What Do Coke, Pepsi, Pampers, Dominos, Google and Facebook Have in Common?

first_img Facebook Marketing Are audiences more interested in understanding what the big brands are doing?  Do we look up to Coke and Pepsi and other great brands for inspiration?At HubSpot, we love to measure everything, and recently we completed a short study on how the use of brand names (including Coke, Pepsi, Dominos, Google, Pampers, Facebook,etc.) in article titles had an impact on blog article performance. The results were astounding.  Out of the approximately 100 articles published over a period of 50 days, just over 20% of them had major brand names in the title.  As you can see in the graph below, the articles that had a major brand name in the title generated 60% more page views on average than articles without them.Also, we published 6 articles with Google in the title, and on average they performed 50% better than articles without brand names in their titles.Surprisingly, while the use of brand names appeared to have an impact on page views and readership, it had little or no impact on comments (or conversation) and what appears to be a negative impact on inbound links.  The brand name articles got 3 fewer inbound links on average than their counterparts. If you’re wondering why we used such a short time frame for the study, it’s because blog articles are like annuities. Over longer periods of time, articles continue to amass more and more page views, which would skew the study.  The top-performing articles in all groups were spread pretty evenly across the time frame used for the study!Thoughts,  Observations and TakeawaysTiming Your Article Publication is Key — There was definitely a “news” factor to articles with brand names in their titles, and the timeliness of the publication coincided with the conversation about the brand on the Internet and in media.  (e.g. the Dominos and Pepsi articles).Visible Brands Serve as Case Studies — People and marketers in general love hearing what major brands are doing and how they are conducting their business.  A lot of companies like to emulate and learn from big brands. Familiarity Has an Impact on Viral Effect — People become bigger “sneezers” (per Seth Godin’s idea virus) when it comes to bigger brands because they are more familiar with them and their products. Have you noticed any interesting trends in how your blog articles perform?  Please share your thoughts in the comments! Photo credit: Nikita Kashner Video: Blogging for Business Want to learn more about publishing a blog on your business website?Watch the free video to learn how to create a thriving inbound marketing blog. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Mar 11, 2010 8:30:00 AM, updated October 18 2015 Topics:last_img read more

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Google Introduces Analytics App Store

first_img marketing analytics .  You may come across an app that lets you organize your analytics in a way that helps you get more out of measuring your marketing.  The gallery is chock full of tools to help Analytics users understand their web stats.  It is currently divided into 12 categories, including business intelligence, campaign management, content management, data collection, e-commerce, , mobile solutions, phone call tracking, reporting tools, Originally published May 5, 2010 12:57:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 they should be Google’s Analytics Application Gallery Learn how to measure the effectiveness of Your web site. If you’re a Google Analytics user, take some time to browse the new gallery and check out Google’s Topics: If you’re a marketer, web analytics (different from  Today’s launch of will hopefully make it a little easier. The new gallery offers applications that extend Google Analytics’ reach deeper into specific areas like eCommerce and content management.  search optimization ).  Analytics help you determine how each of your initiatives are performing and can indicate whether you need to change or improve upon your existing programs.  In a nutshell, web and marketing analytics ) are a significant part of your marketing programs (and if they aren’t, Google Analytics Have you taken a look around the gallery? Are any of the offered tools useful to you? Share some of your favorite Google Analytics apps in the comments below. help you determine the ROI of your marketing efforts. Why is this helpful for marketers? Editor’s Picks email marketing Download the free video Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Trying to get more out of your Google Analytics? , site audit, and widgets & gadgets.  Currently, there are 38 available apps, though this number will continue to rise as developers submit their new apps to the gallery. to learn how to measure the effectiveness of your web site. Video: Marketing Analytics 101: How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Websitelast_img read more

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10 Examples of Amazing Viral Marketing Videos

first_imgOh, hi there. Have you heard the news about video? It’s becoming really important for marketers to use. Imperative, even. Perhaps mandatory.”Sure,” you must be thinking. “And in other news, the sky is blue.”Okay, we get it. You know how important video is. That much is clear. In fact, 94% of marketers plan to add either YouTube or Facebook video to their content distribution efforts in the next 12 months. And that’s great — but we have a question. What makes a video viral?According to Dictionary.com, to go viral means to become “very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the internet.” And when executed well, that virality can last for a while — in fact, I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite ways to reminisce about my childhood is to ask my peers, “Remember that old jingle that went like … ?”Free Guide: How to Create Video to Increase Engagement So not only have we hand-picked our favorite viral marketing videos below — we’ve also explained what we believe makes them so effective. And given the aforementioned ability of viral videos to maintain evergreen popularity, you’ll notice that not all of them are terribly recent. So, let’s get right to it, shall we?6 Viral Video Marketing Examples1) Dallas Zoo & Bob Hagh: Breakdancing GorillaThe VideoWe start off with a bit of an unusual example. It all started when Dallas Zoo Primate Supervisor Ashley Orr captured this video of Zola, a footloose and fancy-free gorilla splashing around and dancing in a kiddie pool. Check it out: Why It WorksLet’s face it: Generally, what goes on in the bathroom stays in the bathroom. It’s a taboo topic — but it’s one that everyone experiences, and one that Poo~Pourri approaches and communicates with bravado.This brand’s products were created to solve a problem that people typically don’t like to discuss publicly, but still needs to be resolved. So Poo~Pourri created video content that says, “Hey, we’ll address and talk about it, so you don’t have to.”What are some of the discomforts/uncomfortable topics around the problem that your product seeks to resolve? Start a conversation about them — the one that your customer wants to have, but is too embarrassed to do so.And guess what? It doesn’t have to pertain to bodily functions. It can also be about bigger grievances, like wanting to quit your job. That’s the approach that HubSpot has taken with its Summer Startup Competition, for which we created the video below. The opening line? An unabashed declaration of, “Quit your job.”So, there you have it. From tear-jerking to hilarious, these viral videos illustrate the endless possibilities of how your brand can create similar content — the kind that could keep people talking about it far down the road.What are your favorite viral video marketing examples? Let us know in the comments.Want more tips for creating video content? Check out this data on the state of video marketing.Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2010 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. Originally published Jul 7, 2017 6:00:00 AM, updated July 12 2019 Within less than a week, the video was picked up by the likes of CNN, Maxim, and ABC, to name a few — just have a look at the search results for “dancing gorilla maniac.”Why It WorksHow many times have you watched a video and thought, “This reminds me of … “? That’s precisely what Hagh did here — took a video that was already cute, and added something simple to make it even more shareable.After Hagh’s “enhanced” version of the gorilla video went viral, I resolved to start observing those fleeting moments when I think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be funny if … ?” And while there’s no guarantee that acting on those thoughts would have viral results — and we wouldn’t recommend investing a ton of time in something that isn’t likely to pay off — Hagh’s experience makes us say, “You never know.”So start paying attention to what you normally think of as silly ideas, and if there’s a low-effort opportunity to act on them, do so — but don’t just do it once, and pay attention each time, analyzing any metrics that you’re able to pull around performance. See who responds to each experiment and how, and it could inform your video marketing strategy.2) Dollar Shave Club: “Our Blades Are F***ing Great”The VideoThe video below is over five years old, and yet, out of all of Dollar Shave Club’s YouTube videos — of which there are more than 50 — it remains the brand’s most popular, with over 24 million views. “Even nanophysicists need to have a little fun,” the video’s description reads, explaining that, to make the video, “IBM researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to move thousands of carbon monoxide molecules … all in pursuit of making a movie so small it can be seen only when you magnify it 100 million times.” Today, it holds the Guinness World Records™ title for the World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Film.Why It WorksRe-read the first part of the video’s description. “Even nanophysicists need to have a little fun.” Replace that job title with any other, and depending on your industry, it could apply to your work, as well. All marketers deserve to have a little fun. The question is, “How?”It presents another opportunity to start paying closer attention to those “Wouldn’t it be cool if … ?” thoughts, and thinking about how you can actually act upon them to create remarkable content. That’s especially important in B2B marketing, where creatively communicating your product or service in an engaging way is a reported challenge.So, we’ll say it again: Write down your ideas for cool things to do, and present them at your next marketing conversation with a plan for implementing them.P.S. Want to see how this film was made? Check out that bonus footage here.4) TrueMoveH: “Giving”The VideoTrueMoveH, a mobile communication provider in Thailand, triggered leaky eyeballs everywhere when it published this video in 2013. To date, it has over 20 million views and continues to be the brand’s most popular YouTube video. Video Marketing Topics: Why It WorksThis example is an interesting case of co-marketing. Tripp and Tyler made the video in partnership with Zoom, a video conferencing provider — but Zoom isn’t mentioned until the end, when the story being told in the video is largely over. It’s as if the video says, “Ha ha, don’t you hate it when that happens? Here’s a company that can provide a solution,” and then quietly exits.What are some of the biggest annoyances your customers or personas have to deal with? Do they align with the problems that your product or service is designed to solve? If the answer is “no,” then, well … you have some work to do.But if the answer is “yes,” find the humor in those problems. They say that “art imitates life,” so don’t be afraid to act it out, and use these common frustrations to create engaging content.6) Poo~Pourri: “Imagine Where You Can GO”The VideoPoo~Pourri, the maker of a unique bathroom spray, is known for its vast array of viral videos. And while we’re a bit too bashful to share its most popular one on here, here’s another one — which has earned over 13 million views — that’ll give you a general idea of what the brand is all about. I added some music to this. pic.twitter.com/UwjhTKpaeu— Bob Hagh (@BobHagh) June 22, 2017 But as if that wasn’t already fun enough to watch, Star-Telegram Video Producer Bob Hagh noticed that the gorilla’s “choreography” bore a striking resemblance to a routine from the movie Flashdance, which was performed to the song “Maniac.” Seeing an opportunity for a quick laugh, Hagh dubbed the dancing gorilla video with the same track. We’re not crying. You’re crying.Why It WorksLet’s think about some of the ads that have given us “all the feels,” as the kids would say, like Budweiser’s 2014 “Puppy Love” Super Bowl ad which, in January 2016, Inc. called “the All-Time Most Popular Super Bowl Ad.” They’re popular, and people continue to talk about them long after they’ve aired. That’s because they invoke empathy — and that can highly influence buying decisions, especially when there’s a story involved.This video tells a story. It follows the tale of a man who was unequivocally generous throughout his life and, in the end, repaid when it mattered most. The best part: Not once throughout the story is the brand mentioned. In fact, it isn’t until the end that TrueMoveH’s general business category — communication — arises.Start with your industry. Then, think of a story you want to tell — any story at all, as long as it invokes empathy. Then, figure out how that story ties back to what your brand does, and use it to create video content.5) Tripp and Tyler & Zoom: “A Conference Call in Real Life”The VideoThen, there’s the flip side of empathy — the kind that takes some of life’s biggest annoyances and applies humor to them. That’s exactly what podcast hosts Tripp and Tyler did in the video below, to illustrate what a conference call would look like if it played out in real life. Why It WorksThere’s something to be said for putting a face to a brand — in this case, it’s Dollar Shave Club’s founder, Michael Dubin. Employees can have up to 10X as many followers on social media as the companies they work for, and content shared by them receives as much as 8X the engagement. In other words, viewers like it when the people behind a brand advocate for it.That’s exactly what this video does — and following its success, Dubin hasn’t disappeared into the shadows, and to this day, continues to personally appear in the vast majority of Dollar Shave Club’s videos.We get it. Founders and executives are busy. Where the heck are they supposed to find the time to appear in all of these marketing videos? To us, the answer is: They make the time. By publicly making that investment in their respective brands’ content, an executive sends the message that she still believes in her brand, and that she hasn’t let its success change her character. It’s a unique form of thought leadership, but if Dollar Shave Club’s growth and popularity is any indication — it works.3) IBM: “A Boy And His Atom: The World’s Smallest Movie”The VideoHere’s another video that you can file under: “Oldie, but goodie.” Sure, this marketing video falls within the B2B sector to advertise IBM’s data storage services — but similar to the very B2C brand Dollar Shave Club, the example below remains its most popular video on YouTube, with over six million views. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

