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Enter to Get a Free Blog Article on Zerys

  
  
  

zerys content marketplace title=Zerys the content marketplace class=

Would you like to get a free blog post article written for you on the all new Zerys content marketplace? I'm not talking about any old, so-so, run of the mill piece of content. This will be a compelling, interesting, helpful, relevant article you'd be proud to post on your blog.

It will also have your ideas, POV, tone and, in effect, authorship voice stamped all over it (yes, it is possible to have others write content for you and maintain your POV, style and voice!). As managing editor, I will help guide the process to create an expertly written article by one of my writing professionals from the Zerys Writer Marketplace.

I've been a Zerys Pro Agency (see my case study on Zerys for Agencies) for blogging and content creation for over 4 years. I've built some solid relationships with writers I know and trust, and I've learned a few things about the process of creating great content on this terrific platform.

Here's the application process

  • Complete the Blog Giveaway Questionnaire
  • Managing Editor (ME - Greg Elwell) reviews and selects the top 4 entrants (see selection criteria below)
  • We have a consultation (email or phone) to (a) agree on process engagement points, and (b) add to and fine-tune the writer instructions
  • ME gets everything rolling in Zerys
  • Blog articles are reviewed, revised as necessary and approved (here's where you get to see the power of Zerys!)
  • We download or import the approved article to your WordPress or HubSpot blog drafts/pendings folder
  • ME makes optimization recommendations and you publish it when ready

Everyone wins

Fill out the Blog Giveaway Questionnaire below or here and you will receive my free Guide and Worksheet for Creating Blog Article Writing Instructions! I've updated and improved this over the past 4+ years. It can be used for getting blog content created for you by others, or as your own planning tool for writing your own posts. I never write without it!

Selection Criteria:

  • Clarity and completeness of filling out the Blog Giveaway Questionnaire
  • Ability to engage with the process, be responsive and see it through from start to finish in a reasonable period of time (normally 3-5 business days)
  • This offer is good until all 4 spots are filled - notice will be given at top of this post when it is closed to further entry

Length of articles will be between 500 to 750 words. The value of this offer is approximately $150 per article. Sorry, current blogging customers are not eligible for this giveaway - you are already going to get 1 free blog article from me in the future! (Putting action where my mouth is, Yay!)

B2B Inbound Blog Giveaway Entry Form & Questionnaire

Please complete the form below or the Blog Giveaway Questionnaire on Google Drive to enter.

Thanks for entering, I look forward to reviewing the responses!

 

The Only Way to Deliver a Delightful B2B Customer Experience (and Earn Repeat Business)

  
  
  

What does it take to deliver a delightful B2B customer experience, and in the process earn their repeat business? The truth is it depends.

It depends on whether you're focused on making an immediate sale, or earning repeat business.

If you operate to serve B2B customers, you can't be happy with attracting the one-time customer. You must be concerned with cultivating a consistent experience, over time, that will move otherwise one-and-done buyers to raving repeats. To do that, you've got to think about what happens on the inside of your operation, not so much on what brought them to you.

Pat Flynn got it right when he said:

"Raving fans are not created the moment people discover you, they're created by the moments you create for them over time."

You don't simply want walk-ins, you want check-ins. The difference between the two is that walk-ins walk out, but check-ins stay with you. (I will illustrate this principle in a moment.)

But it's important right now to understand the glue for making a customer stick. Ready for the answer?

drum roll...

Remarkable experiences.

Here's a twist on Pat's axiom:

Repeat customers are not created the moment people come into your business; they're earned by the remarkable experiences you deliver to them over time.

So then, to better understand this idea of walk-ins equal a one-time sale vs. check-ins bring repeat business, allow me to share two different (B2C) experiences (we can apply to B2Bs) involving trips to barber shops - and what I learned about delighting customers (or not) from them.

Walk-Ins Only

Here's what an unremarkable experience looks like. (Think of it as a transaction that's not likely to be repeated.) It's like a walk-ins only barber shop.

walk in barber

I moved recently from Northern California to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I know you're thinking I'm crazy. (That's another story.) I needed a haircut and I drive by this barber shop just a few blocks from my house in South Minneapolis, all the time.

You see what it says on the sign, right? "WALK-INS ONLY." At Tom's Barber Shop (not real name) you don't need an appointment. Heck, they don't even take appointments. Just walk on in. So I did.

I almost walked right out, and should have upon seeing Tom's sidekick - probably someone renting a chair - and all the black clumps of hair on the floor. She was sitting in the barber's chair fiddling with a laptop. Why hadn't she swept up all that hair on the floor? Gross!

She got up and motioned for me to sit. I did. Why? No waiting, just walk right in, sit down, get your haircut. Soon my hair was falling, mingling with the mess at my feet. I looked up.

A man and teenage boy walked in. Run! They didn't. They sat down in chairs to wait while my eyes canvassed the dirty, messy shop. Had they been here before? And they came back?

I vowed right then and there. Never again would I step foot into Tom's Barber Shop. Tom could probably care less, he's got a walk-in, get in get out customer experience mentality.

I asked for a light trim. Got no conversation...no remarkable moments...just bad breath, creepy visuals and my hair chopped. "There you go," she said whisking away the barber cape, "you're a holy man again!" Wait. What?

Here's the thing we as B2B inbound marketers and business owners need to own: outward appearances don't always translate into remarkable (inside) customer experiences. What goes on inside your "shop" is more important than what you do to bring in customers.

For B2B inbound marketing success the customer experience is everything. Why? Because time marches on and the best customer you can get is the one you already have (in most cases). And it's the moments (experiences) you create for them over time that will keep them wanting to do more business with you, and refer you to others.

Time passed and I needed another trim. Allow me one more B2C example to help teach us B2Bs how to behave on the inside.

Check-Ins Encouraged

This time I went to a different kind of barber shop - Great Clips (their real name). They didn't have "WALK-INS ONLY" plastered on their sign. And while they also take walk-ins, they promise it's going to be great.

So I walked in and was greeted politely. First thing I did was check to see if there was a bunch of hair on the floor. There wasn't, whew! The girl at the front desk asked if I had checked in online. I...hadn't...didn't know you could. You mean like do I have an appointment?

She explained they don't take appointments but you can get their app, see where their shops download check in appare and the approximate wait times. You can then "check-in" and plan to drop in just before the wait time expires. Helpful - smart marketing, I thought to myself, but my guard is up and I'm a bit skeptical after my previous experience at Tom's.

She went on to explain how this can be used as a convenience, for me, the customer. For example, if the wait time shown is 30 minutes and it only takes you 10 minutes to get there, you don't have to jump in your car and drive there right away. Just plan to show up 5 minutes or so ahead of time and you won't lose your place. You'll get in pretty much right away. Brilliant.

Happily, I gave her all the information she asked for so I could get checked-in right then. Plus, I'd now be in their system to make future check-ins super easy (should I decide to return).

Hadn't even had my haircut yet but I'm now already thinking about downloading the app and coming back. Remember Tom's Barber Shop? Me neither.

The stylist was personable, professional, engaging. She asked lots of questions about what kind of haircut I wanted. Then, when she started cutting my hair she asked about me. How's my summer going, was I crazy for moving back to Minnesota, or what? Great.

During the course of our conversation I asked her about leaving hair on the floor after a cut. "Not if I want to keep my job and have repeat customers," she said. Exactly, I thought.

I will be back - already got the mobile app for online check-in.

Here are a few takeaways to help B2Bs like us create remarkable experiences:

  • Don't just hype things up on the outside to get customers to buy products or get service from you, be pleasant and delight them with the entire experience. In other words, be customer-centric, always. Check out this revealing and inspiring infographic by Vision Critical: So You Think Your Company is Customer-Centric, But Are You Really?
  • Sweep up the floor often. That means checking in frequently with your customers and always be looking to make improvements in the customer experience you are delivering. Don't assume everything is neat and tidy, find out what needs to be cleaned up, fixed or done differently.
  • As Jay Baer would encourage, be helpful by looking to provide some form of "Youtility" to make it easy for customers to know, like and trust you. "Smart marketing is about help not hype." Great Clips provided an app for this. For more ideas on marketing based on help not hype, and thereby delighting your customer, listen to the podcast interview I did with Jay on Creating Massively Useful Marketing with Youtility.

How's your B2B repeat business been? Do you deliver a walk-in only or check-in encouraged type of customer experience? What's the next step you could take to turn walk-ins walking out to check-ins that stay?

Got a tip for creating a remarkable customer experience in a B2B environment? Please share it in the comments.

 


 

5 Delicious Perspectives for Perfectly Curated Content

  
  
  

Note: This is a guest post by Helen Nesterenko (see byline below). Content curation is a topic I wrote about a few years ago as the next best marketing idea for 2011. That post remains as one of my most popular posts. Since then, the idea has come into full bloom. And, as we might expect, there are good ways to go about it and some not so good ways - plus a lot of confusion on what it's all about. Helen's post will help guide you down the right, content curation path.

The debate over curated content rages on, with content purists arguing curation is tantamount to laziness and content marketers asserting the many benefits of collected works. The truth is, curated content really can be a huge help to your marketing efforts in several ways.

curated colorful fruit bonbon

Try mixing up a perfectly curated batch of content keeping these delicious perspectives in mind.

Benefits of Content Curation

Your first and largest goal is to position yourself as an expert in your field. To do this, you must know what’s going on in your industry. When you share curated content, you reassure your readers that you have thoroughly studied all the latest news and chosen the very best subjects to share. This inspires trust, which is your second goal with your content strategy. Finally, you get the benefit of SEO when interested parties seek out the information you’ve included in your post.

Another huge benefit of curated content is the chance to share specific topics with your network. By sharing content from other experts in the field, you show a distinct interest in the subject, while also providing knowledgeable information from people who obviously know what they’re talking about.

To ensure you’re getting your point across, you can first share the excerpts from various publications, and then add your own commentary. This helps first by gathering important information into one place for anyone who may have an interest in the topic. Also, you’ll share your own understanding of the content shared, which further cements your establishment as an expert in your field.

If you’re not sure how this might appear in a blog post, this particular example may give you some direction. Note how each creator receives credit for the work shared, with links back to the original documents, before the meat of the content is presented.

Evaluating Topics

The key to a successful curated content post is a juicy topic no one can pass up. The best way to catch the eyes and attention of your audience is to post the latest news before the topic goes viral. You don’t always have to chase the news, though. Sometimes you might want to be the newsmaker, which you can do by putting together posts with content others may have missed the first time around. By putting your stamp of approval on the topics you include, you give credence to that content.

Whatever your approach, you want to make sure the topics you choose appeal to a wide audience while still remaining specialized. Without a strategy, your curated content will appear thrown together, disorganized, and probably lazy.

Researching Your Content

Finding content isn’t usually a problem, but you do want to ensure you’re not rehashing old news unless you have a new twist. To discover great content for inclusion, you can use several different tools. Here’s a short list of outlets, but by no means is it complete:

  • Google – Simply search for your desired subject. You’ll received hundreds of possibilities right away.
  • Alltop – You can search within your industry for truly relevant search results. The site allows submissions, so you’ll see a wide variety of quality possibilities.
  • Twitter – The trending topics are always a great place to start, but you can drill down to your industry through Twitter Search or Followerwonk.
  • Google+ Communities – Why not mine the news you get from your contacts on Google+? You already trust them or you wouldn’t have connected in the first place.
  • LinkedIn – Blogs posted to LinkedIn are of the highest quality, especially those shared by users other than the author. These are often the best way to get the latest news, too.
  • Online Magazines – Don’t be afraid to share news pieces from larger publications, even they’re outside your industry. If the topic is relevant, you’ll benefit from including it.

Visual Formatting

Images and other rich content are perfect for keeping people interested in the subject long enough to finish your list of curated content. Many often forget the impact video can have, but you won’t, will you? Video and GIFs can add plenty of visual spice, yes, but they also provide additional content that supports your point.

With the rich media, formatting can be a pain. Before you give into the temptation of “good enough,” stop and take a moment to visualize your goal. What should your finished product look like? How can you make specific quotes, links, and your thoughts on the curated content stand out from the images and video you use?

Make use of your H2 tags, bolded and italic fonts, and clever spacing to make sure everything is visible and readable. Big lists are perhaps the best and most popular way to make sure all of your content is accessible. You can use this format to share data, user-generated content and reviews, Twitter and Facebook conversations, and humorous GIFs or videos.

If you really want to make an impact, consider consolidating all of your information into a slide show or video. These may take more work, but the shareability is much higher on rich media than text. Even the least tech-savvy can devise a PowerPoint slide show, right?

A Few Housecleaning Tips

While Buzzfeed proves how powerful curated content can be from a traffic standpoint, they may also lead you down a path of legal gray areas. Before you share content that belongs to other people, especially if that content falls under intellectual property categories—such as photographs, videos, and authored content—you must be sure to get permission before using it. In some cases, the ability to use images and video is freely given as long as the work is credited to the creator. In others, you will need to receive written consent. Don’t assume that you can use anything found on the Internet simply because it’s available and easy.

As long as you’re putting the same amount of work (or more) into curating content as you would into creating your own fresh blogs, you’ll receive the benefits. Absolutely no one could argue compilation is lazy content if it’s done correctly. In fact, other content marketers will probably contact you for permission to use your stellar content in their next curated blog.

Are you convinced content curation is a viable and even important way to share important information? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Meet the guest author...

helen nesterenkoHelen Nesterenko is the founder of Writtent.com, the go-to place for content writing services that drive marketing results for businesses. She loves helping business come up with rocking content marketing strategies; in her down time – she enjoys growing her daughter and dancing.

 

 

4 Tips On How B2B Marketers Can Better Use SlideShare [Slidecast]

  
  
  

This is a (soon to be retired) Slidecast production of a podcast I did with Todd Wheatland on SlideShare marketing.

SlideShare to Retire Slidecasts

Sadly, I've just learned while producing this Slidecast that SlideShare is discontinuing the abilit to combine audio with presentations (visuals) effective Feb. 28, 2014 - the last date you can create them.

The will convert any existing Slidecasts to static presentations on April 30, 2014.

Why is SlideShare getting rid of Slidecasts? According to a help article on Jan. 28, 2014, SlideShare states: "We launched Slidecast in 2007 to allow users to pair audio with their slides. While we have seen  some great Slidecasts created, usage hasn’t been as widespread as we had hoped, and we have decided to discontinue this feature on SlideShare."

It seems to me that SlideShare is forcing us now to produce videos. And, since you can add/link video from YouTube, for instance to a SlideShare document, I suppose we'll see more YouTubes vs. posting the original content on the SlideShare platform.

Enjoy this Slidecast while you can. I will need to converf it to a YouTube by 4/30/2014. Drat.

Listen to the podcast version of this slidecast here.

View this on SlideShare (for a little while).

 

Let's Make Some Amazing Blogs to Remember - Guest Post Guidelines

  
  
  

I think creating a great blog post is a lot like making amazing love.

Think of Bryan Adam's song: "Let's Make a Night to Remember" where he sings:

"Let's make out, Let's do something amazing, let's do something that's all the way..."

A great blog post is like that, too. It packs an emotional charge that can lead to something amazing - some thought-provoking, life-changing action that can help someone head in a better direction or give them the courage to stay on right path.

To go all out - all the way.

love making snails

There's also something implied in this analogy that I dare not go too far with. But in essence it has to do with the power of two. It takes two, passionately committed people to make some amazing love (okay - get your minds out of the bedroom, I'm not talking about sex!).

All I'm saying is if you're in the mindset of wanting to go all out in creating some amazing blog posts people will remember, I want to be your partner!

I invite you to guest post on the B2B Inbound Marketing blog.

Guest Post Guidelines

As I embark on my own quest to create some amazing guest posts on other blogs, I figure why not invite others to guest post on this one. So, effective today, I am inviting bloggers to submit a guest post request. But please, make it amazing!

Why guest post?

I’ve been aware of guest posting and its benefits over the past several years. And I’ve done some guest blogs for HubSpot (here and there), but I’ve never had an intention to make it part of my content marketing strategy, until now.

If you care to know where my head is and what I believe the benefits of guest posting to be, look and listen no further than the following:

  • Gregory Ciotti, marketing strategist for Help Scout discussed how he used guest posting to rapidly grow an audience and generate thousands of subscribers to Help Scout’s blog and resources.
  • Kristi Hines of Kikolani shared with me on another podcast how she used guest blogging to build her authority as an online marketer and freelance writer.
  • Jon Morrow, associate editor of Copyblogger (another business that’s grown via outside contributors) and his Boost Blog Traffic site, plus his GuestBlogging.com course. Jon, in my view, is the king of guest blogging.
  • Joe Pulizzi revealed to me how he used outside contributors to grow Content Marketing Institute into one of the fastest growing private companies in America. (CMI has been on Inc. magazine’s list of the top 500 for two straight years!)

By the way, I love Joe's take on it:

"The more people you can invite into your community, the more opportunities that they will share with their audience, and their audience is (y)our audience."

