If everyone else is doing it, why aren’t you?

Netflix does it. GE does it. Verizon does it. Your local gym does it.

What’s the common denominator? They all have some sort of recurring income product, also known as a membership model.

In this day and age, recurring income is THE business model. If you don’t have a recurring product or service yet, you will likely get left behind by those in your industry or market who do.

Case in point: Netflix vs. Blockbuster.

Netflix started right from the beginning by getting customers onto a pay-once-a-month-watch-all-you-want plan. Customers loved it because it gave them lots of choices, and lots of freedom about when to watch their movies.

In contrast, of course, Blockbuster gave some freedom of choice – “you can get any 3 movies for $6” – but they didn’t provide for customers to watch a variety of movies, whenever they wanted. Once Netflix provided all of their movie selections digitally, instead of just by mail, the game was over and Blockbuster was done.

Why is the recurring revenue business model so popular? Below are the first four of six compelling reasons to start using this model as soon as possible:

1 – It’s money you can count on.

Sure, there are people who come and go; there will always be “churn” when you have any kind of membership program. Some people lose interest in the topic, others decide they can’t afford to stay, and still others just aren’t a good fit for the program.

But in general, if you take good care of your customers (we’ll get to that in a minute), you will have regular income that you can count on for months.

This allows you to plan for how you invest in your company: marketing, ads, launches, professional development, software and hardware upgrades, etc. When you have a regular source of income, you can make plans!

2 – There is less risk in your business.

Anytime potential investors look at the viability of a company, they always look for predictable income. The recurring revenue model gives them what they are looking for.

3 – You can predictably pay off your bills each month.

Many of your company bills are monthly themselves. Software applications like AWeber or Active Campaign. Website support. Utilities. Rent or mortgage (for your business and for your home).

4 – You spend less time acquiring new customers.

Everyone knows it is significantly more difficult – and costly – to acquire a new customer than it is to get a current customer to buy again.

Yes, as stated above, there will always be churn, so you will always need to be acquiring new customers. Besides, you likely want to GROW your customer base!

But the need for frantic, hamster-wheel-style customer acquisition is significantly lessened when you know you have a core number of customers who will likely stay with you from month to month.

To make the most of this benefit, you’ll need to know these numbers:

  • How many customers typically stay each month (retention)
  • How many customers typically leave each month (churn)
  • Your cost to convert a lead to a customer
  • Your cost to acquire the lead
  • Your customer lifetime value

When you are secure with these numbers, you’ll be able to figure out how aggressively you need – or want – to get new leads.

If all these companies rely on recurring income, for all the reasons stated above, it makes sense for you to set up up a recurring revenue model too.

As if these four reasons aren’t enough, check out Part 2 to discover two more, as well as one of the easiest-to-produce, yet most impactful recurring revenue products!


If you would like to talk to me about creating money you can count on in YOUR business, please click here to apply for the Winning Content Strategy Master Plan Session!

Why do 50% of new businesses fail within the first five years?

That statistic is both shocking, and not shocking, at the same time.

We’ve all seen local businesses come and go.

Just as a restaurant begins to become your favorite, it disappears, sometimes without warning.

Or a favorite used book store – Yay! Book stores are NOT dead… yet! – that struggles on for 10, 15 months, and then finally closes its doors.

Perhaps you know of a business owner who has been around longer than five years. But you only know them a little, because they are always – always – at the shop or office. They never seem to get a day off. I know a Korean woman in our town who runs a dry cleaning and sewing business. She works 10+ hours a day, six days a week…

And many small business owners stay home in the summer, year after year. They never get to take their kids on a vacation because it would mean they would lose money if they aren’t physically present at the shop or office.

And retirement? Woah! Who can possibly save for retirement?? Since many small business owners barely manage to pay the bills each month, putting aside any decent retirement funds is a bit of a pipe dream.

These scenes are not uncommon. It’s very challenging to create a business that not only survives, but THRIVES.

It is because of these very types of situations that I recently found myself in front of a room of 17 entrepreneurs – and aspiring entrepreneurs – talking about how to use Facebook to grow your business organically, without having to pay for ads.

Most of the people in the room had no idea how powerful this social media platform can be, even when it’s totally free.

After that presentation, when it came time to do the networking portion of the program, it was easy.

The attendees enjoyed talking with each other and sharing stories. They told each other about their dreams, their struggles, and their best offers.

We even had several people whose businesses overlap, but we were all clear with each other that we prefer cooperation and support, rather than competition.

We then had time for one “hot seat”. If you are not familiar with the concept, it is an opportunity for people to bring their business problems to the group, and together, with the power of the “master mind”, the group tries to help solve each other’s problems.

Eager to start her own business, but stuck on a couple of key issues, one volunteer received extremely valuable suggestions from the group. When she left at the end of the evening, she had a plan for moving forward.

Finally, the evening ended with my presentation about “The 4 Things Your Business Needs In Order To Thrive”.

They had mentoring, peer support, important connections, and accountability

Mentoring is the first critical piece of the success puzzle. There is almost nothing new under the sun; most of the great ideas have already been thought up. And you don’t need to waste your time doing things that someone else can show you how to do in less than half the time.

Find yourself a mentor. Someone who has been there before. Trust me; all those successful people had mentors of one sort or another too.

Peer support. It’s very important not to be “the smartest person in the room” all the time. You need to find others who are further along than you are, and yet who are more than happy to share their best strategies and tips.

At the same time, you learn a lot when you have to explain something to someone else who isn’t as far along as you are.

This is the power of peer groups. Lift others while you climb…

Important connections. Never have a conversation with a potential business partner without asking, “Whom do you know who…?”

And always be thinking… “Whom do I know that might be able to help this person?”

As has been said, “Your network represents your net worth.” It’s a cliche, but it’s also true.

Accountability. You know what you are supposed to do. I know what I am supposed to do. But we don’t do it. Doesn’t that drive you crazy??

The reason we do that is because our brains are lazy. If there is an easy task on the list, that is the one we will always gravitate toward first. The more challenging tasks… get pushed off.

Weekly accountability usually prevents that from happening, because we are even more averse to admitting we are wrong than we are to doing hard tasks. Accountability is the fourth key component of a mastermind group.