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A Year in Review: How HubSpot Grew by 82% in 2012

first_img Originally published Feb 22, 2013 8:30:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Marketing Advice Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: When we started HubSpot, we set out to transform the way the world does marketing. We believed then, and still believe now, that the marketing playbook is broken and that reinventing the playbook presents a great opportunity. The approach that will win the hearts and minds of customers leverages content and context to create marketing that intersects with a customer’s lifestyle, needs, and interests. By helping companies replace interruptive marketing across outdated channels with a more simple, measurable, and lovable mindset and methodology, we’re helping our customers reap the benefits of the new playbook we affectionately call inbound marketing.We have big ambitions for ourselves and for our customers. We believe that we have a unique opportunity to be a once in a generation company, and that we are fundamentally transforming how marketing is done around the world. As a result, it’s important to reflect on the prior year to see how we’re doing toward making our vision a reality. 2012 was a great year for HubSpot, but it was an even better year for our customers: after twelve months of using HubSpot, 92% of customers increased their traffic, and 93% saw an increase in leads. We’re proud that our customers and partners are benefiting from the power of inbound marketing, and we’re humbled to be a part of their success.Below we have summarized what we believe were some of HubSpot’s key achievements in 2012, along with a SlideShare that delves a little deeper into the details of what we experienced last year. HubSpot 2012 Annual Report from HubSpot All-in-one Marketing SoftwareHubSpot Growth & Key MilestonesIn 2012, the company experienced significant growth in revenue, people, and customers. But the growth that gets us excited to come to work every day is the growth our customers experience. 8,440 customers — 2,749 of whom signed up with HubSpot in 2012 — benefit daily from the intersection of software, services, and support our team provides. 92% of HubSpot customers saw an increase in traffic, 93% saw an increase in leads, and 38% of our customers doubled their lead flow in the first twelve months. The success of our customers and partners is truly remarkable, and we’re honored to be a part of it.Dan Moyle of AmeriFirst Home Mortgage captured inbound marketing as its core when he said: “we are much more purposeful and focused when it comes to our marketing. We now measure traffic and conversions, we test everything, and we know that traditional ‘spray and pay’ shout advertising simply doesn’t work for us.” Sonia Pelia of Thermo Fisher Scientific noted that the ease and simplicity of having all of your marketing and analytics on one platform makes her team’s life significantly easier, while Concentric Marketing in the UK quadrupled their retainer-based income as a Gold HubSpot Partner. We continue to be inspired by our customers and excited by the opportunity to make inbound marketing easier, more powerful, and more effective for thousands of companies worldwide.Another exciting milestone we marked in 2012 was our mezzanine round of financing, which brought $35 million in growth capital from a number of highly respected large institutional investors. These investors join a marquis investor team that includes Google Ventures, Salesforce, General Catalyst, Matrix, Scale, and Sequoia. We believe you’re defined by the company you keep, and we’re honored to have investment partners with all-star track records not just as investors, but also as innovators. With the most recent funding, we honed our focus on operating as a public company and hit the gas on growth. Our plans for the funds included investing aggressively in software development and product improvements, recruiting and training the world’s best inbound marketing and software talent, opening up to global markets, and generally expanding the business.Although HubSpot is a private company, we value transparency. We believe our entire community — customers, employees, partners, investors, and fans — benefit from knowing the problems we are tackling, the challenges we have overcome, and the opportunities we’re pursuing for continued growth. Consistent with our belief in transparency, we release our revenue numbers each year. In 2012, HubSpot’s revenues grew to $52.5 million, an 82% increase over 2011. In addition to making our investors happy, this number is a wonderful indicator of the power of inbound marketing. We believe this is just the beginning, and that 2013 will continue to demonstrate significant growth globally.Speaking of global, 2012 also marked the announcement of our European headquarters in Ireland. By year’s end, we hired and trained more than a dozen Dublin-based employees and sent many of our top sales leaders and consultants to spread the love for inbound marketing in Europe and beyond. HubSpot customers are located in 56 countries, and we have 100 partners and 600 international customers already. We expect the international side to grow as a percentage of our overall business in 2013, and are excited about Dublin providing the gateway to HubSpot scaling globally. 1+1=3 With HubSpot 3At our first annual INBOUND conference in August, we announced the launch of HubSpot 3 to the world, with 2,857 of our closest friends hearing the news in person. HubSpot 3 gives marketers all the tools they need to create a truly personalized experience for customers, including social media, blogging, landing pages, emails, and calls-to-action. We couldn’t wait to launch HubSpot 3, because we were able to give both new and existing clients the power to attract, convert, close, and delight prospects and customers in one easy-to-use tool. The value of HubSpot 3 can be summed up simply as 1 + 1 = 3: the ability to seamlessly integrate all of your marketing tools creates value well above the sum of the parts, if you were to solve for each marketing task individually. In the end, marketers benefit from the ease of use, while the end recipients of their efforts benefit from more personalized, lovable marketing.When we surveyed our customers about how they were using HubSpot 3, one of our customers noted: “HubSpot 3 has allowed us to market BIG on a small budget.” HubSpot 3 has enabled our customers to engage 46,133,635 contacts, send 555,125,987 permission-based emails, and track almost 2.5 billion page views. 49% of HubSpot 3 users reported a higher lead-to-sale conversion rate, and 20% said HubSpot directly shortens their sales cycle. HubSpot 3 combines power, ease, and results, and launching it this year was one of our biggest accomplishments. For the Love of MarketingAt HubSpot, we have always worked to maintain a culture where people have autonomy to solve problems that interest them, flexibility to design the work schedule that optimizes their time most effectively, and transparency to truly understand the business and vision. We all do what we do for the love of marketing: HubSpot employees know they are a part of the transformation that is happening in marketing and are driven to help customers and partners navigate that change.We added 125 HubSpotters in 2012, but most importantly, we did so without sacrificing the intelligence, passion, commitment, and quirkiness that has long defined our team. Sure, we added some serious bench strength in the form of seasoned executives, but we’ve also hired master content creators who helped produce 937 blog posts this year, launched a lunch roulette program to introduce new HubSpotters to company veterans, completed a CTO Swap with Kayak.com, and been recognized once again as one of Boston’s Top Places to Work. Fun HubSpotty Facts1) Many people know that we offer free beer, but we also offer a Free (As In Beer) Books Program. Anyone in the company can request a business book, and we’ll buy it for them. HubSpot employees have requested more than 81 books from the program. The most popular items? Steve Jobs, The Challenger Sale, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts.2) The most popular free snacks in the HubSpot kitchen were bananas, followed closely by Dove chocolate3) The HubSpot Charity Auction raised $14,894 for local non-profit organizations. Auction items included a custom rap (purchased by Mike Volpe) and a trip to launch a weather balloon with a built-in camera into space (purchased by Product Manager Anand Rajaram.)Lately, given our growth trajectory, it’s no surprise that we’ve gotten a lot of questions about our competitors in the space — who we view as our greatest competition, what we think of specific marketing technologies, etc. The short answer to all of those questions is that we simply do not believe anyone in our space is doing what we are doing — delivering a truly comprehensive inbound marketing system that gives companies all the tools they need to create marketing people love. Our product solves each variable in the equation, from social media to email to analytics, while everyone else is busy helping companies solve for one component of their marketing challenges. We think, act, build, and measure differently, and we believe our customers benefit significantly from that thinking.When it comes down to it, inbound marketing isn’t a tactic, a tool, or a trend. It’s a transformative way to think about marketing, better aligning sales and marketing and creating marketing (and results) people love. Looking back at 2012, we are grateful for the HubSpot employees, customers, partners, journalists, analysts, investors, critics, competitors, and friends who made this year a huge success. We showed the world that inbound marketing is the single most powerful way to grow your business and delight your customers, and for that we are proud, grateful, and energized.last_img read more

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Go Beyond Good Enough: How to Delight Your Customers

