The Importance of PR When Scaling Your Business

The Below is a Guest Post from Melanie Parncutt

There’s one particular Bill Gates quote that has continued to resonate with media professionals, in which the Microsoft founder said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” It’s high praise of the efficacy of the art of PR from one of the most important business minds of the 21st century. It’s also a telling indication of just how effective a campaign can be in drastically altering the course of a business’ trajectory. 

Public relations, in simple terms, is the management of a person, business, or brand’s public image. For smaller companies, it’s mostly about trying to secure press coverage, but it can also be about creating the right kind of buzz, and knowing how to protect against and navigate crises. 

When people pursue PR for the first time, they often assume it’s interchangeable with marketing or essentially serves the same purpose. But crucially, PR is not something that directly translates into sales, and even the most viral of campaigns don’t guarantee a direct correlation to extra dollars. Instead, the priority of PR is establishing brand credibility by securing coverage in the media, which translates into something more valuable: consumer trust.

Below are four key reasons why PR is important when scaling your business.

PR Establishes Credibility, Solidifies Your Brand 

One of the hardest things any growing business faces when starting out is establishing credibility in the public eye. How do you prove to a complete stranger that you are worth trusting, and — eventually — putting their hard-earned money into? It’s a hard sell, but one that becomes far easier once you have press and media featuring you, or referring to your employees as expert sources. If you can prove that your opinion is trusted in thought leadership publications like Entrepreneur or Forbes, then that’s an indication know your industry. As Powderkeg writes, it’s your “stamp of approval”.

This goes hand in hand with establishing an authentic, strong brand image. Having a clear, consistent brand story across the board also helps your employees to be confident in your brand image, who will grow more comfortable in sharing their expertise as thought leaders. Additionally, if you can identify a story that makes you different from the competition, PR will help you pique media interest, which in turn gives prospective customers a reason to connect with your company on an emotional level.

PR Boosts SEO, Drives Web Traffic

Have you ever tried Googling yourself or your company? If so, did you like what you saw? Are there similar businesses ranking higher, or is there even anything to see at all? 

When you’re dealing with prospective customers or clients, you can be sure that they’ve probably Googled you, maybe even just to look at reviews. Although, nothing says “trustworthy” more than a glowing page one of search engine results, full of highly-ranked publications. It’s also an opportunity to increase the number of backlinks your site has in other publications, which helps earn a higher domain authority. That way, when a prospective customer is conducting a Google search for the service or product you product, you’re more likely to rank higher in the results they see.

Not only this, but PR professionals are experts at spotting potential opportunities for brands or businesses in markets they might not have considered. It could be that there’s a particular story angle that will resonate in a different country or industry. Algorithms and elusive variables create alternative search results in different locations, but aiming for breadth as well as depth in specialist PR campaigns will help to improve your online presence across the board.

Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth (WoM) is the holy grail of marketing for any business, and it’s always going to carry more weight than traditional advertising. WoM inevitably becomes the most trusted source of information, because it usually comes from family or friends. A 2018 report found that 83% of Americans say WoM marketing is more likely to make them purchase something. However, it’s something that can be tricky to manufacture, but it can be encouraged by creative PR campaigns and favorable coverage. This is something that can spread like wildfire on social media, and you’ll often hear media teams say that all it takes is one viral event.

The most important thing to note here is that a good story is the best way to get people talking, as humans are naturally drawn to narratives more than anything else. As they say, a story changes minds and wins hearts. We react to stories because they make us feel and communicate in a naturally intuitive way. They serve as a “collective sensemaking process,” according to Liz Neeley, former executive director of Story Collider. PR helps you dig out and celebrate the stories you might not have seen yourself. You might also find that it is actually more costly being boring than it is to invest in developing your brand story.

Storytelling is More Economical Than Digital Marketing

Marketing, of course, has its place in every business. And while there is certainly a way to find the intersection of marketing and storytelling through PR, the strategies for each one are different. 

The greatest value you get from media relations is that the stories you help publish will be available online to reference forever, whereas marketing is usually a temporary campaign that will soon get buried on social media or removed from websites. A good marketing strategy will use a story, but PR is about getting other people outside of your own team to scream and shout about it. This creates organic media coverage, which can then be picked up by other outlets and republished to gain you greater coverage of your story. Marketing might earn you sales as intended in the short term, but storytelling through PR helps set the foundations for long-term success.

Furthermore, investors care about a brand story more than your snazzy videography skills or attractive website landing page. “Stories are engaging, compelling, and persuasive; it is far more interesting to hear yarns of how a fund manager met with the CEO and toured the new factory, rather than discuss probabilities and uncertainty, which are almost always more relevant considerations in an investment decision,” one author writes at Behavioral Investment. Where you could spend months trying to pull together impressive figures for your pitch deck, words and stories are always going to stick more than numbers.

In a market where an estimated 90% of startups fail, PR helps you find your edge, and then shouts to the world about it. Nevertheless, it’s important not to wait until you’re down to your last dollar to start working on your PR.

The Above is a Guest Post from Melanie Parncutt

Melanie Parncutt is a publicist at Otter PR in St. Petersburg, Florida. In Baltimore, MD, Parncutt studied writing, technology, communication, and design with a focus on leadership studies. She has extensive experience in public relations, marketing, and advertising including media planning, content writing, and marketing, ghostwriting, corporate partnerships, and broadcast productions.

She has worked with clients in over 10 different industries. She enjoys clients who are actively making a difference in their community and driving innovative change. Parncutt has developed strong media relations experience working with journalists from around the country. Some of her clients are contributors for the Forbes Councils and Entrepreneur Leadership Network and others have been featured in Fortune, USA Today, MarketWatch, LA Weekly, Tech Times, NY Weekly, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, CBS TV Miami, and more.

