Boost your small business with simple content marketing ideas

Finding great content marketing ideas

If knowledge and skills are your business, demonstrating credibility and capability is essential, and well planned content marketing can significantly increase your authority and value to potential customers.

Why include content marketing in your strategy

Content marketing refers to any approach that seeks to educate and inform, leading from basic blogging and video content up to complex elearning strategies as part of a wider onboarding strategy. 

It incorporates Social content strategies, youtube channels and web content, and gives potential clients a much better sense of who you are and what value you can bring to them which increases your perceived value. 

However, with over a billion new pages being added to the internet each day, how can you hope to stand out?

It’s actually quite simple, as long as you understand how your customers learn, and how search engines like Google organise search results based on search intent.

Think in terms of questions not words

Long tail keywords have been a viable paid search strategy for a while, using smaller, more focussed groups of keywords where you trade lower search volume for disproportionately higher conversions, and therefore, potentially higher volumes of leads at a lower price per conversion. 

This is driven by increased specificity in searches as we all have to filter out irrelevant search results to get closer to the information we want. This has led to longer, more focussed search terms that seek to answer questions rather than just basic keywords

Long tail key words
Semrush's illustration of the value of Long-tail keywords

People aren’t just searching for “shoes” anymore, now we are more likely to search for “shoes near me” or “black trainers near me”, or even “ which shoes shops have the best discounts”, and each of these searches tells us about what kind of information people want to hear.

But, Google is not clever enough to make the connection between the question and the answer, so you need to be specific, telling google the question that you are answering with your content.

Understanding how people search online.

We tend to buy things that help solve a problem. Whether it’s as basic as buying food because we’re hungry, taking a bus to get to work, the size of the problem will tend to correlate to the value we put into the solution and the effort we are prepared to put into finding it.

For more complex problems, we often don’t have a ready-made solution at hand, and will seek information that allows us to understand our problem, it’s potential solutions and what we need to do to implement them.

Understanding this process, and providing guidance at an early stage helps you engage with potential customers earlier, increasing your value to them and potentially your conversion rates. 

However, it does require you to realise that you do more than just provide a service, and accept that there may be other solutions.

Imagine you’re a yoga instructor, is your value only in teaching someone a new position, or, are you really helping them solve their stress or pain problems?

Discovery - what is my problem

Keeping with the Yoga analogy, few people wake up in the morning thinking I must learn yoga!”.

Instead, they wake up after a restless night wondering why their neck hurts, or why they didn’t sleep well, and, if this continues, they are going to start looking for a solution, possibly googling “lack of sleep”, Causes of sleeplessness” etc. 

This will lead them to isolate a possible cause, and motivate them to find a solution.

Understanding - what's the root cause of my problem

Neck pain is often the cause, but what’s causing the next pain, is it a posture issue, a sports injury or something wrong with the pillow of bed? There are still loads of potential solutions, so our insomniac will likely search for more information to isolate the cause and get closer to a solution. 

Once they realise it’s a posture issue, they can then focus on a set of potential solutions, which might include a new chair, changing their working practices, learning some new stretches or getting a massage, but they are closer to finding a solution that will solve their particular problem.

Do it yourself

Most people will try to solve their own problems, before they spend money on a solution, so will seek out exercise videos, How-To’s etc, that let them try out a possible solution before they commit. 

It’s only once they have exhausted the free solutions that they will look to buy, so only at this point will the specific search terms that are traditionally used are relevant.

Be the solution provider

As this brief example demonstrates, most people will have gone through a comprehensive search process before they start looking for a specific provider online, and it’s likely that the earlier you engage with a client in the process, the more valuable they will see you and the more likely you are to be the provider of choice when they get to making their decision.

You’ve been there from the start and are demonstrably interested more in helping your client than taking their money.

How to find the right questions

There are millions of guides on the internet that tell you how to find the right keywords for your business, but most of these are internally focussed, identifying the words that describe you, not those that your customers are trying to find. 

So, rather than thinking about yourself, think about what language your audience uses, and what questions they ask.

Customers

Obviously your customers are the best people to listen too, and, assuming you’re a people centred business that engages with your clients, you’ll have a good sense of what motivated them to find a solution in the first place. 

The trick, however, is to look a bit deeper. You’re not interested in why they picked you, but what triggered the journey in the first place, what underlying need motivated them to seek answers and take action. 

We call these “pain points”, stressors in a person’s life that are bad enough to take action to remove, and therefore of great value. 

Understanding the pain point gets you closer to the root cause and the start of their journey, and allows you to reinforce how much value you add at a basic level. 

