Five in 24 - Five Things to Re-Brand & Sell More Stuff

For several years I've offered up a seminar on "Five in 24 - Five Things Any Business Can Do in Twenty-four Hours to Re-Brand and 5in24_LogoSell More Stuff".  It's been the most requested piece I do. Has it changed? You bet! Each time I go out, as I just did with the New York Press Association Annual Meeting, I refine it to match the needs of the audience I'm speaking to.

And, that is one of the Five Tips that is included in "Five in 24"

Know Your Consumer

It doesn't matter if you are selling a product or a service the basic metric of success is knowing your customer base. That's why, before I head out to do a presentation I adjust the guts of the seminar to match the needs of the people I'm speaking to.  For example the publishers and editors of the New York Press Association are struggling with new ways to connect to their readers outside of the printed product. 

To be sure the community based newspapers that are represented by the NYPA are doing pretty well. They are not daily papers but hyper-local papers that laser focus on their town, city, community. That they've got. But, what other things might they use to connect with their target audience?

Podcasting

Mobile Studio in Mobile 2019One of the new additions to "Five in 24" is Podcasting. I've been in that space for over ten years, long before it was considered cool and when it seemed like you were "talking to yourself". But today it's a thriving media option for busy people who may not have time to sit down and read. Want to check us out? Here is the Radio Blog for Insight on Business the News Hour

And so, I tailored my presentation to reflect that reality. Was it well received? Yes...and while the reviews are not in I'm confident that I was able to peel back the onion a bit and introduce them to the power of podcasting.  

The bottom line is you must know who your target customer is, where they hang out, how they buy what they buy. Once you've got that down all you need to do is create a story to move from "customer" to a lasting relationship.

Thanks for reading! 


No Homepage Traffic?

Not long ago we were asked to look at the website of a new client. The business is in the professional services sector. They were concerned Man Confused about their homepage traffic...which had declined over the past couple of years...and wanted a total new site and redesign. Yeah, they were...worried.

Now, they don't do e-commerce but they do a bunch with their business blog. (Clearly they had been listening over the years that business blogging is a great way to secure solid content and project a strong voice let alone be helpful in search engine optimization.) We knew...and they didn't...that visits to homepages continue to shrink and that happens because of a good reason...

So, we dug in to take a look and in the end made the professional recommendation that what they needed to do was stop worrying about their website and continue creating original content that drives people to their business.

Here is how it works: A consumer does not go looking for the XYZ Legal Services Company...unless they get a recommendation. It is more likely that a consumer is searching for something. Perhaps they are looking for "Business Succession Issues". They plug that into their search engine and get lots of places to go so they can learn more. And, because this client has written, several times, about that issue their legal blog came up on the first page of the search. And, because they used the right keywords and tags in their blog, the consumer was able to tell the company was in their metro area.

Today it's all about content and changing content at that. So, if your homepage is static don't expect much. However if your homepage content always changes...and if you are creating content on a regular basis it all adds up. 

Content, content, content. And today you've got more places to share that content than ever before.

Create valuable information that people can use and the rest will follow. 

Thanks for reading!


Feeling Time Starved?

It's a valid question and the answer is a resounding, "Yes"! We have so many demands on us that to give more than a few minutes to MPL Twelve Thirty consider a decision is tough. Time starvation is one of the reasons convenience rules. Consumers are more than happy to buy products at a corner convenience store and pay 20% more than wade across a parking lot and roam the aisles of a grocery store even if there is a "friendly smile" everywhere.

Consider online shopping and business.

I know of a professional business that just purchased all of their officer equipment and furniture from Amazon.com. You read that correctly...all of it. And when they need paper or ink or whatever, they push a button and it is delivered to their door. Do they get to "touch" the products. Maybe but what they did do was research, online, and then made their purchase.

I've just given you two real world examples of how convenience seeks to play a role in time starvation.

Here is another one: Podcasting

Broadcast outlets are learning that people want news and information on the go and on their time. Rather than sit and wait for the specific time a broadcast is on consumers are consuming content when THEY are ready. That reality has led to a massive number of podcasts being created. Once again, playing into the reality of time starvation.

The podcast industry is still in it's early years. Our company has been in the space for at least ten years with Insight on Business the News Hour and we've watched the podcast effort continue to grow. Once again, people want good content delivered to them on their terms.

