NEW Olaf Loungefly: Some Backpacks Are Worth Melting For

first_imgShare This!The Frozen II merchandise is coming in fast and flurrious to shops throughout the Disney parks. One of our favorite pieces is this Loungefly Olaf backpack. This is priced at $90.00, slightly higher than some of the other Loungefly bags of similar size, likely due to the full covering of sequins. Photos: Christina Harrisonlast_img

Build 2011: First Glimpse of the Windows 8 App Store

first_imgRelated Posts Tags:#Announcements#cloud Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… scott fultoncenter_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… There will be an apps store platform built into Windows 8, and there will be a self-service mechanism for developers to publish their wares and make money from them. That much, we know. We do not know yet how the licensing arrangements will be worked out with Microsoft – in other words, how much of a cut the company will get. This may not yet have been decided.A demonstration of a very early prototype of the App Store was given to members of the press by Windows 8 program managers. We were given later glimpses of the new online storefront during the Day 1 keynote. However, here is what we were able to determine of the company’s plan: “Store,” as it is being called for the nonce (perhaps waiting to see what other words Apple may have trademarked in advance), gives a new retailer a wizard-like console for filling in the details about the product he wishes to upload and sell. The platform is intended for Metro apps, the new model of Windows application designed to use tiles on the Start Screen, and use the WinRT runtime platform being introduced in Windows 8.“Store” will be a prominent tile on the first page of the new Windows 8 Start Screen. The store itself will be arranged much like the Start Screen, but with a reverse color scheme – rather than bright tiles against green, mostly green tiles against white. Each page of this store will be a department, such as “Home” or “Games.” Although conventional Windows applications will also be for sale in “Store,” Microsoft has clarified its stance on the terms for conventional Desktop apps that may appear in “Store.” Manufacturers may make separate arrangements for their Desktop products to appear there; there won’t be a self-service system for Win32 or .NET architecture applications. However, as Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky told attendees here this morning, Microsoft will steer clear of making any adjustments to existing licenses for Desktop apps. It does not appear Microsoft wants a cut of sales for these apps.It’s conceivable you may find not only Office but Photoshop and other Desktop apps available as well (the prototype showed Intuit Quicken).Retailers and developers making Metro apps available for sale will be certified through Microsoft. In other words, consumers won’t be led astray by false banners made visible through “Store.” A retailer may offer multiple, optional licenses at one time – for example, a 7-day or 30-day free trial, followed by a purchase prompt, along with the option to pay less up front. The purchase, downloading, and installation processes will be completely contained by this Metro app. (It will be interesting to see how “Store” implements User Account Control, if at all.)Once sales have already started for a product, retailers will have access to a sophisticated array of statistics about the purchasers – not just how many and how much they paid, but classes and market segments based on data gleaned from their Windows Live IDs. Optionally, developers will be able to deploy telemetry into their Metro apps, enabling them to report back to the developers when they’ve crashed, and potentially why as well.Metro apps distributed with the developers’ preview release of Windows 8, given to attendees today, were conceived and built in a 10-week timeframe by a select group of college sophomores and juniors studying the fine art of programming, according to Sinofsky. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

A Marketer’s Guide To Video Codecs

first_imgOnline video is growing rapidly, with sites like Why Do Marketers Need Codecs? Video Marketing Originally published Feb 16, 2011 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Ian Muttoo container ffmpegX bit rate for Macintosh computers, both programs are free and super powerful! co VLC player When getting started with online video you might consider using an inexpensive video camera and doing some minor edits and posting  the video on your blog. As quality and production value becomes more important to your videos, it is critical to understand codecs. How do you get started with YouTube, video podcasting, live streaming, or viral videos. ompress (co+dec=codec) a data stream.  Any file container may be compatible with a number of different codecs.  Codecs can be either proprietary, licensed by a particular program or open source, developed by a public group of programmers.  The biggest differences between codecs are their overall quality.  The quality of a media file is dictated by a number of factors, the most important being the for Windows computers and .  But did you know there is a lot more to a digital media file than the container?  In this article we will cover the subject of audio and video codecs, what they are, different types, and how you can optimize your content. Google is currently developing VP8 for use in HTML 5 kbps Understanding Video Codecs Topics: Photo Credit: ).   What Is a Codec? It can be sometimes difficult to manage all of the different audio/video codecs out there.  If you ever have trouble playing files that quicktime, iTunes, or windows media player won’t recognize, try using the open source An important distinction between codecs is whether the codec uses lossless or lossy compression.  Media files using lossy compression are very common; an .mp3 is a great example of lossy compression as .mp3s can be compressed at a number of different bitrates depending on your desired file size.  Low quality/size .mp3s are typically compressed at 128kbps while a high quality/size .mp3s is compressed at 320kbps.  Lossless media files can either be compressed or uncompressed.  Lossless files maintain the bit rate of the original data stream creating a large, high quality file.  A .WAV file is an example of a lossless audio file that can either be compressed or uncompressed.  Lossless video is typically viewed in DVD and Blu-Ray formats as the high bit rate required for lossless video creates a large file. , a powerful media player that can play nearly any file.  For transcoding media files from one format to another try getting 30 hours of video uploaded every minute. While online video is fun to watch and an important part of your inbound marketing content strategy, it does require some technical knowledge to execute well.  How do you plan on using video and audio in your inbound marketing in 2011? Super Converter to learn how to use online video to grow your business with inbound marketing. A codec is simply a program that can dec Free Download: How to Use Online Video for Inbound Marketing mpress or There are currently a wide variety of video codecs available to compress digital video.  The most common codec is the H.264 codec used by Vimeo, YouTube, and iTunes.  Most .mov or .mp4 files you encounter will use the H.264 codec.  H.264 is so popular because of the quality it can deliver while maintaining a reasonable file size.  For Windows-based computers video files with the container .avi are fairly common.  These files typically use Xvid or DIVX codecs.  VP8 is a codec developed by On2 technologies who are now owned by Google.  Download the free webinar YouTube , you can see the codec at work in HD YouTube videos with a resolution of 720p or higher. .  Digital media file data streams are typically measured in kilobits per second ( Somewhere on your computer you have digital media files.  In your music collection you may have .mp3 files.  For video you might have .mov files.  Most people understand digital media by its file extension (.mov for example) also called a Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Google Takes Social Search to the Next Level with +1

first_img Google Updates What do you think about Google +1? The days of obsessing over keyword rank are over. Instead, make your business social and create relevant information that will help to attract +1s and influence who decides to visit your site from search engine results pages. Blogging and sharing content on social media has never been more important. In a world that is being built on personal recommendations, it is critical that your business becomes social through remarkable content. A Real Step Towards Social SearchWith +1 Google makes a major step forward in its quest for more social search results. Not only do the +1 recommendations play a significant role in Google’s series of social search improvements, but they will also highlight content people are actively interested in. Now people using social search will be able to see content created and shared by those in their social network, and recommended by those in their Google +1 network. All of the +1 data, TechCrunchpoints out, will be available to the public likely through an API. How Google +1 Works Check out a quick video from Google introducing +1: to Facebook’s Like button. Earlier today, the search engine giant began rolling out a new button called +1. The +1 button will apear next to search engine results and AdWords advertisements. In the future, website owners and publishers will be able to add a +1 button to pages and articles on their sites. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack How does Google’s new +1 work? First of all, +1 is currently being rolled out as an experiment and you need to Google +1 Is a Social Network While +1’s initial impact might be seen in social search results, it is important to realize that +1 is more than that; it is a social network. Google Profiles are at the core of Google’s future plans for the discovery and sharing of contextual information. With the launch of +1, Google Profiles got much more useful because a new tab has been created in Google Profiles to let users keep track of all of their +1s. Today, It seems like Google keeps making changes and adding new tools that will impact how your business will get found online. Don’t worry about understanding all of the details and granularity of every change Google makes. However, you should notice the patterns that are occuring with all of the changes Google is making. Clearly, Google is rewarding social businesses. The more your business connects with prospects and customers online, the more you increase your odds of getting found in Google’s evolving search results. opt in with Google to have access to it in the short term. In order to view +1 search results and AdWords results, the user will have to be logged in with their Google profile. Once a user is logged in and clicks on the +1 button next to a search engine result, Google we keep track of that +1 and highlight that search result if it appears for any of that user’s friends for that or a similar search. Originally published Mar 30, 2011 3:07:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Topics: Marketing Takeaway Google came out with a counter punchlast_img read more

