I’m Sorry, your name is not on the list.

I love speaking at Events. It’s a passion I have to be on stage and both learn from the audience as well as share knowledge learned over the years. This situation just happened again to me recently, and in fact I’m myself guilty of this in the past at my own events.

Here is the setup…. I arrive a day early to prepare for my talk and I approach registration to pick up my name badge. I’m the first speaker to arrive which is normal. I’m also two hours early for my flight. It’s part of my low stress life-style. Anyway, back to the reg desk. The conversation is something like this …

Staff: Your name please?
Me: Scott Cate
Staff: Hmm, I don’t see you here.
Me: Try “C” or “K” sometimes my last name is spelled wrong?
Staff: No, not on the list, did you register?
Me: I’m a Speaker for tomorrow.
Staff: (Puzzled Look) …. We don’t have …..

And you get the point of this post.

Long story short … if your event is using Name Badges and Security Credentials, don’t forget to register your speakers.

P.S. #EventProfs ProTip : Check with your presenters ahead of time if they plan on bringing a guest or spouse. It’s a nice VIP touch to have these credentials ready as well. If guests/spouse isn’t allowed, you should communicate that well in advance to avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation.

Branding = Content Marketing(?)

@brockuniversity Social Media

Personal branding is so hot right now. From snazzy logos to custom-fitted public personas and editorial calendars to outfits designed to be just hipster enough, personal branding does for individuals what Madison Avenue did for big brands back in the ’50s and ’60s — it helps you put your best foot forward.

Unfortunately, many people don’t understand what branding, personal or otherwise, actually is. Copyblogger puts it best (best read in Tyler Durden’s tone and pace): “Branding isn’t your company name. It’s not a tag line. It’s not a logo. Branding is just another name for creating a perception.”

Sometimes that perception may be that you’re an expert in your field, other times it may be that your small business has the best customer service around, but whatever it is, your branding should be as close to a reflection of your actual business practices as possible. What do we mean?

Be True To You
Are you impatient and tough to work with, but able to always produce great work on time? Play that last part up, instead of trying to hide the first.

Transparency Matters…Kinda
When it comes to customer decisions, sharing the criteria your company used to determine such is a great idea, as can your thoughts behind boosting employee morale. But when it comes to decisions about laying people off, dropping clients or other, more intimate, issues, sharing the step-by-step process with the world in a blog post isn’t the best idea. Save those stories for late nights around the conference table.

It’s Okay To Polish Your Story
One of the biggest concerns with social media, content creation and any additional marketing/advertising mediums is the amount of time it takes to do it right. While we’d all love to have an in-house storyteller capable of creating content that shifts the world’s perception of you to however you’d like, it’s not always possible. Hire a great writer to get you started, and then build off what they do.

Be Consistent
One of my own failures in branding via content marketing on my own blog is the complete lack of focus on any topic. Sure, I can say, “but it’s all about me, which is consistent!”, but that doesn’t work when you’re a small business trying to repeatedly attract new customers by giving each a somewhat planned experience. Pick a few things to laud and leave your competitors to picking among your left overs.

Content marketing that’s helpful to potential or current clients benefits both sides in the long run. Good luck.

eBooks As Content Marketing Tools

E-Readers

The marketing industry has been abuzz lately with advice on content marketing, how to position anyone as an expert and the amount of power in transparency. While these three are daunting tasks on their own, there is one tested method that combines them all.

eBooks.

Yes, those terrible, terrible digital things that look to supplant printed books as an entertainment option enjoyable by anyone, nearly anywhere. For months and years marketers have looked for packaged, easy to share materials that paint the creator(s) as industry leaders, and the answer to all that has been here all along.

eBooks are the answer.

These magnificent creations are cheap to reproduce, easy to transport and, best of all, can be changed as often as necessary. Let’s assume you have a staff, department or individual capable of producing a quality eBook, what’s the next step in using it as a marketing tool?

As Jeff Goins explains in a recent copyblogger post, the answer often starts with Amazon. We’ll let you click over and read his step-by-step instructions, but when you come back, continue reading to discover what NOT to do when publishing an eBook for ANY reason.

You back? Good.

Make It Great
eBooks aren’t supposed to be sales brochures or pictorials of company successes. They should be about real stories from real people.

Edit The Heck Out Of It
Anything filled with typos, poor grammar and misspellings won’t be taken seriously. If you’re looking to make a positive impression on your audience, spend the few hundred or thousand dollars for a professional copy editor. Trust us when we say you’ll thank yourself long term.

Make It Helpful And Specific
Some of the best eBooks we’ve read (not counting novels here) are about something specific. Dean Ouellette recently published a guide to Evernote For Real Estate, which, while certainly specific, can be used to learn how to do anything via Evernote. But because he made the decision to target a specific group (potential clients), tailoring it to his industry works well for him.

The internet is full of half-thought-out blog posts and SEO-friendly, keyword-stuffed marketing copy, so why not stand out by creating something people can take with them and actually use?

Using Personas For Improved Content Marketing

Advertising and marketing firms have based campaigns and plans around fake people for decades. Every season, groups of creative people create what’s called ‘personas’ that represent different target markets. These personas are often based on real people — often friends and family — in an attempt to understand consumer buying habits.

