Your Core Beliefs are Your Best, NO – Only Marketing Tool

I had to share this fantastic thought piece from Mitch Lipon, founder of marketing agency Ignite XDS. His take on marketing is beyond fresh; it cuts right to the core.  Presented in full below, with his permission. Enjoy.

It seems like the world around us is moving faster than ever. People have neither the time, nor the desire to invest what it would take to become familiar with the details of what you offer them. At least, not in the beginning. That being said, if you are willing to share your deepest beliefs – the reasons your company was founded in the first place, the real value you offer the market…you might get them to take a few seconds to pause and notice you.

Consider Nike, one of the world’s most iconic Brands. Nike is actually nothing more than a commodity shoe manufacturer. There are plenty of shoe manufacturers in the world, and there are even many direct competitors in the athletic segment of their market. Nike however, stands head and shoulders above them all. But if you look at their marketing strategy you will notice they rarely, if ever, talk about shoes. Instead, they associate with great athletes, doing great things. They associate with the average person accomplishing personal goals. They associate with the challenge, the joy, and the pride of athletics. And they help you imagine you could be there. In the arena, on the podium, feeling the sense of victory and accomplishment. They tell you to Just Do It!

Simply put; getting your Brand noticed is not about describing the details, the how’s, and the what’s…It’s about sharing the values you hold most dear. Initial consumer reactions are always emotionally controlled. Your core values will tap into that emotion when your details will simply skip off the intended target. Know the details will certainly come into play eventually, if you really think about it for a second, just how exciting can a specifications sheet be after all? Doesn’t the prospect have to buy in first before the details really matter?

It’s always hard to open up. It’s hard to deviate from the way we’ve always done it. It’s hard to leave the details of what you do, and how you do it for a later time. But really, you have no choice. For it’s the Brands that give consumers something to attach themselves to, that will rush to the front of the line. They will “go viral”, and their vitality will become contagious, within their organization and the community. Success will come to the companies who dare to be real, who aren’t afraid to share their core beliefs, personally, and up front. If you believe as I do that the most dangerous place in the world, is the one where you play it safe and blend in, you really have no other choice. Market your Core Beliefs!

12 Ways to Nail Your Smart Goals this Year with Content

Content is hugely powerful. While pure ads used to be able to pierce through, we’re now so bombarded with advertisements every day that we tune them out. Trying to force your message upon people will no longer work. In fact, content marketing is really the only marketing left.

Why? Because content marketing turns your message into something people want to consume. Instead of being forced to consume an advertisement, good content is something that people seek out. And good content is content that tells a story. Your story, your brand’s story, the authentic story of your business. People love to read stories.

Does the idea of telling your brand’s story sound exciting to you, but the idea of actually having to write it sound horrifying? Don’t worry. For each strategy, we’ll give you options for doing it yourself or for outsourcing it to someone who loves to write.

Understanding your SMART goals

SMART goal setting is probably nothing new to most small business owners, but a little recap never hurts. We found a great article that lays it out in The Balance.  small business planning process from the balance. A SMART goal evaluates a goal and determine its viability using the five criteria outlined below. Setting a SMART goal (and then nailing it with content) will help take your goal from a general idea stage and put it into action.

S = Specific

When you are just getting started with goal setting, you may only have a vague idea of what you hope to accomplish. As you get further along in the process, however, you will need to be as specific as possible about your goal. A specific goal should clearly state what you want to accomplish, why it is an important goal, and how you intend to accomplish the goal.

M = Measurable

You need to be able to determine, without question, whether or not you are successful in achieving your goal. In order to do this, you need to create a way to measure your progress and your end result. A measurable goal should include a plan with targets and milestones that you can use to make sure you’re moving in the right direction during the process and should clearly tell you when you’ve completed the process.

A = Attainable

While business goals may often pull you out of your comfort zone and challenge you, if the goal and the parameters you have created are not realistic, you may be setting yourself up for failure.

An attainable goal should be realistic and include a plan that breaks your overall goal down into smaller, manageable action steps that use the time and resources available to you within the timeline you’ve set.

R = Relevant

The relevancy of a business goal will often determine the likelihood of achieving it.

Goals that do not mesh with all of the other factors that directly and indirectly impact your business are often unachievable. Ultimately, a relevant goal should make sense when measured against your business model, mission statement, market, client base and industry.