first_img Topics: Customer Delight The inbound methodology is focused on three principles: attract, engage, delight.At its core, the inbound experience is a customer-focused way of doing business that is centered on helping people and solving their problems in the ways they want them to be solved.  Marketing and Services drive the “attract” stage that draws customers to your business. Marketing and Sales then “engage” the lead and motivate them to convert. Finally, Sales and Service complete the flywheel by delighting the customer with a great purchase and fantastic customer support.Sounds simple, right?Well, not quite. In a truly successful inbound organization, customer “delight” is everyone’s responsibility — not just those people your customers may come into contact with after buying something from you.The concept of delight — providing a remarkable experience to users that focuses on their needs, interests, and wishes that leaves them so satisfied, they can’t help but go out and sing the praises of your brand — isn’t just limited to customers. Great inbound companies focus on delighting potential and existing customers from their very first interactions with the organization — and you should, too.Start solving for the customer today with these 17 templates. Customer Delight DefinitionCustomer delight is exceeding a customer’s expectations to create a positive customer experience with a product or brand. By going above and beyond to create a memorable customer experience with things like discounts, gifts, promotion, or spontaneous outreach to your customers, you can foster an emotional connection and sense of good-will that will make them more likely to be loyal to your brand long-term.Creating an inbound experience whose goal is both pre- and post-sale customer delight can be a competitive advantage for many businesses because happy customers stick around longer than those who have a neutral or negative experience. Simply put, customer delight is to please your customer. Sounds easy, right? But in the context of business, how do you really please someone?In such a competitive modern business world, you can’t afford not to make your customers happy. It’s easier than ever for your customer to switch using products or services if you don’t meet their expectations, and they can publicly share their negative feedback about their experiences on platforms like social media, Yelp, and Google Reviews. Their expectations are tougher than ever, and their recommendations to family and friends are the difference between your business growing or struggling.In fact, the White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that it costs businesses 6-7x more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. But despite that fact, only 7% of consumers say that their service experiences with a company exceed their expectations The writing is on the wall: Successful inbound organizations don’t just focus on attracting qualified visitors, converting them into leads, and closing them into customers. Instead, they aim to provide an all-encompassing remarkable inbound experience for potential and current customers, too.We advocate for doing four things consistently well during the customer’s experience to delight them and keep them coming back:Answering their questionsSolving their problemsHelping them reach their goalsBeing enthusiasticDo you do all four of these things exceptionally well, across every single interaction a person has with your business? These delight moments can range from someone visiting your blog, to someone checking out your website’s pricing page, to chatting with a salesperson, to figuring out how to use your product for the first time, to asking for help using your product, and everything in between.Customer success is all about helping customers see value in your product to help them achieve their goals. So think of customer delight like this: how can you best, most effectively provide value to someone so that they can extract value?Creating a great customer experience means that you’re building trust with people so that they stay loyal to your brand and products for a long time. You build trust with people by consistently making the people you’re here to serve successful. Let’s discuss the four must-haves to delighting and building trust with your customers.How to Delight Your CustomersSolve customers’ problems.Be timely.Be helpful.Help customers succeed.Listen to customer feedback.Be enthusiastic.Be unexpected.Build a community.  1. Solve customers’ (and potential customers’) problems.The first (and perhaps most important) thing your organization needs to do is solve the problems your potential and current customers bring your way. Offering your customers a solution to the problem they face or a way to achieve the goal they’re working towards is, after all, why they’ve come to you in the first place — so don’t leave them hanging. Offer your customers the solutions that most align with their individual wishes, needs, and preferences.The same goes for prospects. Even though they aren’t paying customers just yet, potential customers require that you solve their problems as well. You can use free tools like chatbots and a knowledge base to address this customer segment without making a major financial investment.The reasoning here is multifold and gets back to the golden rule: help people and they’ll help you. If you can prove to your prospects that you’re trustworthy and effective when they’re not yet even paying, they’ll be much more likely to want to do business with your organization down the road. All that goodwill generated pre-sale goes a long way towards easily transforming customers into positive promoters post-sale.2. Be timely.A critical aspect of solving problems is responding to them ASAP when they crop up, so a big component of customer delight is being available and responsive whenever they reach out. Whether the issue is big or small, show your customers that you’re prioritizing them by responding quickly. Even if you can’t solve the issue right away, letting them know that you’re working on it or escalating it will give your customers confidence that you’re their advocate.Adopting a customer relationship management software, or CRM, is a great way to start managing customer interactions. Using a CRM, you can record and log emails, as well as set up reminders to follow up with clients. Tools that are set up for conversational marketing can sync your customer service cases to your CRM. This allows you to keep pace with all customer communications and provide a more delightful customer experience.3. Solve for the present and the future.Solving your prospects’ and customers’ problems is great in the short term, but what will happen next time they encounter a similar problem or are looking to accomplish a related goal? Going beyond just solving peoples’ problem and handing over information helps them deal with similar challenges down the road.Empowering both potential and existing customers with education, making recommendations, and helping them succeed are essential to building an inbound experience at your organization. For example, HubSpot offers an academy program that provides free inbound and product lessons for its customers. The benefits of enabling people to reach their goals and solve their problems instead of just arming them with facts are far-reaching for both your organization and the individual themselves.If your prospects and customers get a constant, positive reminder of your company each time they use your advice and recommendations, your company will become known as a helpful, remarkable organization that customers want to do business with. You can achieve this by writing blog posts, sharing tips on social media, and creating a self-service knowledge base.4. Help customers succeed.Make sure you understand why people are buying your product or service so that you can figure out how to help them succeed. By understanding what people need from a product or service, your team can exceed customer expectations. Creating buyer personas and mapping customer journeys are two effective ways to build this type of focus on customer success. You need to be constantly innovating your products, your processes and the overall customer experience to truly delight people. Innovation can be large-scale, like a new product or a whole new way to get help with your product. It can also be on a smaller scale, like how you train new employees to handle customer questions or the content formats you’re using to help people see value in your product.The other thing you need to be focused on doing well is providing education to people and communicating with people in a way that gets them answers to questions and solutions to problems. You should also be helpful the way your customers want to achieve their goals — whether that’s through multichannel customer service options or a self-service knowledge base.5. Listen to customer feedback.It can be tough to take critical feedback, especially if it’s coming from a customer you’ve built a relationship with. But sometimes the feedback from a customer you’ve known a long time can be the most valuable.So if a customer comes to you with a complaint, or even if they come to you ripping you and your company apart, take a breath, don’t take it personally, and listen closely to what’s behind the complaints. Remember, your customer has likely paid your company a lot of money over the time you’ve worked together, so when things break or go wrong, they want the inconvenience to be understood and acknowledged with empathy — and maybe with a discount or kind note thanking them for their patience.One way to effectively manage difficult feedback is to provide automated software to collect it. Customer feedback software allows you to create and customize surveys that can be linked to the customer’s record in the CRM. This gives your customer service team time to research the customer’s history with your company, and come up with an effective response before reaching back out.   6. Be enthusiastic.Make sure that in every interaction with potential and current customers, your company’s voice is enthusiastic, fun, and welcoming. Precisely what ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘fun’ mean for your organization depends on your particular business and industry, but the take-home message is this: if you want to create an inbound experience that truly delights, don’t be a dictionary — instead, provide a real, warm, personalized, human interaction that respects your user’s time and leaves them happy, satisfied, and educated.7. Be unexpected.If you want your company to stand out from its competitors, then it needs to make a lasting impression on your customers. While your primary goal is to solve the customer’s problem, you can create a memorable experience by giving the customer more than what they initially anticipated. Customers expect to see their needs fulfilled, but are truly delighted when your team goes above-and-beyond in the customer experience.  You can do this by personalizing each customer interaction, and ingraining a customer-centric culture within the company. For example, personalization software can be used in emails and on web pages to make content feel like it was designed for an individual user. By creating one-of-a-kind customer experiences, your business has a better chance of improving overall customer loyalty.8.  Build a community.People enjoy the feeling of belonging to a community or group. Your company can supplement this positive feeling by creating a user community that benefits your customers. This community can be used as a resource for sharing useful information or act as a medium for users to submit customer reviews. By fostering a space for customers to interact with one another, your business is adding value to the customer experience both before and after the purchase. When considering a purchase, customers primarily trust other customers, so they can use this sponsored community forum to help guide their decisions.Take HubSpot’s community for example, where HubSpotters can post and share questions about different HubSpot products. HubSpotters are great at finding unanticipated uses for certain tools, and often share these discoveries on the forum for other users’ benefit. HubSpot’s engineers love this as well because they use this feedback to guide product development for future add-ons.To learn more, read our ideas for demonstrating customer appreciation.center_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Feb 13, 2019 6:02:00 PM, updated February 19 2019last_img read more

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The Best Time to Post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Other Top Social Networks [Infographic]

first_img846Save Social Media Engagement Originally published Feb 5, 2015 12:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlackcenter_img Topics: You know by now that posting on social media is one of the best ways to amplify the awesome content you’re creating. But it isn’t enough to simply post content to social whenever you feel like it.Think about it: Is your audience spreading their time spent on social media equally throughout the day? Of course not. Every social network has higher and lower traffic times throughout an average day and an average week. Posting strategically at higher traffic times will help drive traffic to the content you’re sharing on social.Download our free social media content calendar template here to plan the timing of all your social media posts.So, when are the best times to post to each of your favorite social networks? Check out the infographic below from QuickSprout to learn when to share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.The Best Time to Post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+846Save last_img read more

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How to Send Group Direct Messages on Twitter [Quick Tip]

first_imgHow to Create a New Group Message From ScratchSending a DM to multiple users on Twitter is very similar to sending a DM to a single user. Here’s what you need to do.Step 1: Click the envelope icon, labeled “Messages.”On desktop, this is at the top left of your screen. On mobile, this is at the bottom of your screen.Step 2: Click “New Message.”On mobile, this is the chat bubble icon at the top right of your screen.Step 3: In the address box, enter the name(s) or @username(s) of your followers to whom you want to send a message. When you’re done, click “Next.”Step 4: Type out your message and click “Send message.”Group DMs, like one-on-one DMs, have a 140-character limit. You can add photos to group DMs just as you can with one-on-one DMs.How to Add Members to a Pre-Existing Group MessageStep 1: Click the envelope icon, labeled “Messages.”Step 2: Click on a group message to open it.Step 3: Click the ellipsis in the top right-hand corner and choose “Add people” from the menu that appears.On mobile, you’ll have to click into the tweet to see the ellipsis. You can also view all users in the group and leave the group by way of this menu.Step 4: In the address box, enter the name(s) or @username(s) of your followers to whom you want to send a message. Click “Done” to add them to the group message.They will not be able to see previous messages exchanged before they were added.How to Share a Tweet in a Group MessageWhile public tweets are great places to have conversations, they’re also a great place to find conversation starters, writes Kamdar in his blog post. He urges users to “spark conversations and support your points of view by sharing tweets from your timeline, even if they’re from people who aren’t part of the direct message.”Here’s how to share tweets with a group.Step 1: Find the tweet you want to share, and click the ellipsis below the tweet. (On mobile, you’ll have to click into the tweet to see the ellipsis.)Step 2: Choose “Share via Direct Message” in the menu that appears. Twitter’s direct messaging feature (“DM” for short) has long been a way for users to communicate privately in one-on-one conversations with their followers. But recently, Twitter launched an update to the DM feature that allows for group messaging with multiple users — up to 20 in one message.In this post, we’ll talk about the details of the group message function. Then, we’ll go over how to create a group message from scratch, how to add members to a pre-existing group message, and how to share tweets in a group message. Let’s get to it.The DetailsIn a blog post on Twitter’s official blog, Product Director Jinen Kamdar reiterated the importance of direct messaging: “Private conversations on Twitter are a great complement to the largely public experience on the platform. You might prefer to read (or watch) tweets but converse about them privately.”Now, you can expand the conversation to an entire group of users at once. Here’s what you need to know:The group message function allows Twitter users to communicate privately with up to 20 users within one group.If a DM has fewer than 20 participants, additional users can be added to the conversation at any time and by any group member — not just the user who started the group.While you can only start group conversations with your own followers, not everyone in the group has to follow one another in order to chat.When a user gets invited to a DM, they’ll receive a notification that they’ve been included.Both group and individual DMs now support pictures, links, emoji, and tweets in addition to text. Twitter Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Feb 10, 2015 12:00:00 PM, updated August 26 2017 Topics: Step 3: In the address box, enter the name(s) or @username(s) of your followers to whom you want to send the tweet. Then click “Next.”Step 4: Add a personal message to send along with the tweet if you’d like. Click “Send message” when you’re done.Your accompanying message has a 116-character limit.That’s it! Want to learn more about direct messages on Twitter? Click here.last_img read more

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How Will the Recent LinkedIn Group Changes Impact B2B Marketing?

first_imgIf you’re a B2B marketing professional, chances are you’ve already heard about all the changes that LinkedIn plans to introduce to its Groups feature. Originally published Dec 10, 2015 1:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 LinkedIn Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlackcenter_img Unfortunately, over the years, Groups have built up a poor reputation online. Once hailed as the most valuable social media channel for B2B lead generation, with time, they’ve became over-populated with promotional posts and too much spam. Hopefully, that’s about to change. The biggest announcement to date is that LinkedIn recently made all of their Groups (over 2 million!) private. The goal of this is to encourage more meaningful conversations, based on user feedback.So, what do the new Groups mean for your B2B marketing strategy?Increased PrivacyThe new Groups will increase your privacy level online, so you can have in-depth conversations without worrying that what you write will be available for anyone to read. In fact, the new privacy setting makes it impossible for content to be indexed by search engines. As a result, if you’re talking about sensitive information within your LinkedIn Group, this content will stay private and cannot be found by anyone searching on Google.B2B Marketing Implication: These increased privacy settings offer you new opportunities to engage with your groups in a much more meaningful way. You can now provide exclusive announcements, information, or offers to your groups that may not have made sense to promote openly.Vetted MembersPrior to the update, LinkedIn Group members were divided into two – public ones, which anyone could join, and private ones, where membership requests needed to be approved by an administrator. The open nature of the public Groups led to many of the posts being promotional, which turned off many members from participating, and ultimately led to hundreds of posts with no engagement.With the recent changes, all members will need to be vouched for in order to gain admission. Joining a LinkedIn group now requires either an invitation or approval of your request. So, all of your Group members will need to keep their credentials up-to-date to show that they are valuable contributors. B2B Marketing Implication: Moving forward, you’ll be able to have professional and detailed conversations only with individuals who fit your detailed guidelines. This will result in smaller groups with much higher levels of engagement as members don’t need to worry about sifting through dozens of spam posts.New Groups AppLinkedIn also announced a new app specifically for Groups—similar to Facebook’s messenger app. The app is standalone and offers a slew of features, which show engaging discussions, highlights, and compelling content. The algorithm that LinkedIn uses for its mobile app makes sure that you’ll see the Group content that matters most to you, not just anything that’s being discussed. The app will also make it easier to discover new and interesting groups and people based on your industry experience, previous Group memberships, and more. So now, your marketing department will have an easier time keeping up on the latest LinkedIn news and conversations.B2B Marketing Implication: With Facebook Messenger and the revamp of Twitter Direct Messages, there has been a major push for social networks to help their users create an ongoing communication. This new app will give you the option to have lengthier conversations with your group members that will lead to deeper engagement.Updated FeaturesUsers within Groups can now tag someone in their posts using @mention, although you cannot tag individuals who do not belong to the group. It’s also possible to add images to posts now, and the design is cleaner and less spam-like. For your social media marketing, these updates will make it easier to get your ideas across and connect with specific companies or individuals by mentioning them directly. It stops the run-around and allows you to be direct.B2B Marketing Implication: A relationship doesn’t form after commenting on one post. This new feature allows you to target specific group members to help build your relationship up with multiple communications. Just be sure the members you are @mentioning will have a genuine interest in the topic.Recruiting ToolsThe final update to LinkedIn Groups is the ability to recruit individuals without distracting from the important conversations. LinkedIn made this possible by creating a special tab within Group pages that can be used as a hub for job discussions. So, if your company has joined a manufacturing group and you have an opening for a new warehouse manager, you can post your job ad within a page made for that type of discussion so you can be sure it won’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of the other conversations.B2B Marketing Implication: LinkedIn has become so much more than a job search site, but that is still a major focus of the network. Putting this important information in its own tab greatly increases the likeliness recruiters will find candidates and also prevents that recruitment from getting in the way of the day to day engagement these new LinkedIn Groups are expected to encourage.Whether you liked or used the old LinkedIn Groups, the new and improved release could be a game changer for your B2B company. Now, you can use LinkedIn to have meaningful and private conversations with current and potential clients without worrying that your discussions will make it to the wider web. And the new updates have made conversing easier than ever, saving your marketing department time and frustration.Interested in learning more from Penguin Strategies? Check out their on demand webinar, How to Make Sure No One Converts on Your Blog. Topics:last_img read more

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The Ultimate List of Websites Every Blogger Should Bookmark

first_imgAll bloggers have a number of websites that they visit every single day. Aside from the obvious ones (like email and Twitter), your favorites might be anything from your blog’s publishing calendar, to your online to-do list, to all your favorite social media button generators.Wouldn’t it be great if all of those helpful resources were just a click away?That’s exactly what bookmarks are for. In your web browser, bookmarks are links to specific websites that show up as buttons at the top of your web browser — making it easy to visit your favorite websites.How to bookmark websites will depend on the browser you’re using. But trust me, it’s easy. Here are links to instructions for how to add a bookmark for four popular web browsers:ChromeSafariFirefoxInternet ExplorerNow, let’s get bookmarking. What are some of the best websites that all bloggers should add to their bookmark bar? Check out 30 of the HubSpot blogging team’s favorites below. (And be sure to share your own favorites in the comment section.)Download 6 Free Blog Post Templates Now30 Websites Every Blogger Should BookmarkFor Keeping Organized1) Publishing CalendarFiguring out when you should publish which blog posts is time-consuming enough, right? Bookmark your publishing calendar so it’s only a click away at any given time. You can use it to keep your topics and authors organized, track keyword and call-to-action usage, and make sure all your blog posts are written on time.If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can bookmark your HubSpot Calendar App.If you’re not a HubSpot customer, then you can create a publishing calendar using Google Calendar and bookmark that.(Are you also responsible for running your company’s social media accounts? Then you might want to bookmark social media publishing calendar tools as well.)2) TrelloTrello is a really simple collaboration platform you can use to brainstorm and organize your blog post and project ideas. Bookmark it so you can easily add new blog post ideas as you think of them, manage your own post-writing to-do list, and see what the rest of your team is working on. You can also use it to build an editorial and social media publishing calendar, prioritize different tasks, and organize notes.3) EvernoteWhile you can install Evernote as an app on your computer and any device, you may also want to make the website a bookmark on your web browser. Even more specifically, you can make notes within your Evernote into separate bookmarks: one for your to-do list, one where you store useful snippets of HTML, one where you store inspiring articles or ebooks, and so on.4) Waterfall GraphsWe use waterfall graphs to keep track of daily progress on our traffic and leads goals on the blog. If you’re a HubSpot customer, your marketing software has a built-in waterfall chart template that will generate these graphs for you — so you might want to bookmark that page in HubSpot. If you’re not a HubSpot customer, you can create a waterfall graph yourself in Google Spreadsheets and bookmark that.For Data Analysis5) Percent Change CalculatorI can’t even begin to tell you how useful this little calculator is when looking for and analyzing data. Ever want to know the percentage change of two values without having to remember the formula? Simply enter the two values into this calculator, and it’ll spit out the percentage change.6) Atlas (by Quartz)Atlas is Quartz’s slickly-designed command center for all its charts. There are all kinds of cool, useful data in there — everything from Prada’s share price over time to the highest CEO-to-worker pay ratios in the U.S. You can download, embed, or grab the data. It’s open source so you can create your own versions, too. One of the best ways to build credibility on your blog is to back up your claims with data and evidence, so bookmark resources like Atlas so you can easily search for and grab the data and charts you’re looking for.7) Comprehensive List of Marketing StatisticsWhether you’re a blogger who writes about about marketing, or you just need statistics to back up your strategy in a team presentation, it’s tricky to find the original source of data within the rabbit hole of the internet. We’ve put together a massive list of marketing statistics that are up-to-date and categorized for easy reference.For Blog Ideation8) QuoraQuora’s question-and-answer platform features questions from real people in your audience — and what better way to appeal to your readers than by answering their questions? Quora also offers an upvoting feature that lets you see how many other users are interested in the answer to a question, which can help you prioritize your response blog posts.9) Portent’s Content Idea GeneratorWhen you drop a topic into this neat little tool’s search bar, it proposes eye-catching, humorous title and topic ideas for you to test out. It also provides reasoning for the proposed titles, and you can make it spit out a new title idea if you’re unsatisfied. It might not produce the perfect title for your blog post, but it will get your creative juices flowing if you’re wondering what format or style in which to write.10) HubSpot’s Blog Topic GeneratorOur handy free tool produces a week’s worth of blog post title ideas when you submit three nouns or keywords you’re trying to write about. The tool is particularly helpful because you can generate ideas about specific angles by entering several search terms at once. I submitted “blogging,” “tools,” and “marketing,” and I got back these five interesting title proposals:For Writing11) Style GuideWhen you’re blogging, posting on social media, and creating other types of marketing content regularly, it’s important to have a written style guide to ensure your writing style is consistent across different marketing channels. But it can take a long time to learn all the nuances of your brand’s style guide, so have it bookmarked for easy reference while you’re writing and editing. (And if you don’t have a style guide yet, learn how to create one here.)12) Keyword ToolsKeyword research comes in handy when you’re brainstorming, writing, editing, and creating headlines for your blog posts. That said, keep your favorite keyword tool bookmarked. Here are a few of our favorites:HubSpot’s Keyword Tool (30-day trial)Google AdWords’ Keyword PlannerGoogle TrendsWant to learn more about how to do keyword research for SEO? Check out this blog post.13) WordCounterAlthough there’s no “right answer” for how long a blog post should be, sometimes word count can come in handy. Bookmark WordCounter so you can quickly paste in your content to see how many words you’ve written.14) Dictation.ioLet’s face it — if you’re a full-time blogger, you might get exhausted by writing sometimes. Don’t worry though, it happens to us too. When you need to take a break, try Dictation.io, a dictation tool that translates talk to text. This is a great way to keep the tone of your blog post conversational and to switch things up if you’re getting writer’s block.For Editing15) Pre-Publish ChecklistIt can be pretty hard to remember every little thing you should check on a blog post before hitting “Publish.” That’s why we bookmarked this pre-publish checklist, which is a complete list of everything you should do when editing and proofreading your blog content. It covers everything from ensuring all your sources are properly attributed to double checking all your links work.16) Hemingway AppHave you ever been in the middle of writing a blog post and realized your writing felt a little … convoluted? Bookmark the free Hemingway App for moments like these. All you have to do is paste your content into it, and it’ll assess your writing and identify opportunities to make it simpler. For example, it’ll point out instances of passive voice and hard-to-read sentences.17) Tone AnalyzerIn the same vein as analyzing readability, what about analyzing tone? Sometimes, you might be reading over a blog post and feel like it comes off as a little too negative or a little too excited. Tone Analyzer is a free tool that uses linguistic analysis to detect the tone of a piece — and then offers helpful tips on how to improve and strengthen the tone.18) HTML ElementsIf you edit a lot of blog posts, chances are you’ll be working with HTML on a regular basis. I like to keep this list of HTML elements handy so I can easily make changes to HTML when needed. From there, I can use CTRL + F to jump right to the HTML element I’m looking for.19) HTML ScoreSpeaking of HTML, here’s another great HTML resource to bookmark. It’s a long list of special characters that HTML 4.0 processors should support, like the copyright symbol ©, currency symbols € ¥ ¢, and so on.Image Credit: HTML Score 20) HTML CleanerSource codes can sometimes seem to take on a personality of their own and pull in crazy HTML snippets — especially if you’re copying and pasting from an external file, like Google Docs. If you find yourself having that problem regularly, bookmark a tool like HTML Cleaner so you can quickly remove any superfluous code from your content.21) & 22) Grammarly & CorrecticaBefore you can officially say you’re done editing a blog post, you should run it through an editing tool like Grammarly or Correctica to triple-check there are no grammatical errors. (Bonus: Grammarly even checks for plagiarism.)23) Headline AnalyzerYou’ve written and edited your blog post. At this point, the only thing standing between your cursor and the “Publish” button is an eye-catching headline. Once you have a few ideas in mind, head to your bookmark bar and open up the Headline Analyzer, a free tool that scores your headline quality and rates its ability to drive social shares, traffic, and SEO value. It also shows you how it will appear in search results.24) StockSnap.ioOnce you’ve written your blog post, a great header image captures reader attention on social media. There are numerous stock photo websites featuring free photo downloads that you’re free to distribute, and we like StockSnap.io’s trending feature that shows you popular photo downloads — so you can steer clear of them to make your blog posts more unique than other web content.25) Compressor.ioA photo compressor can help speed up the time it takes to load your web page and make your photos smaller for easy social media sharing. Drop your stock photo of choice into Compressor.io, and it will generate a new, compressed image for you to download and use in your blog post.For Social Media26) ClickToTweetCreating a tweetable link is a lot easier than learning custom code. Bookmark ClickToTweet so you can create basic tweetable links to accompany cool quotes in your blog posts at a moment’s notice. (Learn how it works here.)27) Pinterest’s “Pin It” Button GeneratorEver seen those “Pin it” buttons that let you pin an image to your Pinterest board? We use Pinterest’s “Pin it” button widget builder all the time to create those buttons for images we post on our blog. Bookmark that page so you can create and place these buttons next to images, infographics, and other visual content on your blog. (And scroll to the bottom of this blog post for instructions on how to build your own.)28) Social Media Button Cheat SheetWhile we recommend bookmarking some of your favorite social media button widget builders (like the “Pin it” button builder above), you may want to go ahead and bookmark this cheat sheet as a handy reference. It has links to all the widget builders for share and follow buttons for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. It also includes step-by-step instructions for how to create them and implement them on your website and blog.29) BuzzSumoBuzzSumo shares analytics about how many social media shares a URL has received, so when you’re getting ready to publish blog posts on social media, drop links into BuzzSumo to see which types of content perform the best. You can also glean insights about posts from your competitors or previous posts from your blog to see which are most shareable and clickable. Here’s an analysis of one of our blog posts about Facebook ads:30) Embed Code GeneratorDo you create original pieces of visual content (like infographics) and post them on your blog or website? Then you’ll want to provide embed codes alongside them so it’s easy for your readers to share them on their own blogs. (Plus, it’ll help you generate some inbound links because the embedded image will automatically link back to your website.) Bookmark the embed code generator so you can easily create these HTML snippets. (And read this post for instructions on how to use it.)Here’s an example of what an embed code looks like (taken from this blog post):Share This Image on Your Site read more

