Make Your Best Blogs Your Guest Blogs

 

For a beginning blogger, finding a niche and cultivating it is nearly impossible. You can write a thousand of the most amazing articles but they will never be seen if you don’t market it. The same goes for the opposite, you can market your blog to everybody, but you will only attract repeat visitors if your content is engaging. (This is especially true in a day and age, where amazing, captivating content will have readers searching for your “Follow Me on Twitter” button). Growing your blog takes a bit of time to work out the kinks; achieving great content regularly, and having a community of people behind each post likely won’t happen until your blog matures.

Following the lifecycle of your blog, if you are in the early beginning (0-2 years old) you should consider guest blogging. Guest blogging is one of the best ways to create partnerships, build links, and attract new audiences. This is why you should make your best blogs your guest blogs.

Create Partnerships

The key to any businesses marketing success is creating partnerships that last. Whether you are in sales or content marketing, partnerships drive long term growth. Having a list of contacts that are in your niche can prove invaluable as your business grows. You will be able to leverage these contacts for advertising opportunities and mutual expansion. Partnerships also allow you to reach new audiences – guest bloggers often promote your article to their followers.

Attract New Readers

One of the best ways to find a community, is to share a community with another site while guest blogging. A well written article will inspire readers to learn more about the writer. I find that a majority of our blog traffic comes from sites we have guest posted on. Ideally, you will be able to leverage social media tools to attract and retain people interested in your content. If a person is directed to your blog via link from a guest post, you will want to put a call to action immediately for them to follow you.

Twitter Follow Button

You are in luck: Twitter just announced a new plug-in resource. A one click “Follow” button can now be embedded in your blog posts to let readers follow you without leaving your site. This resource can also be added to a guest blog if your guest domain allows it.

Build Links

As a small blog, you will need to build links. If you aren’t well versed in SEO, you may want to consult someone who is, before you begin guest blogging. If that isn’t an option, simply point your links to your blog’s home page. Building links from credible sites gives you search engine relevance. You will begin to appear more often in searches, and your site will be continue to be indexed by Google.

Saving your best posts for your guest posts help you grow as a young blogger. Even if your blog isn’t small, never outsource your content for guest blogging. You will ruin partnerships and ultimately give your business bad PR.

-Matt Krautstrunk is social entrepreneur based in San Diego, California; he touches on everything from social media marketing to inbound call centers for Resource Nation.

 

451 Marketing Hosts “Ask the Experts” Panel

 

Last Thursday evening, 451 Marketing hosted the first in their series of “Ask the Experts” panels at Umbria Prime in downtown Boston.  Panelists included Damien Smith, Boston Community Manager for Yelp.com, Justin Schaeffer from LevelUp/SCVNGR, and Tom O’Keefe of BostonTweet/Groupon.  The panel was moderated by Francis Skipper, Director of Search Marketing at 451 Marketing.  Discussion was focused on how businesses can leverage deal and location-based sites to increase foot traffic.

 

In case you missed it, here is an overview of the companies represented and some of the best pointers and facts they mentioned at the event.

 

Yelp is a local search and online review service founded in 2004 in San Francisco (Boston was the second market they entered!). You can read more about Yelp in a previous post.

  • How should businesses approach deal sites?  “Don’t think of these deals as a discount, think of them as an important place where you are spending your advertising dollars.”
  • A lot of businesses are wary of Yelp, what would you tell them?  “There is a misconception about Yelp reviews – 85% of them are positive.”
  • What local businesses should a new user emulate?  “Boloco and Charles Hotel in Cambridge are doing it right. They interact with their reviewers.”
  • Any other thoughts?  “Be conscious of your capacity, don’t get very emotionally involved, and you don’t always have to reply to negative reviews.”

 

LevelUp is a deal site that builds brand loyalty and repeat customers by offering increasing levels of deals to consumers.  LevelUp is a SCVNGR product that was released earlier this year at SXSW.

  • How are LevelUp deals different from competitor deal sites?  “LevelUp creates a story and an experience with our deals.”  Their tiered deals encourage repeat patronage.
  • What do you see in the near future as a game-changer to deal sites?  “Smartphones are changing the way we buy deals.  Deals are accessible to consumers anytime, anywhere, and will be incredibly specific to the individual and the business.”
  • What is an obstacle you face when trying to convince a company to use your service? “I usually have to figure out how to break through the gatekeeper to get to the decision-makers.  For restaurants, that gatekeeper is usually the hostess.”

 

BostonTweet is a service run by Tom O’Keefe that creates awareness around Boston businesses.  In 2009, BostonTweet partnered with Groupon to help the Chicago-based deal site foster relationships with Boston businesses.

