Content Strategy

Content Strategy Part 2 – Content Delivery

Content Delivery Planning Overview

Imagine you’re given the task of promoting your product to a random person. Just someone who happens to be passing by on the street. You don’t know him. Nor do you know anything about him. Maybe he knows of your products. Maybe he doesn’t. Perhaps he’s not interested in what you’re selling.

You would probably strike up a conversation to fill in some of your knowledge gaps. Introduce yourself. Ask for his name. Find out where he’s going. In the course of the conversation, you’ll get a chance to work in the information about your products and sell him on them.

But what if you could answer some key questions first? Suppose, for example, he already knows about your product line. Perhaps he expressed interest in it before. Or maybe he doesn’t know yours, but he uses similar products on a regular basis.

You would approach each scenario differently in sales. So why not do the same in your content marketing? Technology today gives us hundreds of ways to collect and use data. So why not use it to enhance your content strategy?

The last two pieces of your content strategy will address this approach. And the first part of the answer is the when.

When to Introduce Part 1: Discovery

First, we have to establish a few phases that most customers will go through in their buying process. These same phases take place in most relationships and can be viewed in similar terms. I prefer to call these phases Discovery, Exploration, and Commitment.

In an ideal romantic relationship, the phases would look something like this:

  • Discovery – Jeff meets Sarah. Jeff hits it off with Sarah. They exchange phone numbers and agree to meet again.
  • Exploration – Jeff and Sarah begin going on dates. They start talking about things they’re interested in and things that drive them. They learn about each others’ personalities.
  • Commitment – Jeff and Sarah realize they have enough in common and like each other enough to take the next step and get married.

However, the discovery phase often works a little differently and tells a story. Using Jeff and Sarah again, let’s talk a little more in depth about the relationship process, starting with discovery.

Jeff enjoys going to the gym to work out and shows up religiously at 6:30, after his dinner’s had a bit of time to set in. One day, a girl comes into the gym he hasn’t seen before. She’s fairly attractive and seems cheerful and upbeat.

Jeff doesn’t talk to her at first. But he notices her several more times as she continues to come to the gym. After a while, Jeff works up the courage to talk to her. The conversation goes well but doesn’t go further than that.

Over the next couple of months, Jeff and Sarah have several brief conversations at the gym. They begin to discover they have many similar interests in addition to their regular workout routines. They exchange phone numbers and begin to be present in each others’ social circles.

Of course, the phases also apply to any relationship. Every day you meet potential friends. If you meet somebody and decide to talk to them, you’ve taken step 1 in the process.  It’s important to remember that discovery can, and often does, take more than a single meeting.

Prepared for Discovery

Now, we can honestly say that both of these discovery processes are real-life scenarios. In some cases, a relationship could start as quickly as hitting it off at a party. In many other cases, the discovery process involves several meetings before any serious conversation and relational development occurs.

Your content strategy, though, focuses on the second scenario. You expect prospective customers to take slow steps. You also plan for them to encounter your brand several times before exploring further.

Let’s look at Jeff and Sarah again. If Jeff didn’t go to the gym regularly, he never would have seen Sarah. They met when their habits brought them to the same place at the same time.

So that’s the entire purpose of your discovery content. It’s not to pull a customer in for the sale. You write discovery content to just be in the same Internet space as your prospect.

That means you have to be tied into your prospects’ interests. You must write your content to address what people are looking for. Remember, this is not a sales pitch. Content should be informative and helpful, and most importantly should answer the question the customer wants to know.

When to Introduce Part 2: Exploration

Once a prospect moves on to the next step, it’s time for you to tell him more about you. Every company has a unique personality. What’s yours? How do you approach your work? What kind of things have you done? Are you priced competitively for the value that you provide?

Imagine if Jeff and Sarah’s conversations always stayed the same. If they just talked about weights, workout routines, and techniques. And imagine if they only discussed general knowledge instead of their own personal workout routines.

Do you think their relationship would go anywhere?

