Building Your Company Credibility

Credibility is often underestimated. But it can help you start conversations on a positive note. Having high company credibility helps dispel some of our natural distrust when we deal with new business partners. Your company’s credibility can open doors for you. But if your credibility isn’t quite there yet, there are ways to borrow on the credibility of others. Make sure you deliver though!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today we’re going to talk about building your company’s credibility. 

Why am I bringing this up? Businesses of every size need to focus on credibility. It’s just like trusting an individual; once that person lies to you one time and you find out, it’s hard to gain back that trust. 

Common Sense Trust

I believe that people afford strangers a certain amount of “common sense trust” for the most part unless they start giving them reasons to believe otherwise. The same is not true for businesses. 

As a business owner, I am scrutinizing other businesses more closely than somebody who is just passing me in the grocery store. My level of common sense of trust is higher, although I might still get something taken from my purse. But when you work with a business that turns out to be unethical or just bad at what they do, you lose a lot of money. 

Why You Need Credibility

Inherent Distrust Towards Businesses

We just have a more inherent distrust of other businesses. Building your company’s credibility helps combat that. 

Let’s say neutral trust is 0. Maybe most of the business owners you deal with start from a -5. Credibility could bring you up to 0 or even put you into the positives. Then, you’ll be working from a better position. 

An Extremely Saturated Market

Credibility also comes into play when you feel like your market is extremely saturated. Even if you know what makes you different, it can be really hard to stand out. 

Sometimes credibility can help you stand head and shoulders above everyone else, to make it feel more like you don’t even have competition. That’s why credibility is so important. 

Credibility and Credit

Credibility comes from credit. So let’s think about credit. 

You want to apply for a loan for a car/house. If your credit is bad, they don’t trust you to make those payments back. You can’t borrow against your credit reputation. Without any credit, you don’t have anything to put forth, with the exception of actual money. 

The problem when you’re doing business is that if you “don’t have any credit”, they’re just not going to do business with you. It’s not like you can trade it for something. 

In my experience, the highest quality clients, aren’t interested in working with somebody purely on the basis that they charge a really low amount. They don’t want to waste any time or money on someone they can’t trust to get the job done. In fact, for these types of clients, a super low fee would be a red flag!

Building Industry, Personal, and Business Credibility

Do Content on Your Own Channels

One of the ways that you have the most control over credibility is through content. It could be podcasting, videos, blogging, presentations, and workshops, etc. So one of the easiest ways is doing it on your own channels. 

We have earned media, paid media, shared media, and owned media. Using your own channels, you can publish articles to your website or start up your own podcast (I use Anchor and it’s free). That’s another way to get out there and start building your own content. 

Podcasting

On the flip side, even if you don’t want the responsibility of handling your own podcast, guest podcasting can still be an awesome way to get some original content out there.

White Papers and Research Reports

You can publish intellectual property like white papers or research reports. If you want to borrow on somebody else’s credibility, you might publish a joint white paper or research report. 

Case Studies

Case studies are a fantastic way to build credibility, especially if you’re able to take some data numbers and marry that with the client story. Humans love stories, and when you can add the numbers in there, it gives a one-two punch for the effectiveness of the case study. 

Speaking at Events

People struggle with speaking at events, and that’s what makes it such a powerful medium. I want you to think back to the last time you were at an event, sat in the audience, and someone came up onto the stage. Think about how you felt about that person. 

Whenever I see someone up on stage, I’m already giving them credibility before they even open their mouth. 

I’d like you to think about the amount of credibility that you give to someone before they even start speaking. Basically, that credibility is theirs to lose. If they give a really bad presentation, they lose that credibility. But if they give a great presentation, they’re already just building on top of the credibility that you gave them just for being on the stage. 

Borrowing Credibility by Guesting 

I mentioned borrowing someone else’s credibility. When I got my first car, my grandfather co-signed on the vehicle with me because I didn’t have any credit. This is where guesting comes in. You can guest post, you can do guest interviews on a podcast or video show. There are all sorts of ways for you to borrow another organization’s credibility. 

Guest Speaking

Speaking is probably the penultimate version of guesting. Let’s say I’m going to the Mindgrub Outdoor Speaker Series, and I’ve never heard of some of those people/companies before. If it’s companies I haven’t heard of, they automatically get some credibility because I trust Mindgrub. And again, that credibility is theirs to lose, even if they’re getting extra credibility from me because I associate them with Mindgrub.

*I actually did attend some of the Mindgrub Outdoor Speaker events, which is why that’s my example!*

Back to co-producing content. Let’s say, for some reason Defy The Status Quo and Mindgrub had a reason to coauthor a white paper on a topic that’s relevant to both of our audiences. My audience is not as big as Mindgrubs’s, so I’d be borrowing on their credibility and gaining some of my own. 

