How To Handle Negative Comments On Review Sites

From Neil Patel:

There are many milestones of creating and growing a local business.  There’s the first letterhead, the first merchant bank account and the first customer who isn’t your dad or cousin. When your business gets large enough to get noticed on Yelp and Google Places, you’ll even have customers giving you reviews about their experiences. Since you’ve been providing such excellent service, you can smile as you see comments pop up on your Yelp page.

However, your celebration may be shorter than you think. While you’ll be happy to see some of your favorite customers write glowing reviews about your business, you’ll also see reviews that are angry, confusing and possibly completely made up.

Some of the scenarios that my business consulting clients run into with review sites include:

  • A customer writes a negative review for the wrong business.
  • A customer is mad about a legitimate business decision (i.e. not refunding a completely finished meal at a diner) and chooses to make up additional problems to accentuate his point.
  • A customer has some sort of psychological disorder or hearing problem where “Sorry, we’re closed” sounds like “Get the hell off my property before I get my shotgun out.”
  • A customer is not even a “customer,” but a competitor who thinks mudslinging other businesses is just part of the guerilla marketing game.

Now part of this depends on your geographical area and your industry.  For example, there are some cities where bar owners are friends and agree to hold their specials on different nights and some where late night coffee shops try to put each other out of business. Either way, you’ll have to be watchful for the customer reviews that come in.

Here are some tips to help.

1. No customer is your enemy, even if he declares war

Thanks to the current economy, Disney movies and some really nasty labor abuses during the industrial revolution, the business owner (especially a rich one) is usually the “bad guy” when there’s a dispute with a customer.

Because of this, you really can’t win by posting an inflammatory reply on the review site. This will only encourage a flame war, with other customers losing more and more respect for your business as you two shout mean things at each other over the Internet. It doesn’t matter if he’s a liar and it doesn’t matter if he’s completely insane. You have to keep your professionalism and act like he’s a good, honestly mistaken human being.

2. Offer to right the wrong

Even if the customer has no basis for his comments, you can regain your reputation by offering to help out with whatever issue he’s having.  Notice I didn’t say “admit you were wrong.” That is a completely different strategy that I suggest you avoid.

Here’s an example of something you can say to a customer who’s written something false and vicious about your business.

“Hi David. I’m sorry you had an unpleasant experience at Kevin’s Diner. We do our best to make sure all fish is properly cooked and we have an A+ rating from the health department. We actually don’t even serve shrimp at this restaurant, so I’m surprised you had an issue with an ‘undercooked shrimp cocktail special.’  I’d like to invite you in to discuss your issue and how we can solve it. Please contact me using the phone number above or just walk in. I look forward to speaking with you.  – Kevin”

Sometimes you can reach out to the person privately if you know who they are. If you run a hair salon or similar business, this is a very good reason to keep a file on all your clients and customers. If you just make a phone call and correct the issue, then the person might even remove the review.

One cautionary note here: If you call the customer directly, you have to be even more kind and gentle than you would be posting a reply on the review site. The customer will already be on edge—and maybe a little ashamed—so he will be expecting a confrontation. Instead, be extremely sympathetic and soft when discussing how you can help resolve the issue.

3. Be open to the possibility that your business has a problem

Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t addressed the possibility that the customer might actually be right. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

If your customer did have a legitimate complaint, it means two things.  First of all, you have to go through the same process talked about above and offer to right the wrong. Secondly, you have to make sure it doesn’t happen again…to any customer.

This might mean retraining your staff or it might mean eliminating a staff member. If your company has low-paying, low-skilled positions with heavy customer contact, you have to be even more careful with management and training. In these types of jobs, you have employees who were very likely unable to find any other employment and are resenting having to speak to your clientele.

There are also possible non-employee issues, such as having a bad food supplier, bad oven, bad plumbing equipment, etc. If employees are repeatedly telling you that their tools need to be replaced, it pays to listen.

