Become a Content Marketing Productivity Master: 21 Tips from the #CMWorld Community

  • 1. Become a Content Marketing PRODUCTIVITY MASTER: 21 TIPS FROM THE #CMWORLD COMMUNITY
  • 2. We can’t stop time. But we can learn to use it more effectively. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Tired of never getting through your to–do list? If so… you’re in the same boat as practically every content marketer we talk to. Fundamentally, the secret to feeling more productive is to have a plan for what you need to accomplish and stick to it. It’s easier said than done, for sure; but by implementing efficiency techniques, streamlining certain processes, and taking advantage of a few time-tested tricks, content marketers can increase their output while reducing the frustration, stress, and misdirected efforts that can often take them off track. Take a look at 21 of the most helpful tips the #CMWorld community had to offer during our recent Twitter chat on productivity. 2

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  • 3. 33 It’s counterproductive to waste time on content that isn’t going to help your business achieve its goals. To maximize productivity, start with a strategic analysis of how relevant and valuable the effort is likely to be for both your brand and your audience. Mike Myers says he uses a simple flow chart to determine where content marketing will be helpful (and where it won’t) because, like with dessert, it can be hard to know when to say no.  I start by asking: “How relevant is the project to my market — i.e., clients and prospects?” —Roger C. Parker  Make strategic decisions. Know when something requested won’t add enough value. Prioritize, and suggest alternatives when possible. —Danalynne Wheeler LEAD WITH YOUR STRENGTHS — AND YOUR STRATEGY1
  • 4. 4 FOLLOW YOUR STRATEGY WITH A PROACTIVE PLAN2 Every strategic idea needs a plan to bring it to life. With advanced preparation, you can take some of the guesswork out of the content creation process, making it easier to stay focused and productive.  Successful content marketers choose topics in advance. They identify themes they can create content on in the upcoming months. Planning is key. —Roger C. Parker  Plan what to say & how. Create a title optimized to catch readers & search engines. —Joanie Eppinga
  • 5. 55 Content creation is as much an art as a science. Though you should definitely have a plan, it’s also helpful to be flexible and leave room in your process to take advantage of inspiration when it strikes.  Make notes all the time. They’re the seeds of content to come. You can’t harvest tomorrow unless you plant today. —George Stenitzer  Balance sticking with strategy (and saying no to what doesn’t fit) with the potential to explore new possibilities. Always keep the “learning mindset.” —Anne Janzer LEAVE ROOM FOR THE SPARK OF CREATIVITY3

