Monday, July 8, 2013

Why Offline Business Networking Events Can Waste Valuable Time & Hurt Your Bottom Line

I am not anti-networking but I am not a fan of attending offline networking events that waste my precious, valuable time. I have wasted a lot of time and energy attending business networking events that didn't help my business. I also think it really depends on your market, regional location, and the types of business owners/entrepreneurs you connect with at these events. As a former fundraiser, I was forced to attend many networking events that I found to be a huge waste of time so I learned a few networking lessons over the years, and how to screen these networking events/groups more carefully.

Have you found yourself collecting a lot of cards at these events but you either don't follow up with these leads OR these leads end up being flaky and unreliable? I seem to bat zero when I attend these events--and it's not from lack of trying. I followed up with leads, and even wrote up proposals for potential clients. But the lack of professionalism turned me off so I chose not to return to these groups. I just wasn't feeling it.

I've made the decision NOT to attend offline business networking events anymore. If you have run across similar challenges with networking groups, I recommend that you consider either scaling back your business networking groups and/or doing away with them altogether.

So what about the human personal touch? You can still get that personal touch when you connect with potential clients and leads from your Facebook page and/or LinkedIn. It also allows you to screen people better before you make that face-to-face contact. Another bonus: you don't waste time and money traveling to a networking event--only to discover it was a big dud and you just wasted precious time networking with people that don't have any interest in your products or services.

Bottom line: What is your return on investment if you attend a business networking event? Just to socialize and have fun? I'm not anti-fun, but there is a time and place for having fun. If you attend these events for the heck of it, without any solid goals in mind, I suggest you re-think your lead generation strategies.

Before you attend an offline networking event, ask yourself the following five questions.

1. Do I have the time/energy/money to take ________hours out of my day/evening to attend this event? 

2. Do your homework first. Are the right people going to be at this event? My target markets? Potential leads/clients? Other business owners who complement my industry and aren't my competitors?

3. Do I have to pay a fee to attend? Do I have the budget to invest in a fee-based networking group? What do I receive (perks, benefits, etc.) in return for my dues/fees?

4. Am I obligated to produce referrals/leads to others in the group? Some networking groups (leads-based groups) have a mandatory rule that you must contribute so many leads per week/month to the group. 

5. Are there other avenues/marketing channels (i.e. social media, etc.) that I could pursue that will give me a better return on my investment? 

I've been down that road with networking groups and I found them to be a huge waste of my time. I am not against networking, but I am not a fan of wasted time and energy. If you find yourself wasting a lot of time at these events and you don't get viable leads as a result, you might want to ditch the offline networking for now and stick with online marketing channels.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Don't Reinvent the Marketing Wheel: How to Repurpose One Topic into Multiple Content Pieces

You don't have to start from scratch when it comes to your content marketing. I read an interesting content strategy today by Joe Pulizzi on Content Marketing Institute - take one idea/topic and repurpose it into 20 new pieces of content. Obviously, this won't work for every topic (or industry), but it's a great idea and makes perfect sense. This helps strengthen your brand across multiple digital and offline channels, and reinforces your online reputation and industry expertise.

Choose a topic that relates specifically to your industry and resonates with your target markets, customers, and clients. Don't be afraid to dive deep into the minds of your audiences--give them what they want! Not every content channel I listed below will be appropriate for your industry or niche, so be mindful of what works and doesn't work when it comes to your target markets. Remember to focus on just ONE idea or topic. 

As I read Joe Pulizzi's article, I thought, hmm, where and how could I take one topic and produce content in 20 new and interesting ways? These are the 20 content pieces I came up with--off the top of my head. 

1. Write content for your website 

2. Write and publish a blog post - if you don't have a blog, it's easy to create a WordPress blog.

3. Create a video and upload to YouTube and other video sharing sites

4. Upload a Powerpoint presentation on SlideShare and other free multimedia presentation sites

5. Create and publish an ebook focused on this topic (i.e. CreateSpace) - take your most popular blog posts or articles and turn them into an ebook

6. Write articles - contribute to article marketing sites such as Ezinearticles 

7. Write a white paper/report  or case study - offer as a free download on your website or blog

8. Share information in your e-newsletter. Write a short article centered around the topic or take key highlights from your blog post (cross-promote and include a link back to your blog)

9. Guest blogging & industry sites - reach out to bloggers and writers in your industry for guest blogging/writing opportunities

10. Be a guest on a podcast or online radio station - search out podcasts related to your topic or industry and pitch your topic idea. You can reach a wider audience by sharing your expertise and knowledge via online radio stations and podcasts.

11. Share content on social media. Take key points from other articles and highlight them in your social media posts.

12. Create an online course or webinar focused solely on your topic.

13. Connect with other industry experts and participate in online teleconferences that compliment your topic.

14. If appropriate, speak at local industry/business networking events and clearly focus on the topic. Hand out supplemental materials (repurpose a blog post or article tied to this topic)

15. Answer questions on LinkedIn or Facebook that relate to this topic--share your expertise and knowledge.

16. Join or start a group on LinkedIn or Facebook that centers around your topic/idea. Be active in these groups and share your content--just remember not to spam social media groups with advertisements or blatant promotions.

17. Use topic-related hashtags when tweeting i.e. #howtoattractcustomers, #socialmediamarketingtips, #socialmedia, #Internetmarketing etc.

18. Write online editorials, reviews, and helpful comments on other industry blogs, websites, and ezines that tie back to your topic.

19. Create visual infographics related to the topic - share on Pinterest and Instagram. 

20. Create and share a useful tool, template, or content freebie. Make sure it is "user-friendly" and easily accessible to your target audiences. For example, I have a free social media editorial calendar template that I share with my colleagues and clients. This is a handy tool and those I have shared with appreciate the fact that the work has been done for them. It helps them stay organized and focused on the big social media marketing picture.

Whew! That should give you plenty of ideas on how to get started with repurposing content in new and exciting ways. If you have other content marketing/repurposing tips that I missed, please feel free to share!

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

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies