Clarity Trumps Cleverness

In communication, clarity trumps everything and most of all cleverness. Clarity determines the style, the length, the time and mode of communication.

This is true in other areas as well. As a programmer in my “other” life, I learned early on that if you use a smart logic or lines of code to accomplish some task, ensure that you comment in detail because when you’ll see that code after few weeks, you’ll have no idea what it does.

Clarity brings purpose into focus and enhances engagement. True for clients, true for life.

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Sometimes the difference between a good idea and a bad idea is in the execution.

In marketing and other areas of growing a business, two people may execute an idea along a same line but may see very different results. Let me explain this with an example.

E-mail nurturing is a powerful way to engage with your prospects to grow business. Two different organizations send out relevant emails to their prospects on the same day and yet have very different results. Here are tiny details that I have seen can make a huge difference.

  1. Time when the email is sent out. Is it sent out immediately when a prospect shows interest or an hour later? We have seen that best results are seen when an email is sent immediately while they are still on your website or toying with your product. An hour later, in some cases even 30 minutes later will not show the same result because someone else may have engaged them already.
  2. Both sent relevant content. But one personalized it further by job title or the industry the prospect belongs to.
  3. One sent an HTML email that screams, “marketing content!” and the other a plain text email that seems more personalized and a better chance of being delivered and read.

These seemingly minor differences can draw a line between success and failure.

We See What We Want To See

In an age of data overload and analytics we swear by, I am reminded that caution is in order.

A quick snapshot into analytics can be very misleading; it can tell you where you are, but may completely fail to tell you where you are headed. If you are doing a correlation, sometimes, strange data sets or events may seem related and may totally mislead you.

Autism-Organic

Approach analytics with a child like curiosity and intensity. No hunches or premonitions. Scan the length and breadth of the data and be wary of snapshots. Otherwise, we’ll see what we want to see.

Near Miss Or A Total Catastrophe

You just escaped an event that could have resulted in a major financial loss or a serious injury. But you escaped it. You are now out of it and your finances are in place and your health is intact. You take a deep breath and move on with your life. Or do you?

Rollback a bit and take a pause. What just happened there? In simple words, you just got lucky. What are the chances that it won’t happen again? A more pertinent question may be, why were you in that situation to begin with? Were there signals out there hinting of a looming disaster? Did you ignore them and just moved on until you were almost hit by it? Now that you got lucky, what do you do? Move on or fix what brought you so close to a disaster? The answer is obvious.

In a book, Managing the Unexpected by Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe, they argue that resilient organizations treat near misses as failures and make sure that they are never faced with that situation again.

If we as individuals, start to treat near misses as failures and take actions to prevent a repeat, we’ll be better at managing our work, relationships and responsibilities we are entrusted with.

What Do You Do When You Hit A Wall?

When you hit a wall, what do you do? Do you take the easy way out or do you stick in there and dig?

There’s a lot that you can do by playing on the surface. But that won’t make a difference. You’ll have to roll your sleeves and dig in deep. You’ll have to get out of your comfort zone and explore new ideas and strategies. If you are not sweating and not feeling the pain, the walls are not going to shrink.

So, when you hit a wall, don’t squirm around, dig in!

3 Steps To Dig Out From Your Social Media Rut

Are you managing your company’s social media marketing? How are you performing? Are you making an impact or are you stuck?

Most professionals would like to think that they dig and find new ways when they hit a wall. However, in reality, many squirm around the problem and hope that somehow their efforts would yield results. It doesn’t work that way. When you are stuck, you have to dig.

How do you dig out of it? Let’s deal with this situation head on.

Situation
Your social media content is not creating the buzz and not engaging with your followers.

I have seen many businesses treat their social media channels as a gateway to share cute and hopefully enthralling news from around the world. They will throw in great stories of samaritans, animals acting funny on cameras and of course, how to beat the Monday blues and get excited about weekends!

We do this because who wouldn’t like those warm and fuzzy stories. But in this pursuit, we lose the focus of why fans are following our business on Facebook and Twitter. If they want those fuzzy stories, there are organizations that champion and promote such stories. They can always get it from them. More importantly, you are simply curating content that’s gone viral and very likely they have been viewed by everyone all over the web umpteen times. Where’s your creativity, what’s your contribution?

Solution
To conquer this challenge, you must first answer the big question.

1. The Big Question

What’s the motivation behind creating this social media channel? Do you want to help your clients learn more about your product? Do you want to engage with prospects? A mix of both? Do you want to establish yourself as the thought leader in your business space? Do you want to cater to a certain group of professionals by providing them with helpful tips? What’s the goal? You have to be absolutely clear about it. Keep the goal focussed. Having too many goals will only derail the impact.

