Content Marketing Ideas Feed

Twitter Tips from Inc.com

Thanks to Jeff Korhan for recently posting a link to an Inc.com article, 10 Things You Should Tweet, and to Jon Gelberg for writing the article. It's one of the best summaries I've seen for how to use Twitter to promote your business online.

If you're not sure what you should be writing in your business's Twitter updates, check out the article now! Then please come back because I have a few other thoughts for you.

How's your balance?

On a recent webinar about blog planning, I talked about the balance between networking and marketing when you're using social media. Too much networking without any promotion, and people won't know how or when to refer business to you. Too much marketing without any relationship building, and no one will want to go near you.

scale with more rocks on one side than the other
In another post on Inc.com Hollis Thomases lists 11 Things to Tweet When You Have Nothing to Say, and she puts posting your own content at the bottom as #11.

She mentions the 80/20 rule, which is that 80% of your social media messages should be about other people (I would include connection/conversation in that portion) or showcasing other people's work, while 20% should be presenting your own content. Nichole Kelly from SME Digital makes the same recommendation in a recent interview.

Your Twitter stream is another website

Like it or not, the minute you set up a Twitter profile, you've got another piece of online real estate to look after. A quick glance at your profile page will show someone a lot about how you're using Twitter, and your balance between networking and marketing. 

I suggest you monitor your Twitter page (http://twitter.com/yourTwittername). Anytime you notice that you're veering over the 80/20 line, make an effort to rebalance the scale.

You've only got 140 characters to make an impression on Twitter. Use them wisely and have fun!  

P.S. Please connect with me on Twitter @lindadessau.


Getting to Know Your Clients - Just One of the Benefits of Blogging [Infographic]

The anatomy of content marketing - the heart of online success

In their comprehensive and well-researched infographic (shared with permission), UK-based company Content+ share that 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads. 

It makes sense when you consider the alternative, as I shared in a previous post about why to write an article, not an ad. Ads can feel intrusive and come at us on their timeline, not ours. Information, on the other hand, is something we actively seek out. 

Making it easier to get to know your prospective clients is just one of the many benefits of blogging. I've been tweeting about some of the others lately:

Benefits-of-blogging
Which one of these benefits makes the most sense to you? If you're already blogging, which benefit do you see happening in your own business? If you're not blogging yet, which benefit is most appealing? Add your comments below or tweet your answer.


Blog Readers Are Your Friends, But...

My definition of friend has changed from spending so much time online. I have many friends that I've never met in person, and probably never will. Some friendships began with a five-minute Twitter exchange; others were sparked in person and then deepened online.

I've written before about how you want to engage your blog reader as if you're already friends. After all, even as a brand new reader, that person has still come from somewhere.

Maybe they found you on Google, "Hey, my friend Google the search engine thought I should meet you because I'm looking for..." If they've come via a link on social media, the introduction was even warmer and more meaningful.

But presuming too much intimacy can backfire – both on your blog and on the popular business networking site, LinkedIn.

How to get ignored on LinkedIn

"______ (name) has indicated you are a Friend and would like to add you to his/her professional network."

There's something about that phrase that bothers me, and I click the "Ignore" button when I receive these types of LinkedIn invitations. Unless the person includes a note about how we're "friends." (I used to write back and ask them, but it became too time consuming.)

On LinkedIn, if you can't honestly say that you know someone via work, school or another institution, you have two other options other than "Friend": (a) you can say you don't know the person or (b) you can click "Other" and include a note about why you'd like to connect.

The latter option is what I always choose. You have to enter the person's email address, but don't worry, it's not a test; it just helps LinkedIn deliver your message.

Remind your blog readers why they like you

Blog readers might also ignore your advances if you get too close, too soon. While you want to take a friendly approach, keep in mind that even if they've "met" you once or twice, they may not remember whether or not they liked you.

That's why it's so important to be consistent with your language and branding – it helps remind people who you are and what they liked about you. So you're not just presuming intimacy; you're backing it up.

Keep earning your friendships

Someone recently recommended that I change this phrase in the Wellness Blogs submission guidelines: "Pretend you're chatting with a good friend who came for your help and expertise." He said people wouldn't give the same level of advice to a friend. I disagreed, and kept the phrase as is. What do you think?

This reminded me of an important point, though. Keep making the effort to impress and deliver value to your blog readers. Don't skimp on details or explanations because you assume people read them in a previous post – they may not have. 

How do you define friendship these days? Do you think people throw around the word too liberally? Do you consider your blog readers to be friends? How does that affect your approach to writing?


