Tag Archives: blogging for business

Thought Leadership: Worth the Challenge to Achieve It

Thought leadership is worth it – but it’s hard to achieve, explains Aden Andruswriting in Disrupting Advertising.  He explains that thought leadership is much more than simply social shares or backlinks.  “True thought leadership”, he details, “makes people want to work with you and [it] has a huge impact on your bottom line.” “People respond best”, he explains, “when you create real value for them.”

In the case of his own efforts to generate a thought leadership position for his client company – excellent content produced significantly higher organic traffic and 32 times more organic lead volume – over a two-year period of committed thought leadership efforts.

He explains, however, that “any good blog editor knows that more organic ‘leads’ is not the same thing as more organic sales.”  Two years after his thought leadership efforts began, he noted, his company generated 64 times more revenue

“So, does thought leadership generate meaningful business results?”, he asks. “Absolutely. In fact, if you do it right, becoming a thought leader in your industry is one of the most effective ways to build your business.”

Practical Advice on How to Achieve Thought Leadership Status

Julie Schwartz writes in ITSMA blog that “marketing can’t do thought leadership alone… if it does, the output will be promotion, not thought leadership.” Marketing, she explains, “must get the buy-in, support, and commitment of executives and subject matter experts to become part of the idea-generating and dissemination process.”  She further notes that the success of any thought leadership effort “requires a deep commitment not just from marketing but from the entire company”.

Schwartz details 4 key elements for any organization to successfully achieve thought leadership status:

  1. Thought leadership efforts must connect deeply with target audiences need and goals
  2. Fact-based research is essential to establishing a more credible thought leadership
  3. Organizations must develop engines for idea development as well as dissemination (often, but not exclusively, social media based). “McKinsey and Bain have had these [initiatives] for decades, [and] more mainstream B2B companies are now making the same kind of thought leadership marketing transformation”, she noted.
  4. Concrete metrics used to judge success are required, and they are: Reputation Relationships and Revenue.

Further Considerations if You’re Contemplating Thought Leadership 

Julie Schwartz and Aden Andrus explain with precision the reasons why thought leadership works to increase revenue and can be achieved via specific steps taken by an organization (not only marketing).  They both also cite the need to measure the effort as against revenue.  I’d note that when considering who might be appointed to undertake responsibility for the editorial process of such an effort – consider appointing someone who understands the intersection of business development and content marketing.  Too, that this person has deep experience in researching and writing thought leadership publications.  And finally, that this person also understands fully the mechanisms by which inbound marketing and content production fit in the mix between outbound sales and business development.

Thought leadership, as is explained above – is not easy to achieve.  It takes time, patience, and the work of both marketing professionals, writers and subject matter experts.  Working together, however, these professionals can help an organization achieve substantial revenue growth.  Which begs the question:  If you’re not focused on building a thought leadership effort – shouldn’t you be considering it?

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

 

How to use online content marketing to increase Middle-Market deal flow

Sophisticated content about the details of the Midmarket deal making process will generate more deal flow for Middle Market advisors, according to a webinar conducted by John Carvalho, President of Divestopedia and Stone Oak Capital Inc.

The webinar, entitled The Changing World of Private Equity Deal Sourcing, notes how the Middle market deal space is extremely crowded, but that great deal sourcing practices can significantly help middle market advisors source more deals.  

Online publishing complements traditional deal flow efforts

Notably, Carvalho details the tremendous cost and effort some Mid-Market advisors are currently making to source good deals.  In some cases, this deal sourcing requires travel of up to 30 weeks a year, with spends of between $450,000 to 1 million annually.

He explains how an online strategy would make these efforts more efficient and less costly.  A sophisticated online effort that strengthens your firm’s brand awareness would sit beside other sophisticated deal flow initiatives, including a carefully defined deal focus, more interaction with M&A intermediaries, and increased targeting of companies that might sell. Importantly, Carvalho explains that if more relevant and high quality deal flow finds you from this online effort, it’s succeeding.  

