Archive for the ‘Online marketing’ Category

A model for small business publicity ideas

Fingers on keyboardGetting publicity depends on having something to offer that’s different and can’t be had anywhere else. This in turn relies on a unique blend of personality, innovation and expertise. In fact all the qualities that form the foundation of a successful enterprise.

So what are you waiting for?

Many businesses find it hard to go past first base when it comes to publicity for many reasons. Planning and running a press release campaign takes time, creative energy, and lots of perseverance.

Knowing what you want to achieve with a campaign is the easy part. Even defining your target audience isn’t too much of a challenge for businesses who understand their clientele. But brainstorming to come up with a newsworthy message that the media will want to run is a big hurdle.

Here’s a publicity planning model that will work for any small business.

Instead of getting stuck at the hurdle, try removing it – at least for the time being.

What if you didn’t have to get the media hooked at all?
What if you could put your messages out directly to your audience?
What if you could harness your enthusiasm and expertise – and that of your staff – to communicate directly to each prospective client one-on-one?

This is the kind of publicity that is now possible through blogging on a search-optimised site. Commenting on, a blog-enabled website set up by OM4Tourism, Undara’s Marcus Brady said:

What we love about it is the ability to have a two-way conversation with our target audience. We can talk to them whenever we need to communicate anything.

How do you know they’re listening? Because you can measure sign-ups to your blog, and you can use integrated analytics to see how many visitors come to which pages on your site and how long they stay – this includes your blog posts. Marcus reported:

Last week we broke our daily visitor record with 174 in one day, and over 70 per cent of our visitors are finding us for the first time, which is great. The more visitors we get, the more opportunities we have to sell.

Yet this isn’t marketing – this is telling your story, in the same way that an editorial or broadcast tells a story. Marcus again:

Instead of talking like a marketer, I’m appreciating the value of presenting authentic personalities, which reflect what we do so much more effectively.

The long-term effect is to build your authority in your niche area, so not only are you more likely to convert visitors to clients, but when a journalist is researching a story, or a relevant news issue arises, they are more likely to turn to you for additional story content.

Business blogging is therefore an excellent publicity strategy in its own right. But this is only part of the publicity model.

Your blog is a new source of publicity ideas.

Once you get into the swing of blogging about your news, new products and services, industry issues, innovations and the story behind your business, media messages will begin to jump out of the screen at you. Your blog becomes a natural springboard for media campaigns.

When you realise you’ve blogged a message that the media will want to hear, turn it into a press release and shoot it out to your media contacts. Do this regularly and they’ll start to sit up, take notice and come to your site to find out more.

So take some of the creative energy you’ve been expending on brainstorming publicity ideas, and channel it into blogging about your business in your own voice conveying your contagious passion for what you do.

Not only will you attract attention online, but creating media messages will become much easier, and the hurdle won’t seem insurmountable after all.

2008 Hidden Jewel Awards launched

Blue starfishThe 2007 PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards for small tourism operators were a resounding success, with almost 300 businesses from across Australia registering.

Each state winner achieved between 2 and 4 media stories in their target travel and lifestyle publications, including some fantastic features. The national winner, Ningaloo Blue, received a website, which came in at an amazing Google PageRank 4 after just two months of going live.

Hidden Jewel logo mediumFor 2008, we have renamed the Awards the OM4Tourism Hidden Jewel Awards in honour of our new business .

OM4Tourism is dedicated solely to helping small tourism operators get the word out about their services and destinations.

Each state winner will receive a blog-enabled website from OM4Tourism, plus free hosting, a design package and keyword analysis to kickstart their online marketing. The overall winner will also get a publicity campaign from PublicityShip, targeting national print and broadcast media, plus global online distribution.

And all entrants will benefit from coming to the attention of our prestigious panel of judges.

For 2008, we’re thrilled to be welcoming the Executive Producer of Channel 9’s Getaway travel show, John Walsh, to the panel, along with, Quentin Long, Publisher of Australian Traveller, and Les Cox, CEO of AAT Kings.

The entry procedure is straightforward and quick. Register your interest now and you’ll receive information shortly on how to enter. To register, go to our Hidden Jewel page and scroll down to fill out the form.

5 ways to build trust through publicity

Anna Pollock of Desticorp recently highlighted the changes in the way consumers are making choices.

She quoted statistics from FutureLab that reveal the soaring mistrust of brands and advertising, and pointing to peer reviews as being the most trusted influence in the decision to buy:

“Peer reviews are preferred over expert reviews by a 6 to 1 margin,” she told us.

She also pointed to the change in what makes a successful brand. No longer are we looking to brands that express an identity or image. It seems we’re now looking for those that appeal to our aspirations: “how does this brand make the world a better place?” (Think IBM’s ‘You can innovate to make a difference’ and BP’s ‘green’ logo.)