Probably not. At best they would become gym buddies. But more likely than not,  once they’d exhausted gym topics for the 10th time, they would get bored with each other and look for more exciting friends. And that would be it.

Now ask yourself why your customer should be any different. If he decides to take the next step and explore your company further, he’s going to want to see more than general expertise. And you need to be prepared to show him. If he takes that step and you just keep passing the same information he can get from your blog, for example, he’s not going to stick around.

So now is the time to let him know what you’re about. Give him some visibility into pricing and savings. Let him see some special offers just for people like him. Give him more information about you, and let your personality shine through.

Eventually, when he’s satisfied that you’re a good match for him, he’ll decide to commit to a transaction. And that’s where you get to phase 3.

When to Introduce Part 3: Commitment

The worst thing you can do after a customer commits to a transaction is to treat her like she’s still exploring. The way you communicate with a customer should be different than the way you communicate with a prospective customer.

Imagine if Jeff got through several dates with Sarah, and they decided to announce an engagement. But after the engagement, Jeff keeps proposing to her every date. How do you think that would go over with Sarah? She might think it was funny the first couple times, but eventually, she’d think there was something wrong with Jeff.

Although it might be less evident in a customer relationship, your customer ultimately will feel the same way. If they make a transaction, but nothing changes in your communication, they’re going to subconsciously come to the conclusion that you didn’t even notice their transaction. This will lead them to feel that they’re just another number for you. Which in turn will lead to a sense of disillusionment with your company.

There are several things you can do to change the way you communicate with a customer, but the important part is to recognize that they’ve trusted you with some of their hard-earned money. And you should show them that you’re committed to repaying their trust with the best possible service.

That wraps up the section on when to introduce content and brings us to the final point in a good content marketing strategy.

How to Deliver Content

Many people associate content marketing purely with blogging. But this is a huge mistake. Sure, blogs will be the majority of your online content over time. But while this is a big part of content marketing, it’s certainly not the entirety.

Content can be delivered over several forms of media, including, but not limited to:

  • Blogs/articles
  • E-mails
  • Social Media
  • Newsletters
  • Video Channels
  • Webinars
  • White Papers
  • E-books
  • Podcasts

While the exploration and commitment phases can contain most of these content delivery methods, the discovery phase is limited to blogs, articles, podcasts, and video channels. For that reason, any of these delivery methods that are available to the public should focus more on being informative than promoting your company.

Exploration generally begins with a subscription of some sort. This could be a free member’s area that contains more specific articles, videos, etc. It could also be a white paper. Or it could be a simple e-mail subscription. Regardless of your preferred method, your exploration phase trigger should collect your prospect’s name and e-mail address.

Webinars can be a great way to deliver content to those who are exploring your brand. Not only can you deliver more valuable information to your customers, but the voice and interactive elements will make the experience more personal.

Finally, content for those who have committed to a transaction can be delivered in almost all ways. E-mail, though, should always be one of these. E-mail is still the most efficient and effective method of communicating with and marketing to customers.

Build a Good Content Strategy to Increase Organic Lead Conversions

Ultimately, the purpose of your content marketing is to take organic leads and convert them into customers. That’s why it’s important to have more than just a plan for your blog. You need to have a plan for e-mail campaigns, social media, and many other content delivery methods.

Remember, building a good content strategy takes time. But it’s essential to producing effective content. If you want to gain and convert more organic leads, have a written plan for the who, what, why, when, and how. And continually revise the plan as you learn more about yourself and your audience.

Importance of Mobile Responsive Websites

As life continues to change and modernize so does our way of communication; this has a great effect on the way business leaders should be handling their marketing. Sadly those who are unaware of the effect of this change could be loosing more than half their business to this simple change that can be made within the marketing strategy. Keep reading to learn about what it means to have a mobile responsive site as well as why you NEED it to be mobile friendly.

So What Does it Mean to Have a Mobile Responsive Website?

