welcome guest

How to be a guest contributor on 10 popular websites

Becoming a guest contributor on a popular website is a great way to build your personal brand. Publications are always looking for new contributors. However, pitching guest blogging proposals and becoming a guest contributor at popular websites can be time-consuming for you.

Each website has different requirements and instructions. Some require topic pitches, some full articles and some require abstracts.

To help you save time on sorting through the requirements and gathering information, we scoured the top websites for their submission guidelines and instructions on how to be a guest contributor.

Remember, it is important you submit an authentic and original article on a topic that is relevant to each of these website’s readership. And before you submit anything, make sure you spend time reading the website’s articles so you understand what the website likes to publish.

Make sure that your articles are well written and well researched. The better you write, the less work it is for editors. Ensure you have a firm grasp of your topic. You may want to follow up in a firm but polite way with a brief follow-up email if you haven’t heard back in a week or so.

Here is a quick overview of the publications and how to contribute to the website with instructions and guidelines:

1. Forbes

About: Forbes.com is a website that focuses on news and information about business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership and affluent lifestyles.

To contribute: To be a regular contributor, you need to fill out this Google Docs form. The form will ask you for your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, the concept for your “Forbes page” such as overall theme and story ideas. It will also ask you why you are expert on the topic, and you will need to provide samples of your work.

2. Huffington Post

About: Huffington Post is a publication that covers news, blogs and original content about U.S. politics, entertainment, style, world news, technology, and comedy.

To contribute: According to their contact page, visit this Google Doc page to submit your blog idea and your bio. They are looking for succinct, shareable and satisfying articles. Here is a helpful blog post on how to become a regular contributor. If you are a current contributor to Huffington Post, read this article.

3. Fast Company

About: Fast Company is a popular online business publication that covers technology, ethical economics, leadership and design. It says it is written for progressive business leaders to inspire readers and users ‘to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations, and create the future of business,” according to their About page.

To contribute: According to their guidelines for submitting articles, your articles should be between 750 and 900 words and be exclusive for Fast Company. They need to be complete and unpolished articles that are intended for Fast Company’s audience. Articles should have a tone appropriate to Fast Company and be written by a person, not a PR department. They are only accepting articles for their leadership section. Articles should be submitted to Associate Editor Rich Bellis at rbellis@fastcompany.com. They don’t want pitches, abstracts, outlines, press releases, or interview offers.

4. Entrepreneur

About: Entrpreneur.com is a publication geared toward business owners who are starting and growing their businesses. They cover actionable information and practical tips for startups.

To contribute: To become a contributor, fill out the form on their contributor page. It is almost identical to the Forbes contributor form in that they want to know your contact information, your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, themes, story ideas, why you are expert on the topic, and samples of your work.

5. Inc.com

About: Inc.com is an online publication that writes articles for small businesses. They provide entrepreneurs with advice and tools.

To contribute: Visit their contact page to learn more and under “contributing to Inc.” they say to be a regular columnist, email contributors@inc.com. They don’t clarify on what they are looking for but your email should follow what Forbes contributor form and Entrepreneur contributor page are looking for with submissions.

6. Business Insider

About: Business Insider is a business publication that covers industry topics such as financial, media and technology.

To contribute: According to their contact page, you should email contributor@businessinsider.com. According to how to contribute to Business Insider page, you should send a final draft of your article, a proposed headline, a brief bio, and links to other articles you have published. You may want to review their authors’ page to get an idea about what other contributors are writing about.

7. Business2Community

About: Business2Community is a publication that covers breaking news and top trends in social media, digital marketing, content marketing, social selling and social business.

To contribute: To contribute, visit their become a contributor page. You will then need to read their contributor guidelines and fill out their online application form that includes your contact information, your website, and three writing samples that show that you know the topic and you have quality blog posts.

8. Social Media Today

About: Social Media Today provides news, trends and best practices on social media and digital marketing.

To contribute: To contribute, there are two ways. You can register with the website to create posts that go directly to the website. They are looking for bloggers who want to provide exclusive posts that meet Social Media Today’s standards. You can also set up your account to take in posts from the RSS feed of your blog. Social Media Today can pick from those posts to post on their blog. To learn more, visit their blogger approval and posting page.

9. Mashable

About: Mashable is a publication that prides itself on being the “go-to source” for technology, digital culture and entertainment content.

To contribute: To contribute, visit their submit news page. Fill out the form on the page to submit a pitch, tip or article. They will ask you what type of submission: exclusive story, a news update, a hot tip, an editorial suggestion or other.

10. PRDaily.com and Ragan.com

About: PR Daily is a daily news website that delivers news and advice about the PR, marketing, social media and traditional media worlds. Ragan.com delivers practice advice, real-world solutions and field-tested strategies for today’s communicator.

To contribute: To become a contributor to PRDaily.com and Ragan.com, visit the submit news page. They are looking for basic contact information, topic and your article. They will want to know if it is an aggregated news story, original story or column, a previously published blog post, a tip or other.

What other popular websites would you add to this list?

Business Case

How to build the business case for social selling

Below is my interview with Patricia Stamas-Jacoby, Publications Editor, at Frost & Sullivan in their Digital Marketing eBulletin. Part 2 of 2. Read part 1.

Frost & Sullivan: Energized by his participation at the 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange event in Asheville, North Carolina this summer, Matthew Royse answered a few more timely questions about digital marketing.

We began by asking him to share his top two social selling tips from his presentation at the event, The Social Selling Revolution: 10 Tips to a Successful Social Selling Program That Drives Business Results.

Matthew Royse: My top two social selling tips are: 1) Start small with a pilot to get C-suite buy-in and 2) have a plan for follow up and reinforcement.

For example, to get C-suite buy-in and build the business case for social selling, it is critical that your initiative starts small with a pilot. The pilot should be long enough to collect information but short enough so that it doesn’t take up too many resources.