Credibility Corresponds to Reputation

Credibility is just another word for reputation. You’re building your reputation. You can keep at it and you can build it, but it’s easy to destroy. Having higher credibility is enough to start a conversation because they trust you before you even open your mouth. So your reputation arrives at the conversation before you. 

Please leave me a comment below if you felt any particular way about something I said here about credibility, reputation, and some of the ways of growing your credibility.

Knowing Your Offering’s Business Value

It’s critical to understand how your service offerings can impact your potential clients. You need to speak to your client and understand what’s in it for them. That’s what people care about. They may know they need your services, but maybe they don’t understand how much. Maybe it’s not a hardcore need, but once they understand the business value, it becomes a need. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today we’re going to talk about why it’s important that you understand your company’s value. I’m not talking about your monetary value, although that’s important too. I’m talking about the business value of your offerings. 

Whether you offer products or services, it’s important for you to understand what value they have to your prospects. That tells you exactly how you should approach a problem because you believe that you have the solution. But in order to understand that, you have to understand what that problem is costing your prospective clients or customers. 

Your Offering’s Value in Different Types of Businesses

Let’s say you offer a service because it’s really hard for service companies to do this as well as product-based companies. For example, web design. 

Whether it’s business consulting, business management consulting, or content, other businesses need a content marketing strategy. They need help with their development. They need help with their processes, but what problems do they have and what do those problems cost?

It May Be Worse Not to Have Your Offering

Money and other types of resources, like time, effort, stress, etc. play a role, and they all have a particular amount of value. So even if the monetary return isn’t guaranteed, which is definitely the case with something like content, the stress of not having it done may be worse. 

It’s the same with web design. I can’t definitively tell you that having your website professionally designed by this person in my network is going to generate a certain amount of dollars in revenue. However, you already know that not having a properly designed website costs you in terms of SEO.

It costs you in terms of brand sentiment and business impressions. Everybody has a website these days, and if you don’t, then you’re in a very small minority of people. So when you get looked up, you should have a website set up. It makes your business look legitimate. 

Tie Emotional Connections to Something Logical

So knowing the value of your offerings to other businesses helps you clarify your message. It can take what started out as an emotional connection and tie it to something logical. 

Maybe they met you at a business event and they really like you, but maybe they’re also the CEO and they have to justify this spending decision to the other members of the board. Them liking you isn’t necessarily going to be enough, which is why you need to give them that piece of logic they can use, so you can take the emotional connection they have with you. Give them something logical that they can use to justify the expense and actually move forward with the business. 

If they like you, they’re already looking to say yes. So by being clear on the value of your offerings to other businesses, you’re giving them a reason to say yes. 

Competitive Advantage

Many service firms fail to articulate how what they do impacts the business. Doing this requires a bit more business knowledge than most small entrepreneurs have. 

If you’re a mature, small business or mid-sized company, then you probably already have the knowledge you need to articulate these things properly. 

It may not have been clear that it should be tied directly into marketing, but these are all competitive advantages. When you can be very clear about what you do and how it impacts another business’s bottom line, that’s a competitive advantage. 

Chart Your Impact

So you want to chart the potential impact of what you can do. There are a couple of ways you can do this. 

Case Studies Are Important

You can do it through case studies. So let’s say you’ve worked with companies already, and they’re willing to share the concrete numbers of any sort of impact that it had. In terms of content, a white paper can take 20-30 hours to complete over time, and that project can take 6-8 weeks to do. 

An immediate impact that outsourcing a white paper would have is that 20-30 hours is not something that an employee has to clock time for. As a former employee, I couldn’t say that I didn’t spend all 40 of my hours doing work for my company. You do things like go to the bathroom, answer emails, and things like that. 

When you outsource content to accompany like Defy The Status Quo, we’re going to have to email back and forth, but you’re not billed for our bathroom trips. That’s kind of where the differences are. Also, 6-8 weeks is a long time. If an employee takes up that project halfheartedly, it may never get done. It may take more time or you may have to consistently remind them. 

There’s another metric there because you as the person who’s commissioning the project doesn’t have to do a lot of handholding, which is something that my clients value a lot. 

Brand Perception as a Metric

So if you can, it’s always relevant to look at business metrics that are impacted by the project. But if not a direct business metric, maybe something like brand perception. 

So again, back to our web design. What is the impact on the perception of the brand? If you’re saying you’re a forward-thinking, innovative, digital marketing company, but your website looks like it’s from 1995… That’s not going to help your brand perception. 

Do Your Research

Looking at actual numbers, the business could definitely look up research in terms of marketing and psychology, and see how things like website design or a lack of a website can actually impact sales. 

There’s research out there almost guaranteed to help you, and help you add some numbers to turn your business story into a more compelling argument for your services. 

You Are Selling Value

As a service-based business, we are often told to sell value. You’re not just selling your service or time. You’re not necessarily selling skill either.

