Business Basics – Cross-Blogging

Content marketing is amazing. Studies have found that inbound and content marketing cost 62% less than traditional marketing, and yet brings in three-times as many leads. If you don’t blog, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity, and a great chance to network. Over the last year or so, we’ve really amped up our cross-blogging, and we’ve seen some amazing results. New markets have opened up, our web presence has never been bigger, and we’ve made some great new partners. cross-blogging

But, in finding new partners to blog with, we’ve noticed that some businesses don’t know the first thing about cross-blogging. So to help those of you experimenting with inbound marketing out, here are a few tips on how to make your cross-blogging experience positive and rewarding.

Make suggestions and share ideas

Some of the best articles we’ve ever written have come from ideas brainstormed with our cross-blogging partners. However, entrepreneurs can be a little skittish when it comes to sharing ideas. Now when a business is built on an idea, guarding it makes a lot of sense, but if that idea is nothing more than a possible topic for an 800-word article, you don’t have to treat it like a trade secret. So feel free to pitch ideas with your partners, and build off of each other’s suggestions. A major part of cross-blogging is networking. You want to forge a strong, working relationship with the people you partner with, and brainstorming is a great way to do just that.

Keep the relationship light

New bloggers sometimes get a bit overly zealous when contributing or accepting a post. Before anything is written, they want a thirty-page contract filled out in triplicate and faxed to their attorney’s office. Remember, you aren’t sharing revenue or starting a business together. You’re cross-blogging. A few simple requests like ‘don’t plagiarize’ and ‘don’t publish this somewhere else’ are really all that you need.

Don’t ask your partner to do all the work

We feel like this should go without saying, but we’ve had way, waytoo many potential partners ask us to just write the post for them. There’s no quicker way to ruin this networking and marketing opportunity than by shirking all of your responsibility and expecting someone else to pick up the slack. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Would you want a crummy, hastily written article, riddled with spelling and grammar errors on your blog? We doubt it. Any articles you send to your partner should be insightful, unique, and engaging, and you should expect the same of them. That way no one feels slighted, and your new partnership starts off right. 

Interested in contributing a guest post? We’d love to talk to you! Click here to read our author guidelines, pitch an idea, and get in contact with our social media team.

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8 Tips for How Brands Can Stay Connected with Customers via Social Media

8 Tips for How Brands Can Stay Connected with Customers via Social MediaEngaging effectively with customers is very important for the success of any business. Social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn have made it very easy for companies to interact with their customers. Instead of making phone calls or sending emails, customers can raise their questions or complaints by simply posting a tweet or status update on these social networks. This makes it easy for companies to keep track of conversations about their brand or business.

Here are some tips which can enhance interaction with customers via social media.

1. Stay updated

Social media is a very dynamic and constantly evolving field. Find out which apps or platforms can make your customer interaction the most effective and where the majority of your customer base can be found and stay updated on those sites with your accounts.

2. Hire the right staff

Running several social media accounts can be a very daunting task to do alone. Look into hiring a social media professional who can manage your accounts and use the appropriate tools to help make customer relations easier. Alternatively, if you don’t have the budget for a social media manager, you could look into getting some of your staff trained on how to use social media for customer service.

3. Be active

Having a Twitter, Google+ or Facebook account is not enough; you need to engage your customers actively. You can do this by creating a search alert for conversations about your industry, business or brand. If you find someone complaining about your product, service or business, be sure to respond swiftly. On the other hand, any compliments should be shared or retweeted.

4. Demonstrate product benefits

Social media can be a great channel for demonstrating the benefits of your product. For instance, if you are selling a detachable recliner, show your customers how it is assembled, where it can be used and how to maintain it. This can be done using video or images. Videos can be uploaded on video sharing sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo, Flickr, Dailymotion, Veoh, Metacafé, and Break, and then shared on your social media profiles.

5. Don’t just talk about your company or products

If you are always promoting your products or company, your followers and fans will eventually get bored and find somewhere else to go. What people want is helpful and inspirational information. Be sure you provide this information, with occasional references back to your brand.

6. Address complaints and questions promptly

Whenever customers share their complaints and questions through social media, make sure you respond as fast as possible. This will show customers that you are listening to their problems and want to help out, thus enhancing their trust.

7. Don’t edit or delete negative comments

Negative comments can help you identify flaws in your products or services, thus enabling you to make necessary improvements. When responding to such comments, be as gracious and objective as possible. Offer an apology where your business or company made a mistake, and gently correct any of the customer’s misinterpretations. How you handle a negative comment could make all the difference between winning and losing a customer.

8. Be proactive

When your company or business faces major issues such as product recalls or a crashing website, you need to be proactive. Let your followers and fans know what is going on before they get a chance to complain. Assure them that you have already identified the problem and are working on solving it.

Charles Mburugu is a professional blogger who likes sharing tips about internet marketing and ecommerce. Currently, he is writing for Platinum Freight.

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12 Must-Know Rules for Startups

12 Must-Know Rules for StartupsIn 2012, entrepreneur Mark Cuban wrote “12 Rules for Startups“ for Entrepreneur.com, contained valuable insight and some entertaining ideas from Mr. Cuban. The article shared some snackable ideas to the startups to roll out with large profits and tag their business as ‘successful’.

