Check Out This Amazing Content Marketing Tool

Just taking a minute here to share an amazing content marketing tool I learned about from Barry Feldman in his recent guest blog post for Orbit Media Studios. It’s at AnswerThePublic.com. You’ve got to try it!

You enter a keyword and select a country, and voila! You’re presented with a number of questions one might ask about the search term. I plugged in “Content Marketing” and was served up this gorgeous visualization:

Answer the Public

It takes my breath away. I’m not kidding.

More Than (Key) Words

Let’s say I want to write a blog post about content marketing (imagine that!). This is a great tool for ideas and inspiration. I could dig into something like…

  • Who is doing content marketing well?
  • Why is content marketing important in social media?
  • How does content marketing build trust?

I’m sure I could come up with these on my own–it’s not rocket science–but why not use a quick and easy tool that gives you 77 ideas in less than 5 seconds?

I need to catch my breath. But I can’t wait to use this tool! Enjoy!

If you want to see more amazing content marketing tools like this, be sure to head over to Barry Feldman’s Blog Keywords: 16 Tips to Select Better Keywords for Your Articles at Orbit Media Studios.

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Finding My Sweet Spot

suite-spotte-conference-room

My cup runneth over with at least 2 coffees every day…and so much more.

I just know I’m in the right spot. I’m finally working full-time as a content marketer, and that means I can focus more energy on building my business and helping my clients. All. Day. Long.

Well, at least until I head home for dinner and the nightly family dance party.

I’m a big believer in the laws of attraction and that everything happens for a reason. I firmly believe that the universe is leading me in the right direction. And there are little signs everywhere that tell me I’m where I’m supposed to be. Case in point: just now, when settling down at my computer to write this post, I insert my earbuds and fire up my music. I put 26 U2 albums (that’s 496 tracks!) on “shuffle” and the first song to come on is my FAVE, Joshua Tree’s Red Hill Mining Town. Unless iTunes is serving up songs based on a Googlesque algorithm, I’d say that’s a cool coincidence. Or complete rubbish. Who cares? It means something to me.

Musta Been the Right Place, Musta Been the Right Time
Way back in the spring of 2016, I stood at a crossroads. I was either going to find traditional employment or make a go of SoaringWinds Marketing. Guess which path I took? (Read aaaaallll about it in Taking My Biz to the Next Level.) While evaluating my options, I connected with local self-employed folks on Facebook and was alerted to a really cool co-working office, Suite Spotte, in LaGrange, IL. A few weeks later I just happened to be having coffee with a friend while our toddlers were in pre-school. And this coffee shop just happened to be doors down from Suite Spotte, so I had to check it out, right?

Naturally.

Forgive the histrionics, but I felt like I was walking into my future. The ultra-friendly entrepreneur-owner and business coach extraordinaire, Sue, welcomed me (and my willing friend) in for a tour of the super-modern and artsy facilities. While she had me at “meditation room,” where there is a salt lamp and everything, I was flabbergasted when I saw that an article posted on the bulletin board was written for the local newspaper by none other than a fellow Saint Mary’s College alumna, a professional writer introduced to me a couple of years back through our college career office. (Incidentally, she and I met in person a couple of months ago in a “coincidental” run-in at a local library.) Yes! It’s all coming full-circle!

Time Time Ticking, Ticking, Ticking Away
So here we are, it’s January 2017 and I’m finally working at Suite Spotte. It’s called “the go-to-grow workplace,” and based on my first 3+ weeks in, I can already see why. Not only do I (finally) have more time to work with, but I have the pleasure of working alongside other entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, remote workers, and freelancers. These are my people! And I have access to “on-demand” career coaching. And a meditation room!

We have weekly lunches dedicated to whatever we want to talk about. Since I’ve been here, we’ve hashed out some best practices for introducing a new subscription-based service model and the payments technology to support it…talked about getting “what you’re worth” when going after a new client or interviewing for a  job…considered some new business-building ideas for a law practice…and determined whether or not Jimmy John’s delivery is really “freaky fast.” It is.

