We’ve all seen them. Those emails that bait us with that unbelievable tempting offer on how a “new” system can make us better, stronger, faster, richer. We click on the link and are taken to a web page that is 10,000 words long. Somewhere near the very bottom (you really have to hunt for it) is a link to another page that outlines a convoluted pricing structure. High pressure internet marketing; we’ve all been victim to the hype.
If you are starting a business or are looking to start using the internet to grow your business, then Stephanie Chandler’s Own Your Niche is for you. A no nonsense, simple, structured approach to establish your expertise online and gain some exposure without the hype.
Start A Blog On Your Own Site
"A Blog is hands-down one of the most important elements of a successful website."
There are some key takeaways here which I will get into – the The Big Idea is not only to start a blog, but what and how to do it.
1. Make sure it is hosted on your own site. Example: www.YourSite.com/Blog
2. Your web developer can take an existing blog platform (WordPress, Blogger,…) and host it on your site. The key benefit is that you get more traffic to your site than if it is hosted at Blogger or WordPress.
3. Google LOVES fresh content. Updating your blog on your site will help your search engine rankings.
4. Visitor Engagement – people can comment on your posts so it turns into a conversation which makes people feel that they are a part of and connecting with your brand.
Developing content for your blog is key. How you ask? Chandler gives us 22 ways of which I thought the top three were:
1. Keep a notepad with you at all times. This struck me as such a simple idea, but I wasn’t doing it and I should have been. My blog has a very specific audience and a very specific topic, but I find myself staring at a blank screen when it comes time to write. I use Evernote for capturing notes electronically on my phone, tablet, and computer. I made a note (file) called “Blog Posts” and already have a dozen topics, all of which came to me when I was not in the office.
2. Keep it short and sweet. Blogs shouldn’t be full length articles. Break them up into parts and link between posts (Google likes that too). I know some popular blogs I read religiously that should heed this advice because I don’t always have 10 minutes to read one of their posts. I think that this is one of the many reasons people like Seth Godin’s blog – you can read each one in under ninety seconds.
3. Write ahead. Most blogging platforms have a scheduling option (see insight #2). When you are in the groove, bang out several blog posts and schedule them to post in the future.
Chandler makes a great case for every business starting a blog. She is correct in that it can be tiresome and sometimes make you think that it may not be worth it, but stick to it – it pays off. You will eventually have enough posts and information to fill a book, which some bloggers have already done, Seth Godin is the king of this.
Study Your Competitors - Start a Swipe File
"When I was in software sales in the Silicon Valley, we were urged to study competitors. This helped us position our strengths against their weaknesses, while also allowing us to prepare answers when asked about potential advantages the competitors had."
Create your niche by studying what your competitors are doing. You need to be able to be crystal clear in how you offer something different than them. You can easily research your competitors online these days; Google Alerts is one way to do this. Easy to set up, Google emails you a list of any mentions on any keyword (your competitors name for example). http://google.com/alerts
Start a Swipe File. In the marketing world, every marketing firm has what is known as a “Swipe File”. This is where you can keep ideas from other businesses – postcards, sales letters, or attention grabbing marketing. The idea is not to simply copy them, but to use them as an inspiration to help spark some new ideas. They don’t have to be ideas from your competitor, but from any business that you can apply to your own business. I started a file in Evernote (Pocket is another capturing tool) to put in the great marketing ideas that I come across. I really like Evernote because you can add images, notes, sound files, basically anything electronic and it is accessible on any device.
Using Twitter to Promote Your Business
"As with other forms of social media, there is an abundance of ‘noise’ … on Twitter, so if you want to stand out, share useful content, respond to your audience, and be interesting."
In my opinion, Twitter is still misunderstood and most people don’t use it to its potential. Chandler lays out some simple techniques to help you harness the potential of this social media giant.
1. Typically, people check Twitter at different times throughout the day and since posts are listed newest to oldest, if they follow a lot of other people they may only see the last few minutes of tweets. There are free sites (HootSuite is one) that allow you to schedule your tweets to post at specific times. Looking for a template to schedule Twitter posts? Chandler gives you that too: http://goo.gl/0YkNN
2. Tweet links back to your blog posts many times over the next few months for better exposure. WordPress has a great plug-in called Tweet Old Post, which will assist you in automatically posting your content in the intervals that you set. Add the hashtag #Archive to an old post to differentiate your new posts from old ones.
3. Shrink your links. You only have 140 characters (120 really – see next point), so each one is valuable. You can use free link shorteners like Bit.ly or Goo.gl. They also allow you to track clicks as well.
4. Leave room for others to re-tweet. This is another area that I find people don’t understand. If I am going to re-tweet you to my followers, I need to be able to add “RT” and your Twitter handle. Keep tweets closer to 120 characters so others can comment and re-tweet easily.
If you are brand new to social media, the book can be somewhat intimidating because it is packed with ideas and techniques. While most techniques are simply a sentence or two, there are a lot of them. Chandler has more than 175 links to resources in the book. She mentions right off the start that you can’t do everything in the book, but you need to find what works for you. That first step is the most important.
If you are a veteran of social media and think that you have a good handle on things, you will find reassurance that you are doing the right things with this book. But, you never know, you may pick up a few new techniques as well.