Make your online assets exciting (even when your brand isn’t)

photo credit: Big Stock Photo

Marketing’s a tough gig when the brand you’re trying to get people excited about is – frankly – rather unexcitable.

Considering that nearly two-thirds of consumers have better feelings towards a company that makes custom content (plus the fact that content creation was named the most effective SEO tactic) it seems branded content is far too important to sweep under the carpet.

Here are some companies who’ve figured out how to add that ‘je ne sais quoi’ to their online assets. Read on and take notes.

Don’t ignore an overpopulated medium

You may assume that certain corners of social media have been claimed and that there’s not enough room for a company like, well, yours.

However, the brilliant thing about social media in particular, is that if you do it really well, it’s a free for all. Take Instagram – does a ‘boring’ company have any right to a visual, trendy space that’s been taken over by fashionistas and foodies?

If you approach it the right way: absolutely.

General Electric, conglomerate of energy, engineering and technology, has taken a critical eye to find an area in their operations that’s visually splendid, and in turn taken over Instagram. Their account has close to 200,000 followers and their great photographic eye has earned them a top spot in one of the most popular current social media sites.

Credit - GE Instagram

For another example, see Mailchimp’s Instagram account, which rarely features anything to do with their service but proves that even email service providers have a creative streak.

Forget being professional

Very few customers would choose an informative, fact-filled communication message over something that makes them laugh, or is intriguing, or unbelievable.

As averse as we marketers may be to allowing our product to become a joke, if you let loose – just a little – you may find a much more open audience waiting to be entertained.

The Blendtec YouTube channel has hit that incredible sweet spot – being able to demonstrate how good the Blendtec product is at its job, while having so much fun that you can’t help but watch, and watch, and watch.

Credit- Blendtec YouTube

Our favourite video (after a lengthy judging process) has to be the glowstick smoothie. Give it a watch.

Remind your audience that your expertise is invaluable

If you want to stick to what you know, then make sure that you deliver it with real impact.

The weekly email newsletters from Money Saving Expert are so packed full of information and content-rich that a reader simply couldn’t ignore their worth – a great exercise in the practice of recognising your company’s USP and making it shine.

Credit - MoneySavingExpert

Most importantly, the content they include never forgets what users will actually find useful. For example: credit card benefits aren’t particularly exciting. But a list of ways to build your credit rating with credit cards? Suddenly, some fairly dry content is going to tap into a specific market of people who are desperate to improve their financial game.

Remember: customers don’t care what you do

All marketers know that customers only care about their own needs, and so why would your company’s online asset/s reflect anything differently?

If you’re considering starting a blog, avoid self-centered content. Instead, write about something your customers need – whether it’s tips, expert advice, reviews or entertainment.

Opus Energy, an energy company primarily serving SMEs, made ‘Gift’, an online business magazine that gives readers tips dedicated to small businesses and their varied needs. With little to no mention of energy, the asset responds to the customers and is a lesson in keeping customers hooked when they don’t want to listen.

Tell your story differently

If you can’t make a written feature about your company interesting, turn it around and try telling it from an entirely different angle or with a fresh, different medium.

Burials and funeral services are an ideal example of a tough industry that can’t rely on being ‘fun’ or flippant with their content. Green Acres Woodland Burials got around this hurdle by presenting their information in easy to absorb infographic – see their visually compelling explanation of how affordable their service is.

It’s easy to read, entertaining on the eye and relies on an informative angle that gives a sense of authority. That’s a gold star for reinventing the overdone blog format.


Sarah-MusgroveSarah Musgrove is a digital content creator and internet-procrastinator extraordinaire. Sarah is a staff writer at B2B energy supplier, Opus Energy, and a blogger at, as well as having contributed to a variety of online and print publications. For insightful tweets (and a large amount of inane observations), follow her on Twitter here.

How to Succeed at Video Advertising on the Cheap

Today’s Guest Post comes from Mike Tyler, enjoy!

When I first started working in the video advertising business, I had big visions of these elaborate, creative stories. They were fun, relatable, and on the marketing side, it was going to go be a success. All we had to do was find four actors, a few extras, an antique shop location, and a good production crew to make the vision come to life.

In reality though, it was wishful thinking. Because, let’s be honest, most companies don’t have a thick war chest to throw at advertising.

