Tag Archive | "Attract"

4 Ways to Attract New Customers in a Competitive Market

One hard truth that new entrepreneurs find out quickly is that running a business is hard and they’ll have to compete if they want to be successful. 

In many ways, doing business follows the Darwinian principles of natural selection—only the fittest survive. If you don’t innovate, take risks, and attract new customers, you’ll go extinct. So how do you stay competitive and grow your customer base in a fierce marketplace?

4 Ways to Gain Customers in a Competitive Market

Study the Competition

Whatever your product is, if it makes money, it will likely have a competitor in the market. Instead of holding out for that one unique product, you should study rival companies and use them to refine your brand.

Analyze your competitors’ products and services to see what they offer and what they do not. You can then brainstorm ways to innovate and find solutions to unsolved problems in your particular niche. Doing this allows you to offer something that no one else does.

Most Millenials and older generations can remember the hassle of driving all the way to the local Blockbuster to rent new movies. Netflix filled a gap in the video rental market by allowing customers to send and receive movies by mail, eliminating the need for in-store visits. It later innovated its service by streaming movies online and getting rid of late fees, adding further convenience to customers. Today, Netflix is one one of the largest pure media companies in the world with a valuation of $ 150 billion. Blockbuster, however, failed to innovate and has since gone out of business. Even if you’re not a media business, Netflix’s strategy serves as an excellent example of how a company can innovate and capitalize on market gaps.

Outprice Your Competitor

Offering a more affordable option is always a good way to attract new clients. However, simply being the cheapest product around doesn’t automatically guarantee that people will be buying from you. A low priced item is often considered an inferior one. What you can do is study your competitor’s pricing structure and decide on a price that’s lower but would not raise questions about your brand’s quality or value.

You can also establish a clear pricing strategy. Decide if you want to offer “every day low prices” like Amazon or Walmart. Just make sure you can consistently offer lower prices than your competition. You could also utilize a  “price discrimination” strategy where you analyze how customers find your business and adjust pricing based on their spending power. Experiment until you find the best strategy.

Make Allies of Other Businesses

Building a database is challenging, but you can make things easier by aligning your company with other established businesses that serve the same demographic. You then look for a way to promote your company with their database. For instance, a new boutique can work with a popular hair salon and offer a free summer dress to the first 100 customers who’ll get their hair cut or colored. But they would have to pick up the dress at the boutique.

Think of the older business as a host and your brand as the beneficiary. Making an ally of the host provides you with a large set of prospects. Meanwhile, your host will have a way to reward their most loyal clients. It’s a win-win situation.

Provide Better Customer Service

One of the best ways to encourage your competitor’s customers to give you a chance is to provide them with better customer service than they’re used to. One study revealed that 89% of consumers would change brands if they experienced poor customer service.

Customers return to brands that make them feel appreciated, respected, and valued. You can make them feel this way through simple things like greeting them with a smile when they come to your store or sending personalized emails. Listening will also get you a lot of customers. Listen to them even when they are complaining. Never justify the mistakes made or blame or criticize your client. They will always have the right to speak out.

Winning new customers is a sweet feeling. It feels even better when they come from your competitors.  Integrating these ideas with your marketing plan will give your business an advantage.

The post 4 Ways to Attract New Customers in a Competitive Market appeared first on WebProNews.


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Attract Better Clients and Customers with the ‘Chuckle Point’ Technique

If you know you don’t want to produce unicorn vomit (and I applaud you for that), you may have decided that your content will be “professional.” I was extremely preoccupied with “professional” when I started creating content 10 years ago. Revealing anything about my non-work personality was out of the question. But I had the
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How to Attract Your Ideal Customer with Perfectly Positioned Content

"You don’t just accept whom you find — you choose whom to attract." – Brian Clark

“Hello, I’m a Mac.”

“And I’m a PC.”

You remember Apple’s “Get a Mac” series of commercials that ran from May 2006 to October 2009?

The commercials were short vignettes featuring John Hodgman as the sweet-yet-bumbling PC and Justin Long as the creative, hip Mac.

Those 66 short spots were named the best advertising campaign of the previous decade by Adweek.

The success of the long-running campaign leads one to believe that Apple certainly knows who its ideal customer is. Of course they do … because they chose their ideal customer, right from the birth of the Macintosh itself.

That doesn’t mean that everyone responded favorably to the ads. While researching for this article, I ran across a commenter who maintained that the campaign had “backfired” because the PC character had actually been more appealing to him.

No, the campaign didn’t backfire (no one runs a series of ads for three years if they’re not working). Instead, Apple chose who not to attract as much as they chose who they hoped to convert.

Apple knew they were never going to get hardcore PC people to switch to a Mac. Instead, Apple used these 66 humorous little stories to target those who were more likely to “swing” toward Apple, after being educated about the benefits by the contrast between the two characters.

Sounds like really great content marketing to me. In fact, given the nature and duration of the Get a Mac campaign, it resembled serial online video marketing more than traditional advertising.

So, the first (and most important) step in our 3-step content marketing strategy is determining your “Who.”

