5 Steps To B2B Niche Marketing

b2b marketing dan weik san diegoStep one:

Visit InfoUSA.com. Use their search wizard to generate a list of industries and types of companies. (There are also other services online you can use, such as Jigsaw.com and HooverOnline.com. You can even do some research at your local library.)

Step two:

Make a long list of the types of business-to-business companies that interest you.

Don’t worry about why they interest you. It could be because you’ve worked in that industry before. It could be because your background and education match that industry. It could simply be because your gut says you might like working with those types of companies.

Don’t second-guess your choices. At least not yet. Just make a long, long list.

Step three:

Ask yourself, “Do I know anybody in any of these niche markets?”

For example, if you happen to have a lot of contacts in the office equipment industry, then that’s going to give you a serious advantage. You’ll be able to use those contacts to quickly get the word out about your B2B copywriting services and, hopefully, quickly land your first client.

Step four:

Ask yourself, “Will my experience or education give me an advantage in any of these niche markets?”

Ed Gandia asked himself that question when he started his B2B copywriting business many years ago. His background was in high-end software sales. So the software niche was the ideal fit for him. And, today, he’s one of the most successful B2B copywriters I know.

Step five:

Ask yourself, “Are there enough potential clients in these niche markets?”

Ideally, you need to be reasonably assured that there are at least 200 potential clients in the niche market you ultimately choose.

Once you complete these five steps, you’ll have whittled down your list to probably five or six possibilities. Now, do some more research into those niche markets. Check out a few websites. Get a sense of the type of projects you’ll likely be working on.

Then pick the niche market that makes the most sense to you … and jump in with both feet!

Like I said, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of niche markets up for grabs in the B2B market … niche markets just waiting for a writer who knows how to craft effective emails, website pages, case studies, white papers, ads, and other marketing communications for B2B companies.

Don’t know how to write B2B copy yet? Learn. Learn quickly. Then go out there and claim your niche!

Social Media Increases Business Referral 90% After Interaction

social media marketingA new study conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau has found that 90 per cent of consumers would recommend a brand to others after interacting with them on social media.

The study focused on FMCG brands Heinz, Kettle and Twinings and found that social media can drive ROI by driving brand sentiment, encouraging consumer engagement and increasing brand loyalty.

More than 4,500 survey responses were collected from each brands social media pages over a two month period and supplemented by 800 interviews to inform the findings.

This showed that 4 out of 5 consumers would be more inclined to buy a brand more after being exposed to their social media, with 83 per cent happy to trial the product in such circumstances.

The uplift in sentiment for each brand was measured as Heinz 22%, Kettle 17% and Twinings 19 per cent, allowing the IAB to estimate that for every £1 spent on social media as much as £3.34 could be generated.
Kristin Brewe, the IAB’s director of marketing & communications said: “The IAB study shows that, when trying to create deeper emotional connections with consumers, social media is an essential channel for brands. This isn’t surprising since social media is the only channel where it’s possible for brands and consumers to have meaningful two-way conversations, making the strength of connections that much stronger.”

Ian Ralph, the director at marketing sciences who conducted the research, adds, “Our research shows that to create an emotional connection brands really need to provide clear, timely and, most important of all, relevant content that develop a conversation. Interestingly, we also found that brands really shouldn’t be afraid about having their products on show and of linking up their social media activities to their business objectives. Social media has the potential to turn brand customers into brand fans.

“By making people love, not just like your brand, you’re more likely to drive future purchases and increase sales.”

The 3 times people are happiest — you may be shocked

girl-looking-at-watch-9248523_s1-200x300According to a new UK study involving Apple and the London School of Economics — reported by Hannah Thomas at Marie Claire — people are happiest when they are having sex, exercising, and visiting the theatre.

Sure, the having sex part is a no brainer. The exercise part is a bit surprising; people are often pretty happy when they’ve finishedexercising — your feel-good hormones are coursing through your body and you have a great sense of accomplishment — but the during part can be quite a struggle. And the theatre? Hey, I like theatre — but I only get there a few times a year, and I imagine only very few people make it part of their regular routine.

The study, which is largely based on updates, via an app, by 45,000 iPhone users regarding levels of contentment, also determined that people are happiest during midday on Christmas. I guess this is while you’re still riding a high from opening a bunch of presents, but before the extended family has arrived? (No mention, though, of how non-observers of this particular holiday are feeling around this time.) People were also found to be very happy on bank holidays — a paid day off work is pretty universally seen as a treat — and generally happier on weekends.

And the unhappiest time? Around 8pm on January 31. No explanation for why this particular date was the least fun, but it’s easy to speculate about the gloom and isolation that can set in mid winter. Further, working, commuting to work, and standing in line were found to be the least happy-making activities. No mention, though, of one of my all-time, least happy moments: when you’re standing in line, during your commute to work, and someone cuts in front. It’s a triple threat, in the worst possible way.

Why Penguin 2.0 is Google’s Gift to the WWW

google_penguin_update1In late May, Google launched the much anticipated update to their Penguin algorithm, dubbed Penguin 2.0. Now that the dust has settled, it’s clear the impact has been fairly significant, and that Google has effectively (but certainly not flawlessly) furthered their mission to identify and penalize webspam and black hat SEO practitioners. Ultimately, although it may be frustrating to experience the shifts and changes of the algorithm updates, content creators should be celebrating Penguin 2.0, as it wholly supports the creation of quality, user-friendly sites and content.

Need some tangible reasons to rejoice about the latest updates? Keep reading and prepare to become a Penguin fan.

HowPenguin 2.0 Rewards the Good Guys

“White hat” SEO optimizers are those who are looking to improve the user experience. They work to create valuable content, a seamless user interface, and ultimately strive to manifest the best overall experience in their niche for each visitor. These are precisely the folks Google is looking to reward with Penguin 2.0. What’s good for search engines is also good for users, and that means Google will not rest if webspam continues to reach top ranking positions in their search results.

As a rule, white hat tactics also indicate good marketing strategies. If a company employs integrity and care in their SEO, they likely carry that attitude through all their business practices, using creativity to entice customers, not trickery. Although Google continues to be the search engine powerhouse, sites like Bing are providing healthy competition, motivating the leader to ensure their user experience is superior. That means highlighting the best sites available for every last search. And that means those professionals who have tirelessly worked to truly provide quality experiences to their users are getting more and more attention and well-deserved prominence.

Expertise Trumps Black Hat SEO

If you run a search for “best plastic surgeon in Hollywood,” you’re obviously looking for the most trustworthy and experienced professional you can find. To help determine this authority, Penguin 2.0 is giving more prominence to author rank, and helping to elevate bonafide experts in each field. Again, the best customer experience equals the best search engine; Google has become increasingly savvy in developing ways to identify who the experts are, and who might is blowing smoke to garner page views.

In a recent video describing the Penguin 2.0 changes, Matt Cutts, Google’s search ambassador, had this to say about identifying experts:

“We’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is more of an authority on a specific space. You know, it could be medical. It could be travel. Whatever. And try[ing] to make sure that those rank a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority… we think might be a little more appropriate for users.”

While they obviously won’t reveal the specific methods to ascertain expertise, this is fabulous news for those marketers and content creators that truly are highly knowledgeable in their field. In essence, Google is looking to reward hard work and dedication. That’s a tough mission to argue with.

Rewards for Honest Link Building

Building a network of reputable and reliable link partners is perhaps the most challenging aspect of white hat SEO, and Google is working harder to reward best linking practices with better rankings. In many ways, this is the heart of Penguin 2.0. The best SEO professionals devote a significant amount of effort into attaining inbound links from relevant and respected websites, ideally those on a small list of approved sites that Google calls Hilltops.

A Hilltop is a site Google ranks as the best of the best, and gaining their recognition (in the form of a link) requires two key components. First, the content you offer must clearly be entertaining, solve a definite problem, or showcase some level of remarkable content. Secondly, the Hilltop site must have an obvious resonance with the business it links to. These two principles are near and dear to the best content marketers, so the compatibility is obvious. Hilltops hold a high level of trust in the eyes of Google, as each are operating under the same stringent quality ethics. If you also do not settle for a mediocre experience and can showcase that via your own site, court a Hilltop link and Google will aptly reward you.