This is reflected in the world of online marketing, where a business is more likely to succeed if it:

  • convinces us of its credibility through customer reviews, testimonials or stories, and
  • regularly publishes useful content that addresses our problems and aspirations (a flashy website dedicated purely to image is less likely to convert).

As consumers, we no longer rely on a one-way flow of information via static websites, ads, brochures etc. We look for peer reviews and someone who understands our problems or desires, and who is willing to help us by providing information and resources.

A conversation is taking place.

Underneath the conversation lies a series of supportive ‘resources’ – or products and services that bring the business its revenue. Trust in the business leads to acquisition of the customer – or sales.

This set me thinking about what this all means for PR, and publicity in particular.

Publicity has always been a way to create a story and inspire a conversation around a product or service, and this is why it’s becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. It’s the closest form of marketing to word-of-mouth, which is the most trusted.

My advice is to give your audience what they’re looking for – a conversation around the relevant issues, with engaging stories from satisfied customers.

Here are my five ways to build trust through publicity:

  1. Steer clear of promotional messages. The journey is from conversation to conversion. Trying to sell during the conversation is similar to interruption advertising, and is less likely to succeed.
  2. Start a conversation by putting out interesting, newsworthy, issues-based messages.
  3. Find satisfied customers who are willing to be profiled or tell their aspirational and inspirational story.
  4. Put more stories and articles on your site and make them freely available to the media and your prospects.
  5. Be genuine and responsive in your intention to offer free advice and support through all your media channels (including your own site) – readers and listeners are becoming very good at sniffing out a fake, and will expect a conversation, not a pitch.

Online Marketing for Tourism – Our New Site

Blue starfishGlenn has just announced the launch of our new online marketing site, Now it’s my turn! is another brand new site dedicated to providing online marketing resources for small tourism businesses.

If this is you, take a look at the site and have a browse. It’s designed to help you decide what you need to be doing to get in front of of the rapidly increasing number of online browsers looking for travel experiences.

We have a series of articles, self-help guides and information on services we provide. For those who aren’t sure why online marketing matters so much, start by reading The New Rules of Online Marketing for Tourism.

I’m also encouraging lots of feedback, so don’t hesitate to leave comments, fill in our “Tell Us What You Think” form or email me.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why the starfish – this is emerging as our OM4Tourism symbol. The five legs correspond to the five online marketing tools we recommend: Keyword Analysis, Content Marketing, Search Marketing, Email Marketing and Affiliate Marketing.

All these – and how they apply to your marketing process – are explained in more detail on the new site.

Online forums: a way to interact with prospective customers?

Participating in forums is an interesting activity for many businesses. To take the world of travel as an example, there are so many travel forums out there now that the online chatter is almost deafening.

The good thing about these user-content sites is that they give perspectives from real people who’ve really been there. Readers are also hungry for information. They will search until they find exactly what they’re looking for, and they will read lots of content.

The majority of the chatter on travel forums is from travellers themselves exchanging information, but there are a few travel businesses who manage to make a useful contribution and attract customers in the process.

HOWEVER – it’s really important to understand that forums are meant to be a platform for the exchange of information, and not a marketing tool. If you do add content to a forum, be sure that you are adding value and not just trying to sell your services or products. Entries that are clearly sales messages will be moderated out, and you may even be banned from a forum if the moderator believes you are using it for commercial purposes only.

Think about the readers’ reasons for browsing the forum and you’ll realise there’s no point in posting sales messages – in fact this could even work against you. Forum participants are looking for helpful content, not ads. So if they sense an ulterior motive in an entry, they’ll skim past it.

The benefit to this style of communication with your audience is that you are presenting yourself as a genuine and helpful source of information – just as you do in your blog – which means readers who are interested are likely to check your profile and find out more about you. It’s also a useful way to find out more about your target customers – what questions are they asking, what are their concerns, problems, worries, etc. You can learn as much as you contribute.

Here’s an example of a forum entry from a business that’s written in a clear and informative style, with a straightforward comment at the end designed to raise interest in the business.

Notice that the final comment isn’t pushy, it doesn’t come across as a sales pitch – it’s just informing readers that this experience is available. Some forums won’t allow this kind of comment. But you can still post good content without adding a call to action. Just be helpful, informative and clear and interested readers may well end up at your website. Include lots more helpful information on your site, and they’ll stick around for a bit longer.

A good way to find forums that are relevant to your business is to set up Google Alerts on specific keywords. You’ll find that many of the links that appear in your inbox are forum entries, and this will lead you to the best forums in your area. Make sure you rummage around the site to get an idea of the readership and the quality of the content. This will help you decide whether you can genuinely add value and attract the readers who are likely to be interested in what you do.