I rest my case.

I’m in. Are you?

If you’re interested in guest posting for this blog, here’s what you need to know and do.

Create Amazing Content around These Topics

  • B2B content marketing
  • Insightful and extremely practical posts about content marketing strategies, trends, business models, success stories, types, tools, channels, promotions and measurements (to name a few)
  • Look at the list of the most popular posts for this blog for topics, angles and gaps to expand upon for your post
  • Surprise me with something innovative, interesting, creative, forward thinking or entertaining that aligns with the above topics and my audiences’ interests

Your Amazing Guest Post Content and Format Guidelines:

  1. Your post must be fresh and original content that has not been publishedamazing woman before.
  2. You agree not to publish the post elsewhere, including your own blog or Web site. You may, however, post a brief snippet or summary on your site that links to the guest post.
  3. Your post should be 750 – 1500 words long. (or pitch me on a different word count)
  4. You may link to external sources of the specific things you talk about for helping the reader to get a fuller understanding. Avoid, however, self-promotional links or those that lead to sales pages or may be construed as advertising.
  5. I encourage guest bloggers to link to other B2B Inbound blog posts that are relevant to the topic you are writing about.
  6. Your post should have a compelling and captivating, if not enchanting title
  7. Generous use of sub-heads (H2s), ordered and unordered lists and images (see next point) along with short sentences and paragraphs to make the post scan able and easy-to-read is highly preferred
  8. You may provide a main image up to 600 pixels wide in JPG or PNG format, plus other, smaller images to fit within the flow of the copy (one image for every approx. 350 words of text). You must have ownership or creative common license rights to use these images and give attribution where appropriate.
  9. By submitting a guest post you ensure it does not violate any copyright laws.

Your Amazing Blogger Byline

Your post will include your author byline with a headshot image of you at the bottom. The byline is a great way for you to become better known to my readers, and for them to discover more about your skills and knowledge via the description and up to 3 external links you care to share (see below).

Byline Guidelines

  1. Bylines should be no more than 3 sentences telling readers who you are, what you do, and where to find you.
  2. Send a profile headshot image of you in JPG or PNG format that is 145 by 145 pixels.
  3. You may have up to 3 properly formatted anchor text links that goes to your Web site, blog, social media or any free resource (free opt-in okay) of educational content that is directly related to the topic and central theme of the post.

Guidelines for Amazing Promotion and Engagement

I expect you will promote the heck out of your guest post with your audience and social media networks. I will do the same. You will also be amazingly engaging with the readers in the comments about your post.

How to Submit Your Amazing Guest Post Idea

When you’re ready to pitch me on your guest post idea, please do not send me a draft of the complete post. Instead, send an email to greg (at) b2binbound (dot) com with the following:

  • Type “Guest Post Idea from (your name)” in the subject line of the email.
  • Give me your idea of a topic and why you think it will resonate with the audience on my blog
  • Give a couple potential examples of a title for the post
  • Tell me a little about you, why you want to guest post
  • Include links to your blog or examples of your writing elsewhere
  • Also include links to you on social media

How I Plan to Respond to Your Amazing Idea

Please allow 5-7 business days to hear back from me once you’ve submitted your guest post idea. I will email back with any questions to better understand your idea. I may also accept your idea on the spot, or reject it and ask you to resubmit. I also may feel, based on the guidelines and profile of what I’m looking for your idea is just not a good fit at this time.

How to Submit Your Amazing Guest Post

Once I accept your idea and we have general agreement on any necessary details or logistics, you may submit your post with images and byline as follows:

  • Email your post with byline as an attached HTML file (preferred, but if that’s not possible for you let me know and we’ll work out another method)
  • Email or send  the images via Dropbox or another file transfer method (I can re-size as necessary to fit)

My Amazing Guest Post Editing and Publishing Process

Your post may be accepted as is, or with minor edits for greater clarity, grammar and punctuation. I may provide a short introduction or conclusion to provide context as to why I believe the post is important to my readers. If I feel your post is on-point but needs more substantive changes, I will email you back with my thoughts and request for revision.

Let’s make it Amazing Together!

If you made it this far, thank you! Just a final word...

I understand what it takes to write a blog post and the work involved. However, I am not obligated to publish a post you have submitted. If you follow these guidelines and we make a good team, you'll have no trouble getting accepted and crafting an amazing post for the readers.

Do not be offended if your post is not accepted. It could be very well written, but just not on-topic or the right message for my audience at this particular time - and we justr couldn't, for whatever reason, get together on it. If your post is rejected, you are obviously free to do whatever you want with it.

Thanks for your interest in being a guest blogger. I look forward to working with you on your first, and hopefully many more posts to come. Who knows where this might lead?

I’d like nothing more than to see this be not just a one-time fling, but to have it work out for our long-term mutual benefit.

Let's make some amazing blogs for our audience to remember.

Yours truly,

Greg Elwell

 

 

 

Making Some Epic Content with Friends and Experts [Slidecast]

  
  
  

This is the SlideShare, Slidecast version of the podcast: Epic Content Marketing Questions from the Experts. It all stemmed from an earlier episode with the indomitable content marketing warrior, Joe Pulizzi on How to Tell a Different Story with Epic Content Marketing.

View this Slidecast on SlideShare

9 epic content marketing questions title600

Slidecast Embed Version

Note: You may need to click the "View Fullscreen" mode if the audio "Play" button is not active in your browser.

Making of this Slidecast

Former guest experts of the B2B Inbound Expert Interviews Podcast contributing to this production include Jay Baer, Steve Lazuka, Mark Levy, Doug Kessler, Kristi Hines, John Lee Dumas and Bernie Borges. And they all have one thing in common (okay, maybe two or three): They are all experts in their own right, they all love Joe Pulizzi, all are beloved by him as well. (They're pretty high on my list as well.)

