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Author Archive for Susan Payton

How to Use Content Marketing to Talk to Your Target Audience

Recently, I zeroed my marketing business in on the software industry. I’d been preaching the benefits of having a niche, and yet I didn’t have one. Once I made that decision, I needed to start attracting software companies to my marketing firm. But how to do that?

I started with my content. I’ve been blogging about marketing for years, but now I needed to tighten the reins a bit so that my audience — software company owners and CEOs — would find my content and feel I was speaking to them. Imagine how much more engaged your audience — each individual buyer — would feel if your content said, “Hey you! Yes you. I understand exactly what you’re going through, and this article/ebook/web copy will tell you what to do to solve your problem.”

Here’s what I did, and what you can do too.

The Website

I was extremely nervous about turning off any other potential customer that might happen across my site if I made it overtly focused on the software industry, so I made subtle changes. I turned the copy into a conversation I imagined I was having with that software CEO:

  • Are your halfhearted attempts at managing your social media pages costing you more than they’re making you?
  • Did you hire an inexperienced intern to help you with your web presence, only to end up managing it yourself?
  • Do you find yourself spending time trying to write blog content that you should be spending on growing your company?

These were problems I imagined he could identify with. If he could relate, he could keep reading. Only once do I use the word “software” on the site. Subtle, right? Yet I’ve gotten several software leads since making the change. Continue reading “How to Use Content Marketing to Talk to Your Target Audience” »

Email Marketing: Offer Opt-In—Or Miss Out!

Offer Opt-In—Or Miss Out!

When it comes to email marketing, you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to connect with existing and potential customers when they’re ready to buy. After all, their next favorite shirt/hat/business service is just a click away!

But how do you get people to sign up for your emails in the first place? Let’s look at a few options.

#1. In the Checkout Process

This is standard fare: when a customer is checking out to buy something from you online, you can include a box to check if they want to receive updates from you. One sly way to get more signups is to automatically check the box. If someone isn’t interested, they can uncheck the box. Most will leave the box checked, and you’ll end up with more email subscribers. Continue reading “Email Marketing: Offer Opt-In—Or Miss Out!” »

What are Your Resolutions for 2014?

Yet another year draws to a close. This time of year, I just love setting resolutions for myself personally and professionally.

How did you fare with the resolutions you set a year ago?

Happy New Year! Colorful Bubbly for You! 

You may not have accomplished all of your resolutions, and that’s okay. You may not even have the same goals at year’s end. It’s just important to keep establishing goals and shooting for the stars. Continue reading “What are Your Resolutions for 2014?” »

How, Why, and When to Fire a Client

walking out the doorI recently fired a client. There’s no crazy psycho client story here; it was simply a matter of misaligned goals. I began to dread emails from the client because I knew it would require more work than I thought needed to be done on a project. At that point, I realized it wasn’t worth the anxiety to make a little extra money each month.

And so I fired the client.

The client was shocked, and tried to convince me to stay. I appreciated the effort, but when two parties don’t jibe on a project, it makes it difficult for it to succeed. And so I stood my ground.

I’ve only fired a few clients in the past seven years, and let me say: it’s both terrifying and exhilarating. Terrifying because you certainly don’t want to upset a client, or worse: have them run and tell everyone that you suck. But it’s also exhilarating because you realize if you have a negative situation, you hold the power to change it. And so I did. Continue reading “How, Why, and When to Fire a Client” »

3 Reasons You Can’t Ignore Press Releases as Part of Your Marketing Strategy

It seems like Google is slapping down every marketing technique professionals like me have been using for years, all in the space of a few months. Press releases, says Google, aren’t appropriate tools for getting backlinks and using keywords.

But does that make them not worth using?

Not at all, and here’s why.

1. Constant Mention of Your Brand Helps You

When you’ve consistently got things happening at your company and put out press releases about your news and accomplishments, people take notice. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn; that’s what marketing and PR are all about.

If someone searches for your company name and sees several press release links in the results, they’ll get the impression that things are moving and shaking over at your company. And that’s an image you want to portray: success and activity. Continue reading “3 Reasons You Can’t Ignore Press Releases as Part of Your Marketing Strategy” »

10 Cost-Effective Ideas to Market Your Business Online

internetemailmarketingThe recession that we’re just barely out of (if at all) has left most of us small business owners wincing at the thought of parting with our hard-earned money. Even when it comes to necessities like marketing, we’re reluctant to spend unnecessarily.

