Are you using both types of marketing in your business?

I was putting together a marketing plan for a client recently and I was listing all of the places where they had already been marketing. Just in social media alone they were marketing on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, YouTube, a blog, Tumblr, Storify, Disqus, Quora, plus a couple of other industry-specific channels.

On top of that, there were other media channels as well: Multiple websites, print and display advertising, banner ads, and the list goes on and on. And they were looking to add more marketing methods to the mix.

It was turning into an awful lot of effort for my client. And there was a high cost. And the worst part was: There was very little understanding of what the results from each channel were. She was becoming overwhelmed at how many different media channels she needed to juggle and how much of that was eating into her bottom line.

And, like all business owners, she was tempted to adopt even more media channels to promote her business, because she wanted to grow. As I reviewed the channels she was currently using, I realized that “turning up the volume” on her marketing wasn’t necessarily going to help her.

And the same is true for your business, too. More marketing doesn’t necessarily turn into more clients. Here’s why…

Think of your marketing in these two different ways:

  • You’ve got the marketing that directly pushes people into your sales funnel, and further along in your sales funnel, until you are ready to ask them to buy from you.
  • And, you’ve got the marketing that doesn’t necessarily move people forward directly but it helps to support your credibility if and when they research you online.

Let’s call the first one “sales funnel marketing” and the second one “credibility marketing“.

Sales funnel marketing drives people into your sales funnel. Credibility marketing may have that impact but it does so indirectly. Rather, it acts as a promoter, credibility-builder, and helps to lock up your search results on Google.

Both types of marketing are necessary, but not in equal amounts. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners don’t differentiate between one type of marketing and the other and so they take the shotgun approach to marketing, just trying whatever channels they can get their hands on, and then doing more and more and more and more.

Here’s what should happen instead:

Your sales funnel marketing should receive the largest portion of your investment and it should also be the most measurable. And if you are going to overwhelm the market with one type of marketing, this sales funnel marketing should be the one you choose. The reason should be clear: This type of marketing pushes more and more prospective buyers toward a sale. It is directly responsible for the revenue you earn and the profit you keep. And it should be as measurable as possible. You need to pay attention to the numbers — how many people does it drive into your funnel with every deployment? What is the cost of deployment versus the return?

Your credibility marketing is where you can probably cut back. Choose a couple of different channels that you enjoy using, that have reasonable time/money/effort costs, that you can excel at. Don’t try to take on every marketing opportunity imaginable. Just pick a few things and do them well. Build a voice and an audience and a brand. Establish yourself in a few channels and you’ll gain more credibility that way than if you spread yourself thinly over several channels.

Now you’re going to ask me which channels are sales funnel marketing channels and which ones are credibility marketing channels. Unfortunately, I can’t answer that for you. It’s different for every business (and the answer is influenced by the target market and the industry and your skill in using that channel). For example: Twitter is a good credibility builder for some businesses but other businesses use it really well to as a sales funnel marketing channel. It really depends on how you use the channel and, again, on which channels that your target market is interested in.

So, if you are counting the cost of your marketing and trying to decide how you’ll possibly squeeze in ANOTHER marketing channel, first consider the role it plays. Is it a sales funnel marketing channel or a credibility marketing channel? Determine this, invest more of your time and money in the sales funnel marketing channels, and you’ll have a far greater return on your marketing effort.

Aaron Hoos’ weekly reading list: ‘Local search, press releases, and the future of content’ edition

Aaron Hoos: Weekly reading list

Here are some of the things I’ve been reading this week:

  • Local search ranking factors: There’s a big push back to the local market and I’ve been watching it increase in importance over the past couple of years. Well, the good folks at Moz have surveyed and analyzed the factors that influence local search ranking. There is really good stuff here and, like a lot of stuff that comes out of Moz, this should go into your to-do list for your website if you are targeting a local market.
  • Google’s new SEO rules for news releases: I’ve been relying on press releases releases for a long time — to help me build awareness and quality links for my business and my clients’ businesses. Recently, Google announced that it was changing the way it would pay attention to news releases backlinks. Jayme Soulati discussed this on her site and she also linked to a blog post at PRnewswire. If you write news releases, be sure to read them both. The best quote is: “We believe the value press releases provide is in discovery, not links.” This won’t change how I write press releases but it will change why I write press releases.
  • How to make yourself a marketing Einstein. This is a humorous article that builds off of a quote loosely attributed to Einstein. The premise is: If you invest 15 minutes a day studying something, you’ll end up a year later having spend the equivalent of a year in college. So this blogger is spending a full hour a day studying a topic (marketing). In his first post he mentions 2 excellent resources — The massive guide to getting traffic and How to increase website traffic. Great stuff at both sites… and I love the hour-a-day for a college-education-in-a-year approach!
  • The insider’s guide to the future of content: The folks over at Steamfeed wrote a great article about how content is changing and what we can expect it to be like in the future. As a writer, I’m mindful that the content I create may not always be consumed as text (I also write audio and video scripts for businesses and I’m increasingly asked to do so). Smart content creators will pay attention to these predictions and adjust their businesses accordingly.

9 ways to add value to your next ebook (so you don’t have to fill it with royalty-free images)

You’ve finished writing your ebook. You sit back in your office chair and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s a long document, brimming with a mix of wit, personality, and (of course) your expertise on the topic. You’re certain that it will offer your readers the insight they’re looking for. But something’s not quite right.

After you look at it again, you start to wonder: Is it just a giant “wall” of text? Does the ebook really pop the way you’d like it to pop?

A common, initial temptation is to google “royalty free images” to shoehorn throughout the content to break the up the text (and add to your page count!!!). But is that really the right thing to do? It’s tempting. It’s easy. But it doesn’t add value.

Instead, here are 9 ways that you can add value to your next ebook. These ebook elements will help to break up that wall of text, they’ll add some visual interest, and they’ll help your ebook to really pop in the mind of your reader.

Ebook value-add #1: Callout boxes

These are boxes that you see in magazines all the time. They’re filled with additional information, facts, tips, and hints. They’re often pretty “listy” (bullet lists or numbered lists) although I’ve written plenty that were formatted as paragraphs. Use these to add extra context or background, or to add some additional tips that your readers might want to learn or be reminded of. Don’t add more than one per page and try not to add one on every single page. Check out some of your favorite magazines for ideas. In some of your callout boxes, you can reiterate ideas that were spread across several pages, or you can show how the current point fits into a larger list. This is also a good place for an anecdote, quick tip, or to highlight a special link that is related to the topic.

Ebook value-add #2: Examples

Although you’ve probably used examples in specific situations throughout the body of your text, (for example, in this sentence) it doesn’t hurt to pull together several concepts into a longer example that is formatted in a different way. I tend to use examples to illustrate several concepts with a fictional story. But on a related note, I also use…

Ebook value-add #3: Case studies

Case studies are (usually) true life examples (perhaps “anonymized” to protect the subject of the case study). These can be used in a similar way as an example. However, since case studies are usually true life, I tend to use them less as illustrations of a point and more as inspiration or proof of the content. So I tend to use both in my ebooks. Strike a balance so you don’t overwhelm your readers, but remember that everyone learns differently, and some people respond better to examples while others prefer case studies. (Personally, I’m a case study person).

Ebook value-add #4: Appendix

One appendix (or several appendices) at the end can be a great place to put all that background information that you want to write but that you doubt your readers will always want to read in the body of the text. It’s the stuff that is important to know but, once you write this, you think that most of your readers will probably already know quite a bit of it. Chances are, you’ll write it into the body of your text and pull it out. (In many cases, I’ll write the first 5 chapters of an ebook, then pull out the first 2-4 chapters and put them in an appendix because my good sense and experience tells me that those first chapters were just warm-up and the real reason people bought the ebook started in chapter 3, 4, or 5.) There are other things you can add into an appendix: Industry information, lists of tips and ideas, a long reference list, step-by-step instructions, interviews with people, etc.

