Dear Amazon, please think about the outside of the box.

Dear Amazon,

Thank you for creating Prime and fast home delivery. I love how I can get such a huge variety of healthful products from a single source, pay fast, and have it delivered to my front door! Plus, I love your easy return policy. I keep about 99% of the things I order, but every now and then I do return something.

A few days ago, I received this box. Today I’d like to do a virtual box return. It didn’t quite work out for me for a few different reasons. First, I don’t like “fights” in or around my home. Another thing is that it’s ok to ask me to be aware of something pertaining to Amazon, such as an upcoming sale or something that represents your corporate values. But please send only good things and good news to my home.

Amazon Goes Gold because kids can't fight cancer alone.

After the Whole Foods buyout, will Amazon stand up for the longterm health of its customers?

Should I ever get in the mood for bad news, I know I can turn on the daily news, pick up a newspaper, or do a hashtag search any number of bad news topics related to death, disease and discontent.

The reason I’d like to return this cancer box to you is that I’m much more interested in solutions instead of problems. You recently bought out Whole Foods, so this is a great opportunity to create awareness on how food has a huge impact on kids’ health. I’d much rather you put a message on a box that tells me about the benefits of eating carrots instead of burdening me with negative thoughts about diseases that come as a result of the toxins in children’s foods and environments.

“Go Gold” sounds like a status ranking of a credit card or frequent flyer program. But after doing a quick search on it, I discovered that it’s nothing more than an extension of the misleading #Pinktober campaign. Why not tell people The Truth About Cancer?

If you send messages out like #GoGold or #FightLikeAGirl, you’re perpetuating the problem instead of the solution.

Don’t count on pink to save your hOOters from cancer.

Wearing a pink or gold ribbon, or creating awareness about disease does nothing, in itself, to solve a problem. Instead, why not inspire your customers with preventive measures, contributions to remedies, and stories of people who have overcome disease by making healthful changes in their lifestyles?

It’s hard to find campaigns that promote good health, in part, because it’s harder to get collective funds to brand carrots or apples sold by scattered farmers. But it makes good business for Mars to put out money to sell colorful and deceitful M&M’s that come off their own synthetic production lines.

Cancer can be killed.

Google offers an enticing and colorful new message almost daily, plus they offer Doodle4Google contests where kids can create, inspire, and win scholarships. Here’s one cute example made by middle schooler, Alyssa Anderson, to help create awareness about animals that are at risk of extinction.

When I see a cute design like this, it makes me curious to know more and to look at the positive solution-side of an issue. Look how cute these creatures are. Of course I want them to stick around with me on the planet! Is there anything I can do to help?

Doodle for Google competition winner logo extinct animals

Alyssa Anderson, a 7th grade student at Wright Middle School is one of the 53 state winners of the “Doodle 4 Google” competition.

One of the things I like most about Amazon is that I can buy a bunch of healthful products in one shopping cart, hit the Buy Now button and have these things show up at my front door within a few days:

Why not tell your customers about the good things you offer instead of sending a mixed message with words like gold, awareness and cancer? My first impression when I saw your box was a reminder that big corporations and the pharma industry profit from disease. As Burzynski points out, Cancer is Serious Business. Many corporations, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies earn their gold by promoting synthetic “foods,” drugs, and procedures that both cause and exacerbate symptoms and disease.

A Cure for Cancer? Eating A Plant-Based Diet

As far as I can tell, Walmart has never put much effort into helping its customers improve or maintain good health. Their stores are well stocked with oversize bottles of sodas, oversize bags of chips, clothing sizes for people who are obese, and a pharmacy where people can pick up drugs that exacerbate their waning conditions. Yes, they offer some items that are organic or more healthful than others, but it’s certainly not their focus.

Do you realize that, with your influence, you have an opportunity to lead people to good news, life-changing information and better health faster than they ever thought possible?

Minions and Amazon plot to take over the world. Will they succeed?

Minions and Amazon plot to take over the world. Will they succeed?

Your boxes are dropped on porches and end up in homes and businesses all over the place. Cats climb in them, people use them as moving boxes and kids build forts with them. You have a powerful opportunity to send out all sorts of good news to the Minions about what Amazon has to offer to improve lives. Do you want to lead with: A) sickness and fear, or B) health and prosperity?

HINT: B is the correct answer because your customers will live longer, buy more stuff from you and be more loyal.

If kids were to build a fort with Amazon boxes, what message would you want them to see? Would you like to tell them that they need to fight cancer? Or would you like to let them know about the good news from books they can buy at Amazon such as:

I’m excited about Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods. I wait with anticipation to see how you might make it easier to get tasty organic fruits and vegetables into the hands and stomachs of your customers. Instead of promoting fighting and diseases, please stand up for your customers and support natural solution-oriented organizations such as:

Thank you for taking the time to hear me out. I normally take my Amazon boxes to my local U-haul store where customers can take a box, leave a box. Even though you partner with Give Back Box to return unwanted boxes by filling them up with items for charities, I’m going to toss this toxic cancer box into a recycle bin with hopes that it will be recycled into better news.

To anyone else who’s reading this, please feel free to leave a comment if you have another healthful message or resource you’d like to print on Amazon boxes and beyond.

Peace ✌️ and Love ❤️,

Write to Clarify Your Message

Before you engage in a conversation, do you take time to clarify your message? Do you think about what you want to say in advance? This is easy when you’re texting or sending an email. You can write, edit and send. But when you’re speaking, it helps to plan ahead.

Clarify your message with friends.

Taking the time to clarify your message is an ongoing process. As your life changes, you have different messages to send. If you have children and someone asks if you want to do some fun activities with kids and you say yes, you’re saying yes to something that’s fun as defined by you. You may not know what fun means to the person who’s asking. And the same is true if you’re the one doing the inviting.

If you’re asking a couple to join you for dinner, it’s helpful for everyone involved to know specifically what you’re asking. Is it an indoor potluck or an outdoor barbeque? Will you be making all the food? It’s helpful to confirm whether or not there are any special dietary needs. If you enjoy playing board games and you’re expecting everyone to play along, it’s helpful to mention it in advance to avoid disappointment. Did you remember to mention you have pets?

Clarity helps others makes decisions, and it’s equally beneficial to you as well. What if your friend left frustrated because she sneezed all night, her eyes teared up, and she went home with an allergic reaction because you have several cats, but she didn’t know. Remember to mention you have cats.

Clarify your message at work.

Another level of clarifying your message happens at work. Whether you work for another company or your own, it’s important to be clear about what you do best and what services you offer. This is especially relevant for company leaders, marketing departments, and people who work in sales. It’s important that messages are clear. Colleagues and customers are much happier when they know they’re basing their decisions on transparent truth. Clarity is a soothing oil that helps to keep relationships running smoothly.

William Zinsser On Writing Well clarify your message

William Zinsser, a writer’s writer who taught that clutter was the enemy.

Lawyers, big companies, government and the IRS are known for messy messages. They say “at this present time” instead of now. They say things like “explosive expressions of dissatisfaction” instead of protest. William Zinsser advises in his book On Writing Well, that it’s critical to remove all redundant and unnecessary words. What shows up as clutter on the page is an insult to the reader who is genuinely interested in your message. Keep your message succinct. Respect your time and his.

Gobbledygook is so rampant in government that an organization sprung up in the 1990s to help remedy the problem. The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a group of federal employees form different agencies and specialties who support the use of clear communication in government writing.

PLAIN Plain Language Action Information Network clarify your message

The entire legal industry exists because of the tangled messages and complicated interpretations of the law. You can only hope that you’re doing the right thing and not breaking a law. We know the basic laws, but if we ever happen to get involved a legal battle, experts would advice us to seek the counsel of an attorney who has learned to read the complex laws and navigate through perplexing paragraphs.

Clarify your message for family.

As you clarify your message for others, it essentially helps you clarify what you want. You might state that you want to go on a vacation, but where? It’s much easier if you mention to your spouse that you’d like to go to a nudist resort in Costa Rica for your birthday. This states a specific type of place and a time. It’s clear.

Let’s say your husband asks if you’d like to head north. You reply that you don’t want to go anyplace cold and ramble on with more of what you don’t want. They’re all wasted words. There’s rarely a reason to state what you don’t want. In fact, doing so is counterproductive.

Before you mention what you do not want, know that what you’re about to say can be eliminated both in writing and in speech. There’s no point in mentioning what you don’t want because this could go on endlessly ad nauseum. Where will this end, your listener or reader will wonder?

