content marketing

What Everyone Can Learn From Ruff Ryders, Roc-A-Fella, and Wu-Tang

I grew up loving Hip-Hop. In South Carolina, when the latest rap song blasted through my radio, it fueled excitement in an otherwise simple and uncomplicated day-to regime. Although I had never walked the mean streets of Philly, sold drugs on the streets of Brooklyn, or ran the streets of New York, I knew about it because of these famous rap labels.

As a business owner, that experience has shaped how I approach marketing. They used a strategy that every business should be using if they are online. The fact that these record labels were able to reach a small town teenager 100s of miles away is not only due to huge financial backings. It’s due to something a bit less obvious.

Branding

What these labels did is create an identity for themselves outside of their music. They created something bigger than the product they were actually selling. By doing that, not only were they able to be more memorable, they were also able to make money off of their brand.

How many times did you see Ruff Ryders apparel in the mid and late 90s? Could you hold up the hand signal for Roc-A-Fella if prompted? Maybe you own some Wu-Tang branded merchandise?

Branding gives potential customers something to remember your business or product by. It helps customers forgive that mistake you made last month…

Remember when Old Dirty Bastard got in a little PR trouble? It didn’t kill the brand.

Your business can do something similar – with a little effort.

We’re Not All Rap Stars

This is probably a good thing too because my free-styling skills suck. However, we can all brand ourselves.

Seattle branding event

Which is why I am proud to be an ambassador for Tribe of Zero, a Canadian company helping small businesses and entrepreneurs find their way. This month, they are hosting a one-day event focused on branding for small businesses and entrepreneurs in Seattle, Washington.

Not only will I be attending, I also have discounted tickets to give away. If you would like to join me at the event, enter code JMCK307 to receive more than 30% off of your ticket.

Learn how to stand out from the crowd and be memorable, without having a crew of extra rappers who never actually produce anything…

And if you need any help with a writer to put it all together for you, you know who to call =)

Buy your discounted tickets here. Hope to see you there!

Screw Your Hack, I’m Trying To Work Here!!

Yesterday I wasted 4 hours trying to optimize my online business. It was supposed to be a simple upgrade. I wanted to customize my desktop, background and create a custom start menu on my Firefox browser.

What happened next was a disaster. First my Firefox froze, so I CTRL-ALT-DEL it. Then it refused to open, so I reinstalled it, losing all of my bookmarks. Finally, my in-house tech guru gets me back online and I happily install the plugins of my dream and get on with my day.

You would think that would be the end of it, but sadly, it is not.

The next day, after working seamlessly for a full 4 hours, my Firefox refuses to open again. I refresh it again, only to lose all of the customization I did the day before.

Now I am staring at my screen, wondering if I should bother with customizing my Firefox again. If that was supposed to be a productivity hack, it sure backfired.

How Does Anyone Get Anything Done?

The Internet can be frustrating. With all of our advancements, it seems like we’ve only made it more confusing. One example of this is blogging which started in the 1990s as a series of journal-like entries shared over the Internet. A blog was somewhere you could go to read people’s opinions, learn new things or connect with others. It wasn’t a sales tool.

My, how things have changed. ..Now every business needs a blog if it wants to survive online – but what do they write about, and best of all how do they find the time? Enter the copy blogger – a professional blogger that specializes in writing sales-oriented business blogs.

No longer is it about sharing opinions and connecting with others. Blogging has become about word counts, keywords, engagement, call-to –actions and readability. As a result, countless blogs, all saying the same thing (absolutely nothing) pop up repeatedly all over the Internet.

It’s no wonder many people have given up reading them.

Is There Even a Solution?

I gave up trying to hack my Firefox into optimized productivity. Yeah, I’m missing my colorful tabs, and screen grabber – but I know it’s for the best. My system is running smoothly, and I can function without an add-on.

Businesses can do the same thing when it comes to their business blogs. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. It doesn’t have to be bells and whistles. It doesn’t have to look like everyone else.

In order for a business to use the Internet to their advantage, they don’t need another copy blogging hack; they need some straight up common sense.

It’s simple actually. Share what you know and love. Do so on a regular basis. Make sure you use good grammar and spelling. Show some pictures if they are relevant, and most of all… have some personality.

You didn’t build a successful business based on shortcuts. Don’t use a content marketing strategy that does.

The Blue Pill or the Red Pill …

So what are you going to do? Follow the masses of websites running behind the Google train or jump into the great unknown of the Internet without guarantee of reward?

