Write About What Your Audience Finds Interesting

Writing

Image courtesy of lowjumpingfrog

A difficult thing for most bloggers is to write about what the target audience finds interesting…not what the writer finds interesting.

A lesson I’ve learned with blogging is there is a balance between writing about things that interest you and things that may interest your audience more. In the best case scenario you will find topics to write about that both you and your audience find interesting. It’s difficult to find topics that interest you and your audience.

The balance plays an important part because to have a successful blog you need to write about topics that keep you interested. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself getting bored or tired of writing. To have success, you need to cover topics that keep you interested. This is especially important when traffic has some down days and people don’t seem to have as much interest.

On the other hand, to build a strong following and to build up enough traffic to monetize a site you’re going to need to write about topics that have a passionate audience. Both on HBM and CML (Country Music Life) I’ve written posts that I was deeply interested and passionate about. These posts often fell on deaf ears. Readers simply didn’t have the same interest as I did. On other occasions I’d write about topics that I saw as throwaway or not as important and they would take off and traffic and interest would soar. Blogging is funny that way.

So the key with blogging is to research and write about the topics that interest your audience. This is essential for building a successful blog. But also throw in a few topics every once and awhile you find interesting. Write those articles for yourself and don’t expect much. On the special occasions you’ll find that you and your audience both find something interesting. This is when blogging is most rewarding.

Building the Right Audience

Building the right audience for your blog takes time and it can be a tricky process. The lure to seek out any able person to read or simply just open a page on your blog or site is so tempting. Numbers and money talk and in blogging it’s all about how many visitors and page views you can get. That’s what impresses advertisers, potential publishers, and even search engines.

However, when it comes to building a sustainable blog and Website, building the right kind of audience is important. The right kind of audience means finding the people that are truly passionate about the topics you write as well as being passionate about the way you cover those topics. These are long time readers. These are subscribers. These are people that check your site frequently each day for updates. These are people that share your content with their friends.

It’s tough to find these people, but the lifetime value of a reader like this is much higher than 10 or even 100 one-time visitors.

Conclusion

For a successful blog, you need to find your balance of topics that interest your target audience and you. The mix should be heavily skewed toward your audience with the occasional topic that keeps your interest.

To reach your target audience you’ll have to do research. You need to find the sites your audience already reads. What articles to they love the most on these sites? What articles does your audience comment on the most? Where is the most interaction and sharing?

It takes time to build a sustainable blog and most give up before reaching their potential. Keep the balance of interest for your target readers as well as yourself and don’t give up. Take the time to build the right audience.

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Integrating Offline and Online Branding

Are there offline opportunities to explore when promoting your hunting business?

Jack Daniels Nascar

Image courtesy of pocketwiley

These days there is a lot of focus going towards branding and growing a business via online methods: PPC, Affiliates, SEO, Blogger Outreach, Social Channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and many others. These methods all make great sense. The Internet has allowed people and business to connect and communicate in ways that have added value to relationships. Information is spread with little barrier. People are more connected and better educated. The Internet has been good for both business and consumer.

But are offline branding strategies being overlooked when it comes to marketing?

Offline Branding

Creating offline branding strategies can be a great way to enhance your online strategies or the offline branding you work towards can do fine on its own.

The world is moving toward a more connected, more online way of business. Smart business folks will want to stay on the cutting edge of information when it comes to new, online ways of connecting with customers and building trust.

However, there are still ways to connect and acquire customers offline that provide more return on investment than the current online methods.

An example of offline branding that reaches to a specific audience is the Native Hunt Racecar Sponsorship effort.

The Native Hunt Team is focusing on building awareness for their brand of outfitting while building business relationships that can lead to acquiring new customers while building trust to maintain their current customers. Native Hunt realizes that there is a significant portion of their target audience that is responding more to offline branding than to online. Native Hunt does a good job of integrating the two (their website URL on the car), but more on that below.

Some other examples of offline branding that may work for your business include:

  • Catalogs
  • Package Inserts
  • Postcards
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Fliers or other Printed Handouts

Industry Shows (These are still huge and great for connecting with customers and businesses)

Online Branding

The Web has allowed companies to do great things in their branding efforts with consumers.

Larger companies and companies focused on growth have ventured into many of the paid opportunities available on the Web. Services like Google AdWords offers targeted paid advertising that offers high return on investment. Companies looking for a variety of results (sales, branding, awareness, etc.) can find success with the paid branding opportunities available online.

Sponsorships, contest participation, and product reviews are just a few of the other ways companies have successfully taken advantage of the online branding opportunities. With the increase in available communication channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., there are an ever increasing number of resources available for increasing branding online.

Integrating Offline and Online Branding

When it comes to branding, companies often separate online and offline activities. This is usually a mistake since there is more benefit and return to be had by those that plan and integrate all branding initiatives.

Back to the Native Hunt example mentioned above. Native Hunt used their resources to sponsor a racecar. This was a great way to share the branding message of Native Hunt: Guided Hunts & Wildlife Tours. However, Native Hunt didn’t stop at simply including their logo and brand message. Native Hunt included their Website URL. This is an often used method for businesses that have more information and chances for engagement on their Website to increase the awareness of the Website.