This kind of targeting may seem lazy in today’s digitally enhanced world where we have better ways to collect data (think supermarket memberships, Amazon recommendations, online cookies), but numbers will never completely replace the power of personas. Think of it as a blend of art and science.

Ocean's 4

There’s no reason any business can’t benefit from this kind of targeted thinking using a persona method, especially those looking to improve their content marketing efforts. We bet the good salespeople in your company are already doing this, so consulting with them may help your understanding of who your company serves.

Now, there are a few things every persona must have, including the following:

Motivation
Most people want to wake up, work out, have breakfast, kiss the family, head to work, come home, have dinner, laugh and then go to sleep. Granted, their needs change daily, but most of the time people are out there looking to do the aforementioned steps. Think realistic when creating a persona.

Resources
Some people have a lot of friends, some aren’t concerned with price; others love the thrill of a deal, still more don’t care what others think. Don’t just think of resources in terms of money, there’s much that makes up a persona’s resources.

Reason
Not everything people do makes sense, but most of what people do makes sense to them. To get a feel for this, we like to hang out in coffee shops and similar places to eavesdrop on what people talk about when they’re away from their primary environments. We bet most people are more alike than they think.

Motivation, resources and reason, coupled with typical demographic data, can help you craft your next event, marketing plan, ad campaign or content creation efforts. Get to it!

Should You Crowdsource Your Content Marketing?

watchers

Businesses can hire out for much these days. Anything that is online can be sent all over the world, manufacturing can be handled overseas, answering services across the country, social media by a boutique firm across town and your content marketing by a crowd of people on the web.

*Record scratch*

Hold up on that last one.

It’s true, we checked. While many marketers have previously been taught that content creation is something that should be done with a specific client in mind, in one singular voice (to establish brand identity) and likely by a dedicated few writers that can be called upon to adjust anything we’d like, it’s now possible to augment your flow of SEO-friendly articles to what amounts to a mechanical Turk.

While we’re sure the cost and time saving makes complete business sense, we have a hard time understanding why a business would treat their content marketing with such disregard for its quality. Not that we’re saying crowdsourcing doesn’t produce quality work, but how on point can a method like that be? Surely no one is interviewing your clients, talking to your industry experts or doing anything more than producing keyword-laden articles designed to trick Google.

But the term crowdsourcing may not mean getting articles from an army of writers in the cloud, it may mean tapping into already eager, likely willing and knowledgeable groups: colleagues and clients.

Just like social media should be spread out among all shareholders, we think content creation is a great way to keep relevant parties involved, show off customers in a new way and keep the interest of employees who’d appreciate seeing their name in a byline.

Writing for Google is smart, but engaging people already fans of your product/service is far smarter.

Who knows, maybe it will work so well you’ll be able to spend budget allotted for content creation somewhere else.

Is Content Marketing Just Another Buzzword?

In case you’re unfamiliar, content marketing is generally regarded as text, audio or video—usually text heavy—that’s used to influence a target market. Because Google’s latest updates have rewarded content creators by downgrading heavy back linking and upping the influence of shared content, the marketing world is flush with new ideas on how to create great content.

It may seem tricky, but it’s not. Does anyone out there really think that using relatable stories (a common theme for most content marketers) targeted at specific (potential) customers ISN’T a good idea? Nope, but until quite recently, the SEO industry was far, far better at getting their keyword-laden sites ranked far ahead of everything else.

Those days are over, at least until the SEO industry finds another way to exploit the Google algorithm. Until that day, content marketing reigns as the absolute best way to gain attention.

But what the heck does that even mean?

It’s just stories. Content marketing is marketing without the pushiness, without the jargon and without the sales talk. It’s no different than a great public speaker giving a good speech, and far better than a sales guy quoting estimated numbers.

And it’s nothing new. Stories have always been the best way to sell products, right? Haven’t you used customer success stories in pitches? Have you ever taken customer testimonials and put them on your site?

Then you’re a content marketer. Congratulations!

Now, if you want to be successful, here are some tips that anyone looking to sell something online should have ALWAYS been following.

Keep It Targeted
If you’re writing for teens, moms, dads, single dudes in their 20s and octogenarians, you’re likely not going to appeal to any of them. Our target market is corporate event planners, likely between 30-50. While The Avengers may make them laugh, we’re pretty sure stories about Justin Bieber would not.

Keep It Conversational
We can always tell when someone is trying to sell us something. Direct questions like “what are your pain points?” and “What would you like to do better?” are great for people who already believe in your product or service, but not so great when they’re still on the fence. By talking about people just like them, content marketers are better able to answer sales questions without being so direct.

Keep It Helpful
Most customers don’t care about your sales last year, your huge client list or how awesome the latest build is. They want to know what you can do to improve their business and/or make them look good. When we work with InfusionSoft, we focus on how we can make their events easier, not how cool it is that our registration software was built from off-the-shelf parts (though we do throw that in eventually).

Make It About People
It’s human nature to want to know about other people just like us. People magazine has built an empire on the ‘celebs are just like us!’ idea, and content marketing is no different. Make your customers the heroes of your content marketing strategy and not only are they likely to talk you up, potential new customers will see themselves as the main characters in their own tale.

Maybe content marketing is just another buzzword, but it’s a technique that’s been around for a lot longer than most would admit. And it works.