4 Internet Marketing Trends For 2011

by Eric Tsai

information highway

As we’re approaching the end of the 2010 there are numerous developments with businesses using social media. I had predicted that brands will need to figure out how social fits into their overall brand strategy by identifying where the leverage is with social media and how to manage it.

Online communities are now everywhere there is access and common objectives. Even social networks are interconnected themselves pushing and pulling content across various channels.

For business owners, bloggers and marketers, we have to realize that the landscape is changing and will continue to shift towards attentive reach, not frequency.

Instead of trying to reach broad targets of demographic groups, investing in paid media we find valuable organic content becoming more powerful, ranking higher by search engines and shared by passionate communities.

Need more facts to back up the growth of social media? According to Harris Interactive:

  • 9 out of 10 (87%) online adults use social media
  • Highest percentage (22%) uses social media less than 1 hour per week
  • Highest percentage of 18-34 yr-olds (17%) uses social media 6-10 hours per week

social media usage study by Harris

It’s indicative that the evolution of social media is not just with the tools. The real “leading indicators” will be how social media gets utilized in the real world, not how marketers want it to be used.

And because we’re living in an over-communicated society with competing and conflicting information, true engagement in this on-demand world will be the biggest challenge moving forward.

I’m not just talking about getting people’s attention in marketing; I’m referring to real meaningful conversations that open up the communication channel that leads to authentic actions.

There is so much noise and deception across all media channels that it only makes sense for most people to ignore them.

Here are 4 internet marketing trends that will be maturing in the coming year:

1) The Return of Direct Marketing

The meaning of your communication is the responses you get especially on the social web where people can simply close a window, ignore a tweet or click away to other attention grabbing links.

Everyone’s got a blog, a website, Facebook page, Twitter account or Youtube Channel. So how do you stand out in a sea of sameness?

As it turns out direct response marketing is still the most effective way to test your marketing campaigns. The difference with social media is that you need to be measuring the right metrics.

It’s essentially the same concept as great salesmanship. Great marketing is great one on one sales focusing on finding out what customers want, their pain, urgency, desire and needs.

Done right you will get insights about your customers that tells you not just what they clicked on but from where, why and how. Remember, greater marketers don’t make assumptions!

Once you have meaningful data, it’s easier to craft your direct response campaign that converts better because you’ll have a list of “high quality” leads that are more likely to buy.

Without qualified leads, you’re basically playing the guessing game, driving in the dark and often a waste of time and money.

Concentrate on appealing and selling to the top 20% of the prospects that are more likely to convert. And if you can integrate your email marketing efforts with social media, you’ll gain further insights on your customer’s media habits, which can be used to optimize your next campaign.

2) The Raise of Social Metrics

Since majority of your prospective customers will not convert immediately upon getting your communication, it’s important to follow-up with email and social media because not only will you know when someone opened the email and what they’ve clicked on; you’ll also learn their social habits and sphere of influence.

The goal is to find out your customer’s “from” and “to” path to your web properties. It could be your online store, a product(s) page, your opt-in page (landing page), a sign-up to webinar or simply a Facebook page.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where are my source of traffic? How much does it cost me? (time, money and resources)
  • What are the demographics (age, location, habits etc…) of my traffic? Are they on social networks?
  • What does my customers want? Do I have the same customers online and offline?
  • How much time does it take for my customers to go from the original source of traffic to my web properties? And what can I do to get them to take the action I want that aligns with what they want?
  • What social media metrics can bring clarity to the habits of my prospective customers?

There are some nice free tools out there that will provide you with social data to get you started.

One of my favorite way to view my engagement performance is using Hootsuite’s statistics with Google Analytics and email marketing data. This allows me to view the engagement performance across social media from blog articles to emails.

For example, in the past 12 months, I generated 16,000+ clicks from my Twitter account which allows me to see what sort of topic my followers are interested in.

twitter.com/designdamage

I can then tailor my blog content to target further engagement and sharing. The same can be applied to email and this is particularly useful if you have an ecommerce site that allows you to track sales conversions.

The key here is to link metrics to actionable options that you generate for them. That’s why you want people to visit your web properties because you will have control of the environment.  Everything is a test in marketing.

3) Focus Shifts from Tactical to Strategic

From the mix of clients and prospects I’ve talked with this year, most of them fall into one of the three buckets: those still experimenting with social marketing, those using social media as an add-on tool with existing marketing tactics and those integrating social as part of their efforts to be more customer-centric.

In the coming year I see more businesses moving towards wanting to be more social embracing what Jeremiah Owyang described as the “hub and spoke” social business model.

Most Corporations Organize in “Hub and Spoke” formation for Social Business

The challenge will be how to strategize, streamline, automate, budget, and measure social media and social marketing. Simply put, the one-size-fits-all volume marketing will no longer be effective.

You want more consistent, predictable campaign that can be efficiently replicated instead of one-off campaigns that requires lots of resources and attention to operate.

So how can you achieve that?

The best way is to conduct split testing across integrated campaigns. You must become gradually efficient at implementing and optimizing your campaigns focusing on frequency and delivery of real-time value.

It also requires the big picture marketing strategy, NOT just tactics. At the end it is about getting the highest return on the value you create for your customers. Start thinking about how you can earn engagement that leads to conversation that leads to revenue.

4) Video Marketing Becomes Mainstream

Are you doing any videos? Do you know that a YouTube channel is the equivalent of a Facebook profile? Do you know that online video, yes video can help with your SEO?

Let’s take a look at some data here for you to think about.

At the 2010 Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo, Greg Jarboe, president and co-founder of SEO-PR revealed that:

  • Americans watch more videos a month on YouTube than they conduct searches on Google
  • A video is 50 times more likely to get a first-page Google ranking than a text page

If those finding aren’t stunning, coming from an SEO perspective check out Pew Internet Research’s recent study indicating that “7 in 10 adult internet users (69%) have used the internet to watch or download video. That represents 52% of all adults in the United States.”