It makes sense and we believe it will only continue to grow. How about you?  Thoughts?


Podcasting Equipment

Over the past year I've had dozens of people ask me about helping them start a podcast. It's all the rage you know and I'm here to help. Mobile Studio in Mobile 2019 I've been doing Insight on Business the News Hour in one podcast form or another for about ten years. First as a video podcast and then when I transfered over to radio it became audio only. Today I do the newscast as a podcast, each day Monday - Friday. There is at least 10 minutes of business news and an interview that can go 15 to 22 minutes...sometimes two interviews.

The photo is my "mobile studio". I use two Audio-Technica AT8004L mics from B&H out of NYC.  Decided on these longer microphones because when interviewing people who are not used to doing broadcast interviews I've got to adjust them, often, closer to get good sound. There are two mic stands, two 6' mic cables and the recorder I use is a Zoom H4n Pro. I also use a Sony Pro headset to monitor the interviews. If something goes wrong it's easier to stop and re-do while on site rather than in post production. 

That's it and it all goes in a roller suitcase.

In my office I use a USB microphone that plugs directly into my computer. It is a Blue Microphone Yeti. I love it so much that I have three of them! It's a great company based in California...and love, love the sound.

In addition, if I'm caught without my recorder and mics I do have Voice Record on my iPhone. You can download from the iStore. The quality is really pretty good. I also carry with me a bluetooth lav mic that hooks up with my iPhone (Thank you Phil K. James!) to do promotional videos with my guests. That system is from Kimafun and runs about $50. Works great.  Here is a sample with Georgia VanGundy from the Iowa Business Council.

 

Great sound...yes?

Of course you need to take your WAV file, create an MP3, edit the work, put in music, commercials and more. I have used, for my post production Audacity. I've used this open source system for years and years and it works great. Best news is it is free. So...go get it.

Finally, you need a host. Someplace to actually PUT your podcast. I have used Podbean.com for years. It works slick, you can share to other podcast platforms like Stitcher, iTunes, PlayerFM, TuneIn Radio, Google Play by giving them the RSS Feed.

I'll share with you that all of this takes work...and some experience. Before launching our advertising, marketing and communications company I spent years in radio and television so I've got a bit of history and experience in those areas. It truly has helped and coming back to newscasting after being gone for several years is sort of like riding a bike.

Finally every newscast and interview is placed on our Radio Blog.  I've used Typepad for years. It's a habit I guess. Finally, each week I author an e-newsletter through My Emma to boost my advertisers and the content. 

So, that's about it.  I'd be happy to help you figure out some other things like original music for your podcast...HELLO James GOODLETT from Jam Good Productions!!! Or anything else you might need.  Check his work below.

Final word: Work.  I spend, roughly six hours a day doing interviews, travel, production, post-production and posting. And, that is every day. I get it. We do a daily newscast and you might be looking at doing a weekly podcast. Then, the time commitment goes way down. But till you've got to write, edit and create content that is worth listening to.

Now...you know everything! 

Good luck and THANK YOU Patrick Rynard for the boost to get me to write this!


Should I Start My Business Podcast?

I get this question from clients and non-clients every week. Businesses from start-ups to established corporations are often, just now, Insight-on-business-news-hour finding out about podcasting and thinking that it may be the perfect answer to an ever increasing number of media opportunities in which to connect with consumers.

The answer to the question is, as with most answers, it depends.

The number of podcasts that are now being done is stunning. Research from June of 2018 puts the number at 550,000 in more than 100 languages. That is a ton of competition but it also isn't a complete story. However, if you want to deep dive into the numbers like who listens, how often do they listen and more here is a link to PodcastInsights.com that we found to be enlightening. 

Bottom line is the people are there and they are consuming hours and hours of podcasts.  But, the question remains..."Should I start my business podcast?"

Linda  Harmon MPL Feb 2 2011I've been in this podcast/webcast world for nearly ten years. We started out in a closet at a local bar (no, really!). We put in a "studio" of sorts and I was one of 60 people doing a podcast/webcast from that location. We moved from there into a real studio and launched something called Webcast One Live. It was all years ahead of its time. 

Six years ago we launched Insight on Business the News Hour a daily business news broadcast/podcast that covers national, regional and some local business news plus long form business interviews that run between 15 and 20 minutes. So, yep, been there. Here are some considerations you've got to think about moving forward:

  • Do you really, really have something to say? - This is an important question because it's really about the long term. To simply launch a podcast and then, within two months you run out of material. Not such a great place to be.  So, be honest;
  • Do you have the talent to carry it off? - This is so critical. To just sit in front of a microphone and talk is a world away from having the talent to make it work. Talent goes to the ability to carry on the conversation, a voice that is listenable and the technical issues that go into creating a successful podcast;
  • Do you have the technology? - True you can get into podcasting pretty cheap and that's why it's attractive to some. But when you start adding up the costs and the knowledge it can get expensive. So, if you are willing to to make a commitment to and you don't mind learning and working...it can be done;
  • Do you have the time? - I do a daily business news podcast. It takes me roughly two hours to write the news another hour to record and edit and another hour to polish the finished product and start to share across multiple channels. But in our case we also do business interviews so there is another hour per interview. But if you're not doing that you can figure at least four hours a day. True you can do a weekly podcast and your time will be much, much shorter;
  • Do you know social media? - Yes, you can put your podcast up on one of many podcast platforms but how do you let people know that you exist. If there are over 550,000 podcasts out there how do you let folks know about yours?  Social media is key and you've got to not only understand it but be pretty darn good at the art of engagement;
  • Do you know how to measure and how to monetize? Measurement is sort of like the "wild west". We do track the number of downloads but some of the platforms we're on don't track them. Also, is this going to be a marketing expense or is there a plan in which you can make a little money and how do you do that?  Sponsorship? Pay to Play? If you are investing hours of your time how do you pay for it?
  • Do you have staff? - Yes, you can DIY your podcast but if you don't know how or lack the equipment and the ability to share the show you are going to have to count on hiring others. That, friends, can be really expensive and cost hundreds of dollars an episode. Who will line up guests, will you do remotes, what new items will you bring to the effort?  Us?  We find we are always evolving. 

Final thought. Podcasting is a bunch like blogging. I've known businesses and individuals that are all HOT on creating their blog for...maybe a year but then they don't see the value or the return on investment so they quit. It's taken us years to be financially secure with our format. 

Your thoughts?

 

 

 


Are You Open for Business?

Those of you who follow us know that we believe in the Business Blog for several reasons: Open Sign

  • Fresh Web Content - Each time you do a business blog you create fresh content for your website and that is important for what is called Search Engine Optimization so people can find you;
  • Owning Your Voice - When you write a business blog you are creating a voice for your business. You can explain in a short and direct manner what you do, how you do it and more. But, remember to break it up and not write "War and Peace";
  • You Are Open for Business - If you blog on a regular basis people know that you are still around and still accepting clients and still in business.

It's that last point I'd like to address. This afternoon we were searching for potential news stories and individuals we might interview for Insight on Business the News Hour. We went back into our files a couple of years to see what stories were out there that we thought might be worth a follow up. We found one on care-giving, Alzheimer Disease and aging. Two weeks ago we had a piece on the Alzheimer Tsunami from Iowa Watch we thought a follow up on an old story might make sense.

So, we went to the website for contact information. (There was none. No phone no email...just a form to be filled out if we wanted to reach out.) Next we looked at blog posts to see what might have been new and, really to check and see if this business was still in business. The most recent blog post was authored well over a year ago.

What!?

We are now led to believe this company is out of business. No contact information and an outdated blog post. We moved on...and wrote this piece.

It's critical that potential customers/clients be able to reach you and your business quickly so make sure you have contact information available. If you do a business blog and it is part of your website make sure you continue to do so. It doesn't have to be every week (if you are well established) but at least once a month let's us know you are still...open for business.

Thanks for reading! 


Do It Yourself!

The other day on our radio broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour, we talked about DIY for social media and why that works better than hiring somebody to do the work it takes to engage consumers...your consumers. Don't get us wrong, there are lots and lots of very Keep Calm and DIYtalented people out there who will Tweet, Facebook and Blog for you but...they will never be as good as you.

The push back we get is, "I don't have time to write a 300 word post every week" or "I don't have time to Tweet ten or twelve times a day". The fact is...you do. Let me help you break it down.

