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Time Out for the 4th of July

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I believe there’s a big streak of patriotism in even the most jaded Americans

top of mind marketing 4th of july

Time to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy every single day

We get caught up in the struggles of our daily lives, lose faith in our leaders and wonder if we’re ever going to be able to trust a politician again. Is it another war in the Middle East inevitable or did it ever really end? Yet I believe that even the most jaded of us has a big streak of patriotism. There are situations that never fail to give me a rush of pride and gratitude for the freedoms that we enjoy—or the people who helped provide them.

  • It gets me every time. Standing up to sing The National Anthem at Giants games at AT&T Park—42,000+ people peacefully united in their love of baseball. The line about “the land of the free and the home of the brave”—I look around me at the hugely diverse group of people that can only happen in the Bay Are and I get a lump in my throat every single time.
  • Pursuit of the American Dream. At last year’s 4th of July celebration, I sat at a table with an Iranian family who fled political persecution during the fall of the Shah and the rise of the Ayatollah. It’s a familiar tale: they came to the US with hardly more than the clothes on their back. A family of privileged intellectuals in Iran, their first home was with their brother in Sacramento—five people in one room. They found minimum wage jobs, worked hard and sent their kids to college.
  • My father, a medic in WWII. He must have seen unimaginable horror. Yet he never—ever—spoke of the war or the battlefield. He never told war stories or talked about the men he saved or the friends he lost. He came home, got married, started a successful business and a family and got on with his life.
  • The rule of law. Terrorism is a fact of life for everyone these days, but we don’t live with its threat on a daily basis—at least not yet. We live in a society that respects the rule of law. Celebrate freedom from torture and mistreatment, the freedom to gather and protest without fear of recrimination.
  • Women’s rights. Sure, we have a long way to go, but we’ve made enormous progress. I see young women today who are growing up with one important ingredient that was missing as previous generations matured. They’re fearless—growing up with an unparalleled belief that they can do anything.
  • Achieving business success. This is my sixth year of being a business owner. I launched Top of Mind Marketing because I had to, not out of a burning desire or fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m finally enjoying success from a lot of hard work. The spirit of entrepreneurism was born right here in America and nowhere has it flourished the way it has right here in our own backyard. Starting and growing a business–this opportunity simply does not exist in other countries.
  • Freedom to marry. I just did a little research, and there are 79 countries around the world in which homosexuality is illegal; In 10 of these countries, being gay is punishable by execution. In Egypt and countless other countries, the morality police raid homes and clubs and throw gay people in jail. Here in the US, just in time for the 4th of July, everyone now has the right to marry, regardless of sex. In the words of President Obama: “We’ve made our union a little more perfect.”

Every 4th of July, I look around me and I think about the simple pleasures we enjoy that make me very happy to be an American.

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re marketing writers and marketing strategists, adept at building customized marketing solutions.

Post Your Blog on Linkedin–Reach a New Marketing Channel

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I’m bullish on blogging and one of my favorite platforms these days is Linkedin. I started posting my weekly blog on Linkedin about six months ago and am delighted to be reaching a whole new audience with this marketing channel.

Who knew?

top of mind marketing Linkedin Pulse

By repurposing your blog to Linkedin, you’re reaching a whole new audience

What’s surprising is how many people don’t know about this forum. This isnot to be confused with posting an update to Linkedin—the same kind of post that you’d be making to Facebook or Linkedin. Rather, this is your blog in its entirety. Go to your Linkedin homepage you’ll see a little icon with a square and a pencil—the universal symbol for editing. Click on this icon and it opens up a field for you to paste your blog, identify keywords, upload an image and publish it.

Post your blog and get picked up on Pulse

Once you’ve published your blog, you are eligible to be picked up in Linkedin’s Pulse—its weekly online bulletin that includes a randomized selection of blogposts that Linkedin believes are relevant for a wide range of its readers. I look forward to Linkedin’s Pulse every week—there is generally an interesting mix of blogs, often from people I know, sometimes from people I just want to know—a great entrée to reach out.

