Putting the “We” Back in Team for Sales and Marketing

There’s a classic beer commercial featuring a self-centered football player, pouting to a TV reporter in an interview after a particularly devastating loss. The player, unable to see past his own shortcomings, tells the reporter that he puts the loss “squarely on the shoulders of his teammates.”
Nonplussed, the reporter conducts the remainder of the interview and reminds our flawless player that “there’s no ‘I’ in team,” to which the player quips, “yeah, well, there ain’t no ‘we’ either.”
Often, in the world of sales and marketing, even the most seasoned professionals fall victim to the “there ain’t no ‘we’ either” sentiment. It’s “us against them,” wherein “them” is the side of the fence that we’re not on.
It used to be that sales and marketing fought over leads – quantity, quality, and/or lack thereof. But marketing’s relatively newfound ability to measure the effectiveness of leads based on conversion rates and revenue has largely squelched that argument. Having objective and accurate analytics takes the emotion out of the argument, time and again.
Today, it seems the big source of disagreement is around the content that marketing produces for sales.
What’s going on?
Speaking in broad strokes, sales never has enough of the right content for their selling situation. It’s widely known that 65% of content generated for sales is not used by sales (28% cannot be found and 37% is not relevant). Often it’s a mix of reasons: “wrong” vertical, wrong language, wrong product line, wrong points for this particular customer, not deep enough; too deep. Of course, the market is changing fast and they need to keep up with the shifting landscape. The point is, sales is using only a fraction of what is produced, and is screaming for more of the right stuff.
Conversely, marketing teams often feel they are on a hamster wheel of content development– They produce the best, highest-quality material they can, and yet sales can never be sated. They can feel undervalued and unappreciated, which doesn’t bode well for quality sales enablement materials.
And because there is no ability to measure what content sales is using, what content they need, its impact on sales conversions and revenue, the argument remains unwinnable – it’s back to “us against them.”
For two professions so highly dependent on each other for success, our relationships are often fundamentally fractured. This is almost universal. So much so….I’m willing to bet it’s going on in your organization.
There is a strong argument in favor of aligning sales and marketing, and not just from a feel-good human resources standpoint. Aligned sales and marketing teams provide significantly better revenue results with reduced churn. Consider these stats:
72 percent of Best-in-Class companies (top 20 percent) provide their sellers with a dynamic library of marketing and sales assets.
Highly-aligned organizations achieved an average of 32 percent annual revenue growth. While less well-aligned companies reported an average 7 percent decline in revenue, according to Aberdeen.
Cross-functional alignment among sales, marketing and product organizations can help companies achieve up to 15 percent higher profitability.
Companies that establish shared marketing and sales responsibilities see clear improvements in their lead acquisition costs. In fact, the average cost per lead for marketers with a formal sales agreement is $24, versus $49 for those without.
That’s just a small sampling of the evidence that points to improved revenue when sales and marketing work with each other instead of against each other.
I won’t lie and say that these fractured relationships can be fixed overnight. They can’t. But, they can be fixed. And it’s well worth the effort because the cost of doing nothing is simply too high.

