June 4, 2021
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Agritourism is a type of commercial enterprise where agriculture and tourism meet.

Whether it’s a working farm where someone can experience farm life or finding creative ways to connect tourists with agriculture operations, agritourism is an industry that’s quickly gaining a lot of attention.

In this article, we’ll walk you through what agritourism is, and different ideas you can use to connect businesses with agriculture.

What is Agritourism and Why is It Important?

Agritourism is a form of tourism that connects tourists with agriculture.

Not only is it an opportunity for agriculture businesses to expand their reach and revenue, but it also allows for direct marketing to customers and the general public.

By providing tours, experiences, and education around agriculture, farms can create a more direct connection with customers and create something truly unique for customers.

The education portion of agritourism is important too! It provides an avenue of information for tourists to understand the land, and where their food comes from.

Through agritourism, farms can also preserve their lands, and the state can help develop business enterprises around it for the betterment of the area and the public.

The Agritourism Business in the United States

It’s safe to say that the agritourism industry is doing very well, especially when it comes to growing farm income. According to research, the agritourism market is set to reach 11.7.37 billion dollars by 2027. As it grows, there are plans for increased government initiatives.

States like California have embraced agritourism, holding many festivals throughout the year to celebrate different crops and bring in tourists.

For example, California hosts the Gilroy Garlic Festival every year and the California Strawberry Festival, bringing in thousands of people and income annually.

8 Agritourism Ideas to Connect Communities with Agriculture

With agritourism, a farm can create an experience for visitors and tourists. You can create activity-based experiences on your land and/or interactive events and tours. Here are some tourism tips you can use to bring in more visitors.

1. Offer Outdoor Recreation Agritourism Activities

Outdoor recreation is one of the most popular agri-tourism business ideas. It’s a great way for guests to have fun with their loved ones, and it can work across seasons. This could include:

  1. Farm activities
  2. Fishing
  3. Corn maze
  4. Pumpkin patches
  5. Harvest festivals
  6. Farm dinners
  7. Horseback riding
  8. Wildlife photography
  9. Outdoor farm stays
  10. Wagon or sleigh rides

2. Provide Education

Educational awareness and agritourism go well together since it blends recreation and learning.

You can create educational experiences around farming operations, crops, and living on a farm. Other ideas for educational experiences could be:

  1. Animal exhibits
  2. Sheep shearing or fishing
  3. Facts about crops on the farm
  4. Cooking classes using crops from the farm
  5. Guided animal tours
  6. Farm work experience days
  7. Food festivals
  8. Storytelling days
  9. Historical re-enactments
  10. Plant a garden days

3. Offer Hospitality

Hospitality is another great addition to farm income and there are a lot of benefits to adding it to your agritourism business. Guests can experience farm activities and there has been increasing demand for more farm-to-table dining experiences.

Especially for a small farm, there is a lot of opportunity to create a unique experience for guests by serving farm food on-site and home-cooked meals.

Hospitality ideas could include:

  1. On-site restaurants
  2. ‘U pick’ experiences and cooking with what guests find
  3. Winemaking and tasting
  4. Outdoor dining
  5. Seasonal ingredient showcases
  6. Farm stand with fresh produce
  7. Pop-up restaurant with seasonal menus
  8. Home-cooked meals
  9. Food truck
  10. Wineries

4. Offer Accommodations like Farm Stays and More

Another avenue to boost your agritourism is to invite people to stay on your farm.

It’s one of the best ways to diversify income because it makes guests feel like they are truly part of the farm and creates a more authentic feel for families and general tourism. This can include:

  1. Short-term stays
  2. Long-term stays
  3. Work experience holidays
  4. Activity-based stays for fishing, hunting, etc.
  5. Seasonal stays for events such as harvest festivals, corn mazes and a pumpkin patch
  6. Guided tours around different lands and areas nearby
  7. Bed and breakfast
  8. Wedding accommodations
  9. Corporate retreats
  10. Honeymoon destination

5. Add Direct Agricultural Sales – Farmers Market Anyone?

Direct agricultural tourism sales add another layer of income for farms, and show off the hard work of farmers. Direct sales can help with publicity, and is a key marketing initiative that brings more visitors to the farm. And direct sales can also be a method to introduce the public to the agriculture industry on a broader level, and generate interest through:

  1. U Pick
  2. Harvest festivals
  3. Farm stands
  4. Farmers markets
  5. Wine tasting
  6. Fresh produce sales
  7. Herbs and heirloom plants
  8. Seeds
  9. Cut flowers
  10. Dairy

6. Introduce Entertainment

Farms can also increase revenue by introducing entertainment. This could include hosting events at a farm, inviting others to host events, or a mixture of the two.

Entertainment events could include:

  1. Music nights
  2. Plays
  3. Stargazing nights
  4. Petting zoos
  5. Sports events
  6. Scavenger hunts
  7. Games night
  8. Cooking contests
  9. Haunted barns
  10. Pumpkin patch visits and pumpkin carving contests

7. Give Visitors Tours

If you’re looking to start agritourism activities immediately, consider starting with visitor tours.

It’s an interesting way for people to learn more about the farm itself, the farmers involved, and participate in activities and tours such as:

  1. Ranch tours
  2. General farm tours
  3. Animal tours
  4. Tours of nearby lands and areas
  5. Wine tasting tours
  6. Farmers market tours
  7. Historical tours
  8. Heritage trail tours
  9. Food tours
  10. Activity tours such as birdwatching, fishing, hunting, etc.

8. Offer Unique Experiences

Ultimately, great tourism is about offering people something unique. Every farm is different and can offer something distinct based on its resources.

Think about what your unique selling point is. Whether it’s the types of crops grown, the land around the farm, or even the activities you can market around.

Experiences could include:

  1. Wine tasting
  2. Dining
  3. Farm tours
  4. Farm stays
  5. Harvest festivals
  6. Pumpkin patch
  7. Corn mazes
  8. Farmers markets
  9. Tours around the ranch
  10. Educational experiences

How Small Businesses Can Participate in Agritourism Operations

Participating in an agritourism operation will depend on each farm and its operation.

The best ideas will differ, but the main goal should be to be unique and add value. How can you make it an enticing experience for a child, or a family?