Something to keep in mind is that while online video is exploding, other media channels are slowing down or shrinking!

According to a recent Edison Research’s study indicates that “during an average day, Americans age 12-24 spend two hours and 52 minutes on the internet, making the web the media format American young adults spend the most time consuming. Television closely follows with a daily average of two hours and 47 minutes.”

In addition, as opposed to TV ads, online videos are trackable and can be viewed repeatedly attracting the “long-tail” viewers while allowing you to measure the exact impact of the video and participate around it in the comments section or on blogs.

The bottom line is that although video (Youtube) marketing isn’t anything new, it’s gaining more momentum now because the cost of video production are dramatically reduced today than it was a few years ago.

You can now purchase high definition cameras (such as the Flip HD) for under $150 which creates amazing looking videos. Even the new iPhone4 has HD videos that enable everyone to become a video producer at all times.

Keep in mind that you should consider video marketing tactic to support your overall marketing campaign not the other way around if it doesn’t fit into your strategy. Success video marketing strategy focuses on attracting the right audience with a topic or theme that’s video-worthy and can be compelling!

The take away: We’re in the middle of a media evolution where technology has fundamentally changed the way we consume media and interact with one another. It’s not about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Google, iPhone or iPad; it never has been.

It’s about how these tools and platforms support what you want to achieve with your business.

Social is just a label, the real challenge is figuring out how to deliver optimal customer experience that builds meaningful relationships between you and your customers.

Am I missing anything here? Please leave your comments and questions, I’m interested to hear how you’re using internet to market your business, products or services.

Why You Need Email Marketing More Than Social Media

by Eric Tsai

With more than 500 million active users and the recent surge overtaking Google in time spent on site, you would think that Facebook is the king of content sharing. However; a recently research from Chadwick Martin Bailey found that email still tops Facebook for content sharing.

According to eMarketer, “86% of survey respondents said they used email to share content, while just 49% said they used Facebook. Broken down by age, the preference for email is more pronounced as users get older. And only the youngest group polled, those ages 18 to 24, reverses the trend, with 76% sharing via Facebook, compared with 70% via email.”

So what does this mean to your business?

For one, just like what the article points out social network sharing revealed much of our self-interested motivations behind sharing.

People love stories, especially stories about themselves. Unless you’re an effective marketer, most of us make decisions on how we feel about the relevancy of the content based on what we think was interesting, funny or helpful. Furthermore social sharing via Facebook is more about the person sharing while sharing via email is more about the recipients.

This goes back to knowing the customer and understand the habits of what people use and why. Social media will continue its explosive growth but marketers must not focus on tactics at the expense of strategy.

Here are 3 tips to help you focus on strategy rather than tactics:

Picture Your Outcome

You need the right motivation to help you identify what needs to be done to get the results you want. A Facebook fan page, be on the first page of Google or a YouTube channel is not a goal. They should be the contributing factor to getting your goal.

Set your objectives (usually has to do with sales goals) and figure out the tactics that can get you there efficiently and cost effectively. Reverse engineer from your outcome by doing research, ask questions, conduct tests and architect your sale funnel.

Talk to every customer facing points of your business, come up with a mixture of tactics so when one doesn’t work you have alternatives to implement immediately.

Become Your Customer

It’s always interesting to me that everyone talks about listening and conversing especially in the topic of social media marketing. Don’t get me wrong, there is definite value in monitoring Twitter feeds, LinkedIn Answer or check your sentiment via Social Mention.

The challenge for most marketers is that you’re still thinking from your perspective to simulate what might be going on in your customer’s head.

Don’t just send out surveys. Sit down and talk to as many customers as you can and just drill down with meaningful questions deeper and deeper. Figure out where they’re coming from and what do they think they want.

What does your solution have to do with their challenges? Is it obvious to them that they need your products or services to overcome their problems?

Know the difference between listening and feeling like your customers.

Identify Quality vs Quantity

Generating high quality leads should always be the number one focus over the amount of leads. From a business perspective, it’s about what you do with the lead and the opportunities it generates.

This applies to content as well across blogs, landing pages and social networks. Your audience will find value in your content if it’s relevant in solving their problem. Move the “free line” so they will step into the funnel.

Come up with your own system to rank your leads, clicks, retweets, likes on an ongoing basis and measure the effectiveness and impact of each channel.

It’s useless if you have bunch of weak leads that you spent a lot of time on trying to convert, instead focus on capturing those sales-ready prospects and lead them down the funnel.

Remember people have all kinds of reasons not to buy, it takes time to nurture leads so put more emphasis on finding those already looking for your solution (hot leads) will yield optimal ROI (return on your invested). Try testing your ideas with Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising.

It’s cheap to spend a little and get some proof of concepts that brings clarity to your assumptions.

The Take Away: Email marketing is about your audience and should be consider your top weapon from your marketing toolbox. It’s more personal and secure in many people’s eyes so tread carefully but don’t be afraid to test and find out about your customers. Learn, create, measure and improve.

I’ve always been an advocate of email marketing and will continue to stick with my opinion that email marketing is here to stay but business owners and marketers must recognize the implications of social medias well as SEO on email marketing. For more information on integrated the 3 read: How to Integrate Email Marketing, SEO and Social Media for more details.

7 Ways To Elevate The Perceived Value Of Your Content

by Eric Tsai

measuring value

Understand how people learn, think and communicate is the key to create effective marketing. In fact, communication is the core of your marketing and if you know how to leverage it, you will be able to elevate the perceived value of your products and services so people are willing to pay higher price for as soon as they see it.

However; it’s often much more counter intuitive than you think. It all comes down to what you say and then how you say it via your communication.

So what is communication?