Advertising in 2015: How to Strike the Balance Between VOD and Television

In a modern, sensationalist media driven world, one industry or another always appears to be on the verge of extinction.
Last year it was the traditional SEO industry, which was deemed to be moribund in the face of constantly evolving Google algorithms and the proliferation of content marketing. While the boundaries of SEO may have changed to become more content- focused, however, it is arguably more important than ever as a strategic marketing tool.
Now it conventional television that is under the microscope, with the most recent Nielsen report revealing that viewership figures for this medium fell by 4% during the final financial quarter of 2014. In contrast, the figures for online streaming and video on demand (VOD) increased by 60%, crystallizing a trend that has evolved over the course of the last decade.
When Two Mediums Collide: How to use VOD and TV Advertising as part of an Integrated Campaign
While these headline statistics are used to prove the reported declining appeal of television advertising, they should be placed in their proper context. After all, the average American still watches more than 141 hours of live or traditional television each month, and while the total number of hours spent watching streamed content during the same period has risen it remains comparatively low at just 11. So while VOD and online viewership may eventually supersede television in the next decade, both mediums will be forced to co-exist with one another for the foreseeable future.
This is something that modern businesses cannot ignore, and it is crucial that entrepreneurs are open to using both VOD and television advertising as part of an integrated, online marketing campaign. To achieve this, you will need to understand both mediums while learning how and when to use each effectively: –
VOD: The Platform for Non-premium and experimental Marketing
In basic terms, the rise of VOD and online streaming continues to be exponential, with YouTube alone boasting more than one billion unique users on a monthly basis. When you also consider that there is also a host of additional viewership resources such as Vimeo, VOD is clearly a growing concern with huge potential.
It does not yet have the mainstream presence of television, however, meaning that it has some shortfalls and restrictions when it comes to marketing. It is not necessarily ideal for promoting high-end premium products, for example, as the cost of manufacturing and retailing these often demands a high volume of sales if they are to be profitable. VOD may also be unsuitable for relatively staid products or services, as the heavily populated and competitive nature of this medium means that content must have an engaging hook and the potential to go viral if it is to truly succeed.
In this respect, VOD should be primarily used to market non-premium products or host experimental campaigns, particularly those that can make a striking visual impact during a 20-30 second online slot. Costs are usually determined per one thousand views, so this provides an affordable medium that can minimize the risk of marketing cheaper or unconventional projects. On a final note, you can also consider using VOD in an auxiliary role that supports mainstream campaigns through short and memorable online slots that are shared online.
TV Advertising: A Selective Medium for Premium Campaigns
The appeal of television is enduring, and while it may be on the wane it remains a crucial marketing medium in 2015. Its high cost is beyond the budgets of many small and independent ventures, however, while its supposedly diminishing returns may also deter larger brands from investing in television airtime. Even allowing for this, there is no doubt that television remains a key battleground for premium brands and products while it can highly effective so long as marketers are selective in terms of their content and activity.
To understand this further, it is important to look at the costs associated with procuring airtime. While it can cost as little as $500 to produce and develop a 30-second advertisement for local television spots, for example, this can rise to nearly $350,000 for national exposure. In terms of securing airtime, the cost of a peak or prime-time television slot can range between $400,000 and $500,000, which instantly prices many smaller businesses out of the market. This is why television advertising is such an extreme and challenging medium, as while the cost of peak slots are prohibitive they are considered by many to be the only viable way of executing a successful TV marketing campaign.
If you do have the capital to invest in a sustained assault on the prime-time television airways, you need to ensure that you select the right product and channels to ensure a profitable campaign. Customer profiling plays a huge role in TV advertising, as each channel (and there are many of them) has its own viewing demographics and commands a regular audience. You must therefore be able to align your premium product of choice with a specific target market, choosing the most suitable channels to engage your audience.
This type of detailed approach will help you to calculate the potential profitability of your campaign and estimate your ROI before making a final decision.
As you can see, both mediums have their merit in 2015 and this will remain the case for the foreseeable future. Combining both within a selective and integrated campaign is crucial for well-resourced businesses, in particular, as it optimizes their market reach and enables them to execute targeted and ultimately profitable campaigns.

Unlock The Success Of Influencer Marketing Through The 4 ‘A’s

Earth is flat and exists at the centre of our Galaxy…
If someone taught you this in school hundreds of years ago, no one would bat an eye. However, if this was taught today, our smartphones would prove them wrong before the chalk hit the floor.
The four ‘P’s of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, Place) is one of the oldest marketing theories still enforced. It hasn’t faded from our textbooks and acts as the foundation for many marketing plans. Is it wrong? Not necessarily. Is it due to be updated? Absolutely.
As a newer concept, influencer marketing doesn’t fit the traditional marketing mould. With the emergence of social communities there are more factors than ever to consider when evaluating a brand’s ability to sell their product or service.
To keep things simple, I’ve combined old school with new school. Discover the keys to developing a new-age marketing plan. Introducing:
The Four ‘A’s of Influencer Marketing:

Product vs. Answer
Product: A tangible good or intangible service that fulfills a need or want of consumers.
Answer: Why do people buy products? To solve a problem or fulfill a need. Simply put, a product is nothing unless it’s an answer to a consumer’s problem. If you think about it, you don’t buy a car, you buy a way of getting from point A to point B. A campaign’s purpose is to prove that one answer is better than the answer of competitors.