What is exciting about farming, and how does that translate into an experience for someone visiting? Whether it’s a week staying at a ranch or stargazing nights once a week, you can start with something small and focus on marketing it as much as possible. Once you see what people are interested in, you can optimize the experience.

Agritourism Examples

There are many agritourism operations around the world, each offering something completely different. We’ve selected some of the best examples from the United States.

Tate Farms, Meridianville, AL

A pumpkin path and fall festival destination, Tate Farms has plenty to offer for families visiting and corporate events.

Purple Haze Lavender, Sequim, WA

A charming lavender farm that makes for a gorgeous spot for families and friends, with unique events planned around lavender and providing resources to learn more about the flower.

Blue Spruce Alpacas, La Porte, IN

A family-owned alpaca farm that invites visitors to get to know the animals, learn more about them and interact with alpacas in a fun (and safe!) manner.

Breisch Pyo Gardens, Solar and Bee School, Sand Springs, OK

A small farm that gives visitors opportunities to learn more about bees, pollination, and experience beautiful plants.

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch, Bismarck, ND

Known as one of the best pumpkin patches in the United States, this is a great tourism destination that’s known for attracting families and tourists.

What are the Benefits of Agritourism?

There are many benefits of agritourism for a farm, from a recreation and revenue standpoint.

  1. Increased and diverse income streams
  2. More visitors to the farm
  3. Visibility around the farm and its operations
  4. Unique experiences that boost tourism
  5. Getting products into the market through direct sales
  6. Building connections with the community

What are the Problems with Agritourism?

While agritourism can do a lot of good, it also has its downsides and risks.

  1. There can be legal issues, so it is crucial to do research around agritourism statutes in your area to ensure operations can run as planned.
  2. Accidents and issues can occur, so having a risk management plan is important
  3. You might need to put down significant capital and resources to build or renovate before bringing in customers.
  4. There can be seasonal downturns where business may slow down.

What kinds of agritourism enterprises are there?

There are many agritourism enterprises out there, including farm stays, tours, working experience, and educational experiences.

What is agritourism in its purest form?

In its purest form, agritourism is a form of tourism that connects people with farms.

How does agritourism help the community?

Agritourism helps the community by providing recreational and educational experiences, creating jobs, and bringing in government initiatives to help the community grow. It is part of the American tourism industry with great growth potential.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, “What is Agritourism?” was first published on Small Business Trends

June 3, 2021
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Businesses have weathered various storms through out the last year due to the instability and changing markets caused by COVID-19. With limited resources and budget constraints, companies have struggled to digitize their entire organization for remote work and keep business afloat during tough times.

Various industries took colossal hits to their revenue such as hospitality, personal services, and wholesale/distribution. While companies start to return to the office, preparing for unforeseen futures is key to survival and growth in the future. It’s time to take a look at the hard lessons learned from this past year to be prepared for whatever lies ahead.

According to SMB Group’s Study “SMB Technology Directions For A Changing World,” many SMBs suffered during the first few months of 2020, yet a good amount were able to make up for lost revenue during the second half of 2020 with 20% revenue decrease, 37% staying the same, and 43% increasing revenue. Though the immediate changes caused by the pandemic negatively impacted businesses, they were able to adapt due to strategy and using the right technology. 65% of businesses said they made changes to their technology strategy in the wake of COVID-19 and 67% made changes to their business strategy in the wake of COVID-19.

Making these significant changes allowed for business owners to survive a time of unpredictable business and an erratic market. With better times ahead, companies must avoid settling back to old ways and continue to plan and prepare for the unpredictable.

Tips from a Business that’s Thrived During Difficult Times

Matthew Ley is the president of The Streaming Network, Canada’s leading provider of webcast, webinar, and virtual event technology and training products, which was actually founded 13 years ago, just prior to the global downturn of 2008. During the time of its founding, The Streaming Network entered a very competitive market made up of established companies like Zoom, Cisco, Webex, and Microsoft.

As a small business, Ley and his team had to quickly adapt and adopt to survive in a competitive niche market, and the first order of business was to modernize everything. They started by improving their insight into their own data, since they needed to gain access to historical tracking and stop patching their process together over disconnected applications.

Additionally, they needed to improve the convoluted and timely process of migrating to new software and improving processes in the long term so they could be set up for growth. This is what sparked Ley to develop the 10X approach to help them achieve success. “Whatever problems The Streaming Network faces, we focus on not just solving the problem, but improving the process by 10 times. This is exactly how we approached our mismatched tech and scattered data. My team and I organized a meeting with the entire company—support, sales, finance, and company executives—to review our current process and what we could do to improve the communication between teams, save time and money, and overall make things easier for the company and therefore our customers,” said Ley.

Along with the 10X approach, Ley says that using technology tools that stress automation have been critical to helping the company grow, especially if a business is limited on staff. Finding the right technology to cut out busy work, starts at the foundation of the software. Using an integrated platform will allow your business to sync across areas such as sales, marketing, accounting, and more so that you can complete projects faster and communicate with customers more efficiently with less manual effort, increasing revenue. Emphasizing technological innovation, which has saved them over 800 hours of productivity within two months of using automated cloud-based software, has tremendously aided the Streaming Network in flourishing during COVID-19.

While every business is unique, there are ways to encourage security and growth, no matter what the future holds.

6 Ways to Weather Unpredictable Business Futures

1. Consider Building a Flexible Workplace Plan

A myriad of work styles have emerged from the pandemic, and while some prefer remote work and others can’t wait to return to the office, it’s critical to implement flexibility across the board for both your employees and from a business perspective. SMB Group’s study shows 11% of companies (with 1-4 employees), 39% of companies (with 50-99 employees), and 54% of companies (250-499) employees created a long term strategy for a more flexible workstyle.

While smaller businesses might not see the importance in creating a flexible workplace, the strategy lies in planning for future growth. As companies expand and acquire, the workplace must grow, too. Consider opening smaller offices to reap cost-savings benefits, while adding to in-person collaboration. This model will also appease employees who prefer to work remote for a couple days a week and can live closer to the office.