These four components – mentoring, peer support, connections, and accountability – can literally mean the death or survival of your business. If you have them, you are MUCH more likely to survive. If you don’t….business failure is an possibility.

How do you find these success principals and apply them to your business? They all exist in a mastermind group!

The term, “mastermind”, was originally coined by Napoleon Hill, author of the book, Think and Grow Rich. The idea is to unite several minds together to solve a problem. Today, many local business people join referral networking groups, which is valuable. But a mastermind group goes beyond referrals and networking, and provides the other three components too.

If you would like to learn more about masterminds, or even if you just want to learn more about how to use Facebook organically (without ads!) or how to network more effectively, then I invite you to join me at our next Entrepreneur Night!

We’ll have all of these presentations within 2 hours, and you’ll leave feeling energized, excited, and ready to try new things with your business!

Click here to register, and please bring a friend!

When you KNOW what to do, and still find you aren’t doing it

Head down, one light left on in the house, darkness outside the windows. My husband kissed me goodnight a couple of hours ago.

Even the dog who always lies at my feet has gone upstairs to bed. “Et tu, Terra?”

This week, Neil Patel came out with a new book about hustling. I haven’t read it, and even though I love Neil, and learn a ton from him, I don’t plan to read it. I do enough hustling as it is.

I have been studying productivity for about 3 years now, as I am constantly trying to become more efficient with my time.

I even joined a group on FB specifically intended to help people “get s&$# done”. Eighteen months later, that group now has over 4000 people in it. Clearly I am not the only one looking to become more efficient.

Since May, I have been in a small online mastermind group where we meet virtually each week. We hold each other accountable for what we said we were going to do over the past week, and we help each other solve technical, logistical, and mindset challenges.

In this group I receive: accountability; mentoring; peer relationships; critical connections.

This group has been invaluable to me, because we all come from the same type of training (we were at a business-building retreat together earlier this year), and are all headed toward the same types of goals.

Yet I still find myself in that late night situation too often, alone in the dark, typing on my computer.

This is where I am being real with you.

I know a lot about marketing. I know a lot about writing. I know a lot about relationships, mindset, and productivity.

Yet many days I still have trouble putting it all together.

I am still up late at night, after already working for 10, 11 hours. Again.

I am still on too many email lists that distract me; I should unsubscribe.

I am still ignoring critical tasks in my business, because it is easier to do other tasks.

I still make stupid decisions that I know better not to make.

Having said all that though, I also know I have come a long way.

Just 3 years ago I was teaching. I loved the kids, and was passionate about teaching them the skills they need to know to be truly successful in this information age.

But there was a lot of other “stuff” to deal with as a teacher, and I got tired of it. I had also reached the pinnacle of my profession by achieving National Board Certification, as well as an additional tech-ed certification, and being published in peer-reviewed journals. I needed new challenges. And I craved more autonomy.

So I started my own business from scratch.

I took online marketing courses, attended a slew of marketing events to meet people and learn more in-depth strategies, studied for coaching certifications, and tried to get traction as a parenting and youth mindset coach.

Along the way, I received top-notch marketing training, worked with, and wrote for, some of the most successful online marketers in the world, and made tons of connections.

I won’t go into the details of how I got from there to here in just over a year. Maybe another time.

Suffice it to say, I have currently transitioned the majority of my biz focus from parent and youth coaching, to business and marketing coaching, training, products and services.

I now have tons of knowledge about marketing, and I have a number of high-level connections within the IM (internet marketing) world. And I am a pretty darn good writer.

I am also very excited because I have a pretty big goal for my business now: by using my own knowledge, connections, and teaching and writing skills, I will positively impact 1000 small business owners in New England over the next three years, through the power of local in-person mastermind groups.

I am starting the first couple of masterminds in Westford and Acton, and am looking forward to getting going in Lowell soon too.

If you are in the Boston area and want to be part of this mission, please let me know!!

So it is time to stop the late nights. To actually apply all I know about productivity, and get more sleep, more time to exercise, and more time to do personal things, like be with my family!

I KNOW what to do. I do it every day. And I am doing it more and more EFFICIENTLY every day.

You know what to do too. Are you ready to do it more efficiently?

I am a work in progress. I want to be partnered with others who are also enthusiastically a work in progress.

Is that you?

If you are a New England local business, please contact me at winningcontentstrategy AT gmail.com and we’ll get you started in a mastermind group.

Teach each other. Learn from each other. Bring me to your meetings, along with my 7-figure connections from around the world.

You’ll get accountability, peer support, mentoring, and worldwide connections.

Let’s do this. Together.

,

The 3S Marketing System: SEO, Syndicated Content, and Social Media. Go from Relationship to ROI

It’s late Saturday morning. You are new in town and are ready to go explore.

You step out your front door, a little uncertain in which direction you should go, when you notice the neighbors on either side of you are also out in their front yards.

One family is playing with their kids on the swingset, and the other is preparing a barbecue. They both come over to ask what you are up to today.

“I’d like to find a really good coffee shop nearby.”

“You should definitely check out the shop at the corner of Vine and Maple called Coffee Dreams. It’s great!”

“Yes,” replies the other neighbor. “That’s my favorite coffee shop! Make sure you try their pumpkin spiced latte. You’ve never tasted anything quite like it.”

You thank them for their friendly recommendations, hop in your car, and after a short drive, find a place to park, and walk in.

There is a funky blackboard behind the counter with colorful names of coffee varieties, some sandwich selections, and delicious-sounding pastries. The chairs and tables are each unique, and comfortable for small group conversation.

You like the way it feels here. You start to chat with the barista, who is really friendly and helpful. The shop owner introduces herself and offers some great information about the unusual coffee flavors she offers.

Being a real coffee aficionado, you inquire about the origin of the beans and the different ways of preparing coffee, and the owner enthusiastically engages you in conversation. She also encourages you to join her newsletter list, so you can get more information in the future.

You finally leave about 90 minutes later, telling yourself that you’ll definitely be back. This is a good place to hang out.

Same story – Online

Now imagine this same scenario, but instead of in your neighborhood, it’s online. You are interested in a particular topic, like coffee.

You notice that your social media friends have been talking about a specific coffee shop, so you check the reviews online, and discover that the place has raving fans.

