4 Tips to Hone Your Content Marketing Strategy

As any marketing professional or firm will tell you, it is no longer difficult or necessary to SELL clients and agencies on content marketing strategies highlighted by targeted blog posts, short videos and whitepapers busting with statistics. The benefits are endless and well-established — drive traffic to your website, solicit contact information for lead generation, establish yourself as a credible source and many more. What you SHOULD be telling your clients, is how to make the most of your content — ensuring delivery, download, engagement and return on investment.

Producing the content is only half the battle — let’s talk about winning the war and making sure your content marketing strategy achieves your desired goals:

1. Define your audience. Does your content have a specific end-user? The answer should always be, yes. If you are creating a whitepaper or blog post with the intent to receive downloads (and contact information) from a niche target audience, make sure your content addresses their pain points. For example, a financial advisor may want to solicit information and web visits from individuals between the ages of 40 and 50 who are getting ready to send their children to college. Rather than title your content, “10 Ways to Save Money,” try “The College Decision: 10 Finance Tips You Need to Know,” or something to that effect. Yes, you may get less downloads and web visits. However, the qualified leads and traffic you do receive will be much more credible and likely yield higher ROI.

2. Promote effectively. Too many times, I see an ad on LinkedIn or Facebook that says something to the effect of “Click here to reduce costs by 20 percent.” OF COURSE I want to reduce costs by 20 percent, who doesn’t? However, I may want to know just what it is we’re talking about! If I’m a marketer, and the cost-savings tip pertains to e-commerce, I’m bored already and will probably not consider you a credible source for content. Also, you were just charged $7.00 for my click. The same goes for e-mail blasts, the first thing most folks do with a nebulous e-mail blast is delete or unsubscribe. Similar to tip number one, try making it abundantly clear what the audience will receive if they pursue the content. If one were targeting a small business owner, then something like this may resonate — “automate your invoicing for only $9.99 a month” — as with this example, there is no gray area.

3. Ensure your landing page is efficient. How many times have you clicked an advertisement or link within an e-mail, only to find yourself directed to seven different sites, and required to fill out more information than during a doctor’s visit? It happens all the time. Landing pages suffer from poor graphics, text that doesn’t match the content you’re pursuing, slow webpage load times, broken links and other content marketing atrocities. It’s important to test your conversion process from start to finish, from the first click to the actual download/visit itself, to make sure there are no issues potentially damaging your credibility as a content source. Also, consider that most people don’t want to provide too much information, so when soliciting info, stick to the basics: name, company affiliate (if B2B), location and have phone number and reason for visiting marked as optional.

4. Make sure your sales team is locked in. You are almost there! You created informative content, promoted it efficiently, and solicited plenty of sales leads. Now what? Don’t let the conversion process stop there! Before structuring any content marketing campaign, ensure that you have a plan for what to do with those leads. The next step should require a phone call, introductory e-mail, physical mail or meeting or any other “touch point.” In most cases, it is highly recommended to reply within 24 hours, at the latest, to ensure the lead doesn’t go cold, and you receive the credit for your effective content marketing strategy!

4 Marketing-related Reasons Why LeBron Stays In Miami

Here we are again. LeBron James, the best basketball player in the world, is a free agent. His current team, the Miami Heat, remain confident in their ability to re-sign him (sound familiar, Cavs fans?) while a half dozen teams are openly salivating at the prospect of signing one of the top 10 greatest NBA players of all time. James’ basketball legacy can no longer be called into question; he cannot be labeled a loser, choke artist, or anything less than a champion and MVP. That being said, his legacy as a professional athlete, celebrity, and teammate can certainly continue to grow, or become badly tarnished, as it was in 2010/2011 — before the championships.

There are several factors aside from money and basketball, primarily related to his marketability, which will weigh heavy on James and his agent’s minds in coming days and weeks:

1. He won’t leave Miami, yet. Sorry Miami, while you certainly love your LeBron James, your passion for professional sports certainly ranks towards the bottom of those in large markets. Your reputation remains a sad video of Miami fans fleeing the AmericanAirlines Arena at the end of Game 6 of the 2013 Finalsthinking the series-ending loss was minutes away, only to miss one of the most historic comebacks in NBA Finals history. That being said, no sports team deserves to have its heart ripped out publicly (other than the Cowboys), especially when its efforts to do right by the player could never be called into question.

Following ‘The Decision’ public relations debacle when he promoted and executed a total body slamming of Cleveland on national TV, it took years to rebuild the brand equity and improve the public perception of James. If he chooses to leave Miami after one contract, he runs the risk of infuriating yet another major city. Additionally, while James’ free agency period has lacked the theatrics of 2010, fans around the country will still see a departure from Miami in the same light.

2. He wants to avoid comparisons. James has made it very clear that he does not compare himself individually to all-time greats like Jordan, Bird and Kobe. The media and the public do that for him — read any article on James, scroll to the bottom, and find the Average Joe gleefully stating “he’s no Jordan.” This social media maven is most likely unaware that he’s complimenting James — what professional wouldn’t want to be compared to the greatest of all time in his or her industry? However, James should walk a fine line. Going to Chicago will only intensify these comparisons to MJ, as would a commitment to the LA Lakers would do the same with Kobe.

