» Blogging for Beginners: 4 Tips

Blogging for Beginners: 4 TipsIf you’re looking for a way to increase your online exposure, consider starting a blog. After all, over 77% of internet users read blogs, and there are over 156 million of them! It’s definitely a great idea in theory to jump on the blogging bandwagon, but setting up a blog and starting to write all those posts can seem like a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be.

Read our blogging best practices to get a walk-through of the development of your posts and the blog itself. Then, check out these 4 tips for guiding principles to develop your blogging philosophy!

1.  Understand your audience. Your blog posts should be a reflection of your personal knowledge and expertise, but they should also reflect the needs of your audience. Make sure posts are written using language your audience will easily understand (no industry jargon) and simplified for the everyday reader. Posts that are too technical or complicated will be lost on certain readers, and you could lose them forever.

2.  Get ideas from your audience. Coming up with ideas for blog posts can be tough. If a reader comments on a post or reaches out to you on a social network with an idea or question, try to work it into a blog post. Your audience can be a great source for blog post ideas! Your readers will also feel like they have an influence on what you write, which is a nice personal touch that will keep them coming back. Just be sure to thank the reader by mentioning his or her note as the impetus for the post.

3.  Be consistent. Make a commitment to your audience (however large or small it may be!) to blogging as often as your schedule allows. Whether that’s one blog post a day or one blog post a week, try to hit that mark each time. This shows your current readers that you are serious about providing them with valuable insight and shows any new potential readers that your blog is an up-to-date and educational resource.

4.  Give it time. You will not see overnight results from your blogging efforts. It took years for the most famous and influential blogs to build an audience, so don’t expect your first post to get 50,000 hits. Blogging consistently will build up your blog’s links and make it more and more likely for someone to stumble upon your blog through search. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately see results from your hard work – if you blog it, they will come!

Remember: a blog post does not always have to be a very structured format. Blog posts can be mostly text, offering tips or suggestions, or they can also be mostly images or graphics with a little context at the beginning or end. Don’t stress yourself out by thinking each blog post needs to be formal; have fun with your blog!

Also check out our Infographic “Top 10 Best Blogging Practices” for some quick blogging tips.

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» What is Neuro-Marketing? Why We Do What We Do Part II

This post was written by Jim Jubelirer, the owner of ActionCOACH Business Coaching, which helps business owners increase their business performance and personal satisfaction. For more information about ActionCOACH, click here.
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Conduct a review of your business practices and products. Are they easy to understand, easy to use? Are customers leaving because they have a hard time doing business with you? Do you have tools to track the reasons why people stop doing business with you? Now, consider novelty: what are you offering that is new or different? What are you doing to stand out from your competitors? Are you making an extra effort to reward long-term, loyalty customers with premium offers and exclusive promotions?

If you want to grow your business, consider these two neuromarketing insights.

• Curves attract and sharp edges repel. Think of the original glass Coke bottle (curvy, right?) Grocery stores are making the end-­cap displays (the shelves at the end of each aisle – usually used for promotional or high­‐volume items) more rounded.

• Multi-­sensory experiences stimulate multiple areas of the brain. Consider the use of sound, sight, and smell in your store or personal interactions. Would your employees look better in uniforms or wearing branded logo shirts? Does your workplace project the professional image you want to attract your target customers?

» What is Neuro-Marketing? Why We Do What We Do Part I

This post was written by Jim Jubelirer, the owner of ActionCOACH Business Coaching, which helps business owners increase their business performance and personal satisfaction. For more information about ActionCOACH, click here.
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Neuroscience is the study of the brain and how it controls our behavior. Neuro-marketing is the application of neuroscientific research to marketing and advertising messages. Neuro-marketing uses brainwave, eye-tracking and skin conductance measurements to create a deeper insight into shopper behavior.

Companies like Coke and GM spend billions of dollars each year to market their products and they want to know whether their ads are effective. Nielsen, the audience measurement firm, combines neuroscience with experience in consumer research and purchase decision-making. According to Nielsen, up to 90% of purchasing decisions are made sub-consciously. Often, the customer then spends time and energy finding ways to rationalize or explain their purchase. These post-purchase rationalizations may not be very accurate if the customer is unaware of their own sub-conscious drivers.

Our brain processes 11 billion bits of sensory information per second, yet we consciously remember only 100 bits of information per second. We have developed two important coping skills to process
this information gap:

• We spend less time trying to understand something if it is complicated or difficult, and
• We focus on novelty, looking for the degree to whether something is new and/or memorable.

 

» Marketing vs. Advertising

What is the difference between marketing and advertising? Although it seems like a simple question, it is very common to confuse the definition of the two.

By definition marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, and delivering offerings that have value for consumers and society at large (American Marketing Association).  Marketing is the first step in developing a product or service.  Seth Godin said it perfectly in his recent post, “Just about every successful product or service is the result of smart marketing thinking first, followed by a great product that makes the marketing story come true.”

