inbound marketing in rochester, ny

Inbound Marketing: Keep it Simple, Stupid!

Thereinbound marketing in rochester, ny are a ton of articles out there about the nitty gritty of a well run inbound marketing strategy. This won’t be one of them. First, in case you weren’t aware- inbound marketing is (as this article on Hubspot explains) about “creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.” This differs from the “old school” form of marketing- outbound marketing- that involves cold-calling, buying leads, buying ads, and is very disruptive.

Operative phrase: “where they (future customers) naturally want to be.” Traditional definitions of customer service are providing service to customers during and after a purchase. This is no longer true. The gold standard of customer service in 2014 (and really, since inbound marketing became so effective) is to provide service to customers before, during, and after the sale.

Placement of your product or service where your future customers naturally want to be, where they are already looking for information makes it easy for them to find what they want and need. It’s like you standing up in a crowd of people with a huge neon sign saying “Hey you! I’m right here, ready to help you!” How can you not like someone jumping to provide service to you? Customers buy from people/brands they like.

So when it comes to your inbound marketing strategy, you need to adhere to the K.I.S.S. methodology.

  • Know your customer profiles.
  • Create remarkable content your customers (future and existing) can use and will benefit from.
  • Tailor your online presence (website, social media, blog, email newsletters) to meet their needs, to give them the information they are already looking for.
  • If you aren’t sure what they want or are looking for, ASK them.

By focusing on what your audience wants, you are providing good customer service even in advance of them making a purchase (this makes it the gold standard), you are building rapport, and in doing all of that, you are setting yourself apart from the competition as the leader of your industry- the world’s best, in fact.

Keep the customer in mind, and you’ll succeed.

For more information on inbound marketing, email

Note: This article was originally posted on LinkedIn several weeks ago- just a heads up for anyone who thinks this looks familiar!

Inbound Marketing Explained, Infographic

The REAL Definition of “Inbound Marketing”

I’ve been doing research on a couple of things for work and I came across so many articles that were long and wordy in describing inbound marketing.  They were all very well explained, but for some reason I still felt like it did not do justice to how important this method of marketing really is.

In order to attract new customers, to grow your business, you must stand out from the competition.  How?  By giving your customers the gold standard of customer service.  That term right there may be my favorite.  Because when creating content for your inbound marketing strategy, you must always have the customer in mind.  Not your bottom line, not getting to the number one position on search engines.  Those are not a priority.

Giving your future customers the best possible experience is your priority.  The rest will follow.  I’m working on an inbound marketing e-book that will be ready in the next week or so- geared towards business owners so they can start to figure out how to best use inbound marketing to cater to their customers and target demographic.

In the meantime, here’s a handy little infographic I created to explain the true meaning of inbound marketing.  Yes, it is just that simple.  Enjoy!

Inbound Marketing Explained,  Infographic

Why is Site Structure Important?

Site structure is very important not only for search engines, but also for your audience.  Since how you rank in a search ultimately will help your potential audience find you, the question can be answered very simply.  The importance of site structure- and a good site structure- provides (yes, I’ll say it again)- the gold standard of customer service.

In providing access to organized information that is easy to find within your site, you are making it easier for the audience to get what they need.

Some keys for structuring your site well:

  1. Sit down and put together a list of services/products you provide.  Ask yourself whether some of the services/products fit into different categories.  Make sure each type of product or service you want to display on your site is described in detail.  Remember, the more content, the better.
  2. Determine who your audience is- and determine what each type of audience would be looking for.  One client I’ve worked with for years- they manufacture custom solutions for companies in the medical device industry, as well as companies in the food packaging industry.  Although the base technology is the same, they want to showcase the solutions they are capable of providing by vertical so it is very easy to access the necessary information for the potential customer.    
  3. Organize the pages within your site to meet what the audience is looking for.  You can do this in a variety of ways- you can organize by type of product, type of service, business verticals.