When you do a search for coffee shops in your town, it shows up on page 1 of the results, so it’s easy to click on the link to get to the website.

When you get to the webpage, you discover that they not only list their menu items and hours, but they also have a blog with really fascinating information.

After reading for a while, you get to the bottom of the third blog article and notice that you can sign up for their monthly newsletter to keep up to date with all the latest happenings at the shop.

By this time you are hooked, so you are happy to give up your email address.

Then you head out the door to try it out for real!

The 3S Marketing System

In this situation, just like in the real life situation, you have a vital intersection of content marketing, keywords (SEO), and social recommendations (social media).

In fact, the synergy between these three is critical for both the consumer and the proprietor. This is why I call it the 3S Marketing System: SEO, Syndicated content, and Social media.

The consumer (prospect) needs the content in order to become more knowledgeable about the topic, and can only find their way there through a combination of recommendations and keyword searching. The content also helps the consumer feel comfortable with the proprietor, desiring to come back in the future.

The proprietor first needs to decide which keywords will be most obvious for the service offered, and which will likely be most effective at drawing in their perfect customer (avatar). Then she needs to create great free content that speaks directly to that prospect, and his interests.

When the prospect visits, he has a great experience, and it isn’t long before he, too, is telling all the neighbors about how much he loves Coffee Dreams!

Is it relevant?

It goes without saying, of course, that people who don’t like coffee won’t be attracted to a place like Coffee Dreams, either online or in real life. And that is perfect.

The owner of Coffee Dreams wants lots of coffee lovers to show up! But she doesn’t have time for people who aren’t interested in coffee. So she provides content on her site and in her store that is relevant only to coffee lovers.

What do these scenarios really mean for you and your business?

It means you have to leverage the power of combined SEO, content marketing, and social media to build your business.

The first first key to this formula is to fully understand relevance.

As anyone who has tried to work with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) knows, search engines are constantly evolving.

And although it may feel as if that evolution is intended to harm marketers and make their lives difficult, the truth of the matter is that it is intended to provide the user with a satisfying experience.

So don’t take it personally. It’s not about you; it’s about your prospect. As it should be for you too.

Instead of being upset about the constant rotation of Google’s “zoo” (Penguin, Panda, etc.), if you keep in mind the PURPOSE of your marketing, you will be just fine, no matter what the search engines do.

That purpose? To create a relationship with your prospect that brings them on a journey. The benefit to YOU, of course, is that during that journey, they go from prospect, to lead, to customer, to raving fan.

prospect awareness, content marketing,

What is the intent?

To determine how relevant your content is to your target audience, you really need to know the intent behind their search.

While you, as the content person (yes, you!) may be interested in choosing the right keywords for your meta description and to sprinkle throughout your text, your target audience simply wants an answer to a question.

First, we need a couple of definitions, because people often tend to mix these up:

Keyword: A term used to describe something (for the marketer)

Query: What a user types into a search engine to accomplish something or to get an answer (for the searcher)

So ask yourself these questions as you search for keywords:

If my audience member is typing in a query, what is their goal?

Are they looking for information?

Are they comparing different versions of the same thing?

Are they looking to buy something right now?

What keyword(s) can I choose that will be the end result of their query?

1 – Enter the funnel through SEO

Since most traffic comes from people who are looking for information, leverage that search to drop them into your marketing funnel.

Where do they end up? On your website! Reading your blog, watching your video, etc.

Ideally, you will have custom content, specific both to you/your company and to your audience.

Although some businesses use generic content (and this may be just fine for businesses like doctors and attorneys and chimney sweeps, that are built entirely on local traffic), in general, you want to use custom content.

Custom content – that is, content provided by you and your team, specifically for your audience – helps preserve your “voice” and attracts exactly the right type of person to your business.

Besides, you know your audience best, and you know your solution to their problem best. So you are the best person (or someone on your team who knows how to articulate your voice is best) to share how your solution solves your prospect’s problem.

So don’t skimp on this critical part of the 3S System. Custom content, produced on a regular basis (it’s important to the search engine spiders that you produce new content frequently), and distributed widely over a variety of platforms (syndicated) is a key element in the SEO algorithm.

Ad – Want help with your content? Join Content Marketing Pro!

2 – Great content – syndicated

Of course, in addition to your content being custom-made for your audience, your content needs to be EXCELLENT to keep them there, and to get them to continue to engage with you.

And as we already stated, great content starts with its relevance to your audience. So you really, really need to know your avatar.

Once your audience knows that you exist, great content that meets their needs helps them begin to like you.

If they like you, they will keep coming back for more great content. Now they trust you!

Think about it: Do you trust someone you don’t know? Or someone you don’t like? Of course not!

Remember that trust means “absence of doubt”. Your prospect has to have no doubt that your intentions are to help them. If they think there is any chance of you not fulfilling your promises, that’s it; “gave over”.

So focus on this: RELATIONSHIP COMES BEFORE ROI.

Build that relationship with excellent custom content.

Brand recognition

So here is the process so far:

SEO brings traffic to your site → great content builds trust

SEO is the technical stuff. Content is all about building trust through relationships. You want to create brand recognition.

There is a LOT to creating brand recognition. For today, here are a couple of quick tips:

  • Know your avatar so well that you choose colors and symbols for your logo and other visuals that really resonate with them
  • Provide great value. Over and over and over. Exceed expectations.
  • Tell great stories about you and your company.
  • Tell great stories that highlight your customers.
  • Be everywhere. Syndicate your content so you are top of mind when your audience thinks of your topic.
  • Be all over the social media channels frequented most by your avatar. Again, become familiar through repetition.

3 – Social Media

And this leads us to the final corner of the 3S Marketing System triangle: social media.

96% of all web activity is now on social media. The search engines have recognized this, and now include many platforms in search results.

In fact, if you are not prolific on social media, you are probably not relevant. And remember what we said about how important relevance is!

Now we are ready for the final step in the process:

SEO brings traffic to your site → great content gets conversions to your list → social media presence

No matter how relevant your content is to your prospect’s search, and no matter how great the content is, the easiest way to convert your lead to a customer is through their friends’ recommendations.

This is why social media MUST be part of your marketing strategy.

Social media must be both engaging and inspiring: get your audience to think, to relate, to consider, to comment, to share.

When they share your content – short posts, images, videos, links to longer posts – they both feel like they are participating, and they are recommending you to their friends and followers.

Don’t you trust your neighbor’s recommendation for an auto mechanic more than you trust the mechanic’s marketing claims?

When you show up on social media, you are able to reach a whole new web of prospects, thanks to one person sharing to their friends, than one of them sharing to their friends, etc.

Social media is how you increase visibility and credibility. And, to bring it all full circle, the more people share your content, the more the search engines trust you.

So in the same way that you trusted your neighbors to find a coffee shop that is perfect for you, and once you were there, you fell in love with it, your prospects actually WANT to fall in love with a solution to their problem. They want to find you!

So through the power of the 3S Marketing System, make it as easy as possible for your perfect audience to find your perfect solution.

Great, relevant content, found through targeted SEO and a prolific social media presence.

Take care of these three corners of the triangle, and you have a solid presence online, that will help your business grow.

  • People trust their social friend’s recommendation more than a Marketer’s
  • Social media must be part of your marketing strategy
  • Get social media to do your marketing for you.
  • Create a graphic here
  • When on social media, you are able to reach a whole new web of prospects, based on one person who follows you. Friends, family, colleagues
  • Increase visibility and authenticity so both customers and search engines trust you

You need to have a relationship before you can count on ROI.


If you liked this post, join our 30 Days To a Flood of New Leads program! You will learn ALL you need to know to create engaging, valuable content, that inspires your prospects to take action!

Content not only drives traffic, it creates leads. And customers.

“Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5x more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.” Hubspot research

Wow. Content makes a serious difference.

The thing is, you need to have a LOT of content. Check out this graph:

blog_monthly_traffic_cs

According to the statistics, it doesn’t matter if you are B2B or B2C. If you publish 11 or more blogposts a month, you get a LOT more traffic:

blog_monthly_traffic_b2b2c

Hubspot is showing that even small companies of fewer than 100 employees NEED to have at least 11 monthly blogposts. Because when you do that? You get a lot more traffic.

Traffic (usually) = leads.

And leads – that then convert into customers – are the seeds for a profitable business.

Here you can actually see the increased leads you get when you publish more blogposts:

blog_monthly_leads_cs

When they analyzed their own posts, Hubspot also found that 75% of their blog views and 90% of their blog leads came from old posts. And the more content you create, the more old posts are hanging around out there, generating traffic.

Have I convinced you yet?

Most businesses “know” they should be publishing regular content, especially blogposts. But to see it in cold hard numbers really drives the point home.

Well here is the cold hard truth: If you aren’t creating fresh content on your website on a consistent basis, you are leaving money on the table.

Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t do that to your business. And don’t do that to your family.

Is NOW the time you are ready to become a content-generating machine?

Do you need some help making that happen?

You don’t have to do it all alone. .

If you liked this post, join our 30 Days To a Flood of New Leads program! You will learn ALL you need to know to create engaging, valuable content, that inspires your prospects to take action!

 

How content marketing taps into some of our deepest fears – which is why you should use it

I recently read about a psychologist who was teaching his 6-year-old daughter about feelings.

The little girl was standing in front of a mirror, making faces at herself, so he asked her to make a happy face. She opened her eyes and cheerfully bared her teeth.

Then he asked her to make a sad face. She pushed out her lower lip and started pouting.

After a few more experiments, on a sudden inspiration, he asked her to make a lonely face. She immediately turned her face away from the mirror and away from her parents, and looked down at the ground.

The psychologist and his wife were cut deep in their hearts. Even at this young age, their daughter not only knew what it meant to feel lonely, but she also knew how to make it worse: she pulled herself away from the people who love her most.

Isn’t that what we all do when we feel lonely? It’s as if we are the only person in the world, and no one else can possibly understand us.

Nurture connections with content just like the pros do!

Content is all about communication, and you need communication to connect

Click here to learn how to connect with your audience and grow your business at the same time!

Connections lead to safety and security

It reminded me of a conversation we just had on our podcast, Mighty Married Moms, with probably one of the world’s premier experts on ADHD, Dr. Ned Hallowell.

Amazingly, Dr. Ned insists that one of the most effective ways to combat the problems of ADHD – the feeling of being distracted and scattered; having an inability to stay focused; procrastinating; difficulty finishing what we start – is connection with others.

Dr. Ned shares that when we are connected to other people, we feel safe and secure. That security allows us to “play”, which lights up the brain with joy. And a joyful brain is a brain that is creative, innovative, and interestingly, even more disciplined.

What does this have to do with content marketing?

It is not possible to have a viable business without solid connections with your audience.

They need to know that you understand their pain, their frustration, and even their loneliness.

As Dr. Ned explains, when people feel connected, their brain lights up and they feel more joyful.

Don’t you want people to be happy and joyful when they think of you and your offerings??

Create connections in your marketing

Take, for example, a man who feels that no woman could possibly want to date him, because of the way he looks. Of course he’s lonely!

And when you help him articulate those fears of never being connected, he lifts his head, and becomes brave enough to listen to what you have to say.

Or a woman who is struggling to get recognition at work. She knows all the effort she has put into recent projects, and that without her they would not have taken off.

When you articulate her fears and promise a way to help her fulfill her potential, she also lifts her head, and wants to hear more.

Or the new business owner who walked away from a regular 9-to-5 job in order to follow his dream, but for whom the pieces just aren’t falling into place.

When you connect with him about his fears of loss and failure, and explain that you can help him create that dream business, he feels understood and ready to try again.

If you have a real, honest-to-goodness solution to the fears – and loneliness – felt by your customers and clients, make the connection. Be the reason they feel joy!

Connection deters loneliness

Tell your personal stories. Tell the stories of your other successful clients.

Let your audience know that they are NOT alone. Many other people have had those same lonely feelings of shame, worry, distraction, and disconnection.

Reach out through your free content to create a relationship and dispel that loneliness.

Don’t do it in a “hypey” way. Do it authentically. Be a real person.

Because on the other end of your ledger sheet are real people.

Real people who are lonely, who feel disconnected and uncertain.

