Check List for Making LinkedIn Article Creation Easier.

Posted on by Tricia Akins

LinkedIn is one of the premier social networks, especially for professionals seeking to grow their exposure, sell products or improve their image. The key to all of these goals is to create exciting, insightful, innovative content that is published regularly. Fortunately, there are a few things one can remember each time they publish a post for faster and easier content creation on their LinkedIn page.

1. Create a Framework for Your Posts

Make sure that you have an outline of exactly how you will write your posts before you get started. This reduces the amount of time formatting and arranging text. Key things to include are the layout, sentence structure, linking, proofreading schedule, grammar and punctuation choices.

 

2. List of Topics or Keywords

Prepare a list of topics that you wish to write about over time. For example, if you are a health insurance actuary you might want to write about the effect of wellness programs, the effect of smoking, the changes in mortality and the geographic health variations. These topics will get fellow actuaries clicking and linking. Preparing them in advance makes posting much easier when the time comes.

3. SEO

Search Engine Optimization techniques help to create content quicker and get more traffic to those posts. Fill your posts with SEO keywords to get the internal LinkedIn search algorithm and the Google web crawler to highlight your page. Having a stable set of SEO keywords also helps to focus your writing so that you produce more often.

Could LinkedIn Be Your Lead Gen Secret Weapon? Find out with my free eBook!

4. Intent

Lastly, what is the long-term goal or intent of your writing? Consider how you want to inform your audience and educate them. Also, think about the ways you can promote yourself by commenting on the areas you are most knowledgeable about. Lastly, write about the areas where you have a competitive advantage and will give you the best platform to market yourself.

LinkedIn continues to be the place to go for professionals seeking to improve their image and brand. It helps them sell themselves and their firm’s products. Publishing content regularly through these quick and easy methods makes those goals even simpler to attain.

Need help? Walker-Stanley Communications provides a wide range of simple and effective online marketing solutions for businesses, including content development and leveraging LinkedIn to grow your business. Contact us. We can help!

Best Practices for LinkedIn Publishing

Posted on by Tricia Akins

LinkedIn is the largest social media network for B2B marketing. The key to success on LinkedIn is to publish engaging content regularly. If you do this in an organized way, it doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. The following checklist will make it easier for you to consistently publish great content on LinkedIn.

  • Keep your posts short and readable.

LinkedIn isn’t Twitter, so you want to write more than a sentence. However, people are less likely to read very long pieces. Some posts are naturally longer than others. However, if your content is mostly between 400 and 1000 words, it’s long enough to have some depth and not too long to challenge readers’ attention spans. Make your posts more readable by breaking your content into shorter paragraphs or using lists.

  • Post consistently.

You want to publish often enough that people recognize you. On the other hand, you don’t want to annoy people by over-posting. There’s no universally agreed-upon formula for the ideal posting schedule. However, a general guideline is to post at least once per week to build your audience but not more than once per day.

  • Target at LinkedIn users.

Remember that LinkedIn is a B2B network. Human interest stories, animal photos, and random jokes are best saved for Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. You’ll get better results on LinkedIn if you focus on subjects of interest to job seekers, business owners, and entrepreneurs.

  • Pick interesting topics.

Beyond creating content that’s appropriate for LinkedIn, consider the specific needs and concerns of your own target audience. What are some of their most pressing problems? What do they most need to know to succeed and reach their goals? These questions can provide you with good topics to write about.

  • Polish your LinkedIn profile.

Publishing on LinkedIn is likely to generate traffic to your LinkedIn profile so make it professional. More than on most other social sites, LinkedIn gives you the chance to showcase your experience, skills, and business information. The more comprehensive and professional your profile is, the more likely people will want to connect with you. Use a professional looking photo and be sure to include as many skills and credentials that you can. It’s important to update your LinkedIn profile regularly to reflect any changes.

 

Could LinkedIn Be Your Lead Gen Secret Weapon? Find out with my free eBook!

 

  • Capture attention with headlines.

With all types of content, the headline is what determines whether or not people read it. Keep your headlines catchy, brief, and relevant. On LinkedIn, it’s especially important to stay on topics that appeal to professionals with limited time. Use keywords in your headlines that your audience is likely to search for.

  • Use calls to action.

Include contact information, a link to your website, or a call-to-action at the end of your posts. People can find out about you from your profile. That’s why, as noted, you need an optimized profile. At the same time, don’t count on every reader clicking on your profile. Always provide a link to make it easy for visitors who enjoyed your post to find you.

  • Use visuals.

There’s plenty of research proving that posts with images, videos, infographics, memes, or other visual content get more attention than text by itself. Higher quality images reflect better on your brand, of course. Consider using original photos, custom illustrations, or images made on platforms such as Canva. You can also outsource visual content to a talented graphic designer or agency.

  • Add links.

Link. External links to influencers and authoritative sites make your LinkedIn content more valuable. There’s also the added benefit of getting influencers to notice you. Do this in a natural way. You might, for example, include a relevant quote from someone you admire and link to his or her site. Lists of helpful books, podcasts, or blogs is another good way to reference influencers in your field.

  • Promote your LinkedIn content elsewhere.

To get more people to read your content, share it as widely as possible. After writing an article for LinkedIn Publisher, for example, link to it from your blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, email list, and anywhere else you’re active. This can help you get more readers and followers on LinkedIn.

Need help? Walker-Stanley Communications provides a wide range of simple and effective online marketing solutions for businesses, including content development and leveraging LinkedIn to grow your business. Contact us. We can help!

Your Website Will Probably be Penalized Starting October 2017. Here’s Why.

Posted on by Tricia Akins

SSL certificates will become mandatory beginning October 2017.

Since 2014, Google has been asking website owners to make their sites more secure. They are committed to protecting the personal information of people who do searches using Chrome. They played nice for several years, but beginning October 1, 2017, visitors to your site (YOUR prospects and customers!) using Google’s Chrome browser are likely to see this image:

Why is My Website Telling Visitors it is Not Secure?

The “not secure” warning means the website owner has not taken the necessary steps to protect their visitors’ personal information. There’s no question about it. If visitors to your website see this, it is hurting your business.

Though Google is taking the lead here, industry experts expect the other major search engines, Yahoo and Bing, to follow suit.

HTTPS what? When you see a website address that reads https://example.com (note extra “s”) instead of http://example.com, you know this site is secured via an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website. It also encrypts information sent from your site to the server that hosts your site. Examples of information collected on your site could include contact info, on-site searches, login credentials, credit card numbers and the like.

The question is what, if anything, can you do to fix this?

The Fix is an SSL Certificate.

You’re in luck, because there’s actually a straightforward solution to this problem. Securing an SSL certificate is the first step towards making your site secure and avoiding those pesky warnings from Google Chrome. An SSL Certificate will make it safe for your customers to give you their personal information and do business on your site. We can help!

GoDaddy likens it to a windshield on your car:

“Think of an SSL certificate as a giant windshield for when you drive on the information super-highway. You wouldn’t head out on your local freeway — especially at night in a rural area — without something between you and all the bugs. You likely couldn’t see, and besides, you’ve already had your protein for breakfast. In much the same way, an SSL certificate protects your site — and its visitors — from many digital bugs, worms and other nasty web creatures.”

Is SSL Just for Big Business?

No. If you’re a small business owner, you might think you don’t need to worry about the security of your website, but that’s a mistake. Even if you don’t have an ecommerce site or a customer login capability, you still need a secure site. For one thing, Google Chrome doesn’t care about the size of your business—whether you have 2 employees or 20,000. If your website isn’t secure, your customers will be warned whenever your site comes up in an internet search. And, unlike corporate giants and Fortune 500 companies, your small business can’t afford losing even a single customer, much less 50 or 100.

How Exactly Will an SSL Certificate Help My Business?

In addition to avoiding those Chrome warnings, obtaining an SSL Certificate for your website will help your business in the following 4 ways:

1. You’ll Get an SEO Boost

In August 2014, Google announced that sites secured with SSL would achieve higher search engine rankings (for the obvious reason that such sites are inherently more valuable to internet searchers). Admittedly, the boost isn’t huge—in most cases, less than the boost you would get by adding top-quality content to your site, but that could change in the future, according to Search Engine Land:

“Google says this gives websites a small ranking benefit, only counting as a “very lightweight signal” within the overall ranking algorithm…but said they ‘may decide to strengthen’ the signal because they want to ‘encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.’”