According to Wikipedia, “…Communication requires that all parties have an area of communicative commonality. There are auditory means, such as speech, song, and tone of voice, and there are nonverbal means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, through media, i.e., pictures, graphics and sound, and writing.”

In other words the only way to open up the communication channel is by having a common medium, a means to understand and relate the information that’s being communicated.

The problem is everyone has a different style of communicating and learning thus the goal of marketing communication is to eliminate misunderstanding.

For example, when I say the word “car” what kind of car are you picturing in your head? A big SUV or a small sedan? A red sports coupe or a family minivan? Is it a Cadillac or a Lexus?

This is one of the biggest content marketing challenges in today’s attention fighting world especially with barriers such as information overload and attention deficit resulting in loss of concentration and focus on an ongoing basis.

There is a high chance that you’re losing your audience as you speak because everything is moving so fast and people can’t help but want instant information gratification.

As it turns out, in marketing you need to create crystal clear communications that are as specific, tangible, measurable and external as possible.

That’s exactly what great copywriters do, they write compelling stories that builds trust and use words that describe real world situations, things you can see, feel, touch and experience.

And since most purchase decisions are made by the emotional part of our brain, ineffective communication will never result in a sale so it is up to you to position the purchase in his minds.

Here are seven ways to help you build influence by mastering the basics of high perceived value communication:

1. Communicate Like How You Would Speak

If you want people to like and trust you, start by communicating like a normal person in a one on one plain English.

The key is to make your communication frictionless and easy to understand since everyone is not your customer so speak to people about what they want to talk about, in the way that they want to talk about it.

It’s not about being perfect but being authentic and on target to appeal to one market at a time.

2. Create Self-Contained Concept of Your Content

By making your content self-contained, you can reduce complexity while maximizing understandability especially when introducing a new product or a new idea.

This type of content should be modularized, to the point and does not take a lot of time to consume.

First introduce it by bringing the concept to the table then explain it in a practical way that conveys the outcome that your prospect want and finally connect the dots for them and wrap it up.

3. Look For Pain And Urgency

When people have unmet needs they become more idealistic about their situation.

Not only will they believe that they know what they need to solve the problem but will start to think in simple terms to get to their solution.

Focus on delivering simple action steps that would provide the result they want predictably and consistently with as little risk and hassle as possible.

Do you know what thoughts, emotions or pictures pop up in their head when they encounter that exact pain or problem?

Connect on high pain and urgency values will instantly grab their attention.

4. Translate What You Do With What They Value

Realize what motivates your customers is one of the most effective way to get them to take actions. You must be able to communicate the value of what they want and realize the meaning of their desire outcome and its direct impact to their lives.

Translate it in all 3 currencies they want: monetary value, time investment value and labor/workload value.

5. Use Powerful Reframes To Increase Understandability

Leverage psychologies, histories, insights and stories to frame your content into high perceived value formats. Involve their situation in multiple perspectives will dramatically increase the specificity of your communication.

It will also likely increase the memorability and appeal of your products by structuring and organizing them into alternative frameworks that eliminates misunderstanding. It’s saying the same thing in many different ways.

6. Provide The Why, What and How To’s

In order to do that you must be on top of your customer’s emotional drivers knowing what benefits they’re looking for and what value meanings to them.

Incorporate the why, the what and how into your stories.

Explain to your customer why they should pay attention to you right now then introduce what it is, the actual product or services they’re going to get, and finally how to get the result they want with what they get, the step by step recipe.

7 Minimize Risk Maximize confidence

Getting customers to take the action to buy is about making everything “believable.” It is not simply about taking all the risk out but just enough that it doesn’t seem too good to be true.

It’s leading with the giving hand, earning trust over time and building reputation slowly via social proof.

Allowing your prospects to come to their own conclusion that leads to their own decision is a very powerful confident booster.

It’s both emotional and psychological commitment.

The take away: People want stories, techniques and someone that “gets them.” High perceived-value communication should include all those ideas. Then you roll them up in an easy to digest package full of incentives with the promise of great value.

Give your market what they want and you will be rewards with brand loyalty and market share.

At the end of the day it’s ok that you don’t speak to everyone, you only need to resonate with those that get you that you get them.

Effective marketing is not about manipulation, it’s about being human, it will multiply your sales.

The 6 Habits Of Highly Effective Marketers

by Eric Tsai

Most business owners, experts and professionals understand the importance of providing non-promotional, educational content during the beginning of the relationship with a customer.

In essence, content marketing is information marketing, and information marketing is the new currency on the Internet. The challenge is how to translate your information into products with high perceived value.

It’s indicative that every business can now be called an information business because we all need some kind of information to make our decisions, learn how to solve our problems or to help us get what we want in life.

Simply put we want our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs met in order to take actions.

And getting people to take action through marketing is the most valuable skill anyone can learn and master. (Not to mention it’ll also improve your interpersonal relationships and communication skills.)

This is why great marketers focus on communicating the value and translating the utility of the information. Whether the goal is to get the prospect to click on your website link, sign up for your newsletter, join your coaching program or buy your information product, it requires meeting the right balance of Needs versus Wants from the prospect’s perspective.

Done right, you can leverage powerful internet tools to attract pre-interested and pre-motivated prospects that are ready to buy and start a business relationship with you.

Not only will you be perceived as an influential authority but you will gain credibility and trust without having to convince people to buy your product.

So what does it take to be an effective marketer today? Here are six traits of highly effective marketers:

1. Effective Marketers Make No Assumptions

People often don’t question their own assumptions about what will work.

Majority of the entrepreneurs, experts, marketers like to spill out their solution without asking what exactly their customers “think they want” that can solve their problems.

Imagine a doctor telling you what’s wrong with you by just looking at you from a distance. Even if the doctor has the correct diagnose, would you trust their advice? Great marketers know that they don’t know what they don’t know. They ask questions and dig deeper below the surface to identity the pain, urgency and frustration of their customers.

In addition to finding out what the problems are, it can also serve as your free market research.

Start talking to all your prospects and customers everyday and continue asking why until you get to the root cause, you may be surprise what’s going on inside their reality.

Take a look at this recent research insight provided by MarketingSherpa and IDG from surveying buyers and B2B marketers about specific factors that motivate recipients to opt-in, open and engage with vendor email.

Notice the difference between what marketer and buyer values. Buyers actually gave the highest rank to promotional content!

2. Effective Marketers Are Storytellers

Once you have identified your customer’s problems, help them make the logical connection between their needs and your solution (product or services) one step at a time.

This way they don’t have to work to figure out how to use your knowledge or expertise to solve their problem; instead you reverse engineer your solution from their problems.

Top marketers know how to connect the dots by using narrative to set the quickly get people’s attention. It’s one of the 3 most effective content marketing techniques you can use.

The idea is to ensure your solution sounds exactly like what’s going to solve their problem when you finally get to introduce it typically “at the end” so it’s easier to digest.

Keep in mind that you should never present your solution prematurely, it will only create disconnects which leads to distrust.

Maintaining the communication channel open is critical in facilitating the buying process because people don’t care about your products and services, they just care about themselves. So even with storytelling, guest who’s perspective and story do customers like to hear? (Hint: read the last sentence again.)

3. Effective Marketers Build Relationships

What is relationship and why important?

Everyone talks about relationship but what exactly is relationship?

Here is the definition of relationship from Wikipedia: “Relationships usually involve some level of interdependence. People in a relationship tend to influence each other, share their thoughts and feelings, and engage in activities together. Because of this interdependence, most things that change or impact one member of the relationship will have some level of impact on the other member.”

So a relationship can impact one another mentally, physically and emotionally.

This is why social media is a great way to relate with each other to see if the other person is like you, identify a common ground to connect via LinkedIn, follow on Twitter and “friend” on Facebook.

In fact, a relationship is a process to continue to relate until we feel related, full of emotions and thoughts of the other person.

A critical mistake many struggling experts, marketers and business owners make is thinking of their customers as “its” they can manipulate. Wrong!

Great marketers focus on building relationship to have trust, admiration and credibility that extends beyond business transactions not to mention people will buy more and refer to from those they like and trust.

4. Effective Marketers Are Givers

People often forget that trust is earned over time typically on a more intimate level. In order to introduce your great product or services, you need to earn the right to ask for the sell.

This is the framework of the “freemium” business model, where you offer so much value to your prospect that their respect for you goes up instantly.

This requires you to supply relevant content or information and ultimately give away your best stuff to show that you’ve got the goods! (Do you?)

This feels counter-intuitive to most experts and business owners because they feel like they’ve earn the right to charge for their expertise or services through years of experience or training.

The problem is they, the customers, don’t know and won’t believe that you’re in their best interest until they get to know you.

Effective marketers aren’t afraid to give away their best stuff because knowing how to drive a car doesn’t mean you’ll win a race even if you start with the fastest car.

Authors like Seth Godin, Yaro Starak, Brian Clark, Michael Steizner and Darren Rowse are great example of over-delivering their value so when it’s time to ask for a sale, readers usually come to expect and respect what they bring to the table.

5. Effective Marketers Know Everything Is A Test

Today, the market moves so fast that it’s important to understand the real goal of marketing is to focus on the long-term strategies to get customers.

There is no silver bullet that will bring you sustainable instant results. In fact, it’s vital to have the right mindset knowing that every action you take is to validate your ideas from fact gathering.

Great marketers do not hold their ego to their chest; they look for facts and data that enable them to make incremental improvements.

This is why direct response marketing delivers better results than institutional branding and advertising.

They have different appeals with different purpose but direct marketing is more effective in small to medium size business than branding or making logos and websites “look nice.”

Your investment in marketing efforts should always be measurable in some ways, think of it as making progress not perfection.

The best marketing ROI is about profiting from the time and money invested in your tests! You would test the water before you jump into the pool or drink a hot soup right?

6. Effective Marketers Are Laser Focused On A Niche

Successful marketer choose a niche and stick to it. They inject all the experience, knowledge, theories and ideas they have and consistently create content around it.

Everything is narrowly focused so it speaks to those that are looking for solutions in that topic.

They deliver bite size chunks of information to ensure that their audience learn and take actions. Ultimately it’s about delivering value that are solutions not just suggestions.

Since people aren’t good at valuing anything with out learning (more information again), top marketers knows to create techniques or systems that enable the prospects to understand the value of the solution.

Simply put, great niche marketing minimizes misunderstand and delivers high value information that pushes the buy button.

And to do that, it requires focusing on the needs of the customer without assumptions. (goes back to#1 above)

A great method to do that is to learn Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling technique by focusing on asking the right Situational questions (find out what’s going on), Problem questions (challenges happening), Implication questions(what the challenge implies) and the Needs-payoff questions (the price tag on solving the challenge).

The take away: Marketing is a skill that you can learn and should be practiced everyday. In fact, thanks to the internet today there is very little barrier to entry for anyone to do marketing.

The information are all out there, you just need to follow some simple steps to start marketing your product, services or your personal brand.

The six traits are the building blocks to form powerful influence which is explained by Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion as ethical persuasion in reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency.

What do you think the most important trait of a marketer is? What worked well or not so well for you?

If you like to become a more effective marketer or learn more tips on how to market your business, sign up for my Profitable Knowledge FREE course below.

The 3 Most Effective Content Marketing Principles

by Eric Tsai


It will be increasingly difficult to grab attention from anyone on the Internet or in person.

You may spend hours writing a great blog article, creating a high-value video or designing your marketing slicks only to find that people just aren’t interested in consuming them.

Why?

Because we’re being bombarded by messages, alerts, and feeds every second. We’re constantly distracted and interrupted when we invest our time on the Internet. As a result, our brain essentially reconfigures itself.