Having a mobile responsive website is simply put having a website that is user friendly for phone users. Here are the top features to look out for to make sure your website is mobile friendly:

  1. Screen layout: If you have ever gone on another companies website using a mobile devise only to find that their homepage does not fit the diameters of your phone then you know the struggle it is to navigate on their pages. Whether you are having to zoom in to read their writing or zoom out to click on other buttons it can leave a very bad impression on the quality of your website to a buyer and discourage them from using it.
  2. Large buttons: Unlike using a mouse on a computer and being able to precisely click on the option that is desired using a touch screen can be a little different. Due to the smaller screen, buttons that are displayed on a mobile screen will get shrunk leaving customers with a poor experience as it can be a huge pain to navigate. This is because rather then hovering a mouse customers will have to attempt to use their finger to click on a interactive option. If the buttons on your site are to small and close together this can make it difficult to operate leaving many customers skip critical pages such as a products or a  contact page to earn your business.
  3.  Pictures and Design: Because the proportions are smaller on a phone than a desktop the diameters of pictures and designs will have to be shrunk. It is important to ensure that the resolution of these designs are not poorly effected as sometimes the design may have to be edited or even removed if it is not compatible with the size distortion of a mobile devise.

Why is a Mobile Responsive Website Important?

It is under popular believe that you have at most 7 second to make a first impression, this is true not only in meeting a person for the first time, but visiting a company website for the first time as well. According to Statista “In 2018, 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones” (Feel free to read the rest of the article here) with more than half of all web traffic going to a company website through a mobile devise it is critical to ensure that your website is in a mobile friendly format. If it is not, it only takes seconds for a possible buyer to become discouraged from the poor format and leave your site. This means that you can be losing up to 52% of all your customers on your business simply due to a incorrect mobile layout.

In this day of age it appears that everyone is on their phones, as times change and smart phones are becoming more and more widely used it is important as an entrepreneur to look at how this new way of communication can either help or hurt your company. If you are interested in learning how to get your website mobile responsive feel free to check out our Services where we explain how we can give you a professional mobile responsive and user friendly website for a affordable price. By creating a new website optimized for todays way of life you are ensuring that you are leaving the best possible impression on your customers that are visiting your page. By leaving a good impression you are able to maximize the effectiveness of your website in earning your customers business which will allow you to continue to grow and develop your company as a whole. 

Using Thick Content Instead of Thin Content

The future is here, and it’s face is the internet. Already, the Internet is the number one hub for data and information. There are literally billions of web pages out there, every one vying for people’s attention.

So how do you stay relevant in this age of digital information? How do you get people to notice you? The best method is to maintain a multifaceted approach to your web presence. But a big part of that approach revolves around your content.

In fact, it’s been stated before, and quite fairly, that content is king.

In this article, we are going to discuss thin content and “thick” content. A large number of small businesses and entrepreneurs tend to produce thin content. And that’s very unfortunate. What is thin content, and why is it unfortunate? Simply put, thin content is information on a platform that provides little to no usefulness to the reader.

So why is thin content bad for your company?

There are two main reasons as to why thin content can be damaging to your business. First, thin content will never retain more customers. People who come to a web page are there because they want something. They might be searching for a product. They might be searching for a guide. Perhaps they’re just looking for some fun. But regardless of the reason they came, they want something substantial for the trouble they took to visit your site.

The second issue that thin content produces has to do with Googles search algorithms. After Google established the 2011 Panda update, Google has begun to recognize sites with low or thin content and have started to lower their rankings in attempt to eliminate poor content. This means that not only does thin content make it harder to retain potential customers on your site, it also makes it harder for them to see your site to begin with.

Thin Content is Tempting to Content Producers

Now, it should be noted that the defining factor for thin content is not how many words there are. The number of words in a page or article may factor into algorithms, but not as thin content. The defining factor in thin content is actually depth.

If you’ve been searching for things online for as many years as I have, you’ve probably run across some examples. Here are a few examples of articles I’ve read in the past that I’d consider thin content.

  • An article about “How to Care for Your Rose Bushes” that went on and on about the different types of roses that a company sold, but never provided any actual useful information on growing rose bushes
  • A blog post titled “The Best 6 Kayaks of 2017” that listed 6 kayaks all from the same company without ever comparing other brands, features, or what made those particular kayaks “the best”
  • An article titled “The Beginner’s Guide to Composting” that had almost no information about composting except to explain the different types of compost bins that a particular company sold.

Now, two of the articles mentioned above ran well beyond 1,000 words. But they didn’t actually provide any value to the reader. They were only long, promotional pieces trying to convince the reader to buy a particular product line.

The above examples also illustrate why thin content tempts marketers and content producers. Content on your site exists to drive more customers through your sales funnel, right? So shouldn’t your content promote your products?

The best answer here is actually, “Not necessarily.” And I’ll explain in a moment.

Promotional Vs. Informative Articles

There are two types of articles you can write in your news or blog area. I classify them as promotional and educational.

Promotional articles promote a product or service you offer. They provide customers information about your product or service. And they inform your customers why you believe your product is better than anyone else’s. Their chief goal is to sell a product or service.

Educational articles, on the other hand, provide information that your customer probably wants. These articles could provide directions for using products like yours. They might talk about things related to the product or service you provide. But ultimately, their chief goal is to educate, not to sell.

Educational articles exist to establish your authority. They showcase your knowledge about the product or service you provide. This helps to build trust in your readers, who need to see you as an expert before they can make the decision to buy from you.

Now the problem comes when people try to write educational articles as promotional articles. Or more specifically, they write a promotion and give it an educational article name. The thin content results from the goals set at the beginning of the article. Because your goal initially is to promote your product, you end up doing more product promotion and not providing the useful information your customer wants to see.

Thick Content: Your Second and Better Option

So what is thick content and why is it important to me?

As you can imagine, thick content is a wealth of quality content that serves to address to provide relevant, in-depth, and clear information that can be observed by the audience.

Using the examples from earlier, imagine that the articles I read before were just a little different. For example:

  • An article about rose care that actually talked about how to take care of rose bushes
  • A blog post about the top 6 Kayaks of 2017 based on specific criteria with clear pros and cons and including kayaks from more than one company, possibly even a separate top 3 for recreational, touring, and fishing kayaks
  • An article about beginning composting that detailed how to make a simple compost bin, what to put in a compost pile, and how to maintain a compost pile.

As the person searching for the information, I know these articles would provide me with the information I was looking for. My experience with the articles would’ve been better. Furthermore, if other articles on the site were equally compelling I would definitely take note of the site name.

Here is a short list of just a few positives that creating thick content can have for you and your company:

  1. Thick Content improves your SEO rankings
  2. It can create customer conversions on your site
  3. It can increase the size of your developed audience
  4. High quality and relevant content has a high chance of being shared by word of mouth
  5. High quality and relevant content is frequently shared on social media sites
  6. It can organically direct traffic to other pages within your site

Make Your Content Thick

As you can imagine, the thick content goes over much better for businesses. People see them as experts because they establish themselves through educational articles. They want to buy their products because their promotional articles contain clear, verifiable information about the product or service offered. Thick content wins in the world of search engines. It wins in the world of customers. And that means it basically just wins.


3 Ways SEO Connects to Your Audience

Let’s face it. SEO has received some bad press over the years. Various companies tried all kinds of “magic” SEO methods to fast-track clients to the front page of  Google. But in the end, Google wasn’t buying it. Sites that employed these methods torpedoed once Google updated algorithms. And the owners of those sites were left wondering if SEO’s really all it’s cracked up to be.

But while bad practices can fast-track your site to the bottom, that’s not the whole story of SEO. In fact, search engine optimization makes up an important part of your online strategy. It’s not an easy thing. Nor will you see your rank go up overnight. But good SEO practices produce a valuable return.

SEO helps connect you to  your audience. At its root, SEO is really just telling search engines what your site is about. Search engines then take that data and match it to what users are searching for. This should result in more users finding your site.

Unfortunately a lot of pages experience a communication breakdown here. The breakdown occurs when companies provide Google with poor data. This happens for a variety of reasons, but they all point back to one source. SEO is about communication!