One more thing to keep in mind is that it may be possible to get a negative review removed simply by contacting the review site. If you run the Moonlight Bakery, and there’s a Yelp user with the login name “moonlightsucks” that only has one review to his name, Yelp is likely to consider removing him, as it’s obviously a malicious attack.

Also, even if someone does nail you down with an awful review, you can always minimize the effect if you have a ton of very positive reviews on your site. The best defense is truly a good offense, because in contrast, the negative commenter will just look like a bad apple who wouldn’t be happy anywhere. Encourage your happiest clients and customers to leave positive reviews after serving them and you’ll have a great reputation on these sites.

American Business: What’s The Deal?

From MSNBC's Your Business:

Various online daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have gotten a lot of media attention. Much if it has focused on the millions of consumers who've signed up to get sizable discounts from their local merchants. Much less attention has been paid to the small businesses who are using Groupon and giving those deals. As we discovered, what's been a boon for some has been a disaster for others.

Think Socially: Lessons From Big Break

From Courtney Colwell:

If you could get advice from the Facebook team on how to use their own platform, what would you want to know? Five small businesses won that opportunity as part of American Express OPEN’s Facebook Big Break contest. Following two days of consulting at Facebook’s offices in Palo Alto, California, I asked the winners what they learned, and then combined their responses with some discussions that occurred during the program. The big takeaway? Think socially.

A recent comScore Study cited that Facebook users are 40 to 150 times more likely to consume content via their News feeds versus visiting a brand’s Fan page. This is important to keep in mind, as Facebook doesn’t necessarily serve all of your content into your fans’ news feeds. The algorithm that serves the content looks to a number of factors, with engagement having the biggest impact. So, in order to increase the likelihood of reaching your fans, you need to publish content that’s highly engaging. Ask for your fan’s opinions on new products, invite them to submit suggestions. It doesn’t have to be every post, but make sure to include some content that encourages engagement.

Also think about what content they’re likely to share, via “liking” or passing along. While a large fan base is valuable, the real word-of-mouth value is in getting them to share with their friends—a network that is on average 81 times as large.* And those potential customers are more likely to trust their friends’—your fans’—recommendations. According to Facebook, friends of a brand’s fans are 3-4 times more likely to visit that brand’s website than the average Internet user.

It’s why Big Break winner Lisa LeFevre of Distinctive Gardens said the biggest takeaway for her was learning about Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and how they give you the  “ability to subtly leverage the innate strength of Facebook, namely to harness the power of the social graph and word of mouth.” Sponsored Stories enables brands to run targeted ads that highlight fans’ interactions with their page, basically using their engagement as your creative.

Another place to think socially is off of Facebook. One opportunity that many have yet to take advantage of is integrating Facebook and other social sharing into their online channels. Big Break winner Mark Carson of Fat Brain Toys, who added Facebook plugins to his online catalog, suggested, “Once you feel like you have the strategy [for your Facebook page] working, then you should look to various ways to expand your fan base, most easily by encouraging likes and adding social plug-ins to your website, blog and other channels.”

It may be this last point that seems more intimidating to some business owners, who might think of themselves as being that technically adept. But in many cases, adding the plug-ins requires little more than copying and pasting a few lines of code into your site’s html. Dawn S. Grosvenor of HOPELights Media said the biggest takeaway from Big Break for her was learning how much easier and cheaper it could be to incorporate key applications into her site. What she thought would take several months and thousands of dollars could actually be done in weeks at a fraction of the cost. “I was not aware of the extensive library of resources available to the common everyday user and this was a big win for our team!”

Dawn shared another takeaway on how to think socially: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. She said, “One can become so passionate about their initiative that they may lose sight of external objective feedback and become narrow-minded on product offerings or other initiatives. Finding the right balance of passion with an open ear to external perspectives continues to be one of the top lessons I’ve learned.” Whereas Dawn found advice from the Big Break winners and the Facebook experts, don’t forget to look at your own network—other business owners, including those here on OPEN Forum, and your fans.  When debating what will work best on your page, look at the data available through your  Facebook Insights. Look at what’s driving the most engagement, and think about how you can build on that. And, as suggested earlier, pose questions to your fans. Ask them what they’d like to see more of.

