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The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends Dominating 2014

Posted By Arizona Small Business Association, Monday, August 25, 2014

Content Marketing: “The overarching practice of using information and entertainment to promote a brand or product”.Contently

Content marketing, as a way to reach an increasingly wary audience, shows no signs of slowing down in 2014. Rather than using outdated, traditional methods of outbound marketing, businesses are finding that content marketing attracts customers and builds real trust between brands and consumers.

In 2013, I made some predictions for where I saw content marketing going in 2014. If you missed the post, you can read it here: The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014. In this article, I’ll revisit my predictions, and take a look at the current research related to content marketing.

1.      Businesses Will Finally be Able to Define Content Marketing

In my previous post, I stated that 60% of businesses were employing some form of content marketing. Less than a year later, a report by the Content Marketing Institute indicates that a whopping 93% of B2B marketers now use content marketing as part of their overall marketing plan.

While there have been countless articles published in the past couple years about the importance of content marketing, it’s only now that the term is becoming part of the everyday vernacular of businesses. Marketers are seeing firsthand how social media and content marketing are inextricably linked, and are understanding the importance of having a content plan; in fact, 44% of B2B marketers now report having a documented content strategy in place.

2. The Top New Marketing Job Title Recruited and Hired will be “Director of Content”

While I can’t point to any hard and fast statistics regarding the rise in popularity of the “Content Director” role, it’s clear that an increasing number of companies are centralizing content creation, curation and promotion.

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s State of B2B Content Marketing report, the most successful B2B content marketers have 2 things in common: they have someone who oversees their content marketing strategy, and that strategy is documented (this makes sense: a dedicated content manager will be more likely to have a content plan in place).

Surprisingly, smaller companies of less than 100 employees are more likely (78%) to have someone oversee their content strategy than companies with 1000+ employees (58%).

3. Mobile Content Marketing will Separate Winners from the Rest of the Pack

I’ve argued before that the release of Google GOOGL -0.44%’s Hummingbird update has significantly upped the ante when it comes to the importance of a mobile content strategy (see Google Hummingbird: A Mobile Content Marketing Strategy Just Became Essential.)

But while the majority of marketers now know the importance of having mobile-friendly content, many are still lagging when it comes to actually carrying out their mobile strategy. For instance, according to Exact Target TGT -0.1%’s 2014 State of Marketing report, 41% of respondents said that up to half of their subscribers opened emails on a mobile device; and yet, 42% of marketers also said they rarely or never used responsive design in their emails.

Clearly, there’s still a disconnect between what marketers know they need to do, and what they’re actually doing. For tips on how to properly implement your own mobile content strategy see my post 10 Steps to Creating a Mobile-Optimized Content Strategy.

4. Calculating Content Marketing ROI Will Spawn New SAAS Software and Companies

As the industry is seeing increased ROI when it comes to content marketing, new content creation companies are emerging and/or continuing to gain steam to challenge key players like Text BrokerContent Runner and Content Equals Money are two such emerging companies, which match writers to companies looking for high-quality content.

According to Amie Marse, Founder & Managing Partner at Content Equals Money, demand for their services is at an all-time high: “2014 has been a powerful force for my company. We have doubled our sales each year, but 2014 is on track to triple our 2013 numbers. The content generation landscape is saturated with all different types of companies, with new competitors popping up every day. Whether you want a marketplace or a more personal touch, you can really find any number of companies to choose from. That in itself speaks to the growing demand for quality content.”

5. Businesses will Look for Ways to Automate their Content Marketing, and These Efforts will Fail

With businesses creating and promoting more content than ever, it’s no surprise they would be looking for ways to streamline and automate the process. With 78% of the most successful marketers creating more content than they did a year ago, it only makes sense that the popularity of marketing automation would rise significantly simply in order to keep pace.

However, many argue that automating content isn’t without its problems; unrealistic expectations of what marketing automation can accomplish may be one of the biggest hurdles. Obviously, the idea of having a system in place that captures and nurtures leads, moves them through the online sales funnel and ultimately converts them to customers, is an extremely attractive one.

