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Your valuable content tool kit

January 27, 2011 by Sonja Jefferson

Using the right tool for the job is important in any business, and it is no different in the world of content.

Valuable content is an essential part of any marketing strategy. From basics like websites through to business books, a portfolio of good content can become a valuable toolkit for your business.

Not every business will need all the tools, it’s about getting the communications mix right for you and your customers. Understand how your customers like you to communicate with them, and talk to them that way.

Website: Pack it full of value. Make it a hub of useful resources for your clients. The answers should all be there. Needs to engage. Keep it up to date.

Articles: Give away some of your hard-earned knowledge and show thought-leadership. Generate interest and understanding in return. A business blog is a fantastic way to publish and share your articles.

Whitepapers: Positioned somewhere in between a magazine article and an academic paper, this powerful form of content can super-charge your thought-leadership efforts.

Newsletters: Keep in touch. Short, sweet, relevant. Should be regular.

Social media: Join the community. Be seen. Social media offers a good way of showing what you know. Interact and make yourself useful. Twitter and LinkedIn are among the best.

Email marketing: The best campaigns are targeted, responsive and useful. Email can be a clever way of carrying on the conversation with potential buyers.

Case studies: The kings of content. Make sure yours show potential clients exactly how you help people like them.

A business book: If case studies are the kings of content, business books are the Masters of the Universe.  Sure fire way of positioning yourself as an authority in your field. Big commitment to create, with bigger pay-off if you get it right.

What collection of content tools is right for your business?


By Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton

Sonja Jefferson is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, marketing consultant for Valuable Content and also works with Valuable Content associate Sharon Tanton.

One strike and you're out and other email marketing rules

January 26, 2011 by rogier van der veen

There is so much focus on social media that it is easy for marketers to forget that email is still an equally important part of the marketing mix. However, email is only a powerful tool if it is used intelligently – and as technology advances, the rules change rapidly. But by always respecting the customer, you can see a significant return-on-investment.

1. Respect the recipient

Before sending anything, put yourself in their position to check that the email is of value in some way.

2. Do not broadcast

Sending the same message to everyone is no longer effective — or acceptable. Instead, it is important to send people content that is relevant to their preferences and therefore likely to engage them.

3. Be human

Consumers are real people with individual preferences, interests and life-cycle events. Emails must treat them as such.

4. Engage in dialogue

Social networking has led consumers expect two-way conversations — make sure you deliver.

5. Learn about the customer

Use each communication as an opportunity to develop and strengthen your relationship with the customer by learning more about them.

6. Personal details have a price

If you want consumers to divulge the personal information that you require for targeted email campaigns, you need to “pay” for that by providing something that they perceive as valuable in return.

7. Gather, store and analyse data

CRM is the essence of intelligent email marketing. It requires that as much information as possible about the consumer is gathered, stored, analysed and used to enhance messages.

8. Develop loyal customers

Treating recipients as individuals by sending them emails that make them feel valued and important will encourage all-important customer loyalty.

9. Viral adds value

Getting the recipients of your emails to share the content via social media or forwarded messages introduces a powerful snowball effect to your campaign. Encourage them to do this with easy-to-see, relevant buttons in the body of the email. Spreading the word through recommendations is a fast and straightforward way to develop your subscriber database.

10. One strike and you're out

Some consumers are forgiving – most are not. You usually have only one chance to get it right. Use it wisely!


Rogier van der Veen is the UK business development manager for CRM-focused digital marketing tool, Clang. You can read the full white paper on email marketing here. 

Attention grabbing: How to get your product noticed

January 24, 2011 by Ben Dyer

If, like me, you are a product person, then I think it’s safe to assume you spend a healthy amount of time thinking about how your product can make an impact on its market.

At SellerDeck, we are pretty lucky as we have a sizable user base, but it wasn’t always the way. Plus, I have never met a product company that doesn’t want more users.

So here are my top ten tips for making a big splash:

1. Get to the influencers

Every industry has a set of influencers. Get to them, demo your product or offer early access if you are yet to launch. An interesting tip I picked up is to look at those that write books about your space, contact the authors and the people that are quoted on the back and get them on board.

2. Become active in the community

You need to become the face of your product in relevant online communities — everything from social networks to discussion groups. If you’re not the authority for your product then someone else will be.

3. Go to industry events

Get out of the office and away from the desk. Nothing beats good old-fashioned networking and many events are free to attend.

4. Make business cards work harder

Seriously, business cards are not dead. In my opinion they are the most powerful marketing tool available and considerably more acceptable to hand out at events. The premise of the double-sided card is simple; one side has your contact info, the other a short description of your product. But avoid marketing BS at all costs.

5. Comment on the competition

A great tip I picked up at a conference last year is to search for comparisons between your competitors. If your space is reasonably mature you’ll find everything from reviews to blog posts. Why not include a comment while pointing out how your product is different from those being discussed?

6. Generate a marketing kit

I am amazed at how few companies in the tech space still offer a marketing kit. It’s one of the most useful tools a marketer can provide. Think about how you can condense all of your information into a concise PDF or simple HTML site. Include interesting information, case studies/testimonials, product details, market statistics etc.

7. Blog, Tweet, Facebook update

It all makes a difference and remember no one likes a constant stream of “why you’re the best”. Mix things up, be interesting.

8. Don’t forget PPC

Pay-Per-Click advertising is the long-established method of getting eyes on the prize. The reason for this is simple — it works. Google and Bing ads are the obvious starting place but don’t forget about Facebook, where you can target a campaign based on people’s interests and demographics.