In light of this, we at Message First Group put together 3 ways SEO dynamics fit into your message first strategy.

1. Keywords ARE Your Audience’s Language

When communicating with someone, it’s important to speak their language. If I were to go up to your average employee and start talking about SEO, CRMs, and marketing pixels, chances are he’d look at me like I had six eyes.

But too often, website builders, bloggers, and other content writers put information out there that doesn’t get indexed well. Not because it’s not good information. In fact, it’s often great information. But sometimes they write in a way that won’t get them recognized. Some of them have an attitude about keywords. Others simply use words or phrases that are ingrained in their speech and way of thinking because of their industry. Still others just write to write.

If that’s not you, great! You already understand the importance of SEO.

But if it is you, you need to stop to think about why keywords are important. Keywords are actually your audience’s language!

That’s right. When your audience looks for you, they type something into Google. Google indexes what they type in as “keywords.” Then those keywords are recorded, stored, and measured for use. At the same time, Google’s search engine software scans websites for content that fits those keywords. It then displays a list of pages that best fit the keywords that were typed in.

Now remember, the people who started this whole process were your audience. The same audience you want to reach. That means they searched for your product or service by typing those keywords in. To them, those keywords in some way represent a product or service you offer.

Since customers already believe these keywords relate to your product, give them the keywords! If you sell two-wheeled, manually propelled vehicles optimized for mountainous terrain, and people come into your shop looking for mountain bikes, you’d sell them mountain bikes. Why should your website be any different?

And that brings us to the second point…

2. SEO Tells Your Audience What Your Site is About

Have you ever seen the signs on the side of the highway? Not the speed limits, but the ones telling you where you can find food, lodging, or gas?

Most of the time these signs just fade in and out of your peripheral. But when you’re on an unknown stretch of highway and your stomach starts complaining… When you’ve got less than a quarter tank left… When it’s almost midnight and you’re still six hours from your destination… they suddenly grow very important.

SEO functions like these signs on the highway. People often fire up their web browser and take off down the information highway with a destination in mind. Sometimes they know every stop along the way, but more often they don’t have specific destinations mapped out. Sometimes they feel that empty stomach calling for food. Or hear that pillow calling  to their drooping eyes. At those times, they’ll look for signs pointing them to the solution to their problems.

Now in this functionality, you might think Google is the signs. But in this case you’d be wrong. Google actually functions as their eyes.

The Keywords are the signs that the eyes read and interpret based on input from the mind.

So if your audience looks for you, but your content isn’t optimized to what they’re looking for, as far as Google’s concerned you don’t exist.

That’s how important your SEO is to Google. And the more content you have optimized for keywords, the more likely Google is to show your site to users first.

But today it’s not enough to just tell your audience what your site is about. Once they get there, you need to keep them there. Which brings me to the third point.

3. SEO Matches Your Content to Your Audience’s Needs

Although this may seem similar to the second principle, it’s actually really important in a different way. Your SEO tells your audience what the site is about. And your content needs to match the keywords.

Going back to the highway illustration, imagine you’re on a long stretch of highway. It’s been 60 miles since the last exit, and promises to be at least another 50 after the exit you’re about to pass. You could’ve stopped for a bite at the last exit already. But unfortunately there were no food places advertised close to the highway.

Thankfully, you see a sign on the side of the highway. “Food”, it says, and there’s a solitary restaurant name listed there. “Joe’s Burgers and Sausage.” You’ve never heard of the place, but you don’t know when your next opportunity to get a bite will be. So you pull off the highway and follow the directions to Joe’s.

When you come in, the first thing you notice is that it doesn’t look like a restaurant. In fact, there are no tables and chairs. Not even a bar stool. Freezers line the back wall, and the wall to your right is dedicated to refrigerators. You quickly discover that these are filled with meat. Ground beef, sausages of all varieties, poultry… If it’s meat, they’ve got it. The only problem is, it’s all fresh or frozen.

The aisles are filled with bread, ketchup, mustard, and other condiments and spices you might want for a cookout. They even have charcoal, refill tanks for gas grills, plastic ware, and grilling utensils. But you don’t need any of that right now! You just need to eat something, fast!

How will you react to the situation? Well, if you’re like me, you might either leave with your mood extra sour. If you’re in a particularly bad mood, you might even find the store’s management to have it out with them over the sign. But in either case, you won’t have a good experience. And chances are you’ll tell your friends as soon as possible. “Whatever you do, don’t go to Joe’s Burgers and Sausages if you’re ever driving down that stretch of highway.”

Your customers will react exactly the same way if your content doesn’t fit your keywords. Best case scenario, they’ll immediately leave your site. Worst case, they’ll tell all their friends about it on social media or anywhere they can leave a bad review.

Connect Your Audience to Quality Content

The point of this whole article is to not forget the importance of good SEO. Remember, Search Engine Optimization’s not about trying to be something you’re not. It’s not about trying to game Google. It’s about using your audience’s language to communicate with them.

If you keep that in mind, you’ll see your SEO efforts fall seamlessly into place. Your overall ranking will rise, and more importantly you’ll see users engage more with your content. The final goal of all content should be to spark conversation about your brand.

Secret Ingredient of Content Marketing

The Secret Ingredient for Great Content Marketing

Everyone wants to know the secret ingredient. Nothing would be easier in marketing than that magical element that just makes everything come together. That one ingredient that makes your services that much better than everyone else’s.

In Kung Fu Panda, there’s a scene where Po makes the “secret ingredient soup” that his ‘father’ makes in his restaurant. The others compliment it on how great the soup is. And he responds, “it’s not as good as my dad’s.” When they ask why, he explains that he doesn’t know the secret ingredient.

Later on in the movie, his dad decides to tell him the secret ingredient to the secret ingredient soup. There is no secret ingredient!

Or perhaps more accurately, the secret ingredient is actually Po’s passion for the soup. His experience combines with his passion for delicious soup to create the “secret ingredient.”

So what’s the secret ingredient for Content Marketing?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not green or yellow buttons. It’s also not having your call to action above the fold. Nor is it any of the other myriad of tricks marketers shout through their internet bullhorns today. Those certainly help. But they’re not the secret ingredient.

But the secret ingredient exists. It keeps your audience coming back again and again. And it doesn’t cost you a penny.

In fact, this secret ingredient appears in Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Carnegie relates a story told by a arts and crafts teacher.

Chris was a very quiet, shy boy lacking in self-confidence, the kind of student that often does not receive the attention he deserves… …I asked Chris if he would like to be in the advanced class. How I wish I could express the look in Chris’s face, the emotions in that shy fourteen-year old boy trying to hold back his tears.

Dale Carnegie relates this story because he wants his readers to understand something. One ‘secret ingredient’ that can make somebody instantly like you. Make that person feel important. But it’s not good enough just to say something that you hope makes them feel important. You have to be sincere about it too.

This principle carries over into business. You have to be able to see your prospects as important. And more importantly, you have to be able to communicate that to them through your marketing.

Now it would be great if you already mastered this principle. And I’m sure many of you have. But if you’re more like me… if you sometimes struggle to see the value of some of the people in your life… Here are a couple ideas to get you started.

See Prospects As Real People with Real Problems

It’s tempting to say you should value your prospect because they represent a revenue stream. And that is one reason to value them. But certainly not the best.

People should be important because they’re people. And ultimately, they want to be important. But as people, they have problems they want solved. Without those problems, you wouldn’t have a business. Your business delivers a solution that they can believe in.

If people are important to you, you’ll find it much easier to communicate that you authentically want to solve their problems. If they’re just numbers to pay your premiums or price tags, that will ultimately come across as well. They might not be able to put it into words, but people will recognize your attitude toward them in your marketing.

Of course, they’re also important because they’re investing their hard earned money in your solution. But if they didn’t feel the need for what you provide, then they wouldn’t pay a dime for it.

This brings me to another way you can grow to appreciate your audience more.