If you doubt that's the case, just listen and watch this Slidecast. It will remove any doubts. Hopefully, it will get your gears meshing.

It should also serve to point out that making epic content marketing is less about how smart you are and what you can do on your own. It's more about what you can do when you combine talents, expertise, passion and relationships to help make the world a better place.

As Joe says on the show, "You don't have to shoulder it all alone." As I said and outlined over here in the show notes, this I believe is the future of marketing and business success. And the future is here, now.

What are you doing to mix up some of your own epic content marketing magic with friends and experts?

Post Production Note: The SlideShare - Slidecast version received over 750 views within the first 24 hours. SlideShare sent an email, several hours after it was first published, to say it was "popular on SlideShare. So we featured it in the PRO section on our homepage alongside other great content from our professional users."

 

 

How to Create a Promotable Blog Post That Gets Lots of Traffic

  
  
  

Are you publishing a business blog that gets small amounts of traffic, engagement or social shares? You could just be starting out or maybe you've been at it for, what seems to be, a very long time.

Your content is solid, good stuff, well-written and focused on the needs of your audience. Yet the number of people reading your posts are low, and it's not getting progressively better.

It's enough to make you throw in the towel. But don't. All you need is a little help from some new friends - some advice from the experts!

expert advice

Social Media Examiner's Michael Stelzner talks about a growth principle that involves not just great content, but leveraging other people, as well. He calls it the Elevation Principle in his book, Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition. The formula goes like this:

Great Content + Other People - Marketing Messages = Growth

One way to use the Elevation Principle for growing your blog's traffic and subscriber numbers is by creating a promotable blog post. A promotable blog post is one in which other people (experts in their industry/topic) contribute great content to your post, without ever knowing about it, at first, but when notified love to help you promote it. 

Allow me to share a true (client case study) story that illustrates this strategy, and then share some tips on setting up your own, promotable blog post.

The Sleep Post

We now refer to it as the "sleep post." The actual title is Advice from the Experts: Sleep Your Way to Peak Performance. Brad Volin, the author of this post is president of Adigo (a client of mine). We decided to try some "other people" influencing to hopefully draw more awareness and readers to Adigo's relatively new blog.

Adigo provides audio, web and video conferencing optimized to their clients' needs. They appeal to business and management leaders who care deeply about productivity, time management, team building and leadership skills for running highly effective virtual meetings. They are value-based, do work that matters and wish to operate at peak performance.

I had been having trouble sleeping and came across a TED talk by a neuroscientist who talked about the effects of sleep deprivation on creativity, making good judgments, and other aspects of personal/professional performance. The title of the talk was "Why we sleep," and he gave some very interesting scientific information as to the benefits of sleep, which we felt would really resonate with our intended audience. 

Certainly, they'd want to know how a lack of sleep could negatively affect their leadership and productivity. Moreover, they'd love some tips on how to develop better sleep habits. Some were given in the talk. But we wanted more. Here's where it got really interesting.

A few Google searches turned up some fascinating blog posts on tips and strategies for developing better sleep habits. You see where this is going, don't you?

Yep, we wrote a blog post that included a short summary of the neuroscientist's key points in his TED talk. We even embedded the video of the talk right in the post. This was followed by advice from our (other people) experts, offering their insights, tips and strategies for getting better sleep, and leading a more productive, happy life. 

We used snippets of the advice from these 4 bloggers who were experts in productivity, time management, healthy habits and nutrition. For each of the expert's content we curated, we also gave a little commentary for context and a 'read more' link to their original article. 

Through a little research, we found Twitter handles and email addresses for our experts. And just as the post went live, Brad sent a personal email to each expert thanking them for their insights and letting them know he was delighted to include them in the sleep post, which also included backlinks. He also mentioned he would be sharing and promoting their content via social media.

jarrow  RT

This post practically went viral. Well, not in terms of a YouTube kind of viral. But viral relative to what we had been seeing for the blog. Visits in the first few days were 1,400% over previous posts, and social shares increased by 2,000%! 3 of the 5 experts wrote back to thank Brad for including them in the post. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford University did not send a reply, but we didn't expect them to, either.

From this story, you can see how the Elevation Principle of including and shinning the light on other people has the power to promote your content and take your readership to the next level. It can wake up your blog and expose you to new markets.

By the way, I'm sleeping much better now!

Tips for Creating a Promotable Blog Post

Here are some of my tips for creating your own promotable post with other experts:

  • Find the correlation or overlap between the problems, needs and desires of your audience (lack of sleep can hurt performance) and your topic (increase productivity/peak performance). Then look for experts who have created content around this convergence.
  • You do not need permission to curate a snippet of content from other blogs. Keep it to around a max of 250 words which comprise a quote or content copied in a list or paragraph. Don't go overboard, be respectful. The idea is you want to spotlight and give some props and commentary on their brightest thoughts. You don't want to make it seem like you've simply scraped their content for self-serving purposes. Think of the bloggers whose content you're curating or bringing together as highly regarded, featured experts.
  • Do be sure to provide 1 to 3 links to your experts. These could include an anchor text, keyword rich link (just use the title of their post), a read more link, and perhaps a link to their personal blog or to a social media (Twitter recommended). This third point is especially useful and appreciated when the original article was a freelance or bylined article they wrote for another blog - that way you'll be offering traffic direct to their home base!
  • Have a mix of top tier experts and some with whom you're more likely to get a response from, and who will likely promote your post to their networks. The top tier experts (in our example Babauta and Foster) are not likely to acknowledge or promote your post, but lend considerable credibility (and promotability) to your central theme and message. Plus, the other experts will love being mentioned along with the big guns making it even more likely they will want your post to be sufficiently promoted.
  • Send multiple tweets that mention the experts together and individually with a link to your blog post.

