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poo pourri

A Tale of Crazy Good Marketing Storytelling: Poo~Pourri

We’ve got a pitch for you.

Imagine this: a tiny bottle of magical mist you can spray into the toilet to cover up unpleasant bathroom odors. People will love it, right?

If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking, “That’s a crazy idea.”

You’re probably also thinking, “Aren’t there already 10,000 products identical to that on the market?”

You may even be thinking, “There’s no way that would ever sell.”

You’d be right on the first two and dead wrong on the last one.

Here’s why it would sell. Let your mind be BLOWN…

Be introduced to Poo~Pourri, a wacky “spray before you go” bathroom mist that’s gone viral and sold millions of products. “How,” you ask? Because of its incredibly creative use of brand storytelling.

I’m going to dissect just how this crap “made it” (so well, in fact); and five essential lessons you can learn from the way they’re winning. Let’s proceed!

poo pourri

Who (or What) is Poo Pourri?

Head to the Poo~Pourri website and you’ll find a page that immediately resembles something from Alice in Wonderland, complete with an embedded video of a pretty princess who is, presumably, squatting on her porcelain throne. The entire page, from the font to the color scheme is decidedly elegant and playful. And, at first glance, the only thing that really clues you into what the product is all about (besides the name, of course) is the slogan beneath the brand’s logo: “Spritz the bowl before you go and no one else will ever know.”

Before we hop down the rabbit hole of what makes Poo Pourri such a genius brand, it’s important to understand where the brand came from in the first place. At the top of the page, beneath a header titled “The Magic of Poo,” there’s an “About us” section (it’s called “The Story of Poo”). We must warn you, though, this “About us” is likely different than any you’ve ever seen.

It starts out innocent enough: the founder’s name is Suzy and she started the brand as the “first natural, truly effective solution to a universal problem.” In her words, “Poop happens, and it stinks!” She goes on to encourage you to “Take a shift!” and allow Poo Pourri to liberate you from “toxic thoughts and ingredients” because, hey, you’ve “got more important crap to worry about!”

Does this introduction have the six-year old inside of you giggling and blushing? Good, because we get the distinct feeling that that’s exactly what Suzy is going for. We’re willing to bet, however, that you’re also silently acknowledging that Suzy is indeed right. This is a universal problem.

And therein lies the first stroke of genius.

Since its inception, Poo-Pourri has sold more than 4 million products and that number only continues to climb. These products are neat little 2 – 4 oz spritz sprays, all natural with essential oils and no parabens or chemicals (which I personally love!), and start around $9.95 without shipping per bottle. The products even have cute little names, and the product descriptions themselves maintain the storytelling vibe.

poo pourri product

Even if you agree that nicely-packaged bathroom spray is a sensible idea, it still seems almost unbelievable that such a company should experience such runaway success.

It’s happening though, and the brand owes it all to storytelling. Something we talk a lot about (here, and here, for instance.)

How Poo Pourri Rocks Storytelling

Remember that embedded video on the main page of Poo~Pourri’s website? Well, they made a few original stories with the same lovely British redhead – 12, to be exact. Delight yourself in the crappiness of their entire channel, here.

Hilarious, right? Hilarious and slightly cringe-worthy, as well. The latter part owes largely to the fact that that video may be the single most daring and honest marketing video you’ve ever seen. Honesty is a theme that runs throughout the website.

From the unique section titled “Let’s Talk Crap” at the bottom of the home page (where you’ll also find the below “Hey Girl” gem) to the attractive product photos throughout the site, the brand’s home page manages to be hilarious, bawdy, and just sophisticated enough to pull it all off.

Hey Girl Meme

How does Poo~Pourri pull it off, though? And how do they take all of that storytelling and transform it into something that genuinely helps the brand make sales? The answer is that they use a series of tried and true marketing tactics that they infuse with their own individual flavor.

5 Marketing Lessons to Learn from the Storytelling Genius of Poo~Pourri

Here are the top 5 things we could all learn from Poo Pourri.

1. Know your audience

You’ve heard this before and you’ll hear it again but, come on, is there a brand out there that knows its audience better than Poo-Pourri? Doubtful. It’s clear from the get-go that Poo-Pourri is aimed at young, eco-conscious females everywhere that are having a hard time bucking the social norms associated with bathroom business.

If you need extra evidence of this, consider the video titled “Girls Don’t Poop.”

The video underlines the product’s quality by boasting that Poo-Pourri has more 5-star ratings on Amazon than the iPhone 5. It also offers a good-natured nudge at self-consciousness that generally surrounds bathroom visits. As Entrepreneur points out in their article on the company, “Everyone has a use for a spray that makes bathrooms smell fresh, but Poopourri did not target every Tom, Dick, and Harry.” Because of this, the brand is dominating while other bathroom spray brands are…stinking.

2. Be bold

If there’s one thing Poo-Pourri doesn’t do, it’s tread lightly. Phrases like “dirty little secret,” “tiny astronauts,” “chocolate éclair,” “intestinal cigar,” and “heaping dump” are prevalent throughout the brand’s advertisements.

And, yes, while we know that the majority of those phrases are enough to make you blush, they’re also bold. One of the best things this brand does is remove the timid language that often surrounds the topic of bathroom use. In doing so, they make the topic relatable and create an environment in which people can say, “Hey, yeah, I can totally relate. I’ll try this stuff out!” Unconventional? Yes. Brilliant? Absolutely.

3. Provide some comic relief

Let’s be honest, nobody really wants to talk about poop. But since Poo-Pourri does it in a funny, lighthearted way, it’s easier for customers to approach. Also, it’s infinitely obvious that whoever wrote the web copy for the company’s site had a great time doing it. This translates through to the reader and makes it easier for the customers to enjoy themselves on the page, translating into more sales and more brand engagement.

As a side note, let’s remember that, while Poo~Pourri is bawdy, a touch lewd, and very bold, it manages to balance those things with levels of professionalism, sophistication, and attention to detail that prevent it from ever coming close to unsaleable.

4. Be unique

What Poo Pourri is doing right now brings to mind what Dollar Shave Club has done in the last few years. While neither bathroom odor-maskers or razors are revolutionary products, both brands have managed to package and market their products in such a way that makes them seem so.

In the case of Dollar Shave Club, it’s ad copy that portrays the woes of people who don’t change their blade often enough. In the case of Poo~Pourri, it’s an all-natural product that comes packaged in a beautiful bottle that features a distinctly vintage appearance.

Reminiscent of high-class French toiletries, these little bottles instantly make customers feel like they’re holding an expensive and exclusive product. When a product looks great and performs even better, you can guarantee it’s going to be a hit with customers.

5. Own it

Throughout their website, Poo~Pourri continually says “Own your throne!” and they mean it. It’s evident, however, that the company takes that to heart. In addition to owning their thrones (as we assume they are) they’re also owning everything with the same flavorful style, from their brand message to their web copy. There’s not a piece of their website that feels boring, predictable, or pasteurized.

I think this is a huge key to their success across the board: they really, really commit to the level of storytelling they’ve exhibited. Which only means that someone over at Poo~Pourri is really, really, really, really… you get it… creative.

Everything is thoroughly, vibrantly on-brand, and it’s refreshing.

Take, for example, the social sharing buttons at the bottom of their home screen:

poo pourri

“Let me take a #shelfie,” “Ladies and gentleman, start your hot glue guns,” and “giveaways on giveaways on giveaways”? Of course I’m going to share that. Sharing that seems fun. How could I not share that?

