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Defining Your Marketing Duties

This week, I was called in for jury duty. It’s something nobody looks forward to and most people try to find a way to get out of, but it is a responsibility we all face as adult members of our society.

Ultimately, my summons was much ado about nothing. I showed up at the courthouse and was dismissed immediately because the case had already settled out of court. Still, I showed up anyway because it was my civic duty.

The brief experience made me think of the concept of duty, especially as it relates to small business marketing. Do your marketing duties have defined roles? Do you have the people and resources in place to accomplish all the necessary duties? How can you be better at getting all these important marketing duties done efficiently and effectively?

In this article, we’ll look at some of the most vital marketing duties/roles that you need to account for. Whether they are all done by one person, spread out across various team members internally or shopped out to marketing service specialists, you want these duties to be covered. If you get lax or ignore these marketing activities, you lose out on great opportunities to grow your business.

Marketing Manager

Somebody in your company needs to assume the role as marketing manager. This is the person who oversees marketing strategy, budget and execution. Every construction site needs a good foreman to supervise and organize the work being done. The marketing manager essentially fills this same role with a specific oversight of marketing activities.

Media Planner/Buyer

A marketing plan and budget are set, so someone has to be responsible for spending the money effectively. Media planning and buying are very technical (and actually different) roles that need to be covered for an effective marketing campaign.

Creative Director

Much like a marketing manager, but even more focused on a specific objective, a creative director is there to oversee the creative aspects of a marketing campaign. They make sure the brand message is being conveyed properly and defined marketing objectives are being achieved.

Copywriter

You need a good copywriter to effectively communicate brand messages, sales points and other key information in any marketing materials being developed.

Graphic Designer

Whereas the copywriter is focused on content, the graphic designer is responsible for creating the visual components of your marketing campaign.

Web Developer

Web development is a very specialized and important role in today’s marketing world. You need someone (or a whole web development company) who is well-versed on creating, hosting and maintaining your company’s website.

SEO Specialist

Search engine optimization is so important these days, and it is a very specialized skill. If you really want to maximize your online presence, SEO needs to be a major priority.

Blogger

Blogging is a specialized type of writing that requires a different skillset than a typical marketing copywriter. Also, someone needs to be devoted to your business blog content to make sure things get posted regularly. It can’t just be a “we’ll get to it when we get to it” duty.

Social Media Expert

Any business not fully integrated into social media is missing out on a huge opportunity in today’s ultra-connected world. A social media expert will take your business to the next level.

There are other specialized marketing duties that you may want to define for your specific business or company configuration, but these are some of the most important roles you’ll want to have covered. Doing it all by yourself can be extremely daunting and hiring extra full-time employees can be beyond your budget. That’s why many small businesses turn to specialized service providers like NextGear Marketing for help with certain marketing duties.

Our specialty is blogging for small businesses, though we can also help with any copywriting, web content, SEO and graphic design services you require. Contact NextGear Marketing today for more information and to set up a no-obligation marketing review.

 

 

 

Don’t Let Your Content Get Iced Over

I grew up on the northern coast of California, where winter weather usually means a lot of rain and fog. Christmas snow was never anything we expected in our small coastal town.

However, this year I spent the holiday season visiting family in Vancouver, Washington. It doesn’t snow that regularly here either, but it definitely happens more often than in my hometown. This year, the snow came down in flurries all day on Christmas Eve and covered the ground with a fresh blanket of powder. It was really cool to have a true, Crosby-like “White Christmas” for once.

The next day, the temperatures stayed below freezing and that snow just turned to ice. It was crunchy and slick, and it made for some dangerous driving conditions on Christmas day.

What is the point of this story? Well, it makes me think of what happens when you let your web content go a bit stagnant. This is a topic I’ve covered before. However, it’s an ideal time to bring it up again because we’re at the start of a new year. It’s the perfect time to revisit your website’s content and freshen it up.

Your website content may have been as fresh and pure as the driven snow when it was first written, but it will eventually ice over if left untouched.

Let me count the ways to keep your content from icing over and becoming dangerously stagnant

1. Update Your Site Content

Take the time to run through every single page of your website. Make sure all the information is still relevant. Add any new information that is needed. Rewrite some sections of text, update graphics and revisit your SEO tags, keywords and links to freshen things up as much as possible.

2. Bring in Fresh Eyes

Don’t be afraid to ask for second or third opinions on your web content. Bring in an outside source or someone who wasn’t involved with the original site development. Let them look things over and provide a fresh perspective on what updates, upgrades and revisions could be made for better site performance.

3. Be Proactive

Don’t neglect your blog, news feeds and other dynamic content sources. Use these to provide fresh, relevant and searchable content on your site regularly. If you don’t have a blog yet, start one. If you do, just make sure to stay on top of it with regular posts. At least once a week is recommended.

4. Social Media Integration

Make sure your site is fully integrated with your social media platforms. Be active with your posts and advertising on social media, share all of your blog posts and news feed links, and engage your followers as much as you can.

5. Don’t Forget Your Brand Messaging

So many business websites these days are focused on SEO. That’s great to attract more site visitors, but only that kind of content can also come off as a little robotic. Don’t neglect your brand messaging and marketing goals. Once you get them to your site, you want to pique their interest and ultimately convert them into customers. Building a strong brand with well-crafted, engaging content is the way to do this.

These are just a few ways to freshen up your web content and keep it from going ice cold on you. To learn more about web content strategy, to discuss business blogging options or for a free, no-obligation review of your current website content, contact NextGear Marketing today.

What Are Your 2018 Marketing Resolutions?

New Year’s Resolutions don’t just have to be personal goals like losing weight or quitting smoking. If you are a small business owner, you should have resolutions to make 2018 your best year ever. That means it may be the perfect time to rethink your marketing strategies and implement new ideas.

Let’s look at some marketing resolutions you can make for 2018:

1. Solidify Your Brand

Branding is so important to your success. Your brand should be consistent across all platforms. It should be evident in any design pieces in terms of a visual brand that is recognizable to your customers. It should also drive any content in print or web marketing. This is what we’d call your “brand message.” All branding elements should work together for the best results.

2. Update Your Web Content

When is the last time you went through your entire website and made some content updates? Content easily gets stale and outdated. Take the time to freshen it up and update as needed. You will experience a natural SEO boost in the process.

3. Get More Out of Your Blog

Speaking of SEO, your business blog is a great way to maximize your site’s organic SEO appeal through regular, targeted content. If you don’t have a blog, start one. If you have a blog but don’t post often, make a concerted effort to be more active with it. If you have a regular blog but aren’t seeing any benefits of it, it’s probably time to rethink your strategy. The content you write, the way you write it and other ancillary facets of the blog like SEO keywords, titles and tags can all make a major impact.

4. Take Advantage of Social Media

It’s hard to have a successful business these days without a strong social media presence. Make the commitment to be more active with social media and learn how to use new and evolving platforms to your advantage.

5. Be More Proactive

In all forms of marketing (print, web, blogging, outdoor, direct mail, social media, etc.), use the New Year to revitalize your commitment. Be more proactive with planning and follow through on those plans to make your marketing campaign as successful as possible. Revisit existing marketing materials and programs to see where adjustments can be made. Marketing should always be evolving. If you sit back and rest on your laurels, you will quickly fall behind the times.

These are just a few of the New Year’s Resolutions you can make to get more out of your business marketing. For more ideas or to discuss blogging, content updates or any other marketing needs you have, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Happy Holidays from NextGear Marketing!

This will be a quick post to wish all of my friends, family and clients a wonderful holiday season!

I probably won’t be posting anything new until January because I have been super busy working on my clients’ blogs, marketing pieces and web content. I want to make sure everything is done in preparation for my own travels to Northern California, Oregon and Washington over Christmas and New Year. It takes a lot of work to get everything prepared and scheduled to post while I am away, but I am grateful to have so many great clients.

I look forward to taking on even more clients in 2018. If you have blogging or marketing needs—or you know a small business owner who does—contact NextGear Marketing and I’ll be happy to set up a marketing consultation with you. We can figure out your specific needs and get you ready to reach the next level of success in 2018!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year everyone!

What Are Your Blogging Goals?

When writing a blog for your business, it’s important to set goals and stay focused on your objectives. Though you want your writing to feel natural, you also want to avoid “stream of consciousness” blogging like a teenage girl on Snapchat. Every article you write should have a targeted purpose, and all posts should work together to achieve big picture goals.

Let’s look at the three main goals you should be looking to accomplish with your business blog:

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Ultimately, a blog is one of the best ways you can boost your organic SEO results. It will provide fresh content to your site that’s added (hopefully) on a regular basis. The content will be informative, insightful and interesting. It will include strategic targeted keywords and key phrases that potential customers might be searching for. Your posts should also contain back-end SEO tags, titles, links and meta descriptions. All of these things will add up to positive organic search engine optimization that will only serve to enhance any additional SEO or PPC (pay-per-click advertising) that you are doing. In other words, SEO improvement should be a natural byproduct of a well-executed blog. That alone should give you enough incentive to have a blog for your business.

2. Reader Engagement

When your blog content is informative, insightful and interesting enough, it should engage your readers. No matter how someone comes across one of your blog articles, you want to leave a good impression. The articles should be well-written (spell check + grammar check) and have something worthwhile to say. In the process, you can share insights and details about your business without having to get too “salesy.” Avoid overloading the blog posts with repetitive keywords to a point where the article has no flow. There is a trick to including plenty of relevant keywords without it seeming like you are just forcing them in there. When you engage your readers, you will create a more positive brand relationship.

3. Customer Conversion

This is where things can really get difficult. Using your blog to convert people into actual customers will depend on the product/service you are trying to sell and your definition of “conversion.” If you have very inexpensive and desirable products, then you may get away with a more direct sales approach on your blog. If the conditions are just right, people may want to click through and buy something immediately after reading one of your posts.

Otherwise, you should avoid thinking of your business blog as a direct response sales tool. Think of your conversion goal as either creating a positive brand relationship as outlined in goal #2 above or as a very basic lead generator. Creating a positive brand message is a much more attainable goal, especially if your content is engaging enough to keep people coming back and reading your articles from week to week. Generating leads is not as easy, but it can be done and it’s certainly more achievable then making a final sale right then and there. Use calls-to-action in your blog articles that may entice someone to call, email, visit other pages on your website or fill out a contact form. Then, they can be put in your sales follow-up or CRM system to eventually try and close the deal.

A lot can be accomplished with a successful business blog, but it is important to set your goals realistically and to stay focused on your overall objectives as you are posting articles from week to week.

To learn more about business blogging or to get started with a NextGear Marketing business blog package, contact us today.

Giving Thanks

I didn’t have time to write an article last week as I was preparing for the long Thanksgiving weekend and making sure all my clients’ blogs were written and posted for the week. However, the week did give me some time to reflect on 2017 and be grateful for what has ultimately been a fairly successful first full year in business.

I officially started NextGear Marketing back in 2016 and growth has been steady. Sure, there have been some challenges and I would like to grow my client list even more (referrals are always welcome, by the way). However, I know it takes time to build up a small business.

It is the time of year to be thankful to all my clients and those who have helped me get NextGear Marketing off the ground. I really appreciate your business and support, and I feel like it’s a win-win situation. You get custom, professional blog and content marketing services at a much lower price than you would from a larger marketing/SEO company. I get to afford food, shelter and the occasional round of golf when I have the free time. Everybody comes out happy!

It’s no secret that I do all the work myself for each of my valued clients. I don’t foresee ever growing the company so big that this is not the case. I tend to be a bit of a control freak and I want to make sure the job is done right. I always want to be here, making sure my clients are taken care of.

That being said, I am ready, willing and eager to take on more clients in 2018. The systems are in place and things are humming along. If you need blogs or any custom web content written, I’m your guy! We can set up a NextGear Marketing monthly content package to meet your specific needs. Most clients opt for the standard package that includes one blog post a week, though a few of my more aggressive clients have upgraded to a two-a-week plan. Of course, if you want to stay super conservative and inexpensive, we can work out blog plans that only post once or twice a month. Whatever you need, let me know.

Contact me at NextGear Marketing or call me at (714) 348-0642 to discuss your content marketing needs or to sign up for a blog package.

Business Blogging Basics: Captivation vs. Conversion

If you’ve read any of my other Business Blogging Basics articles, then you will already know the main point of this article. It is not really a “versus” issue. It’s an issue of finding the right balance between two important strategic approaches.

For the purpose of this article, “captivation” refers to the initial attraction of a site visitor. It’s just a less-clinical word for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or how someone finds your blog article in the first place.

“Conversion,” on the other hand, refers to the desired action you want to happen after someone reads your article. You got them to your blog, so now what? How do you use your blog to convert them into a paying customer?

Captivation (SEO)

In the grand scheme of things, captivation is easier than conversion. A well-done blog will be loaded with SEO appeal thanks to a depth of content, fresh content added on your site and all the targeted tags, links and titles you should be including within each blog post. The main reason any business would have a blog is to boost their organic SEO results and attract site visitors.

In other words, improved SEO should come naturally if you write a good blog, use all the right tags and post new articles frequently.

Conversion

So, that leads us to conversion. How much of your effort needs to be put into converting a blog reader into an actual customer? This is where it gets tricky because even “conversion” can represent multiple goals:

  1. Buying a Product or Signing Up for a Service
  2. Filling Out a Contact Form
  3. Positive Brand Identification

Of course, #1 would be the ideal goal. However, it is also the toughest to achieve. Getting someone to buy something from you right then and there after reading a blog article or two is very difficult unless your product line is very inexpensive. Though you want to include at least one clear call-to-action in each blog article, you can’t go in expecting direct sales from your blog.

Numbers 2 and 3 are more attainable goals for most businesses. Positive brand identification is easily achievable with a good blog that provides interesting content and insight into the way you do business. If people walk away from reading one of your blog articles and feel a positive association with your brand, consider it a major victory—even if sales might not come right away. I don’t go rushing out to the store every time I see a Coca-Cola commercial, but I have a positive association with their brand that may affect my buying decisions later.

Filling out a contact form is harder to achieve, but it is a realistic objective. Someone may want to sign up for your newsletter/blog or get more information about a specific product or service being promoted. It’s a little less threatening to ask for someone’s contact info than to make a sale right then and there. They give you some info and then you can add them to your follow-up database. Ultimately, getting this lead is the first step in hopefully converting them into an actual customer. You may want to think of your blog as a lead generator rather than a sales tool. There’s a big difference.

SEO captivation should always drive your business blog and it is ultimately what is most important, but look at ways to spark customer conversions through engaging content and enticing calls-to-action. As always, when you find the right balance, you will have a more successful business blog.

For more information about business blogging, contact NextGear Marketing today.