There are five ways to get C-suite to buy-in on a social selling program: 

  1. Set a vision and establish a strategy.
  2. Find an internal social selling champion who can help you show the value and importance of social selling.
  3. Provide use cases or case studies on how other companies are taking advantage of social selling.
  4. The C-suite takes notice when competitors are doing something that your company is not doing. Find out what your competitors’ plans are for social selling.
  5. Build the business case during the pilot with documentation through a charter that explains scope of the initiative, identifying an executive sponsor or sponsors and a timeline to show  what is or what is not working.
How to Get C-Suite Buy-In

There are five ways to get C-suite by-in for social selling: paint your vision and strategy, highlight success stories, provide case studies, present competitor activities, and document the business case with a charter.

To make your social selling program successful, it needs to stick so reinforcement and follow up are critical.  Research shows companies that reinforce post-training activities achieve better business results. Ongoing education and reinforcement is vital to the long-term success of your program.

Your sales team needs a partner like marketing or sales enablement team to keep them up-to-date with the ever-changing landscape of social media and LinkedIn. For example, are we ready for potential LinkedIn changes as a result of the Microsoft buying LinkedIn?

Establishing a feedback loop with the sales team is critical for marketing and sales enablement teams who are leading this initiative. To help with reinforcement, explore some social selling tools like  LinkedIn Sales Navigator, PeopleLinx and TrapIt. Also, it is important to provide your team with social selling resources with helpful blogs like Sales for Life and HubSpot.

Do you think there are any organizations that have successfully figured out how to leverage social media marketing effectively or profitably? Examples?

There are three brands that are using social media marketing effectively: Oreo, Dove and
Domino’s.

Oreo is constantly producing fresh, relevant content on their social media websites. Oreo really made its name for itself on social media with the Super Bowl tweet “you can still dunk in the dark.”

Dove is always creating content aimed at making women feel good about themselves. Dove’s “Speak Beautiful” campaign encouraged women to be more positive when tweeting about beauty and body image. They teamed up with Twitter to measure how positive or negative women’s tweets are. People retweet a post on Dove’s Twitter account that has the hashtag #speakbeautiful and then Dove automatically responds to them with a link to a custom microsite that displays personalized Twitter data as a chart and how their tweets stack up against other women.

Domino’s is helping their customers order pizza in an easier way. They are also taking advantage of a trend of emoji’s on social media. Customers just need to tweet a pizza emoji to the Domino’s Twitter account  or use the hashtag #easyorder.

Your key take-away(s) from the 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange event?

There were two big event takeaways for me:

  1. We, as marketers, need to shift toward agile marketing. Agile marketing helps large enterprises more quickly respond to change. It values rapid iterations over big campaigns; uses data and testing to drive modifications in executing the strategy; values small pilots over a few large bets; and encourages collaboration over silos and hierarchy.
  2. Be remarkable. Do something truly exceptional that stands out in a world of noise. What makes our company different than our competitors?. We need to constantly ask ourselves: Why are creating this piece of content? Why are we posting this to social media? If it doesn’t add value, why are we doing this? It is important that we, as marketers, constantly question things and try new things. It is ok to fail.

How about a recent digital marketing success story? Anything you would like to share that other marketers can learn from? 

A recent successful digital marketing storys that stands out the most is the creation of our first eBook: Are You Ready for Data Center Facility of the Future? We created it for our new subsidiary, Forsythe Data Centers, a colocation data center outside of Chicago. The goal of the eBook was position Forsythe Technology as a thought leader on how the data center is changing and how to prepare for the future data center.

To provide well-rounded content, we teamed up with our partners, Emerson Network Power and Anixter. We interviewed their thought leaders. As a result of their participation, they agreed to help promote the eBook. More than 400 people have downloaded it.. It has led to numerous opportunities for our sales team. Our sales team liked it so much they wanted the eBook printed so they could personally hand deliver it to their clients. It helped them have conversations with their clients about how companies can get ready for the future of the data center.

The eBook has helped us refine our content marketing strategy. Our strategy has evolved so we now create heavy weight and strategic content first with an eBook. Then, we repurpose and repackage the content from an eBook into different formats such as articles, infographics, webinars, and SlideShare presentations. We also promote the eBook in our email marketing programs. This strategy has been so successful that we are in the midst of our creating our next eBooks that will follow this similar framework.

Modern marketing is inextricably linked to technology…any technologies that you are particularly excited about?

Right now there are a lot of new and exciting marketing technologies at our fingertips, but with the never-ending options, it sometimes feels like navigating a transit map. Whether you jump in as an early adopter or ease into new technologies, the key is to understand these marketing technologies personally so you can advise your company on how it can work for you professionally. Right now, I am exploring wearables. It worked out well that I won a Fitbit at the Frost and Sullivan conference.

Any final marketing insights or observations? 

I am seeing a strong shift toward influencer marketing. Developing content with influencers has become a standard best practice for your content marketing and social media efforts. You may be asking: what is influencer marketing? Influence marketing is when a company works with key influencers to co-write content and the influencers would share that content with their networks. A great example is our data center eBook I mentioned earlier and LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide. In this series of guides, LinkedIn has created guides for content marketing and thought leadership. The influencers who co-create content for guides share the content online with their communities. Influencer marketing has become a more effective method for reaching a company’s target audiences at a more affordable price than advertising.

Speaking of advertising, advertising is not dead. It has just evolved, in large part because of digital marketing. According to a recent report, social media has captured a quarter of all digital ad spending.

Read the original “Discussing Digital Marketing” article.

Social selling from desk

10 tips to a successful social selling program that drives business results

Social selling is all the buzz in the B2B world. Social selling is revolutionizing sales like digital marketing changed marketing. With more B2B decision makers using social media and companies completing more of their buying cycle before they approach a supplier, social selling has become your company’s best bet. Research has shown that salespeople who use social media outperform those who don’t and exceed quota more often. But is it worth the effort?  How can you activate social media and content best practices into a powerful sales tool?

With highly-informed buyers needing salespeople who can provide relevant knowledge and help them tackle their business challenges, this blog post explores how to empower your sales team to meet these heightening customer demands. Learn what it takes to become the social selling expert at your company, including lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid when launching a social selling initiative. Learn about a framework for tackling social selling at your organization—including getting C-suite buy-in. And discover how social selling can help provide insights into your content marketing efforts.

Let’s first start with the definition of social selling.

What is Social Selling?

Social selling is when the salespeople use social media to interact directly with clients and prospects. Social selling defined in 100 words.

Why Social Selling is Important

Social selling is a revolution for sales. Cold calls, qualifying leads, and sales demos are no longer effective as they once were. The new sales model is now about education, social media networks, and engagement. According to the Corporate Executive Board and OgilyOne, 60 percent of B2B customer research is conducted before contacting sales and 71 percent of salespeople believe their role will be radically different in five years.

The sales team is looking for a partner to help with this transition. Marketing is in a great spot to help since marketing is looking for more insight from sales on what content is being used and shared. According to Sirius Decisions, 60 to 70 percent of all company content goes unused. What content should marketing create more or less of?

Social selling is an evolution for marketing.

At its core, social selling is half social media and half content marketing.

Half Social Media - Half Content Marketing

Social selling is half social media, half content marketing. Marketing is in a great position to provide social media and content marketing advice to sales.

Content marketing and social media are two areas of marketing that have become too important for companies today to just stay within the marketing department.

Social selling is the next evolution of content marketing and social media.

Marketing has a great opportunity to provide their digital marketing expertise to the sales team who needs help in this area. Sales is looking for help with social media and their online presence. According to the Sales Management Association, two in three companies don’t have a social media strategy for sales, but 80 percent of sales teams would be more productive with a greater social media presence.

Most marketers, especially those at B2B companies, are tasked with better aligning with sales teams and enabling their sales teams with content and social media tips to better interact online with current customers and future ones.

The Rise of the Term “SMarketing”

With the growth of digital marketing and marketing taking on more of the sales or buying journey, the term SMarketing is rising in importance. SMarketing is the process of integrating the sales and marketing processes of a business.

SMarketing

Companies who have an integrated approach to sales and marketing are in a position to drive more growth and better target the ideal customers and retain current clients.

Now that you understand the importance of social selling, how does one create a social selling program? Here are 10 tips to launching a social selling program:

1. Explain Why Your Company Needs Social Selling

Buyers have more power in today’s world, thanks to the Internet and the rise of social media networks. As a result, their habits have changed because they can do more research online before interacting with someone. They can also ask more people about the products and services they are going to buy before interacting with sales. According to LinkedIn, 5.4 people are now involved in the average B2B buying decision; 75 percent of B2B buyers now use social media to be more informed on vendors; and 90 percent of decision makers say they never respond to cold outreach.

The Reality of the New Buyer

Buyers are self-educating before they make purchases, especially large ones. When was the last time you went to buy a car or TV at a store without knowing what type of car or TV you wanted? Did you know what types of “bells and whistles” you wanted?

Of course, you did.

You did all your research online before going to the store. And you may do more research on your smartphone while in the store.

Buyers are consuming more and more content before they buy online or in a store. Search engines like Google and Bing have created an “era of self-serve information.” Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study shows that consumers digest more than 10 pieces of online information before making a purchase decision. Therefore, companies today need to provide content that informs, educates, persuades, and retains customers or clients.

Buyers are changing the landscape for sales and marketing. Buyers have new knowledge expectations. They want advisors, not ready-made solutions. And they are including more people in decision-making process.

As a result, most buying cycles or sales cycles are getting longer.

The Corporate Executive Board has published excellent research about how the sales process or buying process has changed. They found that high-performing sales people are Challengers and the reason salespeople are successful is because it is all about how a sales person sells, not what he or she sells. They also published research on the key factors to create consensus in buying groups.

Frustration is occurring internally at many organizations. Conversations at companies today may be along the lines of something like this: “we’re losing deals to unlikely competitors” or  “our sales team is being engaged so far late in a buyers purchasing cycle, resulting in conversations about price and fulfillment” or “prospects are asking us ‘late funnel’ questions much earlier in the sales process.”

As a result, there is a shift at many companies where social selling is becoming more of the sales process since a majority of the self-educating is done before the first meeting with sales. Marketing and sales can no long take the “spray and pray” method or approach to finding new customers or clients. The new approach to selling and marketing is summed up well by Seth Godin in this quote.

Selling to People Who Want to Hear from You

Sales professionals, sales leadership, marketing leadership, sales enablement leaders, and C-suite executives will want to know what the outcome of social selling is at your organization.

Social Selling Outcomes

It is important to communicate the four main outcomes of social selling. They are:

  1. Thought leadership. Buyers choose sales rep that add value and insight.
  2. Brand. Build it over time so you become a trusted expert and are knowledgeable in certain topics.
  3. Competitive differentiation. Insights help differentiate you versus your competitors.
  4. Business conversations, not sales pitches. People don’t trust companies who cold call and are perceived as “spammy.”

Companies that provide value and insights are winning their customers or clients over. According to Corporate Visions, 74 percent of buyers choose the sales rep that was first to bring value and insight and according to Forrester, 82 percent of buyers viewed at least five pieces of content from the winning vendor. Check out these 107 mind-blowing sales stats.

The Social Seller Wins

Research has shown the sales person who uses social selling performs better than the sales person who doesn’t. According to LinkedIn, social sellers create 45 percent more opportunities; social sellers are 51 percent more likely to achieve quota and 78 percent of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.

Now that you understand the value and outcomes of social selling, let’s talk about how you should begin.

2. Start Small With a Pilot to Get C-Suite Buy-In

To get C-suite buy-in, it is important to start small with a pilot. The pilot should be long enough to collect enough data to build your business case but short enough  that it doesn’t take too many resources.

