By Hank Kellerman
You’ve seen it in cartoons: A freshly baked pie is steaming hot and placed on the window sill to cool. The tantalizing aroma begins to drift around the house and finds a hungry character. With a quick flick of it’s cherry scented finger, the character slowly floats up a bit and begins to follow the wonderful smell.
Simply put, this is a great example of inbound marketing. In recent years there has been an explosion of inbound marketing across all types of businesses, but more specifically smaller businesses. Inbound marketing is the process of developing online content that is compelling, informative and fulfills your audience’s hunger for the product or services they want or need. Inbound marketing focuses on bringing customers to you versus having customers go out looking for them. This can be done in a multitude of ways, but some of the more common methods include blogs, social media discussions, forums and SEO optimization.
Before you jump head first into the rapid currents of inbound marketing, strap on some water wings and follow these guidelines for developing an inbound marketing strategy.
Develop Buyer Personas
How do you know and write for your audience? If you just write about topics without the proper research, you could fail to reach your desired audience. One tool that can help you create some excellent audience-specific content are your buyer personas. Buyer personas provide the inside scoop about what your customers are like. They can tell you numerous demographic and psychographic details such as their age, income, hobbies, day-to-day activities and more. Developing buyer personas enables you to accurately create specialized online content to address questions and topics focused to your customers.
SEO and Keywords
Most people know it is extremely difficult to show up on the front page of Google. Google uses digital spiders to crawl across the Internet and search for the most relevant content on that matches the needs of the search query. To get on the front page, your content must be optimized for search engines by using keywords.
There are a multitude of tools that can be used to find keywords, including the Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Long Tail Pro. These tools help you search for relevant keywords with regards to your topic and also can show you things such as how often a certain word is searched every month, its keyword competitiveness and other sites that use this keyword. If you find the right keyword and include it in your content’s titles and main body paragraphs with great surrounding content, your page will be much more likely to rise from the depths and find itself on the first page of Google search results.
Content is Key
This phrase has been uttered by marketing and public relations professionals millions of times. It also has never been so true. Creating compelling content that is relevant to what your consumers are searching for is only the beginning. For a successful inbound marketing strategy, your content has to be better than great. It has to be amazing.
Anyone can write a blog post about how to rebrand a business, but it takes a talented individual to write an in-depth, informative and star-studded post. You need to create content so great that other sites want to back link (the process of other sites linking to your post or site) to it. This also aids in the chances of your site being found organically by search engines. Search engines will view your site as having more credibility with more back links and, in turn, will lead to your site appearing higher up on search engine results pages.
How Do You Put This All Together?
Grab your mixing bowl and get ready to bake that aromatic fruit-filled pie that will have your audience flocking to your content. Do your research. Developing buyer personas, finding relevant keywords and writing amazing content all take time and effort. Spend the time to develop these three items and get ready to watch your consumers come to you. The world of marketing is changing rapidly, and the power of the Internet makes it is much easier for your consumers to find you on their own time than it is for you to reach out to them. So what are you waiting for? Start doing your research and that content-rich pie sitting in the window will be too irresistible to pass up.
By Jenna Chwascinski
As I was growing up, Halloween was one of the most exciting times of the year. Countless hours were spent planning the perfect costume and deciding which neighborhoods would yield the best haul. You had to talk it all over with your closest friends, and costume approval was a necessity. Then convincing your parents that you had a fool-proof plan all worked out was a task in itself.
Little did we know that through all of these trials and tribulations, Halloween was teaching us some valuable lessons that would be helpful down the road. Who would have thought that Halloween could teach us about PR? As it turns out, it can, and it did.
You need to have a plan.
As I said before, it’s pivotal to devise a fool-proof plan. In the PR world, that’s nearly impossible, so we just try to do the best we can. In trick or treating, knowing the ins and outs of the plan will serve you well. Walking in circles isn’t something you want to do while trick or treating, and the same goes for a PR campaign.
Delegating tasks is very important. No campaign can be successful if everyone is trying to do the same thing at the same time. The work load needs to be shared. Your team can then come together and discuss the results. Similar to trick or treating, you split up the forces to scout out who has the best candy, which often leads to impressive results.
Referencing past experience is the key to ensuring the maximum amount of candy. Which houses give the most candy? Which ones give out the best candy? It all factors into your decision making process. The same holds true in PR. Any PR professional knows that a big part of any public relations campaign is research. You have to look and see what others have done in the past. This will show you some success stories, and more importantly, show you failures. Seeing what others did wrong will help your campaign from heading down the same unsuccessful, candy-free path.
Efficiency is key.
The reasons to create a plan are clear. You want to ensure the most success in the shortest amount of time. You knew you did it right when you and all of your friends ended up with buckets full of candy within just a few hours.
In PR, the goal isn’t always to go big or go home. It’s not always about getting as much done at one time as possible. Efficiency in PR is bringing as much of your audience around to your way of thinking as possible. That might happen in little chunks, or it could happen all at once. It all depends on how you go about it.
Of all the tricks you learned back in the day, the biggest one was the ability to play to your audience. The more they like your costume, the more candy you get. It’s that simple. When it comes to PR, this should almost go without explanation: know your audience. Know what they want, and make sure to give it to them. This might take some outside-the-box thinking, but the ability to surprise your audience, even with something small, could go a long way.
What do you think? Have your Halloween traditions taught you anything about the PR world? Comment below with any of your favorite Halloween traditions that dip into the PR business. And don’t forget to follow IPR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
by Maria Schomer
Maintaining creativity can be difficult and most people tend to believe they are not creative. This is not true. Everyone has a little creative nature to them. Kirk Hallahan of Colorado State University suggests that creativity is not passed down through genes; rather, people learn how to think creatively.
As an Innovative PR specialist I have to be creative every day, working on different projects, from creating messages and graphics for social media, to writing blogs and press releases. The question becomes: how is creativity important to public relations?
Working creativity in PR
Almost every course we take as part of the UCM PR Program requires us to think strategically and creatively. As future public relations professionals, we need to understand what our audiences want, what is most important to them, and how to communicate with them effectively. Let’s use social media as an example. Among other things, we need to know what will engage the public to participate in conversations with our company or clients. Using hashtags is a powerful way to do this to get things started, however, we need to think creatively about what the hashtag will say and how it can be communicated.
Many times people can experience a creative block, where the continuous flow of ideas instantly comes to a stop. Getting the creativity flowing again can be challenging. Larry Kim, founder of WordStream, wrote “9 ways to become more creative in 10 minutes” for Inc. Here are the four techniques Kim talked about that I feel are most effective.
- Draw Something. It can be doodles of circles or a tree. By drawing you are able to stay focused in meetings and your surroundings, this can spark creative ideas.
- Join Flash Fiction. Flash Fiction is a type of writing where you can write whatever you feel but in a quick manner consisting of about 100 words. When you use flash fiction there’s no need to feel pressure, you can simply get your thoughts written and ideas can start flowing again.
- Take a break from brainstorming and take a walk. Brainstorming can be highly effective to create ideas. However, breaks are needed sometimes, especially if a creative block occurs. Taking a walk can help ease your mind.
- Have a stress ball handy. Focusing on something other than the problem can help spark ideas. Having a stress ball or toy on your desk is good for a five minute break so you can unlock your creativity.