When I interviewed for my first content marketing job (nine years ago), my soon-to-be boss warned me, “You won’t be writing poetry.”
Actually, I was pretty excited to be not writing poetry. Despite my frustrated literary ambitions, over the years, I’ve come to realize that the same qualities that make me a bad poet also make me a good business writer. I express the idea simply, directly. I don’t look for complex metaphors or novel turns of phrase. I focus on the goal of the message, not its beauty.
I recently saw a play that was really a bunch of small plays. (It’s called Trivial Disasters, if you’re interested.) One of them was about a celebrated poet who was commissioned to write public safety messages for hoardings, which were then discarded by petty bureaucrats for more straightforward, somewhat hilarious messages (like a pun on “helmet” and “hell”). As a reader, I would find this appalling (and do often laugh or feel horrified at badly worded public safety messages. If you’re the target audience, however, you’re more likely to read and remember the pithy, inelegant “hell met” message than the beautiful poem.
Yet I see way too much business communication that is ridden with cliches and nearly incomprehensible turns of phrase. Too much that takes so long saying what it wants to say that it loses the audience. Whether it’s your website or a blog post or press release, you really can’t afford to do this. One good thing about social media is it’s training us all to say something in fewer words.
So how do you do it? Writing clearly isn’t easy, especially for most of us educated in a school system that seemed to reward more by the length of an answer than its accuracy. Here are some tricks I follow:
The new year has been here for a while already, but for some of us, the beginning of the Indian financial year in April is when new plans get in place. So if you’re still working on your content marketing plan for the year, these questions might help!
Why 25 questions? I didn’t start out to make 25. My brief was to write about how to create a content marketing plan. My approach to these things is always to start with the information I need, the questions that need to be answered before you can even start planning. I thought about the blog post for two weeks, but once I started writing down the list of questions, it came together very quickly.
I have also found this, in the past, a useful exercise in figuring out what I want to achieve:
Make a ‘dream plan’. What would you accomplish in an ideal world where you have all the resources you want, including an unlimited budget?
Since we aren’t doing a weekly marketing links round-up anymore, I’m going to try and put together interesting marketing stuff I find once in a while (as you can see from the title, I’m shooting for once a month).
Great infographics have high information density. Unfortunately, most infographics these days are really just charts, but with more drawing on them. The best infographics convey a lot of information in a lot less space than it would take to write about the topic or have regular graphs of the data.
Before you can sell a product or service, you need to sell a world view… Your world view is a compelling interpretation of the challenges and opportunities that your buyers face. It describes their past, present and future in a way that leads inevitably to your solution. Your world view is the environment in which your marketing lives. Everything you do and say must be consistent with it. Your world view has to be built on reality. It’s a story that makes sense.
We wanted to build a product that would help small businesses do better marketing, to build a great small business, to help you get more out of your marketing.
We haven’t seen a way forward for a while. The decision to quit was a difficult one, but we decided to choose our time rather than wait until we had no way out and would have to stop anyway.
Nilesh and I have both moved to Mumbai and started new jobs, still doing things they are interested in (project management and marketing, respectively). Virendra is at engineering school and continues to build apps in his free time.
This year of entrepreneurship has taught us so much. We are glad we took the plunge, that we put in everything into something we believed in, that we tested our limits. We met some wonderful people and learned more about ourselves.
We want to thank you, so very much, for supporting us, for believing in us. We wish we could have helped you more, but we can’t support Markitty anymore and will close down all emails from the app. We will still keep the app up for another month, so you can continue to use it if you like. We will try to keep blogging here once in a while, because we love this space and don’t want to leave it.
I’ve always known I’m an introvert. But it wasn’t until I read Susan Cain’s Quietthat I realized how much work and cultural practices are built around extroversion. Quiet helped me figure out how to manage my work better to leverage my strengths as an introvert instead of trying to work around my weaknesses. If you are an introvert, this might help you too.
1. Find your optimal level of stimulation
Cain posits that introversion is about sensitiveness to stimuli, which made perfect sense to me. We introverts like to feel in control, we find it hard to adapt to disruptive experiences: strange places, strange people, noise. The key, I’ve learnt, is to first figure out what’s the best level of stimulation that makes you most productive.
Are you still wondering why everyone is talking about Hummingbird suddenly? Read on and these links will answer all your questions.
What is Hummingbird?
Hummingbird is the name of Google’s new search algorithm. Google claims it will provide better search results. Hummingbird is one of the biggest updates ever to how Google interprets user’s search queries and how it evaluates indexed webpages for a better match. Search Engine Land has a nice FAQ post that will give you more details. If you prefer a more visual approach, try this infographic.
“The biggest improvements involve longer search queries. Rather than just examining each individual word in a search, Google is now examining the searcher’s query as a whole and processing the meaning behind it.”
What will be the impact of Hummingbird on my site’s SEO?
Exact details are yet unclear and Google likes to keep people guessing when it comes to search algorithams. But Don Dodds has given a good summary of what is known as of now.
“Site owners that rely on the provision of high-quality content, that steer clear of black hat techniques, and that look to build multiple traffic streams using a universal marketing approach are those that will enjoy better long term results.”
Not much has really changed if you are a small business and are relying on good content, social referrals and customer feedback. HubSpot summarizes important factors nicely in their post.
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Jennifer Lewis voyaged into entrepreneurship with her own food business, and now helps other food businesses become successful. Her site, smallfoodbiz.com, has lots of resources and advice for artisan food entrepreneurs. She tells us about the specific challenges of running a small food business, her favorite social media platform, and more.
My questions are in bold.
How is starting a food business different from other forms of entrepreneurship? What peculiar challenges does a small food business-owner face?
