How to Use Influencer Marketing to Amplify Your Message

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Influencer Marketing Can Work for B2B Companies

B2Bs often look at how consumer brands work with influencers to promote, evangelize, and sell products, and assume that if they pay influencers to promote their products or services, they’ll invigorate the connection with their audience.

But that’s not necessarily the case. The nature of the B2B sales cycle makes it difficult for this approach to work. The sales journey usually occurs over a long period (weeks or even months) and involves multiple stages and people. That’s not to say influencer marketing can’t work for B2Bs; you just need to approach it differently and strategically.

Third-party influencers who have a strong reputation can add a lot of value to B2B companies and help you with a variety of marketing activities. For example, they can help you increase brand awareness, boost media impressions, engage with ideal customers, and build your social media following.

Influencers can also help with your business goals such as getting in front of new customers, shortening sales cycles, making larger deals, increasing revenue, and fielding customer questions and complaints.

Partnering with influencers can help you get your brand in front of a new audience.

Partnering with influencers can help B2Bs get in front of new audiences.

But here’s the twist: If you want to make influencer marketing work for you, you need to play the long game. You must entice influencers with a strategy that builds brand ambassadors and long-term content partners. Here’s how to do it.

#1: Identify Relevant Influencers in Your Niche

One of the biggest mistakes B2B companies make with influencer programs is selecting influencers based on their social media popularity. Contrary to what you might think, influence isn’t about popularity; it’s about finding industry voices that appeal to your audience, regardless of the size of their social media followings.

Identify Prospective Influencers

Rather than focusing on the most popular people in your niche, identify people who are influential with your buyers. Ask yourself, who do my customers listen to? Better yet, ask them whom they pay attention to and go to for help.

Make a list of speakers, industry experts, and thought leaders that your audience follows. Find out whom your employees follow and listen to. You might be surprised.

Let’s say you’re in the coworking industry and you want to find influencers in your space. To get started, do a simple Google search for articles about your topic. The search results below are for the phrase “coworking industry blogs.” Click on promising examples that come up under your search term.

Start with a simple Google search to find influencers in your niche.

Start with a simple Google search to find influencers in your niche.

Consider installing the MozBar to help you sort through the search results. It’s a simple browser extension that helps evaluate the SEO authority of blogs. In general, the higher the domain authority (DA), the better. A high DA means the blog ranks well in the search engine and pulls up well in organic search.

The MozBar displays DA for each site in your search results.

The MozBar displays domain authority, or DA, for each site in your search results.

To identify potential influencers, look for blogs or websites with a good DA. Blogs with a DA of 25 or higher command larger audiences (your ideal consumers), and they can provide more SEO benefit if they publish content about you and your brand and link to your site. In the example above, you can see two blogs with DAs of 27 and 48 respectively, both good candidates.

Don’t disregard blogs with lower DA outright, though, especially if the quality of the content is good and you believe they’ll continue to build an audience. Working with them before they become well-known could be a good opportunity.

Another way to find influencers is to do social research on the people that B2B marketers retweet and mention most often on Twitter or other social media channels. To find influencers on Twitter, type a relevant hashtag into the Twitter search bar at the top of the page. It’s easiest to do this type of search on desktop.

Search for a relevant industry hashtag on Twitter to find potential influencers.

Search for a relevant industry hashtag on Twitter to find potential influencers.

In the search results, click the People tab, which is where you’ll find influencers. Simply sift through the results and find candidates you think might be suited to your needs.

If you have trouble finding the right influencers using Google or Twitter, there are numerous other tools you can use such as BuzzSumo, NinjaOutreach, or Awario.

Open the People tab to look for potential influencers in your Twitter search results.

Open the People tab to look for potential influencers in your Twitter search results.

Assess Prospective Influencers on Your List

When assessing potential influencers you’ve identified, consider these three factors:

  • Relevance: Is the influencer’s content congruent with your brand and your products? Do they know and understand your industry? Their content will clue you in.
  • Resonance: Does the influencer elicit a response from their audience? Do they get social shares, likes, comments, questions, and discussion? Does the influencer weigh in on the discussion and answer questions?
  • Reach: Look at the aggregate audience size the influencer commands. This includes their blog, video channel, Twitter account, Facebook page, Instagram account, and so on.

Reach is the least important of the three measures above. The influencer’s relevance and resonance are more important. In the B2B world, an influencer with a smaller but more focused audience is more valuable.