2. Invest in Technology Adoption and Modernization

Businesses have had to digitize faster than ever, but selecting the right technology tools that out stand future crisis’ is key. Take the time to fully understand business needs for today and for the future when shopping around. Even though a piece of software may fit your needs, making sure it works well with other applications will be critical. Seek out integrated tools that are built to work with other apps and integrate well with third party applications.

Additionally, start small to fully understand your migration journey and select technology that is easy to grow with. 75% of SMBs agree that technology investments usually pay off and they’re not wrong. Technology tools will help improve employee productivity, allow your business to keep up with changing customer demand, improve external collaboration with clients, help you get ahead of competitors, replace manual efforts, and more.

3. Using Cloud-based Technology Over On-premises Solutions

As the workplace shifts from in-person to remote, and now hybrid, using cloud-based technology solutions that are flexible to fit changing work styles will prevent future hiccups. Unlike on-premises software, cloud-based tools are reliable and have stronger security since updates are automatic instead of manual and users don’t need to maintain the system.

Additionally, because cloud-based tools update in real time, it allows users to access more accurate data.

4. Build a Digital Transformation Strategy

Digital transformation consists of strategizing digital technology in all aspects of business to improve processes, determine how to bring value to customers, and fundamentally shape your business to excel in the future. Take time to produce a well-constructed plan to reshape your business. This will entail everything from the design of your website, customer experience, workflows and processes, etc.

Small businesses can find resources to help build their digital transformation strategy through free, educational webinars like Zoho’s webinar on Aiding Your Business With Technology For Unpredictable Futures on June 9th.

5. Automate Where You Can

According to SMB Group’s survey, automating customer service and internal IT are seen as the top two areas businesses need to automate in order to grow. Next comes sales, marketing, and accounting automation. Automating these aspects of your business will save you critical time and money, especially when markets change in the future.

Additionally, automation leads to fewer errors from manual entry and more happy customers thanks to SLAs being reached faster. And with time regained, businesses can spend those accrued hours on accomplishing new projects, adding efficiency to other aspects of the business, and bettering their customer experience.

6. Take Security and Data Privacy Seriously

With businesses operating in flexible work environments there has been a huge uptick in security vulnerabilities. Make sure to have a security protocol put into place to keep company data secure and safe. Additionally, you’ll want to closely examine the software your business uses and see if their data privacy practices align with your business values. Many software tools track and sell data to third parties, which could put your company data at risk, as well as your customer’s data. And with so many security breaches in the last year, it’s time for businesses take a more serious approach to security.

Unfortunately no one has a crystal ball to see what the future holds for businesses. But by putting plans into place and preparing for the future, you’ll aid your business with a life preserver to stay afloat in unpredictable business times. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that adaption, having the right technology, and being flexible are lifelines when navigating murky waters.

It can seem overwhelming to adequately cover all the needs of your business to promote growth, but starting with the right technology and a strong business strategy can help you weather future storms to come.

This article, “6 Tips On How Businesses Can Weather Unpredictable Futures With Limited Resources” was first published on Small Business Trends

June 3, 2021
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I recently received a review copy of The Digital Pivot: Secrets of Online Marketing by Eric Schwartzman. Too bad this guy hadn’t.

“We hate to do this, but we’re going to have to let you go.  The pandemic has stalled orders and I think we simply rushed into this digital marketing process too soon.”

This is a snippet from a real conversation a community member of mine experienced about two weeks ago. 

A local manufacturer was doing the most unthinkable, the “most stupidest” thing you can do when the market is stalled — laying off the one person who was setting up a digital marketing machine that would guarantee new leads and new customers on autopilot — their marketing director!

Remember that famous scene from Taxi Driver where Robert De Niro stands in front of the mirror repeating “You talkin’ to me?”

 

Yes — I’m talking to you, Mr. Business Owner who just put a stop to an online marketing funnel you should have built a decade ago and that will have paid for itself almost immediately once supply opened up after the pandemic.

Fair warning, my dear small business readers, this review will be written from the perspective of a marketing person who advises small business owners like you –  and not executives from enterprise organizations.

Please don’t fire your marketing person or digital marketing agency, consultant, or whoever is trying to build you a marketing machine that helps you get and keep customers in today’s digital marketplace.

What Makes “The Digital Pivot” Special

If you’re a marketing expert — Schwartzman is preaching to the choir.  What you’ll get out of this book are perhaps some new ways to explain digital marketing to clients or employers who don’t get it. 

If you’re a small business owner, you’ll get a book that is written for you.  Schwartzman doesn’t wax academic. He meets his readers where they are in their understanding of marketing; as a promotional function.

He starts by explaining the art of the pivot.  I love his use of the ballet analogy because it addresses the fact that something that looks elegant and effortless actually takes insane amounts of technical skill and discipline.

Next, he dives into data-driven marketing. If you’re the kind of business owner that’s shied away from marketing because you thought it was too “fluffy” and creative — this will change your mind. Schwartzman clearly explains the power and knowledge that digital marketing data can provide that will take the guesswork out of marketing.

With this level of understanding, you’re ready to learn about stacks, automation and funnels, SEO, Email, content marketing, blogging, podcasting, and more.

It’s the closest thing to an executive-level marketing overview as you’re going to get.  It will show you the power of digital marketing and you’ll definitely understand why it’s important and why, if you need to cut expenses somewhere, marketing should NOT be where you start.

A Few Words About the Marketing Process

Schwartzman covers just about everything you need to know to implement a successful digital marketing program.  But, as a marketer who’s seen too many small business owners get overwhelmed, I’m going to add one thing that’s missing; a reference to the marketing process and where The Digital Pivot fits into the overall process. I think this would provide some valuable context for non-marketers.

To be fair, Schwartzman has an entire executive training program called The Digital Pivot Program dedicated to the process that he outlines here in the book The Digital Pivot

The Digital Pivot Framework Process Eric Schwartzman

There is a process and a framework here.  And it is effective. Just know that it’s focused on pivoting your business from analog to digital marketing. This book assumes you have your marketing together and just need to shift to digital.

What small business owners need to know and understand is that there is an overall marketing process to support powerful strategic choices.  

Marketing Process and where Online Marketing Fits
The Digital Pivot process focuses the implementation and measuring part of the marketing process.