Facebook Tests Promoted Posts in News Feeds of Non-Fans

first_img Facebook Advertising Topics: Originally published Aug 15, 2012 1:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Users will be able to tell the post is an ad because of the gray “Sponsored” text in the bottom right corner of the ad, too, though I think we’d all agree that the label isn’t the most prominent part of this ad; in fact, it might even be the least prominent part. Which brings to light the most interesting part of this whole story — the fact that these ads are appearing in the news feeds of people who are 1) not already fans of the brand’s page, and 2) not in the network of people who are already fans of the page.You’ll Look at These Ads Whether You Like It or NotBut wait, doesn’t that seem a little interruptive? You know, the opposite of this whole inbound marketing thing we love so much? I mean, the reason it’s great to show ads to those who are fans of your page or in your fans’ networks is that there’s either an explicit indication of interest in your brand, or the possibility of interest based on social connections — presumably, your fans are connected with their friends because they have some things in common. These ads, however, are nothing more than an internet billboard. And Facebook doesn’t mention whether advertisers will have the ability to target the ads more closely to their non-fans, though I bet this feature will be coming if it’s not already available to the brands involved in the test.Inside Facebook points out that early tests of Sponsored Stories in the news feed provided a much higher click-through rate than ads that appeared in the sidebar, so it remains to be seen whether the better placement of these page post ads will result in similarly high CTR, or whether social relevancy is required for good performance. The unicorns-and-rainbows marketer in me wants the latter to be true, but the data-driven marketer would be happy to see the former. Hey … if it helps brands increase their social reach, it’d be foolish not to try it, right?Facebook said these ads were just in the early testing stages (so it’s not available to all users), and they will continue to evaluate their effectiveness for advertisers and the sentiment of Facebook users who encounter these ads. As we learn more about them, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on their effectiveness.Do you think page post ads in the news feed will alienate Facebook users? Or do you think it’s a good idea to help Facebook advertisers expand their social reach?Image credit: Crystlcenter_img If Facebook’s dismal market performance wasn’t a big enough hint, we’ll just come right out and say it: advertisers need a little bit more love from the recently-IPO’d social network. And Facebook’s responding to this pressure, continuing to test out new ways for advertisers to reach more people and spend their dollars more effectively. So, what’s the latest and greatest Facebook ad advancement?Facebook is now testing the ability for advertisers to place page post ads in a user’s news feed. The catch? The ads can appear in news feeds of users other than the brand’s own fans and friends of fans. The goal of the ads is to help advertisers expand their brand’s reach; as you can see in the sample ad below courtesy of Inside Facebook, the ads appear with a white “Like Page” button called out in the top right corner of the ad, encouraging users to, well, like the company page. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

How to Calculate the Value of Your Social Media Followers [CALCULATOR]