The only thing that’s important to mention is what you do want. And this takes thought. We seem to have gut feelings about what we want, but in many cases, we have been conditioned to ignore our inner wisdom.

Write to tap into your inner wisdom. 

As you clarify your message, you also clarify your wants. As you clarify and communicate what you’d like to see manifest in your life, you’re much more likely to enjoy the world around you.

A lack of clarity in your message is a reflection of befuddled thoughts. If you’re not sure of what you want, just say so. “I don’t know.” Take time to sort out your thoughts and convey your message later.

In fact, when you’re describing any aspect of your life, whether it’s what you want to do on a weekend or how you want to redecorate a room in your home, the more you can clarify your message, the more likely you are to get what you want. By learning to clarify your message, you will be able to tidy up not only your thinking, but also the world around you.

If you’re interested in pursuing clarity as a part of your writing career, get inspired by Alan Siegel’s TED talk where he demonstrates what he’s doing to help simplify jargon.



Think of something going on in your life that feels chaotic or unclear. Sit down and write about it. You’ll have to go through the fog to get to clarity, but when you do, it’s worth it. Often, you’ll find simple solutions to your problems simply by taking the time to get clarity on what you want. When it comes to defining what you want, you’ll be the first to know.

Tips to manage your business reviews

Business reviews are more important than advertising. Customer reviews can have a big impact on your business. Opinions about your business are easy to find and buyers are more informed today than ever. Regardless of whether you’re selling a ten-dollar widget or a ten-thousand-dollar service package, buyers read about your product or service before they ever step foot into your business or try your product. This is equally true if you’re a nonprofit or any other organization who wants to attract people to whatever it is that you have to offer.

business reviews like stars

Buyers can browse through reviews and read other’s opinions about your business or organization before you have a chance at a first impression.

Decision-makers are armed with smart phones. They can stand at your front door or see your product on a (virtual) shelf and quickly learn what others have to say about it. And even if they don’t have time to read reviews, they can take a quick glance to see how many stars you have compared to other options they’re considering.

Good reviews are helpful because they let you know what customers appreciate. Bad reviews are helpful because they help you learn how to improve your business. 

After reading reviews, buyers approach your business with expectations based on what they’ve already read. Since they’ve chosen your business, it’s likely because all the stars have aligned. You’re positioned at the right time and location when they’re ready to take action.

So what can you do as a business owner to embrace business reviews and attract more customers? Take a look at some of the following ideas to see what might apply to you:

Accept negative reviews as opportunities to learn

Yelp is recognized as one of the most popular business review sites. Lots of small businesses owners have a love-hate relationship with Yelp. The good side of Yelp is that a small hole-in-the wall coffee shop has the opportunity to outrank a big franchise such as Starbucks. It gives small businesses a chance to get noticed and thrive. But lots of small business owners also fear that Yelp can hurt their business. Consider some of these Yelp experiences:

No one likes to be judged. By their very nature, judgments are attacks. Business owners who get bad business reviews can and do get dismayed. And Yelp, no doubt, feels the same about this upcoming Billion Dollar Bully documentary by Prost Films.

The best way to look at Yelp and every other review tool is that these are extra doors to your business. Some turn out to be more welcoming than others.

Release your grievances toward others and you’ll find that they begin to melt all around you.

Learn from your competitors’ business reviews

Amazon reviews can affect your business whether you’re selling through Amazon or not. If your customers are shopping in a brick and mortar store, they can check to see what others think about a product and do a quick price comparison. If it’s cheaper on Amazon, they can add it to their cart with a quick click knowing that it will show up at their front door within a day or two. Amazon has had a big impact on both online and brick and mortar stores. If you’re selling products that are also available on Amazon, or if you’re selling through Amazon, these reviews can affect your business.

Glassdoor business reviews employees

This David Horsey cartoon offers insight into Amazon’s company culture. Behind-the-scenes Glassdoor business reviews can influence the talent you attract and the ultimate results you get in your business.

Ask every happy customer to write a business review

Google reviews and ratings conveniently pop up when you’re searching for places on Google maps. Google maps search along route feature is useful when you’re trying to save time and make convenient stops. Whether you have a brick and mortar location or not, Google encourages you to remind customers to leave a review. Learn more about how to get reviews on Google.

business reviews ratings Google maps search along route

Google Maps lets you search for food, gas, and more along your navigation route.

