Effective Strategies for Artificial Intelligence

Why Combining Personalization and Artificial Intelligence is a Marketing Gold Mine

As the popularity of online shopping and social media continues to grow, reaching new customers and maintaining existing ones has become more competitive than ever. Consumers are reacting to the oversaturation of buying opportunities by tuning out generic messages and demanding more personalization.

Tapping into this desire for unique content has become a new focus for retailers. Surveys show that 75% of consumers respond favorably and will make a purchase if an online retailer recognizes them by name, knows their buying history, and provides relevant new options. Consumer marketing is poised to reach new levels of personalization through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques and programming. Via: 75% of customers respond favorably 

AI and machine learning are umbrella terms for sophisticated programming algorithms that can mimic the way people think and react. By using them in tactics like chatbot marketing automation, retailers can target more potential sales, manage their customer base with pinpoint accuracy, and meet their markets where they want to be: on a personal level.

2018 Will Bring More AI to Retail Marketing

Websites are already customizing content for their customers. Through analytics, AI can track what visitors are looking at, how they interact with a website, what type of content they view, and almost anything else a retailer might be interested in tracking.

Collaborative Group Filtering

Going forward, collaborative filtering will become more prevalent. Collaboratively filtering groups together visitors with similar interests and markets to them based on common experiences. The filtering can offer content from a variety of resources that have proven interesting to others in a group. Existing examples would be Netflix and Amazon highlighting programming and content with the labels “trending” or “people who liked this also bought….”

Collaborative filtering provides an edge in the sense that it’s constantly refreshing ideas and content as other members of the groups make purchase decisions. New content improves search engine rankings, helping to attract both new and returning visitors.

Image Recognition Software

AI has become more sophisticated in recognizing content in images. Sharp marketers are turning this development into a data insight tool. By scanning through social media imagery, for instance, data can be gathered about what brands are getting attention, the types of vacation spots that are popular, and even what times of day activities are being performed.

Marketing teams can use this data for more tailored targeting. Potential uses would be pushing out shopping promotions at times of day people are thinking about it, or sending out vacation ideas when web surfers are online for personal interests rather than work priorities.

The image recognition programming can also scan for market influencers, who are the key personalities that influence others to use products and services. Businesses could use the AI data to tailor their own personalized strategies.

Highly Targeted Email Campaigns

Over the last several years, AI has proven to be an invaluable tool  for email marketing campaigns. With the recent leap forward in machine learning, AI-based email marketing is expected to become more personalized than ever. This is a key conversion factor for sales.

The data that AI can gather has become more granular. Understanding when particular users read their emails, the type of keywords they respond best to, and the kind of calls-to-action they interact with can be now be managed on an individual level like never before. Where humans would have to sift through thousands of data points and hope to spot trends, AI can perform the same analysis in far less time.

Marketing Personalization is The Future

Marketers recognize that personalization is the key to sales conversions. At the same time, 83% worry that they’re not getting it right. AI programming offers an opportunity to change that by understanding clients across huge customer bases.

To remain ahead of the curve, marketers should be cross-training on the data science techniques that AI provides. Personalization is the future of marketing, and AI tools will be critical to leading the way.

Beautiful content. Responsive.

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry.

 

5 Facts You Need to Know About The Content Marketing Evolution

There’s no doubt that content marketing isn’t what it used to be – it’s actually better. The content marketing evolution has been happening for sometime now. Gone are the days when simply flooding the internet with spun content backlinks to your site would rank you on Google. Do that today and Google will at the very least penalize you. At worst you could get blacklisted.

I’m glad to see this evolution impacting content creators. 

Recently the staff at BuzzSumo released a report on the trends in content marketing and what that means going forward in the industry. 

When asked if content marketing was dying BuzzSumo says: 

Heck no! Content marketing isn’t dying; it’s evolving. We can evolve our tactics and strategy to recapture our audience’s attention. Those who hear the alarm and take action will thrive, while those who keep snoozing will go down with the ship. As Rayson told us:

“The lesson for content marketers is that you must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social and expect people to find it.” via: Content Marketing: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report

So what are those 5 alarms that we must be paying attention to if we are to survive this shift? 

You Won’t Get the Shares You Once Got

Influencer marketing makes sure your content gets in front of the right people, and more than 8 of them at a time. Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts. via: Content Marketing: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report

Influencers are vital to your amplification strategy. The magic of viral content is influencers. An influencer is anyone recognized by large number of people as an authority in the niche. They come with a huge following that looks to them as an authority and they respond to what they share. Influencer marketing is piggy backing on that “popularity”. 

If you’re depending your social media channels to amplify your content you’re going to miss out. Facebook is limiting your content based upon engagement factors in much the same way that engaging content is required to rank on Google. Engaging content is required and your content must engage your influencer’s audience as well. Learn to write for that broader audience. 

Facebook is Blowing You Off

Start thinking of Facebook as a pay-to-play platform and adjust budget and expectations accordingly. This is also a good time to evaluate how much of your audience is actually on Facebook and actively engaging with content. The report also shows that LinkedIn* likes and shares are up more than 60% from last year — which means LinkedIn may be a better place to focus your attention. via: Content Marketing: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report

Facebook is simply another PPC platfrom and should be seen as such. You can do some amazing things with
Facebook, but you can’t do them for free as many were once taught. The new Facebook alogrythm focuses on “meaningful engagement”.  Maybe that’s where it should always have been. This is another move in that direction of quality content verses quanity of content. Quality is winning. Figure this out and you’ll win as well.  

Google is Still The Search Giant

Facebook is steadily trending down as Google continues to rise. via: Content Marketing: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report

Google love is always going to be good for your content marketing. The frustrations with Facebook actually image

work to your advantage. As Google returns to the top to its rightful place as the search engine giant you can capitalize on this by doing what serving up quality content. 

Google is a tough code to crack (I say that tongue in cheek because you don’t crack their code), but quality content on blogs and in videos is still the best policy.  

Backlinks Ain’t What They Used To Be

The majority of content that attracts backlinks is high-quality research or reference content from authoritative sources. Work on building your library of stellar content, optimize it for SEO, and you can begin earning backlinks. via: Content Marketing: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report

Look carefully at that quote: “High-quality research or referenced content from authoritative sources.” That’s called curated content. Curation is the process of finding authoritative content, organizing that content in a manner best for your audience, providing value to that content by give your view/interpretation/commentary. Build a library of that and you will earn backlinks. 

Your Content Must Count or You Don’t 

Publish higher-value content at a slower cadence. Take time to deliver authoritative research or reference works rather than lighter, more shallow content. via: Content Marketing: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report

According to Dan Norris in the book Content Machine, “Great content is something you provide your audience that captures their attention and encourages them to share.” In other words, the things you share must make a difference to people. They must engage with the content  It must contain careful research (accurate truth is the basis for all quality content). Shallow content only contributes to the noise. 

The delivery method for the content doesn’t really matter. It can be written in a blog, delivered as a video, micro blogged on Twitter or other social media channels but the fact remains it must provide value to the intended audience. 

The BuzzSumo Report offers the following conclusion for content marketers: 

Interestingly, the “new” most effective tactics are those that have been steadily working the whole time, while some of us went chasing shiny objects: Create high-quality, best-answer content, leverage influencers for amplification & credibility, capture your audience and serve them engaging emails. via: Content Marketing: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report

 Hummm.

Isn’t that really what we should have been doing all along? Engaging an audience with quality content. Providing the best answers to important questions. Collaborating with influencers on meeting the needs of the audience. Staying in contact through email. It worked 15 years ago and it still works today. 

Stop looking for the magic bullet and start doing the right things. 

Content Marketing Machine

 

Reading a Book for All Its Worth!

Reading for Maximum Impact

We all learned to read at an early age, but what have we done to improve on those skills since then? Reading is the most common practice of highly successful people, but how can you maximize that so you get all of the benefit possible?

How many books are published every year? Search Amazon for Business Books. There are more than 2 million results. Where do you start? What do you consume? What will be the benefit? How do you decide?

I know that reading will benefit me. Deciding the value of what to read is more challenging than simply reading for volume. If my goal is to read 25 books per year that can easily be achieved. If my goals is to read one book that will increase my impact by 25 times that’s a completely different story. One will benefit me to some degree. The other can be life changing.

Thoughts that go through my head:

  • If I read the last 17 books written on time management what new thing can I expect to learn? Will that be a good use of my time?
  • If I read a book just to finish it, what difference does it make?  
  • What will I be quoting from that book 10 years from now?
  • What am I quoting from a book I read 10 years ago?reading
  • Is this book in alignment with my purpose in life?

In other words, we need to approach reading as deliberately as any other business decision. It’s a resource available to us. Treat it the same as you would a time or money resource. Give it the same care and consideration. Give it the same devotion.

I’m not talking about seeing how much you can consume. Reading one book in a year that increases my impact by 25 times is a 1000 times better than reading 25 books with no impact.

Selecting the Right Book

Here are the steps I follow to select a book:

  • I select what I’m going to read carefully including the aesthetics.  
    • What is the look of the book? There really isn’t any excuse today for a poorly designed book. It has to look appealing.
    • Does the front cover make the contents clear?
    • Does the back cover give me convincing reasons to read the book?
  • The author
    • What do I know about the author and his/her background that would indicate alignment with my purpose?
    • Have they demonstrated their ability to speak with authority on the topic? What are some of their past works?
    • Where can I find the author besides this book?
    • What do I believe his/her purpose is for writing this book?
    • What new unique perspective or voice will he/she lend that will benefit me the most?
  • Background thoughts
    • What other books have I read on this topic?
    • Have I read other books by this author?
    • How will those things influence my reading of this book?
    • Would it benefit me to go back and review what I have already read rather than starting again here? Revisiting a topic over and over again without taking action is a very bad habit.
    • Can I connect this “unknown” to my “known” to expedite the implementation process?
  • State my objective clearly
    • How do I expect this book to impact my purpose?
    • What do I expect to get from this book that I don’t already know?
    • A book can only fill one of three purposes:
      • Introduce you to a new concept, idea, position, or perspective.
      • Reinforce an existing idea, concept etc…
      • Challenge an existing concept, idea etc…
    • Where do I see this book on that spectrum?
    • How does that objective align with my purpose right now? If I don’t intend to consider taking some positive action on this topic then don’t let this book become some kind of rabbit trail.
  • Evaluate the contents
    • Read the the jacket. What did I learn about the book? The author? What did others say?
    • Scan the Table of Contents. How well organized is the material? 
    • Read the index (if it has one) looking for additional resources to supplement the book as well as contact information on the author.
    • Select 2-3 chapter titles that sound like they will fulfill my objective. Read the first 3 paragraphs of each of those chapters. Do they fulfill the promise of fulfilling my objective?
    • What is the writing style like? Does it move quickly or do I have to wade through a lot of fluff to get to the point? Note: If I can’t get the full impact of the point in the first three paragraphs, then I will waste a lot of time even if the content is stellar.
    • What strengths can I identify in those 9 paragraphs from the author? What weaknesses do I see?

I do all of that BEFORE I decide to purchase/read any book.

You think that’s a lot of work?

A lot of work is reading something that won’t help me achieve my objective. Getting 150 pages into a book that is wasting my time and not moving me closer to my goals – that’s too much work. Better to spend some time on the front end than waste a bunch on the back end.

I’ve Made My Choice Now What?

Once I’ve decided this book is worthy of my time, I have another process that I follow every single time.

Note: I don’t read fiction so I never have to change my approach.

I follow these steps exactly every time I read a book.

  • First I prep the book for an easy quick read. I make sure to “break-in” the pages so it opens easily and I have no trouble manipulating the book.
  • I write my objective for reading the book inside the cover. This is just a sentence or two. I’m going to refer to this often.
  • Next I read through the book as quickly as possible.
    • Almost at a speed reading pace with a pen in hand. (You can’t speed read and make notes.)
    • I put a tick mark beside everything that catches my attention.
    • I note in the margin where I have heard that topic before by the author’s name only. Example: Tracy.
    • Next I summarize the chapter with a single word or phrase that comes from my reservoir of “known” information. For example: Reading a chapter on “The Lies that Mislead Us.” I summarized with Accurate Truth, that is one of Napoleon Hill’s Seventeen Laws of Success. (I’ll talk about the value of this more later.)
    • I do this for every chapter until I’ve completed the book. Then I write a very brief summary on the inside of the back cover.
    • I compare the inside of the front cover with the inside of the back cover to determine what I do next.

The Magic Happens in the Second Read

If the book summary seems like it has fulfilled the promise and purpose of the book, then I decide to give it a second read. This “read” is very different from the first go through.

  • I scan through the book stopping at every tick mark I placed on the first read. This time carefully reading the context of the thought that triggered the original tick mark. I might highlight the idea captured in context. I might make notes in the margin. Linking to other books and ideas is something I do frequently in the margins.
  • If there are chapters where the summary doesn’t meet expectations then I skip it on this second go. Myreading goal is not to waste time, but to maximize it. A useless chapter will get no more of my time.
  • At the end of the saved chapters I now write a summary of the personal impact it has made on my stated purpose. This is important. This personal summary helps deliver me from the urge to just get finished. I now have a bigger goal. I’m out to develop mastery so I can improve.
  • Next I write a complete summary inside the back cover. I answer these questions:
    • How did this book actually impact my life and business?
    • Does this relate to other things I knew about this topic before I started?
    • How will I put this to work immediately?
    • Can I take this topic, using this material, and teach it to other people?

Maximizing the Impact

If I decide this is a topic that I could teach and other people would benefit from me teaching it. Then I proceed to the next step…

  • I’m going to scan through the book a third time. This time only pausing at the places where I’ve made notes. I’m looking specifically for “transferable” information. So I ask the following questions:
    • What attracted me to this topic in the first place?
    • What market (avatar/community) shares that same need and would be attracted to the same information if delivered by me?
    • Are there other resources or unique perspectives I could bring to this topic that would help people to implement this in their life/business?

      Note: This is one of the reasons I write the first thing I think of that is connected to the subject in its context. Because here I’m going to identify my unique perspective. When I read that statement the first thing I thought of was…, but it wasn’t the first thing the author thought. That’s my unique perspective. Those things come from my experiences. Often times my unique perspective and my unique experiences are the very thing some people need.
  • Next I identify the elements that will make up a basic step-by-step for “my friend” who needs to experience the same thing in their life.
    • I note the things that I would put in a basic outline.
    • Then I connect the outline with “links” to other supporting thoughts. I find these…
      • In my own experiences.
      • From the things I have read.
      • Stories from the lives of the people I know.
  • Finally I apply this to as many different means of delivering my unique discoveries to my world as possible. I pick the top three. Here are just few to get started…
    • Checklist
    • How to Guide
    • Step-by-Step Outline
    • Infographic
    • Webinar
    • Mind Map
    • Ebook
    • Membership Course

This is how you can read one book and multiply your impact by 25 times.

I created the Self-Directed Learning Project (SDLP) to teach you how to do this. The SDLP includes training on how to get someone to actually pay you for your efforts.

 

3 Tips for Building A Social Media Communities Presence

Social Media Community Building

Building social media communities requires a deliberate plan. People are busy. There is a lot of noise on the internet and social media in particular. Many believe (incorrectly, I might add) that this is leading to a level of social isolation never experienced before. People who choose to be isolated will find ways or excuses to do so. All social media does is magnify who you really are.

I have connected with people all over the world. I was once challenged that those people aren’t really your friends just connections on a social media platform. Not true! We’ve done business together, collaborated on projects together, and shared meaningful experiences together. Connecting was my plan. Everything I do is about making those connections and making them as meaningful as possible.

Connections are as important as in your real life. The way you treat people online should be in sync with how you treat them in real physical world. The best part of social media is – delete / unfriend / block / report abuse option. Take good use of them whenever you feel like you are in a situation (again it depends on how you would treat them in real life) via: Is social connections on social media important? – Quora

There is tremendous value in being social. That value can be greatly enhanced by social media. It’s the opportunity to connect on a regular basis in a meaningful way. From those connections you find people:

  • With less than noble intentions
  • Who simply want to lurk
  • Who are interested in you, but not your business
  • That express interest in your business, but not you
  • Who are potential business assets
  • That could become potential business partner
  • You might need as potential business collaborators

That crowd isn’t really any different than participating in a marketing event, attending a meetup or networking event, going to a business leaders convention, participating in a Chamber Ribbon Cutting, or simply walking down the street. Consider the effort you put into building a social media community in much the same way.

Here are three tips to help you make the most of those efforts.

Be Real in Your Social Connections

Be who you are. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. We see lots of fakers online. Eventually genuineness wins out. Connections are made by and with people who are real.

If you have a unique slant on Cajun food then share it, but share it in the same way you would in person. In person you would blended your slant into normal conversation. You wouldn’t dominate conversation with it. If you did, people would eventually avoid you. Balance the number of posts you make with the number of comments you make on other people’s posts. Show genuine interest in your connection’s world. Don’t hesitate to show the world what else you know beside cajun food.

Be real in your social media communities. The only way you can connect with people is to be real. Let people know who you are. Share your life.

People want to connect to people who are real. Fake abounds in the online world. The real person will stand above the crowd. Letting people know you’re real allows meaningful connections to develop.

It isn’t enough to simply provide resources for consumers. It is equally important to give them a way to actively participate in the conversation by engaging their own social networks. This can be done in a variety of ways including sharing information with their personal network, participating in surveys, or entering contests. via: The Importance of a Personal Connection: Interactive …

Be Relevant in Your Social Media Communities

Connect with people around topics they need to know or have interest. Give them value around things that matter. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston my Live Feeds that week highlighted the people and places that were making a difference in Houston. I don’t live there, but I know people who do. What was happening in their homes is important to me, but it was a matter of life and death to them. Share their posts. Check in on them. Connect them to resources or connect their resources to people in need. Use the social media community in exactly the same way you would use your local community.

Yes, your business is important, but so are people! If you are going to be relevant to your audience step outside your normal business focus to show you care.

Social_Media_Communities

When you focus on your business do it from the perspective of what is important to your connections. Put their needs first. If you’re an HVAC installer you might think that smart control thermostat on your best unit is a great feature to share. What’s important to your customer is keeping their family comfortable durring erratic weather.

Use your social connections to listen to what’s important to them. Find out how they refer to the troubles they face. What language do they use? What’s their level of frustration? What have they tried that failed? Learn to address those things and speak that language and your relevancy will skyrocket.

When the recognized authority (you) responds personally to their problems, using their langauge, offering real solutions your value in the community becomes priceless.

Be Responsive in Your Social World

When your connections post in their social media communities respond. When they listen to your live feeds thank them. Comment on their comments. Not just the ones you like the most but everyone. There is no shortage of meaningless conversation on any social media platform. I’m not suggesting that you answer every time someone asks, “What’s your favorite vacation spot?” I am saying that you should respond to things that are relevant. Don’t forget the importance of relevance.

Below is a quote from a great article, “The Tale of Two Bakers.” You can do exactly the same things in social media that the one baker did to gain a portion of market share.

Every day when you open your computer, log into your social media, read or send emails, run an ad or call someone up – you’re entering a very busy high street.

So take an interest. Be part of their day. Add to their experience. Use social media as a conversation starter and a relationship builder and do it when you can, when your bread is baking, or while you’re eating your lunch time sandwich. via: The Tale of Two Bakers (And Why You Need to be on Social Media!)

Social media community building will expand your impact in the world. It’s worth every effort you put in to it. You may not see immediate benefits. It takes time to create impact. Building social media communities should be a vital part of your overall marketing strategy. It’s not a tactic that gives immediate results. Done right, it’s a strategy that positions you as the expert in your market. The long term benefit of that trumps the immediate benefit of a short term tactic every time.

The button below will take you to a page where you can assess your social media presence. Go there and discover how well you are doing in building a social media community presence.

social media communities

 

 

Daily Content Creation – Then Life Happens

Can’t Talk…Now What?

My daily content creation might be in jeopardy. Not being able to talk for 14 days has caused some pretty strange behaviors and some serious reflection.

First The Strange Behavior

I dreamed all night about the value of communication. Really that’s weird! I dream about all of the ways that I communicate over the course of the week. The process of taking a Live Feed on Facebook and turning it into a podcast. I thought about how I take the video content and turn it into worksheets, checklists, blog posts, and training programs.  daily content creationThen I woke and realized that too many things began with the live video. I almost shut down my daily content creation because it all began with me speaking on live video.

There was a time when I wrote first, then spoke what I wrote. But I learned that the live “interaction” allowed me to formulate thoughts from a place that made content more engaging. In other words, I learned to work from a strength. I coach people to do this all the time. In the Content Creation Marketing Machine we always start where you work best and build on that platform.

Now The Serious Reflection

Now I’m going through a temporary disruption of that process. I can’t talk. So what does that mean for my daily content creation? How will I continue to touch my audience in the absence of a voice?

This is what I’ve learned:

  • Video can’t be the only thing I do. If video was my only method of creating content I would be in trouble, but it’s not. In addition to Live Feed videos I also do daily quotes, twitter posts, blog posts, share other people’s content, and offer insight from articles affecting the industry.
  • Draw from my archives. I have a huge library of content from which I can draw. Creating “evergreen” content, the kind of content that’s relevant regardless of what is happening in the world, allows me to draw from that library. Yesterday I shared from the archives “Positive on the Offensive” – always a timely topic.
  • Stay engaged. Just because I can’t talk doesn’t mean that I can’t touch. I have consistently done a video broadcast Monday – Thursday at 9:00am for almost 2 years. There is an expectation that I will be Live at 9:00. When I can’t fulfill that obligation I still need to communicate. I still need to share why. I don’t like to expose my life on FB, but sharing the struggle allows people to care. Allow them to engage with you even if the format changes.
  • Have a plan to expand my footprint. Limitations always cause me to recognize I need to grow. I had become very comfortable with my content process then it got disrupted – time to reevaluate. Obviously there are some automations that would improve the process. However automations can only run what has already been created. Creating additional types of content takes on a new priority. Quizzes, personal messages, forums, Q&A platforms all look like very attractive ways to expand my presence.

So What About You?

Are you depending on a limited number of touch points with your audience? If for some reason that were to be put on hold do you have a plan?