Structure is very important.  I have seen a lot of websites with tons of great content, but no real structure to it- a landing page and then access to lots of different pages.  It appears to be a mish-mash of content.  Organization is good- for the user (most important) and secondly, for search engines.  Search engines index your pages based on a number of things.  They want the most credible and informational pages at the top of their results.  One of those ranking criteria is based on how organized your site is- how easy the information is to access.

Can your site’s structure improve?  What have you found going through this process?  I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

Southwest Airlines Using Social Media to Improve Customer Service?

It has been quite clear for a while now that social media is an effective tool for giving your audience the gold standard of customer service.  Many businesses feel that delving into the social media world is risky.  One major reason I’ve heard from some of my clients is the big “what if someone were to complain on your Facebook page or write something nasty on Twitter?”

Well, what if?  What DO you do?  Erase it?  Not the best idea considering that despite the few minutes it was on the worldwide web, google could have indexed it.  Someone saw it.  You can’t pretend it didn’t happen.  So the best possible thing to do is exactly what Southwest Airlines did a few days ago when Green Day band member was removed from a flight for not hiking his pants up and then tweeted about it: they re-tweeted him, acknowledged his displeasure at the situation, and promised to correct it.  Then, (gasp) they went and put him on the next flight and I am sure apologized.

Rather than ignore the complaining tweet, they harnessed this as an opportunity to show their customers (and the rest of the world) that they did indeed pay attention to what their customers wanted, and used the power of social media to put forth the highest standard of customer service.

Inevitably any business is subject to complaints.   Why try to hide it when anyone knows that you can never please EVERYONE?  The best possible thing to do 100% of the time is be totally transparent, which shows your honesty as a business person, your credibility, and that you will do whatever you can to keep your customers happy or correct mistakes that will inevitably happen.

How have you used social media as a useful customer service tool for your customers?  How have you approached a grievance posted on your social media from an unhappy customer?  And how have you turned it around to make it into a win/win situation for you and for your customer?

Newsletter Design: Change is Good

The first quarter of “Twenty-Eleven” is off to a great start here at Hart-Conklin Marketing.  We’ve survived a holiday shopping season filled with retail businesses cashing in (literally) using FourSquare.  We’ve also survived the first major Skype outage in a long while that actually ended up getting them into some hot water when their inner-workings were exposed during the down time.

Best business practice: Always do things the right way.  Sure, it might work the wrong way, but when something goes awry, all the defects are exposed and you’ll end up having to spend that much  more time making corrections.  Time is money, people.

In that same vein, you owe your audience the due dilligence of doing your newsletter the right way by giving them what they want.  This is a very exciting time for us as we help a client prepare all of their marketing, media, and press for their biggest event of the year.  A busy time, but never too busy to learn new things.  We designed an entirely new e-mail campaign to promote this event for them and saw record-breaking results from the exposure this tactic got them.  Newsletter design is tricky.  It’s just as important to put valuable content in your campaign, as it is to have aesthetically pleasing graphics/layout.

Sending a newsletter to your clients or customers can be tricky.  It’s a constant game of staying on the front of the information tidal wave- and keeping the content relevant to a fairly diverse audience.  It’s necessary to cater to what many people want in one marketing piece.  Here are some things I learned with this most recent e-mail newsletter campaign:

1) Change is good.  A new design periodically keeps your audience from growing tired of the same thing every time.  While it’s important to make sure your newsletter is cohesive with your branding strategy, it’s also important to keep the readers stimulated with a fresh look.

2) Pictures are good.  Make sure all of your pictures, when clicked, go to a relevant website.  People love clicking pictures so give them a place to do it!

3) Use “learn more” buttons with directs to your company e-mail.  I recommend setting up a catch-all e-mail address on your company’s server to collect the incoming e-mail and info requests from your newsletters.  People like using these because it’s convenient and just pops open your outlook right then and there.