3 Reasons No One Is Helping Your Message Go Viral

From Liz Strauss:

Before the Internet, we seemed to have it all down: find a great location that already had traffic, build a store or an office, fill it with products or services, then broadcast the opening to potential customers and let them know we're here and open for business.

And it worked then...before the Internet and social networking. Now, that great location—once somewhere like State and Main—is the front page of Google or every homepage of Facebook and getting customer attention more than buying prime real estate. It takes engagement and participation. The mechanics of spreading a message has moved from broadcast to social conversation. The quest has changed from telling people about us to getting people to share what we do.

Whether you work for yourself, for clients or for an employer, if your goal is to grow your business or a cause, getting the people who love what you do to spread your positive message is critical.

Getting traction takes more than picking up the new social tools while still following the old broadcast rules. So we put together an idea, a call to action. We add a perk or an attraction. We carry that to our social networks to find volunteers who will spread the news. And too often our carefully crafted, deeply meaningful messages go unnoticed.

Why does that happen?

The messages we send are vital to the causes we care about. Often they're urgent and crucial to the success of the campaigns that we're working on. Yet we need help. We need networks—our communities of colleagues and friends—to share our messages and hopefully to take them viral across the social Web.

The problem is that we see so much value in the "goodness" of what we're doing that we forget to pass that goodness on it with our request for help.

What drives social media and social business is the idea that people feel good about sharing good things with their friends. That people-centered, connecting nature of the social business culture can fuel business creation, brand awareness and marketing faster, easier and more meaningfully than ever before.

But we have to remember to include the people in the process.

If we forget the people, our request for help with our cause, our launch, our contest. etc. sounds selfish or transactional—if you do this, we'll do that. Either can leave folks wondering why they should use what little time they have to help.

Here are three reasons no one is helping your message go viral.

1. "Buy my stuff" broadcasts

Who does something just because someone asks? It would be frivolous. "Buy now" messages are everywhere and we're not doing our work if we think just saying "buy now," is enough. The lack of a compelling reason to act is enough to say "no." Who wants to pass more "buy my stuff" noise to our friends?

2. "Do this because we need you to"

Research shows that using "because" raises response rates. But "like me because I want you to" is a weak call to action in any venue or vertical. Profitable businesses and worthy nonprofits are suffering from this "do what I ask because I'm asking" distraction that the nonprofit world has coined the term, donor fatigue. We can't give our everything to everyone, can we? And you can't keep asking every week.

3. "I'm shameless to ask ..." messages

Asking for a favor is a friendship action. For real traction, the size of the ask should match the amount of trust in your relationship with the people you're asking. If you don't know me, get to know me first. If you feel shameless for asking, then don't ask. Saying you're shameless is asking me to be shameless with you. If we have a relationship of trust, you can tell me what you need. If I value you and your offer, I'll feel proud to pass it on to my friends.

All three of the described messages leave out what resonates and motivates true action—a human-to-human connection. These messages ask the receiver to choose between helping us and interrupting, nagging, possibly irritating their own network of friends. No one enjoys that pressure, and even with our best intentions, it's as likely to backfire as go viral.

No one can ensure a message will take off like wildfire with certainty. It's a combination of timing, connection, resonance and a perfect match to the audience. But if we craft our "ask" in ways that let people know how...

  • Little they need to do to make a huge difference.
  • Their difference will have meaning.
  • They'll feel good about sharing it with their friends.

If you want your message to get a chance at a long and viral run, make the call to action about the people you ask not about you or your cause.

How often do help and retweet requests that make you feel proud to pass them on?

