September 27, 2014 by
This is my 239th blogpost. That may be more than some, but not as many as other bloggers I know.
Like others, this blog began as an outlet for expression. I was starting a business. Like others who have followed this path, I said if not now, when. Only the when was in the midst of the worst recession since the great depression. This blog became a way of coping and putting values and beliefs out there when not much was coming in.
Writing helped me through hard times. Circumstances improved. Today, this blog is one of our most valuable assets for a full service digital (digital, social, mobile) consultancy and agency that build brands using proven relationship principles and ROI.
Research shows I’m not alone. How? Here are 10 studies that show writing helps health and well-being.
- PUTS YOU IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF: Scientific evidence supports that journaling provides unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. – PyschCentral
- MAKES YOU MORE OPTIMISTIC: People in a study who expressed gratitude in writing once a week for two months were more optimistic about life (and, interestingly, exercised more), compared with people who didn’t. – Harvard Business Review
- REDUCES STRESS, AIDS IMMUNITY: Writing about difficult, even traumatic, experiences appears to be good for health on several levels – raising immunity and other health measures and improving life functioning. – American Psychological Association
- SPEEDS HEALING: Writing down your thoughts and feelings after a traumatic event can actually make physical wounds heal faster, according to a study from New Zealand researchers. - Scientific America
- INCREASES RESILIENCE: Studies show that writing during difficult times may help you find meaning in life’s challenges and become more resilient in the face of obstacles. - University of Minnesota
- HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER: Spending just 15 minutes a night writing down what you’re thankful for could do wonders for your sleep, according to an Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being study. Researchers found that study participants who wrote down a list of things they were grateful for before bed experienced longer, and better, sleep. – Psychology Today
- DECREASES ILLNESS: In one study, five months after writing, a significant interaction emerged such that writing about trauma, one’s best possible self, or both were associated with decreased illness compared with controls. – Southern Methodist University
- REDUCES DEPENDENCE ON DRUGS AND DOCTORS: In a study of college students, one group wrote about personally traumatic life events for 15 minutes on four consecutive days. The other group of students wrote about trivial topics. Compared to those who wrote about trivia, the students who wrote about traumatic experiences used fewer pain relievers over the next six months. They also visited the campus health center less often. – Aetna
- HELPS CANCER PATIENTS THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THEIR DISEASE: A study showed that expressive writing could help cancer patients not only think about their disease in a different way, but also improve their quality of life. – The Oncologist
- IMPROVES OVERALL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Participants who wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings reported significant benefits in both objectively assessed and self-reported physical health 4 months later, with less frequent visits to health centers and a trend towards fewer days out of role owing to illness. - Pennebaker Study
In many of these studies, participants wrote for as little as 15 minutes a day but did it regularly. Is this investment in writing worth it for your health and well being?
September 22, 2014 by
Digital marketing planning is no different than any other marketing planning. In fact, companies shouldn’t separate plans for ‘digital’ and ‘offline’ since that’s not how your customers perceive your business.
But we’re often required to have plans for “digital” based on the way teams and reporting is structured within companies. A way of aligning the two needs to happen at the start. It’s likely to facilitate buy-in for both that way.
To get you going in the right direction, here are 7 core criteria when creating a digital marketing plan.
- FOCUS THE PLAN AROUND CUSTOMERS, NOT PRODUCTS AND TACTICS: Always start with the customer, their characteristics, behaviors, needs and wants, often expressed through keywords. Create Buyer Personas to establish a segmentation of the people who buy your products. Buyer Personas are examples of real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the Status Quo. By focusing the plan around consumers, you bring out the best in your products.
- LEARN FROM COMPETITORS: Online is a prolific place to do research on competitors. For one thing, the information is at your fingertips. For another, there are so resources to help. For information on competitor’s website usage, there is Alexa and Compete. You can compare the social media presence of your brand versus competitors in terms of Likes and Followers or engagement terms like Comments and Shares. You’re likely to gain more than a few good idea for your brand in the process.
- IDENTIFY CONTENT RESOURCES: After the product or service you offer, content is a brand’s most relevant asset. In a digital marketing plan, you’re going to need a lot of content. You should not only consider the communications but the form it takes such as an email, blog, infographic, video or podcast. Know who will publish it and and how often it will go out. Make a Content Calendar a backbone of your plan.
- HAVE A CLEAR VISION FOR THE YEAR; PLAN FOR 90 DAYS: Articulate the desired results, expressed by the metric that matters most to your organization – sales, revenue, profits, leads, conversions – and the reason why it will be achieved based on what your brand can stand for to its customers. Have the plan that is going to make it happen for the first 90 days but be flexible to change. Situations and plans change, especially online, so ensure plans are usable by having a clear vision for the year and keeping real detail to a shorter term.
- MAKE PLANS FACT-BASED SO IT’S EASIER FOR OTHERS TO BUY INTO: 90% of consumer buying decisions begin on the internet according to Forrester Research. 87% of consumers research products online, then buy offline according to Internet Retailer. 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations according to Search Engine Land. These are just a few ways to gain the attention of people in your organization to support your plan. So, consider using facts throughout your digital marketing plan to win the approval of the people who may not totally understand digital but are smart business people who sign off on it.
