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Creating Buzz

The best way to get your company and product to grow is having evangelistic users spreading the word on your behalf.  However, don’t underestimate the effort it takes to get an influential person to find your product, use it, and endorse it to their followers.

Assuming your product is as great as you think it is, to create buzz, you’ll need to actively identify users who’ll share why your product is the next great thing.  If influencers don’t find your product, it might as well not exist.  Getting found by influencers is crucial to creating buzz.

Influencers may find your product through other means (e.g. – press release, product reviews, etc.), but to make things happen for your business you must, I repeat you MUST, actively reach out to influencers in your market and get your name out there. For more information on how to identify and reach out to influencers read this post on influencer marketing.

Learn what influencers think, continually improve your product, and make it buzz-worthy.  These conversations are key to planting the seeds that bloom into conversations that sell your product through word-of-mouth marketing.

If your product is great and you can identify/introduce/evangelize your product to influential people, not only will these influential voices help spread the word, those who listen and agree will continue the conversation.  Hooray!

What product or service are you buzzing about?

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Influencer Marketing for B2B Sales

Influence is one of the most powerful psychological drivers in sales and in belt-tightening times like these, influencer marketing is one of the most cost efficient ways to promote your business.  While this type of marketing has often been employed in the B2C space, opportunity abounds in the B2B space.

Influencer marketing, one of a dozen types of word of mouth marketing,  is an especially effective tactic in driving B2B sales.  To better understand what influencer marketing is all about, let’s define the players.

Effective influencer marketing is composed of three components:  the influencer, the follower, the business solution.

  1. Influencer – An influencer would be someone whose ability to motivate, change views, shift over from the status quo through their energy and passion and helpful knowledge over time.
  2. Followers – These people seek out the advice of the said ‘influencer‘ and will often listen and employ the advice to the extent they can implement it.
  3. Business Solution – While not directly linked to influencer marketing, the business solution is the most critical of the three parts of the influence puzzle.  Your solution needs to be relevant, meet the high standards of the influencer that share it with their followers, and be easy t0 understand (read: if an influencer can’t figure out why they or their community of followers should be interested in your product then you can bet they won’t give it the right type of influence to help it grow!).

Whether a follower of a influential person moves to take action on a product or service depends on the level of authority the influencer possesses.  Popular bloggers are very good at promoting their authority by developing thought leadership with their blog posts.

However, not all business influencers are created equally.  Selecting influencers that are best equipped to reach and influence your target audience will be a key component in your influencer marketing strategy.  To get started:

  1. Make a list of bloggers/writers/influencers who appear to reach your market.
  2. Assess their market reach by estimating their number of connections.
  3. Determine their though leadership (Do their followers hold the influencer’s opinion in high esteem?)
  4. Check their followers for the decision makers of your target market (LinkedIn is great for this).
  5. Rank your influencers according to their market reach, thought leadership, and ties to your target audience

Once you have your ranked list, I’d start connecting with a few who aren’t crucial to your influencer marketing success.  Incorporate your learnings from those approaches and craft a winning strategy for reaching out to the higher-ranked influencers who influence potential buyers in your product or services’ sweet spot.

When done right, influencer marketing is an effective and economical way to increase sales for your business.  If you can identify the right influencers, know your target customers (followers), and have a business solution worth talking about then influencer marketing needs to be included in your marketing mix.

Have you employed the power of influence in your marketing strategy?

Eight Steps to Creating Viral Content

Creating content that goes viral is the holy grail for marketers.  But why do some ideas flop and others spread like wild fire?  Follow these steps and improve your ability to make your content viral.

1) Find an interested audience.
For content to become viral, an interested audience must be able to find it. Social media is a great channel for content to get found, but don’t forget that a good SEO optimization of your content and building an audience with other useful content and tools will be a baseline to achieve before you can give your content the best opportunity to go viral. Expand your content’s reach by posting a teaser or a complete version of it on an industry site or searching for relevant articles to comment on that your audience will see and find the content you create relevant.  In short, you need to find a targeted audience for your content to flourish.

2)  Provide valuable content.
If what your offering isn’t useful, then it won’t be a viral hit.  Bring something to the table that your audience values and you’ll cross the minimum bar of getting the content in the hands of someone who might consider sharing it with others who’ll find it useful too.  Content must be valued by an audience before it’s shared by it.

