Online Platform Tools

Platform Creator logo with black and green barsWe, at Platform Creator, are often in discussion about: website design, blogging, SEO, media planning, media buying, writing, branding, graphic design, social media, advertising, and building an online platform. In our learning and doing, we’ve come across several helpful platform tools.

Hopefully these online tools will help make your work easier, whether you’re a: copy writer, starting a blog, building a website, or building your online platform.

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The Periodic Table of Content Marketing, by Chris Lake.

The Periodic Table of Content Marketing

 

Create a Message Map – How to Pitch Anything in 15 seconds

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3 Online Platform Goals to Consider for 2015

Platform Creator logo with black and green barsThe new year is just around the corner. And maybe instead of waiting until you’re in the midst of Holiday celebrations, right now might be a good time to consider how to best create your online platform. Plus, we wouldn’t want you to burn the turkey.

There are many things an online platform can help you accomplish in terms of making an impact in 2015. Have you given some thought to how you will swing for the fences?

First of all, you do have a platform, right? If not, then 2015 is the time to launch. The web is the default query source for most of us, and the numbers who use it that way are increasing every day. Stay tuned here for some products and ideas to build your platform from scratch or use our free and simple template.

Here are 3 online platform goals to consider for 2015:

Create a marketing plan around the significant events and Holidays for the year. Ray Edwards talks about this in a not-so recent podcast. Start with the Holidays. These dates are already set and your audience will at least be giving some thought and planning to the majority of them, so how can you anticipate and tap into those plans and thoughts? What other days are significant in the year in regard to your expertise or niche? These include, but are by no means limited to; industry events, new product releases (new is good), and milestones reached. Any of these that can be anticipated can be marketed around.

Most importantly, decide on a few Areas of Focus. For example, how can you increase the number of followers will you have by the end of the first quarter? Its ok to chase numbers if the numbers you’re chasing are relevant to growing and improving your reach, but do you really know what the number should be? There are countless ways you can improve, but just focus on a few if you want to make significant progress.  Chris Brogan suggests a 3 book diet for the year. In other words, instead of browsing you should pick three books you can focus on and implement the learning’s from those. Likewise, you should have a short list of the elements of your platform you’d most like to improve in 2015. Don’t get caught in the browsing trap!

Finally, make one of those areas of focus a new mode of delivering your message. Have you tried video? Podcasting? Images? With the rise of mobile, people are not just interested in reading any more. They want to watch and hear too, and they have an ever-increasing capability to do so with their mobile devices.

A new year is racing into view. It’s ok to glance in the rear view mirror now and then to evaluate 2013 and 2014, but your focus should be in front of you. If you don’t yet have an online platform, create one! If you have one, spend some time in the next couple of weeks answering the questions above and add some dates and thumbnails to your intentions.

What say you, just write down a few of those below, just to get the juices flowing!

Five Ways to Grow Your Blog without SEO

Picture of plant growing with sunlight and text growth for your blog without SEO.Here are 3 Hard Ways and 2 Easy Ways to Grow Your Blog without SEO

Hey website admins, ever seen this message: ‘Hello web admin, I noticed that your on-page SEO is missing some details. On-page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update. Your keyword must appear in the title and URL. And you must have a keyword density of 3-5% and spread all H1, H2, H3 tags, etc.’?

While SEO is important and many of these suggestions will help optimize your blog website, I will show you how to become a platform creator without worrying about the technical aspects of SEO like meta tags or keyword density.

Consistency (this is one of the hard but key ways to grow your blog)

This past Saturday I met with a friend who has a successful marriage counseling business that has grown almost all from engaging potential clients online. Kevin’s business received around 3,000 Facebook likes the first year. While Kevin had several practical examples that led to him and his wife’s success, two primary early keys were consistency in social media posting and following the principals in Jeff Walker’s book, LaunchMarriage Works  to date has over 410,000 likes on Facebook and has several online products and seminars. Kevin does not pay attention to the technical aspects of SEO, but he posts at least 5 – 7 times a week. While Kevin now employs many online tools and is continually honing his skills, their initial success was due to keeping consistent with posting engaging content. Boy, I really need to take his advice.

Build Your Network (another hard way to grow your blog)

Along with keeping fresh content on your blog, twitter feed, and / or social media pages, here are a few ways to build your network. Building your network can take some time. So, along with persistence, a bit of perseverance can help you build your online platform.

  • Join a LinkedIn Group and engage with them. Don’t just push info out, but support and comment on others’ posts and be sure to include your link and / or blog URL in your signature line.
  • Include links from your site to other experts. This is a great way to create relationships with people like you who could use additional traffic to their site. The hope is that eventually, others will link their posts to yours. (See post on how to be a thought leader.)
  • Comment on other blogs with compelling questions. This is an excellent way to get noticed. I remember listening to Ray Edward’s podcasts and how generous he was to allow commenters to mention their blog websites. What a great way to connect with an interesting platform creator like Ray Edwards, but also get traffic from his followers.

Guest Post (Last hard way to grow your blog)

While not everyone may invite you to guest post initially, if you are diligent about connecting with likeminded people online, you can also ask them to guest post on your blog. Hopefully, they too will ask you to guest post on their blog or you can offer them that opportunity. This may take time, especially before you are asked to guest post on a blogger’s site in whom can help you gain real traction, but it’s a great way to get your name out there. The better your content, the more often you will be asked to guest post. Keep at it.

Cross Promote Your Blog (This is a fairly easy way to grow your blog)

Get a short link of your post from WordPress or Bitly or Bufferapp and post on Twitter and a LinkedIn Group. Also, consider putting internal links from keywords in your posts to other posts. You can use other social media sites and encourage your current network to share with others.

Re-purpose Older Posts (Easy way to grow your blog)

You can re-purpose older posts, updating the content slightly and just perfecting a few of the sentences to reflect current topics. By updating the content with relevant information, you can gain renewed exposure to older posts.

Do you have any practical ways to grow your Blog without attention to the technical aspects of SEO?

Are You Who You Want to Be?

boy dressed as pilot with hat and glassesDo you remember who you were when you were nine? For many kids, there were no limits. I remember our kind, 60+ year old babysitter, Mrs. Page. She was pleasant enough to act like she was interested in what I had to say. “I’m going to build really big airplanes”, I told her as I thrust a long thin rock in the air that I colored with green crayons. Yes, I thought I was going to build airplanes out of rocks. In my mind I was already an inventor and the pilot. I had a vision of this thing flying at breakneck speed.

So at some point in life we traded what we wanted to do when we were nine for what we thought we needed to do in our teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties. The progression was gradual for most. Maybe you got married and had children in your twenties and the dream to start your own shop slowly faded.

It’s not easy to raise a family, work full time, go to school, and work on your dream project, let alone even think about what it would take to launch. It’s great to pour your life into another person; feeding, clothing and loving them, and teaching and guiding them to a better life.

But, what kind of example are we setting if we are teach our kids, co-workers, and friends ‘I just don’t have time to pursue my dreams?’

Have you caught yourself saying and thinking?

  • I don’t have time to work out.
  • I always wanted to start a blog, but I don’t know how to get started.
  • I’ll like to eat healthy food but it takes too long to cook.
  • I’d like to find a better job, but I don’t have the skill set.
  • I deserve a raise or promotion because I’ve been here longer.

Prioritize

If getting the right job, a promotion, or starting a new business is really important to you, make getting that job more important than catching up with your favorite TV programs. You can do it! If you just cut a couple hours out of your TV viewing per week and worked online developing a new skill, in a matter of a few weeks, you could launch ahead of the average person in your industry. Want to be a thought leader? Don’t wait for your company to train you. Train yourself. Udemy has over 16,000 courses online. It’s excellent to put God and family ahead of career, personal branding, or business ownership. However, you could become who you wanted to be when you were nine by simply putting ‘take daily steps to start a new blog’ or ‘sign up for flying lessons’ or ‘I’m going to work out for 30 minutes today’ in front of ‘watch more TV’. Leisure is important. But, maybe we should delete it from our top 5 list.

Direction Matters

Fred Smith, Sr. responded to questions about goal setting with the comment: “Direction is more critical than goals.” He would often ask people, “Are you satisfied with the direction you are going?” You may be moving in life at a rapid pace, but in which direction are you moving?photodune-639043-directions-xs

Many people think that in order to land their dream job, attract the ideal client or secure that great promotion, it just takes hard work, dedication and expertise. In part, that’s true.

Lida Citroen

Lisa goes on to tell the importance of listening to your target market to find out what their needs are and how to meet those needs in a way that makes you irresistible to your target audience. It’s about creating your personal brand.

Create Your Personal Brand

It starts today; start making one difficult decision today. It will pay off dividends for the future. In the end, the sum of the difficult decisions you make will shape your legacy and your brand.

  • Instead of sharing photos or stories about your family, spend fifteen minutes listening to a colleague, supervisor, client, family member. What are their needs? What do they believe? What are they concerned about?
  • Instead of promoting your services or your company’s features and benefits, share or promote someone else’s ideas.
  • Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matt 6:3b). Help others without trying to get attention for yourself. Why? It’s the right thing to do and it will help you focus on helping your clients get better results instead of how you will benefit from it. The good news is that if you’re clients are gaining profits, they just might have more money to spend with you.

Who Am I ConceptWhat is the one difficult decision you can make today that will help enhance your personal brand?

Key Behaviors of a Leader Worth Following

leadercast 2014My friend Bob invited me to a leadership event that took place this past Friday. Focused on SEO, Social Media, advertising, and blogging, why would I want to go to a leadership event? We all have friends like this. Maybe it’s the friend who encourages you to pick up this wonderful, new, must-read book or the uncle who sends you emails that are meant to encourage you. Sometimes you say ‘yes’ and sometimes you ignore the call. After all, my email box is filled every morning with dozens of requests from dozens of people and companies and I only have time to respond to so many requests. I’m torn.

So after a few prods, I decided to attend. After all, it’s hard to say ‘no’ to Bob, one of the most-connected, kind, and intentional men I know. I’m glad I did and I would encourage you to attend as well.

There is something magical about attending an event that connects people live from places around the world.

Hearing the infectious laugh of the influential and peaceful Bishop Desmund Tutu, live from South Africa, or internalizing the inspiring story of former advertising executive, Laura Schroff’s encounter with an 11-year-old panhandler, or connecting with Braveheart’s screenwriter, Randall Wallace’s testimony. In a word, it’s a powerful and welcome attack on your senses.

If your leadership is not all about you it will live beyond you.

-         Andy Stanley

Leadercast is focused on building Leaders Worth Following.

Leadership is not reserved for those with a ‘C’ in their title. We need better leaders in our communities, businesses, organizations, and in homes across the world. Leadercast exists to serve individuals and organizations across all sectors who want to become intentional about raising their standard of leadership.

Leadercast believes that certain behaviors serve as the framework of a leader worth following:

    • Simplicity - brings clarity to the complex.
    • Creativity - fosters an atmosphere that allows others to dream.
    • Bravery - possesses a posture of unrelenting boldness.
    • Beyond You - leverages influence for the sake of others.
    • Insight - resolves to consistently do the wise thing.
    • Vision - moves towards a preferred future with little deviation.
    • Culture - architects the conditions to win.

Leadercast exists to positively change the way the world thinks about leadership.

The 2015 theme — The Brave Ones — challenges leaders to lead with a sense of Bravery, possessing a posture of unrelenting boldness. Join Atlanta’s best leaders at Leadercast Live on May 8, 2015 and discover what it means to be a leader worth following.