tweet all brdr

tweet mindful dawn

  • Be sure to send a personal email from the author of the blog to each expert you included. Do not send a group email by CC'ing everyone. Make it personal and succinct with an appreciative tone. But do mention they were "featured" along with (names of the other experts).
  • When the experts reply to your email, tweet or retweet your posts be sure to reply back and thank them. Look to build a relationship with them on social media and their blogs. Who knows, you may get an opportunity to guest post or have them write an article for your blog in the future.
  • Massively useful advice from the experts posts like this, in addition to giving traffic numbers a boost, have the potential to generate links.
  • List type posts work really well for curated content type posts like this.
  • A variation of a curated, advice from the experts post is to do a post where you "ask the experts." In this case, reach out to well-recognized experts on your topic and ask for their best tip or strategy. For an example, see Kristi Hines: 32 Experts Share Their Best Blog Post Promotion Tips.

Learn More Blog Post Promotion Strategies

The above idea for creating a promotable blog post using the Elevation Principle can work many times over for you. You could include this type of post as a monthly staple in your blog's editorial calendar.

In addition to this, and variations on other ideas you may have, there's also a new course on blog post promotion by Kristi Hines of Kikolani I want to tell you about.

Blog Post Promotion: The Ultimate Course (affiliate link) includes dozens of strategies you can use to successfully promote your blog posts, which will lead to more traffic, subscribers, social shares, and more. 

kristi hinesKristi, a professional blogger, contributor and guest blogger in the online marketing space has poured a wealth of knowledge, personal and industry experience into this course. There are 16 modules, tons of bonus materials, and an 8 part tutorial on how to create promotable content.

I've signed up for the course and urge you to check it out. As Kristi will tell you, "You can't just create great content. You have to promote it!" Work at your own pace. Pick the modules you want to develop expertise in, jump around. You get lifetime access to the course, no upselling, and Kristi is adding fresh content on a periodic basis at no additional charge, ever!

Get all the details of the ultimate blog post promotion course, and save 30% with my discount code: PODCAST. (By the way, Kristi will be a guest on an upcoming Expert Interviews Podcast talking about guest blogging and blog post promotion tips.)

blog post promotion 729x90 resized 600

 I'd love to hear your thoughts and tips on what works for you in promoting your blog or content.

 

What Showcasing @Libsyn Podcasters can Teach about Community Building

  
  
  

On Sept. 6, 2013 Libsyn, a leading podcast hosting service, aired the B2B Inbound Expert Interviews Podcast (EIP) 30-second promo on episode 005 of The Feed (Libsyn's official podcast). Appearing in the opening portion of the show regularly hosted by Libysn's community manager, Elsie Escobar, the promo features this show's theme music bed along with a pitch by yours truly (Greg Elwell) that's punctuated with marketing terms and the names of some of my guest experts.

Listen to Libsyn The Feed Ep 005 Intro with EIP Promo

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to create that promo. It was also a great exercise in trying to whittle down the show's esselibsyn blog logonce by also capturing the "sound" of it while creating enough interest in a mere 30-second spot. (Try it sometime!) That was followed by another invitation to podcasters, like me hosting on Libysn, to create a Feature Q&A to be posted on the Libsyn blog. Both were terrific ways to gain added exposure for my show, more so however, these and the other initiatives mentioned below, are even more remarkable, community building practices all marketers can learn something from.

Now, in case you're not familiar with Libysn, here's a blurb on who they are direct from their website:

"Liberated Syndication (libsyn) pioneered the system to host and publish podcasts in 2004. And since then has grown to the largest leading podcast network. In 2011 Libsyn hosted over 10,000 shows, with over 1.6 billion downloads, by 18 million monthly audience members."

Most podcasters I know use Libsyn to host their media files. I've used Libsyn since publishing my first episode, and currently have 26 shows hosted, streamed and played through iTunes and other directories worldwide. Their HTML5 Player (embedded above) saved me when Google and Yahoo! both discontinued their free audio players. And, for just $20 per month I get plenty of storage (400MB) and great stats to support the needs and growth of my show.

This isn't a post to promote Libsyn or my EIP show (wink, wink). It may have started off that way, but then it hit me, it's really about community building.

Podcasting is a little like playing golf. It's not so much a competitive match with the other golfers as much as it's about mastering the course (and your own demons). For podcasters the course involves equipment, software, format, systems, methods, workflows, verbal communication skills, dogs barking (and your own demons). Plus, it can involve getting the most from a guest if you have an interview type show - and I'm sure I'm leaving out a ton of other really important aspects of what it takes to produce a quality podcast! Podcasters, more than any other "sport" learn from and support each other. This is, I believe, the intent by Libsyn to help empower a community of podcasters by posting the following mission statement with regards to their weekly series of featured Q&As with podcasters:

"This series is all about showcasing Libsyn podcasters. Its sole purpose is to introduce these awesome podcasts to the world as well as share their podcasting insight to empower the community!"

I was delighted when Libsyn, on September 9, 2013 featured: Rockin' Libsyn Podcasts: The B2B Inbound Expert Interviews Podcast. Thank you Libsyn! I hope my journey so far helps, inspires or equips other podcasters with the courage to start or keep on podcasting!

rockin eip

As much as I like the service I get from Libysn, I like it that they've started their podcast as a way to support their community. I like it that they're focused on educating podcasters and explaining in detail how things work, and what it can mean for improving your experience. Learning how to read the stats by user agents to better understand how and where people are consuming your show is just one example of practical insights shared by Rob Walch, Libsyn's VP of podcaster relations on episode 003 of The Feed.

