5 Steps for Staying Motivated


What motivates you? Motivation comes in many shapes and sizes. For some, it drives people to provide for their families. For others, it encourages change. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, motivation is defined as:

“The act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something : the act or process of motivating someone; the condition of being eager to act or work : the condition of being motivated; a force or influence that causes someone to do something.”

But, what creates this drive especially when the going gets tough?


Some people use visuals for motivation. Others are inspired by words. However, in a day and age of continuous media with countless motivational speakers and messages floating around, these visuals and words can quickly lose their effectiveness. In business, motivation is key to success, so how can it maintained?

For starters, motivation begins by having a goal. Make this goal real. Visualize it, dream about it, and live it. The goal is the light at the end of the tunnel, and motivation is what gets you there. This goal could be a sales precedent, it could be opening a business, it could be expanding a business, or any number of things. Still, it drives people toward reaching this goal.

Secondly, to give you little boosts along the way, set micro-goals. Sometimes goals can be lofty. While there is nothing wrong with dreaming big and setting high expectations, micro-goals help provide extra encouragement to show you that you are on the right path toward meeting your ultimate goal. Micro-goals are like stepping stones. With every micro-goal you meet, it puts you one step closer to the prize.

Even with a goal and plan, sometimes the path veers off course. This can definitely throw a kink in your motivation, but you shouldn’t let it destroy it. Mistakes happen, but this doesn’t mean failure.

Forget Mistakes..

Mistakes are a natural part of growth. Kids disobey and make mistakes, but this doesn’t mean they are failures. Mistakes are part of the course and should not discourage motivation to move forward. Simply learn from them and move on.

Fourthly, to stay motivated, you must surround yourself with positive people and help. Unfortunately, we aren’t invincible. We can’t do everything on our own. Whether it’s employees, colleagues, or mentors, business owners and leaders do need others to encourage them. When surrounded by others, there is less room for discouragement. What’s more, tasks can be delegated, so that no one person is overwhelmed helping to keep everyone motivated to stay on course.

Lastly, turn off distractions. As we talked about last week, distractions have a way about them that reduce productivity. And in the current media blitz, distractions can be hard to avoid. However, it’s up to you to keep your eyes on the prize and meet your goals. Unfortunately, this takes repeated commitment and dedication. But, remember that you’re in control. You have the power and the capability to stop negativity and succeed. However, it all starts with motivation.

motivational quote

How to Avoid Distractions at Work


Social Media Distractions

How many distractions do you encounter on a day-to-day basis? If you’re like me, it’s probably more than you care to count. Whether you get side-tracked by a random email, get interrupted by a phone call, get roped into attending another meeting, or any number of other disruptions, we all experience these in some shape or form.

Sometimes what you’re doing in these moments of disturbance are tasks that need to be done, but they aren’t priority, or they aren’t part of your immediate plan. Also, how many of you have gotten side-tracked on social media? I mean, you can’t go post an update without scrolling through your feed a few times, right?

In today’s world of new technology, tools, systems and new and faster innovation coming out continuously, many tasks have been made more efficient. However, these very elements that make our lives easier in some respects also create more distractions for us in many ways.

For instance, the real-time functionality of Twitter and Facebook is fantastic except when you’re bombarded with comments that you need to respond to, forcing you to drop everything to address them. It’s both a blessing, and in some ways, a curse.

So, how can you get any work done with all this other stuff going around you? It’s possible, but it takes some discipline and practice. A few years ago at the New Media Expo, Guy Kawasaki stated that checking your email first thing in the morning may not be the best and most efficient way to start your day. At first, I didn’t agree, but after trying it, I found that it really helps you prioritize what needs to be done.

Create daily plans

Before getting too far into your day, an excellent first step is to have a physical plan either typed or written. If possible, you can do this at the end of the previous day. The idea is that you know what needs to be done and can keep referring to your list to remind yourself that you’re on a deadline, or to cross items off. In other words, it holds you accountable.

Now, everyone will have unexpected issues come up that need to be addressed such as the above Twitter scenario, but overall, a daily plan helps to keep you on track.

Communication helps, right?