A product fulfills a need or want, but what is that to marketers? At times, advertisers have failed by trying to sell features rather than the solutions that the good or service offers. With content and influencer marketing taking the industry head-on, there is confusion over what that product really is. Why is this so?
Content is the medium for engaging with consumers, and when delivered via an influencer campaign, the content aligns with both the needs and wants of the consumer and the brand. So from this perspective, the content itself is the answer.
A brand will engage in influencer marketing if it can increase profit or revenue. Theoretically, the brand’s good or service doesn’t matter. It’s the content that is used to target, attract, and retain customers that is important. An influencer campaign will be deemed successful if the good or service is shown through content as being the answer to a real problem.
If you spilled red wine on your carpet and used the tips a homecare blog taught you on how to clean it up, the content would be the answer to your problem. You wouldn’t have known what to do otherwise, and whether the blogger suggests Brand A’s product or Brand B’s, it doesn’t matter if the problem is solved.
Sometimes the solution lies outside the framework of the traditional marketing mix. Instead of bending the word product to mean the same as answer, we should think outside the textbook and consider the content as an opportunity to show off the solution over the feature.

Product vs. Agreement
Price: An established value assigned to a product for the purpose of an exchange.
Agreement:Have you ever wanted something but thought the price was higher than you were willing to pay? Most of us have and that’s just an unavoidable factor of capitalism. While quid pro quo won’t get you anywhere when purchasing a computer, it’s the backbone of influencer marketing.

Consider your relationship with the medium. Unlike buying ad space or airtime, influencer marketing establishes a relationship for content creation. A product is traditionally sold for a predetermined price. But with influencer marketing, the exchange is intended to create some type of positive ROI for both sides. To ensure a campaign is successful, the exchange must be treated as a partnership. Both the brand and the influencer must work together to ensure the integrity of both the content and the good/service remains uncompromised. While money may change hands, the mutual benefit does not fit the traditional “price” of the marketing mix.
An “agreement” on the other hand, explains that both sides of an exchange are satisfied with the return they are receiving. The agreement may not be to exchange money, but could be to supply products for reviews, hotel accommodation for event exposure, or to mutually increase the awareness for both the brand and the influencer.

Product vs. Awareness
Promotion: The delivery of marketing messages to target consumers.
Awareness:Do you ever skip commercials on TV or press “Skip Ad” on YouTube? I certainly do. And as a result, I’ve missed the targeted promotional efforts by brands. It may have been for something I would’ve loved, but I never became aware of it.
Promotion is a necessary aspect of marketing, but can only yield results if the targeted consumers are actually reached. Awareness is what promotion is created for. Awareness is the difference between a message sent, and a message received.

The goal of promotion and awareness is to inspire a certain action from consumers. As described through the name, an influencer has influence to generate awareness that inspires action. Sponsored posts and unnatural product endorsements are weak forms of promotion that all consumers can see through, especially Millennials. Awareness shifts the focus away from pushy promotions to the more suggestive word-of-mouth approach. With family and friend recommendations as the number one trusted source for buying decisions, and online reviews as the number two, influencer generated awareness is able to cover more than promotion can account for.

