Business Blogging Basics: Personal vs. Professional

We’ve talked about Information vs. Insight and Quality vs. Quantity in previous “Business Blogging Basics” articles. Now, we want to focus on whether it’s better to have a personal or professional tone in your blog (and all web/social media content for that matter).

What is Your Brand’s Voice?

We’re talking about your company’s “voice” that should be an extension of your brand message. Whether the tone of your content should be more personal or professional may depend largely on your brand identity, as well as who your target audience is.

First, consider your company and the products/services you are trying to sell. If you are a bank specializing in business loans and investors, you’ll naturally have a more professional style of writing used in your content. If you are a burger shack on the beach, your brand’s tone is likely to be more personal.

Next, consider your target audience. Again, people looking for a business loan or investment backing aren’t probably looking for a “fun” bank. They want information and resources that will help them make sound financial decisions. That said, the information provided should be personalized in the sense that it is coming from you. If it is just generic financial information, then you are doing nothing to build your brand or your credibility as an industry expert.

The burger shack customer, on the other hand, is just looking for an engaging brand and tasty food. Your content will still include interesting information about your restaurant, staff, menu, ingredients or location, but it will be presented in a more personal light. Your content voice is probably going to be fun and friendly as your main priority is furthering a positive brand association in the consumer’s mind.

The truth is, most small businesses fall somewhere in between ultra-professional and overly personal, which means there should be a healthy balance of the two in all content. The information and ideas provided in your content should be interesting and helpful. At the same time, it needs to be engaging and insightful.

Think about how people access your content in the first place:

Search Engine

Depth of content and strong, relevant information will go a long way on Google. This will get people to find your site or link to a specific blog article. Once they are there, though, they need to be engaged. If the writing is too stuffy and the information is too dry, they won’t develop a positive feeling about your company or your brand.

Ad Clicks

Your online ads or Adwords will intrigue the reader to click through. It may depend on the tone of the ad itself, but the content they find should pay off the tease—whether that’s informational, engaging or, ideally, both.

Social Media

When it comes to social media content, it really depends on your target audience. Find the right balance of professional and personal messaging that keeps them engaged and sparks conversations.

General Marketing

Emails, advertising, direct mail and other forms of marketing will promote your brand message to consumers. Most of today’s consumers will then look online for more information about your products and services, whether that’s your website, your blog or your social media channels. You’ll want them to walk away with the information they need to make a decision, as well as a positive overall feeling about your brand.

Finding the Right Balance

We use the “vs.” in these article titles to make things interesting, but the reality is good web and social media content will incorporate a healthy blend of information, insight, quality, quantity, professionalism and personality. Define your brand message, identify your target customers and create content that will engage them on all levels. If you can do this, you will generate more leads and convert more of those leads into loyal customers.

To learn more about content marketing, contact NextGear Marketing today. We’ll be happy to review your current content approach and discuss ideas on how you can get more out of your online marketing efforts.

Bullseye! The Value of Target Marketing

There are two ways to approach marketing. There is the shotgun approach, where you try to get your message out to anyone you can. In other words, you are throwing a handful of darts at the board and hoping some of them hit. Then, there is the targeted approach, where you hone in on a specific audience and make more strategic efforts to connect with only the people you want to reach. Bullseye!

A Big Picture Perspective

To the untrained marketer, it may make sound like a good idea to use a shotgun approach because you want as many people to be exposed to your brand, products and services as possible. For some massive companies, it kind of makes sense. Take Coca-Cola for example. They spend millions (if not billions) of dollars every year in marketing and their brand messaging is just about anywhere you look. Why? Because people from just about every demographic like to drink Coke. And don’t forget they have a massive marketing budget that allows them to advertise everywhere.

Looking Closer

However, when you look closer, you can actually see that Coca-Cola uses a lot of targeted marketing. Different commercials might run on different channels or programs depending on the average viewer demographics. They are using social media to target specific groups of people effectively. Remember when they started putting names on bottles in recent years? That is a great gimmick that has worked with millennials, and even the names they put on the bottles and distribute to different parts of the country are carefully picked to attract certain segments of the population.

So, on the surface it may seem that Coca-Cola uses a shotgun approach, but it’s because they’ve adopted target audience marketing more and more over the years that has made them—and will continue to make them—the world’s leading soft drink brand.

