Improving Business Growth Through Content Creation

Using website content is a key online business strategy to boost traffic and to generate product, company, or service awareness, and to improve a site’s online presence. The effectiveness of written content creation, in particular, will depend upon the right strategy being used — regardless of whether the business is an online one, or a bricks and mortar type.

Content Types

Text: When addressing a target audience with a direct message, it’s the written word that remains a favourite option. Articles which utilize the language, expressions, terms and words unique to a particular industry, niche or market automatically set the context and tone of the message. With this kind of content, impeccable grammar is of the highest priority, followed closely in importance by the proper structuring of sentences and paragraphs in order to command audience attention and send clear messages.

Images: Photos, diagrams, infographics and computer-generated graphics attract the human eye and help to deliver a message by illustrating an organization’s products, services, concepts and ideas.. Such image content must be high quality in design, composition, colour and clarity.

Videos: The ever popular use of video on the Internet serves a variety of purposes from providing product or procedural demonstrations, to giving a face to either a business or product, to teaching classes half way around the world to generating a buzz in social networking platforms.

Infographics: Images accompanied by small amounts of text referred to as infographics are the latest Internet and media craze. Infographics are an increasingly popular, visual way to relay information, data and sometimes complex concepts and messages. Conveniently eliminating the obvious sales pitch, infographics can be utilized to effectively share a company’s story in a creative and entertaining way.

Standard original content can also be leveraged into other forms of content like:

– Microsites
– White papers
– Webinars or webcasts
– Branded content tools
– Research reports
– Traditional media
– Print magazines
– Digital magazines
– Mobile content
– Podcasts
– eBooks
– Print newsletters

Purpose Of Content Creation

Information is the core of content creation – with regard to what an organization wants to share with its market and potential customers. Through information sharing businesses can increase brand awareness, boost their customer bases and develop and maintain positive relationships with their existing clients. Content can also be leveraged for other objectives, including:

– The engagement of employees via company blogs
– Easy recruiting through organisation web pages which are highly representative of the company’s vision, direction and goals
– Greater business development, especially when such content is shared between businesses (B2B)

Keys To Successful Content Creation

Identify The Audience: To send an appropriate and effective message a business must correctly identify the audience with whom it is delivering the information.

Style Guide: To develop a business’ over all brand and ensure the same message is being delivered through each method and channel being utilized, content consistency is critical. To ensure consistency in a message, style elements must be decided upon before the creation process begins. Such elements include tone of voice, words to be used and choice of language.

New Content: Just like produce sold in a market, online content must be fresh if it is to attract the attention of the target audience, and encourage them to return for more relevant information in the future.. Unique content also needs to be insightful so that it provides information that readers will find useful and want to learn more about. In this age of information, content is not just about what the business wants to relay, but rather, what the audience or searchers want or need. As a marketing tool, content must convey the value of the business, its services and products, along with the business’ niche authority, to the targeted consumer in a way that’s informative. Once convinced of the business’ value, the audience will find the next step of following a call to action to feel much more natural.

Ongoing Development: While consumer behaviour undergoes changes, so does market conditions that can also be accompanied by new challenges and increases in competition. This requires the creation of new content to keep the consumer informed. Those who create this type of content should also undertake continuous learning by researching quality sources of authoritative information to be used in the new content. This self-education results in new approaches and aspects to write about while offering a way to build on previously acquired information, allowing the content creator to enhance their authority and credibility with the audience.

Reusing Content: With imagination, creativity and resourcefulness, old content can have new life breathed into it. Repurposing or reusing content can come in the form of images being converted into slide show presentations, video clips can be arranged as part of a webinar series, and text entries can be incorporated into newsletters and eMagazines.

Ideally, the responsibility of content creation should only be assigned to a team or person who either has an understanding of your industry and establishment or who has the capacity to conduct the necessary research to learn about it. This understanding will be manifested in the way the material is written, revealing the creator’s comprehension of your services’ or products’ unique strengths, selling points and current market trends.