But I think what's really great is Libysn's focus on engaging, interacting with, promoting, and giving their community of podcasters multiple ways to interact and be heard. It's a model for building, supporting and growing a tribe. What better way to get your voice heard than to be invited, with open arms, to participate in a community and have the opportunity to be further discovered? That's exactly what they've done, not only with featuring podcasters via promos and featured Q&As, but with Twitter and Facebook, too. Like a ball of twine, growing more significant with each wrapped strand, Libsyn is building a strong community, one podcaster, one promo, one feature, one tweet, one conversation, and one like at a time.

One thing seems clear to me: podcasters, and those in their ecosystem, make great comrade in arms. There's just something unique and special about how they help support, promote and encourage each other - greater than I've seen with any other creative or marketing type of fraternity, bloggers included. There's a sense that we're all in this together - a rising community of podcasters indeed lifts all shows.

So, even if you're not into podcasting or a current member of the podcasting brother- and sister-hood, pay attention to how this group builds community. It may just help raise some tide around your fleet as well.

And, if you are, or about to get into podcasting, check out Libsyn, subscribe to the show in iTunes, and become part of a thriving, one-for-all and all-for-one community.

 

How to Craft a Compelling B2B Customer Success Story

  
  
  

What works best for B2B content marketing?

According to a recent survey, the B2B Content Marketing Report, respondents reported customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) are the most effective content marketing tactics. The survey (snapshot shown below) was conducted by Holger Schulz in the B2B Technology Marketing Community group on LinkedIn, with results posted here on Slideshare.

b2b case studies customer success stories

Why are customer success stories effective?

Have you wondered how to create a really great customer success story, or how you might use it in your marketing?

Customer success stories (AKA case studies) can be powerful tools for B2B Marketers. Their primary purpose is to help introduce a prospect to a product or service in the context of a successful implementation of it by another company.

They work particularly well towards the middle and bottom of the sales funnel when potential customers are looking for some real-world examples with a touch of radical transparency (You may recall from my podcast interview with Jay Baer on creating massively useful marketing with Youtility: prospects are looking for robust, detailed information about how your products/services work in the real world.) Customer success stories can be effective to illustrate just how inherently helpful your solution can be.

The most effective and compelling B2B marketing case studies are those where the focus is clearly on the business implementing the solution, not on the company who sold it.

They work even better when the buyer is positioned as the "hero" of the story, with the seller offering guidance, and of course the solution at the opportune time. Think of the customer as being on a quest (more on the quest story plot later) to solve an important business problem in much the same way Indiana Jones set out to find the Ark of the Covenant, and unlock its power.

Moreover, a well-crafted case study is essentially a story of the buyeys' journey. As such, to resonate with other potential buyers, it should contain elements of effective storytelling. Otherwise, it may simply come across as bland, unbelievable, or worse still, a self-promotional advertisement. And no one finds those helpful or compelling enough to warrant taking the next step.

Here's how to go about crafting a compelling B2B customer success story:

Engage with your customer as a willing participant

It should go without saying, but I will anyways: a customer success story is as much, if not more, about the customer as it is about your company. (Duh - this might be why they're called "customer success stories!") So for goodness sakes, first discuss it with your customer! What's in it for them? Position it as a tool they will be proud of and can use perhaps in their own marketing and client relations. After all, your customer is the true hero of the story. So collaborate with them from the very beginning and all the way through to make it truly shine.

Begin by answering some key questions

The most important part of constructing a compelling story is taking the time to ask good questions. For starters...

  • What’s the purpose of your case study?
  • Who is the audience/buyer persona you are targeting?
  • What do you want them to do upon reading the case study? What’s the call-to-action?
  • How will you publish and promote your case study?
  • How can your customer use it to their competitive advantage?

Probe further...

Think about the customer situation, the experience and situation around the sales andprobe further delivery process. Be curious. Don't be satisfied until you uncover the "real" story. Be like Peter Falk in the T.V. Series Columbo, "Excuse me, but there's one more question I'd like to ask before I go." Keep asking questions like:

  • When did this take place?
  • What were the circumstances at the time?
  • Who was involved (people from client and company side, roles)?
  • What was the main problem, goal, project or opportunity?
  • What did the customer stand to gain or lose - what was at stake?
  • Were there people who were especially helpful or difficult?
  • What information and/or rationale supported the direction to seek your solution?
  • How did this involve a change in what was, with what they were moving to?
  • What resistance, conflict, complications, and tension did they experience?
  • How did you or the team overcome these obstacles?
  • What emotions of fear, pain or pleasure were present?
  • Were there any surprises, twists or turns or unexpected outcomes.
  • What is the one thing you'll always remember about it? Nancy Duarte in Resonate calls this a S.T.A.R moment: Something They'll Always Remember. These are powerful insights to include!
  • What was the solution (your products/services)? And briefly explain how your technology/solution/service/product works.
  • What was the final resolution or outcome?
  • What did they/you learn, or what was the moral of the story?
  • What key takeaway or core value came to light at the end of this story?
  • What are the key benefits the customer realized as a result of adopting your product or service?
  • Get the cooperation of your customer and some quotes. Share how this will benefit them and how they can use the success story to their advantage. What’s in it for them? Can you combine this with a news release to get them more exposure? Remember to make them the hero, not you, your company or your solution. It should be about them.

Use the quest story plot to give it structure

The quest story plot is a well-recognized format used in literature, musical theater, novels andquest road to the sun the movies. It also plays out in real life and people will identify with the structure and elements of it as you tell the story. It’s an excellent format with which to tell a customer success story: a journey which pulls the hero to some distant, all-important goal.

