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Marketing tip of the week: How to create evergreen content

evergreen contentDoes your website or blog feature evergreen content? This type of content has a longer shelf life than most of the information we publish. Because it’s not tied in with the latest headlines, evergreen content remains relevant for years, and attracts inbound links. As you know, Google loves sites with plenty of genuine links coming in.

I’ve found that some of my evergreen posts about writing, podcasting, podcast scripting or podcasting gear have attracted traffic for five years or more. So have some of my podcasts. One episode about internal podcasting still gets traffic after more than six years. Talk about the long tail!

If you’re considering evergreen content, you might include how-to videos and blog posts, white papers and “explainer” pieces. An explainer doesn’t just define something; it makes it clear and easy to understand.

I’ll let you in on a secret: I sometimes mine my own outbox for ideas for evergreen content. You can do this too. If you hear the same question from umpteen clients, you know the answer could very well be turned into an evergreen blog post, podcast or video. At the same time, look at your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. What types of content are people consistently visiting? If your blog is like mine, a few dozen posts garner the most visits.

Evergreen ideas
I’ll bet you can quickly come up with plenty of ideas for evergreen content. Here is some inspiration to get you started:

  • Check your own files or your email outbox to determine the questions you answer most often for clients and prospects.
  • Examine your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to discover the topics your audience wants information about.
  • Consider writing a “how to work with____ (your profession)” post. So if you’re a freelance writer, you’d write a post about how organizations can get the most of their relationship with a freelance writer. A graphic designer or web developer could write a similar post. So could any professional.
  • Do a roundup post of the best sources of information in your field, or a directory of the top 10 podcasts in your niche, in your estimation. You get the idea. Use your expertise and knowledge to curate information and create useful content.

Evergreen creation tips
As for the creation of the content itself, here are some tips:

  • Keep written material short and to the point. People often don’t really read; they skim.
  • Use bullets and subheads.
  • Add a photo or graphic to attract the eye.
  • If you produce a video, keep it to two minutes. Be sure the quality is good and the sound pristine. You can shoot yourself in the foot with a fuzzy picture and muddy audio.
  • For text, audio or video content, be sure to keep SEO in mind when you create your meta-data.

Have you had success with evergreen content? If you’d like to learn more about this subject, check out my special report on content marketing.

Marketing tip of the week: Make the most of Twitter

Twitter_logo_blueAre you not using Twitter yet? Some of my friends and colleagues are uneasy about dipping their toes into this micro-blogging platform. Don’t be afraid! It’s a great tool for learning, sharing and networking.

To start, determine how you can complement your marketing and communication efforts with Twitter. Sign up at the Twitter website.

When you write your 160-character Twitter bio, be sure to add relevant and interesting information to help people decide if they should follow you. Add your photo plus a link to your website or blog.

Write about 10 tweets before you start following others. Twitter notifies you by email when someone follows you, and people usually check out the follower’s profile before deciding whether to follow back.

To find people to follow; start with your own address book. Use the “Find People” tab on the Twitter website. Be sure to follow thought leaders in your industry, and follow the people they follow.

Share some Twitter love by retweeting others’ content. Your Twitter feed should not be all about you.

Engage with others by using the @ reply feature or direct messages (DM).

Think about using a Twitter client such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite instead of the Twitter website. It will make Twitter easier to manage.

Create Twitter lists of clients, prospective clients, colleagues and other people. This makes Twitter much easier to manage. The full Twitter “firehose” is usually too much to consume. (By the way, you can see someone’s tweets in a Twitter list even if you are not following them. This is handy if you want to track your competitors on Twitter.)

Learn how to use hashtags and search for them. I like to define a hashtag as “the deliberate use of a keyword.” So, if I write a post about podcasting in general, I might not use the tag. But if I tweet about #podcasting, I’m letting people know that this tweet is ABOUT podcasting. Bonus: if you click on a hashtag, you’ll see the tweets associated with it.

Once you are comfortable with Twitter, try using Buffer to schedule tweets. Although I am wary of over-automation, I do like to schedule tweets to appear throughout the day, not just in the early morning when I’m scouring Twitter for great content.

Related content
My post on “Why people don’t follow you back on Twitter.”

P.S. If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area and you’d like to learn more about Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+, check out my next Hands-on Social Media Workshop.





Hands-on Social Media Workshop May 9

social media workshop

Spring is in the air, at last. And so are plans for my next Hands-on Social Media Workshop in Oakville, Ontario. If you’re in the Greater Toronto area, particularly the west end, I hope you will join us on May 9.

I’ve been running this workshop for a few years (although I update it every time). Many of those who sign up tell me they’re tired of trying to figure out social media on their own. In our small group, they can learn, ask questions and get expert tips. By the end of the day, they’re confident about moving forward with social media in their businesses, and can make informed choices about which tools might be best for their particular situation.

Here’s what the workshop offers you:

  • A comfortable environment where you can ask questions and get honest answers.
  • Advice about developing a strategy for using social media in your communications and/or marketing.
  • Up-to-date information about the latest social media tactics and tools.
  • Tips to help you be more productive with social media (including the intelligent use of automation tools).
  • Suggestions for resources to help you keep learning about social media, because it’s constantly changing.

Eventbrite - Hands-on Social Media Workshop

Marketing tip of the week: Consider content curation

One of the things my social media friends complain about is people who constantly push out content about themselves: “Buy my book, sign up for my workshop, read my stuff.” Sure, I’d encourage you to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and GooglePlus to share your brilliant new blog post, but if you talk only about yourself online, you’re bound to alienate people and lose followers.

In my social media workshops, people ask, “Well, what should I publish then?” Here’s my short answer: Follow interesting people on various platforms, subscribe to publications in your field, and then share the best of that content with others. If you do this consciously, you are a curator, or one who consistently finds, organizes, annotates and shares the best of relevant content.

Just this week, my friend Judy Gombita used the term “mindful curation,” which I love. “Mindful” means you put thought into the content you share. You’re not just blindly retweeting or reposting content.

Like Judy, I’m a mindful user of paper.li, a cool tool that allows you to share content in a newspaper-like format. Among some of my friends, these papers have received a bad rap because users often generate them relying solely on the paper.li algorithm. We all see the result in our Twitter feeds: “The Bob Smith Daily is out!” Who cares?

Savvy Communicator News

I publish this daily with paper.li

Instead, to publish the best paper possible, take the time to edit the content and move stories around. Don’t be afraid to delete content that’s not sufficiently relevant to your audience. My friend Sue Horner does a nice job of this with her Independent Communicator newsletter.

After all, you want to publish stuff that compels people to say, “Wow, thanks. This is really useful!” At the same time, you’ll be helping your followers avoid the firehose of content, which offers us too much at once. Soon people (perhaps including your prospects?) will count on you to provide excellent content. Who doesn’t want to be known as a person who is smart and generous?

Here are some tips to help you get started with curation.

First, find great content.

  • Subscribe to topical blogs and newsletters; use Feedly to follow them and Delicious or Diigo or another social bookmarking tool to tag and save links.
  • Set up persistent searches in Twitter for keywords you’re interested in. Create columns in TweetDeck or Hootsuite so you can see the fresh content.
  • Follow smart people on Twitter and subscribe to Twitter lists of thought leaders in your areas of interest.
  • Get involved in Google+ Communities, where you’ll find plenty of insights around the topics you care about.
  • Subscribe to other peoples’ newspapers on Paper.li; look for those that focus on subject matter that’s most meaningful to you and your followers.
  • Flip through Flipboard on your tablet or smartphone to find interesting stuff.

Now you can share that content:

  • Write blog posts that use others’ information as a jumping-off point; be sure to add your own insights.
  • Share content published by others on your own social media accounts; if the content is visual, consider sharing it on Pinterest too.
  • Use someone else’s post as the basis for a discussion in a LinkedIn Group or G+ Community. Ask a question of members of the group to spark debate.
  • Publish your own newspapers on Paper.li and share them via social media. Consider a Pro account, which gives you more control over branding and advertising, and allows you to delay publication until you’ve completed your edits.
  • Use Storify to gather up tweets around a particular hashtag (great for events); share them on social media or embed them in your blog.

Years ago I saw a great quote by Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications. He said 70% of the content you publish should be curated, and just 30% branded (yours). The rationale? “Because the rest of the world is at least 70% more interesting than your brand; and, promoting external content builds social capital and makes grateful fans of influencers.” Well said!

What’s your best tip for curation?

Content marketing is not synonymous with any old content related to marketing

content marketing

Sometimes we communicators are sticklers for grammar and usage. When someone says he just published a new blog, for example, we really hope he doesn’t mean a new “blog post.”

Don’t even get me started on “lie” and “lay.”

But there’s an even bigger transgression I’m seeing more and more these days: an apparent confusion between the terms “content marketing” and “any old content related to marketing.”

