Content marketing for SMBs: Giving leads to more business


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Recently on a weekend trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, I witnessed a great example of one of my favorite bits of advice to SMBs: you have to give value to get interest — and you have to be honest about what you can and can’t do.

Notice the latter part of that advice. Your business is probably good at a handful of tasks or practices, but you know there are more customers out there drawn to your business for a variety of reasons. I see many SMB websites that struggle with over-promotion, trying to be all things to all visitors.

That’s a mistake.

Saying you’re good at everything is really just saying you’re good at … nothing. I’ve always been a firm believer that businesses should do a little more for those customers who come to the door, and find out either your business or services aren’t a good fit for them.

Why? I’ll give you one example from Bar Harbor. While in an internet cafe in Bar Harbor (if you know the area this won’t be hard to figure out), a couple of customers came in, perused the baked goods on offer and asked about cookies. Without breaking stride, the owner directed them to a lunch place right across the street where, she told them, they bake fresh cookies every day. She said “if I don’t do it well, I’m happy to direct you somewhere else.” As it turns out, the customers stayed anyway.

But you see the point … that bit of goodwill was worth a lot more than any lost business from two cookies. The point is to focus on what you do best, and not worry about “losing” every prospect. Some prospective customers shouldn’t be customers for that moment.

I recommend to all clients that the first order of business is focusing on your unique value proposition … and secondly to help those you can help anyway. Whether they are a potential customer or client or not.

No, you don’t have to give the store away. But you should be freely giving out honesty and generosity when you can. Is there some way you can help out that prospective customer or client who’s not a good fit? Where can you find space on your site — and in your business — to help them?

It’s worth considering.


Jay Baer on what to do about Gmail’s tabs: Send stuff people want

The ever-level-headed Jay Baer has his take on Gmail’s tabs. His main message is 1.) Don’t panic — Gmail on the desktop is a tiny portion of emails read and 2.) If people really want your content, they’ll find a way to get it, regardless of Gmails tabs. Create stuff your recipients actually want, in other words.

He also includes in his post What To Do About Gmail Tabs a link to an ExactTarget report (register for access) that breaks down the issue with some interesting stats. I’m not going to spill the beans on ExactTarget’s details in their report, but let’s just say, there’s no need to panic — the impact, so far, seems minimal.

At least that’s their take on it. Nothing here addresses, however, one of my main objections, which is the arbitrary nature of how Google has decided to discriminate “Primary” from “Promotion.” If there’s not much impact from all of this, then this really isn’t much of an issue.

I’m still undecided and think we need more data. As I’ve mentioned before though, this isn’t as much of an issue for B2B as it is B2C.

I think the long-run result may actually be good for marketers. It will ensure that those engaging in email practices go further than before in ensuring opt-in is not only confirmed, but maybe even … customized. I’ll post my thoughts on that soon.

Marketers turn to instructing how to disable Gmail tabs

Blackboard with writing

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As I mentioned in my last post, Gmail’s new default tabs for inboxes pose a significant new hurdle for marketers. By putting “Promotion” in its own default tab to the right, it immediately segregates some emails from the “Primary.”

That’s already a headache — but the bigger problem is that the distinction between “Primary” and “Promotion” seems pretty damn arbitrary.

For marketers in the business-to-consumer realm, who might have many Gmail addresses in their email mailing lists, this can be a real problem.

Marketers turn to direct appeal

Marketers are already trying to spread the word to users on how to get their emails to display in the “Primary” tab. I subscribe to uber-marketing guy Chris Brogan’s email and yesterday I got one of his emails, with this subject line: “If you’re a GMAIL user, you might be missing our letters”.

The email links to this video by Social Media Examiner’s Michael Stelzner, How to disable Gmail tabs.” The short video shows how to move emails over to the Primary tab from the Promotion tab.

Stelzner’s video is good – but he also missed a simple fix. Simply go into the tab settings (by clicking the plus sign on the far right of the tabs) and simply uncheck/unselect “Promotions” — this puts everything in the Primary tab.

Google bites the hand

And to harp on my main point: Google’s new tabs are making life hard for marketers — and marketers are the ones shoveling huge dump trucks of cash into Google.

It’s hard to keep this in mind, but to people outside the marketing biz, Google is just this big “free” service with all these great goodies they dispense for free to everyone. Most people are only vaguely aware of how much money Google brings in from advertisers. (Last quarter, ended June 30th, Google took in $14 BILLION in revenue — up nearly 20 percent from the same quarter last year).

Maybe Google is doing the right thing — by focusing on the what the end user wants, it’s really doing a service for marketers.

This would be true … IF Gmail’s algorithm or whatever made a proper distinction between “Primary” and “Promotion” — which in my experience was way, way off — not even close. So now marketers like Brogan and Stelzner (and anyone else in the B-to-C realm) are in the unenviable position of asking Gmail users to “unhide” their emails.