You know, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

There was an internet before search engine optimization, and there will continue to be one if search engines suddenly stopped existing. Will people still find you if that happens?

The copy blogging formula says I should end this blog post with a call to action, but I’m not going to. I will, however, say that I offer services for businesses who seek to be different, and who aren’t afraid to say: screw your hacks. I do this because I remember when the Internet was worth a damn, when I wasn’t constantly afraid of ‘hackers’, Big Data harvesters, and fake friends trying to sell you something.

To survive online nowadays, you need to keep it real while still understanding the ultimate game.

Your future customers are out there, you just have to work a little harder to find them.

#twitter: Too much of a good thing

I’ve posted before about the weird environment that is Twitter, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are a ridiculous amount of tools to help you sort through the platform. There are tools to help you find people to follow, there are tools to help you find people to tweet to, and there are tools to help you find interesting content to read…

My favorite tool so far has to be the twitter publishing tool, paper.li.

This tool takes a snapshot of the linked content your twitter friends are sharing. It’s like a Who’s Who of the Internet, but for websites. Linked content that is most popular is highlighted on one page for easy access.

Why is this significant?

Well, it gives the everyday online user, the power big sites use every single day. What many people fail to realize is: you don’t have to create content to be significant online. You can simply collect the best content to grow a following. Paper.li does this through Twitter, and even lets paid members completely brand their content aggregation for their own profit-making ventures.

Not a bad deal, huh?

Look, the truth is everyone cannot create great content. Even with an expert content writer, if you aren’t doing something new, you are simply re-writing what’s already published online somewhere. How about, instead of copying each other, we acknowledge each other? If both of us gain by sharing the same content, why waste everyone’s time with copy-cat content?

So, I’ve jumped on the content aggregation bandwagon, and have created my own twitter-paper.. it’s a collection of links that are passed around from the people I follow.  All of the links are curated by me, and double checked to make sure they are reputable sources. It is also updated daily, so subscribe if you want to be kept updated.

I can’t promise to make Twitter less crazy, but I can help you dig thru the noise.

 

Informative eBooks: A Useful Collection of Links

My mother gave me an eReader this year, and for the short amount of time that it worked, I decided to indulge in a little online reading. Let me first explain something about myself- I read medical journals for fun. So, it can be frustrating sometimes to read ‘books’ that don’t provide me with any useful information or enjoyment. If I’m not learning something I didn’t already know, it is a waste of my time. For me, most eBooks are akin to reading the magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store- except they don’t have the good pictures.

So, if I seem highly critical of the electronic book- I am.

So, it is always problematic for me when I take an eBook project. I struggle with writing something that is just a bunch of words with strategically placed links for the purpose of content marketing. I value the readers time, and I probably spend more time than the project is worth searching for that nugget of unique information to put in the writing.

Once again, I am probably over-thinking it, and I wonder if I am the only one. After spending a couple of days reading all of the nonfiction eBooks my brain could stand, I noticed a trend.

Many of them were poorly written summaries of information you could find online. Thankfully, they were free, because I could have taken a screenshot of Google page 1 listings and have gotten the same result. But, there were the few that I felt understood what an ebook is best suited for and wrote in an entertaining (if not useful) style.

In my idealized view of the Internet, an ebook is an extended blog post rather than a technical training. In the non-virtual world, it would be similar to going to a presentation to see someone speak on a topic that interests you. That presentation could be engaging, with music and slideshows and cookies, or it could be an absolute bore, where you cannot understand the speaker, and even if you could, you couldn’t hear him anyways.

Many people think they can take the short cut and throw a few words on some paper with some links and they now have authoritative content. Here’s how that looks in the real world.

“Introducing Jenn, she is going to speak about online writing. Now open up your computers! Wait you don’t have a computer? Go get one. The rest of you, type google.com. This is online writing. Please don’t forget to rate this ebook!”

Good thing I served cookies, because that would have been a total waste of your time. Oh wait, I ate all of them while you were reading.

eBooks don’t have to be like this. If content creators are willing to spend the time investment writing something worthwhile, there are people who will gladly read it. These people will be so grateful for the information you have provided them, they will tell their friends, and support whatever it is you do. Writing an eBook just because it is the thing to do is bad Internet citizenship. If you want an eBook for your online presence, but don’t know where to begin, I’ll be glad to help- but bring your own cookies.