Marisa Sanfilippo – Forked River Gazette http://www.forkedrivergazette.com Forked River Gazette Thu, 14 Dec 2017 08:51:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/cropped-Forked-River-Gazette-Logo-32x32.png Marisa Sanfilippo – Forked River Gazette http://www.forkedrivergazette.com 32 32 Public Relations 101: Getting Free Press for Your Business http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/public-relations-101-getting-free-press-business/ Thu, 04 May 2017 12:01:24 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=30398 As someone who has been writing for different publications over the past few years, I’m constantly getting pitches. Frankly, I am disappointed with many of the folks who call themselves “public relations people.” Among the countless pitches I get, it’s so obvious that the people pitching me have not checked out my work or even … Continue reading Public Relations 101: Getting Free Press for Your Business

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As someone who has been writing for different publications over the past few years, I’m constantly getting pitches. Frankly, I am disappointed with many of the folks who call themselves “public relations people.” Among the countless pitches I get, it’s so obvious that the people pitching me have not checked out my work or even the publications I write for. Editors tend to be even busier than writers but most of us want pitches – good pitches! Next time you craft a pitch to an editor or writer, consider the following.

  1. The publication.

The message you want to get out has to be in-line with the publication rep you are pitching it to. Examples:

  • You wouldn’t pitch a national publication a hyper-local event.
  • You wouldn’t pitch a business publication the launch of your new toy product line (unless you could give it a business angle).

Spend time reading the publication(s) you plan to pitch. Get familiar with topics and audience.

  1. The writer or editor and their writing history for that publication.

If you have a specific niche to promote, find writers and editors who specialize in them or have extensive experience covering the industry you are trying to promote. Read several of their articles to get a feel for their writing style. Many larger publications have section editors: technology, lifestyle, politics, entertainment, fashion, business, and so on. The editor in chief might be too busy to look at your pitch but if you pitch a lower level editor or writer, you might have better luck getting a response.

  1. The value your pitch brings to readers.

A good editor and writer put their publication’s readership first. When selecting topics, they consider how the readership will react. Will they find it engaging? Will they share it on social media? Will they comment on it? Does the topic have the potential to go viral?

Everyone has something to promote but what makes your story worthy of being told? Unless your brand has a unique angle, editors and writers typically don’t care about it. You need to show value in what you pitch. Make your pitch more about them and less about you (where it fits in with their publication), which brings me to my next point.

  1. Paint a picture.

Your pitches should be short and to the point. In addition, they need to include enough information to grab the attention of the receiver but not too much to overwhelm them  – you could always include links and attachments with more information. If an editor or writer want more information, they will ask. Painting a picture of what the story would look like is key. Don’t make it a guessing game. Lay it out so that they could see it would be an easy write up.

My favorite pitch format is:

  1. Insert a one or two line introduction to the receiver.
  2. Insert headline.
  3. Insert a two to three line summary of what the article will be about.
  4. Insert first bullet point with more detailed information. Repeat two or three times.
  5. Insert where you (or your client) would fit in as an industry expert in the article.
  6. Insert one line closing. Make sure your contact information is clearly displayed either in it or on your email signature.

While every editor and writer is different, I revert back to the above – it’s all about what is best for the readership.

  1. Be clear.

As many writers and editors can likely relate, when I’m reading pitches, I don’t have the time or patience to decode messages. If pitches are not clear, I’ll hit the delete button. Proofread your pitches over and over and have someone else look at them if you can. Don’t expect writers and editors to figure out what you want.

Hope this helps!

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

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Resources Anyone Who Writes Can Benefit From http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/resources-anyone-writes-can-benefit/ Thu, 06 Apr 2017 12:32:04 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=29919 Writing – it’s never easy no longer how long you’ve been doing it. Even some of the most seasoned writers will admit that writing can be downright challenging at times. In my full-time job I do marketing and on a freelance basis I write. But with a marketing job and many other types of positions … Continue reading Resources Anyone Who Writes Can Benefit From

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Writing – it’s never easy no longer how long you’ve been doing it. Even some of the most seasoned writers will admit that writing can be downright challenging at times. In my full-time job I do marketing and on a freelance basis I write. But with a marketing job and many other types of positions comes the need to be a good writer. There’s a lot that goes into being a good writer and even though I studied writing in college and have been writing professionally since 2009, over the years I’ve come to depend on a plethora of resources to help me grow and continuously crank out good content. In this month’s article, I’m sharing my go-to writing resources.

