Everything you need to know about copywriting and SEO

So, you’ve nailed down your content – now what? Maybe you’re struggling with content optimisation and how to get the most out of your copy. Perhaps the thought of keyword planning and SEO makes you nervous.

Very few of us actually understand the mechanics behind search engine optimisation (SEO). After all it is a beast, and Google’s search ranking algorithm doesn’t help the situation either. Unless you are an SEO specialist, leave this task to the experts – they are at the forefront of all the updates and latest tricks, and you should concentrate on producing quality content.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know:

What exactly is content optimisation?

Content marketing should play a key role in any marketing plan. To optimise content simply means to a) make it search engine friendly and b) drive action that ultimately leads to a sale.

It combines a mix of your chosen keywords and an opportunity to build brand trust and authority. Brand trust and authority are not built through a pushy sales pitch, but instead a long-term series of informative and educational content pieces.

Ok, so where do I start?


If you have hired an SEO agency, make sure you work closely with the team to identify your top keywords that will help your content rank. Next, put together a content calendar of topics that are related to your business and be sure to run these past your agency to see how they fit with the overall plan.

If you don’t have an agency and are working alone, make use of the free Google Adwords Keyword Planner and work out which keywords you’d like to rank for, then plan your content accordingly.

Next, try and feed in the keywords into the title and body of your content piece, but don’t go overboard and use it five times in one sentence. Your content will not only read poorly, but there is no additional benefit for your SEO.

The trick is to distribute keywords sporadically across the piece and feed them in a few times, as and when its applicable to mention. Never compromise on the quality of your piece for the sake of SEO – find that happy balance.

Suggested Read: 3 steps to creating targeted content that sells

Your last content optimisation action should engage the reader with a call-to-action, or CTA. This is something that prompts action from the target audience, It can be in the form of a downloadable resource, a link to enter a competition, or whatever you feel is necessary to move that person further down the sales funnel.

TIP: Avoid actually selling. Give your reader an incentive to click and download, or contact you directly.


Add visual content

Images are just as important in your blog as the words themselves. We are a very visual generation and your content marketing plan should incorporate a healthy mix of written and visual content. Always make sure you have a great image to accompany your content, which should help drive click-throughs and engagement.

Remember that when you are uploading content online, your images should be titled with your keywords in mind – both Title and ALT tags. This will increase your chances of ranking higher on Google.

Making it all work

Make it a priority to write each piece of content with your target audience in mind, and then tie it in with your chosen keywords. You should never write anything without thinking about who it’s meant for, and why your content will help them. Be smart and kill two birds with one stone by mixing great content that is also search engine friendly and optimised for a sale.

Your content should give readers a sense of trust for your brand and have them coming back for more.

Get in touch with us if you need help in creating content that works for your business. Drop us a note at [email protected].

 

Emoji Marketing: Using tiny images to send a big message

The way we communicate with each other is constantly changing, thanks to technology. I mean, 10 years ago, would you have been able to decipher this sentence?:

OMG, IDEK. LOL IDC… actually, IDGAF TBH. BRB, TTYL.

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the way we speak to each other is constantly evolving. Abbreviations are one thing, but in today’s social landscape emojis are taking over, too.

The popularity of social media has promoted the use of visual media. Our words are becoming substituted with small emojis, or digital images, that represent faces, animals, fashion, accessories, hearts, weather, food, sports…and the list goes on.

Emojis can tell a story. In fact, you could send a message to a friend filled entirely with emojis and chances are they would understand what you were trying to say.

Take a look at this creative text message:

A great example of the new way to communicate for content marketing

Source

A new way to communicate

Could our shortening attention spans and love for visual media be the cause of this phenomenal obsession with emojis? Is this the future of content?

A picture says a thousand words and as we all seem to be so time poor, it just seems easier to use pictures instead of words.

Emojis have only previously been used for social purposes, but nowadays many brands are beginning to adopt emojis to add flavour to their communications.

A great and effective content example for outdoor advertising
Domino's recent tweet consisting of emojis to convey the message - a great content marketing example

Why are we so obsessed?

These miniature images suddenly appeared in our phones and, as a society craving constant change and new ways to communicate, we pounced. It simply proves that great content is about so much more than just words.