A Suggested Format & Structural Flow:

  • Create a working title.
  • Describe the situation prior to implementing the solution.
  • Make a transition. This is short, but should indicate the key driver that led to making a change and what prompted the customer to go on the quest for a better solution. "Blue Sky Inc. knew their self-managed and hosted IT infrastructure was no longer sustainable...so they turned to the cloud."
  • Recount the challenge and the turning point (and any final ordeals) to adopting the solution. These are things that may have been encountered just before or while finding and adopting the solution. Quests don’t normally go smoothly, be honest about the journey. Others will identify and find interest in the twists and turns. Also, you might describe alternative solutions or options tried or considered, and why they weren’t the right fit.
  • Describe the solution to the problem.
  • Convey how things are different now – the results – lessons learned.

4 Main Structural Sections to Include in Your Completed Case Study:

Now take everything you've probed, gathered and thought of thus far and begin to write out your B2B customer success story in these four parts:

Section 1: The Pre-Solution State

Section 2: The Challenge

Section 3: The Solution

Section 4: The Results

Additional Tips & Resources:

Formula for writing an effective title for your success story:

Client name plus verb plus benefit plus solution equals your headline.

B2B Example: Blue Sky Inc. Sees 30% IT Cost Reduction with Cloud Computing

Writing Subheads:

Think of these as mini-headlines to help identify the sub-sections of your case study and engage the reader’s interest.

The Challenge section example: Achieve Greater IT Cost Predictability, Speed Application Deployment

The Solution section example: SaaS Implementation Model Lowers Human, Infrastructure Costs

The Result Section: Blue Sky Inc. Speeds Deployment of New Applications, Sees 30% Reduction in Asset Cost

But wait, there's more…

  • The title is everything, make it compelling and indicative of what the customer gained by adopting the solution.
  • Compelling case studies are stories about people. We need to understand the human side of the problem.
  • Think about it as an adventure and use elements of good storytelling in a conversational way to describe what took place. And remember, facts are important, but people make decisions based on emotional appeal. The best way to unite your ideas with emotion is by telling authentic stories.
  • Position your customer as the hero of the story, not you or the solution. As the solution provider, you are in the role of the guide helping your customer through the ups and downs, twists and turns along the path.

What's your next customer success story going to be?

I'd love to hear how you may use this info to craft your next customer success story. Please drop a line in the comments below about that, or share how you've used success stories in the past.


 

A Guide for Optimizing Your LinkedIn Company Page

  
  
  

linkedin company page image resized 600

After reading Viveka von Rosen's excellent book, LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day, and discussing how to make LinkedIn work better for you on my podcast with her, I decided to spruce up my LinkedIn Company Page.

I have a ways to go, but focusing on the Home tab which included making and uploading a banner image was a good start. The other major feature to update and optimize for me was the Company Description (see example below).

Here I share with you the updated information on such things as image sizes, character limits and thoughts gleaned from Viveka on how to best optimize these sections to showcase your business in the best possible light.

Look at it this way: LinkedIn has given marketers and business owners the ability to create an informative, helpful and engaging company presence. Why would we not want to take advantage of these features and assets to help our business stand out and generate potential interest in our products, services, and so much more?

This guide covers most of the editable fields and features of the "Home" section of your Company Page:

  • Company Page Banner Image
  • Company Description
  • Standard Logo and Square Logo
  • Company Specialties

Let's get started!

Company Page Main Banner Image

The main company page image or banner will sit at the top of the company page, just below your logo and before your Recent Updates or Company Description. Prepare image to these specs:

  • Max size is 2MB (Formats accepted: PNG, JPG, GIF)
  • Image must be 646 X 220 pixels or larger
  • Image may be cropped once it’s uploaded

What to include on your company page image:

  • Key message/value proposition to potential customers/followers
  • Could feature a new product or service (like HubSpot is currently doing with Social Inbox – see below)
  • Banner is NOT a clickable CTA – it’s for messaging and branding purposes only
  • Make it visually appealing and attractive to potential followers
  • Include elements consistent with your brand guidelines – color scheme, imagery, typography, etc. (Do not include your logo in the banner image - you will be able to include your company's standard logo just above the banner image - logo instructions below)

 Banner Image Example: HubSpot

hubspot company page banner resized 600

Other Examples:

Note: You can drive potential followers to your company page by selecting and using your company page URL in marketing promotions such as e-newsletters, blog articles, other social media updates, and off line/print communications and events.

Company Description

Your company description is accessed via the company page, “Home” link and will be positioned just below your updates. Prepare your company description with these factors in mind:

  • The company description window requires a minimum of 200 and maximum of 1,500 characters. (I suggest using the maximum!)
  • Use plenty of whitespace, bullets, CAP some key terms, etc. to make your key messages standout. (I recommend you prepare your company description in a Word document with desired formatting and then paste it into the LinkedIn window.)
  • Sprinkle keywords throughout your description and write it for the user and what’s in it for them.
  • Consider speaking directly to your LinkedIn audience. Something like: “We are glad you found our LinkedIn company profile. Check out our Services…” (Viveka von Rosen, LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day).

Here's how my Company Description reads:

About B2B Inbound

It's a start. What do you think?

Standard Logo and Square Logo

The standard logo is the one used in the upper left section of your company profile page. The square logo will be used in the network updates. Sizes are as follows:

  • Standard Logo: 2MB max., 100 X 60 pixels max, PNG, JPG or GIF
  • Square Logo: 2MB max., 50 X 50 pixels max, PNG, JPG or GIF

I recommend using the maximum size allowable!

Company Specialties

When you’re editing your company information and description, you may as well update and add to the specialties feature. You get a maximum of 256 characters to list all your specialties. Use descriptive, keyword-rich terms your potential followers and customers would recognize and be interested in. These will show up at the bottom of your company description content.

For more on LinkedIn marketing...

Check out the show notes and podcast I did with Viveka von Rosen on LinkedIn Marketing Essentials! (Includes tons of show notes and other LinkedIn resources!)

Question: Have you optimized your LinkedIn Company Page? And what are you doing to promote it?

 

 

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