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  • 6. 6 FOCUS ON AUDIENCE NEEDS4 Content is created to spur an audience to action, so your productivity ultimately depends on how well your efforts are is suited to meeting that goal. Keep this in mind and you will never waste valuable time on efforts that miss the mark.  First, you have to understand your market and their needs. This provides focus. —Roger C. Parker  It’s all about knowing your audience. Knowing whom to talk to directs your decisions about what you do and don’t need to say. —Adam P. Newton  Outsider, a New York agency, suggests that content creators ask questions like, “Does this provide value to my audience?” “Would they share it?” Viewing your content from the audience’s perspective will help you figure out which projects may not work — even if they seemed like a good idea to you at first.
  • 7. 77 It’s hard to be productive if our minds are being pulled in a million different directions. Even small side projects can wind up derailing productivity in a major way, so it’s helpful to determine right from the outset what’s worth your immediate attention, what can be put on the back burner for a while, and what can be indefinitely postponed.  Roger C. Parker recommends starting out by asking, “How urgently do my customers or prospects need the information?” Then ask, “Is the project practical for me at the present time?” After that, if a client asks me to do a different task, I ask: “Which of our current tasks do you want me to put aside?”  Ronda Bowen says that looking at past performance of content helps, too. If you know a certain topic tanks in terms of page views, there’s no reason to continue to create content on that topic. SET PRIORITIES, AND DON’T GET SIDETRACKED5
  • 8. 8 BUDGET YOUR TIME… AND USE IT EFFECTIVELY6 Effective time management means devoting adequate attention to your content without allowing your efforts to take over your entire working life.  Successful content marketers run marathons, not races. Time management is essential. Manage your time as carefully as you would manage your money. —Roger C. Parker  Set aside blocks of time to draft your content without being interrupted by meetings or chats. —Sarah A. Parker  While planning is important, Mael Roth advises that sometimes you need to set yourself on “get it done” mode: “At some point it’s ‘learn by doing.’”333
  • 9. 99 Just as deadlines can create a sense of urgency for specific content projects, keeping a calendar of those projects can help you mentally plan and prioritize your day-to-day efforts — and hold yourself accountable for their completion.  Scheduling is key for productivity. —Cara Shannon  Lisa Masiello recommends being methodical and keeping a calendar, as she feels it’s easy to become distracted without a schedule.  Social media analytics vendor Union Metrics suggests drawing up a quarterly content calendar and working backwards from the deadlines you set in order to ensure time for drafts/your approval process. KEEP A CONTENT CALENDAR7
  • 10. 10 KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO8 No one likes to have to turn down a content request from a client or supervisor, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil in order to make good progress on current priorities, continually deliver on your content’s promises, and maintain your sanity.  Strategy is key. If a project doesn’t align, it’s not worth your time. —Angela Hursh  I cringe when clients try to pump out as much content as possible and skimp on quality. A content effort should be more than a checklist item. —Brandon Seymour  Many times marketing should say no to change. Don’t let your boredom of a tagline/ topic divert the oil tanker. —Nick Kellet  If there isn’t a compelling story [in a particular content idea], I find the exit. —Kip Meacham
  • 11. 1111 One of the easiest ways to become more productive is to get rid of repetitive or unnecessarily time-consuming tasks that are bogging down your efforts and replace them with more efficient techniques. Even if it takes some extra time to implement and adjust to the change, streamlining your processes often pays dividends in terms of productivity over the long-term.  I implemented a written request form for content projects. [This] creates accountability & saves me from 20 [rounds of] revisions. —Danielle Poupore  I use Mindjet’s MindManager to organize ideas, keep track of projects, and easily track influencers and ideas. And every content marketer needs a graphics program to create images for blog posts and social media. —Roger C. Parker  We use a lot of distraction-free writing tools to encourage the process, as well as an editorial calendar to plan it all out. —ClearVoice  Erika Heald asserts that collaboration tools like RedboothHQ, Kapost, Evernote, and Google Drive are key to her daily productivity. CREATE EFFICIENCIES WITH NEW TOOLS AND STREAMLINED PRODUCTION PROCESSES 9
  • 12. 12 FREE YOUR MIND10 Productivity isn’t always about going “heads down” into a project. Instead, experiment to discover what ideas and processes work best for you.  Stay curious and open to new innovations and marketing concepts. Set aside time to ‘study’ those who are doing it right. —Crowd Content  A large part of marketing productivity comes from understanding the machine of the internet and the psychology of people —Nick Kellet  We write down all of our ideas before dismissing any. —Kitterman Marketing
  • 13. 1313 Good writing is just as much “nurture” as it is “nature.” Set good habits right from the start of your content creation efforts and you’re practically guaranteed to become more productive as you progress.  Cultivate the habit of short, frequent working sessions rather than long, tiring sessions. —Roger C. Parker  Our best productivity tips are early mornings, strong coffee, and a separate window for social media, to avoid distraction. —Outsider (a NYC agency)  Try working at times when there will be fewer distractions. For example, @SparkerWorks has considered getting started earlier in the day: “Nobody bothers you in the early morning!” —Sarah A. Parker CULTIVATE EFFICIENT WORKING AND WRITING HABITS11CMS (444
  • 14. 14 HOLD YOURSELF TO DEADLINES12 Deadlines help you set clear parameters for your content efforts, and can create a sense of urgency that keeps you focused and on-task during the content creation process.  Deadlines definitely help with productivity! Sometimes it’s hard to get started if there is no goal in sight. —Wyzowl  Consider creating mini-deadlines for the various tasks required for each project. This can help you create a sense of urgency and pace your progress. —Roger C. Parker
  • 15. 1515 Content creation takes dedication. If you want to earn the loyalty of your audience, you must hold yourself accountable for delivering on what you promise — even when the process gets challenging or you run into a stumbling block.  To be a productive writer, make yourself write. Good ideas often come after you’ve gotten started. —Anne Janzer  Every successful content marketer I know reads and writes daily. —Patrick Hayslett PRACTICE SELF-DISCIPLINE13
  • 16. 16 AVOID BEATING YOURSELF UP OR GETTING FRUSTRATED14 It’s not easy for writers to create something that’s “just right,” so it’s natural to stumble with phrasing or get stuck on an idea once in a while. When the words just aren’t flowing, don’t be afraid to take your time and clear your mind — and know that you can always make changes down the line.  Give yourself permission for that bad first draft. Don’t edit as you write — it will only slow you down. —Ronda Bowen  If something’s really not working, give yourself permission to step away. Come back to it tomorrow. Work on something else. —Sarah A. Parker
  • 17. 1717 A trick some writers use to structure a content effort is to write the ending first, then craft the rest of the story so that it leads to the intended conclusion. Starting each project with your desired results in mind can reduce the need for time consuming revisions and rewrites throughout the process.  Develop your positioning first so that the content will communicate the desired marketing messages. —Samuel J. Scott  I’ve begun asking project requesters to tell me how they plan to use content. No sense making something to sit in a drawer. —Danielle Poupore START WITH YOUR DESIRED RESULTS AND PURPOSE AND WORK BACKWARDS15
  • 18. 18 MAKE CONTENT CREATION PART OF YOUR ROUTINE16 Just like good habits make good writers, regular routines can help those writers mentally prepare for creating quality content—and for staying the course, even when other priorities start to compete for their time and attention.  Show up. Turning up at your computer consistently is the best way to be successful. —Ronda Bowen  Brainstorm, outline, write, write, write, proof, have someone else proof, edit, & promote! If you get stuck, take a break, and then go back. —Aya Fawzy  I look for easy parts of the post to write — such as lists or easy topics — to build momentum. —Roger C. Parker555
  • 19. 1919 If you find yourself working on a complex topic with a lot of ground to cover, or are struggling to find the right flow for your discussion, try creating a simple outline first. Organizing your thoughts in this way can help you see which points are essential and which ones can be left out, as well as how to structure the conversation in the most logical way.  Map the journey. Know where you’re starting, ending and [where] you’ll stop at along the way. —Jeremy Bednarski  First, I take notes by hand & organize a rough structure. Last thing is proofreading. Then proofreading again. —Danielle Poupore  Start your writing with an outline. Then write everything down as quickly as you can. Lastly, edit, edit, edit. —Heidi Cohen  After outlining what you are going to write and why, just get words on paper/screen. Don’t edit, just do a “brain dump.” —Traci Browne NOT SURE WHAT TO WRITE? TRY CREATING AN OUTLINE17
  • 20. 20 USE THEMES TO BUILD A SERIES OF RELATED CONTENT18 Another way to handle complex topics is to break them up into small, manageable bites. Start by coming up with a list of relevant themes, and then create a series of related content pieces that you can that you can distribute on a regular basis.  Series are about brevity. Series turn complex ideas into snacks. Series also multiply the SEO value of one big idea. —Nick Kellet  A series can be a great way to get started. It gives you a theme and a goal to build off of. Feels less daunting every week. —Kitterman Marketing  A blog series can help with productivity in that (hopefully) you can map it all out ahead of time. —Jeremy Bednarski  In terms of productivity, having an established series is really helpful to me. It’s great for when I’m stumped on topics. —Christina Grieves666
  • 21. 2121 Content doesn’t always have to be original to be powerful. At times, it’s more productive to use the content you’ve painstakingly created and focus your time on ways to repackage it in a new way, or for a new platform.  @crestodina writes, “You need to view content as atoms you can recycle & rearrange in different ways.” —Roger C. Parker  It’s just so easy to do. So many resources and potential for data and info overload. Curate, collate, focus. —Jacob Henenberg  Break up mega-topics into edible chunks. Use customer questions to guide series topics. —George Stenitzer REPURPOSE THE WHEEL, DON’T REINVENT IT19
  • 22. 22 KNOW WHAT TO SPIN OFF OR RECYCLE, RATHER THAN REJECT20 If an idea starts to lead you in a different direction, don’t switch gears right away. Instead, tuck it away it somewhere safe, and then come back to it after you’ve finished the content effort you are currently working on. If the new concept still seems valid when you revisit it, you now have a ready-made topic on hand for your next content effort.  I’m a narrow-minded content creator. If anything remotely veers from my main idea, it goes in queue to become its own piece. —Patrick Hayslett
  • 23. 2323 When all else fails… you are probably working too hard. Sometimes it’s best to just step away and take some time to clear your mind before returning to your content creation. You may even come up with a new idea or two when you give yourself a break, rather than trying to force creativity when you just aren’t “feeling it.”  When I’m finished, I put the post aside overnight. I need to proof it from a fresh perspective. —Roger C. Parker  Even a 5-minute break can help. Ever do find-a-word puzzles? Great for improving visual acuity. —Joanie Eppinga  Step away & do something physical that you’ll see immediate results from: Clean a coffee cup, wipe down a counter, stretch. —Sarah A. Parker TAKE BREAKS TO AVOID MENTAL FATIGUE21
  • 24. 24 THANKS FOR READING! Want more ways to increase your productivity without losing sight of your priorities? Download our collection of useful templates and checklists to make the content marketing process easier. And don’t forget to join our #CMWorld Twitter chats every Tuesday at 12 Eastern to learn from our fabulous content marketing community and share your own tips for success. Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is the leading global content marketing education and training organization. CMI teaches enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling. CMI’s Content Marketing World event, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September, and Content Marketing World Sydney, every March. CMI also produces the quarterly magazine Chief Content Officer, and provides strategic consulting and content marketing research for some of the best-known brands in the world. CMI is a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Inc. 500 company. Learn how to create a documented content marketing strategy, a key component for improving overall content marketing effectiveness.
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How to Build Links with Infographics