Without the support of this overall process, you won’t have the critical strategic direction you need to be successful in the digital marketing world. 

Marketers know this. It’s ingrained in those of us who live the marketing process every day.  We do it intuitively and it’s easy to forget that people who don’t have a marketing background don’t.

Coming back to the ballet dancer doing a pirouette example from the book — jumping into digital marketing activity such as email or SEO without doing research, selecting an ideal customer, crafting an offer, etc. is like a non-ballerina trying to do a pirouette at Carnegie Hall — very ugly.

What Makes Eric Schwarzman Qualified to Demystify Online Marketing?

Eric Schwartzman is a digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur, he has led digital marketing initiatives for Boeing, Britney Spears, Cirque du Soleil, Johnson & Johnson, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Olympics Games, the US Dept. of State and dozens of small and midsize companies.

He ran promotions at a global PR agency, founded a content management SaaS platform provider with clients such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Linkedin, NVIDIA, and Verizon, and oversaw the center for digital innovation at a $1B company where he led pivots from homegrown to enterprise software and developed an online marketplace.

What Will You Do With Your Copy of The Digital Pivot?

Personally, I’m keeping my review copy of The Digital Pivot because Schwartzman does a masterful job of explaining digital marketing and all its moving parts in a way that balances technical accuracy and simplicity. I’m going to use it as a reference book for when I have to explain any aspect of digital marketing to a CEO or business owner. If you’re a professional marketer, I’d recommend you do the same.

If you’re a business consultant, you definitely want to have this book within arm’s reach. It will help you understand and explain online marketing and all its moving parts so that you can create systems, processes and operations strategies to support it.

Finally, if you’re a CEO or business owner who has been struggling with pulling the trigger on a digital marketing strategy or you’ve been questioning whether to keep investing in digital marketing, I’d recommend you read this book ASAP. 

No matter your role in business, digital marketing is a necessity and The Digital Pivot will help you build your online marketing machine. 

Image: amazon

This article, “Read “The Digital Pivot” Before You Fire Your Marketing Person” was first published on Small Business Trends

June 2, 2021
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Dog surfing in the summer of B2B marketing image.

Dog surfing in the summer of B2B marketing image.

I’m going to knock on wood as I type this, but: It looks like we might have a (mostly) normal summer this year in the U.S. After the lockdowns, isolation, anxiety and fear of 2020, it finally feels like things are opening up.

This is all great for everything except getting people to read your marketing content. In 2020 we had a captive audience starved for entertainment. Now we’ll be competing with everything from music festivals to movies to walking in the park.

The way to break through and have a “hot brand summer?” First, don’t use phrases like “hot brand summer,” because you’ll just make people hate you. Second, it’s all about customer engagement. That means connecting with people on a personal level, offering something novel and fascinating, and using that contact to build a meaningful relationship.

No sweat, right? According to a recent survey, though, 54% of brands have trouble connecting with customers on an emotional level. And only 22% say they excel when it comes to customer experience! 

How can B2B marketers make their content more engaging? Here are a few tips.

1 — Go Live

Uncensored. Interactive. Up close and personal. There’s nothing quite like a live stream to break free from safe and boring content. There’s a reason every social media site, from Instagram to LinkedIn, is doing live streams.

Granted, going live is not without its risks. If you’re concerned about potential slip-ups or off-message chatter, you can always practice ahead of time. Live doesn’t have to mean “completely improvised and unscripted.” 

A few more tips for going live:

  • Consider hiring a host to help keep the conversation flowing
  • Have someone behind the scenes to watch the comment thread and engage the audience
  • Use a tool like restream for multi-platform streaming
  • Prime the pump for audience questions by having employees in the audience with pre-written questions. 
  • Make sure to record the stream for repurposing later  

 2 — Take People Behind the Scenes

“Authenticity” is one of those marketing buzzwords that makes an easy thing seem difficult. People like brands that are “authentic?” No, people like to know there are actual people of good will at work behind the brand’s messaging. That’s all authenticity means: Real people saying true things.

Let your employees be brand ambassadors on social media. Go behind the scenes to meet the folks who make your brand’s magic happen. Highlight employee stories, even if they aren’t directly related to the brand. For example, if an employee is an Eagle Scout who now runs their own scouting troop, that’s a heartwarming and engaging story that subtly shows off your brand values.

In short, when you’re going behind the scenes, look to celebrate your people and even your customers.

3Try Interactive Content

None of us would use a cellphone from the late 90s today. So why are we still so enamored of a content format that hasn’t changed in the past 30 years? That old standby, the static PDF, has lost a lot of its power to persuade. 

Our agency has been seeing better results with interactive, animated assets. For example, this one from client Mitel brings our stats and influencer contributions to life. Tools like Ceros make developing an interactive asset almost as easy as a static one.

You don’t have to create an entire immersive VR experience to snag people’s attention, either — just a few touches of animation, interactivity and sound can go a long way.

4 Explore Social-First Content

We all know how the blog to social media pipeline works: You publish a blog, link to it on your social media, and hope people click that link. If they don’t click through, it’s a lose-lose situation. Neither your brand nor your audience is getting any utility out of the content.

One way to change the equation is through social-first content: That is, content designed to be consumed right there in the social media feed. For B2B marketers, LinkedIn is the right destination for social-first content. 

For example, consider slicing a blog post into 150-200 word segments and posting it on LinkedIn, with a hashtag to make it easy to find all the installments. Ask a question at the end of each segment that’s designed to elicit discussion, then participate in that conversation as long as it goes.

Ultimately, social-first content can help grow your brand’s social media presence and deepen relationships with your audience. And you can still collect the content and publish it as a blog later, too!

5 Collaborate with Influencers

As you may have noticed, TopRank Marketing is pretty sold on influencer marketing. There’s one simple reason: When you do it right, it gets results. Every time. Everything from a social media post to a blog post to a 5,000 word interactive asset is better with influencer contributions. 

We co-create content with influencers for many reasons, including:

  • Increased organic amplification of the content
  • More diverse and informative content
  • Reaching new audiences
  • Developing relationships with influential experts

Over time, you can build up a community of influencers to co-create content that benefits them, your brand, and your audience.