2. You’ll Be Able to Accept Credit Card Payments

If you want your customers to make payments with their credit cards on your website, you could have a problem if you don’t have SSL. For example, GoDaddy states in its terms of service that your website can’t accept credit card payments unless you have SSL. Equally important, would you really want to take the risk of having your customers’ credit card information compromised? Installing SSL on your site solves this problem.

3. You’ll Secure Your Customers’ Passwords

Hackers are on the lookout for sites that require passwords, but don’t protect them—and they don’t do it manually; they deploy sophisticated bots which can spot an unsecured site as easily as a lion spots a gazelle. If any pages on your website require user passwords, you’ll need SSL to prevent hackers from getting them.

4. You’ll Make Your Website Forms Safe

Let’s say your site doesn’t require passwords and doesn’t ask for credit card information—but it does collect other kinds of user data via online forms for marketing purposes. Perhaps you’re running a content marketing campaign in which you offer valuable content, like a case study or a white paper, in exchange for the user’s name, email address, or phone number.

Without SSL, that information could be compromised by hackers. If your customers find out that their personal information was stolen by a third-party due to your negligence, you’re probably going to lose a lot of business.

Anything Else I Need to Know or Do?

There is. For example, you’ll need to get the right kind of SSL certificate for your business (there are several types, such as Domain SSLs, Organization SSLs and Extended Validation SSLs, each with a different price, and each offering a different degree of security.) You’ll also need to obtain an SSL certificate installation, do a full back-up of your website, update backlinks (sites which link to your site), update and resubmit your sitemap to search engines, and update your Google accounts (analytics and search console).

We Can Help!

Admittedly, all that can get a bit complicated and it’s important to your business that you do it right. The good news is that Walker-Stanley Communications can help. To learn more about how we can help you manage your website or a variety of other lead-generation digital marketing services, contact us today.

Should You Invest in PPC or SEO?

Posted on by Tricia Akins

 

Answer: It Depends

If you think your business doesn’t need to consider online marketing/advertising, think again. According to Adweek, more than 80% of consumers conduct some form of online research prior to making a purchase. (A study from Enquiro puts that number even higher, closer to 94% of business buyers.) More than 60% of those begin their online research using a search engine, like Google, Yahoo, MSN or Bing—and 61% read online product reviews before they buy products.

So…What’s the point? Making your business more visible on the internet is among the most effective strategies to drive traffic to your website, boost sales and grow your business. Once you’ve made the decision to promote your business online, you have more (and more difficult) decisions to make—specifically, you need to decide how you’ll spend what are likely limited marketing dollars.

Should you invest in PPC advertising or SEO?

PPC (Pay Per Click) marketing is an interesting compromise between SEO and typical advertising. It involves paying a search engine to feature your website when users search for certain, selected keywords. It requires SEO keyword research similar to what you do for SEO but involves less crafting and editing of your own content to use those keywords in a structured SEO process that relates your services to the consumer’s search query.

Then, as the name might suggest, you only have to pay the search engine for the number of users who clicked on your paid listing. The benefit of PPC is that you are always at the top of the search engine results for your chosen keywords. On the other hand, users often skip the ‘Ad’ marked options for the more relevant results just beneath them.

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization and means exactly that. When your website is properly optimized, you will appear in the search results of users who are looking for your service or who search for related topics. By embedding the right keywords into your website content, it can tell search engines who you are, what you offer, and the information you have to share.

This, in turn, helps the search engines suggest your services to prospective clients. The key is to know which keywords to use and how to use them for maximum results. Very specific keyword phrases, known as “long tail keywords” take this method a step further by refining the query to the exact product, color, size or description of what the customer is seeking. These consumers have already done some research and are often ready to buy when drawn in by a match to their detailed search query.

Is PPC or SEO a Better Option for Your Small Business?

The answer is, “it depends.” It depends on several factors, including the size of your marketing budget, the PPC cost-per-click for your industry and products, and how competitive organic search results are for your company.

Here are 4 things to consider when deciding whether your business should choose PPC or SEO:

1. Are You Able to Optimize Your Website on Your Own?

If you decide to optimize your website on your own, it doesn’t cost your business anything but your time. It’s important to note, however, that SEO can be complicated and very time consuming, involving everything from analyzing the right keywords to use in your content, correctly utilizing title tags and headings and continuously building authoritative links from other websites. Effectively optimizing your website is best done in partnership with SEO experts—and there is a cost for that. Walker-Stanley Communications can help! Contact us.

