Category Archives: Business

Marketers, Don’t Be “That Girl”

In a chat about content marketing yesterday, it struck me that there’s one simple thing marketers are overlooking when it comes to the type of content they’re developing. Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing is not all about you. In the past, marketing used to be all about your brand – marketers would develop ads, direct mail, email newsletters, press releases, sales collateral and more – usually focused briefly on a prospect’s pain point, and at length on how the marketer’s company would solve it.

That’s all well and good – but today content marketers have to go a step further.

You have to be a resource.

Think of marketing like a cocktail party – you’re never going to keep someone engaged if you ask them a question (what’s the pain point) and then go on and on and on for the rest of the party about why YOU are the answer to that question (what your product/service is). Even if you do have the answer, you’d come across as shallow and not all that interested in learning more, but rather just in talking about yourself.

Nobody likes the gal who just brags about herself and doesn’t really listen.

Content marketing has got to be resourceful. You have to share information that’s not just about you. You have to think of how to help, not just sell.

What information can you share with your prospects that educates, informs, resolves an issue and otherwise benefits your fans over time? Give, even when you don’t need or expect something (like a sale). People remember how you make them feel – not just what you say. And when you make someone feel important, cared for, and understood by being a resource that helped them, they’re more likely to want to do business with you when the time is right.

 

Image credit: 10ch Flickr Creative Commons

 

Marketing Tips For Startups

I was lucky enough to be included in an article today, “25 Startup Marketing Tips To Get Traction,” at MediaLeaders.

Some of my favorite tips from the piece include:

Put up your marketing site and blog at least 6 months prior to launch. – @PlanPod

To get the product in front of your customers you have to work on distribution. – @HarriRautio

Startups should know who their target customers are and which publications they read.- @LydHow

I especially like that last one, because it’s a big part of what we provide at SeeDepth. Not only do we help you to easily measure and score your PR, but our Services team also helps companies – especially startups – understand why a certain publication might be more important than another, and to build a media target list that makes sense. Too many companies waste time and money just hoping to “get coverage” instead of securing coverage in the right places – those that their buying audience actually read.

Click through to read the other tips – here’s mine below (feel free to click and share!). What would you add?

Feature others on your blog so they will spread the news and link back to your site. – @missusP

Resilience – Why Perseverance Is Essential In Life And At Work

Today I’ve been working on my presentation for next month’s INBOUND conference. I’ll be speaking on the Bold Talks stage, where we are asked to be storytellers of a topic to which people can personally relate – not marketers talking marketing. I’ll be speaking on the topic of resilience, and sharing some pretty personal experiences of which I don’t often talk about. These will include painful childhood experiences that impacted my decisions and choices throughout my life, as well as a crazy series of events that have taken place over just the last three years.

The point of sharing these experiences – as daunting as the thought is – is to give context as to why I’m qualified to talk about resilience – and why it matters for both your personal and work life. I’m going to share how I’ve persevered through abuse, moving as a teen (kids are mean!), depression, a failed marriage, legal battles, family conflicts, founding and running two businesses (including the high highs and low lows), financial challenges and more. It’s completely out of the norm from my usual topics of digital marketing, startups, technology, women in business, etc. But… sharing my humanity is a way for me to help others see that life isn’t just what you see on Facebook – we all have dark moments. The truth is, everyone struggles, we just don’t like to admit it, and we certainly don’t document most of those moments like we advertise the great ones. Look at the Robin Williams news – some struggle more than others, and some struggle in silence. I know – I’ve done that. So if sharing my experiences can help others, then it will be worth it.

After all, in life and in work, we have to overcome troubling times. If we can learn better coping mechanisms and how to be resilient, we can focus more of our time on the good moments. And, I can attest that especially as an entrepreneur, startup founder, and single mother, resiliency is an absolute must. There’s no giving up. Too many people are counting on me. I must keep moving forward. I hope to help others to do the same.

If you’d like to share a tip or two for me to include in my talk, please let me know. In addition to my own experiences, I will be including some snapshots of a few really amazing and strong people who I know that have overcome huge obstacles in life, and their tips for perseverance and resilience. I’d love to hear from you if you have a story to share, and I hope to see you in September in Boston.

6 Leadership Mistakes To Avoid

20th Century Fox/Office Space

20th Century Fox/Office Space

I founded my first company in 1998 and my second in 2013. I’ve worked with hundreds of companies as clients in my career – from startups and small businesses to large, enterprises – and have managed employees from coast to coast. So, I’ve seen a lot in regards to leadership, HR and management. I’m not perfect – I believe the best leaders are always learning, just like everyone else – but here are six mistakes I’ve seen leaders repeatedly make.

  1. Micro Managing – Especially at the C-level, leaders should have confidence to let the people they hired do their job (which often includes managing a team of their own). Hold employees accountable with specific goals and metrics – if they don’t meet them, figure out why, together. But if you have to micro manage your team (see their To Do list every day, ask the same questions over and over, etc.), you’ve either hired the wrong people or you’re not focused on the bigger picture.
  2. Being Too Hands-Off – it might seem contradictory to point #1, but you can’t disappear as a leader, either. There’s a difference between paying attention and ensuring everyone is meeting goals, vs stepping away and never checking in on progress towards those goals. It’s not good leadership form to ask, “Is it done?” the day something is due.
  3. Worrying About Everyone’s Feelings. On one hand, you need to lead in a positive manner. On the other hand, this is business. You can’t keep everyone happy, nor should you try. Avoiding conflict or tough decisions due to fear of hurting someone’s feelings is a good way to lead in the wrong direction.
  4. Failure to Dig Into Data. What’s working and what isn’t? If you know, great. But do you take it the next step to find out why something is working or isn’t? With all the data available in business today, smart leaders understand to dig in and analyze it both when things are great – and when they’re not so great. This allows you to repeat winning formulas, and understand the downfalls of your organization so that you can lead to improvement. This includes staff, resources, money, ideas – and all the combinations therein. (And don’t be naive enough to think you’re an organization with no downfalls.)
  5. Wasting Money.  I particularly see this in startups. Especially after said startups close funding. Although, I’ve also seen plenty of it in large enterprises where checks and balances get more difficult to track through multiple layers of spending. It’s always surprised me how many startup CEOs, specifically, don’ t really track where the money goes, and if the spending is wise in relation to where the company is in its lifecycle. It’s easy to get caught up in the visceral items – marketing, events, sponsorships, branding – cool business cards, hiring a big name PR firm, or sponsoring a popular tech publications’ startup event. These are all things I’ve seen (especially first time) founders get excited about because it brings cache and (temporary) attention, and makes things feel “real.” But are those the items that are going to close customers for your early on? Are they helping you to develop a better product? There’s a difference – a big one – between what a startup should be spending on vs a decade-old company with a solid customer base and revenue stream. Good leaders shoot down the more “fun” ideas in the early stages, and keep their teams focused on what’s going to bring in the right elements to the company – and continue to apply that insight during each of its lifecycle and growth stages.
  6. Bad Communication And Failure To Listen. It’s absolutely mind boggling how bad leaders can slow down the progress of a company simply by not listening. They don’t take notes in meetings, don’t record or remember outcomes, interrupt often, and forget what they’ve assigned to, or asked of, people. This results in employees, partners and even vendors having to repeat work, waste time explaining what they’re working on – for the 3rd time this week – and everyone feeling frustrated and misunderstood. Leaders listen. Leaders record. Leaders remember and leaders communicate clearly. Too many leaders think they don’t need to communicate clearly because everyone should just know what they want. This doesn’t work in personal relationships, and it doesn’t work between employer/employee relationships, either. Be clear, be concise, be consistent.

What mistakes have you seen by leaders, and how did it affect you or the company in the long run?

 

Greatness Is Just The Other Side Of Uncomfortable

greatness

This is what I tell myself when I’m in the middle of a tough run, defending myself in a dispute, or getting anxious about my startup and our progress. I think about how great it feels once I’ve pushed through the pain, the fear and the challenge. Accomplishing a goal when I was scared – and kept going anyway – is a reward like no other.

Keep going! You have to go through the challenge to get out on the other side – you can’t go around.

You can do it!

Content Fatigue – You Can’t Be Everything To Everyone, So Stop Trying

I was recently asked by a media outlet what I think is next in social. My answer: content fatigue.

Why?

Brands are trying desperately to push out content – a lot of content. And content is great, it really is. Blogs are a smart part of your content strategy, and it’s an exciting time compared to 15 years ago when most companies relied heavily on third party journalists to publish their key messages (and hope they came across accurately). To be able to post, share and spread our content in exactly the way we want, where we want and when we want is a great thing.

But lately some of the content overload has reminded me of being at a teenage dance, where kids who don’t quite know who they are yet bumble about awkwardly trying to be funny, cool, cute or smart. They wear too much makeup, have extreme hairstyles and wear clothing that they’re clearly uncomfortable in. They’re trying out everything because they’re still figuring out who they are.

dance

Photo original by Barbro Andersen. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Is your brand an awkward teenager still figuring things out, or do you know who you are? Are you a humorous company, so it makes sense to post cat memes? Or are you a serious B2B company for which informative and resourceful infographics make more sense? Is Vine really a network that will reach your audience, or are you just trying it out because it’s “hot” right now? Great, you’ve joined Instagram! How is it contributing to your bottom line success?

I stick to the advice I’ve been giving since brands started to catch on to the social media craze – don’t try to be everything to everyone. Don’t feel like you have to be on every single social network. Stop, calm down and look at your business goals. What are you really trying to accomplish? What other marketing channels are you using? What percent of those should be social? What really works for you, not just the brand next door? Who are you trying to reach and where do they spend their time online?

Too often, companies try to follow suite because “all the cool kids are doing it.” Facebook isn’t sensible for every brand. Twitter might not reach your customers. Some companies don’t have the right resources to use more than one social network, and do it well. Social isn’t a broadly applicable strategy – you’ve got to apply it like you would any other marketing initiative – is this [channel, campaign, update] right for us, what will it help us accomplish and how will we measure success?

No one can be everything to everyone. It’s more compelling to know who you are and be confident in that. Share content relevant to your area of expertise, and your credibility will stay intact while your awareness grows – among the right audience for your company. In the end, isn’t that what really matters – quality over quantity?