Being seen more frequently today are TV ads for Twitter and Facebook pages. Large and small companies are going to where their customers are and building networks of followers. With these followers, companies are increasing the value of the connection and increasing sales. Companies are understanding that to penetrate an existing audience like the one on Facebook, they need to increase their clout on their Facebook page by gaining followers and then work to move those followers off the site to purchase (perhaps in the future customers will be able to purchase right on Facebook).

Integrating isn’t just for large companies.

Companies of all sizes can integrate their branding activities to increase awareness of communication channels. You can even integrate offline efforts with other offline efforts (postcard and catalog) and online with online (Facebook with Email).

If you have fans on Facebook, try to capture their attention for an email newsletter. Perhaps the email newsletter is a better driver for sales at your business. Most folks are apt to use email and once you have a fan captured on Facebook you want to continue adding value to their lives via your Facebook page while working to convert that fan to a customer via your channels that convert well.

Summary

Integrating is an important part of a successful company.

Find where you customers are spending their time, work to capture their attention on those channels by adding value, and then capture their attention via high converting channels. By increasing your clout across all communication channels – offline and online – you can increase the brand awareness for your company while increasing sales.

What are your thoughts on branding and integration?

Have you done anything of this sort with your company already? Please share in the comments.

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Write Blog Posts for One Person

It can be difficult to focus on your exact target audience.

Yellow Flower

I advocate blogging to just about every person I encounter.

Please see:

The Hunting Offseason: The Best Time To Improve Your Business

4 Ways to Use a Blog to Improve Your Business

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There are many reasons blogs are a beneficial way to spend time for various people in various professions.

Business professionals can grow a following of folks that share interests in various products and services.

Community leaders and non-profits can grow a following of folks with similar demographics to foster understanding and tolerance.

Newly graduated college students can create a blog that demonstrates their worth vs. the other recent graduates as well as their worth against experienced workers. (This is vital in today’s employment environment).

The biggest reason, I feel, blogs are beneficial for most everyone is the ability to regular, relevant content to an audience. The nature of blogging fosters a following or community with specific interests. Blogging creates a type of list – a term used frequently in the direct mailing and email industry. And most professionals in those industries will tell you, “The money is in the list”.

After most folks realize the benefits of creating a blog, they begin writing content and experimenting with their posts to find out who their audience is. This is a great learning experience for most, but something that is difficult for bloggers both new and experienced is determining the single target audience member.

Single Target Audience Member

Often when I read blogs that are right on the cusp of breaking out with great traffic and attention, I’ll see posts that seem to target different audiences.

One post may cover how to use food plots to attract deer while the next may cover how to blog about deer.

It’s an easy mistake to make (I’ve done it) to blog about something not on topic with what you’re building your audience around. There will probably be some readers that want to read about how to blog about deer, but for the most part, in this example, the readers want to know how to hunt deer.

The key to successful blogging is determining the one person you’re writing your posts for.

With each post you write, think about your audience and get it down to one person. The person can be fictional, but I like using actual folks when I’m crafting a post. It seems to help with the words I use, the tone I use, and the way I cover a topic. It also helps me keep posting somewhat regularly, which is important for maintaining loyalty and repetitive visits from your core audience.

I stray sometimes for the sake of shaking things up – for my own sake to keep things fresh and for the sake of the readers. There is always the temptation to expand the audience and grow in scale, which is usually a good thing – having more readers. It’s a balancing act – writing quality, focused content while growing your audience as large as you can.

Multiple Target Audience Members

As I just mentioned, writing to multiple audiences can work for some bloggers if done correctly. And there is no, one way to do it correctly.

A situation where writing to a different audience may work:

Blog: Dave’s Hunting Blog – Deer hunting tips

Normal Post: How to Use Food Plots to Attract Deer

Multiple Audience Post: What Hunting Companies Are Doing Wrong

The multiple audience post will cover the things hunting companies are doing wrong in serving their customers: hunters. This post has the potential to both generate discussion amongst the hunters that agree with Dave and the companies that may stumble upon the blog post and realize there is an audience on the blog they can connect with while improving their service.

Summary

This post is mostly a reminder to me that my single target audience member for this blog is hunting bloggers. There are other folks that read this blog and that is wonderful, but for the most part, I try to write every post with a single person in mind as the audience: a dedicated blogger in the hunting industry. Sometimes I forget and you’ll see posts that are irrelevant to this person, but I try to stay on task.

What are your thoughts on writing for a single person?

Have you had success with a different strategy?

Please share your observations in the comments.

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Photo courtesy of aloshbennett

How to Connect with Bloggers

Your business has content, bloggers need topics

A Rose in Hand

An interesting thought was brought up in the Hunting Business Marketing Forum about connecting with bloggers. I started responding to the question in the forum, but felt that the topic was big enough to promote to a full blog post on the main blog.

Connecting With Bloggers

In another forum post, Generating Buzz, Mark of Wired to Hunt discussed a job he had with a marketing agency where he would help to connect businesses and bloggers by using the content the business would create and organize so it was valuable to bloggers.

Mark discusses that he would create a list of bloggers that were active and willing to accept relevant information from companies. These bloggers were then prioritized by traffic, quality of content, interaction of readers in the comments, among other criteria. From there the organization would craft the content so the bloggers could then use it for their blog posts.

It’s important to note that Mark says that each blogger received a unique email that was personalized. The communication was honest and up front in goal.

I think connecting with bloggers really begins by becoming involved in the online communities where your targeted bloggers are spending time.