2. How Expensive Are Keywords for Your Business?

The cost for PPC campaigns varies widely depending on the competitiveness of your keywords related to your products and services. For example, because insurance and mortgages are expensive, the keywords in those industries are among the costliest in Google Adwords. Other high-cost keywords include “loans,” “attorneys,” “credit” and “lawyers.” Keywords related to less competitive products and local searches, on the other hand, could be cost-effective enough that PPC is the right option for your business.

3. How Competitive Are Your Business’s Organic Search Results?

If you want your business to get traction through SEO, you really need to show up on the first page of search results. That’s more difficult for some businesses than for others. To find out how competitive the search results are for your business, you can enter your keywords into a free, keyword research tool, like Google’s External Keyword Research Tool . You’ll see your estimated competition level, as well as the number of businesses bidding on your keywords and the average cost-per-click. In some cases, you’ll see that you’re up against quite a few industry giants which can make it very difficult to compete in organic searches. If this is the case, and if your keywords are relatively inexpensive, PPC might be the better option for your business.

4. What’s Your Timeline?

When deciding which service to invest in, the best advice we can give you is that SEO is the long game, while PPC is an efficient and affordable targeted advertising. The Hub Shout marketing trends survey found that 30% of total online marketing budgets are spent on SEO and 26% is spent on PPC, showing that while SEO is ahead, PPC is a comparably popular choice. Also, for reported revenue generation, 32% of agencies found SEO to be the most lucrative, while only 12% found PPC to made them more sales.

If you’re ready to improve conversions and know the search keywords from which those conversions will be made, PPC is a fantastic choice. This method is perfect for selling popular products with clear image and price listings or services people need in a hurry. SEO often starts slowly, but can snowball into hundreds of free conversions a day if done correctly.

It’s Not Always an “Either/Or” Choice

Of course, you don’t have to choose between PPC and SEO to market your business online. Depending on your marketing plan, often the best solution is to combine the two: investing in SEO for long term conversions and PPC for directly targeted sales. Many businesses are successful using this approach, leveraging the aspects of each which work best for their companies and their websites.

Marketing Can Be Complicated

Before you invest precious time and marketing dollars in online marketing campaigns, considering partnering with an experienced expert to help you navigate the process.

To learn more about the ways our online marketing, lead generation, website development and content marketing services can help you drive website traffic, boost sales and grow your business, contact us today.

 

Online Reviews Strengthen Online Visibility and Local SEO

Posted on by Tricia Akins

Whether you sell on the web or not, local reviews can boost your online visibility to your target market. Potential customers research, a lot, and they are going to look at previous buyers’ experiences with your company. Online reviews influence the decisions of over 90% of buyers! Whether you are selling a product online or offline, customers rely on the others’ experiences to help them make choices both big and small. So if you have a Mexican restaurant or an auto repair shop, sell tea biscuits or hold ceramics classes it is crucial that you encourage your customers to leave an online review.

Not only do your potential buyers leverage past customer reviews, but so do the search engines like Google and Bing. It turns out that the search engines factor in the number and average rating of online reviews when determining search results for companies.  In other words, your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will improve if you have more review with a higher average rating than your competitors.  The star rating system that Google uses will land your business at the top of the search if you have a 4+ star rating, while poor ratings will put you lower in the search results. Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review sites also go into the mix in SEO and every star counts. Don’t let your business sink to the bottom with too few or poor reviews!

So when you are thinking about your business’ reviews and how to get your SEO in shape, it is a good idea to have a strategy. It’s not easy to develop a plan for your online marketing, but you can start by deciding how many reviews you need to increase your visibility. Then think about what content you want in the reviews. Finally, determine how will you encourage customers to leave a review.

Need a strategy or help managing your online review?  Walker Stanley Communication is ready to assist you in any stage of your plan. Contact us, we can help!

See how your company compares! Get your FREE online review analysis.

 

Creating Focus in Our Distracted World

Posted on by Tricia Akins

Are you always running behind schedule on your projects? Are you distracted by so-called “shiny objects?”  Squirrel!

We work and live in an instant communication, driven-to-distraction era. Many of us set long-term goals for ourselves, both in our personal and professional lives. But we often fail to meet those goals. (Do New Year’s resolutions sound familiar?)

If you often find yourself wondering how you can be more productive and actually meet those goals, look no further. We’ve consulted with the experts and have come up with effective tips to help you focus.

What the Experts are Saying

To answer this question, we looked at a few brilliant books, 99U’s Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, Cal Newport’s Deep Work and Scott Jefffrey’s The Most Productive 90 Minutes of Your LifeThe experts in all of these books stress the idea that there is something standing between you and your goals. Once you get past that ‘something,’ you’ll be able to get more done in less time.

What’s Standing in Your Way?

Many of us fall back on the old saying, “there aren’t enough hours in the day.” But while we may think time is our most valuable resource, it is actually our focus. So what’s standing between you and that illusive focus? The answer is distraction.

Distraction comes in many forms and can impact everyone a little bit differently. After reviewing the books above, I summarized the most common distractions into the following buckets.

  • Mental – When was the last time you procrastinated? Yesterday? Right now? Procrastination happens all the time and is often the cause of distraction. But procrastination is not laziness in most cases. It’s a symptom of other factors that can explain why you chose to do something other than the most important at hand. Some of these reasons include anxiety, fear of failure, fear of success, perfectionism, self-doubt, or feeling overwhelmed.
  • Physical – Eating healthy and getting enough sleep aren’t just good for your physique. They’re also key components for maintaining focus. Your breathing and posture can also affect your productivity.
  • Environmental. Your environment plays a huge role in your productivity. People (interruptions, conversations), phone calls, audible and visual alerts on your phone, PC or wrist device are some of the biggest environmental distractions around. Experts say it takes about two minutes to regain focus every time you hear an alert.
  • HabitualThe last type of distraction is habitual. Multitasking and lack of planning have become so ingrained in some of us that it is impossible to find focus. Studies have shown multitasking can slow you down by as much as 25%! Email and social media have added even more bad productivity habits. Many people check email first thing in the morning when they are freshest and most able to focus and produce high quality work. Experts say about 60% of email can be labeled as noise thus making it a low value activity.

How to Blast through the Distractions

To find your focus, you need to create smart daily habits that support your ability to meet your goals. To quote Cal Newport, “The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed maintain a state of unbroken concentration.”

It’s time to mitigate the mental, physical, environmental, and habitual distractors in your life. The first step is to assess which of these distractors have taken a hold of your productivity. Then, check the tips below to blast through those distractions and finally accomplish those goals.

MentalIf you frequently find yourself procrastinating, look deeper to uncover the root cause of the procrastination. Remember, procrastinating is a symptom of distraction, not the root of it.

  • Understand what’s really getting in the way of your goals. Ask yourself: What did you choose to do instead of your most important goal related task? Why?
  • Also, keep in mind that decision making requires willpower, which is almost always stronger early in the day.
  • Whatever your inner demons are, understand them and confront them head-on.

Physical. If you aren’t feeling well, it can be extremely difficult to focus. To defeat your physical distractors, take a cue from athletes and keep your body in its best shape.

  • We all know that being tired or hungry prevents us from doing our best work.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and have breakfast before you begin that big project.
  • If you sit at a desk all day, take stock of your posture. Are you hunched over? Poor posture is linked to poor, shallow breathing habits.
  • Diets high in protein, low in simple carbs and sugar will help balance your glycemic index and given you a steady energy supply.
  • And finally, hydration is so important. Did you know our brains are 80% water? Studies have shown decreases in cognitive abilities when our bodies are dehydrated by as little as 2%. It doesn’t take much!

EnvironmentalIf you work in an office, you know the environmental distractions better than anyone. Some are more easily tamed than others.  Maybe a co-worker keeps popping into your cubicle or talks really loudly on the phone. Then there are also those sneaky email alerts that pop up on your computer and the social media notifications blowing up your phone. It’s time to turn off the noise when you’re trying to create that deep focus. Some ideas:

  • Silence those alerts on your phone and wrist device. This includes vibrations.
  • Close email and social media to prevent alerts popping up on your computer screen.
  • Put a note on your door asking not to be disturbed.
  • Use headphones and listen to soothing music or white noise.

HabitualYou probably don’t think about your productivity habits very often, but they are the most influential distractors around. If you walk into work at 8:00am and ask “what should I work on today?” you’re already behind for the day. Instead, try:

  • Planning ahead. Know the top 2-3 things you must get done each day before you get to the office. Tackle this high value work first thing!
  • Focus only when you’re fresh.
  • Work in sprints. A great way to pace yourself is to work for 90 minute sprints, then take a 10 minute break.
  • Check email 2-3 day, and not until after you’ve accomplish your top 2-3 priorities of the day.
  • Stop multi-tasking. It’s a myth. Your brain cannot multitask, it simply switches between tasks. To truly focus, you need to give your project your full attention.

If you want to get more done in less time, improve the quality of your work and reduce stress, then spend some time analyzing your top distractions and actively manage them. To quote Cal Newport again, “Engaging in deep work is important not only to personal satisfaction, but to your very survival in a ruthless marketplace.”

A final thought: Focus is a skill. It can be develop and strengthened. It can be a competitive differentiator ─ your secret weapon for producing quality work faster than the next guy. Now, go get ‘em!

4 Easy Steps to Outlining Your Marketing Plan

Posted on by Tricia Akins

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This blog was originally a guest blog post by Tricia Akins on the Boulder SEO Marketing website.

You’ve launched your company and website. Now what? The “Build It and They Will Come” doesn’t work anymore. Clearly, marketing your company to drive prospects to your website is essential for growth. Having a plan is essential. But for many, creating a marketing plan is a daunting task. Read on for some tips to help you get started!

You may think you simply don’t have the time or skills to develop a solid marketing plan. You will never get less busy, but a solid marketing plan can save you precious time in the long run.

Before we talk about the “how”, let me quickly talk about the “why”. The “why” should convince you that carving out time to develop your marketing plan is a good time investment.

Consider these compelling reasons to create a marketing plan:

  1. Drive activities that grow your business: 
    What is the old adage? Those who fail to plan, plan to fail? Yes, Benjamin Franklin figured it out early on. A marketing plan will act as a roadmap that drives activities having the most impact on your business.
  2. Encourage focus: 
    Without a plan in place, you will have a tougher time staying on track. Your plan doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, many smaller businesses do just fine with one page business and marketing plans. Simple works better in many cases.
  3. Save time: 
    Your most precious commodity is your time. A strong plan ensures you are spending your time in the right places.
  4. Save money: 
    Without a marketing plan, you’re bound to waste money as well, because you are creating initiatives that are not thought out in terms of messaging, target audience, tactics or metrics.
  5. Strengthen ROI: 
    Without a plan, your marketing initiatives lack metrics to gauge the effectiveness.

4 Simple Steps for Developing Your Marketing Plan

Now that you understand “why” you need one, let’s talk about “how” to develop your marketing plan.

    1. Assess: 
      To know where you are going, you need to understand where you are. Assess where your company is today in terms of the following:

      • Marketplace
        • Can you estimate the size of your market?
        • Profile competitors and their marketing programs.
        • How do you compare to your competition
        • Identify market trends and potential impact on your business.
        • Perform a SWOT analysis. What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
      • Target Customer: 
        Who are your customers and what is their persona (profile) in terms of:

        • Demographic information
        • Can you describe a day in their life?
        • Where do they go for information?
        • What are their pain points?
        • How do they use the Internet?
        • What do they do for a living?
        • What are some of their habits?
        • Describe their attitudes and values
        • What are their goals?
      • Value Proposition: 
        Your value proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors. As you develop it, ask:

        • How will engaging with you improve your customer’s life?
        • What is the unique value of your products and services?
        • What unique benefits do you offer?
        • Why should someone buy your product/service
      • Goals:
        More than ever, marketing is being held accountable for results that drive business success. You must track and measure your marketing efforts and tie them to business objectives. Ask yourself:

        • How will marketing efforts help your company achieve its business objectives?
        • Are your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-delimited?

      The example below illustrates how to tie your marketing plan to your company’s broader goals. If your company wants to grow revenue by 20%, and recognizes repeat business as a cost-effective way to accomplish this, your marketing goals should focus on growing repeat business, and your marketing tactics should target activities that drive repeat business.