Fortunately, marketing online is extremely affordable, and often even free. Here are 10 ideas you can use to reach a wider audience, increase traffic to your site, and boost sales.

1. Be a Part of the Conversation on Social. Whether you’re following hashtags like#smallbiz on Twitter and engaging with others, participating in LinkedIn groups, or chatting in Google Hangouts, there are ample (free) opportunities for you to connect with likeminded professionals and your target customers. Always contribute value and never push your products.

2. Write an Ebook or Whitepaper. Your customers have problems that your products can solve. But rather than trying to sell the products, offer a useful piece of content like a whitepaper or ebook. Encourage visitors to your site to sign up for your emails in order to download the freebie. Continue reading “10 Cost-Effective Ideas to Market Your Business Online” »

10 Signs You Might Not Be Ready to Start a Business

Before you quit your day job and dive into entrepreneurship, take a moment to think about this major decision. While, certainly, becoming a business owner is an exciting endeavor, it’s not for everyone. And it’s a long-term commitment. You’ll pour blood, sweat, tears, and money into a business, and if it doesn’t work out, you won’t recoup that investment.

If any of the following ring true, you might not be ready to start a business.

1. You’re passionate, but you have no plan. While passion is a cornerstone of a successful small business, it’s simply not enough. You also need a plan for how you’ll make money and grow your business. If the idea of developing such a plan bores you or stresses you out, it might not be a good fit.

2. You don’t have any money. Starting a business is not a “get rich quick” endeavor by any stretch of the imagination. It may be months — or even years — before you turn a profit, and in the meantime, you’ll need enough cash to pay your business expenses and your personal expenses.

3. You have a really neat idea, if only the market wanted it. Unless your idea solves a problem or serves a need, you’ll have a hard time finding customers for it. Remember the dad from the Gremlins movies? He was constantly inventing solutions where there were no problems. A machine that took an egg out of a bowl and cracked it simply wasn’t something the market clamored for. Continue reading “10 Signs You Might Not Be Ready to Start a Business” »

Why Employee Scheduling Software is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

If you read much of my content, you know I’m big on productivity tools that help me (and you) do more.  That might include Time Track Turbo, my new favorite web app for tracking the time I spend on client projects, or something like Google Drive, which I’ve said is my all-time go-to application for managing documents I can share with others.

But what about those of you who have a staff you have to manage? Are there tools that can help you be smarter about the time you spend creating schedules?

But of coursssse (say in a French accent).

First: the Headache

Once upon a time, I owned a Marble Slab Creamery in Florida. In addition to scooping the ice cream and doing the marketing, I also made the schedules for my staff of teens. I was sad to see that not much had changed in the scheduling process since I myself was a teen working at an ice cream shop (talk about coming full circle). We still used paper, and I had to keep track of who could work which days (I used a spreadsheet for that). Not the pinnacle of technological sophistication. Continue reading “Why Employee Scheduling Software is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread” »

How to Enjoy the Expansion Phase of Your Business Lifecycle

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where my marketing firm is in the business lifecycle. Depending on what resource you use, the general consensus in the business world is that there are 4 stages for business growth:

  • Startup
  • Growth
  • Expansion
  • Maturity

Looking back on the past 7 years, I definitely see my company’s progress. Initially, there was a scramble to figure out what I was doing in that startup phase. And I did it all, from writing to invoicing (I still do most of it). I hadn’t yet honed my craft, so I was all over the place in my product offerings. Annual reports? Sure, I can figure out how to write them! This was a chaotic time, and I was never completely confident that Egg would make it long-term. Continue reading “How to Enjoy the Expansion Phase of Your Business Lifecycle” »

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Business

We always say “if I only knew then what I know now…” when we look back on how little we knew in a situation. As an entrepreneur, there’s plenty I wish I could tell myself seven years ago…

1. You’re More of an Expert Than You Think. Early on, I felt so new. There were so many other marketing professionals I compared myself to, and I felt that I didn’t know a drop of what they did. It was probably true, but I lacked the confidence to consider myself an expert. Hey, everyone knows more than at least one person out there, right?

2. Don’t Waste Time on Bad Leads. My heart would soar any time someone called asking about my marketing services. But I wasted hundreds of hours preparing proposals for people who really didn’t want what I was selling. Now that I’ve learned that lesson, I waste less time. Continue reading “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Business” »