9. Get listed

Think about Linkedin, Crunchbase, Mashable and others — they are often free. There are loads of business directories, make sure you’re in all of them.

10. Delight your customers

Cliché I know, but if your current customers are not raving about your product or service then I doubt the new ones you’re trying to attract will be either. Also no-one sells a product better than an existing, happy user.


Benjamin Dyer is an expert contributor to IT Donut and director of product development for ecommerce specialist SellerDeck.

There are no quick fixes

January 20, 2011 by Sally Danbury

A new business quick fix — it doesn’t seem possible, does it? I’m afraid that’s because it isn’t.

Many small businesses find themselves in need of new clients and they are looking for quick results. But getting new business is about building relationships and that can take time.

The problem is that many firms fail to focus on new business until they are suddenly facing a drop in orders. That’s when firms tend to look for a magic quick fix. But a short-sighted approach can easily be perceived by the target audience as aggression and ultimately may be damaging to the reputation of a business.

The best approach is to work on new business relationships over time, showing potential customers what you can offer and gaining their trust. Then, when those customers need a service like yours, they are more likely to come to you.

A successful new business programme is based on a long-term vision and achieves a steady flow of good quality opportunities. There are a number of phases that need to be realised before optimum new business results can be seen.  A new business typical cycle looks like this:

1. Groundwork: steady, focused and tailored activity to gradually warm up your target audience;

2. A pipeline of mid-term opportunity is developed: clearly scoped against targets and a timeframe;

3. Trust is won and doors are opened.

As with any relationship, there needs to be an initial chemistry before trust is won and that interest then needs to be cemented before you’ve won over your conquest. To get to this stage you need to ensure you have the right approach in place and make sure your message is appropriate to your audience to get you noticed.

Good new business development is a skill and it is also a perpetual and evolving cycle. Those that adopt a long-term strategy will enjoy the greatest return — assuming the approach is researched well, pitched well and managed closely.


Sally Danbury is the founder of Cake Business Matching and an expert contributor to Marketing Donut.

What is the best form of marketing?

January 17, 2011 by Sian Lenegan

If you’re looking for an easy answer, stop right there because the answer is “it depends.” It depends on your business, product or service, marketplace, positioning, brand awareness, the weather and a few other variables. Sounds a little like Marketing 101 right?

Yes and no. There are so many tools in the marketing mix at your disposal (don’t make me list them all). The real problem is that advertising and marketing have become less effective and your target audience is building up an immunity to it all as they are constantly bombarded.

This is compounded by the increasingly expensive forms of advertising; people becoming more discerning; increasingly competitive markets and let’s not forget the credit crunch!

If any of this strikes a chord, you’re probably losing sleep over what to do next and where to put your limited budget to maximise your Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).

I don’t have all the answers in this short post. However in the face of this marketing mine field here are some tips to get you well on your way to focusing your marketing effort. 

Know your audience

If you know who you are talking to it will be easier to talk to them. Take a blank piece of paper and write a profile of your typical customer. Make up a name, job, kids etc. It can be fun not to mention insightful.

What brand awareness do you have?

This is particularly important as it will help to shape placement when you get down to tactics, where to market and who to market to. For example, outdooradvertising can be fantastic if you already have a great deal of brand awareness! We used to let our fingers do the walking but now this has completely changed with the web and mobile technology. This has opened up a whole new ballpark, seize it and jump in or you’ll be left behind.

The message

The message is as important as the delivery, just make sure it’s painfully simple. Writing that profile we talked about can really help shape the message accurately.

Consistency is king

This cannot be reinforced enough, from your brand to the message to the delivery consistency is key. If it’s not consistent, youcan do untold damage to your credibility.

Know your sales process backwards

Your sales team is a valued tool in that marketing tool box, knowing the process and listening to your customers makes all the difference.

Follow up follow up follow up

Marketing campaigns followed up with a sales effort will give you that ROMI you’re looking for. Simple.

Integrated approach

Ensuring all channels of marketing are pointing in the same direction and not competing with each other with a seamless message will ensure success. It’s mathematics and it’ll multiply exponentially.


Any marketing can be effective if it’s done properly with a splash of creativity and dash of intelligence. Find out what works for you, stop doing the activity that doesn’t work and focus. It might not be rocket science but there is an art to marketing yourself that all starts with the variables and answering one simple question; Why do people buy from you?


Sian Lenegan is account director at AHP Design.

PR without wining

January 10, 2011 by Ceri-Jane Hackling

Just recently I read a question on a PR forum from a PR person asking whether it was still possible to achieve PR coverage without a big budget for wining and dining journalists. I was all set to reply until I realised that if she had worked in PR for a number of years and still thought that wining and dining was the way to achieve PR success, then maybe she shouldn’t even be in PR and especially not in the “age of austerity”.

Since I started Cerub PR in 2003, we have worked with a wide variety of clients, but in all that time, we have been working to tight budgets and have very rarely had the opportunity to take journalists out for dinner and drinks. Instead, our work is focused on what some people call the “donkey work” — coming up with story ideas, writing press releases and media alerts, telephoning journalists, responding to news stories and working on behalf of our clients. If we were to spend time taking journalists out for lunch, we’d probably get a lot less coverage for our clients.

The trouble with this attitude is that it gives the impression that PR really is all about wining and dining and maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all these years, but for me and my colleagues, it’s more about getting on with the work and achieving great coverage for our clients. To prove my point, we’ve recently had coverage for clients in The Financial Times, Sky News, CNBC, Something for The Weekend, Magic radio and Real People — all while sat in the office!


Ceri-Jane Hackling is the managing director of Cerub PR.

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