Product vs. Audience
Place:The point of access for a consumer to acquire a good or service.
Audience:Do you enjoy ice cream? Most people do and I apologize to those with lactose intolerance, but it’s delicious. In theory, an ice cream company could target everyone. Ice cream trucks are a proven success, but there’s a reason they don’t roam Manhattan on December mornings. Not only would the traffic and cold weather hurt business, the clientele isn’t going to be influenced by a loud and colourful truck driving down the street.
When? Where? Who? These questions remain unresolved through our first three ‘A’s. In order for a campaign to be successful, there must be an audience to absorb an influencer’s content. When a brand selects an influencer to work with, the location, demographics, and overall identity of that influencer’s audience is analyzed. The location is important, but can be useless if timing and the type of consumer is ignored. All three rely on each other and not just the ‘When’ and ‘Where.’
The ‘Who’ matters as much if not more than the ‘When’ and ‘Where.’ An audience encompasses the current and potential consumers a brand could be trying to reach.
Cereal boxes are located on top shelves in grocery stores because they’re lightweight. On a strategic note, you may have noticed that cereal box characters are always staring down. This is so children will feel connected to the fun tiger or goofy triplets on the box. Is this just clever placement? I like cereal but don’t feel compelled to buy a certain brand based on the cover cartoon. That’s because I’m not the audience that needs to be persuaded. Cereal is strategically placed where it is to accommodate a certain audience. The place adjusts to suit the audience, not the other way around.

Whether you choose to stick to the old school marketing mix of four ‘P’s, or adopt the four ‘A’s is entirely up to you. What matters is that you know not every type of marketing fits traditional theory, and that nothing we’ve been taught is written in stone.
Which marketing mix works best for you? Are there any other dated theories you think need refreshing?

Monday Night Football

When: Monday, 6:10 p.m.
Where: Georgia Dome
TV: ESPN (Cox 29/HD 720)
Line: Eagles by 1
Series Record: Eagles lead 17-13-1
Last Meeting: Falcons beat Eagles 30-17, Oct.

Michael Moore: ‘American Exceptionalism Is the Death of Us’

TORONTO — “Mike’s Happy Movie” was the working title of Michael Moore’s latest documentary, “Where to Invade Next,” but few would consider its examination of American ills — from runaway college tuition to mass incarceration — the stuff of bubbly, feel-good delight.
Yet “Where to Invade Next,” in which Moore plunders foreign (mostly European) ideas like Italy’s government-mandated vacation or Portugal’s decriminalized drug use to bring back home to America, has an unmistakable whiff of hope.
Director Michael Moore attends the “Where to Invade Next” premiere on day 1 of the Toronto International Film Festival at The Princess of Wales Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Yes, Moore, that passionately voluble critic and left-wing icon, is feeling a wind at his back. Moore’s first film in six years, he says, was partly inspired by change he’s witnessed in recent years, from the Occupy Wall Street movement to the success of marriage equality.
In “Where to Invade Next,” which Moore is currently shopping for distribution, he travels to various countries seeking smarter ways to educate, police and work. “Instead of sending in the Marines,” he says in the film, “send in me.”
MORE:Why Films About Films Keep Winning Best Picture
In an interview following the movie’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere, the 61-year-old filmmaker weighed in on Hilary Clinton (“a decent soul with a great sense of humor”), Bernie Sanders (“a bit of a crank”) and where he got his international outlook growing up in northern Michigan (“I blame Canada”).
Your film suggests American chest-thumping has blurred its vision.
Moore: This concept of American exceptionalism is the death of us. We know personally it does none of us any good walking around going “Yeah! Yeah!” That’s not the path to self-improvement. I mean, you can like yourself, and I do. I love the fact that I’m an American. I love this country. I love everything about what it means. But I also embrace the other side of it, and in doing so, it’s incumbent upon me as a citizen to want to help fix it.
Does this film signify some optimistic shift in you?
Moore: I am crazily optimistic about things getting better and people having the power to do that and making it better. But remember, I’m a filmmaker and my first concern is always to make a great movie. If I don’t make a great movie, then the politics are what? Nothing’s going to come of it because no one’s going to be watching my movie.
Do you think the protest spirit of America has waned?
Moore: The month before the Iraq War began — that one Saturday — there were millions of people in the streets in towns all over America. Largest collective demonstration in the history of the United States. One month later, it didn’t stop the war. And when it didn’t, people just kind of gave up and there weren’t large-scale demonstrations after that. People just can’t give up so easily here. Things take time.
What are your thoughts on the presidential race?
Moore: I think it’s going to be very interesting. And I think it’s really too early to tell what’s going to happen. I know people are worried about Donald Trump, but what you have to understand about Trump, first of all, is that he’s a performance artist. … There will come a point here, this year, where people go: OK, we’ve had enough of this performance art.
You’re involved with movie theaters in Michigan. Do you still believe in the theatrical experience?
Moore: This is our one populist art form. It’s the one thing everybody can still sort of do no matter what their economic status is. You can’t go to music anymore. If you’re a working person or if you’re poor, you can’t go to a concert anymore because it costs hundreds of dollars now to get a ticket. You can’t go to an NBA game. You can’t go sit in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium for five bucks. Those days are over.
Do you worry that many conservatives won’t consider seeing your film — that you will merely preach to the choir, so to speak?
Moore: I think why I upset Fox News and the right wing so much is because I’m one of the few people on the left that has crossed over into mainstream America that has a large audience in Middle America. And that drives them crazy because the left is supposed to be out there on the left wing of the limb on the tree. And I don’t live out there, I live here. I reach millions and millions of people, and that’s a threat to them.
Will I reach that 20 percent way over on the right? No. But I’m not trying to reach them. I’m doing what I wish more people in television and movies would do, where everyone — they’re broadcasters — is trying to reach a broad audience, and in doing so, you have to mollify the message. … By the time it’s over, what we have is mostly mediocre movies and mediocre television. And it’s only those TV shows and movies that say, “To hell with that. I’m going to give this to you from the heart, from the gut and let the chips fall.” Those are the great movies. Those are the great TV shows.