Carvalho also cites industry thought leader on the subject, David Teten, who has identified 5 best practices to generating more deal flow, which are the establishment of a specialised outbound origination program, via the deployment of a dedicated business development professional, creating opportunities instead of waiting for them, targeting companies that are flashing deal signals, installing a CRM system, and leveraging social media. Also important to note: Another industry leader in advocating social media use by Mid-Market advisors, Axial, in a survey of their members, found that 89% of CEOs research potential contacts online before doing anything else.

There’s scepticism about social media in the Middle Market, but it does work

Carvalho notes that there’s a lot of scepticism about social media among Mid-Market advisors, hence they’ve been slow adaptors. He explains that there’s a perception that deal flow found online may be low quality. And that Middle-Market dealmaking is seen as a relationship business, which social media will never replace.  Efficiencies can, however, be achieved, as Carvalho explains, by initiating connections online that become conduits to deals.

As a counter to the scepticism about social media, Carvalho notes that social media should be seen simply as a distribution channel to increase outreach. He cites in particular how:

  • Social media savvy Millennials already in corporate decision-making positions are increasingly turning to social media to find Middle-Market advisors  
  • Indirect online-generated relationships can be a significant source of deal opportunities.  
  • Educational content can build brand and build investment leads.  
  • Among the top reasons companies select a Middle-Market advisor is brand recognition and the firm’s demonstrated expertise (which online content marketing can amplify).
  • The Riverside Companies have said their brand recognition helps bring in more deals.

Designing a middle market focused social media strategy

Carvalho details how there should be 4 goals for an online social media strategy for a Middle-Market advisor: Build Brand; Drive Traffic; Demonstrate Expertise; and Generate Leads.

What type of content?

There’s an appetite from the C-Suite to learn more about the deal process. The most successful forms of content involve digging deeper into topics and issues for business owners to know about before doing transactions – things beyond the superficial. Middle-Market advisory firms, therefore, can create content from their experience in dealmaking, Carvalho explains. Case studies, videos, and articles about the process can be created from this experience. But most firms don’t have staff able to do this, he details (this is where firms can work with a social media savvy writer with knowledge of the Middle Market, to help them develop and distribute content)

Which distribution channels?

Deal sourcing platforms, your firm website, third party publications, and social media sites including LinkedIn and Twitter (the two prime sources for promoting midmarket content, with YouTube becoming more popular) are ideal as distribution channels for your online content, Carvalho detailed. He also suggests the possibility of using sites not often used by mid-market advisors as a means by which to generate even more exposure.  In a workplace increasingly composed of millenials (35% of the workforce by 2020), expanding the scope of your sophisticated online presence is an important long-term strategy to consider for expanding deal flow

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

How to write blog posts that generate new client leads

The ultimate goal of any content marketing initiative is to generate new potential client leads.  

Julie Neidlinger, writing in Single Grain, explains that: “There’s a general misunderstanding among most bloggers: you think that simply getting people to read what you’ve written is the point.  In an ideal world, they just read your blog post and immediately (and happily) sign up for your newsletter, download your “ultimate guide,” and head on over to your online store. Your amazing content leads to conversions which translates to cold hard cash in the bank. It’s as simple as that, right? Yes, that is what can happen. That is what should happen. But as long as you hold on to that initial misunderstanding, that isn’t what will happen. The truth is, readers don’t automatically become customers. They tend to stay readers unless you make a concerted effort to convert them into a customer.” [emphasis added]

How to generate leads from blog posts

Strong Social has detailed what is required to avoid the pitfall Julie Neidlinger details above — and create successful, lead-generating blog posts.  Their recommendations include:

  • Be clear and concise — “Clarity is the key to mutual understanding between you and your customers.” This requires removing excessive language in blogposts.
  • Ensure your blog posts are client-centric.
  • Break the blogpost up into subheadings and bullet points –  They cite a Nielsen Norman Group study which “found that 79% of readers skim, while only 16% read every word on a page. Breaking up your page with subheads and bullets will make it easier for those 79% to digest the copy—and ultimately take a desired action—on your website.”
  • Avoid buzzwords and industry jargon which can reduce the clarity of your message.
  • Include a compelling call to action — The call to action (CTA) is one of the most important aspects of web copywriting. Ensure the reader knows what to do next. This is perhaps the most important element of a good blogpost, as well as perhaps the most overlooked.
  • Be aware of the web copy your direct competitors are using as a means to keep fully up-to-date with the market.
  • Know your audience — Understand their needs and address them in your blogposts. “Figure out why people buy your product or service, how they buy it, what they use it for, and what really matters to them.”

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

 

Harold Evans explains “why writing well matters”

Former editor of Britain’s Sunday Times and Editor at Large for Reuters Sir Harold Evans explained why he’s driven crazy by a lot of the “increasingly incomprehensible” business language today in a recent interview with Charlie Rose.  “What Orwell predicted would happen has happened” he told Rose, in introducing his recent book entitled “Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters.”  The book is now a New York Times Bestseller which The Financial Times calls: “practical advice for those seeking to improve their writing skills.”

Evans explained the increasing incomprehensibility, citing the example of a friend who got a call from someone who wanted to help him sell a company.  The caller, Evans detailed, identified the sale as a “liquidation event” instead of referring to it in more simple terms.

He says he wrote the book “because euphemisms are used more than they should be” — and that  “with the arrival of digital – the velocity of information is speeding up.  To find the real message [it] takes longer than it should ‘because there’s so much verbiage’”.

Evans identifies 10 ways to make writing clearer:

  1. Get moving – use the active voice.  Passive voice creates more words and is harder to understand.
  2. Be specific – all great writing focuses on simple, concrete terms – not abstractions
  3. Ration adjectives and raise adverbs
  4. Cut the fat – check the figures
  5. Organize for clarity — sentences should be short because they’re easier to understand and speak
  6. Be positive – sentences should assert a positive instead of a negative
  7. Don’t be a bore
  8. Put people first. Using a healthcare example, Evans advises: use a name — not a case number
  9. Propositions are pesky and can confuse who’s doing what
  10. Down with monologophobia — don’t be afraid of using the same word twice

Evans’ life and career

Evans love of journalism began in World War 2 – where he encountered a soldier who’d died of tuberculosis at 27.  Evans explained how he became “obsessed by many bad things that were hidden” in Britain’s railways and coal mines.  He made his name in helping investigative teams for the UK’s Sunday Times – in particular his work on exposing the treatment of babies impacted by thalidomide — as well as the Kim Philby spy case.  He later worked for US News and World Report and Conde Nast. He explained the difference between British and US journalism:  In American journalism news and opinion are separate.  In the UK, he explained, opinion-editorial and news were fused during his career.

Evans went on to detail how he first fell in love with the writing of Tina Brown, then a writer for the Times and later Tatler, Vanity Fair and the Daily Beast. He later fell in love with Brown herself and they’ve been married ever since.  “Long may you flourish as the Great interpreter of American life”, he told Rose to end the interview.

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How a blog can help your business generate more publicity

Competition for available media coverage continues to increase

Competition for available media coverage continues to increase amid a sea of press releases and publicity efforts, according to an article by Ian Felton in SEO Chat.  As a result of this competition, Felton details, it`s “harder than ever for a business to gain much needed publicity.”

“Getting someone to hear the message is half the battle”, Felton explains. “Having the members of the media consider it newsworthy is the other half. Somewhere, there must be another vehicle that can gain the attention of an already swamped news editor. Help for the publicity seeking business person has arrived in the form of the blog.”