6 Measure Engagement Metrics

One key element for increasing engagement is to … well … measure it. If you’re still looking at overall blog traffic or bounce rates to define your content success, you need to recalibrate your metrics to include engagement signifiers like:

  • Comments on social media posts
  • Reshares on social posts
  • New social media followers
  • Scroll depth on interactive assets
  • Time on page for long-form blog posts

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

Ready to have a hot brand summer (sorry)? It’s as simple and as complex as doing things that you haven’t done before. It’s pushing your brand away from the staid and static old-school B2B mindset and putting out content that people want to interact with, comment on, and share. 

Need more proof? Here’s how interactive content for our client Prophix led to a 642% increase in engagement.

The post 6 B2B Content Marketing Summertime Sizzlers To Increase Audience Engagement appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

June 1, 2021
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Are you ready to start your online business now?

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If you’re a businesswoman or you know a younger woman heading into the workforce, I highly recommend  Eliza Van Cort’s book, A Woman’s Guide to Claiming Space: Stand Tall. Raise Your Voice. Be Heard.

Claiming Space is a blunt, and honest guidebook for how women can take their place in our society and be proud of themselves.

I received a review copy of this book. And on a recent rainy Saturday, I snuggled into the couch with a blankie, a warm cup of tea, and a dose of “where have you been all of my life” wisdom from Eliza Van Cort.

How a Literal “Whack on the Side of the Head” Transformed Eliza Van Cort

Eliza Van Cort’s life might have come out of a Hollywood studio, except that it hadn’t.  Her schizophrenic mother kidnapped her three times, taking her on a hitchhiking adventure across the country where she ended up in foster care. Her father eventually found her and brought her back to Ithaca, NY where he enlisted women in their community to help — forging Elizia’s belief that women must support each other.

She went on to have a normal, successful life; going to college, being a mom, working as an actor, and starting an actor’s studio.

Then in 2014, she was hit by a car while riding her bike. Both her memory and communication were affected.  Eliza’s best friend Kate encouraged her to write. This helped her recovery both mentally and physically.

I wonder what Eliza Van Cort’s life would have been like had she not been hit by a texting driver, suffered a traumatic brain injury, and ultimately clawed her way to success.

Would she have been an object in motion that stayed in motion and ended up like so many women; competent, credible, and carrying just enough insecurity to achieve moderate success, but not her true potential? Or, was this accident more like the pull of a slingshot that set her back only to be projected so much further than she thought she could go.

You’ll have to read her story to see how your recovery and therapy inspired the content of this book.

Today, she is a speaker, consultant, and writer.  She’s a Fellow at Cornell University, an advisory board member of the Performing Arts for Social Change, and a member of Govern for America’s League of Innovators.

Straight Talk and Practical Advice Because Your Life Depends on It

Let’s get something straight. I’m not an especially emotional person.  I don’t cry at commercials or even at movies (too often.) But there were chapters in this book that took my breath away.

The book is structured like the ripple formed by a stone’s throw:

Part 1: Claiming physical space: This one is all about moving and controlling your body and your voice.

Part 2: Claiming space collaboratively: This section is about cleaning and clearing your head; understanding your worth, getting away from people who make you small, and creating connections.

Part 3 and Part 4: These are power chapters and give examples and advice that will make most women over 40 cringe at the many opportunities for strength and power that you’ve ceded to others.

Part 5: Include parting words of advice on how to use your newfound strength.

Oh Yes You Can — And You Should!

There were too many times I found myself reading and rereading entire sections because I thought I read it wrong.

Here’s an example —

Van Cort talks about high and low behaviors.  High behaviors are those that are designed to “scare the crap out of someone even if your words sound really nice” (yeah, that’s a direct quote)

So wait, it gets better — here’s what she says to DO.  Remember this is advice for women.

  • Take up space with your body. Manspread!
  • When someone is talking, don’t look at them
  • Interrupt without apology
  • Speak in complete sentences
  • Stare at people and don’t blink or look away

I read and re-read this section because I couldn’t believe what she was saying.  My “girl brain” was screaming “that’s rude!” Whether you’re a woman or a man, I know you’re thinking “that’s rude!” And, at the same time, we all know that these are physical power moves whether conscious or unconscious.

Every other page in this book is filled with this kind of eye-opening advice.

Claiming Space is Emotionally Draining and Empowering

Reading this book was a profoundly emotional experience for me. At times, I felt like a lot of lessons came too late for me to apply.  But, in truth, it’s never too late to take on the challenges Van Cort throws down.

While men are NOT the target audience here, I think men who are interested in understanding and helping the women in their lives might find it interesting. Reflecting on my own emotions around some of the content in Claiming Space, I’m insanely curious to hear honest feedback from male readers.

Reading Claiming Space feels like a bucket of cold water. I’d make it required reading for any young woman over 18 and women in any leadership position.

Image: amazon

This article, ““Claiming Space” is an Eye Opener for Women in Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

June 1, 2021
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Are you ready to start your online business now?

A-Womans-Guide-to-Claiming-Space.png

If you’re a businesswoman or you know a younger woman heading into the workforce, I highly recommend  Eliza Van Cort’s book, A Woman’s Guide to Claiming Space: Stand Tall. Raise Your Voice. Be Heard.

Claiming Space is a blunt, and honest guidebook for how women can take their place in our society and be proud of themselves.

I received a review copy of this book. And on a recent rainy Saturday, I snuggled into the couch with a blankie, a warm cup of tea, and a dose of “where have you been all of my life” wisdom from Eliza Van Cort.

How a Literal “Whack on the Side of the Head” Transformed Eliza Van Cort

Eliza Van Cort’s life might have come out of a Hollywood studio, except that it hadn’t.  Her schizophrenic mother kidnapped her three times, taking her on a hitchhiking adventure across the country where she ended up in foster care. Her father eventually found her and brought her back to Ithaca, NY where he enlisted women in their community to help — forging Elizia’s belief that women must support each other.

She went on to have a normal, successful life; going to college, being a mom, working as an actor, and starting an actor’s studio.

Then in 2014, she was hit by a car while riding her bike. Both her memory and communication were affected.  Eliza’s best friend Kate encouraged her to write. This helped her recovery both mentally and physically.

