How to Run a More Effective Meeting

6 Jun

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There is nothing special about the average meeting. Just about anyone can schedule a meeting, but some people show up and tune out the message. In fact, the majority of employees are adamant that way too many meetings occur. The bottom line is most meetings have become ineffective. Even if you are adamant that your meetings are of the highest-quality, you can still benefit from implementing the following tips:

There Should Be a Legitimate Reason for Every Meeting

Too many managers call regular meetings as a means of justifying their position on the corporate totem pole. Meetings also serve as an opportunity to justify managers’ lofty salaries by providing an authoritative platform to direct others. But over an abundance of meetings is a mistake as these gatherings inevitably alienate everyone beneath the manager. There should be an excellent reason to pull everyone away from their desks to meet in a communal space. If the meeting’s goal(s) can be accomplished with an email, instant message, phone call or a quick online meeting in a virtual meeting space, opt for one of these more efficient methods.

Publicize the Meeting’s Agenda at Least One Day Ahead of Time

Do not keep the meeting agenda a secret! Effective leaders share as much information as possible so meeting participants are fully prepared to discuss the nuances of the pertinent topic(s). Be specific when explaining the meeting agenda. Do not use generic words like “information” when describing the meeting agenda. Devote at least a few sentences or paragraphs to describing the purpose of the meeting so participants can properly prepare and establish expectations.

Do Not Invite Everyone!

Highly effective meetings include those who are critical to the matters of discussion. Do not invite administrators, clerks and others who are not essential to the meeting’s subject matter. Key in on individuals who will actually benefit from listening to the matters discussed in the meeting and participating in those discussions. It is also worth noting that an over-populated meeting will likely last much longer than originally planned. Each additional meeting participant makes the event that much more complicated and lengthy.

Ask for Feedback

A meeting should not be a monologue. At the same time, they should not be lengthy discussions either. The best meetings are a mix of dialogue and the leader’s monologue(s). Encourage active participation, especially in the final portion of the meeting. Devote at least five minutes for attendees to raise concerns, ask questions, etc. Do not give participants an unlimited amount of time to make closing remarks, raise inquiries or pose concerns. People are much more straightforward when they are forced to explain themselves in a small window of time.

Skip The Lengthy Meeting Recap

If employees expect an extensive meeting recap, many will tune out the meeting or completely skip it. Consolidate the meeting’s points of discussion in an easy-to-understand recap that doesn’t require a significant amount of time to absorb. Make it crystal clear that invited employees must attend the meeting. Some managers find it prudent to not provide a meeting recap in order to persuade employees to show up and pay close attention during the event. If you are absolutely insistent on providing a recap, limit it to specific action items. The recap should communicate exactly what was decided, the actions that will bring the meeting subject matter to fruition, which employees will perform those actions and the point in time they will be performed.

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Dos and Don’ts of Content Marketing

1 Jun

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Content marketing is an important element in an overarching marketing strategy. And according to statistics by the Content Marketing Institute, you aren’t alone in your efforts if you employ it as a tactic; about 90 percent of small businesses and B2B companies do. However, as the Content Marketing Institute also notes, only six percent of B2B marketers rate their organization’s efforts as being “very effective.” Bridging the gap between effort and results means taking a hard look at your content marketing strategy to make sure you’re doing what you can to make it effective.

DO: Have a Strategy

Just like any other business action, your content marketing efforts need a definitive strategy. Even if you aren’t sure what your strategy should be, you should at least have something. As strange as it might seem, even a bad strategy is better than nothing at all. At least it gives you a benchmark from which to measure success and failure. You can also use a bad strategy to build a better one by tweaking the parts that aren’t performing as expected.

DO: Fund Content Marketing

Even the most iron-clad and proven content marketing strategy isn’t going to work as effectively as you’d hope if it isn’t funded well. Just like other efforts within your business, the more money you earmark for content marketing, the better the results you can expect. As the Content Marketing Institute points out, the most effective B2B content marketers spend more than twice as much on content marketing as those that are least effective – 39 percent and 16 percent respectively. Fortunately, more than 50 percent note that they plan to increase spending on their content marketing budget over the next 12 months.