Thesaurus.com

As a trained writer, we are taught to keep writing simple; people should not have to use a dictionary to be able to understand our writing. But sometimes you just need a different word for something, not necessarily to complicate writing but in most of my cases, because I’ve already used a certain word too many times and want to say something a different way.

Grammar Girl

Need a reminder on how to use “their” vs. “there” or “effect vs. “affect?” Grammar Girl is a great resource for usage and punctuation.

Grammarly

I see Grammarly as my own personal proofreader when I can’t use a human. Oftentimes we will get so caught up in our writing that we miss small things such as the use of “the” or “an.” Grammarly is great at picking these errors up.

Co-Schedule’s Headline Analyzer

When Tara Clapper, founder of the Greek Initiative was my editor at a publication I contribute to, the SEMrush Blog, she introduced me to Co-Schedule’s Headline Analyzer and it has been super helpful with my headline development. It scores your headlines and offers suggestions on how to make them better. I’ve found scoring higher than an 80 to be challenging and typically am happy with a 60 or higher but the tool helps you score better by offering headline tips. Here’s an example of what an analysis looks like:

Writer’s Digest

This is just a good publication in general for getting daily tips and finding writing webinars.

Writing Podcasts

There are a bunch out there. I listen to Grammar Girl, Writing Excuses, The Writing University Podcast, and Story Maker’s Show.

Great Writers

For inspiration, bookmark the blogs of some of your favorite writers. Reading great writing can help you become a better writer. When I was in college, a professor told me to read and study the New York Times because they felt it had the best writing in the world. While I can’t ignore that, I ended up getting hooked on the writing of Time Magazine; Joel Stein and his quirky columns entertained and inspired me. Today some of my favorite writers are David Leonhardt of the Happy Guy Writing Services, Mike Wood of Legal Morning, Ahmad Raza of Wise Toast, and Ann Handley of Marketing Profs. Find writers you admire and study their writing styles!

Copyblogger

Copyblogger focuses on teaching people how to write content for the web. Thus, its blog features content on how to write for SEO and content marketing.

Bookstores

With the rise of the Internet, I still believe that one of the most powerful tools for learning is a book. Here are some writing books on my bookshelf:

• On Writing Well by William Zinsser
• Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
• 47 Mind Hacks for Writers by Karen and Steve Dimmick
• The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Straus and Lester Kaufman
• Don’t Tell Me, Sell Me by Greg Koorhan

What kinds of topics would you like me to discuss next month? Send me an email at marisasanfilippo@gmail.com letting me know!

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

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Storytelling in Business 101: How to Get Started & Succeed http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/storytelling-business-101-get-started-succeed/ Thu, 02 Mar 2017 12:45:51 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=29578 People sell, stories sell, facts sell, great imagery sells, and thus, storytelling in business has become a popular and effective method of marketing. Harvard Business Review went as far as stating that storytelling has “irresistible power,” noting “we humans have been communicating through stories for upwards of 20,000 years, back when our flat screens were … Continue reading Storytelling in Business 101: How to Get Started & Succeed

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People sell, stories sell, facts sell, great imagery sells, and thus, storytelling in business has become a popular and effective method of marketing.

Harvard Business Review went as far as stating that storytelling has “irresistible power,” noting “we humans have been communicating through stories for upwards of 20,000 years, back when our flat screens were cave walls.” The same article also noted that storytelling “evokes a neurological response.” If you are new to storytelling in business or haven’t been getting results with storytelling, here are few basic things you can do to improve your efforts.

  1. Re-visit what makes your brand unique.

Why should people care about your business? What is your competitive edge? What does your brand offer that the competition lacks? Take a closer look at your brand and ask yourself questions that an outsider might want to know, such as:

  • What makes me worthy of doing business with this brand?
  • What value does this brand offer?
  • How can this brand save me money and solve my problems?
  • How is this brand different from its competitors?
  • Why should I care about this brand?
  1. Make sure you understand your target audience.