Top 10 Blog Post Idea Generators

During the How to Write a Blog Post webinar, I mentioned how quotes, statistics and other powerful article openers can also be idea generators for your blog posts.

I've combined those here with some of my other favourite sources for blog post ideas. Happy writing!

  1. Images - Instead of just searching for an image after you've already started or finished your post, why not browse an image site and see what ideas it sparks?
  2. News - Elena Verlee wrote about how to turn news stories into ideas you can pitch to journalists - or write about in your blog. You can also check out my Write for the Headlines series of blog post ideas for coaches. If you prefer to focus on good news, this blog is for you.
  3. Woman-with-idea
  4. Google Alerts - This tool allows you to filter the news by signing up for email updates when anything new is posted about a particular topic. Subscribe to the topics you and your clients are most interested in. Whether you just pass it along or write your own review/response, make sure to put yourself into the content that you share
  5. Google search - You can also just go to Google and begin typing different phrases about your topic ideas or blog categories. Google will automatically suggest phrases based on what other people have searched for. Check out what people want to know, what information is already out there AND what's missing
  6. Statistics - HubSpot and the Content Marketing Institute are great sources for statistics about social media and content marketing. Find the organizations or associations who are generating statistics about your industry, or browse Stats Can in Canada or the Census Bureau in the United States.
  7. Quotes - Type in a search term at a site like ThinkExist and see where it takes you. 
  8. Social media updates - Identify the people whose updates tend to get you thinking. They may share quotes of their own, powerful coaching questions, thought-provoking ideas or links to their own blogs or others. Bookmark these profiles or set them up as a saved search.
  9. RSS subscriptions - Do the same thing with the bloggers you go back to time and again for ideas, quotes and resources. You can either sign up to receive their latest posts by email or set them up in a "Blog Ideas" folder in your feed reader.
  10. Your Inbox - Could your last email exchange be your next blog post? Take note of any requests you receive for advice and recommendations. You'll help more people when you share your answers as a blog post.
  11. Question and answer forums - Browse Quora, LinkedIn Answers, LinkedIn groups or other discussion and research forums. Which questions can you answer? [Update January 19, 2013 - LinkedIn Answers will be discontinued at the end of January 2013.]
  12. BONUS: Live events - Get out and talk to people, both in and out of your target audience. You never know where you'll find a unique perspective on your topic.

The next time you're staring at a blank page and waiting for inspiration to strike, try your luck with one of these blog post idea generators. 


How Passive Blogging Can Inspire Active Conversations

When I say in my bio that I have attracted nearly 100% of my own clients through content marketing, that doesn't mean that I never go out

I learned early on that there are two forms of marketing: passive and active. As an introvert, it's no surprise that I prefer marketing in the comfort and quiet of my home office - passive marketing activities like blogging, upgrading my website and scheduling social media updates.

I also know that to market my business I need to have real conversations with real people. Here's how my blogging efforts support me during those conversations (and vice versa):

Clients: It used to baffle me when clients would ask a question that I had already answered in a blog post. Then I remembered that they have full lives and businesses and - gasp! - don't always read my blog posts or newsletters.

Does that mean my blogging isn't working? Hardly! Do you think those clients are impressed when I have a well-written answer to their question right at my fingertips? Absolutely!

And the other side of that coin is when I'm able to take a client's questions and draft my answer in the form of a blog post - benefitting that client, as well as other people with the same concern.

Networking contacts: As I describe in this blog post about using your blog to follow up with networking contacts, conversations with other business owners are easier when I take the time to discover their blogging questions. Then I can follow up by emailing them a blog post that addresses that very concern.

Social networking contacts: When I alert my networks about new content on my blog, that helps me get the conversation started. Sharing my content is what turns social networking into business networking.

That's only the start, though. From there, it's my job (not something to outsource) to nurture my connections by responding to comments or starting new conversations about what other people are up to. 

Audiences: I often use content from blog posts as the basis for my training webinars or when I speak as a guest at someone else's event. If it's a new audience, all of the content is new to them, so why not use my best material? If they're regular readers, they appreciate the reinforcement of my core message.

Referral partners: Through all of those other activities, I've built a network of people who know me, stand behind my passion for what I do, and trust that I will take good care of whoever they refer.

I stay on their minds by publishing consistently, being active on social media and by reaching out via email. By striving to produce quality content, I show them that I have expertise in a very specific area so it's clear what types of referrals would be best. Who will they think of first when someone expresses a need for blogging support? 

When you put the effort into creating high-quality content for your blog, you'll feel more confident about your expert status. That confidence will shine through all of your conversations, attracting your ideal clients as well as the people who will refer them to you. 