Who do you want to attract and speak to, and just as importantly, who do you want to drive in the other direction? It all comes down to your values, first and foremost.

What are your core values?

Apple’s values were well reflected in the Get a Mac campaign — creativity, simplicity, and rebellion against the status quo. These core values were consistently present in the prior “Crazy Ones” campaign, and before that, the iconic “1984” ad.

Some feel that Apple has lost the ability to innovate since Steve Jobs passed. Whether or not that’s true, I think the perception of Apple has changed among those of us who were initially strongly attracted, because their advertising now, for the first time, tries to appeal to a more general audience.

Steve would definitely not approve.

Modern marketing is about matching up with the worldview of your ideal customer. Outside of a monopoly, there is no such thing as marketing that appeals to everyone, and yet, companies still try and routinely fail.

On the other hand, think of Patagonia. The founder of the outdoor clothing and gear company invented an aluminum climbing wedge that could be inserted and removed without damaging the rock face. This reflects Patagonia’s founding core value:

“Build the best products while creating no unnecessary environmental harm.”

Of course, not every company has a core value built into the founding story. Most businesses exist to simply sell things that people want, so it’s up to management to find the core values that they want to reflect in their marketing to attract the right kind of customer.

For example, there’s nothing inherently ethical about ice cream, beyond ingredients. So Ben & Jerry’s adopted the values of its two founders, which had nothing at all to do with ice cream.

Not everyone who likes ice cream necessarily agrees with reduced Pentagon spending and the fight against climate change, but the people who do care about those things turned Ben & Jerry’s into an iconic brand.

It doesn’t have to be all sunshine and light, either. If your core values fall in line with a “Greed is good” mentality, you’ll certainly find people out there who share this worldview. You just have to unflinchingly own it.

You need to understand who you’re talking to, yes. But you don’t just accept who you find — you choose whom to attract.

What does your character look like?

In the Get a Mac campaign, Apple literally created a character that personified what their ideal “swing” customer aspired to be. It’s time for us to do the same.

You can call them personas or avatars if you like — I prefer character. That’s because the first step is the research that allows you to create a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer.

As far as fiction goes, we’re creating a character that will be the protagonist in their own purchasing journey that your content will help them complete. Since this journey is based on as much reality as we can glean from our research, it’s more like a fictionalized drama “based on actual people and events.”

When I say the prospect is the protagonist, that means the hero. Your content is a powerful gift that positions your brand as a guide that helps the hero complete the journey that solves their problem. If this sounds like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to you, nice work — we’ll elaborate on this aspect in the “What” portion of the strategy.

This journey does not take place in the context of you wanting to sell more stuff. It’s understanding how the prospect thinks, feels, sees, and behaves in the context of solving the problem that sets them on the journey in the first place.

And don’t forget about instilling them with your shared core values. Why would this person choose you to assist them on the journey, out of a sea of other choices?

Because you already see the world like they do in an important way, and they’ll pick up on that shared worldview immediately upon coming across your content. Your core values are your secret attraction spell.

Instead of hiding your world views in the hope of never offending anyone, you now realize the power of being loud and proud — and attracting like-minded people who see you as the only reasonable choice.

Now, most people don’t end up using this representative character in their content, like Apple did with Justin Long in the Get a Mac commercials. It’s really a composite to refer back to so that you never lose sight of whom you’re talking to, what you should say, and how you should say it.

On the other hand, the Get a Mac commercials were just two guys standing and talking in front of a minimalist, all-white background. If you’re thinking in terms of online video marketing, you could do a lot worse than looking to this campaign for inspiration.

And think about your explainer videos. Wouldn’t a character that represents who you’re talking to give you an edge over competing marketing approaches?

At a minimum, contemplating the actual use of the character in your content will force you to get things just right. Let’s look at a method for doing that.

You are not your audience

Given that you’re seeking to attract people who share your values, it’s tempting to overly identify with your audience. While you’re going to have things in common, it’s dangerous to think your ideal customer is similar to you in other ways.

You’re a subject matter expert at what you do, for starters, and they are not.

You need to make sure you don’t fall victim to the curse of knowledge, a cognitive bias that occurs when a person with expertise unknowingly assumes that others have the background to understand.

This one assumption alone can sink your content marketing efforts. Plus, you don’t want to assume that the audience shares other characteristics that you have — you want to know, as well as you can, what they’re thinking, feeling, seeing, and doing.

In other words, for you to have the empathy to walk the buyer’s journey in their shoes, you must first see things from their perspective. Then you’ll be in a position to create the content that “coaches” them along the journey.

Let’s take a closer look at empathy, the definition of which consists of two parts:

  1. The intellectual identification with the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
  2. The vicarious experiencing of those feelings, thoughts, or attitudes.

It’s often said you want to enter the conversation that’s already playing in your prospect’s head. By matching up values and worldviews, you’re also aiming to enter the conversation in the prospect’s heart, and that’s how your marketing triggers the right motivation at the right time.

