Business, Business writing, Career, Marketing, Small business

*New* Business Blog Series: Excel with Business Blogging

Many of you have asked me how to develop your own blog, so I created a new course on Udemy called: Excel With Business Blogging. I am also going to submit a blog post each week discussing ways for you to develop your own blog and to improve your blog post.

First, here’s more information about the course:

Are you ready to CONNECT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE and FULFILL YOUR BUSINESS GOALS?

Do you want to create deeper relationships with your customers to build brand loyalty?

You can in EXCEL WITH BUSINESS BLOGGING.

https://www.udemy.com/excel-at-business-blogging/

This course offers an effective way to IMPROVE YOUR BLOGGING ACTIVITIES via a STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS

You’ll FIND OUT WHY BLOGGING IS THE BEST MARKETING TOOL for your business, LEARN HOW TO PRODUCE COMPELLING CONTENT for your blog posts and DEVELOP THE SKILLS TO WRITE FOR AN ONLINE AUDIENCE.

The Excel with Business Blogging course PROVIDES you with:

  • AN OVERVIEW OF BUSINESS BLOGGING: Learn how blogging gives your brand a personality
  • CRITICAL WRITING TECHNIQUES: Find out how to get creative with your content.
  • BLOGGING GUIDE: This guide acts as textbook for the course.  It provides you with additional information and emphasizes important concepts.
  • CASES STUDIES: Discover effective methods from top business blogs.
  • A CONTENT PLAN: Create a plan that addresses timing, quality, topics, legal risks and policies.
  • AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR DEMO: We don’t just tell you about we arm you with the tools to set up your editorial content today.
  • TEMPLATES: You’ll receive templates for your editorial roadmap calendar, blogging policy, blogging privacy policy and blogging comment policy.

IT’S EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUSINESS BLOGGING AND THE TOOLS YOU NEED TO GET STARTED …

DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS OPPORTUNITY START TODAY. TAKE 50% OFF WITH THIS COUPON CODE: ITSWRTN50

REVIEWS:

J. Nemetvaraga writes:  “Great course!” I found Brigitte’s approach in presenting this course absolutely spot on; because the lecture material had been presented in a way that it was easy to digest the information and more importantly to the point!”

L. Valderas writes: “Awesome”

Business writing, Marketing

Keep Your Customers Wanting More: How to Engage Your Audience with an Effective Brand Story

open book-apeekatkarensworld.comBusinesses are changing the way they talk to you.  Have you noticed? Many of them have realized that their customers can develop and build their company with a single share on social media.

They’ve also learned not to talk at consumers. Instead, they are trying something new. They are bringing consumers along on their journey through the art of telling a story.

Finding ways to ‘entertain’

Remember the last time you were entertained by a brand?  TV advertisements, such as SuperBowl commercials, may come to mind.  However, many businesses are finding other ways to engage an audience. Building their customers’ experience, learning their customer segments, and talking less and listening more have become top priorities.

Businesses are providing consumers with more educational information and promoting this content on different platforms from email to social media. They are using stories as a way to help consumers escape their daily lives and enter their world.

The environment businesses create draws an appealing picture of their firm, and they are infusing emotional hooks into their narratives.  The narratives are consistent and visually appealing in order to create a connection. Several examples can be found in a recent survey by Aesop, a UK brand storytelling agency. They include Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Heinz and IKEA.

Developing the story

Writing brand stories and presenting them as online content is something a few people are trained to do, points out Susan Gunelius in the Forbes article, “5 Secrets to Use Storytelling for Brand Marketing Success.” The teller of a story must understand the elements of a story. Many people make the assumption that a story only needs a beginning, middle and an end; however, good stories establish the setting, characters, conflict and resolution.

Well-told stories have the ability to build a following, especially when they give the audience some type of value, such as actionable items. Many businesses utilize different storytelling techniques.  For instance, The Guardian describes in its article, “Three steps to better storytelling for brands,” using myths to forge a shared identity that describes what people value, what they don’t and what they want for the future; and, casting the target audience as heroes by providing information that uplifts them.

Another method involves drawing attention to a social problem or issue. A business will align their mission with a cause that relates to their values.

Businesses have the opportunity to tell their story multiple ways and on many different platforms to give consumers numerous chances to interact with them on and offline.

Use the tools to help you create a good brand story. Take the course, “Create Your Business Narrative: Bank on Content.”

For a limited time only, save 50% off the regular price ($50)  with the coupon code: HALFOFF2013.  Click here to start creating an effective and engaging business narrative today.

Photo Courtesy: Creative Commons, apeakatkarensworld.com

Business, Marketing, Small business

Establish your business as a thought-leader

ID-10092332While surfing the Internet, do you ever come across a company website and wonder whether it’s a credible business? When you are looking for services or products you want to make sure the place where you get them is a real legitimate business.  In addition, you may want a well-established business; one that is reputable within its industry. This way you can feel comfortable anticipating that the quality of the product or service will be good.

Establishing your business as a thought-leader within your industry is a way for it to become well-known and respected.   Thought-leaders introduce new and innovative ideas and many times provide insightful perspectives.  These ideas are presented or shared through an example, a logical argument, a statement of fact via demonstration or an emotional appeal, according to the article” Thought leadership: a radical departure from traditional, positional leadership,” in the publication Management Decision.

Businesses that have established themselves as thought-leaders often are the ultimate, “go-to” resource within their industry and for their customers. This alone demonstrates their authority. Arriving at this level of a leadership, though, includes having strong foresight.

The role of a thought-leader has several tasks and they are not limited to the following:

  • seeing the challenges your customers face and the potential issues within your industry before and as they arise; then addressing them on various platforms
  • locating and finding best practices for industry insiders and customers
  • seeking out opportunities to collaborate and share different perspectives that will create more solutions for your customers whether developing professional conferences, a committee within your industry’s top organization or a taskforce
  • adopting new technologies
  • introducing or practicing new techniques
  • specializing in your niche
  • showcasing your expertise through speaking engagements, blogs, books and offering classes
  • making discoveries through brainstorming sessions, debates and even through trial and error
  • identifying or defining how the company will be known within its industry

When executives are accessible to customers appealing to their needs and sharing their wisdom, some customers feel at ease with company, yet thought- leadership is not exclusive to C-level executives. It can be practiced among employees as well. However, enthusiastic employs who believe in the mission of the business make great members of your thought leadership team.

This type of leadership is ubiquitous. Thought-leaders work inside the company to develop the company culture and business environment, and thought- leaders work outside the business to help it become known.

As a thought-leader, you are connecting with an audience providing new ideas for people to digest, process and possibly implement. You are also providing a glimpse of the inner-workings of your business, its values and its fortitude. You are also defining the company’s brand.

Image courtesy of nattavt/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Marketing

Promoting your brand with content

So you want to promote your brand– draw awareness of your products and services or increase customer loyalty.

Well, your efforts are likely to include figuring out your target markets, creating marketing and communication materials and sending out all of that material to your specific audience whether online or offline. This is all content marketing.

The strategy though has changed.  No longer are people easily swayed by the monologues of traditional marketing. Now, they are immersing themselves in dialogue. They want to have a conversation.

So, instead of inundating your target audience with sales messaging, businesses are providing informational content that addresses challenges customers face.

Content is generated to create value and today businesses are distributing volumes of content to engage their target audience. Marketing budgets are pouring more money into the creation and distribution of content.

According to B2B, the content that’s used the most includes social media, websites, email, newsletters and video. On the otherhand, the content delivery system considered most effective are in-person events, case studies, videos, webinars, blogs, research reports, ebooks and white papers.

The contents value won’t mean too much if it’s riddled with mistakes. These errors don’t necessarily have to revolve around grammar and punctuation. Rather errors are made by the way you choose to approach your audience.  Here are three questions to ask yourself and your team:

  • Is the company the central topic of the content?
  • Is the company using the right channels?
  • Is the company really addressing customer’s troubles?

 Is the company the central topic of the content?

Talking too much about yourself would turn people off so will talking too much about your company. It shows that you’re not listening and that there’s less of an exchange of ideas or thoughts. Address your buyers’ pain points. Not only will you want to use the right channels but you will want to use them effectively.

The following is an example of how one company used content to discuss a topic:

In 2010, Russell Investments tapped into his clients’ desire for insightful research for the brand campaign “Conversation Yields Innovation,” reports BtoB. The print and online global thought leadership branding campaign was timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  The intent was to show that companies in the financial industry needed to listen to their clients and innovate. The campaign used op-ed style print ads in The Economist, Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. In addition, an online video featuring investment strategies from Russell CIO Erik Ristuben was created.  The whole effort was to create a “bold and honest” conversation.

Is the company using the right channels?

As the number of marketing channels continue to multiply you or your marketing department may feel overwhelmed attempting to cover all of them. Remember, some channels have been found to be more effective than others. So, determine whether you are getting a good return on your investment in a particular channel; know your customer and their buying habits.

Is the company really addressing customer’s troubles? 

Buyers want to go to a trusted source to make their purchase for a product or service. They are looking for solutions and throughout each stage of the buying cycle you can provide them with  tips and advice.

