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Topic: marketing plan

Marketing Plan a MUST

In some ways, this post is a “Most Embarrasing Moments” post.  You come here because I am a marketing expert, but the only way this post if effective is if I am willing to write about my failures.

How to Avoid Costly marketing Mistakes

#1 Have a Maketing Plan

I do not mean a big plan, but I do mean a clear plan.  If you do not know what you are trying to achieve, you will not know what marketing is working.

#2 Don’t Buy marketing that Finds You

I dabble with new things occasionally.  But I have NEVER made money when marketing found me instead of the other way around.  For example, I had someone cold call me and offer to sell me ad space in Sky Magazine.  Originally he wanted $2,500.  I told him if he had any remainder space I would pay $500.  He ended up having the remainder space so I gave it a try.  Result?  Book sales dropped that month because money was diverted from the strategy to a random ad that people could not take action on.

Another example is Northwest Publishing.  A salesman walked into our office and talked us into an ad that would appear in a bunch of restaurants.  We decided to try it for one of our clients.  The end result was that the company is fraudulant, traps you into a contract and does not run the ad you send to them (3 times, because they kept losing it.)  If I did the research, I would have seen that they do not have a website and go by a variety of names including, Table Topics, Northwest Publishing and The Trivia Pages.  Lots of smoke and mirrors to get money.  The sales guy was good, though.

The news here is that I was smart enough to hedge my bets and only pay what I could afford to lose.  But the reality is that when marketing finds me and not the other way around, it is always a loss.  Never let the marketing find you.

#3 Decide what you want and go find it

If you have a good marketing plan, you know the audiences you are trying to reach.  Then you start researching and finding the best places to reach those people.  It could be Sky Magazine or an ad on a blog, but the point is that you are going to be much more successful with marketing if you chose the marketing and the marketing does not chose you.

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Virtual Marketing Assistant Expectations

Imagination I had the chance to meet with a prospective client for our VA Network last week. Nice person, but very unrealistic expectations. They did not even have a website but they wanted to generate a bunch of registrations for an event in one month. I had to tell her we could not help her with that, but we could help with a long term internet marketing strategy.

Virtual Marketing Assistants are the best option for many small businesses. They are a perfect solution that is not as expensive as hiring a marketing agency, but not as difficult as a business owner doing all the internet marketing activities.

The top reason that a Virtual Marketing Assistant fails is that small business owners just want them to do too many things – and have unrealistic expectations for the outcome.

A Virtual Marketing Assistant can help execute your marketing plan. But your marketing plan better be better than “go out and create buzz for me”. If you do not have a clue of where you want to start, you need to hire a Internet & Buzz Marketing Agency to help you craft your marketing strategy. Then you can hire Virtual Marketing Assistants to help you keep your strategy going month after month.

And you can do it all yourself. Anyone can do Internet Marketing themselves, but it takes a lot of time and willingness to continually learn, test and create great information. Often a good VA will be your best option to truly stick to your plan.

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My Buzz Box by Laura Stamps

Guest Post: Published with Permission

MY BUZZ BOX
by Laura Stamps
Laura StampFor 19 years Ive run a small press publishing company called Kittyfeather Press (http://www.KittyfeatherPress.blogspot.com). Im a novelist, and I write a series of magickal urban fantasy novels. Women are my primary market, so I also fill my novels with useful information of interest to women, like how to shrink uterine fibroids naturally, how to survive perimenopause (grin!), how to care for feral cats, etc. You could say I write entertaining as well as nourishing fiction.

We all know markets fragment and change from year to year. Last year my niche markets shifted almost entirely to the internet for much of their shopping, so in February I changed 99% of my marketing to online tactics. A large part of that involved creating a consistent buzz on the web for my novels.

First, I studied SEO (search engine optimization) techniques and learned how to redesign my site to be Google search engine friendly. Next, I researched the major keyword phrases for my niche markets and restructured the copy on my site to include that information. This is what I anchor my buzz to, channeling all my marketing efforts toward the same goal, which is to increase the flow of quality traffic to my site. And quality traffic converts into a steady stream of novel sales.

I discovered lots of buzz techniques that worked for me, and in order to keep them organized I created what I call my Buzz Box. I store my buzz marketing plan on index cards in a 3×5 index card box. I created a category divider for each buzz strategy and file the different parts of each strategy on individual index cards. For example, when I join a new forum, I make a separate index card for that forum containing the link, my user-name, and password information, and then file it under the Forums category. My Buzz Box sits next to my computer, so I can easily work from it every day. I quickly realized it was unrealistic to think I could hit every category every day. It just takes too much time. But if I work from three or four different categories each day that is enough to insure my buzz campaign remains consistent.