A reason Twitter has become popular is because it allowed folks to connect with people and businesses they looked up to and wanted to connect with. Businesses can seek out connections with prominent bloggers in their niches and bloggers can seek out businesses that may have potentially useful information that can lead to quality blog posts.

Starting Relationships With Bloggers

As mentioned above, starting the relationships can start with a simple direct message or email that is personalized. The communication can originate from the blogger or the business.

A common experience some have is that after a few messages back and forth the blogger and the business contact lose interest with each and the relationship dies. This may happen because the blogger and the business didn’t find any common ground for a relationship where they share content and work with each other to produce blog posts for their target audience. It could happen because there just wasn’t a relevant way to connect the goals of each party.

It’s important to remember that not all bloggers will take content and turn it into blog post gold. Early on in your efforts this will be even less likely. The truth is that it will take one or two bloggers here and there over time that consistently take content and share it with their audience. Slowly, over time others will join in and eventually a critical mass will be tuning in to your stream of communication to absorb the content you’re sharing about your company.

Maintaining Relationships With Bloggers

Since it was mentioned that business and blogger relationships are often lost or that one of the parties loses interest over time I thought I’d brainstorm a few ideas to keep the conversation active as the life of the relationship ages.

Here are a few I can think off the top of my head:

  • Newsletter
  • Email Thread
  • Forum
  • Google Spreadsheet
  • HARO (Help A Reporter Out) for Hunting – HAHBO (Help a Hunting Blogger Out)

All of these are ways to keep the conversation active with your friends and followers. Not all of the bloggers you form relationships with will become actively involved with your brand by picking up your stories, but a few will become dedicated and over time those dedicated few will grow an audience around the content you’re sharing on the communication channel you’ve created for them.

The reality of interacting with bloggers is that you (the business) will have to take most of the initiative to continue the relationship where your provide ideas for blog posts to bloggers. Some will take the content and run with it and create amazing, unique content while others will ignore it. Some will need you to keep feeding them content while working to improve the content by making it more appealing to their interest.

Gaining permission to share your content with bloggers is the important part of the business-blogger equation. Forming relationships that are mutually beneficial is the way to find success with connecting with bloggers.

Summary

Connecting with bloggers is something most businesses want to be able to do, but sometimes don’t know how or don’t have the resources needed to connect and maintain relationships.

It takes time to first connect with bloggers – a few messages back and forth to get familiar with each other. After this initial conversation it takes even more effort on the part of the business to keep up the flow of communication while providing appealing content and topics of discussion for the blogger to take and use as inspiration for their own content.

It’s a process that builds over time, but when a business can commit and understand the importance of the blogging community there can be real benefit to both of the parties involved.

What are your thoughts on connecting with bloggers?

Businesses: What relationships do you have with bloggers?

Bloggers: What relationships do you have with businesses?

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The Best Hunting Picture Galleries

Hunters view thousands of hunting pictures on the Web…every day

The competition for the attention of hunters is heating up online and some folks are using quality hunting picture galleries to attract attention away from the competition.

My personal favorites tend to be the galleries that are easy on the eyes, easy to navigate and the ones that have the best photos of trophy game. My favorite type of hunting is bowhunting for whitetails so I always love seeing great photos related to this hunting niche.

Here are the best hunting picture galleries…

Field & Stream

Site: Field & Stream

Gallery: Field & Stream Photos

Overview

The Field & Stream Photo Gallery is one of the most popular galleries on the Web. F&S has the best selection of lists and collections of hunting pictures on the Web. People love lists and that includes hunters. The F&S ‘Best of’ collections make for great photo viewing. To increase involvement with their target audience, the team at F&S also encourage users to submit their best photos. F&S then takes the time to highlight the user photos in ways that make the users the stars. This is a great way to highlight the success of others and give them a vested interest in the gallery. I also like the mix of professional photos as well.

For more see Critique of the Field and Stream Photo Gallery

Petersen’s Hunting

Site: Petersen’s Hunting

Gallery: Petersen’s Hunting Trophy Room

Overview

The Petersen’s Hunting gallery is entirely user-submitted. On the photo gallery home page visitors have the option to view the highlighted photos, the most recent photos, the most popular photos, and users can view photos by collection and category. Giving visitors options when it comes to viewing segments of your photo gallery is important. Some visitors will want to search for specific types of photos. To satisfy these visitors you’ll want to offer a way to search the photos. Other visitors will want to discover new photos that meet their interests. This is where the categories are helpful (ex: I like whitetails. I can click on the whitetail section).

Duck’s Unlimited

Site: Duck’s Unlimited

Gallery: Duck’s Unlimited Photo Gallery

Widget: Duck’s Unlimited Member Photo of the Day Widget

Overview

Ducks Unlimited is a gallery I’ve only recently discovered and I’m glad I did. The user photos in this gallery are spectacular. DU members are allowed to submit photos and it’s apparent that some of the members are professional photographers. And that makes for some inspirational and breath-taking photographs of wildlife (ducks and waterfowl).

Something that sets the DU gallery apart from some of the others is their embeddable widget. Check it out and if you want to see the daily photos on your Website or blog you can. Widgets are great for increasing your audience and search engines love the links they create back to the site.