I started the Content Creation Marketing Machine so you could maintain continuous contact with your audience. I was in the process of kicking that program off when this flu hit. Because of that delay I’m making a special offer to anyone who is ready to grow their audience. Use the button below to find out more. The offer changes as soon as I get my voice back.

daily content creation

Plan Your Year in Three Words

Plan your year in three simple words. It’s more challenging than it seems yet there is magic in its simplicity. Join me as I apply this process to my year.

The Model

“There is nothing new under the sun.” So it would make good sense to see if you can find a model to follow. Someone who has experienced some success doing the thing that you want to do. Because success leaves clues. I want to find the clues and see what I can pick up to incorporate into my experience. Maybe avoiding a few hiccups along the way.

I looked back at 2017 and I knew I didn’t exactly want to reproduce those results. (I’m going to save the ugly details for later.) I also learned some very valuable lessons that I knew would benefit me this year. However, I struggled with achieving some goals that left me committed to doing better this year. In my quest I found  an article by Chris Brogan that would change everything for me… My 3 Words for 2018

I found a model that I could use and make my own.  The two essential requirements for success – it’s simple and it works!

Trigger Words

I’m fully aware of the power that a single word can produce. I know that there is magic in a word when it is anchored to an emotion or memory. I’ve experienced complete transformation, both positive and negative, by hearing one simple word.

 

Neurologically, we have an instinctual reaction to words and language. Researchers have found that we are hardwired to associate sounds with images, even in words we do not comprehend. via 189 Powerful Words That Convert

The thought of anchoring my whole plans for the year on 3 words seemed simple enough. I already had an idea of where I wanted to focus my attention. Now, just pick three words and write them on the wall.

Just one problem…

 

What 3 Words…To Plan Your Year?

The concept is simple enough, but hanging my daily plans for 365 days on 3 words? That is quite another thing. Could I pick three words that would properly reflect everything I wanted to accomplish for the year? They had to be broad enough that I would be inspired to accomplish them without getting bored and jumping ship. They had to be deep enough that I would never feel as if I had arrived. I had to select three words that were in alignment with my core values. Three words that help me accomplish my Vision Statement. Suddenly the choice held new significance.

Plan your year using three words is very different than setting three goals. Goals are something you work toward. They are measured by certain milestones. They occupy a certain amount of your schedule. You check them off when you’re finished. Not so with these planning words. You don’t work towards them 6 hours a day…you’re always working on them. Every single activity must be connected to one of these three words.

Here are my three words for 2018:

 

Content

Content was going to be my passion for the year so this one was easy. The more I thought about it the deeper that thought went. I have always had a content focus. Instead of setting a goal for volume of content I’m focusing on the deeper aspects of creating quality content that not only converts but transforms. 

Creating high quality, valuable content is my legacy to the world. To connect with an audience as Milton Gregory stated in the 7 Laws of Teaching, the UNKNOWN must be explained by means of the KNOWN. My mantra has always been – Simple Makes Awesome Easy! A quality content focus takes complex topics and renders them as simple as possible, but not simpler

Build

I’m using build as in body building. I’m going to build some new skills. Skills driven by last years experiences. Speaking, doing webinars, providing customer service assistance, communicating internationally, interpreting challenges and creating strategies has been the first step in creating a “body” that is prepared for the task.  I’m going to pursue and approach each of those task as a bodybuilder approaches a workout.

The bodybuilding analogy is appropriate given the lessons from the previous year. I jumped into 2017 going down a particular path only to get knocked off that path about midyear. I learned much, but I didn’t have much I could build upon. This year if it doesn’t build it doesn’t happen.

Community

Devote my time and efforts to communities of people committed with common interests and shared responsibilities. Provide as much value in those communities as possible focusing on how I can help them “get what they want so I can get what I want.”

I’ve learned much about building communities in the digital age. Committing to providing value in communities is the best way to demonstrate expertise and build communication skills. I’ve already found some communities where I will be a part and I looking for more. While at the same time creating my own.

It’s going to be an interesting year. I now have something I can remember (even if it is 3:00 am) stone cold. Three words that when I wake I already know what I’m going to do. When I have completed a task I know immediately what to do next. Three simple words that will be my litmus test for my entire year as they formulate my thoughts moment by moment.


What Are your Three words?

Maybe you need a coach that can help you find your focus.

The Content Marketing Creation Machine

Content Marketing in a Digital Age

Content marketing is a very hot topic. Unlike many marketing trends that catch fire and die quickly, content marketing is here to stay. It’s a proven way to interest customers and convert them into buyers.

The magnitude of information thrown at customers every day causes them to guard their attention closely. If you want to grab your customers’ attention, you need to produce content that solves real problems of higher quality than that of your competitors. That’s a tall order.

“The reality is that while website content can be a great marketing tool, it can also be a trap for the unwary who miss some key opportunities to really develop their marketing efforts online successfully.

“You can read a great guide to creating great content marketing by content marketing guru Neil Patel right here.” via 3 Ways To Destroy Your Website Authority With Bad Content Marketing (And How to Change That For Good)

Write for a Community NOT for an Avatar

Popular marketing says, Create an avatar, spell out all of the demographics and psychographics of that individual. Then write specifically with that person in mind. Visualize them. Speak directly to them. Meet their needs.

Let’s challenge that thinking for a bit.  What if you wrote for a specific community? What if you focused on meeting the needs of a community instead of an individual?

Some examples of a community:

  • Senior citizens
  • Millennials
  • Parents of teenagers
  • Veterans
  • Spouses of soldiers
  • Living in Rural America
  • Teachers of preschoolers
  • Recovering disco fans

You get the idea. The community interest is the glue that binds the community not the demographics or psychographics. Each member of the community may drive a range of vehicles, shop in a diversity of locations, or have different spending habits. but they’re loyal to the community. Address the community and you reach a broader base in a more targeted manner. Address the behaviors and spending habits and you’ll be chasing forever.