However, according to HubSpot, a leading content marketing automation provider, content marketing isn’t a ‘once and done’ proposition: “Marketing automation needs constant care and awareness for it to work effectively. Too many companies skimp on these details and think they can let their automation do all the work—not exactly the best way of accomplishing your goals. Marketing automation works as a supplement to your sales strategy, allowing you to strategize the path ahead. It’s not meant as something you can set and forget.”

6.  Google+ and Slideshare Will Become Essential for B2B Content Marketers

We’re seeing a disconnect between the actual usage of Google+ and Slideshare, and their reported effectiveness for business use. On the one hand, their use has jumped quite significantly: use of SlideShare among B2B marketers has increased from 23% to 40%, while the use of Google+ has gone up from 39% to 55%.

Yet according to research by the Content Marketing Institute, only 45% of B2B marketers believe SlideShare is effective for their business, and a surprisingly low 21% believe Google+ is effective. And with Google+ making the decision to remove Google Authorship photos, many business owners are wondering whether their heavy investment in Google has been – and will continue to be – worth it.

So which platforms are important to marketers then? According to the Social Media Examiner report, top social platforms being used by B2B Marketers are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, with Google+ coming in 5th for marketers in 2014. Slideshare doesn’t appear to have been included in the survey, so its importance among respondents can’t be pinned down.

7. Location-Based Content Marketing Will Provide Huge ROI for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

Location-based couponing and promotions are continuing to drive in-store visits and sales. According to Cisco, location-based mobile advertising accounts for $4.5 billion this year; and this number is expected to rise to over $10 billion by 2017.

One example of how brick-and-mortar businesses are using location-based marketing to increase ROI is the use of geo-aware marketing in a campaign launched earlier this year by Meguiar’s (an auto-care products company). By showing relevant ads in areas that showed a high volume of car and car-accessory buyers, the company was able to achieve a $1.31 ROI and a 118% increase in sales in exposed markets.

Clearly, while the tools and delivery method for our content may perpetually shift and change, the importance of content marketing remains constant at this point of 2014. I’m interested to hear your thoughts about content marketing in 2014: What’s missing from this list? What should we expect to see in the latter half of 2014?

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How to Promote Your Blog: 9 Missed Opportunities

Posted By Arizona Small Business Association, Thursday, August 21, 2014

You just started a new blog for your small business. You’ve established a rhythm of posting and you feel good about your blog as a resource for your current and prospective customers, but now you’re wondering how to promote your blog to get more traffic and exposure for your brand.

Before you start to promote your blog, it’s essential that your blog has a very clear, distinct purpose and your content and the design of your site is engaging to your target audience. Before we dive into the actionable ways to promote your blog, here are a few things to consider when establishing the purpose of your blog.

Honing Your Blog’s Purpose

A blog can cover a lot of branches; it can be hyper niche or broad in focus. Regardless of what information spans your blog, you have to make sure you are crafting it with a single purpose in mind.

This purpose should be determined by a few factors:

  • Who is the audience you are trying to reach?

  • What is your business’ unique selling point?

  • What are you most knowledgeable about?

  • How can your experience benefit others?

There are 42.6 million new posts published every month on the WordPress platform. The sheer volume of posts and new blogs is astounding, but the truth is, there are more bad blogs than good..

One of the first places people fail at blogging is in not understanding the purpose of their blog. You can blog about writing techniques, for example, but wouldn’t it be better to blog about “writing fiction when you don’t have a creative background”?

Proclaiming that your blog has a specific purpose will give readers something to hold onto and allow you the opportunity to promote your blog, not just posts. Think of your purpose as the tag line for your blog.

How to Promote Your Blog

Now that we have the foundation of your blog established. We can jump into the action-steps and details of how to promote your blog. There are endless ways to share individual posts, but here are some tips and commonly missed opportunities to promote your blog as a whole.

1. Email Signature Shout Out

Email signatures are one of the most underutilized forms of advertising. Most confine signature details to basic contact information, but that space can do so much more for you if you leverage it in a valuable way.