  • What pointers would you give to a company who is new to deal sites?  Make sure the deal makes sense for your business – “think of the culture of your business before you chose a deal.”
  • “Groupon is the fastest growing company, ever (this is actually a fact)” but “without social media (in addition to a down economy) deal sites never would have done as well as they have.”  Social media is where deals are proliferated.
  • It seems like there is a lot of competition in the deal market – how is this affecting how businesses view these services? “Bombardment is hurting the industry right now.” Businesses are being approached by multiple deal sites every week – especially those that have already run deals – and it can be a bit overwhelming.

 

After the panel portion of the event, attendees spent time networking with panelists.  Here are a few pictures from the networking portion of the event:

 

What questions or experiences do you have with deal or location-based services?  Have you seen negative effects of companies using these types of services, or do you have pointers for businesses that are new to these services?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Not Just a Workplace, a “Best Place”

 

Each year, the Boston Business Journal recognizes an elite group of employers in the greater Boston area as the “Best Places to Work.” These companies are broken into small, medium, and large employers.  We wondered – what exactly makes a company a “Best Place to Work” –   on what criteria  are they being ranked? Obviously, what makes a place a great place to work varies somewhat depending on who you ask.  But, The Boston Business Journal has developed a thorough understanding of the inner workings of successful companies, many of whom are pioneers in developing great working environments. Although there is no magic formula for evaluating the best places to work, when we examined the companies being honored, it became obvious that they all one thing in common – they know that if a company expects a lot out of their employees,  it is only fair that employers reciprocate.

The first thing we noticed when we read about the winners of last year’s  Best Places to Work winners was that it wasn’t just a list of corporate giants handing out seven-figure salaries to their employees.   It quickly became evident that compensation is not necessarily what determines how employees view their company. What separates companies on the list from the pack is an ability to compensate the efforts of their employees with much more than an extra zero on their bonus (although recognizing employee efforts financially never hurts!) – benefits, incentives, opportunities, and an overall extraordinary work environment. A business that harnesses the power of combining such ideas creates a motivated and loyal employee base.

Creating a comfortable and enjoyable work environment is probably the most important component for keeping employees extremely satisfied.  Some companies go so far as to completely re-thinking their work environment. For example HubSpot, a 2010 and 2011 Best Places winner, is known for having ping-pong tables throughout their offices and always maintaining a beer-stocked fridge. Certainly, they are stretching the boundaries of traditional work environments, but they are doing so with tremendous success. HubSpot understands that their employees are the face of their company and sees value in making them as happy and comfortable as possible. From a management perspective, you want employees to feel at ease when communicating with  one another. Sharing ideas and building relationships can foster a feeling of community and loyalty within a company and ultimately help develop future leaders within the company. Such relationships are built more naturally in a comfortable environment. Imagine showing up to work your first day and getting to know your boss a little by playing a quick game of ping-pong, certainly changes the way we look at the workplace doesn’t it?   Our guess is you would be more inclined to approach him when work-related issues arrive. Assuming your boss isn’t a Red Sox fan and you’re a Yanks fan, you will probably walk away from that first day of work with a smile on your face which is the sign of a bright future at that company.

South Shore Hospital, another company that topped last year’s Best Places to Work list, was recognized for their exceptional efforts to give their employees a voice.  They created their “bright ideas” program which encourages employees to share ideas that can improve the company with members of senior management.  Valuing and acting upon the ideas and opinions of employees creates a stronger bond between them and the management team that guides them.  Again, this is another example increasing a sense of comfort in the workplace and nurturing a feeling of loyalty towards the company.

Working in a fun environment is great, but it must be paired with some type merit-based compensation if employers hope to retain top performers.  Employees don’t care about the spa located on the fifth floor when their hard-work and dedication is not compensated appropriately by their employer. Traditionally speaking, employees would expect a raise for putting up good numbers. Renewal by Anderson, a 2010 BBJ Best Places winner, rewards entire divisions of their firm for completing projects and meeting goals. They recognize the efforts of employees not necessarily with a cash bonus, but rather with something else of value.  This could include anything from vacation days to stock options – even the latest tech gadgets. Employees get a little icing on the cake for adding value to the company.  The senior management of Renewal by Anderson used this type of incentive program to unite employees of an entire division by rewarding them as a whole for reaching their goal. When you commend the efforts of a group, they tend to motivate each other in order to receive that same recognition in future endeavors. This is analogous to the success of a sports team – when a team wins a championship, they are recognized by a league or commission for their outstanding performance. This creates very intense feelings of camaraderie amongst the players, who will in return dedicate themselves to winning another championship.

This year’s Boston Business Journal “Best Places to Work” ceremony will be held Thursday morning.  To see who wins top honors, follow the hash tag #BBJBestPlaces via @BBJNewsroom, @BBJPublisher, and @451Heat.

