Can you believe 2015 is right around the corner? I sure can’t. As so often happens at the end of the year, ‘tis the season for 2014 wrap-up blog posts.
Earlier this month, Casie Gillette at KoMarketing, a search, social and content firm we work with on our client Hallmark Business Connections, posted the 10 things she’s learned about SEO in 2014. I especially liked number three: “Content Marketing Must Have Marketing.”
This key learning is so true. Content marketing is a double-edged sword. Great content means nothing if no one reads it, and no one will read your content unless it’s great. We’ll just assume for now that you have engaging, recipient-oriented content. (If you’re having trouble with content creation, check out my last post on content creation tips and tricks.) So, now you have to get your content read. At Morningstar Communications we create content marketing plans for each piece of content released. These plans include content marketing strategies and tactics across the Four-Channel Media Model. From sample tweets and LinkedIn posts, to one-to-one communications with customers, these promo plans ensure your content makes it to the people who matter most to your organization.
In 2015, I challenge you to think of every piece of content as a multi-channel marketing opportunity. How can you leverage your content across the board? Creation and execution of a content marketing plan will help.
What are your favorite key learnings from 2014?Tagged content creation, Content Marketing, Hallmark Business Connections, Morningstar Communications
Content marketing strategies require creativity, dedication and endurance. In addition to being comprehensive and well thought out, your content needs to fit into an overarching strategic plan for your company, and that includes your social media efforts.
The purpose of content is to give the people who matter most to your organization access to information of interest and relevance to them. Simply put, your content educates your target audience. The purpose of social media is to start a conversation.
Speaker and author Jay Baer says, “Social media is the new telephone. Content marketing is the new brochure.”
These words are too true. So, why not align your social media efforts with your content marketing plan? Once your target audience has consumed your content, use social media to gauge their reaction, start a conversation and further extend the life of the content you created.
Here are three tips for supporting your content marketing strategy with engaging social media posts.
Utilize content calendars:
Content calendars are an effective and efficient way to determine topics of focus for the year and to develop manageable timelines. Create a social media calendar in addition to your content calendar to ensure your topic areas align.
While having a plan for your social media and content efforts is necessary and helpful, it is also important to join conversations that unexpectedly arise throughout the year. If a topic surfaces that relates to your business, draft a blog post or byline with accompanying social media posts to further position your company as a thought leader in your industry.
Keep your audience in mind:
Understand who follows you on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and what they are looking for on each platform. When possible, tailor your posts and content to meet the needs of your audience.
Aligning your content marketing and social media efforts is an effective way to educate and interact with your target audiences. If you’re interested in learning more about these topics or have a comment or question, drop us a line on Facebook or LinkedIn.Tagged Content Marketing, Morningstar Communications, social media
With all of us in the thick of the holiday season, it's easy for team members' productivity levels to slip at work. We are easily distracted, looking forward to spending time with family, stressing about gifts, preparing for travel and all the other things that go into planning for the holidays. The following tips will help the team stay focused and ensure they end its year on a high note:
Make sure every team member is aware of each others' schedules during the holidays. A shared calendar is a very handy tool. Mark the hours and days each member is out during the season. This can help develop a plan to ensure they cover all client projects and meet pending deadlines.
Help your team prepare a priority list. Holidays are a busy time and having a list of priority items gives each team member a clear focus area. They will spend productive time tackling the most pressing items, especially those with year-end deadlines.
Lend a hand
While you may have some time to spare, another team member may be swamped in client work or projects. This is the perfect time to show your team spirit and offer a helping hand. It is also an opportunity to learn something new about a part of your company or a client you aren’t currently familiar with.
Spring clean in winter
If your priority list is small or already taken care of, there's no dearth of preparation you could do to welcome a new work year. Take advantage of the down time by reorganizing your files, cleaning out your desk (or the office fridge – major brownie points with your team members!) and sorting through your files, making a list of what your clients are expecting from you in the first week of the new year and whom you will need to reconnect with. Make some 2015 goals and write them down.
