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Radio: A Magical Online Marketing and PR Option

This Friday, March 2nd, from 4 to 5 p.m. ET, I’ll be talking about Inbound Marketing on the LinkedIn Lady Show on RockStarRadioNetwork.com. This opportunity to chat live with Carol McManus, aka America’s LinkedIn Lady, and then have the show available for download on iTunes got me thinking about how radio has developed as an online marketing communications and PR medium.Radio across the decades

First, let me say that I have always been in love with radio. In my mid-1960s high school days, my friends and I spent every social moment listening on our new transistor radios to DJ Jerry Blavat – the Geator With the Heater, the Boss with the Hot Sauce – on WHAT-AM in Philly. (You can still hear him – stream his show live, in fact – on Cruisin’ 92.1, WVLT-FM.)

During the same timeframe, Marshall McLuhan published his mind-bending, ground-breaking book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. McLuhan described radio as, ‘The Tribal Drum.’ No wonder it’s translated so brilliantly to the Internet, where we’re all connecting with our online tribes.

Radio used to be very local. It still is, but it’s also global now. If you get the opportunity to be interviewed on anyone’s local radio show grab it, even if you market nationally or internationally. Not long ago, I was a guest on a show aired by a tiny station in Westchester County, NY. Its signal may not reach more than a mile. But my mother listened in on her computer from Pennsylvania. Many shows are recorded and available to download and share, which really leverages the time you invest in preparation and the show itself.

Even if the interview invites aren’t rolling in, you can still take advantage of online radio. You can create and promote your own radio show for free on BlogTalkRadio.com. BTR is the world’s largest social radio network. It just ranked #3730 in the three-month Alexa traffic rankings. More than 45,000 websites link to BlogTalkRadio. In essence, it’s the Wordpress of radio. There are several premium packages available that, among other features, include promotional impressions of your show to help you build audience.

One of my clients, psychotherapist Dr. Annie Abram has created quite a successful show on BTR, Ask Dr. Annie. Once a week she interviews well-known authorities and authors in her field. Such a show builds thought leadership and credibility in and beyond your service area, and opens doors to collaboration, speaking engagements and other opportunities. It also gets her in front of her mailing list weekly when she promos the current week’s topic and guest.

RockStarRadioNetwork.com – home of the LinkedIn Lady Show – was launched in November of 2011, by Craig Duswalt, former personal manager for Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses, and currently a speaker, author and creator of the RockStar System For Success, and the popular RockStar Marketing BootCamps.

The RockStar Radio Network is a talk radio production company whose brick and mortar studio is based in Tyler, Texas where the company’s full production staff works to create customized interfaces, live commercials and CD quality sound for all its talk radio hosts. Carol McManus built a national audience with a previous show that live-streamed on a local AM station in Greenwich, Conn., leading to an invitation to host her current show.

Here’s a closing thought about radio --  something I underlined decades ago in my well-worn copy of Marshall McLuhan’s book. It still resonates today:

“Radio is provided with its cloak of invisibility like any other medium. It comes to us ostensibly with person-to-person directness that is private and intimate, while in more urgent fact, it is really a subliminal echo chamber of magical power to touch remote and forgotten chords. All technological extensions of our selves must be numb and subliminal, else we could not endure the leverage exerted on us by such extension.”

Takeaway: Put radio into your online marketing mix. Call to your tribe and they will gather to listen!

 

To shift gears to another form of social media, learn how you can make effective use of Facebook and Twitter. It’s all in our new White Paper available for free download via the button.

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The image of vintage radios is from the Flickr photostream of AlexKerhead under Creative Commons license.

Ads and Graphics vs Content: Google Says Content Wins

Google - Content vs GraphicsHere’s the latest message from Google: If you want to rank well in search results, don’t create barriers of graphics and ads between the top of your web page and your content.

In an effort to get searchers to what they’re looking for, Google has changed its algorithm to assess how difficult you’re making it for them to get there.

The algorithm change is in response to users’ complaints that they land on a page and can’t find what they want. Whether they’re obscured from the desired information by lots of ads, or because the page has tons of graphics you have to scroll past to get to the info doesn’t really matter.

If your graphics are obscuring useful information, you’re not going to rank well in search engine results. In other words, you won’t get found.

Regularly I’m doing research for clients to determine how they can leap frog their competition. Regularly I’m seeing pages that are totally graphics and the little information that exists is contained in a graphical image that can’t necessarily be read by search engines. More times than not these images don’t contain alt tags – the source code that tells Google what an image is about (Google doesn’t recognize images – only text.)