In fact, some of the most lucrative content out there is solely emojis. Kim Kardashian changed the game when she released the ‘Kimoji’ app you can buy from iTunes. Even bad boy Charlie Sheen has released his own ‘Sheenojis’. It’s truly becoming an obsession led by many famous and influential figures.

The use of emojis is relentless – but it’s simply a representation of our need to not only “tell” content, but “show” it. While emojis have become a ubiquitous part of social media and Internet language, it’s worth considering how you might be able to incorporate them into an appropriate campaign or messaging.

(PROTIP: Just be sure you know what the emoji means so your message doesn’t backfire! For example, the eggplant emoji does not simply represent an eggplant anymore… be careful!)

It’s fair to say emojis are here to stay, and we will continue to see them evolve in content both online and offline.

Now, go ahead and take this test and find out which emoji best represents you. Have fun!

Do you need help creating some crafty content? Drop us a note at [email protected].

You can’t do everything

This feature is part of a regular series”Getting frank with Joe” giving you a brutally frank, yet realistic look at the business world.

When you run your own business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing no one has the same passion and drive that you have. You’ll think other people’s way of doing everything isn’t how you would do it, the quality and attention to detail isn’t at the level you have, and the drive and passion behind it simply isn’t there.

The ironic thing is that you are correct. Your business is your baby and you cannot expect people to have the same investment in it without the emotional and financial input you have had.

But it also doesn’t matter. Seriously, stop complaining and be a solutions person.

Having worked with dozens of startups, this is one factor I regularly see that impacts the long term viability of a company – no matter its market potential.

Focus on growing your business

In a small business it’s easy to oversee all activity and influence everything. That’s cool if you want to stay a small business, but I’m guessing you don’t. If you are spending all your time overseeing everything, you need to ask yourself how effective you can be actually growing your business.

You know what you are good at, so why not focus on that? Get other people to do the other work to free you up.

Different doesn’t mean worse

When you hire someone else to do a job, I guarantee that 95% of the time they won’t do it exactly how you would. You need to get over that. I don’t mean throw quality to the wind, I mean get used to people doing things differently.

It’s better to get something happening, than to kill time and slow your growth doing everything yourself.

If quality drops when you step away, or your staff aren’t performing, then invest your time into training rather than instantly taking over every function. If things don’t improve, fire them, and hire someone better.

Interns are not a growth solution

I’ve seen this a lot and I think it’s worth slotting in here as a standalone point. If you are trying to resource your company by stacking it full of interns, you are going down a dangerous path. Yes they are cheap and enthusiastic, but they are also inexperienced and short-term.

By all means, have your interns to help lighten the load, but don’t treat them as a replacement to hiring experienced, capable professionals.  

Experience is sometimes worth the spend

When you hire for any specialist role, make sure you’re getting someone who knows what they are doing and are experienced in the field. It’s worth the extra money.

If you are tight on finances the argument is the same. It’s better to have someone who is experienced and great working for three days a week, rather than paying the same for a full-time junior who needs constant support and checking.   

Specialists are specialists for a reason

If you are using an agency or have a senior hire, listen to what they say. This doesn’t mean you can’t have input – it means that you don’t ignore their warnings without an extremely good reason.

I’ve seen so many CEOs of all-sized businesses decide they know better and interfere in a process they, quite frankly, have no business getting involved in.

You might have read the newspaper every day for your entire adult life or even been interviewed a couple of times, but it doesn’t mean you know more about the media than the trained specialists you are paying, who have dedicated their working lives to getting results for clients.

I know all of this is easier said than done, but if you invest your time and resources towards making sure the people around you are capable and awesome, the payoff is massive.

Have a question? Why not drop us a note at [email protected].

 

The do’s and don’ts of social media

It should be no surprise that in this day and age our eyes are glued to anything that is square-ish, has a touchscreen, and fits comfortably into the palms of our hands. Chances are, the opened apps include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat – the works, if you will.

If we’re going to be spending this much time browsing through social media, we might as well do it right. And to all the millennials who think they’ve got it down – think again.

Social media can be used by almost everybody. You don’t need to have 10 social media accounts or post something every half an hour to be deemed active. To obtain and sustain a successful social media presence and witness the results you really want, first understand the following do’s and don’ts:

Don’t focus on the number of likes

What an outrageous thought, but let me explain why. What really matters isn’t how many likes you receive, but rather who liked your post. If you scroll through a list of ‘likes’ and realise that you really only wanted to reach 5% of them, the rest are as good as none. This is because you’ve attracted the wrong audience, resulting in a lack of engagement.

To put it simply, let’s say you run a small ice cream cafe and post on Facebook announcing that chocolate scoops are 10% off, praying silently that your customer numbers will magically double overnight. But instead of dessert enthusiasts, you realise that the ‘likes’ came from your co-owner, boyfriend, and mother. Sure, these are all people extremely dear to your heart, but they’re not who you’re targeting. The ‘likes’ may look impressive online but they’re not serving your business’ purpose.

Reach out to YOUR target audience

Some posts on Facebook may be boosted to become ads, meaning that you pay to reach a wider audience. Boosting essentially means selectively choosing the audience who sees your posts on their News Feed. It’s a very cost effective way to reach the right people, and Facebook’s Business Manager page gives you the complete rundown on how to fully utilise the functions to effectively promote your business.

Take a look at the example below:

Sponsored advert example for content

As a frequent budget air flyer who’s always looking out for cheap deals to Taiwan, this FlyScoot ad definitely appeals to me. FlyScoot consistently monitors footprints on their social media pages and website, and effectively churns this data to target audiences who need to save a buck or two but still loves to travel around Southeast Asia.

Don’t slap on texts and links

Humans on social media have attention spans even shorter than that of a goldfish – an incredulous three seconds. This disturbing yet very real fact should make you think twice about how you post. If you want to share a blog on your company Facebook page, you pretty much only have one shot to get it right.Just think about all the other pieces of content which you are competing with – you need to make your post stand out!

Customise the appearance of each post

Spot the differences between these posts. Which would you rather click on?

Social media advert examples - sabines baskets

 

There is so much flexibility with social media these days. Certain functions allow you to not only enhance the visual appeal of your posts but also increase your readership.

For example, posting as the Page Admin on Facebook allows you to:

  • Edit the post caption to remove any URLs
  • Replace the default photo that automatically comes with the link
  • Rewrite the main header of the link
  • Change the subtext of the link
  • And so much more

These simple yet effective tweaks transform a boring, black and white post into one which really displays the most attention-grabbing information. Remember, you’ve only got three seconds to reel in your audience, so make it count.

Don’t be the same

Companies usually make the common mistake of posting the same content across all their active platforms – meaning the exact same captions, hashtags, and images. Sure, you’re getting the word out, but you’re also annoying your audience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s alright to share the same information across all your social media, but be creative about it and tweak it to match your audience.

Be selective and get creative

It’s important to understand how each platform works. Instagram for example, leverages on jaw-dropping photos and hashtags to capture the right audience. While Facebook extends beyond this by allowing users to share their reactions or emotions.

Look at this example below from The Yard:

Social media advertising on mixed platforms

 

Both of these posts talk about the same thing: new trampolines. But, they’re customised to sit well within each respective platform. Doing this will allow you to reach the maximum number of users without turning anyone off.

Now it’s your turn – go create magic on social media.

Need help with social media? Drop a message to [email protected] 

mutant-social-media-cta

 

 

Distributing content to the right people

Great job! You’ve created a lot of content that’s just waiting to be read. Now the next step is to identify what you want to share, how and when.

Suggested read: Content Distribution 101

Ask yourself these important questions:

  1. Why are you sending out content?
  2. How will it support business goals?
  3. Who are you targeting?
  4. What can you offer your target audience at each stage of their journey?
  5. How will you be different?
  6. How will they find the content? Where will you publish it?
  7. When and how will you measure results

Answer these, and then begin to work your content selection and distribution around the buyer journey.

The buyer journey

Following the buyer is key to a successful content marketing strategy. A content distribution strategy should begin with the awareness stage, followed by lead generation, then to nurturing, and finally the sales push. You will find that different content pieces will be suitable to fulfill each stage, which will ultimately determine the distribution channel/s.