T = Time-Based

Business goals cannot be open-ended; every goal should be limited by a period of time. The timeline may vary by weeks, months or years depending on your goal, but a defined timeline is vital in order for you to commit to the goal. Having a deadline can also create an urgency that will motivate you.

A few examples of using content to nail your SMART goals

SMART Goal for Photography Business:
Within a month, I am going to re-energize my photography business, which will allow me to benefit financially from one of my favorite hobbies. Within six weeks, I will have personally called clients from the past three years who were pleased with their photos but have not booked another session. I will follow up those calls with a “5 tips”-type of document that will give them ideas on how to take better photos with their smart phones and ask them to follow me on social media. By making those personal calls and following up with the “5 tips” document, I will schedule at least 4 photo sessions for the next month.

 Content strategy for the photography business:

  • Define talking points for the phone calls, including a specific ask to follow on social media
  • Define strategic keywords to highlight in your social media profile and product descriptions
  • Start blogging, documenting the process of your photo shoots

SMART Goal for consulting business:
I will acquire three new clients for my consulting business within two months by launching a social media marketing campaign and networking with local businesses. This will allow me to grow my business and increase my revenue.

Content strategy for a consulting business:

  • Create and market your referral program
  • Make sure all social media profiles are keyword rich and authentic to your voice
  • Create newsletter

SMART Goal for social media expert:

In order to establish myself as an expert, I will write a 150-page book on social media by writing one chapter per month (3-5 pages per week). The book will be completed in 10 months, and then I will search for a publisher or explore self-publishing.

Content strategy for social media expert:

  • Outline book, and share your thoughts on social media
  • Ask for early readers to give feedback
  • As you write, turn each chapter into a blog post and share before you publish

SMART Goal for small business accountant:
I will acquire the services of a PR/publicity firm and launch a publicity campaign that will help establish me as a well-known expert in small business accounting who is asked to speak publicly on the topic at least once a month, receives interview requests every week and writes one article per month for a top industry publication. This will reinforce my 20+ years of experience in the field and allow me to reach more small business owners who need accounting advice.

Content strategy foran  accountant :

  • Load your blog with good, rich content to establish your expertise
  • Write long-form articles to share on LinkedIn
  • Update your LinkedIn profile with keyword targets

Where to Find the Words

Once you’ve created your SMART goals, and the content ideas to go with it, it’s time to start creating. Love to write? Great; here are some resources to help you get started.

Not interested in doing your own writing? Not to worry; there are plenty of us content creators out there to help. These resources may help you find the right person.

 

 

How to Write a Brand Style Guide (and Why You Need One)

According to Sasha LaFerte at the Content Marketing Institute, branding fails happen “because of a lack of a clear style guide, which can result in inconsistency or miscommunication among you content team.” Creating a brand style guide helps ensure that all of the content you create is consistent, polished, and enjoyable. Your brand style guide will create some rules for your brand, which will tie all your content together like matching dishes at an excellent dinner party.

Knowing your brand style guide will help inform all your content.Image source: Content Marketing Institute

First, look at your brand voice.

In order to create a great style guide, it has to align with your brand’s voice. If you aren’t sure what that sounds like, ask yourself these 5 questions to help find your brand’s voice.

In addition, LaFerte suggests revisiting your company’s mission statement and “About Us” section (if you have them) to “make sure it’s not only on point with what it says but how it says it. If you’re defining your brand voice as conversational, but your mission statement is filled with corporate jargon, it’s probably worth revisiting.”

Second, pick your editorial style base.

Of course, recognizing you need a brand style guide and actually having one are two very different things.

Both the Words Girls and the Content Marketing Institute recommend starting with a base (we use the AP Style Guide.) Go through the baseline and add additional rules if you need them, like whether or not to use the Oxford comma, or specific emoji guidelines (we’ve got a rule about that poop icon. Nope.) You can also add in guidelines on formatting bullets, lists, hyphens, or quotes, anything that defines your particular style.

Finally, add a few more details to your brand style guide.

This is the part that gets tricky. LaFerte suggests including “a section on how to engage, words to stay away from, and any other details that are important to your brand.”

Having a well-defined brand voice will definitely help with this section. Content Marketing Institute has prepared a list of brands with awesome style guides that you can use for reference. With a well-defined brand voice, a bit of time, and a few details, soon your brand could be one of them.