As a business owner you have both a privilege and a responsibility to be honest about what you are offering your customers and clients. About what it will take for them to be successful. And about what they can expect along the way.

But you can also promise them that they won’t have to travel that journey alone. They get to travel with you, the expert in this area, and you will give them the helping hand they need.

You want to have a viable business, and feel great about it?

Use content marketing to make a real difference in people’s lives.

Your action: Please share in the comments below how you can create even more connection with your audience through content that matters.

More of the most common mistakes you might be making in your content marketing that make it “not work” for you. Part 2

Recently I shared 6 common mistakes people make in their content marketing that will often cause them to say, “Forget it. It doesn’t work.”

And I challenged you to think about whether or not you are making any of those mistakes yourself.

Here are another 5 mistakes – a total of at least 11 – and there are probably more too!

7. Not using the right media/platform for the right audience.

This mistake arises when you either don’t know your audience well enough, or you are unwilling to shift from what is more comfortable for you than for them.

What I mean is, if your primary audience consists of women in their 30s and 40s you should definitely be on Pinterest. Even if you are a guy who doesn’t “get” Pinterest.

And if your audience is ages 15 to 25, at least, you had better be on Snapchat. This month. 😉

I’m not saying you have to be on 15 different platforms, or use 7 different types of media.

Just know your audience.

If you need to be creating podcasts for them to listen to while they drive or work out, do it.

If they tend to live in front of YouTube, create videos.

Don’t guess at this! Do your research and be in the right place.

Is Content Marketing a bit of a mystery to you?

Get the real answers about how to use content to grow your business!

Click here to join Content Marketing Pro!

8. Using social media as a distribution channel instead of a relationship builder.

This is from Gary V. He points out that the purpose of social media is NOT really distribution. It’s to foster a relationship between you and your audience members.

Social media is the best place for them to get to know you as a real person behind a brand.

It’s also where you can reach out to your audience and get great market research (quizzes, challenges, engaging questions, etc.).

And when you engage with your audience – and you really know them – when you ask them to do something for you – such as share a post, or sign friends up for an event – they are very likely to be happy to be part of that community.

And that is what relationships are all about. We all want – no, we all NEED – to belong to something greater than ourselves.

So yes, you can send out your latest blogpost or podcast on social media, and it’s useful to curate other people’s helpful information that way, but the real key is using social media to foster a relationship with the real people in your audience.

9. Asking your audience to commit to you before you commit to them.

Let’s face it; we all have a bit of healthy skepticism when it comes to meeting someone new.

And you ask for something as personal as an email address before you even buy them a drink?

Nope. It doesn’t work anymore, if it ever did.

Now, the key is to give them something first, and THEN – when they not only know you, but they also like you – you can dare to ask for their email address.

***This is really important: When you send someone from an ad directly to an optin, without giving them something to build at least a little familiarity first – never mind trust – it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg.

So don’t do it. Introduce yourself. Commit to serving them first. Once they like you, then you can ask them to trust you with their email address.

10. Not running ads to your content.

This flows right out of #9.

Run ads. But don’t run them to sales pages first, or optins. And DON’T run cold ads to webinars!

Run ads and send prospects – your audience, remember – to valuable, actionable content. First.

You’ll save money in the long run because these content pieces not only create a more informed prospect, but also qualify they before they buy.

11. Not tracking the ROI of your content.

Let’s be clear. Determining useful metrics for content marketing is a bit tricky. Different companies will follow different metrics.

And what you follow depends on what part of the funnel you are looking at – top, middle, or bottom.

Ultimately, it all boils down to what your GOALS and OBJECTIVES are for your content (a topic for another day).

But if you are running ads to content first, then retargeting those who consume your content with more ads, you CAN determine ROI.

Not only can you determine ROI, but you SHOULD. Then you know if your marketing is “working”.

And that’s why we are reading and writing this article, isn’t it?

If you don’t have some way to determine your ROI, then you don’t have a business. Period.

Your action: I would love to hear your biggest “ah-ha” moments from these two posts. (Here is part 1.)Please share below what you have been doing less effectively with your content marketing, and what you think you would like to do better in the future. I will see if I can help in the comments.

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Some of the most common mistakes you might be making in your content marketing that make it “not work” for you. Part 1

I spoke recently with a well-known internet marketer who said to me, “I just don’t get content marketing. I don’t know how to make it work. I just don’t see the ROI in it and I think I want to stick with what I already know how to do.”

This is fine. After all, most people go with the idea, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

But this person is missing the whole point. And I don’t want you to miss out on this if you’ve said, “I’ve tried content marketing. It doesn’t work!”

Let’s be honest. It’s one of those things that isn’t easy. But that is what gives you the advantage. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

No, effective content marketing that skyrockets your business takes some planning and a focus on execution.

As someone who knows how challenging it can be to finish projects, I feel your pain. And now I want to make it easier for you to be successful.

So in this, the first of a series of posts I want to share with you about content marketing, I want to point out some of the most common mistakes marketers make that torpedo their efforts.

1. Too much content

You don’t need to create content every day. Or perhaps even every week. The key is to create the most valuable, engaging, and inspiring content you can, that will GRAB your prospect’s attention.

Then take that content and put it up everywhere. Blogposts. Social media. Slideshare. Videos. Talk about it on podcasts.


Find out what OTHER errors you might be making in your content strategy! Join us in EPIC Content Marketing PRO – just $12/month! – to learn how your content will help you gain greater Impact, Influence, and Income!


A few people will say, “Hey, I’ve heard that before.” But so what? Did they really HEAR you when you said it/wrote it the first time? Did they DO anything with that information?

It won’t hurt people to hear it or see it more than once, and it’s more likely going to make it stick better. Which makes you look good, when they follow your advice, remember that it came from you, and they get results.

2. Not asking for an action

Content for the sake of content isn’t enough.

While building credibility and authority through thought leadership posts is definitely a worthwhile goal, it’s not the only thing around which you should be creating content.

You should have some sort of call to action in every content piece you create. Blogposts, emails, podcasts, videos…

Look, you are sharing something useful for your audience. It’s not free. They invest their time to consume it, and you are asking them to do something in return.

It may not be giving you their email address (although it might be). It could be calling someone. Or leaving a comment. Or sharing the post. Or making a list.