What Are Your Marketing Goals?

As a small business, you do not have a marketing budget in the millions. Targeted marketing allows you to get more bang for your buck. You can identify your ideal target audience and use strategic marketing approaches to reach them specifically.

First, you must identify your ideal audience that is most likely to relate to your brand, buy your products or use your services. You may have more than one target audience, which is fine. Just know that you will be splitting your focus (and your budget) to reach multiple groups. The audience breakdown may be based solely on geography (your town/region) or by demographics (age, ethnicity, etc.).

Once you have your audience(s) identified, you need to develop your marketing materials (print, online, social media, blog, SEO tags, etc.) to speak to that audience’s fears, needs and desires. Then, you need to distribute in ways that will reach that audience more directly. Social media has really streamlined the idea of target marketing. Most platforms make it easy to create very targeted ads and promote posts toward a pre-defined demographic audience based on age, location, interests, consumer habits, careers and more. Use this technology to your advantage and focus your marketing spending to attract the people you want to attract.

Take Advantage of Targeted Marketing

When it comes to marketing, especially for small businesses, a shotgun approach is rarely a good plan. Take a more targeted approach and you will see the difference in response from consumers who are more interested in what you have to offer.

For more information about target marketing and how to develop more targeted web content, email and social media campaigns, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free consultation.

What You Need to Know About Online Reputation Management

“Online reputation management” is a popular buzz term you hear a lot today. It’s all about maintaining a good reputation online and through any social media channels where people are talking about your business, products or services. There are some things you can control, such as the messages that you put out as a company. There are other things where you don’t have much control, including what customers (or competitors posing as customers) say about you.

Control Your Messaging

Putting out positive content shouldn’t be that much of a challenge, other than devoting the necessary time and resources to stay active with your blog, website content, social media posts, email campaigns and responses to online reviews and comments. You can proactively put a lot of messages out there that grow your brand, engage customers and generate leads.

Really, one of the keys to online reputation management is making sure there is more good content out there about you than bad. When there is bad content, how you respond can make a huge difference. We’ll circle back to that strategy in just a bit.

Focus on the Positive

First and foremost is the good content. This is the stuff you are posting and writing about, which should generally promote a positive image for your business. It should be engaging, interesting, informative and sometimes fun. You want to find the right balance of quantity and frequency in your posts, and track what content gets the best response.

Managing Customer Reviews

Beyond the material that you are posting as a company, there is what consumers are saying about your business. The truth is that most people who take the time to write reviews or provide feedback will either be positive or negative. You don’t see that many middle-of-the-road reviews because those people don’t have a strong enough opinion to share. Otherwise, it’s human nature. Some people just like to look for things to complain about. The Internet and social media are great outlets for them to speak out with a certain level of anonymity.

Fortunately, most reviewers lean toward the positive side. This means you want to encourage people to share their feedback on any platform they wish. Offer incentives (monthly drawings, discounts for future purchases, etc.). Get your fans and supporters working for you with authentic reviews, and they will help drown out the smaller percentage of negative comments. By the way, if you do this and the feedback is overwhelmingly negative, you need to rethink the way you treat your customers!

That said, you will encounter a negative review from time to time, whether it’s a customer with a legitimate gripe, it’s someone who may be exaggerating the situation or it’s a non-authentic reviewer (possibly a competitor) purposely trying to bring you down.

How you respond to these comments and reviews is crucial. Never get defensive or attack a negative reviewer, but do make sure and respond. Do it tactfully to show others that you are actively trying to resolve the issue. When done right, a negative review can be turned into a positive impression with a proper customer service response. If the reviewer in question is obviously fake, find a way to subtly call them out.

“We’re sorry to hear you had a negative experience. Unfortunately, we do not see your name in our customer database, so we want to make sure your concerns are resolved accordingly. What products/services did you come in for and when did you purchase?”

Odds are, a fake reviewer won’t respond to this and most savvy consumers will be able to recognize it’s a fraud. They’ll still value your resolution attempt, though, and that’s how you potentially turn a negative comment into a positive impression.

The Right Social Strategy

Online reputation management is an important strategy in today’s social marketplace. Be positive, be proactive and be responsive. These are the keys to success.

For more information about online reputation management or how to more effectively manage your blog and social media content, contact NextGear Marketing today.