Understanding search intent and how Google uses this.

Sometimes this isn’t easy, or we operate too far from our clients, so how do we understand what people are searching for? Thankfully, Google is there to help us out. 

Google wants to be the researcher’s friend, seeking to give you the best possible answer to your question or query, and it starts by understanding the intent behind your search. You will have noticed how the search results page changes depending on the type of search you make, and this is because Google seeks to assess your search intent, deciding whether your goal is buying or information. 

This is important, because it will affect whether you’re placed highly or not, and if you’re not on page 1, you’re effectively nowhere! 

If Google thinks a search has an information intent, i.e. the reader is looking for information, it’s unlikely to present shopping or eCommerce responses, meaning that you will not be placed.

People also ask

Once Google decides on the type of search, it presents different content types, like featured snippets, that will highlight strong answers and help guide the searcher to the best content. It also presents a very useful tool called “ people also ask”, which highlights some of the most popular search queries related to the search term that you asked for.

This can help you refine your subject area and find interesting topics to write about.

Answer the public

There are a number of sites like Answer the Public, which collate potential questions and queries based on a seed phrase with the addition of a preposition. So, for example, they may start with “neck pain” and then use complex algorithms to create sentences, by adding “How” or “What” giving you a set of potential subjects to write about.

Quora

Forums are also a great source of questions. If there are any industry forums, try joining and searching these to get a better understanding of the kinds of queries your audience asks. It’s also a good place to start building connections and a presence, as you can also add your answers to the forums. 

More generic sites like Quora or Reddit can also be helpful, although Reddit is often not for the faint hearted!  Quora is a Q&A site, where people can ask specific questions to be answered by the general population. Searching for a subject will help you build a picture of the priority queries, and those in your industry who are also actively answering. You can find ideas for content marketing and obviously add your own answers.

Build a long term web presence with content marketing

Content on your website is permanent and the more credible and well written content you include the more likely you are to be found. Covering your subjects in more detail, aligning your content with the searches being made and improving your relevance increases your search ranking and therefore the number of people likely to see you. 

You can obviously use social media to promote your content, but remember, you are trying to make your site more visible, not Facebooks, so don’t waste your best content on post. Create valuable content for your site, then create shorter posts for Social media. That way you can build your audience amongst both groups and drive more traffic to your site.

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The marketing funnel

marketing funnel

The marketing funnel describes the process through which an entity goes from being totally unaware of your company's existence through to being a customer and potentially out the other end.

Basic Models

As with most models in the commercial world, there are lots of different versions offering different perspectives depending on what the creator wants to describe ( or sell).

Marketing led models like AIDA tend to describe the action that you want to drive in the customer at that point beginning with raising awareness of the proposition or just the issue it addresses, promoting interest, creating desire and prompting action. As these came out of the Advertising industry, they are much more focused on the consumer market than B2B. They are also difficult to apply to processes, being a bit more esoteric.

Content Marketing models tend to focus on actionable and performance-based models. Hubspot, Pardot and Marketo would be examples, although Hubspot has moved to a flywheel that recognises that communications post-purchase is important, and this may not be right for all businesses.

Sales models tend to be driven by the data structures of CRM’s and focus on categorising the stage a customer is at for example a prospect becomes a lead, which is qualified to create an opportunity which is converted to a sale. If you are heavily engaged with a specific CRM, this will dictate your methodology, and Salesforce offers a good model for how the process is supposed to work

Which model works for you will be very dependent on what you are trying to achieve, but they all have a few things in common.

Funnel

The shape is relevant as it demonstrates that there are more entities at the top than there are at the bottom. This has two implications. Firstly that you will be communicating to a significantly broader audience at the top than at the bottom, and secondly that you will lose people as you move through the process

marketing funnel

Stratification

There are distinct groups and layers in your marketing funnel that can be classified and measured. Each of these layers has specific needs and requires specific actions, needs to be differentiated and potentially owned by different groups.

Process

The funnel is not a bucket, it is a process that has direction and layers. Maximising the number of people that you get out of the bottom needs two things

  1. As many people as possible going into the top
  2. Efficient migration of entities as possible from layer to layer.

Both marketing and Sales have traditionally considered their roles to be art, not science and one will always blame the other if they aren’t hitting the target. Moreover, they are competing objectives. Marketing’s view is to get as many leads in as possible, whereas Sales just wants the best leads.

This is where operational management comes in and builds structures that allow mutually agreeable objectives and clear measurement

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Relationship and content marketing are the real game-changers for real estate.

content written

With the rising cost of leads and reduced conversions rates, lead generation is becoming more expensive and less sustainable than ever. But with long sales cycles and limited opportunity for repeat business, is content marketing the alternative?

Real estate is, by its very nature, transactional.

We buy homes so rarely, that we don’t get to know our agents and have little need to remain in contact with them from sale-to-sale.

From the agent’s perspective, therefore, the focus is two-fold. Firstly, getting leads and winning listings and secondly getting as many people into view a property to guarantee that sufficient numbers are willing to bid to get the house. 

The rate-determining steps are therefore lead generation and conversion rates. Mosts leads are still sourced from lead lists either purchased or created through outbound email or coldcalling.

Some agencies such as Castles in Dublin have been very successful with personalised leaflet drops and flyers, leveraging their strength in their target markets and brand awareness in discrete territories.

However, both of these routes are time-consuming and expensive.

Are search and social the answer?

Search and social media advertising is less common, accounting for about 22% of all lead creation, However, targeting at a local level is difficult and produces variable results. General keywords are competitive and expensive. CPC rates around €5 and conversion rates below 2% mean each lead’s costing over €100. 

Either way, each of your leads is going to cost between €50 and €100, and if you factor it conversion rates of less than 5%, that’s giving a cost per sale between €1-2000, which, in the face of declining prices and commissions is not sustainable, especially in Ireland for example, where commissions are down to 1.5%. 

No wonder then that many agents are looking in different directions for their business, but what are the options?

Relationship marketing for estate agents

relationships

Many successful agents are taking a leaf out of the corporate sales book, realising that the two key advantages of the referral are trust and expertise.

The fact that someone we know to be independent has had a positive experience pushes up the trust learning curve with a referral allowing us to reach the point at which we are willing to work with a company much faster than if we approached them cold. 

It also means that we know that the referred contact has expertise which is relevant to us through the discussions with our trusted third party.

Content marketing

Agencies are starting to recognise that content marketing and marketing automation allows them to get over the hurdles caused by long gaps between sales by creating relationship opportunities which will ultimately lead into listings or sales in a more cost-effective manner. 

This means the creation of online communities of individuals who opt in to receiving your communications and are prepared to engage with the content you create.

This is important because recognising that the content needs to be what the audience wants to hear, not what the writer wants to say is a key concept for effective content marketing. No-one wants to be bombarded just with new listing messages!

The platform is important too.

Social media offers a great opportunity to broaden the audience base, but it’s very low engagement, whereas email subscriber bases will be smaller and more difficult to build but will be substantially more engaged.

Stepping into content

Depending on how committed you are to content management and your ROI timeline, you can create deeper and deeper levels of relationships.

That’s the key to success, realising that you’re not selling houses in your marketing, you’re selling relationships. Your audience needs to buy into you before they will buy what you are selling.

The Marketing Funnel

For the company shifting from a transactional to a relational selling model this is the simplest step, as it allows you to start to build a content marketing funnel without losing sight of the importance of a call to action leading to a specific endpoint. 

This approach centres on providing content which is relevant and interesting to the audience, but retains some focus on the sales process. The rule of thumb is that 80% of the content should be pure content and 20% sales focussed. 

This can mean retaining a call to action on all mails or focussing some mails or posts on the process or competitive advantages of the product. The key is the mix. More obvious calls to action or a sales approach will push some people down the funnel faster but are likely to disengage a lot of people. 

Content marketing

Companies coming from a softer, marketing-led background or who have found their funnel approach plateauing, tone down the overt sales pitch in favour of a greater focus on content which builds authority and trust with the potential for messages to be shared. 

This is the more traditional social media approach and leads to greater engagement and lower dropouts, forming a strong and growing audience.

video Content marketing

Sales messages are downplayed considerably so it takes a bit of a leap of faith coupled with strong marketing skills to create what is essentially going to become a strong source of high-quality leads, akin to those generated from referrals. 

One example of this is the 33 touch campaign run by Keller Williams companies.

In Ireland, this involves a 2 strand approach, developing the agent’s reputation for both professional and local knowledge, tapping into the audience need for estate agents that they can trust both to know the area intimately and be both professionally competent and successful.

Audiences are split by region of interest and receive two communications per month, one focussing on the area ( best restaurants, relevant news stories etc) and the other a market report detailing new listings, price movements and general commentary. 

Selling and listing call to actions are conspicuously absent.

The upshot of this is open rates in the late 20’s and virtually no unsubscribers, leading to a growing audience. Listing enquiries naturally fall out of the process, but there is no push.

From an agent’s perspective, Keller Williams automated marketing tools are linked to the CRM, making lists and campaign management simple minimising the need for marketing support and letting the agent’s personality shine through. Social media posts can also be scheduled automatically from within the platform. 

