In this process of getting specific with your target, you get to treat these people with more attention and care than you would an aimless, faceless group. I think of it like friendship vs acquaintance.
Today, there’s a lot of attention on women. We’re in the spotlight. For phenomenal reasons and terrible reasons - terrible reasons as related to terrible things we’ve endured, not necessarily caused. The news and topics can be defeating. Some days. I feel defeated.
I feel like this is it. Our time.
I was raised by a feminist. I am a feminist. And I am a business owner. And I feel there is really not a better time to be both a woman and a business owner. We are being heard, we are collectively using our voice and we are succeeding. There are drawbacks. Today, note the date, might be one of those days of drawbacks. I personally decided to not listen to the news this morning while I work so I can be more productive. I’ll have to learn later what the Senate decides.
As for being a powerful woman and a powerful business owner, take some notes, here. Forbes.com supplies some solid tips, that in my years of working in sales, marketing, business strategy and running my own business (s) ring v true to me.
First, I find this is very common (I’m guilty):
“Women entrepreneurs aren't staying stuck at $100,000 to $600,000 because they aren't smart, capable or hard-working,” says Pimsleur. “It's usually that they don't have the right mindset or strategy, don't know how to scale up or even what the scalable part of their business is. Most women are what I call ‘octopreneurs,’ meaning one person trying to do eight jobs.” - Julia Pimsleur, founder of Little Pim (raised $5.9 million in funding).
But here’s her advice, which upon reading, compelled me to write this post and share the article (see article link at end)
THINK ABOUT THIS: What are the high-margin products or services you sell?
What can you sell more of without massively increasing staff or overhead costs?
If you’re running a service company, is it possible to productize your services? (If you’re not familiar with this term, productizing means selling your services as a product. For instance, if you design web sites, you might offer two to three different web site packages, named just as a product would be. Some entrepreneurs are able to sell their services for higher prices and earn higher margins this way, thus making their businesses more scalable than if they charged retainer fees or by the hour)
Do you need to run your company in a new way? Companies that make over $1 million may use different systems and strategies than you do now.
Do you need to run your company in a new way? Companies that make over $1 million may use different systems and strategies than you do now.
I can’t help but personally observe that as women we’re often afraid to be strategic or opportunistic. These traits can be looked down upon as greedy or selfish or overbearing. All traits that when you stop to think about it, are admired and revered in many men.
I think this is changing. I’ve always been an opportunist because I love getting my way and I love getting what I want. But I’m kind, caring and deeply empathetic. Here, lies the super power of women. We can be all of it. We can be the powerful, the successful and the grounded and the caring. All at once.
Do it, own it, be it, live it, love it. This is our time.
A quick blurb about NPR’s Marketplace, because currently it catches my attention. Maybe because I hear a woman talk about business with such authority?
This morning’s piece was about that huge industry we rarely think about and when we do don’t really care to spend more than a very moments. Insurance. Insurance is not interesting. But Trust is interesting. And trust is what what an ‘industry disruptor’ trustfully called, Lemonade is offering their customers.
Yes, they’re a for profit model - obviously, in the insurance industry - but they claim to give ‘leftover’ money in ‘good years’ (ie big money making years) to charity. The recent haul was around $160k. That’s pretty good. Curious what they made in profits before donating…
But this blurb isn’t about cynicism. It’s about value propositions, and one of the better propositions that any company or individual who is selling anything to anyone can offer. Trust. Trust. Trust (I worked in media sales i.e advertising for about 7 years. I saw a lot of what distrust looks like and it’s way less cute than my sweet dog).
Figuring out how to build trust with your audience is another conversation altogether.
'Ephemeral Marketing' aka 'Stories' is by now a tool that most users know on Instagram. I've always been adverse to Snap Chat, and Facebook still hasn't really grabbed me, but Instagram had me from day 1.
And when stories came out, I have to say, I was pretty captivated. And as a consumer, and a self-titled consumer analyst, I've been watching companies weave their way into the Stories I personally watch, right along side the hair-stories, or dog-stories, or travel-stories of my friends.