It should be no surprise that infographics aquire links. Although they’ve quickly become a saturated tactic, they still work. I like infographics, because they’re a great intersection between traditional marketing and manual link building. In this post, I’d like to walk through my process of creating and launching a successful infographic. I’m about to tell you exactly how I’ve gotten clients hundreds of thousands of content views, thousands of social shares, and hundreds of links. It’s a long post, so grab some coffee.

The Development Process

I’d like to cover my “process” for creating an infographic. This might not be for everyone, but it works for me.

Infographic Creation Process

#1 Full Team Brainstorm

At this stage, I’ll pull the whole project team together for a brainstorm. I may start with a seed set of ideas, but this is a wide open brainstorm, anything goes. We’re looking for ideas that are: interesting, appeals to the linkerati / socialrati, has real data, and some type of unique hook. An idea may come directly from a specific niche we’re targeting, or may go along with an event, such as a holiday. Try to look for angles that people don’t normally take or to present boring/common info conversely or in a off-colour way. Geoff, here at Distilled, is a beast at coming up with ideas.

#2 Research

I may only walk from the brainstorm with a vague concept and the target audience. From this point, I’ll start to research for data that can be used to form an infographic. I have a few goals for research.

  1. Find information that can be organized.
  2. Find information that can be visually represented.
  3. Data does better than just information.
  4. Focus on verifiable statistics I can cite.
  5. Focus on chunkable, tweetable statements.
  6. Focus on content that triggers an emotional response.

The output here is a Word document of information and URLs to its source.

#3 Email Brainstorm

Unless you’re a creative genius, you’ll find value in crowdsourcing for ideas and selection of data. I will send the results of the research to the entire office and collect input on best stats, how those stats can be represented, or any other cool ideas. My job is collect this input and distill it down.

#4 Develop Concept

Next up, I’ll start developing a concept. This is when you put your creative marketing hat on.