Methods that are helping tourism businesses acquire overseas customers

Cable Beach fishingRead about the challenges faced by small tourism businesses marketing to the world – and ways to overcome them – in my new article. I will post in more detail on each of the marketing issues tackled in the article. But for the impatient, here’s a link to the full version: Marketing Niche Accommodation & Tours to Overseas Visitors.

The challenges and solutions come from 12 tourism operators plus my own experience of working with tourism and small businesses in general.

If you are faced with other marketing challenges that aren’t mentioned in the article, if you’d like to add ideas from your own experience – or if the ‘solutions’ don’t cut the mustard for you – please feel free to add a comment to my posts or contact me directly.

Thanks to the following tourism operators for their input:
Sharyn Rogers, Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage
Tony & Julie Smith, Rawnsley Park Station
Miriam Cooper, Granny Rhodes & Mulberry Cottage
Jason Miller, Rich & Lingering
Wendy Deighton, A River Bed
Jane Morgan, Cosmos Centre & Observatory
Anne Grebert, Anangu Waai!
Phil Walcott, The Rainbow Connection
Elizabeth Fleetwood, Hobart Historic Tours
Fiona Reddaway, Bright Brewery
Jeff Rivendell, Huon Valley Apple & Heritage Museum
Neil Schults, Prime Mini Tours

I’ll be writing profiles of each of these businesses for our new site devoted to online marketing for tourism – a work in progress, soon to be launched.

Global marketing challenges for small businesses

Earth in HandsI’m preparing an article on marketing challenges faced by small tourism businesses wanting to attract overseas visitors.

[Update: article now available here: Marketing Challenges]

It’s based on interviews with 12 tour and accommodation operators spread around the country, which have resulted in a series of common challenges and possible solutions – many of them relevant to all small businesses.

The solutions are drawn from the operators themselves and our experiences of working with small businesses in general.

Niche or small businesses marketing to a global audience face some real challenges – but also have some distinct advantages in the arena of online marketing. The article will highlight some of these, but before I publish, I’d like to invite you to contact me with your marketing experiences.

You don’t have to be in tourism. The same challenges face most small businesses and we are constantly listening and researching to find the best-fit solutions for these.

The article is currently focusing on 4 areas:

  • Alternatives to traditional, high-cost overseas marketing options
  • Building reciprocal links with other sites to attract more customers online
  • Tracking visitors to your site, how long they stay and what they do
  • Positioning your business to communicate the value of your personalised approach

The article will be published next week, with a series of blog posts relating each challenge to small business in general. So watch out for those and give me lots of feedback.

Why your PR focus should be on media releases and search marketing

Publicity is all about attracting attention to your business from your target audience. It’s the core of public relations – the relationship between you and your public.

In my experience as an editor and now a publicity manager, the best ways for a small business to achieve this are:

  1. Press release campaigns: sending specific messages to targeted media contacts.
  2. Search marketing: optimising your site so that journalists and your public can find you.

We have just seen coverage in Australian Traveller magazine and The Age travel section for one of our Hidden Jewel winners – Auswalk. These features are examples of how a business can benefit from being linked to an authoritative article relating directly to their business. The content of the feature is likely to draw interested readers – and the recommended businesses are likely to be their first port of call when they decide to book.

So how do you become a source that journalists choose to recommend?

In this case, the Australian Traveller article was a direct result of our May 2007 press release campaign, and shows how a press release can continue to bring results even months after distribution. Even if a media release isn’t picked up immediately, many editors will file releases that contain useful background and links for future articles.

The Age article demonstrates how publicity isn’t always a precise science. While our contacts at The Age did receive the press release, it is quite possible that the feature writer used online search to obtain their information. We may never know because asking a journalist where they sourced their information is something we rarely do – they are very busy people after all.

However, we do know that, increasingly, journalists are using Google to research their articles. I used to do this myself when I worked as a travel writer and editor, and the information and leads I obtained from the sites would then form the basis of my research. The more authoritative and useful the information, and the more helpful the leads, the more likely they were to be recommended in my features.

Assuming a journo writing about walking holidays in each state would use ‘walking holidays Victoria’ as a keyword (a word or phrase typed into a search engine), a quick Google search turns up Auswalk in the top 3 links, below the sponsored links. So it would only take a few seconds to find the best source for this information.

This is why online marketing is important not only to attract your public directly, but also to enable journalists researching on a particular topic to find you. Publish your media releases on your site, along with lots of other optimised, authoritative content, and your chance of coverage increases even further.