Part of what Google is focused on is what appears ‘above the fold’ and what appears ‘below the fold’. This language reverts to newspaper jargon. If you take the New York Times and fold it midway between top of page and bottom of page, everything in the top half is ‘above the fold’.  The bottom half is ‘below the fold’. In print newspapers, the most important stories were closest to the top of the page, heralded by headlines that explained what the story was about – and why it was important to the reader.

Google takes a similar approach. It wants the info that tells what a page is about at the top. If the page is divided into more than one column, Google wants a dominant column with a keyword laden headline that establishes the informational focus of the page.

Best is to put the key concepts of the page across the top – above the fold -- and other info below the fold. The ‘below the fold’ info can be divided into columns and it’s great if you can optimize a below the fold column for a keyword.

Given Google’s new interest in page design, it’s imperative for graphic design and SEO to coordinate and collaborate. This may take some doing, but it’s evidence of how Web 2.0 is compelling us to break down marketing silos.

 

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Image credit: Illustrationpages.com

Pinterest: Social Media Crazy Quilt

Pinterest New Social Media Site

I’m watching Pinterest with interest. Pinterest is the ‘hot’ new social media site that’s generating a lot of current buzz. It’s billed as a ‘pinboard’ where users can share, i.e. ‘pin’, images of items that interest them. Visually, it’s a crazy quilt. According to a February 11th article on TechCrunch, Pinterest currently has 10.4 million users – 97% of them women. (Does that give you a clue, marketers?)

Currently – and similar to early Google+ -- participation is by invitation. While I’m waiting for my invitation to arrive, I’ve been poking around and learning about Pinterest.

You can organize, categorize and share pictures of items you find online, ‘pinning’ them onto virtual ‘boards’. The images retain a link to the original source (unless you merely ‘Like’ a pin) once you post it. As a highly visual medium, Pinterest is perfect if you like scrolling endlessly through images -- many of them very engaging -- to find ones of specific interest to you. Engaging Images on Pinterest

If you don’t want to peruse ‘Everything’ at once, you can narrow things down by searching in one of 31 lifestyle-related topics – plus ‘Other’ for those items that don’t seem to fit into one of the pre-assigned categories. Or, using the search field (which I understand disappeared for awhile and is now back by popular demand) you can search for specific pins, boards or people.

The formula and the etiquette are much like on Twitter:

  • You ‘follow’ other users, or specific ones of their boards, and they can follow you back – or not.
  • You may decide to ‘unfollow’ someone or something, and they’ll never be the wiser.
  • You may comment on people’s pins.
  • You may also Re-Pin (think Re-Tweet) someone’s pin, in which case the image and its link to the original source of the material remain intact.
  • If you simply ‘Like’ a pin, you’re giving a ‘thumbs up’ without giving the goods. The link doesn’t come with the ‘like’.
  • To reply to a particular user, you add an @ symbol in front of their user name. Hmmm. Sound familiar? Oh, well. No sense completely re-inventing the wheel when people are already familiar with @replies.
  • A request to ‘Be Nice’ is designed to promote a positive approach to community building.
  • You can add Pinterest ‘follow’ buttons on your website.

How are people using Pinterest?

  • For organizing projects, like home decorating.
  • For organizing items they’d like to add to their wardrobes.
  • For planning weddings and other special events and sharing possible choices with family and friends.
  • For saving and sharing cute images, books, music and other interests
  • For organizing, saving and sharing recipes.
  • For cataloguing inspiring/useful ideas and information.
  • Etc.

What can businesses do on Pinterest? Although Pinterest admonishes against being ‘overly commercial’ or ‘self promotional’, you can use the site to connect with your customers and prospects in a number of ways.

Companies are flocking to Pinterest, mostly to connect with its population of women/mom users. There are a few male-oriented categories like Cars & Motorcycles, Men’s Apparel and Sports. There’s no category for ‘business’ or ‘advertising/marketing’. There is a ‘Products’ category and you can put a price in your Pin caption.

Companies can:

  • Display products (with prices and links to an ecommerce site) in specific categories, Weddings & Events or Women’s Apparel, for example.
  • Post your presentations and other visual content. For example, HubSpot just put up a page with images and links to its infographics, ebooks, white papers and other content.
  • Recruit. Not sure yet how they’re using Pinterest specifically, but a recruiting firm is one of the early power users.
  • Explore other creative ways to make it pay off. (Although it’s not yet paying off for Pinterest, as they haven’t yet evolved their business model. Right now they’re building with about $25 million in venture funding.)

As a young and evolving social media site, Pinterest has a few glitches and bugs popping up that management is still working to resolve. As all sites have in the past, it will also likely incorporate cultural and tactical features that are user-created or driven. (Like the hashtag on Twitter.)

Anyone who has read my blog over time knows that, as an inbound marketing consultant, I’m not the earliest adopter of new social media tools and techniques. I take a bit of a wait and see approach, then learn and experiment on my own business before I recommend new tools to clients. Everyone has too little time to invest in unproven tools and there’s still plenty of time to benefit once they’ve taken hold and yielded measurable results.

I’ll update you once I begin posting on Pinterest and seeing how – or if -- it can help you grow your business.

In the face of new social media sites, many companies are still trying to put the old ones to work for them. If your company falls into this category, then download our Social Media White Paper to learn about using Facebook and Twitter effectively.

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Online Marketing Strategy: “Why To” vs “How To”

Each day I read through a couple of dozen blogs and marketing newsletters to keep up on what’s happening in online/inbound marketing. Most of those articles are ‘How To’s’ about any number of digital tools and techniques. They’re important because when we decide to use a tool for solving a problem it’s good to know what to do.Strategy (Why To) vs Tactics (How To)

Where my eyes, ears and brain cells perk up more, though, is when I read something that explains ‘Why’ I or my clients should consider doing something in Inbound marketing.

The roadblocks that emerge when I speak to clients and potential clients about Inbound Marketing is that they get stuck on the ‘How To’. I will venture to speculate that the preoccupation with ‘How To’ is a way to avoid focusing on ‘Why’ doing it is or is not a good idea.

It’s the battle between Tactics (How To) and Strategy (Why To).

If there’s a great reason, ‘Why’, we can figure out, ‘How’.

It doesn’t work so well the other way around. You can eat, sleep and breathe the ‘How To’. But if there’s no reason ‘Why To’, the efforts are a complete waste of time and dollars.

Hire a strategist first. They’re a lot harder to find. Once you know what you want to do and ‘Why’ you should do it, there’s no end of tacticians who can show you ‘How To.’

 Learn much more about Inbound Marketing Strategy and Tactics. Download your Free eBook.

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Graphic is from the Flickr photostream of docbaty under Creative Commons license.

Marketing Differentiation: How Canned Content Can Backfire

In a highly crowded and competitive online world, marketing differentiation is critical. We must take the time to understand and communicate what we bring to the marketplace that is unique and important to our customers. This is especially important if we’re in industries where we may be perceived as ‘cookie cutter’ to begin with. Here’s a good example of how not to differentiate yourself!Canned Content Can Backfire for Marketing Differentiation

Yesterday morning at 11:32 an email came across my desktop with the intriguing subject line: Happy Groundhog Day – which it wasn't. At 12:19 a second email with the same subject line arrived. I thought to myself, why did this person send me the same email twice within a short time frame?

When I had time to actually read my emails later in the day, I realized that I had received the same identical email from two different financial advisors with two different companies. Both emails included a link to a cute flash card with another link to the identical message, personalized with my first name. Each of their cards was signed with their name with yet another link to a contact form if I wished to leave them a message.

It was obvious that these guys had bought a canned content and ‘lead generation’ program. At the bottom of their emails I found a tell-tale link to a website: ebriefme.com. The url took me to a site called eRelationship, obviously intended for people who need to generate sales.

The headline promised to ‘Increase Your Commissions’.  The site offers automated emails, what they call ‘Validity Generators’ (enewsletters, articles, and other content), ‘Likeability Generators’ (Cards like the Happy Groundhog Day one, 4th of July, birthday, etc.), Lead Generators (‘For those appointments you couldn’t close’).

Nowhere do they warn that a prospect might get exactly the same content from your competitor. The only good news in that possibility is that he or she will look like as big an idiot as you do.

Look everyone, I understand that this Inbound Marketing stuff takes time and it’s easy to be tempted by services that will provide you with ‘content’. But for marketing differentiation, your content really has to be different!

Did these guys validate themselves as knowledgeable? Did getting their twin emails make them more likeable to me? Did their effort generate a lead? The answer to all three is a great, big NO!! In fact, what it got them was a click on the ‘unsubscribe’ link.

And here’s the main point of all of this. The goal of content marketing is not to get your prospects to like you. It’s to get them to trust you. There’s no way I can trust someone who doesn’t respect my intelligence or who won’t take the time to understand who I am and what I need so that they can provide information that’s useful.

So differentiate your marketing for marketing differentiation!!

 

Learn more about how Inbound Marketing can help differentiate your business, build trusting relationships with your prospects and lead to more sales.

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The image is from the Flickr photostream of Timparkinson under Creative Commons license.

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