Bowhunting.com

Site: Bowhunting.com

Gallery: Bowhunting.com Photos

Overview

It’s no secret that Bowhunting.com is one of my favorite hunting sites. I’ve written about them and included them in collections before (5 Hidden Treasures on the Web, The Top 50 Blog Posts of 2009, 25 Tips from 25 Hunting Industry Leaders). The team at Bowhunting.com are experts at hunting and sharing their insight and knowledge through their videos, photos, and blog posts. There is a great mix of trail cam photos, harvest trophies, and general photography for hunting product reviews and more. The photo gallery is easy to navigate and the photos are of high quality.

Bowhunting.com is one of the galleries that offers visitors the opportunity to comment on individual photos. Something Field & Stream doesn’t have yet (you can comment on the entire collection or gallery only). Some also offer visitors the chance to rate photos like Ducks Unlimited and others.

Buckmasters

Site: Buckmasters

Gallery: Buckmasters Trophy Gallery

Overview

The Buckmasters Trophy Gallery is not the best of the bunch, but they have a ton of great user photographs due to the company’s popularity. I’m not sure if it was just me, but this gallery took awhile to load and the auto-play music was a bit annoying (not the music, but the fact that it was playing automatically. See more Video on Your Website). It’s a cumbersome gallery, but it has good photos and it’s a well known brand.

Lone Wolf

Site: Lone Wolf Portable Treestands

Gallery: Lone Wolf Trophy Gallery

Overview

Lone Wolf is a bit of a sleeper in this collection. I’m a huge fan of the design of the Lone Wolf site so it’s no surprise that I’d like their photo gallery. I also think it’s important to show that hunting product manufacturers can have successful photo galleries (as well as any hunting industry company). Users submit photos and while some aren’t the best the scrolling is easy and the thumbnail setup is simple.

CamoSpace

Site: CamoSpace

Gallery: CamoSpace Gallery

Overview

CamoSpace seems to be one of the few social networking hunting sites that has actually had some success. They have partnered with some big companies and some big folks that are famous for more than just hunting (Luke Bryan – great music). It’s a formula that has worked for growing the membership on the site. The photo gallery is 100% user-submitted. That format can lead to some noise (see the trucks), but there are still a ton of photos in the gallery and many of them are great…even if they are a little difficult to find.

ESPN Outdoors Hunting

Site: ESPN Outdoors Hunting

Gallery: Hunting Photo Galleries

Overview

It isn’t the prettiest and it isn’t the easiest to use, but ESPN makes the list because the brand is huge and the hunting shows on the channel are popular. Plus I loved the shows on ESPN Outdoors on Saturday morning when I was growing up.

Big Grass Outfitters

Site: Big Grass Outfitters

Gallery: Big Grass Outfitters Trophy Gallery

Overview

It’s important for outfitters to have galleries as part of their informational sites. Potential customers want visual proof of success. And past customers can be the best referral service when they push their friends to go on the site and view their photos.

Heartland Lodge

Site: Heartland Lodge

Gallery: Heartland Lodge Photo Gallery

Overview

One of the best looking sites in the hunting industry, Heartland Lodge makes great use of a photo gallery to show their potential customers the wonders they have to offer. I love that they use existing technology in Picasa to power their photo gallery. Remember that you don’t always have to work hard to develop your own style of gallery. Use galleries that already exist.

The categories in the gallery are great, but the titles of each photo are another story…

Gander Mountain

Site: Gander Mountain

Gallery: Gander Mountain Braggin’ Board

Overview

I grew up near a Gander Mountain (no Cabela’s nearby and I didn’t use the Web at the time) and I loved checking out the physical cork braggin’ board in store. Customers were always putting their trophies on the board and I loved looking at them all. Those Polaroids were great. With this gallery, Gander Mountain has brought that experience to the Web.

Greenwood Springs Plantation

Site: Greenwood Springs Plantation

Gallery: Greenwood Springs Plantation Photos

Overview

I came across this site toward the end of this post but I just had to include it. It’s a beautiful design and I love that they use Flickr for their photo gallery. The photos could be titled, tagged and included in Creative Commons on Flickr, but it’s a great use of a great photo gallery tool.

Elements of a Quality Gallery

As I browsed the Web in search of the best hunting galleries, I noted a few elements that should be standard on all folks considering a photo gallery for their site:

1) Multi-size Options

With image size, there is a battle between load time of the page and the quality and size of the image you want to load for your viewer’s viewing pleasure. Most sites offer an initial smaller version of images for scrolling and initial viewing, but offer visitors the option to zoom in or enlarge the photo, usually in some kind of pop-up. I think it’s a good compromise. Allow visitors the pleasure of a fast loading page with smaller images and if they have the capacity, they can zoom in or enlarge the photo.

2) Thumbnail Options

Something I’m in favor of when it comes to galleries are thumbnail viewing options. Popular photo gallery sites like Flickr (Flickr Hunting) offer thumbnail viewing so users can see multiple photos at once while being able to choose the ones they want to view in more detail.

3) Easy Scrolling

An important feature of galleries is the ability to scroll from photo to photo. Once a user has chosen a particular gallery to view they want to be able to scroll from photo to photo quickly and easily.

4) Proper Tagging and Titling

Giving the proper title and the appropriate tag to each photo in your gallery is important for your visitors so they understand what they’re viewing. Tagging and titling photos and galleries properly is also important for optimizing your gallery for search engines.

5) Sharing Abilities

Giving visitors the ability to share and bookmark the photos in a gallery is extremely important for the growth of your site’s traffic and audience. Build in the word of mouth aspects of a gallery and make sure the photos are worth talking about people will spread the word.

