Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Cold calling is joining the ranks of 8-track tape players and Palm Pilots: It’s clunky, it’s outdated, and it’s ready to be put out to pasture. Ten years ago, reaching a prospect was possible after 3.68 cold calls.
Now? That number of attempts has jumped up to eight. Is it any surprise that 44 percent of salespeople surveyed admit to calling it quits after the first unsuccessful follow-up call?
Prospects in 2017 are used to self-service options and finding business partners via thought leadership or email campaigns, not unsolicited phone calls. In fact, these calls may actually hurt your chances as much as help them. Even cold calling’s champions report a conversion rate that hovers around 2 percent.
But cold calling’s fall from grace doesn’t mean your sales team is done for. There are far better ways to generate qualified leads and grow your business. Here are five of them:
  1. Develop a well-crafted, personalized email campaign.
Your emails need to speak the language of their recipients, whether that means lacing your content with academic prose or writing in an informal style that features slang, emojis, and GIFs. The core information of your email doesn’t have to change; it’s the delivery mechanism — based on the readers’ personalities — that makes the difference.
Sapper Consulting, for example, is a lead generation company that specializes in crafting personalized emails that build relationships and, ultimately, create qualified leads. Sapper’s senior director of content, Ryan Myers, says, “Our firm sends thousands of emails per week on behalf of clients. It would be easy for them to sound and feel automated, but they don’t. Segmenting recipients by industry and title helps us speak to readers’ individual concerns and challenges.”
  1. Implement an effective content strategy.
Outbound marketing tactics (like cold calling) are vestiges of a different era; now inbound marketing reigns supreme. And any good inbound marketing strategy relies, above all, on compelling content. This content can take a variety of forms: guest articles, blog content, informative whitepapers — the list goes on.
Inbound strategies are also cost-effective. Search Engine Journal found that inbound leads are 60 percent less expensive than outbound leads. Content series that draw your company’s target audiences in and keep them coming back to learn more are great conversion tools, especially when they involve strategic calls to action and landing pages to entice your readers to stay in touch and learn even more.
  1. Optimize your web presence.
It’s not enough to simply have a website anymore. Every business has a website and (most likely) at least three social media accounts. What matters is that the online experience your business delivers be memorable, intuitive, and consistent across channels. Your site should make it easy for visitors to access the array of content your team is developing.
Prioritize your homepage, in particular. Cisco subsidiary TANDBERG, a teleconferencing company, added a subtle call to action to its homepage and saw a 50 percent boost in lead generation. Visitors finding your page via social media, search engines, or other sites will first interact with your homepage, so make sure the style and messaging are appealing.
  1. Boost your search rankings.
An SEO strategy is shifting from a nice-to-have to a must-have. This long-term tactic is one of the best ways to ensure that your company is consistently found by the right audience. Whether you hire an in-house team to focus on boosting search rankings or outsource this effort, identify the keywords that make your business stand out.
Keywords aren’t the only way to implement SEO practices. You should also ensure that your URLs are formatted properly, your content has unique titles (featuring your long-tail keyword phrases), and your images load quickly.
  1. Make a social media splash.
Social media channels are a useful way to interact with prospects and customers regardless of industry, but different channels are more effective for different demographics. For companies seeking Millennial customers, Snapchat and Instagram campaigns are likely to catch prospects’ eyes. Snapchat’s use in marketing efforts has grown by leaps and bounds (for both B2B and B2C companies) since 2014, so if you’re seeking younger customers, link your Snapchat account to your other social media platforms.
Other platforms may not offer as much flair as Snapchat, but they can still help you grow your audience. One such platform is LinkedIn, which is a great place to gain qualified leads. B2B marketers are especially likely to see success on this channel, as it has a higher concentration of business users than other social media sites. In fact, 80 percent of social media-based B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
As technology evolves and customer preferences change, sales and marketing teams are having to follow suit to keep up. While previously favored techniques like cold calling are dying out, these five lead generation tactics are just getting started.

Monday, January 29, 2018

How Small Business Owners Can Take Advantage of Instagram

As a small business owner, are you leveraging Instagram to grow your company?

Why use Instagram?

If you need further convincing that you should take advantage of Instagram in your marketing plan, here's a few more stunning statistics:

Tips for Creating Memorable Instagram Images

Use the following tips to create compelling Instagram photo and video ads for your business.

Create Images to Capture Attention

The internet is swimming in mundane images, so try to share images that capture attention. Feature your products or services in human-scale space to provide context. Spotlight your brand, and seek to tell a unique story with each photo.

Interesting Angles

Use interesting angles in your photos. Not all products should be shown sitting on a shelf or table. How about dangling from a hand or falling through space? How can you capture your services being performed or used from a unique perspective?

Lighting is Critical

Pay attention to lighting and shadow in your images. They can provide great emphasis and artistic quality when used correctly. However, everyone knows when too much light creates an unwelcome glare, or too little light hides what you are trying to photograph. For beginners, try to angle the light to be directly overhead, or at least behind you when taking photos.

Filters Add Interest

Instagram users can now use augmented reality to overlay effects, costumes, and more over images. These filters can be fun and help create funny images, but don't overdo it. They are currently more for personal sharing than brand representation, although using one in a personal or business photo occasionally can add a whimsy, personal touch to your advertising.

Use Relevant #Hashtags to Get Found

Instagram posts with at least one hashtag get 12.6% more engagement than those without any. Use the top Instagram hashtags that are specific to your audience. Look at the Instagram hashtags your industry leaders, competitors, and audience are using that are relevant to your products and/or services. Marketing experts recommend using 3-5 hashtags with each post, although you could use up to thirty.

Sponsored Ads with Calls to Action

With an Instagram business account, you can create sponsored ads with personalized calls to action for your products and/or services. An Instagram business account is connected to a Facebook profile for your business which you can create for free. Instagram sponsored ads are paid ads that place your brand before targeted audiences you can create, and now feature specific call-to-action buttons that help stimulate user interactions.

Use Captions

Captioning your Instagram posts help tell the story of your image. Considering how quickly users scroll through their Instagram feed, brief captions are best. Include a thought-provoking question or comment about the photo. Include a few relevant hashtags at the bottom. Instagram caps off captions after three lines, so any text longer than this will not be seen unless the viewer pauses to click the 'more' option.

Boomerang from Instagram

Boomerang is a great tool for creating videos that will engage your audience. It's an application that takes a series of photos and strings them together in the form of a short video. Then this video can be imported and displayed on Instagram. The Boomerang video will loop to make it seem your subject or camera are in constant motion. Post a Boomerang with a caption and hashtags just as you would an Instagram image. It's a fun way to catch users' attention and promote your business and brand.

How Can I Build My Instagram Audience?

Building an audience on Instagram doesn't have to be hard or consume great blocks of time. Follow these simple steps to grow your Instagram audience gradually.
Step 1 - Spend 5 minutes a day posting to your Instagram account.
Marketing professionals agree the best times to post on Instagram are Monday and Thursday at 2 am, 8-9 am, and 5 pm. Instagram best practices would be no more than 30 hashtags, although 3-5 is best, and 3 emojis. Always remember, every audience is different, so you should test what frequency and time frames bring you the greatest level of engagement.
Step 2 – Once or twice a week, find your target market and follow them.
Locate a competitor on Instagram, and follow their followers. Seek to add 25 – 100 new accounts during each session. Once your audience begins growing, don’t forget to engage with their posts. This is a good time to note the top hashtags and topics being used by your competitors and their audiences for use in your own posts. Also note the times and days of the week they are posting.
By using these great tips, small business owners can use Instagram to build a vast audience for engagement and marketing that will grow their business. More exposure generates more leads, and more leads produces more sales

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

10 pitching commandments for PR pros and startups

Launching a startup is tough.
Between getting your idea off the ground, generating clients and securing funding, you probably think you don’t have time for much else.
Think again.
For many founders, PR is just a blip on the radar, but good media coverage can help you reach your audiences, including customers and investors. Here’s how to proceed:
1. Be prepared. All your documents should be ready to share. Reporters can call at any moment, and when they ask you to jump, you should ask, “How high”? From doling out press kits and FAQ sheets to having the flexibility to reschedule lower-priority meetings, you should be ready.
2. Customize your pitches. Reporters know when they receive a canned pitch, even if it begins with their first name. Look at their Twitter feeds, read their recent stories, and personalize the content for them.
3. Formatting. Too often, spacing and formatting end up wonky, especially if you’re sending a pitch to someone using a different email program. Always clear the formatting for each email and reformat it. It’s the little things that can make or break your opportunities for coverage.
4. Make it a list; check it twice. Instead of spamming a media list that you curated in a program such as Cision or Vocus, check the contacts listed before you pitch them. Often these databases aren’t updated, and reporters have moved around or no longer cover a given beat.
5. Build relationships. Receiving any response from a reporter is great, even if it’s a pass. Be sure to respond and thank them, and ask what types of news they’re most interested in so you can tailor future pitches. You might consider offering them your news exclusively in the future or grabbing coffee with them so you can nurture the relationship.
6. Never mail-merge. Reporters can tell the difference between a tailored pitch and a template sent to them with their name and email address slapped on top. The tactic means your pitch will land in many journalists’ inboxes—and then probably go straight into the trash. Don’t do it.
7. Pick up the phone. This can depend on the reporter; often they’ll have instructions on their Twitter account or website asking people not to call them. This usually applies to tech reporters, but some writers—especially those at trade publications—don’t mind a phone call, and having a live conversation can help convert your pitch into coverage.
8. Wait 24 hours to follow up. It’s OK to follow up on pitches if you don’t receive a response, but wait at least a day. Think about everything that pops up in a workday. Think how annoying it would be if your bank sent you another email if you hadn’t responded to one from two hours earlier.
9. Twitter is a great resource. Reporters generally post when they’re moving to a new outlet, and it’s a great platform to follow what kinds of news they find interesting. Don’t be afraid to interact with them, and you can tweet @ them if you’re in need of a quick response.
10. Make it timely. If you can, tie your news to a timely hook, which can give a writer more incentive to cover it. Announcing a new feature for your platform? Show why it’s relevant for today’s political news. Rapid response—offering yourself as an expert commentator—is a great way to insert yourself into the news as well, as long as you act quickly.
We know PR can be the last thing on your mind when creditors are knocking and you’re pulling all-nighters, but if you don’t have time, hire a marketing/communications manager, a freelancer or a PR firm. They can do wonders.