Of course, that’s exactly the reaction those buttons are meant to produce and they do a fantastic job of it. Now, if those buttons had just featured the names of their respective social networks, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun and I wouldn’t be nearly as compelled to share.

Poo~Pourri knows that in order to stand out in the minds of your customers, you need to craft a unique and original brand message that pervades through every aspect of your marketing. They’ve done this and, frankly, we could all stand to learn a thing or two from them.

Conclusion

If you’d never heard of Poo~Pourri before this post, I trust your life has been changed. What’s more, I virtually guarantee that you’ll think of this brand the next time you use the bathroom. While this little company is still small compared to some of the scent-eliminating giants out there, it’s obvious that their brand message is set to take them far.

This is due in large part to the fact that the brand is just so dang good at storytelling. From their commercials to their web copy and everything in between, Poo~Pourri is a brand that you can’t forget and can’t help but identify with.

Need a creative pen for hire? Check out our creative writing services.

Successful Content Marketing

25 Tips To Get You Started In Successful Content Marketing

Are you a business marketer new to content marketing?

If so, you probably already know that your best audience is found online, and now you’re trying to find out the best ways to attract them.

Content marketing is where it’s at today. Gone are the days of traditional advertising and outbound marketing. Paying for click ads is no longer a good idea either, the market is too thin and lean in PPC nowadays: you’ll likely overpay for a click and drive a great deal of traffic that ultimately doesn’t matter for your site. So what’s the solution? The answer is simple: content marketing.

In order to stand out in the field of content marketing, however, it’s important to develop an “expert voice.”

What is an expert voice, you ask?

It’s the tone and style of writing that comes from having a deep knowledge of the field and being very aware of what’s going on in your niche. It means staying on top of niche-related current events, technological shifts and important trends in your market.

Because today’s content marketing environment is so filled with great writers, being an expert voice is the only way to stand out. Not to worry, though, it’s easier than you think.

Successful Content Marketing

Let’s Define Good Content Marketing

According to Joe Pulizzi at Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is the “strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience.” Content marketing is called by many the “marketing tactic of the future” due to the fact that it’s significantly less obtrusive and more efficient than outbound marketing, which relies on tactics like cold calling, email blasting and traditional advertising to gain customers.

Content marketing, on the other hand, relies on creating useful, educational, helpful content that assists would-be customers in learning new things and solving problems. The theory behind content marketing is that customers appreciate great content and, if a company can establish itself as an authority in the field by creating helpful, useful, high-quality content, that company will be rewarded by more business and loyal customers.

What’s more, it seems to be working: 57% of businesses have acquired customers through their company blog and 42% have gained readers through Twitter. This just goes to show that, in addition to being a more evolved way to market, content marketing is also a very effective way to market.

What’s so Great About Content Marketing?

Traditional forms of marketing, like advertising and direct mail, are becoming less and less effective. It’s been obvious for a long time that people don’t like aggressive advertising and, when you take into account that 84% of 25-34 year olds have left a website because of an “irrelevant or intrusive ad”, it becomes clear just how ineffective outbound marketing is. The reason for that is simple: outbound marketing seeks to push things on customers while content marketing seeks only to provide value. That said, outbound marketing casts a broad net while content marketing simply means creating great content and attracting already-interested customers through web searches, search engine optimization (SEO) and word-of-mouth.

How Can I Start?

Although content marketing may seem involved and difficult, it’s relatively easy to break into the field and begin creating your own killer content. I’m saying this because I was able to get into it, leave a med school career, and teach myself content writing—then start a writing agency where 95% of our marketing is through content!

So, here are my top 25 tips to help you get started in content marketing:

1) Define Your Goals

If you’re new to content marketing, the first thing you need to do is clearly define your content marketing goals. Are you seeking to build brand awareness? Gain email subscribers? Increase conversions? Increase purchases across the board?

Regardless of what you’re setting out to do, you need to know where you’re going in order to ultimately get there. As you get started in content marketing, ask yourself if the content you’re creating will help support your defined goals. If it won’t, focus your energies on content that will.

2) Start a Blog—Now (And Stay On It)

If you’ve already got a website, link it to a blog that will feature a great deal of your company’s content. Blogs provide 434% more indexed pages and 97% more links than pages without one so it’s well worth your time.

3) Define Your Metrics

In content marketing, it’s important to be able to track the performance of your content. That said, you’ll need to establish some metrics to track things like the traffic your content garners, who is referring followers to your site, how long people are spending on your site and how many pages they’re visiting, what your bounce rate is and how many social shares your content is gaining. Implementing a set of metrics helps you better target your content and cater to customer wishes.

4) Calculate Resources

Resources, in this context, mean more than just money. Do you have several great writers in your company? Would it behoove you to hire a content marketing agency? Who will be responsible for each piece of the content marketing burden? Deciding these things now helps you have a clear plan going forward.

5) Write a Mission Statement

Every good company should have a mission statement. Like a road map, a mission statement defines where you are, where you’re going and why you’re going there. Each mission statement should answer one of these 4 questions:

  • What do you do?
  • How do you do it?
  • Who does it benefit?
  • Why is it valuable?

Although a mission statement may seem unrelated to content marketing, writing one can help you clarify your direction and become an expert voice on the web.

6) Develop a Target Persona

A target persona is incredibly important when it comes to knowing whom you’re marketing to. It’s tough to create great content without having a specific customer in mind and creating a target persona is a helpful way to understand exactly whom you’re talking to.

7) Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

Like a mission statement, a great content marketing strategy helps your company define what it cares about. For example, popular lifestyle clothing brand Anthropologie publishes regular, seasonal DIY cocktail recipes on the company’s blog. While it may seem at first like this is in no way related to clothing or home wares, these drink recipe mimic the feel of Anthropologie’s company as a whole: each drink is made with unique, high-class ingredients that appeal to Anthropologie’s customer base.

That said; a content marketing strategy doesn’t always follow a straight line. Rather, it’s the process of determining what your customers value and how you can provide parallel content that they will find valuable, interesting and unique and that is not a direct pitch for sales.

8) Define Your Niche

What makes your content special and how will it help people? Are you going to write how-to articles? Develop infographics? Record podcasts? There are many types of content in content marketing and it doesn’t matter which few you choose to focus on as long as you’re bringing a unique twist to your content.

9) Audit your Content

If you currently run a company, there’s a good chance you’ve already got some content on your site. Marketing materials, product descriptions, pre-existing blog posts all count. If you have content lying around, audit it to identify weak points and decide what, if anything, you can repurpose.

10) Start Social Media Accounts

Social media accounts are important in content marketing and, if nothing else, you’ll want to establish a presence on The Big 4: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

11) Compile a List of Ideas

Developing a list of content creation ideas based on knowledge, customer inquiry and market demands is a wise step that will keep you from scrambling for ideas down the road. Write about what your company is good at, for starters. An outdoor clothing company may write about the top 10 rock climbing adventures, for example. Write about what your customers are curious about based upon comments and inquiries on question sites like Quora and build upon old content. Consider starting a series or reviving old content for new use.

12) Start a Content Calendar

Developing a content calendar helps you stay onto of your content publishing activity and ensures that posts are published regularly and on-time. It also helps you keep track of what you’ve written and where there may be gaps in your topic coverage.

13) Make it Diverse

In terms of working with content, it’s important to mix your content up. Don’t rely entirely on blog posts or social media or podcasts. Instead, cultivate a mixture of everything. Your audiences will appreciate it and your content will be more interesting.

14) Decide on Distribution Channels

In order to decide how best to distribute your content, you need to determine where most of your audience comes from. Social media? Search engines? Create content for those sources first and foremost.

