Archive for "Blogging"

Top 3 Small Business Marketing Mistakes

Blogging, Branding, Interactive, Online Marketing Jan 24, 2017 No Comments

Small Biz Marketing Learning Curve Still Too High

As an agency hired to provide professional marketing counsel to our clients, we work with businesses large and small. As expected, the big guys have a much better handle on the concepts of brand management and marketing. But the learning curve for small businesses still seems to be a bit high.

It doesn’t take long to figure out that many small business owners don’t understand the basics of marketing in today’s digital age. Here’s our all-time top 3 things that most small business owners fail to understand when building their brand.

1. Thinking That a Logo is a Brand

Creating a professional looking logo is probably one of the first steps that small business owners undertake when developing their brand. And then they stop.

While it’s true your logo will be your unique visual identifier, developing your brand properly goes way beyond an icon and typography. To develop your brand the right way you must identify your unique offering, create a brand story around your offering, deliver on your promise to your customers and always practice what your brand message preaches. And you need to do this consistently, over and over and over.

If all your brand development effort includes is installing a nice logo above your door and printing the same on business cards and sales brochures, you need to take a longer look at the story your business tells — which is the essence of your brand.

2. Developing a Static Website

Static websites, sometimes called Brochureware, were common in the days of Internet 1.0 when businesses everywhere re-purposed existing printed sales materials, reconfigured them in some digital format, placed them online and voilĂ  a website was born. This type of website no longer makes the cut.

Every website developed today for any business large or small needs to be a content-rich publishing hub that serves as the central point from which to push your marketing initiatives from and direct all inbound activities to. Without a modern, social media enabled, search engine optimized website that’s updated frequently your business will not be found through organic search. Proper site management and SEO activities are long-term, ongoing activities whose value cannot be overstated. The best way to develop a content rich business hub is to include a blog on your site, encourage social media sharing of your content and stimulate open, uncensored feedback.

If you want to drive your customers to your competition, then by all means rely on the old stand-by and build a static website.

3. Ignoring Social Media

Considered the least expensive method of marketing, social media sharing on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are essential for any brand large or small operating in the modern digital age.

If your business isn’t actively using social media, you’re going to miss the boat on the best method to communicate your brand messages to your audiences. But don’t be fooled into thinking that social media activities are going to be easy. This type of marketing takes lots of time and effort.

The primary barriers for small business owners breaking into social media are 1.) lack of understanding and 2.) lack of available internal resources. The web is awash with information about social media. Search Google for information about Inbound Marketing. Create a LinkedIn account and join any one of a number of social media networking groups. There are plenty of resources at your fingertips to learn what you need to know to succeed. If you don’t have the resources to handle the level of work social media requires, partner with an external vendor that understands your business and gets your brand. Such a group will be able to get your up and running and help with ongoing community management.

If you want to make sure you’re business is a failure, ignore social media.

What 70s Rock Teaches Us About Modern Social Media

Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Aug 23, 2016 No Comments

One is the Loneliest Number

Back in the 1970′s there was a very successful rock band by the name of Three Dog Night. And they had a very popular song titled “One.” Three Dog Night’s “One” is a great example of what no longer works for marketing.

This old way to sell your services and the concept of One-Ness is what we now refer to as Outbound Marketing — where brands develop a consistent message and push it out far and wide in the hopes that it will resonate and result in sales. One brand. One message. One voice. All applied consistently across a variety of mediums. This approach is over, much like the popularity of Three Dog Night themselves.

Today in the age of Inbound Marketing, where getting discovered by and engaging with your customer base has emerged as a more influential method of communication, the idea of One is no longer sustainable and is truly the loneliest of numbers.

Social Media By Itself is Not a Real Community, So Don’t Fool Yourself Into Thinking It’s So

Any social media agency worth their proverbial weight in whichever mineral you’d like to use as simile, should tell you this. If you’re working with an agency that doesn’t, you probably should find a new one. Some social media “experts” will happily fill your head with what you want to hear while also gladly cashing the checks you give them. We don’t. But then, we’re known for not being your “normal” agency. By itself, social media is not a real community. Instead, it’s merely a gateway to community, the success of which is completely up to you provided that you take five simple steps to make it so.

1. Network

Taking the “Build It and They Will Come” approach will result in less dream and more nightmare. When it comes to online social media activities, draw on your existing offline networking strategies. As a business owner, you should already be constantly networking — always meeting others both in and out of your field, sharing information about your business and your personal business experiences, and developing lasting, meaningful relationships. Your social media activities shouldn’t be much different. You need to locate your customers wherever they are and join them on their playing field. Initiating such relationships are the key to offline networking, and social media is no different.