Foursquare brands itself as a “location intelligence company.” It’s also a good contender for finding food, nightlife or shopping business reviews and ratings by location. If your business falls into one of these categories, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your Foursquare business reviews.

Disable ratings and reviews

Facebook allows you to choose whether or not you want to enable business reviews on your business page. Go to the Facebook Help Center to learn how to allow or disable ratings and reviews on your page. If you go to Facebook’s @facebook page, you’ll see that they, ironically, do not have this feature enabled. If every business review system gave you the option to disable the ratings on your business, you could choose to ignore ratings altogether. But going dark online also makes you invisible to potential customers who use online search tools to guide their buying decisions.

Yelp vs Google vs. Facebook Reviews: which should you focus on and why?

Hire bloggers to provide you with business reviews

Bloggers are a terrific resource for business reviews. Bloggers can educate people about your business. They can share reviews that highlight the benefits of your product or service. They can share a customer testimonial telling what it’s like to work with you. You can find bloggers on just about any topic. They can help you come up with creative ways to share your business. Many are willing to barter in exchange for product or service samples, so it’s worth asking. If you’d like to go this route, here are some tips on how to ask bloggers for backlinks and reviews. By the way, if you’d like me to blog about your business, contact me today to discuss the possibilities.

Invite YouTubers to film your product or service

YouTube offers a platform for anyone with a smart phone who wants to share their thoughts about a flight, an electronics product, an RV, or anything else on their mind. YouTube is an ideal way to let people get a glimpse into what you have to offer, especially if it already lends itself well to an audience, such as a church or a school, for example where preachers and teachers are already talking to an audience. Although YouTube is driven by videos, anyone can comment on the content. This, in essence, is a form of a business review to a YouTuber. And if you’re part of the video, you can get feedback as well.

YouTubers who have lots of subscribers can have a big influence on their followers. And they have the freedom to tell stories on just about anything, including educating people on new products. Consider this “Hands Free Segway thing” review post by YouTuber Casey Neistat:

Snap photos of happy customers

Instagram tends to be a happy place. It’s a terrific app that allows you and your customers to snap, post and share attractive pictures within a few minutes. If your customers are taking the time to mention you in their Instagram feed, it’s probably positive. Smile and welcome the photos.

In addition, Instagram gives you the opportunity set up your business profile on Instagram and self-promote with annotated photos. Be sure to use hashtags to attract your ideal customers.

Connect with your community

Nextdoor offers a feature for recommendations. If you depend on local work or walk-in traffic, this is a great way to connect with people in your neighborhood. If your business isn’t already listed, you can add a business in recommendations for free. This is a great app to spark face-to-face friendships and goodwill referrals within your community. Once you establish your reputation, satisfied customers will naturally want to share brief reviews along with their referrals.

business profile reviews Nextdoor

Respond to business reviews

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) touts itself as a tool to help “people find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust.” In practice, however, the BBB tends to be the go-to place where customers log serious complaints against a business because they know this is a place where the business owners might actually take action to resolve a complaint. Click here for an overview of how BBB ratings are calculated.

A BBB rating is not an indicator of the success of a business. Amazon, for example, is one of the biggest businesses in the United States. Although the majority of its customer reviews are negative, Amazon maintains an A+ rating with the BBB.

Make it a high priority to be responsive to complaints not only on the BBB, but anyplace else where they might pop up.

business reviews BBB rating

Respond to questions about your business

Quora defines itself as “a place to share knowledge and better understand the world.” It’s a great place to engage with chatty intellects who are willing to answer questions posed by its users. Buyers don’t necessarily go directly to Quora for business reviews, but if you offer a complex product or service that costs a few hundred dollars or more, you might want to take a serious look at Quora. Chances are, people are talking about it. Some brands are so prominent that all their questions are grouped together. If you’re an Evernote user, and I highly recommend it by the way, check out some of the Evernote Q&As posed on Quora.

Review your customers

Uber, Airbnb, OfferUp, OpenTable and more companies are not only giving customers a chance to rate the service provider, but also giving the service provider a chance to rate their customers. When both parties know they’re evaluating each other, it tends to result in a more cordial interaction. And this is reflected the exchange of reviews and ratings. If it makes sense for your business model to offer mutual ratings, consider adding the option.

business reviews customer reviews

Join a matchmaking site

Angie’s List is a membership site that “eliminates anonymous reviews giving you trusted, more credible info to make the right choice.” If you’re a contractor, for example, and finding high quality customers is important to you, Angie’s List might be a good fit for you. Be prepared to go through through their background check. If you’re interested in listing your business, check out Angie’s List Business Center to learn more.