Here are some more qualitative ways to evaluate influencers:

  • Do they publish consistently? Look for a frequency of at least once per month.
  • Do they write quality blog posts and know their subject matter? If they post video, is it high quality?
  • Do they seem to know their audience well and produce content that addresses their needs?
  • Is the influencer’s content focused, or all over the place? It’s okay if they post about multiple topics, but look for at least 70% of their content to be focused on a specific topic.
  • Are they connected to others in the business including other bloggers and consultants? If so, which people? Check their LinkedIn profile and Facebook page if they have one.
  • What kind of “voice” does the influencer adopt in their writing or videos? Is their attitude abrasive, cynical, or sarcastic in tone? Do they like to “stir the pot” by being controversial?
  • Do they use profanity? Profanity can be a turn-off to many consumers (and companies), so know this before contacting an influencer.
Evaluate influencers based on a number of factors.

Evaluate influencers based on a number of factors.

Remember, don’t let an influencer’s popularity affect your decision. Choose influencers who are knowledgeable and can sway your prospects and engage with them in a meaningful way. Keep in mind that they’ll be communicating on your brand’s behalf, so make sure what they stand for is in line with your company’s market positioning.

#2: Get on Prospective Influencers’ Radars

If you want to reap the benefits of influencer marketing, you need to play the long game. Focus on earning influencers’ trust and building meaningful connections with them. Think of the process as building strategic content partners.

Developing an effective strategy requires more than just sending a casual email. Industry experts (influencers) are busy people, so they don’t have time to respond to every request they receive. If you want to engage with them, you need to build bridges. Get on their radar and get them to notice you.

Share their content, write thoughtful comments on their blog posts, start a conversation with them on social media, and so on. But don’t talk about your business or your products. Your goal is to build a relationship, not to make a sale. Make insightful observations and ask questions to let them know you’re interested in them and their content.

Don’t ask them to do something for you the minute you have their attention, however. Instead, find out if you can do something for them. That way, they’ll see that they’re not just a number to you and that you’re focused on achieving something more meaningful than a simple retweet or blog post.

Find out if you can help someone, before you ask for help yourself.

Find out if you can help someone, before you ask for help yourself.

When you reach out to ask them to participate in a campaign, customize your approach and use their first name in your email. To turn them into long-term partners and brand advocates, treat them well and focus on their unique personalities. If you’ve successfully built a meaningful relationship, influencers might even offer to help without you having to ask for it.

#3: Carefully Vet Prospective B2B Influencers for Fit and Niche Fluency

B2B companies have to think differently about how they inform influencers about their company and products. You may not be able to simply send your product to them to review because the product is too expensive or it’s not logistically possible. Also, many B2B products are complicated and require some education about how they’re used by their intended market.

For these reasons, you’ll need to meet with influencers. Fortunately, there’s a number of ways for B2Bs to meet with influencers, including:

  • If your company is participating in an industry event, check the attendee list for the event to see if any influencers you’d like to meet are going. If so, reach out to them and arrange a time to meet. Breakfast meetings are usually easiest to set up, or you can arrange to meet on the conference show floor at an appointed time and place.
Take the time to meet with your prospective influencers.

Take the time to meet with your prospective influencers.

  • Invite influencers to attend a virtual briefing. Put together a compelling briefing deck about your company and product. Keep your presentation time limited and allow more time for the Q&A. The idea isn’t only to educate, but also to start a conversation and solicit their feedback and ideas.
  • Invite a group of 8-10 influencers to attend an exclusive event at your company. (Any fewer than eight might feel “thin” and any more could be cumbersome to manage.) Put together a robust, interesting agenda with multiple speakers, but don’t overdo the PowerPoint presentations! Allow ample time for Q&A and conversation.

Meeting with influencers is key, but it’s also important to stay in touch. Contact them on a regular basis and encourage them to reach out to you with ideas and observations. Consider briefing them every quarter and include them in any media briefings by your PR team. Influencers will likely appreciate access to that information.

Remember, influencers have a direct connection with your customers, so treat them well.

#4: Promote Influencer Content on Multiple Channels

To build a truly effective social media influencer marketing strategy, you need to provide value to influencers and their audiences.

It’s not enough to simply ask an influencer to share some of your social media posts or publish content about your products. You need to go deeper and create content that meets the needs of your influencer’s audience.

