction.

How Big Data Analytics Is Solving Big Advertiser Problems

After several years of cautious enthusiasm, the marketing and advertising technology sector is now embracing big data in a big way. That’s the good news. The obstacle is that most companies and brands still lack the expertise necessary to analyze huge amounts of data and make it actionable. According to a 2015 survey, most companies seek a specialized skillset that is normally not found in most a typical ad agency. In plain English, these companies are collecting data they don’t yet know how to use. That’s the bad news.

Not surprisingly, new companies that specialize in big data analytics have started to fill this void.

For the marketing and advertising sector, this has meant more sophisticated analysis of things such as online activity, point-of-sale transactions and on-the-fly detection of dynamic changes in trends. But why is this so crucial?

Gaining insights into customer behavioral patterns plays a crucial role in creating focused and targeted campaigns. Big data can help make sense of the information gathered, such as retention cost, average transaction value and even customer satisfaction. After all, consumers who spend the most money are not necessarily the most valuable. There’s some evidence that the big spenders may be “the most expensive to keep and are the least loyal over the long term.”

What role does big data play in advertising?

Big data can be used to help create targeted and personalized campaigns that ultimately save money and increase efficiency by targeting the right people with the right product. How exactly? By gathering information and learning user behavior.

A consumer’s digital footprint today is increasingly valuable in this personalized era of marketing and advertising. There is such a vast amount of information from every interaction one has, whether Googling or Facebook liking the new Samsung smartphone, both online actions will lead a consumer’s social media and digital world to be flooded with ads about this phone.

How can big data be used for advertising?

With this information, companies can target users in existing online communities, and then use the data to better understand and identify patterns in user behavior. Advertising agencies are able to gather information about consumers’ motivations: Are customers motivated by the latest tech trends? Is there a subgroup within your client base that are more reserved when it comes to spending?

These are the types of insights that can be gained from big data.

The secret lies in measuring impressions and learning user behavior. We already know that almost a quarter of video ads are viewed by botsand not humans. This means that for the biggest advertising companies in the world, a significant proportion of impressions aren’t being shown to human beings. The implication is substantial as ad campaigns are not being exposed to the very audience which will be spending money. As a result, there is a growing and crucial demand to expose ad fraud and non-human impressions.

Predictive analytics.

The solution to the huge ad fraud problem is predictive analytics big data platforms. This technology allows brands to define the type of consumers being targeted, thus enabling businesses to have the appropriate and most effective reach and impact.

Tel Aviv-based Optimove, for example, is a marketing automation platform that uses predictive analytics to prioritize a company’s existing customers, rather than use their resources to acquire new ones. Through the company’s predictive analytics platform, customers are presented with the best and most targeted deals and services tailored to them specifically, significantly raising the chance of conversion. With this type of information, marketers can create and target relevant customers at the relevant time.

Big data equals big ideas.

Traditional advertising once involved circulating ideas and pitches through various departments. Today, working with big data companies, advertisers can use these collaborations and partnerships to create original campaigns, and at a faster pace.

Looking ahead.

Despite this sense that a lot of businesses are sitting on data but lack the infrastructure or the capabilities to understand and analyze, need will continue to drive better analytics and new technology.

Using the power of data analytics, advertisers can identify emerging trends and provide real-time live ad options. Since the key component of advertising is reaching the right audience at the right time, big data will help predict purchases, identify and analyze consumer behavior and the type of performance that certain segments of your audiences will perform against.

The emergence of new technologies will also permit companies the leisure of using data in a smarter, safer way. In other words, companies can now actually mine their data to improve both the bottom line and customer service, instead of just sitting on a undeveloped gold deposit.