I wonder what Eliza Van Cort’s life would have been like had she not been hit by a texting driver, suffered a traumatic brain injury, and ultimately clawed her way to success.

Would she have been an object in motion that stayed in motion and ended up like so many women; competent, credible, and carrying just enough insecurity to achieve moderate success, but not her true potential? Or, was this accident more like the pull of a slingshot that set her back only to be projected so much further than she thought she could go.

You’ll have to read her story to see how your recovery and therapy inspired the content of this book.

Today, she is a speaker, consultant, and writer.  She’s a Fellow at Cornell University, an advisory board member of the Performing Arts for Social Change, and a member of Govern for America’s League of Innovators.

Straight Talk and Practical Advice Because Your Life Depends on It

Let’s get something straight. I’m not an especially emotional person.  I don’t cry at commercials or even at movies (too often.) But there were chapters in this book that took my breath away.

The book is structured like the ripple formed by a stone’s throw:

Part 1: Claiming physical space: This one is all about moving and controlling your body and your voice.

Part 2: Claiming space collaboratively: This section is about cleaning and clearing your head; understanding your worth, getting away from people who make you small, and creating connections.

Part 3 and Part 4: These are power chapters and give examples and advice that will make most women over 40 cringe at the many opportunities for strength and power that you’ve ceded to others.

Part 5: Include parting words of advice on how to use your newfound strength.

Oh Yes You Can — And You Should!

There were too many times I found myself reading and rereading entire sections because I thought I read it wrong.

Here’s an example —

Van Cort talks about high and low behaviors.  High behaviors are those that are designed to “scare the crap out of someone even if your words sound really nice” (yeah, that’s a direct quote)

So wait, it gets better — here’s what she says to DO.  Remember this is advice for women.

  • Take up space with your body. Manspread!
  • When someone is talking, don’t look at them
  • Interrupt without apology
  • Speak in complete sentences
  • Stare at people and don’t blink or look away

I read and re-read this section because I couldn’t believe what she was saying.  My “girl brain” was screaming “that’s rude!” Whether you’re a woman or a man, I know you’re thinking “that’s rude!” And, at the same time, we all know that these are physical power moves whether conscious or unconscious.

Every other page in this book is filled with this kind of eye-opening advice.

Claiming Space is Emotionally Draining and Empowering

Reading this book was a profoundly emotional experience for me. At times, I felt like a lot of lessons came too late for me to apply.  But, in truth, it’s never too late to take on the challenges Van Cort throws down.

While men are NOT the target audience here, I think men who are interested in understanding and helping the women in their lives might find it interesting. Reflecting on my own emotions around some of the content in Claiming Space, I’m insanely curious to hear honest feedback from male readers.

Reading Claiming Space feels like a bucket of cold water. I’d make it required reading for any young woman over 18 and women in any leadership position.

Image: amazon

This article, ““Claiming Space” is an Eye Opener for Women in Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

June 1, 2021
  • by

How easy is it to market online?

Benefits B2B influencer marketing

Benefits B2B influencer marketing

Despite that 96% of marketers engaging influencers for marketing deem their programs successful, there are still a very large number of B2B companies evaluating where influencer engagement fits in their marketing mix.

After spending the last 8 plus years working on developing influencer marketing strategies, creating pilot projects, implementing campaigns and running ongoing influencer programs for brands that range from 3M to Dell to LinkedIn, here are some of the top benefits B2B companies of all sizes are realizing through their influencer marketing efforts.

Before I get to the list, I think it’s important to mention that benefits realized are directly connected to goals imagined. That may seem obvious but the application of influence to marketing is viewed in many different ways and therefore, the outcomes can be just as different.

For example, a pilot is often meant to be a proof of concept and sparks connections with influencers.

An integrated influencer content marketing campaign that runs over several months and across channels produces a lot of useful content and helps identify which influencers are effective.

An Always-On approach over time develops a rich source of content and relationships with influencers which can accelerate the quality and promotion of the content by influencers as well as organic advocacy.

So the benefits B2B brands can realize from incorporating influence into their marketing mix really depends on the approach. Here’s a list of 5 of the most common and impactful benefits of working with external and internal influencers at B2B companies:

1. Influencers add credibility and authenticity to brand content

Properly identifying the topics that matter to customers that the brand needs to be more influential about leads to finding people who already have the desired influence. Collaborating with experts that are respected authorities on the topics of influence produces content, communications and often advocacy that is believable, is empathetic to the concerns and goals of real customers and is trusted by the audience the brand is trying to reach.

2. Influencers partnered with executives build brand thought leadership

Connecting external influencers with internal executives to collaborate on content, video conversations, virtual events and similar exchanges of ideas can validate key leadership messages of the brand. Whether it’s running a webinar discussing the findings of the brand’s most recent research or whitepaper to conducting a series of livestream video or podcast interviews between key executives and external influencers, connecting trusted industry voices with brand messaging can drive credibility, differentiation and leadership.

3. Influencers can co-create better content experiences for customers

According to research in the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 74% of B2B marketers believe that collaborating on content with influencers helps improve the experience for prospects and customers.

An increasing number of professional influencers in the B2B world bring both expertise as well as media creation savvy. That means the ability to produce video content, podcast content or graphical and text content that is in tune with customer expectations for more experiential content that the brand might not have the resources to produce.

Alternatively, even if the B2B brand has the resources to create great video, audio, graphical and text content, adding influencer contributions “optimizes” for credibility and authenticity, which is a better experience than brand content simply pontificating its importance.

4. Influencers accelerate content production, promotion and impact

When effectively designed and planned, an influencer engagement effort can create a community of influence that the brand can tap for a variety of content creation efforts. Imagine having a group of 10, 25 or as in the case of LinkedIn or Adobe, 60-75 industry experts on-tap to engage on content projects?

Developing a community of influencers means creating genuine relationships between the brand and influencers based on mutual benefit and shared values. Not only does an engaged community of influencers help create content, but they are invested in the success of content distribution and impact because it benefits their own interests and that of their audience.

The reputation influencers develop on the topics of influence means trust when it matters most – making decisions about which B2B solutions to consider, evaluate and purchase.

5. Influencer collaborations can help optimize brand content for search

There is a compelling connection between the topics and keywords that people search on when looking for solutions and the topics around which industry experts are influential.