15) Determine Goals for Each Channel

If you’re distributing content on Facebook, for example, you might be seeking shares whereas if you distribute content on Twitter, you may be after favorites or re-tweets. Once you’ve decided how you’re going to distribute your content, it’s important to develop goals for each unique channel. This helps you gauge success and better cater to each channel’s unique distribution method.

16) Learn About SEO

This is an important step. SEO is huge in content marketing and, while you do want to create content for people, you also need to optimize your content so that search engines can find it. Optimize everything for SEO and you’ll be well on your way to drawing customers and creating more engagement.

17) Hire a Content Creation Manager

Content creation is a lot of work and, if you have the budget, it’s worth it to hire someone to oversee the process. A content manager can develop, prioritize and edit content as well as helping your company repurpose old content and schedule new pieces.

18) Do Keyword Research

Conducting keyword research is an important piece of creating great content. By knowing which keywords you’re targeting, you can create more specific content that better caters to your audience and is easier for search engines to discover and rank.

19) Create a Top 10 List of Your Own content

This can help readers discover even more of your content and is a great way to link back to old posts. Additionally, it increases reader understanding and makes your site more easily navigable.

20) Start Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a great way to build authority and establish dominance in your niche. See this easy tutorial for more info on how to start guest blogging.

21) Build Your Community

Actions like commenting on other blogs, answering questions on Quora, guest blogging and sharing other guest posts are a great way to build a blogging community, which aids in your content marketing goals and helps you spread the word about your product, good or service via referral and mentions.

22) Listen to Your Audience

Once you’ve begun creating content, you’ll also begin to get audience feedback. This can help you determine what they like, what they don’t and what they want more of. By listening to everything your audience has to say, you can create content that they love and find valuable.

23) Produce Quality Work

Although this may seem excessively simple, it’s an important piece. When it comes to content marketing, it’s always quality over quantity. Never publish sloppy posts because you’re pressed for time. This will only diminish your authority and harm your reputation.

24) Consistently Assess Value

Remember that the #1 thing that sets content marketing apart from other types of marketing is that content marketing provides value to customers. While writing and distributing your content, ask yourself all the time if it provides value. If it doesn’t, go another way.

25) Incorporate Storytelling

By incorporating storytelling into your content marketing, you provide a better experience for readers and help draw people in to your content. The importance of storytelling is applicable to all forms of content – not just writing. Podcasts, infographics, video posts and visual content should all include great storytelling.

Conclusion: Welcome!

If you’re just getting started in content marketing, we want to welcome you. It’s an exciting world and my initial tips can help you get your feet wet and start your content marketing career on the right path.

copywriting content marketing

The Power of Copywriting & Content Marketing Today (Case Study)

Understanding how powerful copywriting, and in a bigger picture, all of content marketing is doesn’t require you to look any further than the sheer amount of content that is produced on a daily basis.

Content marketing has long been considered a mainstay of digital marketing and marketers.

Considered a cornerstone of the industry, content marketing allows businesses to attract and keep a customer base.

And a fundamental part of content marketing is copywriting.

It’s like the ham to the eggs.

Think about it: if your content marketing is a good blog, than your ham to that egg is the written blog. Design, SEO optimization with your plugins, correct categorization, etc. all tie in.

Let’s think back to the overall picture. Now as most marketers can tell you, saying something without showing what it looks like in cold, hard facts is simply spouting hot air.

The statistics of the matter bear out our original hypothesis: content marketing makes a major impact in the world today.

Content Marketing by the Numbers

There has been a constant reminder by content marketers that content is king, but only until you realize the statistics that exist behind the statement do you realize how powerful a king content really is.

On average per minute—

  • Nearly 2.5 million pieces of content are shared by users on Facebook
  • Instagram has 220,000 new photos posted to its servers
  • YouTube gets over 72 hours of new video uploaded
  • Twitter is used around 300,000 times
  • Over 200 million emails are sent
  • Over $80,000 worth of sales is generated by Amazon

And that is only PER MINUTE.

Every sixty seconds for the whole day this kind of change happens.

And it’s appreciating these massive movements of data that make us realize exactly how powerful social media is to the production and distribution of content.

How Has Copywriting & Content Marketing Contributed to These Numbers?

It is estimated, according to Content Marketing Institute, that nine out of every ten businesses today utilize content marketing in tandem with their sales force to generate awareness and increase their profits.

And you know what the foundation of content marketing is?

Good copywriting.

Based on what we understand about the interplay between marketing and sales it’s not a stretch to see why these companies have adopted digital content marketing as an aid to raising their sales. The expenditure in advertising compared to the return on investment makes it a no-brainer to use content marketing.

copywriting content marketing

Case Study: Express Writers (We Call Ourselves a Content Agency, Right?)

Hey – if we sell blogging and content, we better be good at it, right?

Yes. But you’d be surprised how many writing agencies don’t care about maintaining their blog.

Here at Express Writers, we’ve truly utilized content marketing to a degree of success. We adopted the idea in an effort to increase lead generation and sales through a targeted strategy incorporating guest blogging and SEO to a massive extent.

The results we got were far better than many of the competitors in our very industry – we outrank 95% of them – and proves the potency of content marketing in the framework of a modern developing company.

I would recommend any business that wants to see significant growth over time to consider content marketing as the vehicle to achieve that goal. You could say we’re among the 89% of companies that use content marketing and testify to its effectiveness.

The development of our content marketing plan is:

Four 2000-word pieces per week for our own blog, along with 4-6 more pieces per week for major guest blogs including such high-authority sites as Search Engine Journal, Site Pro News, SEM Rush and Content Marketing Institute.

We also have over 80 site pages, 50 of which are our main service pages (one for each of our writing services) and are about 500 words or more each.

I could tell you all day long how well our content does, how great our team does at compiling it, how we research the topics and develop the concepts, but here’s some cold hard stats for you to digest.

We average 500-700 visitors in organic traffic daily, from Google keywords.

We have 165 keywords indexed in SEO, 100 of which are in the top ten positions (screenshot from SEMRush):

express writers content rankings

Also from SEMRush, a screenshot of some of our keyword positions as of June 2015:

express writers rankings

Many of our individual blogs are doing very well in search.

For example, this blog written in 2013, “Website Copywriting for Dummies”, ranks #4 in organic search (screenshots via SEMRush):

express writers rankings

When we take into account the amount of growth our own company has seen over a single year, it’s not impossible to imagine how much content moves per day and how it can affect a company’s exposure and generate leads based off its content marketing strategy.

It’s a testament to the kinds of things that we can expect from content marketing in the coming years.

Now that we’ve disclosed how much content marketing has helped us, let’s delve into…

The Cost of Content Marketing

As an industry, content marketing is responsible for a massive amount of expenditure.

In 2013, brand management site Brafton estimated that the total expenditure for new content creation for the year would reach about $118.4 billion. That’s billion, with a B.

Although based on the amount of new content is produced daily and factoring in a cost like this into it, you can see why content creation itself can cost very little but the sheer volume of its production can add up to so much.

Mashable approximates that as much as twenty seven million pieces of content are shared on social media per day. That’s a LOT of outreach for something that could cost you a couple bucks to make.

Why Content Marketing Has Such An Impact

With twenty seven million shares a day you’re probably starting to see how content can influence consumers to such a level that a message can go viral. As much as 58% of consumers trust editorial content, according to Nielsen.

If you could tap into at least half the people that make up your core audience and have them share your content it can go a long way towards making your brand or company a household name.

Taking this into account, your aim should be to build your base of dedicated users and play the numbers game to get your content out there. Social Media B2B states that as much as 61% of US marketers utilize social media to increase the amount of leads they get. Using it correctly is as important as using it at all.

