Why you should start building your brand now

I like to take morning jogs, nothing too ambitious just 30 or so minutes will do. Most times I listen to music, and occasionally, I listen to podcasts. Today I’m glad I chose to listen to this Ted Talk by Dr. Meg Jay.

Don’t let the title fool you, I think the message here is just as relevant whether you are in your 20s, 30s, or 40s. The idea that we have all this time to do all these things we want to do keeps us from pursuing what we really want to do with our lives.

My big scary goal: By the end of this year I want to get moving on making this blog a priority not a choice, and actively pursuing opportunities to grow its audience.

Here is the speech. Play it over your lunch hour, drive home, or whatever down time you have today, it’s well worth it.

Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20

How To Stop Interrupting and Start Connecting (in your Marketing)

There’s an old-school communications concept that explains how we connect. It’s pretty simple, it’s old, and it’s still relevant. What’s more, is it can have a powerful effect on your business marketing if done right.

This model communicates a powerful message to marketers and business owners looking to connect with their customers. It can help business owners create strategic internet marketing plans.

It basically looks like this:

So on one end is the Sender and on the other end is the Receiver. The message goes through a channel whether it’s in person, through writing, video, audio or through signals. The Sender creates the message (encoding) and the receiver takes in the message (decoding).  And along the way is noise which can interrupt the message, change it, or affect how the receiver gets the message.

Business owners need to figure out if they are the sender, or the noise.

Is Your Marketing the Noise?

You can use this model in your business and how you communicate with your audience. Are you directly communicating with your customers who are getting the message or are you the noise that is distracting them from what they want to hear? Are you that annoying pop-up, or banner ad that they shut out to focus on what they are actually reading or watching online, or are you the direct message that their eyes focus on?

Think of it as a bad cellphone connection. You’re business is either the voice one on the other hand that I’m straining to hear, or the annoying static and interruption that cuts through the conversation. Change that.

Marketing Noise vs. Marketing Messages

A quick way to figure out if you are the noise or the real message is to look at how people receive your message. Are they in the middle of something else when you pop up, or are they already looking for what you offer whether it’s a product or service when your name pops up?

The right Google ad for example can be the message because I’m looking for a service that you tell me you offer. The wrong ad, say in the middle of me reading something, well that’s just a distraction.

The right e-mail message or blog post when I’m looking for say fun sweaters or great holiday gifts can be a welcome message. The wrong e-mail or blog that talks exclusively about your stuff and how I need to buy it can be, well, annoying and quickly ignored or deleted.

It’s all about how you market your business and what you offer.

How to become the Sender

1. Stop sending noise

The problem with being a distraction is everyone attention goes to biggest and loudest. Most adverts just pass me most of the time. The old model of advertising (or as I call it: Spend, Spend, Spend and Cross Your Fingers) might still work but it’s not the most effective model especially you’re your small businesses.

2. Find a channel that connects you to customers

If you look at it a lot of the new technology is about connecting people. We live in an connected world and getting your voice out through a channel like social media, blogging, video or even online advertising (Pay-Per-Click). There are more opportunities to find a channel that communicates to your customers directly. Find a method that works for you.

3. Start sending messages your customers want to hear

If it’s on a social media network post pictures or links that they would find interesting. If it’s through a blog or e-mail list, write or produce fresh content that they would gain from reading. Writing just about your products is boring. Produce work that centers around the reader’s eco-system. Do your customers watch certain shows? Or maybe follow trends? Or have particular hobbies and interests? Offer to write guest blog posts on blogs in your target market. Consider producing material that talks about things other than your offering.

No one wants to hang around someone who talks all about themselves, nor do your customers or audience. Like I said earlier, it’s really great what your product can do, but talking about it non-stop will bore your readers out. So be interesting.

Spend your efforts wisely, and think of yourself and your business as the sender. It will bring you closer to really connecting with customers.

Image credit: ChangingOrganisations.com

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About the writerDaisy Quaker is an Internet marketing consultant. She loves helping small businesses grow through marketing and by telling their unique stories online. She writes about various Internet marketing tactics and strategies. Connect with her on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

The New Currency and How It Affects Your Business

BlackMilK Marketing Small Business

It used to be that money could buy you attention.

Spend enough on advertising ad promotions and you could badger people with your message, jingle, mascot, whatever.

Times are changing. The big guys can buy as many ads as they want, but with so many distractions one thing they can’t command as much anymore is our attention.

Yes, there are those that believe you just have to figure out how to advertise on the new media platforms, but in reality people tend to either ignore those ads or find them an irritating necessity to getting their free video, music or game.