There are five key ways to get C-suite to buy-in on social selling. They are:

  1. Vision and strategy. It is important to demonstrate where you are now, and where you want to go or need to go with this initiative. Creating a maturity model, outlining your strategy for social selling, and communicating the business value of the initiative on a page can help paint your vision and strategy.
  1. Success stories. It is crtical to have social selling champions internally who can help you show the value of social selling to your business.
  1. Case studies. It is important to see how other companies are taking advantage of social selling. LinkedIn and Sales for Life have good case studies for social selling.
  1. Competitors. One of the best ways to get the C-suite attention about your initiative is to look at your competitor’s plans and show them that your company is behind because our competitors have already launched this social selling initiative.
  1. Business case. It is vital to make your business case for social selling, not in promising immediate return on investment, but in documenting the process with a charter, what is in scope or out of scope for this initiative, who are the executive sponsors are, and what the timeline is for certain short-term activities. Executives at your company will want to know how well social selling can scale with a certain budget.

Following these five above tips and launching a small pilot can help you show some early results.

3. Show How Social Selling Integrates Internally

To ensure that your social selling program gets buy-in from key stakeholders, it is important to partner with others internally, especially leadership from departments such as sales, sales enablement, solution/product/services, human resources, and training.

Once you have identified the key departments internally, you should take the time to learn about how each department’s priorities and goals intersect with social selling. For example, at Forsythe Technology, we partner with our thought leaders in our pre-sales organization. We first started with our FOCUS Magazine authors. We also partnered with our pre-sales organization and select members of our human resource department to show them how social selling can help hiring managers and recruiters find candidates through social selling platforms like LinkedIn.

By getting input and partnering with other departments internally, you can share the budget. Here are five tips for justifying your social selling budgets. Sometimes other departments will contribute funds while some departments will just support the initiative. Social selling requires time and is an investment that will deliver more business benefits over time.

4. One Size Doesn’t Fit All

It is critical that your training for social selling is personalized and customized because each individual sales representative is different in terms of how much they know and understand about social selling. They also may be more of less digital savvy in terms of how much social media they use in their personal lives.

Personalized

Since one size doesn’t fit all, that is why I scheduled one on one classes via a Cisco WebEx with our entire sales team. It was important to personalize the social selling class to the skill level of the sales professional. It is important to show them the value of LinkedIn in a one-on-one setting rather than have them listen to an online course. While it doesn’t scale quickly, it provided more value to the sales team and helpes spread the word about the value of using LinkedIn in meeting their goals. I summarized my 1 on 1 social selling class in this LinkedIn blog post. You should create content about your social selling class soyour sale team can go back later and refresh what they learned.

One of the mistakes I made early on when I launched the social selling initiative at my company, Forsythe Technology, was to teach the sales professionals about all of the different social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in a group settting. However, I quickly realized that our sales account managers needed focus on one social media platform to gain momentum. So I concentrated the social selling class on LinkedIn. It provided them with the most value and could show them how they could use the tool to be more productive in their daily activities and help them accomplish their sales goals. I walked them through how they could optimize their LinkedIn profile and how to take advantage of the tool. I also explain how LinkedIn inMails need to be customized and tailored to be successful. They also need to be helpful and not “salesy.” I also showed them how their connection requests should be customized to get noticed and so the other person who got the invitation accepts them quicker.

Customized

It is important that your class is customized so you can show your sales Tana how to play what I call six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Just like Kevin Bacon is connected with any actor or actress in Hollywood, a sales person is connected with anyone at any company. When I take them through the exercise of showing them how their network can be connected to any company by a 1st, 2nd or 3rd-degree connection, they instantly see the value.

I also walk through how you should check “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” on LinkedIn and how they should join certain LinkedIn Groups where their clients and prospects hang out. I emphasize that they should develop a social selling routine that works for them and enables them with tools like Google Alerts, If This then That, Newsle (now LinkedIn Connections in the News), Crystal Knows, and Charlie App.

5. Show the Power of Personal Branding

The next tip for a successful social selling program is to show your sales team the power of personal branding. If you look up the word branding on Google Trends, you can see the tremendous growth of the term. It has become more important in today’s social media world. Tom Peters in Fast Company quote sums it up the power of the power of personal branding:

Marketer for Brand Called You

Social networks like LinkedIn can help frontline employees such as sales professionals build their personal brand. By optimizing your LinkedIn profile, sharing relevant content about your industry, commenting with thoughtful insights to conversations in LinkedIn Groups, and liking or sharing other people’s content can help you grow your reputation and establish trust.

During my one on one class, I show them why a successful personal brand is important to our company brand. I reference my 10 steps to a successful personal brand. I explain how the profile is the first thing that a prospective client will see and that it important to make a good first impression with a professional image on a white background (we provided free professional headshots during our annual sales kickoff meetings).

I explain that they should add a summary section and that their summary should be written in first person, not third person. During my follow-up email, I provide them with helpful articles such as how to write a LinkedIn summary, 3 brilliant LinkedIn summaries and 4 highly effective LinkedIn summary templates for sales reps.

If we have time during the first call or follow-up calls, we discuss LinkedIn’s new social selling index (SSI) and what that means for them. I provide them with the link to get their SSI score and how there are four ways, according to LinkedIn, to improve your social selling index:

  1. Establish your professional brand 
  2. Find the right people
  3. Engage with Insights
  4. Build relationships

For sales professionals that have LinkedIn Sales Navigator, I show them that LinkedIn has included the SSI on their home dashboard. I encourage our sales professionals to explore LinkedIn Sales Navigator to see if they think it is worthy to upgrade.

6. Have a Plan for Follow Up and Reinforcement

A class is a great start but reinforcement is the key in making your social selling program successful and making the program stick over the long haul. According to Aberdeen Group research, companies that reinforce post-training achieve better business results. Ongoing education and reinforcement is crtical to long-term success and keeping your sales team up-to-date with the ever-changing landscape of social media and LinkedIn. For example, what will Microsoft do with LinkedIn after acquiring them?

During the one-on-one class, I explain how the participant should set up calendar reminders in their Microsoft Outlook to share articles or block out time for LinkedIn. I tell each person that they may want to build in some time for these tasks when they are working on sales administrative tasks like filling out their weekly timecards or updating opportunities in Salesforce.com.