Writing for the community sets you apart as the expert. When you speak to the needs of the community you’re talking to their loyalties. Try to address each individual and you risk missing them all.

Example:

Your business is recycled Japanese car parts. Who should your avatar include? Doctors? Retired School Teachers? Yuppies? Car enthusiasts?

How would you know for sure? You could take a look at your current client list. Or you could consider Miata owners community. Would it be easier to target the community or target individuals in that community?

This is a diverse group of people as you can imagine. Targeting a specific demographic you very well could miss your target. By meeting the needs of the Miata Owners Community you speak to the loyalty of the group.

 

Community focus flies in the face of traditional marketing

Traditional marketing says, “create an avatar (your ideal client), give him/her a name, know everything you can about that person, then speak specifically to them.”

Let’s go back to your business. Your business is selling recycled imported car parts. It’s not, to sell to a retired school teacher who likes to cruise around with the top down. Who makes $64,000 a year and invests heavily in the stock market. This school teacher has 7 grandkids and reads the Wall Street Journal daily. 

You sell recycled imported car parts…

Who is in the market for your business? Focus on the avatar and you’ll struggle trying to hit the target. Focus on the community and hit it with deadeye accuracy.

What if you frequently contributed quality content to the Miata Owners Community about: “The care of imported cars.” “Where to source quality parts.” “Ten really cool places to take a road trip in your amazing Miata on days when you can ride with your top down.” “The Top Twelve Best Brokers in America to Buy a Vintage Miata.” “Tips for insuring a vintage import.” 

You get the idea. When you’re contributing to the community you stand out from the crowd. Your contribution increases the value of the community. You’re demonstrating that you care about people who own Miata’s.

Studying the community allows you to focus your Content Marketing…

  • Read what they write. Listen to their questions. Tap into feelings and emotions in your writing. Once you understand how your buyers want to feel when they use your product, you can evoke those feelings with your content.
  • Know your communities’ buying triggers. Then send your emails and messages at the right time to interest buyers. You can also make sure that the same content is on your website and anywhere else your buyers find you.
  • Directly address problems the community experiences. Solving problems in the community helps you stand out as the expert. Your content, however you deliver it, should focus on problem solving. The result is revenue.
  • Invite influencers to persuade them. Knowing who your customers listen to (you’ll discover this by listening to and participating in the community) and respect is an important piece of the content puzzle. You want to include influencer endorsements/attributions in your content whenever possible.
  • Let the community set the tone of your voice. Listening will help you determine whether you need a formal voice or something more conversational.

What about Google and SEO?

Organic search results are important, but familiarity with an author carries weight as well. What if they began their Google search looking for you?

If potential buyers are finding you in the communities they love, they will start looking for you when they need what you sell. Build your brand around the value you bring. Content marketing puts you in multiple places all of the time, building your brand (demonstrating your value).

Quality content marketing is the secret to ranking well, but more important is building buyer confidence. You build buyer confidence by creating quality content consistently with authority and supported by market influencers.

Measure Quality by Engagement

Do you get the picture? Quality content is king because it helps you stand out in a noisy crowd. Content that doesn’t engage the audience is just noise. Standing out is essential to getting found.

 

Not just interesting, but useful

It’s not enough to create quality content. You must create useful content as well. Write something that creates an actionable item for your reader. Something that they can immediately put to work. What impact do you think your content would have if you began, “Before the Spring weather hits here are 5 things to post on the wall in your garage. Simple things you can do to extend the life of your roof. None of them require you to leave your mower.”

Become a resource and people will get to know, like, and trust you. When they’re ready to buy, they will also buy from you. A resource of useful information is invaluable in the world of many noises.

 

Don’t just care, listen

It’s not enough to say you care. You must provide a feedback mechanism…it’s called listening! The skill of listening is the most powerful content creation tool you possess. Image the impact that your content would have if you began, “I was reading in the group yesterday and 12 people mentioned that they ________ so I’ve created this ________ to help you find a local solution to __________.”  Then speak to them in their terms, exactly the way they describe the issue.

This is demonstrated listening. A skill that few possess, but an expert has mastered. An expert knows how to listen so that the question behind the question becomes obvious. Having understood the real question, the expert then formulates the response in such a way that the audience embraces the answer.

 

Not just facts, but relatable stories

The art of storytelling is getting lost in our 140 (now 280 characters) character limit world. A story that is meaningful and related to the topic at hand, is more valuable than any other form of communication. Our brains are wired for stories, perfect this skill and your content will stand out!

Create Engaging, Curated Content Like a Machine

Creating high quality content is work! Unless you want cookie cutter results it will always be work. BUT we have a process that can reduce the work and allow you to focus on your unique voice. Let’s talk about it…

The Law of Harvest

The law of harvest may be the most basic business principle of all. It is also the most neglected and ignored. There are no shortcuts to this fundamental law.

Law of Harvest – The Most Fundamental of Laws

The laws of nature and the laws of business are parallel principles in the same universe. You see this most clearly in the law of harvest.  Everywhere you look, unless you’re buried in the heart of the inner city and never get out into the rural areas, you see the abundance of harvest.  The law of harvest is manifest in 7 basic principles…

You only reap what you sow

A life, a business and a crop all have many things in common. What can we learn about life and business by looking at harvesting a crop? You get exactly the thing that you sow.

law of harvest

The harvest belongs to the sowers. There is no harvest without sowing. There is always a portion of the harvest dedicated to the sowing process.

You reap the same that you sow

The harvest is directly connected to what you sow. In nature if you sow wheat you always get wheat. You never get bananas. Or if you sow a bad seed you end up with a bad harvest.