How To Create An Unbeatable Call To Action

From Justine Grey:

Have you ever been tempted to purchase something from an infomercial, even if it was a product you didn’t really need or want? One minute you’re watching your favorite television show and the next you’re entranced by the commercial, saying, “Yeah, I need that!” to a product you’ve never even heard of before. No matter if you’re shopping online, reading a magazine or watching television, advertisers are consistently using a technique called a "call to action." If you’re in business to sell something, you’ll need a great call to action, too.

What is a call to action?

Simply, a call to action is how you convince a customer to do something. You could say “click here,” “buy now,” “register” or something similar that tells the person you’re speaking to that there is an action you’d like them to pursue.

It’s your chance to rally visitors to your website or viewers of your ad to go further and be exposed to your message and products. And it’s a great way to turn lookers into buyers by motivating a purchase.

Why they work

People will often follow instructions, so if you tell them to do something—many will. Simple as that.

A great call to action creates a sense of urgency or limited possibilities that must be acted on right now. Or, it creates a sense of well-being or offers a solution to a known or perceived problem. It also clearly spells out how a customer can make a purchase.

A great call to action works when:

  • It clearly triggers an emotional reaction (I must have that, need it, want it, etc…).
  • It clearly tells someone how to make a purchase (click right here to purchase).
  • It creates some urgency to purchase immediately (offer ends at midnight tonight! Buy now!).
  • It provides incentives or added details that make it impossible to refuse (free shipping!).

Types of call to actions

Advertisers use all sorts of call to action methods to drive sales. The method you use depends on where you’re using it, what you’re selling and your target market. Commonly, you’ll see calls to action like:

  • Buy now!
  • Limited time offer!
  • Click Here
  • Act Fast!
  • Register here!
  • But wait, there’s more…
  • Don’t delay!

Other calls to action may be a bit longer or more leading. You may tell a story or ask the reader pointed questions that lead them to learn more about your product.

Incentives are a great call to action method. Offer your reader something for making a purchase; offer free shipping or double the product for one low price. Shoppers love extras and incentives and the feeling they are getting more than what they are paying for. When you add in incentives, you create a call to action the many people can’t refuse.

Where to use a call to action

The beauty of call to action methods is that you can use them anywhere you promote or sell your product or service.

Your website

If you have a website, you need to make it work hard to turn visitors into buyers. Great calls to action can help. Make your homepage the most visible for your product and make sure you have a clear, strong call to action. If your homepage isn’t your main selling page, make sure it points visitors to your sales page with clearly marked ways to get there.

Newsletters

A weekly or monthly newsletter is a great way to connect with past customers and reach new ones. It’s also a great venue for adding incentives to your call to action. Each newsletter can have a new incentive, for example, like free shipping for the month of May, or a percentage off each sale.

Your blog

Your blog is a great place to connect with your readers on a personal level. Tell stories about your product and how it has helped people. Or, let people know about good things you’re doing, like charity work or going green. Then sprinkle in little calls to action for the products or services you’re promoting. Add calls to action on your sidebars or throughout blog posts where they’ll be highly visible.

Social networks

Facebook and Twitter allow you to connect with past and potential customers in real-time. You can actively update any promotions, contests or sales you’re offering as they are happening. Use clear calls to action to promote what’s going on in your store or website.

Ultimately, you may need to play around with different calls to action before you find one or two that work the best for you. Remember to craft your call to action based on your target market and what you sell, and clearly outline what you want customers to do (click here to buy!). If one call to action doesn’t seem to drum up much response, try something else. Just like any marketing technique, trial and error may be your best guide for finding the perfect call to action for your business and target market.

Justine Grey is a web entrepreneur who writes Work Life Joy for frazzled business builders who long to work vibrantly and live beautifully. You can find her on Twitter at @JustineGrey chatting about life, work and her pop culture obsession.

Make More Of Your Meetups

From Susan Kuchinskas:

Sometimes, nothing beats getting together with prospects F2F IRW—that is, face-to-face in the real world. It's so much easier to establish rapport and build excitement during live events. On the other hand, meetings and events are time-consuming and labor-intensive. Is it worth it to reach 40 people when a blog post or tweet can reach hundreds or thousands?

