5 Ways to Structure Content to Work Harder for Your Business

The biggest problem for content creators, who also happen to be experts, is they aren’t writers.

Simple website platforms like WordPress have opened up the world of publishing to anyone with an internet connection. One result of this revolution is everyone who can, now thinks they should. And that, my dear friends, is a terrible assumption.

A few years back I wrote a little piece called Just Because You can, Doesn’t Mean You Should. That particular little charmer was about not giving in to the pressure to use all existing technologies just because they happen to be available.

Blogging is exactly the same. Even if you’re a great writer, trying to capture your thoughts can be a tough slog through a muddy valley.

Writing is a lot harder than it looks

Creating an engaging narrative is not something that comes naturally to most folks. And even those who’ve spent the better part of their lives pumping out a prodigious amount of great work will tell you that it isn’t always easy.

So when I read a post from an expert I can generally tell within a few seconds if I’m going to get to the end.

It’s not meant to be a slag.  Just a reflection of different skillsets.  The biggest giveaway is formality. Nobody should write a blog to impress their 11th Grade English teacher – unless that happens to be your assignment. If so – go at it.

Save your formal writing for essays and business proposals. Blogs are not deserts. They shouldn’t be dry. If your expertise is in business development add some colour. A story. Anything to make what you’re trying to get across come to life.
Robots do read your blog. They just don't buy your stuff. #marketing Click To Tweet

Here are 5 simple steps to organize your blog content for success:

Add and image or video

One of the key indicators for Google is how long people stick around your site. So including compelling images and videos is a great way to improve that metric. Just look at the top of this article. There’s free video that was made using the Lumen5.com app. But more important than impressing Google – most people react better to videos. So your blog content actually becomes more engaging.

Break it up into sections

There is nothing worse than dense text. I once had a client who would literally right 2000 word tomes each week. The content was good. But the medium and presentation was all wrong. Make sure that you break you content into digestible nuggets of genius. Use headings and bullets and numbered lists so folks don’t get lost.

Link out to authoritative sources

When I’m researching a new topic I love lists that come with links to referral sources. So does Google – which is how I find them. When you link to outside sources – not only do search engines recognize it, so do your readers. And that gives what you say added credibility

Write for the reader – not a search engine

Robots do read your blog. They just don’t buy your stuff. Search engines are very smart robots. They index and sort everything on the web. But if you write for them – stuffing keywords and and awkward phases filled with even more keywords into your content – you’ll turn off the real people who are going to be your clients.

Go for more information and less selling

We’re all in sales – I get it. But that doesn’t mean that everything you create should be about you and how awesome your product or service is. Concentrate on what your reader needs and wants from your content more than what you want them to do. Use your content to become more like a trusted resource and thought leader that a shifty sales person.


Add a call to action somewhere

You aren’t going to be a shifty sales guy. But you need to pay your bills. Remember to have some sort of CTA on your page. If you look up towards the middle of this blog you’ll see a sign-up for a free online workshop. Go ahead and sign up. It will be well worth your time:-)

Why you are wasting your time on social media

If you’re a consultant, trainer or speaker you’ve probably been told over and over again that to be successful you need to be very active on social media.

On the surface it sounds like good advice and social media can be an important part of your marketing strategy. It can certainly help you reach more people and get your message out to audiences who may never have heard of you. But let me be perfectly clear – you can build a business without constantly feeding an Instagram account with selfies.

Social media marketing is not a one-size fits all panacea for business success. But that’s the way it’s pitched to a lot of business owners.

Here’s what generally happens. A small business owner attends a conference or a seminar on social media and the speaker runs through a list of all the top sites and all the billions of people who are using them.

So you leave either inspired or frightened. Inspired about what social media can do to help you grow your brand or frightened by the amount of work it’s going to take to get you a million followers.

I’m here to confirm what your gut is already telling you. That’s a load of crap.

A lot of business owners are wasting their time on social media. Instead of concentrating on creating great content for the platforms where they’re most likely to connect with clients, they end up filling a Hootsuite queue with quotes and inane pictures that have nothing to do with their business and will never resonate with their prospects.

With great content and a sellable message you should be booking conferences, not posting pictures. Click To Tweet

I recently had a client who was signed up for everything by her social media consultant; Pinterest, Instagram, Tumbler, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. So instead of working on growing her speaking business, she was spending all her time trying to grow her social media followers.

If you have great content and a sellable message you should be booking conferences, not posting pictures.

That’s not to say social media in itself is a waste. But you do have to focus on the channels that are most likely to get you in front of the folks who are likely to write you checks for $10,000 or more.

And those folks are probably not on Instagram.

What about Facebook?

Yes, Facebook is huge and your clients are probably on it. But are the on it to be sold on your services or are they on it to keep connected to friends and family? I use Facebook as a hub for some content marketing. I have my blog and my social recycling plugins tied to it to distribute content automatically. I don’t pay too much attention to it. But it at least looks very active if a prospective client drops by when researching my credentials. I also use it for targeted advertising.

There was once a time when a Facebook business page could drive a lot of organic traffic back to your website – as all your followers would be likely to see your posts in their feed. But that changed with an algorithm update that deprecated business content distribution.

Now, if you want to get a piece of content noticed, you need to boost the post with an ad targeting your ideal client profile. That is the trend as social media companies increasingly monetize their data. It’s a pay to play world. So just get used to it.

What I tell my clients – who are primarily consultants, speakers, and sales trainers – is that they should play in the same social media sandbox  their clients are playing in. And for the most part that means LinkedIn and Twitter.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 4.23.52 PM

I’m not saying that all the other social media are a waste of time. But it’s very easy to make your time on them very unproductive. Tackle social media with  a strategy geared toward results and the time you save – not posting quotes – can be spent following up on real leads for proper jobs.


freelance marketing

Top Tips for Increasing Mobile Conversion Rates

Mobile shoppers topped desktop shoppers during the weekend-long 2014 Black Friday sales for the first time ever. This is just the latest milestone in mobile’s inexorable march to dominate online markets.

This trend has marketers scrambling to figure out what it takes to get a slice of the mobile pie for their brands. As it turns out, the obvious answers may not be right answers. In a recent series of tests conducted by the folks over at marketingexperiments.com, implementing a responsive website design did nothing to increase mobile conversions.

The mobile experiment is really just starting

In retrospect, this result may not actually be as shocking as it appears on the surface. While responsive design accommodates the mobile device, it doesn’t account for the attitudinal, behavioral, and decision-making differences between desktop and mobile users. What this study shows is that the psychology of mobile users is different from desktop users. That being the case, simply delivering content targeted to desktop users is unlikely to meet the needs of mobile users. This conclusion, is unlikely to be the final word on this issue, but it should cause marketers to reevaluate their mobile strategies from the ground-up.

So what are the differences between mobile users and desktop users and how can marketers increase mobile conversion rates?

Print coupon vs. Mobile coupon

Let’s assume for the moment that responsive design really isn’t sufficient for conversions. Does this mean that the mobile website should be completely different, with different messages, different calls-to-action, and different content that is optimized for the on-the-go psychology of a mobile user? It’s probably too early to answer these questions definitively, but another study, a simple A-B test done by LoyaltyReward.co may offer some insights.

The A-B test conducted by the folks at LoyaltyReward compared a responsive design that basically reformatted the brand’s website for mobile devices to a mobile coupon site that was dramatically simplified. The coupon site only displayed the brand logo, social media icons for sharing, and a coupon. Full disclosure, further down the page, if users were willing to scroll, there was also location maps and a link to the brand’s mobile responsive web presence, but viewing these items was not necessary for the mobile user to take action with the coupon or the sharing buttons.

Results please

The mobile coupon site which delivered a coupon in exchange for the mobile user’s personal data had a 55% conversion rate. The mobile responsive site did not show any increase in conversions over the non-mobile optimized site while the coupon site increased calls to the brand’s location by a factor of 10x.

Not only was the coupon site more effective in delivering real leads, it also delivered the user information which print coupons simply can’t do.

Lessons learned

It always tempting to generalize from specific incidents, and it’s usually counterproductive to read too much into a single experiment. However, a closer look at some of the questions that emerge from these findings may be productive for marketers.

Has web design become too complex?-While it may seem clear that simplified designs are more effective for mobile users who are using smaller devices, could simpler designs for desktop also promote more conversions?

How much information do users really need to take action-The mobile coupon site was not only simple in design and effective at gathering leads, the call to action was unambiguous and did not have to compete with other design elements. How much information does a user really require before responding to a call to action?

What is the most effective call to action for a brand?-The study above used a coupon, and that may have been perfect for a restaurant, but it may not be the best engagement device for every brand. Which other engagement devices such as one question surveys, contests or something else are most effective for different mobile target markets.