They say sometimes constraints can free you. But how? How were we going to succeed at video advertising with a small budget?

Here’s a few things I picked up on the way.

Use Pay-Per-Click

Blue Square Thing via photopin cc
Blue Square Thing via photopin ccof the ugly scars of classic advertising is that you never know what you pay for. This is a rather discouraging fact. Fortunately, in video advertising, new models of payment like pay-per-click really helps minimize the negative effects.

One of the ugly scars of classic advertising is that you never know what you pay for. This is a rather discouraging fact. Fortunately, in video advertising, new models of payment like pay-per-click really helps minimize the negative effects.

Under pay-per-click, you pay a certain sum whenever someone clicks your ad. If you throw a garbage video ad out there on the Internet, you don’t have to swallow a huge loss when it has little effect and gets hidden in the depths of the Internet. On the other hand, you know that each dollar you pay has at least generated some sort of result.

Pay-per-click (or even still, using pay-per-conversions) is a solid way to hedge your bets. Any gambler with a small bankroll can attest to the importance of diversity.

The top ROI for B2B companies is Re-targeting

As a business that is targeting other business you demographic may be very niche. Getting ROI for adwords and other digital advertising efforts may be fruitless unless you have large marketing budgets to dominate certain keywords. Consider putting resources in Re-targeting models. Re-targeting works by placing your ad in places where the user has shown some interest in your brand already. For example, someone might have search for your product in the past or have already been to your website as you already know the best lead is one that is already interested in your product. Remind them about your product or service with Re-targeting

This obviously helps because you’ll know the money you spend on impressions are being used on people with interest already.

Optimize your Spend. Sort by Geography first

A beautiful thing about video advertising is how nimble it can be. With a simple click of a button, you can turn campaigns on and off. This allows you the luxury of testing and optimization.

Let me give you an example. When you start a campaign for a local product, consider dividing up the campaign into location first. For example, every city in the state/province gets their own little campaign. Then, give it a week’s time to incubate.

At the end of the week, you should be able to find some trends. Perhaps one city is unresponsive to the ad while another has high interaction and click-through rates. To save money, you can cut out those less efficient locations. Of course, you’ll be losing out on some conversions but it’ll help you focus where you spend your money.

Optimize Bounce Rate. Sort by Platform first.

The same process of optimization can be used to compare platforms.

For example, you might find that your bounce rate is 80% overall. This number, however, doesn’t help you change it for the better. However, if you were to divide your campaign up into mobile and desktop, it will help you. For example, if your bounce rate for mobile is 90%, desktop at 40%, the overall average could come out to 80% if your mobile traffic high. Just by switching off your mobile portion of the campaign, you’ll instantly save a lot of wasted money.

When it comes down to it, video advertising can be very efficient for every dollar you spend. Firstly, choose video adversity methods that have inherent benefits. You can pay for results or pay for good leads instead of just throwing it out there.

Secondly, optimize, optimize, optimize by dividing, dividing, and dividing. Split up your campaign into many little ones so you have more data and can compare all the variables.

Eliminate the not-so-good ones, focus on the good ones. Simple.

Mike-150x150Mike Tyler is the CEO of War Room ranked #1 in online Digital Advertising and reporting.

How to setup the perfect adwords campaign and how it affects your landing page

Today’s guest post is from Richie Contartesi – Enjoy!

photo credit: Kinologik via photopin cc
photo credit: Kinologik via photopin cc

When you’re building up your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign, it’s important to properly structure your account within that PPC campaign. This will drive your landing strategy to be as well-executed as it can be, and make the creation of your landing pages a much easier, more seamless process. Make sure that you think ahead to your user’s experience when you build out your campaign, so you can develop the landing page properly and expertly.

First Things First

The first thing you should consider is your campaign level. Think about what you want your campaign to achieve: the campaign objectives. When you establish your PPC campaign, you’ll use the settings of that campaign to target geographic locations and languages, so your landing pages should be developed with the language and geographic location of your audience well in mind. If you are targeting a specific city or region, like Los Angeles or the Bay Area, for example, then your landing pages should mention the city or region within their content. Doing this makes the landing pages more relevant for the user!