3 Ways To Make Your Personal Brand Newsworthy

Even in this era where we’re told the formula: EC=MC, ( “every company is a media company”) developing a personal brand that’s newsworthy and attracts traditional media attention has merit.
But the question is how do you make your personal brand newsworthy? That’s like saying how do I become a movie star that Steven Spielberg wants to hire?
Let’s explore this with a story. I worked in TV News as a broadcast journalist for 15 years. Today, I cover stories about brands and blending storytelling and marketing. But back then much of the time, I covered death and destruction, crime and corruption, the kind of stories that we say we loathe but then are often caught tuning into each night to find out what happened next.
Amidst all of this chaotic news, some people somehow seemed to instinctively know how to capitalize on the latest breaking stories and make traditional media work for them and provide more exposure for their personal brand.
These people weren’t criminals getting their 15 seconds of fame on the nightly news. Instead they were business people who knew how to “make the media jump” and come running to interview them for the next story.
They didn’t come from the same industries. They weren’t speaking the same jargon. They didn’t wear the same ties or skirts. They were instead uniquely distinct but utterly attractive to the news media.
It was because their personal brand was newsworthy. It attracted attention and, because of that, they were the expert authority that the news media had to have a sound bite from in their stories.
Getting there isn’t easy but the good news is, it’s based on a formula that I’m going to share with you right now and if you put it into action, you’ll be on your way to making your personal brand newsworthy.
1) Study the news interview.
Next time you watch the news, pay close attention, not necessarily to the story, but rather the style and flow of news, especially the interviews where guests (often business people) are invited into the newscast.
Remember the silly anchor banter in Anchorman? That’s not what I’m talking about.
What you’ll see is the way the anchors conduct their interviews. In a successful interview, the guest shares the on-air time by not just answering questions but allowing the news anchor to make relevant statements about the particular topic.
This happens by preparing the news anchor for a quick but deep dive into whatever the topic is. Typically these on-air segments are five-minutes or less and often the anchor isn’t fully prepared for them because they’re rushing guests in and out for every news show.
When you study the news interview and understand the style and flow, you’ll be able to arm the news anchor with vital information that makes him/her look informed, instead of simply firing question after question at you the anchor can actually help make you, the expert, look even better during the interview by setting up the question with vital statistics or information you’ve provided before the interview.
It’s akin to making the CEO look smart in a meeting with other clients…it’s just good practice.
When you do this time and time again in news interviews, your personal brand becomes highly attractive to the news media. You become known as a “great source”—someone who gets “how to do TV” and, trust me, those people are few and far between so those who have the “it” factor for interviewing get asked to be on the news.
Usually, guests want to promote their business and their personal brand so much that they’re not paying close attention to how the interview really sounds. They’re only focusing on what they are saying. It’s annoying and the media has no patience for this.
A good interview is really a great conversation–a two-way street…when the news anchor helps share your vital information, it’s seen as even more credible because this person is a trusted authority at that TV/radio station and is echoing your message.
So, for your next interview, provide some great stats and talking points (not just questions) for your interviewer and let that person share some of the important story. It’s a natural way for the next question to be asked of you because it’s how we communicate off-camera, anyway.
2) Take a stand.
There’s hardly anything worse than interviewing someone who is posturing and sits on the fence. The news media wants to report a position. So as one of my favorite tunes from Rascal Flatts croon: “Stand”.