Keeping the same spirit, this post is going to narrate 12 additional rules of thumb for startups to follow in 2014 – for both those launching new businesses and those associated with these startups. It’s been a two year leap since Mr. Cuban wrote his article and while the market and tactics have changed quite a bit, startups in 2014 still have plenty of exciting things to look forward to.

Rule 1: Grow Your Passion

Startups are diligent, and have to build a problem-solving attitude since the launch of business. Startup strategy must consist of moving two steps forward and one step backward. However, it’s critical that all start-ups include plenty of passion as it’s important for entrepreneurs to deal with business upheavals.

Rule 2: Never Give Up

As startups grow and experience challenging times, they need an attitude in place that tells them to never give up! Overall persistence in business works to help startup owners grow a strong survival strategy in the long run.

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3 Areas That Your Small Business Should Invest In

3 Areas That Your Small Business Should Invest InThere are staples and initiatives that every business needs in order to succeed. From marketing efforts to employees and equipment, you’re going to need to pay it forward in order to gain results. After all, the nature of business is to make investments.

However, the question lies in understanding where to make those investments and when to pull back. Read on to discover three areas within your small business that, with a little understanding and tact, will prove your efforts to be worthwhile.

Marketing

No matter how amazing your business offering is, it won’t mean much if no one is aware of it. Marketing is essential for any business that wants to bring in new business while educating and entertaining a consumer group. However, when it comes to setting a budget, where should you save and splurge?

Ad campaigns (consisting of flyers, banners or direct mail) can provide you with a return on investment both in a growing customer base and a more solidified brand image. The key to making your investment worth it is to have a consistent message across the board that speaks to your niche’s needs and wants.

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How Your Business Can Think Beyond the Everyday Ad

How Your Business Can Think Beyond the Everyday Ad Marketing requires keen insight in how to approach a product, service, or brand and effectively get it out to customers or other businesses. As one of the main forms of communication within commerce, marketing has evolved radically with tech advancements and social media, but some principles still remain the same. Cutting-edge ways to market a brand or product will either capitalize on a new insight or reformat a classical view in marketing to the 21st century economy. In today’s economy, businesses demand marketers think beyond the everyday and try looking outside of the box when it comes to ad campaigns.

What Consumers and Businesses Want

Marketing techniques have evolved to work beyond the everyday concept of an advertisement presenting or selling a product or service and now telling them what it is. Consumers, in an ever-competitive marketplace that has been energized by the internet, no longer want ads that talks at them. They want something that many ads have lost over time: engagement. Consumers and businesses want to be engaged in how the item relates to the customer or how it will help empower them. This leads to a new school of thought and appreciation toward the customer where companies want the consumer to become part of the greater whole of the business’ mission.

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8 Guidelines for Effective Video Marketing

8 Guidelines for Effective Video MarketingPeople love watching videos. With almost 1 billion active users, YouTube has become one of the most visited sites online. Many businesses have discovered the immense potential of video marketing and are now using it to promote their products and services – here are some tips which will help you derive the biggest benefits from video marketing.

1. Understand your audience.

Before posting any video, you need to get familiar with your target audience. What are their ages? What are they passionate about? What problems are they dealing with? What kind of videos would appeal best to your audience? Once you have answers to such questions, you will then be able to carry out an effective video marketing campaign.

2. Think outside the box.

There are thousands of videos on YouTube competing for people’s attention. For your video to stand out of the crowd, you will need to think out-of-the-box. Come up with a creative and radical concept which will capture the imagination of your viewers. You can get some inspiration by looking at what others have already done and borrowing some ideas. However, don’t make the mistake of duplicating entirely the work of others.

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4 Essential Elements to Building Your Business’ Bridge to Conversion

4 Essentials to Building Your Business’ Bridge to ConversionIt’s one thing to get people’s attention towards your business, but what use is having all the recognition in the world if you can’t influence them to actually engage with your business? Once you’ve got them at your site, you need to give them a reason to stay there and click on a link to register an account, subscribe to a newsletter, order a product, or even just look around and find out more what it is you do.

But how do you accomplish this? Here are four fundamental elements that you need to build on to start getting conversions on your company website.

User Experience

How your target audience feels about interacting with your website is one of the very first things that you need to take into consideration. Your site needs to provide the information your visitors are looking for. It has to be easily navigable for different devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, etc.), browsers and connection speeds while still maintaining a credible and compelling design that reinforces your business’ brand.

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How to Hire a Social Media Freelancer

How to Hire a Social Media FreelancerAs an entrepreneur, marketing is one of the most important parts of your business. Over the last decade, social media has “liked” and “favorited” its way into being a critical means to reach an online audience, regardless of industry. Rather than hiring on another full time W-2 employee, consider hiring a social media freelancer to help unlock your brand’s social power.

Pre-Hire Tips

Work your network

More than ever, there are people qualified to manage social media channels for a small business. There are most likely people within your own network to work along with, especially freelancers who handle multiple clients. Feel free to use sites like odesk.com or freelancer.com, but a referral is always best.

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