Creating great content is the first step toward getting your organization or brand recognized. The next step is making sure that you’re leveraging this content through as many marketing channels as possible. Here are the best, most cost-effective ways to get your content out there for maximum marketing impact.

  • Update your website’s blog at least quarterly. According to web and digital marketing expert, Dale Shadbegian of 118Group, it’s important to update your website blog at least quarterly. According to Shadbegian, updating your business or nonprofit’s blog quarterly, or even monthly will help to increase your search engine (SEO) ratings when included as a part of a larger SEO campaign.
  • Post on a variety of social media channels regularly. Once you’ve developed good core content that reinforces what your organization offers, post this regularly on a variety of social media outlets that are appropriate for your type of business or nonprofit. These may include: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and others. It’s okay to use the same content in a variety of places, concurrently. Repetition of your organization’s messaging is how to build awareness for your offering.
  • Reach your target audience bi-monthly through email marketing. Email marketing is still an effective and affordable tool for reaching your current and prospective customers/constituents if done correctly. That means sending emails with relevant content that’s of interest to your target audience, using as few words as possible to convey your message, and adding photos, graphs, charts and other engaging visuals. It also means not bombarding your readers with too many emails. How many is too many? Email marketing experts say that no less than monthly, no more than bi-monthly is preferred. It’s also okay to send an additional email ‘alert’ once in a while if you have something that’s time sensitive and needs to reach your readers now.
  • Guest author articles for local organizations that reach your target audience. There are a number of ways to leverage local organizations’ publications to get the word out about your business or nonprofit–free of charge. One way to do this is to guest author articles for your local Chamber of Commerce or SCORE chapter. Other organizations that offer business services such as office incubators, regional or local membership organizations such as the Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE), American Womens Business Association (ABWA), and others, will often encourage members to submit content for their periodic emails, E-newsletters or social media posts.
  • Write for the business section of your local media. The local media is always looking for online content that’s of interest to the business community. Pitch a regular column idea to your local newspapers or regional business magazine publications for their periodic publications or social media to gain visibility as an expert in your field. Organizations such as SCORE may also write regularly for the local media and welcome guest authors who have subject matter expertise.

At one time or another, most of us have invested time and money attending trade shows and conferences for either an employer, or for our own organizations. Yet, a lot of potential business and momentum is often lost following these events. Here’s how to maximize your return from this important business development activity:

Plan Before You Go.

(At the beginning of the year)

  • Register for the conference early to ensure you have an optimal location (i.e., near beverage/snack/food areas, at the end of an aisle, at the corners of the trade show, or near competitors that are attracting those in your target market).
  • Determine your level of sponsorship/visibility at the conference (i.e., table/booth, hospitality suite, speaker at a workshop, etc.)
  • Determine who should represent the organization at the conference. (This may change, but it’s good to have a game plan about resource/staff allocation ahead of time).
  • Review table/booth and collateral materials, etc., needed for the conference and be sure that there are enough ordered in advance and in stock.
  • Plan any ‘give aways’ that will attract people to the table/booth or workshop. Popular items that participants tend to keep and use are: More expensive: USB drives, portable battery chargers, Bluetooth speakers, phone cases, screen cleaners, headphones, activity trackers. We would choose something that is relevant to RMC’s brand. Less expensive: Reusable bags, T-shirts, baseball caps, sunglasses, mugs, cups, water bottles, stress balls. (with a discreet logo)

(One to two months before)

  • Find out who is attending the conference/event. This registrant list is often available ahead of time.
  • Review the list of attenders and note whom you want to engage, and how (i.e., invitation to hospitality suite hosted by your organization, one-on-one breakfast, lunch, dinner, introduction to a partner, etc. Be as specific as possible in your strategy re: what you hope to get out of the meeting.). Prioritize the list to be sure your organization makes contact with top priority clients, prospects, referral sources, etc.
  • Review the list of competitors who will be attending, and note those booths that you want to visit. (This will be useful for your organization’s marketing/PR team.)
  • Promote your organization’s participation/attendance at the conference/event on LinkedIn, the company’s website, regular e-blasts, etc.
  • Choose a raffle item(s) at your organization’s table/booth and use this to collect email addresses that can be added to the database after the event.
  • Follow any hash tags for the event on social media to do some pre-show networking.

(One-two weeks before)

  • Discuss at your staff meeting who will be assigned to each client, prospect, and referral source attending the conference/event, and come up with a general strategy for what your organization plans to accomplish through each staff member at the conference/event.

Use Your Time Well While There.

  • Set up a charging station at your organization’s table/booth where visitors can charge their phones and other devices while talking to your team.
  • Collect business cards and note key topics discussed, and any anecdotal personal information shared on the back of the business card. Have a system to note highest priority contacts, i.e., ***=Top priority, **=Mid-Level Priority, *=Low Priority. Cards work well, because you can discreetly jot down notes as you’re talking or immediately following the conversation.
  • Host prospects, referral sources at breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings, and/or hospitality suite(s), and make detailed notes immediately following the get together about next steps with each contact. Be as specific as possible in your notes at the time as this will help enormously during follow up. It’s all in the details.
  • Collect any competitor literature, or other industry intel that you think will be helpful in understanding market trends, and how top competitors are positioning themselves.
  • Collect and comment on any ideas about give aways, booth displays, materials or approaches that you think are noteworthy. Share these with your marketing/PR team.
  • Attend competitors’ hospitality suites, workshops and other events if possible to ‘respectfully’ gather intel, and mingle with their clients and prospective clients.

Maintain Event Momentum Back at the Office.

  • Begin outreach by email to highest priority targets, first, then work your way down the list in order of priority. Do this within a few days of the conference/event.
  • Follow up any emails sent with a phone call to those who haven’t responded within a week of the email to move the contact along to a next step. In some cases, you might want to send a hardcopy mailing to someone who is difficult to reach as another touch point following the conference/event, or who wants more detailed information or a proposal.
  • Have an upcoming event your organization will be hosting or attending in mind so you can mention this to contacts/prospects and invite them to the event.
  • Add prospect emails in order of priority (noting the Tier level, and priority, i.e., high, medium, low) to the sales database, and enter in any information about each gathered at the conference/event. Note any next steps to be taken with a due date.
  • Enter in any intel about competitors of the marketplace gathered at the conference/event. Have a separate place in the sales database for this.
  • Discuss how effective you thought the conference/event was at your next  staff meeting and determine if it’s worthwhile going in the future. Share any ideas, intel learned at the conference/event that would be helpful to your organization’s conference strategy in the future. Share this info with the marketing/PR team to keep track of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the marketing essentials every nonprofit organization or business needs in 2017 to be a real player at the table.

Conduct a marketing audit. A lot can happen in a year, so it’s important to review your marketing approach at least annually to be sure that it’s still working to attract your target customers, and meet your organizational and revenue goals. Items in the audit should include: your messaging–how well you’re defining and communicating your offering and how this differs from your competitors, your website–is your message easily accessible to viewers quickly on their mobile devices, and does it inspire them to take some kind of action; your marketing materials–it might make sense to convert hardcopy marketing materials into digital ones that are less costly to produce and easier to share; your online profile–it’s essential to have your organization listed on at multiple directories online, such as Google Verify and Yelp. Not doing this can make your organization nearly invisible during searches; your social media approach–this includes a lot more today than just Facebook.

Revise your messaging so your offering is clear and differentiating. Your target customers and constituents need to clearly understand what your organizations offers, how it applies to their needs, how it differs from competitors, and inspires some kind of next step. Often this means simply adding a tagline to your logo, business card, email signature and website to define what your business does, making your telephone number more visible with a live link and including a traveling Contact Us box that moves with the viewer during website visits.

Have a mobile-optimized website that viewers can grasp within 7 to 10 seconds. Today, more than 60% of the population is said to use their hand-held devices to make buying decisions and execute online transactions. This means it’s essential that your website be mobile-optimized across all types of mobile devices. It’s also important that your website home page convey what you offer and how to take advantage of your services within about 7 to 10 seconds. “That’s the average length of time most viewers take nowadays to look at a website and decide to take action, or not,” per Dale Shadbegian, Principal of 118Group, a Cape-based web development and social media firm. “You have less time than ever these days to capture the attention of your visitors, before they move on to the competition. This means your website should load quickly, have large readable fonts, allow adequate white space for digesting content, and should be ‘mobile-optimized’ to load and be easily viewed across all mobile devices.”

Have a digital marketing and social media strategy. Having a digital marketing and social media strategy to strengthen your organization’s profile and visibility, and being active on social media will help to position your organization well online. “Becoming Google Verified is the best step toward getting on the virtual map,” offers Shadbegin. “Gaining this first level of Internet credibility and getting better exposure on search engines is essential today. In addition to Google Verify, there are approximately a dozen or more directories such as YELP that an organization should be listed on to ensure a strong online profile.” Outreach to new clients through social media is the next step for your organization to let prospective clients, members, constituents and sponsors know you’re ‘open and ready’ for business. Facebook and Instagram continue to be the hottest B2C (business to consumer) channels, while LinkedIn continues to remain the top B2B (business to business) platform. “It’s not enough these days to just post an event or photo occasionally on Facebook or Instagram. For those in the industry, we know there’s a lot of back office strategy, measurement and monitoring tools and trial and error research needed to be visible and effective on social media,” concludes Shadbegian.

Get your content out there. These days, content truly is king. As part of your messaging audit, be sure that the content you’re posting on your website blog, social media, in e-newsletters and email marketing emphasizes your core offering and what differentiates your organization. Choose four or five topics that solidify your offering and showcase your expertise, and post these monthly and concurrently on all of your marketing channels. Repetition of this core content is key to getting the attention of search engines, and building a strong brand.

 

Oftentimes those who network think ‘the more the merrier’ when it comes to attending networking events. Unfortunately, that approach rarely works. What does work is being strategic about where and why you decide to attend a networking event. Answer these simple questions and turn regular networking into strategic networking.

1. Is the Event or Hosting Group Strategic for Your Organization? Thinking strategically about everything you do to successfully grow your organization, includes where you invest your time networking. Being strategic means you’re constantly asking yourself if anything about the event or hosting group is a strategic fit as a source of new revenue, important contacts, referral sources or information vital to growing your organization.

2. Are You A Member of the Organization? If you’re a member of the organization, you have more chance of attracting the attention of staffers and Board Members at the event. If the organization hosting the event is worth its salt, they’ll have a proactive Membership Committee and Board that’s eager to help you make meaningful connections, and engage you at a higher level of involvement and sponsorship.

3. Are You Active In The Organization? The best way to get traction from networking is to be very active in one or two organizations. Doing this, you’ll generate momentum, because more people will know you, know your work, and be eager to help you make profitable connections. Being actively involved can mean being a Board Member, joining a committee especially the Membership Committee–which is a great way to meet people and target those you want to meet. Active involvement can also mean making a commitment to attend the organizations’ events regularly, and supporting the organization financially.

4. Will Your Target Customers and Referral Sources Be There? If your target customers and referral sources probably won’t be attending the event, you might want to rethink if it’s worth your while.

With these simple guidelines, average networking becomes strategic networking–generating more profitable connections, qualified leads and new business for your organization!

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