Reliable Acorn dot org

When I'm out-and-about (whether it's a meetup, or a conference) this is where you'll find my thoughts.

Grow Revenue & Provide Customer Solutions with SEO by @adammelson

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TL;DR: When it comes to SEO, don't just think about Google. You'll miss opportunities.

Sure, you might rank on Google, but what happens when someone calls you?

Don't just think about short-tailed keywords, lower in the sales funnel.  Consider long-tailed questions for people who might not know about your solution yet.

What other websites do customers search, to find your products or services? Amazon? Reddit? 

What do customers see when searching for your business? Bad reviews? Deal with the results. 

Do you see rich snippets or knowledge graph answers? Are they bad or inaccurate? Maybe your sites can show up, if you provide better answers.

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YouTube Marketing: Building Your Brand with Video by @stephelisecarls

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TL;DR: Video is easy and productive. Get started today! Here's how.

Why video? 
 * 74% of all internet traffic will be video by 2017 (next year!). 
 * 300% more video consumption will be on devices over the last couple of years. 
 * More and more customers want video content. Can be from you, as the business owner. It can also be from your customers. 
 * 157% increase in organic traffic from video content.
 * Double the conversion rate from sites with video. 
 * Video is the most effective vehicle to communicate information. Video creates an emotional reaction that can move customers. 


Getting started with video
Not much different than your other marketing channels. Set goals and ROI.

What are you passionate about? What do you have expertise in? What are your customers passionate about? What's in-demand and under-served? Find themes and develop startedies around them. 

It's never been easier to do video marketing than it is today. We all have quality video cameras in our pockets, right now. 

YouTube Marketing
This is the second largest search engine. 53x more likely to appear in search. Keep visitors on your site at 5x the average rate. 52% of customers are more confident in online purchase following video research. 

For a strategy on YouTube (5 steps)

1. Goals: measure what actually matters.
Views don't really matter. You can buy views. You want action to be taken. 

You need a valuable editorial plan. Give people what they want. Audience retention is the most critical metric. Stay conisistent with format and expectations. 

Have a clear and aligned CTA. Give value and ask for relative return. Graphics MIGHT be seen. CALL the action.

2. Addictive: format that keeps them coming back for more. 
You want to get your viewers to stay and watch more. How? Good content.  

3. What to talk about: never have a blank slate
Use themes to guide your editorial design. There are no stupid questions. To find them, use YouTube search. Instant returns come from possible searches by users. 

4. Optimize for Search
User your keywords in the first 4-5 words in your headline. Consider your competition. Keep it simple. Avoid series names and episode numbers in your headline. 

Sorry- lost the suggestions for tags and descriptions.

5. Community engagement matters. 



Video Performance
Utilize the power of your analytics. You know exactly how much of your content they have taken in. Track engagement and audience retention, too. 

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The Economy of Content: Why Supply and Demand Should Guide Your Organization’s Content Strategy by @astute_ryan

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TL;DR: A productive content marketing strategy considers demand and supply of topics. 

Why content marketing?

Leads from content marketing are better. You're able to charge more for them. It's easier to close the sale. 

The problem: content marketing strategies are poorly conceived. 

There is a better way: incorporate demand, supply and value into our content. Gauge demand for your content- will people be interested? Provide the supply, where it's lacking.

How do you determine demand for your content? 

Use a keyword planner (like Moz). Listen your clients. Ask people what they're interested in. Give the people what they want.

How do you create supply of your content? 

No reason to write the blog post, of others have already done it. Make sure your content is unique. How? Search Google. Dome some competitor research.

Where is the value? Opportunities? 

Find the inefficiencies and produce content accordingly. 

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Selling For Those Who Hate Selling by @rprioleau

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TL;DR: Sales is sharing something you can stand behind and what energizes you.

You're always selling something. It might be your company or within your company. It's also yourself- like in a job interview. 

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? This describes what motivates you and what energizes you. What does this have to do with sales? Start selling something and start standing or something. In other words, share the energy you're made of. 

So, what energizes you? What energizes your company? What are you good at? What excites you? 

Once you find your thing, how can you keep paddling? You need to keep working on it, to get good at it. When it comes to sales, you need to reveal brands and people for who they truly are. 

This reveal can be hard to do. You have to keep up with it. You have to get everyone involved. 

You should set some standards. Don't just say "yes" to everything. Sometimes "no" is important. It might be difficult but the world won't end. Your standards help you know when you should say "no" and when you can say "yes."

Part of having standards is interviewing prospective clients, as much as they interview you. Don't waste your time (or theirs) by not asking questions, to make sure you could even work together.

Keep your business in order. If your business is running well, you'll never have to compromise your standards just to make money.

Ultimately, sales is all about people. 

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Crafting Your Content for Multiple Channels by @katiekdodd

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TL; DR: Your website is the dough of the pizza. Your content is the toppings. 

Need to define what you're trying to accomplish through your website, first.  Identify your target audience. Develop marketing personas. 

As you create your content, it should be relevant, useful, insightful, attractive, creative, maybe funny, etc. 

Don't be too promotional. Only 20% of your content should be promotional. 

New content has an SEO bonus. Don't just write content for the sake of content.

Types of content you can put on your website: resource library, blog, FAQ. 

SEO best practices: 
 * Title tags and meta descriptions
 * Header tags
 * Keywords

Find your target audience to decide what channels over which you should share your content. 

Think about your social media as SEO assets. Fill in as much information as you can on your social media profiles. Social channels are also search engines, themselves. Publish regularly. 

The Buffalo Concept: every major piece of content you create is a buffalo. You want to use every part of that buffalo. Sometimes you build off of it to make new content. Sometimes you pull off parts and use them directly. Etc. Make it last and get a much out of it, as you can. Basically: repurpose your content.

When repurposing: Don't duplicate your content and don't exhaust your audience. 

When posting across several channels, be careful. Maintain your voice across multiple channels. Sure, different channels require different voices, but don't use conflicting voices. Understand what you're audience wants and address their needs. Experiment with your messaging. 

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Why Do We Need All This Tech? – Building Your Marketing Technology Blueprint by @riverspearce

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TL;DR: Marketing technology is here and indispensable. Don't be distracted by the pretty lights and pick the right solution for accomplishing your goals. 

We're living in a world that is constantly competing for our attention. How can we get people's attention, as marketers, in a world like this? If we can get their attention, we must make it worth their time.

Attention leads to engagement. Engagement gives us the opportunity to trust us. Once they trust us, we can earn their loyalty. We only have a matter of seconds to accomplish this (in our mobile, instant world). Trust is key. Trust is a non-renewable resource. 

This is why we need a marketing ecosystem. Not just a linear approach to marketing. Think about how it all fits together- like an ecosystem. 

It's impossible to produce scalable marketing without marketing technology (MarTech). This isn't the future; this is now. This is exploding because people need it. 

How?
(Disclaimer: avoid shiny object syndrome. When it comes to MarTech, dont' just buy for brand, etc)

Non-Tech Questions to answer first:
 * What is your unique value proposition?
 * Who are your ideal customers and where can I find them? 
 * How do you define success?
 * What is your budget? 

Tech Defining Question about MarTech:
 * What will be the hub of your business and brand online? 
 * How are you going to attract customers?
 * Where are you going to send those visitors?
 * How are you going to engage, educate & convert them into customers? 
 * Where are you going to store their information?
 * What are you going to do with this information? 
 * How are you going to retain customers and create raving fans? 
 * How are you going to know what works and what doesn't?
 * How do you make this happen? Who is going to manage it?

Work through these questions to decide which kinds of MarTech to invest in. 


Once you have your blueprint (see above) then you decide your MarTech vendors. 

What are the essentials?
 * Website (mobile, responsive, good design, etc) 
 * Some sort of CRM (not a spreadsheet) to store your customer info, to use it.
 * An Email or marketing automation system
 * Social media presence 
 * Analytics

Your biggest challenge will be ADOPTION. Everyone will have their favorite. Tough decisions need to be made. 

You need a modern marketing team, too: Content, design, video, web dev, digital marketing (social, SEO, display, PPC), retention and database marketing, data analyst, technologist, etc. 


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Millennials: The Exotic Birds That We Keep Feeding, But Shouldn’t by @nylons

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TL;DR: Millennials don't want anything different than anyone else; they just have the nerve to ask for it.

We're obsessed with Millennials because we're consumed with people's age. 

We're spending thousands (millions) of dollars a year to understand them.

Who are they?
Born after 1982.
They are very educated.
They are very mobile. 
They are underemployed.

Pejoratives to describe Millennials:
Coddled
Lazy
Entitled
Delusional 

Maybe these are functions of their drive, rather than poor characterizations? These are a result of their ability to disrupt. Disruption is a good thing. 

They used to say the same thing about Gen-X. They used to call us "slackers." Now we're the revenue generators.

Millennials are driven. Millennials like collaborative environments. 

Millennials are not:
Coddled- they are confident
Lazy- they are balanced
Entitled- they are adept and adaptable
Delusional- they are optimistic.

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The Power of Why: Moving Beyond Conversions by @bencashmoney

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TL;DR: Your website's design should reflect the "why" of your company and your customer.

We don't just want the immediate purchase, we want loyal customers. How can we do this when the internet brings customers with unlimited options and short attention spans?

We need to have a purpose behind our brand, to overcome this. This prevents our products from being yet another commodity. 

You need a "why," "how", and "what" for your company. This should inform your brand. Should inform your design.

This does not mean you avoid task-oriented design. Don't put up roadblocks to accomplish what the user needs to do. 

Design your site from the inside-out based on what the users need to accomplish. Start with the interior pages, not your homepage. 


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I’m Ok, You’re Ok: Navigating Challenging Content Strategy Conversations by @ahaval

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TL;DR: Good communication and good culture can prevent mistakes.

What is going on, in corporate cultures, that allow companies to overlook copy mistakes? How can we improve our critique and feedback?

Why is this a problem?
While we might understand that design is a solution, we don't consider that content could be solution as well.

Sometimes companies have a culture of fear. The bigger the company, the less middle-managers want to say someting. They don't want to raise their hand for fear of losing their job or being labeled as a problem.

We also might feel like someone else will bring it up. 

The problem is: this is our job. We need to protect the customers experience and the integrity of the brand. 

How can we build a "if you see something, say something" culture in our organization? 

The biggest thing to approaching challenging conversations is establishing the relationship. Build a partnership with your client (even if your "client" is within your organization) rather than a subservient relationship. This can help bring your cultures together.

"Do I look fat in this pair of jeans is as difficult a conversation as is my website bad". They're asking you to evaluate them (their decisions, their expertise, etc) not their website. To solve this, start talking about purposes, goals and not the "artifact" (website, content, etc). Critique is about co-creation. What does this need to do?

Be specific with your feedback:
 * Only give the feedback you were asked to give.
 * Use data and research to depersonalize feedback
 * Keep feedback engaged in problem solving.
 * I do want to focus on this. I don't want to focus on that.

Things get emotional, sometimes. 
 * Use strategy and goals to keep it out of being emotional
 * Unsolicited feedback is when people get defensive
 * If its not specific, you go down the rabbit hole of hell into feelings

When people get defensive, become a nurturing parent.

Practice providing critique. How?
 * Slow and low. When things get heated, we tent to speak quickly and high-pitched. Reverse it.
 * Focus on what's working
 * We've encountered this in the past- this is how we've managed to sort it out.
 * Take it back to business reasons
 * Does it make sense contextually?

When things break- what do you do? Afterward ask why you positioned it in an insensitive way? What can you do better next time?