And global public relations consultancy Burson-Marsteller has explained the increased importance of blogs to generating news stories:  “Traditional and Social media are being used in increasingly sophisticated ways to draw attention to issues and mobilize opinion; anyone can now broadcast their views instantly and broadly using the panoply of tools freely available. And with journalists and other opinion-formers using blogs, micro-blogs and other web-based media as core tools to track news and trends, seemingly anodyne issues can be amplified instantly.”

Unique features that make blogs useful for public relations efforts

Felton identifies 4 key elements of blog technology that help make it uniquely useful for amplifying your organization’s messages

  1. A blog can provide an instant pipeline directly to interested news media outlets when combined with an RSS news feed, which employs the same technology as stock market and weather forecasts.
  2. A blog is a search engine optimization vehicle requiring minimal additional effort. The regular addition of relevant and keyword rich content provides a powerful boost to your business in the search engines.
  3. Other blogs and blog-based news sites will often link to content they source for information – which increases your exposure.
  4. High-ranking sites send a message of importance to reporters.  Hence, you may well be regularly called upon as a source as a result.

Consistent, sophisticated content will make a blog a regular source of news stories

Making your blog a source of consistent, well-informed opinion will help it grow to be regarded by journalists as a must-read source of expert opinion on your industry and specializations.  But reaching that pinnacle takes very hard work — which organizations must understand and genuinely commit to before embarking upon any blogging effort with such a lofty ambition.

Felton sums up the blog`s importance with a message about authenticity:  “Blogging as a public opinion medium [leaves ‘spin’ behind] and [instead] presents a message in a conversation with the reader…In that sense…blog[s] cultivate public opinion…with increasing transparency.”

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

Essentials of Content Marketing #3: An editorial calendar

While many business have turned to content marketing as a means to attract new clients or customers — some have not adopted one of the most essential elements of these efforts — an editorial calendar.

As Sydney Rayl of Turn the Page Online Marketing explains — successful content marketing “means building a loyal following that trusts your brand for quality content and provides you with repeat business”.  Vitally, as Rayl also explains, “the key to achieving a successful content marketing strategy is to consistently [produce] high-quality content that is focused on what you’re audiences wants to see”.  And the best way to do this, Rayl notes, is by adopting and committing to utilize an editorial calendar.  Garrett Moon of CoSchedule Blog puts it a bit differently:  He explains that “the number on way to get traffic to [a] blog is through the very habits than an editorial calendar [helps] develop:  organization.

A consistent, well-planned strategy is required for content marketing success

As Garrett Moon explains in more depth — content marketing “requires a lot of strategy to be successful”.  While understanding your audience is central to strategy — an editorial calendar is just as important from an implementation standpoint.  Without it — you won’t be producing consistent, thoughtful content that attracts a growing audience.   In addition to helping you plan out consistent posts — and editorial calendar permits you to more easily alternate between topics, track writing and editing assignments, new ideas and deadlines.

As Moon argues, a written editorial calendar also helps to keep a content marketing team accountable — helping to make “each individual more likely to deliver high-quality, relevant content consistently over time.”  That consistency, Moon explains, is vital to building a larger following.

The basic components of an editorial calendar

Creme Blog contains an excellent example of an editorial calendar.  Writing for Creme, Tabita explains how to create an editorial calendar.  Here’s what Creme details:

  • Make a list of topics that will be of interest to your readers.
  • Set the number of articles you’d like to publish on a weekly basis.
  • Determine what type of content you’d like to publish — whether it’s written articles, videos, podcasts, pictures, graphics or others.
  • Set dates certain for producing and publishing each piece of content.
  • Determine which channels you’ll utilize to promote the content: Facebook? Twitter?, etc.
  • Utilize a digital, shareable calendar for dispersed teams and easier collaboration.

Discipline will yield better results

Among the greatest challenges to producing regular, high-quality content that address the needs of your key audiences — is consistency.  An editorial calendar will go a long way to creating a disciplined and hence more successful — content marketing strategy.

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.