Who does Pulse reach: The exposure is impressive

This is where it becomes important to be building your Linkedin connections. The bigger your community—and everyone else’s—the larger the potential audience if your blog gets picked up on Pulse. Think about this: if there are ten blogs and each author has 2,000 connections (not unlikely—I pay attention to this, and the people who get picked up regularly on Pulse are big-time networkers), you are potentially reaching 10,000 people. This is a content marketing homerun—just by repurposing your blog to another marketing channel.

Other benefits of posting your blog to Linkedin

You are also able to get metrics on who has been reading your blog—people can Like and comment and you can begin a dialog. One more thought about Linkedin—smart professionals are using Linkedin these days. Facebook has become silly and it’s very difficult to get your post to the top of a newsfeed without paying to Boost it. Linkedin is where people are going to prospect—they’re looking to see whom they know who knows someone they want to know and asking for an introduction. It’s also a smart place to be doing PPC ads—the granularity lends itself to a very targeted campaign—you can drill down by industry, company and even job title.

One final thought—who gets picked up on Pulse?

They tend to be topics that are relevant for the masses. I’ve had a lot better getting my clients’ blogs picked up than my own, but I’m not giving up. I love this forum!

Are you having trouble jumpstarting your blogging program? Let Top of Mind Marketing help you. We’re writers and digital media experts. 

Better Blogging Tip: Don’t Forget to Add Images

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Better Blogging Tip: Don’t Forget to Add Images

Topofmindmarketingalt tags

Alt tags are an important part of optimizing your images.

I’m bullish on blogging—it’s great for SEO and it positions you as an industry expert. There are a few things you can do to optimize your posts and enhance the chances of someone’s reading them and better yet–sharing them with other readers and ultimately contacting you. Get some mileage out of your content. A steady series of thoughtful blogs is also a great way create content to repurpose in a newsletter or on social media. Think about also taking a series of blogs on a particular topic, formatting them, adding some snappy graphics and creating an ebook.

Another way to optimize your blog? Add images

For starters, we all love to be entertained, and 300-500 words of text (the recommended number of words for good SEO value) can be a little formidable. Even if you break up the page with subtitles and bullets—and you should—you need to add an image(s). It can help enhance your message, and it provides visual contrast. The reality: It takes more than text–you need an image to draw your reader in.

Making the most of images in your blogs

Search engines don’t make any sense of images, per se. But they are an important part of your search engine optimization strategy—if you’re not doing the following, you’re missing some opportunities to create SEO value with the images you routinely add to your blogs.

Images can be optimized by placing keywords in the following areas:

  1. Add captions on or below the images
  2. Image file nameuse your keywords when you name the file
  3. Image title and alt tags
  4. Add text links to the images

Remember that it’s these little things–cumulatively these will make a difference. Don’t stop there. Post that blog to your social media sites, especially to Linkedin. Be patient. It won’t happen overnight, but you will find that you will start showing up in search engines. As your name starts showing up with informative, compelling blogs, people will begin to realize that you are clearly an industry thought leader. This is what content marketing’s all about.

Struggling with content marketing? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and digital media experts.

How to Get—And Keep–People’s Attention without Pissing Them Off or Boring Them to Death?

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boring

How to keep from boring your audience to death? Try being a little edgy!

Like all self-respecting Giants fans, I hate the Dodgers. Our car radios are always tuned to KNBR, and I was listening to announcer, former Giant and Willie Mac Award Winner Bob Brenly the other day describing how bland today’s announcers have become. “Back in the day, we weren’t so politically correct; we loved to piss off the Dodgers.” I got to thinking about this in relation to content marketing: How to get—and keep–people’s attention without pissing them off or boring them to death?

We’re all competing for eyeballs: make it relational

We want people to read the snappy social media posts, blogs and newsletters over which we labor. But building a following is a challenge, and we can’t do it by being bland. To differentiate ourselves from the masses, we need to insert ourselves into our writing so that we’re building a relationship with our audience.

Tell a story

A case study is always effective. As business owners, we all like to think of ourselves as problem solvers, so describe about how you’ve helped a client solve a problem. If possible, quantify this—how has this client been able to get more business, make more money or streamline processes. If this was particularly difficult, talk about it—believe me, people will really be able to relate to this.

Create good visuals

Content marketing isn’t just about content; people need to be entertained, and that means graphics. People are infinitely more likely to read your blogpost or article if they’re drawn to it by an arresting visual. Create a flowchart or infographic to illustrate a process. Don’t be afraid to use images that are funny—making people laugh is a great way to build relationships. Something else to think about: describing something in vivid detail so people get a really clear picture in their minds is another way to build a bond with your audience.

Integration: synch your online personality

Your goal is to have your audience read your blogs, articles and posts and immediately recognize that they’re written by the same person—you! You want to develop your own style. How to do this?

Take a chance and share an opinion

You don’t have to try to piss anyone off, like Bob Brenly and the Dodgers, but having an opinion can work for you. Being just a little edgy and opinionated—especially if you’re savvy, smart and clearly know your subject matter—can work for you. What are some controversies in your industry? Take a stand. You will find that those who agree with you will love you for your opinions. This is a great way to draw loyal followers–sometimes it’s worth taking a risk!

Struggling with your writing? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

When It Comes to Customer Focus, We Can All Take a Tip From Santa

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During the holidays, I think about Santa and what a huge job he has santaevery year picking out and delivering the right gifts to the right kids. His sales territory is vast and his timeline is aggressive.

Even with the help of his elves, you have to figure that he’s a pretty stressed-out guy who is juggling multiple priorities. Yet he meets the challenge year after year. He’s timely, meets deadlines, works efficiently and sustainably, minimizing environmental impact. Like the rest of us, Santa is an entrepreneur who has run his successful business for years. We could all take a page from Santa’s marketing plan:

  • Listening. He listens to make sure that he fully understands what each child is longing for. As business owners, listening to our clients is the most important part of our jobs. Look for their pain rather than rattling on about your products and services. No one cares.
  • Customer focus. Just as Santa looks forward to the cookies and milk that we leave him each year, we should be doing something to show our customers how much we appreciate them.
  • Consistency and credibility. Christmas is about believing, and Santa does a superb job. He shows up every single year, regardless of weather, politics or illness. His brand is that of trust and reliability and as a result of that trust, he has successfully beat out his competition.
  • Keeping up with technology. I don’t know how he does it, but Santa stays on top of the trends. He has Facebook and Twitter pages, and he knows that kids aren’t interested in Cabbage Patch dolls or GI Joes anymore when they can be playing with their expensive iPhones and snappy new Air iPads.

In the same way that Santa stands out from the crowd, we need to help our clients gain competitive advantage. Just like Santa, our goals should be building customer loyalty and accountability. The great thing is that if we’re successful at helping them grow their businesses, we also will be growing our own.

Need some help developing a marketing plan for 2014? Contact us: it’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a wonderful New Year from Top of Mind Marketing.

5 Grammatical Errors That Even Those Who Know Better Make

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With the growth of content marketing everyone has become a writer. I was reading GrammarPolicea blog about business leaders who stress out about writing, fearing that incorrect grammar will make them cyberspace laughingstocks. I struggle with that, because I think people are oblivious to the fact that they are making egregious grammatical errors.

Does it matter? The object is communication. If people are getting their points across, are a few grammatical errors along the way important? I think they are. When I see bad writing and punctuation by a so-called industry expert, I think of him/her as a little less expert. 

The top five:

  1. The absolute worst: Me vs. I. A whole lot of people who should know better routinely bungle this one, looking smug and self-satisfied as they do it. He gave the gift to my brother and I. Wrong. It’s so easy. Take out the “my brother”—you wouldn’t say “He gave the gift to I”, would you? Of course, not. Therefore, the answer is “He gave the gift to (my brother) and me.” Do that little exercise before you say it and you’ll never bungle it again.
  2. Irregardless. This is simply not a word.
  3. It’s vs. its. I can’t understand why this is so hard for people. It’s is a contraction, a shortcut for it is. Its shows possession. Its color is blue. Simple.
  4. Your and you’re. This is another easy one. You’re is a contraction, a shortcut for you are. Your shows ownership, as in “your ball”.
  5. Fewer vs. less. Less refers to something that can’t be quantified and “fewer” to something that can. If you can count it, it’s fewer. The checkout line at the supermarket is always incorrect: 15 items or less should, of course, be 15 items or fewer. A few stores do get it right–kudos to The Berkeley Bowl!

Struggling with content marketing? Ask us–we’re writers @ Top of Mind Marketing.