Here’s a great representation of the buyers journey (and what you need to do at each stage):

Content Marketing Buyer Journey

Source

During the discovery or awareness stage, you’ll likely be sharing fun and light information to capture initial interest, and hoping people download your lead generation call-to-action. Following this, you can take it up a notch and delight them with more informative content pieces, personalised emails, demos or deals. This is the nurturing stage, and when your prospect is ‘considering’ a purchase – so an important stage.

Next, if they look like a hot lead, you can give them more detailed materials about your business. This is generally done by the sales team, and includes content in the form of product sheets and pricing guides. By this stage, this prospect should be on their way to becoming a paying customer.

Distributing your words

Now let’s look at the how you will get your content seen.

Each stage will require unique content as you are targeting the buyer at different stages in their decision process. The key is to target the buyer’s emotions and help them identify their need for your product or service nice and early.

This table provides examples of the type of content and channels suited to each stage in a buyer’s journey.

Content marketing strategy distribution channels

You will need to remember that your industry, product and sales lifecycle will all determine the length of your campaign and the type of content you produce. Only you know your target audience and how they respond to different information, so each content distribution plan should be unique and tailored to your business – not a carbon copy of any other business.

From planning to performance

Any strategy needs to be measured to assess its effectiveness. Without proper measurement, you will have no idea if your content is working.

Run your campaign and at its conclusion look at each stage of the buyer journey separately.

Here’s an example of a typical campaign measurement system:

Step 1: 20-30 days after end of campaign

  • How much traffic was generated to your website?
  • How did your social channels perform (likes, shares clicks etc..)?
  • Any initial leads?

Step 2 – 45-60 days after end of campaign

  • How many qualified leads have you got?

Step 3 – 90-120 days

  • How many leads have you converted to sales?

Of course, not each campaign has the same sales cycle length, so as I previously mentioned, this should be unique to your business. Through this you can see how each buyer stage performed, and where any content adjustments need to be made for your next campaign.

Need help with your content? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Mutant Content Marketing Agency Singapore

 

Your brand sucks: Part 2

If you’ve just joined us, this feature is part of a regular series giving you a brutally frank yet realistic look at the startup world. In ‘Your brand sucks: Part 1” I talked about realising that effective brand communication is key to success. This second part will continue with some more honest truths.

  • You are not Steve Jobs

You just aren’t.

Don’t make subtle comments in meetings about what Steve Jobs’ approach to marketing was. Don’t make sly comments about Steve Jobs’ attention detail when you are ripping apart plans or copy. You just aren’t him!

But don’t worry. You are you, and that’s awesome. You can have your own vision for your brand. Use that to justify your decision making processes instead of having input simply for the sake of having input.

You are building your own empire, and that means there are a whole new set of rules that you decide, and which marketing students in 30 years’ time can marvel at. If you don’t know what the vision is, then that’s also ok. Plenty of amazing leaders have built billion dollar companies by knowing their strengths and collecting the right people around them, who can help them to articulate, communicate or even develop a vision and brand.

  • Don’t go cheap

This makes me want to cry. I see it most often from the types who transition from a bigger corporation into startups. They are used to these things simply happening in the background without understanding it. They usually react to the discovery of cheap offshore outsourcing like they’ve discovered a life hack no one else has ever stumbled across before.

They’ll proudly pull out their branding decks at a first meeting and exclaim how they got it done in Thailand for a few hundred dollars (often followed by a series cocky statements reminding us that our prices need to be dirt cheap, or they’ll simply get that done offshore as well.)  

Firstly, I take this as an insult to me, my colleagues and the craft we’ve spent our working careers learning and developing in. It’s not a great start to any partnership to insult the other person. If you talk to me like this at the beginning, I will simply tell you to go elsewhere. Why would I pour my energy into your brand if I think you’re an arse?

Secondly, the “great deal” you were offered probably sucks. Nine times out of 10 you’ve gotten something I would slap a high school student for submitting. This is particularly true if you’ve just asked them to come up with something without a brief or concept.  