Consumer Affairs provides “expert resources and verified reviews” to help customers make smarter buying decisions. Their philosophy is that “everyone deserves to make smart decisions based on unbiased feedback and research-driven information.” They encourage visitors to write business reviews about their experiences with their member brands. Check out their Brands platform to see if it might be right for your business.

Participate in a business review site that makes sense for your niche

If you own a restaurant, you might want to consider Zagat which helps foodies “cut through the clutter of available dining choices” to find the best places wherever they are. Or OpenTable where your customers can “make restaurant reservations the easy way.”

If you manufacture a product, you might set a goal to be a featured product in Consumer Reports or the Environmental Working Group “whose mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.”

business reviews ratings EWG healthy living app

If your business depends on your reputation as an expert, consider writing a book. Goodreads is a terrific place for you as a leader to share your bookshelves and review books. Between Goodreads and Amazon, indie authors have an opportunity for their books to rise to the a bestseller and they have the opportunity to compete with all the big name publishers. Goodreads is a terrific tool for authors and their readers. And it’s also a great place to find, read and review books in your industry. To make the most of your reviews, follow Goodreads Review Guidelines.

Keep Twitter on your watch list

Twitter’s mission is “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” This means that you can share information about your business while tagging anyone you want. And it means that others can do the same to you. For better or worse, others can also create fan clubs such as Trader Joe’s List or protest groups such as InequalityAtWlmt. Twitter is not a main contender when it comes to business reviews, but depending on the type of business you operate, you might want to keep it on your watch list.

Highlight customer testimonials on your website

Nearly every business can benefit by having a website. It’s the one place online where you can define your brand and the intent of what you have to offer. It’s a great place to highlight a variety of customer testimonials that give insight into the benefits of what you have to offer.

If you have a content rich and attractive website, buyers are more likely to check it out to see what you have to offer. This is the one place where you have complete control of your customer testimonials.

Provide great customer service to everyone

Your best line of defense is to treat all your customers and employees with love and respect. Encourage everyone in your business to read and discuss books that help to develop their people skills such as: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

If you need a writer to help with responses to your business reviews, or assist with content marketing on your website, let me know. I’d love to help. Contact me today.

Lorraine Haataia

Dr. Lorraine Haataia has expertise in several industries including education, construction and transportation. She believes that our thoughts create our reality. She’s passionate about writing because it gives readers the opportunity to learn on demand, expand their minds, and benefit by seeing the world in a new way.

Essential Components of a Content Marketing Strategy

“One of the primary purposes of a content marketing strategy is to influence your ideal customer to make a decision to buy. One of the strongest influences is: ‘what do other people like me think about this product or service?’ One of the most powerful examples is a customer testimonial. Another classic example is an endorsement from a famous person. This content you’re producing is to encourage them to buy,” Bob Haataia said.

A content marketing strategy is essential for driving sales. A strategy is a living document that defines your actions. It gives you a basis for continuous improvement. Bob Haataia, a senior product leader, recommends a documented strategy with answers to the following questions:

What are your goals?

In your content marketing strategy you should have goals so you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, whether it’s increase your sales by 10% in three months, or doubling your business in eighteen months. It’s important to know why you’re trying to get your message out.

“With content marketing you have to think in terms of getting traffic over time. You have to think more about the long term. You can pay for Google Ads to boost traffic, but you have to continue to pay over the long term to keep traffic coming. With content marketing, the traffic builds over time, and is sustained long-term because of the content. It’s the classic example of deciding whether you want a million dollars now, or a penny in an account that doubles every day?” Bob said.

penny doubled every day 30 days money graph content marketing strategy

A penny doubled every day produces more than $5 million dollars in 30 days.

It’s important to have SMART goals is so you can find out what’s working and what isn’t. For example, if you start out with a six-month marketing campaign with a number of activities, you’ll be able to track those activities that bring you closer to your goals. It’s important that your goals are business results, not activities. A business result is a 15% increase in your traffic, versus an activity such as Tweeting daily.

