Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How to Boost Your Entrepreneurial Spirit in 2012

As I reflect on this past year, I realize how much I've grown as an entrepreneur. I learned a lot about myself personally and professionally, and my business really took off this year. It's still a "work-in progress" (much like myself), but as I think about what I experienced and what my fellow entrepreneurs experienced, I realize that a positive attitude as an entrepreneur can take you a long way. I definitely had my share of Negative Nelly thinking. I went through challenges with clients and projects, but I know it's all part of my growth and learning as a marketer and copywriter. As entrepreneurs, we're always doing that dance - what works, what doesn't work, etc.

I've always been lucky that the Universe aligns me with fantastic clients and colleagues. I can't say enough about the top-notch business professionals I've met through LinkedIn and through my social networks. I also want to thank my amazing professional mentors and business partners who have been my biggest fans and supporters: Ryan Chambers (Principal & Owner, Adapt Marketing & Design), Susan Malone (Malone Editorial Services), and Kathleen Torres, my amazing leadership coach.

I was also able to travel to Hawaii in August, and it was my first experience with the Hawaiian culture and people. It felt nice to kick up my heels, bask in the sun and just revel in the majestic, mystical beauty of Maui. My Hawaiian vacation also taught me a life lesson, and was a good reminder for me not to take life and work so seriously. Hawaiians move at a much slower pace and really take time to enjoy life; it's all about "ohana" (family)!

 When I think about professional "resolutions" for the new year, it seems that most entrepreneurs come from a place of "I need MORE, I want MORE, etc." Who doesn't want more clients and money? But this insatiable desire to want MORE seems to be counter-productive. Goals are great to have and I have plenty of them, but owning and running a business is not always about the bottom dollar.

 I offer a different approach to "boost" your entrepreneurial spirit. I do not have a miracle cure on how to "fix" or make your business successful, so take my words with a grain of salt. Only you know exactly what works and doesn't work for your business.

I definitely had my moments of "am I crazy to be an entrepreneur?" this year, but I also experienced clarity where it all made sense and I can't imagine doing anything else.

How can you boost your entrepreneurial spirit in 2012?

1. Be true to yourself. Don't mold your business, goals and objectives to fit someone else's expectations or ideals. This is YOUR business and you don't have to be a cookie-cutter entrepreneur. Give yourself permission to explore and discover your niche - what makes sense for YOU?

2. Follow your gut instinct and say NO! I love the word "no" -- it is a very empowering word. I recently turned down a project because I just wasn't feeling it. Could I use the money? Yes, but at what price? Time is precious to me and without taking time to relax, what good am I to my clients?

3. Don't be afraid to challenge other people's opinions, ideas and methods. There isn't a right or wrong way to run your business, and don't believe everything you read. This goes back to being true to yourself. There may be so-called experts touting off-the-wall, "drink the Kool-Aid" unethical ideas that don't sit well with you. Research, challenged and dig deeper, and don't be afraid to call someone on the carpet if you disagree. I'm not telling you to be disrespectful and rude and slam them on social media, but it's okay to agree to disagree with fellow entrepreneurs. Your ideas and opinions are just as important as the next person!

My yoga teacher ends each class with: "May you be happy, may you be well and may you know peace." This is my heartfelt wish for you all in 2012!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Protect Your Brand With Ethical Content Marketing

This weekend I was disappointed to see that TechCrunch included a "shock jock" article by a writer who I feel is a poor representation of entrepreneurs. I choose not to name her as I don't want to give her the added exposure. Although she has a right to her opinion, I don't understand why TechCrunch has partnered with her. I felt the article tarnished TechCrunch's usually spot-on solid reputation.

I enjoy reading TechCrunch's articles, but it makes me wonder what's happened to the editorial team at TechCrunch? Is TechCrunch THAT hard up for traffic? There are brilliant tech writers out there, and it makes me scratch my head as to why they passed over reputable tech experts for an annoying shock jock ranter (who is NOT a tech writer, by the way).

Yes, I know - shocking rants sell and brings in traffic by the boat load. But at what price? The article was sexist, biased and poorly researched. Is that the reputation TechCrunch wants? To be known as a site that publishes biased juvenile rants?

As an internet marketer, I understand that content marketing is a numbers game. But  I only had to scroll through the negative comments to see that not only was the writer being called on the carpet (by fellow entrepreneurs) for her poorly researched biased article, but TechCrunch was also named for their lack of poor judgement.