If you fail to see the problem and refuse any input, I’d write you off as a lost cause. No one’s got time for that, and I’d prefer not to associate my agency’s brand associated with you. As a startup you are already up against the odds. Throwing in an amateur, cheap-looking brand and poor strategy just makes your own life so much harder.

Like any rules there are exceptions, and people love to cry out in outrage pointing out the inaccuracies of it all because they can point at a handful of companies it doesn’t apply to.

And to be honest I don’t care. Ignore it and make your business journey 10X harder than it needs to be.

It’s not about spending money, it’s about using your brain.

Need help? Drop me an email at [email protected].

Content distribution 101

You have written all this content, but what’s next?

You may have read our recent post which talks about making the most out of your content, and stretching it that extra mile, and in this post I’m going to go a bit further and explain what content distribution is and how to develop a clear strategy.

Content is all the rage, but if you publish it on your website and leave it at that, it’s very unlikely that many people will ever see it. This subsequently becomes a waste of your time, resources and money. Any marketing activity needs to be backed up with a clear strategy that best matches your goals. Content is no different and there are many avenues that brands can take advantage of to gain their worth in words.

There are three main ways in which content can be distributed.

  • Through paid channels – when you pay for you content to be distributed (i.e. Advertorials, social ads, Google ads etc.)
  • Via your own channels – the channels that you have direct control over, such as your website social media, and newsletters. Basically, anything your have direct control over.
  • With shared opportunities– when other people share your content through PR channels, to include media coverage, social shares, reviews etc.

Below is a chart showing the activities falling under each category. Interestingly, it shows us that all three distribution channels are connected. This simply means the same piece of content can in fact run through multiple channels.

Content Distribution strategy

(Source: http://blog.bufferapp.com/content-distribution-tools)

The more visibility your content piece has, the more people are going to see it, which ultimately means you will have more success in delivering your message, and evoking a response.

However, I do need to stress that a great content distribution strategy means very little if the piece of content is not suitable for your intended audience or is poorly written – so firstly get that right. (Check out our blog to help you create quality content)

Work out a strategy that best suits your budget and goals. Incorporate as many channels as you feel are necessary in reaching YOUR target audience. Ask yourself: Where are they looking for content? How do they engage? If you are targeting a younger female audience, say 25 and under, with your latest beauty product and tips, it’s fair to say they are very active on social media, so competitions, mentions, shares and reviews will be most effective, as will engaging with influencers and running targeted social ads.

Your content strategy should ultimately help drive sales, and in-between help educate and inspire your target audience. Be smart and never compromise on quality.

Part two of this topic will show you how to set up a content plan and distribution strategy – so stay tuned.

Need help with your content? Drop a message to [email protected] 

Content Marketing CTA

Capturing the younglings (with the help of social media)

Most Millennials and Gen Z (iMillennials, as they are infamously called) have grown up in an environment where everyone is connected 24/7. They can barely survive half a day without the Internet or their smartphones (trust me, it’s true) and they leave footprints all over various social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest… With that, advertising is shifting from traditional channels like television and radio to social.

Seeing how readily exposed these this generation is to advertorial posts, brands need to seize this opportunity to capture them as early as possible (or at least before your competitors beat you to it).

But how do you do that? Where exactly are they?

Get onto the platforms 

Your lack of presence on social media platforms is a huge strategic miss if you are looking to reach out to the younger and digital generation. Social media is your opportunity to speak with people, not speak to them. You should be building a social media presence regardless of the size of your business.

Remember not to splash the same content on all your platforms in one go. From a youngling’s perspective: “why would I follow you on all your platforms if you’re going to be posting the same ol’ boring content on every channel?” Instead, mix it up selectively.

Go on-the-go

If you don’t already have a mobile platform, go and create one! Younglings today have their hands on their smartphones at every moment of the day: at home, when they’re having their meals, in school, on public transport and perhaps even in the toilet. 86 percent of those of aged 18 to 29 own a smartphone, and this figure is very likely to increase.

A mobile application is another way for brands to engage with their younger audience. Start early – build your brand name, engage your target audience and capture their loyalty.

Let them share it

A great way to get your content out there is to let your audience do it for you. You want people to look at your content, like it and share it with their friends. With that, your reach will be stretched further than your intended audience.

Sharing is the easiest way to get opinions across, especially amongst the millennials and iMlilennials. What is shareable content? It should be easily understood without too much fluff; it should be able to capture attention (especially suited to the short attention spans of younglings today); it should be fun and feature images, gifs or videos.

Take video seriously

On a similar note, high quality and engaging content has recently come in the form of videos. Snapchat is the second-most used social network, and Facebook recently introduced stunning 360-degree videos that allow brands to capture their audience. Bite-sized videos are comprehendible, engaging and easily shared, so why not?

Remember to caption your videos with appropriate keywords and be creative in linking your video posts to your website’s page. You want to attract your audience to watch your videos, not scroll past them.

Influence with influencers

Influencers rake massive followings on several platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. Their followers are most probably your target audience: the younglings. This audience would rather hear from the very people they look up to than from your brand directly (I know, ouch). Word-of-mouth has never been more powerful.

You should be leveraging on the personalities that your young audience follows to amplify your brand’s message. In other words, you should be ready to loosen your grip and let influencers narrate your brand story. Let it go!

Need help with social media? Drop a message to [email protected] 

mutant-social-media-cta

Is your startup ready to launch? Probably not.

You’ve got two engineers, a cool co-working space, a product in the works, angel funding, and a registered company name. Congrats! You’ve done a bunch of productive stuff, but it’s not enough to introduce your company to the world.

There are several fundamental steps you need to do before consulting a PR agency for the launch of your product or service. There is a common misalignment in a startup’s timeline, where the founder feels they need to get media attention for their half developed idea first, then raise more funding to complete the world’s greatest product.

Sorry friends, it’s the other way around – you need to develop a working prototype before letting your freak flag fly in the media – otherwise you’ll spend a lot of cheddar building a product with features nobody needs.

Some startups tend to think first about how they can scale their idea before they have a working product. But let’s say you spend $200 on Facebook ads, get some downloads – but your app is buggy, or has a three second loading time – that’s an automatic uninstall. Figure out first if it can be used and sold before spending tons of cash on it.

There’s only one chance to launch, so before calling up a PR company and selecting the fillings of your mini sandwiches for media, make sure you have the following, in this order.

1x solid MVP

The MVP (minimum viable product) is a working product with core features, let’s say version 1.0 of your product that lets you gain insight as to whether the world actually needs it. There’s no purpose in spending your savings building the Uber App if you don’t develop a functional “driver”  account that makes you scale the adoption among drivers.

20 x friends

Well, they could just be colleagues or neighbours – individuals who will not blast you on social media if the product is buggy. You need at least 20 people who are using the MVP and are willing to give you feedback. Here you need to ask, do people love it? Do they need it? Will this gain traction? Will they trash if after five uses? You need to build a product that can gain traction before scaling.

Feedback

It’s better to do repairs or a pivot BEFORE you launch than after you launch. A company that has an identity crisis doesn’t look good to the media. Once you have some local users, this is the opportunity to do some A/B testing, improve on the UX, and even at this early stage you still have resources to pivot if you realise no one needs blue tooth dog collars. Now ask, is it going to be scalable?

[Spoiler alert Silicon Valley S3]: You don’t want to end up like Richard when Jack Barker’s cuts up Pied Piper to make it easier to sell via the ‘Conjoined Triangles of Success’ to make it more profitable.

10x pieces of good content

Let’s say you’ve launched early and the media are flooding to your Facebook page. But umm, there isn’t anything on here except 1 post from your mom that says ‘I’m proud of you!’ Have someone create content on your company website just to show that you are truly interested in the issue you’re solving.

5 x brand ambassadors

We don’t mean the tanned and toned Instagram influencer who holds ANYTHING for $500 a post, we mean a real human being who truly LOVES your idea and product. If you have social friends who are ranting and raving with one another about your idea, then it brings some legitimacy to your product. An enthusiastic brand ambassador is worth more than any advertisement at this point.

1x small community

Once you have some people who love your product or service, it’s enough to start a community. This can just be a minimum of ten people who are talking about your dope product online. Successful startups have kicked off because there was a community around an already existing common issue: ‘Jon realised he couldn’t get meatloaf online, ‘til he met Peter and Jim who also wanted to digitise the meatloaf industry’.