Promote Blog Email Signature

This is where knowing your blog’s purpose is helpful. You don’t need to design a custom banner or get pushy about making a sale, just tell everyone you send an email to that you have a blog and they can get something out of visiting it.

That’s it.

Not only will your target customers love seeing where they can get free information, but you might also hook some unexpected interest from non-business email communications.

2. Business Card Surprise

The same rules that apply to your email signature should also apply to your business cards. Taking your offline relationships and bringing them online can be one of the best ways to create new business.

Like your email signature, business cards can be a redundant piece of marketing real estate and offering something out of the ordinary can give your card punch.

Try making your blog promotion the highlight of your business card. Offset it with a different color or font to ensure it gets recognized.

What you want is to get them interested in discovering more about you, and your phone number won’t do that, but your blog can.

3. Event Materials that Pop

If you network frequently, you undoubtedly have materials that accompany your product or services, so treat your blog like another service you offer.

Free samples or consultations are great, but an ongoing resource that your prospects and customers can reference at their leisure is a huge benefit.

When you’re hosting an event or setting up a booth at a conference, print your best blog post and information about your blog to hand out to attendees.

With this promotional material, you’ll not only direct people to your blog (and to your website), you’re also giving them a tangible sample of what they will gain by following your content. Emails are easily discarded and social media posts can get lost in the shuffle. A blog post with helpful tips that you can actually hold in your hand or hang on your refrigerator is hard to ignore.

4. Become a Part of the Blogging “In Crowd”

Whether you’re a blogger or not, one of the strongest ways small businesses acquire customers is through referrals, and a referral is not limited to a customer-to-product interaction.

A referral can come from one blogger in your niche telling their audience about the resources found on your small business blog.

Bloggers are some of the most generous referrers out there. They get asked questions all the time and direct people to the right blogging peer to solve their problems. But you can’t get that referral if you’re not on their radar.

Starting a blog means immersing yourself in the blogging community and making friends. There are proven ways to make these connections that won’t take up too much time.

  • Start tweet talking. The power of the @mention is not to be underestimated. It is one of the easiest ways to start having a conversation with someone you don’t know, so ask a fellow blogger a question or propose a thoughtful comment. Active tweeters will respond.

  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If you’re modeling your blogging style off someone else in your industry (and every good blogger does) let them know. Tell them thank you for inspiring your journey and elevating your efforts.

  • Boast the “Best of…” Almost every industry has a genius up-and-coming blogger who takes the time to highlight the best bloggers in their field. Here’s an example of one for marketing blogs. And one for investing blogs. The best thing about these posts is a) they give you a good reason to reach out to your industry’s best bloggers and b) they are a great resource for your audience.

5. Full Website Coverage

If you look like you don’t care much about your blog, why should anybody else? Having bold and repetitive navigation to your blog will send the message that it is a valuable resource not to be missed.

Most businesses that take blogging seriously will have a link directly from their home page to their blog and some even make the blog their home page, depending on their business model.

You can offer more opportunities to get to your blog than just one link.

Buffer App does uses multiple navigation opportunities to get to their blog.

It is, of course, on their home page:


It’s also in the footer of their Apps & Extras page:



And it’s easily accessible from their other blog:



Use the real estate that your site offers to show your audience that you’re serious about your blog.

6. Social Media Spotlight

Social media may seem like an obvious way to promote your blog, but not everyone uses it to the extent it deserves. You can certainly share your individual posts and even send out repeating messages that you have a blog over your social networks, but do your social profiles point to your blog or your website homepage?

For most, profile links point to website homepages. This is a natural place to send people. For the social audience, however, a homepage link may not be click worthy.

If your social followers aren’t close to making a purchase decision, they are more likely to check out a resource, rather than a product page.

Use your social media bios to not only point to your blog’s URL, but to reiterate the purpose of your blog.

7. Email Broadcast the News

If you’re currently emailing to a list of interested leads, prospects and customers, there’s no reason why you can’t use this source to introduce them to new information.

