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 | December 13, 2020
One of the greatest changes we have seen with virtual selling is the inevitable change in meeting location. No longer in a traditional office setting, location is now entirely dependent upon each participant’s environment and choice. This can range anywhere from your kitchen table to the captain’s seat on the Starship Enterprise. The choice is yours, so choose wisely.
Your background makes a strong statement about you. You are quite literally projecting an image, whether professional or otherwise, to your customer. So make sure that your real or virtual background supports that image by being neat and clutter free, well-lit, and perhaps with a spark of personality.
Real vs. Virtual Backgrounds
Virtual selling offers a whole new avenue of creative control when it comes to selecting a backdrop for your next video call. But which should you choose? Here are some considerations:
The Benefits of Authenticity
You now have the opportunity to welcome clients and/or coworkers into your home, making sales calls more personal than ever before. Video meetings, whether held in your home office or at your kitchen table, can reveal quite a lot about you to your customer. Just as their background reveals a lot to you.
This can be a great advantage to sellers as it both humanizes you and levels the relationship. Instead of vendor-to-prospect, it becomes more human-to-human. Personal elements, like books, pictures, furnishings, can stimulate conversations and deepen connections.
When to Use a Virtual Background.
That being said, sometimes your home simply is not quite conference call ready! That’s the time to consider using a virtual background or green screen for personal privacy or professionalism. When might you want to consider a virtual background? Here are a few questions to help you decide:
Questioning if your background is too cluttered? (Hint: if you’re wondering, then yes, it probably is)
Clashing with busy patterns, stripes or artwork?
In the middle of a home repair project?
Providing TMI with your environment? (“Hello bedroom Zoom callers! I’m talking to you!”)
Anticipating scene-stealing pets or children?
In these cases, a virtual background may be your new best friend.
Considerations when using a Virtual Background
While a green screen allows you to have a little (professional) fun, keep it on the side of realism, i.e., the office of your dreams vs. the space station, or simply a backdrop that allows you to briefly live in a home that is not at the mercy of your children’s toys. In need of a little inspiration?
Pro tip: Canva has a wonderful selection of customizable backgrounds you can download for your next video call.
Be aware that overtly busy or fantastical backgrounds can present distractions that may detract from the overall quality of your presentation. When it comes to backgrounds, you are the star, and your background should quite literally be, “the background.” You’re already competing for the sale, you don’t want to also be competing for the attention of your customers! So select a backdrop that promotes your sales goals, not one that detracts from them.
Avoid Motion Blur
Another common problem seen when using virtual backgrounds or green screens is motion blur. This is when a presenter gestures or moves too quickly when in front of a green screen resulting in blurred elements. It is important to move slowly and with intention when using a green screen to avoid blurring or entire body parts disappearing into the background. Losing an entire hand is quite distracting, is it not?
Bottom Line: Take advantage of the benefits authentic or real backgrounds can provide whenever you can. If that’s not possible, virtual backgrounds are a great option as long as you choose one that supports you and your brand.
Get more virtual selling tips on the Selling On-Video Channel!
Article | August 25, 2020
Across the country, local networks known as Education Innovation Clusters (EdClusters) are bringing together partners and resources to meet urgent needs and envision a new future for teaching and learning. Many of these efforts are rooted in long-standing partnerships across sectors and institutions. As COVID-19 disrupted the lives of students, educators, and families earlier this year, EdClusters sprang into action, leveraging their capacity and reach in ways their networks were uniquely ready to do. Their collective efforts are meeting a range of needs—from internet access to devices to social-emotional supports. As schools prepare for uncertain and complex reopenings, we turn to Kansas City and Rhode Island for powerful examples of community in action.
Article | August 13, 2020
In the months since states first declared shelter-in-place orders and economic uncertainty gripped the country, consumers have reprioritized their spend. As they spend more on some categories and less on others, it can be hard for marketers to gauge whether these represent permanent or temporary shifts in behavior. To help answer this, we’ve taken a look at how share of consumer spend has shifted between industries over the past few months. The results are both expected and surprising.