While many large organizations provide their clients content creation services through an in house development team, it’s important to remember that aside from adequate service/product knowledge and writing skills, such staff members must also have a solid grasp of best practices regarding SEO (search engine optimization). Perhaps more importantly, they need to be motivated to expend the time that is needed to stay up to date with changing trends in premium content creation.

An growing number of businesses, online and offline, contact me to write unique content for them, continuing the growing global trend of outsourcing tasks such as this that require specific expertise.

Whether you have your own content writing staff or you commission a content writing service, it’s critical that they have full comprehension of the special strategies that need to be used in the online business world.

Local Internet Marketing Tools For Small Businesses With Google

Online advertising can be a very cost-effective form of advertising for small and local businesses if planned out correctly. In this article we will be covering specifically Google and their digital advertising opportunities for small businesses and internet marketing local strategies.

The Google advertising platform consists of

  • The Google Search Network,
  • The Google Display Network,
  • YouTube,
  • Google Places
  • Google Mobile

Where Google fits into the online advertising landscape and internet marketing local strategy

We have never seen a downturn in a digital economy and the economic slowdown or lag in the economy is actually fueling online growth. Consumers are more empowered than ever before having access through a variety of devices and are enabled through the wide penetration of the internet and the tools it brings to research, investigate, share opinions, compare and purchase. The economic downturn is going to increase the importance of digital in our lives because it helps us save money time and travel expenses. Any local business owner should learn how to use the tools and advertising capabilities for local internet marketing with Google.

Google is a top 3 internet property in terms of visit, between the display and search partner Google reaches ninety percent of the internet population making Google’s advertising platform number one in terms of audience reach. With over 2.5 billion page views per day and over 450 unique users per month Google provides a platform to reach any consumer in all industries making it very a very important variable for internet marketing local strategies.

Over the past five years the advertising landscape has changed dramatically with online marketing spend experiencing explosive growth and local internet marketing adding to that growth dramatically. While most other media have maintained relative levels of spend with global online advertising spend growing over all it is important to note that newspaper advertising revenue has been cannibalized by online media budgets, local internet marketing is becoming more and more cost-effective because of these changes.

Why is it that online has become so popular?

There are some key factors to take into consideration when determining what media is used in any marketing campaign. Consider the marketing objective of your campaign; is the campaign goal brand awareness, direct sales and accusation, or developing new markets? Also consider the production costs involved the ability to effectively target and measure audiences and the popularity with consumers. Online advertising has experienced immense growth because it allows advertisers the ability to reach a large number of consumers at home or abroad in an efficient and measurable manner. Given the range of advertising options available by combining search, display and video advertising, supported with sophisticated reporting and tracking tools and large audience reach, online marketing campaigns become a compelling concept for any small and local business developing a smart local internet marketing strategy.

When comparing traditional media advertising use to online advertising it is important to take into consideration the consumer buying cycle. Traditional media such as television, radio, print and outdoor advertising are broadcast and are non interactive media. Their primary purpose is to push a message out to an audience and is best suited to develop brand awareness within an audience, as well as attempting to influence consumers during the consideration phase of a buying cycle. These broadcast media are usually referred to as above the line media. Public relations activity, in store promotions and direct mail are used to engage consumers on a more personal and direct level and can be used in any campaign that wants to encourage product trial and establish or to establish loyalty and repurchase.

The introduction of the online advertising media changed the traditional models by giving small and local businesses the ability to cost effectively target potential customers at any time in the buying cycle depending on how the online campaign us constructed. Google search advertising can be used for brand awareness and has also been proven to be a very effective driver of direct sales and very effective for local internet marketing.

So why does Google play such an important part in the local internet marketing landscape?

To answer that we need to understand how the population consumes media. Google understands from researching user behavior that it acts as a core research point for consumers. So what are the other drivers that affect a user’s path? Once a user clicks on a search result they may move to a publisher or site within the display network to collect information. There is an opportunity here for advertisers that are implementing local internet marketing strategies to reinforce their message to the potential customer by using some pretty cool display features on YouTube, or within the vast display network. As the user gathers information they may come back to Google to gather more information. This process may repeat several times. For local and small businesses that want to implement branding and awareness campaigns, huge opportunities exist during this loop to capture attention and reinforce a message or a brand name with a potential customer who is actively collecting information.