Savvy content lovers won’t see it as an intrusion, they’ll see it as an offering.

Make the new blog email announcement an entertaining new way for your customers to get to know you. There are creative ways you can tell your fans that you have a blog without coming off like a careless, self-promoter:

  • Tell them a funny, embarrassing story about becoming a blogger
  • Share your old views on what you thought a blogger was before you started
  • Offer to take suggestions for blog content ideas

If you’re not leveraging your existing audience to get traffic, you’re not giving your blog the chance it deserves to be successful.

8. Talk About It

No tricks. No tips. Just start talking about your blog and the fact that you’re blogging. Arm your customer service efforts with relevant blog posts. Mention to partners that they can find out more about a specific topic on your blog. Do a little bragging at Happy Hour.

Just make sure you are communicating your offering to those around you.

9. Use Snail Mail

Perhaps blogging is your first major step into communicating online with your customers. You’ve been relying on more traditional advertising, like placing ads in the newspaper, doing radio commercials or sending direct mail to your audience.

It can be hard to bridge the gap between an established offline presence and a new online presence. Why not marry the two?

The same thing can be done for direct mail that can be done for event marketing. Print and mail your best blog post that offers the most value to your audience and send it in more personalized packaging to let recipients know it’s special. Whether this means handwriting their name and address or sending the post in a special envelope, make sure they see this piece of mail is different.

They will be excited that there isn’t a sales pitch and interested to see more.

Promoting individual posts on your blog will always be important for growth and retaining an audience, but you can’t forget to market and the blog as a whole.

Using these 9 tips to promote your blog will help you gain readers without a lot of extra effort.

If you have been thinking about starting a small business blog, but aren’t sure how to get started, check out this post on how you can begin blogging in seven days or less.

What surprise tactic has earned you new blog readers?
Leave a comment in the comments section below!

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Tags:  blogging  business development  marketing 

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5 Tips For Great Storytelling

Posted By Amy Packard, DigitalWire360, Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DigitalWire360 is the mastermind behind brand storytelling and content creation. In today’s digital landscape video can be gold to increasing the visibility of your brand’s website. Storytelling personalizes your brand’s message, so we’ve included some tips on how to get the most out of your video storytelling.


5 Tips for great storytelling:

1. Find the part of the story that will connect with the audience, don’t try to push your product or business through your video. Keep the focus on the story, don’t make it a sales pitch.
2. Utilize your subject to drive your branding message. Ask a question two different ways to get the response that you desire in order to communicate your branding message.
3. Personalize the video with images and other video to make the story more visually interesting. 
4. Keep it short and to the point. The average person doesn’t spend that long watching one video, so grab their attention, drive home your message and end with a call to action.
5. A strong call to action to drive customers to your website in order to measure the return on your investment. 

These five tips lay the groundwork for successful video storytelling. If you need help with some of the intangibles or a studio to capture your brand’s message DW360 can help.  DigitalWire360 is your partner in identifying and executing your vision.

Tags:  marketing  PR  storytelling  tips 

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Networking Tips

Posted By Ron Janicki, Arizona Small Business Association, Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Can’t spare the time to network? Can you afford not to? Networking is a STRUCTURED PLAN, not just meeting people"


Research possible networking groups and always visit as a guest to any networking group you are considering joining. Insure that the networking group members are looking for the same type customers / clients that you are.

Carry business cards everywhere you go and set goals for each event. Make a quota to meet with at least 3-5 people and try to set a meeting in the later future. If possible, get a list of people / companies in attendance, prior if possible.

Remember, Quality not Quantity, You do not want to meet everyone, just the right ones.

Try to get there early and position yourself by the entrance. This will insure your presence at the event and help you connect with others as they walk in. Wear an easy to read professional made name tag on your right side. This gives a clear view of your name and company when you lean toward the person to shake hands.

Plan your first impression. Practice that 30 second elevator speech, but be ready to change it when the situation calls for it. Do any research on the organization or people prior to the event.

Be friendly, approachable, and helpful.  Smile.