I’ve seen a lot of businesses not be successful in marketing in general because they don’t understand their target audience. Oftentimes they think their target audience is everyone, which really can’t be the case. Forbes offers six steps to decoding your target audience:

  • Who are they?
  • What’s their most pressing issue, problem, or desire?
  • Where do they get their info?
  • What benefit of your product solves their problem?
  • What sets off their BS detector?
  • Who do they trust?

 

  1. Craft stories that speak to pain point of your target audience.

Let’s say you sell carpet cleaner. Your target audience might be moms of children ages 15 and under who live in New Jersey. A pain point for them would likely be cleaning the house and you have a product that can make cleaning easier! Your carpet cleaner works fast and works well! It makes cleaning easier. In your storytelling, you’ll want to craft content that speaks to that audience, perhaps using a mom in your storytelling.

Whenever possible, be sure to include actual customers in your storytelling (since they are your target audience after all); I also think this makes storytelling more authentic and believable. In telling your story, you might use data or dialogue. At the end of the day, it’s important to capture attention, build trust, and close the sale (like authors Paul Smith and Mike Weinburg suggest in their book ‘Sell with a Story’).

  1. Don’t just tell with copy or photos, use video.

Video is truly a powerful way to communicate. According to HubSpot, including a video on landing page can increase video conversion by 80 percent and 92 percent of mobile video consumers share video with others. You don’t have to spend a lot money on your video marketing – just learn the basics of it and grab a good camera or even an iPad to record. A video-editing tool like iMovie is powerful and free with Apple products.

 

 

Additional Resources

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby – an older book. Does not focus on storytelling in business but rather storytelling in general. There’s a lot to learn from this book.

Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith

Hooked: How Leaders Connect, Engage, and Inspire with Storytelling by Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu – this books breaks down the art of storytelling and offers greater insight into how to craft your stories.

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

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Email Marketing Basics: Getting Started in 2017 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/email-marketing-basics-getting-started-2017/ Thu, 02 Feb 2017 13:19:00 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=29039 I’ve seen email marketing become the most powerful marketing channel across many different industries. Aside from WORKING, email marketing is highly measurable and affordable. Depending on the amount of emails you send and the email software you use, your email marketing could end up being virtually free; I say virtually because if you are running … Continue reading Email Marketing Basics: Getting Started in 2017

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I’ve seen email marketing become the most powerful marketing channel across many different industries. Aside from WORKING, email marketing is highly measurable and affordable. Depending on the amount of emails you send and the email software you use, your email marketing could end up being virtually free; I say virtually because if you are running the campaigns yourself, your time is money!

If your business is brand new to email marketing or simply has not been getting good results, follow me in this article as I take it back to the basics with: what you need to know to get started with email marketing.

  1. Start building your email list.

Do not buy email addresses and do not add people to your list without getting their permission. People are more likely to open emails if they know who they come from so if you buy emails, in my opinion, you’re wasting your money. If you add people to your email marketing lists who do not opt in, you are more likely to get reporting for spam.

Get started building your email list by:

  • Adding a sign up box to your website.Puracy has this simple sign up box on the bottom left of its website. I like that it’s not intimidating while tempting consumers: “Sign up for our exclusive email offers!”
  • Driving sign ups through Facebook advertising.
  • Enticing users with sign up offers via print marketing.

 

  1. Choose a reliable email marketing software.

You don’t want to use just your email with Gmail, Outlook, or whatever else you use to check your email – you won’t be able to track and analyze results well. There are a ton of email marketing softwares out there, many of which offer free trials. I have been using iContact an am a huge fan, but I do recommend you check out the free trials and figure out which works best for you. I like iContact because it’s not finicky when using template designers and has superb customer support. Pricewise, it’s comparable to competitors.

 

  1. Determine what kind of content you’ll push in your email marketing.

The type of content you will promote will be dependent on your goals. Of course, at the end of the day you want to get more sales, but how are you going to get there through email marketing? Try these tactics:

  • Establish trust
  • Generate excitement
  • Create urgency

 

  1. Develop an email marketing schedule.

This should work with your overall marketing schedule. You don’t want to send too many emails out each month (you could end up annoying your subscribers), but you also don’t want to send too few. Choosing that exact number is always a challenge as it varies from brand to brand. According to Smart Insights, 17 percent of companies are still sending four to five emails to their contacts, while 8 percent sends out emails 6 to 8 times per month. For the complete stats, view the article on email marketing frequency.

 

  1. Segment your lists.

This is one of the most important things you can do as an email marketer. All customers are not created equal and neither is email marketing. As you are just building your email list, you may not have many emails to segment but what I want you keep in mind are the differences between your subscribers. For example, let’s say you’re a realtor. You have a new listing that just came out in the Forked River area selling for $400,000. On your list, you have subscribers who are specifically looking in this area in this budget, but you also have subscribers who could no way afford this budget and have no desire to live in the area – don’t send the people who don’t qualify an email trying to sell them on this property.

 

  1. Craft engaging content.

This may sound like a no brainer, but you can’t imagine how many emails I’ve gotten that had a design painful to my soul and copywriting that just did not make sense (also painful to my soul). If you’re not a writer who does not have any graphic design experience, hire someone who does. P.S. – I’m available!

Creating engaging content starts with the subject line, which I defer you to HubSpot for: 17 Tips & Best Practices for Writing Catchy Email Subject Lines.

Email marketing is a good thing and I hope you will have fun crafting your messages. Here’s to your success!

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Simple Ways to Build Your Social Media Following http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/5-simple-ways-build-social-media-following/ Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:32:11 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=28083 As a social media marketer, one of the most common questions I get asked is, how do I build my social media following? So many people seem to care about that follower count! Rightfully so, having a large following is important for brand awareness and authority. Building a large following can take years – literally … Continue reading 5 Simple Ways to Build Your Social Media Following

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As a social media marketer, one of the most common questions I get asked is, how do I build my social media following? So many people seem to care about that follower count! Rightfully so, having a large following is important for brand awareness and authority.

Building a large following can take years – literally 25,000+ hours. One of my favorite social media influencers, Eren McKay has put in the work. Maybe not exactly that many hours, but I know for a fact that Eren is constantly on social media working on building her following (and being the thought leader she is). Because of her following, getting new business is natural for her. To date, Eren has over 56K Twitter followers and 110,00K Google Plus followers. Realistically, unless you create a post that goes viral or become a celebrity overnight, you probably won’t see numbers equivalent to even half of Eren’s but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Here are five simple things you can do to build a following on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  1. Share engaging content that is not all about you! Social media is a relationship-building tool – not a walking billboard for all things you and your products and services. Share content that answers questions and solves problems or is downright amusing. Why are cats so popular on social media? People love content that makes them feel warm and fuzzy. If you are like most people, you are not going to be able to churn out hundreds of pieces of original content each month. Let tools be your guide. Buzzsumo for example is great for finding the most popular content on the web. Use it to see what generated the most shares that you could in turn, share with your followers.
  2. Share often. Because the shelf life of a tweet is 60 seconds, you really can’t tweet too much. As a rule of thumb, share at least one tweet a day. As far as Facebook, Google Plus, and Instagram go – I typically say at minimum share two pieces of content a week, and at the max five. You don’t want to burden your followers by sharing too much! Use a tool like Buffer to schedule content in advance. The best way to streamline all this sharing is to plan it out on a monthly or weekly a basis. Then, on a daily basis, get some of your manual posts in (RTs on Twitter, shares on Facebook, etc.) and keep up with engagement.
  3. Engage! Social media is not meant to be a one-way streak. Join in on conversations. Listen to what other users are talking about and see where you can help them out or say something noteworthy to strike up conversation. You can monitor conversations by typing in different keywords on the search boxes of each channel. Twitter Advanced Search is my favorite. Since Twitter is so open, it’s easy to see what users are talking about. While you could engage with a simple ‘like’ if you really want to get noticed, engage with a sincere and thoughtful comment for greater exposure.
  4. Follow other users. Sometimes when users see you follow them, they will follow you back. Spend a few hours each week on each channel seeking out people in your target audience and follow them. Not sure where to start? Shh… don’t tell your competitors, but that’s where! See who is following your competitors and follow them. You can also follow people who are talking about your industry or similar products or services.
  5. This should always be your last resort after you have already done all of the above and for at least several weeks, have been posting valuable content. Instagram Advertising can be run on Facebook typically for less than a dollar per new follower. Twitter Advertising can be run right on Twitter. Twitter Advertising tends to be double the cost of Facebook and in my experience, no mater hour good the targeting is, not a great return on investment. Facebook Advertising has been great in reaching the right new audience. Don’t ever buy followers from sites that promise you followers!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at marisasanfilippo@gmail.com.