You can have it both ways.

Meetings are ephemeral, but they can live on—and work hard for you—online. You are, of course, already posting photos to your Facebook page and live tweeting during events. (Aren't you?) Now, follow the lead of these small business marketing super-stars to turn your meetings into marketing.

Any promotion is good promotion

It's easy to forget that the act of promoting your event ahead of time also bolsters your online presence. Post info about your upcoming meeting every place you can: Yelp, Craigslist, local event listing sites, newspaper calendars, the newsletters of professional organizations, your blog, Facebook page, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Treat these listings more like blog posts, recommends Scott McIntosh, senior account supervisor for Nashville public relations firm Lovell Communications.

"I try not to make it sound like a sales pitch. Yes, it brings awareness to your company, but you're really doing it to help people and give them information. I try to convey that in my messaging," McIntosh says.

When you do this, even if someone can't attend the actual event, he learns about you and what you do.

Your event listings may also contribute to your search engine optimization, according to McIntosh. While many of these sites tell search engines not to count external links, in order to avoid spam, you should get some Google juice from your listings, as well as clickthrough traffic back to your website.

Make the media

During the actual event, document it like crazy with photos and video.

McIntosh runs a monthly Meetup called Nashville Tech. While he often uses a professional photographer, casual digital shots snapped by a handy friend should do fine. Post-event, Meetup photos are posted to the Meetup page, Facebook, the company blog.

"These photos are so important, because the web is becoming visual," he says. "It's a very visual element -- and a good follow-up."

Event photos can be very effective ads for you as an expert, your company and your future events. When people see a rapt audience, groups happily chatting or a couple of networkers laughing, it shows them how much value the meeting had.

"We noticed we got a great response when we zoomed in on individuals, capturing the concentration when they take notes," he says.

McIntosh adds he's never had anyone object to their photos being posted. He makes an announcement at the beginning of his Meetup that he'll be doing so and asks anyone who wants to remain incognito to let him know. You should go a bit further if there's anyone prominent in attendance. It's a courtesy to your speakers, even though they most likely are presenting precisely because they want the exposure. And celebs in the audience may be more leery of lending their images to your promotions.

While posting video requires a bit more work, there are plenty of free or inexpensive tools and hosting sites that will let you make meeting videos available for streaming, downloading or embedding.

McIntosh has found that many attendees share the ideas, videos and pictures via their own social media channels. He says, "They send the information to their bosses who want to meet with us to discuss how we can help apply these ideas to their businesses."

Tag enthusiastically

Tagging, available on many media and social media services, helps you make sure that people actually see your follow-up. Few can resist that "you were tagged in a photo" message.

Reinforce the memories

Once your event is over, social media provides a way to keep your information top-of-mind to attendees. Posting and tagging photos and videos gives prospects a reason to come back—and to engage again with you and your brand.

ThinkThin, a maker of protein and snack bars, parlayed a celebrity guest appearance at a special event into an unscripted, spontaneous plug for its products. They did this by hosting a special event for children to encourage education about obesity prevention and invited Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali's daughter and a former professional boxer herself, to speak at the event. But afterward, the company didn't want to let the connection drop.

After the event, staffers posted photos on Facebook and tagged her fan page with Facebook's new page-tagging feature. They also wrote a 'Thank you from thinkThin' post on her Facebook wall and Twitter account before and after the event.

Evidently, this social media strategy kept thinkThin on Ali's mind. When she was interviewed by People.com's celebrity baby blog, she mentioned thinkThin as an important part of losing the baby weight. In fact, thinkThin was the only brand she mentioned during the interview.

Image credit: NWABR

Mastering Online Local Marketing

From John Jantsch:

A few years ago, people in need of something grabbed a book full of yellow pages and thumbed through it looking for a company to employ, place to eat or shop, or the number for the local pharmacy.

Businesses paid for advertising in this book because they knew that someone thumbing through it had something that a newspaper reader or television viewer may not: immediate buying intent!

Today’s local shopper is armed with a numbing array of tools that make it easy to discover, explore, research, review, price, rate, share and even visit every kind of local business imaginable—right from their laptop or, increasingly, through the mobile device in their pocket or purse.

Even as tools and tactics change, however, one thing hasn’t: location awareness still equals amplified intent.

In this course, small business owners and marketers looking to grow their businesses, capture an increased share of local purchases, and create a more personal experience for existing customers, will discover a rich collection of informative articles covering the ins and out of local and location based marketing tips and tactics.

The OPEN Forum Crash Course gives novices an important introduction to the key elements and standard tool used in local online marketing. And those with more experience with emerging local, social and mobile tactics can gain even an even greater level of expertise by diving into the more advanced topics presented.

Below is a list of articles that make up the course “reading list.” The topics are listed in a logical learning order, but your learning starts wherever you choose to dive in. Read through or jump right into testing yourself in the OPEN Forum Crash Course on Local Marketing.

Local listings and local search

Social media and review sites

Location-based apps and deals

Location-based marketing

6 Ways To Get The Most From Local Search

From Chris Birk:

Local search has become increasingly important for small business owners nationwide. Google’s local search algorithm (Bing and Yahoo! have them, too) is giving entrepreneurs the chance to separate themselves from the competition, both online and on the block.

Search engines are using a consumer’s IP address and geography-specific keywords to generate more nuanced results. Today, users who search for “shoes” will likely find local shoe stores and neighborhood retailers rather than a laundry list of major brands.

That’s a tremendous opportunity for small business owners to serve their communities. For entrepreneurs, the key is crafting marketing campaigns that optimize their site in the search results. Here are a six paths to consider.

1. Local engines

Google is the big dog, so we’ll talk mostly about Google Places, the search behemoth’s local business directory. It’s about as close to the Yellow Pages as the under-30 crowd will ever get.

Creating a Google Places page for your business is essential. This complement to your website can feature your hours of operation, pictures, video, contact information and more. Establishing a presence in Places ensures consumers will find your business when they’re searching for goods and services.

In fact, the search results will be intermingled with websites and Places results. Having your key contact information (address, phone number, business name) from your business website match your Google Places profile is a key trust and credibility builder for the search engines, not to mention consumers.

2. Verify the information

Building your Google Places presence includes a significant final step: Verifying your information with the search firm. Google wants to make sure the information and business are legitimate and will ask the business owner to verify the page over the phone.

Without some manner of verification, black-hat types might be tempted to create fake Places pages for their competitors. Imagine having consumers search for a product and find your company only to be directed to a bad telephone number, a broken website or a non-existent physical location.

Make sure your key contact information is accurate. Any inconsistencies can exact a heavy toll on your ranking.

3. Stir up citations

This is a word small business owners will become increasingly familiar with during the next year. Essentially, a “citation” is an online reference to your key contact information in a business directory or review website. Racking up citations is proving important, as they help guide the search engines and, in turn, consumers. Securing local citations was named the top method to help small businesses boost their SEO campaigns in this year’s annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey, which is created by local search guru David Mihm.

4. Encourage reviews

Create profiles for your business on as many review and directory sites as possible, including hubs like Yelp, SuperPages and CitySearch. But dedicate a good chunk of time to fostering consumer reviews within Google’s platform. That’s because the search giant recently stopped pulling in reviews from third-party sites like Yelp. It’s more important than ever to encourage reviews from satisfied customers.

5. Check in

Seize every opportunity you find to establish a business listing. Consumers’ growing compulsion to “check in” means you should have a presence on FourSquare, Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn and pretty much every other social media site. Make sure your key contact information is correct and matches what you have in your Google Places profile.