How to Get Your Business/Products Attention

The new currency in today’s world is influence and trust, and it’s not automatically going to whoever spends the most. Instead it’s going to whoever can get the most authentic connection with people who genuinely care about what they are selling.

It’s marketing that’s not for the masses, there are just too many distractions. Today’s main target is the niche, because with just  a small market of passionate fans you can go global.

Brand case study: BlackMilk Clothing

When leggings came back in style, you could get them for $10 at your local mall. They were not that hard to find. So how could an unknown one-man business from Australia, selling leggings at least $80 a piece, gain fans from all over the world in places as far and vast as New York, Thailand, Tokyo, Africa and Latin America?

Here’s how:

  1. He grew a community of buyers through his blog that genuinely interested in and wanted to know about his products.
  2. He included and appreciated this audience in his marketing which consists of uploading pictures of fans wearing the brand’s products through Facebook and Istagram.
  3. He made his brand a cult item -avid fans were dubbed “sharkies”- and sold his products exclusively online. He even allowed the “sharkies” to sometimes vote for which pieces were brought back in the online store.

BlackMilk does not make products that cater to everybody, and it’s not trying to.

What the founder, James Lillis, understood is that the old method favored those with the most money to spend on mass advertising and promotions. He tried that and it failed. But with the right targeting he could get to the top influencers in his niche market gain their trust, and from there it trickled down to their followers who became his followers. Because of this people paid attention to what he offered, and trusted in his products and that brought in the customers.

The Empowered Marketer

Now more than ever you have a choice as  marketer. You can beat the drum to an old tune and spend x amount of dollars advertising to get attention. Or you can grow that organically by allowing people to opt-in to your message and choose to hear what you have to say. You can build a geuine connection, and real interest by building a kid of trust that the old methods can’t buy.

It’s a new way of marketing that can apply to everything from a pastry shop to a clothing business. To command the loyalty and following that brands like BlackMilk have takes a more genuine and honest approach, not a catchy tune.

The top influencers in a niche market have something valuable that money can’t buy trust and loyalty. The takeaway for business, is to cut all the crap and tell genuine stories.

It’s that simple. But not that easy. Because it takes time, and effort and patience and the return on investment is not immediately clear.

But with the power that influence (convincing people to buy a product without having to advertise to them) and trust (genuine belief, connection and identity with your brand) have, it’s a currency that most businesses cannot afford to miss.

Tell your genuine story, appreciate your humble beginnings, and patiently grow your fan base one person at a time. Or find the people influencing your customers, and appeal to their genuine liking, and wait for the trickle down effect.

Trust and influence, that’s what buys you attention, that’s the new currency.

Image credit: Facebook-BlackMilk

This post is part of a series on Branding and Social Media for small business, follow me via Twitter or join me via E-mail to receive your fresh copy of helpful small business online marketing strategies.

Daisy Quaker is an internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing, connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

3 Ingredients That Help Your Blog Market Your Brand


Image of ingredients for cookingEvery marketing plan is like its own recipe to concoct the perfect dish, an audience that’s ready to eat it all up. If used correctly, your blog can help make your marketing plan a killer dish.

Using your blog for marketing research

Your blog gives you a great opportunity to study what your readers are doing beyond just how many site visits you receive in a day.

A review of the analytics can help figure out what your reader’s need before they even state it. Marketing surveys are notoriously flawed because there is often a disconnect between what the person thinks they do, and what they actually do when they are not being judged. Your blog gives you the opportunity to study what your readers are doing in their own element.

Things like where ae they coming from, or what do they exit to, can shed some insight into their behaviour. What posts or pages do readers check out the most. What do they share or email the most, what do they not respond to. This can help tailor your posts to meet their needs, and answer your own question: what problems do your readers face, and how can you help?

Using your blog for marketing your ideas

Be careful, because it’s not about you, it’s about your readers. By making your posts useful and relevant to them you can lead them to trust you as a resource and have them primed to buy what you sell.

Avoid self-praising posts, show don’t tell your audience why you are useful to their lives. Think of your site traffic or online visitors as window-shoppers, if they see enough on display to entice them into the store, then they will give you their trust by opting into your mailing list, and allow you to talk to them further, pulling them into making a buy.

But remember, it’s not about you, it’s about your usefulness to your customers and audience.

Using your blog for customer service

On a podcast the other day I heard about how the Hilton concierge service once helped save the life of one man’s dog, by telling them a good vet to take the dog via Twitter.

That’s remarkable. The guy was not even a customer nor did he direct the question to the Hilton hotel, but it’s a service he will most likely never forget, and will share with his friends and family. That is  a proactive marketing and customer service approach, your blog can do it too.

By reaching out to people posting questions or tweets with a solution that does not include an immediate buy, you can help them develop a good impression of your brand and some goodwill towards your business. If it’s exceptional enough perhaps they’ll spread the great experience they had, spreading the goodwill about your business, and their personal stamp of approval. That’s something no amount of advertising can buy.

Business have been built on blogging by understanding their audience. Starting your blog off with some good advice, building trust, an establishing a great reputation can take you further than any advertising campaign ever could. Blogging could be that secret ingredient to your special marketing sauce.

Image credit: Flickr-Mrs Magic

This post is part of a series that will get published on Content Marketing or Blogging, follow me via Twitter or E-mail to receive your fresh copy of helpful small business online marketing strategies.

Daisy Quaker is an internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy, connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


What TMZ and HuffPo can Teach Us About Irresistible Headlines

Whether you succumb to reading gossip on TMZ, or favor more newsworthy articles on Huffington Post, there are common tactics used by writers on both ends for irresistible headlines that can capture readers for your small business website or blog.

Image of Paparazzi Cameras-Headline tips from TMZ and Huffington PostThese tactics re-work basic headline formulas in ways that readers can’t resist. These formulas are used everywhere from the magazines at the check out counter, to the newsletters in your inbox, or just posts on your favorite website. Attention grabbing headlines catch our interest and entice us to read a the story even if it’s just a quick skim.

Is your content not getting the clicks it deserves? Tweaking your headline can be the boost your posts need.

So what headline tips can we learn from a gossip website, and a news site? Take a look at the some I found on both sites, and how they work with basic headline methods.

Arouse curiosity

Shake up the status quo, with a “Why”. If a reader is curious, then they will want to know more. And if they want to know more ,then they will click and read atlas the first paragraphs.Observe the use of the basic “Why” Headline

Why Jamaicans HATE ‘Cool Runnings’
Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus
Why Promising to Save the Middle Class May Just Not Be Enough!

The why headline is an easy grab of attention because it arouses a casual browser’s interest.  ‘Cool Runnings’, the Disney movie based on a Jamaican bobsled team, is a popular feel good story on persistence. A  common point of view, would be Jamaicans would like the movie, so a title that puts a different spin on that is bound to get clicks. Huffington Post’s headline also puts a spin on a common held belief about evangelicals and their relationship with a religious figure.

Give headlines a teaser of whats to come

A basic numbered lists work really well in telling the reader what to expect. Compare the power between “Get a better body” to “5 Minutes to a better body” Numbers can work in a variety of situations from checklists, to ideas, tips, and tricks.

Huff Po:
7 Reasons Why Diamonds are a Waste of Money

The beauty of it is the writer can talk about a variety of things from the shady history of diamond trade, to newer more precious stones, to how common diamond rings are, to a review of increasing divorce rates and the myth of everlasting love. It works because it sparks interest, and gives a hint.

Pose a challenge in the headline

Ask a question. This basic tactic arouses a reader’s curiosity and make them want to know more. A greatly phrased question can entice the reader to get answers to the question through the story.

“Can Rob Lowe Save ‘Two And A Half Men?’
Is Cheating Contagious?

Both questions make a reader wonder and challenges them to answer the question, and the only way to know is by reading the continent.

Surprise the reader with the unexpected

In this instance use celebrity names, figures, shows, or a familiar subject with a twist. TMZ is a celebrity gossip site, so the use of celebrity names in unexpected situations is rampant. But even if it is not a tabloid scandal, headlines  about subjects we are already aware of gets more clicks when used in a surprising way.

Michael Phelps — Gold Medal Loser in Real Estate

What Arranged Marriages Taught Me About Love
What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Stepfamilies
7 Life Lessons You Can Learn From ‘Star Trek’

These headlines take a subject that is commonly known or understood and puts a different spin or context. Arranged marriages are not traditionally seen as loving, and Steve Jobs, the admired innovator, is an unlikely source for inspiration on family bonding. Michael Phelps has been anything but a looser at the Olympics, so putting the unexpected link sparks curiosity.

Inspiration can come from many places, re-working your headlines with these tricks could help make your content stand out and earn you more readers and social media shares.

Image credit: Flickr-practicalowl

This post is part of a series that will get published every Monday on Content Marketing or Blogging, follow me via Twitter or E-mail and never miss a copy of helpful small business online marketing strategies.

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy. Find her on Twitter and tell her what strategies work for your business.