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6 Seemingly Harmless Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Proposals

first_img60% of leading advertisers will review their agencies within the next 12 months, according to a study from Advertiser Perceptions. As if to prove the point, Procter & Gamble announced in January they will review all ad agency contracts in 2017.Whether it’s due to the demise of the agency-of-record, growing concerns over transparency issues, or the invasion of management consulting firms on ad agency turf, marketers are actively shopping for agencies like never before.So what does that mean for agencies? You just might start seeing an increase in the number of RFPs landing in your inbox. Good for the upper-end of the sales pipeline, but you’ll increase your chances of converting a prospect to a client if you treat your RFP responses like the strategic sales tools they’re meant to be — and that means avoiding these six hazardous pitfalls.Download Now: Free RFP Templates6 Seemingly Harmless Proposal Mistakes1) You don’t know enough to make informed choices.The Fix: Ask the right questions.Having an RFP from a new prospect show up unsolicited in your inbox can elicit a giddy response. It’s a shiny object that leads you to believe your pipeline problems are over.Hallelujah. You knew something would come along eventually. Instead of thoughtful consideration of the RFP’s requirements and the client fit with your agency, you rally your team and dive right in.This is a risky, time consuming approach to winning new business.Instead, gain control from the start by asking the right questions. Why is the client conducting this review? Why now? Why us? Who will decide the winner? What’s the budget and timing? Has this scope of work even been approved?And don’t just ask the questions — know the right answers in advance to qualify this prospect as a worthwhile opportunity for your agency.2) You take the RFP at face value.The Fix: Interpret the RFP.Clearly, you must read the RFP. In fact, you must read the RFP multiple times and throughout the proposal process to make sure your response stays focused on the client’s needs, and doesn’t go off on unnecessary tangents.The hazard is taking the RFP at face value without interpreting important information that’s hiding in plain sight.For instance, most RFPs provide a list of people who will be involved in the review process at some level. Look at this list critically for things like who the decision-makers are versus who’s in a supporting or supervising role.How involved is senior leadership? Are some disciplines represented more than others? Are there any surprises, such as roles and responsibilities that aren’t typically associated with a marketing function (e.g., a big regional franchise operator in the case of a quick-serve restaurant chain)? All these considerations reveal internal politics and agendas, as well as valuable insights into the client’s decision-making process. 3) You use your response to tell the prospect all about you.The Fix: You grasp the issues that are important to the client and tailor your response to address them.Sounds like such obvious advice, doesn’t it? Yet I’m surprised at how infrequently agencies follow it.Suppress your natural desire to tell the prospect all about you. It’s hard, because many RFPs will give the impression that they want to know everything there is to know about your work process, capabilities, team bios, etc.Instead, start the process by establishing key messages you need to communicate (probably no more than three) to win the business. If you’ve hedged your bets and avoided hazards one and two on this list, you’re in a strong position to make those decisions.Make sure everyone who is contributing to the response knows what those messages are. Be a ruthless editor and discard anything that distracts from presenting your best argument.4) You “save” your best material for the presentation.The Fix: You reinforce your messages through artful repetition.We give clients way too much credit for remembering what we tell them. Here’s a reality check: they may be reading (or, more accurately, skimming) a dozen or more responses, most of them badly written, few of them with any differentiating qualities.If the story is good, telling it once is not enough. Humans love to be told the same good story over and over again. That might be why West Side Story was such a hit despite the fact that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet preceded it by almost 400 years, and Ovid’s Pyramus and Thisbe by almost 2,000.5) You weave yourself into a cocoon of jargon and generalization.The Fix: You tell a good story.Ad agencies deliver value to their clients predominantly through intangible services like strategy, planning and creative development. It’s difficult for agencies to describe those things in tangible ways. In their struggle, many fall prey to jargon and generalizations that end up telling the prospect nothing. This is why so many proposals sound the same.Storytelling is a foolproof cure.It makes the intangible tangible. It gives your prospective client, who may know almost nothing about you, something to relate to. It makes it easier for them to remember you — and to repeat to others what they liked about you.It’s not difficult to incorporate some basic storytelling techniques into your RFP responses. When I do persuasive writing workshops with agencies, I often use the Pixar Pitch as an easy framework to gently but effectively encourage my clients to experiment with storytelling.6) You break the wrong rules.The Fix: Don’t play fast-and-loose with stupid stuff.Sometimes it’s to your advantage to take a risk and break some rules. Usually these are “go big or go home” kinds of risks.What are the wrong rules to break? The ones that will buy you nothing except the client’s annoyance. These include changing the sequence of questions because you feel it would “make your response so much better.” Or putting your response in an unusual format to make a creative statement.Think about how your prospective clients are going to interact with your response. The client probably has a reason for organizing the questions in the way they did — like being able to compare answers apples to apples. You may not agree with their approach, but why put yourself at a disadvantage but messing around with their system?Don’t make responding to RFPs harder or riskier than it needs to be. Topics: RFPs Don’t forget to share this post! Originally published Feb 22, 2017 5:00:00 AM, updated August 26 2017last_img read more

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20 Creative Writing Prompts That’ll Help You Beat Writer’s Block [Infographic]

first_imgI’ve written a lot of blog posts over the past few years. (Read: I’ve stared at a lot of blinking cursors on blank screens over the past few years.) And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about business blogging, it’s that getting started is often the hardest part.When you’re tasked with writing regularly and writing well, it’s natural to feel some pressure. My advice? Rather than letting that stress overcome you, consider what you can do to regain control of your time and output.One technique I’ve found to be incredibly helpful in these situations is the act of freewriting, or writing continuously for a set period of time without worrying about accuracy, punctuation, or usability.Trouble is, sometimes coming up with a topic to freewrite about can also leave you feeling stuck or stumped. That’s why we put together a handy list of creative writing prompts below to help you get started.319Save319Save Originally published May 2, 2017 6:00:00 AM, updated May 03 2017 Topics: Writing Skills Don’t forget to share this post!last_img read more

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7 of the Best Promotional Product Videos Ever