And I really love making Stories :)
NPR's Marketplace, in case you missed it, did a brief piece on the 'Stories' tool yesterday. They interviewed a few people with interesting points:
"Branded stories appeal to users who are watching family and friend updates along side [the brand story]." - Katie Talbot, author, content marketer, entrepreneur.
"I think [stories are] the future of content marketing...
"According to the recent Facebook Conference, more people are using Instagram stories than posting on the grid itself...[Users] like stories because they’re true and they’re authentic."
And this: The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) theory, which may be a cheap tactic to capitalize on people's inherent fear-nerve, but that's another 'story':
"Platforms [like Stories] that provide ephemerality - a sense of scarcity - get people to move. Hence flash sales...When you know that door is closing you feel a sense of loss aversion so you do what you can to avoid that.
Same with stories. If you miss it, you're disconnected, you're not a part of the network - from an anthropological perspective, your survival is low." - Marcus Collins, at Doner Ad Agency
And if that's not enough, about some figures:
They are currently an estimated 400 million daily users on Instagram stories.
100 million brands are creating stories.
And on average, companies are reportedly allocating 8% of their marketing budget to Stories.
- If you want a most basic Story how-to-tutorial, give Alex Tooby’s a try. She’s Canadian, so you can trust her :)
The first memory I have of hearing a dial-up modem reaches back to the age of about 5 or 6 years old.
I used America Online and probably chatted with too many people, was too young for exposure of that sort, and had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Precursor: I'm not a techie, not a coder, but I've always found consumer behavior & marketing fascinating.
When SEO became a thing many years ago, I understood it in concept - I got that it matters and still does, but I didn't understand what was happening behind the scenes.
Therefore I found the topic too ambiguous to dive deeper.
Since, and through reading, research, various info osmosis, I get SEO. But still, it can remain daunting.
In my line of work, I listen to a lot of podcasts about the topics that relate to marketing. And I'm picky. I don't love everything I hear.
So what I'm about to share, I share because I've filtered out much of the repetitive, irrelevant, maybe even uninventive information.
And focus instead on information that works.
Well, that's why when I listened to a podcast today (link at end of article) with Amy Porterfield and Neil Patel, I was taking notes through the whole thing and even listened twice.
Amy is the sweetest and Neil is not only sincere but incredibly credible.
While Amy is a marketing maven, she relies on paid advertising for her online business.
Neil suggests, why not both?
“It’s not [paid advertising OR SEO]. You need to optimize your business for total profitability."
“Warning,” he says, "with SEO you won’t see results right away. It's long and hard and why most people don’t do it. And SEO simply does not ‘convert’ as well as paid advertising.”
He goes on to add, “...the majority of people don’t click on paid ads, Google is worth around $7hundred billion+.
And $80 million or $80 billion of that is from PAID AD REVENUE."
This is important:
"Hence why organic results are worth so much <because they are competing with paid advertising>. Google is not going to make it easy to have organic results otherwise companies wouldn’t spend money on advertising.”
You see? SEO matters because the engines controlling the results are designed to push you into two options:
2) learn SEO for your website.
If you're still with me it's because I'm not the first person to tell you SEO matters, and you're waiting for the plan that Amy and Nate shared in their v. long podcast. (Sure, you can listen, but you can also use my notes, below. The sharing of these notes is in fact for you.)
Again, Amy doesn't really rely much on SEO.
So this plan is from Neil.
He offers a 3 month plan. Yes, yes. SEO results take a long time! And then the plan takes management.
But don't spend more than 10 hrs/wk on this stuff. If you are, Neil says something's up.
MONTH 1 - Check out your online competition. Do your homework.
Gather, say 5 URLs of your competition and then try these tools:
UberSuggest - Free. Type in keywords of your ‘industry space.’ In return, the engine will give suggestions to keywords in your ‘space’ and provide the cost per click to use those words in paid advertising.
If a keyword has a high cost per click...it’s worth more! If you’re getting clicks for pennies on the dollar, you're probably not going to get many results because the use of those words don’t generate results.