I also make sure that I have a follow-up email ready to send out immediately following the class that provides them with helpful links so they complete their “homework” that I assigned them during the class such as adding a summary section or adding their certifications or adding their professional headshot. In the follow-up email, I include an eBook from LinkedIn about the power of social selling in the buyer process, my personal blog post of the social selling class in article format, and 101 proven power words article may be helpful to reference for keywords in their summary and experience sections.

Once the class is done, it is important to establish a feedback loop with the team to learn how they are doing with their social selling. For example, I have participated in our new sales rep training classes and I schedule follow-up classes with sales reps who are interested in learning more about social selling. For example, two sales representatives want to meet with me monthly to give them the latest and greatest info on social selling.

To help with reinforcement, some social selling tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, PeopleLinx and TrapIt can help with these efforts. To find other social selling tools, you can check out some of the top social selling tools.

It is critical to have milestones and timelines in place as well. This could be included in your charter or strategy on a page we discussed earlier. They help with ongoing goal tracking and reinforcement so your program doesn’t lose its momentum.

7. Establish the Requirements for Success

Forrester Research recommends organizations shouldn’t rush into metrics since these metrics could create unintended consequences and pressure on your sales team. Once your social selling program is up and running, you can understand what types of metrics are working and then create some more sophisticated measurements when your organization social selling program has matured. However, I would recommend establishing some type of criteria for success. There are four important metrics worth examining from the beginning. They are sales, training, network (in terms of the growth of the sales team’s network on LinkedIn) and sharing (in terms of content).

Metrics

There are four key metrics of a successful social selling program: sales growth, training goals, network growth and content sharing.

Since social selling program is an investment, it will take time for your program to pay off and your metrics may change. However, the social selling program should have a baseline for initial metrics so you can see how the social selling program is performing. The metrics should be aligned with what we discussed earlier about how the program integrates internally. There should be at least one of the metrics that the departments mentioned earlier care about.

8. Help Sales Become Students of the Game

One way marketers can help sales is to help them become “students of the game.” When I mean student of the game, I mean being a perpetual student that reads, thinks and writes about their industry and profession. To help sales, marketing can show sales how they can follow their ecosystem of companies important to them on LinkedIn. I recommend the ecosystem consist of the following:

  1. Partners
  2. Competitors
  3. Analysts
  4. Clients and Prospects

There are also helpful resources for sales to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in social selling, sales and their industry. I recommend resources such as Sales for Life, HubSpot Blogs, SmartBrief, and LinkedIn Sales Solutions.

9. Serve Up Great Content To Share

Your content marketing efforts are critical to the success of your social selling program. Jill Rowley, a social selling evangelist, sums up the importance of great content for sales professionals today:

Content New Currency for Sales

To ensure that you serve up great content to share with sales, it important that your sales team and subject matter experts tell your marketing organizations what questions clients are asking them so marketing can create content to address those questions. To understand the power of answering questions, you should learn from Marcus Sheridan. The New York Times wrote a great article about how he increased sales by answering customer questions.

Marcus Sheridan sums up the importance of content marketing well and how important it is to sales.

Marcus Sheridan Content Sales Tool v2

This quote from Marcus Sheridan explains how content marketing helps your company establish trust with your clients and future clients:

Content Marketing Date Around

To create great content, you should think about your content marketing efforts in how much effort it takes to produce your content. For example, there is heavyweight content, middleweight content, and lightweight content. To learn the difference, you should read is your content marketing worth its weight in gold?

We created our recent data center eBook in the mode of this heavyweight-middleweight-lightweight content model and it has helped us refine and improve our content marketing strategies and tactics. For example, we created teasers for the eBook in the forms of teaser articles, SlideShare eBook promotion, SlideShare data center tips, infographic, and excerpt articles to promote downloads of the eBook.

For middleweight content, we follow the rule of thumb that the ideal length of an article should be 7 minutes or 1600 words. All of our articles on Forsythe FOCUS Magazine website are around 1600 words. These guidelines and other best practices have helped Forsythe Technology strive toward being a media company and operate like a newsroom. To help your organization figure out how to best organize itself for content marketing, you should explore ideas presented by Altimeter.

Altimer Content Marketing Organization

The Altimeter group shows companies how they can organize for content marketing.

You may also want to think about content marketing like Progressive CMO Jeff Charney thinks about content marketing. He says that Progressive’s content marketing should have, “the breadth of ESPN, the innovation of Netflix, and the original content programming of HBO.” As the world of owned media (websites and blogs) becomes more important with the rise of content marketing, earned (press coverage and word of mouth) and paid media (pay per click or banner ads) are still critical to a successful marketing strategy.

10.  Provide the Best Curated Content

The last tip for creating a successful social selling program is to curate the best content in your industry like a museum curator finds the best art for his or her museum. To help you create a culture of content curation, you should explore resources like this to help save you time.

Museum Curator

Companies should think about their content curation like museum curators think about their art curation.

According to research that explored the curation vs. creation sweet spot, the optimal balance for companies is a 60/40 ratio of content curation vs. content creation. 60 percent should be content curation and 40 percent should be content creation. This research was based on analyzing 150,000 social media posts.

Sweet Spot of Content

Research has shown that the content curation-creation “sweet spot” is a 60-40 ratio. 60 percent of content should be curated while 40 percent of content should be created.

At Forsythe Technology, we launched our content curation efforts by developing the inFOCUS e-newsletter, similar to SmartBrief e-newsletters, that provides an executive summary of noteworthy articles for business and technology professionals. To create this monthly e-newsletter, we work with a company that used to curate content for the President of the United States. The company’s editorial staff monitors 12,000 newspapers, business publications, websites, national and international wire services, and other periodicals, to compile one easy-to-read monthly summary.

In summary, we have found that finding and sharing heavyweight-middleweight-lightweight content establishes Forsythe Technology as a trusted adviser and our sales professionals as value creators who provide helpful ideas. We realized that we didn’t have to create our own content every day to help our clients and future ones. Our content curation has helped our content marketing efforts.