first_img Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack If you’re using social media for marketing and you’re not measuring your dollars-and-cents ROI , you’re doing it wrong. As my favorite rap quote says, “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.” Marketers wouldn’t dream of spending budget on banner or PPC ads without a measured and positive return on their investment; but for some reason, many of us still play dumb when it comes to the hard data about the performance of our social media marketing investments. And even if you’re not spending budget on Facebook or Twitter, remember: Time is money, and you’re probably spending a significant amount of time.All too often, social media marketing advice comes from greasy, snake oil hucksters selling platitudes like “engage in the conversation,” or worse, “be awesome.” While advice like this is hard to disagree with, it’s not useful or concrete. Instead, we marketers should be measuring our social media marketing campaigns to determine what is making our businesses money — and what isn’t. In other words, ignore the unicorns-and-rainbows superstitions. How to Calculate the Value of Your Facebook & Twitter Followers A while ago, in a HubSpot marketing team meeting, we were discussing how much we should be willing to invest to gain a new social media follower or Like, and I found myself at the whiteboard plotting out a formula. Over the course of the next few weeks — with the help of several of my geeky colleagues — I put together a formula to calculate a metric I call VOAL ( Value Of A Like ). Once you know your VOAL, you can plan your social media efforts with confidence they’ll generate a positive ROI.Below is the formula and how it breaks down … L (Total Likes) The total number of audience members connected to your social media account. On Facebook, these are Likes of your page, and on Twitter, these are followers. UpM (Unlikes-per-Month) The average number of fans who “unlike” your social network  account each month. On Facebook, this is an “unlike,” and on Twitter, this is an “unfollow.” LpD (Links-per-Day) The average number of times you’re posting links, and potentially converting links driven from your social media account. On Facebook, this is the number of posts you’re making, per day, that lead to a page on your website. On Twitter, this is the number of times, per day, you’re tweeting these kinds of links. C (Average Clicks) The average number of clicks on the links to your site you’re posting on your social media accounts. CR (Conversion Rate) The average conversion rate of your website, from visit to sale or visit to lead. This can be an overall average, but for increased accuracy, use the conversion rate measured from traffic coming from the social network you’re calculating. ACV (Average Conversion Value) The average value of each “conversion.” In this context, a “conversion” is the action you’ve used to measure CR for. It could be average sale price or average lead value. For increased accuracy, use the average conversion value of traffic coming from the specific social network. The Calculator In my efforts to make sure all social media marketers can apply this formula, I built a free, easy-to-use little calculator at . Answer six simple questions about your business’ use of Facebook or Twitter and it will tell you exactly — in concrete dollars and cents — what each Like or follower is worth to your company. To calculate your value of a Facebook Like, you can easily answer these questions using your Facebook Insights and your closed-loop marketing analytics (in the calculator, click the question mark next to each question for an explanation about how to acquire each data point). For Twitter, you can use tools like Twitter’s advertising analytics platform, closed-loop marketing analytics, as well as educated estimates to determine your Twitter numbers. Furthermore, each question input in the calculator is shown on a slider, so you can easily adjust the values up or down to see how changing various metrics will impact your bottom line.You can answer the questions for either your Twitter or Facebook marketing efforts, and you can enter information based on lead generation or actual sales data. The calculator is flexible, and it’s designed to help you put the VOAL formula to work for your brand in the way that makes the most sense for you. Originally published Nov 26, 2012 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016center_img Business Calculators VOAL Formula in Action: 3 Real-Life Examples To demonstrate what the VOAL calculation would look like using realistic numbers, let’s start with an example from Facebook. HubSpot partner Kuno Creative ‘s Facebook Page has 3,103 total Likes, 30 unlikes per month, posts 1.3 posts per day, with each post getting an average of 190 clicks. Their visit-to-lead conversion rate for Facebook traffic is around 2%, and they report an average conversion value of $350 per lead. Because of their very high clickthrough rate of 6.12% and their huge $350 lead value, they have a VOAL of $1,729 .On the other hand, if we look at some numbers from a different company — Lynton Web , another HubSpot partner — we see a different picture. They have a smaller Facebook presence with 174 total Likes, about 1 unlike per month, post 1.5 posts per day, get a single click on each link on average, and they told me their visit-to-lead conversion rate is around .8%. If we assume they have a $100 value per lead generated, they have a VOAL of $0.013 .To demonstrate how we can apply the same VOAL math to Twitter, let’s use HubSpot’s Twitter metrics as an example. Here, I’ll be estimating the numbers. We have 258,522 followers and about 2,000 unfollows per month (as reported by Twitter’s advertising analytics platform). We post around once per hour — so 24 posts per day — and each tweet generates around 120 clicks. We have a visit-to-lead conversion rate of 55%, and let’s assume a value per lead of $40. This gives us a VOAL for Twitter of $0.32. Applying VOAL to Your Social Media Marketing Efforts  Once you understand the true, monetary value of each of your business’ social media connections, you can start to understand exactly how much time and money is worth spending to grow your social media reach ,   and you’ll know which metrics you need to improve to get the most out of your efforts.Play around with the calculator’s sliders for each question to understand how each variable impacts your overall VOAL. How much does your VOAL change if you were to increase your posting frequency? What about boosting overall Likes? Remember, when it comes to social media marketing, “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.” Check out the free calculator at . What’s your business’ VOAL? What can you do to increase this value? last_img read more