Be reasonable and embrace the holiday spirit
It’s important to remember that the holidays are a time when you have to be reasonable. You can’t expect employees to stay late every night. Unless it’s necessary, be understanding about the time your team members can put into their jobs. As long as they are delivering on their expected daily and weekly work hours, they should be allowed to leave at a reasonable time.
As marketing and technology evolve, so should your strategy. Meaningful, recipient-oriented content creation is a highly effective way to reach the people who matter most to your business. Combine this with marketing automation and strategic communicators will adequately identify engaged users and prospects in the ever-changing B2B landscape.
Marketing automation is a proven method. According to Act-On, companies that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451 percent increase in qualified leads.
Learn more and discover how marketing automation makes sense for your business:
1. Reach out to the right people at the right time. With the ability to measure how your content impacts the buyer journey through email and social media campaigns, your sales team better understands when to reach out to qualified leads, and consequently increases business development and revenue.
2. Get to know your customers. Increased data from your marketing automation platform will help you understand what makes customers tick. Embrace recipient-oriented communications and personalize your messages to prospects. The marketing team can adjust communications depending on users’ positions in the sales funnel.
3. Maximize search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Marketing automation platforms like Act-On help identify key words to utilize month to month in blog posts and website content. Ensure your communications rise to the top of Google searches, and thought leadership is smart, timely and thoughtful.
Is your company interested in being among the 80 percent of businesses realizing marketing automation ROI in less than one year? Learn more by interacting with us on Twitter and calling us at (913) 851-8700.Tagged Act-On, B2B, content creation, Content Marketing, Hannah Babcock, Marketing Automation, Morningstar Communications
In school, we’re constantly required to create and write new content. While original content creation is a necessary skill for those of us in the marketing world, we often get caught up in trying to “reinvent the wheel,” which is quite time consuming and therefore costly.
At Morningstar Communications, we are firm believers in repurposing content, when appropriate, of course. For example, we often create promotional plans for our clients in which we recommend creating materials such as a press release and then repurposing the content in the release to form blog posts, social media posts, etc. I found a recent article intriguing, discussing the benefits of content repurposing. Here are the highlights:
Tagged Content Repurposing, impact, Laura Jung, Morningstar Communications, SEO
Interested in learning more about how Morningstar Communications can assist you in boosting your SEO, expanding your reach, making an impact and reducing stress through content creation and repurposing? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
As one of my favorite authors, Lewis Carroll, once said, “One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.”
I love this quote because while it’s so applicable to all aspects of life, it particularly relates to the public relations world. Those who put their clients’ needs first and foremost are those who thrive and succeed in the PR industry.
At Morningstar Communications we focus on providing exceptional client service through several proven account management techniques. And over the years, we’ve become known for these methods as our clients regularly voice their appreciation. Want to enhance your client service and become known as a client champion? Take these tips into consideration:
Hold regular meetings. With numerous deadlines and hectic work travel schedules, it can be difficult to carve out time for a meeting to touch base with clients on weekly needs. At Morningstar Communications, we schedule regular meetings with each of our clients for the entire year (i.e. the first Wednesday of every month). This helps keep our team and clients organized, focused on overarching goals and accountable for deliverables despite crazy time restraints.
Provide meeting recaps. After every client meeting we compile a recap email listing action items for our team and our client. We organize action items in order of importance to help team members and clients prioritize their workloads. In addition, we also send out a separate internal email outlining which team member will take point on each action item. This strategy allows us to communicate what needs to be done in an effective and efficient manner with everyone involved on an account.
Schedule mid- and end-year review sessions. Halfway through each year and at the end of each year, we schedule time with each of our clients to discuss what’s worked, what hasn’t worked and what should be added to enhance our relationship. This allows us to highlight our successes and provide our best recommendations for the following year.
I encourage you to implement these methods into your account management services and share the feedback you receive from clients and your team members with us on Facebook.