- KEEP IT JARGON LIGHT: Digital has a tendency to go into a whole new type of nomenclature. Don’t go there. Instead, use the same language as you would for traditional media channels but support it with the facts, resources and metrics that give digital an even greater credibility.
- CREATE AN ACTIONABLE SCORECARD: End your digital marketing plan with a scorecard of the measurements that matter most, your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Show how you will source them and review them regularly to look for insights. When you review, take actions to keep your business strategy on track.
To put these guidelines into steps every company should take to achieve success in digital marketing, we follow a process of Crawl, Walk, Run and Thrive. You can learn more about it on the sidebar of this website.
Did these criteria help you in creating a digital marketing plan?
August 24, 2014 by
Web analytics is not just a tool for measuring web traffic.
Off-site web analytics refers to the measurement of a website’s potential audience (opportunity), share of voice (visibility), and buzz (comments) that is happening on the internet as a whole. On-site web analytics measures a visitor’s behavior once on your website. This includes its drivers and conversions.
Taken together, web anlaytics provides a complete picture of your audience and their attitudes and behaviors toward your brand. Web analytics is the most valuable, useful, cost-effective and timely resource a business has to answers key strategy questions.
Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics software. Google Webmaster Tools shows traffic for each keyword separately; it gives more information about website performance. There is even a Google Analytics Academy to learn all about how to use web analytics done online on the participant’s schedule. They’re all free to use so there’s no reason a company shouldn’t dedicate some time and attention to examining web analytics.
If you need more convincing, here are 37 key strategy questions web analytics answers.
WHO ARE OUR CUSTOMERS?
- Who do we attract?
- Who do we want to attract?
- Who is visiting for the first time?
- Who is returning for more visits?
- What cities or countries are most people visiting from?
- What search keywords are sending us traffic?
- What percent of traffic comes from mobile devices?
- Who are our most valuable segments?
- Who is worth doing marketing efforts to based on their business potential?
- Are we doing better or worse?
WHAT ARE THEIR BEHAVIORS TOWARD OUR BRAND?
- What actions do people take?
- Are they taking the actions we want?
- How do people find us?
- How do people travel through the site?
- What sort of experience do we create for our users?
- What percent of users view at least 3 pages per visit?
- What percent of users remain on site for at least 3 minutes?
- Where do our most active visitors come from?
- Where do visitors click?
- Where are our most valuable users coming from?
- Who shares our content?
- What content works best?
- What percent of users comment on content?
- Who recommends us to a friend?
- What social networks and social media metrics are worth tracking?
- What do they buy from us?
HOW DO FIND MORE PEOPLE LIKE THEM?
- How do we find more people like the ones who are most valuable customers?
- How long does it take for someone to decide to do business with us?
- How do we know if our site is doing well relative to competitors?
- How do we know if our marketing efforts are working?
- How has advertising worked?
- Was advertising worth it?
- How can we identify the ideal marketing mix?
- How do analytics help us understand how the business can make the most revenue and profits?
- What key metrics should be used for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- What is the best way to measure ROI?
Do the answers to these questions matter to your business? Do they convince you to dedicate time and attention to web analytics? Does your company need to learn how to use web analytics better?
July 20, 2014 by
Social Selling is the use of social media to interact directly with prospects, to answer questions and offer thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.
Social selling is not hard selling. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about discovering people who may eventually be interested in what you’re selling – then making yourself useful to them. For salespeople, especially in B2B industries, its purpose is to establish relevance to prospects rather than interrupt their daily lives with cold calls and sales pitches.
It’s not a buzzword. It’s a real way for generating revenue and results. Here are 27 facts about salespeople who are Social Selling.
- IBM saw an Increase of 400% in sales in a Social Selling Pilot Program (source: IBM)
- 98% of sales reps with 5000+ LinkedIn connections achieve quota (source: Sales Benchmark Index)
- 90% of C-suite executive say they never respond to cold calls or email blasts (source: Harvard Business Review)
- 89% of customers begin their buying process with a search engine (source: Fleishman-Hillard)
- 86% of IT buyers use social media in their purchase decision process (source: IDG Connect)
- 82% of B2B decision makers think sales reps are unprepared (source: SiriusDecisions)
- 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers. (source: Social Media and Sales Quota Survey)
- 75% of customers say they use social media as part of the buying process (source: IBM)
- 75% of the sales people said they have not received formal training from their company on how to use social media (source: Social Media and Sales Quota Survey)
- 74% of B2B marketing companies use Twitter to distribute content (source: Content Marketing Institute)
- 72.6% of salespeople using social media outperformed their sales peers (source: Social Media and Sales Quota Survey)
- 61% of US marketers use social media for lead generation (source: IBM)
- 57% of the buying process is done before sales contact (source: Corporate Executive Board)
- 55% of B2B buyers search for information on social media (source: MediaBistro)
- 54% who used social media tracked their social media usage back to at least one closed deal. (source: Social Media and Sales Quota Survey)
- 50.1% of sales people who report using social media state that they spend less than 10% of their selling time using social media (source: Social Media and Sales Quota Survey)
- 50%-70% of the buying process happens before salespeople get involved (source: Forrester)
- 50% of identified sales leads are not ready to buy (source: Gleanster)
- 42% Follow or Like a friend or brand; 79% are motivated to do this in order to learn more about the brand (source: Fleishman-Hillard)
- Over 40% said they’ve closed between two and five deals as a result of social media. (source: Social Media and Sales Quota Survey)
- Social media users were 23% more successful than their non-social media peers. (source: Social Media and Sales Quota Survey)
- Today’s sales process takes 22% longer than 5 years ago (source: SiriusDecisions)
- 15% of non social media users missed quota 15% more often than their sales peers using social media (source: Social Media and Sales Quota Survey)
- More than 10% of the respondents said; “Yes, It directly contributes to my closes.” (source: Social Media and Sales Quota Survey)
- You are almost 5X more likely to schedule a first meeting if you have a personal LinkedIn connection (source: Sales Benchmark Series)
- Marketers spend an average of 4-6 hours a week on social media (source: Social Media Examiner)
- B2B marketers who use Twitter generate 2X as many leads as those that do not (source: Inside View)
If a picture helps explain some of these statistics, below is an infographic from Inside View.