We have all these great avenues to communicate more effectively today, but for some reason, it’s often harder. This is really basic advice, but sadly, it often needs to be voiced. Since effective communication and transparency are keys for every business looking to be successful, how about being open with your colleagues? If you have a deadline or a task that requires all your attention, tell them. This way, you’ll know that, if they reach out to you, the issue really does require you’re undivided attention.

Embrace this great thing called technology

Going back to what we said before, we have so much information and technology at our fingertips. So, let’s use it! From phones to email, there are ways to let people know that you’ll be unavailable for a certain amount of time. It’s as easy as changing a few settings. You won’t be losing any information; it will all still be there. But, people will know when they can reach you and that they should only to bring pressing matters to your attention.

Personally, I love social media, but I feel like it’s made us all hyper to the point where we can’t sit still sometimes. Even with all the great tools for scheduling and monitoring what’s going on with your social media channels, we all feel like our eyes will start to twitch if we don’t move to our social media tabs every little bit. However, we need to train ourselves to understand that everything is running smoothly. If something really good, or on the contrary, really bad happens, our alerts will let us know.

Funders and Founders put together an excellent series of infographics on how to become more productive. One of my favorites is “How to Work Fast:” (Click to enlarge.)

Infographic - Working Fast

By applying these steps, you can stick to your plan, avoid distractions AND be productive. While it’s true that many great developments often happen in the midst of chaos and hype, the light bulb is often kept on through dedicated focus void of distractions.


Do You Have Social Media Manners?


Place Setting

What’s your biggest turn off on social media? Is it the people who are always negative, those who start drama, or those who are fake? All these and more definitely hold their own weight when it comes to inappropriate actions on social media.

Just as offline habits like chewing with your mouth opened and interrupting a conversation are repulsing, bad habits happen online too. And unfortunately, social media attracts a lot of it. Though we at SugarSpun encourage people to be human, etiquette and even street smarts needs to play a role.

This is especially important for businesses to understand.  Behind every business, there is usually one individual or a handful of people that act on behalf of their company’s social efforts. As a result, your business has personality. If you have multiple people implement your social strategy, you obviously have variety, but your brand will still portray its own persona.

Due to all this character, albeit how colorful it may or may not be, that is expressed on social media, stereotypes have already been created defining the various types of sharers. In fact, online media monitoring service Meltwater recently created a quiz to help users define what type of sharer they are on social media.  The quiz was based off research from the New York Times called the Psychology of Sharing. In this, the following sharers are defined:

–          Hipster – less likely than other sharers to use email for sharing content. These sharers are creative, young and popular

–          Careerist – these sharers are savvy business networkers and are more likely to share content on LinkedIn.

–          Altruist – these sharers are helpful, reliable, thoughtful, connected and only use email to share.

–          Selective – these sharers are resourceful, careful and thoughtful. They share informative content via social networks as well as by email.

–          Boomerangs – these sharers share information to get a reaction and to feel validated. They are empowered by social media and tend to use both Twitter and Facebook.

–          Connectors – these sharers are creative, relaxed, thoughtful and use social media as a tool to organize their social lives offline.

These social sharing descriptions are pretty accurate, right? In spite of which sharing category you or your business fit into, it’s important to understand that social media etiquette plays a role. It’s not that there is a perfect category for sharing, but there are some do’s and don’ts that everyone should adhere to.

Best Master’s in Education put together an excellent infographic containing helpful information that shows how you can avoid becoming stereotype by simply applying some social networking etiquette:

Social Media Etiquette
Source: BestMastersinEducation.com

Display image courtesy of Wikipedia.org.


Content Marketing: Strategy & Content Aren’t the Same

Content HighlightedContent marketing, like we’ve discussed before, is one of the most talked about concepts in marketing circles today. The reasoning for its popularity is legitimate because content marketing does, in fact, work IF done correctly. There is a ton of information available about content marketing, but unfortunately, not all of it is good advice.

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding content marketing is the difference between a good content marketing strategy and actually having good content. In other words, you can have an excellent content marketing strategy, but in order for it to deliver, it has to be executed with great content. The same is true on the flip side – you may have great content but not have a strategy that really makes it work for you.

It’s possible to have both, but it’s obviously much more time-consuming. Content marketing is very similar to social media in that people, businesses, and yes, marketers often neglect the first part of the catch phrase. It’s a shame really, since the first part is what makes it work. Also, similar to social media, marketers also want to “jump the gun” with content marketing. We marketers are always so eager, aren’t we?

However, again, an effective content marketing strategy must come first. While many brands are still struggling with this, there are some that get it. Coca-Cola, for example, tries to understand the experience its customers have with the brand. After taking action toward this goal, Coke realized that this experience often happened through a vending machine and decided to give customers more than just one of their sodas. The company gave customers cakes, flowers, and many other prizes that resulted in millions of YouTube hits. What’s more, Coke ended up with some really great content to accompany its already great strategy.

Coca-Cola is so committed to content marketing that it even launched a “Content 2020” initiative that goes beyond developing social and crowd-sourced content. Through this endeavor, Coke wants to “earn a disproportionate share of popular culture” by telling compelling stories with artists, actors and musicians. It wants to tell stories that provide true value to its customers while also meeting its own business objectives.

Coke launched this initiative in 2012 and has maintained its commitment thus far, showing that it understands how all its marketing efforts rests on its content marketing strategy. Brynn Bardacke, Coca-Cola’s global group creative director, spoke with iMedia Connection about its initiative and the results already obtained.

Just as Coca-Cola has done, content marketing goes hand-in-hand with your overall marketing strategy. It’s a starting point that leads and dictates your other actions. Your content marketing strategy isn’t just your blog or your Facebook and Twitter posts – it encompasses everything.

A recent study from Demand Metric shows that only 13 percent of content marketers think their efforts are “very successful.” This is staggering. The survey consisted of more than 500 responders and only 13 percent really believe what they’re doing is working.

Demand Metric Chart

The above chart shows the objectives that these content marketers have. These are great objectives to have, and clearly, most of them directly impact the bottom line. So, where does the problem lie?

For many, it’s the process that’s wrong. Here again, it’s the whole jumping the gun thing once more. There’s much more to content marketing than setting an objective and projecting an outcome. The middle part – the micro goals, tactics, etc. – is how you get to actionable results. To throw a party, you don’t just have an idea for a party and then expect people to just show up. You plan, you send out invitations, you prepare food and decorations and more. It’s a process.

The same is true with content marketing. You set goals, you set micro goals, you define tactics and match them to your micro goals, and more all BEFORE you start doing. This will also help to give you check points to define whether or not you are succeeding to avoid falling into the 13 percent of struggling content marketers.

With so much emphasis on publishing today from Google’s increased efforts to deliver quality content to smarter consumers not falling for “marketing speak,” content marketing has a good reason to be top of mind for marketers. But, before jumping on the bandwagon, marketers need to have a solid strategy outlining goals and the process as well as a content plan in order to really make their efforts worthwhile.

Incidentally, SugarSpun will be hosting a free social media webinar on content marketing showing attendees how to develop and succeed through content marketing. Jennifer Evans Cario, SugarSpun Marketing’s president, will walk attendees through the process of creating a home base for content efforts and also how to produce quality and targeted content through developing audience personas. The training will take place Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 8 PM EDT/5 PM PDT. Register here.

Music courtesy of Audionautix.com


Building a Powerful Voice for Your Brand

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning. – Maya Angelou

How true is this? Words are powerful, but the real influence comes from the voice carrying them. From a business perspective, this could not hit closer to home. And, from a social media angle, it hits the nail on the head.

Words need to be brought to life. In my college days, I remember a speech professor explaining the many different ways to say “I love you” and how differently each example sounded. The inflection, the pitch and the tone all played an integral role in the response and/or reaction.

Interestingly enough, the same elements apply to online marketing. The tone that you set for your brand carries the same weight that an external voice has. For instance, the voice that only pushes out links across social media has a robotic voice associated with it and is rarely heard. On the contrary, the brand voice that pushes out a variety of content with mixed media shows personality and spunk and is much more likely to resonate with users.

One of the best and most effective ways to build a strong voice online is through blogging. According to Hubspot, businesses that blog perform better on multiple levels:

  • Blog frequency impacts customer acquisition. 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)
  • The global population of blog readers keeps growing. (eMarketer, August 2010)
  • 81% of marketers rated their blog as useful or better. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)
  • There are 31% more bloggers today than there were three years ago. (eMarketer, August 2010)
  • 46% of people read blogs more than once a day. (HubSpot Science of Blogging 2010)
  • Most people read 5-10 blogs. (HubSpot Science of Blogging, 2010)
  • Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes. (eMarketer, August 2010)

In addition, blogging fuels search engines. Google loves good content and will reward those who provide it. Blogging also gives a brand personality. Similar to social media, blogs also give brands the opportunity to appear more human. There is so much you can do with a blog such as to insert multiple personalities. A blog doesn’t have to have a single author. It could have many authors encompassing all levels of the business that share the many aspects of what you do.

Another excellent way to let your voice be heard is by listening. We say this so often, but it never gets any less significant. The whole purpose behind this voice you want to build is to produce two-way communication with your audience. No one likes a one-sided conversation, right? This turns anyone off, which is why listening plays such a vital role in being heard. A brand must listen to know what their audience is saying, how to differentiate themselves among their competitors, and understand user expectations.

Look at brands and “listen” to those who are doing it right. If a corporate brand like Taco Bell or Sephora can engage with individuals, small to medium-sized businesses should be able to as well.

Sephora Twitter PostsTaco Bell TweetsWe also spoke recently about how listening goes hand-in-hand in tackling and combatting reputation management issues. The bottom line is in order to be an effective communicator that has any voice, listening must be in your toolbox.

Thirdly, as you establish your voice, you must be consistent. Building this voice through your website, social media and other online channels is just half the battle. It’s not a one-time initiative. It’s a continuous effort that you must not neglect. A brand can never turn on the cruise control, unfortunately. You work hard to establish a voice, but it takes work to maintain and grow it. The stronger voice you build, the more on your toes you need to be because results will be rolling in.

If you’re not consistent, you’ll lose your edge, and most importantly, your audience. When researching, I often come across sites that have not updated their blogs in months and some years. Audiences and search engines pay attention to this.

As you build your voice, set a standard. It’s okay to have some boundaries, but if you let it go, you’ll have to start from scratch. And everyone knows the comeback is always harder the second time around since competition grows and search engines get smarter.

A brand voice is a powerful tool, if used right. There are lots of messages already being told, so to be heard, you must get out there and tell yours effectively.


4 Tips for Building an Effective Presence on Twitter


Twitter Key

How valuable is Twitter to you? Many companies use it as their primary social media outlet for marketing, customer service and various other business tasks. Other companies use it only because they feel they have to since it’s one of the largest social networks. Still, there are some who think that it’s simply a lot of useless information being distributed to closed ears.

Regardless of your opinion of Twitter, you likely fit into one of these categories. SugarSpun Marketing is a firm believer in understanding the fact that not every social network is for everyone. In other words, after you devise your marketing plan and research where your audience is, whatever social networks fit is where you need to be.

If this is true for you and Twitter, but you are still struggling to find the true value, we may have some helpful tips for reaching and engaging with your audience.

1. Understand who you’re trying to reach

Though the exact number of Twitter users is unknown to the general public, it is safe to say that there are over 600 million users. However, understand that this doesn’t mean you will reach all these users. In an ideal world, yes you would, but even if you had that many followers, it is impossible to think that all 600 million people are on Twitter at the exact moment you send your tweet.

As you get to know your audience, practice the concept of listening. You don’t always need to be heard. Sometimes you can be more effective by simply listening since it will make what you have to say more meaningful.

2. Engage your audience

Now, this step could take up a whole book and more, but users, especially brands, must understand that true engagement takes a lot of time and effort. To engage your audience, you need to have compelling content. This is another topic we could talk about all day, but the main point in regards to Twitter is that it has to be short and driven. You’re dealing with 140 characters or less. In fact, recent research from Buddy Media shows that tweets with 71-100 characters produce the most retweets.

In addition to being compelling and short, engaging content is also personal. In order to make a connection, you have to speak the same language as your audience. This means that you shouldn’t only post links or only retweet. Add some commentary and show some personality. You want to give them a reason to communicate with you and keep the dialogue flowing.

Once you do this, the retweeting, favoriting, Follow Fridaying, and other common Twitter activities become natural and meaningful.

3. Utilize third-party tools

You will quickly find that, in order to do Twitter effectively, it takes a lot of time. It’s a challenge, no doubt, but fortunately there are a ton of tools to make your job easier. This is another area in which we really could use a day to two to delve into all the tools, but here are several that will likely come in handy:

–          Hootsuite – tool allows users to manage multiple accounts, schedule, filter content and more

–          Twitonomy – browse and monitor insights on people you know, competitors, etc.; also useful for finding influencers

–          Cybranding – analyze hashtags with this tool to make sure you’re using the most searchable and impactful hashtags

–          Commun.it – manage your current relationships and build new ones with this tool

–          Qwitter – see who unfollows you on Twitter and also what tweet(s) may have caused them to leave

–          Twellow – people search tool for Twitter that allows users to find others through interest, location, etc.

–          SocialOomph – social media measurement tool tracks keywords and multiple other automation tasks, and more.

4. Keep up with changes

Similar to the other social networks, Twitter is always making tweaks to its service. Most recently, it announced a redesign for user pages. And, guess what, the new profiles look a lot like Facebook profile pages, a.k.a. Timelines. The new Twitter profiles include a stronger emphasis on imagery with much larger profile images and background images. As a brand, these changes are important as you want to have the best presentation possible to your audience.

New Twitter Profiles

To keep up, follow Twitter’s updates and keep up with social media blogs. Not every tweak will warrant your attention, but you want to be in the loop in order to react to the areas that could help or hurt your brand.

The new format is available to some users now but will be rolled out globally over the next several weeks.

Twitter has had a lot of changes over the couple of years including its IPO. Despite these changes, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere but forward.

Why Spring Cleaning Is Important for Your Business Too


Spring Cleaning

After a long, hard winter, the weather is finally starting to break (hopefully where you are) to reveal the early days of spring. Before long, buds and blooms will appear displaying new life and new beginnings.

During this time, many people take the time to clean out closets, garages, cabinets and more to get a fresh start on the season. Windows are washed, baseboards are cleaned, and furniture is painted or polished to convey the message of cleaned and renewed. Does it stop here, or does spring cleaning carry over to other areas too?

What about your business? Could it use some spring cleaning?

Unless you have an abundance of time, energy and organization, the answer is probably yes. But, this isn’t a bad thing. Even the most organized people and businesses understand that clean-outs are necessary habits.

One starting point is through decluttering. The physical side of this is rather obvious since everyone knows they need to clean out files and other paperwork that may not be useful anymore. There may also be items that are dated that no longer need attention.

What about decluttering your website? This is actually one of the biggest areas that stores clutter. I’m not sure why this is, but most people typically tend to add but never remove. Unfortunately for some, a website is not the cloud to catch everything, or at least it shouldn’t be.

Cleaning up your website does not even have to be a complete redesign, but it should take some time and careful planning. For instance, you need to be mindful of current trends. We live in a Twitter-centric world, which means that line after line of text is not the most effective way to provide your audience with your information. Infographics, for example, have recently grown in importance since they have the ability to relay a complex message in a clear and succinct way. Images, charts, video and other forms of media also provide alternative means to get your message to your audience. In other words, your content may simply need to be reworked in a way that serves as a refresher. This could involve updating a map, image of your facility, staff photos, etc. to show that you are maintaining relevance.

Also, your website should be easy to navigate. Those involved in the online world typically conduct a “Mom Test” to determine if their website or tech innovation is really user friendly. Tests like this and focus groups often provide a wealth of knowledge for staying current and easy to use.

Spring cleaning for your business also includes creating or updating new policies or procedures. With time, processes change. Therefore, documents such as a social media policy or a termination document need to be current in case you need them. This protects you and your business and alleviates stressful time crunches.

Thirdly, and on the financial front, reducing costs that don’t provide value play a role in spring cleaning as well. It’s sometimes easier to do things “just because they’ve always been done.” But, this doesn’t always make them right. Again, things change; processes change. If you’ve sponsored an event for 25 years that you never attend, never gain any leads or conversions because of it, and never receive press, why continue it? Is the social measurement service you’re using providing any benefits? Are your vendors capable of carrying your business to the next level that you want to go, or are they headed in a different direction? These questions need to be asked an analyzed.

To this point, are there other areas you need to invest in to better prepare your business for growth opportunities? You might not think you have the budget for this until you analyze and find that certain areas aren’t really bringing in the results they once did. If so, try something different.

Lastly, spring cleaning for your business is a time for cultivating your audience. Spring is a time for gardening, so we can’t leave out the spring cleaning tasks associated with your bread and butter – your clients and customers. To meet these needs, it requires tasks such as “watering the garden.” Businesses know they should always nurture their customer base, but a simple word of thanks, discount, promotion, etc. only helps to strengthen relationships.

Social Media Planting

Planting is also a task associated with spring, and for your business, there is no exception. You need to be “planting seeds” in the form of attracting new business opportunities. This can be done by distributing a brochure, sending an email newsletter, running a social media campaign, and more.

Fertilizer, of course, must be sprinkled on these seeds to further nourish and help them grow. Beyond this, a garden isn’t complete without the proper décor. Just as fountains, solar lighting, flags, etc. add just the right touch to a garden, the same is true in your spring cleaning efforts for your business. These little additions could be an updated logo, a new Facebook cover photo, a new blog series, and other personal finishing touches that go a long way in letting customers know you are energetic and concerned about helping them in any way you can.

Just like a garden and your home, if you conduct spring cleaning each year, your business will not only be well-maintained, but it will also grow in value. And this is why spring cleaning is so important.

Images courtesy of ImperfectHomemaking.com and MartinaMcGowan.com.

Crafting the Pitch That Builds Relationships



If someone asks you for help or for a favor, what makes you lend a hand? Is it the relationship you have with them? Is it the request itself? Is it the way in which they asked you? These are questions that you should think about before pitching media, bloggers or a potential partner, but sadly, this doesn’t typically happen.

Why? I’m not quite sure. It could be that companies are so caught up in what they do that they don’t see why an outlet wouldn’t cover them or partner with their initiative. Whatever the reason is, it needs to change.

As someone who has a background in media, there is nothing worse than getting bad pitches. From the misspellings and wrong name to completely irrelevant information, bad pitches influence credibility in a negative way. Repeated bad pitches takes this one step further and can really hurt a company’s reputation among the groups it needs positive reinforcement from.

While media pitches are talked about the most, other pitches such as partner pitches, blogger pitches and social media pitches matter too. Social media is tremendously beneficial in breaking down barriers and creating accessibility. However, just because other brands, CEOs and members of the media community are more accessible, it doesn’t mean you can or should abuse this openness.

Effective pitching takes planning, practice, skill and time. Though there are likely many different answers across the Web, the secret is that no pitch is the same. Certain elements of the pitch, or the core message, will be the same, but how you deliver the message needs to be unique to the brand or individual to whom you’re reaching out.

To do this, you have got to do your homework.  As you build out your pitch list, take a close look into who you’re thinking about pitching. What are they saying? Is your story really relevant to them? As you conduct this research, it will help you with a couple of different things. For starters, research will tell you if you are really reaching the right the people. You may start out with a big list, and after research, have it narrowed and targeted to a select group. Research will also help you structure your pitch around current trends and other events that could get you more exposure than if you had reached out blindly.

Secondly, you have to be smart about your pitch. This sounds basic, but again, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called “Abbey,” “Amy,” “Amber,” “Angie,” and sometimes names even out of the “A” family! You MUST be smart about the details. Beyond the name, be able to write a sentence with correct grammar and punctuation. If you are trying to connect with a journalist or a potential business partner – really anyone that you are trying to impress – you will quickly find that these little details matter a lot.

Pitching Media eCard

Being smart also does not mean stalking people on social media channels. Arik Hanson caught up with several journalists who explain what pitches do and don’t work with them. It is very telling and should definitely be taken seriously.