2. Listen

The best problem solver in the room is usually also the best listener. And it’s just as important to listen to your online community as it is to the customers walking through your door or calling you on the phone. Remember it’s the voice of your customer and the value of their opinions that’s the primary reason you’re undertaking social media activities in the first place. Your goal should be to encourage the exchange of dialogue, whether good or bad, showing customers that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. You either joined them on their turf, or they took the initiative to join you. Either way you need to listen, even when you don’t like what you hear. Remember first and foremost, it’s their words and their mouths that are the backbone of your word-of-mouth advertising and community efforts.

3. Learn

Unless you already know everything, and you don’t, there’s always something to learn from your community. Take every opportunity to educate yourself about your customers. Embrace what they say about you, your products or your services. This information will help you in a variety of ways, including giving you valuable insight on how to improve what you’re offering. Just because you’ve got an MBA from a well-respected university and your customers haven’t been fortunate to even attend college, doesn’t mean they can’t tell you a thing or two about your product. Dismissing their insights for any reason can potentially result in failure.

4. Cultivate

Inbound Marketing thrives on the free exchange of ideas. Censoring your members in any way or hiding negative feedback from public view may have very dangerous repercussions. We recently posted an article, with the tongue-in-cheek title “How to Censor Your Social Media and Still Thrive at Word-of-Mouth Marketing,” that addresses just this issue. There are very few instances that we would ever recommend setting up roadblocks to communication, or worse, editing or otherwise censoring community members. View such issues as an opportunity to effect change. You can read our thoughts on the topic here.

5. Engage

The way to hold an actual dialogue is to engage. Everyone says it: engage, engage, engage. And we say, engage some more. And just as in offline conversations, the only way to truly engage is to support open, honest and, most importantly, sincere communication with your online community. This isn’t about talking AT your members; but instead talking WITH them. You’re a real human being and so are your community members. And you need to act like one. Be open to collaboration and the two-way sharing of ideas and feedback. There are literally hundreds of examples of successful social media communities, and the common thread among each is the ongoing engagement between all members. Only if you’re committed to open and honest engagement will you be successful at Inbound Marketing.

Leave One-Ness in the Past Where it Belongs

Your social media activities aren’t much different than daily interactions with family, friends, colleagues, or strangers on the street. As with offline relationships, online social activity needs to be initiated, nurtured, tested, refined and nurtured some more. It’s a constantly evolving process and one that you can’t stop once you start.

In the age of Inbound Marketing, there’s no single method of connecting with and cultivating relationships; there are hundreds. No longer do the old ways of doing things work. We suggest you heed the message of Three Dog Night and incorporate the above steps into your social media plans. The easiest way to ensure that your Inbound Marketing efforts fall short of your goal is to continue to embrace the concept of One.

Top 3 Essential Blogs About Blogging to Read with Your Morning O.J.

Blogging, Online Marketing, SEO Aug 18, 2013 2 Comments

Sweeten Your Daily Blog Juice

Roll out of bed. Fire up the laptop. Grab a glass of O.J. while you wait for it to power up. Give the dog a pat on the head. And a treat (or he’ll torment you until you do…). Then read the following refreshing blogs each morning.


It’s no secret how much we appreciate the insights of this prolific thought-leader from the land down under. If you haven’t heard of Jeff Bullas, you’ve been living under a rock. He pounds away at the keyboard faster than Usain Bolt doing the 100 meter. And Bullas does it all while upside down! (Get it?)

Bullas’ prolific writings are Numero Uno Essential reading for anyone into Blogging, Social Networking, Personal Branding, SEO, Advertising, Digital Media, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Product Innovation, Trends. And the list goes on. And on. He’s quickly become the “Blentor” (Blogging mentor) of our staff. Bullas is a can’t miss morning read who seems to have harnessed time travel, sending predictive communiques back to us from the future. Or maybe that’s just due to time zones, the rotation of the Earth and when our alarms wake us up.


Kristi Hines is obsessed with Blogging and Social Networking! Which is by no means a bad thing. Hines shares daily insight on How to Blog, Social Media, Self-promotion, Photography and a whole host of other topics. She’s also got a great line-up of guest writers who help her out every now and then. For those non-morning-folk, a nice, bright sunflower welcomes you to her site. What’s better to brighten a day than morning orange juice and flowers? You can find Hines bouncing around all over the net. But the best place to immerse yourself in her unique brand of insight is at her blog Incidentally, the name “Kikolani” pays homage to her grandmother Akiko.


The name of Burke’s site is a huge misnomer. Shonali Burke is far from UNlyrical. While we don’t know if she can sing, she definitely has a way with words. Having worked in professional marketing positions in both hemispheres, Burke approaches Blogging, Social Media, and Online Strategy with a finely cultivated world view. As one of Twitter’s most prolific Tweeters, she offers a refreshing daily complement of strategy, humor and compassion. Before you finish off the pulp in the bottom of your glass, check out this outstanding blog at Waxing Unlyrical. You’ll be more than happy you did. It’s guaranteed to sweeten your day.