This article made me stop and ask myself the question: what's happened to ethical content marketing and why are reputable sites like TechCrunch publishing such drivel? It all goes back to online reputation - the kind of content you post on your site can have a negative, detrimental impact on your brand. And in this digital age when  we can push a button and tweet to our hundreds of thousands of followers and they can tweet to their followers, it only takes one tweet or post to do serious damage.

The TechCrunch articles also reminds me of the very reason why I opted out of Copyblogger. With all due respect to Brian Clark and his team, Copyblogger published an article by a non-copywriter who snubbed copywriters and the profession of copywriting. Ironically, Copyblogger's main target audience IS COPYWRITERS! It was offensive and I tweeted my displeasure with Copyblogger's lack of quality content (which is usually very good!) 

Word to the wise: Before you align your brand or your articles with an external website or blog, do your homework first! If you answer YES to the following questions,  then the website/content channel is probably an "ethical" content marketing match for your brand:

1. Do you resonate with the articles/content published on the site? Is it a good match for your industry and company brand? 

2. Do the writers portray themselves in a professional, respectful way via their content/articles?

3. Is the site well-respected and well-known by fellow colleagues and/or people in your industry?

4. Would you feel comfortable recommending this website as a "trusted" information source? Would you publish this link on your social media channels or pass along to colleagues, clients and friends?

5. Review the comments and feedback from their readers. Do the readers LIKE the articles (check out the social media "like" buttons)? Do writers receive positive comments and is free of "spam" comments? 

My mission in 2012 is to be proactive with my content marketing for Zenful Communications...and to continue to align myself with sites and writers/bloggers who resonate with my brand and my professional ethics. 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Is 2012 the Year of Content Marketing?

Social Media Explorer named content marketing as one of the top five 2012 social media trendsbut hasn't content marketing been around for years?

"Content curation  was so last year. In 2012 we’re going broader; we’ll be talking about a marketing discipline called “Content Marketing.” It’s actually not all that new; in fact, some social media pundits have been talking about it for years . But 2012 is the year content marketing hits the social media trends list and the mainstream, because content marketing is now a concept that executives can finally sink their teeth into."

This is a promising trend for small business owners who want to market and sell their services and products, but don't have large budgets. Content marketing doesn't have to be costly. However, one of the biggest mistakes that companies make is they don't have a clear message and they randomly blast inconsistent messages to their social networks.

Do you notice social networks filled with followers and fans that don't even fit with the company's brand? Shot-gun content marketing won't work for 2012. Forget social media updates about what you had for breakfast. 2012 calls for finely-honed, strategic content marketing messages.

Before you even create your content, keep these tips in mind: 

1. Who is/are my target market(s)? WHO will resonate with my content? Research your markets and get inside your social media fans' and followers' heads: What do they like? dislike? their age, gender, education, hobbies, geographical location, etc. 

2. What key messages do you want to send to target audiences? Brainstorm and develop 1-3 key cohesive messages that set your brand apart.

  • What do you want to tell your target audience about your brand?

  • What do you sell & why should they buy your product or use your service?

  • What sets you apart from other competitive brands on the market? 


3. Devise strategic content marketing strategies for social media and internet marketing: 

  • Long-form (blog posts, press releases and articles)

  • Short form (tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook updates, etc.)

  • Conversation sharing (commenting on blog posts and videos, and link sharing)

Remember that content marketing is all about building trust with your target markets. You want to engage them in real, authentic ways. Don't use social media as a platform to sell your products 24,7. In 2012, take this marketing and sales tip to heart: it's all about 95% valuable content and 5% sales pitch when it comes to your content marketing


Friday, December 2, 2011

Tis the Season For eBook Reader Shopping

Kindle? Nook? iPad? CNET tackles the pros and cons of the latest and greatest e-book readers. Their article brings up some good points for prospective e-book reader shoppers - just in time for the holidays!

Reader vs. tablet: Do you want more than just reading?

Start by asking yourself what you're really looking for. Do you just want to read books? How about magazines and newspapers? What about browsing the Web? Want to add multimedia to the mix--music, audiobooks, or video? Are you a Netflix junkie? Do you need Flash support? E-mail and messaging? Gaming?

Best basic e-book reader: Amazon Kindle  ($79, no touch screen), Amazon Kindle Touch ($99 to $189, with touch-screen), Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch  ($99, touch-screen)

Best reading tablet for under $250: Amazon Kindle Fire , Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Best all-around full-featured reading tablets: Apple iPad 2 , Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1


So many fun eReader and tablet choices...and only 23 days left until Christmas!! 

Check out the full article for more eReader shopping comparisons!

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies