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Blogging, Web Content & Optimizing Profit Potential

Blogging, Web Content & Optimizing: What Do I Get?

By Suzanne McDonald

Blogging and developing web content are both time-consuming and/or expensive. An engaged audience at the Rhode Island Hospitality Association’s Marketing Seminar took notes and asked a number of great questions.

I explained how to save time and money with clear strategies and tactics I used with clients to ensure Designated Editor is as effective and efficient as we can be to boost clients’ bottom line. I focused on FREE resources and tactics to generate content and boost visibility via Google and other Search Engines.

Along the way I threw in some anecdotes about negativity, such as how to respond to gripey Yelpers, for example.  Take a look below and see what you missed at the Rhode Island Hospitality Association’s Marketing Summit.



Content and Social Media Marketing Webinar

By Suzanne McDonald

If content “is the only marketing left,” as a quote from entrepreneur Seth Godin goes, than businesses better make sure their content is attracting customers.


In a webinar by Smart Insights and Bright TALK, “Content and Social Media Marketing,” businesses can learn how to use content for marketing – and what to avoid so content doesn’t harm the brand’s image.


What exactly is content marketing? It’s “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined target audience,” content marketing authors Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett said in their 2009 book, “Get Content, Get Customers.”


Content marketing “barely registered as a concept” until a few years ago, according to Google search trends for the topic, as cited in the webinar. Not until early 2011 did searches for “content marketing” finally start to rise – and then they soared.


Common content formats:

  •  Facebook
  • Twitter
  • emails to subscriber base
  • A Wiki page
  • blog post
  • LinkedIn
  • press release
  • banner ads


Those are the most common formats, and they fall into four “quandrants,” or general styles:

  1. Entertain (example: quizzes or branded videos)
  2. Inspire (celebrity endorsements or community forums)
  3. Convince (case studies or interactive demonstrations)
  4. Educate (infographics or press relases)


A few formats fall in between, such as articles, which are on the line between entertain and educate, and ratings, which are between inspire and convince. Ideally, a business would find the right balance between the four quandrants, something that could be struck by having customer reviews or questionnaires.


The old saying “quality over quantity” applies to content marketing. If a business overloads its Twitter followers or Facebook fans with too many posts, they would, at minimum, lose effectiveness. At most, those followers and fans would unfollow or post negative remarks.


Interesting content is a top-three reason why people follow certain brands on social media, and there are trends to give hints on the best ways companies can utilize their content:

  •  3 in 4 marketers say compelling content is a factor in closing sales.
  •  70% prefer getting to know a company by reading articles rather than advertisements.
  • 60% feel more positive about a company after reading content on its website.


A tip to remember, as the webinar puts it: “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.” In other words, engage with customers instead of simply talking to them, and think like a publisher instead of an advertiser.


Travel review websites are a great example in the amount of influence they have, especially among younger people. Word-of-mouth marketing is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions.


Other tips to consider:

  • Think of what your content will look like on mobile devices – or whether it will even work at all.
  • Most Facebook fans (83% in one study) do not see your posts because they don’t stay visible on newsfeeds for very long.
  • A high number of “likes” and comments on even a plain-text post will drive more reach, or influence, than another post that might seem more likely to attract buzz simply because it has a photo.


Facebook has an internal algorithm called EdgeRank that it uses to gauge a user’s influence. It is based on four factors:

  • Affinity, or your relationship with a brand; you are more likely to see a post if your friends engage with it.
  • Type of post. Simple status updates trump other content.
  • Time. The older a post is, the less likely it will be viewed.
  • Level of negative feedback a post and brand receives.


Finally, some social media networks are more effective than others, depending on whether your communication is business-to-business or business-to-customer:

  • LinkedIn – the most effective for B2B, but far less so for B2C.
  • Blogs and Twitter have the best balance between both B2B and B2C.
  • Facebook is far more effective for B2C than B2B.
  • Others are far less effective for both methods, including Slideshare, Delicious, Scribd and Flickr.

If  you’d like to listen to the Webinar yourself, check out the BrightTalk Website!

Philanthropic Marketing Bequests: Tips and Facts

By Suzanne McDonald

Marketing can be an exciting career that covers a breadth of topics.  But, sometimes marketing focuses on more somber matters, such as death and soliciting bequests from such life events.  With appropriate knowledge, understanding, and language, marketing for bequests can be manageable and successful.

According to fundraising communications pro Tom Ahern, 90% of the United States population said they would put a gift to charity in their will, but only 10% do. Why the difference?  Because no one solicits bequests, hence the striking gap in those who say they would give vs. those who do give.

How can marketers learn to communicate properly regarding such a serious matter to increase the amount of charitable giving in wills?

This presentation, “Marketing Bequests: The Delicate Art of Asking for That Final Gift” Ahern focuses on the topics of marketing and death, with a specific look at how nonprofits market bequests.  Tact, understanding, and skill must be employed when one is required to market around such sensitive topics.

Skills needed to solicit bequests

  • Appropriate language use: Don’t talk about death … be joyful … bequests are life-driven
  • Knowledge of your audience & approach them with a message
  • Relationship development with people who leave legacy donations
  • Celebrate bequests while donors are alive: They want to know they will be remembered when they are not
  • Provide a new generation with details on what previous bequestors’ impact has been, works especially well with heirs
  • Add bequests section to websites!
  • Bequests deserve quality: social activities, feeling of belonging, high-quality website, brochure, Facebook
  • Find sympathetic lawyers and estate planners. Also deliver direct mail in the 3d quarter, to follow up on prior interactions/ relationship
  • Mail bequest requests to all supporters, regardless of age
  • Offer site visits and monthly one-on-one meetings with 1/12 of prioritized donors w CEO and 1/12 w dev staff
  • Allow anonymity

Tips on producing donation marketing materials

  • Have pictures on brochure reflect the audience you are targeting (generally middle-class women, according to a sample study)
  • Don’t write too much
  • Design can sink or sell the effort
  • Printed materials are still important: Think sharing and showing off, have annual report on the coffee table
  • People appreciate assistance in doing their wills.
  • Average conversion cycle is 7 years for bequests, and it takes 3-5 prospects to get one planned gift
  • Ads should reflect and reaffirm the relationship the donor has with the organization and be targeted accurately

Make communications informative

  • Share thoughts:  Show that you are aware, you have concerns, and you would like to discuss the cause
  • Add simple bequest language to email and other communication with your existing donors
  • Content quality matters, not quantity!
  • Avoid sunset imagery and death brochures

Target bequest candidates

  • Major vectors: Existing donors, childless, no grandkids, and NOT rich
  • Retired donors may be cash-poor, but they are often asset-rich. Example: $100 annual donor leaves $8.3 million
  • Only 10% of people with grandchildren make bequests
  • Baby Boomers are the target audience for the next 25 years
  • Bad economies are a good time to approach people about making bequests – give when they aren’t dependent on cash
  • Board members should have made bequests to the board they are on
  • Educate potential donors about bequests and then the maintain relationships

A little more information…

  • All it takes is 1 gift: Dead people give more through their estates every year than all US corporations combined
  • Visiting nurses groups and animal welfare generally get money when a childless person dies
  • There’s vast room for growth in US legacy giving compared to UK, Canada, and Australia
  • A $20K bequest will grow to $368K in principle and $300K in grants over 50 years

The art of soliciting bequests, a serious topic in the realm of marketing, is one that must be addressed.  Use Tom Ahern’s lessons to boost nonprofits and charitable giving.  In this industry, always remember to keep your audience in mind and be sympathetic to the emotional weight of such a request.

For more information on nonprofit resources, check out

How to Generate Ideas and Creativity | South by Southwest Interactive

There’s plenty to do when the creative juices just aren’t flowing. Take it from Matthew Diffee, cartoonist for the New Yorker & Texas Monthly and The New Yorker a cartoonist for The New Yorker, who creates 10 ideas a week, just to have 9 of them rejected by management. What can you do to meet your deadlines? And how do you stay creative when your atmosphere is stale?


The following are highlights from Matthew’s talk, “How to Be an Idea Factory” at the 2012 South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

Creativity very possibly requires you to ‘unplug’

  • You must get away periodically to be more creative.
  • Acknowledge what affects your creativity:
    • YOU – Mindset …What you think
    • What you feel
    • What you do

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt

  • Creatives need to be better at controlling our emotions
  • It’s hard to be creative when you are angry
  • Don’t inhibit your train of thought when being creative
  • Just keep going. It takes a lot of bad ideas to get a good one

Big Creative Principles

  • Get in the zone (sometimes it takes a while)
    • Stephen King works every morning til noon or until he reaches his quota of 10 pages
  • Do not believe in writer’s block. You are never blocked-just go backward
  • Flip the funnel (try not to go to outside sources)

Collaboration is king

  • Tips for when you are stumped on idea
    • Change location and attitude
    • Doodle
    • Add constraints on idea
    • Bring other people in

Special thanks to @socmetrics, @RandyElrod, and @FCSdotcom for the insight!

Master B2B Video Marketing | BrightTALK video webcast

Get camera-ready and start focusing.  The trend of using rich media, such as video, on business websites is increasing. Audiences have been engaging actively with rich media websites, generating higher visibility.

How can you incorporate video in your marketing campaign? How can you use video on your website to lure business followers?  And, how can you make this video exciting, and purposeful?

This BrightTALK video, featuring experts from Edelman and Velocity Partners, discusses the best practices in B2B video creation, including how to use video in marketing strategy and current trends.

Watch the BrightTALK video on how to make video!

Versatile video

  • Storytelling: Create a beginning, middle, and end
  • Can use in all marketing tactics: Teaching, demos, etc…
  • Video works in increasing views for all businesses

Content is king

  • Create depth and vision
  • Aim for engagement
  • Structure videos strategically
  • Be an authority on your topic
  • Represent your brand

Content characteristics

  • Purpose: Nail objective & story
  • Tight script
  • Expert generated
  • Establish trust
  • Transparency


  • Track how long people watch
  • Track sentiments, measure comments
  • Analyze results and then adapt

Best practices

  • Fit your audience: “If you speak to everyone, you speak to no one”
  • Humanize messages
  • Summarize points at beginning of video
  • Visuals, use graphics
  • Be careful with comedy, avoid “cheese”
  • Practice, create natural flow

Example: Video savvy Pete Matthews & ‘Meaningful Money’

It’s your turn, start creating your B2B video

  • Establish objective & strategy
  • Find your story
  • Use team of experts
  • Create several videos
  • Embed on YouTube, go where your audience is
  • Engage audience

Use video marketing to increase your B2B visibility. Standing out with strong content is necessary, so be sure to create a purposeful and informative story that targets your intended audience.

On a final note, remember video is only ONE  part of your marketing campaign.  After sharing your video, keep conversation going with your target audience. Tell them a story, while creating a strong relationship with them.

For more expert insight, check out these tips from professionals in the video-marketing field: