You get what you pay for with free media

When people ask me whether using PR firms and press releases is effective, I generally tell them with free media you really get what you pay for. Which is to say: nothing. Say you’re throwing a 1st birthday for your daughter, and you want as many people as possible to attend and bring gifts. Rather than printing expensive invitations, you get a friend, Kevin, to go around to tell everyone about it (he’ll do it for a six-pack). Kevin goes out a tells a few people but given that it’s a fairly uninteresting one-year-old’s birthday and he tends to ramble, people brush him off. After many failed attempts, he gets a few people to listen and agree to tell others. Unfortunately, these particular people aren’t very popular. Still, Kevin comes back and says he’s spread the word. Job well done. But when the big day [...]

Three bangs for your buck

We all know it’s all about content now. Business of all sizes to create original, useful and interesting content to help take their prospects on a journey that will eventually lead them to becoming customers. But it’s not as hard as it sounds, and the best news of all is you can cut some corners and get multiple bangs for your buck from a single piece of content. If you go the trouble of creating something original and compelling, you want to get the absolute most out of it. And the reality is, even your most loyal and engaged customers don’t spend their whole day reading carefully through your website to make sure they haven’t missed anything. So work every piece of content you create extra hard.               Put in on your website This will help build your reputation in the eyes of any visitors to [...]

What really happens when business buyers do a Google search?

If you’re running a local plumbing, appliance repair or other similar business, then Google Adwords are a powerful tool. But how effective are they for business-to-business searches? They key is to look at your customers’ behaviour. If your toilet breaks and you need a plumber fast, you search for plumber, and you’ll probably click the first result, regardless of whether it’s a paid ad or not. But in my business we often deal with engineers in utilities, or major projects and plants. These guys undoubtedly use the internet to research, but it’s a slower process. Instead of clicking and buying the top result, they are looking for quality information, and answers to their questions. Ads that come up top are not so appealing if they don’t appear to contain the required information. This is why b2b businesses, particularly those that supply engineered solutions that are [...]

Is your website still playing Gangnam Style?

  Last week Spotify announced that their most streamed song ever was Lean On, by Major Lazer & DJ Snake (with MØ), but by the look of a lot of websites out there it’s still 2012 and Gangnam Style is still playing. 2012 was only three years ago, so the idea of Gangnam Style being ancient history makes me feel a little old, but I keep coming across company websites who had a big burst of new content activity back in 2012. I’ll often see monthly, or even weekly news updates, that all of a sudden grind to a halt, and the latest story still says March 2012. What happened after that? Did the internet go out of fashion and everyone moved on to the next big idea in marketing? No, most likely real life got in the way. Content marketing is great, but when [...]

SEO’s dirty little secret

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) experts are everywhere, spamming your email inbox daily, calling you on the phone, crawling all over LinkedIn trying to sell you their services. But there’s one thing that almost none of them will tell you. The secret truth of SEO is that most people don’t know what they talking about. It’s actually very simple, but by pulling out as much jargon as possible, they can muddy the waters and make you feel you must be getting something valuable. In reality, the technical side is very simple and only a small part of it. Google go out of their way to be clear and open about what you need to do technically. And these days with most sites it should be a simple matter to ensure they comply with these best practice guidelines. Google’s only goal in the end is to ensure that [...]

Where do we start on social media?

Like many people, I’ve been getting historical updates from Facebook recently, some going back eight years, which reminds me that social media isn’t something new anymore. But many companies are yet to fully embrace the possibilities, and one of the main reasons we keep hearing is, “I don’t know where to start!” So where should you start? The answer is you should start with content. If you don’t have something interesting to say or share on social media, then you’re missing the point. Social media is effective because it is social. What I mean is, people use it communicate with their friends (eg Facebook) or colleagues (eg LinkedIn). Business can take advantage of this by encouraging people in your network to share your information with their network, who then share it with their network and so on. In the end, they only do this when [...]

How much does content marketing or social media really cost?

Apparently a few companies have decided they can save on their marketing by cutting back on external spend and just do all their marketing themselves. They’re going to send out more newsletters to clients, update the website, create more content. Because after all it’s free…isn’t it? I mean we just need our highly paid Marketing Director, and the two assistants to spend about 75% of their time on it…but at least we don’t have to pay out a few cheques for a couple of $3,000 print ads. Of course, it’s not so free at all. Even if you do it in-house, you need to consider the staff time spent, and the opportunity cost of that– ie what other more productive things could these people be doing with their time. Does this mean you shouldn’t invest in this type of content marketing? No. Of course you [...]

Can trade publishers make native advertising work? 

There’s a lot of hysteria in the publishing industry these days about so-called ‘native content’. As in branded, paid for content, clearly marked as such, but otherwise adapted to fit the format and style of the publication. Of course this has been happening for years. Even in the mainstream; look at many of David Ogilvy’s classic ads. Clearly ads, but intended to blend with the editorial style of the publication as much as possible. But those ads were written by an agency of course, the new trend in ‘native ads’ is for the journalists at the publisher to write that content themselves. Again, this has been happening forever in trade magazines, the rest of the publishing industry has just recently woken up to the possibilities. It seems to have divided the industry with some people coming out passionately in favour and others equally passionately opposed. [...]

4 tips to generate quick social content

Are you stuck for content ideas to keep your various social media accounts running? You’re not the only one, the constant pressure to feed the content machine can be overwhelming. While there is no substitute for genuine and quality information that’s relevant to your customers; your in-depth contributions can be interspersed with some lighter pieces. Here are a few of my favourite suggestions to generate quick content for social media; Quick report on every job Create a simple template to fill out after each job or major sale. Chances are you’ll have a few forms to fill out as part of your existing processes, so why not add another simple one pager? Include a couple of key fields, such as client, job value, job duration, challenges, and one interesting or unique thing about the job. A wordsmith can then easily turn this into a great [...]

Blame William the Conqueror for your bad writing

Journalists, marketers and copy writers all need to get their point across simply and clearly, yet are often held back by a misconception of what makes ‘good writing’, a misconception which dates back to at least 1066! I’m going to give you one simple tip on better writing, but before I do, I need to take a short trip into history… The English language has one of the world’s richest vocabularies, borrowing from almost every other language on earth. English belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo European language family, brought to England by the Saxons after the fall of Rome. Most of the common words we use every day have come from this original language. In 1066, one of the most monumental events in the history of England as a country, and English as a language, occurred with the Norman conquests. The French-speaking [...]