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Marketing Tips and Takeaways from INBOUND17

Still spinning from INBOUND17, an annual marketing conference in Boston, where I spent four days with 20,000 other fellow marketers, I am excited to share some of the top takeaways and immediately actionable insights. These ideas will help you be strategic about what’s trending in online marketing, so you can stay ahead of the curve and become even more connected to your clients and fans. Dive on in.

1> “Instagram is Facebook’s next Facebook”

So says Facebook’s (owner of Instagram) CEO Jeff Zuckerberg. Straight from the horse’s mouth, Facebook expert Mari Smith advised it is imperative to include Instagram in your social media strategy. When Facebook is putting their energy there, so should you, with opportunities for the fastest growth in growing your followers and increasing your brand awareness.

TAKEAWAY TIP – Connect your Instagram profile to your Facebook page for analytics about how to be more strategic with the right audience. Make sure that your Instagram is “on brand” with the rest of your social media profiles.


2> Video, video, video!

Yes, video continues to be the content darling with social media, especially with Facebook TV and video ads. Also from Mari Smith’s presentation, we heard how Facebook is (still) giving priority to videos created in Facebook—not only for posts, but also for ads. It is getting easier and easier to create more professional ads without having to spend a fortune on video production. Some of the video tools Mari recommended were Wave and Animoto.

TAKEAWAY TIP – If you haven’t started, start RIGHT NOW! Start experimenting and post something THIS WEEK! If you have started, take it up a level – especially if you have a great idea for video or television series.


3> Less is more. Quality over quantity.

20% of your content (the unicorns) is bringing in 80% of your traffic. Work it, be smart, be strategic. This message was repeated in many different forums with varying degrees of statistics. But the general message from all of the speakers I heard (Dharmesh Shah, Hubspot; Larry Kim, Wordstream, and Garrett Moon, CoSchedule) was that you should focus your growth (10x growth, not 10% growth) on these really big content ideas and winners.

TAKEAWAY TIP – Find your most popular content (check the analytics from your website and social media) and make a plan to make it work harder.

 


4> Be human and connect.

We all want to belong – but we need to be solid in belonging first to ourselves. With a new book out, called Braving The Wilderness, Brene Brown kicked off the conference with a most powerful call for everyone to be more engaged with their fellow humankind. Fresh from the front of the Houston hurricane disasters, she had real life stories and proof that we are capable of being humans together – not apart.

TAKEAWAY TIP – Call, touch, hug and/or really look at someone today and everyday! But also as we think of our companies and brands, it’s imperative to be OK and even stand out or stand alone in our authenticity.

 


5> Creativity happens whenever we solve problems.

I took comfort in being reminded that being a creator doesn’t mean you have to be an artist or designer, or really good at making things pretty. Specifically, Wharton professor and author Adam Grant had some very pragmatic suggestions no matter what you do or who you are for how to bring creative ideas to life …which often involve working with your grumpy outlier cohorts.

TAKEAWAY TIP – Have a plan for bringing your next big idea to life. Don’t assume the people who are like you or who like you are always going to be your biggest advocates and the people who can most help you succeed.


Check out my LIVE FB video from INBOUND here. And if you want more insight in how to apply these trends and tips to your online marketing strategy, set up a clarity call with me now.

Nancy Sheed 5 Social media hacks to save you time

5 Easy Hacks to Cut Your Social Media Time in Half

Save time and still look like a social media superstar

There are two types of social media users. Those who love it and those who consider it a necessary evil. Social media is important but it doesn’t have to take all your time. Here are my go-to shortcuts and hacks that will have you sharing your social media in record time with consistency and ease.

Tip one: Turn off notifications

You do not need an email, ping, and pop-up every time some action is taken on your social media platforms. These notifications are distractions and killing your time for productivity and creativity. You should be in charge of your time, not the other way around.

  • Turn notifications off on your phone (settings tab)
  • Turn them off in settings on computer/laptop as well
  • Turn off all notifications about email list updates, a daily summary will do
  • Schedule specific times to check comments, post and reply

Tip two: Create a portfolio of your social media assets

This includes images, content, hashtags, brand elements, style guide, boilerplate, bios and mission statement info. With everything in one place, you won’t spend hours tracking down all your stuff, every time you want to post on social media. Put it into one easy accessible location. If you don’t have an easy-to-find folder on your computer, then put it in the cloud, so you and your team can access it.

Here are popular apps for storing and retrieving images and information from anywhere:

Tip three: Develop a content calendar or checklist

This is ideal to have so you know what’s coming and you have dates and deadlines built in (free one here, for you!) With a plan in place, you will no longer be scrambling trying to figure out “What will I post today?”

A social media post checklist means you won’t forget anything and it provides you with a process for getting things done and leads to consistency across your platforms, which most certainly leads to better engagement.

Tip four: Batch your content or posting

This is big, so don’t skip it. Use focused blocks of time to knock out multiple versions of the same type of content.

  • Write 3-4 blog posts – then you are done for the month (if you are weekly)
  • Record 3-4 podcasts and schedule them for weekly release
  • Pick a time every week in which you schedule the bulk of your social media posts
  • Use posting tools to help you with your scheduling and management: Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social are a few I like to use

Tip five: Hire someone

I promise, this is not a shameless plug! If you are stuck, uninterested, or truly don’t have the time for this, then figure out what would help you the most, and start there. Don’t waste time on projects that aren’t your “zone of genius.”

If a $20 an hour task is keeping you from doing the $100 or $1000 an hour work, then hiring someone else is a no brainer.

  • Need help organizing everything – hire an assistant (or VA)
  • Need help making things look pretty – hire a designer
  • Need help figuring out what the best content is – hire a strategist
  • Need help with Facebook ads – hire an ad specialist
  • Need help posting it all – hire a social media manager

What’s giving you fits today? Start there. Find out how to batch it, automate it or outsource it. You’ll love seeing these tasks off your to-do list and know they are still happening and helping you grow your audience reach.

Need specific help with these tips, tools or a strategy to make it work? Happy to chat about how I can help. Schedule a clarity call here.

How To Get Unstuck With Your Marketing – A Case Study

While on “holiday” I got to spend some time with a family friend, Jody Wallington, who is gifted make-up artist. She is mid-launch with her business and was feeling good about some things, and feeling stuck about many others.

Here’s how we got her unstuck. I’m sharing with the hope that it helps you too!

Watch:

Listen:

Read:

First we looked at what she had done, and what was already working for her.

• Her website is great and optimized for SEO

• She’s set up for local search in her area and her industry

• The site is mobile responsive (a must)

• She is very clear about how she differentiates herself from her competition

• Jody was also very clear about her target audience

The above list is the place to start. If you don’t know exactly who you are trying to reach, then efforts on social media or other advertising options aren’t likely to help.

Jody’s first big challenge was about all of the tools and resources that had been recommended to her. Hootsuite, Canva, Hashtagify, are all good tools, but she was wondering how to use them and what to actually post and create with these tools.

We backed away from the tools and started with her marketing and social media basics. We worked together to think about getting her “content” strategically organized.

Create 3 Buckets

  1. Bucket One – Content Ideas – what are the top 10-12 questions or answers that your ideal clients need to hear from you? What do you know that everyone wants to know from you? Jody listed several things right away.

• What are best products for someone who has received cancer treatment?

• 5 things women of certain age should never do when wearing make-up

• What to do if you are not exactly light, medium or dark?

These 10-12 items can then easily become blog posts or scheduled themes for content.

  1. Bucket Two – Hashtags and Keywords – these are not necessarily the same, but it’s critical to develop the list of words and phrases that you want to be found for or associated with. This is where tools like Hashtagify can help. Here are some things Jody considered:

• Is she a make-up artist or skincare consultant?

• Instead of “bridal parties”, she’s considering “mother of bride” as more her ideal client type

• Hashtags like #lookinggood #feelingfab might be better than #glam or #hot

  1. Bucket Three – Photos/Images – start building a portfolio of images that you can use for blog content, marketing collateral and social media posts.

• Do you have them on hand?

• Can you find them on free or paid photo sites?

• Do you need to create them or set up a photo shoot?

• Do you have a sense of what your branded imagery should look and feel like? (Canva is great for this!)

Creating these three buckets requires effort and research, and literally spending LOTS of time on researching social media and sometimes going down rabbit holes. It might not feel productive at first, but seeing what resonates with you – and recognizing what you audience is paying attention to as well – is a huge help when you start creating your own posts, mages, and content.

Tips for getting started:

  1. Set a realistic schedule and create dedicated (undistracted!) time to do this work.
  1. Figure out a workable system where you are going to track and be able to access this information. (Scraps of paper are not advisable! Think about a cloud based system, so you can)
  1. Start researching influencers or people you admire in your industry and see what is working for them.
  1. Before you start posting all of your great new content, check that all of your online profiles to ensure they are consistent with your brand messaging and images for each platform.

Then we had a bit of an “A-HA” when we working on Jody’s strategy at this point!

While all of the above is critical to appropriately develop your social media and start building content to support your brand, I caution people to realize that this is a marathon vs. race type strategy.

Part of our deep dive planning then turned to developing ideas for FAST TRACK connections and opportunities to get new clients.

Nurture Your Network – Friends, fans and people who already know you can be the best place to start. Find the most direct route to get in front of people who need to refer and recommend your services by letting those in your immediate circle know what you need.

Let them help make introductions and referrals.