Things to consider:

  • How your data can be visually represented
  • Color themes (consider you topic and target market)
  • How to visually create an emotional response
  • Ways to add humor
  • Creating “sharable” chunks of info for easy sharing and tweeting
  • Media to be added, such as images and graphs

This is a choke point where infographics can fall short. Yes, you have a cool concept, you have the data, and maybe you even nailed your title. But what I’ve seen that works, is really catering to your target market(s) in the content of the infographic. Give them very specific, for lack of a better phrase, “Easter eggs” that will be meaningful for them. This might be a meme or a concept unique to their market. Try to play on a person’s ego or emotions, or to build some form of relationship with them. This goes back to marketing and understanding the target market.

#5 Design

I’ll pass over all the information to our designer. I’ll touch on this more in a moment, but I’ve learned to be very clear in this communication. Working with a designer in the UK, in another time zone, whom you’ve never met, creates a unique work relationship. I think our process here though is valuable for any SEO working with a designer.

#6 Revisions

This should be simple, but likely won’t be. After getting the first draft of the design, it’ll be passed around the office for feedback. This may include typos, content errors, or design considerations. If you don’t fix, then mistakes in your graphic will be caught, and social media can be relentless in pointing them out (especially Reddit). Find the most detailed oriented person in your office and get them involved.

Next, send it off for review from your client (or boss).This is the point where your skills in getting s#!% done can make or break your linkbait. Your job is to know your client (boss) and have built enough trust with them that you can manage any pushback. Getting close to your client can be the difference between a piece of linkbait that “ok” and “awesome”.

Working with Your Designer

Infographic design is a choke point. Concepts can fall apart during the design process if not effectively managed. Tucker Cummings, at Blue Glass, recently wrote about what makes a “good” infographic. She said “if it doesn’t make you say “Wow” when you look at it, it’s probably not attractive enough”. Although an infographic needs to look good, I don’t want design requirements to scare you off. As long as the design is good, fun, and interesting – I’m more concerned about the content.

My goal when working with a designer is to get something the client will like, with minimum revisions, and without annoying the designer. This is done by doing one thing.

Communicating well.

To assist in this communication, I send my designer two documents (these are actually the headings used in my last brief).

Infographic brief.docx

Client Information

  • Infographic Width
  • Target Audience
  • Client Expectations
  • Deadline
  • Hours

Infographic Information

  • Overview
  • Purpose
  • Data
  • Title
  • Theme
  • Images & Files

Infographic content.docx – Just the text in the infographic.

Tips for Working with Designer

  • Get them involved early. I send over an email after the first brainstorm. I want them to be a part of the team, not just a tool I leverage to produce the graphic. I want them excited about it and feel a sense of ownership over the project as well.
  • Don’t hinder their design. This is their job, it’s what they’re good at, so just step back and let them do it. Trust that they’re an expert at what they do (this means you have to hire a good designer in the first place.)
  • Communicate clearly. Most issues can be solved with clear communication. I promise you this is important when the designer comes in while I’m asleep.
  • Remember you’re a marketer. Trust your designer, but you know the market. Feel free to provide feedback to your designer if you feel the design won’t engage your audience appropriately.  I’ve had a designer change the color scheme on a graphic, because I didn’t feel it’d engage the target audience in the way I wanted. I think the revision made it a lot more effective at producing an emotional response.

The On-site Stuff

Everyone has their own way of launching an infographics.

The (almost) amazing example

Infographic Example

Around Valentine’s day, I saw what I think was an amazing infographic setup, minus one small thing. This infographic was the Valentine’s Day Spending [Infographic] by DegreeSearch.org.

This setup did a lot of things really well. It allowed the graphic to be published on the blog, but allowed them to promote it with a special landing page as well. This landing page removes almost all distractions, except for engaging with the content via social or embedding. It links back to the post and the site’s homepage. There is this wonderful share bar at the top, which allows visitors to easily share the graphic. It even sticks at the top as the user scrolls down the page.

If there is one place this page may have gone wrong, it’s right here:

infographic embed code

After the infographic, they’ve embedded Facebook comments, but placed the link embed code below it. Every time someone comments on Facebook, the embed box is pushed further down the page, to the very bottom. Since the Facebook comment box is at the bottom anyways, I would have placed the embed above the Facebook comments (unless of course the graphic’s goal was to increase Facebook interactions).

My Setup

Typically, I’ll publish an infographic as a blog post and use the following setup.

on-site for infographics

Features:

  • Infographic with good file name and alt attribute
  • Share buttons (I like the style shown above the most)
  • Embed code box, with JavaScrpit to auto select all (will show, one second)
  • Embed code with good image name and alt attribute
  • Embed code links image to post and has a secondary branded link after the graphic

There are three goals: 1) ease sharing 2) ease embeding 3) make sure the embed code gives good links.

Protip: When making your embed code text area, make it autoselect all the code for easy copying. Like this:

textarea style=”font-family: monospace;” onclick=”this.select();”

You can see this in action over at eLocal, where my friend Adria works, on their home improvement trends infographic.

Getting Links

Everything so far is preperation for the meat of the campaign, getting the links. Infographics depend on the success of the content’s creation, but I won’t pretend that good content gains links all by itself.

However, good content is key. Good content, like an infographic, paired with strong outreach, can produce amazing results. But enough with the content talk, let’s get to links.

#1 Advertising

I use social media advertising to help seed infographics. Facebook ads work, but I highly recommend StumbleUpon Ads. These are cheap social oriented eyeballs and you can put yourself in front of a lot of them quickly.