*     *     *

Now that mobile is consistently showing up desktop in usage and engagement statistics, marketers will be obligated to make the shift and follow the technology just as they did when technology shifted marketing momentum from print to web. It is simple and insightful experiments like these that will provide the questions that marketers must answer for their brands. One thing is clear. Mobile here to stay. It won’t always be smartphone screens; it may be something even smaller. Simpler designs and simpler mechanisms for engagement may be the next order of business for marketers.

Expanding Marketing Efforts with Paid Social Media Ads

You have a web presence across several platforms with consistent and creative content. All of your posts have compelling images and relevant content targeted to your audience. It seems like your content marketing strategy is solid, but you’re still not seeing the leads that you expect.


Everyday people upload billions of different content types on various online platforms. Even if you have amazing content it will likely get lost amidst the rest especially since many social platforms have algorithms that calculate who will actually see your posts. At the end of the day, you may have thousands of followers but only a very small percentage will actually see your posts at any given time. So what can you do to extend your reach further?

Paid Social Amplification

Businesses today need a strong social media presence in order for their online marketing solutions to thrive. In order to fully realize the power of social sharing, your marketing solution should include paid social amplification. Even if you haven’t used them for your own business, you most likely have already seen it in action in the form of: promoted tweets, Facebook page post ads, LinkedIn sponsored updates and more. All of the major social networks now provide paid media options to boost your social content to a targeted audience. Not only does it offer guaranteed visibility, it also can help build your community by fostering engagement and conversions. But wanting to attract an audience or customers is one thing, actually knowing how to do this is another.

In this infographic, you’ll learn how to approach paid social amplification for best results, what networks have the largest audience and what metrics you should track based on your amplification goals. Of course, you should tailor the information here in order to derive the most value from your paid social amplification.




Google+ Post Ads: Here’s What It Is, and Why You Should Utilize It

Regardless of how good your marketing outreach might be, there’s always a way to improve your engagement and increase your followers. Social networks like Facebook and Pinterest allow you to promote your profile or posts within their network. While this can still attract a large number of people, it is still limited to the number of users on that particular platform. If you want to get your posts and company in front of a much larger group of people, then your best bet is Google Plus.

While Google Plus’ numbers might not be as impressive as Facebook, it still has around 200 million users. More importantly, the +1 shares through Google Plus can improve your SEO on your posts and site. In April 2014 Google announced the introduction of the Plus Post ads. Unlike other social ad promotions, Google Plus Post ads will run your posts or hangout notifications through their Display Network. This means that instead of being restrained to Google Plus, your promotions will appear on one of the 2 million third party websites for even more reach and engagement.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your visibility, the infographic below can help you get started on creating your own Plus Post Ads.


Google PostAds1

Businesses, Here are Your Rules for Reaching Out via Social Media

It’s apparent that social media is here to stay so it makes sense that the almost 90 percent of all business have at least one social profile to connect with their audience. Not only is it a great way to engage your audience, it also helps widen your reach and improve your lead generation. But social media requires more than just good content. Each platform has a set of etiquette rules that you should follow.

You might follow some of the most basic rules to avoid a horrible social media faux pas such as:

  • Researching hashtags before you post them
  • Editing the wording of your updates to ensure professionalism
  • Checking to make sure you are not logged into your professional profile when making a personal update

While these might seem like common sense, you’d be surprised at how many well-known companies have made these very mistakes. If you don’t want to damage your reputation or alienate your audience, step away from your profiles and take a moment to consider your updates before posting.

Of course, these pitfalls are the most basic pillars of good PR. However, there are smaller, more nuanced etiquette rules for social media sites as well. These “rules” are more like guidelines on best practices for each network. The infographic below offers some helpful hints and tips to help you navigate through the typical social media landmines.



5 Reasons Why Your Brand is Destined to Fail

The story about David and Goliath may as well be based in this day and age. Considering the only rule applicable is no rules. We take a look at the reasons why your brand, as outstanding as you make it seem, is just big and not so fast.

Reason #1: Age old Marketing tactics

An article written by Peter N. Golder, Julie R. Irwin and Debanjan Mitra for Forbes mentions how leading brands tend to waiver over time. This study, conducted over a span of 15 years, indicates around 20% of the so-called leading brands tend to lose their leadership every fifth year. Keeping this in mind, being current is not just about having the best marketing team stuffed with business school graduates. It’s also about knowing your base. We all tend to lose track of our end customers because of our own deadlines and work dramas. Rather than working in silos based on merely function, move towards a more integrated personality for the company.

Reason# 2: Social Media

Let’s take the example of Vishal Gondal, Managing Director at Disney-UTV Digital. Also, a reputed social media channel. His Audi Q7 was given for servicing at an authorized Audi service station in Mumbai, India. The GPS tracking system showed his car was travelling all over the city when it was supposed to be at the service station. Someone’s joyride, somebody else’s misery. He tweeted the Audi India handle but didn’t get a reply from them for three hours. Meanwhile, the BMW handle tweeted Vishal and asked him to try out on of their cars for a week. End of story with the most perfect moral.

Reason # 3: Customer details

Remember how, as a child, a massive amount of time was spent of attaining the best cursive handwriting? Currently, it’s a colossal waste. You may have the best team, the best product, the best line up. Now for the grand pause. Many major brands don’t have consolidated information about their customers. When someone tweets or mails you, don’t ask them for the basic details as to when they bought your product or their contact number. It’s your prerogative as a brand to have a glitch-less customer database. Make it part of your culture. No customer left behind!

Reason #4: The way the brand is viewed

There’s a thin line of difference between being image conscious and being arrogant. Take for example, Hewlett Packard. The company spoke out about how the brand reached a stage of stagnation. They used this spotlight, churned in some existential questioning and look where they are now! This company openly admits that it’s time to change. They did it in 2001, they did it in again 2013. Everyone loves a company that admits they can do better and goes ahead to prove the same.

Reason #5: Not Reflecting

Ergo, not reinventing. There is never enough time but that’s not a viable excuse. Take Nike as an example. While the nature of the products dictates the brand in itself, they have given some very innovative and thoughtful additions to the basic line. It’s not just the clothes. It’s the entire package.

Remember, bad decisions make for good stories. Let the good stories come from your competitors’ side.

Tips for Operating a Successful Facebook Mobile Campaign

Reaching a billion users was an incredible milestone for Facebook, and with an expanding mobile market across the globe, that number could realistically push over two billion in only a few short years. Two years ago, that would have been wishful thinking; but with the rate of growth in the mobile market, 2014 will see more mobile subscriptions in the world than people.

If Facebook has taught us anything, it’s that at least a third of planet’s residents with steady Internet access log onto the site. Logically, once more people have ready access to the ‘net, you can expect to see Facebook’s numbers shoot through the roof.

What will you do to attract this market to your brand? If you’re not yet ready to market to the mobile crowd, here are four steps that should prepare you.

4  Steps to a Successful Mobile Campaign 

1. Offer Valuable Content

Valuable content to a mobile user is a bit different than valuable content to a desktop user. Obviously, you want to ensure the highest quality content, regardless of who you’re targeting or through which device, but mobile content needs to be a cut above the rest. You’re marketing to people who are sometimes literally on the go, sometimes only checking in out of habit. Eye-catching material that rewards their time will earn you more engagement. Think about memes, polls, contests, deals, and other valuable posts. When it comes to linking locations don’t forget you will also need to customize the design of the landing pages for mobile devices.

2. Use Ads Effectively

There are two types of ads on Facebook that will help increase your reach more than the others: Sponsored Stories and Page Post ads. As long as you’re following step one and are always creating high-quality, user-friendly content, you can apply that same quality to your ads and greatly increase the size and scope of your advertising. Plus, with the right third-party ad-management app and Facebook’s customization features, you can easily target any audience.

3. Optimize per Device

Simply catering to the “mobile” market can be misleading. They might all be coming to Facebook, but they’re logging on via different devices. The way Samsung Galaxy users and iPhone users view content is different. You should optimize your content for each device out there to ensure users are viewing the best of what you have to offer. Placement targeting will help you optimize entire campaigns based on a device.

4: Track Your Results 

Even following the steps above, you still have to track your results to ensure that things are going correctly and smoothly. You may encounter issues with an ad. You may find that one ad isn’t performing as well per a device as you would like. View your statistics in real time to stay out in front of any damaging issues. Check your analytics often to ensure that everything is running effectively.

The growth of the mobile market gives you an opportunity to jump aboard a fast-moving train. It might not create another “boom” like what happened in the mid to late 90s; that remains to be seen. But if another few hundred million people join Facebook through mobile devices, and if the economy bounces back in a big way, do you really want to miss out on that market?


This is a guest post written by Stanna Johnson from  Qwaya.  Stanna is an online writer and a social media enthusiast who loves to write about the latest social media trends. Feel free to leave your questions and comments below and she”ll surely answer it.