Tagged client service, Laura Jung, Morningstar Communications
Especially now, humility is something all executives need – and an extra large helping at that.
Look at the news these days. So many stories focus on individuals who believe rules aren’t for them and they can do no wrong. Have they never heard of servant leadership?
At Morningstar Communications, we frequently help executives “craft and deliver” persuasive presentations. Some of these presentations are for sales opportunities, while others target internal or industry audiences.
These presentations share common ground by emphasizing that each leader has a story to tell. The goal of each presentation is to make sure recipients think what the leader wants them to think, and do what the leader wants them to do.
Each executive I have the pleasure of coaching is terrific. You don’t become a C-level executive without both the skill and will for excellence. However, very few top executives have received coaching on the fundamentals of how to create and deliver persuasive presentations. They know their stuff, but they don’t all know how to tell their story for maximum impact.
And even fewer embrace the power of humility.
Bob Marcusse, President and CEO at the Kansas City Area Development Council, gets it. Bob’s team at KCADC, one of our long-term clients, is responsible for the regional economic development activities for Kansas City. They build and promote our regional brand, as well as put a spotlight on talent recruitment and targeted industry clusters in order to help businesses move here or expand. Kansas City is characterized by the “aw shucks” Midwestern spirit. No one summarizes this sentiment better than Bob. He once said, “If Kansas City was on the shores of Lake Superior, we’d probably rebrand it as ‘Lake Pretty Good.’”
I find the most confident C-level executives get this. Big time. They know they’ve got the goods and they’re self-confident enough not to let their ego get in their way.
These executives understand the “mirror vs. window” metaphor as it relates to praise or criticism and continuously incorporate it into their work.
Nobody likes an egomaniac. Nobody goes the extra mile fora person they don’t like or respect. Competency and leadership skills are now simply "entry fees" to become a great executive. In order to win the hearts and minds of the people who matter most, the very best executives incorporate authentic humility within their presentations. We all relate better to someone who is “like us” and humility helps bridge the chasm that often exists between top execs and the rest of the team.
There are proven presentation techniques to incorporate within persuasive presentations, including an appropriate use of self-effacing humor, acknowledging current events and particular body language and movements. As always, the key to effectively utilizing humility is authenticity: people will see right through a smokescreen, especially if it’s gratuitous or superficial.
But for those confident executives, embrace humility and you’ll get others to move mountains for you.
Onward and upward!
Employee engagement is designed to ensure employees are committed to the goals of their organization and motivated to contribute to the organizations' success while enhancing their own sense of well being. It is important for employers to make a priority of getting to know their employees so they can meet their needs and enable employees to fully engage in work.
Most businesses spend a lot of time and money finding and training good team members, but make the colossal mistake of not showing their appreciation often enough. According to the US Department of Labor, “lack of appreciation" is the number one reason employees leave their jobs. Clearly benefits, bonus programs and salaries are no longer the only factors employees use to measure job satisfaction.
Employers must recognize and understand the emotional needs of employees to feel appreciation, acknowledgment and empowerment by management and colleagues. This basic human need has an enormous impact on individual performance, productivity and consequently the financial health of the company.
Here are some tips for effective employee engagement:
Establish clear expectations of responsibilities and goals: It is important employees clearly understand what is expected of them, and that they’re allowed to play an active role in setting their performance goals. It is also necessary to tailor these goals according to each employee’s talents and expertise; not a “one size fits all” concept.
Recognize and reward performance and effort: Give employees a sense of support and the feeling of a job well done by marking both individual and group performance with recognition and celebration. Rewarding an employee or group for a job well done is the icing on the cake. Rewards can be as simple as a day off work or tickets to a baseball game, or a gift card to a popular, upscale restaurant.
Have an effective feedback mechanism: It is important to provide regular, timely and constructive feedback, and the mechanism should work both ways. Employees should expect regular feedback from management and colleagues to provide an understanding of strengths and opportunities for development. At the same time, employers should ask employees how they are doing as an employer. Ask your employees what you should do differently and what you might be able to do to make their job easier. Accept the feedback graciously and implement actions discussed if appropriate.
Make sure employees have all the resources they need: Equip employees with all the tools and systems they need to do their job. This way you will help them invest their energy in doing great work instead of wasting precious time.
Encourage learning: Challenge and support employees in learning and developing their skills. This not only motivates and increases productivity levels, but also increases employee happiness and engagement.
Empower your employees: When you empower an employee, you give him or her the responsibility to make decisions about a project and decide how the project will be done. By assigning responsibility, you demonstrate trust and help in their development of new skills. Make sure when you delegate responsibility you don't throw employees in the deep end. Instead, provide them with the necessary information and support to do the job the right way.
I had the privilege of attending the KC/IABC’s monthly breakfast this August. The topic, Rebrand for Success, is one every communicator can learn from, despite career stage.
Presented by branding expert, Clifton Alexander of REACTOR Design Studio, the presentation provided me with a better and deeper understanding of the rebranding process. Here are a few key takeaways:
Have a key tip or best practice regarding rebranding or a successful rebrand story? Share it with us on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!Tagged KC/IABC, Laura Jung, Morningstar Communications, REACTOR Design Studio, Rebrand for success
This week, one of my favorite sites, Mashable, published a blog that bears repeating on our own blog: “What Are the Best-Kept Secrets for Career Success?”
The article pulls the question from Quora, a site that enables people to ask questions and get answers from people with first-hand experience.
A reader asked: “What are the best-kept secrets of successful business people? Not only the feel-good, socially acceptable secrets, but the ‘dark-side’ secrets as well.” Dolly Singh, acting head of talent at Oculus VR provided a response.
Singh addressed the query by diving into the age-old question about luck versus preparedness. She wrote that despite your lot in life, readers can follow five basics to achieve success. By following the ‘Principles of Courtship,’ Singh noted you can succeed by equally applying the principles to success in your personal and professional undertakings.
Since it’s a rather long post, I’ve paraphrased:
1. The Principle: The Art of Pursuit (Observe, assess and calibrate)
The gist: Before you can accomplish your dreams, you must identify them and prepare. So, do your homework first!
2. The Principle: The Impact of Energy (Confidence is the closest thing to magic. Unconscious attitudes of the human mind impact all social interactions).
The gist: Your unconscious mind makes decisions based on your energy and interpretations. Unconscious signals impact others. You decide the subconscious impressions you give off. Despite the situation, choose confidence.
3. The Principle: The Wisdom of Surrender (Zero tolerance for anything that doesn’t add positive value to your life)
The gist: The article states, “In order to have the greatest impact on the world, we must guard our energy, keeping on eye on how it is spent and how it is replenished.” Be aware of red flags and do not ignore your gut feelings. Your time, energy and your emotions are some of your most important (READ: limited) resources – don’t waste them! Your relationships and commitments should lend themselves positively to your life. They should never deplete you of your positives.
4. The Principle: Drive Your Success (Challenges impact everyone; it is how you respond that matters).
The gist: Acknowledge that you lead your life, despite challenges and circumstances. Make the decision to move forward, unlocking your potential. No one else can do this for you. Relate back to the first principal: identify what it is you want, and then let nothing stop you in your pursuit!
5. The Principle: Get What You Give (Consistently create value for others and receive the most opportunities).
The gist: Look for ways to provide value and goodwill to others daily. Actions become behaviors, the foundation you create today will define your lot in life tomorrow. Be positive, honest, respectful and responsible in your personal, work and public lives.
At Morningstar Communications, by focusing on clarity, connecting with people and changing attitudes and behaviors, we help our clients look to the future by solidifying their strengths and growth strategies. What other advice do you have to drive your our own successes forward both personally and professionally? Share with us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/morningstarcommunications