Optimizing content with keywords is at the core of improving the findability of brand content on search engines. Including influencers on those same topics in the content is a way of optimizing for credibility. What good is being found in search if people don’t trust what they find?

Going a bit deeper into the influence and SEO connection, marketers could consider whether the influencers they are working with are recognized as entities within Google search results. When those same influencers contribute to content published by the brand, their identity imparts credibility and relevance for search.

Another consideration is to evaluate the SEO effectiveness of where influencers publish – their own blog, contributed articles or columns with industry publications and elsewhere online. What is the Domain Authority of where the influencer publishes and do the links they include in their content carry weight? Does the influencer’s content “rank” on search engines for the topics the brand wants to be more influential about? Is the influencer creating the kind of content that ranks? Video, audio, images, text, scholarly articles, books, etc.

The SEO value of working with an influencer is not universally true across topics, but with some due diligence and research, some very valuable opportunities could be uncovered and relationships built to help brand content become findable and credible at the very moment customers are looking.

Of course this is not a comprehensive list of benefits for B2B brand to work with influencers, but it is a compelling list. While many B2B marketers may skim the surface of what’s possible from working with influencers, those who can look a little deeper can find tremendous upside and value that not only accelerates the impact and effectiveness of marketing for short term campaigns, but for longer term brand and thought leadership perception in the industry.

The post Top 5 Benefits of Influencer Marketing for B2B Brands appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

May 31, 2021
  • by

Are you ready to start your online business now?

Benefits B2B influencer marketing

Benefits B2B influencer marketing

Despite that 96% of marketers engaging influencers for marketing deem their programs successful, there are still a very large number of B2B companies evaluating where influencer engagement fits in their marketing mix.

After spending the last 8 plus years working on developing influencer marketing strategies, creating pilot projects, implementing campaigns and running ongoing influencer programs for brands that range from 3M to Dell to LinkedIn, here are some of the top benefits B2B companies of all sizes are realizing through their influencer marketing efforts.

Before I get to the list, I think it’s important to mention that benefits realized are directly connected to goals imagined. That may seem obvious but the application of influence to marketing is viewed in many different ways and therefore, the outcomes can be just as different.

For example, a pilot is often meant to be a proof of concept and sparks connections with influencers.

An integrated influencer content marketing campaign that runs over several months and across channels produces a lot of useful content and helps identify which influencers are effective.

An Always-On approach over time develops a rich source of content and relationships with influencers which can accelerate the quality and promotion of the content by influencers as well as organic advocacy.

So the benefits B2B brands can realize from incorporating influence into their marketing mix really depends on the approach. Here’s a list of 5 of the most common and impactful benefits of working with external and internal influencers at B2B companies:

1. Influencers add credibility and authenticity to brand content

Properly identifying the topics that matter to customers that the brand needs to be more influential about leads to finding people who already have the desired influence. Collaborating with experts that are respected authorities on the topics of influence produces content, communications and often advocacy that is believable, is empathetic to the concerns and goals of real customers and is trusted by the audience the brand is trying to reach.

2. Influencers partnered with executives build brand thought leadership

Connecting external influencers with internal executives to collaborate on content, video conversations, virtual events and similar exchanges of ideas can validate key leadership messages of the brand. Whether it’s running a webinar discussing the findings of the brand’s most recent research or whitepaper to conducting a series of livestream video or podcast interviews between key executives and external influencers, connecting trusted industry voices with brand messaging can drive credibility, differentiation and leadership.

3. Influencers can co-create better content experiences for customers

According to research in the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 74% of B2B marketers believe that collaborating on content with influencers helps improve the experience for prospects and customers.

An increasing number of professional influencers in the B2B world bring both expertise as well as media creation savvy. That means the ability to produce video content, podcast content or graphical and text content that is in tune with customer expectations for more experiential content that the brand might not have the resources to produce.

Alternatively, even if the B2B brand has the resources to create great video, audio, graphical and text content, adding influencer contributions “optimizes” for credibility and authenticity, which is a better experience than brand content simply pontificating its importance.

4. Influencers accelerate content production, promotion and impact

When effectively designed and planned, an influencer engagement effort can create a community of influence that the brand can tap for a variety of content creation efforts. Imagine having a group of 10, 25 or as in the case of LinkedIn or Adobe, 60-75 industry experts on-tap to engage on content projects?

Developing a community of influencers means creating genuine relationships between the brand and influencers based on mutual benefit and shared values. Not only does an engaged community of influencers help create content, but they are invested in the success of content distribution and impact because it benefits their own interests and that of their audience.

The reputation influencers develop on the topics of influence means trust when it matters most – making decisions about which B2B solutions to consider, evaluate and purchase.

5. Influencer collaborations can help optimize brand content for search

There is a compelling connection between the topics and keywords that people search on when looking for solutions and the topics around which industry experts are influential.

Optimizing content with keywords is at the core of improving the findability of brand content on search engines. Including influencers on those same topics in the content is a way of optimizing for credibility. What good is being found in search if people don’t trust what they find?

Going a bit deeper into the influence and SEO connection, marketers could consider whether the influencers they are working with are recognized as entities within Google search results. When those same influencers contribute to content published by the brand, their identity imparts credibility and relevance for search.

Another consideration is to evaluate the SEO effectiveness of where influencers publish – their own blog, contributed articles or columns with industry publications and elsewhere online. What is the Domain Authority of where the influencer publishes and do the links they include in their content carry weight? Does the influencer’s content “rank” on search engines for the topics the brand wants to be more influential about? Is the influencer creating the kind of content that ranks? Video, audio, images, text, scholarly articles, books, etc.

The SEO value of working with an influencer is not universally true across topics, but with some due diligence and research, some very valuable opportunities could be uncovered and relationships built to help brand content become findable and credible at the very moment customers are looking.

Of course this is not a comprehensive list of benefits for B2B brand to work with influencers, but it is a compelling list. While many B2B marketers may skim the surface of what’s possible from working with influencers, those who can look a little deeper can find tremendous upside and value that not only accelerates the impact and effectiveness of marketing for short term campaigns, but for longer term brand and thought leadership perception in the industry.

