Give your customers a big ol’ “bro hug!”

The Bro Hug

When you see an old friend, do you give them a handshake or a ‘bro hug’? Of course, if you’re under 30 years old, you give them a hug to let them know that you’ve missed them and you appreciate them. It’s more intimate than a traditional handshake.

What’s a ‘bro hug’? It’s a visible sign of an ongoing relationship. You give one to a close friend or family member, someone who you know fairly well. It also carries with it the implication that, “I’m on your side. I’ve got your back. You can count on me!”

Have you ever considered giving your customers and prospects a bro hug to show them how much they’re appreciated? I’m not suggesting that you literally hug them, but to do so in the way you communicate with them.

Think about it… many companies still do the functional equivalent of standing on a chair and shouting at their customers and prospects. They make very little attempt to maintain ongoing relationships with them, but instead focus on transactions – closing the sale. In today’s world of empowered customers, that antiquated model of communication is simply too formal and non-personal.

So, what’s a successful way to communicate?

Consistent, ongoing, helpful communication that builds a relationship and establishes trust over time. Content that educates, informs and inspires is an awesome example. This customer-centric style of communication improves the odds that when a prospect is ready to buy, he or she will consider your company first.

To solidify a back and forth dialogue with their valued audience, successful marketers arrange events: open houses, webinars and training sessions, or they use surveys and focus groups.

How can you reach out with both arms and give your target audience a big ‘ol bro hug? Here are several ideas:

  • Ask your audience for feedback regarding their needs on a regular basis. Look for opportunities to have one-on-one conversations and build relationships with them at industry events. Get them involved in contests, crowdsourcing campaigns and surveys.
Here’s a great example of communicating with your audience that John Deere engineered:
At a trade show, the global equipment giant debuted the “Chatterbox,” a portable structure styled to resemble a piece of heavy equipment where customers could “talk back” and really give a piece of their mind to the company. This strategy was wildly successful, and was followed with an extensive marketing campaign that proclaimed, “We listened to you. Here’s what we did with what you told us.”
  • Make it easy for your audience to ask questions. One of our clients has a website with an extensive knowledge center that is highly valued by its customers worldwide. One key to its success: A search form centered at the top of their web page, inviting interaction. Other companies add a live chat feature to their website, enabling potential customers to talk to a human being and get answers to their questions. It’s all about initiating dialogue!
  • Use a conversational style of writing and communication. It’s okay to be a little bit informal and conversational because it makes your audience feel like they’re dealing with real people who care – not a faceless brand.
  • Provide a consistent, ongoing and helpful stream of communication to your audience, focusing on their needs, preferences and aspirations – not on your company’s new product and service enhancements.

If you need help creating this type of customer-centric communication, please contact us. We’d love to chat with you.

(See how that works, bro?)

 

Marketing’s Secret Sauce: The Message

Marketing’s Secret Sauce is the first “taste” of our new series of marketing education videos, which we’ve christened ACCELERATE: Smart Strategies That Power Business Growth. Each one will contain essential insights you need to become a more successful marketer – delivered in 10 minutes or less!

 

It seems like anything successful has a secret formula, proprietary technology or “secret sauce” behind it that makes people talk about it. Marketing is no different.

The secret sauce of successful marketing is the message. It must command the attention of its target audience, get them to think and feel something – and ultimately like, trust and do business with your firm.

Check out this new 8-minute video, to discover:

  • Why you must first focus on your brand message – not on the channels you’ll use to deliver it
  • Two key types of messages, and the critical role each one plays in your branding
  • Examples of companies that have powerfully positioned themselves in the minds of their customers using taglines and slogans
  • Three steps to develop a persuasive strategic brand message for your business

They keep moving the marketing goalposts

Moving Goalposts

There’s an inherent mystery around the art and science of optimizing a web site for search. The optimization process changes nearly every week as Google works behind the scene, changing the rules to make their engine’s results more search friendly and relevance-centric. For SEO specialists, it’s like playing a soccer game where the goalposts keep moving every 15 minutes.

It’s rumored that some SEO gurus burn incense and go into a trance when they do their magic. Add to this that no one really sees the results of their optimization efforts for months as Google bots scan the entire content of the internet.

In the old days (4-5 years ago), you could load your web site text with searched keywords and Google would help people find you. Now, Google is going beyond the keywords and is “reading what you’ve written” to determine the meaning and relevancy of your content using more than just keywords.

This leads us to the 4 golden rules of SEO (which might change by the time you read this):

  1. Content drives SEO and content must be relevant. Making content relevant requires you to know WHO you are writing for and WHAT they want to know. You can’t just wing-it like you did with half your essays in high school. Google does semantic* searches now and they want content that has a take-away – a pay-off for the reader that addresses what he/she/they is searching for.Some research firms have discovered that Google likes comprehensive and thorough long form content more than short form. At the same time, content must be layered. Give readers a taste and lead them, using links, to more comprehensive and detailed content at the levels below. By the way, the essence of “comprehensive content” can mean adding videos, white papers, slide shows, etc., not more text. Bottom line, your content must be relevant and RESONATE with the target reader. The best content is meaningful and always meets the needs of the target reader.
  2. Back links are critical. Get back links to your site from AUTHORITATIVE domains. Getting other industry authorities to link to your mouth-watering, high value content can make a difference. It’s other websites with cred giving your website cred. Create great content and then promote it using social media.
  3. Think Mobile. Google indexes mobile-friendly sites first. If your site works well on smart phones and other mobile/pad devices, Google will give you extra brownie points. RESPONSIVE content that works well on any device is a must.
  4. Technical Factors
    • Encrypt your web site using HTTPS encryption. It prevents Google from labeling your site “unsafe” which can hurt your ranking.
    • H1 and H2 headings. These are in your site code and your technical specialist or SEO guru can help improve them.
    • Avoid pop ups and interstitials. Exceptions are log in dialogs, small banners which can be dismissed, and legally required interstitials. Most of these are annoying anyway

Much of the above advice may be too technical for some readers and that’s why enlisting a SEO specialist may be in order. But remember, you need to have a helicopter view of the SEO process in order fully understand what the specialists do.