Semrush.com - Costs money. But here, you can type in your own URL and results will show your closest competitors who are selling the exact same service as you. Will also show the keywords your competitors are ranking for (read: show what keywords your competitors are using to get results) and how many visitors they‘re getting. If your competition is successful, their keywords could be valuable.
Ahrefs.com - Costs some money. Provides another version of the options, above.
Month 1 Takeaways:
Competition (should be low), cost per click (should be high) and search volume (this means a lot of traffic and search volume should be high).
Have at least 10-20 keywords, to start, then expand into hundreds if not thousands of keywords as you master SEO.
Spend a few hrs a week on SEO. Much more is not realistic.
How to keep organized: these tools, mentioned above, have their own dashboards. They update as the competitors update. You don’t have to keep doing the research over again, or refreshing.
MONTH 2 - How to make great content for SEO.
First, Analyze Your Current Content
For Wordpress users, “Yoast SEO” plugin is free and basically optimizes your content and images for keywords.
REMEMBER: Google reads source code (and your written words), not images.
So we have to make our websites compatible with Google. Google needs to crawl the site in order to gather your info and rank you in search results.
You won’t rank high in search results if Google can’t crawl your site. If you're a Squarespace user, a tool for implementing keywords is at the bottom of this post. This step is critical. So be patient.
Also, if you haven't already, you must, must sign up for Google Search Console. It's free. And it breaks down how your site is performing with keywords. Google Analytics won’t show which keywords are driving your traffic. Console showcases that data. (Neil suggests getting this installed during month 1.)
Creating new content.
Start off with just one blog post per week. Video does not rank as well on Google. Audio content is good for engagement but still does not rank as well as words.
FYI, Google knows if your content is user-generated (your audience is leaving a comment, for ex) or if that content i's a blog, or if you have ‘show notes’ - notes posted after audio or video on the audio or video page. And Google likes blog posts a lot. “Show notes” will not help with SEO.
Google is looking at engagement which tends to arise via blog posts.
And remember, you can always review Semrush to see which of your articles are performing on the world wide web.
IN CREATING CONTENT, KEEP THESE TIPS IN MIND:
Content in conversational tones does better. “You and I.” Create a conversation with your text versus "a teacher talking at you." This is good for engagement. Which is good for Google's tools.
Articles which show up on pg 1 of Google tend to have 2500 words, versus only 500 words. Make sure your content is thorough.
Use subheadings. Think of it as your book. Title of book, plus subheadings as chapters.
Keep your paragraph short 5-6 lines as rule of thumb
Use images or video and audio clips for engagement
Always wrap up the post with a conclusion, so if people scroll down first before reading, they may like the end and scroll back up to actually read from the beginning.
MONTH 3 - Building your online network via links and sharing.
A site ranked at the top of a search result is based on keywords and which site has the most 'votes'. Voting for sites happens in 2 ways:
1) A vote is a link to your site. The origin of the link also counts. A more powerful origin site will help your vote, more. Think RELEVANT origin site. Radiohead.com vs the casual resume-site of your best friend.
2) Another vote is social share. Here, think AUTHORITY links. Shares from the most authoritative links in your field. (If Amy Porterfield shared one of my links, I’d be getting a GREAT vote, in Google’s eyes.
Try: Ahrefs.com - you can enter in your competitor URLs and receive information about every single person and site which linked to that URL.
Neil's tip: Take that list and export it and find a contact person for each of the sites. Then email each contact and ask if they'll link to your content. Of course, this takes some time and savvy, but it is, in fact, an option... And you can get a Virtual Assistant to help with a lot of this.
Buzzsumo - put in keywords and URLs of your competitor’s article, and results will show how many social shares the article has, plus each person who shared that article. Neil's Tip: you can reach out to those “sharers” and ask that they share your content, as well (apparently, some people are willing to do this).
Also with Buzzsumo, you can type in keywords and the results will tell you all the popular articles based on a keyword subject matter. Plus, you can see what people love and spot patterns and trends to help guide your ideas. I happen to like this one option. V. helpful.
Not enough money, not enough time. The scarcity model, when it comes to running your creative enterprise, and your life, is over.