Group Things Together

You’re going to want to build an ad group that is tightly themed, so think about all of the possible keywords in your ad group being directed to the same landing page. Does your message within your landing page mesh with those keywords? In an ideal setup, each ad group will have its own specific landing page, depending on your website’s structure and ability to create specific landing pages.

For example, it should be obvious that Ad Group 2 in the table below should be split into more relevant groups, such as Commercial, Local, and Home, so the ads would fit in with the themes of the keywords. The more relevant your keyword groupings are to one another, the more effective your PPC ad group will be. The same line of thinking applies to your landing pages; you want to have the keywords used within your landing pages be cohesive and relevant to one another.


Ad Group 1 Keywords Ad Group 2 Keywords
“home painter” “commercial painting”
“home painting” “local painter”
“painter for home” “home painter”
“painting for home” “home painting”


Tightly Focused

The keywords are what drive your search query, so they should be as tightly focused as possible. Keywords are the driving factor for developing a cohesive campaign and user experience, because someone searching will use those keywords in the query, see the keywords in your ad, and then expect to see those keywords on the landing page. For this reason, focus should be one of the key focus areas of your landing page strategy.

One thing to keep in mind is that different match types for keywords will give you more or less control over the PPC ad that shows up for a given search. For instance, an exact-match phrase will ensure that the user has typed in exactly the keyword you set up for the ad, so you should address that query as precisely as you can within your own landing page copy.

Broad-match keyword bids, on the other hand, make it more difficult to know ahead of time what the search phrase was. In these instances, your ads and landing pages won’t be able to have the same level of specificity that you would be able to achieve with an exact-match keyword.


By paying close attention to the factors you’ve already considered for your PPC ad campaign, you can strategically design your landing pages to closely match those ads. This ensures that the user experiences exactly what they were expecting to experience when they get to your landing page, seeing the informational content and products they were searching for.

r5Richie Contartesi is the owner of and 3 online startups. He is an online enthusiast with experience consulting business owners and other entrepreneurs in building a revenue generating online presence for businesses yielding a maximum return on time and investment.

Cause Marketing (Part 2): Use Public Relations to Increase Visibility for Your Business and Your Cause

In Part 1, I talked about differentiating your business through Cause Marketing. In Part 2, I’ll show you ways to leverage public relations to increase visibility for your business and your cause.

In the Cleaning for a Reason story, Debbie Sardone, a residential cleaning business owner, saw an opportunity to give back to a cause that held a special place in her heart. And she did it in a way that tugs at the heart strings of almost anyone that has been even remotely touched by cancer.

As the foundation grew, Debbie made it her mission to spread the word through the media, as they are always hungry for a high impact, “feel good” story such as this one. It started with a few newspaper articles about what her company was doing to help women with cancer. It didn’t take long for the television stations to pick up the story and run it on the evening news. Now newspapers and television stations all over the U.S. and Canada are telling the story, giving publicity to many of the cleaning companies that have partnered with Cleaning for a Reason.

Cleaning for a Reason on Fox News

One of the challenges however, is helping these cleaning company owners overcome their fear of speaking to reporters and appearing on camera. After all, we want to make sure they are using sound bites that get across the messages that most help the cause, and that helps their company shine too. So the foundation has put together an entire program that helps the business owners learn how to connect with the media, as well as how to get over their fears so they can get the most from the publicity they receive.

If you are seeking publicity for your cause, be sure to follow these tips:

  1. Research each media source to see which reporter would cover causes such as yours.
  2. Remember that reporters must come up with stories for their newspaper or TV station, so when you bring a pertinent topic to the reporter, you’ve helped him get his job done.
  3. When reaching out to the media, you must have a strong message or hook, to get their attention.
  4. The cause has to be universally appealing. Finding homes for abandoned guinea pigs may be a worthy cause, but is probably not going to garner a spot on the evening news.
  5. There has to be both timeliness and relevancy. For example, Cleaning for a Reason stories are relatively easy to get on the news during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.