For the record, here’s the definition I like to use for content marketing:

Content marketing is the consistent creation, curation and publication of relevant, valuable material that attracts and engages a clearly defined audience.
It must have an objective.
It is not sales-y.

Why do people lump all the content they’ve ever written about their product, including brochures and sales sheets, into the bucket known as “content marketing”? This just confuses the issue. I have to believe they truly don’t know what content marketing is, and they’ve just latched on to what they believe is a “trend.”

For the sake of clarity, perhaps some examples will help.

If you’re a lumber company, your video about how to build a birdhouse is content marketing. On the other hand, your video about how your pressure-treated wood is better than Company X’s wood is content,  not content marketing, because it’s about you.

If you are a professional podcast producer, your blog post about how to choose a microphone is an example of content marketing. A post about your own podcasting production services is content, not content marketing.

If you’re a writing coach, your workshop about how to write a best-selling book is content marketing. A workshop about your coaching services for writers is not content marketing. (Yes, I’ve been invited to many “workshops” that are merely vehicles for a sales pitch; spare me.)

Some people seem to object to the very idea of content marketing. “Why should I publish anything that won’t immediately lead to sales?” they ask.

Well, I believe content marketing can be an important part of your communications because it can:

  • Help demonstrate your thinking and your approach to business.
  • Build your brand around a library of great content (text, audio, video, infographics, etc.).
  • Encourage others to spread your content; people share great content.
  • Cultivate thought leadership within your niche or industry.
  • Improve your search engine optimization around the keywords at the centre of your publishing efforts.
  • Ultimately generate leads.

magentOverall, content marketing is like a magnet drawing prospects to you.

Do you agree with my assessment of content marketing?

For more on this topic, check out my free report on content marketing. (Yep, that’s content marketing.)

Related content

New book: The Business of Podcasting

book cover The Business of Podcasting

Cover concept for the book

If you’re curious about the business side of podcasting, you may be interested to hear that my colleague Steve Lubetkin and I are writing a book on the subject. Steve is a podcasting pioneer, and founder of one of the first podcast production companies in the United States.  If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been in the communications biz for more than two decades, and podcasting since 2005. So, Steve and I are familiar with the medium and know what it’s like to not only produce podcasts for our own businesses, but for clients as well, from large corporations to nonprofits.

Unlike many other podcasting books on the market that cover the mechanics of creating a podcast, The Business of Podcasting will delve into the business side of the craft, including such topics as how to position clients’ expertise through podcasting, and how to offer podcasting as a business service. We will discuss how to find clients, how much to charge, how to design a project plan and contract for a podcast series, and how to help clients deal with their IT or Legal departments, who may resist the idea of a podcast. There’s a lot more to be covered in the book!

If you’re a professional podcaster, Steve and I may be reaching out to you to share your own stories of podcasting as a business. Of course you are more than welcome to contact us. Feel free to email me at donna AT trafcom DOT com.

Please visit the website for The Business of Podcasting and sign up so Steve and I can let you know when the book is ready to launch.

P.S. In case you missed this earlier bit of news: my publication, The Podcast Scripting Book, is available on Kindle.

Marketing tip of the week: Learn how to pitch

Imagine the business owner at her desk late one night. Sitting amid a pile of empty Starbucks cups, she has finished writing a detailed proposal and thinks she can rest after hitting “send.” After all, at the pitch meeting next week she can just “walk” the client through the written proposal, right?

Not really. If she’s smart she’ll take the extra step of preparing an in-person pitch to persuade the prospect.

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs and small business owners focus only on the written proposal, and treat the in-person presentation as an afterthought.

That’s too bad.

In this week’s marketing tip, we’ll explore the components of a successful in-person pitch.

Let’s start with two key points:

  • A pitch is not you reading your written proposal.
  • A pitch is not a PowerPoint deck.

Of course not all pitches are worthy of hours of preparation time. But if your prospective project is important, and you really care about winning the business, invest some time.

Let’s assume you’ve already met with the prospect at least once (even by phone) and truly listened to their needs. You fully understand what they’re looking for. Now you need to convince them you are best positioned to take on the assignment and solve their problem.

Tips for successful pitching

Describe the problem you solve for your clients – in a story
It’s way too easy to recite a laundry list of what your company does. It’s also boring. A much more effective approach is to share a story about how you solve problems. Help them picture you as their savior. Perhaps you can paint a “before” and “after” scenario. People remember stories, not data.

Include yourself
Don’t be afraid to include yourself as part of the pitch. If you developed your product or service, for example, as the answer to a pain point you yourself were feeling, share this. Such information breathes life into your story. Last week I heard a student pitch a science podcast; he told us about how he offhandedly signed up for a course in university and accidentally discovered he was an “astronomy savant.” It was a fascinating way to open his pitch and drew us right in.

Be wary of visuals
Rethink the idea of showing a cluttered slide. The audience should be looking at you, not trying to decipher a busy PowerPoint deck. In fact, you should reconsider the idea of using slides at all. Why not let people focus on you and your message, rather than a screen?

Remember that more data is not better
Rattling off figures doesn’t dazzle the audience; instead, you might lose them. Sure, keep the numbers at your fingertips so you can answer questions, but don’t attempt to cram every bit of data possible into your pitch. Stick to high-level benefits. Overall, you want to show how your product or service solves a problem in a way no one else can.

Don’t read!
The person you’re pitching to wants to learn something, to be surprised, and to feel that your solution is ideal. Standing there reading does not persuade people or engender trust. So spend the time to know your pitch so you don’t have to read it. When you rehearse, don’t read the pitch quietly to yourself. Stand up and deliver it. The idea is not to memorize the pitch, but to have it become part of you so it flows naturally. This takes work. Try recording yourself using either audio or video. How do you sound?

Watch your words
Don’t overuse clichés like “world-class solutions” and “Your success is our success.” Instead, clearly emphasize the benefits of working with you in real-life terms.

Slow down
Most of us, including me, talk too fast. Take your time. Breathe. Allow people the space to digest what you’re saying.

Close strong
Never end a pitch by saying, “I’m done” or “That’s it” or “Any questions?” You want to finish on a high note. It could be something as simple as telling the prospect you really want their business and would be excited to work on their project. When an organization has reached out for help, they’re often delighted to think that someone else is thrilled about tackling their problem.

What would you add to my pitching advice?

Related content



Marketing tip of the week: Stop ignoring Google+

Google+We’ve all heard the jokes:
“Google+ is a ghost town.”
“Only Google employees use Google+.”

Ha ha. Well, the joke’s over, my friends. If you care about content marketing, search engine optimization, Google Authorship and communicating with your audience, Google+ has become essential, and you ignore it at your peril. A social networking and identity service owned by Google, with more than 540 million active users, Google+ has been described as a “social layer” that enhances many of Google’s products.

Remember that Google owns Gmail, YouTube, Google Analytics, Google Images, Google Drive, GoogleDocs, Google Search and others.  And we know that Google’s Search algorithm especially likes content that originates in Google+.

Eventually, if you ignore Google+, Google Search will ignore you. So said Google co-founder Larry Page, according to marketing and social media expert B.L. Ochman in this excellent article for Social Media Today. [UPDATE: We were not able to find the original source for this Larry Page quote, but Google's emphasis on G+ is abundantly clear.]

Google+I admit I was skeptical when Google first launched G+. I thought it was a feeble attempt by Google to clone Facebook. I was wrong. Very wrong. Today I find G+ to be invaluable for networking, learning, sharing and content marketing.

I love the Communities and participate regularly in discussions with various groups, including podcasters, independent communicators and fellow members of associations. I use Hangouts all the time, and even published a Hangout on Air (and an audio podcast) about Google+ with B.L. Ochman.

Here’s how to get started with Google+:

  • Before you create your profile, know why you want to be there and what you want to accomplish.
  • Create a complete Google+ profile. Fill in the About section. Add a nice headshot and cover photo.
  • Name your Circles and then add contacts to these Circles. You can then share info with certain Circles, or read the activity stream from various Circles.
  • Post regular updates. In these updates, use #hashtags to improve your findability via Google Search.
  • Learn to format your updates. For example, an asterisk at the beginning and end of a group of words will bold them.
  • Remember Google+ is a very image-friendly place; use photos, infographics and other visuals to your advantage.
  • Add other multimedia, such as SoundCloud audio, which offers a player in G+. (You can see an example in the image above.)
  • Join Google+ Communities and participate in the discussions.
  • Be sure to try out Google Hangouts, which offer rich features to enhance your online communications.
  • As B.L. Ochman reminded me, Google has changed its Search algorithms; engagement really matters! Try to post great content that encourages shares and +1s (Google’s version of a “like”).

What has been your own experience with Google+ so far?