Nike created their Facebook page with the goal to motivate people, athletes. They are not selling products, they are not providing customer support, simply encouraging followers to be active and out there.

Once you know your goal, start thinking about your audience.
2. Know your audience
Who are they? Knowing your audience will help you promote your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin posts. What really helps is creating a persona of your followers. Who’s your typical follower, sketch the persona of that person and keep it in front of you when you write the content. Try to understand their pain points and align that with your goal.

3. Build a Strategy
Once you know your goal and the audience, now’s the time to strategize. Many marketers would start with the strategy straight away, Don’t. You’ll only be shooting in the dark and throwing everything around to see what sticks.

If you are looking to upsell to your clients, focus on upcoming products, give them discount coupons. Engage them through promotions and referrals. If you are trying to convince prospects, focus on case studies, testimonials, thought leadership articles. You have to strategize based on your goal and audience. Also, being aware of your brand identity and the kind of product or service that you offer and the budget that you have will all play into your strategy.

But if you are stuck, and want to dig out, you’ll have to roll your sleeves and strategize.

What You Need To Know About SEO

SEO – Search Engine Optimization can encapsulate a lot of things  for a lot of us. There are many optimizations you can make to your web content that will help search engines find them easily and more importantly, display them on top of search results.

In this article, I am going to break down SEO in its simplest forms; Content and Linkbacks.

1. CONTENT
This is what tells the search engines what your website is all about. What do you sell? What’s your idea? What’s your expertise or opinion? Search engines do so by figuring out what’s the most used word on your website. In fact, it keeps a tab of all words and how many times each one of them is used on that page. Which is why, when you start SEO, the first question asked is, “what are your keywords?”

Keywords:
Simply put, this is what people are typing in when searching for what you provide. You may be a veteneranian, but your keyword will not just be a veteneranian or a pet doctor or an animal doctor, but also all the common diseases that pets deal with. Location of your office or offices is also an important keyword besides other things. This is critical, so choose your keywords wisely, There’s some relief as Google and Bing provide you with keyword search tools.

Keyword Search Tools:
a. https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
b. http://www.bing.com/toolbox/keywords

There are other tools, like
c. http://www.moz.com and
d. https://www.compete.com

These tools will help you gain some competitive intelligence too and tell you what keywords your competitors are using to drive traffic to their websites.

Word of Caution:
Remember, just because your website has lots of keywords, it won’t mean that you’ll start to show up in search results. In fact, be wary of overusing keywords. Google does not like being tricked. If it figures out and it does very quickly that you have stuffed the page with keywords, it may penalize your website by completely deleting that page or the entire website from its search index. Bad place to be in. So, optimize, but don’t over optimize.

SEO Template

If you want to show up high in search results, you must have high quality content. There’s no substitute for it. One clear indicator of high quality content is how many people have referenced your website by linking to it from their websites, blogs, social media sites etc. This constitutes, linkbacks.

Before we get to linkbacks, take a look at the “SEO Keyword Template” image. I created this image to give a visual reference of where keywords can be used most effectively.

 

2. LINKBACKS
This is what tells the search engines, how popular your content is compared to other sites that deal with the same topic. More linkbacks mean higher popularity and higher position in the search result display.

Another, Word of Caution:
Do not buy linkbacks, there are many who will promise 100’s of linkbacks for a few bucks. Google will figure that out sooner than later. Also, sprinkling linkbacks by creating dummy sites won’t help either, nor would commenting on public blogs in hope of getting linkbacks.

Linkbacks have to be earned through high quality content. Make your content compelling and unique that its readers can’t help but share. It’s easier said than done and hence this method works. Only the best content will bubble up.

Now there are actions you can take to make the sharing of your content easier.

How To Increase Linkbacks?

a. Write compelling content
b. Create engaging infographics. People like to share images, providing interesting infographics increases the chances of sharing. “SEO Keyword Template”, hopefully is one such image! Go ahead, share it!!
c. Distribute your content through different social media channels and blogs where you have a chance of finding more readers.
d. Find the right audience to promote your content. A great veteneranian is great only for pet lovers and pet owners. Post links to professional groups on Linkedin, meetup and other similar sites.

Concluding Thoughts
These are simple and time tested ideas to get you started on the right track. Following these tips will help you boost your search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your webiste. There are many other actions you can take to improve SEO. Broadly, those actions can be classified either as “on page optimization” or “off page optimizations.” I’ll talk about other methods of improving SEO in subsequent blogs.

Who Did You Design That Website For?

I have seen many businesses focus so much on the visual appeal of their websites that the functional appeal is either lost or compromised.

First impression is important, but everlasting impression is the goal and that is achieved through great user experience.

If you sell pet food, there’s no reason why your website should look like a web designer’s portfolio.