How to Give (and Get) Better Feedback on Blog Posts

first_img Topics: Giving and Receiving Feedback Originally published Jun 24, 2014 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 A few months back, I had written what I thought was an excellent blog post. From the first round of internal feedback it seemed it was all but ready to go, but when a second round of feedback from another interested party was provided, it ended with a sentence pretty much anyone hates to hear.“Maybe we should rewrite this.”Cue tears and melancholy music.I ended up discarding the blog post in its entirety and rebuilding it from the ground-up. We ended up with a blog post of greater-than-usual quality, but it took a significantly greater-than-usual amount of time to end up with that final product. When maintaining a steady volume of content is vital, spending that amount of time on a blog post isn’t ideal.It was the classic example of a pyrrhic victory: We got the post out, but in a lopsided and inefficient manner that likely cost more than it was worth. A solution was needed to prevent this from happening again — in short, to create a feedback process that allowed for review and modification without taking up a disproportionate amount of time.When Feedback Can Go WrongLike it or not, content creators, feedback and outside review is incredibly important for your work. Outside perspectives are important for identifying mistakes and oversights that you yourself may be oblivious to, simply because you made the piece of content.If improperly managed, however, seeking and awaiting feedback can become a quagmire, with content often thrown back into re-writing or even thrown out altogether. Besides disrupting the flow of content, it can often become demoralizing for team members as their content goes straight back to the drawing board.In such a scenario, as it was for us early on, feedback was merely an ad hoc process: It was sought whenever something was created. An ad hoc process generates two major problems:1) Feedback is a late-stage issue.This part of the process came to mind as we were reading Keith Frankel’s excellent post on defining what’s ‘good enough,’ when under time constraints and pressure to deliver. Oftentimes feedback is sought at the end of the writing process, when a draft (even a rough one) has already been completed. This means that revisions can be difficult or time-consuming, especially if there are structural criticisms.2) Feedback providers can be caught off guard.Without advance notice, those you expect to provide feedback might simply not be in a good position to do so. This either results in delays to the feedback they provide (and by extension the blog post publishing date), or a rushed skim-through that will not provide a quality response — neither of which you want.Instead of an ad hoc feedback process, it’s important to incorporate it throughout the entire blog post creation process.Integrating Feedback Into the Blogging ProcessFact: Crafting a blog post is like designing and building a home. Okay, not literally. But there are distinct similarities in the process that I’ll be describing below.To solve the problems mentioned above, feedback needs to be structured — and the writing process needs to follow the same structure. To help solve our feedback woes, we developed the following three-stage feedback system for blog posts deemed to require significant feedback. Each section corresponds to a certain stage of the writing process — and a complete home renovation:1) The Outline Stage (30% Completed)When you’re going for a full home renovation or rebuilding, some of your earliest but most important decisions are going to be designating rooms, deciding what walls to put up or take down, and where wires and plumbing need to go.This is the outline stage of a blog post, where the structure of the post and its general direction is established. Feedback at this stage is provided in broad strokes, and can modify the entire direction, style or focus of a given post.2) The Halfway Point (50% Completed)So you’ve got your rooms defined, and the structural elements of your home are set. Now you’re looking to flesh things out with interior design and making sure your bedroom actually, you know, has a bed.This is the halfway point, where structure has been fleshed out and significant points developed. Here feedback is less structural, but focused on individual paragraphs in the post.3) The Final Stage (90% Completed)Your home is nearly livable, and all it needs now is some personal decor, maybe a lamp here, or adjusting the position of furniture. Needless to say, if you’re only now thinking that maybe the bedroom should’ve been bigger, you’re doing it wrong and revising it would be prohibitively costly.This is what might normally be considered a first draft, with the blog post largely completed. By this stage structural feedback should already have been provided, and feedback tends to be minor sentence corrections or cosmetic.Advantages of a Three-Stage Feedback SystemIt may seem bulky and cumbersome to establish so many levels, but such a system provides several advantages compared to simply requesting for feedback when a draft is done:Structural and directional changes are easier.Because broad, sweeping changes are made when a blog post is only 30% completed with a skeletal structure, you’ll have a much easier time modifying it as compared to a fully written post.Time can be more easily managed.Because a fellow co-worker is not suddenly swamped by reviewing an entire post, feedback presents less disruption to a colleague’s workflow and encourages a more in-depth review.The content pipeline is better controlled.Once you settle into the rhythm of this system, you’ll find it much easier to integrate it into your editorial calendar, and by defining times for seeking feedback, there’ll be one less unknown that can disrupt your timetable.Feedback Doesn’t Have to be an UnknownUltimately, this system allows us to balance between quality of work and the time taken to produce it: On occasion we’ve cut hours from the writing process because major changes were noticed and implemented early on. We’re able to hit a level of quality right before the point where making things better costs more than it returns. Give the feedback system a try: it’ll help stabilize your content pipeline, and you’ll be in a much better position to produce the optimal blog post — high quality, but maybe not 100% perfect, in a reasonable amount of time.In a way, that’s about as perfect as you could hope to expect.Do you have a feedback process set up at your company? How does it help you get better content out the door? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

The New Rules of Selling [SlideShare]

first_imgThis post originally appeared on the Sales section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.”If you run a small company, then you’re in sales. If you’re a doctor or lawyer or accountant, you’re in sales.”That’s how David Meerman Scott’s new SlideShare, “The New Rules of Selling,” begins. The presentation’s content is drawn from Scott’s latest book, The New Rules of Sales and Service, and this quote in particular resonates with me. It harkens back to a lunch I had with our own VP of Sales, Mark Roberge, in which he told me that he thought every career could benefit from at least some experience in Sales. Like Scott says — everybody, in some way or another, is in Sales.In Scott’s new book (and in this SlideShare), you can learn how Sales is evolving, redefining its own space, and shaping the world of Services along with it. If you’re familiar with the inbound marketing story and the shift to a digital, consumer-driven world, I suspect much of this will resonate with you, too. The New Rules of Selling from David Meerman ScottWant to hear more from David Meerman Scott? Register for INBOUND, where he’ll be speaking about this very book. Use code OUTLIERS30 to save 30% on your registration! Originally published Aug 27, 2014 12:00:00 PM, updated August 27 2014 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlackcenter_img Topics: Inbound Sales (Marketing)last_img read more

Easy Marketing Partnerships That Work: Why Every Marketer Needs a Marketing Guild