Stephen Fairley writes that companies that blog 15 or more times a month see as much as five times as much traffic as those that don’t. It’s the perfect strategy for getting the word out.

3 Success Stories of Content Marketing

We know that content marketing has the power to reach out to the masses and raise awareness. We know that it guarantees sales increases after an extended content campaign. All of these things have been told to us time and time again, but short of doing it ourselves, how do we know that content marketing works? We can’t just take the word of the people who are trying to sell it to us. If you need proof of how well content marketing has managed to work for some companies, here’s a few of the more successful content marketing successes and how it’s managed to enhance their business.

1. Influence & Co.Influence & Co. utilize knowledge-based tactics in order to help companies achieve their branding objectives. It has managed to place itself as the largest provider of thought leadership content that is shareable and relatable. This stemmed from an aim to empower companies and thought leaders to control the message they send to the masses, something fresh and new in the field of public relations. The company growth is palpable, expanding rapidly from a two-person operation to employing as much as seventy five people on its payroll.

2. NewsCred – Content marketers should at least heard of NewsCred, even if you haven’t had anything to do with them expressly. They are one of the most influential up and coming content production companies, employing over two hundred people currently. What started off as a news wire service has shifted gears and gone into full content marketing giant mode. They offer content strategy solutions to companies based on their level of service, including access to images from Getty and premium articles to help their clients along. Their analytical system also allows for them to aid their clients in suggesting content creation and distribution options in line with the company’s target demographic.

3. Express Writers – Yes, at Express Writers, we’re a great success story of content marketing. Our Content Shop receives about 700 visits a day, and we supply content writing, planning, and strategizing services for clients like Bank of America, PayPal, Shopify, GAP, just to name a few. On average, we’re writing close to 500 pages a week; our team of 60+ includes trained copywriters, marketing writers, PR writers, content strategists, social media managers, copyeditors, and our content managers and client account managers. Think you need great content? We can provide! Talk to one of our Content Specialists.

Exponential Growth

What these case studies of content production companies have in common is the demonstration that content is a juggernaut, unstoppable and uncontainable. As companies around the world switch over to digital content, it only promotes the growth of the industry many times over. It’s a self-fueling process as fresh content is what forces companies to update their content in order to stay relevant in the eyes of the search engines and the users they cater to.

The Battle Between Content Marketing and Old Media Style

Once upon a time, not so long ago, marketing was focused on fitting ads into media in order to encourage users to click.

While there is no shortage of these sites on the Internet, the truth of the matter is that they are slowly being phased out in favor of the new kid on the block, content marketing.

Old media depends upon a different type of revenue stream and their metrics for success vary vastly from content publishers. Some of the bigger content publishers around can do a number on the heads of old media.

The crux of the matter here is that content production and marketing leverages something that slips through traditional marketing media’s fingertips – that of human loyalty.

Content marketing is based on the idea that good content will attract and keep an audience because that audience starts trusting the brand and makes decisions based on that brand’s suggestions.

Old media never considered the idea of owning customer loyalty, rather “borrowing” it through an extended media campaign, meaning they would have to reinvent the wheel every time they had a new product to get the word out on.

The onus, therefore, in this case is on the publishers that promote this content rather than the brands themselves to monitor branded messages and keep the positive message going.

There have been situations where marketers have been less-than-stellar with their management of brands and possible negative fallout. The Atlantic is a good example of this poor brand management and a good example for companies where the faults of content marketing can lie.

The Future Looks Bright

Content marketing, and the bottom line of copywriting, has come to mean a lot to businesses.

It gives smaller businesses the ability to compete (and in some cases surpass) much larger brands by giving them an equal platform where their content is judged on its relevancy, not how much money has gone into its production.

Visual content has managed to boost the visibility of many sites, with The B2B marketing Mentor stating that images and photos make up the most effective way of optimizing social media posts to raise levels of interaction. This only underlines the fact that content marketing is a great way to raise levels of engagement with an audience and grow a company’s capital in the new currency of the Internet, user loyalty.

Over time the demand for content that is relevant and important to different demographics will rise.

More and more brands are noticing how well content marketing is helping their business grow.

Economic giants such as Burger King and Coke have already dipped their toes into the water of the content marketing ocean and have found great returns on their investment.

Although it may take some time before such massive brands come to embrace content marketing as a viable method of their marketing strategy, they will continually add content that keeps them in the game although not at the top of it.

Content marketing is the true leveler, a meritocracy where your content determines how well you do as a company.

Check out our Content Shop and start shopping for your online content today!

gary-vaynerchuk-wins-at-marketing

How Gary Vaynerchuk Wins at Marketing

Gary Vaynerchuk. If you haven’t heard of him, I really don’t know what kind of marketer you are. (Kidding! Or not…)

For a start, he’s a reputable entrepreneur, public speaker, social media expert, investor, Internet personality, Jets fan, self-taught and self-proclaimed wine expert, and author of several bestselling, motivational books, such as The Thank You Economy, Why Now Is the Best Time to Cash in on Your Passion and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

Three Reasons Why Gary Rocks

For Gary Vaynerchuk, family comes first, but after that, his ever-growing empire is listed as one of his top priorities. We love this guy because he is forward thinking and ahead of the curve. He isn’t afraid to make his voice heard and lead the pack; he understands the new realities of the 2015 content marketing industry and doesn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand to small business owners looking for pertinent advice on how to grow their businesses.

1. Gary Vaynerchuk’s Marketing Insight Is Not for the Faint of Heart. Bold content pieces with daring titles, like, for instance, Marketers Ruin Everything reflect the challenges experienced by entrepreneurs who are disconnected or unable to see any real ROI, in spite of their continuous efforts. His take on content marketing is pretty straightforward: in order to explore the full potential of your content and use social media as a convenient marketing tool, you have to give more than you actually ask for in return. In other words, you have to avoid becoming an annoying noise maker by providing increased value to your readers through your innovative, problem-solving, engaging content.

2. Gary Vaynerchuk Practices What He Preaches. As a CEO and hustler, Gary Vaynerchuk doesn’t waste any time. After growing his dad’s company from $3 million to $50 million through a unique combo of aggressive pricing, email marketing tactics and ecommerce hacks, Garyfounded VaynerMedia, a digital agency focused on social media, and also started VaynerRSE, an investment fund estimated at $25 million. All the advice that he generously offers to fellow entrepreneurs is derived from his past experiences and based on his marketing insight, skills and know-how.

3. You Can Ask Him (Almost) Anything. #AskGaryVee is the best place to get answers to your everyday marketing, entrepreneurship and social media-related questions. Takeaway: whatever you do, don’t miss Episode 108, especially if you’re very fond of elevators, e-commerce and aliens, or at least wish to discover the connection between these three elements. Here’s how it works: you ask questions, and GaryVee answers them. Check out his YouTube channel, free your curiosity and get inspired.

Five Crucial Content Marketing Lessons That We Can All Learn from Gary Vaynerchuk

In 2015, when the battle for supremacy and the highest number of eyeballs is fierce on any digital market, small business owners need leaders and influencers more than ever. Vaynerchuk is one of the path openers who could help you overcome any challenge that you may encounter while trying to lift your online business from the ground. Here are five important lessons that you can learn from this talented all-in-one social media guru, entrepreneur and author.