4) We changed our clients subject heading to be a little more specific- and introduce a new product.  This client saw the highest open and click-through rates of any campaign yet.  Very exciting.  What’s good about this is you can then populate a list of e-mail addresses you need to follow-up with and strike while “iron is hot” so to speak.  This is a very good tool in sales and marketing: the ability to reach out to your customers and build the relationships by following up while you are still on the top of their minds.

5) Pay attention to your click map on newsletter interface- where are people clicking, and how many times?  If people are clicking on certain content blocks a lot, you  might want to consider putting more of what they like in the next newsletter.

6) Be patient.  This is not over night.  It takes time to see results, but in the process you will be establishing yourself as a master of your craft, and someone who always puts forth the gold standard of customer service.

All in all, this campaign was a huge success.  These strategies will help you improve how effective your marketing campaign is.  What other strategies do you implement to enhance the newsletter experience for your audience?  What have you found to not work?

Inbound marketing, blog your way to millions, web presence, SEO

How To Blog Your Way To Millions

Millions of eyeballs reading your content, that is.  While I’m sure if you own a business, you’d want to make millions of dollars, you need to first focus on winning friends who believe in your brand.  That is the idea behind social media:  to engage your audience by giving them something they can use.  You’re going to need to abide by a few very easy and simple cardinal rules of blogging in order to be effective and show your craft-mastery.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

1)Keep it simple:  The web is full of white noise, you need to keep your  message simple so it does not get lost in the frey.  Be suscinct, don’t be overly wordy.  If you’ve already written blogs, go back and edit to be more concise.  Don’t feel bad, everyone makes this mistake.

2)Be Relevant: Don’t use your work blog as a soapbox to spout your views on topics that are totally unrelated.  Make sure you stick to the subject at hand, and only stray from the pertinent subjects if you are extremely clever or witty and can find some way to make it relevant.  This is a word of caution, not everyone can pull this off.

3)Use Keywords: Tag your blog articles with relevant tags.  For example, if you are writing a blog about medical device measurement, make sure you are tagging the posts with “thickness measurement,” “medical device,” “medical device inspection,” etc.  This will increase your visibility on the web.

4)Be patient: You are not going to be an overnight success.  Do not expect it.  It will take weeks, maybe months, maybe even years to get to the “millions.”

5)Participate in a meaningful way:  Find other blogs that are either industry relevant, or geared towards success in business and start following them.  Subscribe to other blogs.  Comment on posts.  People want to receive comments, just like yourself.  In this case, one hand washes the other.  DO NOT leave spam comments with links to your site.  Think about what you are going to say first, and make it relevant, ask a question that provokes an answer from the author.

6)Post regularly:  You’ve worked hard to gain the readers you have thus far, you don’t want to lose their interest.  Update frequently to give them the content they want.  Also, if you are posting regularly, the search engines will crawl your pages regularly looking for new content to index.  Again, this circles back to the whole concept of increasing your visibility on the web.

7)The More The Merrier: Quantity does matter, when it comes to increasing your web presence.  However as a word of caution: don’t post just for the sake of upping your post count.  Make sure your articles are relevant and remarkable.  Keep the quality standard high so you don’t lose credibility in the eyes of your fans.

8)New information matters: You don’t want to post about topics that are outdated.  If you do post on an outdated topic, it needs to be relevant to something that is going on right now.  Your readers do not want to read old news.

9)Encourage participation: Always make sure your articles call your readers to action.  Ask for their opinion, their resources, or even just feedback on what types of future articles they would like to read on your weblog.

10) Research everything: The quickest way to lose credibility is to publish misinformation.  You want to make sure you have your facts straight, or you won’t be seen as the master of anything.  Also, cite your sources- you want to give due diligence to the professionals whose work you use for your information.

11) Have a voice:  Give your weblog a personal side.  You want your readers to feel as though you are speaking directly to them.  It’s okay to have opinions, so long as they are industry relevant.  Do not be afraid to write about controversial “hot topics” in your industry, as this is one of the best ways to inspire participation from your audience.

12) Use different posting styles:  It’s a good idea to mix up the styles of your posts- you can post “How To” articles, like this one.  Post video interviews, transcripts of real life interviews (always get permission to use these first), white papers, or business best practices such as “10 ways to increase your sales.”  Do not bore your readers with continuous long research style posts.

13)Titles matter: This is the first thing your readers will see when gauging if they want to continue on reading.  Make sure it’s catchy.  This becomes even more important if you are blogging in an industry where your audience will not have long periods of time to read long articles- and if they do have time for one, they will be drawn in by the post title.  Know your audience so you can tailor your weblog style to meet their needs and time constraints.

14)Get your blogs out there: Use these articles in the rest of your social media and your other marketing strategies.  Make it known that you have important information to give to your fans.  Make sure you have the option to subscribe on your blog- RSS or other types of subscription services will work very well.

Remember, this is not the final say on what will help your blog gain readers.  The main thing to keep in mind is that you need to be patient.  If you are doing these things, along with incorporating your blog into your other social media and your existing marketing strategy, you will definitely see your numbers increase.  Be consistent with your work on your weblog, if you cannot meet these requirements, consider hiring someone to do it for you.

You  may wonder if a blog is the way to go with your business.  Trust me, it is relevant for any business regardless of industry or size.  You want your customers, contacts, industry partners, competitors to see you as someone who really knows what they are talking about.  You want to be seen as someone who cares about your industry as a whole.  These articles will help your customers feel like more than just a number.  They give your audience a sense of importance, it gives them information that is useful to their own agenda, and ultimately becomes the gold standard of customer service.

If you blog, what are your strategies to increase your readership?  If you already have lots of readers, what have you done in the past that has worked really well?

The Best Advice I Ever Got Regarding Marketing and Sales

I was going to change the title of this inaugural blog post to be catchy, sassy, marketable…. but I thought better of doing so.  Imagine that- a marketing person actively trying to NOT market something.  I just felt that I had to let everyone know that sometimes it’s just a better idea to keep things simple.  I would even go so far as to say that sometimes we become too pre-occupied with the nitty gritty- that we lose focus on our priorities.

We lose focus on what the goal really is.  Is our goal to make sure you have the prettiest and fanciest newsletters- OR is our goal to make sure the people you send newsletters to extract useful information and actually READ them?  While the former may be true to an extent- aesthetics are indeed important-the latter is the most important.  Not only do you want your target audience to read and find your newsletters useful, you want them to see you as a master of your craft- not solely concerned with the bottom line- but also with the health and vitality of your industry as well.

Long long ago, a wise former boss of mine (Al Casazza, CBS Radio) told me “Kristin- people buy from people they like” – ok so that’s a fairly simple concept, yes?  No.  Not in the way my brain works.  For once in my life-I was totally stumped.  The meaning of this profound tidbit totally escaped me.

Homeward bound I skulked, dejected and sad.  How would I find a way to get these people to LIKE me and not just see me as another person they had to pay?  How in the world would I ever do this?  I could bake my clients cookies.  I could bribe them like all of the other sales reps did with bottles of wine or platters of sandwiches.  I could do lots of nice things… if I were rich.  At this rate- I was doomed!

It took me years… but I finally found the answer.  People like people who care.  They want to do business with companies that have a social conscience.  Would you rather patronize a business that was solely concerned with profits- or a business that was passionate about what they did and passionate about bettering their customers in the process?

All things considered equal- I’d much rather get the product/service that I needed while also getting some useful information in the process.  Time is money and in this day and age you need to believe wholeheartedly in the power of two-fers.  Two-fer-one- marketing excellence AND a pearl of wisdom.  Genius.  Julie Cottineau does such a great job explaining what I am so poorly trying to say.  Read on…

In closing, I truly hope that Daly Marketing can fulfill all of your wildest marketing dreams. 🙂 I hope I can get everyone as excited about this as I am- and if I don’t- I’ll try to distract you with catchy slogans and sparkle-graphics. Totally kidding about the sparkle graphics!