The process we use for achieving this is called empathy mapping. At the foundation of the exercise is this statement: “Our ideal customer needs a better way to ____ BECAUSE ____.”

Empathy maps vary in shapes and sizes, but there are basic elements common to each one:

  • Four quadrants broken into “Thinking,” “Seeing,” “Doing,” and “Feeling”
  • Two optional boxes at the bottom of the quadrants: “Pains” and “Gains”

empathy-map

To get started, you can download and print a large version of the empathy map above here.

The map allows you to easily organize all of your research and other relevant materials. The four quadrants represent the sensory experience of your ideal customer while in the prospect phase.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What does a typical day look like in their world?
  • How do they think about their fears and hopes?
  • How do they feel about the problem your product solves?
  • What are they thinking when they resist solving the problem?
  • What do they hear when other people solve the problem?
  • Whom do they see as viable options to solve the problem?
  • What do they see when they use your product? What is the environment?
  • What do they say or feel when using your product?
  • What are their pain points when using your product?
  • Is this a positive or a painful experience for them?
  • Do they hear positive feedback about your company from external sources?
  • What do they hope to gain from using your product?

Jot down needs and insights that emerge as you work through this exercise. Then simply paste those notes in the proper boxes on the large empathy map.

At the bottom of your empathy map, you can also draw two boxes: “Pains” and “Gains.”

In the “Pains box,” you can put your customers’ challenges and obstacles. Ask, “What keeps my customer up at night?”

In the “Gains” box, include the goals your customers hope to accomplish. Ask, “What motivates my customer to solve their problem?” and “What are their hopes and dreams?”

Now … describe your character in detail

You’re now ready to create a written composite of your character. Some people do several paragraphs, or perhaps a page of description. You, being the smart person that you are, might consider taking it further by creating a character bible, just like novelists and screenwriters do.

In this context, a character bible is a detailed outline that lays out everything about your prospect in one place, so you can easily access their personality, problems, and desires. It may seem like a lot of work, but you’ll be happy you did it once you start coming up with the “What” and the “How” of your content marketing strategy.

Next week, we’ll look at figuring out “what” information your prospect must have to complete their journey with you. You’ll go from stepping into your prospect’s shoes to walking the buyer’s journey with them.

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​How to Create Images That Attract & Convince Your Target Niche

Posted by nikkielizabethdemere

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Any old picture might be worth a thousand words. But your target niche doesn’t need or want a thousand words. Your ideal audience needs the right words, paired with the right images, to tell a story that uniquely appeals to their deepest desires.

Studies show that people understand images faster than words, remember them longer, and if there’s a discrepancy between what we see and what we hear, our brains will choose to believe what they see. Our brains prioritize visual information over any other kind, which makes images the fast-track to connection all marketers are looking for.

So don’t just slap some text on a stock photo and call it good. You can do better. Much better. And I’ll show you how.

Understand the symbolic underpinnings

This homepage from Seer Interactive does a lot right. The copy below this central image is golden: “We’re Seer. We pride ourselves on outcaring the competition.” Outcaring? That’s genius!

But, I would argue, pairing this image with these words, “It’s not just marketing, it’s personal,” is less than genius. There’s nothing personal about this picture. Sure, there are people in it, but chatting with a group of coworkers doesn’t say “personal” to me. It says corporate.

NNqDoNV.pngWhat if they paired those words with this free image by Greg Rakozy from Unsplash?

SOgjVjt.pngThere’s something about this image that isn’t just personal; it’s intimate. Two people connecting in the dark, surrounded by snowflakes that almost look like white noise. Could this be a metaphor for reaching out through the noise of the Internet to make a personal connection? To get someone to fall in love (with your brand) even?

Many philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists have pointed out that humans are uniquely symbolic creatures.
– Clay Routledge Ph.D., The Power of Symbolism, Psychology Today

A truly powerful image speaks to us on a symbolic level, feeding us information by intuition and association. Humans are associative creatures. We naturally derive deep, multifaceted meanings from visual cues, an idea brought into prominence by both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

The magic behind an effective symbol is its ability to deliver messages to both our conscious minds and subconscious awareness. When choosing the right image for marketing copy — whether an ad or the “hero” section of your website — consider not just what you want to tell people, but what you want them to feel.

A symbol must possess at one and the same time a double or a multiple significance … Thus all symbols possess both a ‘face’ and a ‘hidden’ value, and it is one of the great achievements of psychology to have shown how the ‘hidden’ value is generally, from the point of view of function, the more important. …Behind this face value lies a mass of undifferentiated feelings and impulses, which do not rise into consciousness, which we could not adequately put into words even if we wanted to… and which, though they go unattended to, powerfully influence our behavior.
– F.C. Bartlett, ‘The social functions of symbols,’ Astralasian Journal of Psychology and Philosophy

And, of course, as you’re looking through images, consider this:

What type of images and experiences will resonate with your target audience’s deepest desires?

This, of course, requires you to have built out a robust buyer persona that includes not just their demographic information with a catchy name but also their extracurricular passions: the driving forces that get them out of bed and into the office each day.