Ask them to do SOMETHING in response to your content. That is what “inspiring” content is all about. Inspiring action.

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3. Not advertising in the content itself

You can advertise in every piece you share. In fact, you should.

But it doesn’t have to be “in your face”. It can be “seeding” your product or service (“When I work with clients I always tell them…”).

Or if it is a blogpost, you absolutely can break up your text with relevant offers.

Your content should be exposing a problem your audience has. If they want to solve that problem, you owe it to them to offer a solution. If they are invested in solving the problem, they will be happy to invest in your solution.

4. Teaching too much in the content

You DO want to give great value. This builds the know/like/trust factor, which is crucial to building an audience.

You want to tell people what their problem is and why they have it.

And you can even give a high-level overview of what to do about it.

But if they think that reading a few sentences is going to completely solve that problem? They are wrong.

They need to invest in themselves at some level to solve that problem. If it’s with you, great. If it’s with someone else, then at least they are doing something about it. Back to “inspiring action”.

5. Producing content for search engines, not for the user

Despite what people may tell you – because they wish it were true – SEO is not dead.

You do need to write and produce content that will get you found online in an organic way.

This involves keyword research, as well as a variety of other research methods.

But you can’t just produce content for search engines or you won’t have an audience. They want to hear an authentic voice. They want to know that there is a real person behind the piece.

Google spiders don’t care about that. They just care about keywords, backlinks, authority, etc.

Your audience – real people – care that you are a real person. So be real.

6. Not including enough personality

This is related to #5. It’s partly YOUR personality (or at least, that of your business) that people want to relate to.

Think of LL Bean. Even though the company was started 100 years ago, the catalog still talks all about Leon Leonwood Bean, and how he stumbled into boots that kept his feet warm and dry.

This company story is one that readers relate to, because who hasn’t wished they had warm, dry feet in winter??

And it’s also how you relate to THEM and their personality.

What kind of people are your audience members? Young? Old? Male? Female?

Speak to that person as if you are sitting down together in a room, having coffee or tea together.

See part 2 here.

 

Your action. I would love to know: Have you “tried” content marketing and gotten frustrated with it? Have you made any of these mistakes? What questions do you have about this post that I can answer for you? Please share in the comments below! 🙂


Truly effective content marketing can be the difference between having a successful online business, or one that just never takes off.

For only $12/month you can get the inside scoop on how to use content marketing effectively to drive qualified traffic and leads right into your marketing funnel! Join us here: EPIC Content Marketing PRO!

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Ensure your ROI with Content Marketing

This final part of the EPIC Content Marketing Formula, C (Conversion), helps you determine how to tweak your content marketing so you end up making money. We will look at these topics:

  • Define “ROI”
  • Funnel metrics
  • Retargeting
  • Monetizing content

Many people complain that content marketing is too difficult to measure. “How do you know if it’s working?” they ask.

It’s a good question. Most books and articles written about content marketing insist it is a long-term investment.

You commit to content marketing for the long haul. Expect it to take a year – at least – before you can see a return on a tremendous investment of time, money, and effort. Search Engine Optimization is a big part of this plan.

And yes, there are plenty of companies who freely admit their success is based on that long view. Their whole-hearted commitment over several years has now brought them to a point where they are not only successful, but seen as thought leaders in their field, and they are generating great profits.

I want to show you, however, that although it is important to look at a variety of standard metrics to determine how well your content marketing is “working”, there are some things marketers can now do to short-cut the process.

Define “ROI”

Many people feel the only ROI that counts is an immediate sale.

While sales are the END goal for all your marketing efforts – because that’s how you become profitable, after all – sometimes you will get a greater profit on the back end if you consider a few other ways to look at ROI.

“Return on Investment” means acknowledging ALL the gains you make.

These gains can include such things as:

  • The additional people now on your email list after running ads
  • After running ads to cold traffic, people who consume your content are now “warmer” prospects. You have increased the odds of going from “know” to “like”
  • Your CPC will be lower when warm prospects turn into leads more easily
  • You gain market research based on what resonates with your prospects and leads

All of these different gains ultimately lead to better, faster backend sales. Don’t discount their value just because you didn’t get as many frontend sales as you would have liked.

Content Marketing isn’t just for the pros!

Get the inside scoop on how to REALLY get an ROI on your content marketing!

Click here to find out more

Standard content marketing metrics

Let’s look first at standard metrics.

Jay Baer, a leader in the content marketing industry, suggests that you look at four sets of numbers:

  • Consumption metrics
  • Sharing metrics
  • Lead generation metrics
  • Sales metrics

Consumption metrics

These include such numbers as: the number of views your page or video receives; the number of downloads; and the number of social conversations taking place about your content.

These metrics should then lead to these questions:

  • Do people take action after consuming the content?
  • Do they come back for more?

Tags and pixels will help you answer those questions.

Sharing metrics

This is for social media posts and blog articles, primarily.

Sharing includes such actions as: likes; shares; tweets; +1s (are people STILL using Google+??); and pins.

You can also measure who is sending traffic to your blog by using online tools such as Google Analytics.

Lead generation metrics

How many people are completing your forms? How many people are subscribing to your list? How many people who land on your page are becoming leads?

If you have low numbers for any of these metrics, you will want to evaluate your content for such things as how relevant, engaging, and inspiring it is!

Sales metrics

And of course you hope that many of your leads actually convert to sales. Measure this through online and offline sales, manual reporting, and customer retention.

Don’t be surprised about measuring sales numbers under the content marketing umbrella. After all, the end goal of marketing is to bring about more sales!

Remember also that only some of your content creation and marketing is focused on prospects. A lot of it should also be focused on nurturing current customers, so you maintain a relationship with them.

Other metrics to measure

Make sure you evaluate which of your channels performs really well, and which could use some work. This will help you decide if you are, for instance, using the right social media channels, or if the content on those channels is most relevant and engaging for your intended audience.

Retention rate

This is how you determine whether or not you are losing too many of your customers. Here are the steps to do the math:

  • Choose a time period
  • How many customers did you have at the end of that period? (End)
  • How many new customers did you acquire during that period? (Acquired)
  • How many customers did you have at the beginning of the period? (Start)

Here is the formula:

(End-Aquired) / Start = % retention rate

For example:

  • You had 1,025 customers at the end of March (End)
  • You acquired 50 customers during the month of March (Acquired)
  • You had 1000 customers at the start of March (Start)

(1025 – 50) / 1000 = 97.5% retention rate for March

Buyer recency and frequency.

