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Happy Holidays from NextGear Marketing!

This will probably be the last blog article I post this year. And unlike usual, this one will be short and sweet. This is always a busy time as I prepare for holiday travel and work extra hard to make sure all my clients’ projects are taken care of before I hit the road for a few days to visit family during Christmas.

I just wanted to take this opportunity wish everyone Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Thank you to all my clients, friends, family and vendor partners for your support throughout 2018. It isn’t easy getting a small business off the ground, but each year is better than the last and I appreciate anyone who has helped with referrals and leads. On that note, if you know anyone out there in need of marketing help, especially when it comes to web content and blogging services, let me know or give them my information. Anyone can contact me directly through this site or you can email me at keith@nextgearmarketing.com

Otherwise, I hope everyone out there has a safe, happy and memorable holiday season and here’s to making 2019 our best year ever!

What is Content Marketing?

If you’ve been following my blog or other marketing blogs, you’ve probably seen the term a lot. But what is “content marketing?”

You might see quite a few different definitions, but the simplest answer is to say that it is just how it sounds. It is the art of using content to build an effective marketing presence. It applies to all forms of marketing (print, online, social media, outdoor, radio, television, etc.). However, it primarily refers to online and social media.

Branding vs. Engagement

Not too long ago, websites were all about branding. You wanted a sharp-looking site with all the graphic bells and whistles to catch someone’s eye and show that you were a company worth taking an interest in. Though the aesthetics are still important and you want your site to be very user-friendly, content is now king. Success is all about what you say, how you say it and how you share it.

Search engines have evolved dramatically and social media has taken over our lives. Because of these undeniable facts, it puts a premium on producing engaging content that will attract consumers and build brand loyalty. From blog articles and overall site content to social media posts, clickbait ads and all forms of digital engagement, you must have good content and you must get people to see it.

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Effective content marketing will organically boost your SEO, improve consumer awareness, enhance your credibility and generate more leads. I would say these are all pretty important results that any business should be aiming for.

When it comes to developing content marketing, you should start with your end goal. What is the result you want to achieve? What action or engagement are you trying to create between you and the consumer? Once you know what you are looking to accomplish, then you can put a better strategy in place.

Content Creation and Sharing

Then, you need to create the content. Don’t just throw stuff together or plagiarize from other sources. Think about your topics, do the research and produce content that is informative, interesting and entertaining. Also, keep up a good frequency with blogging, social media posts, site content updates, reviews, post boosts and ad placements. Some content may produce immediate results while cumulatively it has a long-term effect in the minds of consumers just like all good forms of marketing should.

Now that you have good content, it needs to get in front of the people you want to see it. Choose your target audience(s) carefully. Use social media and other resources to get your content out there and create genuine engagements. You can have the best content in the world, but it’s worthless if nobody ever sees it.

Content marketing, when done right, is a very effective tool and it will probably be your most effective weapon in today’s marketplace. Put it together with a strong brand identity and other sound marketing strategies (both traditional and non-traditional), and you will certainly see the impact.

To learn more about content marketing or for a content marketing consultation, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Is Print Marketing Dead?

Though most of my focus these days is on content marketing and digital media, my background is in print marketing. I still help many of my clients with their print marketing needs, including brochure designs, direct mail campaigns, print advertisements stationery, business cards and whatever other print pieces they require.

Print Marketing is Not Dead

Though it’s definitely now a digital world we live in, print marketing is far from dead. In fact, I know a lot of small businesses that still generate a lot of customers through direct mail campaigns and print advertising in local publications.

The biggest key to effective print marketing for a small business is to have specified target audiences. Just as Facebook allows you to hone in on specific demographics when placing an ad, you have to think the same way when it comes to who sees your print pieces. It cannot be a shotgun approach or you will waste a lot of money.

Direct Mail Strategy

Direct mail is a prime example of this point. It would simply not be cost-effective to send out a weekly mailer piece to everyone within a 100-mile radius. That would be nice, but it would be really expensive and the return on investment just wouldn’t be there to justify the exorbitant costs to run such a massive direct mail campaign.

You can create your mailing lists based on more localized geographic factors (certain neighborhoods or zip codes with residents who represent your desired target audience). Or, you can generate lists based on other factors, such as people who have opted in on your website or purchased lists based on various demographic profiles. However you generate your mailing list, the idea is to be more focused rather than just sending out postcards willy nilly and hoping for good results.

It’s also very important to be consistent. Too many people make the mistake of sending postcards to one list for a month and then moving onto a different list the next month. If you jump around from list to list, you will never establish a strong brand presence. Direct mail often takes time. It’s a cumulative impact of someone seeing your mailers often that generally gets them to eventually take action. Be careful not to panic and keep changing your target because you won’t get anywhere with that strategy.

Print Advertising

The same goes for print advertising. Look for publications (or specific sections in the newspaper) that attract consumers who are more likely to be interested in your products or services. Then, run targeted ads and keep them running consistently to build brand loyalty over time. Again, if you keep jumping around, then you’ll never really establish anything meaningful in their minds.

Though you should always keep an eye on your results and adjust things based on trial and error, you have to have patience. Print marketing is a matter of commitment and consistency. When done right, however, it can still be a very powerful business-building tool. When done in unison with effective content/digital marketing, you might be amazed at the results you can achieve.

If you need help with your marketing—print, digital, content or otherwise—NextGear Marketing is here to serve you. Just let us know how we can be of service with affordable marketing solutions and powerful results. Contact us today!

 

5 Time Management Tips for the Holiday Season

The holidays are a fun, yet often hectic, time of year. This is especially true when it comes to managing your workload. Many of us travel and we all get certain holidays off, which forces us to condense our schedules. That usually means having to get the same amount of work done in a shorter amount of time. And, there’s nothing worse than having unfinished business sitting over your head when you are supposed to be relaxed while enjoying Thanksgiving dinner or the other holidays with your loved ones.

I usually try to stay ahead of schedule when I can, and during these last few months of the year it’s even more important to stay ahead. Unfortunately, the NextGear Marketing Blog has had to take a bit of a backseat as I work on my clients’ projects, but that’s fine. Prioritizing the workload is a key to managing it effectively.

Here are some helpful tips for getting ahead of the game this holiday season:

1. Prioritize

I already mentioned the importance of prioritization, but when you do it right, it will really help you get your work done. When you make sure the most pressing things are done first, it puts a lot less stress on getting the less important things done.

2. Incrementally Add More Work

Staying ahead of schedule during the holidays is largely about condensing more work into fewer days at the office. Start off by adding one or two small extra tasks per day to your to-do list and then incrementally increase that amount as the weeks go on. You’ll find it more manageable this way and you build up to more productive days. If you wait and try to scramble at the last-minute, it will not go well.

3. Proactivity, Not Procrastination

I’ve been known to procrastinate from time to time, but I hate the stress of having to get something done under the gun. The more proactive you can be in your planning and work activity, the less stressed you will be. Also, consider outsourcing certain tasks. Say managing your blog, for instance.

4. Reward Yourself

The ultimate reward when you get ahead of schedule is to not feel as stressed out during your holiday time off. You will have earned a break and you should be able to enjoy it. Still, giving yourself small rewards while working is another good idea. Maybe you get one extra Christmas cookie after you’ve done a certain amount of projects in a day or you buy yourself a holiday gift if you’ve earned an extra monetary bonus because of the work you’ve put in. If you are a manager, find ways to add incentives for people getting more work done this time of year.

5. Don’t Overdo It

This may seem contradictory, but the key to getting more done is not to wear yourself out early on. Take breaks and prepare yourself mentally. Prioritize your to-do lists and incrementally add a little more each day. You’ll be amazed at how much extra you can get done without feeling overwhelmed. By the time the holidays roll around, you will be able to actually relax and enjoy your time off. Doesn’t that sound nice?

These are just a few simple time management tips. The biggest advice I can give is to just be prepared mentally. This can be stressful time of year for many of us, but it doesn’t have to be. If you approach your workload with the right attitude and aim to stay ahead of the game, you’ll be amazed at the results. These are tips that can help you stay organized and prepared throughout the year, but the holiday season is when they may be most helpful.

If you need help with your marketing projects now or in the future, contact NextGear Marketing today. Sometimes, finding the right help will make all the difference in removing stress from your schedule!

Turning Luck into Opportunity

With a lot of unpleasant things happening in the country right now, it’s easy to understand how everyone has gotten caught up lately with something as fun a lotto fever. We all like to dream of what we’d do with hundreds of millions of dollars (or $1.6 billion in the case of the crazy MegaMillions jackpot the other day). Though the odds of winning are obviously astronomical, it’s still a fun escape from the day-to-day drudgery.

Luck vs. Opportunity

A few weeks ago, I posted an article that talked about the concept of luck when it comes to marketing. Though luck (or fate, if you prefer to look at it that way) can happen, you cannot depend on it to grow your business. You have to get out there and create your own opportunities.

However, there is something from the lotto experience that does indirectly apply to marketing, and there is a slightly different way to look at the concepts of luck or fate. Please bear with me. First, let’s think about the “luck” involved in winning a lottery jackpot. Some people do always play the same numbers, but I’m really thinking about the majority of us who just get “quick pick” tickets with random numbers drawn. In this case, it really is a matter of being at just the right place at just the right time for the machine to spit out the exact numbers that will later get spit out randomly (well, we’d like to hope) by a different machine the night of the drawing. That’s pretty much the definition of luck because, in theory, it’s completely random.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing is not random. In fact, it takes a ton of strategy to get your brand developed effectively and then positioned in front of your target audience through various media. Yet, in a way, you are still aiming to get your marketing message in front of the right person at the right time. When they decide to purchase your product or service being advertised, you may be putting a little bit of luck on your side.

Often, marketing has an aggregate effect on consumers. They see your brand in multiple places, they hear good word of mouth or they see your products or services being used. Maybe they are a past customer that keeps coming back because they like what you have to offer. Over time, they develop a positive association with your brand that ultimately compels them to buy.