People might not know they need your specific product, but if they meet other people who love it, they might realise they have been missing your product their whole life.

Always remember to start small, very very small. Do that small thing very well and invest in making it better for your fans. Only then can you grow and improve. This will reduce the amount of money wasted on building and selling a product that nobody wants.

Get in touch with us at [email protected].

This article was first published in Tech in Asia on 11th May 2016

Your brand sucks: Part 1

This feature is part of a regular series”Getting frank with Joe” giving you a brutally frank, yet realistic look at the business world.

Look, I get it. You’ve worked your arse off building your business – you deliver a product or service you are proud of. The market is simply waiting for something like this and a massive increase in sales is just around the corner simply because you have nailed it. Right? Wrong.

When you fail to communicate your brand, you will not achieve the success you aspire to and – most likely – will crash and burn. I’m not about to give you a step-by-step guide on how to do that but I will give you a few pointers to keep in mind.

  • Your business is not unique

I’m a simple guy; I love the idea that a person can deliver an exceptional product and it will become a success. But unfortunately those times are no longer here, if they ever existed.

Sure, there is the odd exception, but when you do come across those rare cases, there is a specific purpose and strategy behind it. Think of those cool bars with a secret entrance and no obvious branding. They didn’t get popular simply because they make a good cocktail, there is a specific strategy behind their success. This can be a mix of PR, word of mouth and social media. I’ve seen amazing businesses go under because they wanted to be underground or aloof, without understanding how to effectively communicate.

It’s not just lifestyle either. Whether you are in construction, B2B technology or whatever, if your target market doesn’t know you exist, can’t relate to you, or they don’t easily understand your key values, then you are not building the long-term relationships that is  needed to scale your business.  

  • Take a look in the mirror

All founders need to take a good, hard look at themselves before getting too involved with branding at a creative level for both planning and execution. Supply the vision and ethos that will guide the strategy, but if you lack the skills, understanding, or even interest to get involved, then please don’t.

I’ve seen all sorts of approaches towards brand strategy and communications, where the CEO doesn’t have any experience or know what they are doing. If they recognise they lack in the area, they are often fine. The others, less so.

mutant-startup-brand

In one meeting, I met the CEO of a tech company that had successfully raised millions in funding. It was an amazing platform and should have done really well in the market since they launched 18 months earlier. Yet here they were looking for desperate last ditch measures to get sales, so they could raise more funding just to survive.

I asked the CEO about his marketing and branding strategy. There was none. He even told me he hates doing “that sort of stuff”, yet he was the one in charge of executing it. Unsurprisingly, the marketing efforts fails, and then the CEO decides it doesn’t work.

With millions of dollars and over a year of operations, this company had built itself a large global team, yet not one person outside of the CEO had a role that involved giving thought on how to actually get the product in front of paying users, or how to build the brand or to scale it (beyond tech requirements).

So there you have it! Stay tuned for the second instalment to my branding series where i’ll guide you on how turn failure into success.

In the meantime, drop me a note at [email protected] if you could use a hand promoting your new idea.

Missed the first Getting frank with Joe instalment? Check it out here.

 

I’ve launched an entire company on my own, I can do my own PR, right?

The email addresses of the reporters are online, I have friends of friends who can introduce me to some reporters at Channel NewsAsia. I can save some money and do my own PR, right?

Well you could. Then again, you could also buy your own property without an agent and represent yourself in court. The question is then, would that really be the best way forward?

The most important thing about PR is not the media contacts, it’s the narrative. What an agency can provide is a seasoned ear that can counsel you on what exactly are the really juicy stuff that would be interesting to press and then find a way to package it.

You know that saying: “When you are too close to a situation (in this case your business) you can’t see the big picture”? This is exactly that.

If we had donated a dollar to charity for every time a client wanted to release to media the outcome of an “internal meeting” or “upcoming revolutionary product upgrade”, the world would be a better place.

So back to packaging, how do we do it exactly? Here’s the secret. We take a magical blend of the following:

  • Your objective for the PR effort (e.g. get more users to your product, build buzz before an upcoming IPO?)
  • Your key messages (e.g. what makes your business special in the market? Reliability? Cost-effectiveness? Proven R&D?)
  • Your initiative / announcement (e.g. Doubling your headcount in Singapore? Tie-up/partnership with another firm for an initiative? Received a round of funding?)

We will use all this information to provide journalists and influencers with a comprehensive narrative that will articulate your brand in the best way possible.

Without the narrative, you may still get the coverage, but trust us, it won’t have the same impact on the readers. There’s nothing worse than securing a big interview but losing the story because the message was lost. It won’t leave a lasting impression.

Need help kickstarting your next PR campaign? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

Content yoga: How to stretch your content into multiple posts

You have heard it over and over again. Content marketing is the next big thing in marketing communications. You have bought the Kool Aid, you have started drinking it.

You have established a content development process that is both consistent and committed. Various internal stakeholders are coming with you with ideas, or even better, written pieces of content that are exactly to your requirements. The website blog is being updated once a week. Now what?

It’s time to get the most out of the content that you have painstakingly developed. Here are some tips on how can you make your content go further so that it reaches your intended target audience.

  • Check with your PR agency if the content is pitchable

With shrinking newsrooms, publications are more open to taking in op-eds or contributions these days. Having your original content published in a business or industry news portal definitely gives your brand a boost in credibility. Publications usually have some strict requirements though – the brand cannot be mentioned in the piece other than the byline, the content usually has to be on a wider industry trend rather than a specific product and usually the piece has to be published first only on their site. You can of course, then use the content on your own website after a specific period of time. Take note of the advice your agency gives you and make a call on whether you would like to go down this route.

  • Get the content linked

Content on LinkedIn is getting a lot of traction these days. If you need to raise the profile of a certain executive (e.g. the new Asia MD), you may want to consider posting the content on a regular basis using LinkedIn Pulse, with their approval of course.

A repurposed article on LinkedIn pulse could help to build your executive’s credibility as an industry thought leader and also steer people to becoming more aware of your brand. As a bonus, LinkedIn Pulse enjoys a high search quality rating on Google which means the content will be included in search results.

Updating a senior executive’s page on their behalf also encourages them to be more hands-on in the content – it’s their reputation after all. This means you will also get more ideas on content topics and they are also more likely to share their personal industry observations. This is a win-win for both, your content is more authentic and they boost their own profile.

  • Make it shareable

Summarise each section of your blog post or break it down into tips. You can then use these bite-sized pieces to post on Facebook or Twitter on a daily basis as part of a multi-part series. Remember that you have to keep the post to 140 characters for Twitter – which probably will come up to no more than 1 sentence. For Facebook you have more flexibility on the word count but try not to go over 250 characters (Posts with less than 250 characters receive 60% more engagement). Also, don’t forget to add an image and link the content back to your website to drive traffic.

On that note, while having Twitter and Facebook is great – it may not be necessary to have both. Check our post on choosing the right social media channel to see which is right for you. https://mutant.com.sg/less-is-more-4-tips-to-choosing-the-right-social-media-channel/

  • Reach out to new people

Since you are posting on social media already, why not promote selected posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Facebook? Promoting a post is a good way for more people to see your content and reach out to new audiences through targeting.

Promoted posts can boost traffic to your web page and also gives you some rich data analytics so that you can figure out which channels are most effective for your brand. The best thing about promoted posts these days, is that it is fairly affordable – you can promote a post for as much or as little budget as you want.

  • Communicate to employees

Your employees are your most important assets. They are the face of the company and they are the ones that deal with your customers. A great piece of content can inspire employees and align ideas. Summarise your article into a teaser and use it in your latest newsletter. Encourage engagement, ask them their point of view on the topic and as always, link the article back to the website to boost traffic.

  • Play around with formats

While a blog post is the most immediate way to get content out, do explore other formats that may work better with your target audience. Be it an infographic, video, slideshare or audio file – explore the various formats from time to time and use your website analytics to check on how much traction you are getting.

If you need help maximising your existing content or need help setting up a winning content development marketing strategy, please get in touch with us at [email protected].