Tap Into the Possibility of a Team Blog

I mentioned in an earlier post that when it comes to blogging, many hands make light work. Blogging with a team has five key benefits:

  1. Less work - Keeping a blog fresh with weekly posts is much easier when there are more contributors.
  2. Lower costs - Team members can share the blogging costs of domain name registration and hosting, as well as editing and blog management (hey, we do that!).
  3. Higher credibility - As long as you hook up with other trusted professionals, your combined qualities will boost your individual clout as well. 
  4. Shared network - Each team member can promote the blog to their professional and personal contacts, creating a much broader audience.
  5. Greater momentum - When a group of like-minded people put their heads together, creative ideas flow more freely. This is bound to impact the rest of your business as well.

If you're a solo practitioner or business owner, you may think there's no way to tap into these benefits of team blogging. Yet consider these possible teams:

  • Co-leasors of an office space, office building or strip mall
  • Independent service businesses with complimentary specialties
  • Networking groups
  • Business associations

Who can you get together with to make lighter work of blogging?

If you have a team that's ready to start blogging for business, contact us today to find out how we can help!


How the One to One Wellness Centre Uses a Team Blog To Attract New Clients

Photo of team at 121

When physiotherapist Nick Matheson first raised the idea of using a blog to promote the services of the health care practitioners in his wellness clinic, marketing consultants warned him against it. 

I see their point. Many businesses start a blog with the best intentions, only to abandon it later. This not only counteracts any of the benefits of blogging, it can actually detract from the credibility of the business because it looks like you don't finish what you start.

That hasn't been an issue for Nick and his team, because "apparently, we have a lot to say!" In fact as weekly bloggers, the One to One Wellness team embody some of the best practices for group blogging

They launched their blog in January 2010, although Nick Matheson started blogging in 2004 when his daughter was sick (it was a way to process his thoughts and cope with the experience). As a marketing tool, it appealed to him as "a way for us to have a conversation with people when we're not there.

The blog has brought them some media attention, including a profile in Process Magazine (Volume 18 No. 2, 2011) and a quote in an upcoming article in Canadian Living Magazine.

Nick says that the other benefits are harder to quantify, but they get a fair amount of positive feedback, and "a number of people check out the blog before coming in for an appointment."

With eight contributors, each person only needs to produce a blog post every two months - that's the beauty of team blogging! They have a central blog schedule, so everyone knows what's expected of them. Nick goes in to edit, approve and publish the posts once a team member has submitted a draft.

I especially like how each post is clearly labeled with the name and speciality of the team member (like this one by Nutrition Consultant Liz Manwaring) - no anonymous posters here (although I do see another word I don't like)! Descriptive category names further organize their content, and there's also a handy search box to find a particular topic.

Congratulations to Nick and the team at One to One Wellness Centre. And thanks for providing such a positive example of a wellness clinic team blog.


If you would like to start or re-start a group blog for your wellness clinic or other healthcare practice, contact us today to see how we can help!


Team Blogging Success Tips for Wellness Clinics

For healthcare practitioners and alternative therapists, blogging is a non-threatening way to attract clients, not chase them. A well-written blog post about a health issue that your ideal clients struggle with will highlight your expertise in that area, building your clients' trust in you.

Blogging consistently keeps your website fresh and updated, which shows your visitors (and the search engines who direct those visitors to you) that your clinic is an active, thriving business and that you and your team have lots of valuable content to share.

Even more importantly, blogging will show these prospective clients how much you care about and understand them. Since blogging tends to be a less formal style of writing, they will see that you and your team members are real people who can provide practical, useful information in plain English they can understand.

Blogging is a team sport

Many-hands-light-work There's a saying that "many hands make light work," and the same is true for a blog. Instead of one person being responsible to post something new every single week, with a group blog you'll have a whole team to share the task.