If you haven't already noticed, you can get a LOT online, for free. This blog post is not about accumulating free stuff, but points out and asks why much of our consumer market has veered in two directions: incredibly, exorbitantly expensive, or basically free.
A dear friend passed along a killer article about happiness, via the Atlantic. Absolutely worth a read. I "don't have enough time" these days to read long articles, but I made time for this one and it was worth it.
The summarized point: Scarcity isn't just a term in economics. It's also a mindset. And lately, a number of the most successful companies and industries in the world gauge their collective success on two things: is the creative process enjoyable? And is my team passionate about their work.
These two values are the exact opposite of scarcity. They speak to opportunity, freedom of choice, and an increased value for good work (people's work gets better when they enjoy their work, and more likely than not, they master that work as a result = increased value), and giving away information with the objective to help others, also increases (back to point about our economy's fork in the road).
I'm writing about this not because I had an 'ah ha' moment but rather because I have long shared this perspective: there's plenty of everything (but don't waste), and do what makes you happy. Always. Period.
I'll also link these ideas to self promotion and the artist conundrum: self promotion is scary, money might be bad - or is it good?, I'm not good enough, or I'm so good that I don't need to promote. As a creative person, you have an infinite affinity to make. And as a creative person, you have an affinity to make because you feel something as a result. Mostly, you feel good. Self promotion and 'marketing' your work might feel in conflict with the euphoria, or ecstatic state.
But it doesn't have to. Let your experience of happiness move into the promotional space. Share that with the rest of the world. You don't need to give away what you do, and you don't need to extremely price it.
But you must share work and it's happiness. You must get rid of this idea that promotion is bad - or that you don't have enough time, or enough resources, or enough anything. That model is dead.
When I'm' moved by another person's idea, I grab tight and don't let go. This 'grabbing' can simply mean I use the idea in my own daily life, share it with others or think of it often - referring to as a way to improve my habits, lifestyle or work.
Enter Marie Kondo and her 'Spark Joy' concept.
Perhaps you've heard of it. Introduced in Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Habit of Tidying Up. I learned it and grabbed tight. The premise is simple: eliminate that which does not 'spark joy', keep or bring in that which does.
I use this concept frequently. And so do millions of others around the world.
Fast forward to now and Kondo is brilliantly evolving her concept from idea via book, to a product we can all buy with her new company KonMari. She's designed and selling beautiful, simple, elegant containers to help you organize your life and spark more joy.
Whether or not we need to buy more stuff when the idea here is to eliminate stuff, is another conversation. The point is that this woman is building on a successful concept, extending what already works. This is business growth strategy 101, but it's also marketing.
You can read more about her wild success, prodigal-like abilities, and Netflix series, at Fastcompany.com.
I've worked in sales. Not the car sales type gig, but the media sales type gig. At times, this position was as lowly, petty, predatory, and even humiliating as one who's never done sales, can imagine. Then there were other sales roles (I got to be a sales 'director' at one point :)), which I found satisfying, engaging and confidence-building. These were better.
Fast forward to now, and in the last two weeks I've had not only been approached by my previous employer for a role in sales but by another media agency, today.
And it felt terrible. The offer was introduced vaguely in an email. The writer is someone I've known in the field for a few years and I think we've grown to respect one another. In writing, she didn't initially state the type of job, just suggested I might be interested in some work.
Then I made an assumption. I assumed she'd done a little digging. At least looked at my profiles online; seen I was fully engaged with my current work. I think so far my content demonstrates that I'm not only happy but that I'm employed in marketing.
In my head I began creating all types of scenarios: her media company could contract with me. We would work out a retainer deal. I'd get to execute my big ideas with their big clients. I'd add so much and in turn learn and grow!
Aw, so sweet.
Then. We met. For a whopping 20 minutes. She asked about my work. I told her. She asked if I was happy. I responded with a resounding yes. She frowned in disappointment and the meeting fell flat. Sure, I pitched my latest work. My skill set. Delivered what I love doing and why.
And then she asked me why I don't want to be in sales anymore.