How Keywords Can Ruin Your Blog

Blogging, Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media Aug 11, 2013 No Comments

It May be Hard to Believe, but Keywords Can Hurt You

There’s lots of talk about when, where, why and how to include search engine keywords and key phrases in your blog posts. You’ve read post after post on this exact topic; they’re all over the Interwebs. Including keywords into blog posts is done, as we know, primarily in an effort to get search engines to rank the non-branded content of your website higher than that of someone (if not everyone) else’s website.

But when does the obsession with keywords reach the point of diminishing returns? There is one.

Use Your Words Wisely

Those of us with backgrounds in journalism, public relations, advertising and digital marketing completely understand the value and power of the written (or…in this case…typed) word. However, it’s likely that each of these professions will have a completely different take on the subject of words and how they are and/or should be used whenever and wherever they are used. It’s kind of like the English language; there are always plenty of exceptions to all of the rules.

Be Aware of Keywords

Words have and always will be a critical factor that affects everything that we do as an agency. And to ensure proper SEO and increase inbound links to your site, yes, every blogger should be aware of the need to, every now and then, include just that right sequence of these powerful little things when stringing together blog posts. However, you should never become obsessed with keywords over quality. The incessant desire to embed every possible search engine targeting phrase into your posts is going to hurt you in the end. Once you let this giant “Keyword Monster” control the flavor of your writing, you’ve lost the battle, David. Yes, that was a biblical reference for effect.

Only You Have the Power to Retain Readers

When it comes down to it, people reading your blog want informative, insightful and useful content. It’s the power of your knowledge, expertise, and honesty, combined with your ability to collect all these things together into a cohesive story that attracts readers to your blog, keeps them interested and keeps them coming back. The overall success of your blog posts are going to be based more on the quality of your writing and what you have to say. Once you start down the road of endlessly massaging your words merely to insert search engine friendly keywords so the robots find your site, your information is bound to suffer.

Keyword Obsession

Making a long story short, or perhaps even slightly longer…

Are keywords important to your blog posts? Yes.

Should you ruin the value of the information you offer on your blog with the obsessive editing of your thoughts merely to include a string of keywords so Google will rank you higher? No.

Editorial Quality Over Keyword Fanaticism

Make sure that you retain the quality of your information over the fanatical desire to include that just-right set of keywords. It’s the genuine quality of your posts that’s going to ensure you retain readers and gain the new ones you’re looking for.

Just write. Let the (key)words come naturally, and you’ll be better off.

Top 3 Essential Media Blogs to Read if You Have Low Blood Pressure

Advertising, Blogging, Creativity, Social Media Aug 22, 2011 No Comments

Reading to Get Your Blood Pumping

Sometimes we all just need a little ‘pick-me-up.’ One way or another, the authors of the following blogs covering news, media and the advertising industry will get your heart racing. But maybe not the way you’d want. That’s why these essential media bloggers are always great reads when you’re experiencing low blood pressure.

Jeff JarvisBuzzMachine@jeffjarvis

Jeff Jarvis makes it no secret where he stands. As an author, teacher, podcaster and highly-accomplished journalist, Jarvis shares his own special viewpoints on modern society by crafting, oftentimes scathing, commentaries on the news and media industry. Never at a loss for that ‘just right’ word or turn of phrase, Jarvis’ skilled editorials are available at his blog BuzzMachine. Reading Jarvis makes us yearn to re-enroll in J-school at CUNY where he’s an assistant professor and director of Interactive Journalism. Want to experience sheer brilliance at the end of a poison-tipped keyboard? Up your heart rate at BuzzMachine. And hold on to your hat.

Mark DuffyCopyranter@copyranter

Mark Duffy, aka Copyranter, is to the advertising industry what Mr. Cranky is to movie reviews. But only better. The advertising industry can stand to take a few whacks every now and then, and Duffy hands them out like Jeff Gillooly at a Detroit ice rink. Duffy doles out black-and-blue shiners for agency work gone wrong, and does it with insight and humor that only serves to show his complete admiration for his beloved ad industry. A true champion of creativity and a vociferous advocate for advertising, Duffy’s been in the business for 18 years and claims to update Copyranter 20 times a week. That’s a lot of ranting, so there’s always something new to get you going.

Lee PapaThe Rude Pundit@rudepundit

If you don’t yet have an indication, his moniker says it all. The concept of ‘mincing words’ isn’t in Lee Papa’s nature. For the Lefties, Papa is like preaching to the choir. And, oh does he preach. For the Righties, not so much so. There’s no limit to Papa’s, Rude Pundit punditry. He takes a bite out of subjects that include media, politics, and current events. Then he spits them out and back into your face like a demon-possessed teenager spewing pea-soup vomit in a 1970′s horror flick. Papa isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. So if you cringe at the use of four-letter words or shy away from having every value you hold dear questioned relentlessly, Papa might not be for you. But if you forgot to fill your low blood pressure meds, a long drink of The Rude Pundit will probably tide you over until you get to the pharmacy.