Realize They’ll Tell a Story About You

I recently ran across a product that’s been making waves on social media for quite some time now. Perhaps you’ve heard of it already as well. The particular product that I saw was the “Pink Drink,” which you may already know is produced by Plexus.

The thing that intrigued me, though, was what people said about it.

People raved on social media about Plexus. When they talked, it was so much more than just relating experiences or recommending a product. Many would even talk about how Plexus changed their life. One person had bad reflux for years, but after only a few months of Plexus it was gone completely! Others were ecstatic about how easy it was to control their weight. Still others finally enjoyed meals without worrying about digestive issues afterward.

Plexus enjoyed much of its success because of these real people praising their brand on social media. Of course, the concept of brand ambassadors also contributed greatly to these stories. We don’t have time to explore brand ambassadors in this post. But it’s so important to understand that we’ll talk about it in the future.

Now were there detractors? Of course. No matter how good your product or service is, it won’t work for everyone. But that’s fine. You just need the right people to get it, and your positive stories will far outweigh your negative stories.

And most important, people tend to trust the word of someone they know over hundreds of strangers. I can go on Amazon and see 600 reviews on a product with an average 4+ star rating. And I might still hesitate to buy it. But if someone I know says the product worked great for them, I’m sold.

And then there’s the last reason you should really value your audience…

Bottom Line: Audience Determines Your Reputation

Entrepreneur posted an article back in 2013 about Social Media and its effect on your business. And the impact only increased since then. Today, social media’s influence surpasses even most news organizations.

Personally, your friends and society might give you a lot of leeway when it comes to social media. But as a business, everything you say online will be closely examined. This may not be a game changer for large organizations like Hollywood, Amazon, or other corporate giants. But the firestorm that Social Media can ignite devastates many businesses.

But how you respond can be even more devastating. Answering irate customers by name-calling like this company will only bring more ire. Even if a customer’s unreasonable, answering with a class act will always result in a win for you. Most of all, showing that you value all customers, even the disgruntled ones, really helps your reputation skyrocket.

So if you’re looking for that secret ingredient, remember it’s right in front of you. You just need passion for your business and your audience. Once your content reflects this passion, people will rave about your services. And you’ll be there to guide the conversation.

Christian Leaders Institute

Christian Leaders Institute ranks among the world leaders of free high-quality Christian Leaders training. They offer over 180 hours of college-level credit. Christian Leaders Institute has enrolled almost 200,000 students since their beginning in 2006.

Christian Leaders Institute has used the Message First Group marketing approach for several years now. The team at Message First worked with Christian Leaders Institute in refining their approach.

Christian Leaders Institute gathers stories, news, and testimonies from students and graduates. This news is keyworded in connection with their message and brand.  This allows Christian Leaders Institute to cultivate ample leads for new students through organic Search Engine Optimation. Both Google and Bing recognize this type of optimization as serving the community.

Most businesses do local targeting using the Internet. This often requires massive advertising budgets. The Message First approach promotes your brand through stories, news, and testimony. This, in turn, brings your community a rich and deep perspective on your products and services. Search engines recognize this so much because a local business is ultimately about people and their stories.

In other words, when problems are solved, people talk about it. They tell others how they live out the culture of an organization’s product or service. And that powerful testimony gets you recognized.

Christian Leaders Institute still uses paid advertising, but the foundation of their promotion is real dialogues of real people. People whose specific problems are served by the service they bring to the world.

If you need help in making your story known to your local community or to your target group, Message First Group will help you get a WordPress conversation site and will teach you how to effectively tell your story. This process does not have to bust your budget. Nor does it need to replace your current website. Christian Leaders Institute, for instance, has several websites that begin conversations to lead people back to their core products. Check out their Ignite Restoration site that deepens the conversations about restorative justice for former offenders.

This is an example of where a specific target group is reached with a deepening conversation. Christian Leaders Institute has a program that will connect to that target group. This dialogue site is perfectly positioned to share stories, news, and services to those in this situation of life. A site like this is efficient to operate and does not interfere with the regular Christian Leaders Institute website.