Publish an interview with an influencer on your blog.

Publish an interview with an influencer on your blog.

For example, to attract the attention of your target audience and build credibility, conduct an interview with an influencer and publish it on your blog. Even better, the influencer will likely want to highlight that post and share it aggressively.

Make the most of the power influencers hold over your audience. On your social media channels, share photos, social media posts, articles, and videos that influencers generate about your brand and products.

Share brand-related content generated by influencers on your social media channels

Share brand-related content generated by influencers on your social media channels.

Be creative to get more out of the content generated by influencers. Create short, bite-sized videos with tips from influencers and share them with your audience. Tease your audience about the influencers you’re working with by sharing previews from their interviews.

You can also post quotes from influencers on your product pages or your social media channels. In the video below, HP highlighted quotes from popular tech bloggers to promote one of their laptops.

Conclusion

Influencer marketing isn’t a one-and-done deal. If you want to reap real benefits, you’ll need to engage with experts and thought leaders constantly.

Publishing a post on LinkedIn every once in a while and scheduling a few social media posts each week won’t bring the results you’re expecting. You need to engage with people more frequently if you want to grow your B2B brand’s visibility and increase the chances of building lasting relationships with influencers in your niche.

Set aside an hour or two every week to comment on posts, share content, and participate in social media discussions. By increasing your social media exposure, you can build trust not only with potential influencers, but with your audience as well.

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6 Ways Manufacturing Marketers Can Improve Their Content Marketing [New Research]

2018_manufacturing_research

With each passing year, there are more examples of manufacturers doing impressive things with content marketing. Though manufacturers have been slower than those in other industries to adopt the practice of content marketing, CMI’s annual survey a year ago indicated a breakthrough: 59% said their organization’s overall approach to content marketing was more successful compared with one year before, and most (82%) attributed that success mainly to doing a better job with content creation.

Even so, many manufacturing companies are in the young/first steps phases of content marketing maturity, as reported in today’s release of Manufacturing Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions.

2018_Manufacturing_Research_MATURITY2

What can manufacturers in the young/first steps phase do to take their content marketing to the next level? To get deeper insight, we looked at how their responses compared with those in the sophisticated/mature phase.

2018_Manufacturing_Research_MATURITY1

As a marketer, you may think there isn’t much you can do to change your program’s content marketing maturity – that it simply takes time. However, content marketing maturity doesn’t necessarily depend on how long a company has had a content marketing approach.

#Contentmarketing maturity doesn’t necessarily depend on how long the program has existed, says @LisaBeets. Click To TweetFor example, a company getting started with content marketing might invest in a team that can get the organization to the mature phase in a short period. Conversely, a company that launched a content marketing effort many years ago still can be in the young phase of maturity. This could be due to many possible reasons (e.g., staff turnover, budget cuts, a change in leadership).

Whatever the case, before making efforts to achieve more from your content marketing, consider your organization’s commitment to the approach. As you can see in the comparison chart, those in the sophisticated/mature phase are 5.6 times more likely than those in the young/first steps phase to say their organization is extremely/very committed to content marketing (13% vs. 73%).

While it’s true that commitment can strengthen based on results over time, how can you move forward if your organization isn’t strongly committed in the first place?

Thus, assuming your organization has made a meaningful commitment to content marketing, we offer six ways to grow in your content marketing maturity.

1. Develop a written strategy

Observation: Compared with 33% of the sophisticated/matures, only 10% of those in the young/first steps phase have a documented content marketing strategy (32% have a verbal strategy and 47% plan to have a strategy within 12 months; 11% have no plans to develop a strategy within 12 months). 

10% #manufacturing marketers in young/first steps have a documented #contentmarketing strategy. @cmicontent Click To TweetAction item: CMI research has consistently shown that a documented content marketing strategy is one of the most important keys to content marketing success. Even if you’re just starting, formulate a content marketing strategy and write it down. (You can use this one-page plan.) It can (and will) change over time. The important thing is to document a starting point.

2. Deliver content consistently

Observation: Three-fourths of sophisticated/mature manufacturing marketers always or frequently deliver content consistently (i.e., on a defined, regularly scheduled basis) vs. 29% of those in the young/first steps phase.

Action item: Develop an editorial calendar as soon as feasible, and make it a priority. Decide which types of content you’ll deliver when. If it’s a monthly e-newsletter, get it scheduled. If it’s a blog post every other Wednesday, write the due date and commit to it. If it’s one webinar per quarter, put it on the calendar.