These are the categories in my Buzz Box:

1.) Classified Ad Blaster (http://www.AdSubmitter.com). Every day I place classified ads for my novels through this service on 1070 free classified ad sites across the internet. In my case, the value of this for buzz is not so much in the response I receive from my ads on those 1070 sites, but in the fact that many of the ads show up in the Google search engine. That means an online classified ad should not be structured in the same way as an ad appearing in a print magazine. The titles of my ads contain the major keyword phrases for my market. I word the body of the ad in a way that makes it easy for someone using the search engines to go to my site from there. Because of this, my website link is listed first in the ad, rather than last. There is only so much room in a Google search engine listing, so its important for your website to be the first thing they see after the title of your ad.

2.) Press Release Blaster (http://www.sanepr.com). This free service places my press releases on hundreds of websites. Once again, if the headline of your press release is keyword rich, your press releases will show up in the search engines for months, creating a constant buzz for your products.

3.) Article Directories. This strategy allows me to write articles on topics of interest to my target markets, which end up on hundreds of websites seeking free content. As the author, I am given a resource box at the bottom of each article to include a line or two about my business and a live link to my website.

4.) Blogs. I make it a habit to comment on high traffic blogs of interest to my target markets. All of these blogs highlight my website link with each of my comments. This is a great way to expand my market and funnel more traffic to my site.

5.) Google Groups (http://groups.google.com) and Yahoo Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com). I am a big fan of these groups, and have sold lots of books to their members. No matter your market, there is a group for it. Probably more than one. Join as many as you feel comfortable participating in. I say this because some groups are very large and have thousands of members. To create a buzz with groups always sign your posts with a sig. Your sig (signature) should include your name, company or tagline, and your website link. Some groups dont allow live links in a post, so only join those that do. My experience has been that I will begin receiving book orders within a week of joining a new group, probably because I am reaching a large group of people with each post.

6.) Forums. Join the largest forums that cater to your target markets. Like groups, most allow a sig. And only join those that do. Also fill out your profile completely, and include live links to your website. I have found it takes a little longer to begin receiving orders from forum members, but well worth the wait. And it goes without saying if your sig is rich in the keyword phrases for your target markets your forum posts will begin to show up in the search engines, creating even more buzz.

7.) Social Networking sites. There are so many out there now besides MySpace. I belong to Linkedin and Goodreads. Social networking sites are perfect for networking with your target markets and channeling quality traffic to your website. Once again, be sure to fill out your profile page completely with as much information about your business as allowed, including live links to your website.

8.) Viral Mailings to My In-house Email List. Every day I gain new people for my in-house email list through my buzz marketing. It is only natural that some of the people you meet during the course of your buzz marketing campaign will become friends as well as customers and will ask to be on your list. I send viral email mailings to my list every month. These email mailings feature news about my novels, articles I have sent to the article directories, or my current press release. I always choose something with great pass-along value, and I encourage the people on my in-house list to forward these mailings to friends of theirs who would also benefit from this information. Once again, this viral technique creates more buzz for me.

The important thing to keep in mind with social networking sites, groups, forums, and blogs is these are primarily opportunities to network. Since your sig or profile contains advertising for your company/product you should never mention your product in a post unless someone asks you about it. Posts are not for advertising, and if you abuse that rule, you will be labeled a spammer and kicked out or worse. So have a good time and let your sig/profile do all the buzz work for you. It’s also important to only join groups and forums centered around topics you enjoy. Then a buzz strategy becomes a lot of fun. Now you can spend your marketing time networking, talking about subjects you love, and making lots of new friends, while your sig and profile pages do all the selling. What could be better? For me my Buzz Box is a win/win marketing strategy, and I look forward to opening that box every morning!


Thanks Laura! It is really valuable to see a complete picture like this of what is working with someone. I am off to buy some Index Cards.

Is Buzz Marketing the Next SEO?

SEO – Search Engine Optimization – is a specialty that has been around for a long time. Buzz marketing is a vague term that seems to be taking on more the meaning of creating a buzz in social media / Web 2.0 stuff and less meaning around the big and crazy stuff that gets people lots of buzz.

At a conference on Friday, it was interesting to hear an SEO person say she was now doing Buzz marketing. I always thought of her as an SEO specialist, but more and more, buzz marketing is generating more content and getting more links, which is a great SEO strategy.

So you might ask yourself, are they the same thing?

No. SEO is the practice of targeting particular keywords and getting particular pages to rank highly for those keywords. A good SEO specialist will look at how your website is structured, the words in links, the text on the pages, the invisible (META) information of a webpage and who is linking to the pages. They will recommend places to buy ads and pay for directory listings. They will also attempt to get people to link to your page with the keywords anchored in the text of the link, because search engines use that information to help them rank pages.

Buzz marketing helps SEO a great deal because it creates more content on a regular basis, which gives you more chances to appear in search engines for a higher number of terms, even though it is unlikely you take the time to optimize the message. – For example, this blog gets lots of hits from search engines because it has over 650 articles, not from any intentional optimization strategy. Buzz marketing also encourages participation in the Internet as a social media. So you can generate inbound links all over the web to your website.

Those are simple definitions and in both cases, much more can be done. But for the sake of this post, let me move on.

