Month: June 2017

humanize your brand
Digital Branding

How To Humanize Your Brand And Deepen The Relationship With Your Audience

The age of cold PR is long gone and the businesses that will truly prosper in this new economy are those that know how to connect authentically with their audience. When so much of what’s out there is a commodity and when most businesses compete on price, what’s the one thing that makes your brand memorable?

The Gold Is In Your Story

The likeability factor lies in your founding story told truthfully and wholeheartedly. It’s the vulnerability you’re willing to share with your audience that will make them say “Hey, this guy gets me!”

No matter how hard you try to flood your audience with facts, figures and the benefits of them buying from you, it won’t be until you prove that you hear and understand them that they’ll start to actually pay attention to you and open their wallets, too.

If you balance good brand storytelling with delivering high value, you will build a strong following around your brand. Always aim to prove your readers that you understand their problems and make sure that you have a clear intention for every piece of content you create.

How do you want people to feel and what action do you want them to take after consuming your content? The more character you infuse into your content, the more your audience will relate to you and your brand. And likeability is a powerful currency in business.

Why Your WHY Matters

Having a strong connection between you brand and your audience provides a strong base for long-term loyalty and sustainable growth in the future. Telling stories about your brand and business is not just about standing above your competition.

It’s about helping people connect with your big WHY and making them care about what you have to offer. It’s about establishing your authenticity and dictating your value.

Having a good story is what turned Starbucks from just another coffee provider to building a whole new category in their niche and putting themselves above the competition.

Authenticity is not something you can fake. People have strong BS radars and expect a lot from the brands they choose to support. And this is mostly true with millennials who’d rather choose a less than perfect product or service if it has a strong enough “Why” and social mission.

Authenticity Is Bigger Than Marketing

The purpose of running your business – communicated clearly and genuinely – is going to be at the core of a deeper connection with your audience.

Think of Gary Vaynerchuck, one of the most authentic entrepreneurs out there, a guy that’s extremely authentic and charismatic. But why is it? It’s because he’s extremely open, acknowledges his mistakes, he shares his processes, pours his personality into everything he does and always communicates his “Why”.

This is the type of entrepreneurs that you just feel how much he loves serving his audience and making his followers feel understood. It’s from this place that an authentic leader can start to build a strong relationship and really make an impact through his or her business.

So What’s Your WHY?

People are more than happy to support a business that proudly stands for something. Think of “Pencils of Promise”, a charity organization that builds schools all across the world. They have a really strong following and are heavily supported because they have a genuine founding story that connected them to their audience.

This is an invitation to start seeing your brand not just part of a bigger picture, but rather the big picture of why you’re in business. The more compelling your story, the easier it will be for you to rise above your competition and make your audience stick with you for the long run.

The biggest brands in the world, Disney to Nike and Apple are so loved because they went beyond being just a product and became an idea that nourished people’s emotional desires.

Your Followers Are Your Friends

Keep this in mind every time you create a new piece of content. Act as if you’re talking to a friend and you’re describing how their life can be improved as a result of using your product or service.

Take them behind the scenes and give them a personal view of what goes on behind the doors. Use your social media profiles to show photos and videos of you and your team at work or just having fun around the office. This will humanize your operations and help people connect with you on a more personal level.

People connect with people, not faceless businesses, so give your brand some personality. If your brand were a person, who would it be? What kind of qualities would they have? If your brand were a celebrity or car, which one would you choose? And why? What are their traits, skills and interests? Think about human-like characteristics to describe your brand. Zappos, for example, is friendly, helpful, fun and sometimes even silly.

Be open about your path, talk about the hard times and people will be more likely to relate to you. Always stay centered on your customer’s interests and aspirations and remember that the stronger the connection you have with your audience the longer you’ll stay in business.

In Conclusion

Creating an authentic, deep, lasting connection with your audience is not easy and takes time. This is also good news because going the extra mile is never crowded.

And ultimately, all you need is a plan with some goals and lots of perseverance. This is not rocket science. We’re all humans working with humans and if you keep this simple truth in mind, you’ll be OK. Simple may not always be easy but if you love your customers more than you love your business, you’ll always be in business.

Humanizing your brand, fostering trust and a genuine and lasting connection with your audience is serious work. It may not always seem to pay off in the short term and it’s not easy to measure and scale. But in the long run, it’s the only path to lasting success and meaningful impact.

blogging
Local Branding

Pro Tips For Growing A Bigger and Better, Blogger List

Regardless of the industry you are in, creating and maintaining a blog list is part of your world. If it is not part of your world, you are a little behind, since now literally everyone can work on cloud. Having a blog is step one to introducing yourself, your business, and your services as your brand. It is not just important that you do it, it is critical that you do it well. You have to do it “like a boss”. In this article, you will find pro tips from some of the best wedding expert vendors in the world.