Stop and Read This Before You Start Your Small Business

Guest Post from Amy Collett, BizWell

Image via Pexels

As a budding business owner in New York City, you can set yourself up for success if you follow a few rules and avoid making the same mistakes many startups make. Instead of cutting corners, prepare thoroughly for this new venture. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid. 

Not Having a Business and Marketing Plan

Your small business will have a better chance of thriving if you develop a business plan that provides a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish, how you will achieve it, and when it will happen. By doing so, investors and partners will be more likely to be interested in your idea, whether it’s based around products or services.

With approximately 220,000 businesses located in NYC, it’s important to make yours stand out. Create a go-to-marketing strategy template that can help keep everything on track for a product release. Using a pre-made go-to-market strategy template can help you streamline the entire process instead of creating your own from scratch. Expecting your product or service to speak for itself as a new business owner is a pipe dream. 

Not Taking Advantage of Technology

Small businesses have a lot to gain from technology since it can make things run smoothly and boost profits. The use of inventory management software, project management platforms, cybersecurity protection, and cost savings can benefit your business. Other benefits of technology for your business include: 

  • Communication with customers:  Your customers can get information about your business online 24/7 through FAQs on your website. In turn, this facilitates smooth communication between your business and the public.
  • The efficiency of operations: Technology can help you better understand cash flow needs and save you time and space. Meetings can be held online with tools like Zoom and Skype rather than renting a physical space.
  • Security: Data protection and client security are vital in any industry. Make sure you invest in solutions that increase security and improve operations.

Choosing the Wrong Type of Business Entity

The wrong business entity can have a significant impact on your business as you could end up with additional taxes or be liable for issues with your business. Consider the following:

  • Business creation and ongoing costs: Partnerships are typically the simplest to set up, but LLCs come a close second. Corporations require more paperwork and filings.   
  • Indemnification: Consider your assets when choosing a business structure. LLPs and LLCs are better options for securing your private assets than sole proprietorships because they separate your business from you. 
  • Taxes: Corporations are often the most tax-efficient, depending on how you structure them, but LLCs are close behind. 

Underpricing

One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make when launching a new product is underpricing. If you underprice, you won’t make money no matter how hard you work. Research your target market to determine a suitable price.

Setting Up a Business

Running a business requires a lot of groundwork and needs careful thought, from creating a business plan to choosing the right structure.  

If you have any questions consider contacting Marissa Pick for digital marketing help from the social media evangelist herself. If you need more specific help consider reviewing Design Rush’s Top Social Media Marketing Agencies.

Amy Collett is creator of Biz Well, a website that helps professionals and entrepreneurs build and strengthen their personal brand.

The Future of Content Marketing Appears Bright Moving Into 2022

The pandemic put content center stage, reminding many marketers that they must develop content that includes purpose, context, creativity, and integrity. To do so, content must add value and enhance the conversation with brands’ target audiences to facilitate engagement. It’s clear that people are looking for ways to be inspired and entertained, making it even more important for content marketers to find creative ways to connect with their audiences. 

Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs released their 12th annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report last month which portrays an encouraging and optimistic future ahead for content marketing. The research within the report confirmed what many of us already knew: content marketers are some of the fiercest business pros around. In the most difficult of times, they get the job done– and many come through more creative and stronger than before.

I wanted to break down some of the key themes highlighted in this report.

Video and Events Present Prime Opportunities for Engagement

Ninety percent of content marketers say that short articles and posts (such as blogs) have been within the mix this past year. That is followed by videos (66%), virtual events/webinars/online courses (64%) and case studies (61%). But which tactics produce the best results? Virtual events, webinars, and online courses were named by 58% of respondents as a top performer (including 66% of those categorized as “most successful”) and research reports and short articles/posts were tied for second at 48%.

B2B marketers remain at a critical inflection point as we prepare for the future of events. The pandemic rapidly accelerated the digitization of events, profoundly changing the live events industry as we knew it. I maintain that most events and conferences will remain virtual until the end of 2022, but agree that the opportunity for virtual events, webinars and online courses showcases the importance of virtual and hybrid events as a MUST next year.

Given the results of the survey it’s no surprise that the top two planned areas of investment for next year are video and events. It’s clear that content marketers are looking for ways to more immersive engagement with their audience within a fundamentally altered environment. The good news for content marketers is that there are several opportunities to keep virtual events as an integral part of fostering connection and engagement. 

Earlier this year I wrote an article for InEvent about the 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Virtual Event which discussed the importance of developing great content. When you begin planning your virtual event, it’s important to remember that content is often viewed hand in hand within the overall program. That is why it’s so important to take the time to put together a cohesive look and feel and ensure you’ve outlined branding for your online event. Make sure that the content you develop promotes your speakers, sponsors, and every aspect of your program. Eye-catching and captivating promotional materials are key.

LinkedIn Remains King for Organic and Paid Social Media  

It’s no surprise that LinkedIn is the top social media platform to distribute both organic and paid B2B content. It’s a viable content marketing platforms and when content is relevant for the proper audience and complimentary to the features of LinkedIn it can really pay off in the end. 

B2B content marketers in this survey rated it as the most effective for both organic and paid social media. When it comes to producing results with paid social media, LinkedIn was ahead of the next-highest rated platform by 25 percentage points. For organic results, the chasm is even wider.

Overall, more than three-quarters of practitioners said their paid distribution spending has either increased or remained steady. Social media advertising and promoted posts were the most common paid distribution tactic (77%), beating out search engine marketing and pay-per-click (65%).

Content Marketing Budgets Are Rising

Although the pandemic brought a lot of businesses uncertainty, many haven’t pulled back their content marketing investments, which was at one point considered “discretionary” spending. Forty-three percent of respondents familiar with their organization’s spending said their content marketing budget increased in 2021 compared to 2020. Meanwhile, 66% say they expect their content marketing budget to grow in 2022. Very few saw decreases in budget this year or expect them next year.

The Top Marketing Challenge Ahead

Creating content which appeals to multi-level roles within the target audience and accessing subject matter experts to create content are still a major challenge. It may be because more marketers are leveraging content collaboration tools, or because so many people have been changing jobs over the last 18 months. 

This challenge can be compounded if content marketers only focus on creating content that appeals to those in the C-suite, as research from Netline Corporation shows that the vast majority of content consumption happens within roles outside the C-suite. Marketers must find relevant subject matter experts in 2022 to develop relatable content appealing to numerous roles within their target audience. 

I discussed the future of content generation on my blog and just like any other content marketing strategy, repackaging content is all about consistency. I recommend brands create 2-3 additional content assets whenever they publish a new article, such as developing a piece of audio content, adding a voice over, or turning a presentation into a video. Through videos, user generated content, and a variety of content types they can begin to home in on what content resonates most.

Despite the challenges of the recent past, it’s an exciting time to be a content marketer. With new approaches and channels to develop content and engage with audiences, refreshed budgets and agreement that content is king, it’s clear that there is a world of opportunity for B2B content marketers in 2022. 

The Future of Content Generation

If someone offered you a crystal ball that could tell you the future of content generation, would you want it?  As a member of The Upside, an award-winning community and accelerator for thriving consultants, I participated in a recent Clubhouse event discussing the future of content generation.  This got me thinking about trends for the remainder of this year and beyond.

Following an amazing discussion with Erin Halper, CEO of The Upside, and my colleagues Rebecca Orlov, Rachel Dorton, and Lisa Weiss, I asked my LinkedIn network to provide some tips and content marketing trends they were most excited about as we enter the second half of 2021.

As you begin planning your content marketing strategy for the remainder of this year, I encourage you to keep the below trends and tips in mind.  Overall, developing high-quality content that doesn’t necessarily require more resources was a major focus among the panelists. This can go a long way toward crushing key marketing objectives in 2021.

The Emergence of Audio Platforms

Back in April I wrote an article for Search Engine Watch on whether Clubhouse was really worth the hype.  Within the post I explored how brands can use Clubhouse to build an online community to further add value and drive engagement.  My key takeaway was that although it came onto the market at the right time, I’m cautious about its role over the long term.  As Twitter, LinkedIn, and other audio apps emerge Clubhouse will have to quickly adapt and make some changes if it wants to become a mainstream platform for brand marketers.

Although I remain interested and active on the platform, I’m cautious that it’s the “popular kids” hangout and the allure and interest is largely based around buzz.  Certainly, brands can and should listen into ongoing conversations and get ideas about the topics target audiences and tuning into and discussing.  The brands that listen openly to new ideas and have a pulse on the culture and content their market is exposed to will have a long-standing advantage and edge.

Margaret Molloy, the Global Chief Marketing Officer at Siegel+Gale added, “I expect to see more audio content from an evolution of live audio platforms including Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse as well as the expansion of podcasts.  The mobility and portability are so attractive as people recommence commuting or continue to do more exercise or even simply walking their dogs!”

Danielle Guzman, the Global Head of Social Media at Mercer added, “The rise of social audio will drive growth in a conversation-first approach to content.  Start with a conversation (aka social audio platforms) and use that conversation as fuel for your content plan, putting the experts (influencers, SMEs, employee advocates) at the center of your content strategy), and then when you activate on channels, those voices are amplified in content different formats.”

I agree with Danielle and Margaret that audio platforms offer a much-needed relief for the Zoom fatigue many of us experienced this year.  Although they are mobile friendly, they’re merely a part of a set of tools we must have within our pocket.  When used properly and effectively audio can be used to help achieve success for your brand.  The future of audio platforms seems bright, and it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds over time.

Explosion of Video Content

With major events out of play the for bulk of 2021, video and webinar content became even more important—and guess what, it’s not going away.  Consumers want to get information and learn quickly and there’s no better way to do that without video marketing.  Video is a quick and effective medium to communicate your message and educate your audience. Video content is on a seemingly never-ending rise around the world.

Cisco’s Annual Internet Report reported that video content is predicted to amount to a whopping 82% of all internet traffic.  Additionally, according to a HubSpot survey, over 54% of consumers would like to see more content from their brands.  It’s pretty clear that video is what we need to focus on in 2021!  

This isn’t to say you should ignore all other forms of content, but it does mean that video must be at the forefront of your strategy.  Sarah-Jane Manco, a marketing and communications senior professional within the financial services industry, added, “I see short form video sticking around for a lot longer.  Our attention spans are shortening thanks to social media, so condensing your message into a 15-30 second video is the way forward!”  

I couldn’t agree more and encourage brands and marketers to continue to develop short content to cut through the digital noise and amplify your story.  It’s important to use a variety of video formats to fit your brand, industry, and niche, and optimize them for every step of the customer’s journey.

The More Personal, the BETTER!

Personalization in 2021 goes beyond merely addressing your customer by their name in emails or when you’re talking to them via chat. In the years to come, technologies like artificial intelligence will make data analysis more efficient and effective, allowing you to achieve hyper-personalized communication.

Providing a stellar customer experience is no longer a “nice to have;” it’s now a true necessity. Customers expect and demand seamless and personalized experiences throughout their journey with your brand.  User-generated content (UGC) is a highly effective way of creating more connected relationships with customers, especially when leveraged across social media channels.    UGC provides an additional stream of content that is typically engaging, authentic and reflective of the overall brand promise.

Building Content Communities

Creators are now in the driver’s seat and users are in for the ride alongside them.  With the rise of Clubhouse offering authenticity through voice or Slack communities across tech, building communities has been a push for marketing teams for the remainder of the year.

However, building communities specifically around content sharing and creation will allow marketing teams to continue to expand their reach, even with fewer resources.

Expanding your reach is great for brand awareness—and, of course, your metrics—but that kind of inclusion is also good for fostering a sense of community with your audience, too.

Repackaging Content

One of the major threads within my LinkedIn post was the use of repurposing content. Repackaging content is nothing new, but the idea is to turn existing content into new formats.  Tom Pick, a B2B Tech Digital Marketing Consultant, added that he thinks “we’ll see more’ video first’ content creation.  Meaning, creators will start by recording an online video with an expert, maybe live, maybe not.  The audio will be repurposed as a podcast, and the transcript as a blog post (or more than one).  Then excerpts will be pulled from a string of these to create an expert roundup post.  It’s the next stage of repurposing.”

This idea of the future state of repurposed and repackaged content will allow for us to turn existing how-to articles into visual flowcharts or revise an article into a podcast or even a mini audiobook.  The main aspect of content repackaging is that a new content piece creates value of its own.  It’s not just about re-marketing your old content simply for additional clicks or conversions.  Content repackaging is the marketing tactic that aims to give your audience a new way to consume information.  It also involves expanding your own content with new research and up-to-date information.

April Rudin the Founder and CEO of the Rudin Group added, “Personalization and the opportunity to repurpose existing content is HUGE particularly for regulated industries like financial services and pharmaceutical, I’m a fan of infographics and data visuals to help tell stories in a snapshot. To me, video should be used sparingly and in short spurts, no one wants to watch lengthy videos or listen to long podcasts without visuals.

Meredith Bodgas, the Editorial Strategy Lead at Toptal, added, “Consider repackaging of existing content to match the different platforms on which you might not be using that content.”  What I love about Meredith’s advice is that it allows us to create new and unique content for a variety of social media channels. It lets us experiment with many content formats and identify our best-working engagement tactics. 

Like any other content marketing strategy, repackaging content is all about consistency.  I recommend brands create 2-3 additional content assets whenever they publish a new article.  Consider using some of the advice within this article, such as developing a piece of audio content, adding a voice over or turning a presentation into a video. 

A good rule of thumb according to Singlegrain is that we should be spending 20% of our time on content creation and 80% on content promotion.  They offer some great tips within the article about the basics of promotion and the foundation of developing GOOD content.  Remember, content is king, and will continue to be for many years to come.

What else would you add to what’s in store for the future of content generation?  Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @marissapick


USA Today Feature: Future of Virtual & Hybrid Events Campaign

I’m excited to be a parter with Mediaplanet for their Future of Virtual and Hybrid Events campaign which launched this week. The event planning industry has gone through what was probably the most difficult year in its history, but event planners are primed to make a major comeback.

You can learn more about the tools and resources to make your next virtual/hybrid meeting or event a smashing success by picking up a copy of the campaign in USA Today. The virtual campaign can be found online by visiting the website.

I’m a firm believer that virtual conferences of the past year have had a positive impact. The digital events have enabled more people to attend virtually. Many of these events have been free, with participants paying a small fee to access slides, if they choose.  My article for the campaign outlines, How Virtual and Hybrid Events Are Helping the Events Industry Thrive Post-Pandemic.

Hybrid events have allowed brands to have an extended impact, helping them reach a broader audience and drive deeper engagement online. Plus, by developing content and deeper connections with speakers and attendees from virtual events, brands can stand out and have higher retention.

Now’s the time to use digital event platforms to connect audiences and build longer-lasting relationships. Within the article I shared some of my favorite platforms, including Brella, which offers custom, one-to-one meetings, as well as live streaming; and Hopin, which provides webinar sessions, chats and polls, and interactive elements that can be fully customizable and brandable. 

I believe brands must refocus their goals and understand why people will attend the event, whether it’s virtual or in-person. For example, is it for lead generation to drive sales? Content marketing? Engagement? This will allow companies or event producers to refine how they’re doing things, and consider how they might be able to — whether it’s driving sales or driving engagement — mix up and shake up what works and what doesn’t.

Let me know what you think of my article within the campaign. I’d love to hear how you think virtual and hybrid events are helping the events industry thrive post-pandemic. Leave a comment below or send me a tweet with your thoughts.

Social Media Tips for Small Businesses to Ensure Success In 2021.

Social media has become an integral part of everyday life. In fact, many people spend a large part of their day exploring various social media channels. A study from Globalwebinex showed, on average, people spend three hours a day on social networks and messaging.  Given the prevalence of social media, it’s no surprise that marketers and businesses flock to these channels hoping to connect with their target customers.

As social media is becoming more integrated into our lives it provides countless opportunities for businesses looking to reach their audience through various initiatives. That being said, it can be challenging for small businesses to stand out given the massive content overload on social media channels.  Small businesses don’t have the budgets to compete with big brands, who are pumping millions of dollars into paid advertising to promote their products and campaigns. For small businesses to succeed, it’s important to bring social media back to the foundation of what it aims to do, engage.   Having a clear and engaging social media marketing strategy can help small businesses succeed into 2021 and beyond.

I spoke with Clay McDaniel, CEO of  Ripl Inc. regarding social media for small businesses to succeed.   Since many small businesses often can’t afford a social media manager, or don’t have team members with knowledge of how to develop social media content they often look to implement a third-party tool to support their content management needs.  I’ve worked with my fair share of social media tools throughout my career and have been impressed with Ripl Inc.

Clay explained that “With Ripl, anybody can easily manage the social media presence of their business. For about the same price as a lunchtime sandwich per month, you can have thousands of customizable templates available to your company with over 500,000 high-quality images and 90,000 videos at your disposal. You can quickly create trackable professional-grade content and schedule to share it across channels in minutes instead of hours.”

Clay shared several key pieces of advice for small business owners to consider for social media success this January.

  1. Consider focusing on a “hero” social platform. If you feel like you’re spread too thin tying to manage all of your social channels, see if one is performing much better than the others and focus your energies there. Some channels don’t make as much sense for certain types of businesses. Visual platforms like Instagram often benefit retailers, while Twitter can be beneficial for sharing news and managing customer service.
  2. Understand Your Customer – Small businesses often can’t afford to do mass marketing, so you need to make sure your social media activity is pinpointed to your customers’ needs. Spend the time to really personify your customer and what will speak to them and that will help as you develop new content throughout the month and year.
  3. Set goals for your social pages – Having a page just to have a page isn’t the best strategy, so set some measurable goals so you know what’s working and not. Perhaps that means brainstorming new types of content, posting more often or at more regular intervals, or doing more community management on your social media channels.
  4. Add a call-to-action button– This button sits just under your cover photo on your Facebook business page and can be added to Instagram, as well. Make sure it fits your business so potential customers can engage immediately to “Shop now,” “Book now,” “Sign up” and more.
  5. Delete or archive old content – Comb through your past Instagram posts and Twitter tweets and decide if any are outdated or no longer applicable to your business. Go through each of your story highlights at the top of your Instagram feed and remove outdated content…and if you’re not yet using Instagram stories for your business, you should start. This is a great way to keep important content indefinitely since highlights last forever while stories only last 24 hours on the platform. Be sure to also go through your past tweets to determine if there are any that might spark controversy or seem tone deaf and delete those, as well. 

COVID-19 has been a game changer for small businesses both within the United States and across the world.  Facing financial constraints and major limitations imposed by the pandemic has resulted in the need for many small businesses to pivot and come up with innovative solutions to reach their customers in order to survive (and hopefully thrive!).

The advice Clay shares above is crucial for small businesses to succeed on social media channels.   Small businesses have one major advantage over big corporations in my opinion, they can be nimble and seize opportunity.  The ability for a small business to lean in and adapt social media channels in order to evolve in a rapidly changing world is key.

What additional social media tips would you give for small businesses to ensure their success into 2021?

Please take a moment and leave a comment below!

Social Selling – How Businesses Can Boost Their Sales

Guest Post from Sudhir Kumar, Origin.

Not that long ago, consumers didn’t have information at their fingertips and businesses were often successful in using outbound sales and marketing methods such as cold calling and email blasts to close sales.

And, it’s been revealed that just 16% of organizations that use outbound methods feel it delivers ROI, 44% of direct mail is never opened, and 86% of consumers skip TV ads on recorded shows (Source: HubSpot)- Click to Tweet.

Today, the buyer and the buyer’s journey have changed thanks to the internet of things (IOT) and advancements in technology. Now, 57% of the purchase journey is completed before a customer has even contacted a business (CEB), and 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally (Source: SiriusDecisions). Click to Tweet

Added to this, in 2019, there were 3.48 billion active social media users worldwide, which presents a huge opportunity for businesses to take advantage of.

The rise of social media usage has encouraged organizations to look into ways that can utilize the technology to improve their sales, which has led to the development of social selling.

So, what is social selling and why should you care?

I define social selling as the process of researching, connecting and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks. It focuses on nurturing leads, building brand authenticity and building trust with your prospects.

Leading firms have taken advantage of social selling and have begun reaping the benefits it offers. Research has shown that 70% of sales professionals are active on LinkedIn for business purposes, 89% believe social networking platforms such as LinkedIn are important in closing deals and 64% of sales reps that invest time in social media are hitting their sales quota (Source: SuperOffice). Click to Tweet

As buyers are becoming more digitally savvy, social selling becomes a no-brainer. But to stand out from the noise on social media, it’s essential to provide value to your audience through high-quality content, insight and real conversations, to enhance each touchpoint that your audience has with you and your business, from awareness stage through to purchase.

What are the benefits that social selling offers?

  1. It appeals to the modern buyer

B2B buyers have 12 to 18 non-human and human interactions along their buyer’s journey (Source: Sirius Decisions) Click to Tweet. 68% of buyers prefer to research products and services online (Source: Forrester) Click to Tweet.

With this in mind, it’s essential that you develop and push information and content on social channels that resonate with your target audience and provide the solution to their problems.

This will enable you to influence their choices and position your business as front of mind.

2. It allows you to build “real” relationships

How many cold calls do you actually answer, listen to and respond to?

If you’re one of those people that frantically hangs up, cursing as you put your phone down you are not alone. Research from Citizens Advice has revealed that 67% of British adults say that have received an unwanted telephone call and 92% of people don’t trust companies whose sales representatives contact them by cold calling. Click to Tweet

With this said, it’s time for businesses to break down the barriers around selling and get on the same page as their customers. Social selling supports this, as through social media listening tools, you’re able to listen to topics and conversations that are relevant to your industry. This technique will not only give you insight into what’s important to your prospects but it’ll also present new opportunities and leads, giving you an easy way to engage and reach out to potential customers in an appropriate, non-intrusive way.

3. Your competitors are already using social selling

71% of all sales professionals are already using social selling tools, so if you aren’t you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage (Source: LinkedIn). Click to Tweet.

For example, Microsoft is one organization that has taken hold of the power of social selling. Their social selling pilot program started with 15 people selling Microsoft Azure through their LinkedIn accounts to find their own customers. This boosted the productivity of their team by 38% and led to the program scaling to 3,000+ sellers.

4. It builds your social capital

Social capital is built when someone in your LinkedIn network has a problem or an issue and they automatically think and turn to you for help. This will happen when you have positioned yourself correctly on social networks with your activity.

To gain social capital you’ll need to consider social proximity, and your connection philosophy. Instead of connecting with just anyone, connect with people in a targeted manner, and with those who you can genuinely help. Next, you’ll need to ensure your social presence is up to scratch.

Present and share your insight and knowledge and contribute towards discussions and groups to build it. This will enhance your online visibility and will strengthen your social capital.

5. The Mere Exposure Effect

The Mere Exposure Effect was first spoken about in 1968 by social psychologist Robert Zajonc. This social phenomenon states that the more a person is exposed to something, the more they’ll develop a preference towards that thing over time.

Social media gives businesses the ability to tap into this theory through regular and consistent posting and updates. When you’ve created and put into action a dedicated strategy, you can begin to utilize social media channels to your advantage and ensure that you have messages trickling through all the channels that your audiences use, creating multiple touchpoints with them.

However, it’s essential to remember to not just share sales messages and calls-to-action. Instead, share content that adds value to your followers, and offers insight and information.

If you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail…

The infamous quote from Benjamin Franklin couldn’t be truer when it comes to achieving social selling success.

To successfully leverage social selling, you need to optimize your social channels to showcase your expertise. And, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. For example, research from LinkedIn revealed that members with a photo receive 21x more profile views and nine times more connection requests compared to those that don’t. Click to Tweet

So, what do you need to do to give a positive first impression on your social channels?

Here are my top tips:

  • Post a professional head and shoulders image of yourself
  • Write your bio/summary to highlight your expertise and what you do on a professional level
  • Include links to your website and other social channels to encourage visits
  • Utilize hashtags that your prospects follow
  • Create lists on Twitter to monitor content from specific accounts
  • On LinkedIn include your job title and keywords in your headline, ask for recommendations to boost your credibility and join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry and begin networking in them

Social selling best practices

Once your profiles are ready to be rolled out it’s time to kick off your social selling strategy. Effective social selling takes time and must be consistent to build meaningful relationships with your audiences.

  • Dedicate yourself

Start by creating a plan and setting aside time to dedicate yourself to building your social presence. Being present on multiple social channels can be time consuming, but if you spend 30 minutes every day monitoring your channels, engaging with others and posting content it’ll help ease the pressures and ensure your feeds are always up to date.

  • Create and stick to a content plan

By creating and sticking to a content plan you’ll ensure that there is structure to your posting on LinkedIn.

The purpose of a content plan is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content that engages, resonates and attracts your target audience. In today’s social web environment, getting the right message to the right customer at the right time is crucial. And, to stay front of mind, build rapport and trust and position yourself as an expert, you’ll need to have a solid content plan in place.

  • Take advantage of social listening

Earlier I mentioned social listening, and it’s essential to factor it into your social selling strategy. So, create and use social lists and monitoring streams to collate what people are saying about you, your company, your industry and competitors, and identify what questions they’re asking and topics they are talking about.

  • Provide value

Focus your content on providing relevant, informative posts and content, when your audience wants it. This will position you as a thought-leader and build your personal brand. It’ll also help you create relationships with your prospects and gain their trust.

  • Maintain relationships once you’ve created them

Once you’ve made new connections it’s important to stay engaged with them over time. So, comment on and like the content that is posted by your prospects.

And, be sure to offer advice and guidance to them and contribute to their conversations in a meaningful way if they ask questions.

  • Share testimonials

Success stories from other customers have a lot of weight, and research from Pretty Links suggests 92% of buyers trust recommendations from peers and 70% trust recommendations from strangers. Click to Tweet

By gaining and sharing third party testimonials you’ll start to build your credibility with prospects and it’s more likely that they’ll begin to trust your business.

  • Track engagement

Tracking metrics such as likes, comments and shares will allow you to identify the types of content that resonates the most with your audience. And, it’ll enable you to determine if your social selling activities are paying off.

In addition, by establishing what content is getting the most engagement you can adjust your content so that you’re producing more of what is preferred by your audience. For example, if you notice content about a particular topic is getting high levels of engagement, this will suggest that your audience is interested it in, so why not produce more and give your audience what they want?

  • Understand when to take your connections offline

To land a sale you’ll need to escalate the connection with a prospect by offering them a call to continue the conversation offline and on a deeper level. And, it’s important not to try and push a call before prospects are ready as this will damage all of your nurturing efforts.

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Sudhir Kumar is marketing director at Origin Blurbs. For more information like this article please connect with him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sudhirkumarorigin.

10 SIMPLE & EFFECTIVE THINGS TO TRY WITHIN SOCIAL MEDIA THIS YEAR FOR ONGOING SUCCESS

I’m thrilled to share a post from one of my oldest colleaguesDhariana Lozano. I’ve worked with Dhariana for over ten years and she has grown to be one of the most influential social media and digital marketers within the industry.  She has setup her own agency Supremacy Marketing and often published posts on her blog as well as many industry channels.

Each week Dhariana runs a segment known as #CoffeeWithDhari on her Instagram live stream.  Within the livestream she promised her viewers a list of simple and effective things to try on social media within 2019.  You can read the below repurposed post below or by visiting her blog as well.

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10 Simple & Effective New Things to Try on Social Media in 2019 for Success 

  1. Ephemeral content

I think disappearing content or content that is only temporarily available will be big in 2019. It will give followers an extra reason to follow your brand on the particular social media network you’re publishing this kind of content on so they don’t miss out. We’ll discuss a few of these content forms in this post.

  1. Live videos

Live videos will not slow down in social media in 2019 and tie into ephemeral content forms we just talked about. Live videos really let your followers see more of who your brand is behind the scenes. Their unscripted nature add a different element that can contrast a curated feed. They are a great way to “humanize” you brand and drive live engagement with your audience. Live videos can also be repurposed for content later on.

  1. Videos/Vertical video

Speaking of videos, I think vertical videos will become more popular on social media in 2019. We naturally hold our phones vertically and with the popularity of Instagram Stories and the introduction of IGTV I think there might be more of a shift to create vertical content.

  1. Instagram stories

Keep going with those Instagram Stories! I don’t know about you but I’m spending a good amount of time scrolling through stories as opposed to going to the accounts of the people or brands that I follow. While we’re chatting about Instagram stories I think you should make use of the countdown sticker. I just had to bring this one up because I love! It’s a great way to remind people of what’s happening. I’ve been using them to remind my followers of my weekly #CoffeeWithDhari live story segment.

A little bonus here: I think giving Facebook Stories a shot may be worth it. You can repurpose your Instagram Stories.

  1. Influencer marketing (mainly micro influencers)

The influencer marketing world is shifting. I think in 2019 more focus will be placed on micro-influencers. Micro influencers are people with smaller followings (think 10k). These influencers may have a more engaged audience than some of the bigger guys.

  1. Showing more personality

Getting more personal will be a differentiating factor for brands on social media in 2019. In the crowded space of social media marketing, being laser focused will yield more results than trying to appeal to the masses. I predict brands will continue to get personal and get behind specific social and even political causes. Not to0 long ago brands wouldn’t touch issues like this – so it’s refreshing to see the turn around. Just like in life, your personality will attract the people you’re friends with. Showing more personality is also helpful in creating more engaging content on social media.

  1. The death of vanity metrics

I predict (and hope) that 2019 will bring the end of the concentration of vanity metrics on social media marketing. I mentioned this a little in my latest #CoffeeWithDhari session. In the new year I think there will be a stronger emphasis on engagement as opposed to paying attention to follower numbers. Likes may even be weighed more lightly. This is because with the decline in reach, making the most out of the audience you have, and reaching more of the audience you already have will have a bigger impact than just simply gathering likes.

  1. Chatbots, 1-1 messaging

Have you interacted with a chat bot yet? The potential for brands using chatbots is immense. I ordered some items online and was able to get tracking info and updates right on Facebook Messenger. This should be a great aid to customer service. Definitely something to think about going into the new year.

  1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn has been an all time favorite of mine. I think people and brands alike are starting to see the importance and potential of LinkedIn. The originators of the Groups feature – LinkedIn has been a place to gain super targeted and high value leads. LinkedIn has been revamping itself in the past few years and I think more people will be exploring the possibilities on this network in 2019.

  1. Social media ads

Last but not least, and somewhat unfortunately, I think social media ads will be big in 2019. With all the saturation going on, the only way to break through may be to pay to play.

Social media marketing is an ever changing landscape. Just like you change over time, social media changes from day to day. 2018 has been filled with so many new features and innovations and I can’t  wait to see where we will go in 2019. No matter what changes, just know that one thing will not – and that is the power of a strong social media strategy. I am looking forward to relaunching Building Your Brand On Social Media in early 2019! For now you can keep track of your own social strategy with my handy social media strategy checklist.

To view the full article please visit Dhariana’s Blog and subscribe today to receive her notifications. Leave a comment and let me know if you have any recommendations of what you’re looking to try within 2019. 

7 Predictions from Vin Clancy regarding the Future of Social Media

On June 30, 2010, Mashable launched Social Media Day as a way to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication. And eight year’s later social media is now at the heart of all global communications plans and deeply integrated into many peoples daily routines and lives. With the constant changes to  social media and new entrepreneurs being born everyday social media is the one component that all successful entrepreneurs, influencers and businesses have learn to understand.

Known for his cutting-edge growth hacks and genius business ideas Vin Clancy went from living on welfare in the U.K when he turned things around learning how to use the internet to make things go viral.  He’s just launched his new book Ace The Game: The 100 best growth hacks in the world right now” which is a can’t miss book this year.  You can learn more about Vin by visiting his website or blog and joining his growth club to receive strategies and tips to get ahead as a marketer.

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The future of social media and how to know which social media platform is best to use for your brand or business

Envy, 

That’s what a lot of you feel when you look at brands and influencers who generate huge amounts of traffic and sales from social media.

Don’t worry, I get it too.

Now a lot of these people are either: extremely talented, have a lot of money for ads, or have grinded their way to the top of the newsfeed.  And I have the utmost respect for the vast majority of them. But saying that, there is another reason why these people/brands reached the summit of their game. It’s because they got there first.

Speed is the most valuable asset to have in this game and striking fast and hard is ideally  the way to go about things. Over the past year a lot of people have asked me what the next big social platform is going to be.

Here are 7 of my predictions in regards to the future of social media.

  1. Pinterest isn’t used to its potential and is seriously underrated for driving traffic to blogs, this won’t last forever.

    With many people struggling to drive web traffic from Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to their blog many people are beginning to give up.

    Whilst I think people are seriously underating the importance of SEO, there are plenty of people I know who are KILLING IT with Pinterest. One of my ex-pupils generates 100,000 impressions a month using Pinterest a month for next to nothing.   
    I seriously wouldn’t underestimate this platform.

    There are plenty of useful automation softwares for it IFTTT, followlike, tailwind. Use these to auto-pin content and follow/unfollow people at scale.

    If you’ve got a blog or ecommerce store, and a pretty decent sales funnel, then I seriously would look at driving traffic there from Pinterest. Like I said, this won’t last forever.

  2. As Facebook throttles more and more traffic to websites, SEO will make a big comeback.

    Lots of people keep saying Facebook is killing the organic reach of pages. (I might be the first one to say this). It’s actually now been killed. Every post that a page sends out, that doesn’t have any money put behind it, and includes and external link gets seen by one, maybe even two people. What’s the point?

SEO is free (okay you might need to pay for some optimization tools, training or backlinks) but at it’s core optimizing blog posts for SEO is free.

So I reckon that more people at the bottom will be less inclined to dive into social media content marketing and more people will go back to perfecting the SEO for their articles/blog posts.

  1. Want to get the attention of high-ticket prospects through social media? Don’t waste your time, use physical and lumpy mail. This will always be effective in my eyes.  

People love receiving (cool) stuff in the mail.  Do you ever get excited about a package arriving from Amazon? I know I do!  So if you can physically send something to someone, do it.

Physical mail has a 95%-100% pickup rate, especially if it’s something large like a box.  Tip: Call up the office of your prospect (influencer/CEO) and say to their assistant “we want to send x a free pair of shoes what is his/her size?” Then buy the high ticket prospect a nice pair of shoes but only send them one. Tell them in a nice letter “Now I’ve got my foot in the door, I’ll happily give you the other shoe if you agree to go for a coffee with me”

Very cheeky and everyone wants the other shoe.

4. Learn how to grow a Twitch account, this will conquer the earth in the next decade.

This platform will be huge in the coming year, not just for gamers but for everyday folk too.  In fact, it’s huge now! The Amazon owned platform now has 100+ million unique users every month.

The channel IRL (In Real Life) has people live streaming everyday things from: painting, drawing, playing music, building things.  So why not get there first for your niche and find some new customers.  

Maybe I should set up the first live growth hacking channel before someone else does ….

5. People gave up on Facebook chatbots too quickly and no one has done them right yet. Everyone will have them eventually so make yours the best.

When Facebook chatbots came to town everyone went crazy for them, but I’ve seen less and less people rave about them.

For those of you who don’t know chatbots are essentially FB messenger broadcasts that pages can send to anyone who signs up to them.They’re super powerful with many still boasting a huge open rate.

Because people wanted to treat them like an email list they burnt out a lot of people who don’t want marketing messages in their Facebook messenger every other day.

Some of the best bots I’ve seen impart REAL value that people want in their inbox 3-5 times a month MAX.  What a lot of brands haven’t realised is that people have joined your bot it’s because they’ve trusted you.

They’ve allowed you into their inner circle that was previously reserved for their close friends and family. Don’t betray that by selling to them everyday.  (MsgHero and ManyChat are among for favourite chat bot providers)

  1. Too many businesses are always looking for the next shiny object

A lot of startups and businesses come to me and say “You’re the guy that can get traffic out of thin air using social media? Help us!” 

While there are a lot of ways to grow their traffic I always ask to see their current traffic, conversions and email list first. There’s normally a lot of things that people aren’t already doing with their current customers.

So look at your current methods before embarking on completely new strategies.

7. People are still using Twitter wrong

It’s not a broadcast network. It’s a one-to-one network at huge scale.  The half life of a tweet is so short, and the feed moves so fast, that hardly anyone following over 200 people will see your one tweet a day.

So use to either send out 24 tweets a day or just simply @ the people you want to contact instead!  There is software that will help you do this in an organic and human way (don’t go overboard), but this will allow you to scale and hit many people at once.

I reply to nearly everyone who tweets @ me and I’ve seen many a celebrity and influencer do the same. Start using it right.

That’s a wrap for the predictions (I’ll put my crystal ball away now)

So those are my predictions and observations about social media marketing in 2018.

Whilst this is the way I believe things will play out, It’s important to look back at times and check yourself before you decide to massively change course.  If it isn’t broken don’t fix it, this is also known as the “Learn, implement, review” system. This ties into you should work out which social media platform is right for your business.

To be perfectly honest it’s actually quite simple. To start with you should already know the major places your ideal customer hangs out online and that should be your starting point (if you don’t then you have bigger problems to address first!)

Most people try and go for a multi-channel approach and hit all bases. While I too recommend this, it’s very difficult to execute right from the off if you’ve got a small team or work on your own.

If you spread yourself too thin and don’t go in hard on one platform you won’t get any results.  I suggest picking one main channel to focus on, and then a secondary channel a little later down the line.

You need to then look at the competition and work out if they are having success by using this platform, then work out how you can start to attract people to your brand instead.

What do you think of Vin’s predictions, leave a comment below or send me a tweet @marissapick.



 

 

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Event Manager Blog’s Social Media for Events Guide (2018 Edition)

Thank you so much to the Event Manager Blog for including my insight and experiences within the newly launched 2018 Edition of Social Media for Events: A Complete Guide to Marketing Your Events Using Social Media.

The guide shares 42 strategies, ideas, tips and tactics on using social media to promote events.  Levering social media at live events is crucial for generating engagement before, during and after the conference. However with social media rapidly evolving it’s not something that’s always easy to develop a strategy around especially since KPI’s around live events are sometimes challenging to measure.

I’ve been fortunate to have an extensive event marketing background which has helped me to develop innovative social media campaigns to enhance a variety of live events.   It’s crucial to always take chances and push the limit.  Failure is important to enable you to measure successes over the long term.  Always think outside the box and take chances, that’s how you and you brand can excel and stand out!quote-1-768x510.jpg

So, what are you waiting for, check out the 2018 Edition of Social Media for Events: A Complete Guide to Marketing Your Events Using Social Media.

What do you think of the guide, anything you would add? Leave me a comment below or shoot me a Tweet!