Bringing it all Together

Launching a social selling program is just like launching other initiatives. It is important to start small, go slow and start building the business case internally. It is a great time to be a marketer since social selling is an evolution of your social media and content marketing strategies so it is critical to incorporate social selling into your existing strategies and tactics. Determine a social selling leader and core team to lead the initiative, create training, determine the internal requirements for success, and explore social selling tools to help you with reinforcement. By knowing your end goal and what you are trying to achieve with your social selling program, you can launch a successful program. Remember, content marketing and social media have become too important to organizations today to stay within the marketing department. Marketing is in a great position to enable sales with their digital marketing expertise and take the lead in  successfully launching a social selling program.

What tips would you add to this list? How did you launch a successful social selling program at your company?

Bridge into woods

Why social selling is the next evolution of content marketing and social media

Below is my interview with Patricia Stamas-Jacoby, Publications Editor, at Frost & Sullivan in their Digital Marketing eBulletin. Part 1 of 2. Read part 2.

Matthew Royse will be presenting The Social Selling Revolution: 10 Tips to a Successful Social Selling Program That Drives Business Results at the 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange in July. In anticipation of the event, we posed the following questions about the state of B2B Digital Marketing today.

A key takeaway: Marketing is no longer just a cost center, but can drive business transformation.

Frost & Sullivan: What is your working definition of digital marketing? 

Matthew Royse: Digital marketing is an umbrella term that is used in many different ways, depending on the context. Simply put, it is the shift in the “value prop” of marketing to digital. By taking advantage of digital technologies such as websites, email, social media, online ads, e-commerce and other forms of digital media, marketing can better reach its target audiences.

As the world becomes digitized, the value for businesses lies in using digital to its competitive advantage to grow and better serve customers or clients. The marketing team should be leading the charge to digital because marketing has become such a critical part of today’s business model. The most successful companies today are the ones that are so useful to their target audiences with their products and services that they will become a part of daily life of their customers.

What is your organization’s working definition of digital marketing?

The definition of digital marketing is different for every company. At Forsythe Technology, we documented our digital marketing strategy on one page in order to clearly communicate our perspective internally and with our partners.  As I will briefly discuss during my upcoming presentation, The Social Selling Revolution: 10 Tips to a Successful Social Selling Program That Drives Business Results, we outlined the following in one page: our digital marketing strategy summary statement, the current and future state of our digital marketing, our strategy timeline, our top five digital marketing initiatives and our underlying beliefs and assumptions about digital marketing. We treat the one-pager as a living document to be updated as our digital marketing strategy evolves and as our people, processes and technologies change.

What are your thoughts on where digital marketing is heading?

Digital marketing will become part of everyone’s job, just like social media. Social media was initially a separate area with social media specialists and strategists. Now, social media has become part of everyone’s job description. The same will happen for digital marketing. Digital marketing will just become marketing because successful marketing today requires marketers to be hybrid or T-shape professionals. Marketers should specialize in one area such as social media or content marketing but should know enough about search engine optimization, online advertising, influencer marketing, marketing programs and other marketing functions so they can understand the holistic view of marketing.

Marketing is becoming more data-driven and automated but marketing still needs the human element and the creative part of telling great stories. Companies that position themselves in the minds of customers as being helpful and useful are the ones that stay top of mind with them. One of the ways to stay top of mind with customers is through social selling.

Can you share your insights on how B2B (as opposed to B2C) organizations should leverage “social selling?” 

Contrary to popular opinion, B2B organizations have a bigger opportunity to utilize social selling than B2C for the following reasons: there are more decision makers in a purchase decision, the purchasing process takes longer, more money is involved in a purchase and the buyers are typically more informed with tons of research.

In my upcoming presentation, I will talk about how social selling is the next evolution of content marketing and social media. Social media and content marketing have become critical to sales. Social selling is a hybrid of these two important functions.

Social selling is a revolution for sales. The old sales model used to be about cold calls, qualifying leads and sales demos. The new sales model is about education, social networks, and engagement. According to the Corporate Executive Board and OgilyOne, 60 percent of B2B customer research is conducted before contacting sales and 71 percent of salespeople believe their role will be radically different in five years.

Sales is looking for a partner in marketing to help with this transition, and marketing is looking for more insight from sales on what works and what doesn’t. According to the Sales Management Association, two in three companies don’t have a social media strategy for sales, but 80 percent of sales teams would be more productive with a greater social media presence. And, according to Sirius Decisions, 60 to 70 percent of all company content goes unused. Social selling can help your company better understand what content your sales team is sharing with clients and prospects online and via social media. As marketing learns more and more about what content sales is using successfully, they can create better and more targeted content.

Can you outline the next phase of mobile marketing? 

The next phase of mobile marketing is where a company puts its mobile experience first, which is a challenge for many companies due to legacy thinking, systems and organizing the data so it is real-time and easier for consumers. Brands understand the importance of transforming to a mobile-first, digital strategy but they are not prepared for how quickly they need to adapt to make this happen. There are a lot of changes that need to be made to people, processes and technologies at large companies in a short amount of time. That is why smaller companies have a competitive advantage—they don’t have the legacy technology and processes in place. As a result, larger companies are moving toward creating their own enterprise “app store” so they can more quickly adapt to changes in the marketplace.

Your insights on moving from multi-channel marketing to omni-channel marketing? 

People can now engage with a company in a physical store, via the website or mobile app or through social media, fueling the shift toward omni-channel marketing to provide a seamless customer experience across all interactions. Where companies often go wrong with the customer experience is a lack of integration between teams. Bad marketing experiences occur at the consumer/end-user level when it becomes apparent that the company’s technology, people and processes are not well integrated.

Your thoughts and good or bad experiences on integrating marketing across the organization? 

Yes, marketing should be definitely be integrated. That is one of the most important aspects of marketing today but often the most difficult. Marketing needs to ensure their department is integrated first and then work on improving integration across the organization. For example, contact centers have a wealth of information for marketers on the types of questions that they are being asked by customers. Do the contact centers record that information so that marketing can create helpful content to answer those questions? It sounds so simple. Yet, it is rarely done. Another example: Are marketing/PR teams prepared if the company gets hacked? Do they have a crisis communications and disaster recovery plan if it occurs? If so, can the company communicate it quickly?

The key for digital marketing and good customer experiences will be integration, strategy and a shift in mindset that marketing is more than a support function. Marketing is no longer a cost center but drives business transformation. As a result, marketing organizations should consistently have a seat the business table (and at the C-suite and board level) to drive digital transformation conversations, its value proposition to the company, and why its budget should grow.

To sum up, digital marketing and heightened customer expectations are changing how the modern marketing organization is structured. Marketing has become more holistic, aligns more closely with the business strategy, and is responsible for the overall customer experience. One company to learn from is Target. They built successful digital marketing department. They did not put their marketing teams into groups or silos. Instead, they brought everyone together as one big marketing team. This helped Target tell a cohesive brand story and attract top talent. An example we can all learn from.

Read the original “Discussing Digital Marketing” article.

Light blub

10 inspirational quotes to make you a better marketer

Who doesn’t love a great quote?

I culled together 10 inspirational quotes for marketing and public relations professionals to get us excited. Today is a great time to be a marketer. Hopefully, these quotes will help guide you through today’s social media and content marketing world.

Marketing doesn't feel like marketing

Follow Tom Fishburne on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Marketing stories

Follow Seth Godin on Twitter.

 

Tell don't sell

Follow Beth Comstock on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Google answers

Follow Cyrus Shepard on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 Conflict or challenge equals story

Follow Tom Kellner on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Marketing helpful

Follow Jay Baer on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Don't sell anything

Follow Rand Fishkin on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Why you do it

Follow Simon Sinek on Twitter.

 

Don't beg the media, be the media

Follow Mark Ragan on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Good content marketing

Follow Joe Pulizzi on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Content marketing and dating

Follow Marcus Sheridan on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

What quotes would you add to this list?

Road with Sunset

Less content is more: 7 tips to successful content marketing

More companies are increasing their content output, leading some experts to say that the growth in the amount of content is leading to content shock. Content shock is where there is more content than we can consume than there is time or interest to consume it.

There are some stats to back up the increase of content production:

  • According to Trackmaven, almost 9,000 brands have increased their content by 78 percent on average over the last two years
  • 56 percent of leading business bloggers are hiring additional resources in the next 12 months, according to Curata

And the content that is being produced is not effective. For example:

  • 51 percent of marketers think their content is average or worse, according to Contently

Are you noticing a theme? More is not always better.

Let’s think differently about our content marketing efforts.

Less content is more.

Successful content marketing will be harder to achieve in 2016, so here are seven tips to help you convert more with less content.

1. Stop producing bad content by answering your clients questions in your content

The biggest threat to content marketing is crap [view the SlideShare]. If the content you produce is not relevant to your clients, don’t produce it. A way to ensure you don’t produce bad content is to create content that answers the questions the clients are asking you. Come up with a list of questions that your customers or clients are asking you and write content to answer those questions. You may want to review your frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of your website and turn those questions into content for your blog or magazine.

Another key to stopping the production of bad content is to avoid talking about your company and producing content that is helpful (not promotional). Read the 6 principles of great content brands. It may be helpful to think of your content like a TV series that has an overall theme and each episode tells the story or theme of the series.

2. Concentrate on one channel for your content

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says that marketers should concentrate on one channel such as a blog, a video series or a podcast. He points to how the greatest media brands of all time such as The New York Times, ESPN and The Huffington Post started out by dominating one channel (print, TV, blog) before they launched additional channels. According to Content Marketing Institute research, publish content using 12 tactics with the distribution of their content to an average of five social media networks.

Look at your analytics, what channel is the most successful for you? The digital body language of your customers or clients is probably giving you the answer. You don’t need to be on every channel if your target audience is not on that channel. With limited resources, it is important to concentrate on one or two channels rather than three, four or even five.

3. Be the media; your competition is bigger than you may think

In today’s content marketing world where you can publish directly to your clients or customers without going to traditional media outlets, you are up against more than just your direct competitors. You are up against everyone who is producing content on the same topic – whether that be an indirect competitor, the traditional media such as industry trade outlets or even Wikipedia. That is why it is important to coordinate your content efforts so you act like a newsroom instead of a marketing department.

How do you compete against so many different competitors?

Make sure your team is flexible bur firm so that your team can create consistent, relevant and meaningful content. You will also need to expand the reach of your team beyond just the marketing team so other teams can help contribute and share your content. You may also want to develop a content marketing steering committee or advisory board to include different people from different parts of the business to help you produce the right content for the right audience to meet your company’s goals.

As Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, says, “don’t beg the media, be the media.” To be the media you should take some tips from professional journalists to create stories that don’t promote a product or service, develop editorial guidelines and validate sources of information. Assemble a diverse content marketing team so you can produce compelling videos, publish articles that are not skimmed and have high-quality photos that are helpful for your customers so that you become the go-to information source instead of going to your competitors. Finally, know and master the fundamentals of content marketing.

4. Optimize your past content

Stop focusing on only new content. Remember that your old content has staying powering. Optimize your old content so it is fresh, up-to-date and can generate even more traffic and conversions. According to HubSpot analysis of their historical data, 76 percent of their monthly blog views come from old posts (published prior to that month) and 92 percent of monthly blog leads also come from old posts. Some of the best content I have produced on this blog, I wrote years ago.

By conducting a content audit using free tools such as these free 5 content audit tools, you can determine what gaps you have in your content, what you need to make your content better and figure out if you have any content archipelagos – a group of content that is rarely visited and doesn’t resonate well with your targeted audience. During this content audit, you may find out that you found a content gem that you didn’t know was so successful.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Old content has staying power. Optimizing old content is a great way to generate more traffic and figure out what content is resonating with your audience.

5. Add high-quality imagery to all of your content

According to Moz analysis of their content, they found out that posts with images receives more links than posts without images. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes for the brain to decode text. According to HubSpot, content gets 94 percent more views with compelling visual elements and graphics.