first_img4) Google Chrome: Jess TimeThe best product videos focus not on the product itself, but on the stories of the people who use it.Technology writer and NYU Professor Clay Shirky has a great chapter in his first book about the pervasiveness of communications tools in our lives. In it, he explains that technology doesn’t truly get interesting until it becomes so ingrained in our lives it turns invisible. No product video shows this “invisibility” of really good products better than Google’s “The Web is What You Make It” series.The video below demonstrates how seamlessly Google and all of its products have melded into our lives and become a part of how we interact. It’s a video about an experience, not software, and that is arguably what the company truly creates. One of the wisest things I’ve ever read about product marketing came from the writer of a children’s book.”If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea,” said Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, creator of The Little Prince.The goal in crafting a perfect product video is not far off. If you want your video to resonate, it should be about more than just the product. It should be about the problem, the solution, the experience, and the larger vision of what you’re trying to build.Click here to unlock videos, templates, resources, and tips on how to get your video marketing strategy off the ground.Considering the right video can put a product on the map for the first time or reinvigorate a company that has long been stale, it’s important that marketers have a strong grasp on this. So to inspire your own efforts, we’ve collected a list of impressive product videos for marketing a product or new release.What Is a Product Video?Product Videos DefinedA product video is one that explains and visually exhibits a product’s tangible benefits. A lot of product videos tend to emphasize a product’s unique features, but one chief thing that truly differentiates a good product video is its ability to exhibit how it solves problems.What Makes a Good Product Video?As a rule, remarkable product videos encompass the following:Engaging dialogue and narrationLong enough to fully explain the product and its benefits, but short enough to keep the viewer’s attentionProfessionalism, without being “stuffy”Empathy and relatabilityWant to see how these elements are put into action? Check out the examples below.7 Promotional Product Videos That Make You Want to Buy1) Blendtec: Will it Blend?I’m digging into the archives for this one, but in the world of videos that add life to a product, few have done it better than Blendtec. The company’s CEO, Tom Dickson, became a YouTube icon back in 2006 with the introduction of his Will it Blend? series.Since then, Blendtec has expanded the tremendous success of these videos to other channels, enabling viewers to suggest things to blend on Facebook. The company even has its own Wikipedia page dedicated to the series.The success of this video comes down to two things: a clear, unwavering message and a company with a personality. In seven years, the series has never changed. The point of each video and the underpinning of the product positioning is essentially, “Why yes, it will blend.”For years, we’ve been watching this product blend everything from glow sticks to an iPhone. The videos are minimally expensive, product-focused, and garner millions of views. In a recent interview, Dickson explained the history and success of the video series:”‘Will it Blend?’ was developed accidentally by a new marketing director hired in 2006. I have always been one to try to break my blenders to find their fail points and determine how I can improve them. George, the new marketing director, discovered some of the wacky things I was doing to my blenders … With a $50 budget, George bought a Happy Meal, a rotisserie chicken, Coke cans, golf balls, and a few other items, and they made five videos. Six days later, we had six million views on YouTube. Six years, 120-plus videos, almost 200 million views later, ‘Will it Blend?’ has been named as the number one viral marketing campaign of all time [by Ad Age].”Here’s Tom blending a Facebook request: Justin Bieber. The video earned 2.8 million views (and counting) on YouTube. Originally published Oct 15, 2017 9:52:00 PM, updated July 12 2019 Video Marketing 5) Apple: The Only Thing That’s ChangedLaunch videos like the Dollar Shave Club video above have a bit of an advantage when it comes to resonating with an audience. They represent a brand new company, product, or idea. But what if your company has been around for a long time? What if the announcement you’re making is really more of a set of enhancements to an existing product than a brand new launch?This year, Apple tackled that challenge head-on with the following video. This video takes a collection of seemingly small enhancements and strings them together in a way that underscores just how advanced the total new functionality is. Take a look: Topics:center_img 2) Dollar Shave Club: Our Blades are GreatDollar Shave Club also made waves with their first product video. I’ll warn you now: they’re not shy with the F-bombs or referring to “your handsome-ass grandfather,” so you may want to throw in the headphones before pressing play. Having said that, what’s singular about this product launch video is how well the company knows its audience and the problem it’s trying to solve.Dollar Shave Club was trying to crack into a demographic of young, professional men who habitually purchase big-brand razors at local stores. The problem they attempt to highlight is the absurdly high cost of store-bought razor cartridges. Thus, the company needed an absurdist, well-targeted product launch video to match.CEO Michael Dubin, who studied improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade, wrote the spot himself and hired a comedian friend, Lucia Aniello, to produce the video. According to reports on Quora, the video cost approximately $4,500 — and yet, it got more than 11 million views and coverage on countless media outlets. 3) Purple Feather: The Power of WordsIn tight marketing budgets, professional copywriting services are often the first to be cut. Instead of hiring professional copywriters, companies opt to take on the writing themselves, figuring it’s not all that different from other writing they do. They assume the words they choose won’t make much of a difference one way or the other. Based in Glasgow, Purple Feather is a copywriting agency that set out to prove that assumption wrong.Words matter. In fact, they can change everything. Purple Feather made that point exceptionally clear in this powerful video: 6) Google: Google, EvolvedThis year Google introduced a new logo for the company and a new parent company, Alphabet. It was the perfect moment for retrospection. So the company took to video to show not only how much Google’s products have evolved, but how much progress those products have enabled in the world around them.The brilliance of this video is that it uses others to tell the story. Whereas some companies may have pointed the camera at their own designers and developers (looking at you, Apple), Google put the focus on the users, media, and cultural leaders that have adopted and promoted the products along the way. The resulting video plays more like a historical chapter than a commercial.7) InVision: Design DisruptorsI want to end this list with a bit of an anomaly, because it pushes at the boundaries of what can be considered a product video and, as such, opens up all sorts of opportunities.InVision, a prototyping, collaboration, and workflow platform wants to empower designers — their primary users. Much of their content strategy is bent on this mission. This year, InVision will launch a documentary on the role of design in the modern business.Design Disruptors looks at how 15 top businesses prioritize design in their products and overall user experience. Unlike traditional product videos, Design Disruptors will run in theaters and on Netflix. And unlike traditional product videos, Design Disruptors never actually promotes the product. The goal is bigger than the product.”We’re trying to bring attention to the increased importance of design in a company’s success,” explains David Malpass, InVision’s vice president of marketing. “A lot of our work is based on doing things that’ll create a positive effect on the design community and that will elevate the role of the designer within their organization.”Want more tips on creating visual content? Check out this list of the best websites for finding GIFs. Don’t forget to share this post!last_img read more

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2 Simple Frameworks That Will Make You a Better Storyteller

first_img Originally published Jan 31, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated July 17 2018 As content strategists, we spend a lot of time talking to business people about the importance of storytelling to their business. When the subject comes up, a lot of folks get nervous. They say things like, “Well, I’m no Hemingway!” or some other nervous response.The pressure of storytelling can keep a lot of people from even trying.But here’s the thing: we don’t have to be Hemingway to be good at stories. Storytelling is part of what makes us human. If you have human DNA, you’re built to tell a story. Unfortunately, some of us give up on our storytelling ability too early.But even if you’re not a professional storyteller, there are a couple of storytelling frameworks that can help you bridge the gap. The two frameworks discussed below will help you regain some storytelling confidence, and start telling engaging stories in business and in life.Free Download: Marketing Editorial Calendar TemplateThe Hero’s JourneySee if you can guess what story this is.We have a hero who starts in humble beginnings and answers the call of adventure. She leaves home, gets out of her comfort zone, receives training from a wise old mentor, and then goes on a great journey. On this quest, she faces a bad guy, almost loses everything, but eventually succeeds and returns home having changed for the better.What story are we talking about?Is this Star Wars? Harry Potter? The Hunger Games? The Odyssey? The Matrix?It’s actually all of them.This is a template for storytelling called The Hero’s Journey. It comes from author Joseph Campbell, and it’s everywhere. It’s one of the most relatable storylines because it basically mirrors the journeys of our own lives. Understanding The Hero’s Journey can give you insight into how to frame your own stories, whether it’s the true story about your company or a fictional story that stirs your imagination.The following diagram breaks down this Hero’s Journey template, step by step.We start in an ordinary world. A humble character gets called to adventure and initially refuses, but meets a wise mentor who trains them and convinces them to go on said adventure. They’re then tested. They meet allies, and they make enemies. They approach a final battle and almost lose but, eventually, find it within themselves to succeed. They return home to an appropriate hero’s welcome, transformed by the journey.Let’s walk through this from the lens of the greatest story ever told.Yes, we’re talking about Star Wars. Let’s step through a crude synopsis to see how well it matches Campbell’s pattern:In the first Star Wars film, we begin with the rather ordinary Luke Skywalker. He lives on a farm on a desert planet. One day he meets some robots who need help. They need to find a local hermit named Obi-Wan Kenobi. So Luke takes the robots to Obi-Wan, who basically says, “Luke, you need to go out and help save the universe.” Luke initially says, “No, I have all this stuff going on,” but Kenobi, who becomes Luke’s mentor, convinces Luke that he should go. Kenobi trains him how to use a lightsaber, and Luke goes on an epic space adventure.On the journey, Luke meets the villain, Darth Vader. He battles evil stormtroopers. He makes friends: Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia. And then he has to help defeat the super-weapon, the Death Star. Nearly everything goes wrong, but in the end, Luke succeeds in blowing up the Death Star. The last scene of the movie is of Luke getting a metal put over his neck by the princess, who kisses him on the cheek. Now he is in his new home, a changed man, emboldened by the great power of the Force, which he can use on future adventures.This is the Hero’s Journey, which—modified in various ways—we see repeated in stories throughout history. The simple version of this is that pattern of tension that we learned from Aristotle. We have an ordinary person (what is), and we have adventure that lies ahead (what could be). The transference from one to the other is the journey.In business, the case study is a rather common way marketers use this kind of story to sell a product or service. (Most of them are a little less entertaining stories than Star Wars, unfortunately.) A case study is the story of where a customer was, where they wanted to be—the tension!—and how they overcame that gap.If you listen to podcasts, you’ll hear this story told in most every ad. One of the most common ads is for Harry’s razors, which tells the story of “Jeff and Andy, two ordinary guys who got fed up with paying way too much for razors at the pharmacy and decided to buy their own warehouse to sell affordable razors.”The problem with most brands’ stories is they either don’t fully utilize the four elements of great storytelling, or they don’t walk us through enough of the steps of the Hero’s Journey to capture our attention.That’s why these frameworks are so useful. They’re a really easy way to ensure that we’re more creative when we’re coming up with stories or trying to convey information.It’s sort of like a haiku: If we told you right now to come up with a poem on the spot, you would probably have a tough time. But if we told you to come up with a haiku about Star Wars, you’d likely be able to do it. This framework helps you focus your creativity.Another great story template comes from comedy writing. It starts similarly: A character is in a zone of comfort. But they want something, so they enter into an unfamiliar situation. They adapt, and eventually get what they’re looking for but end up paying a heavy price for it. In the end, they return to their old situation having changed.This is the plot of pretty much every episode of Seinfeld.For example: During the sixth season of the show, George gets a toupee. This new situation is unfamiliar, but he likes it and quickly adapts to it. Once he has what he wants, though, he starts getting cocky. He goes on a date with a woman and behaves like a haughty jerk.It turns out that his date, under her hat, is actually bald, too. When George is rude about this, she gets mad. His friends also get mad at him. “Do you see the irony here?” Elaine screams at him. “You’re rejecting somebody because they’re bald! You’re bald!” She then grabs George’s toupee and throws it out the window. A homeless man picks it up and puts it on.The next day, George feels like himself again. “I tell you, when she threw that toupee out the window, it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he tells Jerry. “I feel like my old self again. Totally inadequate, completely insecure, paranoid, neurotic, it’s a pleasure.”He also announces that he’s going to keep seeing the bald woman. He returns to apologize to the woman, only for her to tell him that she only dates skinny guys.So then George goes back home, having changed. He has his regular bald head now, but he’s learned a lesson. (But because it’s Seinfeld, he goes back to his old habits by the next episode.)Both of these types of journeys are the journeys that we all go through in our lives, our businesses, and our families. As a storyteller, you can rely on these journey templates to shape your plots so you can fully unleash your creativity within.The Ben Franklin MethodWhen Benjamin Franklin was a boy, he yearned for a life at sea. This worried his father, so the two toured Boston, evaluating various eighteenth-century trades that didn’t involve getting shipwrecked. Soon, young Ben found something he liked: books. Eagerly, Ben’s father set his son up as an apprentice at a print shop.Ben went on to become a revered statesman, a prolific inventor, and one of the most influential thinkers in American history. He owed most of that to his early years of voracious reading and meticulous writing—skills he honed while at the print shop.Franklin wasn’t born an academic savant. In fact, in his autobiography, he bemoans his subpar teenage writing skills and terrible math skills. To succeed at “letters,” Franklin devised a system for mastering the writer’s craft without the help of a tutor. To do so, he collected issues of the British culture and politics magazine, The Spectator, which contained some of the best writing of his day, and reverse engineered the prose.He writes:I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try’d to compleat [sic] the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand.Basically, he took notes at a sentence level, sat on them for a while, and tried to recreate the sentences from his own head, without looking at the originals.Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected them. But I found I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in recollecting and using them.Upon comparison, he found that his vocabulary was lacking, and his prose was light on variety. So he tried the same exercise, only instead of taking straightforward notes on the articles he was imitating, he turned them into poems. I took some of the tales and turned them into verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again.As his skill at imitating Spectator-style writing improved, he upped the challenge: I also sometimes jumbled my collections of hints into confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order, before I began to form the full sentences and compleat [sic] the paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement of thoughts.He did this over and over. Unlike the more passive method most writers use to improve their work (reading a lot), this exercise forced Franklin to pay attention to the tiny details that made the difference between decent writing and great writing:By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I discovered many faults and amended them; but I sometimes had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method or the language, and this encouraged me to think I might possibly in time come to be a tolerable English writer.When he says a “tolerable English writer,” he’s being humble. In a trivial amount of time, teenage Franklin became one of the best writers in New England and, shortly after that, a prodigious publisher.But more importantly, being a better writer and a student of good writing helped Franklin become a better student of everything. Good reading and writing ability helps you to be more persuasive, learn other disciplines, and apply critical feedback more effectively to any kind of work. When we’re hiring for Contently, our first impression of a candidate is dramatically impacted by the clarity of their emails.After building his writing muscles through his Spectator exercises, Franklin reported that he was finally able to teach himself mathematics:And now it was that, being on some occasion made asham’d [sic] of my ignorance in figures, which I had twice failed in learning when at school, I took Cocker’s book of Arithmetick [sic], and went through the whole by myself with great ease.6Perhaps Ben’s little secret for learning to write isn’t so dissimilar from what MIT professor Seymour Papert’s research has famously revealed: that children learn more effectively by building with LEGO bricks than they do by listening to lectures about architecture. It’s not just the study of tiny details that accelerates learning; the act of assembling those details yourself makes a difference.This is an excerpt from the Amazon #1 New Release, The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow. Order it today to take advantage of some awesome pre-order bonuses. Don’t forget to share this post! Topics: Storytellinglast_img read more

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This Simple Diagram Will Help You Tell Better Brand Stories

first_imgTell someone to write a poem, and chances are, they’ll freeze up. Tell someone to write a haiku, however, and we bet they’ll bang one out in less than 10 minutes.The reason: constraints unleash our creativity. But how can you translate that to the complex world of content marketing?Click here to download our ultimate toolkit for social and PR branding.The below diagram will help you do just that.The Story Funnel-MatrixThe funnel-matrix has two dimensions. The first maps loosely to the stages of a typical marketing funnel: awareness, consideration, and acquisition.What stories you tell will depend on your current relationship with your audience –where you are as a couple, to use the obligatory marketing-dating analogy.When you first meet someone, your conversations tend to be around things that you have in common — your shared interests and values. This is why so many people make small talk about the weather. It affects everyone, so it’s something we all have in common.You probably won’t dive into your health problems the first time you meet someone. You probably won’t share intimate details about the people in your life.But after you meet, you might start sharing some of those things, especially if the first date goes well. You might start to paint a picture of your dream life: where you want to live, your ideal career, where you want to travel. Though you shouldn’t hit them with a marriage proposal at this point, you’ll start to share more about yourself — what you care about and what you want.By the third or fourth date, you’ll naturally be sharing more personal stories than before. This is the way a relationship progresses. (Notice how storytelling is such a big part of what we do when we’re dating. It’s good for more than just marketing and publishing!)This brings us back to our storytelling funnel-matrix. In the beginning of a relationship, you should tell stories about shared interests and values. As things progress, you can tell stories about the people in your life (like your customers or employees). Finally, as things start getting more serious, you tell stories about your products and services themselves.The second dimension of the funnel-matrix adds an extra bit of planning help to your content creation strategy. This comes straight from the playbook of newsrooms.The idea is to divide the stories you tell into three more categories based on time: timely stories that are pertinent based on news or current events; seasonal stories that are relevant because of the time of year; and evergreen stories that will be valuable no matter when the audience sees or hears them.Take our client American Express, for example. Amex’s OPEN line of credit cards wants small business owners to know that they care about them. Building that trust is a key element of their B2B branding, so they tell stories in various places, most notably on OPEN Forum, a content hub and newsletter that attracts millions of small business owners each month. They’re mostly interested in staying top of mind, not driving conversions or talking about Amex’s products.Instead, they tell stories about how small business owners handle challenges like hiring and growth. These are examples of evergreen stories.Sometimes Amex OPEN Forum spots something relevant that happens in the news and writes stories about how it affects small business owners, like new overtime laws and tax policies. These are timely + top-funnel stories.And one day a year, American Express sponsors a holiday called Small Business Saturday, where it encourages consumers to shop at local businesses instead of big ones. To promote the upcoming holiday, Amex creates videos about small businesses around the country that are making a difference in their communities. These are seasonal stories.Shinola’s stories of its factory workers and their mission to transform Detroit are about both values (saving American jobs) and its company/people. So they are evergreen + top/mid- funnel.GE Reports, which tells stories of how GE invents really cool products (but doesn’t try to get you to buy those products), are mid-funnel and often timely—as the company reports on new innovations—but also evergreen because many of the stories are still interesting after the news is over.The Groupon stories we talked about fit into the category of timely + bottom-funnel. They’re stories about product deals Groupon wants you to buy on one specific day.Zady’s stories about the Indigo Skinny Jeans are evergreen + bottom-funnel. They’ll be around whenever you are ready for them.The smartest brand storytellers are constantly on the lookout for data to tell them what their audiences are interested in during each stage of the funnel and each segment of the Bullseye. They obsess over it. And that’s because they know it’s their secret advantage.This is an excerpt from the Amazon #1 New Release, The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You” by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, available today. Originally published Feb 20, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated February 20 2018 Topics: Storytelling Don’t forget to share this post!last_img read more

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Social Media Content Is Sitting Right in Front of You

first_imgContent for your social media channels is sitting right in front of you. Really! Your website, donor appeals, and newsletters are just waiting to be translated into a Facebook post, tweet, or YouTube video. Repurposing content can take some time, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start thinking of ideas to feed your social channels in your sleep. To help get your creative juices flowing, here are some quick tips and content ideas for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: Try experimenting with videos and picture slideshows. Quick tips: Do share candid images. Don’t share stock photos. Ideas for posts: Quick tips: Don’t be afraid to retweet. Share content that is relevant to your audience. Repurpose a success story from an appeal letter. Do some research on hashtags. Does your issue area or local community have a hashtag? Post images of your team prepping for an event. Ideas for posts: Twitter Quick tips: Invite people to join your email list. Think visual. Studies show that posts with images perform much better than posts without. Post a photo from an past year’s event for #tbt (Throwback Thursday). Which posts have done well in the past? Try to repeat what works well but with a fresh twist. Facebook Share opinion pieces from your staff or experts from your issue area. Even more than on Twitter, hashtags can help you connect with new audiences. Share stats from your annual report. Instagram Don’t be afraid to be fun. Organizations are made up of people, and your Facebook fans know that. Step outside the box every once in a while and let your personality shine. Create an image of your mission statement. (We like Canva for projects like this.) Share a photo of your volunteers in action. Post pics of the thank you notes your organization sends (or receives). Live tweet an event, rally, or staff luncheon. Share a glimpse into the day-to-day life of staff, clients, and volunteers. Remind everyone what a $25 donation will accomplish. Ideas for posts: Follow back. You can’t have a conversation if you aren’t following your followers. Get more ideas (101, in fact!) for social media posts by downloading 101 Social Media Posts and watching our archived webinar The Art of Social Media, with social media expert and author Guy Kawasaki. And if you aren’t following us on our favorite social channels, what are you waiting for? TwitterFacebookInstagramlast_img read more

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A New View of Grant Resources

first_imgA truly sustainable funding model is the holy grail of nonprofits. A great way to achieve that goal is by making sure you have a diversified revenue stream that includes individual donations, fees for service, and grant funding. A healthy organization can stack up these funding sources for a strong foundation that supports their mission. Grant seekers ask us for lots of advice, so we chatted with Cynthia Adams, president and CEO of GrantStation and a longtime friend of Network for Good, about a new way of approaching grant funding, including a recently launched resource called the PathFinder.NFG: Cynthia, what have you found to be the biggest hurdle for nonprofits looking to secure grants?Cynthia Adams: Actually, there are three significant hurdles. First you have to thoroughly identify what you need the funding for, which isn’t as simple as it sounds! Second, you have to identify the right grant makers to approach for the funding. And third, you need the skills to develop and write compelling grant requests.Most organizations are familiar with the tried-and-true grant makers, but what are some overlooked sources of grant funding?CA: I am very fond of looking outside the box when identifying potential funders for a project. For example, I like to look at national and international associations. These groups, especially those associations representing companies that manufacture goods, can often be fabulous sources of support. The Toy Industry Association offers literally thousands of donated toys via the Toy Industry Foundation.What do you recommend to organizations that don’t have someone on staff who can take on researching, applying for, and managing grants? Does this require a full-time person?CA: It depends on the size of the organization and the number of grant proposals you expect to submit. At GrantStation, we’ve just launched a new free resource called the PathFinder. It includes tons of resources in a searchable database to help everyone from novices to the most experienced individual in the areas of grant research, grant writing, and grant management.We talk a lot about storytelling and reporting on impact for individual donors. Where does this fit in with grant funding?CA: Storytelling is an integral part of the grant-writing process. You want to engage the person reviewing your proposal right off the bat, so opening your request with a true-life story is a great way to do that. I often include a case study or “story” in the statement of need as well.What’s the smartest way for fundraisers to combine grant funding with making the most of gifts from individual donors?CA: I had this rule of thumb when I was working as a development director for nonprofits: I would use any significant gift from an individual to leverage any grant proposal I was working on. So, if someone came by and made a $1,000 gift, and I was working on a proposal to upgrade all the office equipment, website, etc., I would ask that donor if I could use their gift to help leverage the grant. It worked for me!Thank you so much, Cynthia, for sharing your insights on new ways to approach grant funding. For more help with expanding your funding base with grants, download our archived webinar with Cynthia Adams, Getting Started with Grants: How to Make Your Requests Shine.last_img read more