Develop an editorial calendar as soon as feasible, and make it a priority, says @LisaBeets. Click To Tweet

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Editorial Calendar Tools & Templates

“If you’re just getting started, focus on one type of content, on one platform, and deliver that consistently over a long time,” says Michele Linn, CMI’s editorial strategy advisor. “Be realistic with what consistent should mean for your team. Publishing every day – or even a few times a week – is time-consuming. If you are uncertain, start slower and build from there.”

Focus on one type of #content & deliver that consistently over a long time, says @MicheleLinn. Click To Tweetcontent-marketing-results-timeframe

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: You Are Publishing Too Much (and Failing)

3. Set and communicate realistic expectations

Observation: Manufacturing marketers in the sophisticated/mature phase are far more likely than those in the young/first steps phase to agree their organization is realistic about what content marketing can achieve (67% vs. 29%).

 Action item: If your team is excited about content marketing, harness that enthusiasm but keep expectations in check. This is just one reason why your documented content marketing strategy is important; it should spell out your vision and each initiative along with realistic, achievable goals.

“It typically takes about 12 to 18 months to see results if you are distributing your content organically. If you want to speed up that process, put money behind content that is working,” Michele says. “For instance, if you have a blog post that is converting at a high rate, use a tool like BuzzSumo to figure out which social platform(s) it is best shared on and put some money on that post on that platform. Understand that the results of your program may be different in the early/young stages vs. when your efforts are more mature.”

It takes about 12 to 18 months to see results if you are distributing your #content organically. @MicheleLinn Click To TweetFor guidance on what you may want to measure when you’re getting started vs. when your efforts are more mature, see From Newbies to Seasoned Marketers: How to Measure Your Content Marketing.

4. Value creativity and craft in content output

Observation: One of the startling findings is that only 43% of manufacturing marketers in the young/first steps phase agree that their organization values creativity and craft in content creation and production (vs. 80% in the sophisticated/mature phase). Worse yet, 32% of those in the young/first steps strongly disagree that their organization values creativity.

Action item: If your organization doesn’t value creativity and craft in areas like writing, design, video production, etc., ask yourself why. Are you developing and distributing as much content as possible in the shortest period? Or is it because you can’t find or afford quality creative talent? Or perhaps your leadership doesn’t think it’s that important?

Whatever the reason, you need to stress internally the importance of quality output, which may mean adjusting your publication schedule. If your organization continues to produce subpar content, it’s wasting money – and probably hurting its reputation.

If you’re not producing quality #content, you may need to adjust your publication schedule, says @LisaBeets. Click To Tweet

5. Get your content production process in order

Observation: Only 20% of manufacturing marketers surveyed rate the flow of content creation projects in their organization as excellent or very good. Indeed, CMI research shows this is a challenging area for content marketers across all industries. The processes to take a content project from concept through completion are often convoluted. The good news is that as an organization grows in content marketing maturity, project flow may improve as well (37% of manufacturing marketers in the sophisticated/mature phase rate flow as excellent or very good – not a great percentage, but better nonetheless).

20% of #manufacturing marketers rate the flow of content projects in org as excellent/very good. @cmicontent Click To TweetAction item: To improve your content marketing (i.e., grow in your maturity) you need to develop effective processes to scale and create content efficiently. If you don’t prioritize the process, you’ll continually struggle to make strides, so this is key.

Content marketing practitioners and advisors who participated in the B2B Research Roundtable: Workflow Challenges, Bottlenecks, and Solutions at Content Marketing World 2017 offered insights for getting a handle on process issues. Suggestions include defining a common purpose, empowering teams to follow a streamlined process, and setting priorities to wrangle content chaos.

6. Be cognizant of the buyer’s journey

Observation: Twenty-one percent of manufacturing marketers in the young/first steps phase always or frequently create content for specific points of the buyer’s journey compared with 48% of those in the sophisticated/mature phase and 41% of all manufacturing respondents. Surprisingly – especially considering the nature of the manufacturing sales cycle – 38% of respondents say they rarely or never create content for points of the buyer’s journey.

Action item: Stop creating content that tries to be all things to everyone. As part of your content marketing strategy, identify the type of buyer who is your organization’s top priority. “Once you know who you’re focusing on, make sure you know what information that buyer needs at each stage of the journey,” says Kim Moutsos, CMI’s vice president of editorial. “Then create separate content pieces that address the information needs for each phase. Even if buyers don’t travel through their journey in a linear way, you’ll have answered their questions no matter where they are in their process.”

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What You Need to Know About Optimizing Content for Voice Search

What You Need to Know About Optimizing Content for Voice Search

Kevin Cotch

Thanks to the emergence of technologies such as mobile personal assistants, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Cortana, and others, there’s no doubt that voice search is on the rise. These days, consumers can send text messages while driving or use a mobile personal assistant to complete simple actions. In fact, Gartner predicts that about 30% of searches will be conducted without a screen by 2020. In addition, another study from ComScore, states that voice searches will account for nearly 50% of searches, too.

That means we marketers need to start thinking how we can get our content in front of our audience via voice search channels. While optimizing content for voice search can seem daunting, there are a few easy tips that can help you start gaining more visibility for those types of queries.

Focus on Featured Snippets

We continue to see featured snippets more and more in search engine results pages (SERPs). These SERP features show qualified results right on the SERP, which can lead to quicker answers to questions. In addition to speeding up the way people are receiving answers on Google, we know that featured snippets drive more organic website traffic, too. Featured snippets can help you leapfrog competition on a SERP to gain more visibility as opposed to only relying on a main keyword ranking. Here’s an example of one of TopRank Marketing’s own featured snippets.

Featured Snippet Example

Back in July, Britney Muller of Moz gave a presentation at MnSearch about the future of SEO. One area that she focused on was how to rank for featured snippets. The reason Muller focused on this area for the future of SEO was because voice search is fueled by them. With that in mind, she outlined what she thought was the top five ranking factors for featured snippets:

  • Links
  • Quality content
  • On-page optimization
  • Engagement metrics
  • Speed

Each ranking factor is not new to the SEO industry, but they make sense to focus on. Links are still an important ranking factor, as well as content quality and on-page optimization. Engagement metrics and site speed have also been important, but the focus is increasing for these areas. Both areas relate to the experience on mobile devices, since that is where the majority of voice searches are coming from.

To find featured snippets to target, use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to reverse engineer the content. Most of the time, the featured snippets are around 40 to 50 words, so it is important to keep your content clear for the intent. To trigger a featured snippet, use conversational language and/or questions. A quick way to leverage question based featured results is to create a FAQ page with common questions about your business or industry.

Use Conversational Keywords

Speaking of conversational keyword queries, they help reveal the intent more clearly than the “money” (or more traditional) keywords. This often leads to longer queries for voice searches. For example, a traditional “money” keyword may be something like “content marketing software.” But a more conversational, voice search keyword query may be something like “what is the best content marketing software.”

Google has been encouraging this type of behavior for years, especially with the Hummingbird update back in 2013. People communicate with conversations, not just keywords. Associating the right keywords with concepts helps the overall content quality as opposed to targeting only one or a couple keywords per page. So, it’s important to identify the keywords that people search for, but focus on creating the content that is more conversational.

When it comes to local search, include keywords or landmarks that people in the neighborhood would use. That way, search engines can correlate the content with a geographical area, which can help increase the local visibility for that piece of content. After all, many voice searches are from people looking for directions to local businesses.

Another area to get more conversation queries is from your chat feature on your website (if you have one). People will use a conversational dialog when using a chat function, which could lead you to create content that your audience is directly looking for.

Add Structured Data Markup

Schema markup helps search engines understand what the content is on websites. By helping search engines understand the context of the content, they can provide more informative results for users. Adding schema markup for local businesses can help a business show up in local results for general business information. This information can be highly beneficial for voice searches for directions and phone numbers. Schema.org is a great place to start if you want to learn more.

Schema.org Homepage

If you have a brick and mortar location, you should add schema markup for each place and create a Google My Business listing (and other local citations) to help your audience find you. Voice searches greatly impact local SEO for review websites like Yelp and other third-party websites. Optimize your local citations to make sure they are all correct and consistent. Here’s an example from Target. As you can see, the listing includes information on its headquarters and number of locations, as well as links to social profiles.

Google My Business Listing for Target

Beyond Voice Search

While the rise of voice search deserves your attention and action, it’s still just one piece of your content marketing strategy. As always, it’s important to focus on creating content that helps solves your audience’s problems.

From our perspective, by creating quality, conversational and structured content, you’ll not only be optimizing your content for voice search, but for the future, too. Why? Because voice search is not the end of the search revolution.

Beyond voice search, we will soon be coming across predictive response, which is related to getting your products or services in front of a targeted audience without them evening looking for it. With that in mind, it will be important to create content that is conversational and impactful.

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5 Undeniable PR Tactics to Get Press for Your Business

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Virtually every single business can use a boost to its public profile. Generating Press is always a huge win.

  • Press means brand awareness and credibility.
  • Awareness means website traffic and social follows.
  • Press means great backlink opportunities.
  • To be blunt, press drives sales.

So how do we get press? Is there a faucet that we can just turn on?

@PowerfulOutreach.com this is what we do! We help clients like Expedia, Hubspot, Agora Pulse, and Kijiji generate serious press mentions.

Our methodology has been so successful that we’ve generated coverage in the Wall Street Journal, HuffPost, The Next Web, Entrepreneur, Forbes, USA Today, and hundreds of niche publications…

Let me just tell you real quick… there is no magic bullet. Generating Press for your business is hard work; it’s about 5 key things…

  1. Telling Better Stories
  2. Engaging With Reporters
  3. Doing Cold Outreach to Journalists
  4. Providing Value to the Community
  5. And Building Relationships

What we’re hoping to do with this article is give you a small and simple playbook to work against. You should come away with some reasonably actionable ideas.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and we share a lot more in our recent e-book on PR Best Practices – but this is a good start for the PR newbie.

Now. Briefly. As a bonus to Jeff Bullas readers, we are offering half-off our PR-STARTER PACK. Down to $99.50 from $199. This is a steal of a deal…

Check it out! 

1. You’re Not That Interesting – Tell a Better Story

Customers and clients need a way to connect to your business, and the best way to accomplish that is to tell great stories.

Unless you are the first business on Mars – no one cares that you opened a new office downtown.

You need to focus on sharing something that matters to readers. You need to share a story that people can relate to or learn a lesson from.

  • Where does your business come from?
  • Why are you passionate?
  • What separates you from the rest of the competition?
  • What do your best customers say about you?
  • Why do they love you? How
  • How have you changed the world for the better?

By telling great stories, you become a magnet for others to tell great stories about you. If you’re not that interesting; if your business and its story is not presented in a way that makes for an obvious grab from a journalist, they are going to move on, quickly.

2. Be Ready to Respond to Reporters

Reporters are always on the hunt for sources to bolster their articles.

Journalists want to give their articles credibility and your expert opinion, company data, and industry research is exactly what they need and want.

In fact, journalists are actively seeking sources all of the time – all you need to do is connect with them directly.

So how can you be the next source for an upcoming article?

It’s easy – there are actually tools that are made to connect journalist requests with expert sources.

A few examples of these include:

These resources are a great starting point for learning how to pitch reporters and work within journalistic deadlines. The best part of responding to a press opportunity is that you are pitching a journalist who is already seeking an expert like you.

Not everything you submit will get picked up. In fact, there are a ton of other people responding to the same request, so don’t assume that your half-hearted attempt is a guaranteed media mention – even if it seems like a perfect fit.

You need to be compelling, provide real insight, and pay careful attention to what a journalist is seeking.

However, when you do get quoted, your potential customers will take notice.

3. Pitch Directly to Journalists

Once you’ve mastered press opportunities, another way to gain exposure is to generate a great pitch and contact a journalist who may have potential interest in it.

Be tactful—journalists don’t have time to deal with an incomplete or irrelevant story.

Remember – tell a better story. The existence of your company is not necessarily newsworthy.

In addition to a great pitch, you also need to target the right journalists.

Most reporters have a particular beat, such as technology or business. Pitching to the wrong journalist is a fast way for an email to be ignored or end up in the trash.

The first step to pitching the right journalists is creating a targeted and thoughtful media list.

We shared some easy hacks for building media lists in our recent e-book, but a few things to keep in mind include:

  • Focus on journalists who are active writers
  • Focus on writers who produce content similar to your pitch
  • Find the right contact info
  • Research your targets by analyzing their social profiles, author profiles, and previous work

If you are pitching journalists and you aren’t getting any response – don’t give up. It’s normal. A failed pitch is an indication you need to change your angle or your targets.

Check out this article for 5 Actionable PR Tips from Top Editors from Inc. and Fast Company.