The Right Place. The Right Time.

Even in the aggregate method, it’s still a matter of being seen at the right places at the right times by the people who are most likely to be interested in your particular products or services. Then, there will be other cases where the first time someone sees your marketing, they are immediately hooked and sold right then and there. These instances are much more rare, but they can happen with an effective marketing approach. This is especially true in the world of direct response marketing when you have a strong call to action that sparks a decisive response from the consumer.

How you get your marketing messages out there is a different topic for a different day. I highly recommend you go back through this NextGear Marketing Blog archives and you’ll find plenty of articles on a variety of strategic marketing topics that cover many different media outlets. The point is, when you get the word out there a lot (and that word is appealing to your target audience), you have a better chance of turning the concept of luck or fate into real business opportunities.

The Benefits of Boosting Blog Posts

So, you have a great blog for your business. You are posting a unique article once a week (or even more frequently). It has all the SEO tags, keywords and links to help you improve your website’s organic reach. You’re sharing the article links on Facebook and any other social media pages your company has. These are all great steps and necessary strategies to apply when running a business blog.

Yet, you are ready to take things to the next level. You want to expand your reach and get more people to see your blog. More followers generally lead to more conversions, so how do you get your articles in front of more people?

Boosting Blog Posts

One great strategy is to boost your blog posts. You don’t have to boost every single one. Some you may only boost a little. Some you may want to boost a lot if the content is strong and has a very targeted message. You can dip your toes in the water by boosting for only a few bucks a day. If the results are good and you decide to get more aggressive, you can raise your budget. Honestly, you don’t have to spend that much on social media to effectively boost a blog post.

The Perfect Example

One of my clients runs an auto repair shop and he is in a major push right now to bring in more domestic heavy duty trucks, SUVs and fleet service vehicles because they represent a better profit margin for his particular business model. With this in mind, I have been writing a lot of blog articles lately centered around this target market message. We’re featuring customer testimonial stories based on customers who own trucks and SUVs or are in charge of fleet accounts for local businesses. We’re writing service features and news articles highlighting new heavy duty lifts in the shop and a passion for working on larger vehicles. The articles are being tagged with specific SEO keywords like Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, GMC Denali, Chevrolet Silverado, etc.

Then, my client is boosting some of these blog articles on Facebook, again targeted at truck/SUV owners throughout his local area. Through keywords, interests and other demographic criteria, he is able to get very targeted exposure through social media.

The Results of Boosting

Ultimately, these targeted blog articles are seen by a lot more people than the company’s usual followers. More importantly, they are being seen by people who are likely to be the most interested in these specific topics. This leads to more blog traffic and eventually more customer conversions. It’s a very cost-effective solution.

Some blog articles may not need to be boosted, and like I said, some are more “boostable” than others. Usually, the more targeted the message in the article, the more effective it will be as a boosted post. It allows you to hone in on a more specific audience, which will generate more interested click-throughs.

If you have a blog and want to take it to the next level, or you need to get your blog started or moving in the right direction, NextGear Marketing can help. Contact us today for more information about blogging and social media integration.

Coincidence, Fate or Plain Dumb Luck?

So, a weird thing happened to me this week. On Monday morning, I noticed I had no hot water. When I went to go check on the hot water heater, I found it was leaking pretty badly. My landlord was on top of things and had someone come out to replace it the next day, though I am still working to get the closet all dried out and cleaned up.

This morning, I went to get a glass of water from my water cooler and noticed it was out of water. So, I put the new jug in only to hear a heavy dripping sound coming out the back of the cooler. Somehow, this stupid thing had also sprung a leak! Thank goodness I already had a lot of towels out from the other mess I was cleaning up earlier in the week.

So, within a few days of one another, both my hot water heater and my drinking water cooler had major leaks and got water everywhere. These are two completely different and unrelated pieces of equipment, though they perform similar functions (one making water hot, one making water cold) in my condo. What are the odds of this?

Can Luck Lead to Success?

It gets me thinking about things like luck, fate and coincidence. Sure, luck is sometimes involved in success. Happening to be at the right place at just the right time can be very beneficial. Whether or not you want to call that fate is more a matter of how you choose to look at things.

Ultimately, however, you have to go out and make your own opportunities in life and business. Just sitting back and waiting for things to happen is generally not going to get you very far.

Getting the Word Out

A lot of people think they can start a small business, set up a nice website and the business will just roll in naturally. This rarely happens unless you get the best word of mouth ever. You have to be proactive and get your name out there, whether it’s through digital marketing/SEO, social media, blogging, print advertising, billboards and so on. And yes, it helps to have really good word of mouth, too.

My point is don’t count on luck, fate or whatever cosmic forces you believe in to generate your business for you. And if you have a run of bad luck like I did this week, don’t let it get you down. Stay positive, get out there and make things happen for yourself!

Here to Help You Succeed

If you need help with your marketing campaign—especially when it comes to web content and blogging—NextGear Marketing is here for you. Contact us today for more information and to set up a no-obligation marketing consultation.