So take your keyword analysis seriously – being found by the media can result in a multiplied effect if they include your business in their publication, significantly raising your credibility and your public’s awareness.

Analysing visitors to your site with web analytics

When you are running your own website and using it for online marketing, its important to be able to analyse what is happening on your site. If you are new to online marketing, getting to understand the terms being used can be quite a challenge.

The Web Analytics Association has now published a standard set of terms so that everyone involved in web analytics can speak the same language. Avinash Kaushik, on his blog Occam’s Razor, has drawn attention to the new definitions for web analytics metrics.

There is more detail linked to from Avinash’s post, however here is the summary of the defined terms:

Page: A page is an analyst definable unit of content.

Page Views: The number of times a page (an analyst-definable unit of content) was viewed.

Visits/Sessions: A visit is an interaction, by an individual, with a website consisting of one or more requests for an analyst-definable unit of content (i.e. “page view”). If an individual has not taken another action (typically additional page views) on the site within a specified time period, the visit session will terminate.

Unique Visitors: The number of inferred individual people (filtered for spiders and robots), within a designated reporting timeframe, with activity consisting of one or more visits to a site. Each individual is counted only once in the unique visitor measure for the reporting period.

New Visitor: The number of Unique Visitors with activity including a first-ever Visit to a site during a reporting period.

Repeat Visitor: The number of Unique Visitors with activity consisting of two or more Visits to a site during a reporting period.

Return Visitor: The number of Unique Visitors with activity consisting of a Visit to a site during a reporting period and where the Unique Visitor also Visited the site prior to the reporting period.

Entry Page: The first page of a visit.

Landing Page: A page intended to identify the beginning of the user experience resulting from a defined marketing effort.

Exit Page: The last page on a site accessed during a visit, signifying the end of a visit/session.

Visit Duration: The length of time in a session. Calculation is typically the timestamp of the last activity in the session minus the timestamp of the first activity of the session.

Referrer: The referrer is the page URL that originally generated the request for the current page view or object.

Internal Referrer: The internal referrer is a page URL that is internal to the website or a web-property within the website as defined by the user.

External Referrer: The external referrer is a page URL where the traffic is external or outside of the website or a web-property defined by the user.

Search Referrer: The search referrer is an internal or external referrer for which the URL has been generated by a search function.

Visit Referrer: The visit referrer is the first referrer in a session, whether internal, external or null.

Original Referrer: The original referrer is the first referrer in a visitor’s first session, whether internal, external or null.

Click-through: Number of times a link was clicked by a visitor.

Click-through Rate/Ratio: The number of click-throughs for a specific link divided by the number of times that link was viewed.

Page Views per Visit: The number of page views in a reporting period divided by number of visits in the same reporting period.

Page Exit Ratio: Number of exits from a page divided by total number of page views of that page.

Single-Page Visits: Visits that consist of one page regardless of the number of times the page was viewed.

Single Page View Visits (Bounces): Visits that consist of one page-view.

Bounce Rate: Single page view visits divided by entry pages.

Event: Any logged or recorded action that has a specific date and time assigned to it by either the browser or server.

Conversion: A visitor completing a target action.

Online publicity – how blogs get you attention

Bloggers are rapidly taking on a similar role to traditional press editors in the world of online publicity. As blogs become more prolific, there’s an increasing number of highly authoritative ones being trawled by the search engines and subscribed to by a quality audience.

ProBlogger Darren Rowse’s 13 tips on asking other bloggers for links struck me as remarkably similar to the approach good publicists take when talking to the traditional media.

Replace the word ‘links’ with ‘press releases’ and the fit is almost perfect… which makes sense, because the intent is the same: you want the editor, or blogger, to notice your story, read it and publish it (or link to it) so that their audience gets to see it.

It costs next to nothing for a blogger to publish your content, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be asked to advertise in order to get editorial exposure, as is often the case with traditional media. Good quality content is the priority, and if you can provide this, you stand as good a chance as anyone else of getting attention.

This means including blogs in your publicity strategy, in the same way you would target other media. When you carry out your initial research, check out the content and readership of relevant blogs, and offer them good quality information that isn’t purely promotional. The kickback to you comes in the link at the end – it’s the authority of your content that attracts the publicity.

Not only that, but the link is a valuable part of your search engine optimisation: attracting links to your site from authoritative sources will help to bring you up in the search rankings.

Even better, posting news regularly on your own blog will also help your search optimisation, and including links to your target blogs will encourage those bloggers to sit up and take notice.

Suddenly you become one of the editors generating your own authoritative content and attracting your own readership.

It’s this authenticity, interactivity and ownership that gives Internet publicity the edge over traditional media, where the editor or producer is all-powerful and advertising dollars are paramount.

Next Page »