People tend to come into the food world because they’re driven by passion for the items they make but they can face an uphill battle getting their products to market because of the numerous regulations that are specific to the food industry. This can be anything from health code permits to labeling regulations. It’s a complex world and one that’s very different from other types of entrepreneurial ventures.
Twitter announced its new scheduling feature yesterday. This has been expected for a while now, more so because of Twitter’s IPO and the need to project Twitter as a sophisticated advertising platform. Twitter’s official announcement says:
Starting today, all marketers using Twitter’s Ad Products can schedule organic or Promoted Tweets for specific dates and times up to a year in advance. These can be coordinated to go live with new or existing Promoted Tweet campaigns to enable you to plan your real-time campaigns at your convenience.
Twitter’s focus on advertising becomes obvious when you see that scheduling option is implemented as part of ads.twitter.com and not in the core twitter.com UI. But don’t worry, you can schedule tweets even if you are not advertising on Twitter. Here’s how:
One thing most marketers and business-owners want to know is how their marketing is doing over time. Most of us have a pretty good idea of how many Facebook likes we have today, but forget how many we had last month or the month before.
Here’s where Markitty takes your data from Facebook Insights and gives it to you in a more useful form: apart from showing you your total page likes every day for the last three weeks, we also show your likes per month for the last three months. So you can see your fan base growing over time.
Managing your brand’s presence on so many different social channels can be a pain, and one of the annoying aspects of it is getting the right cover photos for each one. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ — all have different guidelines for what the cover photo size should be.
Here is a list of official and unofficial references that will give you cover and profile picture specification for all social networks:
The cover photo of your Facebook page is very important: not only is it featured on your page, it is also prominently displayed in the user’s newsfeed when your page is recommended (paid or otherwise) by Facebook. Facebook’s official guidelines give very little detail but this page covers all you need to know.
Have you got your Twitter Analytics yet? I’m pleased we finally get some stats on Twitter (but you still need to create an ad account, even if you don’t run the ads). But it seems like too little way too late, especially with all the tools that provide Twitter stats already.
If you have already created a Twitter ads account, go to analytics.twitter.com. Click on Analytics on the top menu.
You get three pages: Timeline activity, Followers, and Websites.
First, you get this graph that shows your mentions, follows, and unfollows. That’s great, except… the graph is frustratingly difficult to read and make sense of. Continue reading →
Think you don’t have enough time for Twitter? If you have 15 minutes in the day, you can do this.
Day 1: Sign up and create your profile
Choose a username that is as close to your name or your business name as possible and is easy to remember. For example, we didn’t get “markitty,” so we got “markittyapp”.
Make your profile description interesting and snappy. Don’t just copy your boilerplate company description. Make it clear what your business is about or what you stand for; people should be able to look at this and figure out what you tweet about and whether to follow you.
Specific marketing tips and insights on the product, general marketing advice on the blog. Managed by @Unmana and @NileshBhojani.
The day many SEO professionals hoped would never come, but feared eventually would, apparently has arrived today. It appears that Google has cut off keyword data altogether.
Nearly two years after making one of the biggest changes to secure search that resulted in a steady rise in “(not provided)” data, Google has switched all searches over to encrypted searches using HTTPS. This means no more keyword data will be passed to site owners.
Why does this matter?Search terms are a great measure of user intent, and we won’t have that anymore. We’ll still see how many visits we’re getting through Google search, but not what those visitors were searching for. So it’s going to be difficult, to put it mildly, to optimize your pages for search if you don’t know what terms you’re ranking for. We’ll all be left shooting in the dark.
So what do we do?Ruud Hein explains five ways to get around this, including keyword data from other search engines and using Google Webmaster Tools.
Edited to add this excellent post that went up after I published this: Neil Patel explains how this move by Google might actually make you a better marketer. He also provides some great tips for managing the change.
Ultimately, none of these other tools will make up for the visibility we’re losing with this change, but we’ve got to work with what we have. The silver lining I see is maybe we’ll stop obsessing over keyword rankings and search results and algorithm changes and focus instead on delivering the best content for our audience.
Tom Watson helps cleaning businesses become successful. That’s right. His books and services are aimed at helping cleaning businesses become more effective, and of course, marketing is a part of this. Let’s ask him about online marketing for cleaning businesses.
My questions and comments are in bold.
So how is marketing for cleaning businesses different? (Or is it?)
I also use Rescue Time to check up on my productivity (since Bhaskar recommended it), and of course, email (I write myself notes on things I need to remember) and Google Calendar. I have also found Streak useful to keep track of emails I need to follow up on. I’ve used Remember the Milk and Trello as well, but with less success.
And if you’re feeling stressed out about your productivity levels, Amber Naslund’s post might help you gain perspective.
A colleague asked me last week about advice for promotional products companies on blogging. Let’s look at how promotional products businesses use their blogs.
A Google search on [promotional products blog] gets us this. Good job, Inkhead! Especially as two of the other top search results are from ASI (a promo products industry association whose page with links to industry blogs shows up) and an industry magazine.
I do another quick search for recently updated blogs and we’re good to go.
If you have spent much time on the internet lately, especially on social media, you’re aware that the noise is increasing. It’s more and more difficult to find relevant messages because of all the content that is created. (And I know, we’re part of the problem.)
The platform shift from conversation to broadcast is a symptom of what marketers measure.
They measure actions (tweets, retweets, link clicks), which discourages dialogue. It discourages it because conversations are not valued on the action scale. It discourages it because the more organic conversations take place, the more marketers have to drown them out with frequency. And it discourages it because scalable actions require automation, which means the marketer isn’t participating.
Scheduling Your Posts for When Your Fans Are Online
The Poststab on your Facebook Insights has a section called When Your Fans Are Online.This tells you how many of your fans are on Facebook on each day of the week and different times of the day. Use this to time your posts for when most of your fans are active.