Offset Any Negative Effects from Panda

Panda, Google’s other algorithm tour-de-force, has certainly ruffled some feathers with some more mysterious shifts. If you’ve followed content quality rules without engaging in webspam and you’ve still seen your rankings drop, Penguin might just help balance the scales. Best practices with off-site SEO tactics (like social mentions and link building) are some the aspects that Penguin rewards, and an excellent effort in this arena may help you balance the dings of duplicate content, older posts, and other Panda frustrations. Even Matt Cutts acknowledges that Panda can and will be “softened.”

“We are looking at Panda and seeing if we can find some additional signals, and we think we’ve got some to help refine things for sites that are kind of in the border zone… if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have some additional signals of quality, that will help sites that were previously affected… to some degree [by Panda].”

Top Off-Page Tips for Maximum Penguin Benefits

We’ve already outlined that high quality content brimming with expert commentary and a sincere attention to a seamless user experience are the on-site tactics for high rankings. There are a gaggle of off-page signals that can help you increase your rankings through Penguin’s updated algorithms too.

Here are a few of the best practices:

1) Social mentions – These are becoming more and more critical. Engage your fans and followers on social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, and Twitter to share your news, like your content, and otherwise interact with your social offerings. And by all means, do not forget Google+ – you better believe Google notices when mentions are coming from their social hub.

2) News sites – A great PR strategy that generates buzz from any of the major news outlets is a huge boon. Positive mentions and articles on sites like The Huffington Post are extremely powerful.

3) Industry niche sites and blogs – Likewise, finding partnerships in the blogosphere or via other industry experts are also integral to good off-site practices. If none of the experts in your field are giving your company accolades, you lack the credibility Penguin is searching for. Reach out to those folks who are talking about your industry, create a link share, and give them reason to spread your message. Not only is this obviously a critical marketing strategy, but search engines love it too.

4) Print publications – Any offline content can be quoted and cited online, whether it appears in magazines, newspapers, or trade publications. If experts are talking about your site, online or off, Google wants to know.

Google’s mission is simple: to return the best results on the web for any keyword search. To reach this goal, Google is becoming craftier at rewarding the marketers and sites that are working the hardest to give the people what they want. For those content creators and site owners that have always followed rules of quality and integrity, Penguin 2.0 is a godsend. For those that continue to employ sneaky tactics with the hopes of flying under the radar and achieving top rankings, the glory days are over. It’s always good news when the good guys win the battle.

Thanks, Penguin 2.0, for getting us closer to that reality. You may not be flawless, but your intentions are golden.

Marketing Your Business on Craigslist

dan weik craigslist

From e-commerce websites to furniture wholesalers, small businesses both online and off are realizing the marketing power of Craigslist.org. Founded in 1996 by Craig Newmark, Craigslist.org gets an estimated 10 million unique visitors per day. With an online classified ads format organized by either region or city, Craigslist connects buyers and sellers in more than 300 communities; for the most part, posting on the site is free.

If you’ve never heard of Craigslist or never considered using the site to market your business, the following tips will help you determine whether it might be a good fit for you and offer another outlet for marketing your products and services.

What Sells Best on Craigslist
From services like tutoring, car repair and real estate to products such as wholesale furniture, consignment goods and retail e-commerce, Craigslist is the ultimate destination for online marketers. If you manufacture goods, provide services directly or sell products regionally, Craigslist is a marketing tool you should consider. You can also easily promote an eBay store, a franchise operation or a referral partner. And it’s a bourgeoning business opportunity for affiliates and webmasters looking for new ways to find customers.

Identifying Your Market
Like any other advertising medium, Craigslist requires some strategy, though paramount to its usefulness is simplicity. To start, you need to determine which city or cities you’re going to post an ad. If you’re a service provider, you can identify available cities on Craigslist that encompass your service region. Keep in mind that some regions overlap. For instance, if you’re a mobile groomer working in Orange County, California, but service from Los Angeles to San Diego, Craigslist reaches your service area across four cities. So you’d want to develop your messaging and a posting schedule in each of these regions to increase your exposure. If you sell a product or offer a service nationwide, the opportunity to reach new customers is even greater.