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Rev Up Your Data with Dashboards

first_imgCurrent status dashboard: Answers the question, “What’s our current status?” If you’re working on a capital campaign or have a specific target for your fall appeal, your dashboard can show your progress by date and the trajectory of where you need to be so your team doesn’t get complacent. For example, they’ll quickly see that they’ve raised $10,000 and have just three weeks to raise another $10,000. With this knowledge, the conversation at the staff or board meeting might revolve around “What action will we take?”Image Source: Mashable Blog: Is Give2ogether a Google Analytics for Philanthropy.Accountability dashboard: This one might feel scary! Let’s say you want at least 80% of your board members attending board meetings. Your accountability dashboard shows names, dates, and who attended. It gives you some one-on-one discussion points without making everyone feel bad: “Hey, Lynn, how can we support you? What’s keeping you from attending, because your board seat is really important and we want to make sure you’re able to do your duties as a board member.”Now that you know the value of dashboards for presenting important data quickly and sparking people to take action, why not try creating one that’s relevant to your organization’s numbers? For more in-depth guidance, examples, and useful resources, download a recording of the webinar for free.If you don’t have the ability to collect data to make a dashboard worthwhile, we can help! Do your hear crickets when you ask for help with donor engagement tasks, cultivation, or thank you calls? Are eyes glazing over when your board and staff review spreadsheets and donor lists? Fear not, there is hope!In our Nonprofit 911 webinar Change Your Data Story, Lori Jacobwith, president and co-founder of Ignited Fundraising and co-author of the Essential Fundraising Handbook for Small Nonprofits, shared how you can transform otherwise dull data into attractive and easy-to-understand dashboards that inspire everyone to action.What’s a Data Dashboard?The dashboard in your car gives you an at-a-glance update on some really important factors, like if you should slow down or stop for gas. Similarly, a data dashboard shows the important information your organization needs to know to achieve its strategic goals. The data should be arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored as easily as the dashboard in your car.Data dashboards often show financials or various kinds of giving information, presented by day or month, year over year, zip code, and so on. Less common are board dashboards, but you’re likely to see a big jump in board engagement when you share data visually with this group.Why Use Dashboards?Good visual displays cause people to take action. Data dashboards:Bring attention to your priorities and help you reach your goals.Monitor performance and create accountability.Simplify information, such as complex financials.Fact: Humans are visually wired. Half of our brain is involved with visual processing. We remember 80% of what we see, 20% of what we read, and 10% of what we hear. Color increases our willingness to read something. In social media, for example, you know images are everything. The same is true when we present lots of numbers.You have just two goals when presenting any kind of data:Convey your story.Establish credibility.Some stories you might convey with data: Are we tracking adequately toward our goal? Do we need to fill our fundraising event with more people? Can we improve attendance at our board meetings? Dashboards drive these messages home quicker and more effectively than columns of numbers.Tip: Visual data displays should show information over time, not just year to date.3 Types of Nonprofit DashboardsThe varieties are endless, but here are a few dashboards to get you started.Business intelligence dashboard: Presents facts about your organization. The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s website features a live dashboard showing current totals of Facebook fans, endowment size, and active memberships. “Today’s Attendance” brings up a live tally of how many people passed through the main entrance, gift shop, special exhibitions gallery every two hours.Source: http://www.imamuseum.orglast_img read more

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Learning From Failures? Op-ed Calls for Better Use of Negative Findings

first_imgShare this: Posted on February 4, 2013March 21, 2017By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultantClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Last weekend, The New York Times featured an op-ed by journalist Sam Loewenberg on research published last summer in PLOS Medicine, “Community Mobilization in Mumbai Slums to Improve Perinatal Care and Outcomes: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial.” For anyone interested in the challenges related to improving maternal health in cities, the PLOS article is a fascinating read and, in fact, it is part of the MHTF-PLOS collaboration on Maternal Health. Loewenberg highlights this article for a reason that comes up in many discussions of how to develop better maternal health interventions: the pressure to highlight only success, and, in particular, to downplay research findings that show interventions falling short of actually improving maternal and newborn health.As Loewenberg writes:                            The travails of the Newborn Health project aren’t unique. What is noteworthy is that when the project did not work as planned, the team reported it openly and in detail, providing potentially valuable information for other researchers.   It is a provocative point, and one that comes up often in our discussions of how to better address the biggest challenges for improving maternal health. In fact, it was a major topic at GMHC2013, as Lancet editor Richard Horton led the opening plenary session, which had the theme “Science for activism: How evidence can create a movement for maternal health. The session even included discussion of a hypothetical “journal of failures.”What is more, the op-ed provides an interesting follow-up to the initial research article:Last year they rebooted. They set up small centers that offer basic health services like immunization, feeding, family planning and help navigating the city’s convoluted health and social service systems. So far, providing concrete services, rather than just advice on collective organizing, seems to be more in tune with the needs of people in the slums.Clearly, with a new phase of work underway in Mumbai, it remains to be seen whether the work in Mumbai will yield results. In the meantime, it is worth revisiting the original article along with this weekend’s op-ed. Together, they touch on many of the most compelling challenges for the field today. ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more

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The Global Stage Needs a Global Audience

first_img ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on January 23, 2014November 7, 2016By: Lennie Kamwendo, White Ribbon Alliance Global Board MemberClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)As we approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, what does the future hold for international maternal mortality targets? The MHTF is pleased to be hosting a blog series on post-2015 maternal mortality goal setting. Over the next several weeks, we will be featuring responses and reactions to proposed targets from around the world. Please share your thoughts with us!The importance of the global attention that maternal health was given when world leaders recognised that MDG5 was (and still is) the most offtrack goal of all is evident. The $70bn pledged since 2010 to ‘The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health’ is pivotal in the history of maternal, newborn and child health, and pledges which may not have been made without the broad MDG target and tracking of progress. We, as advocates for maternal and newborn health welcomed this fantastic news – finally women’s childbirth rights were being prioritised – but we know the real work comes when pushing for these promises to be delivered.Indeed, a main challenge that civil society faces when pushing for such promises to be delivered is just how much any of these commitments are discussed in our parliaments and our media. Targets are useful, and absolute targets relative to the reality in the country are even more useful. As we move towards the deadline of the MDGs, we have lessons to learn from blanket targets being set in the international arena with little regard for whether they are attainable in the country. When targets are obviously not going to be achieved it can be demoralizing, even when progress is being made. Perhaps this is a contributory reason as to why accountability is so low on the commitments our governments make on the international stage. The targets are unattainable as are the promises made on how to achieve them, creating a cyclical process of underachievement.The general consensus in Malawi is that our politicians, for the most part, are not even aware of the promises made on their behalf. Our President has been a champion for maternal health and has made impressive commitments to Malawi’s women and children, ensuring free care, strengthening of human resources for health and attaining the WHO standard for emergency obstetric care. Yet there are no numerical targets attached to these commitments, no clear plan as to how they will be achieved and weak accountability at the national level on commitments made. As a Global Board member of The White Ribbon Alliance, I am consistently hearing the same story from our members in many other countries where maternal deaths are high. Perhaps 2014 will see a tangible balance between targeted creation of demand for skilled care for childbearing women and the supply of all the necessary aspects of maternity care. We need the full package from adequate, well qualified and competent human resource to an enabling environment for the provision of quality care.Targets are important. Commitments are encouraging. But we need the international community to invest in building civil society’s capacity to call their leaders and governments to account on making these promises a reality. Now is the time to build on the targets already set and drive home that unmet promises are not acceptable. We know change can happen when civil society pushes for accountability. The global stage needs a global audience.Share this:last_img read more

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Moving Beyond the Numbers

first_img ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on January 24, 2014November 7, 2016By: Renuka Motihar, Independent Consultant and member of the Executive Committee of the White Ribbon Alliance IndiaClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)As we approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, what does the future hold for international maternal mortality targets? The MHTF is pleased to be hosting a blog series on post-2015 maternal mortality goal setting. Over the next several weeks, we will be featuring responses and reactions to proposed targets from around the world. Please share your thoughts with us!In India, there has been considerable economic progress, but the country is still grappling with inequities and the basic right to safe childbirth. There are about 30 million pregnancies; 27 million deliveries and about 56,000 women are lost in childbirth each year. This accounts for 19 percent of maternal deaths around the world. Most of these can be prevented. India still has a way to go to reach MDG 5, which would require reducing the maternal mortality ratio (MMR)  to 109 deaths per 100,000 births  by 2015. There has been some progress in the country in the last decade. The MMR has fallen from about 390 to 212 deaths per 100,000 live births in about 10 years, approximately 67 percent decrease. There are some areas in the country, such as states of Assam, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand that still have MMRs greater than 300 deaths per 100,000 live births. Social determinants such as early age of marriage and early and repeated childbearing are also contributing factors. Thirty-six percent of Indian women are malnourished and about 55 percent are anemic. Bodies are ill prepared to handle childbirth with poor nutrition, stunting with negative outcomes for maternal health. The main causes of death in India have been found to be heavy bleeding (hemorrhage) and eclampsia (high blood pressure).The Government of India has policies and programs to improve outcomes for maternal health. Janani Suraksha Yojana, a safe motherhood cash assistance scheme, and now the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakarm (JSSK) have facilitated the shift of births from homes to health facilities. Births in clinics and hospitals have increased over 75 percent in the last 5 years; however the maternal mortality ratios have only declined by approximately 25 percent. But the question arises: Are the health facilities equipped with the desired quality to handle the onset of numbers? Is there adequate inter-partum care and emergency care for complicated deliveries? Is the poorest woman being able to reach services? Is it inclusive and equitable?To address quality of care issues, quality protocols are being developed — for the labor room, antenatal care and postnatal care by the government and there is an effort to standardize. There is an attempt to strengthen supportive supervision, task shifting (reduce dependence on doctors and train a cadre of health workers for providing services), strategic skilling, respectful maternal care and maternal death reviews. However, challenges still remain: India is a vast country, and problems of supplies of essential drugs, medicines, inadequate human resources, inaccessible terrain, socio-cultural factors, and translating policies/programs into action persist. The government of India is grappling with all these issues and is focusing on improving quality of services. There is a realization that only looking at numbers is not enough. Improving quality of services is critical. As Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India and Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission has said in a recent meeting, “We need a shift in the focus on achieving numbers to achieving quality of care”. The global targets for preventing maternal deaths are useful in providing goals to aspire for a country. They have acted as a catalyst to accelerate progress. However, the targets currently only reflect maternal mortality. They do not reflect maternal morbidities or the fact that for every woman dying in childbirth, many more women suffer long-lasting and debilitating illnesses, which are now being neglected. For countries, a relative or percentage target may be more useful; and those countries that are on track should also examine the reaching of targets sub-nationally. However, within countries, focusing only on numbers is not enough. Efforts need to go beyond numbers to reflect on enhancing the quality of services, and, in turn, improving the lives of women and children.If you would like to submit a guest post for to our ongoing series exploring potential goals for maternal health in the post-MDG development agenda, please contact Andrea Goetschius: goetschi@hsph.harvard.eduShare this:last_img read more

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