      Company goal Grow revenue by 20% 
      Marketing goal Grow repeat business by 20% over next 12 months 
      Marketing tactics
      1. Direct mail promotion to repeat customers
      2. Sales training program/cross-sell
      3. Client satisfaction research

 

  1. Plan
    • Marketing budget
    • Tactics:
      What are your marketing tactics? Examples of tactics are public relations, a social media, direct mail, content sharing, video, blogging, etc. Select tactics that reach your customers. Limit your efforts to two or three.
    • Measurements: 
      Consider Google Analytics to measure website traffic, referral traffic and conversions. Manual methods can suffice: Ask customers how they found you.
  2. Execute (or Implement):
    • A calendar can be really helpful for keeping you on track.
  3. Analyze:
    • Review measurements and refine, based on what worked and what did not.

Now that you have a better understanding of the key elements of your marketing plan, I strongly encourage you to carve out the time you need to develop one. To help you get started, download a free marketing plan template.

Your marketing plan is critical to the success of your business. It provides a road map that drives essential marketing activities and the metrics to determine their impact on your business. Without it, you’re very likely to waste your precious time and money chasing marketing tactics that simply won’t grow your business. Contact Walker-Stanley Communications for more information on creating a marketing plan for your business.

 

About Tricia Akins

Tricia Akins is founder and managing director of Walker-Stanley Communications. She has over 20 years of corporate marketing and communications experience and puts that to use by helping B2B companies sort through the online marketing maze to create roadmaps that focus marketing efforts on driving growth.

Looking to Accelerate Your Understanding of LinkedIn?

Posted on by Tricia Akins

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Is leveraging LinkedIn to grow your business a 2014 goal?  Looking for a way to accelerate your understanding of LinkedIn?

 

Then join Walker-Stanley Communications founder, Tricia Akins, on January 30, 2014 at the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for Leverage LinkedIn to Drive Small Business Sales.

Date:
30-Jan-2014

Time:
12 – 1:30 p.m.

Location:
Arapahoe University
1515 Arapahoe St., Tower 3, Suite 400
Denver CO 80202
Once inside the building, take the tower 3 elevators to the 4th floor and proceed to suite 400. Check in at the front desk.

Cost:
Gold/Silver Denver Metro Chamber Members – $0
Bronze Denver Metro Chamber Members – $15
Non-Denver Metro Chamber Members – $25
Become a Denver Metro Chamber member

Description:

Did you that more than 70 percent of business purchase decisions begin on search engines? Building a solid online presence through social media sites like LinkedIn can play a major role in driving traffic to your company website. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, yet few realize the potential it has to generate leads and close business. In this seminar learn how to get the most out of LinkedIn; including the key elements of strong LinkedIn company page, how to grow followers and how to integrate LinkedIn into your lead generation techniques.

How you will benefit:

  • Understand why LinkedIn is important to your online visibility
  • Receive tactics to grow personal and company page followers
  • Find out how successful salespeople use LinkedIn
  • Learn how to interpret performance metrics

Suggested Audience:
Business owners, marketing and sales professionals

Registration link

How High Performing Salespeople Use LinkedIn

Posted on by Tricia Akins

If you’re a professional who is simply too busy to shutterstock_139805527figure out how LinkedIn can help generate leads and grow your business, you’re not alone. According to a recent study by Jill Konrath, nearly 60% of respondents don’t really understand how to use LinkedIn, and 41% lack the time to use or learn it.

I get that.

We are inundated with advice about why the latest social media channel is the magic bullet to life’s problems. But, LinkedIn is different. It is the Number One professional networking tool in the world, and research shows that it leads other social sites when it comes to B2B sales conversions. If you are targeting a B2B audience, I strongly encourage you to consider LinkedIn as part of your sales success arsenal(more…)

10 Reasons to Consider a LinkedIn Company Page for Lead Generation

Posted on by Tricia Akins

shutterstock_141960787

By Tricia Akins

LinkedIn is the #1 professional networking site in the world. If you’re looking to connect with industry professionals and generate leads for your business, LinkedIn should be an integral part of your online marketing strategy.

LinkedIn by the Numbers

The demographics for LinkedIn’s 200+ million members are impressive! This makes it a valuable tool for companies that want to target an educated, influential and affluent audience.

  • Average household income is $86K-that’s about 23% higher than the general U.S. population.
  • 93% are more likely to be college graduates.
  • 80% of LinkedIn members drive business decisions.

(more…)