Monetising your base

Like Google and Facebook before it, Keller Williams has realised that once it has a loyal audience, it has the potential to offer them a range of products and services outside of the core offering.

The products and services it offers need to be relevant and aligned and obviously provided either internally or via aligned, well-vetted but non-competitive providers.

Keller Williams is able to leverage its global reach and size to negotiate good deals on traditional real estate products like mortgages, home improvement loans and insurance, but also recognises that the transition from one home to the next is only relevant for a small portion of its audience, whereas the others are settled homeowners.

growth business analytics

Plumbing, gardening, home warranty and cheaper utilities are much more relevant to the majority of its base and providing compelling offerings is a great way to both provide stickiness and an ongoing revenue stream. 

This isn’t without its pitfalls, however, as the affinity benefit means that whilst a good experience will act as a halo around the brand, any bad experiences with third parties will also negatively impact, so picking the right partners is essential.

It’s also important to limit the offering and ensure offerings are aligned with the core proposition otherwise you risk diluting the brand.

The revenues from cross-sells are rarely high compared with the core proposition, so it doesn’t make sense to lose sight of your core business.

Servicing your base through data mining.

As it transitions to a technology company, Keller Williams is already planning the next-generation technology utilising AI and hyperlocal content to provide an invaluable real estate tool for consumers and agents alike.

On the consumer side, content is localised to a specific address, giving access to a range of services specific to your home, acting as your home’s personal assistant effectively. 

Want to know what your house is worth now or projected into the future? How about what it would be worth rented on Airbnb or Long term rental? The app gives consumers to create their own landing page, with details on their home, its current value, services in the local area and anything else that the homeowner might need.

content

Partnerships with companies like Nextdoor allow additional features like combining the best features of a Facebook, WhatsApp or Justeat in a local, curated group or provide highly localised and differentiated services.

From the corporate side, datamining and AI allow agents to predict when a consumer is likely to be considering a change, prompting a reach out, for example. 

Content remains at the heart of the offering, as effective adopting requires access to service and content which continues to be relevant and useful to consumers.

The benefits, however, are game-changing.

As the go-to app for all of your homeownership and needs, Keller Williams stands to own the consumer’s interaction with their home, and who do you think will be the first person they think of when it comes to selling their home?

The future is relational, not transactional.

Building strong, long-lasting relationships with potential consumers is the future for real estate and this takes courage, patience and a long term approach.

You need to focus on what you can offer your consumer not what they can deliver for you, it really is a buyers market! However, the rewards are potentially huge.

Not only can first movers capture a large share of voice which can be translated into a cost-effective lead flow, but they have the potential to broaden the revenue base for the company and potentially lead to diversification and derisked revenues long into the future.

The marketing funnel

Relationship and content marketing are the real game-changers for real estate.

Location, location, location…

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How to create a video course and publish online

Video content is an exceptionally effective tool to engage, educate and influence customers, whether it's a course or a demo or a simple introduction.

Technology has made this simpler to record at an acceptable quality, with Hi resolution cameras and microphones available on most phones, but that hasn’t removed the personal barriers. Getting comfortable in front of a camera takes practice, confidence and planning, so Follow these simple steps to record your first video. 

What you do with it is up to you, the most important thing is just doing it

Plan out your video content

Who is the course aimed at

If the course is part of a content marketing strategy you probably have a very clear idea of who the viewer is, what they are interested in, their educational background and needs. If not, you should think about the audience before you start writing. 

  • Is this their first language? 
  • How well educated are they, 
  • what are they looking for from the video 
  • what are their issues. 

 

This will affect how you write and what you see to present if you want your audience to be engaged and influenced.

What are your objectives for the course and what are the outcomes you are hoping for.

A video should seek to influence its viewers in some way, whether that is to gain knowledge, give them confidence to try something new, or to change the way they think, and how you approach your course will have to reflect that. A video explaining how black holes work will be very different to one explaining how to install windows or how to recruit a software developer.

How long is the course going to be?

Research shows that the optimum length of a video is in the 3-5 minute region, but this is very dependent on your audience. longer-form content suits education and detailed explanation, but viewers will drop off. youtube’s research suggests that you are likely to have lost 40-50% of your viewers after 5minutes, down from 75% after 2 minutes. However, an engaged audience is likely to stay longer, so it depends on your objectives.

How does this fit into my business?

Your product/marketing strategy, customer journey and pricing strategy will also affect how you approach the content if you are doing this to create revenue or leads.

Where are you going to use the videos?