Do not expect much from this traffic. It tends to bounce quickly and doesn’t convert in my experience. However, once in a while, you get in front of just the right person at the right time. On my last infographic, we spent about $500 to help seed, which lead to 10,000 paid views, but we ended receiving about twice as many SU views as that due to free stumbles.

From my experience, SU ads can drive tweets and likes, which I’ve seen from running ads after tweet volume has died off.

#2 Seeding Content: Social Sites

You’ll want to submit to relevant social media sites, but put thought into these submissions. For example, Reddit has a large number of subreddits which may work better for specific types of content. Pay attention to how you tag posts on StumbleUpon. Also you can use accounts at your disposal to seed these submissions with strong early votes where possible. There may be times when you need to call in favors.

#3 Twitter

Just like other social sites, you’ll want to promote through Twitter. Leverage relationships to get tweets from prominent Twitter users.

Find twitter users for outreach, it’s pretty easy:

#4 Manual Outreach

Lastly, you need to do traditional link building outreach.

You need to do outreach.

The type of sites I’m reaching out to will be decided in the first full team brainstorm. I’ve already identified that market, and need to contact them for links. Outreach is an art and a science in its own right, but there have been several posts written on the topic.

Don’t be afraid of outreach. It’s a lot like dating. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. Now, if only I was as good at dating as I am link building.

The secret sauce

At the start of this post, I said I’d tell you exactly how I get links with infographics, but that’s not entirely true. I left out two parts, but that’s because I can’t teach you those, but I can tell you what they are.

Contacts

Good contacts can make or break your content promotion. Do you have a PR team? Do you maintain relationships with major bloggers / journalist that can publish your content? Did you start nurturing relations with niche bloggers prior to pitching? We do.

I can’t emphasis enough the value that a handful of useful contacts, who actually reply to your emails, can have on your promotion.

Hustle

I believe hustle is my most valuable skill, in both SEO and life. Tom talks about the concept of hustle as a meme on Hacker News in his post on OnStartups about Distilled culture. Hustle is something that’s hard, maybe impossible, to teach. It’s the willingness to “do whatever it takes” to get what you want.

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle”
– Abraham Lincoln

Success often means getting lucky, but I do believe “luck is when preparation meets opportunity”. You have to be out there hustling to find those opportunities. You have to be willing to do the work. The lengths I’ll go in outreach often result in rolled-eyes and chuckles around the office, but I get links. I get lucky with a lot of links, but I’d miss them if I wasn’t out there working the process.

http://moz.com/blog/how-to-build-links-with-infographics

Tops Entrepreneurs’ Priority Lists for 2015

With an eye on the future, small businesses plan to invest most heavily in technology in 2015, according to a report fromeMarketer. The research indicated that 45 percent of small business owners expect to make technology purchases this year, more than double the number for office supplies, which was the second highest category.

trendsOther recent research also revealed just how serious small businesses are about getting new technology. When asked for the “holiday gifts” they wanted most this winter, in an October survey by Manta, a new computer topped the list, ahead of new customers or more money for business purposes. Meanwhile, a study from PNC Financial Services Group last summer found that 36 percent of small businesses owners planned to increase their spending on technology over the next six months. Additionally, technology was the most-cited category in an American Express survey last year looking at the areas in which small businesses planned to make capital investments.

The eMarketer report also points to a September survey from ad agency Cargo showing that nearly twice as many small business owners expected to spend more for computer equipment than expected to spend less. [Workers Want Say in Technology Adoption ]

“While computers may seem passé to consumers in the smartphone age, they remain important for small businesses,” the eMarketer study authors wrote.

However, the new research shows that despite their intentions, small businesses won’t spend the money on technology if they aren’t positive it will provide a significant benefit.

“Technology is a common denominator in small companies’ shopping lists,” the study’s authors wrote. “But [small business owners] will not spend on it willy-nilly, especially if unconvinced that up-to-date technology is essential to their success.”

In addition to technology, small business owners plan to spend money on office equipment, manufacturing and production equipment, office furnishings, real estate, and other items.

Coaching the future

The dearth of talent speaks to self-absorbed leaders who focus more on results than people.

Dedicate yourself to developing people. Great people deliver great results.

The coaching-leader is the leader of the future.

Coaching is training or development in which a person called a “coach” supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal. The learner is sometimes called a “coachee”. Occasionally, “coaching” may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on competence specifics, as opposed to general overall development.

co1

Some coaches use a style in which they ask questions and offer opportunities to challenge the learner to find his or her own answers. This helps the learner find answers and new ways of being[clarification needed] based on their own values, preferences and perspectives.

coach

Definition

There are many definitions of coaching, mentoring and various styles of management and training.[11]

What follows are more succinct definitions of the various forms of helping. However, there may be overlap between many of these types of coaching activities.[12]

Managing is making sure people do what they know how to do. Training is teaching people to do what they don’t know how to do. Mentoring is showing people how the people who are really good at doing something do it. Counselling is helping people come to terms with issues they are facing. Coaching is none of these – it is helping to identify the skills and capabilities that are within the person, and enabling them to use them to the best of their ability.