Read why visual content is a social media secret weapon. To help you find those quality images, you may want to read 14 free stock photo websites, 25 places to find free photos and 7 websites for free and beautiful stock photos.

6. Create easy to read content with strong headlines and call to actions

It is important to create content that is easy to read. Have you read content that was long winded or used big words? Was it easy to scan and quickly comprehend? Without easy-to-read content, your approach to content marketing will most likely fail.

Readability

Readability is important for search engine optimization (SEO), usability and ensure Google is rating your website high in search results. Use words that the right number of syllables and the right sentence length. The readability of the content impacts how well or poorly your content will perform in the search results. Figure out how well your content reads by using the readability score tool.

Compelling headlines

Beyond just overall readability, it is important that the start and finish of your content guides the reader’s experience. Make sure your headline and sub-headline capture the essence of your content. Analyze your headlines using tools like these 10 free keyword research tools to write compelling headlines.

Call to actions

It is very important to include call to actions in your content, especially your best performing content. A strong call to action (the “what”) encourages and provokes your readers to respond.  One of the actions could be to view the SlideShare content of your article or vice versa. One of the call to actions could be to read the article version of your SlideShare content. Learn how to repurpose your content on SlideShare. Other call to actions could include read related content, download an eBook or white paper or call/email us for help on the topic. If you include your call to action up top and again at the end of the content, you encourage more clicks.

7. Repurpose your content and develop a strategy for types of content

Repurposing content is critical for all of us with tight marketing budgets and to ensure our marketing messages consistently reach our target audiences. Have you used channels like SlideShare to get more out of your content? Read why SlideShare is the perfect vehicle for extending the life of your content.

To ensure you have a strategy for the different types of content you produce and curate, you may want to use a pyramid-based approach. It improves the long-term efficiencies and effectiveness of your content marketing operations and helps you produce more content with less effort. The foundation of this pyramid starts with curated content. Read the five free content curation resources that can save you time.

By using this pyramid when you think about your content, you incorporate the best practices of content marketing. You ensure your audience sees your key marketing messages in several places at different times; your audience sees key messages in multiple shapes and sizes; and it extends your reach beyond your websites.

Bringing it All Together

Don’t take my word for it. Brafton wrote up a case study about how a financial services company wrote fewer articles that were more in-depth. It boosted web traffic and sales. Instead of pumping out tons of content, make sure you have a content marketing strategy where less content can help your bottom line efforts. It is getting harder and harder with more people understanding the power of content marketing so now is a great time to re-think your content marketing efforts so that you can beat the content shock.

What tips would you add to this list to overcome the content shock?

Museum

5 free content curation resources to save you time

To be successful with content marketing and social media, content curation is vital. To grow your influence in today’s world, you need to be a great content resource for others so you can help them filter out all of the noise. Content curation is one of the Cs of a successful social media strategy.

What is content curation?

Content curation is acting like a museum curator where you go out and share the best of other people’s content.

Why should you curate content?

Content curation is an excellent way to help you generate ideas for your own content creation. It is also an easy way to share content because you don’t have to create content from scratch. And it helps you grow your authority on certain subjects such as social media, content marketing or public relations.

People and brands who find the sweet spot of content creation and content curation are successful on social media and with content marketing. According to Curata, more than 50 percent of marketers who curate content enhance their brand visibility, thought leadership, search engine optimization (SEO) and website traffic. If you want to learn more about content curation, you may want to read the beginner’s guide to content curation, a busy person’s guide to the content curation and/or 5 ways to succeed with content curation.

What is the difference between content curation and content aggregation? 

Content curation uses the human touch while content aggregation uses a computer. If you are using a computer you are doing content aggregation through automation and algorithms to find content. Content curation is a process where you hand pick the best content and share it with your audience through social media, your website or blog. You should read how do content curation and content aggregation differ?

5 content curation resources

To help you save time, I provided you with my go-to resources for content curation.

1. SmartBrief Newsletters

These newsletters provide executive summaries each day of the most relevant industry news, keeping busy professionals like you up-to-date with the latest news and information. They have more than 200 niche email newsletters on topics such as business, leadership, enterprise IT, careers, social business, marketing, digital, sales, business travel, etc. The editors cull through more than 10,000 major media outlets and blogs to find the freshest and most relevant information.

Take action: Subscribe to the SmartBrief newsletters.

2. Who’s Blogging What

This email newsletter is a go-to source for marketing and public relations professionals who want to stay current on social media, search marketing, email marketing, digital marketing and web analytics. It provides links to the latest news and developments in digital marketing. The email is sent out every Thursday. The articles include hot topics, new strategies and how-to articles. Their tagline is that they “spot things that digital marketers need to see.” If you are looking to keep yourself up-to-date and sharp in today’s era of digital disruption, this email newsletter is for you.

Take action: Subscribe to the Who’s Blogging What newsletter.

3. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog

Almost every Friday, Alex Rynne publishes a trending content blog post that summarizes the must-read marketing articles that week. She provides you with the link to the article and provides one to two sentences on why she feels that the article is worthy of your attention.

Take action: Subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog.

4. Convince and Convert Definitive

These newsletters pick the best content from around the web on the topics you want to know and learn more about it. These newsletters are sorted by topic. There are four newsletters produced each week. Monday is digital marketing, Tuesday is social media, Wednesday is content marketing and Thursday is the Convince and Convert blog. You can change the amount of content you want to receive each week.

Take action: Subscribe to the Convince and Convert Definitive newsletters.

5. Quartz Daily Brief

If you are looking to keep up-to-date with the most important and interesting news in the world, the Quartz Daily Brief newsletter is a great content curation resource. This newsletter works nicely across a lot of different platforms (desktop, smartphones, and tablets) because it is a text newsletter that doesn’t have big images. You can choose your time zone (America, Europe or Asia) so it is delivered at the right time.

Take action: Subscribe to the Quartz Daily Brief newsletter.

What would content curation resources would you add to this list?