If you are spending time with an outside contractor telling them your story, telling them about the impact you had on consumers last week telling them what is hot in your business then you've got time to write it down. It's not that you "don't have time" it's that you simply don't believe in the tools of social media and consumer engagement so you don't MAKE TIME.

I can share, from years of experience and collecting fees for doing social media for others, it is often painful. While we can write and communicate we are not as invested or know the details you know about your business. That is unless we have daily or weekly conversations and then we simply parrot back what you've already shared with us.

So, yes, you have the time.

So let's get started with the a simple three step process to get you to engage your customers in your business blog:

  • What is your Competitive Advantage? - Don't write stuff that doesn't matter to your customers...write down why your customers do business with you. Take fifteen minutes and think of the reasons they have built a relationship with you. Forget about "fast" and "free" focus on how you have built value into the business transaction; 
  • No Weeds - Don't get caught up in selling the steak...sell the sizzle. Far too often business wants to list out the details...all the details. You are miles ahead if you keep it simple and direct;
  • Solve Problems First - What is it that your business does to make your customers or clients life easier, less complicated more enjoyable. You, after all, are the expert in what you do. Now go and share those stories with others who have the same business or life issues. 

Three topics and fifteen to thirty minutes a week and you're in business. DIY Social Media is real and important to consumers they would love to hear from you. Once you've got this down then it is on to the tools that make organic social media work better.  That's next.

Thanks for reading...


It's Called SOCIAL Media Because...

It happens more often than not. When business people talk about social media they tend to think it's their personal broadcast station used Man Confused to push out only what THEY think is important.  And, that is exactly why so many fail to harness the true power of this media platform.

Consider this: ESPN broadcasts sports. All kinds of sports. Not just baseball or football or (my personal favorite) curling. OK, not really but you get my point. They broadcast what is in the interest of their viewers. How do they know? Because the network spends millions listening to the general public and then it spoon feeds us what we tell them we want. Which is why you don't see Monday Night Curling.

I get it, you don't have "millions" but you do know your consumer base...right? What is it that motivates them? What is it that gets your customer to nod their head in agreement? What trigger is it that, when pulled, launches engagement? If you don't know then please stop using social media because you will not be pleased with the results and you will consider it all a waste of time.

But...if you understand that your social media platform is more about THEM than YOU...you're on to something.  Let me give you a real-world example.

Mindi Sudman MPL 24 March 2017Some of you know that we are the fuel that powers the daily business news broadcast Insight on Business the News Hour. Every weekday all engines stop here at the ad agency and we go to work compiling the business news of the nation, region and the local Des Moines Metro. It's then off to the Des Moines Radio Group to deliver that news, the Wall Street Report and perform two long-form business interviews with startups to established companies. We've been doing this for nearly four years.

Each Friday we do a "Restaurant of the Week" segment and invite a locally owned restaurateur in to learn the "back-story" of their business. Once done we share with that restaurant (or business) the link to the Radio Blog, photos of our time together and a document that suggests how they might use the radio interview to engage their social media fans/customers.

We can always tell who is successful in their understanding of social media by watching the number of people who then click through to One Eleven Public House 26 March 2017listen to the interview. Last week our Restaurant of the Week was One Eleven Public House a brand new place on Main Street in Knoxville, Iowa. Within 26 hours that interview had been downloaded and listened to by over 225 people. And that is on only ONE of our metrics. You can add another 87 downloads from Podbean, our podcast page and iTunes is still growing. (Go ahead and click on the image to the right.)

Mindi Sudman, (above in studio) the owner of One Eleven Public House gets it..or whomever is doing her social media gets it. And they did not limit their sharing on just Facebook they shared across Instagram and it was trending on Twitter.

Understanding social media, what it is and what it is not, is critical to your marketing success. It has to be done often, right and targeted toward those whom you wish to reach and influence.

Otherwise...it's just a waste of time.

Love to hear your thoughts and thanks for reading! 

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Is It The Content or Something Else?

We're now in our fourth year of reporting the business news of the nation, region and the IOB_podcastv2 Greater Des Moines Metro during Insight on Business the News Hour. Each weekday starting at 5:05pm we take to the air on AM-940, FM-104.5 and in HD at 103.3 HD2 and report the business news of the day, what the market did and why and then conduct two long-form business interviews with startups to established corporations. To date we've conducted over 1,500 of those interviews with nearly 147,000 downloads on just one of our podcast pages, Podbean. You can see that here.