This is what Nicholas Carr, the author of the book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, found when he studies how the Internet influences the brain and its neural pathways.

Basically he discovered that the mental and social transformation created by our new electronic environment makes us shallower, unable to concentrate and strips our ability to do deep creative thinking.

Carr argues that,” We want to be interrupted, because each interruption brings us a valuable piece of information… And so we ask the Internet to keep interrupting us, in ever more and different ways. We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive. Tuning out is not an option many of us would consider.”

Simply put, greater access to knowledge is not the same as greater knowledge; and breadth of knowledge is not the same as depth of knowledge.

So how does this affect your marketing or how you produce content for your business?

The answer is simple. If you don’t produce content in the way that people want to consume them, you will not be read, remembered or passed on.

Most of us simply don’t read and retain what we consume over the Internet like how we do it with physical books.

In fact, I heard one of Carr’s recent interview as he described that most people read over the Internet in a “F” formation, scanning horizontally across at the top, then moves down the left and half way down scans again across.

It’s indicative that in the process of producing compelling content you take consideration in the following mistakes to avoid so you have attractive “looking” content in format, length and appeal.

1 Strong Opening That Gets Straight To The Point

Great copywriting is not different than great public speaking. You must instantly grab people’s attention in a thought provoking way without trying to be fancy.

This is why article/book titles, the first 10 seconds of you meeting someone are so critical to set the tone for your audience.

Your audience’s mind wants to see the payoff by giving you the attention and their emotions are driving the need for you to get to the point.

This is extremely important as we humans do a lot of consequential thinking to figure out why we’re investing our time in consuming information.

Most experienced professional coaches, consultants, marketers, gurus or trainers have a lot of knowledge, but they often forget that they are the expert and their audience are not!

That’s why it’s important to open with a great title or introduction that immediately gets to the point.

The wealth of information out there usually overwhelms normal people, so I recommend you to focus on emotional connections so you can meet them where they’re at and try not to use any of your professional jargon. It takes practice.

2 Use Emotional Keywords And Phrases

Give them what they want then facilitate what they need as the content unfolds. Leverage emotional keywords and phrases that automatically paints a specific picture and are easy to understand.

When you use complex, difficult to understand phrases, your audience has to do all the work to figure out what you mean and it interrupts the flow of consuming that piece of information.

Stay away from theoretical, conceptual, abstract and general terms in your communication. Focus on communication that brings concrete, emotional and specific outcomes.  This is because we’re wired to respond more with what Paul MacLean discovered as our reptilian brain or what some calls lizard brain.

MacLean’s evolutionary triune brain theory suggests that the human brain was made up of three brains: reptilian (self preservation), limbic (emotions) and neocortex (logic).

I won’t go into the details but basically the reptilian brain can hijack the higher levels whenever it wants to do so especially when there is a pain point or urgency to solve a problem.

It can be as simple as the “need to know” urgency where you seek immediate knowledge (we want to be in control, our logical ego) or looking for an answer.

People don’t go to seminars, watch videos or engage in a conversation with you for no reason; even entertainment and the need to connect or to be heard is something we unconsciously look for.

3 Leverage Powerful Stories That Creates Your Marketing And Conversation

Story develops relationships with people. In order to do that people have to like you, know you and trust you (and yes, you can do that over the Internet).

Just having social proof is not enough, just being a likeable person is not enough.

Both of those are great foundation to build your relationship on, but ultimately people are more likely to buy what you sell if they trust you.

And trust can be built via powerful stories that motivates and inspires people.

When developing your story think of your story as a movie.

There is an opening, a situational challenge and then it goes through a rollercoaster ride that eventually hits a turning point then finally ends.

So how do you position your story?

You need to start your story high where everything is normal then take your audience to a low point where they can relate and connect but don’t make people feel sorry for you.

And then through a turning point or a series of events you overcome the lows and that’s where you give your audience hope.

It is NOT about you but your audience. Don’t make it your life long story or biography; focus on a specific area of your story that allows people to quickly learn about who you are.

Your story is a way to show your humanity so people believe what you can do for them.

The take away: Content marketing is about creating information that are meaningful to your audience and engages them emotionally.

The real value is when you’re able to meet them where they’re at psychologically and make them highly motivated to take actions.

Whether it’s signing up for your newsletter, buy your product, get your coaching or read your book. In fact, it can also be used to get your internal team on board or management buy-in to your proposal.

Everyone is inundated with information, overwhelmed with daily tasks and if you can focus on the 3 principles above, your audience will be drawn to you more because you make it about them and easy for them.

How do you approach marketing your information, content or product? Share your thoughts below.

How Will Social Media Impact Your Business

by Eric Tsai

I saw a video on the State of Social CRM post on Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang in which Paul Greenberg talks about how companies are having difficulties with cultural changes internally to execute against the new bread of customer, the social customer.

In case you don’t know what CRM is, it’s Customer Relationship Management as described in Wikipedia as a “technology that allows companies to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service.”

What an ear full!

My version would be just an application that keeps track of customer facing activities so you can find the gaps in your service and make adjustments to be more efficient.

The point both Jeremiah and Paul are making is that businesses are still figuring out how to integrate CRM and Social Media so the combination provides meaningful business value.

The shift in how customers use social media is forcing companies to add the social element into their CRM system. They’re both spot on.

It also raises the question that if you’re not in the business of generating value and serving to keep the customer, then what are you in business for?

Social media encourages interaction which leads to generating a new type of intelligence that CRM system were not tracking before. Data such as reactions, activities, sentiments, locations, behavior and preference are converging providing a never seen before clear picture of each customer.

So how does this change the dynamics of your business moving forward?

Well, for one thing you have more leverage as a result of having more available data to target your niche and identify your prospects. In fact, as social CRM matures, I would expect to see companies shift their corporate strategy to ensure that every aspect of customer touch point is aligned with their marketing and sales strategy.