LinkedIn – If you don’t appreciate or consider LinkedIn as a critical network for your business building you might want to reconsider.

• This provides a great opportunity to focus on your keywords

• You can start growing your connections

• Connect with influencers or ask for introductions

• It is search-friendly – and has SEO benefits with Google

Start developing an email list and plan to reach your peeps directly in their inbox. I have and could spend hours (watch this space) telling people that building an email list is the most critical thing that they should be doing for their business.

A last word of encouragement:

If promoting yourself and your business feels uncomfortable and icky, like this:

via GIPHY

You are not alone. Many people get stuck here. But remember your marketing mindset is an important part of your success. Rather than resisting marketing or continuing to be the world’s best kept secret, it’s time to tackle this head-on.

I challenged Jody (and challenge you) to think about marketing as an extension of service to others. If you can continue to find ways to help people and be of service, and use all of these online tools to do it – then that will be certainly be the most effective marketing you can do!

Are you stuck with your online marketing? I’d love to help you get unstuck, let’s set up a clarity call, so we can get you moving toward marketing success!

Business bucket list

What’s On Your Business Bucket List?

We’ve all been asked the question—probably at a dinner party, “What’s on your bucket list?” Even the most introverted of people usually have some BIG, HUGE item on their bucket list. Risky, against the norm, and FUN!  Why not give your business the same big, lofty goal with a business bucket list?

It’s easy to slip into the day-to-day activities of running a business. It’s also easy to avoid doing anything “risky”. Remember, with risk can come reward.

Things to add to your business bucket list:

What BIG idea do you have – written down somewhere, maybe on a Post-it note?

Is it:

  • an idea for an online course?
  • writing a book?
  • speaking?
  • taking a class or going to a conference?
  • doing a video?
  • getting a new website?
  • starting a blog?
  • hiring an assistant?

It’s time to dust off that “someday” note and figure out how to achieve this goal. You’ve written it down for a reason. Map it out.

Often, our big ideas don’t come to fruition because they get stuck somewhere right after, “Wow, what if I (fill in amazing idea)?  Oh, that’s going to be hard to do…”  As soon as you realize the scope of the project, procrastination and doubt kick in.

Here’s a tip:  Work backwards!

Fast forward to the end result and write that down. Here’s an example:

“Standing on stage presenting a Ted Talk”
What has to happen just before that to make it happen?

“Write an amazing Ted Talk Presentation”
Go back one more step…

“Apply to be a TED Talk speaker”
Keep going until you get to the very first step. You have mapped out the high-level to-do’s that will get you on stage giving the biggest presentation of your career!  It’s not so scary when you have it laid out!

Put yourself out there

At the top of many people’s business bucket list is figuring out how to get out, connect, and tell their story. What’s the best way for you to personally get in front of your audience? How can you create that human-to-human connection?

People follow and buy from someone they trust. How can you step out of the automated, bot-world and build trust and make a difference in your customers’ lives?

It’s time to shine

Live streaming video has become the fastest way to connect with an audience, share wisdom, and give the world a better idea of who you are.

It can be uncomfortable to think about being live on camera for everyone to see. Do it.  Put yourself out there and try it. There is nothing to lose! You can always delete it.

It’s not easy at first, but over time, it will not feel as difficult. Chances are, your peers or competitors are doing it, so if anything, use that as motivator!

What to talk about on video (or podcast, if you are really camera shy):

  1. What questions does your ideal client ask you all the time?
  2. What’s trending in your industry that your audience would want to know about? Is there a new app that’s hot? An exciting update to a program? A delicious new recipe that they must try?
  3. People LOVE rants: Is there something in your industry that bothers you? Can you offer your own viewpoints on the topic? Example: “Everyone says eating fats is bad, but there are good fats your body needs.”
  4. Lessons learned: Did you experience something in business that taught you a valuable lesson? Share it.
  5. Latest book you’ve read.
  6. Anything that lights you up that you feel you need to share.

TIPS When Starting:

  • Put on the DND (do not disturb!) when recording.
  • Write up some bullet points to talk about and stick in a place you can see it. You’ll much more at ease if you have those reminders there.
  • Internet connection matters. If you are in a low cell area, the connection will probably cut in and out. Test if first.
  • Use a tripod if you can, to keep the camera/phone stable, and consider a good quality mic.
  • Don’t stress too much about hair and make-up.

Is it time for a break?

When was the last time you took a day off? I mean, a REAL day off. Running a business can take over your life. There is no 9-5 when it’s your own business… it’s constant: days, late nights, weekends, holidays.

It feels constant because we are managing everything alone. It’s hard to take time for ourselves when the whole business relies on us. Why not put some more “you” time on your business bucket list?