Aside from talking with people and eating, I focus on my work. My client-based work as well as work associated with growing my business, making new connections, and setting goals for the short and long term. When I say I’m finding my sweet spot, I’m talking about more than where I set down my laptop and coffee cup. I’m talking about honing in on the work I love to do…identifying the types of projects I most enjoy so I can find more of them, defining the real value I bring to my clients so I can deliver more of it, and establishing a daily routine that maximizes my productivity and happiness so I can be a “better” me in all areas of my life.

finding-my-sweet-spot

Promises, Promises
I’m going to do what any self-respecting content marketer does and BLOG ALREADY. I’ve said it before, but it’s so much easier said than done. Excuses, excuses. “I spend so much time working on my client projects, wah wah wah, how can I blog for MYSELF?” I’ll tell you why, sweetie: because that’s content marketing. It is indeed my distinct pleasure to blog about the world of content marketing and share my insights. And now I can dedicate time to doing exactly that.

And, my readers, I expect you are probably LESS interested in hearing musings about my personal life and work…so I’ll up the ante on developing content around what YOU want.

Yep, that’s content marketing, sweetie.

Content Review: Ashley Furniture HomeStore E-mail

Ashley Trendwatch

Forgive the tiny image, but you get the gist.

As a content marketer, I actually pay attention to campaign e-mails I get from companies, especially if I’m an opt-in list. Every now and then, one makes it through the SPAM filter in my head and catches my eye, like this one from Ashley Furniture HomeStore.

My thoughts:

  • It’s timely, even if I didn’t click-through (the last thing I need right now is more new furniture, low prices notwithstanding). The header “2014” is prominent and gets my attention because the new number still hasn’t lost its novelty. Subhead “new near, new place, 5 home lifestyle resolutions…,’ is fantastic copywriting. The Super Bowl is even referenced next to the call-to-action button–nice!
  • 5 bullet points with no more than 5 words of copy in each–simple and quick. Any of the 5 resolutions could have gotten me to click (had I not been performing mental evaluation for this post).
  • Sharing trends is a great idea, maybe a trend itself in content marketing. “TrendWatch” suggests Ashley is relevant and wants to provide me with some design insight–great to have in the back of my mind next time I want some stylish furniture.
  • From a design standpoint: lovely fonts, attractive images, clean layout. Great work keeping the key messaging above the fold.

A few more thoughts:

  • The 2013 Womens Choice Award medallion image gives credibility and, again, relevance to me.
  • Social media share icons located in two different spots is a nice touch. I wonder which set gets the most clicks?

This thing has January written all over it and makes me want to see what they have in store for February. I’m not going so far as to click-through and review the e-mail’s landing page–the January TrendWatch itself–but someday I’ll tackle a review of all campaign components.

I’d love your comments! Am I off base? Did I miss something? Let me know what YOU think!

Content Marketing Trends 2014

I came across this tremendous infographic depicting the content marketing trends to watch out for this year. The part about more companies bringing their content marketing in-house in favor of outsourcing it (to folks like me)? I think this is actually great news in the world of content marketing because it means it’s working–and C-suite corporate decision-makers are getting the message. Investing in original content is simply a smart move. And (sales pitch) I’m happy to help create that content for business owners, marketing departments, and marketing agencies who don’t have an in-house team. 🙂

Copywriting that supports a content marketing strategy is less about chasing keywords and more about providing valuable information to interested people. When I’m writing something to help a client establish thought-leadership–a goal of content marketing–I enjoy digging into the topic and learning about it through interviewing the thought leader and performing my own research. (Plus, it gives me lots to talk about with parents at the playground or birthday party.)

Without further commentary from me…enjoy and be inspired!

Top 6 Content Marketing Trends to Watch Out This 2014 (Infographic) - An Infographic from Digital Marketing Philippines

http://digitalmarketingphilippines.com/top-6-content-marketing-trends-to-watch-out-this-2014-infographic/

An SEO Success Story Starring ME!

Two years later!

Two years later!