first_imgOver the last four years I’ve helped thousands of businesses create marketing guilds so they could generate more leads and customers, share marketing costs, and ultimately dominate their target markets.You might ask, what the heck is a marketing guild?Unlike an industrial guild where businesses creating similar products or services work together, a marketing guild is a group of businesses that sell different products to the same people.Typically a marketing guild is formed by one or two marketers who invite marketers at other businesses with similar customers to join them. For example a mortgage broker, a custom home builder, and a real estate agent could work together to create a marketing guild focused on homeowners in their region.Some businesses may belong to more than one marketing guild. This is common if you sell to distinctly different customer segments, for example an HVAC company that offers both commercial and residential service.You probably already have a few marketing partners for your business. Maybe you wrote a guest blog post or allowed someone to write for your blog. You might have a partners page on your website, or you might feature a friendly company in your monthly email newsletter.Whether you have existing partners or not, building a marketing guild for your industry will make everything you do in marketing exponentially more powerful.Power Up With a GuildA marketing guild lets you land better marketing partners, reach more of your target market, focus more tightly on your best prospects, create more effective campaigns, get more done, and have a little fun at the same time.Unfortunately, your business isn’t the perfect marketing partner to every other business who sells to your target market.For instance, mortgage brokers get most of their leads from real estate agents. Real estate agents don’t get most of their leads from mortgage brokers.Imagine being a mortgage broker trying to convince a popular real estate agent to become your marketing partner. What’s in it for them?But when the mortgage broker first creates a marketing guild comprised of her mortgage business plus a local home inspector, a surveyor, a divorce attorney, a closing attorney, an appraiser, a personal financial planner, a residential insurance agent, and a custom home builder that same real estate agent can’t wait to join the group.Flex Your ReachEvery marketer struggles to reach all the best prospects in her market. At a minimum, it’s not cost effective. At worst it’s just not possible.But every successful marketer is able to build relationships with her own little slice of a target market. In a marketing guild, each business makes their little slice available to their partners in exchange for access to the total pie.Focus on Your Best ProspectsEvery time a person interacts with a business, part of a story is told.People who visit a mortgage broker’s website probably own a house, or soon will.People reading online about rafting trips near Asheville, North Carolina are probably about to book a vacation there.People who visit a wedding planner’s website are probably about to get married.A marketing guild lets you test assumptions like these by introducing your company to prospects who have recently interacted with other businesses in the group.Follow the LeaderSomeone selling to your target customer has already figured out the perfect way to find them, talk to them, and inspire them to take action.Ask your partners what they’ve learned and share your areas of success. Several heads is always better than one.Fast-forward to the FinishI’ve found there’s nothing better than a little peer pressure to get busy partners to deliver their commitments on time. In the fast-paced world of digital marketing it’s easy to overcommit and the natural instinct for partners is to take care of themselves first when they’re behind schedule.Ever had to nudge a partner to publish a guest blog post you delivered last month?With a marketing guild, herd mentality keeps people on track. A few partners will hit their deadlines to the group, motivating those playing catch-up to make their contributions too.Momentum is your friend.Wait, Did He Say Fun?Marketing is supposed to be fun, after all. Isn’t it? And nothing’s more fun than interacting with other marketers who face challenges like yours every day.Digital marketing doesn’t always have to be done online. If you’ve built a local marketing guild among businesses in your community, consider ways to get the group together in real life.Or, if your group is geographically diverse, set up a Google Group for open communication, or get on a Hangout and get everyone acquainted.Consider engaging your partners in creative ways, like letting them submit subject lines for an email marketing test. Offer a silly prize to the person whose subject line gets the best open rate.Marketing Guilds in ActionMarketing guilds work best when members agree upon a calendar of shared promotions in advance. In the next section I’ll talk more about how those agreements can be made.That said, common activities among marketing guild members include guest blogging, shared social media promotions, writing and promoting group articles, and advertising to pooled remarketing audiences using a tool like BoostSuite.Now, let’s look at two examples of marketing guilds in action.The Regional Homeowners Marketing GuildA regional homeowners marketing guild is comprised of businesses who sell products or services to homeowners in a specific area.The group consists of one business from each of the following industries:Mortgage brokersReal estate agentsHome inspectorsSurveyorsDivorce attorneysClosing attorneysAppraisersPersonal financial plannersResidential insurance agentsCustom home buildersAlthough home improvement vendors like plumbers, lawn maintenance, appliance repair, and window washers exist too, this group is focused on higher dollar service providers who work more closely around home purchases.A separate group focused on home improvement and repair vendors who target homeowners could be formed among those service providers too.The Regional Growing Companies Marketing GuildA regional growing companies marketing guild organizes businesses who sell products or services to growing businesses in a specific area.The group consists of one business from each of the following industries:Corporate benefits and insuranceCommercial real estate brokersRecruiters/staffing companiesAccountantsAttorneysSoftware development firmsBranding/PR firmsFinancial advisorsExecutive coaching servicesLeadership development seminar providersFractional CFO servicesVenture capital firmsCommunity banksGrowing companies need different things than stagnating companies. The industries represented here focus on services most often consumed by businesses on the rise.5 Steps to Creating A Marketing Guild for Your IndustryCreating the marketing guild you need to grow your business isn’t actually that tough, but in most cases you’ll need to create the group yourself.Creating a marketing guild takes a bit of brainstorming, a few contacts from your Rolodex, and just a smidge of cat herding (that part comes last).The first four steps can be done in less than an hour, on paper or digitally. You don’t need to involve your future partners until the last step “assemble the group.”From experience I’ve also learned that after you confirm the first three members, the rest of the group drops in place pretty quickly.Follow these five steps to create your marketing guild.1) Start With Your Target CustomerThis one’s usually the easiest.Answer this question. To whom do you typically