But when you take a stand, be certain it aligns with your personal brand. The news media doesn’t forget and often archives its interviews, so, while it’s perfectly fine to change your mind, remember that your brand must be strong, well defined, and consistent. What you say needs to be backed up and supported by your expertise and the knowledge exudes from your brand, even when you’re talking off-topic and about something that isn’t specifically about your brand.
For instance, if you and your brand are focused on the environment and you’re known as someone who advocates for cleaner, sustainable living, then when the news anchor asks you about your position on the water crisis and to comment on how politicians have responded to it, even if it’s hurting your business, tread cautiously.
Take a stand but be careful how you respond. Ensure that your crafted response is in line with your personal brand image. Don’t fire off heated comments without thinking about how those comments impact how people will see you and your personal brand.
Think about the recent blood comment that Donald Trump made about Fox News debate moderator, Megyn Kelly. Your comments will follow you and may attract significant attention, but it may or may not be the kind you want.
3) Build a brand newsroom.
You might be familiar with the rapidly growing trend to use brand journalism to tell your story. Brand journalism is journalistic storytelling that’s real stories about your company and brand told from a reporter’s perspective rather than advertising.
It aims to answer questions that are being searched for in your industry in a way that allows readers/viewers to better connect with your brand and to move closer to the buying stage. Brand journalism is not advertising. It’s bringing to light the important stories that define your industry, interest consumers or other businesses, and provide insight to core problems as well as solutions.
Your personal brand becomes newsworthy when you share information and resources that go beyond you. You connect with your target audience, but, instead of focusing on you and your products/services, you share important stories about what impacts that audience daily.
When you do this, you’ll develop not only a following but an educational library that can be seen as a brand newsroom–the place to go for answers, just like traditional media. It regularly publishes stories that help, interest, engage, entertain, inspire, and motivate that target audience. Often brand newsroom posts, comments, videos, are picked up by traditional media and the expert authority becomes a resource for the media.
Your brand newsroom becomes the hub of your personal brand and is the vital connection to becoming newsworthy in an otherwise noisy online world. So, it’s time to go Think Like A Journalist and create content that will build your personal brand and give you greater exposure and credibility.

10 Simple Steps to Writing The Perfect Blog Post

You probably already know you should be blogging. You’ve heard companies that blog are 13 times more likely to achieve positive ROI and that 82 percent of those that blog daily acquired a customer through the blog, right?
When it comes down to actually writing, though, it’s easy to make excuses.
We just don’t have time.
We don’t have anything new or interesting to say.
We’re professionals at what we do, not professional writers.
Wait, is anyone even reading our blog?
Those are all legitimate concerns but, at the end of the day, they’re cop-outs. Don’t have the time? Enlist the help of someone who does, whether it’s a content marketing agency, other members of your team, or a freelance writer.
Nothing interesting to say? As someone who routinely writes about manufacturing excellence, quality control, and other “made for TV” topics, I feel I’ve earned the right to call you out on this one. What’s interesting is in the eyes of your readers, and anything that helps them solve a problem or be better informed will certainly be interesting to them.
And if you’re great at what you do, people will be interested in what you have to say. Don’t worry about your writing abilities or how many people are going to read your post. If even one person reads it and thinks of your company the next time he or she has a need, it’s well worth the effort. However, if you keep postponing your posts, you’re missing valuable opportunities to connect with potential customers.
If you’re just getting started or you need some help overcoming your writer’s block, follow these 10 simple steps to writing the perfect blog post.
1. Choose A Compelling Topic