Bonus Element

Calls to action are important for any site that is aimed at selling something to visitors. With a bit of programming and planning, sites could take advantage of internal linking to sell relevant products to customers that are viewing the photos in galleries. For example, a company could ask users to submit the equipment used to harvest a trophy. List and link the equipment on the photo to the product pages and you have potential sales. A site like Gander Mountain could do this.

Your Favorite Hunting Picture Galleries

Did I miss your favorite gallery? Please share in the comments.

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Lessons From Crazy Heart

It’s funny I’ve fallin’/Feels like flyin’/for a little while

Note: This post contains some spoiler content…

A few weeks before I went to the theater to see Crazy Heart I saw the trailer. I instantly became interested in the story of the movie. The setting of country music instantly attracted me. I was also intrigued by the soundtrack – it had a ’70s outlaw country music vibe. I’ve always been a fan of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle and others.

After seeing the movie I have to say that it is everything and more than I built it up to be.

It’s a great story for viewers to connect with. Music fans can connect with the outlaw country music. The themes of the songs on the soundtracks cross musical boundaries (I think it was Willie Nelson who said, “There are only two kinds of music: Good and Bad.”). The story of a hardened outlaw singer and songwriter connects well with young and old alike.

The best part of the movie and the biggest lesson I was able to pull out was how the story related to entrepreneurship and life in general. The setting and circumstances may vary in detail, but the ups and downs and unexpected turns are what connects us all as humans.

Let’s take a closer look at the Lessons from Crazy Heart

The Ups and Downs of Life and Business

Crazy Heart opens up with the sight of Bad Blake traveling the American Southwest in his ’78 Chevy Suburban. He’s getting by day-to-day living on the cash he makes playing at small bars and even bowling alleys. His devoted fans remember his hits from 30 or so years ago and come to see him stumble through drunken performances to get a taste of nostalgia.

Bad’s his own business. He sells what his fans are still willing to buy and he puts on the best show he knows how.  He is able to get by in life by drinking and treating his body like a dumpster. He has the perception that his fans want a hard-drinking, fun-loving outlaw and that’s exactly what he gives them. It pays enough to just get by, but the business model doesn’t pay nearly as good as it once did.

Just as Bad found in the movie, most businesses find  that the typical model has a lifespan. Businesses reach a peak of profitability and then ride out the lifespan as long as they can. If the concept doesn’t change much profits will slowly diminish. New models will come along and slowly the demand for products wears off.

The successful businesses are those that adapt to change and have a progressive nature.

Bad knows that his old business model of touring is what pays his bills. He just doesn’t know how to reignite the excitement in himself and his music to get more people to come to his shows. He also doesn’t know how to broaden his audience and expand his fan base.

There are two interesting points in the movie where Bad discusses songwriting.

The first has Bad talking with his agent about new albums and new songs. The agent wants Bad to write some new material (update his business model) while Bad wants to remix his old hits and repackage them for fans to purchase (old business model).

Bad and his agent both have the feeling that Bad’s career is going nowhere. They both work hard to make a few of the remaining bucks Bad is worth. They keep fighting and hoping for some inspiration to strike and one day it does.

Bad’s agent is able to work with rising star and former Bad disciple, Tommy Sweet. Tommy learned how to play, sing and entertain from Bad and now is seeing his own success. Tommy gets Bad to open up for him at one of his shows. Just before the show the two have a chat about business and Bad is eager to get together to record duets on his old songs. Tommy says he loves working with Bad, but that such an album is not in high demand.

Tommy offers Bad the opportunity to write songs for his upcoming solo release. Bad brushes off the idea and the two go about their way.

Eventually Bad is able to find inspiration (love interest) and writes a great song. This song reignites his star and he finds a new business that he can sell. Over the next 18 months or so Tommy takes the song to the tops of the charts and Bad is bad in demand as an entertainer. His old music is finding new ears and new folks are coming to his shows as a result of the new song.

All businesses that expect to continually succeed need to be progressive in nature. Business leaders can work a successful formula to death, but to expect to have it ride a peak forever is signing a death certificate for the business.

People involved with kick and scream at the suggestion of change, but for the sake of continual growth and prosperity it’s necessary to find new models and new products that consumers demand.

The Impact of a Soundtrack

Lead actor Jeff Bridges credits Ryan Bingham with saving Crazy Heart. The importance of soundtrack in movies is understood by all involved. For this movie, Ryan Bingham was able to take the script and capture the mood in the song The Weary Kind.

The song became the theme during production. The mood of the song is perfect for setting viewers up to understand the life of the lead character.

The songs in the movie parallel the life and business model Bad Blake follows. The songs he wrote that made him an outlaw country music star take him through ups and downs and as we first see him the songs are finding their last bit of interest with Bad playing them in broken down venues.

Then Bad finds inspiration and pens The Weary Kind and interest is renewed in the entertainer.

The soundtrack of Crazy Heart sets the tone for the movie. As a viewer, I was captured by the authentic sound of the “classic” Bad Blake songs. I was also swallowed up by The Weary Kind as the song connected me with the story of Bad Blake.

Credit goes to T. Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham, and Stephen Bruton for putting together the Crazy Heart soundtrack.

Summary

Crazy Heart, the story of Bad Blake, parallels the life of a business.

