Reading the Online Marketing Obituary Column is a Joke

Death rules the internet

Good thing I own a nice black dress, packets of purse-size Kleenex, and dark glasses. Every time I sneeze, there’s another funeral to attend.

Nothing to do with humans, mind you.

Death rules the internet!

The latest from the obituaries:

  • “Email marketing is dead!”
  • “Guest blogging is dead!”
  • “Video marketing is dead!”
  • “SEO is dead!”
  • “Google Plus is the walking dead!”
  • “Newsletters are dead!”

And then there’s this: “Revive Your Dead Blog”

Can a blog really die? Of course it can’t. You can put your blog out of its misery, if you want, but it won’t just die. Your blog may be suicidal, however, but that’s a whole other Oprah.

I really wish people would stop making these death claims, although they’re sometimes good for a belly laugh — especially if you’re at all savvy when it comes to online marketing methods (and you possess a good sense of humor).

What you’ll usually discover if you click over and catch these posts is the complete opposite of what the title states.

And that pisses me off.

Blog post titles are designed to make a promise to readers — a promise the blog owner is supposed to honor.

If you’re claiming email marketing is dead, then don’t share all the ways you’ve had success with it (along with an affiliate link for the email marketing service you’re using). Pfft!

That’s what’s known as BAD FORM … and the worst kind of blogging etiquette. If you choose to mislead readers, plan on having fewer readers in the future. Or maybe zero readers.

Word gets around fast in the blogosphere — the good stuff and the bad.

Here’s the thing about online marketing strategies:

THERE’S SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY. Always has been, always will be.

Marketing activities you enjoy most and those that suit your personality, schedule, and budget are the ones you should keep in your marketing toolbox.

  • If you like being in front of the camera, video or Blab-ing is your friend.
  • If writing is your thing, blogging is the way to fly.
  • If you prefer to use your voice, podcasting or public speaking is how to roll.
  • Etc. and so on.

If the marketing methods you’re using are working for you, ignore the death notifications. That kind of nonsense is nothing more than drummed up hype, designed to grab your attention … and sell you something.

I’m not opposed to selling. I’m opposed to deceiving people.

Email marketing, guest posting, podcast interviews, networking, visual marketing, Google hangouts, forums, e-courses, internet T.V., blog tours, virtual book tours, membership sites, ezines, webinars, social media marketing, newsletters

All alive and well.

What have you seen lately in the online marketing obituary column? Are you ever alarmed at the “X is Dead!” claims?

Random Acts of Serendipitous Marketing: A Trip in the Time Machine

time machine

You know those folks you cross paths with online whom you instantly “feel” a connection? Like in a heartbeat?!

The people you can’t wait to network with, can’t wait to read their next blog post, can’t wait to find out more about, can’t wait to receive their newsletter, and can’t wait to meet in person?

Yeah, those people.

The truly priceless connections, kindred spirits, and solid bonds you form online; the email lists you actually want to be on!

Bet you’ve stumbled on more than a dozen of these fabulous keepers, serendipitously, along the internet highway.

You haven’t spoken one word to them (yet) but your intuition assures you they’re going to become long time cherished connections – forever friends and colleagues. You can feel it in your bones, from your head to your toes.

Stick with me and I’ll tell you what all this has to do with marketing.

Boarding the Time Machine to Travel Back a Decade

I’m a people person … period.

I love to exchange ideas, engage in lively conversations, lend inspiration and encouragement, share remarkable stories, problem solve, walk my talk, and nurture meaningful relationships.

So when I came online and started blogging (back in the dinosaur days), I had NO idea sharing other bloggers’ posts, virtual events, social media updates, book releases, dynamite freebies, product launches, etc., was a form of “marketing”.

Who knew?!

Yep. I was marketing my little heart out by showcasing the lovely gems I uncovered while mining the mighty blogosphere. I didn’t grasp it at the time, but I was hard and heavy into honing my online visibility skills.

One goal was clear: Bringing the little known and unknown bloggers (those magnificent hidden diamonds in the rough) to the forefront.

Singing praises is my ‘thing’.

Need a biz cheer leader? Looking for a trusty blog ambassador? Want to get the word out about your upcoming event? Count on me. I’m a whiz at tooting horns.

When I see good work, good writing, good branding, and good deeds, I can’t help but shift into sharing mode. It makes me giddy to put deserving, hard-working solopreneurs in the spotlight.

And you know what usually happens? They reciprocate. (Read that again and you’ll sense the magnitude and the ripple effect of sharing.)

I recommended and promoted people, products, events, and services for a long time before I realized I was, in fact, helping small business owners with their marketing efforts.

Let’s just call it “Serendipitous Marketing”.

I didn’t seek out anyone in particular during those early years or any specific type of business or blog. Where I landed was a pure and simple case of sheer happenstance and serendipity at play.

The Almighty Universe can take full credit for being my guide.

Today I’m in the company of a beautiful network of some of the coolest and most creative solopreneurs and biz bloggers on the net.

Ooh! I’m blessed.

Nothing Has Changed: Still Promoting the Underdogs

The trip in the time machine was a fun nostalgic adventure but let’s fast forward to the present time.

I’m still doing it – marketing serendipitously.

Oh, I have my “regulars” whose online visibility I won’t hesitate to boost. I’ll never leave them in the dust. They’re on my hit parade for keeps. Whatever they’re writing or marketing goes right to the top of my priority list for sharing.

However (and thank goodness), my sacred guide is still working to direct me to new connections all the time.

Throughout my uncanny (I-didn’t-know-I-was-marketing) journey, I gleaned a much tighter grip on what marketing is all about along with the added perk of understanding the kinds of people my soul is attracted to.

I like quirky people.

The black sheep. The wallflowers. The outcasts. The loners. The rejects. The eccentric. The broken. The lost and forgotten. The odd ducks.

And why not?!

I’ve got a few quirks of my own. <grin>

But I’m not too quirky or too proud to admit I was flexing and strengthening my marketing muscles long before I could even define marketing.

It’s Your Turn

Do you have a [marketing-before-you-knew-the-meaning-of-the-word] story to share? Plunk that tale in the comment box! Make my day. I would love to hear it.

Next step: Don’t let the party end. Head over to this month’s Mission: Storytelling word carnival to read more on “How I marketed before I even knew what marketing was”. (A.K.A. “Marketing without marketing”)

Image credit: Pixabay

Value Tastes Better Than Price: A Tale of Eating Out and Eating In

Greek saladYour colleague, Michelle, places great worth in dining at an upscale restaurant every Saturday night while your best friend, Nick, prefers home-cooked meals, exclusively, and finds no value in eating out.

The value prospects find in a product or service can vary, enormously, from one person to the next.

The magic happens when you market your value to your “right” people.

It’s most likely costing Michelle a lot more for her Saturday night meals than Nick but she values every detail that encompasses the experience of enjoying a meal fit for royalty. She treasures the ambiance, entertainment, fine wine, variety of gourmet selections, exquisite table settings, personal service, and decadent desserts.

Getting dressed up on the weekend and heading out for some fine dining and great entertainment is very much a part of Michelle’s lifestyle.

Upscale pricing isn’t a concern.

She’s forking out the big bucks for what she desires – the experience.

Enter the Small Business Owner (You)

What can you learn from Michelle’s and Nick’s preferences that will help you market your value and not your price?

No doubt, how you price your products or services is important. I’m not suggesting you discount or ignore the dollars and cents of profit and loss.

However …

If you focus on pricing as the only deal breaker, you’ll be traveling the quickest route to breaking your business. {Tweet this}

Prospects always want to know, “What’s in it for me?” “Why should I buy from you?” “In what ways is your offer valuable to me?”

The kinds of dining experiences Michelle and Nick value are very different.

Michelle is checking online to see if the hottest band is in town this weekend and performing at one of her favorite restaurants. Nick, on the other hand, is perusing ads in search of local farmers’ markets happening on Saturday. He’s hoping to land some fresh organic produce for his weekend meals.

Value: The Main Ingredient in Your Marketing Dish

The best place to begin to understand “how” to market your value (in lieu of your price) is to create an Ideal Customer Persona. Get into the heads of your target audience and get specific knowledge about them.

Dig really deep.

Michelle is a consumer who:

1.)  Is in her mid 20’s

2.)  Enjoys being in social settings

3.)  Loves music and other forms of entertainment

4.)  Appreciates the finer things in life

5.)  Works in a corporate setting and eats all her lunches out

6.)  Has discretionary income and loves to buy special occasion gifts for everyone in her circle of friends and family

7.)  Is vivacious and fun-loving; the life of the party

8.)  Is single and dating

9.)  Frequents local upscale venues for dates and outings with her friends

Nick occupies a different spot on the spectrum. He’s a consumer who is:

1.)  In his early 30’s

2.)  Happily married

3.)  Enamored with fantasy, science fiction, and all things geeky

4.)  The father of triplets

5.)  Budget-conscious and a good saver

6.)  A self-employed small business owner

7.)  A trainer and public speaking ace

8.)  A creative and quick thinker who appreciates people with a good sense of humor and sharp wit

9.)  Health conscious, prefers organic foods, and loves to cook

Michelle is a big spender who has the means to support her out-on-the-town lifestyle while Nick is a family man who needs to watch his pennies. They both enjoy tasty well-prepared meals but one is eating out and the other is eating in.

As a single woman, Michelle is not financially responsible for anyone but herself. Nick is saving up to put triplets through college some day. (Yikes!)

This is just the beginning of creating ideal customer personas for Michelle and Nick.

To dig even deeper, we could explore areas such as pets, favorite sports teams, hobbies, locale, favorite movies or books, special interests, and causes or charities they support.

Please Show Me the Way

You may be thinking, “This is all well and good, Melanie, but how do I uncover what’s valuable to prospective buyers? If price won’t seal the deal, what will it take to show my value?”

So glad you asked.

Now go and ask them!!

I’m serious. That’s the only way you’re going to find out exactly what your target audience values (Unless, of course, you’re a mind reader.)

  • Post questions on social media channels.
  • Encourage feedback on your blog.
  • Send a survey to your email subscribers. Be specific and keep it short. Offer a small perk for completing your survey.
  • Follow up with your current customers or clients and ask them to share what they value most about doing business with you. Then post those testimonials on your web pages.
  • Invite your target audience (and/or your colleagues; others in your niche) to brainstorming sessions. Rely on Skype or G+ Hangouts or explore online brainstorming and collaboration tools.
  • Use reverse thinking. Ask people why they “wouldn’t” buy from you? What’s the missing ingredient for them? Why do they not find value in your offerings? And what would it take to convert them into buyers?
  • Include the features (cold hard facts) of what you’re marketing, for sure, but REALLY HONE IN on the benefits (e.g. easier access; no appointment needed; faster turnaround; simpler process; quicker results; proven strategies; open all night; backed by research; stress-free assembly; 24-hour customer service; makes your skin look radiant, etc.). Ask people which benefits they value most and why. Use that feedback to improve your sales pages, blog posts, and landing pages.

Become a value-laden marketer, not a price-pitching salesperson. {Tweet this}

The bottom line: Gathering as many details as possible about your target audience will help you market your value and give your customers or clients precisely what they desire.

Lay some feedback on me

Do you have a tip for small business owners to help them market their value?

My fellow small biz blogging buddies have some fab tales to share with you in the month’s Mission: Storytelling. Grab a cuppa and head over to “Value and Price: What’s Your Work Worth?”

What Do a House Painter, an Author, and a Musician Have In Common?

bucket with holesThese three varied professionals might be on the same bowling league or they might even support the same charities or maybe all three love coffee. 

Who knows? I don’t have a clue. 

I didn’t pry into their personal lives.

But when I was introduced to these creative, hard-working, and highly-skilled gentlemen to give them some tips on promoting their work, it was very clear what they had in common …

“Leaky bucket marketing” – their shared nemesis.

I’ve never seen marketing buckets with so many holes!

The biggest and most apparent hole for the house painter, author, and musician in question?

The gaping hole of online marketing — how to spread their awesomeness around the internet and ways to boost their online visibility and credibility.

A marketing bucket with a really large hole is, obviously, not functional.  It serves no purpose.  Won’t work.

So how do you fix leaky bucket marketing?

First, let me toss a big fat caveat into the bucket (Or you can call it a “brief commercial break”, if you like).

I don’t “teach” online marketing and I don’t “perform” online marketing activities for solopreneurs or small business owners. 

My tent is pitched in the “consulting” camp.

Got a question?  I’ll answer it.  Looking for a resource?  I’ll provide it or I’ll find it.  Need a marketing plan?  I’m your gal.  Don’t know how to use social media?  You’re not alone.  I’ll be your guide.

[End of caveat]

I hope that announcement gave you enough time to run to the kitchen for a tasty snack.

Now back to vanquishing leaky bucket marketing — specifically, repairing a gigantic hole in online marketing.

The following three items are needed to repair the hole:

1.   1.)  Online Marketing Brainstorming Sheet

Your next great marketing strategy may hit when you least expect. Use electronic means or a simple sheet of paper to keep notes of any strategies you want to recall and possibly implement. 

When an idea strikes, write it down!

2   2.) Online Marketing Calendar 

Leave the mystery out!  Create an annual or monthly calendar and fill in specific marketing activities you plan to work on every day. 

Time and Date is a great resource for free calendars. 

Examples of online marketing activities:

  •  Get listed in small business directories
  •  Write article and submit to article banks
  •  Create social bios
  •  Promote with video
  •  Create page at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook
  •  Post in online forums
  •  Create an online photo album
  •  Write testimonials for other businesses
  •  Create an ideal client/customer board on Pinterest
  •  Start a Google+ hangout
  •  Create free auto-responder e-course
  •  Generate blogger buzz
  •  Get listed in blog directories
  •  Create a Power Point for Slideshare
  •  Get listed in geo-targeted directories
  •  Write and distribute a tip sheet
  •  Write and distribute a viral e-book/manifesto
  •  Present a teleseminar
  •  Add mp3 of teleseminar to your website and/or itunes
  •  Register at Amazon and review books
  •  Support an online cause
  •  Record a podcast
  •  Upload podcast to Sound Cloud
  •  Get listed in niche directories
  •  Start a free internet radio show
  •  Get listed in shopping sites
  •  Build a Squidoo lens
  •  Create your website press room
  •  Create an online newsletter
  •  Get listed in ezine directories
  •  Post comments on blogs in your niche

3   3.)  Online Marketing Plan

No need to create a lengthy complicated document. Use the K.I.S.S (Keep It Super Simple) principle to design a plan that’s easy to understand and easy to implement.