The content you provide needs to encourage people to participate, intrigue them so they want more and will want to share the information with others and build a community.

Photo Courtesy: Suwit Ritjaroon/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Business

10 Budget-Friendly Ways to Boost Business during the Holidays

The key to selling well during the holidays season is to plan early. Generate buzz to start attracting business at least a month in advance. So, here are 10 tips to help you get started.

Create a welcoming atmosphere in your physical and virtual store with holiday-themed decorations and inventory. If your store has items geared to children, make the environment kid-friendly.

Host an open house, now. That’s right, start planning and have it done by mid-November. The sooner the better, this way you can layout products and services for the holidays allowing customers a sneak peek of what you will provide.

Create themed promotions each day or once a week for a product or service that you put on your website, social media, email newsletters and other marketing collateral.

Prepare for those customers conducting product research while they are shopping at your store. Many people are using their mobile phones to compare prices with online merchants. The environment you create may win over these customers along with instant gratification suggests Jennie Wong of the Charlotte Observer. Provide customers with a good return policy and give away a gift with the purchase.

Build excitement for the holiday season sales and new products by engaging your target audience on your social media accounts.  Remember, this is a place to build long-term relationships with your target audience. So, send out holiday-themed images and content and create events, such as a private sales party.

Boost your email marketing campaign.  Describe how your business is preparing for the holidays. Talk about your new products, upcoming sales and industry happenings.

Don’t forget about gift certificates. These sales can carry over to the new year. They create convenient gift options. Sometimes people will spend more than the value of the certificate, shares the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Also, build awareness about your business by participating in community holiday events and charities by volunteering your services, equipment and space, the SBA suggests.

Tablets are providing marketers the ability to reach out to richer prospects and create more engagement experiences with pictures and videos, Direct Marketing News reports. So, use tablets to create excitement by sending out Black Friday notices and capture prospects with email lists, Dana Todd of Performics advised in the article “Have yourself a mobile little Christmas.”

Generate a QR code that links to your website or links to a special landing page that provides special discounts, featured products and services, store hours and upcoming promotions.

So try these tips, and let us know how your business is preparing.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhoto.net

Business, Investments, Small business

Considerations When Valuing Naming Rights

Selling naming rights are very common these days, but many businesses aren’t too sure about their worth. 

Getting a better gauge requires a good understanding of accounting. Its important to know, these rights aren’t a physical asset so they’re considered an intangible assets.  This means placing a dollar amount on a naming right can be more challenging compared to physical items. As a result, estimations and investigations are often the best ways to determine the value.

So, sellers and purchasers should consider the following:

  • future cash flows
  • comparisons of similar transactions in the marketplace
  • adjustments for inflation

Also, they should stay aware of external factors that could impact the deal, such as the following that I came across in a report entitled “Valuation of Naming Rights,” by Greg C. Ashley and Michael O’Hara.

  • Does the community support the sale?
  • Does the name dominate a sector and has it already worn out its welcome?
  • Is the financial health of the buyer weak since this could result in a merger, takeover or bankruptcy, and could ultimately compromise the naming agreement?
  • Are there any miscalculations of the present and future state of the economy?
Photo Credit: Renjith Krishnan
Business, Investments, Small business

The Economy’s Impact on Naming Rights Deals

Notice a rise in the use of corporate names associated with a building or an event?

Naming rights have enjoyed a rapid increase in number and expense over the past few decades. A boom in construction and the expansion of major sports leagues are among the factors. However, a drag in the growth spurt has occurred due to turbulence within the economy.

The use of a company name on major buildings, such as stadiums and museums, or local venues is done for financial gains. For instance, a university grants a brand name to be placed on a department in exchange for a large monetary contribution.

A brand also benefits from a boost in awareness and recognition. The placement can alter its public image, show its community involvement, support trade relations or goodwill, deter competition and increase market share. The business may use a venue, such as a museum or an event, such as a golf tournament, to launch or showcase a product.

Naming rights deals are usually longer than a year. Therefore, it’s important to understand the value of the name to avoid any negative issues.

Recently, naming rights deals were portrayed in a bad light. In 2009, banks, that secured multi-million deals with sports stadiums and events, received funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. This led lawmakers to question the appropriateness of the deals.

Many naming rights deals have terminated during the recession and economic recovery. Companies either went out of business, sold or bought.

On the other hand, cities and municipalities, attempting to lessen their budget gaps, are giving sponsors the opportunity to purchase naming rights on schools, parks, government buildings and other facilities.

Some colleges have even gone as far as asking for corporate sponsorship for their classes.

Naming rights are known to be expensive, and it appears as though local areas are benefiting the most in this economy. Do you agree?

Photo Credit: Cecelia