Business models go through their life cycles and it’s important for business leaders to be progressive focused. People involved with the business will want things to remain the same, but without change there cannot be growth.

Successful leaders push through the resistance and change their models to give consumers something they demand.

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Your Business Needs to be More Like Coffee

Coffee kick starts the morning for most people in the world

“Each year some 7 million tons of green beans are produced worldwide. Most of which is handpicked.” Coffee Statistics

People love coffee. There wouldn’t be a demand for people to handpick millions of tons of coffee each year if there wasn’t a strong demand for the little beans that turn morning zombies into day workers, artists, bloggers, and innovators.

Without coffee in the morning there would be a lot of people struggling to wake up and commit to working on the things they love.

Somehow, over many centuries, coffee has become a ritual. The ritual knows few boundaries including ethnic, geographic, or demographic. The power of coffee as a product is its ability to become part of people’s routines.

When mornings begin, coffee is often the first thing people think about.

So the question is…

What makes your product as necessary to the daily lives of your audience as coffee?

Asking yourself what makes your product or service like coffee is simply a way of restating the ‘So what?’ question each entrepreneur needs to ask themselves at some point.

What about your product is going to make people think about reading your insights and observations all the time?

What is going to make people think about you and your business when they come across a problem in their life?

When people are frustrated with aspects of their lives they look to sources of insight and innovation for answers. Companies often fill the void left by frustration by having a proven track record of creating products and services that add value to the lives of consumers.

How can your company be a company that answers the frustrations of consumers?

Finding Frustrations

When a passionate hunter wakes up in the early morning of the archery deer season and heads to the woods only to miss on a shot at a trophy buck, he’ll often look for answers as to why he missed?

Did the arrow come off the rest?

Was the draw length not set properly?

Was the trophy further away than originally thought? Was it closer?

Did the sight come loose sometime in the ATV ride to the truck?

Could there have been better preparation?

Frustrations lead to questions about all aspects of our daily lives. When companies are able to answer the frustrations of target customers they have formed a profitable connection.

Answering Frustrations

When people needed an arrow rest to hold their arrows in place no matter what the condition or situation, the innovators at Trophy Ridge came along with the Whisker Biscuit as the answer to the frustration.

With effective marketing and positive reaction to the Whisker Biscuit, hunters began waking up each morning feeling like they needed to have a Whisker Biscuit on their bow in order to successfully harvest trophy game.

Just as people need coffee before they can be successful each morning, hunters felt the need to have a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest in order to be best prepared for any situation required to harvest their trophy of a lifetime.

Convincing Consumers

Once you have successfully found a frustration and found a way to product a product that answers your customers’ frustration, the next step is convincing your customer that you are here to add value to their lives.

In its original form, coffee is bitter, black, and unappealing.

What would make a person believe that consuming a hot, black liquid each morning would somehow give them energy to perform?

Over time, people were convinced by marketers, friends, and family to consume coffee. And as each person tried the wondrous brew they became convinced of its power to transform them into super humans.

You need to show your target audience that your product has the ability to make them super human.

Reach out to the influential people in your target audience and get in their heads. Ask them questions about their frustrations. Innovate and test products that attempt to solve their frustrations. Ask for feedback and once you’ve convinced them that you have helped to make them superhuman, use the relationship to build a long-term marketing strategy that will build the buzz around your new Super Coffee-like Product.

Summary

Coffee ingestion is about a third of that of tap water in the US and Europe.

People wake up each morning feeling the need to brew at least one cup of the bitter elixir as a way to fuel them through their day. The power that coffee has over a large audience is amazing.

Every business has to pass the ‘So what?’ question before seriously considering the chance of making any profit. It is possible to copy processing and products, but in the long-term, customers are still looking for the one thing that puts you ahead of your competition.

The companies and products that are successful over the long-term are successful at:

Finding frustration

Answering frustration

Convincing consumers

What makes your product like coffee?

What makes you stand out ahead of the competition?

You don’t have to be entirely different than your competitors.

You do need to find the aspect of your business and product that makes people need you first thing in the morning…

Your business needs to be more like coffee

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Rank in the Top Ten for Your Niche Industry

People love content with intriguing numbers

I’m not sure what exactly it is about statistics, but for some reason stats have a way of capturing the attention of people.

There are over 500 million results for statistics on Google.

Digg has thousands of posts about stats submitted to its pages as Web users find enough value in blog posts about stats to share them with others in the network.

Stats seem to strike a chord with Web users and as a result, blog posts about stats have a high tendency to rank well in search engines keyword phrases related to the topic of the posts.

For example, the keyword phrase Twitter Stats brings up a few blog posts in the top ten that cover the latest stats concerning everybody’s favorite mass communication tool.

So What Does This Mean For You?

If you have a blog or Website and you’re trying to attract traffic then it’s entirely possible for you to write content for a Web page or a for a blog post that collects statistics from around the Web that highlight interesting data concerning your niche industry and rank in the top ten for terms related to “your niche industry” and “your niche industry stats”.

It takes some digging around on the Web to find relevant stats that your audience will find interesting, but once you bring together valuable statistics in one place you’ll be providing value that people will appreciate and share with their networks.

For example, I wrote a post Essential Hunting Industry Stats and that post received some great comments from readers. This post did very well for me as it ranked well for the term Hunting Industry (until I changed the domain of my blog), but more than ranking well the post also connected me with good-to-know folks in the hunting industry.

Chris Burget, of Bulls and Beavers and also the top hunter on Twitter (@bullsandbeavers), first found my blog via this post about stats and now we’ve had great discussions on and offline about business and the Web as a result of our connection. I’ve since written about with What Do Chris Burget and Garth Brooks Have in Common?

It’s also great to receive comments like the one from Kendall of Camofire:

Great list of info that was useful for a presentation I did yesterday. I appreciate your blog and the insights you are providing.

While it took some work to gather the information, it did all exist on the Web, free of charge; all it took was to find the stats and gather them in one location for the convenience of those looking for interesting and useful statistics about the hunting industry.

More Benefits of Writing Stats Posts

Beyond the benefits of traffic that comes from ranking well for your niche industry related terms and all of the sites and blogs that link to your post on stats there are additional benefits to writing content about the statistics your readers are interested in.

By gathering the information needed to put together a valuable stats post you’ll be showing potential employers, customers, and clients that you’re capable of doing the research necessary to justify business decisions.

Businesses and people often look to statistics for justification of the decisions they make. And when you prove that you can gather the justifying stats you are showing the people you’re working with that you respect their desire for more than your word to justify the recommendations you make.

To take this a step further you could begin conducting the statistics gathering yourself through surveys, polls, and other methods that put together stats in ways that make sense to your audience and customers.

Ranking for Stats Posts and Pages

Ranking well for a specific search term means that people and the search engine robots need to determine that your content is the most relevant source of information for the search query of your target audience.

In order for that to happen search engines want proof that you are trustworthy and popular in the eyes of others in your niche. To gain this trust from others in your niche you’re going to have to publish content so remarkable and valuable that others (including influencers) in your niche will share it with their networks by tweeting it, digging it, emailing it, and linking to it on their blogs.

A great way to capture the attention of others in your niche and get them excited about one of your posts is to gather relevant statistics about your niche.

Take for example, Adam Singer of The Future Buzz wrote a post that used captured the curiosity of the marketing and online world.

The post, Social Media, Web 2.0 And Internet Stats, likely took a lot of time to put together, but the post ranks well for a moderately searched term and was shared numerous times over the Web – retweeted, shared on Facebook, Stumbled, Dugg, etc.

The post now ranks in the top 3 for the term Social Media Stats. While this keyword phrase does not get a ton of traffic each month, it does bring in some traffic from search engines and likely brings in tons of traffic from the sites that link to the post on The Future Buzz.

One term that would be interesting to test this technique for would be Media Industry.

This keyword phrase has much more traffic and it’d be interesting to see if a well-shared and well linked-to post covering media industry stats would rank well.

Summary

If you want to rank in the top ten for a keyword phrase similar to “your niche industry stats” or “your niche industry” you can gather together stats that are available on the Web already and bring them together one place (and don’t forget to cite your sources).

It takes some time to gather the information together, but once the content in place it’s a valuable resource for others in your industry and it serves are a way for your customers to justify spending money.

What are your thoughts?

Have you used interesting stats in your blog posts – possibly as a lede to start your posts?

Have you done an entire post that includes statistics related to your niche industry?

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The Secret Marketing Tactic of Successful Companies

“Think about the wheel and how you would reinvent it.” Mathews Bow Technology

Golden Forest

A secret marketing tactic that successful companies use is to continuously update existing products while really marketing the benefits of the updated products.

The most successful companies in any industry usually have figured out the cyclical nature of their business. These companies are experts are working to develop new innovations on their existing, successful products to make them just a little better with each new selling season.

After coming up with a slight, but remarkable innovation to their existing best-seller, the truly successful companies are experts at communicating the benefits of the updated product to their customers so each customer feels like they must have the updated version. Their current model has become obsolete.

Let’s take a closer look at the secret tactic of successful companies…

Update Your Existing Products

The trick to using this tactic successfully is to figure out what your best-selling products are and then working to continuously improve the product while adding a slight (but the most valuable) addition each season.

Customers have a continuous thirst for the best products that answer their frustrations. If you have a product today that solves a customer’s frustration you have something that is valuable.

However, what is valuable to your customer today may not be tomorrow. There are always competitors working hard in their garage to create something that’s better.

The most successful companies across all industries have figured this out and work hard to create updates to their successful products and introduce them just before their peak selling season.

Companies across all industries update their current best-selling products to continually create a need with the customer. Companies in the shoe industry like New Balance are updating their athletic shoes each season to create demand for their products from their existing customers. A customer who purchased the New Balance 987 last season will have to buy the updated New Balance 988 this spring season so they have the latest update of their favorite shoe that includes additional cushioning in the insole to soften the landing.

That’s not an exact example from New Balance, but let’s takes a closer look at some actual examples of this tactic in the hunting industry…

Mathews Bows and Archery Accessories

An example of a very successful company that does this in the hunting industry is Mathews, Inc.

For nearly two decades, Matt McPherson of Mathews, Inc. has been an innovator in the archery industry. Matt’s true genius for design in archery is his ability to continually create the bows that give hunters the best chance for success in the field. Matt’s most successful business strategy, one that has worked since the inception of Mathews, Inc., is the continuous update of his existing bows.

Just as the rut comes to whitetail country every year in the fall, Mathews, Inc. released a slightly updated bow that features some breakthrough technology that revolutionizes the archery industry. And the new bows usually sport new names.