If you want to learn more about social media to improve your own marketing efforts, check out my Hands-on Social Media Workshop on March 28 in Toronto. We’ll explore Google+ as well as the other major social media tools.

Donna’s G+ cover photo credit: Kurt Kragh Sørensen (at the IntraTeam event in Copenhagen, March 2013)

A snake oil-free social media workshop

Social Media WorkshopI’m not sure if spring is in the air (it’s still freakishly cold in Toronto), or if something has happened to the alignment of the planets, but my inbox in the past week has been filled with offers containing ridiculous claims about profiting from social media.

So let me please tell you about my upcoming Hands-on Social Media Workshop, which will not:

  • Teach you everything you need to know to earn $200K per year “doing” social media
  • Promise you life on Easy Street with insider knowledge of the “secrets” of social media.

Here’s what my workshop DOES promise:

  • A comfortable environment where you can ask questions and get honest answers, in a friendly small group.
  • Advice about developing a strategy for using social media in your communications and/or marketing.
  • Up-to-date information about the latest social media tactics and tools that are relevant for intelligent, ethical business people.
  • Tips to help you be more productive with your use of social media.
  • Suggestions of resources to help you keep learning about social media, because it’s constantly changing.

Only a few spots remain in the workshop on March 28 in Toronto. I hope you’ll join us. Questions? Email me.

We’ll be serving a nice lunch at the Verity Club, too. No snake oil!
Eventbrite - Hands-on Social Media Workshop

Marketing tip of the week: Learn to use Twitter lists

First in a series.

One of the most powerful ways to exploit the capabilities of Twitter is the Twitter list, which is simply a curated group of Twitter users.

You can create your own lists or you can subscribe to lists created by others. For example, I have created a list of members of IABC/Toronto, so each time I open TweetDeck or Hootsuite, I instantly see the latest tweets from the members of this group. I’m more likely to retweet their content when I can see it! I also subscribe to a list of members of Silicon Halton, although I didn’t create the list.

Here's how two of my lists appear in TweetDeck.

Here’s how two of my lists appear in TweetDeck.

Don’t worry if you don’t use TweetDeck or Hootsuite (although I think you should). You can also view your lists from your profile page onTwitter.com.


Here’s how to create a Twitter list:Screenshot_2014-02-27_12_54_PM

  1. Go to your Lists page via the gear icon menu in the top right nav bar or by visiting your profile page and clicking on Lists.
  2. Click on Create List.
  3. Type the name of your list and add a short description. Choose whether you want the list to be private (accessible only by you) or public (anyone can subscribe to it).
  4. Click Save List. You’re done!

When you want to add someone to a list you’ve already created, click on the gear icon in their Twitter profile and choose Add to List. You can also add people via TweetDeck or Hootsuite.


Adding someone to a list via TweetDeck.

Some of my clients use private Twitter lists to “follow” competitors without actually following them on Twitter. Each day they can check on their competitors’ tweets just by viewing their lists. You can also use a Twitter list as the basis for publishing a “newspaper” via Paper.li, which I will cover in a future post.

What’s your favourite way to use Twitter lists?

If you want to learn more stuff like this, and you’re in the Toronto area, check out my Hands-on Social Media Workshop on March 28. We’ll explore Twitter as well as the other major social media tools.

Buzzword abuse

angry guyIn the past week or so, attending a bunch of in-person and phone meetings, I’ve heard a crateful of buzzwords. Buzzword overuse (low-hanging fruit, shifting paradigms, synergies, etc.) is bad enough, but when the terms aren’t even used correctly, my word-nerd hackles go up. To wit, here are a few examples.

Tactics and strategies are not equal.
Please don’t tell us you have a podcasting strategy. You are using podcasting as a tactic to execute your communications strategy so you can meet your goals. Or so we hope.

Big data is not the same as data.
Saying you’re going to measure your big data when you mean you’re going to check your social media stats just makes you look silly. Big data is a term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it’s difficult to process. Think of a retailer like Macy’s adjusting pricing in near-real time for tens of millions of items, based on customer behaviour. That’s using big data.

And while we’re at it, an amount and a rate are not the same.
I hear journalists make this mistake continually (not continuously). A rate is a quantity measured as a ratio, used to compare two different units. So, the price of coffee is not a rate.

Whew. I feel better now.

Which buzzwords have you seen abused this week?

