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Interview: Joe, Owner of Pebble+Oak, Storyteller Extraordinaire

This interview with Joe, the owner of Pebble+Oak, discusses the importance of speaking to your audience in both blog posts and on your website. We don’t expect our in-house team to be able to write coherently on every topic nor get the voice of all of our clients, so we rely on other writers to step up and fill in the void. Joe at Pebble+Oak is one of our go to copywriters who’s able to understand the vision of a business and articulate the unique selling points and their competitive advantage of their service.

interview with pebble and oak

BIMS: So Joe, how did you get into the biz?

Joe: I have always had a passion for writing, and after spending 10 years and the technology sector I saw the opportunity to begin working with clients to discover their own voice in an online world.

BIMS: When you write for your clients how do you ensure that you are capturing their voice not your own?

Joe: At the end of the day, writing is simply telling a story. Before I put anything down on paper for a client, I spend some time getting to know them, their company, who they’re trying to serve, and why they’re doing what they’re doing. I find that these conversations are incredibly insightful in terms of identifying and interpreting their voice and their message.

BIMS: How important do you feel it is for business owners to concentrate on SEO in the blogs and articles that they are writing?

Joe: Is SEO important? Yes. But, I found when business owners and writers concentrate too much on specific keywords, the message they are trying to convey gets lost. When this happens the connection with prospects and customers suffers.

I recommend coming up with a topic and outlining your article, then writing it without necessarily thinking about the keywords. If you need to, you can always add these in afterwards to make it a little more clear for search engines. Often, however, just the process of creating an outline for your article will innately highlight your intended topics.

BIMS: If we aren’t necessarily focusing on keywords in articles, what can we do to make sure that we are getting a big bang for our buck when we are writing blog posts?

Joe: There are a few tips that I highly recommend. First, make sure you or your IT person correctly knows how to load a blog or article onto a website. This means utilizing header tags and adding alt tags to your images. It’s great if you can break up the long content utilizing bullet points or numbers! Within your blog post don’t hesitate to add links to other blogs on similar topics or pages on your website that relate to the blog post itself.

Second, always make sure that you are sharing your article to external sources. My favorites are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, digg, delicious, StumbleUpon, and reddit. (In other words, the Internet….)

And third, I always recommend finding external websites to write articles for rather than just your own site. Common examples include LinkedIn articles and Medium.com. Often, however, online publications and niche trade journals have the option for experts to contribute articles and content, as well. Contributing articles to these sources not only increases your reach beyond your current network, but it also helps to position you as an expert in the field. Above all, these articles create backlinks to your website!

BIMS: I know you are very busy, so thank you for your time! I’m sure you will be back for more interviews in the future. Before we sign off, do you have any closing remarks that could benefit new and old businesses alike?

Joe: There are a lot of buzzwords and “Flavors of the Week” when it comes to marketing your business online. It is easy to get lost in the noise and think “I should be doing that!” While many of these new ideas have merit, don’t lose sight of your values and your brand. Trends will come and go, but the companies who are consistent with who they are the ones that last.

60 blogs in 60 days challenge

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Exciting News from The BIMS Team

We wanted to invite you to learn more about some of these exciting new opportunities that the BIMS team is pursuing!

We are growing!

In 2017, Amber and myself have brought on 3 lovely ladies with diverse backgrounds to help us best represent our clients online! Brandy, Mari Ann, and Amanda each focus specifically on one or two social media networks or SEO tactics so we can follow the most effective strategies. Meanwhile Kathlyn and Joe continue to knock blogging out of the park for our clients!

Our first eCourse is about to launch!

With a long history of teaching courses and workshops in person, The BIMS Team is so excited to start helping businesses through eCourses! This first course, Blogging Your Business, launches May 1. This course covers:

  • Blogging 101: An Introduction
  • Building a Content Calendar
  • Tools to Manage your Content
  • How to Share your Blog
  • Tutorials for WordPress, Squarespace, and Shopify
  • and Free Editorial Calendar Templates

When you preregister through April, this course is only $47! Learn More.

Building partnerships in Florida!

Amber has been building incredible partnerships in Florida and recently helped to launch Your Social Garden, which provides in-person workshops each month and has partnered with SCOR. If you are near Palm Harbor, be sure to reach out for more information regarding these fantastic classes.

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What’s Up With All Those Beaches?

Odds are, you’ve seen and ad or two come across your Facebook feed with some “Business Expert” on a beach or in tropical paradise. Do all successful entrepreneurs strive to live their life jumping from one wave to another?

NO!

I’m lucky enough to call Colorado my home. My dream is right in my backyard. Yes, beaches are nice, but a cold jolt of fresh air as you click into your bindings beats laying still for hours on end and awaking to a massive sunburn. Rather than showing success through pictures from a beach, though my summer months are spent with my husband on boats in New Hampshire and beaches in Maine, I’m committing to showing pictures of success that ring true to those of us who work hard and play harder. Enough of these beach shots to signify success!

What does success look like for you?

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Blogging: Creating an Editorial Calendar

Creating an editorial calendar for your marketing collateral is often an overlooked piece in designing your small business’ web strategy. These calendars create a easy to understand reference for your blog topics, newsletters, social media posts, and promotions. They allow you to keep ahead of upcoming holidays and make it so you don’t feel like you are always playing catch-up.

Because many of us wear different hats within our business, it isn’t unexpected that some things just fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, however, sticking to a content calendar really is an income-generating task that should garner a space in your list of top-priorities. It is also something you can outsource if it makes sense for your business.

What should your Editorial Calendar include and why is it important for your business?

Your editorial calendar should be broken down by quarter, month, week, and even day. Additionally, it should include a column for blogs, newsletters, promotions, social media posts, videos, etc, and a column for results.

When you put together your calendar, think about what you can commit to. Realistically, can you commit to writing a fresh article once a month, or every day? Do you have the systems in place to post daily to your social media networks or only a few times per week? Is there a social media network that you are most passionate about? Perhaps you should just focus on building this up rather than getting burned out trying to tackle too much at once.

The next step is figuring out which topics to discuss. To brainstorm this, I recommend the following process:

  1. Your products and services
  2. Your background
  3. Your clients and their success stories
  4. Common questions you receive
  5. Topics that interest your target market
  6. Following the topics trade journals (or even your competitors) discuss
  7. Holiday or seasonal topics
  8. National organizations and their promotional schedules
  9. Topics you are passionate about
  10. Other news outlets and articles

For each of these topics, brainstorm a short list of specific topics you can discuss. Add any necessary links in your notes or bullet points to provide more context.

Now, think of the context for posting these. Can you post once per month on certain topics while only quarterly for others? Are there natural sales promotions that go along with the topics? What about videos? We have one client who has committed to filming quarterly reports rather than taking the time to write and format his analysis.

Now it is time to add these to your content calendar.

We’ve put together this workbook to help you organize your topics and ideas.

Why follow an editorial calendar?

Editorial calendars make it easier to stay consistent and keep yourself from being reactive. Consistency can truly transform a business as prospects come to know what to expect and trust you before taking the leap to being a paying customer.

Additionally, being proactive about the content you need to put out allows you to be more mindful about your business and messaging.

Stay tuned for more information on how to build your social media posts into your content calendar for your business!

Blogging Your Business

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Running a Business: 4 Tips to Start Today

My first introduction to Digital Marketing was back in 2006 with an internship I found through the Tuck Business School Bridge Program. This 1 month, highly selective, program gave students from liberal education backgrounds an extensive introduction from Tuck Business School professors into business courses. As a part of the course, we were assigned to teams that helped local businesses overcome their own obstacles. Our focus was on the branding and marketing for a digital mapping company in the area. As I am originally from the area, I continued working with the company a few hours a week trying to figure out how exactly this whole Google thing worked. We used data as a way to justify or disprove hypothesis we had regarding changes to the website and their effects on the organic ranking of the website.

Though during the starts of the recession I was a financial advisor, I quickly came back to marketing and the notion of using data to make educated business decisions. After a year of working for another business, I launched Boundless Marketing in 2011 and merged with Your Marketing Voice to form The BIMS Team in 2013. I wanted to share some of the most important lessons I’ve learned from owning a small marketing agency.

Lessons Learned from Owning a Small Business:

  1. If you can work from home, great! This take discipline, but can be extremely rewarding. We invested in office space one summer, but have decided working from home is our jam. It allows us to keep our overhead low and the flexibility to work hours that fit the best with our schedules.
  2. Join a networking group! I’m a huge supporter of local networking groups, but as an introvert, I’ve decided only to attend groups with consistency and that follow a set meeting structure. I’m currently the President of a local BNI chapter while Amber helps to run 2 networking groups down in FL. Because we aren’t working from offices, this not only creates new business opportunities, but also gives us the space to create relationships with other business owners in the area. Even if you are just starting out, I highly recommend attending a local networking group. If nothing else, it forces you to refine your messaging.
  3. Find contractors! We outsource a lot of our tasks. If you haven’t already, take a look at The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (affiliate link). Even following just a few of his recommendations can safe you time and effort. Some of our contractors are friends and family who just want to make a couple hundred dollars extra each month, while others live abroad. We’ve worked with one writer from the Philippines for the past 3+ years. Part of me thinks our business would shutter to a halt if we lost her!
  4. Work with clients you love. You are always going to have some clients who are absolutely draining. We use conversations and phone calls at the start of our relationships with prospects to try and weed out these individuals. It can just ruin your day/week/month when the client undoubtedly is difficult to work with, forcing you to bend over backwards. As a small business, you just don’t have the time or resources to deal with people like this.

Above all, love your life as a business owner! If set up properly, it can give you the freedom and flexibility you need to live the life of your dreams!

Free Ebook for Business Blogging

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How to Use Content Marketing to Build Trust and Credibility

If you’re the content person for your brand, you’re probably busy creating pieces of content that aims to give out information about your products or services. You may also be focused in writing content that tell about your brand’s story. Amidst the churning out of content, have you ever stopped to think about why people choose to buy from your company? The answer is simple. It’s because they trust your company.

Whether you’re creating content for your clients, existing customers or new prospects, it is important to keep in mind that the real purpose of content marketing is to build greater levels of trust with your audience. Trust and credibility are important to win the loyalty of your customers.

Use these tips to create content that will help you enter your customer’s world and become an important part of it:

Put people first

In order to build trust and enhance your influence, you need to remember who you’re writing for. The content you create should be relevant to the people you are trying to communicate with. Know their demographics, determine your niche focus and stick with it.

Deliver high quality and relevant content to your audience on a regular basis. Overtime, people will see your brand as a trusted authority. They’ll keep coming back for more once they see you as a trustworthy source.

Be consistent

People don’t have an idea how reliable you are unless they start working with you. But by observing your activities and posting schedule, they can decide whether or not they can rely on you.

Choose your social media channels carefully and commit to being there regularly. Also, make it habit to post new content on your blog and update your site from time to time. By turning up regularly and publishing high quality and relevant contents on a regular basis, you will start to earn the confidence of your marketplace.

Interact with your audience

Newsletters, social media updates and blog posts are a great way for your audience to stay up-to-date with your business. But it’s not supposed to be a one-way communication. Find ways to interact with your audience online.

You can ask questions, encourage them to send photos of them with your products, share their stories etc. Don’t forget to respond to mentions on social media and reply to comments on your blog. Through this strategy, you’ll be able to build a relationship with your target audience. Through this relationship, they will come to trust you.

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How to Stay Safe While Using Social Media

Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter have become an integral part of our online lives. It has become a way of life. Most people log in to their social media accounts to communicate with their family and friends and keep them updated about what’s happening in their lives. But as the popularity of social media grows, so do the risks of using them.

With the amount of information you share on social media, scammers, con artist and identity thieves see it as the perfect place to set their traps. As such, we should all take the necessary steps to protect our identity.

Social media is supposed to be fun. Let’s keep it that way by protecting yourself when using these sites.

Separate accounts, separate passwords

According to studies, 55% of users use the same password for most, if not all, of their online accounts. But with the increase in malicious softwares and phishing attacks, this puts you at risk of falling victim to internet fraud. Use different strong passwords on different website where you have an account. This will help keep your accounts and your identity safe.

Keep personal information personal

Your social media profile can be a gold mine for online thieves. Avoid posting personal information such as your phone number, address, schools, old workplaces, where you were born etc. Many sites ask you to enter these information in security questions. If these information are readily available on your social media sites, then you’re practically giving scammers easy access to your accounts.

Be careful what you disclose

Sharing has always been a prominent part of what the internet is. But please exercise caution when posting on social media. Think about the people who could see what you have posted. Also, remember that the internet is permanent. Once you put it out there, it stays there forever.

Don’t post the dates you are away on a holiday, issues with your parents, drama with your friends, complaints about your boss.

Ignore messages from strangers

Social media is a great place to connect with their family and friends and even meet new friends. But many of these sites have become haven for scammers, con artists and identity thieves. For your safety and security, we recommend that you ignore or delete messages that you receive from an unknown sender. Also, be cautious when accepting friends on social media.

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4 Keys to Growing Your Small Business

4-keys-to-growing-your-small-businessEvery business is different, yet all have common goals – to grow and expand their business. The problem is, a lot of business owners them give up even before they reach goal. As an entrepreneur, you need to understand that growth is a long-term, ongoing and always evolving process.

You can be highly successful in your business if you live by these simple ideologies.

Look for new ways to wow your customers

As we welcome the New Year, you should take this opportunity to think of what you can do to impress your customers. Think about the different ways you can really delight, thrill and surprise your customers. Take the time to think of new ways to wow your customers.