If you are struggling with the fear of speaking on camera, here are some pointers:

  • Don’t be afraid to let your passion for the cause shine through, as it will enhance your authenticity in the eyes of the audience.
  • Practice using “sound bites”. There is nothing worse than finishing the interview, and realizing you forgot to mention a very important detail. So prepare the points you want to make ahead of time, and make them short and concise.
  • Ask the reporter if you can get the questions ahead of time, and then practice with a friend.
  • Sometimes people aren’t sure if they should look at the interviewer or at the camera. Look at the interviewer – it will keep you from looking all around and will help you keep your composure during the interview.
  • Don’t make it about your business, make it about the Cause, and the good feelings you and your employees get through your participation.
  • Send a thank you note to the reporter after the story has aired. It’s a simple gesture but goes a long way with the reporter.

And finally, be sure to stay in touch with every media person you’ve connected with. Follow their reporting and send a note to compliment them on a recent story. Also let them know of other topics you may have for them. In Debbie’s case, since she owns a cleaning company, she’s pitched the idea of demonstrating how to disinfect touch points throughout your home during flu season, which resulted in a prime time newscast story in Dallas. This has continued to increase her status as a cleaning expert, and garnered even more publicity for her business and foundation.

About Jean Hanson

Jean Hanson is a long-time entrepreneur, co-founding two commercial cleaning companies, running a virtual assistant business, and in 2005, launching a business portal for commercial and residential cleaning business owners. She serves on the Board of Directors of Cleaning for a Reason, a non-profit foundation that provides free cleaning for women undergoing cancer treatment. In 2013 Jean became an Authorized Consultant for the world-renowned Duct Tape Marketing System. To learn more about her marketing consultant business and to apply for a free marketing audit, visit

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Five Tips For Making Better Marketing Videos

Video is one of the most powerful and versatile marketing tools available to any business, but like any tool, it needs to be used properly in order to work well and produce quality results.

Apply the following tips to get better results from any type of video.  If you’re already using videos in your marketing, these are all things that can be done very easily with little additional effort on your part.

Keep it short

Unless you have a very specific reason not to, you need to keep your videos under two minutes in length.  Even at two minutes, many people will stop watching before the end of the video.  We have very short attention spans, and unless your content is especially interesting, people simply aren’t going to watch a video for longer than a few minutes.  The one possible exception to this rule would be “how-to” videos, where you are demonstrating a particular product or process.  Even in that case, for videos longer than five minutes, you might consider splitting it into two parts.

Include a call to action

Your videos should always contain a call to action–a “next step” that someone should take if they want to learn more, or get what you’re offering.  A good call to action is specific, can be completed immediately, and involves no risk to the person watching the video.  For example, visiting a website and downloading a free report or e-book would be a good call to action.  Another good, and often-used, call to action, is to start a free trial of a product or service. A bad call to action would be asking someone to buy a product, because that involves a risk on their part.  You haven’t built enough trust yet to make that request.

If possible, you should make the call to action at the beginning and the end of the video.  That way, if someone stops watching the video halfway through, they will still get to hear it, and if they do watch all the way through, it will be the last thing they hear.  At the end of the video, you should never “fade to black”–there should always be a screen with your contact information and the call to action spelled out in words or graphics.

Use the lower third

The term “lower third” refers to the bottom third of the screen in a video.  It’s a great place to use text in the video to introduce the person appearing on camera, or to reinforce your call to action.  For example, you could have the URL of a website appear when the speaker on camera mentions the website.  Any video editing program should be able to do this quite easily.

Use an external microphone

Regardless of what type of camera you are using, you should always use a good external microphone to make your videos more professional.  Never use the built-in microphone on the camera–they’re just not very good, and it’s a dead give-away that the video was produced by an amateur.

Use videos to create additional content

When you plan your video, think about how you could use it to create additional content.  For example, could you take the audio from the video and use it to create a podcast?  Could you have it transcribed and use it to create a blog post?  By thinking strategically, you can really get a much bigger return on the time you invest in producing a video.

Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun producing your video!  Viewers will be able to sense your passion and enthusiasm, and it will help them identify with you as a person and not just a brand or a business.  Once that happens, gaining their like and trust is much easier and you’ll have won half the marketing battle before you even meet them.

About Kevin Jordan

After a short career as an airline pilot, I started my own e-commerce business in 2010. I learned the skills I needed to make that business successful, and in 2012 I began teaching those skills to small business owners. I now offer several comprehensive training and coaching programs for small business owners who are serious about improving their marketing.

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