 

What do you think makes a company a great place to work?  Does your company do something unique that makes them stand out from the crowd?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

451 Marketing team

Twitter for Business: Pointers from a Social Media Professional

 

On Wednesday Morning, 451 Marketing’s Chief Social Media Strategist, Joselin Mane, lead a workshop at the Westin Copley Place.  The subject: Twitter 101 for Business.  In case you missed it, here are a few pointers that attendees took away from Joselin’s presentation.

Why is Twitter important for businesses?

There are a lot of ways that brands can benefit from a presence on Twitter, but Joselin mentions that Twitter serves to “expedite the relationship-building process.”  It’s a chance for customers to have conversations and learn from the company – and vice versa.

What should companies (or brands or personalities) include in their Twitter page bio?

“Keywords.  The same keywords that you would use to optimize your website and content for search can optimize your brand for search on Twitter.”  Also, make sure to include a link to your company’s website.  Sounds obvious, but it’s a little thing that can extend the user’s experience and get more traffic on your site.

How can you get specific people or companies to follow your brand?

“Acknowledge content or brands.”  It has been proven that people who only talk about themselves on have less followers.  On the flipside, if you talk about others or share their work (while crediting them) on Twitter, it can have a positive effect.  “It’s a game of reciprocity – I scratch you’re back, hopefully you scratch mine.”

How can a company ensure that people identify with their brand on Twitter?

Identify the individuals within the company who are sending out tweets.  “An individual within a brand can have much more influence” than the company on its own.  If people see the face of the people they are communicating with, they are more likely to make a connection with that brand.

AJ Gerritson, 451 Founding Partner, also offered a helpful tip:

You can actually use the Favorites feature on Twitter to showcase client feedback.  “By favoriting positive mentions of your company or brand, you essentially have your favorites serve as a testimonials page.”

 

Do you have any more pointers for businesses using Twitter or social media in general?  Let us know in the comments section below, we love to hear from you!

 

Top five things every entrepreneur should do to start or keep business profitable

451 Marketing Founding Partner AJ Gerritson was recently featured in Sharmen Lane’s NY Entrepreneurism Examiner column discussing the “The top five things every entrepreneur should do to start or keep their business profitable”. I thought I’d share the list here:

1. Determine how your potential customers receive news and information relevant to their industry. In today’s digital age, prospects and customers are getting answers to their questions from a variety of sources, and when and how they want. To succeed, you need to know not only what your target market is reading and viewing, but how they are viewing it. Is it through text messages, or websites, blogs or social networks sites? Then you need to determine how cost-effective it is to advertise and publicize through these different mediums.

2. Focus not on how great your product or service may be, but on how effectively it solves a problem or business need for your customers. Awards and accolades are terrific third-party validations, but prospects want to know the specific benefits that will help them. Real-life case studies, even if they are not exclusively related to your products or services but signify a growing trend (i.e. emergence of social media as a communications tool), are much better indicators of a company’s value. If a prospect reads about how one of your clients grew their business by hiring you, and you can back it up with the references, they will have a real clear picture about what to expect from an engagement with your company.

3. Become an industry expert. Ideally, you should know all there is to know about your products or services, your customers, your competitors, and the trends that will shape the marketplace for years to come. Basically, be an expert. Sit on panels, engage reporters covering the relevant beats to interview you, or initiate and lead your own roundtable panels and discussions. In essence, don’t be afraid to grow your own personal brand and align with your company’s brand. Prospects find exciting and engaging industry leaders and experts to be more credible, and in turn, will be more likely to hire them or buy from them.

4. Make sure to continue to network everyday. You may be able to position yourself as an expert, and may even already have a steady stream of new business opportunities, but you should never limit the time you spend networking. New business and leads can come from anywhere; conferences, tradeshows, parties, trips to the hardware store, or even from one of those great online social networking sites like LinkedIn. If you are in New York, you have more opportunities than most. I have found that there are several networking events going on every day in Manhattan. You don’t have to let your entrepreneurial drive immerse every second of every day of your life, but you should never forget that anyone, and everyone, is a potential customer.

5. Align yourself with causes, stakeholders and individuals that make sense for your business. Starting and growing your business from scratch can seem like a daunting task, especially if you try going it completely alone. Whenever possible, seek opportunities to align your company with causes (environmental, humanitarian, community etc) that relate to your business and showcase your commitment to being a socially responsible company. Similarly, take advantage of opportunities to join industry organizations that increase your credibility, expand your networking options, and afford you the chance to learn from others in your field. Finally, engage experts and important stakeholders (government agencies for example), and discuss your products and services, explaining how you can build a mutually beneficial relationship with them. The opportunities to identify and interact with these stakeholders online are plentiful, demonstrating once again how a successful entrepreneur in this day-in-age knows how to entrepreneurially navigate the complex online waters.