Professional coaching uses a range of communication skills (such as targeted restatements, listening, questioning, clarifying etc.) to help clients shift their perspectives and thereby discover different solutions to achieve their goals.[13] These skills are used when coaching clients in any field. In this sense, coaching is a form of ‘meta-profession’ that can apply to supporting clients in any human endeavor, ranging from their concerns in personal, professional, sport, social, family, political, spiritual dimensions, etc.

c1 c3 Successful business woman giving a presentation on flipchart. c4

15 qualities of great coaches:

  1. Grow themselves. Know-it-alls make lousy coaches.
  2. Practice self-reflection. Growth requires reflection. Successful coaches know how to observe themselves and others.
  3. Enjoy people.
  4. Ask more than tell. Curiosity drives the coaching process. Knowing, at least in the beginning, gets in the way. Even if you think you know, pretend you don’t.
  5. Leave space for responses. Silence precedes enlightenment.
  6. Reveal their own journey when it’s helpful, but don’t need to out-do, one-up, or talk about themselves.
  7. Have their own coach. Great coaches have coaches.
  8. Show compassion. Compassion builds foundations for touch conversations.
  9. Challenge bull crap. Great coaches challenge one-sided perceptions, narrow perspectives, and inconsistencies.
  10. Embrace your goals. Coaches who don’t accept your goals are manipulators.
  11. Keep secrets.
  12. Feel optimism about people and progress. Great coaches believe progress is probable with work.
  13. Focus on behaviors within control.
  14. Let go of past failures and disappointments. Growth requires starting over.
  15. Don’t need to be right; explore options.

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Bonus: Press for improvement, progress, and results.

The difference between hand-holding and coaching is high expectation.

https://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/15-qualities-of-great-coaches/

Should Startups Offer Free WiFi to Customers?

A person enters your office building and looks to connect his smartphone to the Internet. In one instance, he is unable to surf the Net due to connectivity problems. In another, he can immediately connect with the Net by using the guest WiFi offered by your business.

Which will be the happier customer in this case?

The answer is obvious. The one who could connect to the Net through the guest WiFi offered by your business will be the happier person. And it will surely reflect in your business results as well.

For businesses, especially the already established ones, there are many benefits of offering free WiFi.

But should the start-ups offer free WiFi to their customers?

There are many things to ponder before deciding the answer to this question.

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Won’t Cost Much

Internet is the basic necessity for any business these days. Even if yours is a startup, you will surely need the Net for proper functioning of your business. So, all you need to do to offer free WiFi to your customers is share the WiFi with your customers. And that is not as expensive or difficult as it might sound. All you need to do is extend the Internet connection, which you already have, into a WiFi hotspot. And if you have a satellite Internet service, which offers excellent performance without going down, you can always share it without any second thought. That can be a low-cost affair and is sure to earn high dividends for your business.

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Easy Way to Collect Customer Information and Feedback

As a startup, you need to do a good bit of research about your customers. It will not be possible for you to deliver according to your customer’s requirements, if you are not aware of them. And this will mean that you won’t be able to place your products according to the likings of the customers. The result: your business will not be performing as well as it should.

By offering free WiFi to your customers, you can solve this problem. When they try to connect to the free WiFi, ask them to fill out a form. They should provide their feedback about your business and also answer a few questions. You can ask them questions, which will help you determine their likes and dislikes for the products and services that you offer. Once you get their view, you can plan your products and services accordingly and get the best results.

Can be a Great Marketing Ploy

Do you have anything special to offer to your customers? Are you going to offer a discount soon? Or something else in the short term? You need to let customers know about these offers. But as a startup, you might not have enough funds to run large advertisement campaigns to spread the word about it. So, what can you do?

Using the free Wi-Fi that you are offering in your store or office can be a great option. Whenever a customer logs in to the Net using the free Wi-Fi in your store, you can make him or her receive short advertisements about your business offerings. This can come in handy as it will ensure that all of the customers who have visited your store and have logged in to the Net using the WiFi connection there, are aware of the offers.

free3 NYC To Turn Some Of Its 12,000 Phone Booths Into Free Wifi Spots

Can Help to Spread the Word about Your Startup

One of the major benefits that you can get by offering free WiFi in your office or store is that it will help to spread the word about your business. And it’s extremely necessary for any startup. Those who are entering your shop or office might not be buying anything immediately. But if they come in and spend time using the free WiFi, you can expect them to return and also tell their friends and acquaintances about it.

Remember, people love the word ‘free’, no matter what it applies to. So, more and more people can be expected to visit your store if you offer free WiFi. This will surely act as a major marketing ploy for your business.

Offering free WiFi can be a great thing for any startup. It is surely one of the best ways to move a step ahead in competition. Besides, this free WiFi can also come in handy to maintain a lot of operations, such as surveillance and other functions, in the store. So, it’s always good for the startups to offer free WiFi to their customers to leverage the benefits from the action.

http://smallbiztrends.com/2015/01/offering-free-wifi-to-customers.html?tr=amaf
Free Wi-Fi Photo via Shutterstock

FB@work incoming!!!

“FB@Work.” Now that product is officially coming to light: today the company is launching new iOS and Android apps called “Facebook At Work,” along with a version of Facebook at Work accessible via its main website, which will let businesses create their own social networks amongst their employees that are built to look and act like Facebook itself.

(Facebook At Work is now available for download on iOS, and we’ll update with a links to the Andrid version once it’s live, though both are usable via a limited pilot to start with. Check out Josh’s follow-up story for more screenshots, details on privacy, and analysis.)

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Employers can create separate log-ins for employees to use with their Work accounts, or users can link these up with their other profiles to access everything in one place.