These numbers are very important to know, in order to understand the lifecycle of your customer.

When was the last time your customer made a purchase? How often does the average customer make a purchase?

And the most important question: Over time, what is the average lifetime customer value? (See below)

If you can increase your average lifetime customer value through engaging and inspiring content, you will save your company a lot of money on advertising to cold leads – people who don’t already know, like and trust you – and increase your revenue without a whole lot of extra effort.

Average Customer Lifetime Value

This is one of the most important numbers to calculate because once you know how much each customer is worth over time, you know how much you can spend to acquire a new customer without going negative.

(Avg sale) x (# repeat purchases) x (avg retention in months or years)

For example:    $20 x 12 x 3 years = $720 total revenue (or $240/year)

The quick and simple way to do it is to use an online calculator like this one.

Keep track of these numbers in order to determine whether or not your content marketing is reaching your current customers!

The secret sauce for content marketing ROI

There are a lot of changes happening in the way marketers are allowed to advertise online. The rules are changing constantly and it is difficult to keep up.

One thing that doesn’t seem to be changing, however, is that ad platforms like Facebook and Google allow you to advertise a piece of useful content.

So this is the new way to use these ad platforms to your advantage. In fact, this is a huge gift from Facebook! We call it the “reverse squeeze”.

Instead of asking your prospect to commit to you (by giving you their email address) before you give them anything really useful, you commit to them first by giving them content without asking for anything in return. If they like it, THEN they can choose to get the next piece of content by opting in.

The really interesting part though, is that you don’t really even NEED their email address.

Nope. Read that again.

Thanks to the retargeting pixel, you don’t even need their email address.

Of course, if they give it to you, that is better than retargeting them with more ads. Once you can get into their email inbox it is much easier to nurture a relationship with your audience.

But if they follow your ad to a piece of content, it’s like they are on a list of another type; you can now retarget them for future ads and more content.

In fact, they can feel like they are seeing you everywhere, if you do it right! (Just don’t be annoying!)

Content ROI

Here is the new content marketing funnel:

  • Create an audience in your ad platform
  • Send those prospects an ad that leads to…
  • …Valuable content on your website (shorter piece; small time investment to consume)
  • If the prospect opts in on your site, put them in an email sequence that shares more valuable content a few more times (gradually longer pieces that require greater time investment)
  • If the prospect does not opt in right away, retarget them to new content (you can do this a couple of times to determine if you just haven’t connected with their greatest interest yet)
  • Once your lead commits to consuming your content, you have built a relationship
  • Now you can make an offer to this more-qualified, more-knowledgeable lead
  • Retain customer through continued nurturing

Monetization following content marketing

Creating great content and posting it to various online platforms doesn’t have to be the end of your content marketing plan.

No, in fact, there are many ways you can follow up that content and continue to monetize it. Here are just a few ways for you to consider:

  • YouTube ad royalties
  • Book royalties
  • Software as a service
  • Podcast sponsorships
  • Website sponsorships
  • Memberships sites
  • Live event admission fees
  • Live event sponsorships
  • Workshops
  • Consulting/coaching
  • Speaking
  • Products

Next steps

This is the end of our 4-part series about The EPIC Content Marketing Formula. If you missed them, check out the other articles below.:

Essentials

Plan

Implementation

Conversion

However, we only just barely began to dive into the possibilities for truly epic content marketing!

The purposes of content marketing are:

  • To provide quality content that drives brand awareness and lead generation
  • To build relationships with prospects and customers
  • To inspire profitable customer action

It sounds so simple, and yet, because of constantly changing markets and platforms, there is always something new to learn. If you don’t stay on top of what is happening now, you will lose out on a big share of your potential customers.

But you don’t have to do this alone. Here at Winning Content Strategy, we are experts in keeping up with the latest content marketing trends.

You have your business to run! You can’t possibly be an expert in everything. Let us give you some shortcuts to market your business efficiently and effectively.

Are you ready to dominate your market and take over your corner of the world? Then please CLICK HERE to join us in the Epic Content Marketing Formula Club!

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Dominate and take over your market by creating EPIC content

Content marketing is the bridge between your prospects and your business.

In a sense, it is the “voice” you present for your company, and for your products and services.

What kind of voice do you want to have? Fun? Caring? Quirky? Professional?

When you choose this voice, you will draw to you only people who resonate with that tone. So choose carefully. You want to have people in your circle with whom you enjoy hanging out.

The type of people whom you draw to you shouldn’t be a big mystery though, if you have done your homework as outlined in the previous article about Planning your process.

Part of that Plan is clarifying your audience and planning how you will Implement your content marketing process.

These are the 3 key steps in Implementation:

  • Structure
  • Strategy
  • Scenarios (tactics)

1. Structure 

Structuring your content includes such activities as auditing your current content, understanding the life cycle of content, digging into keywords, and creating a systematic process for creating and evaluating great content.

Audit your content

Once you know what message you want to share, start with the content you already have in place. This means that – although it may not be fun – you really should do a “content audit”.

There are some free online tools to help you – such as Content Auditor from Kapost or Screaming Frog – that will give you a useful report. Use this report to figure out where you need to improve, and keep this in mind as you create your content objectives.

What are you looking for in a content audit?

That depends on what is relevant for you, but likely such things as:

  • Broken links
  • Proper tags
  • Topic
  • Shares
  • Views
  • Comments

Don’t let content marketing remain a mystery!

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Remember, you are trying to maximize your prospect’s experience on your site. You don’t want them to get frustrated by such things as broken links when they visit.

In addition to helping you find places on your website that aren’t working technically, it will also help you find where the topics of your content aren’t working to capture attention, bring in leads, and convert leads to customers.

Once you know what your content objectives are, and you can see what has – or has not – performed well for you in the past, the next step is to make a plan for different types of content.

Understand the content life cycle

The Content Lifecycle

http://www.digitalmarketer.com/content-marketing/

You can actually find a number of definitions for “content life cycle” online.

