May 17, 2013

Trend alert: blog posts replacing press releases

imagesA growing number of companies are announcing major news via their blogs. Google, Dell, Southwest Airlines and others have all chosen this format to break their stories to the world. But can a smaller business get away with this digital strategy? I think so. But they must not skip over key ways to promote the new post and drive traffic to their blog page. Here are some tips to do that:

- Individually email a summary of the news to your target press. Link to the blog page.
- Promote the post in all your social channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), in multiple ways, multiple times. Again, link to the blog page.
- Promote it on your company home page, so readers are only one click away from seeing the full story.

If you don’t have a blog, then this strategy is not for you. But if you do, seriously consider breaking some (or all) your news there. When you have press, analysts, customers and other stakeholders in the habit of reading news on your blog, you create the opportunity for them to click multiple times and view more of your website’s content.

Be sure to break from the stiff, formal look of a traditional press release, too. Be human, conversational and approachable (for example, invite comments). Take a look at Zillow’s blog to see an example of how you can turn your blog into a warm and welcoming place to engage with readers.

March 8, 2013

Five types of customers on LinkedIn

There are more than 175 million LinkedIn users today with one new member joining every second. It’s a prime place to find and meet new customers. But the diversity of individuals you’re sure to encounter sometimes makes forging a meaningful connection a challenge.

Just like at the last networking event you went to, you probably noticed some contacts were sociable and engaging with everyone. Others stuck close to their circle of familiar associates. A few may have hung out quietly at the refreshments table. And don’t forget about that guy that took vigorous notes.

Turns out, LinkedIn mirrors real life in this same way. Consider the below infographic depicting the five distinct classifications of customers on LinkedIn. Once you identify who’s who, you can be sure to feed each group the kind of information they need. Fresh, shareable content will be required for “The Enthusiasts” in your circle…and one-on-one correspondence works best for your “Consistent Users.” Small, strategic efforts like this will lead to better engagement on LinkedIn.

Courtesy of Only Marketing

Courtesy of Only Marketing

February 11, 2013

30 mix and match options to promote your blog posts

What are you doing to promote your company’s blog posts? If your answer is “tweet them,” then you are most definitely behind the curve. While bandwidth is usually a limiting factor, your team can make plans to grow and refine its blog promotion strategy slowly over time.

One way to get started is by viewing this infographic from LaunchGrowJoy. There’s a ton of tactics – some easy, some more complex – to test out. Don’t try to tackle everything at once, but rather break off 1-2 objectives for each of the next 9 months. Cross-check your Web analytics frequently to learn what is working best. By the end of the year, you’ll learn what promotions are the most fruitful for attracting (and keeping) new readers.

January 30, 2013

First Impressions are Everything

It’s our job to make something complex appear simple to media and customer targets. As such, we employ an array of methods to make sure media and analysts “get” your company, product or other messages. Here are some of the tactics we leverage to help clients get their message across during the course of a launch.

Materials – Develop helpful materials, such as an FAQ, that work out tough or detailed responses to common questions. Consider an online demo if the product or concept is better explained visually.

Give Background Info in Advance – Press and analysts oftentimes request materials, like a press release, in advance of a call, so they can ask the most effective set of questions. Don’t miss this opportunity to lay some groundwork. It can really pay off. (Don’t forget to ask for an embargo!)

Test the Message – Once you feel your messaging is solid, hold an early analyst meeting. This will allow you test and tweak the message before embarking on other briefings.

Two-Way Conversations – Always allow Q&A time for every call. Make note of good questions asked by reporters or analysts, so you can work those details into your next presentation.

Be Available – Offering your phone number for follow up will tell the media or pundit you’re readily available to clear up any last minute details. This can help you avoid unclear or inaccurate information in an article or report.

Timely Follow-up – Right after a call, send a thank you note and supply all other relevant materials. Hitting editors up with everything they need to write, including images, will help you secure a more quality story in the timeframe you’d like.

Measurement – Following a launch, measure your message pickup in published articles. Did you get verbatim coverage of your key messages? Make note of those areas that need more/better discussion. Also, don’t shun good coverage that deviates from your messaging. Is there something there you should leverage?

Missing the opportunity to make a meaningful first impression can lead to poor or no coverage, a lack of interest in future meetings and other challenges.

January 3, 2013

To Link or Not to Link

How many links are you averaging per press release? If the answer is four or more, than you may be flushing all your SEO efforts down the drain. Releases filled with links can be penalized by search engines (i.e., not show up). Companies that temper their use of links in releases will reach more prospects and maximize their investments in wire services. Consider these tips:

PRNewswire says

- Use two release links max in a press release
- Approach your links from the reader’s perspective (i.e., what are they looking for?)
- Leverage call to action links (i.e., what do you want the customer to do?)

This refined strategy, when paired with other impression-boosting efforts like images, video and social media promotion, will not just make sure your release gets out there and to more of the right people, but delivers increased engagement (clicks, emails, calls).

December 3, 2012

Hot Iron? Don’t Stop Striking

Every now and again, our clients have happy customers willing to endorse the company with no apparent limitations. In this case, the go-to move might be a press release, followed by joint media briefings, a case study and maybe a LinkedIn product recommendation. By then, you think the customer has tired out and your media is bored of hearing about them. But in many instances, there can be a lot more to do. Here are some of the ways we help our clients get past this plateau to make the very most of their happy customers:

Requires a Little Coordination…
Customer Awards – You’re used to submitting awards for your business and products, but have you looked at ways your customers can be recognized? The InformationWeek 500 is one such example. Offer to fill out the first draft of the nomination to save your customer time. Within the nomination, find ways to highlight your technologies.
Social Endorsement – Start a conversation at one of the LinkedIn groups you belong to. Introduce a problem or trend and orchestrate your customer to jump in the talk and fill in the details. Talk in advance with your customer about what details you and he/she will cover.