Posting on Craigslist, either nationally or locally, requires an understanding of the rules. Craigslist has in place–a set of rules that prohibits advertisers from over-posting or spamming users. You can follow these rules and still get excellent exposure. To start, develop unique ads for each city you post in, focus on specific products and rotate them on a promotional schedule. Never post the exact same ad within 48 hours, and be careful to delete your old ad. Craigslist users are quick to spot businesses that misuse the system and can be quite unforgiving. The Craigslist flagging system puts the power of spam control into the hands of the users.

Building Ads
Building an ad on Craigslist can be as simple as typing in some text, or you can incorporate html and images. Typically, what works best is the direct approach. For instance, if you’re a real estate agent using Craigslist to promote properties for sale, build a text ad that incorporates images of the properties for sale–you don’t need to know html to do this. Simply define what property specifications best sell the property and keep the sales pitch to a minimum. Be sure to include important search words, such as “three bedroom” or “condominium,” as well as regional identifiers including a ZIP code, city or community name. You do this so that people who search for specific items find you in the search results.

Craigslist’s search function isn’t based on a search algorithm; instead, search results are displayed first by date, then by keyword. This makes the text content of your ad extremely important. Ads with images only increase ad effectiveness. And adding images to your ad isn’t difficult. If you’re not web savvy, use the “upload image” function available during the posting process. (If you want to feature a large image or more than one, you’ll need to upload your images to your own web server and reference them inside your ad using basic html.) Images, however, are not required. Often the best performing ads on Craigslist are simple text ads that get straight to the point.

Tracking Results
If you plan to post in multiple cities and offer specific promotions, tracking which ads produce the best results is important. You can track a Craigslist ad by e-mail, phone number or website referral. Each tracking mechanism should feature a unique component like a custom e-mail address, telephone extension or website referral code. How you choose to track should depend on your industry and the typical methods customer use to communicate with you. Unlike eBay, Craigslist does not provide you with any demographic or tracking data.

Regardless of whether you sell a product or service, it’s important to understand the competitive landscape on a daily or weekly basis. Supply and demand for certain products or services will fluctuate. Take the time to get to know the other players in your cities or categories. If you see a rush on a certain product, focus on something complimentary. For instance, if you’re a mattress wholesaler and see that a large number of a specific brand and/or size mattresses are flooding your market, either price match or focus your energy on a different size or bed frame until the market stabilizes. Also, take into consideration the season and the demographic (both income and recreational) of the cities in which you post. In the winter, a snowmobile will not sell nearly as well in California as it will in Vermont.

Community Commitment
As an open market, Craigslist welcomes sellers from all walks of life. Keep in mind that as a business owner, you’re just as likely to compete with everyday people selling the contents of their attic as you are a national brand retailer with sights on breaking into your market. The community element sets Craigslist apart from its competitors. Harness the power of your community by doing more than just posting. The most trafficked area of Craigslist is the forums. Use the forums to communicate with fellow sellers and potential buyers or to establish an active, ethical voice for your business.

Selling Safely
Fraud exists in every corner of the business world, both online and offline. The anonymous nature of Craigslist–the very thing that makes it so popular–is also the reason you should take measures to protect yourself against fraud. With no member or seller ratings system, Craigslist can fall prey to scam artists. Make an effort to talk to each new customer via phone, only ship items once payment is received, and always use your best judgment when it comes to business transactions.

Craigslist continues to experience rapid growth–additional cities have come online in recent months and more are expected to launch throughout the next year. The buzz about this great resource is sweeping the nation, and every day people from all over the world are visiting the site, looking to buy from trusted sellers and service providers. Get in on the action by harnessing the marketing power of Craigslist.

This was an awesome article by Shanon Lewis who is a web-marketing expert who specializes in marketing on Craigslist. She’s also the author of The Unofficial Craigslist Book and regularly shares her wisdom on Craigslist and online marketing at her popular blog.

Dan Weik (expert wannabe on Craigslist)