As with conversion copywriting, the key to success is identifying motivations and using them to create a visual representation of your niche’s most desired outcomes.

Set the stage for an experience, not just a product

In keeping with the theme of images that deliver the desired outcome, the most effective online ads do this in a way that invites the viewer to experience that outcome. Instead of featuring simply a product, for example, these ads set the stage for the experience that buying the product just might enable you to have.

ModCloth is a master of this. Doesn’t this image make you want to take a nap in a nice, cozy cabin? You can get that experience (or something like it) if you buy their $ 200 hammock.

5036Odd.pngUnless you live in the deep woods of the Appalachian mountains, your home will never look like this. But some of us wish ours did, and we’re clearly the target audience. This picture speaks to our deepest need to get away from everyone and everything for some much-needed rest and recuperation.

When choosing images, it’s just as important to consider symbolism as it is to consider the target viewers. What experience will resonate with them most? What images will sell their desired experiences?

ModCloth’s recent “road trip” slider doesn’t say anything about the clothes they’re trying to sell, for example. But it does speak to a sense of adventure and the power of female friendships, both of which are defining characteristics of their target niche of millennial women with a delightfully quirky fashion sense.

cWEVdqk.pngYou don’t have to be a clothing company to capitalize on this idea or even a B2C company. Check out how these B2B companies use images to make their words not just read, but felt.

LU9kd3l.pngDon’t you feel like you’re Superman out for a midnight joyride? All the world at your fingertips? Yeah, that’s the point. What they’re selling, essentially, is omniscience via data. All the benefits of DC Comics-like superpowers, minus the kryptonite.

19LrmR9.pngYou might not catch it at first glance, but look at how cozy these people are. They’re wearing knit sweaters (not suits) while cradling warm cappuccinos in their hands — clearly, this sales meeting is going well. No pressure tactics here. Quite the opposite.

C8OQkJi.pngFor this example from Blitz Marketing, you’ll have to visit their website, because this isn’t a static image — it’s a video montage designed to get you PUMPED! Energy practically radiates off the screen (which, we are left to infer, is the feeling you’d get all the time if you worked with this creative marketing agency).

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Piston, another ad agency, takes a more subtle approach, which I love. Instead of having your standard stock photo of “man in a suit,” they did a custom photo shoot and added quirky elements, like a pink candy ring. I find this image particularly powerful because it effectively sets up an expectation (man in a suit), then adds a completely unexpected element (candy ring), which is conveniently located behind the word CREATIVE. This illustrates just how creative this agency is while remaining utterly professional.

Numbers are compelling. Numbers with visual aids? Unstoppable.

Let’s say your buyer persona isn’t driven by emotion. Show this persona a grid of city lights from 2,000 feet up, and he or she won’t feel like Superman. They’ll be wondering what this has to do with the ROI they can expect.

Someone get this persona some numbers already.

When conversion depends heavily on gaining credibility, pictures can be very compelling. In fact, one study out of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand showed that simply having an image makes the text alongside that image more believable, even if the image had nothing at all to do with the text.

When people evaluate claims, they often rely on what comedian Stephen Colbert calls ‘truthiness,’ or subjective feelings of truth.
Nonprobative photographs (or words) inflate truthiness, by E.J. Newman, M. Garry, D.M. Bernstein, J. Kantner, D.S. Lindsay

Essentially, any image is better than nothing. But the right image? It’s worth even more. In a similar study by the Psychology departments at both Colorado State University and the University of California, researchers experimented with brain images.

Brain images are believed to have a particularly persuasive influence on the public perception of research on cognition. Three experiments are reported showing that presenting brain images with articles summarizing cognitive neuroscience research resulted in higher ratings of scientific reasoning for arguments made in those articles, as compared to articles accompanied by bar graphs, a topographical map of brain activation, or no image.
Seeing is believing: The effect of brain images on judgments of scientific reasoning by David P. McCabe and Alan D. Castel

However, what if we traded in this either/or philosophy (either picture or no picture, either picture or bar graph) for a philosophy that uses the best of all resources?

Having the right image, supported by the right words, and given credibility by real numbers (as statistics or in graphs/charts) is the most effective possible combination.

Statistics have also proven to be compelling. In Blinded with science: Trivial graphs and formulas increase ad persuasiveness and belief in product efficacy, the study out of Cornell University reveals that just the appearance of being scientific increases an ad’s persuasiveness. What does that “appearance” require?

Graphs. Simple, unadorned graphs.

And, those graphs were even more effective at persuading people who had “a greater belief in science” (e.g., your logical buyer persona).

Put the right words together with the right image, then overlay with a supportive set of numbers, and you can convince even the most logical persona that you have the solutions they seek.

Caveat: When the name of the game is building credibility, don’t undermine yourself with shoddy data and lazy analysis. One of your smart customers will, without fail, call you out on it.

Graphs and charts don’t have to be fancy or complicated to be convincing. Check out these two graphs from the Kissmetrics article Most of Your A/B Test Results are Illusory and That’s Okay by Will Kurt.