1. Creating Quality Content Is a Matter of Respect. According to Vaynerchuk, proper content creation revolves around the concept of respect. First of all, you have to respect the platform that is going to carry, distribute and promote your marketing message. One must strategize around the platform, and adapt the storytelling tactic based on the way in which a prospect actually interacts with that particular channel. For instance, activity on different social networking websites is linked to different mindsets. A woman may use Instagram and Pinterest to discover new trends, while also relying on Facebook to stay connected with her friends, family members and favorite brands. Each of these channels require a unique content strategy tailored to the prospect’s intent. At the same time, you have to respect the audience and give your readers instant access to quality food for thought. Play with different nuances, explore the unique features of your products and convert them into benefits and incorporate a surprise element to stimulate the curiosity of your public. After all, Five Genius Organizing Solutions That Will Help You Keep a House Clean with X Young Kids sounds much more interesting than Here’s What You Can Do with the Cheap Plastic Containers That I’m Selling,” right?

2. Hustling Is the Key to Survival in Any Environment. In the world of content marketing, you have two options at hand: you can either go big or go home with an empty wallet. If the latter alternative doesn’t exactly appeal to you, consider the fact that only a cohesive, well-rounded content marketing strategy will offer you the desirable long-term results. As Vaynerchuk puts it, every minute has to count for something. As far as we’re concerned, every success involves a struggle, and every struggle is geared towards creating and delivering better content that resonates with a specific audience, encourages feedback and improves conversion rates.

3. You Have to Provide Real Value to Your Customers. Unless you have been on vacation for the last decade or so, you must be fully aware of the fact that clients are now more selective and difficult to reach than ever. Why? First of all, they are bombarded with more than 5,000 branded messages daily. Secondly, even if they manage to cut through the dreadful advertising clutter, your visitors have a short attention span and tend to be quite self-centered. In this context, you have to step up your game by providing real value to your potential clients. According to Moz, you can achieve this objective by providing exclusive information that your readers wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else, delivering content presented in a unique manner and prepping the ground for a major upgrade in terms of website design, accessibility and aggregation.

4. You Can Improve Your Luck by Improving Your Content. In order to make your brand visible, you have to put it in front of your potential consumers. You may ask: how do you do that? The answer is simple: you invest more time, money, energy and effort in content development and distribution. Vaynerchuk seems to think that a larger amount of quality content is directly linked to higher odds of success on overly competitive markets. This is precisely why he has turned one of his staff members from VaynerMedia into the “shadow of his life” who now follows him at conferences and local events to record all his statements and turn them into high-value social media content that could inform, entertain and educate his audience. Vaynerchuk thinks that his clever strategy will soon mark the beginning of a new trend, as more and more social media personalities and executives will hire a full-time content manager to stay relevant on their niche. Even if you can’t afford to employ a social media savvy scribe who could follow you around 24/7 and put pen to paper anytime, anywhere, do keep in mind the fact that maintaining a steady content flow is your best chance of survival on overcrowded digital markets.

5. Micro-content Can Help You Breathe New Life into Your Old Marketing Campaign. As a founder of a successful digital shop focused on quality storytelling across different platforms, Vaynerchuk uses the knowledge that he has gained via premium micro-content to design and implement creative campaigns that trigger noticeable, positive results. If you still think that bigger is always better in the content marketing world, Gary will sooner or later prove you wrong. Micro-content crafted for the native platform that it will “live” on is more compatible with a specific user behavior and thus, more likely to favor an improved response to CTAs.

How to Become Your Own Role Model in the Content Marketing World

In today’s insanely competitive business environment, staying inert and silent is definitely not at option. On the other hand, if you share Gary’s opinion and acknowledge the fact that your progress depends on your perseverance, consistency, originality and passion, perhaps now would be a good time to rethink your content strategy. Creative minds and bold, resourceful entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk offer us the inspiration and motivation that we need to dream bigger and work a little harder. Nonetheless, after following in the footsteps of those who know better and dare to think outside the box, at the end of the day, you can become your own content marketing hero and use your writing to create communities around your product or service, increase conversions, make more money, leave your competitors behind and inspire others.

All these goals are perfectly attainable, especially when you count on the unconditional support of a team of talented content marketing gurus and professional writers.

modcloth

7 Ways ModCloth Is Winning at Content Marketing

If you are unaware of what ModCloth is, you must not be into old-timey, vintage women’s clothes, accessories, and home décor. But really, who isn’t? I’m going to assume that most people are huge fans of this brand. I know I am. One thing I like about ModCloth is their amazing content marketing strategy. They really know how to organically sell themselves, and through this, they have shed a light on the retro, vintage appearance in general. Because marketing is so important, companies that do it well are always the ones people should be looking to follow.

ModCloth is an example of these content leaders. For a group that is dedicated to vintage apparel, they sure are forward-thinking in their marketing.

7 Ways ModCloth’s Content Is Killer

ModCloth has several content strategies that I love but here are six (and a half) things that they do that I think are especially innovative.

1. They use real models.

If you go to the ModCloth website, you will not always see the average model. ModCloth sometimes even uses their own employees to show off their great designs. In fact a campaign they ran earlier this year took several of their employees of all different sizes and had them model the same swimsuit.

ModCloth makes use of ‘real’ models in many different ways.

  • They were one of the first retailers to sign the “Heroes Pledge for Advertisers,” which consists of guidelines on limiting Photoshop use in ads.
  • They boosted their plus-size collection shortly after they signed the pledge.
  • If you want to model for them, they make it easy for you to apply even if you do not have modelling experience straight from their website.
  • In fact, they claim that they often find models in untraditional places, from, in their own words, “parties and shopping districts to airports and libraries.”

The reason this works is because they are committed to making clothes for the everyday girl, and they realize that if they want to sell to that everyday girl, they need to show potential customers what someone like them would look like wearing that outfit. Plus, not for nothing, it got talked about in the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Gloss, Cosmopolitan, and tons of other big name markets.

Lesson to Learn: Be up front and honest about your product. If you try to flatter and deceive, customers might use you once, but they won’t come back. Plus, this is such a rare concept that when you do it, tons of people will want to cover it.

modcloth

2. They keep their retro-y vibe even in modern-y formats.

As does any e-retailers, and hopefully most if not all retailers, ModCloth has a blog, a Twitter account, Instagram, Tumblr, and you get the picture. All of these social media platforms have something big in common: they are all decidedly un-vintage.

How can a company that is dedicated to celebrating all things retro use modern forms of marketing?

The answer is by turning those modern forms into a retro playground. If you look at ModCloth content, you still get that vintage feel that you would expect from them. Through color schemes, images, and product descriptions, you forget that you are using technology from this era as you are transported back to the time that ModCloth wants you to envision.

What is the lesson here for all employees, though?

  • Remember who your audience is. You might not have young women who love that old-time feel as your target reader. So don’t advertise for them. But do figure out who you want to target, and then make sure your content reflects the image you want those people to feel.
  • Don’t let technology control you. To an extent, you have to follow the crowd. If Twitter is where the people are, you have to be on Twitter. However, just because you need to use these modern marketing methods does not mean you have to market on their terms. Turn these formats into platforms to showcase your visions.

3. They let their customers upload images.

Similar to the real life models point, ModCloth is great about encouraging people to upload their own images. Other places do this, but I have never seen it done quite as much as I have on ModCloth’s site.

When you go to view an item, you can see whole galleries of real customers wearing that same piece. This is a great concept for so many different reasons.

  • Free models. The more you get people to show off your product without having to pay them, the better it is for you.
  • Customers feel like they are part of your team. When you let them help, customers feel like they are part of the family. And the more they feel like they are part of the family, the more they are likely to remain a loyal customer.
  • People see what it looks like off the shelf. One of the worst things about shopping online is that you cannot see how you will look in an outfit before purchasing. Just because it looks good on a model, does not mean it will look good on you. And even if the model is just an ordinary person, the photographer is taking the picture at just the right angle with just the right light. However, if you get to see the outfit worn by someone of the same size as you (the uploaders include their measurements and the size they ordered to help make picking the right size easier) in a real life situation, you are more likely to purchase it.

What should you take away here? Let your customers get in on your content marketing plan. They’ll give you free marketing and will want to keep coming back.

modcloth 2

 

4. They give you access to their stylists.

ModCloth makes it easy to get the information you want most through their ModStylist feature.

Most sites have a chat feature where you can talk to a customer service rep. But ModCloth takes it a step farther. You can chat, email, or even call them for advice like what to wear for a big event; how to pick a style that will look right on you; and what the latest fashion trends are.

This strategy works because people want more than customer service. They want to know how to incorporate a product into their lives.

Say you order a dress from a regular retailer and want to know what shoes to wear with it, so you call up the customer service department. Chances are, you aren’t going to get much help even with the nicest of reps because they aren’t the ones who know the answers to these types of questions.

With ModCloth, not only do you get your questions answered, you can solve fashion dilemmas you didn’t even realize you had. And let’s be honest, if a stylist goes out of their way to help you look your best, aren’t you that much more likely to buy the pair of matching shoes they suggest?

Your lesson here is simple. If you want to make the sale, go above and beyond in your efforts to prove to people you are an expert in that product, you want to help them in the ways they really need help, and using your product/service is just what they need.

5. They let you pick what they sell.

If you really want to grow your customer base, let them pick your product. You know they’ll want it then. ModCloth does this through their ‘Be the Buyer’ feature.

Every now and then, they put up a possible item, and let viewers vote on it. If the people want it, it goes on sale. The idea here is to let the customers be the designers because the customers are who the designers are trying to please.

You can take away from this that, the more you give customer’s input into your product, the happier they will be. After all, nobody knows what they want better than they do.

picture

6. They rock at Pinterest and Instagram.

When your product is visual, you have to be good at the visual based social media platforms. That is just a given. ModCloth knows this and uses it to their advantage.

First, they make it very easy to pin their outfits to personal Pinterest sites. If someone likes your product and wants to share it, they are much more likely to do it if you make it easy for them.

pinterest

Second, they fill their Instagram account with pictures of their products in real life situations. They use stunning colors and vivid imagery that really catches the eye. However, they also use it to host challenges and contests to really get people sharing their favorite outfits.

What your takeaway from this is take advantage of whatever social media platform especially fits your brand. For retailers, image-based sites such as Instagram and Pinterest work. If you are a targeting business people, LinkedIn might work for you.

Whatever the platform that is going to help your brand the most, make sure you are really doing it right.

7. They rock at social media in general.

As mentioned above more specifically, ModCloth is just great at most social media platforms. So the lesson here is really straightforward. Have a presence on and be great at all social media.

Follow the Leader to Success

I could name 100 hundred other reasons ModCloth’s content marketing plan is great (and they aren’t even paying me to write this or even know that this article exists). So, if you are trying to figure out ways to jumpstart your content marketing strategy, maybe you can take one or two ideas from the ModCloth playbook.

20 Marketing & Business Books

20 Marketing and Business Books That Will Actually Change Your Future

The world is full of great business books by awesome authors. I want to specifically look at the bookshelf of someone who’s involved in marketing and business and recommend the best-ever books they could put on their shelves.

I’ll admit to not reading each of these cover-to-cover (yet they are all on my must-read list), BUT I know plenty who have benefitted from reading them, and recommended them; plus, I am familiar with each of the authors . I hope you find this book list helpful!

Get Ready To Change Your Life With These 20 Business Books

Many entrepreneurs and captains of industry started off as regular people, but the books they consume changed who they are at a fundamental level so that they were able to make the decisions that put them into the positions they are today.

And, a book is like an insight into another person’s mind. People inspire people. Want to be inspired by someone? Read what they write and understand where they’re coming from. Business coaches, self-starters and entrepreneurs all write books detailing their thinking and the model of their success. By reading their books, you can pattern your thinking around theirs and reap similar results. Here’s a list of the twenty most influential business books I’ve come across that are very likely to change your future.

1. See You at the Top – Zig Ziglar: Originally rejected by over thirty publishers, this particular book is one of Zig’s greatest works. Although it’s a bit dated (it was published in 1974) a lot of the principles it teaches regarding your own personal motivations and how you get what you want are still relevant. Through a series of steps based around your own, honest self-evaluation, he develops a method for changing your outlook on life and your aims of accomplishing what you believe needs to be done. It’s not new information, but it’s a brand new way of looking at yourself.

2. So You Think You Can Write? – Julia McCoy: Authored by yours truly, this is a summary of all the lessons I’ve learned on how to craft successful, winning online copy after 5+ years in the field learning it on my own. I left nursing school and built a multi-million dollar company around online writing. Now, I’m sharing all the lessons I know so you can change your life by a) writing winning online copy for your brand that gains you rankings and reads or b) make a career out of online copy. It’s on Amazon as print and Kindle.

3. Maximum Achievement Brian Tracy: As far as motivational manuals go, this one is among the best available. Brian Tracy is a self-made-man. He outlines his tactics in Maximum Achievement and creates a roadmap for all of his readers towards success. Although the things that Tracy propounds should be obvious to anyone, the way in which he presents them makes you think critically about your goals and your results. It delves into the idea of result-oriented tactics. Even if you don’t follow what he says, his writing will forever change the way you look at a task.

4. The Art of SEO – Rand Fishkin: This book is a must-read for marketing professionals, simply because of how well laid out it is. Fishkin and company outline and define the important aspects of SEO, ranging from the basics to the extremely advanced approaches. And when I say it covers everything, I do mean everything. Anyone, at any level of SEO knowledge can pick up this book and learn something from it. It’s obvious that as time goes on, SEO will be even more relevant to everyday life, which is what makes this book an investment in understanding the future.

5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen. R. Covey: You’d be hard pressed to find someone in business and industry who hasn’t read this book. It belongs on the shelves of everyone because it helps you to get your mind focused on your tasks at hand. Covey developed a methodology for personal effectiveness that is as important today as it was the day it was published. Another oldie (this one was also published in the 70’s), the book goes back to the roots of what drives success and makes you think about your character first and your personality second, something that many books of the period seem to do in reverse. It’s definitely one of those business books that will affect the way you look at life.

6. Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki: Kiyosaki, a self-made multi-millionaire, explored the differences in conditioning between a rich parent and a poor parent and explores the differences between the thought processed between the two social classes. It’s semi-autobiographical and reads extremely easily. By applying Kiyosaki’s lessons to your own financial situation and change the way you perceive value. That’s a lesson that tends to follow you all the years of your life.

7. Ogilvy on Advertising – David Ogilvy: This particular book has helped many entrepreneurs figure themselves out. Ogilvy focuses on big-picture thinking, proposing that your most important ideas are the ones that are huge. Those ideas are the ones that drive your success. He also writes about dealing with negativity and always having your facts to hand, two things that serve you very well in day to day life. Although the book is mostly aimed at advertising professionals, everyone can glean some form of inspiration or insight from it.

8. The Magic of Thinking Big – David Schwartz: Schwartz deals with the mind-over-matter phenomenon. It’s a book that has changed the lives of many people by teaching them a time-honored lesson: “don’t sweat the small stuff”. It’s mostly self-motivational in content, but it does help you to overcome hurdles that your own mind erects for you. Most importantly, it has something for everyone, no matter what level of business you find yourself at. From employee to owner, everyone can benefit from reading this book.

9. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard – Chip Heath and Dan Heath: Everyone knows change is hard, but it’s also necessary. People are usually afraid of change because it means something different from the ordinary and would require people to leave their comfort zones to deal with it. Chip and Dan make a compelling argument for helping someone deal with change, whether it’s in the workplace or in life, by breaking it down and understanding change to make it less scary. It’s a very well-thought-out book that combines the psychological stimulus of fear with the physical and logical reasoning needed to overcome it. This book helps you master your fear of the unknown.

10. The 4 Hour Work Week – Timothy Ferriss: I acquired this book in my early twenties and it has been a source of constant motivation for me. Ferriss breaks down the modern view of success and replaces it with a simple philosophy, then gives you the tools you need in order to achieve this philosophy. When I got this book, I was skeptical about its claims but it does work. And what’s more, it gives you a different look at life in general. It makes you reconsider what you think of as “success”. Whether your treat it as an instruction manual or a motivational tool, it’s definitely something that’ll change your future.

11. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? – Seth Godin: This book is based on the idea of leadership and potential. It helps you to marshal your resources and become indispensable to a company or organization. In a job market such as this no one is one hundred percent assured of their place in an organization. Overnight changes could render your position redundant. By becoming a linchpin you add value to yourself and if it’s one things companies love, it’s value. Godin teaches us to be the linchpin that holds organizations together by simply doing what we do to benefit the right people.

12. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho: The only fictional entry on this list is here for a very specific reason. Coelho is noted for the way he explores the lives and personalities of his characters in his work. The Alchemist does that to an extent that most of his other works abandon in favor of the narrative. Although the premise seems to be that the universe will conspire to make things happen to people, the deeper meaning is that success comes to those who work for it. Through all the struggles of the protagonist we see a very human figure surpassing almost insurmountable obstacles in his quest. As an analogy for life, you can’t get any more accurate than that.

13. The Lean Startup – Eric Ries: When you have limited resources, how do you function? You get more creative and efficient to deal with those reduced resources. Ries has developed a different sort of mindset from what we are used to when it comes to putting together a startup business. In the 90’s startups were abundant because capital and speculation in the “electronic age” was high. With the eventual collapse of the startup market, it has become increasingly difficult to present and expand on a good idea because there were so many bad ideas. Ries gives you a whole new way to think about business that will definitely shape your future.

14. Maverick – Ricardo Semler: Most people have never heard of Semco, a Brazilian business that has a very unorthodox work ethic. Due to its unique business structure, it has managed to weather and even better a Brazilian recession and perform vastly better than its nearest competitors, both in production and worker satisfaction. Semler explores what makes Semco such a good place to work for his employees. It’s one of those books that leave you considering that worker happiness can actually lead to a more productive company in the long run.

15. The Score Takes Care of Itself – Bill Walsh: Starting with the randomness that pervades all success, Walsh takes a look at the things that are out of our control and then goes on to tell us that we should deal with the things within our control. As a former football coach, he was well positioned to know this. The advice he gives is simple and although we do this daily with a number of things, we never apply it consciously to our own life decisions. Walsh’s philosophy of leadership is the kind of thing that gives you hope for the future in a rational way.

16. Rework – Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson: Efficiency is the name of the game. At its core, Rework is a business manual, but it’s so much more than your run-of-the-mill step-by-step to success. Fried and Hansson give you ideas about how to circumvent the traditional method of developing a successful business with the same end result. The most important thing that you learn from this book is that success comes from doing, not talking. It’s a lesson that you should apply to both your personal AND your business life.

17. Traction – Gabriel Weinberg: Traction gives startup owners insight into previous startups that have managed to succeed over the years. By utilizing such well-known names as Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alex Pachikov (Evernote) and Alexis Ohanian (Reddit), we get to see how these masters of business think and what got them to where they are today. Marketing professionals should definitely follow what he has to say since his statements are based around finding the right channels of communication for a particular business.

18. Seneca: Letters from a Stoic – Lucius Annaeus Seneca: For a book to survive over two thousand years, it has to be a pretty good book, right? Letters from a Stoic touches on the simple dictum, “actions speak louder than words”. As a life changing manual it can be pretty dry, especially when compared to the other business books that I’ve mentioned. Seneca’s letters have survived the test of time because these speak to a certain part of us and inspire us in ways modern works can’t. It gives us a sense of perspective that is lacking in many modern methods of motivation and inspiration, something that lingers with us forever.

19. The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham: The newest installment of this book with added commentary by financial journalist Jason Zweig underlines the importance to investors of knowing the value of the product or company they’re investing in. Even if you’re not in investor, this book teaches some important lessons on financial risk management that are likely to benefit everyone to an extent.

20. The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz: In any business, there will be hard situations to deal with. Horowitz explores in-depth the sorts of uncomfortable situations CEO’s and managers tend to find themselves in. As a semi-autobiographical writing on Horowitz’s life, we get to see how the upper echelons of a company deals with the hard decisions that they may have to make. It’s a very good manual for those aspiring to be the leaders of a group.

BONUS, # 21: Zag: The Number One Strategy of High Performance Brands – Marty Neumeier: This book is a treasure-trove of information for the marketing professional and entrepreneur alike. The book focuses on understanding why certain brans are good at what they do and why some fade out of existence a couple months after hitting the shelves. It gives you insight into customers, audiences and understanding their unspoken signals. Neumeier says, “When everybody zigs, zag.” I could not have said it better myself.

For You: What to Read?

Understandably, not all of these books would fit into any specific category for any type of individual. Investors would have a different set of books that change their lives compared to marketing professionals and entrepreneurs. The books you read are usually reflected in the decisions you make and the steps you take to secure and promote your business. A couple of these books promote the idea of not having a business or profession run your life and to me that’s as important to your future as is dealing with your current position in life. These business books all have something to teach you, regardless of your field or position.

Reading these books (and starting with which one feels most relevant to you right now) would be among the best things you can do to enrich your life in the long haul. Grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and get started! And, let us know in the comments which book YOU love to read!

over promotion

The Great Content Roundup: Week 9, How Much Is Too Much Promotion?

Welcome to my Great Content Roundup, folks! Today, I’m looking at a big question that applies to businesses of all sizes.

When do you start promoting yourself (your content, your business) too much?

The only exception I could think of is local ice-cream shops – I probably wouldn’t ever get tired of seeing their posts, but maybe that’s just me.

Recently, I’ve encountered some businesses that over-promoted the “heck outta themselves,” excuse the grammar. I’m talking every HOUR on Twitter they were tweeting about their app. Every other day the rep was messaging me, either on LinkedIn or on my personal email.

Granted, the company had a nice Twitter community going and what looked like some actual real interested followers who were devoted fans—but as a prospective client of theirs, I was turned completely off and decided to tell them to “stop spamming me” a few days ago.

Now this experience was so fresh and real in my mind, as I read content this week I couldn’t help but place it next to what I was reading about. So, let’s delve into:

The Great Content Roundup, Week 9: How Much Is Too Much Promotion?

Social Triggers has a great rule on how to build a blog audience: the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time promoting OTHERS’ content; and 20% of the time promoting your own. This is exactly what we do at Express Writers (view our Twitter as proof); and we connect with new followers and great industry friends all the time. 

80/20, folks. Those that flip this for 80% self-promotion will soon be labeled a spammer.

Neil Patel mentions somewhere in his very useful post How To Inspire Your First Time Blog Visitors To Trust You that you absolutely have the right to share your own content on your profiles. I agree. Um, hello: you own the profile—and you should use it for your advantage!