Research has shown that television is the biggest driver of online search, in fact 67 percent of internet users have gone online to search for a product advertised offline, as users are exposed to offline messaging they will use Google to learn more about a product or service they may have encountered through another medium. This is how Google adds value to offline advertising and is such an important part for local internet marketing. Applying consistent integrated cross media campaigns will generate a higher return. The value of search does not just end in online clicks and conversions. Consumers use Google to research their purchase decisions in fact, 89 percent of consumer’s research products online, and 63 percent make their purchase offline. It is important to utilize online advertising with local businesses online conversions are not the end of the cycle in the brand awareness campaign and should be added to any effective local internet marketing strategy.

Better Local Internet Marketing Results With Google Services

One in five searches are related to a location-based service, searching on Google or Google maps will produce a map of a geographic location with specific businesses listed on the map. The business information has been aggregated from multiple sources such as phone book information. When the business takes control of their location and uses it in their local internet marketing campaign they can control the information that is presented. Features that enhance a business listing include allowing restaurants to provide a menu as well as the ability for a business to provide a coupon, and provide driving and walking directions.

Better Local Internet Marketing Results with Mobile Integration

Mobile use is growing at an astonishing rate, for each PC sold worldwide in 2009 3.3 phones were sold into the consumer market. Technology is advancing at a break neck rate in mobile computing, with smart phones, Wi-Fi and 3G coming standard in the mobile phone market. With an increasing population having access to a computer in their pocket many opportunities for location-based marketing campaigns are opening up for local businesses to harness local internet marketing and advertising strategies. According to recent figures at the time of this writing there are over five billion active mobile users worldwide and it is reported that smart phone sales have overtaken sales of the classic mobile models. Location targeting features are very effective for local and small businesses and local internet marketing effectiveness because 1 in 3 mobile search queries have local intent. Users could be looking for a nearby store, restaurant or travel destinations. Mobile applications also show a very high tendency to include local information this shows how tightly local and mobile are tied together. When you as a business owner have an ad in the mobile arena, features like click to call can be extremely effective in generating new customers.

As a local business owner teaming up with Google can be a very cost-effective way of advertising your business and staying in contact with your current customers and essential for any marketing campaign that applies local internet marketing.

Business Alliances – Strategy For Small Business Growth

Business alliances are often overlooked or not given much consideration by small businesses, yet they can be vital in helping a company grow and prosper. All too often, small businesses think alliances are just for big businesses; as a result, they neither explore nor pursue them. However, they can be just as beneficial for small businesses as they are for large corporations. If a small business is serious about gaining access to new markets, capitalizing on technology, growing profits using shared resources, they should consider a business alliance.

It’s no secret, businesses that share resources can create greater efficiencies and become more profitable. Business alliances can increase synergies and mitigate potential risk, while allowing companies to work together toward common goals as they maintain their individuality. There are several types of business alliances, each with its unique attributes.

Now is the time to assess what your business brings to the table. What assets, either tangible or intangible, does your business possess that when leveraged with another company can unlock greater potential for each business?

Alliance opportunities can be developed with suppliers, customers, investors, complementary businesses and friendly competitors. Some alliances are natural matches, while others require some creative thinking. I’ve listed the different types of alliances below, along with a description and example of each. When reading through them, think about how your business can create the benefits of a win-win proposition with another company.

JOINT VENTURE

A joint venture is a contractual arrangement whereby a separate entity is created to carry on a trade or business on its own, separate from the core business of the participating companies. Businesses often come together to share knowledge, markets, funds and profits. In some cases, a large company can decide to form a joint venture with a smaller business in order to quickly acquire critical intellectual property, technology, or resources otherwise hard to obtain. Companies with identical products and services can also join forces to penetrate markets they wouldn’t or couldn’t consider without investing a tremendous amount of resources. Separation is often inevitable because JVs generally have a limited life and purpose.

