Ten Tips for Shaping and Sharing Your Brand’s Story

Ten Tips for Shaping and Sharing Your Brand’s Story

As you strive to connect with consumers, it’s important to build a comprehensive marketing strategy for your brand. While traditionally this process involves identifying your target audience, crafting a meaningful value proposition, and addressing the pain points your customers face, brand storytelling should also form a fundamental component of your marketing endeavors.

Sharing your brand’s story evokes an emotional response, in turn contributing to increased brand loyalty and an uptick in sales. Use the following ten tips to begin sharing your brand’s story in a relevant, fruitful manner.

1. Start from the Beginning
Before you hit the drawing board for your next marketing campaign, work to outline a story arc for your brand. Cater to an audience who may have no understanding of what your brand represents.

2. Capture the Audience’s Attention
Emotion is the driving force behind many of the most successful marketing campaigns in history. Think of iconic advertisements that caught the world’s attention—from I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke to those heart-wrenching Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials, emotion captures the audience’s attention.

3. Develop Your Characters
Just as a novelist labors of his portrayal of his protagonist, work to let the personality of your brand’s players shine through. No matter whether you’re highlighting executives within your company or customers themselves, characters push your story development forward.

4. Focus on Authenticity
Sharing a story does not mean you should create a tall tale. Instead, you want to build brand trust by telling a truthful story that highlights the strengths of your brand. Don’t alienate would-be customers by spinning inauthentic yarns.

5. Reveal Your Brand Value

As enjoyable as a good story can be, your ultimate goal isn’t simply to entertain. Your value proposition should shine through every element of your story. Maintain that focus to get the most out of your storytelling efforts.

6. Embrace Cross-platform Storytelling;
Storytelling in the 21st century extends far beyond the confines of a simple advertisement or two. Cross-platform storytelling boosts message retention and visibility of your story.

7. Build an Editorial Calendar
If you read a chapter or two of a novel and then pick it up again several months later, you likely won’t remember where you left off. The same is true for your audience. Don’t publish a single blog post and wait for months on end. Build an editorial calendar and keep your story moving.

8. Provide a Timeline
Good stories have a definite timeline: beginning, middle, and end. Take your audience on a journey, but don’t lose your customers by segmenting your story. Strive to offer a clear start and finish for every part of your story.

9. Keep Your Message Consistent

Consistently changing your brand’s voice will leave your audience confused. Don’t breed distrust by changing your message too frequently. Make certain every story you share contributes to the overall identity of your brand.

10. Don’t Show All of Your Cards

When sharing a powerful story, it may feel tempting to give your audience all the pieces in one fell swoop. While it is important to provide components that can stand on their own, try to keep your readers engaged by building a story that gradually unfolds across your various marketing channels.

Conquering Local Search Engine Optimization

Conquering Local Search Engine Optimization

The undeniable power of search engine optimization has helped make the technique a marketing powerhouse over the course of the past decade. SEO offers a myriad of benefits for organizations of all shapes and sizes, but local business owners need to address a unique set of criteria to maximize the effectiveness of their optimization efforts. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to boost your site’s marketing prowess in your local market, consider the following essentials for mastering local SEO, once and for all.

Local Directories: Listing Your Business

Long gone are the days when consumers would turn to the Yellow Pages to connect with local business owners. Instead, modern buyers use sites like Google+ Places, Google Maps, Yahoo! Local and Bing Places for Business. Listing your business in these directories has a twofold effect. Firstly, the directories themselves serve as a valuable tool, should web users start their search with one of these portals. Local listings also enhance the overall SEO power of your website, in turn boosting your search rankings.

Social Proof: Demonstrating Your Value

Ask yourself the following question: Would you be more likely to trust the advice of an advertisement or an independent customer? In almost all instances, you’d choose a real customer’s input over a company’s advertising copy, right? This simple exercise demonstrates the incredible potential review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google+ represent.

It’s not enough to merely claim your business’ listing on one of these sites, however. You need to publicize your presence on review sites. Many entrepreneurs include easy links in their email footers and on their business cards. You can also print signage to include in your storefront, or place small widgets on your site. Remember, it’s important not to directly solicit positive reviews, however, as you could find yourself in violation of the terms and conditions of these directories.

Mobile Users: Making Your Site Responsive

If you didn’t already know, Google changed its algorithms earlier this year to prioritize responsive sites. Responsive websites shift to fit the screen of each unique visitor. If your site isn’t yet responsive, make this a top priority in the months to come. Not only will adopting a responsive design boost your SEO performance, but it will also better convert the 63% of smartphone users performing local searches.

Running a local business and managing a corporate brand differ in a multitude of ways. Utilizing business directories, gathering social proof, and catering to mobile customers may not make much impact on a large conglomerate, but these marketing techniques have far reaching implications for small businesses. By investing your attention and resources in pursuing these marketing channels, you’re bound to increase your site’s traffic count, convert more visitors, and hopefully, grow your bottom line.