Your choice of distribution platform will impact on some of the choices you make later, especially with video formats and sizes. If the video is going to be used on Youtube or an e-learning platform, they will want video uploaded in a specific format, and it is much easier to record video in the right format than to try and convert it at a later date.

How am I going to promote the video?

Your video needs to be seen and you can’t really rely on people stumbling on to it, so it needs to be promoted. this may have implications for your content as well. Guest collaborators, quotes and content are a highly effective tool for promotion and can bring real-world context to your videos. at the very least you can rely on two people promoting your video rather than just one!

What's the Story?

storyboard

In order for content to be effective it needs to be relevant and memorable. Traditional storytelling tools are very effective at achieving this, having been shaped by thousands of years of oral tradition. Our minds are already well attuned to this, we have been learning from stories since we were kids and continue to engage with storytelling in the media we consumers, whether its books, films or well-written journalism. It’s also why case studies are such an effective tool in education and marketing

Storytelling uses a character’s journey to illustrate how we can overcome difficulties or deal with situations.

Character

Having a clear definition of the character in the story helps the viewer or reader engage with the content because there is a personal connection. we can see ourselves in the character and empathise. This is why its is essential to understand who your audience is and and what they are trying to achieve.

Conflict

The conflict is the problem that the character is seeking to resolve. It defines their circumstances and helps illustrate how the concept you are teaching is relevant to your audience.

Resolution

This is the approach to take to solve the problem. Here you describe what the solution is and illustrate how the solution can be implemented.

Payoff

This is the outcome and demonstrates the successful conclusion. this section illustrates how the character’s situation has been improved by implementing the solution, and demonstrates that the outcome outweighs the cost and time spent implementing the solution

The depth to which you go with the solution will depend on your preferred outcome.

Choose your format

Your choice of format will depend on your audience’s media preferences, the resources you have to hand, and your own personal preferences. 

The most important step is to start. You can learn and develop as you go, refining your format based on feedback and adding resources as you go, so the best place to start is a format that you are comfortable with. 

So what are your options?

Content only or content with music.

This option is the easiest. All you need to do is create a slidedeck with detailed content, and add page transitions every 30 seconds or so ( depending on the average reading time of the page). This is simple, suits people who are not comfortable speaking into a microphone or camera, or where you feel your accent may impact how the information is received. But it’s not very engaging.

Content with voice over

In this case your slide deck would be sparser as your voiceover will carry much of the content to the listener. 

Content, in this case, could be a slide deck, a screen share if you are demonstrating how to do something on a computer, background video or images.

It can also include animations that help illustrate your story. This takes a little more planning and time as you will need to rehearse your voice over and timings in advance, especially if you are speaking over a video or animation. You may also need to edit the video or re-record sections that you are not comfortable with. 

 

I’d suggest getting a third party to check over any parts that you don’t like. we all have a tendency to be self-critical, and what you might consider a major issue might not even be noticed by 99% of the people viewing the video, especially if you are speaking to a global audience.

In screen video.

As you get more confident, you may decide that your audience will engage more if they can see the presenter. Most programmes like Loom will give you the option to have a video stream overlay on the screen share, which works well with presentations and screen shares, but just be conscious that your onscreen content needs to be organised to ensure that your picture isn’t covering essential parts of your content.

Full screen video

Where you are the story or skills are physical rather than intellectual, full-screen video works well. This ensures that the viewer is focussed on you alone rather than the content, but requires more equipment and processing as you have more aspects to align and edit. You also need to be more mindful of your surroundings, lighting, background ambient noise etc.

 

None of these approaches are right or wrong, they are all equally valid for specific objectives, budgets, audiences and presenter preferences. The right choice for your first video is the choice that gets you started. You can experiment with different approaches as you get more confident or experienced, but no-one can learn from you unless you create a course, so pick the one you feel comfortable doing first, and see where your creativity takes you later.

Getting Started with Loom

If this is your first video, or you just want to create a prototype to understand the process, online tools like  Loom are very effective and cheap options. 

There are a number of similar products but Loom is well set up, easy to use and free, so makes a great starting point for beginners. Loom also offers good training videos to help new users create and share their videos, so you get set up faster. 

If you prefer a more DIY approach for full video you will need a good camera, stands, lighting, microphone, video editing equipment, or access to someone who has these facilities, requiring a significant financial and time commitment on your part.

Which Camera?

Your choice of format, delivery platform and budget will have a significant impact on the technology, if any, you need to record video. For small businesses getting started in eLearning, the focus is likely to be on content with voice over, possibly with a video feed overlay as you become more confident. 

Just as an aside, youtube does not accept audio formats, so if you just wanted to create audio it still needs a visual component and be recorded in a video format like MP4 or MOV.

If you are using a screen share tool like loom to create your video, then chances are you don’t need anything else. Even if you want to add in a video overlay, your laptop’s webcam will probably be more than sufficient. Apple users can also record on Loom via their ipads and iphones if you want, but a stand would be recommended.

In reality, the way you use the video will have the greatest impact on which camera you need. Loom can record in 4k, and youtube will let you upload 2k files, but they will be huge. for the vast majority of applications, especially where you are using text or images, 720 is perfectly acceptable and will make your videos easy to work with.

Youtube videos set the standard, and most companies that offer video hosting and distribution will follow Youtube’s standard. That means recording in 720P with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and saving the files in MP4 or MOV ideally.

If your webcam doesn’t support 720 and allow recording in 16:9 as a minimum it’s worth updating it. 

Getting the sound right

Regardless of the approach you take, the quality of the sound you record will have a major role on the audience’s enjoyment and engagement. there is nothing more off putting and distracting than an indistinct voiceover, with background noise pops, crackles and bangs, so it makes sense investing in a microphone.

There are two main choices. Studio mikes are large, stand mounted microphones, often protected by foam covers or shields to protect from pops and harsh noises. they are ideal for groups or interviews and are very sensitive, offering very high quality sound. they are expensive and need a quiet environment to work in as they are sensitive to background noise, and you need a bit of space on your desk for the mic.

 

The other option is a lavalier mike, the clip on mikes you see reporters use. As these are on the speaker, it’s easier to move around without affecting the sound and they tend to be more resistant to background noise and are cheaper. 

The other thing you need to consider is what you are using to record the sound. assuming you are using a tool like zoom, you will need to get a microphone that is compatible with your laptop, has it got a mic socket or will you need a UBS compatible mic for example. This is especially true with phones, now that Apple has removed the mic socket.

Write and rehearse your content

Prior preparation will greatly increase your enjoyment of the recording process so it’s well worth while putting in the prework. Approach the recording process like its a dress rehearsal. You want it to be perfect, but there is no audience, so if you do make a mistake, you can go back and correct it.

Try to avoid being a perfectionist though, the vast majority of your audience won’t notice or care about small mistakes, everyone makes them. it’s more important to get content out than making it perfect. 

You probably have your own process for creating content, but this is mine.

Firstly, I outline the main subjects I want to cover in the presentation and the order in which I want to cover them. 

Secondly, I write the content out as though I am writing a speech. If you are going to be doing a voice over, you want the audience to focus on what you are saying, not what’s on the screen, and this will therefore be where the majority of the content will come from. It will also make it easier to record if you know exactly what you want to say.

Next I consider what’s going to be on the screen when I talk and prepare slides or diagrams accordingly, this way the visuals support the audio rather than guiding it, keeping you as the centre of attention.

Once you know what you want to say and what’s going on in the video, run through it several times. Does it make sense? does it flow? if not, make changes now before you record. 

Practice your speech several times before you record it, so you are comfortable with timings, phraseology and the logic of what you are saying.

If you are new to recording videos, feel free to record one or two slides just to get a feel for the way that it works.

Recording your videos

This is the important part, actually recording the videos!! 

Find a quiet place where you are comfortable and can speak freely without being interrupted. Ideally you should be standing up. Sitting down compresses your diaphragm restricting your airflow and makes you feel more constricted, but if it’s the most practical choice, then it’s acceptable.

Don’t try to record a 60 minute video in one go. Ideally your video should be short, but if you prefer longer content, it doesn’t have to be recorded that way. Recording small sections makes it easier to re-record sections you aren’t happy with. Stitching together lots of small sections is much easier than trying to snip out bits of audio and video content. 

Similarly, if you can identify natural breaks, for example slide transitions, and build a 2-3 second gap between the two, it makes it much easier to trim and replace sections if you do want to re-edit later. 

Ultimately the same rules apply. Don’t be too critical and if you are concerned about something, get an independent view. A 90% perfect video online is MUCH better than a 100% perfect video sitting on your computer.

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A video should seek to influence its viewers in some way, whether that is to gain knowledge, give them confidence to try something new, or to change the way they think, and how you approach your course will have to reflect that. A video explaining how black holes work will be very different to one explaining how to install windows or how to recruit a software developer.

Location, location, location…

The importance of hyperlocal marketing in local businesses

The Internet is full of people willing to tell you how to leverage globalisation and advertising to create niches giving you a global reach, but for the vast majority of businesses, their customers are more local and time-bound.

With banner blindness growing and voice searches increasing, marketing and sales will become more “hyperlocal”, so it’s time to optimise your marketing to capture the fastest-growing search term – “near me” which are growing by over 250% each year.

What's driving the growth

The general model of marketing suggests that people will identify a need, spend time researching for a solution and then make a choice from a set of product and supplier options. 

However, consumers are becoming less patient and more impetuous. We know what we want and we want it now, and, as we’re searching on our mobiles, we want it here!

Time has become a factor in decision making, and consumers are willing to pay a little more and travel to collect goods, rather than pay for shipping and wait for delivery, which has lead to the growth of “click to collect” delivery option, as people become more time-constrained. Therefore distance to the product has become more relevant. 

This is obviously true for restaurants and events, where the opportunity exists now, as people make snap decisions to eat out or find a different pub or club when out. 

Marketers are now talking about “micro-moments”, opportunities that exist now, but won’t be repeated, so you need to structure your marketing to capture them.

How does this work?

Whether you’re on your phone or desktop, your ISP needs to know where you are, so records your general location, unless you tell it not too, and most people don’t.

When you conduct a local search, for example, “ restaurants near me”, Google prioritises results close to your location and will rank these higher than the more general results. In addition, Google gives the user the option to view locations on a map, making results easier to navigate to. 

Your webpages and site need to be optimised to catch this traffic. If you have a physical location, you need to make sure this is reflected on Google maps. If you’re servicing a specific area, your SEO needs to reflect this.

So how do you go about making your site Local Friendly?

There are lots of obvious ways that you can tag your location, from simply tagging your location on Google maps and setting up a Google MyBusiness Profile to including location-specific code in your Header which will be categorised by search engines to recognise your location.

Obviously, as location-based searches are most relevant to mobile users, making sure your site is mobile friendly is a must.

But, like all websites, optimising the content is by far the most effective tool to make your site hyperlocal.

This means making sure your content is relevant to the area you are targeting and the people who’re living there. Make sure you link to local businesses and reference local events and example. Include local pictures rather than generic stock images, as these are instantly recognisable to local searchers, and familiarity breeds comfort!

See past the organic. Hyperlocal as a brand value

If Estate Agency is all about “location, location, location”, then having a reputation for being the leading agent in that location is obviously going to position you strongly with prospective buyers and sellers.

Castle Estate Agents espouses the Keller Williams touchpoint culture which emphasis nurturing relationships with a discrete audience who are likely to either be in the market for a home in the future or be in a position to influence other potential buyers and sellers.

With a large database of contacts, the company make extensive use of targeted, engaging email content to both keep contact and reinforce the company’s positioning for professionalism and local knowledge within specific geographical regions.

Castle segments its audience based on geographical interest and sends regular emails that provide relevant local content to residents, whether it’s showcasing new or popular restaurants, highlighting upcoming events or discussing matters of local importance such as major planning approvals or infrastructural work.

Buying or selling homes isn’t mentioned once. It’s all focussed on what’s relevant to the audience at a hyperlocal level.

And it’s paid off considerably.

Open rates have more than doubled across the board ( trebled where video content is used!) and unsubscribe rates are non-existent, so the base is growing rapidly and more engaged than before.

This success has migrated down the funnel as well, with listings up more than 55% since the campaign began and an increase in referral business

Location is going to be one of the most important criteria for customer-facing businesses over the next few years, as consumers seek the fastest need fulfilment, so optimising your presence for hyperlocal searches will position your business as the supplier of choice for the local minded consumer.

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Effective communications are customer-centric

communication

If you are selling or marketing, your aim is to win the resources of the customer and the most precious commodity is their attention. Good communication is key

Whether you are selling or marketing, your aim is to win the resources of the customer and these days, one of the most precious commodities is their attention.

From lead generation onwards, your most important task is to get the customer to engage with your communications, to give you their attention and as media becomes more fragmented it’s just becoming harder.

Unless you are a commodity, your proposition probably needs to be explained.

If you’re business is set up with a single purpose around a specific problem, it’s easy to explain to someone what you do and why you are relevant, but for most business, its often not clear what the benefit is and there is a tendency for business to focus on the features of the product and assume that the buyer can see why that’s relevant to them.

Buyers don’t have the time to sit and think about what a feature might mean in the context of their business and how this might translate into tangible business improvement that would justify an investment. You have to do that for them.

I do a lot of lead generation on LinkedIn, where you only have 300 characters ( including spaces) to grab the attention of the prospect, so it’s essential to make them instantly see what the value of the product is to them.