​Ask things like, “May I join you? or  What brings you to this event?” Start and maintain a conversation by asking about the other people, don’t jump in with your sales pitch. Remember you have two ears and one mouth. Listen and find a way to add value to your conversation. If you see a person standing by themselves, go over and ask what they do. Is there a line?  Get in it.  Now you have two people to talk to, one in front, and one behind.

Always find new people to sit with. Don’t get in the habit of only talking to the same people. Meet and make friends with other networkers so you can give each other referrals. Introduce and connect people to each other, it can build your network more that you realize. Always ask for their business card, and make notes on it if you need to. 


Follow up

When you make a new contact.  Follow up with e-mail, phone call or hand written note in a day or two. Be sure to follow up short, and to the point. If they respond, invite them to coffee, lunch, etc. Continue to stay in touch with your contacts without being a pest.  Understand that people are busy. Always ask “When would you like me to follow up?” Then do exactly that.

Be Patient

No group will give you business or referrals just because you attended one event. Become an active member. Follow up on an ongoing basis and volunteer when you can to assist at an events. It's a great way make new friends and referrals.  All of the business contacts you made are also all of the folks that you will be calling for the needs of you and your family.


Ron Janicki ,

Arizona Small Business Association

4811 E. Grant Rd.

Tucson, AZ.  875712

520-429-0383 cell



The largest trade association in Arizona representing 11,000+ member businesses and over 1/2 million employees in all 15 counties. ASBA creates opportunities for small businesses to make money, save money and have a loud voice in public policy. Join ASBA today!



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Tags:  leads  networking  referrals 

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The Top 10 Benefits Of Social Media Marketing

Posted By Arizona Small Business Association, Monday, August 18, 2014

To some entrepreneurs, social media marketing is the “next big thing,” a temporary yet powerful fad that must be taken advantage of while it’s still in the spotlight. To others, it’s a buzzword with no practical advantages and a steep, complicated learning curve.

Because it appeared quickly, social media has developed a reputation by some for being a passing marketing interest, and therefore, an unprofitable one. The statistics, however, illustrate a different picture. According to Hubspot, 92% of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important for their business, with 80% indicating their efforts increased traffic to their websites. And according to Social Media Examiner, 97% of marketers are currently participating in social media—but 85% of participants aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use.

This demonstrates a huge potential for social media marketing to increase sales, but a lack of understanding on how to achieve those results. Here’s a look at just some of the ways social media marketing can improve your business:

1. Increased Brand Recognition. Every opportunity you have to syndicate your content and increase your visibility is valuable. Your social media networks are just new channels for your brand’s voice and content. This is important because it simultaneously makes you easier and more accessible for new customers, and makes you more familiar and recognizable for existing customers. For example, a frequent Twitter user could hear about your company for the first time only after stumbling upon it in a newsfeed. Or, an otherwise apathetic customer might become better acquainted with your brand after seeing your presence on multiple networks.

2. Improved brand loyalty. According to a report published by Texas Tech University, brands who engage on social media channels enjoy higher loyalty from their customers. The report concludes “Companies should take advantage of the tools social media gives them when it comes to connecting with their audience. A strategic and open social media plan could prove influential in morphing consumers into being brand loyal.” Another study published by Convince&Convert found that 53% of Americans who follow brands in social are more loyal to those brands.

3. More Opportunities to Convert. Every post you make on a social media platform is an opportunity for customers to convert. When you build a following, you’ll simultaneously have access to new customers, recent customers, and old customers, and you’ll be able to interact with all of them. Every blog post, image, video, or comment you share is a chance for someone to react, and every reaction could lead to a site visit, and eventually a conversion. Not every interaction with your brand results in a conversion, but every positive interaction increases the likelihood of an eventual conversion. Even if your click-through rates are low, the sheer number of opportunities you have on social media is significant. And as I pointed out in my article, “The Four Elements of Any Action, And How To Use Them In Your Online Marketing Initiative,” “opportunity” is the first element of any action.