Thirdly, you must be sensitive to time. We live in a world where everyone is pressed for time. No one has time to read a letter. You need to get to the point quickly. We live in a Twitter-centric world where people are used to 140 characters or less. As a result, you have to make sure that your story and pitch add value.

Going right along with being smart and time-conscious, the next step in building your pitch is to be personal. This is huge. Those in the media get inundated with press releases all day long. This is exactly what you can’t do. Executives at companies receive overwhelming amounts of email as well. As a result, you have got to stand out. You know they are doing you a favor, but you have to pitch in a way that makes them feel like you are doing them a favor.

From the homework that you do on whomever you’re going to pitch, use this information to add a personal touch. If your story goes along with another story they’ve covered recently or is related to a new business venture, you have the opportunity to customize your story to fit theirs, and potentially, fill in their missing pieces.

What’s more, this is where you really need to embrace relationship-building. If you have one story worthy of getting attention, chances are you’ll have others. This is why you need to start a relationship now. You want to start a conversation, not have a one-sided promotion. To start this dialogue, you want to begin subtly connecting on social media, on articles or on matters that are important to them. These actions will help you start building credibility even before you pitch. As a result, it will give you more influence when you connect with them regarding a story. The hope is that the relationship grows and expands just like a friendship in which both sides give and take.

It is, however, very important to remember that pitching, a.k.a., relationship-building, is very time consuming. Relationships don’t happen overnight. We live in a very saturated world in which people are bombarded with marketing messages. To stand out above the noise, you must take it to a new level. In most cases, this next step is relationship-building, and the relationship starts with a conversation.

The Growing Value of Pinterest & How You Can Capitalize on It


Pinterest Logo

In case you didn’t realize it, Pinterest is big deal. It’s currently one of the hottest social networks not only for pinning recipes, decorating ideas and more, but businesses are also finding tremendous value in the world’s greatest pinboard.

But, is it really just hype, or is there any real value behind the pinning? Check out the 5 following facts that should get some serious head turns:

–          Pinterest is the 2nd largest driver of traffic from social media sites. Facebook is the #1 driver, but Shareaholic found that Pinterest is now leading Twitter as the #2.

–          Pinterest is the 4th largest source of organic traffic. In 2012, Pinterest beat out Yahoo as the 4th largest traffic driver in the world.

–          Pinterest is a proven sales driver. According to customer experience engine Monetate, Pinterest is the top referrer of high-value orders to e-commerce sites.

Monetate Chart on Pinterest

–          Pinterest generates 400 percent more revenue per click than Twitter and 27 percent more than Facebook. This incredible data came from QuickSprout.

–          Pinterest hosts at least 25 percent of accounts from Fortune 500 companies. Though this number is likely greater now, it’s still a significant finding in Burson-Marstellar’s 2012 Global Social Media Check-up.

These are just a handful of facts that prove what a powerful tool Pinterest is. In other words, if your business is not utilizing Pinterest, it would be a good time to embrace it. So, now the question becomes: what can you do to leverage it?

Realistically, we could talk all day about various ways to leverage Pinterest. But, for the sake of time, we’ve put together a few basic tips to help you as you begin your Pinterest strategy.

For starters, you need to optimize your images. It’s very important to incorporate text and information on your image, but it must be done strategically. Basically, you want to offer enough information to draw people in, but then you want them to go beyond the pinning action and land on your website for more information.

Secondly, understand that Pinterest is about the community. While this is true on other social platforms, it takes on an even bigger meaning on Pinterest. Yes, obtaining followers and getting pins repinned are important and help build credibility for brands, but you must reach out as well. Out of all the social platforms that you use, you may find Pinterest to have your strongest group of influencers. If you comment on pins, repin relevant content, and engage with other pinners, you will build your following and a strong community.

Thirdly, think outside the pin. When you’re creating content for Pinterest, obviously pin content related to your product or service, but take it one step further. Find or produce content and pins that impact the end user. For instance, if you have a line of fitness clothing, give examples of exercises or particular moves when your product shines. You could also build a board related to the best workout music, foods, etc. The idea is to essentially show the consumer that you care about their needs instead of shoving your product down their throat, which again, reinforces the concept of community.

Any good marketer knows that you should also conduct periodic evaluations of how your strategy is working, track analytics, and many other routine marketing tasks. But, hopefully, these steps will get you started thinking about how you can incorporate Pinterest and all its value into your marketing mix.

We also recommend reading Pinterest Marketing: An Hour a Day by SugarSpun Marketing’s own Jennifer Evans Cario. Yes, this is a shameless plug, but if you are looking to build a successful marketing strategy on Pinterest, the book offers a step-by-step guide to put you on the right track toward getting actionable results.

How Well Do You Really Know Your Audience?


One Size Tag

One size in social media does not fit everyone

Determining your target market is a process that should be familiar to all marketers. While your audience will likely not deviate too drastically unless you revamp your business, it is a good idea to evaluate who exactly you’re trying to reach before each campaign. It’s almost like conducting an audit to make sure you’re on the right track.

When you do this, you must question how you define your audience. If not, it’s like you’re driving somewhere without any navigation. In other words, you’re taking action, but it doesn’t tie back to a particular goal or strategy.

As a business, you are trying to reach and connect with people. This group is a specific crowd that has a particular set of needs and wants. For the most part, it will stay consistent. But, trends may influence them from time to time. For instance, if you’re serving B2B, the decision makers may change demographics periodically, which could influence how you market to your target. The same is true with B2C too as trends come and go and family dynamics alter.

With these thoughts in mind, can you really understand who your audience is? The short answer is yes. However, there is a “but” involved that means it takes constant babysitting.

Who’s out there?

Any business, new or old, has an idea of who it would like to reach. For some, it may be families, app developers, or any number of groups. From this, marketers need to hone in on families of a particular age group, what type of app developers, etc. This will help to dictate your customer personas. From here, you will obtain snippets about your audience, but it’s up to you to put the story together. There will likely be a few different stories, but they all come together through you.

What do they want or need?

As you begin to define customer personas, you’ll notice that there is a common denominator among them. Your audience may include people that are as opposite as day and night, but there will be something that ties them all together – this is your ticket in. It’s important to understand the different backgrounds so that you can better relate to why they want or need you.

When you gather this information, you will connect with your audience in a language that relates more directly to them, which is very effective. Furthermore, you’ll be able to identify where to connect with this group. For some, it may be your blog, and for others, it may be on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. This will also guide you as to whether you should reach them through photos, videos, text, etc.

How can you show you’re not full of crap?

Everyone knows that there is a LOT of noise online and offline today, which poses a challenge for consumers and businesses alike. Everywhere we turn, there are advertisements and brand messages. As a result, society has become skeptical.

So, how can we, as businesses, cut through the noise and stand out to our target market? It’s an ongoing challenge, but there are some steps that can be implemented to show that you have something valuable to offer. For starters, you must show that you have integrity. If you deliver your brand with honesty, consistency and a sense of value, you’ll become trusted.

It’s also important to identify the negative side of the noise, a.k.a. the crap, and be careful not to ever include anything similar in your messaging. For instance, weight loss ads have a tendency to not be trusted. If you are trying to promote a weight loss program, avoid using any of the same verbiage.

In addition, you need to have proof to show that what you are saying really works. This could be in the form of statistics, third-party studies, testimonials, and various other means. Businesses just really need to show that there is more than just empty words behind their content.

What’s more, as social networks specifically have grown, it has become increasingly harder to cut through the noise. Facebook has even openly admitted that organic reach is decreasing and has advised brand pages to utilize its advertising options. While this throws a kink in many marketing campaigns, it’s not surprising. Many of the popular social networks are public companies and are expected to make money, which means that we, in turn, need to embrace advertising on Facebook and other channels to stay relevant.

In the end, getting to know your customer takes a lot of time and effort. And just when you think you have a handle on it, I can guarantee that Google will introduce a new algorithm or a new trend will emerge to start the whole process again. But, it’s worth the time to get a valid understanding of your audience. It will improve your content, your strategies, product and service development, leads and even sales.

If you’d like more information on how you can effectively find and target your audience, check out how we can help.  Feel free to drop us a personal note too, as we’d love to tailor a response for you.

Image courtesy of teradatamagazine.com.