Put yourself in the shoes of the prospect and consider how their lives will be better if they buy the product and paint a picture for them.

  • Understand what issues face the industry you are targeting and what the trends are
  • Understand how your product benefits the target company and collect any tangible supporting evidence you can find
  • Understand who owns that benefit, who might have an objective that requires the benefit to be delivered.

If they are passive customers you need to ensure that your outbound communications get straight to the point

Communicate context, solution and include a call to action that lets you retain control. “x is a major issue for Irish companies, but by doing Y, we can deliver a 50% improvement in X, would you be free for a call to discuss?”

If the customer is active and searching, then chances are they are searching on the internet, so it’s important to remember that they are likely to research from the perspective of the problem, so ensure that your keywords cover the problem set, not just the solution, and that your communications are written with the keywords in mind.

Consider what questions you would ask if you have the same problem. If your computer fails, you don’t search for data recovery services, you are more likely to be searching based on what the symptoms are.

Remember, whether B2B or B2C all consumers are time poor, so anything that you can do that simplifies their research and decision making is going to increase your chances of delivering leads and sales

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6 steps to building a strong personal brand

Helping you stand out in an increasingly crowded market place

The development of social media and online sharing platforms was supposed to make marketing easier, but it’s just increased the number of potential competitors for a share of your customer’s mind.

And it’s shifted the focus from the company to the individual

We all now need to become influencers and having a clear, relevant and effective personal brand is an essential tool in capturing the hearts and minds of today’s consumer even in a B2B Marketplace.

Media was the first industry to pick up this trend, positioning the actors, musicians and increasingly journalists as the “product” and the film, show or newspaper as the channel. Showrunners are now the draw to watch a new TV show and papers are marketing themselves as the exclusive source of a celebrity columnists insights and knowledge. 

But how do you go about creating a strong, relevant personal brand?

Know what you stand for

We are naturally social animals and tend to avoid rejection at all costs. This can lead us to avoid alienating people meaning we try to be all things to all people. But this will muddy your brand.

Your aim is to be seen as an authority and advocate for a clearly identified message. So what do you want to be known for? A good rule of thumb is to have three clear messages that you want to portray in your content, that reinforce your brand consistently. This is your brand fingerprint that lets people recognise your work and what you stand for.

Think of these as the triggers that will lead others to refer you to people interested in that specific subject area. You’ll build on this to establish your reputation over time

Look to the experts for tips and tricks.

As you build your personal brand, be on the lookout for new approaches

It’s worth following some of the more established through leaders and influencers, whether on Instagram and youtube or more professional influencers on LinkedIn. 

Seek out those influencers in your industry and the wider media environment and follow them

See if you can identify their core brand messages, are they clear and consistent? What tools do they use and what style is their content written in. What have they done wrong?

Consistency is key

Brand building is about repetition. There’s a good reason that Coke repeats it’s Christmas ad each year, and it’s not to keep production costs down! Coke wants to be associated with the Joy that children feel at Christmas, knowing that this will act as a buying trigger throughout their life.

Similarly, you need to consistently repeat your messages. This doesn’t mean sending the same article out over and over but making sure that each post reinforces your message in the mind of the readers, and that you provide a regular stream of relevant content to reinforce your position.

Honesty and integrity must be at the core.

Building a brand is a relationship.

You need to be diligent about putting content out there, but unless your audience stays with you over the long term, your message just won’t get through. To commit to your brand they need to be interested, but, most importantly, they need to trust you. 

In sales and Politics, people buy from people they trust, so avoid making claims you can’t stand over, be objective and use evidence to support your arguments. 

Be open to the other side of the argument and acknowledge it has value, as you may find you learn something which strengthens your own position

You’ll be surprised how compelling your arguments will become if you are open to acknowledging contradictory positions or weaknesses.

Be an advocate for your position

Whilst we enjoy a bit of schadenfreude from time to time, we tend to gravitate towards people who reinforce our own perceptions and beliefs rather than those that denigrate them.

You are an advocate for your chosen message, so it’s your duty to be uplifting in your approach, highlighting the positive aspects as much as possible.

Sell your ideas and give your followers positive messages they can use to help sell your idea and brand on to others.

Be human

Corporate communications are often dry and lifeless. It’s clear, concise, informative and bland. It doesn’t have a personality.

Your content needs to be different. People aren’t buying into your posts and videos, they are buying into you as a person, so you need to let your personality come through and make your message human.

Your content should be educational and persuasive, but mostly it needs to be enjoyable! This isn’t a lecture, its two people sharing a conversation, so let your own personality come out in your content.

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