Basic equipment and software for podcasting


The Blue Yeti

Podcasting takes time, energy and lots of planning, but picking out the gear and software can be surprisingly quick and easy. To start podcasting, you need only a computer with an Internet connection and sound card, a microphone, audio editing software, a hosting account and a way to generate an RSS feed (a self-hosted WordPress blog is the easiest way to do this).

You can also podcast from a tablet or smartphone, but I’ll save that info for another post.

Each podcaster has his or her own preferences. This is my personal list of recommendations. (Note: some are affiliate links.)

Essential for podcasting

Audio editing
Audacity or Adobe Audition (Mac and PC) or Garage Band (Mac only)

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone or
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Silver Edition

Podcast hosting provider

Portable digital recorder
Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder (You can use the Audio-Technica ATR2100 microphone with this recorder. You will need to get an XLR cable.)

Plugin for publishing a podcast on WordPress
Blubrry PowerPress

Recording Skype calls
Call Recorder (Mac) or Pamela (PC)

Pop filter (any filter you can easily attach to your microphone or mic stand or anchor in front of it)
For example: Nady MPF-6 6-Inch Clamp On Microphone Pop Filter

In a pinch you can use earbuds, but it’s better to get a decent set of headphones. Try them on to make sure they’re comfortable. I own the Sennheiser HD215 Headphone.

If you get serious about podcasting, you will eventually get a mixer, a backup recorder, extra microphones and cables, etc.

If you are a podcaster, please feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments!

And if you like this post, please feel free to share.

Related links
The Podcast Scripting Book
The Podcaster’s Checklist
Popular posts about podcasting
My podcasting manifesto: It’s NOT just about technology!

Slideshow: Secrets to podcasting success

Last week I spoke about one of my favourite topics, podcasting, to one of my favourite groups, Silicon Halton, a grassroots high-tech community of people who “make a living, make meaning and make things happen in technology in Halton Region,” just west of Toronto.

If you’re thinking about podcasting as part of your content marketing program, take a look at the presentation slides, which cover:

  • What’s a podcast anyway?
  • Why podcasting can become an important part of your marketing or communications program.
  • How good sound will separate you from the amateurs.
  • Why Google hates your podcast, and how to get around this limitation.
  • An overview of software and gear to start podcasting.
  • A quick podcasting workflow.

Do you have questions about podcasting? Let’s talk.

Two ridiculously simple steps to improve your visibility

This may be a bit of a rant. You see, I cannot understand why some people make it so difficult to get in touch with them. (By the way, I’ve changed some identifying details to protect the guilty.)

Case in point: I met someone last week and took his business card, promising to send him information about a social media workshop I’m running next month. Somehow, I lost the business card while walking from the restaurant to the car (I’m clumsy like that). Not a problem, I thought, because I remembered his name and his company name.

Back at my office, I looked for him on LinkedIn, but his name was too common to get meaningful results. So I Googled the company name and found the website right away. Guess what? NO contact page! I looked high and low and could not find a way to get in touch with this person. The weird part is that he describes himself as a marketing expert. Hmm. I’m not sure I would hire a marketing expert with no contact page on his website.

contact page

The next example happened today. Someone asked me to recommend a supplier with a particular skill. A name came to mind immediately, and I promised my friend I would send the contact information right away. For some reason I didn’t have the expert’s name in my database, so I Googled her. I clicked on the link to her website and got a 404. Uh oh. So I went to LinkedIn, where we are first-degree connections. Guess what? NO contact information!

LinkedIn allows you to list your email address, phone number and other contact info. Unless you’re not taking on new clients, why wouldn’t you do this? Beats me.

LinkedIn contact info

So, two simple steps to improve your visibility:

  1. Be sure your website has an easy-to-find contact page.
  2. Add your phone number and email address to your LinkedIn profile.

This seems ridiculously easy, right? So why don’t we all do it?

Five tips to improve your personal brand today

ribbon on fingerHere are a few easy-to-remember and easy-to-do tactics to improve your online presence and your personal brand.

Add content before requesting likes
Before inviting anyone to “like” your Facebook page, be sure there’s some solid content there. I’m often invited to a page that has no content at all. Even if I know you, I will hesitate to click on “like” in this situation. On principle. Give people a genuine reason to like your page.

Tweet first, then follow
Publish some tweets before you start following people on Twitter. Sure, you can lurk. But don’t start actively following until your bio is complete and you have a few tweets under your belt. When a person is notified that you have followed her, the first thing she’ll do is check your bio and your latest tweets. You’re unlikely to score a follow if either of these is incomplete.

Don’t start with @
If you begin a tweet with the @ sign, only the people who follow you and the recipient of the tweet will see it. If that’s your intention, fine. But if you want others to see it on Twitter, start the tweet with a different word or just place a period before the @ sign.

Check your links
It happens to the best of us. You send out a newsletter and then discover one of the links is bad, even though you tested everything. Or so you thought. Most email publishing platforms (I use Aweber – affiliate link) allow you to test before emailing. Do it! And click on every link in the test email.

Give before you get
If you contact someone by email or through LinkedIn and ask them for something, chances are they’ll hit “delete” in seconds. Instead, offer them something. Ask what you can do for them. This makes all the difference.

Whatever happened to the phone call?

phoneI experienced it again. A colleague sent me an email to ask: “Can I call you this morning?” I wondered why he didn’t just pick up the phone right then.

But later in the day I was sitting in my office when I thought of calling my daughter. “No,” I said to myself, “she’s probably busy. I’ll send her a text tomorrow.”

Has it come to this? Do we need to make appointments to use the telephone to talk to people? Why do we not hesitate at all to text or email them? Or even to tweet or send a Facebook message?

Telephone use seems to be on the wane. My unscientific study (which consists of asking my friends) confirms this. I have no statistics to back this up.

In the business world today, you can differentiate yourself just by using the phone instead of email. Imagine!

Heck, there’s even an app that lets you text companies instead of phoning them. You can ask: “Do you have any Nintendo wii nunchuck controllers available and how much are they?” Or “How much are your macaroons and which flavours do you carry?” These are very important questions! (I’m not making these up.)

In my own household, I gave up my home landline more than three years ago. Since my kids and I owned individual mobile phones, and I had a landline in my home office, the only calls that came through on the home phone were telemarketers. I got tired of taking silly calls from people selling duct cleaning while I was cooking dinner.

But even if we abandon the home phone, why the hesitation to use the phone at all? If you’re dating someone, he feels he needs to make an appointment to call you. You text your kids instead of calling. Your friend sends an e-card on your birthday but doesn’t phone. If you dial someone out of the blue, they wonder who died.

When I was a teenager, of course, I lived on the phone. My mom would complain that no one could get through because I was constantly yakking to Mary Ellen or Nellie or one of my other friends from school. During this era, long-distance calls were ridiculously expensive. If I could have imagined what life would be like in 2014 with free long distance (on my office phone), I would have been over the moon. So why don’t I use this free long distance to chat frequently with my friends? Good question!

I think I’ll freak some people out and make some calls this week.

What’s your phone habit these days?

How to get hired, plus other tips for speakers

Donna Papacosta speaking

I’m a student of the art and craft of speaking and eagerly read advice, tips and insights on this topic. Since I’m in the habit of saving these links, I thought I’d share some recent ones with you here. Perhaps you’ll find these links as useful as I did. You may even discover some new blogs to follow.

How to nail the first 60 seconds of your presentation, by Bruce Kasanoff
Great advice here about that all-important first minute of your talk, when the audience decides whether to pay attention or ignore you.

How to get hired as a speaker in 2014, by Nick Morgan
Nick is always worth reading. Subscribe to his blog and you won’t be disappointed. Here he talks about making yourself so compelling that people cannot NOT hire you.

What your audience needs more than ice cream, by Michelle Mazur
Michelle is another bright light worth following. In this post she talks about the importance of empathy and relating to your audience.

Public speaking in the 21st century, by Stephanie Scotti
Yes, we’re still going to presentations where people stand behind a lectern and read their slides. When will it stop? In this post, Stephanie reminds us that audiences today are informed, crave connection and expect to be actively engaged in the “conversation.”

The professional speaking manifesto: Six things you should stop saying now, by Tod Maffin
Never one to mince words, Tod admonishes us to stop saying things like “You following me?” I caught myself uttering this more than once recently.

Three ways the relationship with your audience starts before you walk on stage, by Nick Morgan
I’ve never liked the idea of flying in 10 minutes before the speech begins. As Nick advises, it’s smart to mingle with the audience before and after, and also to ensure your introduction sets the stage for your talk.

Ten steps to a killer presentation, by Marnie Hughes
My friend Marnie suggests some great general tips for just about every speaker.

Two errors that lead to fear, by Seth Godin
Sure, I’m nervous before speaking. Isn’t everyone? Here Seth talks about two things that might lead to this fear.