10 Great Content Ideas for Restaurants

10 Great Content Ideas for Restaurants

Content marketing accounts for an astounding $135 billion in annual spending, for one simple reason: it works. Great content should engage users, encourage social sharing, and ultimately convert visitors. Generating new content for the web can prove challenging, however, particularly for small businesses and restaurateurs. If you’re eager to capitalize on the power of content marketing for your business and not sure where to start, consider the following ten content ideas for restaurants.

1. Turn Your Best Dishes into Instagram Stars


Large chains spend billions of dollars each year bombarding television screens with delicious imagery in an attempt to lure in diners. You might not have the budget for a television advertising campaign, but why not use Instagram to document your latest creations?

2. Embrace the Listicle


Buzzfeed counts an impressive 200 million unique visitors each month, thanks in no small part to the digestibility of its listicles. Try your hand at creating something similar, such as 10 Plates
You Won’t Want to Miss this Month or 6 Dream Dates in [Your City.]

3. Tell Your Story in Video Format


Consumers love to learn the story behind a brand, and few mediums get the message across as well as video. Why not partner with a local videographer to broadcast what makes your restaurant truly special?

4. Release an Iconic Recipe


If your customers can’t get enough of your steak marinade or key lime pie, why not share the recipe with the masses? It sounds intimidating, by sharing favorite recipes can generate brand loyalty, encourage repeat visits, and more. Customers don’t patronize your restaurant just for the food—your ambiance, customer service, and preparation counts for more than you realize.

5. Get Your Chefs Talking


Perhaps unsurprisingly, many consumers are awful cooks. Why not ask your chefs to prepare a list of 5 simple tips you can share via social media?

6. Highlight Other Businesses


Instead of making everything about you and your brand, why not create a blog exploring the best destinations in your community and include your restaurant? You might be surprised how much traction these articles can gain quickly.

7. Host an Online Giveaway

People love free stuff. Why not host a gift card giveaway and require user submissions via social media. Encourage your followers to tag your restaurant for a chance to win, and watch the residual traffic pour in.

8. Seek Customer Input with a Poll


Internet users love to share their thoughts. Why not create a poll that will encourage user participation and provide valuable insight for your brand? Ask respondents to indicate which new special you should add to your menu or the best part of your restaurant’s cuisine.

9. Go Behind the Scenes


Customers are always intrigued by what happens behind the scenes at their favorite hotspots. Why not document a day in the life of one of your staffers or explore the creation of a new dish for the menu?

10. Create a Meme


Feeling clever? Why not make a meme using a photo taken in your restaurant? Put your link on the image and share it with the masses.

SEO vs PPC – Working Side-by-Side For Your Business

SEO vs PPC – Working Side-by-Side For Your Business

When it comes to capturing the attention of potential customers, generating traffic for your business site is an important consideration. Many small business owners struggle to determine whether it makes more sense to invest in SEO or PPC, but you shouldn’t think of these tools as competing forms of traffic generation. Instead, PPC and SEO can and should work together harmoniously, transforming your site into a veritable powerhouse.

Using SEO to Grow Your Business

SEO is an umbrella term that applies to the techniques webmasters use to ensure their site meets the best standards and practices of the web’s largest search engines. Don’t be tempted to put SEO and PPC in the same box, because SEO serves a distinct purpose. Using the right SEO approach will certainly boost your traffic, but deploying a thoughtful SEO strategy is meant to establish your site’s authority.

As you create optimized content, search engines will start to prioritize your pages over others. Naturally, this results in more traffic, but it also results in increased brand exposure and name recognition. Both of these factors help a growing business succeed.

Launching a PPC Campaign

Much like a print or television advertising campaign, PPC ads provide a short-term boost for your company. Effective PPC ads target web users who are likely to be interested in your products or services. Because each click of a PPC ad results in a financial charge, most small businesses run PPC campaigns periodically, based on the constraints of their advertising budget.

SEO & PPC: Which is Better?

In a nutshell, SEO is a long-term growth strategy while PPC ads pull in immediate traffic. So, which technique is better? Neither method is inherently better than the other, but consider the following keys when the values of these tools for your business:

● SEO often represents a lower overall cost, simply because it doesn’t carry a direct financial expense like PPC clicks.

● PPC ads generate traffic much more quickly than SEO.

● SEO often represents a higher ROI over the course of a site’s lifetime, since web users are more likely to trust organic search results.

● Effective pay-per-click ads need to be optimized continually, but they’re not subject to changes in the search engine algorithms.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? While it’s certainly a lot to consider, think of it this way: PPC ads are more expensive, but they generate quick, targeted traffic. SEO works in the background and improves with time.