3)  Allow your content to be easily shared.
Identify how your audience shares content and make it easy for them to share it the way they want to share it.  If you want to offer an ebook, slap a creative commons license on it and make it freely available to everyone to share however they want.  Consider embedding a hyperlinked share button or link to Twitter that spawns a tweet sharing the e-book in a couple of mouse clicks.  Links to social bookmarking sites through tools like ShareThis are an easy way to enable your content to be shared how interested consumers of your content want to share it.

Statistics show that email is still the most popular way people are share things online so don’t forget to include the ability for your audience to share content via email.  If your most interested audience includes executives that aren’t as computer happy, make your content easy to print out or requested to be sent by mail.  In short, make it easy for people to share your content the way they want to share it.

4)  Create relevant and original content.
Nothing inspires someone to share something with others than the spark of inspiration that a novel idea or resource that’s fresh and useful can produce.  Recycling a viral hit won’t have the same impact as the original unless you cater to a different audience and put an original spin on it.  Create unique, useful content and people will take notice and create buzz about it.

5)  Make your content pretty.
The last thing people want to read is a white paper without any formatting.  How boring!  Spice up your content with a clean layout and eye-catching visuals.  For example, use different fonts, colors, text sizes, and call out boxes for the key components of the content.  If you can layout content using the landscape view you’ll really open up your options for how the content is presented.  A good looking piece of content makes great content even better content and increases the likelihood it will be shared.

6)  Embrace social media channels.
Social media platforms like Twitter are designed for content to go viral.  This is really where marketing technique can come into play.  Ideally, you’ve identified where your audience is and if they are on social media channels, your potential for making content viral will increase tenfold.  Tweet about your content and encourage others who liked it to share it through there network.  Good content on social media channels spread fast, use them to make your content viral.

7 )  Connect with influencers.
While most internet users are passive readers that aren’t likely to engage or share content with others, influencers will create the word of mouth of your content to help it go viral. The right influencers have the ear of your target audience.  If your content is useful to them, their followers in your target audience will liekly follow suit and help spread your content to other interested parties.  Develop relationships based on value and influencers can help your content go viral within the circles you covet.

8)  Don’t get discouraged, try again and continue to offer new useful content
For every viral content hit, there are hundreds of would be hits that don’t pan out.  If there was a tried and true formula to identify pieces of content destined to be viral, that content would likely already exist.  That said, if you create enough useful, creative, original pieces of content that are valued by your target audience, you are bound to find a hit that will be well worth your investment in your content creation and delivery. And even if it doesn’t hit, your efforts should help your SEO and increase targeted traffic to your website.  Bottomline: Don’t get discouraged, keep creating content and attain viral marketing success!

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How Sephora’s Earth Day Marketing on Facebook Can Work for You

This year Sephora ran an awesome promotion that I’d like to share with you.  The campaign turns virtual tote bags into a word of mouth marketing promotion that generates revenue while boosting their brand image at the same time.

sephora_facebookWith the help of Facebook’s Gift Shop, Sephora launched a Facebook campaign that promotes a tote bag giveaway in honor of Earth Day.  Users can send the virtual tote bag to their friends that will give them a code to redeem the real thing through Sephora.com.  The virtual tote bag campaign achieves two great things.  First, this type of promotion is viral. The promotion can spread like wildfire through word of mouth on Facebook and aligned social media outlets.  Second, it makes money.  By offering a limited edition tote bag that is redeemable with a promotional code from the virtual gift, the campaign’s effectiveness is directly measured to every marketer’s delight!

Another benefit with the promotion include the positive brand equity that assoiciates Sephora with a good cause, Earth Day.  Sephora reaches a growing segment of people who seek organic, natural goods.  This segment is keenly aware of Earth Day and supportive of companies that share the values of the Earth Day movement.  With these product lines highlighted, Sephora can reach a new market that I suspect doesn’t generally associate Sephora with natural products.

If Sephora really wanted to push the envelope, I would suggest they provide an additional incentive for becoming a fan of Sephora’s Facebook page so the campaign has a lasting effect of driving traffic to Sephora.com. One good strategy to recruit more fans would be to ask users to post a photo, which requires you to become a fan, in order to get an additional percentage off their purchase or some other additional incentive.  This would allow them to continually promote future campaigns more easily and allow their evangelists to continually evangelize the Sephora brand.

With over 100,000 fans so far, Sephora’s Facebook marketing strategy has been very fruitful.  Retailers could learn a thing or two by monitoring their strategy and emulating the things that work.