Not sure where to begin?  No problem. 

Let’s pretend YOUR nemesis is leaky bucket marketing and you’ve hired me to be your marketing consultant. (Of course, you can’t hire me to fix that leak unless you have a sense of humor and you like to have fun. I won’t work with a stick in the mud.  That’s my rule and I’m sticking to it.) 

As part of your initial consultation …

I’m gifting you your very own Online Marketing Plan Template. (No opt in required)  Rumor has it online marketing consultants are in abundance these days so this is my way of saying “thank you” for choosing me.

Wasn’t that fun?!  We just met and you’re going home with a present … and a marketing bucket with no leaks.

The professional house painter, published author, and accomplished musician I consulted with also went home with special presents. 

I love a happy ending … and a happy client.

Name your nemesis in the comment box and we’ll work together to vanquish it!

Image credit: Tobias Schlitt

This post is part of the awesome Word Carnival. Read more posts on this month’s theme: Vanquish Your Nemesis: A Guide to Conquering Small Biz Evils


Marketing Part 4: I Need A Marketing Plan To Promote My Talent Online. Thing is … I’m Clueless.

Did you catch Part 3?  No?  Then get your fishing pole and go catch I Want To Promote My Talent Via Social Media. Will It Work?

Dear Clueless,

You’re not alone.

Don’t despair.

Just please take my mantra to heart:

“Make a marketing plan or plan to make a marketing mess.”

Creating a marketing plan to promote your talent online does not cause migraines or paralysis. 

Heck, it can be fun! 

And your plan does NOT need to be a lengthy formal document … despite the nasty rumors.

I could go ahead and list all the essentials to include in your marketing plan but instead …

How about I toss you a spiffy Quick and Easy Market Plan AND Market Calendar from my friend and blogger extraordinaire, Michelle Shaeffer?

That should do the trick!

I’ll exit with this little poetic ditty:

To market! To market!

Without a plan

Means back to the drawing board

(Or vision board)

From whence you began

Comment Box Call to Action:

What do you think is the most important component of a marketing plan?  If you haven’t yet created a plan to promote your talent online – what’s holding you back?

Marketing Part 3: I Want To Promote My Talent Via Social Media. Will It Work?

Did you skip Part 2?  Grab that jump rope of yours and skip rope over to I Have Plenty of Talent. If Only I Could Find Customers (or Clients) Online.

Will social media marketing work for you?

You’re not going to like my answer but here goes…

“It all depends.”

Promoting your talent via social media will work … IF you work it.

Let me explain …

Social media marketers are not lazy people. 

They’re tenacious, determined, nose-to-the-grindstone people.

They’ve done their research and plenty of it! 

They’re more than aware of where their target audience is hanging out on the internet.

They’ve chosen a social media channel or two (or maybe three) and they work those sites … DAILY.

Consider this:

Just because Facebook has a billion users doesn’t mean diddly squat if you don’t know how to tap into the right audience there.  

And do you know, for sure, your potential customers or clients are Facebook users?!

Your target market may very well be spending their social media hours on Slideshare or Pinterest or Sound Cloud or You Tube or …??

As far as Twitter goes, it’s pointless to set out to collect tens of thousands of followers (even though some nincompoop will give you that crappy piece of advice). 

That old adage, “There’s power in numbers” does not apply to Twitter.

By the way, my friend and fellow blogger, Martha Giffen, has a great 3-part program called Tweet With Martha if you’d like to become a master at using Twitter for profits.

The bottom line …

I know it sounds like going back to school again, but do your homework if you’re serious about marketing your talent online. 

Do the assignment of figuring out which social media channel or channels you need to work. 

Then turn in your homework every day by consistently showing up in those virtual locations to:

  • Answer questions
  • Ask questions
  • Share resources, tools, articles, ideas, videos, music, images, and tips
  • Offer words of encouragement and inspiration
  • Collaborate with colleagues
  • Host a contest, sweepstake, or giveaway
  • Announce special events of interest to your audience
  • Actively participate in groups or forums
  • Share your latest blog post
  • Make new connections  
  • And have lots of fun

Comment Box Call to Action:

Are you getting good results using social media marketing?  If not, what is your biggest challenge or stumbling block?

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeygottawa/2221152288/