DON’T: Put Content Up Without Thinking it Through

Yes, content marketing involves producing lots of content, but it shouldn’t be just any old content. Your content should be very engaging and targeted to the audience that you are appealing to. It needs to be informative and well written. It needs to leave the reader with valuable knowledge that is in-depth and encourages them to reach out to you for more information.

DON’T: Forget to Develop Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are an effective way to put a human twist to your content marketing. By developing a generic “person” who represents the behaviors, concerns, needs and choices of your ideal customer, your content marketing strategy will be sharper and more focused.

ER Marketing handles all aspects of a successful marketing strategy by crafting one that meets your unique needs. We’d love to show you how we can help you! Contact us today!

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Guest Blogging is the X Factor of Your Content Marketing Strategy

30 May

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Guest blogging is one of the most underrated forms of inbound marketing. Most companies assume that posting social media content, updating their website, and adding content to their blog every couple of weeks will suffice. Though these are solid inbound marketing strategies, they will be greatly enhanced with the addition of guest blog posts.

The Exposure Your Business Needs

Guest blog posts strategically placed on handpicked websites can work wonders for your business. Though many question whether guest blog posts have any sort of effect on the target audience, the evidence proves they really do steer traffic to the author’s website. This is especially true when the guest blog post contains intriguing content. Most people think of guest bloggers as experts who donate their time and effort to another website because they have an abundance of expertise, advice and insight. Such a perception automatically triggers immediate respect. Those who read or even skim the guest blog post will be inclined to click the hyperlink to your website and/or social media. The key is that the guest blog post gets your name and your business in front of people who have already expressed an interest in your products and/or services. This is the vitally important exposure your business needs to increase traffic to your site and social media platforms. These visits will gradually turn into the conversion of customers, many of whom will do business with you across the long haul.

Guest Blogging Establishes You as an Expert

Part of the magic of guest blogging is that it portrays you and your company as a source of authority, and people respect those in an authoritative position. As long as your guest blog post contains meaningful content that helps the target audience in some manner, you will be respected. This respect leads to additional website/social media attention and consequently, more business.

If you do not have the confidence, time, or energy to craft high-quality blog posts that engage your target audience, do not fret! Outsource the work to content creation professionals so you have a steady stream of informative blog posts to publish in corners of the internet where your target audience is most likely to visit. The end result will be an enhanced perception of your company’s expertise, an increase in traffic to your website and a positive impact on your bottom line.

Time Your Guest Blog Posts in a Strategic Manner

Do not haphazardly publish guest blog posts across the web at any point in time. The timing of these posts’ publication is of critical importance. Release your guest blog posts in tandem with your social media pushes, on-page SEO efforts and the addition of original content to your website. These important pieces to the inbound marketing puzzle will work in unison to cast as wide of a net as possible and attract target prospects. Keep in mind that many such prospects will check out other aspects of your online presence as a means of gauging your company’s merit. Many will skim your social media pages, blog, website and beyond before making the decision to provide you with their business.

Guest Blogging is Cheaper Than Paid Ads

Sometimes it can make more sense to blog than to rely solely on paid online ads. The beauty of guest blogging is that it connects your business to parties that are already interested in what you offer. This important exposure connects you to those who can really add to your bottom line. The best part is that it is free. At worst, it will require that you provide the website owner with the opportunity to publish a guest blog on your own blog.

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5 Elements of a Successful Building Material Company’s Blog

25 May

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Businesses that blog reap countless benefits including boosting your brand’s exposure. This includes 55% more visitors and 434% more pages indexed by search engines. 89% of businesses that have multiple posts each day on their blogs reported acquiring more customers. But blogging effectively means knowing the right elements to include in your blog. 

1. High-Quality Content

Content that provides advice and guidance can influence your site visitors in a positive way. The purpose of content marketing is to facilitate the production of high-quality content in such as way that generates leads while increasing sales. 

2. Add Visual Aids

Think of visual aids as a complementing the content that is on your blog. Not only are videos, images, infographics, gifs and the like more stimulating to your viewers, they can help visitors understand the meaning of your posts more easily. The bottom line is that your blog needs good visual aids in order to be fully appreciated by those people who are on your blog. 