SMART goals specific measurable attainable relevant time based content marketing strategy

Here are some examples of some SMART content marketing goals:

  • increase website traffic by 25% in the next six months
  • educate customers on new service in the next thirty days
  • collect 500 email addresses in the next ninety days
  • increase revenue by 5% over the next six months

“In the beginning, you may not know if your goals are realistic or not. Even if you don’t achieve your goals, by having SMART content marketing goals and tracking your progress over time, this will help you set better goals in the future,” Bob said.

Who is your ideal customer?

Why is it important to know your customers? The more you know and understand them, the better your content is going to meet their needs. By knowing your customers, you can provide information at every step of the buyer’s journey. Customer education is a key ingredient to drive sales.

“Whether you’re a consumer business, or B2B, you want to know who buys your product or service. For example with a hair salon, you might get a lot of everyday consumers who are in a particular age range. By understanding this, you can start targeting your message and services to this age,” Bob said.

It can be very helpful to document this. You can do this through personas. These are generalized representations of ideal customers you’re trying to bring in.

Yelp user customer persona content marketing strategy

Large marketing organizations, such as Yelp, create customer personas to better target their messages and build better products or services. They describe what a typical customer does for a living. They often even describe their hobbies. What do they like and what do they do in their spare time? Part of your product or service is making their life easier.

“Buyer personas  are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help us internalize the ideal customer we’re trying to attract, and relate to our customers as real humans. Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.”Hubspot

It’s helpful to know your customers so well that you can predict their questions. Once you understand their common questions like:

  • What is it that I need or want?
  • What does it do for me?
  • What’s included in the product or service?
  • How much am I willing to spend on it?

These are deeper rooted questions than ‘what is your location’ or ‘what services do you have?’ As you look at all your service offerings, you can decide where you want to focus more of your attention. It’s important to know if the services you provide are meeting the needs of your customers.

You can go one step further and look at the competition. How does your ideal customer see you compared to the competition? How is your product better? When you know your customer, you look at your competition in a different light. You need to know your strengths to ensure your key messages stand out.

“This is how you develop your content marketing strategy to ensure your content is centered around answering the questions your customers have. In the beginning, these are questions they don’t even know they have. They may not know they need a product or service because they’re not even aware it exists. Your content needs to expose the problem so they can recognize how they might benefit,” Bob said.

By better understanding your customers, you’ll be better able to answer their questions before they even ask them.

What are your key messages?

In your content marketing strategy you’re going to have core messages to address customer questions along the buying journey. You want to limit your content to some key themes. In these core messages, you build your brand and stand out among your competitors.

“In content marketing you can answer all your customer questions. Ideally, over time, your website will answer every question a customer might have. Once a person discovers you through social media or advertising, they can look deeper into your website to find answers to their questions. This can save a small business many hours of answering the same questions over and over,” Bob said.

I recently began exploring conversion vans. By browsing through articles I found answers to questions I didn’t even know I had, such as:

  • How do you take a shower in such a small space?
  • How long will batteries last?
  • What will solar power do for me?
  • Can I get internet everywhere?
  • Where can I park?
  • Do the front seats swivel?

“Everybody likes to hear a story. This is another advantage of content marketing. I recently read an article about a couple living 100% in their conversion van. It was fun to read their story. I learned about some of the challenges of living in a tiny space, but I also learned about the exhilaration of parking near the ocean and hearing the waves. They talked about going to a campground and having dinner outside in a Redwood forest. A customer story is a great way to capture your customer’s attention. A content market expert knows how to tell stories to promote your product or service,” Bob said.

customer success stories typewriter blogger content marketing strategy

“Telling stories captures people’s imagination. In reading the article about living in a conversion van, I learned that there are many people who live full-time in a conversion van. I also learned about boondocking. I didn’t even know what it was, but now I’m interested,” Bob said.

“The questions in the early buying stage are different than later on. In the beginning I may be looking at floor plans. And later I might be looking for answers on how to fix my propane tank. So the content you put out is not only what a person might ask before they buy, but also what they ask after they buy. Through the process you become a trusted partner,” Bob said.

Where are you going to share your content?

“Start off with recognizing the vast number of channels where you can place content on the internet to be found. It’s virtually impossible to get the information everywhere, so you have to make good decisions about where you’re going to expose your information,” Bob said.