sell your products and services? If you’ve already developed marketing personas for your business, start there.Give your target customers a name. Like ‘homeowners’ or ‘growing companies’ from the examples I shared above.2) Name Your Marketing GuildWill your marketing guild focus on customers in a specific region? If so, start the group name with the name of that region. This makes it clear to prospective partners that you’re thinking locally where there best customers are too.Now, after the region name (if applicable) add your target customer’s name from the previous step.Region Name + Target CustomerTri-State + HomeownersYou’ll end up with something like the Tri-State Homeowners Marketing Guild, or the Research Triangle Growing Companies Marketing Guild.Why’s the name so important? It’s all about the partners you’ll add next.A clear name focuses the group on a well known target customer and a specific region (if applicable) so your partners will instantly know this is the group for them.3) Brainstorm a List of Partner IndustriesThis is probably the most important step of the entire process. Building the correct industry list means your partners can provide you the prospective customers you need, and every business you’re recruiting will benefit from the group as well.Shoot for at least 10 industries in your list.What usually happens is you’ll forget one or two now, then your first invitees will suggest them later. Then you’ll find an industry or two where it’s hard to convince good businesses to join. In result, you’ll still end up with around 10 total businesses when you’re done.To build your list, think again about your target customer. Ask yourself these questions.What else do they buy?What could they buy that indicates they will soon need your products or services?What else do they need soon after they buy from you?Next, think about your business. In the last six months,Have you referred a sales lead to any other business?Has a business referred a sales lead to you?Finally, consider your existing relationships.Do you have existing sales or marketing partners?Do you have guest blogging relationships?Do you have people who frequently promote your content in social media?Resist the urge to include trade groups in your list. Your best marketing partners will be from other industries that commonly have customers in your target market. You’re not likely to find great marketing partners among businesses too similar to yours, and they can be difficult to work. For this exercise, avoid them entirely.Review your industry list and make sure each one has prospective customers for your business. Then double check that each other industry has at least two industries who have prospective customers for them too.4) Select One Business in Each IndustryGo through your industry list and recommend one business to represent each industry in your marketing guild.If you have multiple businesses you’re considering for any industry, filter your choices down to just one by looking for the following properties of a great marketing guild partner:You already have strong rapport with them.They have the required access and control to be a good partner.They control their website.They control their email newsletter.They control their social media accounts.They can make marketing and advertising decisions on their own. Their customers are in the same location as your customers.They can credibly invite other partners to the group.If you’re a local business, watch out for franchisees and branch offices of larger companies. These types of businesses may not be able to support your local marketing activities, especially if their marketing decisions are made at the national or international level.Avoid the tendency to partner with global businesses if you only sell in one of their regions. It’s unlikely you’ll be a good partner to them and most of their customer relationships will be outside your region.If you can’t come up with a business for every industry in your list, that’s fine. Leave those spots open. In the next step you can appeal to your early members to help fill in the blanks.It’s actually a great way to engage the first members of your group. The whole thing feels more like their idea if they’re extended the privilege of recommending one or two businesses themselves.5) Assemble the GroupNow, let’s put your brilliant plan into action.You have a clearly defined target customer, and a region if necessary. They’re both proudly represented in your marketing guild name. You have a list of industries and most of them have a business matched to them.It’s time to assemble your marketing guild.Email the two or three businesses you think are most likely to join the group. Get their confirmation before emailing the rest.In each email remind prospective partners who you are, what your business does, and who you sell to. Tell your partners why you’re creating a marketing guild and share the list of industries you plan to include.Mention one or two other businesses who have already confirmed their spots in the marketing guild and don’t forget to tell the prospective partner that you’ve recommended their business to fill the single spot available in the group for their industry.I always recommend closing the email with an invitation to the first meeting of the group. If you’re inviting partners outside your area, I recommend you meet online. Make sure to include call-in details and a proposed date and time in your invitation.Your New Marketing Guild in ActionCongratulations, you’re now the proud founder of your very own marketing guild. Try an agenda like this when your group first gets together:Introduce the marketing guild and explain its purposeEach marketer explains their business and their roleEach marketer shares one idea for how they might help other businesses in the groupBrainstorm a list of shared marketing activities the group can conduct togetherCommit to just one or two marketing activities for the upcoming quarterPick a group leader who will schedule the next meeting and remind everyone of project deadlines as they approachLike any group, setting expectations upfront is key. Try not to overcommit in all the excitement. Set a few goals for the first quarter, get buy-in from the members, and see how it goes.If done correctly, your marketing guild will become a key part of your overall marketing strategy. Considering the minimal effort required, it’s an extremely effective way to generate more leads and customers, share marketing costs, and ultimately dominate your target market.Want to start partnering with like-minded business to build your own marketing guild? Subscribe to the BoostSuite blog and learn more about the free BoostSuite advertising platform. Topics: Co-Marketingcenter_img Originally published Sep 27, 2016 11:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Poll: How Do You Feel About The Big 12’s Future?

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. The Big 12 announced on Monday that it would not expand at this time and probably not ever. That’s probably a good thing as the whole expansion notion was getting a little bit old, but I’m curious about how everyone feels about this.I haven’t totally gathered all of my thoughts yet — Carson and I are going to talk about this on the podcast today — but I think I’m more optimistic than most about the future. Anyway, vote here and leave your thoughts below, and I will post them tomorrow after the poll ends.Tuesday poll question: Following the no expansion announcement, the Big 12 will …— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) October 18, 2016last_img read more