3. Social Media

Did you know that the role of social media for businesses today is to raise brand awareness? Posts that are shared, boosted, or promoted can acquire more blog viewers. Be sure to utilize all the latest social networking sites to help spread the news that you’ve posted to your blog, and include the appropriate buttons somewhere on your blog that lead to your social media accounts. This provides an easy way for your readers to follow you on their favorite social media platforms. 

4. Tag and Categorize Well

A blog that is organized not only helps your visitors find what they are looking for more easily, it also makes your blog look more professional. Ensure that each blog post is slotted for the right category and that it is tagged accordingly. Categorizing provides a way for you to highlight related posts and to optimize your site as well.

5. Add a Comment Section

Providing your readers with a place to comment helps you build connections that can lead to a dynamic relationship. You’ll also solidify your stance as an expert in your field by responding to any comments made on your blog.

Blogging can seem like a lot of extra work when you are already busy. Once you establish a routine, however, you’ll be able to put up a blog post quickly and easily. ER Marketing can help develop the ideal marketing strategy for your building materials company. Reach out to us today to learn more. 

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5 Tips to Boost Sales and Make Connections Through Content Marketing

23 May

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In today’s competitive building products marketplace, contractors and builders don’t want to be sold to, they want custom content that resonates with their beliefS – and their brands. According to Entrepreneur, 7 in 10 buyers prefer to learn about a company through articles and other digital content. And with more than 40 percent of those buyers in the millennial age bracket, old-school communication methods simply don’t produce the results or the ROI you need to get the word out.

It’s taken some time, but the building products industry has slowly started to make the shift. Where manufacturers used to rely solely on print marketing to reach their customers, they now turn to digital marketing—and more specifically to content marketing—to make those critical connections.

Here are a few tips to keep the ball rolling in your own content marketing campaign:

1. Solve a problem

If you want to create meaningful connections with your builders, consider getting rid of the sales pitch altogether—at least in the beginning of the conversation. Instead of trying to tell your audience how great your product is, focus on showing them how it’s used and more importantly, how it can solve their problem.

Remember, while YOU are invested in your business, your audience is invested in solving its problems. So, if you’re talking about your product or service, you should be spreading the word about how your solution can help address issues and ease pain points.

2. Use pictures

When explaining a complicated process or product application, focus on making sure the content is digestible, has proper flow, and is easy to share. Infographics help explain highly technical material, and pictures make content more appealing and shareable—especially on social media.

3. Make a video

According to Forbes, video marketing is the “future of content marketing.” Videos break up the monotony when it comes to learning about a product or service. In the building products industry, the video demonstration of a complicated application or technique holds high value in helping people understand how a product works—and more importantly, how it can help them do their jobs better and with less stress.

Video is also an excellent shareable type of content that can become viral if it is particularly useful to its audience. Hubspot research shows that video is expected to attract more than 80 percent of all web traffic by 2019, and simply posting a video on your landing page can increase your conversion rate by 80 percent.

Want more bang for your buck? Including video in your email campaign can boost click-through rates to 300 percent.

4. Help them help you

Sometimes, it’s better to lay off the promotion of your own product or services and simply talk shop with your audience. Offering a good balance of promotional, informational, and engagement-type content will help keep potential customers engaged and following your brand.

When you share content that is not only relevant to your audience but also helpful to their own businesses, you’re leveraging empathy—a powerful emotion that helps build brand trust and loyalty for the long haul.

5. Open up the conversation

Create content that fosters connections and dialogue within your business community. Focus beyond simply getting a “share” on social media and aim to establish a conversation between customers and other businesses. Polls are a good way to start, especially if you take the time to communicate and interpret the outcome in a blog post after the results are in.

Simply sharing and posting open questions on trending industry topics and newsworthy events can generate a huge buzz that gets your business noticed and keeps the conversation going. The key is to create enduring engagement around your brand that positions you as a thought leader in your industry, identify problems that need solving, and then position your product or service as the best solution.

An effective content strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. The process takes interpretation, analysis, and optimization to produce results.

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