2013: A Content Odyssey

If 2012 has left you slightly baffled about your marketing strategy and how social media fits in, then you’re not alone. Many small businesses will need to take stock and look at how they move forward in 2013 and where their time and efforts are best spent. However scary the modern marketing world may seem, if you break it down, these new elements are all simply channels through which you can, more easily than ever before, reach your target customers. Email was new once, remember? The difficult bit is creating the right content to put through these channels which will engage your targets and ultimately get them to spend their money with you.

For websites, content is always important and with developments in search engine technologies, such as Google Panda which lowers the rank of both low-quality sites and big user-contributed sites (e.g. eHow.com), quality content is a top priority. Job roles that didn’t exist two years ago will become commonplace, such as Content Developers/Editors, Web Copywriters, Community Managers and Brand Journalists. Small businesses should look to engage these skills from the creative services community to help them ride this next wave of marketing activity. There’s no need to employ an entire agency when one great freelancer will do.

Going mobile is also proving its worth as a business model. Whether this means optimising your current website and applications for mobile devices; enabling your workforce to work from anywhere; or indeed if your business model could work in its entirety as a mobile operation, is worth pondering over a pint. Perhaps a mobile application itself offers a better opportunity to expand your reach, either through app development, sponsorship or purchase. Consumers are app-crazy, downloading everything from apps that let users play games or read the news to those that enable mobile shopping or access to how-to advice. The key is to build apps consumers would be interested in or find enjoyable and market them appropriately. The existing and forecast statistics about mobile application downloads, revenue and developer take home figures make for eye-opening reading. So, where will 2013 and beyond take you and your company’s marketing strategy?

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Endorse my boxes!

I’m starting to enjoy LinkedIn again. I know it’s vital and a fantastic tool, but sometimes I get bored and want to play on something else. Why am I getting back into it? Well, just maybe it’s drawing me in again thanks to the quick and easy endorsement tick-boxes that LinkedIn has introduced. I’m not convinced it’s the right thing to do for the professional platform in the long term, but what it has done is made me open LinkedIn nearly everyday, whereas previously I’ve been a bit sporadic.

Despite my reservations, the feature gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling when someone who knows I can perform these skills pats me on the back virtually. I then in turn want to pass this feeling on to others. It’s a bit like ‘poke’ of ye olde Facebook days in its fun approach to what can be a daunting task if you’re not a great writer or gushing recommender. Maybe you know someone can do the task and do it well and you want to commend them for it, but you may never have employed their services.

Perhaps the endorsement feature’s value lies more in the personal relationship side of LinkedIn rather than in providing new business support which is what you get from a professionally written recommendation. I’m sitting on the fence at the moment as to whether it will truly devalue the more traditional recommendation and I’ll continue to endorse those that I know can do things well until such times as LinkedIn changes. So for now, here’s to sharing the warm and fuzzy feeling and thanks to those who bring a smile to my face whenever anyone endorses my boxes!

The Prezi Virgin: update

My post as TigerSteph on the TigerNash site about the presentation I gave on 19 September can be found here. I won’t repeat myself, but I did have a great time and would love the chance to do it again. What I do want to say is how I got on with using Prezi.com, following my post that I was going to trial it.

Firstly, I’ve come to the horrific realisation that I’ve hit ‘that age’ where technology has annoyed me because I didn’t get the hang of it staight away, so I thought it was a waste of time and headed back to my Microsoft safe haven of PowerPoint. A week or so later, I came to my second realisation that I am older, wiser and there is more in my brain, hence it takes longer to learn things and having kids is my excuse for less active cells anyway, so I should give it another go.

I would love to say that I enjoyed the experience, but honestly I much prefer being shown how to use things in person rather than learning online, that’s just how I am. The video tutorials for Prezi were really good though and if I had the time, I reckon I could get the hang of it and make some pretty nice presentations. Depending on the type of account you create with Prezi, it allows you to store, share, edit and publish your canvas creations.

Considering I’m a PC rather than a Mac chick (I think Mac users will feel a more natural affinity with Prezi), I did manage to import my existing PowerPoint presentation and make it a little more funky than your average bear (yey me!), but given more time I would like to create something from scratch in Prezi. So for those who would like to see my first attempt, have a butcher’s here and if you want to make your own, then set aside some time, take a deep breath and give it a go!

  

A little Prezi…

Last month, I blogged about this amazing iPad presentation and I’ve watch the video for inspiration about three more times since then. I love it and, as I’ve got a presentation to do in a few weeks, I wondered how I could pep it up with just me and not an iPad in sight. So, I’ve turned my attentions to the zoomable canvas Prezi for a more visually captivating approach.

Now, I’ve only had a quick look at the tutorials as yet, but feel pretty confident of being able to make something out of my normal PowerPoint presentation. I’ll get back to you in a week or so with my progress.

Anxiety Reducers – Video Marketing

How often do you pick up your phone and shoot video without even thinking about it? Well, if you have young kids, you probably do it several times a weekend. Video is superb for many things (including keeping the grandparents happy), so why aren’t all small businesses taking advantage of this anxiety reducing medium?

Making videos used to mean big bucks, but not anymore. Here’s a few pieces of advice and links to help you make your first marketing video. This list is by no means exhaustive (I haven’t even touched on editing software for example), merely a taster to see that video is affordable, accessible and works.

  1. Making video is relatively easy and cost effective especially with the amazing technology in our smartphones, but sound quality is paramount for the end result to be watchable. Here the guys at Social Saturday Strategy show you a great way to get around the sound issue.
  2. Statistics show that adding video can significantly increase conversion rates and customer loyalty. (In case you need convincing!)
  3. Content can range from customer testimonials, product demonstrations, dialogues or monologues, but make sure the message is right and supportive of your marketing strategy. Have a look at these ‘how to’ guides for help with structure and objectives.
  4. Finally (for now), how do you get your video out to people once it’s made? Well, make sure it works on your website (homepage or landing pages, depending on your strategy) and, again from Social Saturday Strategy, get your video viewed.

I’d love to hear from you about your video dos and don’ts or examples of where it has really worked for your business, so leave your comments below.

The good, the bad and the ugly things about holiday…

The good…going on holiday.

The bad…realising you haven’t written any blog posts and scheduled them to go live whilst you’re away.

The ugly…wondering if scheduling posts and updates to happen whilst you’re away is a good idea for a small business/sole trader? Does it make you look good that you’re always available and online? Or potentially damaging because you look like you’re there and contactable when you’re actually not. Discuss…

Inbound Marketing – You Oughta Know…

I’ve just come across this video from HubSpot and loved it. I felt it summed up outbound and inbound marketing in a fantastically creative way, which should bring a smile to your face and also go some way to illustrate the changing dynamic of marketing today and the different strategies we need to adopt to stay afloat. Enjoy…