6. Remember the links

You still need to build high-quality links to your site. But look for ways to weave in your key contact information when you’re sending out a news release or cranking out a guest piece for an industry blog or niche publication. Don’t forsake those organic efforts to go all-in on building citations. Besides, you can also target more locally focused blogs and aim to generate relevant, engaging content while getting some citation love in the process. A balanced strategy that finds common ground and cross-promotional opportunities can go a long way to helping your business own the local search results.

Chris Birk is director of content and communications for VA Mortgage Center.com, the nation's No. 1 dedicated VA lender. A recovering journalist, he also teaches at a private Midwestern university. Follow him @cjbirk.

How To Create More Value And Less Stress With Every Word You Write

From John Jantsch:

Content creation is the foundation of marketing these days, but it’s also one of the hardest jobs a marketer has.

Getting the most from your content requires a bit of a shift in thinking. It’s hard work sitting down in front of keyboard and staring at that blank screen every day waiting for inspiration to blossom. That may be how the creative process works for some folks, but marketers need to think about content creation in a more systematic, even formula driven kind of way.

That’s not to say quality or creativity should suffer from this approach, it's to acknowledge the fact that your content creation as a marketer is about serving a variety of objectives beyond just getting good words and sentences down.

Marketing content also plays a prime role in your SEO efforts, education efforts, customer service efforts, community building efforts, networking efforts, referral efforts, lead generation and conversion efforts, and overall awareness efforts. In order for your content to serve all these objectives you’ve got to think about it a little differently.

Think like an author

When an author starts writing a book, they generally have an idea of the main purpose or thesis of the work and some number of supporting ideas that help weave it all together. This may take the form of characters or even chapters.

You need to give some thought to the total body of work you need to create to round out your total marketing story. Instead of deciding daily what to write, you should be working from a plan to create specific topics based on your most important keywords and related subjects.

By creating a range of topics you know, you must create Web pages, blogs posts, articles and workshops around you’ll always have an outline of content ideas. Any time you’re feeling stuck, just go to your list and pick a subject that needs some work.

This approach keeps your content focused on the areas that matter most and allows you to build a deeper library of content around your core subjects.

Think like a publisher

You can certainly make the case that this new content driven world has more in common with publishing than marketing that was mostly promotional driven.

The workhorse of the publishing industry is something the editorial calendar. The idea behind this tool is to map out perhaps as much as a year of content and create themes that may coincide with industry trends and happenings.

Marketers can certainly benefit from this approach as well. Not only will it force you to capture and plan for all the important topics it allows you to maximize the time you have to build out marketing assets in each category and even spend some time filtering and aggregating other people’s content related to your monthly theme.

Think like an artist

One of the traits often attributed to gifted artists is the ability to see things differently than most of the rest of the world.

From a content creation standpoint you need to start seeing each piece of your content through the lens of ultimate potential. Any time you create a blog post you need to start to see it as a video, a seminar or a checklist, for example.

Now, this can certainly go the other way as well—what if you started to view all the processes you use to run your business as opportunities for content creation. What if a simple checklist was the start of a brilliant blog post or what if an e-mail sent from customer service in answer to a nagging question was the basis of a workshop?

Think like a builder

A builder views a stack of lumber and pile of bricks and sees a house. A builder way of thinking might see a series of blog posts on a topic from your keyword list as an ebook or course. A builder might take the recorded archive from your last five online seminars and see them as a product.

A builder might take that PowerPoint deck you made for your chamber of commerce presentation and see how to subdivide it into four or five blogs posts.

Start to view your content creation in one or all of the lights above and you’ll get more value and less stress from every word your write.

Image credit: Jam Adams

7 Tips for Social Media Marketing from DELL

In a recent interview with Clickz, Rishi Dave, executive director of online marketing for Dell’s Public and Large Enterprise Business Unit talk about some of Dell’s success online including B2B social media marketing outreach. His global responsibility is to implement public and large enterprise marketing strategies for Dell.com, social media, communities, and Dell’s Premier portal, discussed seven of the main tenets (philosophies, goals, attributes) of Dell’s social med
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