4. Higher conversion rates. Social media marketing results in higher conversion rates in a few distinct ways. Perhaps the most significant is its humanization element; the fact that brands become more humanized by interacting in social media channels. Social media is a place where brands can act like people do, and this is important because people like doing business with other people; not with companies.

Additionally, studies have shown that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing, and a higher number of social media followers tends to improve trust and credibility in your brand, representing social proof. As such, simply building your audience in social media can improve conversion rates on your existing traffic.

5. Higher Brand Authority. Interacting with your customers regularly is a show of good faith for other customers. When people go to compliment or brag about a product or service, they turn to social media. And when they post your brand name, new audience members will want to follow you for updates. The more people that are talking about you on social media, the more valuable and authoritative your brand will seem to new users. Not to mention, if you can interact with major influencers on Twitter or other social networks, your visible authority and reach will skyrocket.

6. Increased Inbound Traffic. Without social media, your inbound traffic is limited to people already familiar with your brand and individuals searching for keywords you currently rank for. Every social media profile you add is another path leading back to your site, and every piece of content you syndicate on those profiles is another opportunity for a new visitor. The more quality content you syndicate on social media, the more inbound traffic you’ll generate, and more traffic means more leads and more conversions.

7. Decreased Marketing Costs. According to Hubspot, 84% of marketers found as little as six hours of effort per week was enough to generate increased traffic. Six hours is not a significant investment for a channel as large as social media. If you can lend just one hour a day to developing your content and syndication strategy, you could start seeing the results of your efforts. Even paid advertising through Facebook and Twitter is relatively cheap (depending on your goals, of course). Start small and you’ll never have to worry about going over budget—once you get a better feel for what to expect, you can increase your budget and increase your conversions correspondingly.

8. Better Search Engine Rankings. SEO is the best way to capture relevant traffic from search engines, but the requirements for success are always changing. It’s no longer enough to regularly update your blog, ensure optimized title tags and meta descriptions, and distribute links pointing back to your site. Google and other search engines may be calculating their rankings using social media presence as a significant factor, because of the fact that strong brands almost always use social media. As such, being active on social media could act as a “brand signal” to search engines that your brand is legitimate, credible, and trustworthy. That means, if you want to rank for a given set of keywords, having a strong social media presence could be almost mandatory.

9. Richer Customer Experiences. Social media, at its core, is a communication channel like email or phone calls. Every customer interaction you have on social media is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your customer service level and enrich your relationship with your customers. For example, if a customer complains about your product on Twitter, you can immediately address the comment, apologize publicly, and take action to make it right. Or, if a customer compliments you, you can thank them and recommend additional products. It’s a personal experience that lets customers know you care about them.

10. Improved Customer Insights. Social media also gives you an opportunity to gain valuable information about what your customers are interested in and how they behave, via social listening. For example, you can monitor user comments to see what people think of your business directly. You can segment your content syndication lists based on topic and see which types of content generate the most interest—and then produce more of that type of content. You can measure conversions based on different promotions posted on various social media channels and eventually find a perfect combination to generate revenue.

These are the benefits of sustaining a long-term social media campaign, but if you’re still apprehensive about getting started, consider these points:

  • Your Competition Is Already Involved. Your competitors are already involved on social media, which means your potential social media traffic and conversions are being poached. Don’t let your competitors reap all the benefits while you stand idly by. If, somehow, your competition is not involved on social media, there’s even more of a reason to get started—the field is open.

  • The Sooner You Start, the Sooner You Reap the Benefits. Social media is all about relationship building, and it tends to grow exponentially as your followers tell their friends, and their friends tell their friends, and so on. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to start growing that audience.

  • Potential Losses Are Insignificant. Realistically, you don’t have anything to lose by getting involved in social media. The amount of time and money it takes to create your profiles and start posting is usually minimal, compared to other marketing channels. Just six hours a week or a few hundred dollars is all it takes to establish your presence.


The longer you wait, the more you have to lose. Social media marketing, when done right, can lead to more customers, more traffic, and more conversions, and it’s here to stay.

Contributor | Source:

Tags:  leads  marketing  social media 

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