marisa

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

 

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Website Checkup: Cures for Lack of Leads & Sales http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/website-checkup-cures-lack-leads-sales/ Wed, 02 Nov 2016 21:26:58 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=27471 Is your website generating little or zero sales? If so, you are obviously missing out on some serious opportunities to grow your business. Building a website is not one those “if you build it they will come” sort of things. Getting the website up and running is just the first part in attracting leads online. … Continue reading Website Checkup: Cures for Lack of Leads & Sales

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Is your website generating little or zero sales? If so, you are obviously missing out on some serious opportunities to grow your business. Building a website is not one those “if you build it they will come” sort of things. Getting the website up and running is just the first part in attracting leads online. If your website is not working for you, try these things.

  1. Clarity is key.

When Internet users visit your website, right away they should be able to tell what kind of business you have and what you do. There shouldn’t be any guessing and confusion on the user’s part.

 

  1. Engage, engage, engage.

Your website needs to pull visitors in and engage them be it with clever copy, catchy images, or hard to look away from videos. According to HubSpot, shoppers who view video are 1.18x more likely to purchase than non-viewers.

 

  1. Save the jargon for internal communications.

Your website needs to have copy that speaks the language of your target audience. While certain words may make sense in your industry and among staff, they may leave prospects feeling confused. Get rid of any jargon. Oftentimes, we are so deep into our industries that what does not come across as jargon to us does to others, therefore, it’s always a good idea to get an outsider’s perspective; ask a friend to review your website and tell you what they think.

  1. Test page loading times.

In my recent Huffington Post article I noted: 40 percent of Internet users abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. There are tools like Pingdom and WebPageTest that you can use to test loading times. Oftentimes coding structure and high media bandwidth can slow down webpages.

 

  1. Create valuable content.

This goes back to tip No. 2, engaging. When creating content, consider the needs of your target audience. Sure, you have products and/or services to sell, but how you portray those offerings is key. Speak to more than just features. Talk up value. Why should people care about what you are offering? What sets your products and services apart from the competition?

 

  1. Find out what the problems are first hand and solve them. 

If you can’t find anything wrong with your website, go straight to your existing customers. Ask them to review your website and give you feedback. Perhaps in return for their time you can reward them with a gift certificate. Getting feedback can be small scale – sending out online surveys. Survey Monkey is my favorite survey tool – a basic plan that allows for 10 questions and 100 responses is free to use. If you have the resources for it, on a larger scale you could hold a focus group.

 

  1. Checkout needs to be seamless.

According to Forbes, shopping cart abandonment is as high as 80 percent! The same Forbes article also noted that “annoyed at complicated checkout process” is the No. 1 reason people abandon their shopping carts. Here are some ways to improve your checkout process, as suggested by the writer:

 

  • Make checkout mobile friendly. AdWeek noted that 55 percent of people in a Facebook study said they buy via mobile because of its convenience while 55 percent said they would be more likely to shop online if they could do so across more devices.
  • Use a progress indicator – it shows the stage the buyer is at during the checkout process.
  • Be generous with payment options. PayPal is desirable to a lot of consumers but as a business, it’s not always the most cost efficient option. In being generous with your payment options allow consumers to pay by various credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. If you are not interested in taking credit cards because of credit card processing expenses, check out companies like Red Bank based Priority Payments Local for cost savings.

 

If you are still having problems with your website, feel free to shoot me an email at marisasanfilippo@gmail.com.

marisa

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

 

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Must Read Books for Marketing Mavens (or Mavens in Training) http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/must-read-books-marketing-mavens-mavens-training/ Thu, 06 Oct 2016 11:44:30 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=26762 You have likely heard the saying “knowledge is power.” I am a firm believer in it! There is a sense of power and confidence I get when I read a good business or marketing book that I just never seem to get from reading an article online or watching a webinar. While articles and webinars … Continue reading Must Read Books for Marketing Mavens (or Mavens in Training)

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You have likely heard the saying “knowledge is power.” I am a firm believer in it! There is a sense of power and confidence I get when I read a good business or marketing book that I just never seem to get from reading an article online or watching a webinar. While articles and webinars can be great resources for learning, there’s nothing like getting an education the “old fashioned way” – from a book. The following books have helped me become the marketer I am today and highly recommend adding them to your reading list.

Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage, and Delight Customers Online

by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

The original version of this was quite possibly the first marketing book I read after college. It’s a good book for beginners as it breaks down how to create content and get it found online. In addition, it covers some social media techniques from how to get followers on Facebook to how to track your social media marketing efforts.

New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

Even if you are a seasoned PR and marketing professional, you are bound to learn something new from this book. It offers insight on what used to work and what’s working now in the industries. My favorite chapter of the book is chapter four. Many people think they can just dive into social media, write some posts, upload a few photos and just like that, get sales from social. This book gives those believers a reality check helping them to understand that social media is about building relationships.

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To-Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

If you’ve been in the marketing industry for a bit, the name Ann Handley might (and should) sound familiar to you. Handley is one of the top influencers in the marketing world famously known for her work with MarketingProfs. This book guided me toward taking my content to the next level. It’s a good read for marketers at all levels. Even if your marketing job does not specifically require you to create blog posts or social media content, you still need to be a good writer and Handley helps teach you how.

Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen

This book is for anyone who manages social media accounts for a living. Kerpen advises what social media can and cannot do, how to really listen to your followers, how to reach the right people, and more. My biggest takeaways from this book came when Kerpen spoke to creating useful content urging marketers to ask themselves:

  • Will the recipients of this message truly find it of value, or will they find it annoying?
  • Would I want to receive this message as a consumer?

For even more insight on how to get your brand to be ‘likable’ on social media, add Likeable Social Media to your reading list.

Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy with Kit Yarrow

This is not a marketing book per say, but every good marketer knows that understanding the target audience of the brand they’re selling is key to success. The book outlines what motivates consumers to pay attention to brands and move from prospect status to customer status, outlining three cultural shifts and four marketing strategies to meet them. The strategies are more advanced but not impossible to put in place. If you are a seasoned marketer who has been doing things the same way for a long time, this book will give you some insight into why those strategies are no longer ideal for optimal performance.

If you do decide to pick up any of these books, be sure to let me know what you think of them. I can be reached at marisasanfilippo@gmail.com or on Twitter at @MarisaASan.

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

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How to Get Started Using Twitter for Business http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/get-started-using-twitter-business/ Thu, 01 Sep 2016 02:36:51 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=26432 I have a confession to make … I am obsessed with Twitter. Admittedly, several years ago when I first got started with it I thought it was kind of pointless. It took me a few years to become a regular user, reaping the benefits of it and now I am addicted. Twitter was created back … Continue reading How to Get Started Using Twitter for Business

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I have a confession to make … I am obsessed with Twitter. Admittedly, several years ago when I first got started with it I thought it was kind of pointless. It took me a few years to become a regular user, reaping the benefits of it and now I am addicted.

Twitter was created back in 2006 as a “microblogging” type of social media channel. In 140 characters or less, users can share their message, known as a tweet. Since inception, Twitter has become an invaluable source for news. I remember when the tragic Boston Bombings happened – Twitter gave me the most updated news, for example.

Today, Twitter has over 320 million users, as reported by Social Times in March. In working with a lot of small businesses, I have seen the positive effects Twitter can have on brand awareness and company revenue.

If you are thinking about using Twitter for business, here are few tips to set you up for success.

  1. Choose a username wisely.

Your username should be the name of your business or a variation of it. Twitter limits usernames to 15 characters. If your business name is already taken, you can try adding underscores to it or tagging it with your state’s name (assuming you are a local business).

 

  1. Upload a cover and profile image, ideally with people in them.

Oftentimes people forget that social media is supposed to be social. If possible, upload an engaging cover and profile image that has people in them. In my experience, I have seen that people sell. For example, if you sell purses, showing a photo of an attractive woman using one of your purses can make more of an impression vs. just showing the purse by itself. Since social media is always changing, when you are ready to upload your photos, double-check the size requirements. You never want to take small images and stretch them out – your images should be clear and fit the spaces accordingly. Adding photos with people is especially important if you run a small business and don’t have the luxury of taking high-end photos of really pretty products.