Now I can stay focused on SEO, Social Media, advertising, and blogging. But now, I can focus with better simplicity, creativity, insight, bravery, and vision, in a way that connects with and serves our culture for the sake of others. I’ll see you in 2015 in Atlanta or maybe from a satellite event in the  Dallas, Ft. Worth Area!

Thank you for the invite, Bob. Want to get to know Bob? His blog is www.leadingwithquestions.com.

 

Still Playing the Guessing Game with Your Ad Campaign?

Test TubesLong are the days when I stayed up late for hours, researching and writing my college marketing papers. So much time went into getting an ‘A’ on a paper, but in the real world, it seems like everything is streamlined and less effort is put into blog posts, advertising campaigns, web design, or copy writing.

 

We send out tweets within seconds, post Facebook messages and Instagram pics instantly. We try to gain attention without really knowing what is working best.

 

So, where should we start?

 

We must first open our minds to the possibility that our trusted convictions might be wrong.

Some of the known practices in advertising DO NOT WORK. What am I talking about? After going to an SEM conference in 2013, I learned that rotating carousels distract viewers and your messaging can be diluted. Sure, they look nice, but they have bad conversion rates. Maybe you already knew that.

 

Test Everything: Best Practices are Dead Until You Test Them

  • Why? Because it focuses the results on what your customers want, not what you think they want. Who cares what you want if it’s not working?!
  • Overemphasizing that you have a secure website or creating BIG SWOOPING ARROWS likely won’t help.
  • If you’re writing copy for radio, use different telephone numbers (or website urls) to test the effectiveness of the radio copy.

 

Start with what your objective is.

Are you trying to get conversions or drive traffic? How long are you committed to your objective before someone says ‘we need to make a change’? What does success look like?

 

How are you adding value?

Does your blog or advertising message deliver a relevant story and a powerful headline?

 

Do you have Clarity in your messaging?

If you have too much copy or too much activity going on it can be distracting for the visitor or listener.

 

Do you have a call to action?

Be smart and agile and willing to keep testing graphics, content, and copy until your desired goals are met.

 

When is the last time you tested an ad campaign? What happened?

 

Resources: WiderFunnel

Want help asking better questions?

Use Your Gifts to Build Your Brand

Origami Christmas tree and giftsThanks to the Yahoo article by Chris Nichols last year, I discovered two incredible young girls who took their passion for origami to help serve others. In all, Katherine and Isabella Adams used their passion for creating origami gifts to help raise well over $100,000 for their charity, Paper for Water.

Everyone has a gift.

If you think about some of the struggles you’ve had in your life, chances are your experience could be a valuable asset to someone else. That’s one of your gifts, a gift to be shared. A gift is part of your brand. Or maybe you used to play the piano or sing in the choir and haven’t used your gift in a while. Well, maybe it’s time to dust off the ivory or those dancing shoes and think about how you can use that gift to help others. The Adams family contacted one of their local Starbucks to see if they would display their origami Christmas ornaments to help raise money for charity. They sold out of their 35 ornaments in one day.

Build Alliances.

Whether it’s a manager at a local Starbucks or a manager at a local car dealership, I’m sure there is someone you know that could help you display your wares or help mentor you on how to get your gift, even if it’s intangible, out to the audience who would appreciate it. How many friends do you have on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or just in your email contact list? What if you sent a short and compelling story out to your friends asking for them to forward your message out to their lists? A friend of mine did that and raised hundreds of dollars to provide well checks and immunizations for children in need in one day through gofundme.com. Or, find a business that can benefit from you writing about them in your blog and how you can connect that business to a worthy cause marketing project. Develop a relationship with people who can benefit from your experience, but don’t be afraid to ask for help from people who likely will not benefit from your talent. Many people you think will help out, won’t, and vice versa. You don’t know until you ask.

Duplicate yourself.

Fortunately through gaining attention from their local paper, The Dallas Morning News, and the relationships within their church, the Adam’s girls’ efforts were duplicated through volunteer help. If you are serving others with passion, others will likely catch your fever. There is a reason the root in influenza is influence. Be persistent. Spread the news. Don’t give up on your passion. Build your brand. Write about it and let others find ownership within your project to help others.

If you are trying to build your brand through an online platform, blog, or just need some help finding your vision for: writing, business, or ministry project, drop us a line.

The Power of Lincoln’s Message

Old Photo of Abraham LincolnToday marks the 150 year Anniversary of The Gettysburg Address, one of the best-known speeches ever given, especially in American history. President Abraham Lincoln delivered the message on Thursday, November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the Union Army defeat the Confederate Army at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Ironically, in his address, Lincoln humbly said that ‘the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here’, paying his respects and pointing to those who gave their lives at Gettysburg and the founding principles written in 1776, referring to the Declaration of Independence. The two-hour oration of Edward Everett, given before Lincoln’s brief remarks, was slated to be the ‘The Gettysburg Address’.

Refined Messaging 

It’s been said by speech makers and orators that it’s much more difficult to give a brief message than to deliver a lengthy one. With a lengthy one, few details need to be sifted out. While lengthy addresses like Edward Everett’s were common in his era, many people today do not have the attention span to embrace a two-hour speech, distilling as we listen. While Abraham Lincoln had not been feeling well that day, he delivered a powerful and well refined message that excellently summarized the American Civil War and the virtues of the American democracy.

When it comes to your brand messaging, brevity is always appreciated. Get down to business quickly. Do not waste your clients’ time. If a sentence does not add to the effectiveness of your speech or brand message, delete it. Also, be clear what your intentions are. Throughout his leadership, Abraham Lincoln wrote and spoke with clarity, consistency, and brevity in his messaging.

Clarity and Consistency

Abraham Lincoln was not only clear about his goals of uniting the states and abolishing slavery, he moved with great consistency. He dealt with many complex issues including the Civil War, Abolition, and the modernization of the American economy. He worked through much opposition from both his own Republican Party and the Democratic Party, while remaining steadfast in his beliefs. He held fast to both his religious beliefs and his beliefs in the foundation from which America was built. While he believed that all men are created equal, to be clear, he did not believe that men should be equal in all areas of life, but be given equal opportunity. After all, Abe was born in a poor family and was self-educated, but later became an astute politician and ranked as one of the most beloved U.S. presidents.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

 

How do we find another Abe, who clarified his care about both the expansion of the American economy and the expansion of liberty and freedom?

Does having a larger government mean less freedom of the citizenry? 

3 Immutable Laws of Branding: Violation Could Cause a Government Shutdown

Picture of debt clock from US Debt Clock dot org.Be Authentic

 

An amazing story of authenticity comes from our local friend turned nationally syndicated radio icon, Kidd Kraddick. He built one of the top radio morning shows brands in the country by being authentic. Sure, it didn’t hurt that he was astute, quick with his words, and naturally funny. However, few can question Kidd’s authenticity. After learning of complications before his daughter’s birth, he saw an outpouring of support from fans. He knew what a responsibility he had with the platform he had built. So, what did Kidd do? He used his brand platform for good. He gave thanks to God for the safety of his own daughter and used the gift of his brand and support of his listeners to help other families who had loved ones struggling with illnesses.

 

 

Conversely, too many brands are diluted by forcing an inauthentic message. Some DJs endorse products or charities that are not a good fit. Breast Cancer Awareness, which is a wonderful cause and one of the strongest cause marketing brands, has been adopted by hundreds of brands from: The NFL, consumer products, retailers, schools, and work places, while less popular and equally as deadly diseases remain unmatched. While adopting Breast Cancer Awareness within your brand will likely help gain support and will not necessarily harm your brand messaging, it may dilute it. How does the cause you support help your brand stand out or more importantly, how does it authentically address the needs of what ails your customers and / or their communities?

 

Control Your Messaging

 

It’s hard to control your brand messaging if you don’t have uniformity within the leadership of your company, organization, or government party. Regardless of what side of the aisle you are on, you have to admit that the Republican Party lacks uniformity and clarity in their platform messaging. The Affordable Care Act, which by most examples of which we have heard and read, not just an isolated example, is anything but affordable. Watch Fox News, CNN, listen to talk radio, read The Wall Street Journal, and just talk to people in your neighborhood, and in most cases reported, people will experience a drastic increase in their health care expenses, not decline. Yet, Republicans currently have a lower brand rating than the Democrats, who as of October 25th, still support this legislation. President Obama, knowing about the problems associated with the ACA, used his power to delay the mandate on businesses and unions for one year. Yet, even after his refusal to delay the individual mandate for ‘We the People’, his ratings haven’t dropped as much as the Republicans. Some Republicans think they should just try to get along, even if they violate their conservative spending principals, their authenticity. Others believe they should use a government shutdown to try to negotiate for an individual mandate delay. In business, when opposition strikes and preferably before it strikes, your messaging needs to be clear and plentiful, to ensure that your blog, website, online or off-line marketing, and all marketing and advertising messaging supports your brand or at least, does not contradict your online platform message.

 

Focus on Your Audience

 

In broadcasting, it’s easy to think of the old school ways of broadcasting a message instead of approaching the building of your brand as a conversation. It’s not just about broadcasting out to an audience, but listening to what is coming back. It’s the conversation economy. It’s about connecting with your audience in a meaningful way just as Kidd Kraddick did every day with his audience family. He brought them into his life daily. Conversely, if you sat a dinner party and did all the talking, your dinner guests would not return for seconds. It’s the same way in building your brand. Yes, being bold and trying something new and innovative is important, but testing your brand messaging is important too. Stop talking about what you have to sell and how your product is so great. Better yet, tell them how your product can solve a problem. Be like Apple, useful, not like the US Government, broken. Be authentic like Kidd, not like the average politician, who regardless of the messaging, many times does not follow through with focus on their audience, the American people.

RIP Kidd. Help support Kidd’s Kids here. www.kiddskids.com

 

What three companies or organizations have brand confusion? What’s the fix?

How to Use Social Media to Build Your Online Brand

social media buttons - Facebook, Twitter, and Google +When it comes to making a name and building your online platform for your company, social media is a great place to build a good reputation. You have to use this powerful tool correctly, however. Anything with this much potential for reward is generally high risk. Here are some tips on how to use social media for branding purposes.

 

Let’s start with the number of social media sites that you choose to use. An abandoned social media site isn’t good for your image, so you don’t want to take on more than your team can handle. You want to use at least two different social media sites. Four is probably the maximum for most companies. Faceboook, Twitter, and Instagram are three of the best sites that you can use for branding right now.

 

Content is one of the most time consuming parts of social media. To build trust in and respect for your brand, content needs to be accurate, unique, and engaging. Avoid posting all the same pictures to Instagram and Facebook and making all your tweets your status updates on Facebook. You also want to maintain the same tone (professional, fun, excited, etc.) on all of your accounts. You can’t be super serious on Facebook, type in all caps on Twitter, and then use teenage abbreviations in your Instagram comments. You don’t want to have brand confusion for people who follow you on all three sites.

 

Another important use of social media is to market your business in real time. Oreos became the talk of the Internet when they capitalized on the Superbowl power outage with a relevant ad posted to Twitter. You can even try using current news stories to promote conversation. Just be careful to consider the way a breaking story may develop so that you keep your brand out of anything potentially controversial. You can’t post something on the Internet, take it down when things go wrong, and hope that no one took a screenshot.

 

Finally, you have to respond to comments properly. Some antagonistic comments just need to be ignored. Some are legitimate complaints and require a prompt response. This is an opportunity to show consumers, in general, how your company handles concerns. Deleting negative posts and comments is counterproductive to branding your company in a proper way. Be sure to reward your biggest supporters, and provide incentives for people to like, +1, favorite, or retweet your content.

 

The right use of social media can be great for the reputation of your business and helpful in building your online platform.

 

Additional Source: http://www.inta.org/Programs/Pages/branding2013.aspx