Additionally, hopping teams seeking a better landscape is only going to draw comparisons to the greats listed above, and others, as something they didn’tneed to do to win. James will never distance himself from the comparisons, but he can do his best to let his brand stand alone by not giving the media, and Facebook trolls, any unnecessary ammo.

3. He has no better option. Let’s cross the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers off the list for the reason listed above, James’ brand needs its own city to grow within and dominate, and he just doesn’t have the same marketability as Jordan or Bryant if he enters their markets. But wait a minute; there are two teams in LA! Eh, I’m not buying it. Thanks to Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers are literally the one team that many sponsors won’t touch with a ten foot pole. Heading to ‘Lob City’ will only bring controversy, which James already has enough of. The NY Knicks are too ego-driven and theatrical, the Cleveland Cavaliers are owned by a man who publicly assailed James for leaving four years ago, and joining Dwight Howard, a man with his own horde of detractors, in Houston just doesn’t seem feasible.

4. The bond with his teammates is too strong. Yes, Dwayne Wade appeared to be a shadow of his former self in the Finals, Chris ‘Corner 3′ Bosh struggled at times, and the rest of the Miami Heat cast unraveled quickly. However, James formed very strong bonds with those players as teammates and friends, and I just can’t see him leaving them now. The ‘Big 3′ as they are known, have unfinished business (although four Finals appearances in four years is nothing short of great), and I believe they, along with Pat Riley, will sacrifice what’s needed to make another run. If LeBron can lead his team through the ‘hardships’ (funny word choice following a Finals appearance), he can cement his legacy without tarnishing his brand.

Breaking the 9-5 mindset

As posted on LinkedIn blog…Man-Upset-Work2

Just over two months ago I left a major NYC-based PR agency to form my own marketing/PR practice. It’s been both terrifying and exhilarating, but more importantly, a learning experience. Literally every day I mess something up, do something right, and learn more about myself overall.

One of the first things I’ve learned, is that I might not have been wiredto work 9-5s. Now, saying that 9-5s don’t make sense is easier saidthan done. After all, I’ve been abiding by that structure for close to a decade. My first few days of not being required to be somewhere at 8:30am, and responding to e-mails and calls on my own time left me wracked with guilt. “Shouldn’t I be doing something or meeting with someone at 11am?” I thought.

The answer was no, but it took me a solid month to figure that out. Of course, I’m available around the clock to my clients and partners, but realizing my hours of efficiency and maximizing them has proven to be productive, and very beneficial to me mentally. For example, I’m an early riser, and usually start working between 6:30 – 7am. This provides me: a) a quiet time to focus and map the day; b) time to get e-mails to recipients before their inbox is full; and c) enough time to get ahead so I can use the rest of the day to react to urgent matters.

I’m very productive up until lunch, but then, like many — run into that afternoon wall that looks like it requires caffeine or a nap. This is generally where I’ve found it beneficial to take a walk, run some errands, catch up on news, and other mental breaks from my laptop and cell phone. Normally, when I return from this period, I’m refreshed and able to dive back into work. Following dinner and some relaxation time, I will generally work for anywhere from 1-3 hours. During weekends, I work as needed.

What’s the point, and why does my schedule matter to you? It doesn’t, at all. What should matter is identifying when YOU are most productive and how YOU can best leverage your skill-set to do a good job for yourself, clients and colleagues. Everybody on this planet is wired differently, just because 9-5s are the “standard” for work — doesn’t mean it needs to apply to you.

I don’t know if running my own practice will be a permanent professional/lifestyle decision for me, or whether I’ll return to the world of W2s tomorrow or in 20 years. What I do know, is that this mental break from a 9-5 mindset has taught me plenty about myself, and I’m only two months in. Whatever comes next, I’ll be better equipped on a daily basis to maximize my own potential, and get the job done.

First blog post on a Sunday afternoon

FischTank Marketing and PR finally launches

Nothin but a fresh start!

Where to begin?

I’ve always had A LOT to say, enough that it has frequently gotten me into trouble with family, friends, and teachers…hopefully in a way they each appreciate.

I’ve found a way to parlay that enthusiasm for communications into a career in marketing, public relations, writing and digital/social media. I guess I should consider myself fortunate — my most annoying quality has built my career. Life is funny.

I’ve enjoyed the marketing/PR positions and clients I’ve held and worked with for the majority of my career, but what I’ve really enjoyed is learning and making a difference. I love when a campaign results in a return on investment for the companies I work with, whether it’s to support a major launch, generating sales, or establishing someone as a dominant player in their industry.

Because of this, I believe I’ve received a free education — I’ve worked with a variety of brilliant entrepreneurs, clean technology companies making our planet greener, wacky consumer products enjoyed by millions, innovative technologies that change industries, real estate professionals building the next big thing, and financial services firms managing billions of dollars.

It’s been a blast, and for that reason, I decided to leave my full-time position working at a top PR firm in New York City, to start my own marketing consultant practice.

With any luck, I’ll continue to grow as a professional while doing great things for the companies I work with.

Here we go!