CpsQKZK.pngF0eQFmR.pngDo you even need to read the rest of the article to get the point? (Though you will want to read the article to find out exactly what that scientist is doing so right.) This is highly effective data storytelling that shows you, at a glance, the central point the author is trying to make.

CubeYou, a social data mining company that turns raw numbers into actionable insights, does great data storytelling by combining stats and images. Not only do these visuals deliver demographic information, they put a face on the target at the same time, effectively appealing to both logical and more intuitive personas in one fell swoop.

VwJsu9Q.pngAnd for even more powerful images, look at the data visualizations Big Mountain Data put together of the #WhyIStayed domestic violence hashtag. Talk about telling an impactful story.

IFaDNBQ.pngThen there are infographics that include data visualization, images, and analysis. I love this one from CyberPRMusic.com.

qelQyNp.pngIt’s all about telling their story

Uninspired visuals are everywhere. Seriously, they’re easy to find. In researching this article, I could find 20 bad images for every one good one I’ve included here.

Herein lies an opportunity to stand out.

Maybe the intersection of words, images, and numbers isn’t well understood in online marketing. Maybe having free stock photos at our fingertips has made us lazy in their use. Maybe there aren’t enough English majors touting the benefits of effective symbolism.

Whatever the reason, you now have the chance to go beyond telling your target niche about your product or service’s features and benefits. You have the ability to set your brand apart by showing them just how great life can be. Free tools such as Visage make it possible.

iHrJ3ka.png

But first, you have to care enough to make compelling images a priority.

What are your thoughts on using stunning visuals as needle-movers for your brand?

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5 Steps to Revising Your Content Marketing Strategy to Attract and Retain Future Customers

Authority Rainmaker 2015 speaker Joe Pulizzi

This is not a how-to post; this is a how-to-think post.

What troubles me about the majority of current content creation activities from companies is the sheer lack of strategy and purpose.

I see a lot of activities — tweets, posts, articles, infographics, and more — that don’t support a real business goal.

Content Marketing Institute’s latest research even found that only 38 percent of all marketers believe they are effective at content marketing.

Your business goal that drives your particular content creation strategy should be to build an audience.

With a loyal audience you can sell, well, practically anything you want.

An upside-down model

I believe most businesses are doing it wrong. Today, the majority of businesses put their hearts and souls into developing some amazing product, and then scratch like heck to get people to pay attention to it.

Wow, that seems like a lot of work. Why not just build the audience first and then develop the product once you truly understand the needs of the audience?

I believe this is the go-to-market strategy for businesses in the future — so much so that my next book is about this exact topic.

Don’t believe me? I’m amazed by the amount of contemporary businesses that have had success with this method; build the audience first and then create the product later.

Your own Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger Media, created content for 19 months without offering a product. Over that time, he worked to build a loyal audience (and succeeded).

Today, Copyblogger Media is one of the fastest growing SaaS (software as a service) companies on the planet.

For me, personally, I launched a blog on April 26, 2007. For 14 months all we did was build an audience. Then, we launched our first product in June of 2008.

Today, the Content Marketing Institute has been named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies three years in a row.

Social Media Examiner, Moz, Smosh TV, and Lauren Luke have all done the same; they built multi-million-dollar businesses by doing one simple thing — building an audience. Product development and sales came later.

Rethinking the model

Billy Beane, as General Manager of the Oakland A’s, had none of the resources of a large-market team for putting a championship baseball team together.

But by focusing on a rarely used statistic, the On-Base Percentage (OBP), he restructured his team. That year, Oakland broke the American League record for most consecutive wins (20) with one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball.

Today, the majority of MLB teams leverage the components of Beane’s philosophy.

Paul Westhead, the basketball coach for Loyola Marymount from 1988–1990, threw out the traditional basketball playbook and focused on shooting as many times as humanly possible during a game.

He held the simple belief that having significantly more shooting attempts than the competition would tip the scales in Loyola’s favor.

Over those three years, Loyola led the country in scoring, with an amazing 122.4 points per game in 1990 (the all-time NCAA record).

Better yet, this small program nearly went all the way to the Final Four that year (losing to UNLV).

In 2013, Chip Kelly left college football powerhouse Oregon to coach in the National Football League (NFL) for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kelly espoused the theory that a faster-moving offense, which eliminates the amount of seconds between plays, would create a competitive advantage and keep defenses without the ability to substitute.

Through this philosophy, Kelly turned the Eagles program around, and now, into one of the most successful franchises in football. Kelly’s offensive strategy has redefined the league, with many teams converting to his system.

Why did I just tell you these three stories?

Because each of the three make an incredible amount of sense, but at the time, they were “different” than what others did.

In the future, thousands of businesses from around the globe will leverage the power of building an audience as go-to-market strategy.

Why? Not just because you are first and foremost building a loyal audience directly, but also because having a singular focus on audience gives you the best understanding of the most beneficial products to sell.

Whether you already have a product or are just getting started, here are five steps you need to take now to attract and retain future customers of your product or service.