And let's be clear. I use sales almost every day. I used sales with my neighbor as we exchanged plants. I use sales with my landlord to get off-street parking. I use sales every single time I log on to social media and tell my followers what I'm up to.
I actually really like sales.
So I told her: To be honest, there are so many other things that...I'm better at...that make me happy. At the end of the say, I was never proud to say I was in sales.
She nodded. Gave me a tour of their new office.
Maybe she'll keep me in mind. Maybe. I left and felt defeated because the wild scenarios in my head (albeit, totally realistic) couldn't have been further from her goals.
So I came home and debated a run. But a client call pulled me back into work-mode and suddenly I was doing research again and came across this: two of my favorite business leaders, sharing an interview.
Seth Godin explains to Marie Forleo:
there is no perfect scenario; your fate or your purpose is ultimately a decision about commitment. The opportunities are like a carousel. They're going by you every single day. They were going by when you were 15, they were going by when you were 26. But if you didn't hop on that damn horse and ride, then they just passed by.
So to hell with someone who doesn't want to leverage what I love. Moving on. I've hopped on and I keep moving.
"...If you leave this trail behind of thoughtful examination of your world, you can't help but get better at what you seek to do." - seth godin.
Fast Company article link, here: https://www.fastcompany.com/most-creative-people/2018
Reese Witherspoon makes big budget female-centric films, Lyft's new VP of marketing raises $5 million dollars for charities and steals market share from Uber, and Vishal Shah makes it possible to use Instagram as a storefront.
Anyone can have a good idea.
Implementation is the hard part.
'She turned Gone Girl and Wild into breakout films and followed them up with HBO’s Big Little Lies, sweeping nearly every category for which it was nominated at the 2017 Emmys. Having spent years hearing from studio executives that there was no market for big-budget female-driven content, Reese Witherspoon has succeeded to a degree that proves a hunger is there. “Fortunately,” says Witherspoon, “I like proving people wrong.” '
This 4th of July holiday I made a new friend who works for Hearst communications. She's hustled hard to get her place as editor for a bike and running publication, and when we began following each other on Instagram, passing one of the many phases of the 21st-century friendship, I commented in faux (but secretly real) jealousy of her 2k+ followers.
In her profession, companies like Nike, Lulu Lemon, and Oakley not only send her **free** items but at events, press photographers take her stellar photo which she can, in turn, can post to her account. As you can imagine, the photos look pro (plus, she doesn't sell out for free stuff!) and the Instagram-presentation is what you're familiar with if you've spent even 5 minutes on the app.
What's important here, is I found this new friend to be a real, down to earth, modest person. She's a killer athlete, sure, but doesn't arrive with ego or self-importance.
Somehow we got to talking about her discovery and acceptance of the immediate reaction she began to receive from her followers each time she posted photos of...herself. The numbers were and remain, greater. Then she said something along the lines of: "People like the pictures, so I post them." This light observation can seem obvious but my marketing mind can't stop but thinking about it.
What Molly experienced is what Seth Godin writes about: 'Nobody says, "That Yo Yo Ma, he’s so self-promotional," or, "can you believe what a self-promoter the Dalai Lama is?" That’s because they’re not promoting themselves. They’re promoting useful ideas. They’re promoting tactics or products that actually benefit the person they’re reaching out to.'
Ok, ok. I'm not comparing my friend to the Dalai Lama! And photos of her aren't necessarily helping others, but those photos certainly aren't hurting anyone. More importantly, she's posting not to self-promote, but rather because her audience responds with affirmation.
"Give the people what they want" comes to mind.
I can't get this simple and obvious lesson out of my marketing mind. In my past and previous clients, I find an incessant fear. The fear stems from not 'getting' social media, and then grows powerfully out towards ideas that self-promotion is selfish and more commonly narcissistic (admittedly, I relate).
But what the hell are we waiting for? We want a bigger business, we want more people to know about us, and we want our audience to like what we sell.
I can't articulate this final point as well as Marie Forleo, a killer-instinct-businesswoman who you need to check out if you've not already. Repeatedly, she teaches her business approach along these lines: "If your audience doesn't know what you offer, you're essentially robbing them of your experience."