If you are still struggling, there are tools that can help you connect with right journalists easier and faster.

Just Reach Out is a search engine that helps you connect with relevant reporters based on simple keyword searches. It also provides tools, such as templates, to help you craft your pitch.

Remember, a pitch involves describing the interest to a reader, not the journalist. Cold calls take a lot of work, but it’s worth it if your pitch gets picked up.

4. Guest Posting

Sometimes it can be difficult to convince someone else to write about you – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have something valuable to share.

In fact, your expertise may be better expressed if you produce the content yourself.

A media mention is fantastic, but news is news because it is new.  By the end of next week – your media mention will have fallen to the bottom of the list.

However, if you create a great guest post – one that is informative, actionable, insightful and provides true value to the reader – it is something that people will refer to over and over again.

You may even find that your incredible guest post pops up again and again on social media or as a resource referenced by other people’s articles.

Guest posting can lead to all types of benefits including:

  • Establishing authority and expertise within an industry
  • Connecting with your target audience by providing them with value up front
  • Building backlinks to your website to improve your SEO
  • Tapping into new audiences by getting exposure on a big publication

Not sure where to start for your next (or first) guest post?

Your first thought should always be focused on “How Can I Provide Value to the Reader?”

Never take guest posts as an opportunity for shameless self-promotion.

Promote yourself by teaching your readers or sharing insightful knowledge. This will establish trust, industry expertise, and authority, which means when people need help – they will turn to you for advice.

5. Focus on Building Relationships

The secret to PR is building relationships.

Of course, this is easier said than done. It takes time, effort, and a true value exchange to build a strong relationship.

Pitching journalists is great – but it’s sort of like asking a stranger to do you a favor. It doesn’t always work. People are busy and unless you have something to shine about, it’s hard to make that request compelling.

A relationship with a journalist is much more valuable than a one-off article feature.

So how do you do build a relationship with a journalist?

Well, it’s sort of like dating.

You need to find a common connection that brings you together. It’s about starting a conversation that isn’t just about you.

Here are a few quick ideas on how you can start talking with a journalist:

  • Comment on their previous work
  • Reference them in a guest post or on Quora – and let them know!
  • Find a typo or error in their work
  • Share content with them that might interest them
  • Share a story idea that isn’t just about you
  • Connect them with a valuable resource such as data or research that expands on the value of their work
  • Invite them to try out your product or service for free
  • Seek their advice or feedback on a project

This isn’t the fast route to exposure, but if you start to provide value for someone upfront – without asking for anything in return – then you start to build a positive relationship with them.

That way – the next time you have some news to share, they are much more likely to be receptive and willing to help you out in return.

And that’s the truth. Getting Press Coverage does not have to be difficult. But it does take hard work. Consistent leg work building an understanding of your space. Consistent work developing your brand story. Consistent work reaching out to journalists. Ultimately building a reputation as a trusted source in a context specifically valuable to your business…

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5 Reasons Why Your Business Shouldn’t Just Focus On SEO

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5 Reasons Why Your Business Shouldn’t Just Focus On SEO
For many years, the big buzzword in marketing was SEO. That’s what everybody focused on. Everybody wanted to be found on Google.

It’s not like SEO is dead. There are still heaps of advantages to ranking well on Google. My issue is that some people still talk about the invention of SEO like it was the invention of the telephone or something.

It was a game-changer, but it’s not the only game-changer, and to focus on SEO exclusively is a bad strategy.

It’s kind of like focussing on being happy. That never truly works. Instead, you focus on doing stuff that you like, hanging out with people you care about, and keeping busy and productive. Happiness ensues.

Have I lost you? Well, let me explain why SEO isn’t what your business should focus all its energy on.

1. Google doesn’t think you’re that important

Google puts the user first. That’s the number one thing you need to know – that Google doesn’t care about your brand. Its focus is on making sure that its user experience is the best that it can possibly be.

For instance, when people search for a certain kind of product (let’s say, for example, cars) they don’t want to see individual car brands. What they’re interested in finding is comparison-based sites that offer a good overview of which car brands are popular and why. That’s all Google cares about – the usefulness of sites to the end user.

cars search

If you’re vainly hoping that Google might start to look at sites individually and throw your business a break, don’t count on it. Firstly, they’re desperate to avoid any new search engine coming along and offering a better service, which means they will continue to prioritize the user.