Guest Post: How to Deal with a Social Media Mutiny

It’s been crazy in the Short Circuit Media world lately. I’ve always been open to guest posts – but have never outwardly solicited them as they tend to be overly promotional. This one from Daniel Vince at Corporate Gifts Co. has some pretty good ideas to help you avoid embarrassing your brand on Twitter.


What a positive idea it will make! Or so we thought! Open up our business using a Twitter account, selecting a good username and have that little bird icon added to all our corporate documentation! Little thoughts buzzing around our heads of building a social community using the World Wide Web, where all our customers talk and syndicate our chit-a-chat.  Idyllic market place might I ask?  So what the hell do you do when a client hits you hard with a negative Twitter like this…

When you are a commercial business, your interests in social media are based within building a trust, a presence and a clean cut, interactive image of your company.  So when one angry customer decides to “flip you the bird” with a Tweet that is meant as fact, how to we bury this situation and not break over cuckoo’s shells?

Keep Discreet, message in private 

A company’s loss in image through bad manners and slanging in public can be painful and costly. Your audience and users do not want to see childish, undisciplined retaliation of any sort.  Make sure that if you do want to argue your case, that you conduct this in a controlled manner, via the phone, Skype or emails as this is something that your wide audience and clientele need not intrude or see.

Contact the dissatisfied customer with details of your customer service department and make sure that they are dealt with quickly and effectively.  If you have received one complaint from this customer before, be wary about it; think how a poor customer service experience could provoke further Tweeting, disregarding your company.

Answer all your critics

The social media account is now as integral to many large companies much as the good old phone and email.  Customers are on social networks 24/7, and when a customer thinks to complain publicly, there needs to be an employee available to apprehend them.

When a customer complains to your on Twitter, they are expecting a reply, just like someone would if they had rung up or emailed in.  With this so, make sure you handle your client with a personal reply, don’t just send out the generic “courtesy” message, it won’t work.

Respond to your positive Tweets

Keeping up to speed with a company’s Twitter account feels like a hard job to maintain for some.

At Promotional Gifts we try and keep a steady hand on what our clients think of us, and encourage our customers, posting Tweets of positive comments, to add testimonials on the side.  We like to Retweet these anytime!

If you serve up some good feedback to the ones that land good praise, then you know that you have Twitter working for you, on cue, it is your show, citing brand loyalty as the company milestone.

For any companies who are just starting out on their Twitter endeavour, make sure you are ready to rendezvous with the negative resistance!  Make sure you have your customer service processes ready to filter a cluster of bad barks on Twitter, so you can handle complaints in a professional and effective manner.


Written by Daniel Vince of Corporate Gifts Co, Business Gifts Specialist Corporation

LinkedIn Plugins Every Website Should Use

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. But if you’re running a business it can be really tough to make a case for the ROI of updating Twitter and Facebook all day.

I’ve always been a strong advocate of using LinkedIn as the primary  tool for B2B companies trying to leverage social media to drive business.

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is a business networking site. You won’t (or at least you shouldn’t) see funny pictures and profanity-laced updates. More importantly you post stuff to LinkedIn that most of your personal connections on Facebook probably don’t care about.

Related: Stop Polluting Your Personal Facebook Page with Business Updates

Another reason why LinkedIn is becoming more important everyday – as of March 2012, professionals were signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of approximately two new members per second. And while 160 million members might not be Facebook numbers, it is a huge pool of potential partners and customers.

So the trick is to find a way to reach all these potential clients and turn them into real world business.

Now here comes the awesome part. LinkedIn actually makes it very easy to show visitors to your website how connected they are to you and your company.

If you run a website – you already know about the LinkedIn Share button and it’s ability to send your content to specific individuals, groups or simply post it as a status update.

But LinkedIn has a lot more social media options to help your business integrate with it’s members beyond simple sharing.

You probably haven’t heard of LinkedIn’s Member and Company Profile plugins (for any site – not just WordPress). But they are essential tools for any business looking to leverage social media effectiveness. Simply by dropping a small piece of code onto your homepage, LinkedIn members who come to your site from any traffic source will immediately see how “connected” they are to you or your company.

If you want to see it in action check out the home page of my site here. How are we connected?

Why are these tools important? Well if a prospective client sees that you are connected through a mutual business partner, that acts as a “soft referral” or endorsement of you and your business. And we all know that the more connected someone is to you the more likely they are to send business your way.

So here are the links to generate the code:

Member Profile
Business Profile

Go ahead and pass this post to your webmaster. Get these tools dropped onto your site today and start turning LinkedIn members into real clients.

How else are you using LinkedIn and other social media to grow your business? Let me know in the comments.