Advertising is the act or practice of calling public attention to your product, service, need, etc. (dictionary.com). Advertising includes paid ads, which can be online, in print, on billboards, etc. Advertising is a main component of marketing.

A good way to look at it is to think of marketing as a pie, in which you have slices that include advertising, market research, product branding, interactive media, SEO, sales strategy, lead generation, consumer involvement, customer support, and more.  Marketing is everything you do as a small business to facilitate a connection between your business and your consumer.

Our goal at WeddingWire is to provide the platform for vendors in the wedding industry to do both.  As a vendor you can create an account and build your Storefront, which helps you create and communicate your product offerings to your consumers (engaged couples).  Our vendor catalog, which is listed off of numerous networks (i.e. Martha Stewart Weddings, BridalBuds, WeddingAces), serves as a means of advertisement for your business for all incoming engaged couples to see.

What are your thoughts on marketing and advertising? Share your feedback in the comments sections!

» Build Your Twitter Community

In order to maximize on what Twitter has to offer, it’s important to build your community. To do this you have to start by figuring out what your objective is. Do you want to keep your followers up-to-date on your business? Do you want to share dialogue with followers, maybe potential clients? Do you want to stay ahead of the social media curve? Whatever your objective is, it is important to determine it first and then dive right in!

I found a great list of 10 tips to guide you in establishing your community. Here is a quick summary:

  • DO – create a user-friendly ID. Your Twitter ID is part of your personal brand, so use your name or business name. If neither of these are available, blend them or stay as close to them as you can (ex: MegWW). Also, the shorter the name the better!
  • DO – search for people. It’s complete normal and accepted to follow people you don’t know (a huge part of what Twitter is all about). So search for people in the wedding industry or even people from an industry you don’t know much about! Try Twitter Search or Twellow to find people to follow.

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» Benefits of Social Media

Check out the results of a survey, summarized in eMarketerand Mashable yesterday, that outlines the benefits of embracing social media marketing.  Respondents were from the Marketing Executives Networking Group.

Customer engagement took first place, with 85% of surveyed executives citing it as the main benefit of using social media marketing.  Only 21% of executives, however, think that it is a “great lead generation source”.  That means most of those surveyed do not think social media directly impacts sales.

Regardless, the majority of respondents agreed that there are numerous benefits to engaging in social media marketing, given it is low in cost, it can be used a source of feedback and results, and it allows for direct customer communication.

Although this was a small survey, I think the take away message is that it would be beneficial to utilize social media marketing as one of your marketing mediums for 2009.

What do you think the benefits are for using social media marketing?  Do you plan to incorporate more of it in 2009?

» Looking for someone on Twitter?

You can now use Twitter People Search to track them down! Twitter is much more useful when you can find the accounts of your friends, colleagues, competitors or companies that interest you.  So whether you are searching for a friend or for WeddingWire, just click the “Find People” in the navigation bar at the top of your Twitter homepage and search away!

Not into Twitter yet?   Sign up for your free account today and let the fun begin!

Follow us on Twitter!

» Email marketing, the right way.

With over 1/3 of all engagements projected to happen over the holidays and the New Year quickly approaching, now is the time for you to hone in on your marketing efforts! Over the next few days I will cover some different ways to help you do this.  Today, let’s take a look at email marketing.

Emails can work as a means of advertisement.  According to a recent MediaPost blog, email marketing is still the highest ROI channel and earning $45+ ROI for every dollar invested (DMA, 2008).

As mentioned in the blog, the key to email marketing is there is a right and wrong way to approach it. The wrong way involves sending the same email, multiple times. This tends to increase your list churn and drive readers away, making it very hard to earn back their respect.

The right way is to make sure that each email counts.  Here is my take on a few good tips from the MediaPost blog that you can use to help you do this:

  1. Get the tone right – Position your products and services so that they meet the need of your customers during the realities of our time (i.e. down economy, low budgets, etc.)
  2. Realize that discounts are not the only motivator – Although discount emails can sometimes work, they tend to fall into the “wrong way” category if they are repeated too many times.  Try providing helpful tips, value information, and timely offers in your emails.  These can boost your response and protect your margin.
  3. Integrate online channels – Use emails to spark a conversation that will continue to other social mediums, such as facebook, twitter, etc.
  4. Ask for feedback in each email and every source of contact with your customers – It is key for you to monitor customer feedback and experience. Make sure you listen to what the customers are saying and communicate back with them. This is only going to benefit you in the long run!
  5. Thank your customers – Send helpful tips and special offers to good customers and new buyers.  This is a great chance for you to encourage your customers to tell their friends about you!

These tips and others listed in the MediaPost blog can help you become a smarter marketer and assist you in crafting your emails the right way!

Feel free to share any other email marketing tips you have personally had success with!