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Clients Everywhere: Connect, Convert, Command More Money by @TerriT

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TL;DR: How to create a brand that means something; Communicate with power and precision; Compel someone to give a crap.

Two assumptions: 
1. There is always enough money for the righ solution.
2. There are clients everywhere.

We have to compete for attention. That means we need to make it worth other people's time. So, how can we stand out? 

Problem #1: You aren't talking to the right people. 
You're trying to be all things to all people. You havent' specified the "who" to whom your speaking. Your language is vague and unclear. No one gets what you do. No one gets how you're different. 

How fix? Use your customers words. Be specific and straightforward. 

Your brand is what your business means to other people. The more clear your brand, the more people will find you. Brand needs to be internal too. 

A brand is:
Your promise.
Your presence. 
Your practice. It's what you do.

How find your brand:
Try it by explaining what you do to a 5th grader. 
Ask the right people. Then, listen. How ask? Surveymonkey, Google forms, social media polling, networking events, etc. 

Problem #2: You're leading with features and benefits. 
You're leading with what you do, not who you are. You're thinking inside your own machine. 

Instead, understand their larger problem. Lead with the what and why, not how it works. Think like them, not like you. Now bigger than your business. 

Problem #3: Fear of focus.
You're mistaking broad for big. You're mistaking niche for "limited". You're missing an opportunity. 

Instead, pitch your niche. Plant your flag. Think like a rocket, not a sprinkler system.  

Problem #4: You're thinking transaction, not transformation.
You end up with little jobs that don't add up. You can't charge much because there's no added value. You're being reactive instead of proactive. It's like a job. 

Instead, think like a chef, not a short-order cook. Do a deep dive, first. Lay out the big picture. See what you can do as a premium service. Just because you can do a job, doesn't mean you should. Don't get business blinders. 

Problem #5: (shit, I missed this one)
Take a stronger stance. Think like a thought leader. Have an opinion about your industry. Raise the stakes. Hit a nerve. 


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Hold Fast: Managing Design Teams When Projects Go Sideways by @aaroni

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TL;DR: We can't control everything. Stay the course. Remain flexible. 

The number one thing that ruins projects is PEOPLE. Departments are thrown together to accomplish projects. These people have internal politics. That team of people can often be distributed in several different locations. Sometimes people have different understandings of each others roles. Of course, every project has limited budgets and lofty goals. All this can create an environment of chaos. 

One we start to understand these problems, we can begin to see the warning signs to look for before, during and after projects

Shipping a product is just the beginning. Sometimes these problems last long after the delivery. That's why you need a plan for when things go wrong. 

This is PROJECT MANAGEMENT. 

Design managers should put an equal amount of effort into contingency plans, for when things go sideways. They will and we'll need them. 

We also need to strive for transparency. Share the process with everyone involved. Communicate clearly and freely. Invite them to question everything in a productive fashion. This will prevent frustrations and help us all succeed, as a team. 

Take responsibility for areas in which he your team has missed the mark. This doesn't come naturally. If we can start to do this, we can start to get back on track with the project. 

Avoid unnecessary conflict within your team. Call things like you see them but keep moving toward a positive resolution. 

Admit it when you don't have an answer. People don't like excuses. They know when you're blowing smoke. Share a plan of action to find the answer. That plan should be specific.

What about stakeholders and business partners? 

Build trust with them. The other team has to know that you've got their back. Worth together with them to find the resolution.

Manage the process

Have an agreed-upon process in place provides a starting point for troubleshooting what caused the project to go off track. 

Be prepared to ditch your process, if needed. Look at your team and find a way to make the needed adjustments. Regroup. Improve. Remain flexible. Flexibility is the key to weathering project storms. 

Remember:
No two projects are alike.
Do everything you can to avoid blind spots.
Use project kickoffs, planning, etc to inform your strategy. 


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The Power of Storytelling with @jonathanopp

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TL;DR: Stories are powerful ways to communicate. Create a story for your brand to use that power for your marketing efforts.


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