Starting a Movement

Starting a Movement the Steve Jobs Way

If you want to be successful, there’s no better way than learning from others who were successful.

And when it comes to successful people in recent years, Steve Jobs ranks pretty far up there.

I mean, how many others in his generation took a friendship with a computer nerd and an idea and proceeded to turn them into one of the biggest corporations in the world?

Now of course, many things contributed to his success. But today I want to focus on just one. Because I believe this one thing helped him more than anything else.

He had a vision for what his company should be.

In fact, if  you look all the way back to the beginning of Apple, Steve already knew what his business would be about. It came out when he explained why he chose Apple for a name.

His response? He found Apple to be “fun, spirited, and not intimidating.” Not necessarily the first traits that come to mind when you think about an apple. But Steve just came back from an apple orchard where he went on one of his “Fruitarian diets.” So that’s what an apple represented to him.

Now fast forward a couple decades.

Just before the turn of the century, Apple’s locked into a downward spiral. The company pushed Steve out in the mid 70s because he disagreed with the then CEO over product development issues. But now the new CEO’s ideas flopped, and Apple wants Jobs back. Ultimately, he did come back. And instantly started Apple’s revival.

Staying True to Your Vision

Shortly after Steve Jobs’ return, Apple aired an ad that has since become famous. The ad proclaimed a tribute to the “crazy ones”, and went on to show Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jim Henson, among others. The ad paid a powerful tribute as it laid out these well known unique personalities. And finished with these words:

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

But, you might ask, how does that go back to the first theme? Steve Jobs chose Apple because he found it “fun, spirited, and not intimidating.” He didn’t say anything about changing the world.

True, he never mentioned changing the world at that juncture. Maybe that was even just an added bonus, but if you look at a few of the Apple ads that aired in the next decade or so, you’ll notice a theme emerge.

First, there’s the “affordable mac” series. These came in the old days of Mac before PCs could be bought much cheaper, as they can now. The affordable computer represented a paradigm shift in the technology that pushed it more toward consumers and less into businesses and schools. And Steve Jobs carefully positioned it that way. He didn’t sell a cheaper product. He sold a revolution in the way computers were priced.

Fast forward a few more years to one of the longest running Mac campaigns: Mac vs. PC. You can find many of these ads on YouTube even today. These ads were perhaps the greatest stroke of genius Jobs advertising team produced.

The theme of the ads remained the same. A man in a business suit and glasses stood next to a more casually dressed man. The first man, the personification of the “PC”, was carefully crafted by Apple. From his posture to his hairstyle and clothes, he just screamed stereotypical IT guy. The other guy, the personification of the “MAC”, dressed in a more relaxed, fun vibe, which also carried into his posture and manner of speaking.

Throughout the course of the commercials, the personalities played out. The identity of the “PC” as the nerdy, somewhat elitist IT personality solidified. At the same time, the identity of the Mac as the fun, spirited, and not intimidating artist reached new heights. Along the way, Jobs and his advertising team hit all the pain points for PC users: Upgrades, viruses, spyware, random crashes. If people hated something about computers, he would run an ad on it.

Changing the computer world

Ultimately Steve Jobs stayed true to his vision. And more importantly, he communicated his vision. Computers didn’t have to be boring. They didn’t have to look clunky. Tech didn’t have to be intimidating. Computers could be fun! They could be creative! Tech gadgets could actually look cool!

As Steve’s message reached the world, it inspired a paradigm shift in the computer industry. Today, computers are designed just as much for visual appeal as for function. People expect innovative features that are appealing. They expect technology that’s fun and easy to use, not intimidating and difficult to learn. They expect software that makes it easy for them to create.

Without Steve Jobs, technology could still be complicated, intimidating, and clunky. He’s been quoted as saying, that users ” don’t know what they want until you tell them,” and in so many cases he proved the point. He proved that with an unflinching vision and determination, one man can change the world.

So, to take a page from Apple’s advertising,

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Let’s get out there and prove we can change our world.