And this is the reason why it requires a true “cultural” change, a mindset really, for businesses to not just think from the perspective of their customer but to become their customer, to feel and empathize with them.

Furthermore, this would mean that the employees may have to do the same by constantly thinking and enhancing the customer experience to the fullest. Instead of just using tools to do sentiment analysis by listening in on what customers are saying, companies can anticipate what customers will say and do before they’ve done it.

Checkout how Salesforce is making their CRM social with Twitter.

This would probably be the ideal desire outcome for most businesses: to proactively facilitate prospects and customers toward a market funnel and minimize customer frustration as problems are addressed before they happen.

Imagine a prospect is interested in finding out more about your product before a purchase, not only would you be able to answer questions using social CRM data to anticipate them, but to personalize your communication and create real-time offering to increase the rate of conversion.

By delivering relevant communication crafted with exactly what the customers want at the right place at the right time, this will be the next phase of effective social influence marketing.

The take away: It is important to recognize this emerging trend in CRM and social media. Even though a cultural shake out would be necessary for companies to fully utilize the benefits of social CRM, it would be wise to start making some basic evaluation of how going social may impact your operations and bottom line.

What’s needed to make that jump and if you’re already using a CRM system, think how you can rally your staff to start thinking about new marketing processes and research more on how you can streamline social media into your CRM.

10 Reasons Why You Are Not Getting The Results You Want Out Of Your Marketing

by Eric Tsai

You spent countless hours crafting your marketing campaign investing money and hiring marketing experts to help guide you through the process. You get ready to push the launch button, waiting for emails and phone calls come pouring in, then…

Nothing happens. But what could go wrong?

You did the things that the marketing “experts” said you should do with your keywords, putting up blog articles day after day, uploading videos and sending out email newsletters.

Why?

Here are 10 reasons why you’re not getting the attention, buzz and most importantly – the sales conversion. Oh, and let’s assume you have an unbelievable product.

  1. Your marketing message is full of “I” and “me” instead of “you.”
  2. You didn’t communicate the “why” (from the “I” perspective)
  3. You didn’t communicate the “what” (again from the “I” perspective)
  4. You didn’t communicate the “how” (need I say more from which perspective?)
  5. You didn’t communicate the “what if” (as in what if “I” was to buy and use the product)
  6. Your marketing talks at people about your own expertise instead of showing them how your solution solves their problem.
  7. You make assumptions about your customers (because you already sold some products before or you just know because you’ve been doing it for 20 years, ok great continue to do that then) instead of focusing on fact gathering (read my last post on listening)
  8. You didn’t do enough testing on your products, services or marketing messages before you launch
  9. You use all your email and social media as a one way push advertising instead of two way conversation (to help you pre-test)
  10. You lack compassion and didn’t empathize with your prospects because you’re too focused on the bottom line – making money

The talk away: Don’t be all things to all people. You’ll have a better opportunity to convert sales (subscription, readership etc.) if you narrow down your target market because you’re a big fish in a small pond so just go after more small ponds! Don’t swim with the sharks in the big ocean because chances are, you’ll become their lunch.

Ask yourself if your marketing message is tangible, external, specific and measurable to your target prospect? And try NOT to use the word “I” or “me” in your message.

Here is one of my all time favorite (and world famous ad) created by the genius David Ogilvy. Notice how many “I” or “me” were used in this ad – none. Focus on the title and you’ll learn how this 1959 ad is still the foundation of today’s direct response marketing.

How To Get Inside the Minds Of Your Customers

by Eric Tsai


Over the past months I wrote about how to find your customers in order to improve your customer segmentation and gain better understanding of your niche market. Everything goes back to connecting with your audience so you can craft campaigns utilizing tactics such as email marketing, SEO and social media.

Then as more businesses learned the tools of the trade, I brought up the point of adding value on my last post because ultimately knowledge will be commoditized similar to most disruptive technologies.

The trick is maximizing the use of your knowledge (when it’s still valuable) to help you grow your business and become an authority in your domain expertise.

If there is one thing that technology won’t be able to replace (at least not easily) it would be the content of your communication.

Every business and individual are elevating the concept of the freemium model, publishing free valuable content on the social web, competing for clicks, eyeballs and engagement opportunities.

It’s what Seth Godin calls “permission marketing”, what Hubspot calls “inbound marketing” and what Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 calls “content marketing.”

However you like to label it, it’s basically creating content that communicates the value in which your target audience values then leveraging it as the bait to attract those in need of your solution (products or services).

This is a highly targeted approach like design thinking, social design and service design that truly serves up what’s going to solve a problem rather than just bunch of trivia concepts or random thoughts.

It’s also a validation on how your content is really worth on the internet where content is the new currency.

And to stay competitive and survive the ongoing challenges marketers and business owners are presently facing, they need to reassess the way they build and maintain relationships with customers.

A product or service is merely a means to an outcome. The real core value lies in the story attached and that is where marketing truly shines.

I don’t want to use a microwave – I want the ability to quickly eat hot food so I can get on with my life. I didn’t go to Home Depot to buy paint – I want a painted wall for my new living room.  I don’t want to use Google – I want answers to my questions now.

You see, you may be very good at what you do but your communication may not do you justice and as a result you end up with lame content that just sounds like everyone else.

And to make matters worse, if you don’t know how to market your content, your content will just sit on the web with little to no traffic.

Unfortunately this is not going to help you in translating how great your product is or how much value you can bring to the table.

In this article, I will explain what to listen for and how to take quantitative measures from listening so you can drill down to the minds of your customers. Then I will show you how to communicate effectively so your solution sounds exactly like what’s going to solve your prospects’ problem.

Step 1: Gather Information by Listening

Many people know the concept of listening and yet few are able to do it well (everyday I continue to practice listening). Listening is a form of information gathering which allows you to take in the data, process and abstract meaning out of the dialogue.

In a typical conversation people tend to wait for their turn to talk rather than actually absorbing the meaning of the words.

We all have some sort of attention deficit as the by product of all the distractions around us from cell phones to emails, from writing a blog article to meeting with your team, from preparing dinner to picking up your kids, we live in a fast pace society.

The trick is to unlearn your habits of making assumptions and let go of as much preconceived thoughts as possible and simply focus on what’s been said at the moment of the conversation.

Think of it as taking a training course and preparing your mind to get into the learning mode so you can pay 100% attention during the interaction.

Listen for key emotional phrases that are connected to a person’s problem. Typically it will sound like this: “my business is xxx” or “I want to xxx but xxx is xxx”, try to dig deeper and get the frustration and emotions out of the conversation.

This helps you to identity what that person values and where the connection points can be made. Take notes if you have to but avoid memorizing what you want to say (I know you want to help) because you will be interrupting the other person and stop listening altogether.

When you try to do anything but listen, you also break the flow of the other person’s thought and the energy of the dialogue making it harder to identify the key emotional points. Take notes and wait until the other person finishes.

Easy right? It takes practice.

Plus if you’re good at what you do, you should be able to provide instant feedback by looking at your notes.

Remember, people don’t care what you have to say unless you show how much you care about what they have to say and how they feel. Yes, how they feel is where the connection point can be made.

This is why great sales people always listen first and ask questions later allowing their prospects to fully emerge into an emotional output session.

This is a skill that takes practice so try it with your friends, colleagues or family as often as possible.

You may find that this will help you discover more about them and can also help them to understand you better. It all starts with listening.

Step 2: Pinpoint Signals Avoid The Noise

The key to forging a powerful connection with your audience is to first understand that people simply want to be heard and understood.

If you can describe your prospect or customer’s problem better than they can, they will automatically assume that you may have the solution to their problem (most of the time).

Even if you don’t have the exactly solution, it’s a great way to establish a common ground for the relationship you’re forging.

And why do we want to connect with others? It’s just how we build trust, the “wow, this person gets me…” or the “OMG, you know exactly what I’m going through!…” emotional connection.

Not everyone is good at communicating their problems, thus when someone perceives that you sound and looks like an expert, you may just become the expert that’s going to solve their problem (or maybe you are an expert? But are you just an expert in your own mind?).

Keep in mind that the focus is on validating your assumptions. Ask questions that helps to confirm their pain points, their vision of success or their desired outcome.

This requires a lot of critical thinking and again do not formulate conclusions from your assumptions unless you have enough information. Otherwise go back to step 1 and ask more open-ended questions so you can listen again.

This of course, applies to all form of conversations including blogging, social media and email exchanges.

The idea is to abstract the emotional triggers from the depth and tonality of the conversation so you can fully understand the opportunities to build meaningful connects.

If you ask the wrong questions, it just shows you don’t get it and you’re eager to sell yourself, your story and your products. You will get your turn but you must be able to distinguish the signals from the noises.

At this stage, you should still be more reactive allowing your customer to freely express themselves.

The most valuable information are those that are freely expressed without boundaries from your prospects. This is also the core value of surveying your customers so you can apply what you’ve learned to improve your product and services.

Step 3: Build Connections That Create Convictions

Once you’ve got solid understanding of the problems your customers want to solve, you then must learn to get into the minds of your prospects so you can turn them into customers.

This is the “I heard, I know, I understand, I believe and I do,” steps that lead to actions through the use communication.

Most people are good at passing through “I know and I understand” stage, but it’s the “I believe” stage that communication often fails to connect resulting in no action. You buy a product or change an unhealthy habit because you would only take the action after you become convinced of your decision.

Most people don’t realize that a desired action is often brought out through the use of specific communications tools from advertising to word-of-mouth testimonial, or via social proof endorsements. Simply put, people don’t just do what we want them to do because we want them to do it; they need to convince themselves first by having the right information.

And how do they know that it’s right for them? Well it’s by moving through each of these communications steps that people will take action.

So if the “I heard” part doesn’t resonate, it won’t move into the next step and in most cases it’s your professional jargon or the inability to identify what it is that your customer really values.

So your job as someone with the solution should be to help by facilitating them through that discovery process and not forcing your ideas upon them.

Again, it’s not trying to convince them, but helping them to convince themselves.

A great marketer knows how to unleash the power of communications and seeks to understand their target market needs, perceptions and how they like to receive information.

Is it how expensive (monetary value) your products are? Or how much time you’ve invested creating your solution? Perhaps it’s the work and labor you’ve put into your services.

Whatever it is, they must do the job of translating why they should take action to contact your or buy your product.

Step 4: Convert The Sale With Meaningful Communication

Once your prospect is convinced of their decision, there usually is no turning back as the human brain will attempt to rationalize that decision from the emotions of wanting to feel good about moving forward and the urgent need to solve their problem.

It’s indicative that most “modern” businesses realize that customers respond more to an emotional connection, thus it’s not about selling but educating.

And educating requires providing how you are going to make their lives easier from a more personal perspective.

This is the part where traditional business owners have a hard time letting go of what they perceive as high value in their knowledge.

It’s true that giving away your knowledge can feel like doing something for free that you usually get paid for, the key is figuring out where to draw the “free line.”

However; I’ve found in many instances, people simply won’t do it even if you provide detail step-by-steps.

For example, recently I wrote a detailed article on “how to use Goolge and Twitter to find your customers,” and have received many emails from people telling me that I’m stupid for giving out such high value content.

As a result not only have I gotten more leads and referrals but I was able to sign up clients while using it to make a case for content marketing, sort of proofing that this stuff works!

You must be able to paint the picture and hit home with what your solution looks like to your prospects, communicate the results they will achieve and the steps they will need to take in order to achieve those results.