Secondly, if your business has a chance of organically climbing to the top of the rankings, then you won’t need to pay Google to be there. Plus, that would run contrary to Google’s own business agenda. Google wants to make as much money as it can from their position. That’s far easier to accomplish when brands are banished to second or third pages.

2. Content is more important than marketing

Google cares a great deal about the quality of content on your website. The higher the quality, the more likely Google assumes it is that people will appreciate that link showing up in their search results. Hence, a good SEO strategy shouldn’t be so much focused on ranking well in terms of SEO, as having fantastic content that also happens to be SEO-optimized.

Only when you focus on creating high-quality content can you hope to rank well in Google’s search results.

Interestingly, this also subverts previous notions about where to spend money and why. Many companies don’t like to spend much on content creation, but happily spend a great deal of money on marketing that content and building links to it.

It doesn’t make that much sense when you think about it, does it? More money should be spent on creating high-quality content in the first place if marketing content is of the utmost importance.

High-quality content stays around. Slowly gaining more and more traction in the Google algorithm over time, it’s a long-term investment. Marketing campaigns, on the other hand, are a one-time thing. They create momentum for a while, but the moment you stop spending money on them, they stop bringing your site and your pages attention.

Perfect content graph

Additionally, if you manage to get thousands of people to click through to your content and it’s not very good quality, then they’ll disappear fast. They’ve got better content to look at and Google will see that as a strike against you.

You can see how it’s better to have fewer people stick around for longer – particularly if they like your content so much that they share it across their own networks. It means you get to have your cake (great content) and eat it too (more exposure).

It doesn’t matter who you, content comes first and everything else second.

3. Gaming the system is getting harder

Not convinced about what I’m saying? Well then, go ahead and see if you can still game the system. I’m sure there are still some black hat strategies that haven’t been tried yet. The only problem with that approach, though, is that Google is getting better and better at catching those kinds of loops and shortcuts.

It’s probably because they have so much data already. It means that they can train their algorithms much faster and more effectively. In fact, considering how much more data they have than you do, they’re probably closing holes at a faster rate than black hatters are able to find them.

After all, it’s easier to prevent somebody gaming the system than to close the door when the horse has already bolted.

4. There are better places to spend your budget than SEO

Every dollar you spend on boosting your SEO could be better spent elsewhere. There are plenty of places where investing your money is going to give you better rates of return. For example, you could keep people on your site longer by making it easier for them to search internally. This has other benefits, as it lets you know what people are searching for when they hit certain pages.

One search query keeps coming up time and time again? Then it might be about time you add a button or link that leads straight to the answer of that question.

Similarly, your money might be well spent building up a follower base on social media. This has numerous benefits. For example, it will give you a captive audience for whatever content you put up. This means that it is far more likely to be shared (which, in turn, indirectly boosts your SEO).

Even better, it keeps the customers you already have in the loop and engaged. And that’s far more important than getting new customers. After all, your current customers will spend 67% more on average than new customers.

5. There are better places to rank

All that not enough to convince you? Then consider this. True aficionados for specific products don’t really use Google anymore. They’ll go directly to specific platforms to buy the products that they need. These might be eBay, Etsy, Pinterest, Amazon, or some other similar site.

Why not consider trying to rank well on these sites instead? Yes, their collective audiences are smaller, but because they’re specifically dedicated to informing users about whatever product they’re looking for, the conversion rate is much higher.

What’s more, as not everybody has moved onto these places yet, as a small brand, you’ll be far more likely to get ahead and rank near the top when people specifically search for something you offer. That can be incredibly valuable. So why not check that out? As a starting point, here’s a guide to rating well on Etsy.

Wrapping up

The SEO train is becoming less important. Google has followed in Facebook’s footsteps and is taking serious steps to monetize their searches. That means that even if you do rank well, there will still be competitors listed above you, no matter what.

A much better strategy is to make sure that everything that you have on your site is of high quality, that you have a good following across major social media networks, and that you rank well for any specialized networks that sell goods similar to what you’re trying to sell. Ultimately, that will be far more effective and far more likely to have you rank highly than spending a year pushing yourself up using tired SEO tricks.

The best part is, if you do all of these other things and do them well, then you’ll still rank well on Google anyway, as they’re becoming better than ever at reading what is actually high-quality content (and all these steps make sure that you build it). So really, it’s a win-win all around.

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The SEO ‘do more with less’ cookbook