But, he also says this: Blogging is not a one-way street. It’s an exchange between you and your readers. I think this applies to all content you publish. He says you should listen more, and answer questions. (Brian Dean at Backlinko is a very successful example. He emails his new signups with this question: “Reply to this email and tell me one thing you’re struggling with. Even if it’s teeny tiny.”) Patel’s post here is golden.

Buffer’s Guide on Content Promotion: How Content Promotion Works for Blogs Big and Small: Our 11 Favorite Content Distribution Strategies. This is an amazing piece, I highly recommend reading it through. The part where the author follows up and emails the person he mentions in his blog for a kudos, thank-you, and new loyal fan—GENIUS! Might I say. And I’m always saying you should mention your influencers. Also, #6 – the top content community is Inbound – I’m on Inbound and can attest to it as a wonderful community gaining us new fans, followers, and engagement overall. The only downside to all this is time. It’s going to take a LOT of time for one person or one marketer to follow all the steps. I recommend involving a team in this process.

marketing and branding

What’s The Real Difference Between Marketing and Branding Content?

Marketing and branding are two of the major buzzwords that we use in the industry. The confusing part is that non-industry professionals often mix up branding and marketing and use the terms interchangeably. There is a distinct difference between marketing and branding that can be easily explained. Before we jump into the differences we need to understand what each term means on its own. Both of them are powerful means of spreading information, but both have their own specific uses. Let’s clear up some misconceptions about the terms before we delve any further into their inherent differences.

What is Branding?

Branding is the process by which you reduce a company’s reputation to a single word. A brand is an easily recognizable representation of the particular company. Something that resonates with the user so that at a glance they know what they’re dealing with. Branding gives personality to a company and attaches an attribute to the company that appeals to the demographic of its core audience. Thus, companies such as Toyota are known for their reliability or Volvo is known for their safety records. Each of these brands have built their brands into easily recognizable traits that allow them to appeal to their customers in a unique way. It makes their business into more than just another faceless entity.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a blanket statement that covers all forms of interaction with the customer as well as utilizing models in order to develop targeted advertising to reach out to a specific type of consumer. Marketing incorporates all forms of advertisement. In addition to this, marketing also deals with understanding the consumer or the audience and developing ways to utilize this deeper understanding.

Where do Branding and Marketing Meet?

Because these two disciplines are concerned with getting information out to the customer, they must meet at some level. Marketing and branding are both different facets of the overall content development strategy for a company. Your marketing should incorporate branding into it in order for you to cultivate customer loyalty. Branding allows you to represent your company in a certain light and build off the information that is gained by marketing. On the other side of the coin, marketing allows you to build a rapport with your audience and introduce them to your branded theme. These concepts go hand in hand, but they are not interchangeable.

What is the Major Difference between Marketing and Branding Then?

In a word, marketing is tactical whereas branding is strategic. I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t tactical and strategic the same thing?” No, they aren’t, as Kissmetrics points out. Marketing is where the brand is presented and it contributes to overall branding. However, long after the marketing campaign has been exhausted the brand loyalty will remain. This is where branding and marketing part ways.

When we say that marketing is tactical, we mean that it deals with getting its payload of information delivered. It doesn’t try to shape the user’s long-term feelings towards the product, it simply gets in and convinces the customer of the benefits. Branding, on the other hand, seeks to embrace a more long-term view of the customer. By strategic leverage of the brand, we can eventually call upon the customer’s loyalty to the brand in order to close a sale. But this is something that requires you to give back to the customer. You need to cultivate your brand image in such a way that the customer associates an idea with your brand.

How Marketing Works Alongside Branding To Build Business

Do you remember those old TV shows where there would be a sleeper agent that needs a secret code to “activate” them? Marketing is a little like that. It discovers and “activates” buyers, encouraging them to close sales. Branding goes one step further by making those buyers into loyal customers. One of the most common examples of this is the market for Apple products. Apple has made an art out of branding and this has carried over into products in many different branches of the electronics industry.

Taking a look at the Apple target demographic, we see that their aim was to produce a product that was sold solely for its importance as a status symbol. Thus, their marketing spread the message that apple products are available, but the branded apple product was joined by its numerous sister products that fall under the brand. When the consumer sees Apple now, then it’s understood that they are paying for Apple’s reputation as something that the cool, the chic and the hip use.

Building brand loyalty is what branding does and by making loyal customers out of your one-time buyers, you develop a ready market and audience that are willing and eager to receive your content.

Which One is a Better Investment?

Both marketing and branding are good investments and have their own type of returns. Marketing can easily be done wrong and if so, it can become a money sink into which a lot of cash if poured but the returns are mediocre. Well-researched marketing gives great returns on investment but the success of the campaign depends as much on the amount of effort put into it as the amount of money. The returns are, of course, seen in conversions and sales. Branding, because of its status as a long-term investment, is usually easier to adjust as time goes by. Catastrophic failures in branding do occur, but these are usually due to bad planning as opposed a lack of funding. The return you get from branding is customer loyalty, something that can be leveraged over and over again. Marketing is necessary to make branding work, but your real benefit comes from having a loyal customer base to call on when releasing new products.

Development of a User Base

Not so far back, probably less than five years ago, a large volume of the marketing community was involved in “renting” their target demographic. They worked from the start of their campaign and then built it to the point where their customers would be converted through their methods. This method had middling success, but at the time was hailed as revolutionary. No need to hang around after the sale, no need to contact the client after the sale is done, and no follow up action to ensure that the client buys from the company again.

We have changed out outlook on how we interact with customers. Having a loyal following is far better for a company than simply renting an audience. Borrowing your audience means you have to return them to oblivion someday and that makes whatever effort you throw into a marketing campaign targeting these customers a moot point. Combining branding along with your marketing is how you retain these customers as a loyal following.

In addition to this, when you have a retained customer base, you create a series of customers that help to spread your brand. That’s utilizing earned media to its fullest. When a customer makes a statement that you put onto your website or blog about a particular product, the consumer has learned to take these with a grain of salt. However, when such a statement is made directly to them, it carries a whole lot more weight and can even convince them to buy your product. What you’re doing by cultivating a brand is creating a series of “brand evangelists” that spread the word about your products without you having to invest any extra time into getting the word out.

Giving Back To The User

The number one thing that you should be looking at from your branding and marketing perspective is to give back to the user. Recently, GE’s blog, GE Reports, was featured as one of the leaders in branding because of their unique approach. What GE does is to provide information to the clients, thereby focusing on a target demographic of people interested in science. This ties in well with GE’s vision of itself as a leader in technology and innovation. By providing content that appeals to their target demographic, GE is tapping into this set of users and cultivating them as a ready market for new, innovative products.

Interspersed with their scientific updates and news in the field of technology, GE Reports also allows GE to tap directly into their fan base with their advertising. GE has always been considered a leader in the world of technology and innovation, but it’s only recently that the everyday person could look at GE and associate their brand with something like this. That’s the power of what GE Reports does, and what targeted blogging in the name of branding can do for your business.

Branding Is The Way To Go

Marketing is necessary, we don’t doubt that. However, marketing by itself can’t develop an audience that is receptive to your message. Branding is what makes your audience interested in your message and prevents you from having to reinvent the wheel every time you develop marketing content. Use your marketing to develop your branding but don’t ever forget the distinction between them. This difference is important to define both terms as well as to figure out what you plan to accomplish with each. There are many companies out there that are skilled in creating content for both marketing and branding purposes. If you intend to develop your branding professionally, this is the direction you should be headed.

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