Do these facts about sales people who are Social Selling surprise you? Does your company engage in Social Selling? Do you think your company could be getting better results?
June 29, 2014 by
A brand voice is how a brand speaks to its audiences.
It connects a vision, mission and values to a personality; done well, it’s is relevant, timely and builds relationships that last. It’s the human face for a business or company. It’s an expression of the people behind the brand. It sets your company apart and builds trust.
Particularly in the digital channel, with the depth of information on a website and publishing opportunities available through social media, it is an essential consideration to your brand platform
Here are 11 ways to find your brand voice.
- GET IN THE PRACTICE OF STORYTELLING: In marketing a product, you search for a “unique selling proposition.” For your brand voice, you tell your “unique story.” Every brand has one. They just have to find it. Tell it is small, manageable chapters to learn what resonates with your audience. Don’t be afraid to re-tell it.. If it means something to your audience, they’ll want to hear it again.
- LOOK FOR YOUR ARCHETYPE: To help tell your story, the term “archetypes”, as it is used in marketing, has its origins in Carl Gustav Jung’s theories. He believed that universal, mythic characters— archetypes—reside within the collective subconscious of people the world over. Archetypal images represent fundamental human desires and evoke deep emotions. There are 12 archetypes which symbolizes a basic human need, aspiration or motivation. For example, Disney is the Innocent; Jeep is the Explorer and Nike is the Hero. There is an archetype that is a fit with your brand to guide in telling your unique story.
- DEVELOP YOUR LANGUAGE: To address the needs of our audience, develop the language that stands for the problems your brand solves. Your expertise. What your business does, or makes or provides better than anyone else. It’s not only your differentiation but the keywords help be found on the internet.
- CREATE BUYER PERSONAS: A representation of your ideal buyers based on market research and real data about your existing customers are buyer personas. They provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. Buyer Personas help you to have better conversations that attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business
- SHOW YOUR AUDIENCE YOU SHARE THEIR VALUES: How you relate to your audience is not just what you offer but the values you have in common. They are established through conversation, dialogue and action. They form bonds that can carry you through a crisis.
- DEFINE YOUR COMMUNICATION CHANNELS: 54% of people find a website through natural search; 32% through social networks and 28% from links from other websites according to Forrester. While it’s important to broadcast, it is more more to know the different benefits of each channel. For example, Twitter may be the best channel for spreading your content, Facebook for sharing, LinkedIn for comments and email marketing for speaking to key customers. This help to manage your time and expectations.
- PRACTICE THE 80/20 RULE: There is an 80/20 rule the Content Marketing Institute finds to me true about content for brands. 80% of content should be about your customers and trying to solve customer challenges. 20% can be sales-related and talk about products and services. This is a good guideline to observe.
- BE AUTHENTIC, CONSISTENT AND HUMAN: Regardless of what product or service you offer, customers are drawn to brands that deliver on honesty and authenticity. Whether it’s through tweets, blogposts, webinars, or any other type of communication, make sure you’re a true problem-solver. Since it plays a crucial role in ensuring brands come through on that act of integrity, brands need to engage in conversations to build long-term relationships.
- LISTEN TO YOUR AUDIENCE: If you ask someone what they need, they might not know. But if you listen carefully to what problems they are having, then you just might figure out what they’d really like to see from you.
- BE WILLING TO CHANGE: There’s something to be said for staying consistent, but, if you learn something new by listening, be willing to change. An enduring brand voice is one that stays relevant because is able to adapt to changing needs and tastes..
- WALK YOUR TALK: Substantiate your voice with your actions. Respond to detractors when they come out. Get back to people in a timely manner. Offer proof points that you deliver on what you say. Do unto your audience as you would like them to do unto you.
Does you brand have a voice? What is it that sets it apart? How does your business tell its unique story?