Delegate some daily responsibilities

According to studies, 70% of small business owners prefer to do everything on their own. You need to understand, though, that running a small business is no small task. If you try to do everything on your own, you may find yourself swamped with work, stressed and exhausted. Worse, you may be missing out on a lot of business opportunities and time with your family.

As your business grows, you need to start letting go of day-to-day responsibilities and delegate some of these tasks to your team. This way, you can focus on tasks that have the biggest impact on the growth of your business.

Create high quality products

In today’s highly competitive business environment, the only way to thrive and survive is to attain and retain customer satisfaction. To do that, you should consistently deliver high quality products and services to your customers.

In the business world, quality is everything. Customers will continue to buy from you if you deliver quality products. If you do not, they will quickly look for alternatives.

Professional development

We live in a world that is quickly changing. None of us can afford to be stagnant in our knowledge. Regardless of the industry you’re in, make a commitment to continue learning and growing. Knowing the latest trends will help your business stay relevant and stay on top of these changes. Remember, learning is essential to stay on top of things.

The key to your future can be found in ongoing commitment to learning. After all, where you are today is a reflection of the skills and education that got you there.

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4 Social Media Habits to Avoid

social-media-habits-to-avoidSocial media has been an integral part of our lives. Since most people check on their social media accounts several times a day, having a stellar social presence is essential for your business’ growth. Most business owners, however, tend to develop some bad habits that prevent them from growing their audience.

Start by determining your bad habits and try to correct them before they cause any more harm. Here are 4 social media habits you need to stop doing right now.

Too much sales pitch content

Most people follow your brand because they find your content informative, valuable or entertaining. Either way, these people are interested in the content you share. Although we understand that you are running a business and you are looking to increase your sales, it’s definitely not a good idea to bombard your followers with advertisements. If you do so, you are likely to lose your followers.

For your brand to succeed on social media, you need to develop a good relationship with your fans and followers. Focus on engagement, rather than selling.

Posting too much

Being active on social media can help you build a strong online presence. You need to post consistently to keep your followers engaged and to stay relevant, but that doesn’t mean that you should post about something every hour. If you do so, people are likely to unfollow you because of the torture you put them through.

Post at least once a day and focus on content that your fans and followers are interested in. Eventually, you’ll be making friends and earning followers fast.

Not determining your brand

In order to build an online presence, you first need to define your business’ personality. Ask yourself how you want people to envision you. Also, define a consistent brand voice to drive consistency in your content creation efforts. Even if people view your content on different channels, you want to make sure that they could identify the content as coming from your brand.

Abusing the hashtag

Hashtags are a great way of categorizing content, providing context or curating information. Sure, hashtags can be powerful when used correctly. They generate attention and help you gain more followers, but too many hashtags in a single post can be distracting. Plus, it takes away from the message you’ve posted. Stop hashtag abuse!

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Social Media Content Ideas for the Holidays

social-media-content-ideas-for-the-holidaysNot too long ago, businesses celebrate the holiday season by decorating their stores with Christmas ornaments with music playing in the background. In today’s digital world, however, businesses try their best to add the holiday spirit into their social media campaign.

Bringing a bit of Christmas cheer into your social media posts will get everyone in a positive mood. It can also help you drive traffic to your site and customers to your store.

Here are 4 social media content ideas for the holidays.

Holiday recipes

If you are in the food business, it is a good idea to share some holiday recipes with your audience. A lot of people, especially those who are hosting a family get together for the first time, are looking for easy recipes that they can prepare for their family this Christmas and New Year.

Share recipes of desserts, typical holiday drinks and other holiday themed recipes. While you’re at it, you might also want to share some tips on how to serve these items.

Gift ideas

Did you know that 65% of shoppers go online to find great deals, considerable discounts and gift ideas for their loved ones this holiday season? Feature your products and let people know why they make an ideal gift for their loved ones.

DIY videos

According to Psychology Today, social media posts are likely to receive 56% more likes and 36% more comments if they are presented in a video format. In addition, 39% of users are likely to share these videos.

If your brand has a product that requires demonstration, go ahead and create a how-to video. Video generated content allows you to deliver your brand message with impact and encourages customer engagement as well.

Showcase your fans

Customers have this inherent urge to share their experiences with others. Now is a great time to encourage your fans and followers to share their stories. Ask them to take a picture of themselves with your products and have them create a story about how they use them.

By allowing your customers to take center stage, it allows you to grow your online presence, increase engagement and reach new market segments. The result – maximized conversions and sales opportunities.

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