There are lots of different ways you can share your content. You’re going to post it to your website, but you need a strategy for which social media channels to use. Depending on your customer demographics they will most likely be using at least one of these channels:

“As a small business, your content marketing strategy should reflect the actions it will take to increase your sales. Maybe you need advertising, or a new social media channel depending on the product and competition. Maybe you need to place an article in a magazine. Maybe you need to start a YouTube channel. Maybe you need a Facebook page, or maybe you need a SnapChat channel. A lot of younger consumers are moving to SnapChat. A lot of people in India use WhatsApp. In a small business like Restoration Illumination, I imagine that most of her customers are on Pinterest,” Bob said.

social media channels facebook linkedin YouTube Quora Twitter content marketing strategy

For a small business owner, it can be effective to work with a content marketing specialist to develop your content marketing strategy because all of this can be time-consuming and overwhelming.

“A few years back when I was division governor in Toastmasters, I did some analysis on Facebook. Roughly half of the people in Northern Florida were on Facebook. What other medium can you use to get to nearly half of your target population? After that, the district governor created a social media chair and I helped to develop the strategy,” Bob said.

“All of the technology we’ve talked about here is essentially free. There’s not a huge investment that’s required. One of the most important reasons to have your own website is that you can measure your results much better. You can still post your information out on these social media channels, but with your own website, you can track the results of your efforts. It’s vital to have a website that’s driven by a content management system, such as WordPress or HubSpot,” Bob said.

As a small business you have limited time. You can look at your analytics on Twitter and Facebook and a lot of other places, but with your own website, you can get all the information you need in one place. Google Analytics is good enough for most small businesses.

How are you going to measure results?

“The reason it’s important to have measures in place is to know which activities are hitting your target market. If you see lots of traffic coming from another potential market, you might want to up your investment into that new market. This is one of the reasons why you need to do content marketing for several months. There may be another need you can meet. If you publish services that are coming soon, and you see lots of hits in that area, you might want to fill that need sooner,” Bob said.

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“You want your activity to translate into purchases. By measuring results in these areas, you can find out who is being educated appropriately and decides to purchase. By measuring all this, it helps you to decide what content to publish,” Bob said.

Paying attention to page analytics can be helpful. By looking at Google Analytics, you can see whether your information is coming from Google, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest for example. And you can adjust your efforts to get better results.

How are you going to improve your content marketing strategy?

“Content marketing is not a silver bullet. You can’t write one article and expect all your traffic to come. The way Google search engines work is that it takes a consistently updated website to get it to the top where it can be discovered. Having this as a long-term strategy and finding out what really resonates with your customers will help you target content that translates into sales. It’s important to have a continuous improvement plan in place for all your marketing activities,” Bob said.

Not everything you do will always work, but knowing what works better allows you to focus your messages and continuously improve.

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“Let’s say you have a menu of services and one or two of your pages is getting more hits, but you aren’t getting a lot of sales in that area. By paying attention to these numbers, you might be able to make small changes to convert these into sales,” Bob said.

When you have a lot of different services, you may have one that is yet to be discovered. One of the benefits of having a content marketing strategy over a six month period is that it allows you to potentially tap into new markets you weren’t aware of.

When you try something like Groupon, and it doesn’t work, this becomes part of your living document. As important as it is to track what you’re doing right, it’s equally important to track what isn’t working. This is why it helps to have a six-month campaign. After your first six months, your strategy is going to be so much better than it was in the beginning.

“When I was at IBM, we decided to do a Google AdWords campaign with a $10,000 budget. I got the team together and brainstormed all the keywords. After doing this, we discovered our web traffic didn’t increase at all. We spent $10,000 to find out that Google AdWords didn’t work in driving up traffic to the IBM support website. Even though Google AdWords didn’t work, we were able to increase traffic by two million hits over twelve months by understanding other activities that were working and doing more of it,” Bob said.

By answering these questions, documenting your content marketing strategy, and taking action, you will see an increase in your sales. This will also provide sustained traffic to your website over the long term which will make introducing new products or services that much easier.

Bob-Haataia-profileBob Haataia is a senior product leader with success in delivering complex solutions to achieve significant revenue. He solves today’s business problems with technology and the latest Agile development methodologies. He focuses on increasing global sales and services, lowering support costs, and delivering premier product experiences. He provides complete product management from inception to end of life. He believes that a content marketing strategy is essential for driving sales.