Article | March 2, 2020
In the age of influencer marketing where brands and marketers feel somewhat new to the idea, it’s becoming clear that Public Relations professionals aren’t getting the credit they deserve. PR pros are the original influencers. I’ve been working under the public relations umbrella for *cough* two decades now. I describe PR as an umbrella because it covers so many different communications functions. From media relations and community relations to investor relations and crisis communications, PR practitioners know the brand story better than anyone and often serve to give a voice to the story.
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with a series of professional sports franchises as well as my fair share of technology startups. In each role, I’ve led and impacted every function of Public Relations. Whether it’s using athletes or CEO’s as spokespeople or finding industry “thought leaders” whose ideas are established and trusted, public relations has been influencing since, well, forever. And the most exciting part of all of my roles has been in the relationship building.
Article | March 13, 2021
A human approach to content marketing begins and ends with being vulnerable. No, it is not the same thing as being weak. As Brene Brown says:
"Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences…. What most of us fail to understand...is that vulnerability is also the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity."
This is why being vulnerable is important to your content marketing: it helps create a connection. (If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be connected to other people. And we need to wash our hands more.)
If the thought of being vulnerable totally freaks you out, remember that no one is perfect. No one.
Here’s how to weave that human approach into your content marketing.
Share your struggles
People who don’t know me well probably think I float through life on rainbows and sprinkles. If only.
When I graduated from college, I had zero resilience and was struggling with severe anxiety. Unfortunately, I had very little self-awareness, so I had no idea. My first “real” job was with a truly wonderful company, and of course I had the dragon-lady-boss-from-hell. I lasted five miserable months, during which time my anxiety went through the roof and I developed bulimia.
I recovered from bulimia after four years, but I didn’t get my anxiety under control until I fell down a hole into depression when I was 37 years old. Here’s how bad it was: If I was out running errands and noticed my car needed gas, I could not stop at a gas station unless I had already planned to. Spontaneously changing the “plan” was mission impossible. Didn’t matter if I drove past six gas stations. I couldn’t do it.
Eight years later, I am still on anti-depressants. I doubt I’ll ever go off, because it makes life manageable. (If I hadn’t been medicated during the early days of the pandemic, I probably would have ended up in the looney bin.)
Anyway, my point is that we grow the most as humans when we survive and overcome challenging times. My struggles have certainly helped me become the person I was meant to be.
Sharing our personal stories – especially the thorny, dark ones – make us human and relatable. If you are on anti-depressants, you and I are now connected by that shared experience.
Own your failures
I have failed as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and business owner. I am sure I have failed complete strangers as well.
Here’s a short list of my failures as a business owner:
Doing work for free
Not charging enough
Failing to fire bad clients quickly
Ignoring the financials (profit and loss, balance sheet, expenses, etc.)
Hiring the wrong people
Working without a contract
Not getting a security deposit
I own every single failure, which is easy to do when you use the experience to learn and grow.
A few years ago, we created a social media marketing strategy for a small clothing brand, even though we didn’t have a contract in place. When we sent the invoice, they refused to pay it. Without a contract, we were SOL. I was furious at myself, but I am comforted knowing that karma is a total bitch.
When money is on the line, I tend to learn the lesson very quickly. Recently, I had a discovery call scheduled with someone who had not yet signed the contract. When I called her, I simply said, “We can’t proceed until you sign the contract.” She apologized profusely. We jumped off the phone, she read through it, signed it and called me when she was done.
No muss, no fuss.
An authentic, human approach to content marketing is being you.
A client once fired us because I sent an email that was “too direct.” He said he found it offensive.
Was I upset? Not at all. I laughed.
Then I read the email again. I scratched my head. I had someone on my team read the email. They scratched their head.
In near unison, we said, “Dodged a bullet!”
You can’t be everything to everyone, and frankly, I don’t want to be. I am known for saying it like it is and making you laugh at the same time. Not everyone appreciates my style, and that’s cool. We are all different.
And that is the beauty of using a human approach. You have no choice but to be you. As a result, you’ll only work with the people who get you. Would you have it any other way?
The next time you’re writing a blog, social post or email, I want you to do something for me. Read it and ask yourself, “Would my best friend recognize that I wrote this?” If the answer is yes, congrats: you are using a human approach to content marketing.
Article | March 11, 2021
Want to brush up on your business skillset? Mastering these 10 basic marketing skills can pay off with better brand awareness and a boost in leads and sales.
The 10 basic marketing skills everyone needs to master
Imagine you’re on a first date. You’ve heard a lot about him from your friend who set you up. He’s sharply dressed, has a smile that could light up the night and smells good (I hug people – that’s how I know he smells good). Expectations are high for an amazing date.
Fifteen minutes into the date, you are mapping out a swift exit. What happened? He won’t stop talking about himself. You are being sidelined by a monologue. Any chance for an engaging conversation has faded.
You could switch the above scenario out for a business lunch meeting. Why on earth would I want to work with you if you seem to only care about yourself rather than me or my needs? (I don’t care how good you smell. Also, I’m married, so this date is pure imagination.)
Marketing is like dating. The goal of your first interaction (date) is not to close a sale (get married). It’s to get to know each other. If you both like what you see/hear/learn, your relationship will progress.
Creating client-centric messages
Anytime you sit down to write, whether it’s a social media post or an article, make sure you are talking to your audience, not at them. Your main messaging and copy should not be about you. Don’t lead the conversation with “I am an expert at …” and “We offer …”.
No one cares.
It needs to be about what you can do for them. Your messages should lead with “You need …” or “You deserve …”. Once you talk to them, you can slip in, “That’s exactly what we provide!”
Writing an email subject line
So many people get this completely wrong. Luckily, the fix is easy.
You want to write email subject lines that are interesting, creative, focused on the reader, and provide a sneak peek at what is in the email. Here at Jansen Communications, questions work really well.
Please do not every use “ABC Company June Newsletter” or “What’s new at ABC Company” as your email subject line. I have no idea if the email is relevant or not, and I’m not going to bother opening it to find out. Delete.
Segmenting your email list allows you to send out the most relevant information to each subset of your audience. It’s totally worth doing, because when you segment your lists, you will see a significant improvement in your open and click-through rates. On average, segmenting a list results in a 14% higher open rate and a 100% higher click-through rate.
You can segment your list by any number of criteria: gender, location, industry, purchase behavior, monthly spend, age, lifestyle, interests, job title, etc.
Setting up an automated email campaign
An automated email campaign is also known as a drip campaign. It’s simply a series of emails that start sending once they are triggered by an event, like downloading a free ebook.
They are super easy to create and set up. Every email marketing platform offers this service, and they walk you through the process.
Once you write the email subject lines, compelling copy and the call-to-action, watch the results. The open and click-through rates will let you know immediately if the campaign is working or not.
Hashtags aren’t just for Twitter, Instagram or celebrity influencers. They are relevant on LinkedIn as well. In fact, LinkedIn suggests hashtags to use when you publish an article or update.
Why bother adding them? Hashtags make it easy for people to find content they are interested in. Use them if you want to be more findable online.
Creating custom graphics in Canva
Canva is a free online graphic design tool for non-graphic designers. It’s easy to use, and it comes pre-populated with numerous templates you can quickly customize.
A word of warning: it can be easy to go down a rabbit hole on Canva, so I suggest customizing (or creating from scratch) one template to use consistently. This is a time-saver AND it ensures your “look” on social media stays the same.
Once you have a template, start creating bite-size content to share on social media:
Favorite quotes (your own are OK, too)
Questions (people LOVE to share)
Spying on competitors
Seriously – get good at spying on competitors. Don’t you want to know what they are doing – and what is working for them?
This isn’t as awful as it sounds. Just look up their websites and social media feeds. Take a look at their offerings, the topics they are writing about and any trends that appear to be taking off. Better to be in the know than be left wondering.
Optimizing blog posts for search
Want your blog post to get found in the sea of content out there? You need to optimize your blog post so search engines can “read” and index it. That way, when someone is looking for content on that topic, you are more likely to appear in search results.
I highly recommend installing Yoast for SEO on your WordPress website. You can also optimize blog posts on a DIY platform, like Squarespace or Shopify.
Choose one keyword for each blog post and make sure it appears in:
Your blog post title (preferably at the beginning)
First paragraph of your copy
A couple of more times in your post (but not too often, or you’ll get penalized!)
In your meta description
In the alt text of your image
Using categories and tags
Categories and tags organize content (blog posts) on your website. Categories are the main topics you write about; you shouldn’t have more than five for your blog. Tags allow you to get more specific about the main topic.
Think of these in terms of a grocery store: categories are grocery departments: produce, dairy, meats, bakery, and so on. Tags are subcategories. In the produce department, you’ll find bananas, kumquats, Romaine lettuce and tomatoes.
Understanding Google Analytics
Google Analytics was created by engineers for technical people. I am neither, but I can still glean a lot of useful information from the main dashboard (home) and various reports.
Let’s just stick with what you can find on the home page. You can learn a lot just by looking at:
Number of users and sessions – is traffic to your website increasing or decreasing?
User acquisition by source – where are website visitors coming from?
Pages users visit – what are people reading/interacting with once they get on the website?
If you don’t know whether or not you have Google Analytics connected to your website, ask your website developer.
Did I miss anything? What basic marketing skills do you think are most important to master?
Article | August 10, 2020
You’re ready to start a marketing campaign; a newsletter, social or some paid campaign. Your main goal is to drive traffic back to your website, convert that traffic into leads, and those leads into customers.
So, how do you tell which marketing campaigns were successful? Easy. Use the Google Analytics URL builder to track your campaigns.