Write with your readers in mind, always considering what will be most valuable to them. If you can’t answer the question, “Why should my readers care?” then you need to keep brainstorming.
Not sure what to say? Here are some questions to help you get started:
What have you been spending a lot of time on lately?
What questions have your clients been asking?
What news have you read recently that you can add a new angle to?
What are your competitors or peers talking about that you can put your own spin on?
2. Do Your Research
One of the biggest roadblocks to blogging is assuming you have to say something that’s never been said before. That’s not necessarily true; you just have to find a way to say it better. The fact that you’re still in business should be a testament to the fact that you have something unique to offer. Is it your process? Your people? Your experience?
Think about what you want to say, and find out what’s already been said. Then consider what questions are left unanswered, or how you can bring your own insights to the topic. This is your opportunity to shine!
3. Create An Outline
Often it helps to think through the direction of your post and get a clear understanding of how it will be organized before you begin writing.
Consider your audience and what you want to offer them:
Thought leadership?
Insight into trends?
A step-by-step tutorial?
Look for common themes as you research the topic can help you figure out 3-7 main points. These will be your subheads. If you can, write these first.
4. Write An Attention-Grabbing Intro
Think of a short (3-4 sentence) story, a metaphor or an interesting example that illustrates the need for what you’ll be discussing. Consider how Kuno Creative brand journalist Carrie Dagenhard starts this post on personalization:
Have you ever received a really awful gift? I mean, a gift so inconceivably terrible, so obviously not you that you had a difficult time concealing your surprised disappointment? It would be ungrateful and selfish to admit you didn’t like a gift another person went out of her way to purchase, wrap and present to you, so you graciously accept, oohing and aahing over the unwanted item.
It’s a story we can all relate to, yet it doesn’t ramble or take us off track. Instead, it draws you right into the main theme.
5. Write a Strong Nut Graph

This is the critical paragraph where you get right to the point following your intro. It sets the expectation for the reader by telling them exactly what they’re going to learn. It should also carry over the theme of your intro; in this case, gift-giving:
When you fail to use personalization, that’s precisely the sort of question echoing in the minds of your customers and prospects. But use personalization well, and your customers will light up like a child on Christmas morning — and trust your brand to deliver the software solution they can trust to meet their needs. In fact, a study released by Demand Gen Report shows personalized experiences can increase sales by as much as 20 percent.No matter how successful your company, everyone is looking for a final-quarter bump. Let’s look at a few of the ways you can use personalization to boost sales — fast.
6. Look for Linking Opportunities
As you write, look for opportunities to link to service pages, previous blogs or landing pages. Aim for at least two internal links per post. Check to make sure the phrase you use matches the url you use for the link. For example, the phrase “recruiting software” should link to a page with that same title.
7. Tie It All Together With a Strong Conclusion

You’ve come this far…don’t leave your readers hanging now! Take the time to summarize the main point of your post, circle back to the story you started and remind them of how following your advice will benefit them. For example:
Walking through these six steps to communicate your high-impact data may seem daunting, but it’s worth the effort. Making sure your targeted audiences understand the full depth of your messages will have long-term benefits. You’ll be better able to share important information, impress customers and partners, win business, and make smarter data-driven business decisions.
8. Create An Intriguing Headline
Here’s a reality check for you: 8 out of 10 readers will never read past your headline. That means it better be exceptional.
Think of the topic you’ve chosen and the keyword phrase that makes the most sense to describe it. (Ex., “manufacturing marketing strategy”)
Use the following formula as a guideline: Number + Trigger Word + Adjective + Promise
Ex., 6 Ways To Kick Your Manufacturing Marketing Strategy Into High Gear
Your headline should be no longer than 70 characters.
9. Find or Create Strong, Relevant Images