Take a look at your systems and operations. List answers to the following:

  1. Things I LOVE doing
  2. Things I HATE doing
  3. Things that ONLY I can do (this is your special magic)

Look at the list. The goal is to have “things you love doing” and “things only you can do” overlap. The things you hate doing should be hired out, to get those energy drains off of your to-do list. You will be far more successful (and happy) if you can focus on just what you love and are amazing at. Tasks you dread doing will only drag you down and suck up valuable time.

Change feels uncomfortable

Just like skydiving, change and stepping out of our comfort zones sounds great at first, but stepping to the edge of the plane is terrifying.

Pick one of the list items above or something from the top of your “business bucket list” and start there. First, become the master of delegating, then go out and get that book deal. Or hire that VA so you can take the vacation you’ve dreamed of.

Whatever it may be, reach for those goals. Dream a little bit bigger. Share some ideas/items from your business bucket list in the comments below. You got this—and your life and work will be all the better for it!

Stuck on how to move forward and take your next big step? Let’s schedule a clarity call, and maybe I can help you cross an item off your business bucket list!.

image credit Samantha Sophia

How a Business Clean-Up Can Bring Marketing Success

You know that feeling when warm weather comes and you want to open all the windows and doors and air the house out? Clean out closets and throw out the collected winter clutter?

It happens to most of us. A new season comes and we have the urge to purge (and clean).

But what about our business? Shouldn’t it get a renewed look and de-cluttering too?

When was the last time you took a day off? Yes… a whole day off *gasp* to do a little clean up on your business.

What Kind Of Cleaning?

There are two clean-up projects you should do once or twice a year.

The first one is more of a clutter buster.

Get rid of old files bogging down your computer.

Move your images and big files off your main computer and put them on an external storage drive. Look at your credit card statement and note any recurring business expenses that you don’t need. Those little $9.99 monthly programs and subscriptions add up.

Open up the virtual windows of your business

The second clean up project is a mental cleanup

A mental cleanup?

There is a tendency with entrepreneurs to forget why we are running a business.  By now you may have realized that running your own business is not easy. As a matter of fact is can be downright hard some days. Like – “I’m done with this” hard.

There’s a reason you keep going.  Why? Do you know the answer?

To (re)find it. It would be beneficial to take another day off! *gasp* TWO days off?!?

Yes! Another day off. To reconnect with your goals and vision. To remind yourself why you’re doing what you do.

Grab a fresh notebook and a brand new pen. Go somewhere that you can think and get away from the hustle and bustle for a few hours.

Ask yourself the following:

  1. What do you want to achieve, in business and in life?

Take a moment to think about what it is you want.  If you want to have a business that allows you to travel, are you structuring it to allow that? If you want to only work 30 hours a week, are the plans in place to do so? Do you have an income goal? Write down what you want your life (and business) to look like.

  1. What’s your secret sauce? What makes you stand out from your competition? What is something you do, that your customers or clients LOVE?

This is the magic of your business.  I’m guessing you have competition.  What do you do to make your business the best choice?

  1. What do they need to learn from you? What can your unique specialties do for them?

Once you get clear on your secret sauce, think about what your ideal customers want from you. When can you deliver this information to them? How do you think they want to get it?

  1. How are you reaching your existing clients? How are you reaching new clients?

What’s working? What’s not?

  1. Where does my best business come from?

If Facebook brings you the most business, focus most of your online marketing efforts there.

What Does This Have to Do With Marketing?

Everything.

It all flows together.

See you do have a vision of what you want your life to look like, but we get caught up in our day-to-day activities. We tell ourselves, “tomorrow, I’ll really hire that VA”,  “Next week, I’ll get started on social media”,  “Hopefully, by next year I’ll be able to work less hours if I can hustle now”.

Start to structure your business around the life you want now, then decide where you need to be productive. What needs to be more efficient? What type of support do you need?

Make your business work for you.

Focusing on what your secret sauce is, changes everything you do. This is how you stand out with your unique voice, perspective, and services. This is how your ideal client will find you. They’ll be drawn to you because you resonate with them.

Knowing what your magic is, allows you to write more freely, and promote your services with the right marketing copy and connect with your audience they way they need you to connect.

Once you start thinking about your marketing with your customer or client in mind, it doesn’t feel so hard. And you’ll have a clearer sense about where best to reach them.

You’ll notice that your blogs are getting read.  Your emails are getting opened. Your social media posts are getting likes and comments.  Why? Because you have cleaned out the stale marketing efforts that are no longer serving you. You have reminded yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and you’ll remember what makes you stand out.

Now, open up your calendar and pick your two clean-up days, to.

  1. Clear out the clutter
  2. Set your one-on-one day with your business.

You’ve got this!

Having trouble with your clean up? Let’s schedule a “clarity call” so I can help you make way for marketing success!