The same is true in business. If you sow in the field of your business purpose, value and quality, you get fulfillment, value and satisfaction. In the same manner if you sow intolerance, greed, and egotism, you will reap closed doors, and scarcity along with doubt and insecurity.

What you sow you will also reap. That law will not be broken, even if a guru promises you otherwise. There is no hack for this. You can’t change this rule.

You always reap after you sow

The idea that you can bypass sowing and go directly to reaping is a empty promise. One of the greatest dangers of the done for you programs is it develops the thought that you get benefit without effort. That thought leads to the action of chasing after the magic bullet rather than developing marketable skills.

You always harvest more than you sow

The effort required to sow pays a hundredfold at the time of the harvest. The seed sown always multiplies. it is the very nature of sowing and reap. Planting a single kernel of corn can result in a return of more than 800 kernels. You always harevet more than you sow. In your business if you make customer service a priority you’ll  have a harvest of loyal fans. One loyal fans can yield far more than the time invested in customer service.

You reap in proportion to what you sow

In the abundant world in which we live there is a limit to what we can receive. That sounds somewhat contradictory, but the limit is what we have sown. Sow a little and you will reap a little. Sow a lot and you will reap a large harvest. Give your customers a fraction of your time and you’ll get a small return. Give them 80% of your best effort and you get even less in return.

You will reap more if you give attention to what you sow

Once sowing has taken place you’ll get a better harvest if you attend to your crop. The same is true in business you must give attention to the customers. If you email them extras, provide them unexpected benefits, speak to their ever changing needs, the returns are far greater.

Harvest comes at the end

Patience is required for the harvest. Too many people quit too soon. They expect to sow one day and harvest the next. It doesn’t work that way in the field and it doesn’t work in business. The law of harvest demands that you wait for the harvest.

You can reap what others have sown

I’m not talking about taking another’s harvest. I’m talking about benefiting from others labors. Listen carefully to those who have labored before you. You can do a joint venture with those who need your skill set.


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The Myth Of Done For You Programs – The Value of Seeking, Struggling and Surviving

There is a plethora of done for you programs available today, but what does that really mean? Is this a shortcut to money in the bank or is it the next big myth?

Done for You Program – What Does it Really Mean?

It seems like every industry is flooded with someone offering to do all of the work for you and you simply get money transferred to your account. I mean that sounds pretty cool doesn’t it?

So what’s wrong with the done for you programs? Why do they lead to a condition we are calling learned helplessness? I just got a email from the long time marketing genius Marlon Sanders check out his comment…

“These are SKILLS you learn. You got to dig in and WORK to learn them. They don’t fall into your lap. Otherwise everyone in the freaking world could already do it and they wouldn’t need YOU now, would they? It’s GOOD that it’s not all easy and fast to learn. If it were, there would be no opportunity for you.” ~~Marlon Sanders

His focus on work is worth noting. This flies in the face of the done for you hollow and empty promises. If it doesn’t require work they don’t need you. This is pretty simple and it makes perfect sense. Let’s see what we might be missing out on if we jump on this train…

The Value of Seeking, Struggling and Surviving

The done for you program seeks to eliminate three of the most important exercises that a business owner goes through – seeking, struggling and surviving. In that process three questions must be considered:

  1. Is there value in struggling?
  2. Is the process more profitable that the product? Success leaves clues, but all we talk about is the clues we never talk about the struggle. We should talk about the struggle of the process.
  3. Is the outcome the goal or is mastery the goal?

Let Me Do It For You

I was involved in a done for you program last year. I cringed when I heard about it because I know where these go. I’ve never seen this work successfully. My involvement was to answer questions and help walk people through the process. The offer was to approximately 7000 people.

Here’s the program details:

  • Participant was to purchase a domain and host that URL on a hosting platform.
  • DFY delivers a WP site with theme loaded with necessary pages and placeholders for content.
  • DFY provided five “lead magnet” PDF files for opt-in offers.
  • Participant was to connect their own autoresponder.
  • DFY provided email campaign complete with (put your autoresponder code here) type of instructions – participant setup.
  • Video place holders to be replaced by videos, included in the program, once they were hosted on participant’s account.

In a few days over 300 people accessed the files and started the process. I was asked at least 200 times, “is this a good URL?” It was so bad that I created a boilerplate of questions that I pasted as the response. I wasn’t about to do that level of thinking for them. The very first question was, “What are you planning to do?” More than half answered in some way, “That thing that is part of this program.” Obviously not a candidate for any kind of program where they have to think for themselves.

Maybe the program was directed at the wrong type of people or maybe the wrong type of people are attracted to done for you programs. Either way it was a failure. I’m a big advocate of learning from the struggle…I’ve learned from this one.

What did we learn?

After thirty days I had reviewed 50 sites. Most of them looked exactly alike. Almost no personalization of any information on the sites. Many of them hadn’t even changed the contact information. Very few had actually hosted the videos and changed the placeholders. Spelling errors weren’t corrected (trade secret – you purposely include spelling errors to see who is paying attention). Only a handful had set up an autoresponder. When I asked about the lack of attention given, the response was always the same, “I didn’t know I was going to have to do all that.”

In other words, they either lacked the prerequisite skills to use a done for you program or they were simply lazy. Either way the program didn’t help. It takes time to develop skills. Consequently shortcutting that investment of time by having someone do it for you simply doesn’t work. Any benefit or possibility of success is quickly erased by the obvious lack of skill development. Above everything else the process is as greater than the product.

The Value of the Process

The value gained by the process exceeds any potential of profit. There is a shortage of real success stories of someone who didn’t have any experience/expertise suddenly making it big with a DFY program. Knowing the process by working through the struggles is a skill that puts you ahead of your competition. It gives you value that others are willing to pay for a long time to come. Chasing the done for you deal ignores the necessity of developing your value.

If you didn’t put the program together then you miss out on the product creation process. Without developing or at least modifying the site you won’t know what triggers are included. Unless you have input in the funnel you will miss out on understanding the levels you are taking someone through. (So you won’t know why you might be pissing them off in the process.)

I was the trainer for an insurance company once when they jumped on the done for you bandwagon. Instead of looking internally to those who had expertise in their market they sought an easy fix. They purchased a program from an individual in LA. Then they implemented that across the country and expected everyone to adhere to it exactly. Without recognizing there is a big difference between LA (Los Angeles) and  AL (Alabama) they were headed for trouble. The results were disastrous. Communication tolerated in LA was extremely offensive in AL. Being vested in the process would easily have identified the issues and prevented a lot of heartache.

The Law of The Harvest

The done for you program violates the law of the harvest. The law of the harvest says you can only reap what you have sown. You cannot violate this fundamental law. In order to reap you must first sow.

The seeking, struggling and surviving are all necessary steps to the harvest. Try to hack this law and you will fail.

Expertise is Value

The buying public wants an expert! They look for someone who has demonstrated expertise beyond the product. If you have a cookie cutter program what kind of an expert do you look like? Will you convince them to spend their money with you?

Short answer is they won’t buy from you. You must have some level of demonstrated expertise. You should appear in the videos. It should be your voice in the podcast. The documentation should sound like you wrote it. The ads should have your face, because ultimately you are the product.

Your gain expertise by seeking, struggling and surviving. What you learn in that process is the greatest value you can bring to potential buyers. I’m not talking about learning to code so you can create your own autoresponder. However, you certainly do need to know how to setup an email responder and you need to know how to write an email sequence. Likewise, marketing a program introduced by a PDF, eBook or whitepaper you must know what’s in those documents. Finally they must sound like you wrote them.

Where Have All of The Masters Gone

For centuries the expert was the master craftsman/tradesperson. They completed a course of training, had a trial period where they perfected their craft, and then recognized as Master.

The buying public sought them out because they knew they knew the product was delivered by a master. The done for you mentality says none of that is important any more. Seems like the only thing that matters now is the best deal supported by a knucklehead who isn’t sure how the gizmo really works.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Let’s draw a conclusion from all of this. First of all recognize that a done for you program might actually put you at a disadvantage. It could very well keep you from developing necessary skills that will benefit you and your clients in the future. Secondly run in your own lane! Why if you have spent your entire career doing one thing would you want to totally switch careers and do something different? If you are and experience HVAC mechanic don’t suddenly abandon that to run an affiliate program. You have no demonstrated expertise and no credibility. Instead find a way to create lead magnets for the HVAC industry and do lead generation. Lastly, talk to an expert. Find someone who will shot straight with you. Business is hard work. If they tell you anyone can do it, find someone who is honest.

Make 2018 the very best year ever!

Eric Mulford 

Talk about Your Business?

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Black Hat Marketing Techniques Exposed

Black hat marketing techniques need to be exposed. They hurt business as a whole. They should be exposed when I find them so you can avoid they tactics and their tricks.

While doing a YouTube search for promotional videos for Kudani Cloud – what I believe to be the best content curation tool on the market. I stumbled on this video and I decided to share his black hat marketing techniques with you. The more you know the more you can protect yourself.

Now you get the impression from the video title and the splash page that the content is going to be about the reason why you shouldn’t buy this product. The product was released 4 years ago and the scheduled release of the product coincides with the date of this video. The lowlife is piggybacking on the release of a very popular product to get traffic and attention to his slimy offer. By using the name of the very popular product creator he is leveraging traffic.

Look at the splash page. “Here’s me. I’m at the Giza Plateau. This is made possible by my incredible success on the internet.” While not a black hat marketing technique it has become a kind of “guru” trick.

Black Hat Endorsement

At 6:34 in the video he mentions, “the developer has specifically asked that I not reveal the pricing in this video”. He is implying that he has checked with the developer before creating this video and is complying with his request. Again this is an insider trick to fake an endorsement for the presentation.

The video creator even goes so far as to mention that “you will be receiving emails and offers to buy this product.” By doing this he is taking advantage of a kind of social proof. He’s using the traffic created by the 10,000’s of emails that are being sent around this release to drive traffic to his YouTube scam. (I say scam because clicking on the links in the comments brings up a YouTube warning that the links are dangerous and contain phishing/malware.)

Is There a Pattern Here?

Look carefully at the clip from the YouTube video. Notice that the video had been viewed 405 times and was given a thumbs down 1k times. Something seems wrong here. Something usually seems wrong when black hat marketing techniques are employed.

black hat marketing techniques exposed

 

In this next clip notice this man’s method. He takes a popular topic, product launch, or popular product creator and  and leverages their name. The term “Don’t Buy” creates an automatic response in your mind. It’s a trigger  that there is something wrong and you need to find out what it is. This is clear psychological manipulation.

The last thing that caught my attention was the search terms used in the video post. By stuffing the video post with search terms appearing as a review it gives the appearance of endorsement. Notice particularly the number of times he promises the very thing which he has no intention of delivering. Terms like: “scam”, “exposed”, “revealed”, “don’t buy”, and “should I buy” are triggers. Those phrases are specifically intend to capture your attention and play on your curiosity.

These techniques are as old as internet marketing, but they continue popping up. Don’t pull these tricks. Don’t be trapped by them.

For more on marketing techniques that are morally acceptable schedule a time with me.

Postscript: Apparently the creator of the original video has passed away. While we mourn his loss we are aware that many claimed to have learned everything they know about marketing on the internet from him.

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