The product puts Facebook head-to-head with the likes of Microsoft’s Yammer, Slack, Convo, Socialcast, and a huge number of others who are trying to tackle the “enterprise social network” space. Even LinkedIn conveniently let drop last night that it too was looking atbuilding a product for coworkers to communicate and share content (but not chat, as a LinkedIn spokesperson tells me). Not all of these have been a hit: Lars Rasmussen, the engineering director at Facebook who is heading up the project, had in his past once headed up one of the failed efforts at an enterprise social network, Google Wave.

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Facebook is positioning today’s debut as a bold first step. “We’re putting the app into the app stores so that we can begin testing the product,” Rasmussen said in an interview.

In fact, Facebook has already been running tests of the service with “a very small set” of external businesses around the world, Rasmussen says; this is the next step in that process. The aim initially will be companies with 100 or more employees. (In fact, the existing Facebook Groups product is already used by smaller organisations.)

Because of the early nature of the product, there are a lot of questions in the air. The company has yet to work out, for example, how it might price the app, whether it will monetise the service through ads, or how third-party apps will work. For now, Facebook Platform has been disabled on the Work product, meaning no ads or apps.

That may not always be the case (“It could be paid,” he says).

This beta state of affairs is in some ways ironic. Rasmussen says that Facebook has effectively been working on Work for the last 10 years, because it is based on what Facebook’s own employees have been using to communicate with each other, pass on news, plan meetings and share documents. That long-time use and Facebook’s familiarity to all of us are part of what makes Facebook confident that it can carve a place for itself in a market that already is very crowded.

“Facebook at Work’s strength is that we’ve spent ten years and incorporated feedback from 1 billion active users,” he says. “All of that is embedded now in the same product but adapted for different use cases.”

SWEDEN-FACEBOOK-DATA-CENTER-SERVERS

And it’s actually used by staff. “When Mark [Zuckerberg, the CEO] makes an announcement he just posts it on Facebook at Work,” Rasmussen says.

In fact, Facebook’s own popularity could be Facebook at Work’s biggest advantage. A lot of efforts in offices to get employees to collaborate more with each other have been stymied because employees don’t want to use the software. It’s yet another new thing to learn and doesn’t feel essential.

A lot of messaging apps (Microsoft’s Yammer being one of the notably early movers) have tried to tap into “consumerization” — or getting enterprise apps to look and feel more like consumer apps — to encourage usage. In that vein, Facebook at Work, built essentially on Facebook itself, will be arguably the closest of all to an authentic “consumer” social experience.

Here’s a run-down of some of the key points about the service, as told to me by Rasmussen:

Pricing. As noted above, no firm details on this yet but consider that most of the other apps offer tiers of pricing. By making this free, Facebook could potentially drive a lot more users to its wider network.

The fact that Rasmussen would not rule out advertising as an option down the road to me suggests that Facebook could consider tiers of its own where some businesses may pay for the product and have it ad-free, while others might take it free and get ads. Again, most enterprise apps are based on a paid model so it’s probably more likely to remain the case here too. Plus this would give Facebook another revenue stream beyond ads and app-related payments.

How it will work. Facebook wouldn’t show me a demo ahead of the launch but this is how Rasmussen describes it: “When an employer adopts Facebook at Work, they can construct it with a set of new accounts. Users can then link their work and personal accounts together so that they are logged into both at the same time.”

This would work much like Groups and public profiles do today. On mobile, you would have two mobile apps running at the same time, he adds. “Even if the employee chooses to link there is no crossover. The content stays entirely within your personal or work Facebook.”

What’s not there/integrations. You can share documents today but for now there will be no in-app editing “currently.”

Again, that leaves this open as something that will come down the line. “The set of features are identitcal to personal Facebook, but just to get it out sooner we’ve disabled the Platform so the APIs that third parties work with are not there, but we are keen to turn it back on. Hopefully in the future other enterprise tools will integrate with Facebook at Work.”

Backstory on development. Back in June I’d deduced that Facebook at Work was connected with Rasmussen’s work in London, but what I found out from sources after that report was that this was more than casual: this was his baby.

Rasmussen is not shy to bring this up himself (which I have to admit is refreshing to hear, because people do like to posture a lot in tech, don’t they).

“I can say that the challenges of making work more efficient is something that has been on my mind for a long time, and I come to it with a lot of passion and the knowledge of a failure of doing this at a different company,” he says, referring of course to Google Wave.

“I thought that maybe Facebook’s experience was what was needed. When I worked on search here it was always at the back of my mind, so later I picked back up on that idea, joined in on the conversation.”

The caveat to all this, however, is one that Facebook will have to continue to grapple with, all the more so as it continues to grow.

Canvassing opinion on a Facebook at Work product, I heard not only once people shy away from the idea, concerned with the thought of Facebook “owning” your data and the potential lack of confidentiality resulting from it.

That can be frustrating when related to pictures of you too drunk when you were in college, or frankly scary looking when you were in high school, but potentially very costly and illegal if proprietary work information is involved.

Content Marketing Trends 2015

Recommendations on the top tips, techniques and tools to reach content marketing excellence in 2015

2014 has certainly been a busy year for content marketing and something that wasn’t a surprise given the research and buzz evident at the start of the year which showed that content marketing was the highest rated marketing priority for marketers. The more recent 2015 marketing trends poll on Smart Insights showed that content marketing is still the top marketing priority for 2015.

But as the year has gone on, what have we really learnt about content marketing and the lessons we need to follow in order to execute this particular area of digital marketing effectively?