Before you discount one method in favor of another, instead contemplate using both tools together to maximize your site’s effectiveness. The world’s most powerful brands use a combination of SEO techniques and targeted PPC ads to connect with web users. Choose to continually invest in high-quality content that uses SEO appropriately, and deploy PPC when you’re in need of a traffic boost. While there is no perfect equation, juggling both methods will ensure your site connects with the largest audience possible.

Why Your Business Needs a Well-Planned Content Strategy

Why Your Business Needs a Well-Planned Content Strategy

Harnessing the potential of web content can lead to significant returns for businesses of all sizes. Creating content that fosters lead generation, brand loyalty, and an increase in overall clout takes much more than simply slapping a few blogs together, however. To best equip your business with the tools necessary for success, it’s essential to build a well-defined content marketing strategy. Still struggling to grasp the concept? Discover the simple ideas behind creating a content plan that will maximize your business’ impact online.

Ideation: Developing Effective Content Concepts

Many business marketers want to create interesting content for the web, but they feel blocked when it comes to developing new ideas. It’s important to approach brainstorming with a twofold approach. First, consider what value the content will bring in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). Can you use keywords, external links, and social tools to capture the attention of the masses?

In addition to the value, content delivers for traffic acquisition, does your idea provide knowledge or information that your reader wants? To pinpoint great ideas, you need to possess an in-depth understanding of your customer. Holding ideas up to these guidelines will help you weed out the good from the bad.

Content Calendars: Maximizing Your Content Value

Using content as a marketing tool presents some benefits. For one, content creation often costs less than investing in traditional advertising or promotional efforts. Even if you create all of your content in-house, however, you’re still paying for content by investing your time.

Rather than letting that investment go to waste, you need to build a content calendar that will let you wring the most value possible out of your content. Building a game plan for sharing your content multiple times, publishing at the right moment, and making routine updates will help catapult good content to the forefront of your reader’s attention.

Working Towards Business Goals

If you’ve ever drafted a business plan, you understand how important it is to outline short and long term goals. Don’t be tempted to overlook this portion of the content strategy, because well-defined goals will direct your content creation in the appropriate manner. Take the time to work out goals both big and small and then focus on creating content that helps your business obtain those goals. By directing your efforts towards an end destination, you’ll keep your content on track and further boost the power of your promotional efforts.

Building a content marketing plan doesn’t have to feel like a daunting endeavor. Make time regularly to take stock of your current market position, develop goals for your future, and brainstorm content that will take you there. A thorough content strategy will take your ho-hum web content to a whole new level, as you begin to publish content that connects with your audience and builds your profile. With a bit of luck and hard work, your content could revitalize the future of your business online.

Headline Tags: How to Optimize Your Content for SEO

Headline Tags: How to Optimize Your Content for SEO

Writing for the web differs greatly from writing an essay or a letter to a friend. Online readers don’t consume content in the same way they might read the pages of a novel. Instead, most web users skim pages quickly, jump from page to page, and only read the parts they find most interesting. Further complicating matters, search engines consistently browse the pages of your site, using information buried in the HTML to influence your search ranking. Fortunately, learning to master the art of headline tags will help you address both of these challenges.


Headlines 101: What are Tags?

Headlines break up your content and direct your reader through the page. Tags are used within a page’s HTML code to mark the headlines. Contrary to popular opinion, headline tags do much more than simply determine the font size for your text. The tags determine the importance of each headline.

Don’t try to stuff your headlines with keywords or use them too frequently in an attempt to “trick” the search engine. It is important to remember, however, that the search spiders do compare keywords in your headlines to the body of your text. As long as you’re writing relevant headlines, you’ll be in good shape.

How to Use Headline Tags

An h1 tag should be used for the most important headlines on your page. Each subsequent number h1-h6 denotes a subheading of the number before it.

It’s important to follow this hierarchy, or the search engine spiders won’t be able to understand your headlines within their intended context. You’ll likely be using a content management system like WordPress for creating your blog posts, in which case, you can simply highlight the text and choose which headline style to use. The system will add the tags to the code for you.

Understanding Headlines from a Reader’s Standpoint

Unless you’ve studied web user behavior, you likely underestimate the importance of a page’s headlines. The next time you find yourself browsing online, pay attention to how you use headlines to guide yourself. The most important headline (h1) shows you what a specific page references, whereas subheadlines help you find the relevant portions you wish to read. Using headlines effectively helps optimize your site for SEO purposes, while simultaneously improving overall user experience.

Headlines might appear complicated at first glance, but it’s quite easy to master these helpful tools. To maximize your headline potential, experiment with different headings and pay attention to metrics like bounce rates and incoming visitors from search engines. With a bit of luck and hard work, you’ll be able to work out how best to use headlines to improve the quality of your site’s pages.