The one I find most useful at this point is to consider the types of content you want at different stages of your funnel – which, again, goes back to your objectives for your content marketing plan.

Since the core purpose of content marketing is to acquire new customers and to nurture relationships with current customers, of course the overarching goal of ALL content is to generate leads and sales.

You need to have some sort of sales funnel to generate leads and sales, so there are different types of content that help you do this at different stages.

The purpose for the top of the funnel is to create AWARENESS of a problem.

The purpose for the middle of the funnel is to help your prospect EVALUATE and CONSIDER different options for solving that problem.

And the purpose for the bottom of the funnel is to encourage your prospect to DECIDE on a solution, and CONVERT to becoming your customer.

Once you understand this “buyer’s journey”, and where your prospect is located on their level of awareness, you are ready to move to strategize your plan.

 

2. Strategy 

Plan your content pyramid

The Content Pyramid by Curata is a great visual explanation of how to organize your investment into content creation. Your strategy includes putting all of this planned content into a calendar.

Content-Marketing-Pyramid

http://www.curata.com/blog/the-content-marketing-pyramid-how-to-generate-more-with-less/

At the bottom of the pyramid are quick, short items such as social media posts. There is relatively little investment of time or money to disseminate that content.

The further up the pyramid you go, the more time- and money-intensive the content becomes. You have to feel pretty sure that you will be able to leverage something like primary research into new customers and clients. At the very least, it will certainly garner you “thought-leader” status, if you do it well.

In the middle of the pyramid are the other types of content: short and long blog posts; presentations; etc.

It’s possible that you will not get around to the top level; usually only larger companies have the means to do that type of primary research.

However, you should plan your content so you touch on all the other types, and cover all three levels of the funnel. We go over how to do this type of planning in our EPIC Content Marketing Formula Club.

Content platforms

The three core platforms for sharing your content are: your website/blog; social media, and email.

You need to set goals for each platform before creating content (eg, drive traffic, build community, generate leads, build brand recognition, thought leadership, etc.).

Your website or blog is the center of everything you distribute on the internet.

If you think of it as a “hub with spokes”, you’ll see that everything you publish should drive visitors to your site.

Why is this important? Because not only does your site establish you as a credible authority in your niche, but it should also be set up as a lead generation machine.

There are a lot of steps to making this lead generation machine really hum, but you can get started by having ONE INVITATION to join your list that you repeat in multiple locations on the site.

Some people are successful simply with an invitation to “Get our newsletter”, but most websites need to offer a lead magnet that solves a very specific problem for a prospect who is still low on the level of awareness.

Place that invitation in the sidebar of every page, as well as in the footer, and possibly even right at the top of the homepage.

The type of social media platforms you choose will depend entirely on where your audience hangs out.

Poke around in different platforms to find your audience. “Listen” to the conversations for a bit before diving in. Find out what their biggest struggles and concerns and interests are, and then make sure you address those in your content.

Once you know where your audience usually hangs out, you want to use your social media posts strategically. Don’t just use them to distribute your content. Social media is what the name implies – social.

You should be using social media to build relationships with your target customers.

Respond to their comments and questions. Get your message out there. Monitor and research what is going on in the daily lives of your audience. And post prolifically in order to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.

There is a lot more that can be said about social media content. We’ll be looking at it in more depth inside The EPIC Content Marketing Club, so be sure to join us there!

Finally, email can be an extremely powerful way to provide content to your target audience.

One of the most compelling reasons to use email is because everyone on your email list has made a decision to give you their address in order to hear from you. They already know you. Now you can use the content in your email to build the “like” and “trust” factors.

And remember the bit about being personal? Email is a great platform for being authentic about your own story, as well as the company story.

As Chris Brogan says, “Write blogposts for Google; write email for humans.”

3. Scenarios (tactics)

The final part of the Implementation step is to decide on which tactics will best serve your objectives.

It’s totally possible to post a variety of media on one platform. You could have audio, video, and text, all on your website. Or on your most effective social media platform.

This is why the strategy comes before the tactics. Know WHERE you want to be seen first, then figure out different media to use once you are there.

Content creation

Brainstorm topic ideas both from what you already know about your audience and from doing your research.

Search keywords on Amazon, YouTube, Google, and in online forums. See what other topics are posted, and the questions people are asking. Then plan and create your content.

Engage different types of learners by mixing up your media. (Because remember, being educational is one of the core characteristics of great content!)

On each of your platforms – website, social media, email – you can reach people who respond best to visual cues with video.

For people who like to skim and scan, use text.

For people who like to have something educational and interesting to listen to while they do other tasks (like exercising, washing dishes, etc.), use audio.

And consider using interactive content. Right now interactive content looks mostly like quizzes.

Sometimes those quizzes are entertaining – like this typical BuzzFeed-style quiz: “Which Harry Potter character do you most resemble?”

And there are plenty of surveys out there now, helping businesses gather information about different segments of their audience.

Note: As a long-time teacher – turned marketer – I believe that 3D and gamification are the future in our educational system, and content marketers may actually be leading the way in implementing these exciting new methods of connecting with an audience.  Keep an eye on this…

Putting the pieces together

–You can now combine what you know about your audience personas with your content calendar to begin creating pieces that speak to specific needs.

–You can also combine what you know from the Content Lifecycle illustration with the Content Pyramid illustration, and begin to see where to put your time and effort (and money) when it comes to creating content for different parts of the funnel.

–I recommend that you not start out too small, or granular. In other words, plan to support your product launches with valuable content.

–Identify who the target market will be for each of those products – What is the core problem the product solves? – and post content around that problem for at least a month prior to the launch.

–Put this overarching strategy into the content calendar.

–Work backwards, looking at the platforms where you want to post helpful information. Then begin to identify the types of media that you will use as the tactics for this strategy.

–Only get this granular about three to four months out. This gives you a chance to test what works, and then tweak next quarter.

What’s next?

We have covered a lot of ground in this article, and yet this is the biggest and broadest part of the EPIC Formula! We’ve really only scratched the surface.

Make sure you check out the other articles in this series:

Essentials

Plan

Implementation

Conversion

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And if you would like to have some hand-holding in order to dominate your market through content marketing, please join us in the Epic Content Marketing Formula Club!