Top 10 Success Tips for Your Wellness Clinic Team Blog

  1. Appoint a blog captain - Have one person be responsible for keeping everyone on track with your publication schedule. This may be your clinic administrator or owner, a team member with good organizational skills, or you may choose to hire a blog editor/consultant (hey, we do that!).
  2. Edit, rewrite and polish - Ensure that your blog posts are free of errors or confusing language. Use a checklist, style guide, blog editor or any other tools that will ensure consistency and quality. After all, you want your blog to reflect the same high standards as your business.
  3. Publish consistently - Create a shared calendar (e.g., Google Calendar), where everyone can see the time line for upcoming publication dates. Remember to leave extra time for editing by setting each blog post's due date a week before you actually want to publish.
  4. Meet regularly - Get the team together to brainstorm ideas, choose a monthly theme and get the power of your creative minds working together. Maintain your commitment to this valuable marketing strategy.
  5. Celebrate your diversity - Encourage each team member to blog from his or her own expertise, discipline and speciality. Tap into each person's unique perspective and tone of voice.
  6. Produce good content - Apply these proven content marketing practices: write with your readers' interests in mind, focus your writing into bite-sized pieces and address the most pressing problems your ideal clients are looking to solve. 
  7. Suggest the next step - Create a unique call to action in every article, e.g., attend an event, sign up for your mailing list or call the office for more information. Remember that people will arrive on your site at different times in the relationship-building process.
  8. Keep in touch - Make it easy for readers to find out about your newest articles and events by posting a subscription form on every page of your website and blog. Then, in your monthly or bi-weekly newsletter, share one of your blog posts (plus links to all recent posts), as well as information about upcoming events, featured services or new team members.
  9. Shout from the rooftops - Ask every team member to promote the blog by adding the blog link to your email signatures. Share links to each other's blog posts on your social media networks, online forums or email groups. And when you get a specific request for information on a particular topic, use the blog as your primary resource.  
  10. Lead the way - Make it easy for blog readers to take the next step of getting to know you and your clinic. Either integrate your blog right into your website or add extra pages to your blog so they can take action right away.

If you need help to implement these ideas and manage your team blog, contact us today to learn how we can help!


Read This Before You Set Up Your Blog: An Interview with Scott Gingrich of Piggybank Technology, Part Two

ScottGingrich Welcome back! We've been talking to Scott Gingrich. Scott owns Piggybank Technology, a web design and marketing firm devoted to delighting their customers with marketing websites that deliver measureable results. In Part One of this interview, we discussed why a blog is the only website you'll ever need.

Linda: Do you have any cautionary tales about the mechanics of setting up a blog?

Scott: Many. Here are two.

  1. We had one client who came to us about 4 months after they launched a simple WordPress site with an off-the-shelf template. Their plan had been to start simple and grow the site over time, which is a perfectly valid approach. However, now they wanted to do things with the site that would be really over-reaching what WordPress can do well. They incurred a substantial cost to remake their site with Joomla.

    Lesson: Understand the vision for what you want your website to be over the next couple of years and make sure the platform you choose handles that two-year vision, not just what you want to get started with.
  2. A client with a very popular blogsite had been hacked and there was malicious code throughout his articles and elsewhere. He had never thought twice about securing his WordPress site or keeping it updated. It was a very laborious and expensive exercise to rescue his site.

    Lesson: You may be able to install WordPress in a couple of minutes, but without securing it you may be looking at some extra costs and time down the road.

Linda: What advice do you have for someone who has an existing website and wants to add or transition to a blog?

Scott: We’re doing a lot more website conversions these days. Generally, it’s relatively easy to take an established website and put in a content management system such as Joomla.

We prefer to convert the whole site to be run on a Content Management System like WordPress or Joomla instead of tacking on a blog page to the site. Here's why:

  • Once someone realizes the power in being able to add and edit pages themselves, they’ll want to do that for all pages of their website.
  • We can integrate the blog content into the rest of site, making it more dynamic and interactive (for example, by displaying the most recent blog posts in the sidebar of other pages).
  • You'll get a consistent visitor experience across all sections of the website, which is better for the marketing flow of the site.

Linda: What are the pros and cons of having your blog integrated into your site versus on a separate site?

Scott: This is a big debate. I don’t think there’s one right answer that covers all cases. For most of my clients it comes down to one question: Can you afford to properly set-up and maintain two sites? The answer for most small businesses is NO.

Yes, it’s quick and easy to setup a blogsite. However, to set it up so that it converts visitors into leads (not just followers) is another story…a story that becomes trickier if we need to get visitors to a second site!

As I answer this, I am in the midst of planning a separate blogging site to act as a lead generator for our business and to expand our business model into new revenue streams. In doing this planning, we have considerations such as:

  • Building in lead capture devices (like email opt-ins and Facebook "likes")
  • Keeping the brand consistent with our main site
  • Developing the "voice" for the new site

If you can handle doing two sites well, great. For most local small businesses, maintaining one is more than enough of a challenge!

Linda: Thanks again to Scott Gingrich, and his wife and co-owner Jennifer Gingrich. I really value the connection we've made since I moved to Barrie in September 2010. You do great work in helping local business owners set up a website right the first time, or rescuing them from situations where they had a bad start.