 

  1. Write an engaging bio that uses keywords.

When other Twitter users see your profile and are deciding whether or not they want to follow you, in addition to looking at your cover and profile photos, they will look at your bio in order to find out what you and/or your business is about. Twitter gives you 160 characters to make an impression. When possible, add some personality to your bio. Here’s an example of mine:

marisa sept 1

And here are some businesses I follow that did a good job with their bios:

marisa sept 2 marisa sept 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

marisa sept 4 marisa sept 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why add keywords? Because you want your profile to increase its likelihood of getting found. I am also a big fan of adding links to your bio – they could be links to your other social media channels, your blog, or a specific landing page, which could help generate leads.

 

  1. Practice selective Twitter outreach.

Some people will go crazy following any old account on Twitter. Don’t do this. If you go a little too crazy and start following too many people at one time, a red flag could be set off and Twitter could shut down your account. Follow people you find interesting or think could be good for business. In addition, engage the people you follow in conversation. Build relationships. Don’t worry about sales right away and instead make your efforts on getting to know other users. Use Twitter Advanced Search to see what’s being talked about around keywords that are relevant to your brand then engage users as applicable – I call this Twitter outreach.

 

These tips are the very basics, as everyone needs to start somewhere. If you’d to request a more advanced article on how to use Twitter for Business, please feel free to send me an email at marisasanfilippo@gmail.com

marisa

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How to Use Linkedin to Get New Business http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/use-linkedin-get-new-business/ Thu, 04 Aug 2016 00:18:35 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=25924 There are 332 million people on Linkedin, with two new members joining every second (according to a Linkedin Pulse article by Katy Elle Blake). In the same article, Blake noted: 29 percent of US adults use Linkedin daily and the average user spends 17 minutes per month on the site. I’ve been on Linkedin since … Continue reading How to Use Linkedin to Get New Business

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There are 332 million people on Linkedin, with two new members joining every second (according to a Linkedin Pulse article by Katy Elle Blake). In the same article, Blake noted: 29 percent of US adults use Linkedin daily and the average user spends 17 minutes per month on the site.

I’ve been on Linkedin since 2007 (right before I graduated college) and have seen it grow drastically into an invaluable business tool. When used correctly, Linkedin can be a big lead generating machine.

If you’re using Linkedin and are not getting leads from it, you’re doing sometime wrong. Here are a few basic tips you can start following today to help start generating leads for your business.

Tip 1: Make sure your profile is optimized.

It’s important to fill out each section accordingly – doing so makes your profile searchable. Use keywords that are relevant to what you do, who you are, and which services you provide. Include an engaging headline that does not tell people what your job description alone is, but rather, what you do and how you can help them. Removing your job title all together from your headline is also an option that can work well. I recommend keeping your job title only if it be considered a keyword you’d like to get found for.

Upload a photo of yourself. Having that photo adds some personality to your profile, shows that you’re a real person, and could even help it get more views; profiles that have photos typically get 11 times more views, according to marketing influencer Jeff Bullas. Headshots are best for photos – never use a full body image or an image that has another person in the photo with you, like so:

marissa aug 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next vital section of your profile is the summary; it gives readers a better understanding of who you are. Consider it your 30 second elevator pitch. In 30 seconds or less, what do you need to tell prospects to capture their attention?

Tip 2: Be active!

There are two key ways to be active on Linkedin:

  1. Participating in Group Conversations

After you’ve optimized your profile, start joining applicable groups; “applicable” meaning groups relevant to your industry and groups in which your prospects might belong to. Don’t just be a member – participate in group discussions and start your own, offering valuable, through-provoking discussion. In doing so, you expand your reach and help establish yourself as a thought leader.

  1. Posting Status Updates

According to Buffer, a single Linkedin status update reaches 20 percent of your followers – Linkedin status updates get you expanded reach. If your profile is not getting seen by anyone, then how could you possibly be getting new business from Linkedin? Buffer also suggests posting as many status updates as your content supports. Your status updates need to be professional. Here are two examples of status updates I recently posted:

marissa aug 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(News about a recent honor I received.)

marissa aug 3

 

 

 

 

(An article I published on Huffington Post.)