Ten phrases great speakers never say, by Jeff Haden
Of course you and I would never say, “Can you read this?” but how many of these other phrases have you said lately?

12 ways to evaluate speaking gigs for gender bias, by Denise Graveline
You might find this enlightening. I know I bristle when I see a speaker lineup made up of only white men. Nothing against white men, but the world is a little more diverse. Denise’s Eloquent Woman blog is a must-read for me.

Speaking of speaking, here’s a link to some of the places you can find me talking for the next few months.

Secrets of podcasting success: A Silicon Halton meetup

podcasting Silicon HaltonHave you ever thought of adding audio podcasts to your marketing mix? If you’re curious at all about podcasting, I hope you’ll join us for the Silicon Halton meetup on February 11, 2014, in Milton. Details and registration here.

Here’s a quick outline of what we’re going to discuss:

  • What’s a podcast anyway, and why is podcasting enjoying a resurgence?
  • Why podcasting can become an important part of your marketing or communications program.
  • How good sound will separate you from the amateurs.
  • Why Google hates your podcast, and how to get around this limitation.
  • A quick podcasting workflow; how to get started.
  • Plus much more.

During the talk I’ll share some of the things I’ve learned, and the mistakes I’ve made, since I began podcasting in 2005.

I hope to see you there!

Upcoming Toronto events and workshops

It feels like spring, with so much going on. If only the weather in Southern Ontario would co-operate! If you’re a communicator or a marketer, here are a few Toronto-area events and workshops you might be interested in.

podcastingSecrets of Successful Podcasting: Silicon Halton meetup
February 11, 2014
Milton, Ontario
The pundits have stopped talking about the “death of podcasting.” In fact, this medium is stronger than ever. At this free event, you’ll learn about the benefits of adding an audio podcast to your marketing communications, along with tips for producing a high-quality show.
Information and registration here.

Web Accessibility Standards: Halton-Peel Communications Association
February 12, 2014
Oakville, Ontario
As of January 1, website accessibility became a mandatory requirement for new websites for companies in Ontario with 50+ employees. This presentation by Andrea Dubravsky of ADWebcom is intended for writers, designers and web developers, and covers the non-technical aspects of building an accessible website.
Information and registration here.

Podcamp Toronto
February 22-23
This began as an un-conference all about podcasting, and has evolved into a two-day event all about social media and podcasting. You’ll meet some cool people and learn a lot.
Information and registration here.

Beyond Text Workshop
March 20-21, 2014 Update: This event has been cancelled.
This two-day event will help you move your organization from a text-only view of communications to one that embraces rich interactive media and mobile devices. Through hands-on work, group activities and role-playing, participants will discover the steps needed to shift your team to rich media communications. Wayne MacPhail and I will discuss the cultural shifts involved, the processes and training needed, the products you might use, and the pitfalls to consider. Information and registration here.

Hands-on Social Media Workshop
March 28, 2014
This popular workshop returns to Toronto on March 28, this time at the posh Verity Club. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. we will cover the why and how of social media, including all major social platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and more. This workshop is limited to a small group, and participants are encouraged to bring their laptops so they can learn by doing the hands-on exercises.
Information and registration here.

marketing with social content logoHow to market yourself with social content
April 4, 2014 UPDATE: This workshop has been cancelled.
This workshop is a natural follow-up to the Hands-on Social Media Workshop. Knowing how to tweet or post to Facebook is not enough. To achieve success, you need a vibrant personal brand, a marketing strategy and a process for producing and sharing great content. This event in will help you accomplish this.

I hope to see you at some of these events!

How to market yourself with social content

marketing with social content logoI’ve designed a new workshop to answer the most common questions I hear from solopreneurs, writers, editors, consultants and small business owners who want to get known, get remembered and get business.

Knowing how to tweet or post to Facebook is not enough. To achieve success, you need a vibrant personal brand, a marketing strategy and a process for producing and sharing great content. This workshop in Toronto on April 4 will help you accomplish this.

You’ll learn about:

  • Thinking like a publisher and developing a strategy
  • Establishing yourself in a niche as a thought leader
  • Why you need to blog; how to blog
  • Finding and sharing great content
  • Curating content vs. creating original content
  • Helpful cool tools, including Delicious, Buffer, TweetDeck, Hootsuite, Slideshare, Paper.li and others
  • Streamlining your workflow so you don’t spend all day tweeting
  • Measuring success
  • And more!

UPDATE: This workshop has been postponed.