Example: You’ve developed a product but have a limited distribution base. Another company has the distribution system in place with a sizable market and wants to expand its company’s product offerings. You form a joint venture with the other company to jointly promote the product. It’s a win-win because you don’t have to fund the costs of reaching the potential customers and the other company expands its value and product offering to its current distribution base without having to fund the research and development costs of a new product. A contract would be signed detailing the aspects of the agreement.

STRATEGIC ALLIANCE

A strategic alliance is generally an arrangement whereby a separate entity is not created. Participants engage in joint activities but do not create an entity that would carry on trade or business on its own. The strategic alliance partners may provide resources such as products, distribution channels, manufacturing capabilities, capital equipment, knowledge, expertise, or intellectual property. Each party in the alliance maintains autonomy.

Example: A business management consultant wants to expand his services. He currently offers coaching, marketing, financial and operational consulting. He has noticed an increase demand for HR and diversity consulting from his clientele. He currently has no desire to hire additional personnel with the degrees and certifications required to offer these services. He seeks a strategic alliance with a HR and diversity consulting firm. The new firm agrees to work with his firm when opportunities arise for their services and a percentage of the revenue generated from the services provided will be returned to his firm.

PARTNERSHIP

A partnership is a legal agreement between two parties wherein both the parties agree to share profits and losses of a common business with no anticipated end date.

Example: A company whose primary function is to sell ads and produce unique coupon circulars to promote a variety of small businesses to the residential community had a substantial printing bill monthly. The company sought a partnership with a small printing company. The printing company had the expertise but limited printing volume. It required purchasing equipment that the printer didn’t have but saw a need for. A contract was signed establishing the new company; cost of the equipment was split between the two entities. The coupon circular producer sent all its business to the new venture at a substantial discount. The profits from the new venture were divided among the coupon circular company and the printing company. Each kept their original businesses separate from the new business.

MARKETING ALLIANCE

A marketing alliance is an agreement involving two or more companies to share cost and resources to promote each of the companies within the group. The target markets of the companies within the alliance usually share similar characteristics. The alliance can be a formal or an informal agreement.

Example: A group of locally owned and operated restaurants band together to form a marketing alliance. The alliance, similar to groups throughout the nation, promotes the uniqueness of their cuisines in an effort to stand out against the national chains. The group pools their resources to run ads and produce a direct mail guide to promote their menus, while offering discounts. They pay an upfront fee and then contribute several hundred dollars in gift certificates every quarter. Those certificates are sold online at a discount to help fund their marketing efforts. Donating gift certificates help keep the cost down for the participating restaurateurs.

COLLABORATION

A collaboration is when two or more businesses come together to share resources to create greater efficiencies such as the sharing of employees, equipment, shipping cost, rent, products and etc. Collaborations are generally for specific time periods and resources.

Example: As a small business you may have a difficult time throwing a first class holiday party for your employees. You want to show them just how much they are appreciated but the economy is tight and company funds are even tighter. Pooling your resources to have a party with a complementary company, saves money for both companies and could potentially pay off in new business opportunities and networking.

Managing the Alliances

Each company should bring a balance set of strengths to the alliance but there are other considerations as well. You must manage the alliance to ensure it contributes to the success of each company. Listed below are few of the things you should consider to produce a successful alliance:

1. Alliances should be made with the decision maker. You must have the support and commitment from the business owner and not just a manager.

2. Communication is a key ingredient. Clearly communicate the goals and objectives of the alliance in the beginning.

3. Develop the metrics the alliance will be measured against. Determine how the performance of each of the companies will be measured.

4. Allocate proper resources to the alliance. Don’t get half way through the project before you determine the proper resources were not allocated to the venture.

5. Ensure that all participating employees are committed to the success of the alliance. You need buy-in from everyone involved, not just a few select people.

6. Detail the responsibilities of each of the participating companies. Be explicit in what the expectations are for each of the companies in the alliance.

7. Just like all things, nothing is perfect. Be prepared to make changes if something is not working.

8. Stay committed and focused on the benefits of the alliance rather than the inconveniences the alliance may cause.

Each party must benefit from the alliance for it to be successful. Otherwise, like a marriage, the relationship will go from honeymoon to divorce court quickly and all parties will suffer.