I see that more and more of us are moving to some middle area. I do some SEO. I program sometimes. I am a marketer, a software developer, a data analyst, a PR specialist, a publisher, an author, a speaker, a blogger, a graphic designer, … I am not showing off. We are all taking on more and more rolls. I cannot hire someone every time I need an image cropped or a simple form put on the web.

So are SEO people morphing into Buzz Marketers? Probably.

Here is why: SEO serves some clients really well. Buzz marketing has some other advantages that serve some clients really well. It just depends on the client and their needs.

Take cost out of the picture. Having someone do these things for you is time consuming either way. It takes research, analysis and tweaking all the time for either of these things to work well.

Advantages of SEO

The advantage of SEO is that it does not take constant creation of new content. Instead, the website owner opts to focus their attention on getting a few pages to rank on the first pages of search engines like Google and Yahoo. This is a very good strategy if:

  • Owner does not want to create content regularly.
  • Owner has specific terms they can target for. (This works really well with specific product names)
  • Website plays small role in company marketing plan.

Advantages of Buzz marketing

Buzz marketing has some advantages as well. It captures more listings in search engines for a particular term. For example, you may be listed 3 or 4 times in the top 20 spots in search engines. You may also get incredible spikes in traffic from word of mouth or viral messages that you did not even create. You are a good candidate for Buzz marketing if:

  • You like to create regular content or can pay someone to do so. (Such as blogging)
  • You enjoy surfing the web, participating in online groups and doing online networking.
  • You would like to be seen as an expert in your field.
  • You can make creating buzz a daily habit, or can hire someone to be your online advocate daily.

SEO and Buzz marketing are different. If you can do both, it is great. If you must focus your time, use the above information to decide which approach is right for you.

Buzz Marketing Strategy Guide – eBook Download

Today we are officially releasing the Buzzoodle Buzz Marketing – Strategy Guide. It is an 85 page eBook that helps you craft a real word of mouth marketing strategy.

  • It discusses the differences between the 3 primary types of advocates and how to reach each type.
  • It includes Buzz Guidelines for employee buzz that you can modify for your own organization.
  • It includes a tool for assessing the likelihood of your story creating big buzz.
  • 8 Step Buzz Marketing Plan
  • Assessment tools
  • Ways to create buzz

The eBook is for managers, marketers and small business owners that want more buzz and word of mouth but do not know how to craft a real strategy to achieve it. It does not contain the marketing challenges like the book, Buzzoodle Buzz Marketing. Instead, it is a marketing guide to help you craft a real buzz marketing strategy.

Buzz Marketing eBookPurchase Buzzoodle Buzz Marketing Strategy Guide >>

Buzz Marketing: HR as a Profit Center

This post makes a good follow up if you read the last one, about Buzzoodle as a more ethical form of Buzz marketing.

I met with someone today that took what we have known about our approach and went a step farther. She pointed out that by using the Buzzoodle approach for training employees to have a more positive outlook and spread more buzz and word of mouth, the HR department would stop being seen as a cost center and could take on a major role as a profit center.

In fact, we often find ourselves working more with employees at staff meetings than with a companies marketing department, although both are important to the success of the effort.

This is fairly revolutionary in corporate thinking. Those people in charge of health care plans could soon find themselves in charge of the most influential part of the marketing plan as well. And to me that makes sense. An organization is only as good as it’s people, and HR is in charge of finding great people and making them greater.

Word of Mouth & Media Clouds

So you think you have the perfect word of mouth marketing campaign planned? Make sure there are no clouds to get in the way.

Regardless of the marketing format, keep Media Clouds in mind. Media Clouds are news that obscures the vision of the normally approachable media and public.

Today is election day, and I was going to send some things out. Then I realized those people are involved in politics and there is no way they would pay attention to my message today. Unless I can tie my message to the cloud, there is no chance they will notice it, let alone talk about it.

What are some other bigger Media Clouds?

  • Disasters, such as the Hurricanes – One person I know postponed his marketing plan by two months
  • Holidays
  • War News – especially when something new has happened
  • Local News – Such as a company closure
  • Competitor marketing Push – Don’t do something right on their heels that may get them noticed.

If you can tie your message to the cloud, it could result in more exposure. If you cannot do this, postpone your effort a short while to not get lost in the fog.

Word of Mouth & Media Clouds

So you think you have the perfect word of mouth marketing campaign planned? Make sure there are no clouds to get in the way.

Regardless of the marketing format, keep Media Clouds in mind. Media Clouds are news that obscures the vision of the normally approachable media and public.

Today is election day, and I was going to send some things out. Then I realized those people are involved in politics and there is no way they would pay attention to my message today. Unless I can tie my message to the cloud, there is no chance they will notice it, let alone talk about it.

What are some other bigger Media Clouds?

  • Disasters, such as the Hurricanes – One person I know postponed his marketing plan by two months
  • Holidays
  • War News – especially when something new has happened
  • Local News – Such as a company closure
  • Competitor marketing Push – Don’t do something right on their heels that may get them noticed.

If you can tie your message to the cloud, it could result in more exposure. If you cannot do this, postpone your effort a short while to not get lost in the fog.

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