To make your blog stand out, you’ll need a strong feature image. Avoid something with words or a lot of distractions, since the title of your post will appear over this image. Here are some good sites to find free stock photo
Im Free
Death to the Stock Photo
If you use someone’s photo from another site, check to make sure it’s free and available for commercial use. Don’t forget to give credit where credit is due. Next, look for a few photos to use throughout your post.
Think screenshots, quotes (use to dress them up with imagery) or relevant images that illustrate a process (feel free to take them yourself!) A good rule of thumb: Aim for one image for every 300 words. Make sure to save it with the main keyword phrase you use in your post, NOT a description of what the image actually is. This is known as alt text.
Good alt text example: healthcare_marketing_strategy
Bad alt text example: smiling_doctor
Finally, size it appropriately. The dimensions will depend on the formatting of your blog, but if it’s too large, it will impact the load time of your page. Ideally, your image should be 72 dpi.
10. Proof, Publish and Share!
If you’re using a good content optimization system (COS), this part should be a breeze. The HubSpot COS is particularly helpful because it tells you exactly what you need to do to optimize your post for search. But no matter what platform you’re using, pay attention to these SEO best practices as you input:
Make sure you’ve used your main keyword phrase and any other keywords at least once throughout the body of your post and linked them to a relevant internal page
However, don’t use the same keyword too many times; repeating the same words five or more times could make your post look spammy
Write a meta description that’s 150 characters or less and includes the main keyword phrase. This is what your reader will see when your post appears in search results and, when written well, it helps them confirm they’ve found what they’re looking for.
One you’re confident your post is optimized for search, take the time to preview it to check for any formatting issues, like inconsistencies in the font. Then have someone proof it. Don’t skip this step! If your post is peppered with typos, you’ll lose credibility with readers.
Finally, be proud of what you post and share it with the world. Don’t just Tweet it out once and forget about it. Share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and any other social network you use, remembering to customize your post for each one. If you use Hootsuite or another social media management tool, you can even auto schedule your post to be distributed on Twitter several times in the week, or schedule it far in advance. Include it in the lineup of content you post from now on, rotating it in with newer pieces from time to time. Link back to it from other posts when you can. Revisit it a year from now and consider updating it with new information.
Although the time you spend writing your blog may be fleeting compared to everything else you do, the best thing about a blog is its long lifespan. The Internet never forgets, which is bad news for some but great news for you. By writing your blog, you’ve created a new indexed page for your website that will continue to drive traffic for years to come, long after you’ve moved on to a new topic.
Your blog is often your first introduction to a potential customer. Make a great first impression, and it will pay off!
For more tips on how to continue building a relationship with buyers after they’ve found you, check out our lead nurturing guide.

Legendary Actor James Garner Dies At 86 (Video)

Actor James Garner, best known for his roles in multiple TV series and his Oscar-nominated performance in “Murphy’s Romance” has died. He was 86.
According to Los Angeles police, Garner died of natural causes. TMZ reports the actor was found dead when an ambulance arrived at his Los Angeles home Saturday evening around 8p.m.
Garner appeared in over 50 films over his six-decade career, but he was best known for his roles in two TV series.
As a nomadic cardsharp in the 1950s show “Maverick” and as a wrongly convicted private investigator in “The Rockford Files” during the 1970s.
Garner appeared in more recent films such as 2004’s “The Notebook” where he played an older version of Ryan Gosling’s character.
The Oklahoma native’s death evoked strong reactions online from actor/comedian Norm Macdonald recalling a poker game he once lost to the star.
And “Parks and Recreation” star Jim O’Heir remembered him as a “gracious man.”
A writer at The New York Times described him a “genuine star but as an actor something of a paradox: a lantern-jawed, brawny athlete whose physical appeal was both enhanced and undercut by a disarming wit.”
In an interview, Garner cited legendary actors Spencer Tracy and Henry Fonda as two inspirations for his unique on-camera personality.
“I don’t ever remember catching Spencer Tracey acting. You know everything he did seemed so natural to me. And of course I learned a little technique and professionalism from Henry Fonda.”
Garner is survived by his wife, daughter, stepdaughter and stepson.