Requires More Coordination…
Video Case Study – Turn that paper case study into a movie. Put it on your Web site, YouTube channel, etc. Expect a half-day’s work for your customer for the necessary prep and filming.
Co-panelist at Conference – Add your customer’s name and credentials to your next submission. Conference organizers favor talks that include a customer. Cover the costs of travel and hotel to make up for their time out of the office.

Repurposing a customer story like this maximizes efficiencies on your end and your customer’s. Once the case study is done, it can easily be sliced and diced for the above opportunities. Using pre-approved content can bypass the need for additional approvals too. Think twice before calling a wrap on your next customer effort.

November 12, 2012

No Better Time than Now

November and December are notorious for being slow news months for tech businesses. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because you don’t have a new product to announce or tradeshow participation to tout, doesn’t mean your news program should go mute until January. It just means you need to be more creative and flexible on what you define as news. Doing so can earn you a stage all to your own.

At VOXUS, we believe companies lead markets in two ways: by having a dominant share position, and/or by creating the perception that they have the best understanding of customer needs and market direction. With that criteria in mind, here are a couple of create-your-own opportunities you can consider right now to help place your business at the top of its market:

Look Big: Crunch your market share numbers. Do you have market leadership? Announce it. Have you significantly grown your customer base? Announce the growth (feel free to use percentages). Do you lead in a particular vertical market like education, healthcare, government, etc.? Announce it. No one’s going to do this for you…

Look Smart: Conduct a survey of your customers and use the results to bring attention to trends, best practices, emerging requirements and more. Lead with quantifiable data and be objective (just like Frost and Sullivan would). Create a compelling infographic of the results (visuals can help your news go viral!).

Seizing the opportunity to illustrate your leadership works any day of the year, but can work particularly well when others have gone quiet. When the total volume of news is less, there is less competition for article space in your target publications.

November 6, 2012

Gartner: Get In Where you Fit In

Magic Quadrant (MQ) reports are easily the most talked about ranking system for IT solution providers. But what a lot of businesses don’t know is that these quadrants are reserved for markets in the middle phase of their lifecycle. In other words, emerging and mature markets won’t be represented in these reports. Read below to learn where your business fits in best.

MQs work best for high-growth and consolidating markets where market and vendor differentiations are distinct. Using a two-dimensional matrix, Gartner ranks businesses based on their completeness of vision and ability to execute. This helps IT decision makers understand how players are competitively positioned before making a purchase.

MarketScopes on the other hand are for evaluating vendors in emerging markets that have a smaller customer footprint and solution providers in mature markets that have stabilized. Organizations are able to learn the dynamics of new markets and keep tabs on the ongoing value of solutions in older, established spaces.

Gartner’s approach is suited to the inevitable lifecycle of all markets. This means markets initially covered in a MarketScope, might later be covered in an MQ and then transition back to a MarketScope again.

What’s the best way to be included in your market’s MQ or MarketScope? Know the analysts covering your space, send them your press releases and seek an analyst briefing at least once yearly. Even better, find out the weighted criteria in your category and proactively cover this information during calls.

March 22, 2012

Scoring with Gartner

Not in your market’s last Magic Quadrant? Make an attack plan to get in the next.

First, visit Gartner’s Magic Quadrant listing and identify the one(s) you think your business deserves to be in. Second, note the “last update” and “refresh” dates to learn when the next revision is scheduled to be released. Third, click through to the summary of the report and grab the author names. Fourth, go to the briefing request form and fill in your details. Be sure to note that you want to speak with the authors of the report (and any other applicable researchers).

In a week or two, Gartner staffers will reach out to let you know if a meeting is possible. The most common reason for meeting rejection is “the meeting does not line up with analyst research needs at the moment.” In that scenario, try again in 6-8 weeks.

Keep in mind, you do not need to pay a dime to brief Gartner analysts and/or be included in a Quadrant.

When you do get a briefing, ask the analysts about their plans for the Magic Quadrant and any other applicable reports. Find out when they will start work and offer to supply more information. Be sure to ask what qualities “leaders” will possess, so you know how to best position your business.

If your Magic Quadrant comes out and you’re not happy with your company’s position on the grid (you’re in the challenger bucket and you were hoping to be a leader…), chat with the analysts about this during your next meeting. You will be able to meet with analysts a minimum of once a year without a paid relationship.

You can repeat this same process for the Forrester Wave. While expensive, the Magic Quadrant and Wave reports are respected guidebooks for press, customers, partners, investors and more.



February 9, 2012

Drive More Traffic to your Blog: Free Google Tools

Did you know that Google can help you increase traffic to your blog…for free?

It’s routine to use Google to gather information for blog entries, but not everyone is using the site to find hot button key words and build custom info graphics — both of which are proven to drive more traffic to your blog.

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is a one-stop shop when it comes to the most searched words and phrases. By learning and using key terms, you can better get your blog entries in front of targets.

You can also click over to Google Chart Tools to make custom info graphics for your posts. Blog entries with these kinds of images are read and shared more than those that contain no visual. But even more importantly, when you add imagery, you instantly create another traffic source via image search.

For more blog traffic tips, check out a recent compilation by the SEO Gods at SEOMoz.