Sounds simple but all too often I came across marketing messages full of features and benefits (especially for technology companies or specialty industries) that typically starts with “our innovative products are designed for xxxx,” “our company has xxxx technology that’s xxxx” or the ever popular “xyz company is the leader in xxxx and have xx years of experience…”

So what does it all sound like to the prospect?

It’s all about YOU, not them and that’s not going to take you far.

Businesses are quick to tell people what they have but forget that their prospects are in different stage of the buying cycle. It’s important to speak the language that they understand and values which is why you need to focus on their needs.

So what if you’re an innovative company or a leader in your space? Who isn’t innovative and a leader in their space these days?

The Take Away: The meaning of your communication is the response you get from your audience. If you don’t like the responses you get, you’re not doing a good job of translating your value.

If you can do step 1-3 well, you should have good amount of data to start writing great sales copies and headlines that gets inside the heads of your customers.

And by using what Robert Cialdini’s six “weapons of influence” (reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity), you will end up with powerful communications that gets you phone calls and inbound traffics.

The worse that can happen is you actually don’t have a solution but you marketed as a solution, or your product sucks and it doesn’t solve any problem. In that case great marketing can only help you fish for a day because the fish will learn that your bait isn’t a real one.

What do you think? Are you communicating the right way?

Leave me a comment below or share your most effective marketing copy.

What Is Adding Value And How It Applies To Social Networking

by Eric Tsai

As a social media advocate I often discuss adding value to the conversations, to the communities or to the relationships. I guess I assumed everyone already knew what the term means and how it applies to them until I started to get questions from people.

So what exactly is adding value and how? Is it just an over-used marketing jargon? An illusion of a feel-good emotion? The more I use the term “value” the more I feel like it’s loosing its soul (I’m guilty as charge at times).

One of my favorite artists, the awesome Hugh MacLeod had a great piece about Adding Value with the quote, “The aim of “adding value” is a hard one to argue with… who doesn’t want to add value to their current enterprise? But it’s also utterly meaningless…”

Well, obviously there are many ways to look at it but here is how I perceive the meaning of adding value.

Let’s face it, most businesses wants to add value to the bottom line which means making sales and growing profits.

In sales, adding value used to mean networking in the best interest of your company or your career which is to sell, sell, sell!

Today it means helping people to make informed decisions, finding out their needs first and showing an interest to solve their problems not yours. The one way sales pitch broadcasting simply becomes part of the meaningless noise in a sea of noises.

The Meaning of Knowledge

In sales, either the product sells itself (more of an affirmation and emotional validation) or it’s selling via education (information and data).

A Porsche salesman don’t sell the 911 Turbo, they sell the experience of buying a Porsche (great products drives emotions). On the other hand, a Honda salesman sells the features and benefits against competitors like Toyota and Nissan (value proposition, more needs than wants).

In both scenarios, the goal is to ensure that the person feels good about the decisions that they’ve made (or going to make) on the purchase which leads to trust building. And trust is built on relationships from knowledge and actions.

The more knowledge you have, the less fear you have, the less stress you feel and the better you feel about your decision making process.

You could think of having knowledge as freedom from limitations and having information is empowerment. The ability to make your own decision is valuable because who wants to be pressured into buying?

Emotion Trumps Logic

Now you know the importance of adding value through knowledge transfer, you then need to know how to take actions with your knowledge.

Besides physically helping someone, the action part comes down to communication. And because emotions are the essence of the communication, marketers need to focus on the emotional needs of the customers at the time when feelings are vivid. This mean to empathize with your customers and truly focus on how to make their lives better.

You can not make people’s lives better if you don’t understand their lives.

When you solve someone’s problem, they’ll usually remember it not because of the facts but because of how they felt when it was happening. Simply put, memory is tied to emotions and emotions are more real than thoughts.

Now apply that to marketing and you’ll realize that providing useful and meaningful information does exactly that – it makes people remember you if you satisfy their needs by providing value!

This is why the increasingly Social Web is a great place to find those that are in need of knowledge (also why information product sells). When you need an answer, you want it now, you Google it (you can Yahoo or Bing it too of course).

The online conversation across all social networks are as authentic as it gets, besides the offline in-person engagements, because it’s taking place when people are still feeling the emotions dealing with their problems – what is, how-to, why is, who can…you get the point.

The rest of it is about the context of adding value, at the right place at the right time.

The optimal time to email your subscribers, the suitable LinkedIn group to contribute knowledge or the people you engage on Twitter – they’re all channels to add your value to the conversation within the communities to forge solid relationships.

Motives and Actions

The last point in adding value is the motives behind such actions. Why are you doing this? Why are businesses embracing the freemium model?

Most of the time the objective is to create brand awareness, build credibility and what I keep pounding the table on: to create social proof around the topics of health, wealth and relationships.

However; there is always a trade-off, you get free Gmail with all the awesome features of other Google Apps because Google advertises around your inbox.The same applies to most of the social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. You’re exchanging personal information to use their products.

My take is that if you’re honest about your intentions and focus on serving only those that matters to your business, you will attract the customers you want.

Like what Seth Godin wrote in his book Purple Cow, “the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” Well, he’s right, everyone is NOT your customers.

And the science behind motivation isn’t as clear cut as features and benefits or even monetary rewards. Checkout this video by RSA animation adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA on “The surprising truth about what motivates us.”

The take away: Identify your customer’s problem is where adding value starts. And listening when they talk is your opportunity to fill the value gaps.

Think of it as facilitating the process of buying on their terms not yours. You have to create the right environment that entices people, and if you do it well, then they will show up and join the party.

It is only by adding value you will be remembered, reciprocated and passed on (via word-of-mouth).

There are simply too much information and too little time. Marketing messages are everywhere and people have developed ad blindness, seeing doesn’t mean retaining.

Are you adding value?