Tip 3: Engage and Re-engage Your Connections

Oftentimes you’ll get requests from strangers. Use their connection requests as an opportunity to introduce yourself and see how you can mutually help each other. Build relationships with your connections. Re-engage those connections at least twice a year but in doing so, don’t push your products and services down their throats. You’ve already introduced yourself – they know who are you and what you do. Offer to help them without expecting anything in return. Check in to see how they are doing and what’s new with them. Start conversations.

By following these tips and giving before you take, you’d be surprised at how naturally the leads flow. If you have any questions or need help optimizing your profile, please contact me at marisasanfilippo@gmail.com.

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How to Use the 5 Psychological Shifts to Increase Your Marketing Game http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/use-5-psychological-shifts-increase-marketing-game/ Thu, 07 Jul 2016 13:12:36 +0000 http://www.forkedrivergazette.com/?p=25508 In last month’s article, I wrote about the five psychological shifts that could take your marketing to the next level. In this month’s article, I’m breaking down what those shifts are and how you can simply apply them to your business. Shift 1: Innovation Optimism Due to consumers craving the “new,” brands are being pressured … Continue reading How to Use the 5 Psychological Shifts to Increase Your Marketing Game

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In last month’s article, I wrote about the five psychological shifts that could take your marketing to the next level. In this month’s article, I’m breaking down what those shifts are and how you can simply apply them to your business.

Shift 1: Innovation Optimism

Due to consumers craving the “new,” brands are being pressured to be more innovative. PR agency Ketchum found that 68 percent of consumers are willing to pay on average 21 percent more for a brand they consider innovative. Nine in 10 in the survey they gave said innovation is important to their brand preference.

Is it always possible to innovate? In my opinion, for brands as a whole, yes; for their products, no. What about the guys who sell rocks or plumbing supplies? No offense to them but let’s be real – some products just are what they are and are as good as they are ever going to be.

If you sell products that can’t be any more innovative than they already are, I suggest you at least utilize the most appropriate marketing channels to get the word out about your products. Among those channels there’s always room to add a little ‘spice.’ Give your brand a voice and create campaigns that get attention.

Not only are consumers hungry for the new according to the author these principles came from — Kit Yarrow — consumers are hungry for experiences.

Shift 2: Consumer Empowerment

Due to consumers having a new sense of empowerment, they are out sharing their opinion with the world. And because trust for businesses is at an all time low (Yarrow) their followers are eating it up. Add these to your weekly to do list.

  1. Get a crash course on how to handle negative reviews online. Try sites like Search Engine Land, Sprout Social, and Practical Ecommerce for help. If you’re not a good writer, hire someone to do the addressing for you (my No. 5 to do).
  2. Visit Google Alerts and set up a free alert using your brand name.
  3. Monitor the alerts that come through from your brand (they will typically come from websites rather than social media).
  4. Monitor your social media channels, Yelp, and Google Reviews for feedback.
  5. Address any feedback accordingly – the good and the bad.

Shift 3: Faster Ways of Thinking

Faster Ways of Thinking refers to consumers’ “need for speed” and wanting what they want when they want it. In order to catch consumers’ attention, be sure to:

  • Target your marketing messages accordingly.
  • Create scannable content – get to the point and break up long paragraphs with images or subheadings like I used in this article.
  • Can the stock images – use unique imagery that is hard to miss.

Shift 4: Symbol Power

Because consumers are increasingly skimming and scanning rather than reading (Yarrow) they prefer “photos, visual cues, and symbolism over words.” Just like you might consider color psychology as a form of symbol power, you’ll also need to consider word power, product placement, and olfactory cues.

Shift 5: New Ways of Connecting

marissa july 1

In utilizing this final shift, take a look at how your customers and prospects form relationships. I bet you find that the majority live in this virtual world where they are consumed with their smartphones and tablets. In the past, you may have held a sale at your brick and mortar store, for example. Today, holding one online could yield better results or be equally as important. If your website allows it, use promo codes at check out. You could also run special social media only promotions. In addition, not nearly enough companies are utilizing mobile marketing. The open rate of SMS is 98 percent compared with 22 percent for emails according to Venture Beat! The text messages I get from Too Faced makeup, pictured, and mobile reminders I get from my gym are hard to ignore.

Want to learn more about a specific topic? Please feel free to email me at marisasanfilippo@gmail.com.

marisa

Marisa Sanfilippo is a journalist turned award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, Patch, and other publications.

 

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