Enlighten people

People are always shocked when they discover what goes on behind the scenes of any trade. This is especially true for professionals who work in the wedding industry. People rarely know the options available to them and the steps to take to make things happen. Enlightening people through the strength of their blog is a powerful way to share the knowledge.

grow list

  • Marcia Hanscome and Barbara Miller, owners of Vacation Rentals of North Myrtle Beach explain. “Keeping a close eye on current trends and upcoming events in the area and writing about it is our strategy with growing our mailing list. Although promoting our own property management business is very important, we believe promoting outside activities and events in the area where families vacation is just as important. Our mission, here at Vacation Rentals of North Myrtle Beach, is to be the “go to” blog site where people go to see what’s going on in the Myrtle Beach area. And as our way of saying thank you to our readers, we attach a rental special to each and every one of our blog articles. So, we believe because of this strategy, growing our list comes very easy for us.”
  • Kaitlan Whitteberry, Social Media Manager, and Tiffany Rivers, Director of Marketing of iOFFICE, Inc. offer this. “We have found that while understanding your audience is the ultimate key to success, ensuring the conversation revolves around them shifts the focus back where it belongs. Your job as a blogger is to enlighten your audience with information they haven’t been previously exposed to, but also to ask what they want to learn. You should want to be their ultimate guide. Where they look first when seeking information. If you start by focusing on providing relevant content, that speaks to their needs – your list will grow itself.”
  • Dana Baardsen is the founder of Agile Trend Media. She shares with us her unique strategy for DynaPro Direct and lets in on her insight: “Growing a brand’s blog is fun, and if it’s not, you’re not doing it right. It’s crucial to be savvy with SEO, feature catchy (not click-bait) headlines, and provide serviceable and accurate information regularly — but it’s even more important to ditch your personal itch to micromanage every piece of content. Here’s why: By allocating energy to public relations and opening up your site to editorial collaborations, you’ll feed new energy into an otherwise one-sided stream of content. What happens when you schedule collaborative blog content regularly? An increase in engagement, views, shares, likes, sales, and fun!”

Entertain, educate, and give useful tips

Blogging is unlike any other form of communication. The reader does not want to read an instruction book, nor do they want to feel as if the writer does not “get them”. They want to laugh, be inspired, and shake their head in agreement with the author. They want to hear little tips and bits of information that make their lives easier.

blogging

  • Aaron Zapata of Impactprop.com shares: “My best strategy for growing my list has been two-fold) Whenever possible, my content is very personal and I share personal experiences through storytelling. I want people to know me, my struggles, and my successes and find that people come back for more when they find my site. When people want more, they are willing to subscribe. Offer free useful downloads in exchange for an email address. This is a strategy used by most bloggers so it’s not unique but it definitely works.”
  • Karen Cruz of Cloudbric firmly agrees with this approach. She said: “Cybersecurity is a daunting topic for many, but Cloudbric was developed precisely because we want to make a crucial and necessary topic accessible to many. We try to put ourselves in the shoes of our readers by breaking down the jargon and using fun analogies and by incorporating a good mix of informative, technical, and “fun” content. Additionally, we use marketing automation software to see what readers enjoy and don’t, optimizing our content each time to make sure that we’re staying on top of trending topics in the IT security industry.” 
  • Emily Jo Jerue of Tuleburg.co explains further: There is no real tip or secret to growing a list from a blog. That is to say, quality writing is key. People respond emotionally to the content. You could be a really solid writer but fail to entertain. Conversely, you could compose a superfluous story but fail to inform your audience. My best advice is to have a mix between entertaining and informing. The most successful blog writers make you laugh and make you think. I have found that if I can make fun of relatable business situations while offering serious alternatives to a problem, I gain more readers.

Quality Content

Mark Monchek of The Opportunity Lab tells us: “Make your content match your values. As a consulting firm, content development can seem forced and insincere. However, when we started posting about topics that our team cares deeply about, rather than content we thought would “perform well”, our readership got larger and more engaged. There’s so much content out there that sincerity, and a values-based approach really stands out. It also indirectly exposes your readers to your unique value proposition, and helps them understand how your ideology sets you apart from similar companies”.

  • Sandeep Singh, Co-founder of InfiSecure, a bot protection platform says: “Apart from having a great navigation, user experience, and prominent opt-in form, the best way to grow lead list is to publish high-quality blog content and provide an insightful resource for visitors to download according to the buyer persona. Building and distributing such content assets builds thought leadership for a brand in the longer run and also gives an opportunity to nurture such leads to become potential prospects. This high-quality content and downloadable resource need to be regularly amplified via social media, online contests, and paid promotions.” 
  • Sam Smith, Undernews, shares:  “I started in radio news, including writing nine newscasts a day, and one of the things I learned was to keep it lean and to the point. When I started the blog I worked on the same idea. Lots of short stuff to balance out the longer pieces. And don’t be serious all the time. Readers become bored just like you.” 
  • Pamela Sutton, Owner of Pamela Sutton Photography urges people to dig deeper. She states: “Taking time to know my wedding couples personally and listen to their expectations is essential to building a photography business that stands out. By limiting the number of weddings I accept I’m able to do just that. In my experience, people don’t realize what they are looking for is a Photographer to personally connect with as much, or maybe even more, than they are looking for visual artistry. When clients feel cared for, they tell their friends and family which creates organic growth. Also, by offering a referral program, I can thank my clients for their word of mouth while at the same time creating a network of happy, repeat clients.” 
  • Olivia Gumienny of Fox and Mint has inside tips to share: “There are many successful ways to grow your list, but it’s the strategic ways you engage with your subscribers that matters most. It doesn’t necessarily have to be with giveaways and competitions (although those are a great incentive to keep people sticking around).Targeting your message to your audience by segmenting your data is integral if you really want your subscribers to connect with what you’re telling them. For example showing your adult and family subscribers content that they can relate to. Personalizing your email marketing also is a super easy and simple way to bring your subscribers closer to you. By using their names in subject lines or by providing discounts on birthdays are just some very easy ways that allow your subscribers to grow closer to you.

Promo’s and Giveaways

email subscribers

  • Ryan Watkins of Ryan Watkins Professional explains: “Most people are reluctant to give away their e-mail and be put on your list. After almost a year of little success in getting people to sign up, I started giving away coupons as incentives for people to sign up. My list tripled after the first newsletter exclusive coupon I gave away.”
  • Kandice Kelso, Author at Green-Eyed Girl Productions, takes it even further. She said. “As an Online Wedding Coordinator, my blogging focuses on our E-Courses and The Project Block System, the cornerstone of our company. I use a 2-tier strategy to build my lists: Amazing Lead Magnets and The Excel Guest List Spreadsheet for couples which calculates their budget. (they download it for free when they subscribe. Once Subscribed, a 3-Email Series introduces my E-Courses. This series provides links to all other lists as well. Once on a list, they are exposed to all other lists and continue to subscribe throughout all my other services. All lists eventually end at my main product, The Project Block System.”
  • Dominic Barrios of the Top Knotters, breaks it down for us. He says: “Provide valuable content for your target readers. In our case, soon-to-weds love to hear our practical wedding tips and real stories from brides. Offer them free e-books, tools or any freebies because people just love getting free items easily, especially if these are of value to them. Don’t make things complicated for them.” 
  • Easton Reynolds, founder of The Art of Six Figures lets us in on his strategy: “I have found the best way to grow our list is to host free webinars and reach out to our partners to help spread the word. Consumers want value before they feel comfortable giving you their contact info. A free webinar is a great way to be able to give them that value with real actionable nuggets of information. We drive registrations with Facebook ads which we believe is the most effective PPC lead gen platform on the market today.” LuRey Photography

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to build your blog. These experts and others have crafted strategy that fits will with their business. You can do the same thing. With a little trial and effort and a by letting your true personality shine through, there is a way for you,  

pexels-photo-169198
Local Branding

Essential Wedding Planning – Tips and Tricks

Most of us dream of our wedding day for years. We have this image in our mind of what the perfect wedding is. However, we have no idea what goes into making that perfect event. There are a million details that must be addressed to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

In our minds we see bridesmaids rushing around getting dressed, and the groomsmen in their tuxedos laughing on the steps of the chapel. What we do not give much thought to is the florist, caterers, DJ, minister or official, or the videographer. We do not think of the crews setting up chairs and setting tables, the cake being delivered, the limo driver or the bartender. There are so many ways to make wedding planning mistakes, but professionals are here to help. 

There are a lot of talented people that must work together in order to give you that perfect day. We have interviewed wedding professionals from around the country to get some great tips and tricks that you can incorporate into your wedding. So let us share with you advice from the experts.

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Wedding Planners, Vendors and other pros

We believe in the importance of a good wedding planner. The vast majority of problems and issues that dance on the nerves of the bride and groom are easily dealt with by an experienced wedding planner. If you can only afford one luxury for your wedding day, we suggest you hire a wedding planner.

Professionals Scott and Dana Halvorson of Weddings By Scott and Dana explain it best: “Dream weddings come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and to plan a truly memorable wedding can seem overwhelming. Here are a few tips to ensure your wedding will be an event to remember.

  • Know what you want: This is not just any ole wedding, it’s your wedding. Talk to you partner and decide what type of wedding you both would really enjoy. Personalize your wedding to match your personalities. Starting with a solid idea of what your dream is will make all the other decisions easier.
  • Get Help: Armed with your dream in mind, search out the professionals that can turn that dream into a reality.Everyone you hire, from your planner to your invitation designer, should know what your expectations are. Hire people who have experience with your type of wedding, then trust them to do what they do best.
  • Consider your guest: Think about your guest and how they will experience your wedding. Taking time to make sure your guest will be comfortable, occupied, entertained, and appreciated will create an event they will remember for years.
  • Have fun: Plan to enjoy this special day. Everyone will notice and it’s contagious. If you have fun so will everyone else. When everything is over, and you are reminiscing about your wedding, the fun you had is what you and your guest will remember the most.”

Cassandra Key-Lyons of Bridal Magic advises brides on ways to lighten their load and make things run much more smoothly:  

“My advice to couples planning their wedding: once you’ve made a decision, like picking your decor and color palette, stick with it. Don’t cause yourselves stress and confusion by continuing to look at alternatives. There are plenty of options out there but go with your instincts and what you want as a couple. Pouring over wedding websites and magazines long after you’ve already settled on something will only muddle the process. Also, don’t do something because you think you’re supposed to. If you don’t want a guestbook or to hand out favors with your initials on it, then don’t. It’s your wedding, so make it everything you want it to be.”

Courtney Branson from Lovely Little Blog also shares the idea to keep it simple. The internet is flooded by the ‘best wedding ideas’ but what if the brides just stick to what makes THEM happy?

“Pinterest can be your best friend or worst enemy. It’s great for sparking ideas and showing vendors your vision. It’s tempting to let it go past that but I encourage you to plan the wedding that fits your budget and vibe. There’s nothing less magical than realizing you’re in debt day one of marriage or planning a wedding that feels disingenuous to your relationship. You want folks to say, “This feels so y’all”. Don’t let the Pinterest board cloud your instincts.”

Betsy Tomasello, of Betsy Blue Photography, is in agreement on brides letting the professionals do what they do. That is the only way to get the best results. She says:

“One of my favorite ways to serve my brides is to include timeline assistance with every wedding booking. I’ve witnessed hundreds of weddings and am always happy to share my experience on when the best light might be for portraits, or possibly a more flattering position to angle the arbor in order to allow for the best light on the couple for their photographs.Planning a wedding is a huge undertaking, so why not rely on the experience of professionals around you to help plan your day to be as fluid and beautiful as possible.”

When it comes to wedding vendors, photographers, planners, and other professionals, John Lennon of Lennon Photography had this to share:

“Look for vendors who have a passion for what they do. A typical sales pitch equals common quality. You deserve vendors who dream of the perfect wedding because those are the people who care enough to deliver it to you.”

Trust your event coordinator to have some pretty cool ideas. They are up to the minute on wedding trends and traditions. Be open to their suggestions.

Kristin Rockhill, Wedding Stylist & Floral and Event Designs, has an eye for design and color. She says:

“Grey is my favorite color! When it comes to setting a stunningly styled tablescape my go to linen choice is grey. It pairs perfectly with wood tones, neutrals, pastels and even bright and cheery hues like lemon and tangerine!”

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we are creating the wedding we really want. If you want a small, intimate, gathering, then go for it.

As wedding expert, Maria Fernanda Marion of Blog da’ Maria Fernanda points out: “keep it small. Small weddings are more intimate and cozy.”

Bride showing Engagement Ring on Left Hand on Wedding Celebratio

Beauty

On this single day, you want to be the most beautiful you have ever been.

Take these tips from Nina Moran, Cheekadee Makeup Artist:

“Summer can be hot and sticky but let’s keep the hot in our makeup and ditch the sticky! Whether you are doing your makeup yourself or having it professionally done, here are some tips to keep your makeup fresh on your big day!

Tone with witch hazel, we really like Thayer’s, Witch Hazel. This will remove any unwanted oil that may interfere with the longevity of your makeup

Prime your skin- We love Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12 Hour Perfecting primer. This product refines the skin, is waterproof and diffuses fine lines and imperfections.

If you are super oily you can use a mattifying product like Face to Face Super Matte Anti-shine. Just a bit it the t-zone will do.

Set your makeup with a setting spray! Our favorites are Model in a Bottle, or Makeup Forever Mist & Fix. This will really improve your makeup wear!”

pexels-photo-169198

Photography

Photography is a major priority for any wedding. This is a day that must be captured for eternity. Some day our great-grandchildren will look back on this day and we want them to see the love and hope we had for the future in our photographs.

Bethanne of Bethanne Arthur Photography offers this advice:

“When searching for a photographer to capture your big day, keep a few things in mind.

  • Can you afford this photographer?
  • Are you willing to expand your wedding photography budget if you find your perfect match, in regards to photography style?
  • Do you feel comfortable with them?
  • Does your fiance feel comfortable with them? Do they seem personable?
  • Does this photographer seem to treat clients and events as just transactions, or do they try to get to know you or find a point of connection?
  • Do you love their work? It is so important to choose someone that actually has a photography style that you love.

 

These are your wedding photographs; these are priceless heirlooms you will have for the rest of your life and beyond, as they are passed down through the generations. Do not just hire someone because they are the least expensive, someone you know is friends with them, or they have 10,000 followers on Instagram. Choose a photographer that shoots images you love and swoon over; choose a photographer that you feel like you can connect with!”

Jillian McQuerrey, the owner of B.O.B. Photography, agrees with Bethanne about that special connection between the bride and photographer. She shared: “One tip I can wholeheartedly recommend is to do your research. I always tell couples I speak with to chat with more than one photographer. After that, choose the photographer you “click with”, love their work and feel comfortable around. If you think about it, you will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than your significant other. So you want it to be an enjoyable experience. The more comfortable you are with your photographer, the more natural your photographs will look.”

Many brides try so hard to control everything, for forget that they have hired professionals to relieve them of that stress.

This point was driven home by Betty Simpson, of Betty Elaine Photography, “Trust your photographer and other vendors! Yes, it is your wedding day (hooray!), but you do not need to be burdened with having to control the day or schedule out your timeline by yourself. Once you know what your wedding day is going to look like (location, ceremony start time, etc), it is important to talk to your wedding photographer about how much time they need for pictures. Let them draw up a schedule for portraits and help you figure out when hair and makeup should be finished. Your photographer will know the best time of day for outdoor pictures, how long you need them for getting ready pictures, and if a first look would be more practical for your wedding day.”

There are always little budget busters that manage to show up with weddings. Take care of small things and the big things will take care of themselves. The main thing is to have your day, have your memories, and have fun!

Here is a great tip by Jenna Henderson, of Jenna Henderson Photography “While wedding planning, don’t forget to budget a little money for after the wedding to use for prints of your wedding photos! After all, when the whole day is over, the photos are the only thing that will remain. You want to make sure you have enough cash stashed away that you can give your beautiful memories the treatment they deserve, whether that be in the form of a fine art album or perhaps a gallery of large framed prints. Printed photos also make a great gift for your parents as a way to say thanks for all of their support.”

Brandon O’Neal, of Brandon Oneal Photography, says it like this:

“As a photographer, I see weddings as a dance between preparation and chance. We like to allow the celebrations unfold naturally, but we often manipulate the timing and locations ahead of time so they work out in our favor for great images.Prepping for the day is essential- create timelines, do the meetings, set up the vendors. But, when the day comes, my biggest advice is to enjoy it no matter what. Brides put lots of time and energy into planning the day and it would be such a waste to not enjoy it. I want to photograph my brides and grooms having the time of their life, not micromanaging every detail and worrying about the flowers being just right – that doesn’t make for great images. So plan, then let go!”

Wedding photography is an art. So much depends on the location, timing, lighting, and ambiance.

Leslee Mitchell of Leslee Mitchell Art is an artist and photographer. As such, she has a wealth of knowledge she was gracious enough to share. She says:

“Light is 100% of every photo. It’s not 99%, it’s 100%.

Don’t let family photo time eat up more time than necessary. After all, the most important photos of the day are the ones of the bride and groom. No wedding is complete without the family photos, but family photos do not have to monopolize a majority of photo taking time.

However long your hair and makeup artist tell you it will take to complete hair and makeup, add at least 30-45 minutes. It’s common for hair and makeup to run over on schedule. When hair and makeup run over, you will receive fewer photos due to lost time that cannot be recovered.

Just relax. The most beautiful photos are the candid shots. Make a point to not know where the photographer is every second of the day. Chances are they’re somewhere looking right at you through their lens. Don’t mess up what could have been a beautiful, candid moment of you because you’re scanning the room looking for your photographer or trying to figure out if you’re being photographed.

If you hate being photographed to the point you almost break out in hives have a cocktail and relax. If you can’t relax, you will appear tensed in your photos. Don’t be hard on yourself. The majority of people are uncomfortable when they’re being photographed. Have a plan in place to be able to relax when it’s time to be in front of the camera. You’ll be very glad you did.”

Communication is key when it comes to your wedding. Details must never be left to chance. This tidbit from Leigh Fabozzi of Leigh Elizabeth Photography is right on the money! Leigh says,

“Maximize your photographer’s coverage by creating a timeline in advance. Make sure to sit down or have a phone call with your photographer about a month out from your wedding to finalize the timeline. Ask questions, iron out the details, and get on the same page. This will ensure your wedding day runs smoothly and stress-free!”

Carly Fuller from Carly Fuller Photography shared the idea of picking your home as a location for engagement photos. She stated: “Stay at home and capture your first professional photos in your first home together as a future married couple! One of my favorite places to capture a couple is in their own environment. All your favorite things surround you and even kitties are welcome!” By doing so, the engagement photos will be natural, and they’ll reflect your true personality.

Our Favorite Tip

Throughout the rest of your lives together, there will be issues and situations that monopolize your time. Take this advice from Candice Benjamin of Candice Benjamin Photography. Make this a habit throughout all of life’s challenges and you will always be content.
Candice simply states: ”Have a weekly date night where you aren’t allowed to talk about the wedding. Enjoy your time together!

Social Media Impacts Your Company's Brand
SaaS Branding

How To Grow Your List – Successful People Resource Page

Did you know that your email marketing database degrades by about 22.5% every year

Naturally, your contacts’ email addresses are changing for they move to another email, change companies or, ouch, opt-out of your email communication.

As a business owner, it’s your job to make sure you’re constantly adding fresh contacts to your list.

Why?

This is extremely important if you want to keep your numbers moving up.

We’ve been out there hunting for the perfect advice for you to grow your list. Check out this advice and implement for growing your email list faster:

Michelle Rae Anderson, Managing Director at NordicSpotlight.com:

We use an Add This overlay on our website when visitors click away to subscribe, but our biggest success for attracting new subscribers to our list (which has an 41.5% open rate) is sharing the link to our latest newsletter with our social channels whenever we publish another email, along with a short recap of what the newsletter includes (usually the latest music from the Nordic countries, available music festival ticket and travel packages, Northern European travel news, news podcast episodes, content to look forward to, our most popular blog posts since the last email, etc.). This let’s new followers on Twitter, Facebook, etc. know that the newsletter exists, and also attempts to persuade everyone who’s not on the list yet know what kind of goodness they can get sent directly to their inbox should they decide to opt in.

Sandeep Singh, Co-founder & CMO at InfiSecure:

Apart from having a great navigation, user experience and prominent opt-in form, the best way to grow lead list is to publish high-quality blog content and provide an insightful resource for visitors to download according to the buyer persona. Building and distributing such content assets builds thought leadership for a brand in the longer run and also gives an opportunity to nurture such leads to become potential prospects. This high-quality content and downloadable resource need to be regularly amplified via social media, online contests, and paid promotions.

Dana Baardsen, Founder of Agile Trend Media on her blog strategy for DynaPro Direct:

Growing a brand’s blog is fun, and if it’s not, you’re not doing it right. It’s crucial to be savvy with SEO, feature catchy (not click-baity) headlines, and provide serviceable and accurate information regularly — but it’s even more important to ditch your personal itch to micromanage every piece of content. Here’s why: By allocating energy to public relations and opening up your site to editorial collaborations, you’ll feed new energy into an otherwise one-sided stream of content. What happens when you schedule collaborative blog content regularly? An increase in engagement, views, shares, likes, sales, and fun!

pexels-photo-212286
Digital Branding

Crowdfunding Marketing – How to Raise Millions in a Month

It has been repeatedly said over and over again that, to gain success in your crowdfunding, campaign you need to have a perfect product, project or idea. People must desire the thing that you offer because, when they don’t, you are doomed. However, a beginning entrepreneur needs to be aware of the fact that the difference between crowdfunding success and failure isn’t just about this one factor, as there are many more things that matter in the process. As well as a good idea, you need to think carefully, tweak every step you take and have a well-executed crowdfunding marketing plan.

If you have a brilliant idea, tested with your family and friends, you can start to think about the beginning your campaign. Crowdfunding platforms offer an easy way to kick off the campaign, which enables groups or individuals to collect the exact, specified amount of money needed to reach the market on a high scale. However, publishing the idea on such a platform doesn’t always equal success. Behind every triumph, there’s a great crowdfunding marketing plan with a notable effort by its founders.

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The idea of crowdfunding is all about showing the personal ethos of the campaign, the connection between what you want to say and the emotions of your product’s potential recipients. You have to think how to create and present your product to make people desire it and be the only one who can satisfy their needs.

Follow this article to find out how to plan a successful crowdfunding campaign.

When to Plan a Crowdfunding Marketing Campaign?

The best crowdfunding marketing campaigns are planned out long ahead of their launch. It’s a good idea to schedule all the steps as early as possible, to make the campaign deliberate and fruitful. Make sure that as many people as possible know about your idea, get them used to it and ensure they are ready to share their thoughts with others – it’s how you broaden your potential for better traction, and it all happens before you launch your campaign. It may sound strange at the very beginning, but it is incredibly crucial – if you want to succeed in a crowdfunding campaign, it will be helpful to proceed with early media outreach. Of course, the media is swamped with eager entrepreneurs pitching products. Therefore, you have to be aware that it’ll take some time to get on the radar of most journalists, so the best decision in this case is to not hesitate and begin this process ahead of your launch.

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The Most Important Factors

The important rule for fundraising marketing in general (and crowdfunding marketing in particular) is to take many steps at the same time. You need to do these things in parallel, so be prepared to try your hand at multitasking.

The Product

Although, earlier on, I’ve mentioned that the idea or product by itself isn’t the only key factor in the crowdfunding marketing process, but it is still one of the most important aspects. The object of the campaign needs to be special and unique; in short, it has to attract the attention of potential users. It will be an additional benefit if it is an embodiment of innovation. There should be a need or scarcity of your product in the market. The old rule says that such scarcity drives demand, so it is one of crowdfunding’s expected rules that your supporters should get something in exchange for their participation and money. You can offer some simple exchange for the help from participants by providing them an equity participation in your business or an early bird copy of your product, just as an act of returning a favor.

Broaden Your Network

Start with your personal network on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and so on. It is likely that the major part of your social media network consists of your family and friends, and that is an excellent factor. These are people who are eager to hear good news from you and be a part of your success. For sure, they’ll do all they can to spread your idea out there and make good use of it. But how do you make them want to contribute more? Remember not to send out the same message to everyone. Separate your contacts into lists of friends, family, business and acquaintances. This doesn’t mean that you have to write different messages to all of the people on your list, but do try to personalize it, even by just a little. It is also good to know who may be the biggest influencer on your list – in other words, who’s got the largest social circles both online and offline – as they can be of real help when expanding your network.

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Besides your social circle, look at the network of other business group related to your campaign. It is a good idea to connect with them and try to write a guest post on their blogs, or maybe they can give you a shout out on your blog or campaign. As you reach this new audience, you have to keep them engaged with questions and conversations – you need to maintain contact with them. Only with this engagement will you be able to build a sense of community and convert followers into supporters.

Create a Narrative

Everyone who is involved in your project should follow the same script. They have to know the history of the enterprise or a startup – how things started, where you want to go and how you intend to get there. Also, you need to explain why you’ve chosen crowdfunding instead of other investment strategies and, of course, you need to give them a description of how their funding will make a difference.

 

Make it Multi-Dimensional

Now, it is still time to persuade potential backers. It is incredibly important to testify with proof and credibility – in other words, support your pitch with facts, figures, and specifics on costs, forecasts and expectations. It’ll make you look and sound like a professional who knows the market in exact detail and is aware of how the product development will be executed, including when to take each step.

Your campaign should also be a media event, something that goes viral across many platforms and social media services. If it goes viral, it will be seen by the highest range of people, amongst whom may be some who desire your idea, like it and, what is highly important, choose to share it on their profiles, making it go further and further.

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Today, people are more likely to pay attention to vivid videos and photographs – so try to make a good use of these. Arrange a few photos of individuals interacting with the product, show the commitments by key principals and testimonials made by older users and people who are eager to support your project.

Last, but not least, create educational, informative and entertaining videos of prototypes in action, the users involved or comments from analysts. It will help to engage with recipients and to better help make your campaign go viral.

Find Early Backers

Before your campaign emerges on the crowdfunding platform, make sure you don’t start at “0% funded.” You’ve already gained the attention of your family, friends and probably your friends’ friends. If you are lucky and creative enough, your material went viral and it is a huge success! You’ve got connections with online business groups interested in your product and you’ve gained some more traction. Now, the aim is to get a commitment from them and make them the earliest backers, who will support your project as soon as you launch the campaign. That way, you can demonstrate momentum right off the bat!

It is not hard to find them as long as you have a brilliant idea, as you’ve already broadened your network and traction – this step is incredibly important to do ahead of your launch.

Improve, improve, improve

As things are ongoing, your product and campaign develop continuously. Prove what has changed and give evidence to support these positive developments. Remember that your strategy must include the development and improvement of existing marketing media – it will be a shred of evidence that more and more people are interested and it is worth shining a light on your product and devoting some time to know it better.

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Revitalize your website as soon as it is needed. Inform your audience about what’s new and what’s shaking with the campaign: keep them up to date. If you do this correctly, you’ll build a loyal community of recipients, ready to support and go for your idea.

Statistics show that 60% of crowdfunding campaigns fail to reach their funding – no wonder, creating a crowdfunding campaign isn’t just about signing up on the platform and looking at how the money on your account rises day by day. The process is much more complicated, as you might have noticed. It is all about being prepared to answer all of the doubts and questions which may show up during the campaign, knowing who may follow the idea and always broadening your network. Furthermore, to gain success, you have to do all of these things in parallel and be ready for any sudden plot twist.

Remember you are the only person who is going to care enough about your campaign. Follow the rules, work hard, and you will succeed for sure.

 

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Crowdfunding vs. Traditional Fundraising: Pros and Cons

Money is one of the most important factors throughout all of the development stages of business, but the time when you probably need it the most will be the very beginning of your activity on the market. Fundraising may become a drudgery because, sometimes, finding investors who will back your idea can be a hard nut to crack. Those who have already gained some experience looking for investors and collecting money are absolutely aware of the fact that investors are known to be quite selective with where they will place their money. The purpose of investing money is to see it grow – if they don’t believe a new business will become profitable, then they are unlikely to take a chance on it.

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Technology and Fundraising

A few years ago, the only way to collect the much-needed money was to fill in an application and ask a bank whether you’re a good candidate to get a loan or not. Another way to get funding was to throw a networking party, where all the guest will be likely to contribute and give your project a chance to thrive, or to look for investors on one’s own account. However, as technology develops continuously, some new options have emerged on the horizon, giving fledgling entrepreneurs and great inventors alike an opportunity to spread their ideas out. One of these comparatively new methods is crowdfunding, which enables people to create campaigns online and collect money via means of the Internet and crowdfunding platforms. All you have to do is to have a brilliant idea, sign up on the platform, create a campaign and start collecting funds to spread your idea wider.

Traditional fundraising and crowdfunding have the same purposes, so it should be indifferent which variant to choose, albeit in some cases where, for some reasons, it is better to opt to specifically crowdfund or fundraise.

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Pros and Cons of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding stems from fundraising, but with a twist. It trades upon the power of groups of individuals, or a pre-existing community, to kick off a cause or project and initiate its success. It allows you to put the project out there, even if the entrepreneur’s budget is close to none and, rationally, it should be cursed with failure because of these small resources. Fortunately, even if it seems that your only resource is your brilliant idea and you’re completely starved of other resources or support, it doesn’t mean that you have to drop out of the game.

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If you are at the very beginning of your adventure on the market, crowdfunding might be a perfect direction for you. Anyone can create a campaign on these platforms. All a starting entrepreneur has to do is to sign up on the crowdfunding platform, describe what his targeted amount of money to collect is – this is typically the amount which enables the project to see the light of the day. It all sounds like a piece of cake and it really isn’t so hard. The purpose you’re collecting money for doesn’t matter. Whether it’s a new application, an exceptional kitchen robot or a music album, you can create a campaign, set the needed amount of money and the period of which people can contribute and transfer money to back your idea. What is also crucial to mention is that you can personally thank them for this help. The idea of crowdfunding establishes that your backers can either have an equity stake in your business or you can send them an early bird copy of the product, which is like killing two birds using one stone because doing so both shows your heartfelt appreciation and ensures your product sees the light of the day. It is perfect for those campaigns where every single dime counts because the only costs that they bear are – in most of the cases – the incredibly low commissions on the transferred amount of money.

Of course, this approach of collecting money also has some disadvantages. The crowdfunding campaign is time limited, which means that, if the project doesn’t collect enough money during the designated time, it won’t reach its goal and will still be missing the necessary amount of money. The idea of crowdfunding enables supporters to decide whether to dedicate the money to your project or not. It can be an advantage, of course, but let’s imagine a situation in which the potential backer scrolls down a platform which features hundreds of campaigns. So many pictures and volumes of information hits his or her mind at once – they can simply lose their bearings and even bypass your campaign entirely. Your idea can be brilliant for the niche but, for the majority of people who look at the website, it might seem impersonal or needless. Another group of individuals use crowdfunding as a means of collecting money, while also taking the community out of fundraising and will impersonalizing the act of giving. But don’t worry, as, with most investments, people tend to put their money where they will see or feel the most impact. Crowdfunding is all about connecting to real people in real communities, where trust and reputation are front and center in the process.

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Pros and Cons of Traditional Fundraising

Traditional fundraising has existed for years, often known as the typical way to raise money for worthy cause. It enables people to contribute to a charity or a cause they believe in, for as long as there has been a need to do so, making other people’s life better. It was – and still is – usually done by collecting money during events or parties where people (potential donors) have fun with something to drink or eat, before sharing their money on a good cause. A much more efficient way of collecting money to start a business, however, is to get funding from venture or angel investors, who share their money with promising projects and see how their money grows in exchange. Another way of raising funds via traditional means is to ask for a bank loan to start or develop your business. All of those methods are not time limited – it means that, by contrast to crowdfunding, this support can be on a long-term basis. Donors sometimes give annual donations, or spread their contributions out. This means that the entrepreneur gets constant financial income, which can be crucial for continual business development.

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When you take your first, short glimpse at fundraising in direct comparison to crowdfunding, you’ll see that traditional fundraising may seem much easier. You only need to find an investor or go to a bank to ask for a loan. Beware, it’s not so easy as it seems!

Regarding traditional fundraising, it is often a huge investment of time, money, and valuable resources that lower-income groups or individuals can’t summon. According to the history of fundraising for charity, as well as other good causes, people need to have some money in the first place to offer potential donors some entertainment to make them come and keep them interested. It’s obvious that beginning entrepreneurs and artists don’t have funds to start and develop such an activity, let alone the funds and resources required to throw parties and keep people interested that way. When it comes to loans – which at first may seem like a perfect and fast solution – it may turn out to be nothing but toil. To get a loan, you have to fill in an application containing all of the information about your business activity; you need to prove that you’ll be able to give the money back to the bank – which can be hard. The thing to remember is to conduct good research to find which banks offer the needed type of loan. If you skip this part, you’ll probably lose your time wandering from one bank to another, hearing that you’re not able to fulfill the various requirement that the bank imposes on its borrowers. Remember, you always have to give the money back; it doesn’t matter if your project sinks or swims!

crowdfunding

When comparing crowdfunding and traditional fundraising, the differences are easily visible and, what’s more, both approaches have their own pros and cons, so it often depends on the situation and development level of the entrepreneurship, when it comes to which method to choose.

Undoubtedly, the traditional means of fundraising have been very successful for a lot of projects; however, crowdfunding allows people with very few physical resources the opportunity to develop startup funds for large projects and high needs. The way someone raises money should be deliberate and tailored to his possibilities and business needs.