Step 1. Choose the right content niche

Select a content niche where you have at least a chance of being the leading informational provider in your industry.

Your content should be the very best in your industry — better than all your competitors’ and better than that of the media and publishers in your space.

How can you be the leading, trusted expert in your industry if it is not? The key to that happening is choosing a focused niche where that goal is not out of your reach.

Step 2. Focus all your efforts on building an opt-in email list

Your content should have one call to action, and that is to sign up for your email list. The goal of any content you produce is to get and keep a subscriber.

Remove other calls to action in your content. Fans and followers are great, but you don’t own them.

I can’t remember a time when email marketing has been more critical or important.

Step 3. Produce content consistently

Content delivery on a regular schedule is a promise to your reader. Don’t break your promise.

A blog post should be published at the same time each day or each week, depending on your schedule. Your email newsletter should be sent regularly without fail.

To become the “must see TV” of your industry, your subscribers need to know when to tune in.

Step 4. Add “outcomes” to your editorial calendar

To implement this step, you need to add an extra section to your editorial calendar.

An “outcome” is the problem you solve for the reader, and a central focus for your editorial team.

How are you making your readers’ lives better? If your content doesn’t answer that question, try again.

Step 5. Prepare the three-legged stool model

The greatest media companies in the world don’t only focus on digital content. Look at ESPN, the New York Times, or the Huffington Post.

If you want to become the leading media company in your industry, plan to dominate multiple content channels, including digital, print, and events.

It all begins with the audience

No matter what your ultimate revenue source is, whether you sell advertising, paid content, consulting services, or a manufactured product, you’ll achieve your goals with more ease if you focus your content creation energy on building a loyal audience.

Now is the time.

Want to take your content marketing to the next level?

Joe Pulizzi is among the powerhouse lineup of speakers who will be presenting at Authority Rainmaker May 13–15, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. It’s live content marketing training and networking for real-world results.

Super Early Bird pricing is now in effect, which saves you $ 500 off the full price. The price goes up on January 15, so don’t wait and pay more.

About the Author: Joe Pulizzi is founder of Content Marketing Institute, which puts on the largest in-person content marketing event in the world: Content Marketing World. You can find Joe on Twitter @JoePulizzi. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange.

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How To Attract Coaching Clients Presented In My New Yaro.TV “Coaching Session” Video Format

As you can probably tell I have upped the amount of videos I release on my YouTube channel.

I am personally recording quick behind the scenes updates that I call “Yaro.TV Dailys“, as well as releasing the occasional more substantial videos like my Stand Up Desk video.

I’ve also been working with my new Filipino … Read the rest of this entry »

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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Attract Customers to Your Community with Content

Posted by Mackenzie Fogelson

Everybody’s talking about content. And everybody’s writing content. SEOs, social media specialists, agencies, marketing departments, probably even your mom. And a lot of it isn’t pretty.

Hopefully, by now, you got the memo that if you want your content to grow your business, it can’t be crap.

And hopefully you’re ready to do something about it.

There is a very tiny (yet very significant) theme — a shift in perspective — that is important to embody when you’re generating content for your website, blog, and social media outlets (oh, and offline, too):

It’s not about you.

It’s just not.

Even though you may be one of your company’s biggest fans, you are not your target audience. If you want to attract customers to your brand and your community, your content needs to reflect the fact that you understand your customer. That you’ve actually thought about and considered the challenges they face which make your product or service a necessity in their lives.

And you need to do all that without making it about you.

Try using foundational and community building content

In general, there are two types of content that you need on your website; we call them foundational content and community building content.

Foundational content is the important stuff that permanently lives on your website. It’s the inherently self-promotional stuff that explains who you are and what you do. It’s your about page, your sales pages (products or services), and it tends to be (but isn’t always) pretty static. Foundational content is the stuff that’s pretty much impossible not to make about you because it is, in fact, about you. As a result, in order to attract customers to your community with your foundational content, you’ve got to pack it full of value.

Community building content is less about what you do and more about what you know. It usually lives on your blog, is dynamic, and indirectly promotes your brand (and earns links). It’s what bolsters your online reputation as an expert. It builds trust, establishes credibility, and naturally attracts people to you. Community building content is most effective when it’s not self-promotional. It doesn’t need to say your company name. Instead, it needs to be completely focused on your customer and the value that you can provide or point them towards.

Patagonia is a really great example of providing value in both types of content. Whether it’s foundational or community building, they focus on the customer, their needs, and the experience. Let's take a look at some examples.

Packing value into foundational content

In Patagonia's foundational content, they focus their message not just on how cool their product looks or even how functional it is (though they don’t hide those things), but also on the broader concerns of their target audience.

This is an email marketing promotion that my husband just recently received about the Encapsil Parka:

Patagonia Encapsil Parka

Notice how instead of just bragging about the fact that this is the best down parka ever made (all about them), Patagonia is also going to show you what they mean by providing value through video (all about the customer).

If you click through to the video, the content boasts “how little is used” to make the jacket, something that is important to consumers who respect (and are drawn to) the Patagonia brand. Patagonia is balancing self-promotion with something that is useful and enhances the experience.

Patagonia Parka Video

Even though Patagonia’s intention is to sell this product, they are committed to integrating value into their foundational content so that they are serving their customer. The page is also packed with additional videos, details, social proof, customer testimonials, and the opportunity to live chat. All. Kinds. Of. Value.

What community building content looks like

About a week later, my husband also received this email from Patagonia:

Patagonia Rock Climber Tommy

This is Tommy. He climbs rocks for a living. He’s a Patagonia Ambassador (that’s code for bad-ass-rock-climber).

This email marketing promotion clicks through to a post on the Patagonia blog about Tommy. Even though it lives on the Patagonia blog, it doesn’t plug Patagonia products, it doesn’t even link to any associated Patagonia rock climbing gear. It’s all about Tommy, his (kind of scary) adventures, and his drive to be a standup guy.

Making Tommy Patagonia Blog

This is community building content (and it probably attracts a lot of links, too). It’s indirectly self-promotional. It speaks to the kind of people that Patagonia wants to attract to their community. My guess (and presumably Patagonia’s guess, too) is that people who like guys like Tommy resonate with what Patagonia stands for as a company and they want to be a part of what they’re doing (which means buy their products and join their community).

You can do this with a content strategy

You don’t have to be a ginormous brand like Patagonia to generate the kinds of content that will attract customers to your community. You just need to have a content strategy that will get you from where you are to where you’d like to be.

An ideal content strategy aligns the goals of your business with the expectations of your target audience. If you want to build a thriving community around your company, you’ve got to have a strategy that considers the people who are going to be reading your content and the experience that you want them to have.

The best place to start is with a content audit of your existing content. If you want to attract people to your community with your content, you’ve got to make it worth reading. That means over the first several months (and possibly beyond) you’re going to need to spend some time transforming what exists: improve what’s worth revising and ditch the rest.

Re-working your foundational content

When you’re auditing your foundational content, pay attention to whether it has any value or if it’s all about you. Certainly your content is going to be self-promotional (it is, after all, your website), but you can communicate what you do or sell and still be focused on the customer and their experience.

Even with your ‘about’ or ‘policy’ pages, you can use creative ways to improve the experience and add more value. You should also put some thought into the following:

  • Your why

    Have you figured out your why yet? Focus on your passion and what makes you unique in your space. Why are you different from your competition? What is it that you like to do? Get very clear about what you do well and why and then make that what you’re all about.
     
  • Your customer

    Who exactly are you targeting (remember, the whole world is not your customer)? Develop a persona around them. Get to know your semi-fictional audience members and keep them in mind as you manipulate your content.
     
  • Their challenges

    What challenges does your audience have? Define their pain points and then make sure your content addresses them.
     
  • Where they’re coming from

    At what level in the conversion funnel might your customer be visiting this page? In order to provide the best experience possible, your content should reflect this.

Balance the ‘all about me’ in your foundational content with the value that better serves your customer. Instead of having a page with a couple paragraphs of text and some bullets like this:

SAFEbuilt Foundational Page Old Example

Supplement the textual information with things like video, blog posts, case studies, infographics, and testimonials:

SAFEbuilt Foundational Page Better Example

Making these simple changes can make a big difference in your lift:

Lift in Traffic by Integrating Value in Foundational Content

Integrating value into your foundational content is really about two things:

  1. Satisfying user intent

    The purpose of your foundational content is to convert. If you don’t provide anything but a couple paragraphs that give your 30 second elevator speech, you’ve just lost the opportunity for a sale. 

     
  2. User experience
    
Making sure that you’re providing the best user experience and that it’s consistent across your website, blog, and social media outlets, as well as your offline efforts.

The more value you provide with your foundational content, the more desirable you become, the more trust you build, the more you appeal to the person who is on the other side of that search. Again, anything that is going to make it less about you and more about them.

The key is to balance all of your foundational content with some community building content and then you’ve won the internet.

The angle on community building content

First things first. Just because you have a blog, doesn’t mean you always have to write about the stuff you sell (remember the 80/20 rule?). Same goes for your social media outlets. That gets old quick and can be pretty limiting in terms of the audience you can engage. It’s ok to promote your products or services on your blog, but work to keep that to 20% of the time.

Focus on developing community building content on your blog. It's the powerhouse that can help you reach the objectives you have for your business, and also attract (the right) customers to your community. But again, same thing applies: lay off the self-promotion.

Community building content can be blog posts like this one from SimpliSafe or infographics like this one that SEOgadget lovingly created for one of their clients:

Fastco Green Leaders Infographic

Community building content can also be video like these tech product updates from Grovo:


…or even more in-depth resources like this simple and free e-book from Portent or these guides from Pippen's Plugins.

The bottom line with your community building content is that the focus needs to be on your customer. It's not meant to directly promote your company. You want to generate content that indirectly communicates your strengths and illustrates your expertise and knowledge. If your customers can find alignment with what they're searching for and the content you're providing, chances are, they will be more inclined to not only be part of your community, but also purchase your products and services.

Before you write your community building content, consider things like:

  • The goals of your (potential) customer
    You know what your goals are for your business, but what about the goals of your target audience? What are their intentions with your content?
     
  • Depth in your content
    What can you help them learn or better understand? Can you change their mind about an industry misconception or challenge their beliefs on a particular subject?
     
  • Satisfying a need
    How can you serve their needs? Can you provide advice, ideas, instructions, suggestions, a guide? Your goal is to focus on providing quality content that that people really want (and are searching for).

As you’re creating community building content, consider following the 70/20/10 principle like Ian Lurie, Tom Cruise, and the dude from Coke do.

Portent's an advocate of the 70/20/10 principle

The basic gist is within your content strategy should look like this: 70% of your content should be a mix of mainstream stuff (knowledge, advice, and how-to type content); 20% goes along the same lines as the 70%, but with a little risk taking (controversial or attempting to attract a new audience); and 10% is the super cool stuff that may completely bomb but showcases your innovative side.

The thing about this approach is that it will help you to challenge the direction of your community building content so that you avoid just creating the same kind of stuff over and over (which will provide a more exciting experience for your users). It will both satisfy your existing customers and community members and attract new people who resonate with what you’re putting out there.

Even more importantly, the 70/20/10 principle will push who you are as a company which is really important when you're growing a community. Your community building content needs to make a statement about your brand, showing your community what you’re capable of and what you believe in. All stuff that will attract them to you (and keep them there).

Some final pointers

A couple (ok, three) more things to keep in mind:

  1. There is no magic formula
    
It’s really important to have a content strategy that will assist you in working toward goals for your business. And it’s also really important that you create an execution plan that will help translate all of the stuff you want to accomplish into actionable, chewable pieces. But keep in mind that there is no magic number of posts that will attract customers to your business and your community. It’s the quality of your business, your content, and you.

    

As you work to develop strong content, keep in mind that this is an ongoing process that involves constant iteration. Don’t plan an execution calendar for any longer than a few months. Let your strategy drive, but listen to your content. Allow the freedom to be agile and change course based on what happens when your content is actually released. 

     

  2. Bring it back to your goals

    Allow your content to take you on unexpected journeys. Be open to new ideas, consider the feedback you’re getting in blog comments and from people who provide input in real life. If a topic in your strategy suddenly becomes urgent, move it up in your execution plan. Be flexible. Just always make sure that you bring it back to your goals. 

When you ensure that your content is always in alignment with your business objectives and what your customers need, you’re clearing the noise. You’re staying focused on producing what’s important which helps to reduce anxiety, workload, and keeps you on track.

     
  3. Good content is an investment in your business
    
Quality content is an asset that builds value in your business. Whether it’s a blog post, guide, whitepaper, case study, infographic, or video, your content is going to attract people to your business and your community (ongoing).



    Creating content that’s valuable is not always a quick and easy task. Whether you’re committing to this for your own business or you’re an agency assisting a client with content, it’s going to take some time.



    Start small. We’ve found with our clients that committing to two small (quality) posts a month is a realistic frequency (but it really depends on your goals and your strategy). If you’re developing content that’s more extensive like an in-depth guide or an infographic, reduce the frequency that month. Instead of spreading yourself thin on two, put all of your energy into one heavy hitter and give it the attention it deserves. After all, it’s an investment in your business.

Your content is meant to serve a purpose

Building and growing a community around your business can be done with an investment in a good strategy, content, outreach, and a lot of hard work. But keep in mind that your content isn’t just meant to rank, it’s intended to serve a purpose. Draw people in with your community building content, and then pack your foundational content so full of value that making the sale is the natural next step.

What interesting ways are you integrating value into your content, or have you seen other companies doing? I’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments below.

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How to Attract an Audience by Integrating Content, Social, and Search

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Google’s been pissing people off lately. Panda, Penguin, Parakeet (okay, I made that last one up), who knows what’s next …

Then there are the social networking evangelists whose entire fortunes are deep in Zuckerberg’s asset.

And finally, the faithful content producers, who labor slowly and quietly to build their businesses one thousand words at a time.

It can all seem a bit much to keep up with. SEO isn’t bad. Social networking sites aren’t evil. Content marketing isn’t impossible. But it can feel like it sometimes.

To clear up some of this confusion and frustration for us, I’ve asked Lee Odden to jump on the show and tell us how the smart, systematic integration of search, social, and content can attract an audience … and keep businesses — both large and small — sanely profitable.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The 3 phases of a holistic customer attraction plan
  • What the changes in search algorithms really mean for online publishers
  • How to intelligently plan a content strategy that works
  • Why it’s now essential that you become a “holistic” content producer
  • 5 content optimization audits you need to perform
  • 3 steps to implementing your systematic content plan
  • How to scale your content efforts on a limited budget

Hit the flash player below to listen now:

Other listening options:

The Show Notes:

About the Author: Robert Bruce is Copyblogger Media’s Copywriter and Resident Recluse. Get more from Robert on Twitter and Google+.

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