Brad Smith is the founder of Fixcourse.com, a lead generation agency for small businesses. He’s a digital marketing consultant, who’s worked with clients in a variety of industries.. Today he provides us with insight as to how a small business can compete effectively with great content...
1. How different is small business marketing online vs. online marketing for corporations?
The most obvious difference is resources (more money to invest/spend and more people to help out).
But the other thing is that successful companies in online marketing understand how to systematically scale and grow their businesses.
They know what the Cost of Customer Acquisition is, and the Lifetime Value of a Customer. So they know how much they can spend on paid channels, and how to optimize conversions and testing to improve.
They have a long-term strategy set in place, and the individual tactics they use or experiment with follow that strategy.
Smaller companies, or less successful corporations spend too much time obsessing over tactical issues (that usually don’t have a huge influence), and may lose sight of their goals because they don’t/can’t quantify their effort.
2. How can the small business stand out online?
Have a voice (personality): I was once at a conference, and one of the panelists was in charge of PR for a large multinational. She literally had a list of “social media responses” that her legal team blessed. She (and her team) weren’t allowed to deviate from that.
That is the exact opposite of how social media works. No one will feel passionate about a brand that hides behind a list of standard responses.
So you can be more human, and use speed to your advantage.
Stand for something: SImon Sinek has a great TED talk about how people buy “why you do it”. Almost every product or service you can sell today is a commodity. So what you need to realize is that people don’t buy your “product” or “service”, they’re buying a solution.
So Simon’s talk hits this point home and gives you pointers on how your business can stand for something.
Have enemies: If your business is going to stand for something, then there needs to be examples (whether it’s other companies or ways of doing something) that you don’t agree with. You’re not trying to market to every single potential customers. You’re trying to market to customers that buy into your worldview.
So these customers will respond when you get them emotionally engaged and committed to your cause - not the other persons.
3. What is content marketing in your eyes?
Content marketing is the process of creating content for the purpose of increasing awareness, attention and engagement around your brand.
It can help companies create their own media marketing asset - which gives them the ability to build an audience and market directly to that audience over time.
The result is that you’re able to acquire customers for much less, and keep them around longer (all while decreasing your costs related to advertising, etc)
4. Which forms of content marketing are effective for small businesses?
5. What are the 3 most important criteria that a business owner must look out for in creating a content strategy?
6. With all the talk about social media (Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest), should I have a blog or just use social media instead?
Your blog, hands down!
Why should a business (or any person interested in making money online) get involved in social media / blogging in the first place?
The answer is to get attention. (That’s why blogging is like a media marketing asset). You want to provide value (by doing these things) in exchange for their attention.
So the most valuable thing to an online marketer needs to be their audience’s attention (and data).
When you’re on other social networks, you don’t have control or ownership over your customer’s information. If your company page violates Facebook Guidelines (which is really easy to do), then you’ve just lost all that data and valuable information.
Is there a great example of a small business using content marketing and the web to stand out and increase sales?
The best (and most well known) that come to mind are Copyblogger, SEOmoz, and HubSpot.
They’re all software companies that use content marketing as a way to get customers.
It helps them reach new customers, but it also helps them keep existing customers around longer (so they buy more products, or buy more frequently).
7. If you believe having a blog is important, what are your top 3 words of advice on how a small business can leverage it today?
8. What advice do you have for the small business owner who has trouble coming up with engaging content?
I just wrote a post about this.
9. What are the biggest mistakes that a small business owner could make in online marketing?
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Benny Hsu is the founder of the Get Busy Living Blog and author of the Get a life that doesn't suck ebook. He writes a great blog on personal development and how you can achieve your life goals. We interviewed him on how you can get started in blogging and live a balanced life...
1. Who is Benny Hsu?
I'm 34 years old and I live in Florida. I have a regular job, but I have my passion in making iPhone apps and in blogging.
2. What is your blog about? How did you start it?
My blog is about helping people bring out the best in them to live a better life. I started it in the beginning of 2011, but I actually had the domain for almost three years. I just didn't know what to write about so that's why I didn't start a blog earlier. Finally I found a topic, personal development, that I really wanted to talk about and knew I would be interested in it to write for a long time.
3. When did you realize you made it as a blogger?
Well I don't think I've made it as a blogger yet (still shooting for the top), but I do remember my first post that went viral for me. It was a list post about 40 bloggers that were doing great things online. I got so many comments and retweets from it. Brought me a lot of recognition and new readers.
Since then I would say being asked for an interview makes me realize I've done something right with blogging.
4. How does your blogging career differ from your previous careers - especially in terms of life satisfaction?
It's much more satisfying. I love it. I could spend all day reading about blogging and working on my blog. It allows me to be creative which I love. I get to meet people all over the world. I get to inspire people and hear from people how much I've helped them. It's really rewarding.
5. What were your challenges in starting the blog and how did you overcome them?
Getting readers was a big challenge. We always want more readers. We don't just want ten visitors a day. I overcame it by constantly commenting on other blogs. I would share other great posts. I would focus on writing content worth sharing. It wasn't an overnight success. I had to do everything a little at a time.
6. How has your success as a blogger affected other aspects of your life?
It's given me more confidence. It's opened more opportunities that I would have never had before. I've been able to meet some amazing people.
7. How did you grow and market your blog?
I did it one step at a time. I did a lot of commenting on other blogs. It wasn't a quick "Great post" comment, but I took the time to really read their post and leave a good comment. I created a Facebook page and slowly got followers. Now Facebook is one of my top sources of traffic. I created a free ebook to give away and that's helped with gaining new readers. I love Twitter so I use that to share any new post.
8. What are the most effective revenue generators for your blog?
Right now my biggest source of revenue is affiliate marketing. I'll promote products I trust to my readers and make a commission from them.
9. Blogging takes a lot of work - how do you balance your life?
I try to focus on only blogging when I have time. I try to not let other distractions bother me when I'm blogging.
10. What would be the best advice for people new to blogging?
Just get started. Don't wait to be perfect before you start. Every A list blogger started as a beginner. Start now and focus on learning as you go. It's much better that way.
11. What is your vision - where do you see yourself in the future?
I see myself as having a media empire. I love being an entrepreneur. I'd love to be in video, writing, speaking, and creating products. I'd share my experience and knowledge with others to help them perform at a higher level and make more money.