Almost TWO years later…I’m back, blogging for my own website! Any smart (or even not so smart) marketer would tell you that putting two years between blog posts is a TERRIBLE idea. I would definitely tell you that! And any smart (or even not so smart) marketer would tell you don’t write content tooting your own horn. I’d tell you that, too! But this time, it’s relevant, so I say “Go for it!”

On that note, I’ve been busy with kids and writing copy for my clients, so I haven’t really had time to blog for myself. I’m so, so busy. You are too! I know. In case you’re wondering, I still work for the IT professional services company I’ve worked for in various capacities; these days, it’s project-based. I’m also working with some wonderful clients–some “old,” some new–and I’m so grateful! Working from home, oftentimes on-the-fly, is endlessly stressful but an absolute blessing. The truth is, I do enjoy blogging, even if it takes time away from billable work and time with my family. So I’ll make this quick. Here’s the success story!

I started up SoaringWinds Marketing (which isn’t an LLC anymore, by the way) shortly after my darling daughter was born. I set the site up and employed some basic SEO best practices–and boy, am I glad! Right at the end of my self-imposed maternity leave (my sweet little guy was born in May!), I received a message via my site’s contact form. An account manager from a marketing agency was looking for someone with my copywriting skill set–and thanks to search engine magic, she found my site! Fortunately, we’re now working together and having a blast.

The bottom line: SEO works. Relevant content on your website works to attract the “right” visitors. I will do a better job of practicing what I preach…I promise to post again before 2016!

Cut the Drama, it’s Just Sales!

Let's make a deal!

Every day it becomes clearer to me that running my own business is nothing like my role as an employee in a marketing communications department. It’s great that I can write, optimize a web site, crank out some cool PowerPoint presentations and develop a social media strategy–but I’ve also got to master an understanding the legal, financial, and operational complexities of this little company if I’m going to make it work.

Oh yeah, and I have to sell.

Next to keeping an Oreo cookie out of my mouth, selling is one of the hardest things you can ask me to do. I’m pretty sure it’s because I want to please everyone and be “nice,” and I find talking about money very difficult. In my mind (however wrong this is!), sales people annoy others and try to separate them from their money. I don’t want to be this person! But when I stop to think about it, good sales people are actually some of my favorite people–they help me find a way to meet my needs and move forward towards my goals, even if I have to pay up. (Please note, no one ever had to “sell” me a baked good!)

For crying out loud, as a “marketing person” I’ve been trained to tread lightly with the sales folk. Marketing people like to blame sales people and sales people like to blame marketing people when the going gets tough. Not unlike siblings, actually. At the end of the day, we’re all on the same team but I’d much rather not be in their shoes because they have to have the tough conversations with people, and clearly I’m a wimp.

Please, let me express myself theatrically: Picture me standing on a stage in an auditorium full of salespeople, a lone stage light beside me, and soft piano music accompanying the following monologue:

“O, how do you do it? You put yourself out there and face rejection. You have to battle objections, ask people for their money, and risk getting the phone slammed down in your ear! You can take my beautifully constructed value proposition, my pretty list of sales tips, my sales and marketing collateral and work your magic to bring in business only to get judged…alas! You toil away in the trenches with no guarantee of success! How do these things not terrify you, make you nervous or even a little sad?”

Slap slap slap! Is all of this drama really necessary? I can handle this. I’m really not a wimp. I’ve achieved a lot in my life and probably have a lot more sales savvy than I give myself credit for. It’s just a new skill set to learn. As a marketer, I’m fundamentally a salesperson. What this really comes down to is I have to develop a harder shell and not take rejection personally–and I have to ask for what I’m worth. I absolutely, 100%, no argument, you can’t convince me otherwise, hate the idea that my “nice, accommodating personality” alone can’t do the work for me.

A very successful business woman recently told me, “It’s not about being nice, it’s about being honest.” In business, that couldn’t be more true. Of course, it’s important to be friendly and kind, but business is business–there comes a time when people who are negotiating to work together have to have the tough conversations about time and money, needs and expectations. I see the sale (and my breakdown) happening herein. My instinct is to defer to the other person and not ruffle feathers–or worse, railroad them! But I have needs, too, and I sure as hell know that I’m smart, capable, and a great person to work with. I hope the people I work with agree!

I also realize that what I’m selling is an honest-to-goodness value to a business. The services I bring to the table are an important part of their sales process (eek!). Talking about my services and positioning them verbally as part of a “pitch,” complete with pricing, is something I’ll get better at over time. Sales for my business isn’t trying to sell ice to an Eskimo–my customers and prospects already want to boost their marketing efforts and are giving me the opportunity to help them get it all together.

One of the stickiest points for me on this entrepreneurial journey has been embracing the inescapable fact that I must be a salesperson. But if I keep in mind that as long as I’m being honest, the emotional stuff needn’t factor in too much. If someone is mean to me or laughs in my face because I’m asking them to pay for services I believe can really help them reach their goals, at a fair price, then they can move on. Someone can like me and not buy from me, and vice versa. Not everyone is going to like me or agree with my approach. That’s business. That’s sales. No drama. That’s what I’m taking on as a business owner/consultant.

One last thing. Sorry if I’ve offended any salespeople here. Please, take this whole thing as a compliment to you–even a cry for help. Feel free to contact me with any sales tips you can provide a marketing person like me! I’ll pay you with Oreos! 🙂

ComiCon Marketing Lessons

See the cute baby, tardis, and subject matter experts!

I spent last weekend at the annual Comic Convention–ComiCon or simply “the ‘Con”. A favorite event of my husband’s for years, it’s one of mine. It was three days of comic books, science fiction, celebrity sightings, people-watching and  junk food. Overall, great entertainment!

A good friend of mine had a booth at the event to promote his website that serves as a channel for podcasts. (If you’re a fan of sci-fi or high concept drama TV shows like Doctor Who or Fringe, this is the place for you!) In my prior life as a marketing representative for an insurance company, I attended lots of trade shows and “manned” my company’s booth to meet insurance agents. My ComiCon experience wasn’t too different–but it was way cooler and more fun!

Naturally, as I worked the booth, I thought a lot about marketing and how regardless of your industry or target market, the same basic tenets hold true:

Wearing Costumes Gets You Noticed 
This is obvious, especially when you’re dressed as a Storm Trooper, Wonder Woman, or an evil Gumby (no kidding!). If you’re sending a message or looking for attention, dressing the part is important and definitely sets you apart. We could say that having an attractive, easily navigated website or a direct mail package with a great tagline accomplishes the same thing. You want to stand out, look good, and appeal to the people you’re trying to attract. If they don’t buy something from you, they might at least take a picture!

Carrying a Cute Baby Makes Them Come to You
No matter where you are or who you are, if you’re trying to get to the right people, it helps to have someone supporting you–and that person should be really cute, small and engaging! We had no trouble meeting celebrities at ComiCon because they were literally calling us over to them so they could meet our daughter. If it’s not practical to market yourself using a baby, think of something else you can dangle in front of your target audience. If you’re a subject matter expert, offer up some free information or advice; have some cool swag to give away, sponsor a raffle; selling a unique product, give away some samples.  All in exchange for contact information, of course. Put your assets up front and people will come reach out to you.

Being a Subject Matter Expert Gets People to Listen to You
My friend with the podcast booth was phenomenal with his visitors. They’d wait in line to talk to him and get his opinions about the plotlines and characters of their favorite shows. My friend’s enthusiasm and love for the shows and the fans was contagious, and he easily sold interest in his podcast empire to those he took the time to engage. So if you’re an expert on anything…talk about it, share it, promote it. You’re credible and people want to hear what you have to say.

Appealing To Your Target Market Attracts Them to You
This is such a no-brainer, but so true! One example should be sufficient: placing a Doctor Who tardis on your table brings Doctor Who fans to you in droves. You don’t even have to look at people and smile (this helps, though) and they’re bowing at your feet (practically!). The lesson is simple: you’ve got to display the goods your audience is going to value and not have to think about.

I had a blast at ComiCon this year. I promise I didn’t spend too much time thinking about marketing. I was also planning my daughter’s costumes for next year, preparing to launch a Twilight Zone podcast, and making arrangements to borrow my friend’s Doctor Who DVD collection.