Plus, much of the burden lies in the creation of content. So put whoever is creating content in the same room with the SEO specialists. They should be working shoulder-to-shoulder.

Want to dive deeper into SEO and how Content is a critical element? Download our eGuide: The Batman and Robin of Modern Marketing: Search Engine Optimization & Content

*Semantics: the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.

If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen

 If Content Is King, Distribution Is QueenBack in 1996, Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king” to emphasize how a website’s content is essential in attracting visitors. The better your content, the more people would come to your site. Gates realized early on that a website is no different than a newspaper, a TV show, or a musical recording:

To get the most readers/viewers/visitors, you need a great product that people want to consume.

This new way of the world required a great deal of self-publishing. What Bill never told anyone, though, was that self-publishing takes work…a lot of work. Creating original, informative, and helpful content requires a jumbo-sized can of elbow grease and help from nearly every employee.

But there were — and still are — MANY benefits to creating original content. Primarily:

Search Engines Love Juicy Content

Your site’s content — as well as the content you publish via email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so on — helps drive search engine performance. The more your company looks and sounds like a “guru” on specific topics, the more likely other sites will link to yours…and Google will reward you.

Now remember: Good social marketing requires a delicate balance of both curated and original content. Even so…

Take a moment to consider the content you create from another aspect. Your content is an asset, so the more you create, the more information wealthy your company becomes. {Tweet this.}

There’s a great temptation to borrow other people’s content and simply re-distribute it. It’s fast and easy. And it seems as though everyone is doing it. I mean, how often have you received an email or seen a tweet that simply links to someone else’s content?

Smart companies are getting leads by creating original content that matches up to the customer’s Buy Cycle and that truly engages people. How? Through a process we call Growth Cycle Marketing. Learn more in our FREE whitepaper.

If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen.

 If Content Is King, Distribution Is QueenAre you fully using all the “distribution channels” that you own or control? Do you know which social media platforms are best for growing YOUR platform? Click here to learn the perks, drawbacks, uses, and features of some of the most popular social media choices out there today.

Lessons Learned
In a new, more challenging era of marketing that includes more and more competitors entering your arena each day, you can do three important things to keep your marketing viable:

  1. Own your content and make it original. It’s an asset that adds to your informational wealth. Don’t fall prey to the urge of simply re-sending other people’s content as a quick fix for staying in touch.
  2. Build a reputation as a guru in your field of expertise. Develop content that is helpful to people and brings real value.
  3. Seek to control distribution. Engage people on social networks as a way to grow channels you control, like email lists and blog RSS readership.

May the tips above give you a more solid platform for building a strong marketing strategy.

Let us know your progress below in the comments or by connecting with me on LinkedIn.

Till next time,
Johnathan Crawford of Data Dog Marketing
 If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen

How to Convert “Mysterious” Site Visitors into Engaged Prospects

How to Convert “Mysterious” Site Visitors into Engaged ProspectsTo get visitors to engage with you on your website, you must ASK them to take action. But people are so busy these days.

They might be willing to:

  • follow you on Twitter
  • friend you on Facebook
  • leave a comment on your blog
  • share your content, or
  • subscribe to your eNewsletter

But you’ve struck the MOTHER LODE of engagement when site visitors take the time to complete an online form — sharing their contact information with you — in order to receive something valuable in return, such as an eBook or a free webinar.

The secret to converting “mysterious” site visitors into engaged prospects is having juicy, helpful content on your site — but placing some of it behind a FORM.

Give your website visitors a FREE taste of your capabilities and know-how. And once they’re hooked, tease ’em with the promise of more! But this time, force a trade . . . They can get more of your “goodies” and top-quality ideas if — and only if — they provide you with their contact information.

When they fork over their contact data to download your free eBook or whitepaper or attend your free online event, you know exactly WHO they are and WHERE to reach them — They’ve opened the door for you to begin an active dialogue with them.

You can motivate your audience to “make the trade” by letting them know — in advance — how you’ll REWARD them for a little bit of extra effort on their part. Some things you can give site visitors in return for sharing their contact info include:

  • high-quality, industry-specific, helpful content
  • an opportunity to be part of a conversation with other interested parties or SMEs
  • the chance to join and be part of a community
  • coupons, giveaways, and access to premium videos
  • attendance to a free webinar

From this free download transaction, you can develop a direct, two-way conversation, which is the ultimate form of engagement. This personalized dialogue will allow you to nurture many of your site visitors to determine their needs and show them how you can solve their problems.

BOOYAH — Now they’re your CUSTOMERS!

You took casual site visitors and changed them from being anonymous guests who were “just browsing” into becoming  truly engaged prospects with your smartly designed, dynamic website. (And, of course, you combined your efforts with smart marketing technology tools that empowered you with the data you needed to convert these leads into SALES.) It’s that easy.

You’re welcome, my friends.
Johnathan Crawford of Data Dog Marketing

P.S. Make sure to check out our Cultivate Resource Center and this great example of an eBook to get ideas for engaging your customers. It is a personal favorite. (After you read it, connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know what you thought.)

See all articles by Johnathan Crawford