The post Top 5 Benefits of Influencer Marketing for B2B Brands appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

May 31, 2021
  • by

Are you ready to start your online business now?

Dog-Breeds-for-Remote-Workers.png

Remote work can be a lonely, unthankful task, leaving those working from home pining for company and affection. In walk a fluffy little Shih Tzus pup, hailed the best breed of dog for remote workers.

The purchasing of pets, dogs in particular, has skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dog shelters, rescue centers and breeders have reported increased demand as Americans attempt to fill the emptiness of lockdown with canine companions.

For those working in isolation from home, a dog can be the perfect way to stave off loneliness and assist with mental health and wellbeing.

A new study by Small Business Prices, providers of transparent pricing analysis designed to help small businesses, analysed 30 of the most popular dog breeds and the most suitable types of dogs for home working environments. It explored the cost to buy or adopt different breeds and how their popularity has changed during the pandemic.

Shih Tzus the Best Dog for Remote Workers

The study ranked the different breeds on various aspects including adaption to flat living, tolerance for being alone, trainability, energy levels, and exercise needs.

Being highly adaptive and with low energy levels meaning they won’t distract their owners, Shih Tzus were found to be the ultimate dog for remote working.

In second place was the Doberman Pinscher, which has a low tendency to bark, meaning important video calls won’t be interrupted by a noisy, attention-seeking dog!

Ranking in third position was the Havanese breed, which has a great tolerance for being alone and has a good trainability score, meaning work time won’t be devoted to training a disobedient dog.

Helping to Overcome the Challenges of Working from Home

Working from home comes with many benefits, such as a better life/work balance and improved productivity. However, it is not without its challenges. Studies show that having a dog around helps improve both physical and mental health. In the remote working era, having a furry friend can be the perfect excuse to take regular breaks walking the dog and generally fighting off feelings of loneliness.

That said, it is important to get the right dog so that your new companion doesn’t turn into a nightmare when you’re trying to get work done.

As the authors of the Small Business Prices note: “While getting a furry friend is particularly tempting during a lockdown, not all breeds are suitable for a remote working environment. If you’re looking to transition to a hybrid-working system as the UK comes out of lockdown, you’ll want to ensure your pup is also tolerant to being alone.”

How Covid-19 Impacted the Cost to Buy a Dog

Of course, the cost of a dog will play an influential role in how what type of breed of dog many homeworkers decide to buy.

According to Small Business Price’s research, as a result of the puppy boom during the pandemic, the cost to purchase a dog has increased by an average of 130%.

Shih Tzus Remains an Affordable Breed

As well as being the most suitable breed for homeworkers, Shih Tzus is one of the most affordable types of dog on the market. Other more affordable breeds include the Mastiff, Australian Shepherd, Beagle and Brittany.

The study also uncovered the most expensive breeds, with the Bulldog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Havanese, Great Dane and French Bulldog coming out as least affordable.

The study confirms the escalating popularity among remote workers to own a dog. It also shows the importance of researching different breeds to ensure your new furry friend ticks all the boxes in the suitability and affordability stakes.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, “New Data Reveals the Best Dog Breeds for Remote Workers” was first published on Small Business Trends

May 30, 2021
  • by

Do you need help with marketing material or software?

Dog-Breeds-for-Remote-Workers.png

Remote work can be a lonely, unthankful task, leaving those working from home pining for company and affection. In walk a fluffy little Shih Tzus pup, hailed the best breed of dog for remote workers.

The purchasing of pets, dogs in particular, has skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dog shelters, rescue centers and breeders have reported increased demand as Americans attempt to fill the emptiness of lockdown with canine companions.

For those working in isolation from home, a dog can be the perfect way to stave off loneliness and assist with mental health and wellbeing.

A new study by Small Business Prices, providers of transparent pricing analysis designed to help small businesses, analysed 30 of the most popular dog breeds and the most suitable types of dogs for home working environments. It explored the cost to buy or adopt different breeds and how their popularity has changed during the pandemic.

Shih Tzus the Best Dog for Remote Workers

The study ranked the different breeds on various aspects including adaption to flat living, tolerance for being alone, trainability, energy levels, and exercise needs.

Being highly adaptive and with low energy levels meaning they won’t distract their owners, Shih Tzus were found to be the ultimate dog for remote working.

In second place was the Doberman Pinscher, which has a low tendency to bark, meaning important video calls won’t be interrupted by a noisy, attention-seeking dog!

Ranking in third position was the Havanese breed, which has a great tolerance for being alone and has a good trainability score, meaning work time won’t be devoted to training a disobedient dog.

Helping to Overcome the Challenges of Working from Home

Working from home comes with many benefits, such as a better life/work balance and improved productivity. However, it is not without its challenges. Studies show that having a dog around helps improve both physical and mental health. In the remote working era, having a furry friend can be the perfect excuse to take regular breaks walking the dog and generally fighting off feelings of loneliness.

That said, it is important to get the right dog so that your new companion doesn’t turn into a nightmare when you’re trying to get work done.

As the authors of the Small Business Prices note: “While getting a furry friend is particularly tempting during a lockdown, not all breeds are suitable for a remote working environment. If you’re looking to transition to a hybrid-working system as the UK comes out of lockdown, you’ll want to ensure your pup is also tolerant to being alone.”

How Covid-19 Impacted the Cost to Buy a Dog

Of course, the cost of a dog will play an influential role in how what type of breed of dog many homeworkers decide to buy.

According to Small Business Price’s research, as a result of the puppy boom during the pandemic, the cost to purchase a dog has increased by an average of 130%.

Shih Tzus Remains an Affordable Breed

As well as being the most suitable breed for homeworkers, Shih Tzus is one of the most affordable types of dog on the market. Other more affordable breeds include the Mastiff, Australian Shepherd, Beagle and Brittany.

The study also uncovered the most expensive breeds, with the Bulldog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Havanese, Great Dane and French Bulldog coming out as least affordable.

The study confirms the escalating popularity among remote workers to own a dog. It also shows the importance of researching different breeds to ensure your new furry friend ticks all the boxes in the suitability and affordability stakes.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, “New Data Reveals the Best Dog Breeds for Remote Workers” was first published on Small Business Trends