That's the history.

And we've noticed something that should be of interest to those of you attempting to extend your voice with social media.  

Social media experts tell us that "content is king". If you produce good and valuable content people will notice and engage. We think that's true as long as the content is about cats or food. Business? Not so much. The vast consumer population could care less about how to grow, maintain, start and stay in business.

Or wait...might it be something else?

We watch, very carefully, the download and listening numbers as they appear on iTunes and Podbean. We also follow the data on Bitly and we've noticed that those business people and businesses who join us for an interview and then share their story along several social media Man Megaphonechannels gain a big advantage. In other words they are not keeping their story...secret or to themselves they are telling the world and it matters.

And, if those businesses or business people carry their message forward for several days/weeks their download numbers explode. Sure we're there carrying the water as well but when the organic tweets and Facebook posts and LinkedIn posts happen more than once...it extends their voice so much further.

There is a valuable lesson here: Social Media is not a "one-and-done" effort. Think of it this way, if you got a new job or you're about to get married or you've just closed a huge deal... would you tell just one person?  No. You would repeat that story several times over the life of the news.

It's the same thing here. The very same thing. Content does matter but so too does properly sharing that content.

Your turn!

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Never Mind We've Got This...

I recently attended a meeting of about 20 volunteers who had gathered to discuss Man Head in Handscommunication efforts. The communication they desire is to build brand awareness and to share information critical to their brand and interested consumers. From what I could gather, from the brief introductions, I was the only professional marketer in the room.

In that two hour meeting there was plenty of discussion about social media, particularly Facebook. An hour into the meeting I asked a question about their existing website, "As with any brand the company website is often the first point of contact among consumers seeking more information about the product or service. It would seem to me that your first consideration would be to put up a website that is mobile friendly, easy to maintain and simple to navigate." I should note here their existing website has none of those qualities.

The response was, "The people we are attempting to reach do not go to websites they would much rather get their information from Facebook." In other words, "Shut up. We've got this."

I spent the next hour listening to minutia about Facebook. From posting to monitoring to limiting access of comments. It was an interesting insight on "group think" with the group having no clear understanding of marketing their message.

For those of you who are in business, and have an interest, allow me offer some simple marketing and advertising thoughts when it comes to building your brand. Ready?

Websites - In my professional opinion your website should be the foundation of your brand. It is your website that is accessible to the world. It is the repository of your brand message, contact information, blog, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter links. It must be mobile friendly. It must be updated on a regular basis and it must contain information of value to consumers. Ignoring that simple truth is putting your brand at jeopardy.

Blogging - Second only to your website should be your business blog. It is here where your "voice" can be shared in well thought out posts. For folks who want to know more about your business or non-profit your blog can be that gateway. Then use Social Media to share that message with a wider audience. Finally, when your blog becomes part of your Website Home Page you are updating content each time you post. And that is critical to Google Ranking and SEO.

Facebook - The potential universe for this particular non-profit would be roughly 300,000 people of various ages, ethnic backgrounds and lifestyles. Their existing public Facebook page has about 800 followers yet they believe this should be their main branding tool. They are talking to themselves. There is a place for Facebook but it should never be your primary marketing tool. Never.

Twitter -There seemed to be some confusion about how to best use Twitter. We find it to be an amazing news gathering and sharing tool that should, in our opinion, never be linked to your Facebook stream. They are two very different forms of communication and when your Twitter feed has a few words and then that Facebook link it tells those of us who use Twitter on a daily basis you're not really putting in the work to share your brand. We've got a blog post on that from several years ago. It will offer you "why".

YouTube - The world loves video. Here is a post from 2012 that speaks to the power of video for business THEN. Today the numbers are even more staggering. However, to gain traction the video that is produced must be well done, share valuable information and have the ability to capture the attention of the consumer in the first five seconds. This is a project best done by professionals otherwise it can be a waste of time.

Instagram - There was little talk about this social media tool that we've found to be fun, informative and growing in popularity. However, Instagram does have some limitations such as linking and we believe you must post to the platform at least three times a day to gain traction.

Just some of the things I would have shared with my friends however...they were not really interested. They've got this covered...

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