In this post I’ve grouped together some key content marketing themes from 2014 and links to recommended best practice articles and resources from Smart Insights and other sites.

Key areas of focus

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Understanding content marketing

Before embarking on content marketing for your business, it’s worth really exploring what content marketing really entails and the benefits it can drive. As with any type of marketing activity, there will be an opportunity cost between one approach and another.

Neil Patel’s Advanced Guide to Content Marketing is a detailed, in-depth yet easy to follow tutorial covering content marketing across ten chapters, ranging from building a strong foundation to advice on how to plan and execute content marketing effectively.

Read: The Quicksprout guide to Advanced Content Marketing

Content strategy

Everything should start with a clear vision and strategy. Content plays a key role in nearly all digital marketing activity – paid, owned and earned media and so a well-defined content strategy will give you the platform and framework from which you can begin to create and distribute content.

Read: Smart Insights on Content Marketing Strategy

Altimeter content capability

Organising for content marketing

Once you have an idea about how you’ll ideally be using content marketing for business, the next step is to consider the key elements that lead to successful content marketing. An understanding of how format, platform, content type and metrics come together will help you with the content strategy and planning processes.

Econsultancy’s Periodic Table of Content Marketing provides a simple yet effective visualisation of the many constituent parts that make for successful content marketing:

econsultancy the_perdiodic_table_of_content_marketing-blog-full

Content planning

Once a strategy has been devised, the next step is the plan. Developing a plan is crucial to the future success of your content marketing efforts. Research suggests that the majority of businesses don’t have a content marketing plan so it’s therefore more important than ever to gain an advantage by developing one of your own by following a clear process:

  • Review current use of content marketing
  • Define content marketing objectives and KPIs
  • Conduct a content Gap analysis
  • Create a content plan timeline

Competitor analysis

Part of the content marketing planning process will involve the benchmarking of your efforts against those of your key competitors.

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This is an important part of the process as it enables you to not only evaluate the performance of your competitors’ efforts but also build a picture of the type of content activity, strategies and tactics that are working for others in your industry.

Read: Comparing content marketing competitor tools

Content creation

The content creation process is where the real fun begins – although it’s by no means a simple process. To create truly compelling, ‘killer’ content, you need to blend art with science and become a storyteller to hook your audience.
Storyboarding is a great way to set out a structure for content that can be used individually or as part of a series.

Some of the key ingredients to help you storyboard ideas include:

  • 1. Discover your ideal audience
  • 2. Inform your hunch
  • 3. Compile
  • 4. Create a narrative
  • 5. Find the hook

Read: Copyblogger Master Story Telling

Tools and techniques

There is a plethora of tools and techniques available to manage your content marketing efforts. The key is to choose and select the tool (or range of tools) that you’ll really need based on what you’ll be measuring and tracking (which should be outlined upfront in your digital marketing/ content strategy).

In September, Dave Chaffey outlined ten key digital marketing technologies to use in 2015, including those that will assist with:

  • Content distribution
  • Content curation
  • Integrating SEO, social media and content
  • Ecommerce and digital channel sales optimisation
  • Analytics

Read: Digital Marketing Technologies for 2015

Content distribution/promotion

There are a multitude of different paid, owned and earned media opportunities to promote and/or distribute content.

Smart Insights’ new Content Distribution Matrix helps marketers to review the best options for promoting content by identifying the most effective means of distributing their content in generating site visits, leads or sales compared to the level of investment.

Content Distribution Matrix large

To use The Content Distribution Matrix, there are three steps to follow:

  • Step 1. Mark up the current or past use of media for content distribution
  • Step 2. Review promotion gap against competitor or sector use of content distribution techniques
  • Step 3. Select and prioritise new methods of content promotion

Read: Content Marketing Promotion Matrix

Integrating content with SEO

Content marketing and SEO are very closely entwined, so much so that some would even argue that a large part of SEO and content marketing overlap. Nevertheless, content marketing and SEO are often managed separately and as a result you should consider the organic search benefits great content can bring if executed correctly.

As search engines have continued to refine their algorithms and methodologies, the practice of SEO has also changed. There are a lot of out-dated techniques and myths that should be considered when optimising your content for search engines. Be aware of these to ensure you make the most of what you have from an SEO perspective.

Read: Smart Insights integrating SEO and content marketing and Hubspot’s excellent 17 SEO myths to leave behind in 2015.

Analysis

As outlined in the strategy and planning sections above, the goals and objectives behind your content marketing activity should be stated early on in the process as knowing upfront why and how you’ll be using content marketing will give you focus.

In his post from January this year, Danyl Bosomworth provided a table that breaks content marketing KPIs into three clear groups:

danylpostmanagereachactonvertengageDanyl also provided five questions to help set, manage and review your content marketing effectiveness and to ensure that you use actionable metrics:

  • Q1. Which keyphrases related to content are most effective at driving visits and outcomes?
  • Q2. Which referring partner sites or social networks have helped with link generation and measurement (for SEO) and the driving of traffic, referenced above as a part of SMO
  • Q3. How does content viewed on click-paths or journeys affect marketing outcomes
  • Q4. Are we increasing the % of engaged users?
  • Q5. What are the satisfaction ratings for our content?

Read: Smart Insights Measuring content marketing and Content Marketing ROI guide

Updates

Check out our 2 new guides and view our updated contact info.

https://noisz.wordpress.com/guide-to-social-media/facebook-guide/

https://noisz.wordpress.com/business/how-to-start-a-barclub/

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