Each season, the new Mathews bow may not seem like a huge innovation, but the company does an exceptional job of marketing the slight innovations that make a big impact for the customers. Single Cam technology was one of the first innovations for Mathews. Parallel limb design came later along with perimeter-weighting and harmonic dampening. Each of these innovations has their clear benefit for the bow hunters.

While each new bow may not change much from season to season, the bow design has changed quite a bit since the 1998 version…

Mathews Bows History

New Archery Products

My first set of broadheads was a set of Thunderheads from New Archery Products.

I thought they were the best broadheads available. I had seen my favorite bow hunters on ESPN outdoors using them to harvest some of the biggest whitetails I had ever seen.

Over the years, I used Thunderheads with success. I remember when the innovation of ribbed technology came. It was a simple update to the Thunderhead (ribbed shaft), but to me it meant that I would be a much better hunter in the woods.

I had to have it.

This year Bowhunting.com showcases the updated Thunderhead from New Archery at the 2010 ATA Show.

The new feature?

Dual serrated blade.

The Thunderhead Edge.

Summary

A wise person once said, “You only have strike gold once.”

This saying is true in the sense that companies can work to come up with a truly remarkable product that hits a homerun with customers and continue adding slight upgrades to that product with each new selling season to maximize profits from the innovation.

Figure out the cyclical nature of your product industry and work to create a product that is truly remarkable and that hits home with your customers.

Once you hit that homerun, work to slightly improve that product and release it with marketing power just before each peak selling season so your customers need to have it.

Find the frustrations, solve the problems, and continue building and serving a need.

It’s a formula that successful companies use.

And it’s one you can copy.

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How Will Your Customers Discover You?

The underserved rarely speak up – they usually just leave

Guitar

Today I was driving in my pickup when a Taylor Swift song came on. I hit my preset button to change to another local country station and another Taylor Swift song came on. I hit one more preset, this time for local pop station, and yet another Taylor Swift song came on. I finally had to turn on the CD I had in the player (Diamond Rio – 16 Biggest Hits).

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift

Now, I happen to respect Taylor Swift as a singer and songwriter. As a marketer, I can appreciate the work she puts into not only creating songs that her audience loves, but also the work she puts into marketing her brand so that she can grow a large audience.

However, as a young male, I can’t particularly relate to the topics Taylor Swift sings about. Nor do I relate to the melodies she writes.

Who is serving me today in country music?

Uninterested Customers Change the Channel

Your customers are out in the world right now not even realizing that you exist.

When people are listening to the radio and they consistently hear music they simply don’t like they will just change the channel.  People won’t complain or make a fuss. They simply change the channel in an effort to find something that satisfies their desires to feel emotions – to connect with singers, lyrics, and melodies.

Just as people change the channel on the radio, your potential customers are searching for the right way to connect with a business such as yours so they can answer their questions and have their problems solved. They may not even know that they’re looking. We don’t give much thought to what we’re doing when we change the channel. Often we look for certain stations that have played some quality music in the past, but we rely on the disc jockeys to bring us new music that will satisfy us.

Who are the disc jockeys that can take your story to your customers?

Marketing is the art of connecting your business with the customers who don’t even realize that you exist. All great markets have a knack for finding target customers, but there is also an area of marketing that requires the art of discovery.

Discovery

Some of the biggest jockeys in charge of spreading the word about quality businesses on the Web are bloggers.

Bloggers are a business’s most valuable resource for spreading the word on the Web. Bloggers have audiences that rely on them to bring quality information and perspective consistently. Over time, bloggers build their loyal audience and look for sources of consistent information and content to provide that audience.

Businesses that come forward with fresh perspective that adds value to a blogger’s audience is an extremely valuable resource.

It’s important for businesses to seek out the influential bloggers in their niches as well as in niches where they may not expect to find their target customer.

Many businesses today are discovered in blog posts as bloggers review products and services and give trusted information to their audiences. People read blogs to learn and to be entertained, but most importantly, people read blogs as a way to discover something that satisfies their needs – needs they may have not even known they needed satisfied.

Bloggers are like disc jockeys in a way because they are trusted by their audience to bring new and exciting content that satisfies needs. Bloggers are important for businesses and customers alike.

Find the bloggers that are influential both in your niche and in related niches and allow them to tell your story. Give them all the resources they need to effectively allow their audience to discover and connect with your business.

Summary

The other day I heard a song on the radio that caught my ear.

I was on my way to work, riding in my pickup when a smooth country song with a sweet, rolling melody came across the radio waves. I’m a Little More Country Than That was the name of the song and it instantly made me wonder who the singer was.

I found out that the song was by Easton Corbin. He’s a newcomer in the country music world. He has smoothness in his delivery that I haven’t heard since George Strait (one of my all time favorite singers).

Without the discovery nature of radio today I may have never heard I’m a Little More Country Than That.

Easton Corbin
Easton Corbin

Marketing is about making connections with others in the world. The goal of any business is to take its products and services to those who need or want them. It can be difficult to find your customers and while targeting continues to improve, discovery will always play a huge role in the nature of connecting business with customer.

I don’t fit Taylor Swift’s target audience, but because the radio station played a variety of good country music along with hers I was able to discover Easton Corbin.

It can be difficult to find people that want and need your products and services. Take your story to the voices in the industry and allow them to take your story to those who can discover you and become your customers.

Easton Corbin – I’m a Little More Country Than That


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