Ebook value-add #5: Templates

I love adding templates to an ebook. I like templates because, if you are a business trying to build a brand, templates are a great way to get people printing and using stuff that has your brand imprinted right on it. On the other hand, templates that have been shoehorned into ebooks can look funny if the header, footer, and page number of the ebook appear in the template. Often, I’ll create a file that has the ebook plus individual PDF documents that are each a separate template. The sky’s the limit with templates.

Ebook value-add #6: Resource lists

I like to add these usually at the end of a chapter. These can link to other content in the ebook, other content online (including specific blog posts you’ve written, which is something I advise my clients to do), Squidoo lenses, Amazon books, and other digital products (via affiliate links). The goal here isn’t to replace your wall of text with a wall of links. I wouldn’t have more than half a page of links at the most, preferably less. Think of it like this: Many of your readers might skip over this resource list, but some of your readers will want more information, now or in the future. They’ll look to your chapter and they’ll dig into some of your links for more information or another perspective.

Ebook value-add #7: “You will learn” overview

We all learn in different ways. I learn best when someone gives me an overview of what I’m about to learn and then gets into the lesson. If I don’t get an overview first, I struggle with trying to fit each individual piece of information into the big picture. So devote the first part of each chapter to an overview (a bulleted list or a couple of “big picture” paragraphs) outlining what the chapter is about.

Ebook value-add #8: Glossary

You’re an expert but not all of your readers are. They need a little extra hand-holding, and that probably includes definitions and explanations of key concepts. A glossary can be arduous to write (trust me! I’ve written a ton of them) but your readers will find it helpful.

Ebook value-add #9: Now it’s your turn

I find that my ebooks tend to become a little academic after a while. They might start off with lots of practical advice but I’m just wired to talk about concepts over practice… and most people who are sharing their expertise will probably trend that way, too. So, by adding a “Now it’s your turn” element periodically throughout the ebook, you’ll force yourself to step back from the concepts and consider what your readers will want to do in this situation. Then give practical, step-by-step instructions.

A WARNING TO LAZY PEOPLE

Most ebook writers will read this post and hopefully find some ideas to inspire them to add value to their ebooks. But some writers — the lazy ones! — will see this as a way to add bulk to ebooks for a padded page count. That is not my goal here. You could use these ideas to add bulk to your ebooks, but that won’t generate customer loyalty or long-term profit. It won’t wow your buyers with extra value. It only wastes your time (time you could spend adding value) and pisses readers off.

But to the rest of us — those who actually want to build a loyal and happy readership — these are useful ways to make your ebooks more valuable to readers. So, on your next ebook, why not add a couple of these elements!

Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge: Wrap-up

This week, I challenged you to explore a new marketing channel for your sales funnel.

How did you do?

You might not immediately see the results in your bottom line, but you should already see the impact elsewhere – are you spending a lot of time on this? Are you finding a way to target a specific stage of your sales funnel? Are you strategically expressing the messages that your contacts at that stage of the sales funnel want to hear? You may not be seeing bottom line results yet, but if your efforts are effective, you should soon see results in the specific stage of your sales funnel.
For me, I tried this challenge a couple of months ago with Twitter – I have had a Twitter account for a couple of years but only used it sometimes. So I challenged myself to get serious with Twitter and I have noticed a dramatic result in my web traffic as a result.

Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge: Explore a new channel

The Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge is a week-long challenge for business owners to focus on a specific aspect of their sales funnel for one week. It’s a fun way to keep you focused on one of the most important parts of your business. A new Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge is published every Monday and a wrap-up post is published every Friday.
Weekly Sales Funnel Challenge

The sales funnel is valuable to business owners because it gives them a way to systematize their marketing and focus on only a few marketing channels instead of all of the possibilities out there. But just because you’re focusing on a few channels doesn’t mean you should ignore the others. Maybe your business is particularly suited to a specific channel that you are not currently using.

For this week’s challenge, I’d like you to experiment with a new marketing channel. See how it works for you and measure the effectiveness of the marketing channel on your sales funnel and on your business.

Good luck!