The question I’ll leave you with is: How can you sell value if you don’t know what your value is? 

If you’re clear on one business metric that your company’s services help impact, go ahead and leave it for us in the comments. I’d love to have this discussion and explore the logic behind the business metric that you chose.

Case Study: How Can Content Marketing Support Your Business Program or Event?

It isn’t enough to create an event or program landing page and expect attendees to flock to it. Especially if your program is new. The best approach is to create content that supports your program or event. If it’s a reoccuring program, all the better. After your first iteration, you’ll be able to use user-generated content, like testimonials to support your sales. But how can content support your business program or event?

By focusing on the why of the event, and creating the content your potential attendees need to make a purchase decision.

We Met a Company at Just the Right Time Who Wanted to Do Exactly This.

The Institute for Excellence in Sales (IES) serves as a center of actionable best practices, insights, tools, advisory services, thought leadership, and recognition that enable organizations to achieve high performance in sales. The company holds workshops in cities around the United States, bringing together top sales thought leaders and professionals.

IES Needed Content Strategy and Creation

Fred Diamond, President of IES, often searches for trusted partners for various business needs so he can concentrate on growing his company. He wanted to develop long term content marketing assets for the company’s reoccurring Women in Sales Leadership Forum. IES already produces a lot of content through the Sales Game Changers Podcast, but there was a need for specific content around this program. 

“Right as I identified the need for outsourcing, I received your email. Your portfolio impressed me, as did your diligence. I felt confident you could help me with this.”

Fred Diamond, CEO, Institute for Excellence in Sales

How DTSQ Developed a Strategy That Assisted in Program Sales

We developed a content marketing campaign to demonstrate how in touch IES is with women sales leaders’ widespread issues. Our strategy included: 

  • Topic cluster strategy development based on current content assets
  • 3 new articles for the company blog
  • Repurposing podcast clips for article quotes of admirable women sales leaders 
  • Repurposing of podcast clips for video snippets for social media
  • Ideation and design of several on brand social media graphics and posts

“We purposefully wrote the articles in an evergreen way. Fred explained that the Women in Sales Leadership Forum would be an ongoing program. Therefore, in order to offer the most value, we created assets that he could use time and time again, with minimal updating.”

Ruthie Bowles, Founder, Defy The Status Quo

Thanks to the vast library of content, and the many conversations women sales leaders have had on the Sales Game Changers Podcast, we had a wealth of content for repurposing and inspiration. We conducted keyword research to support our final selection of topics. We purposefully quoted influential women sales leaders who had been guests on the podcast to expand the reach and interest of each article. 

Examples of the social media assets created for IES

Repurposing the Sales Game Changers Podcast episodes into bite-sized video clips for social media was a very important step in the strategy. It’s a given that people won’t always click through to your site. However, it’s critical to begin conversations where your audience is. Audio clips from longer podcasts can start important discussions. 

Turning audio into video clips can greatly extend the reach of content, which was our goal for IES. Video tweets are 10x more likely to get engagement that tweets without video. On Facebook, views of branded video content had increased by 258% in 2017. We considered it critical to amplify the great content IES already had at it’s disposal, while creating new content inspired from those topics. 

“I think the value is that you gave us a lot of material that complimented our outbound efforts. Our next iteration is in October [2019], and we plan to go regional in 2020. So the goal is to have more people learn about the program without us directly reaching out to them.”

Fred Diamond, CEO, Institute for Excellence in Sales

Reoccuring Program Has Long-Term Assets

As a client, we love IES’ mission and the work they do to help sales professionals improve their professional skills. It was very exciting for us to partner with them to move the needle in the right direction. In this case, that meant creating content for IES to get the word out about this new program. 

Our aim was to provide a smooth working process. We handled uploading all of the content to the site, and created a repository that IES can access at anytime to download and reuse their social media assets. Honoring IES’ trust was paramount to what we consider success, especially as this was their first time bringing in an outside consultant for content strategy and creation. 

“I wanted to offload this, and I appreciated the quality of your work and your respect for the deadline. I trusted you to deliver, and you did. I thought that your service was quality, and I’m pleased that we partnered. I would definitely recommend you to anyone in my network.”

Fred Diamond, CEO, Institute for Excellence in Sales

We’re very proud to have created content that will be used to promote subsequent iterations of the Women in Sales Leadership Forum. 

“How Do You Start Working with a PR Professional?” with Jennifer McGinley

How do you start working with a PR professional? We’re continuing on with Jennifer McGinley’s, CEO of JLM Strategic Communications, interview. In today’s episode, she tells us what to expect when you first start working with a PR professional. As you’ll hear from her, a lot of trust is involved. Jenn seems to thrive in that place where opportunity meets preparedness.

Here is the podcast episode:

Here is the transcript:

What is the 1st step to working with a PR Professional?

Jennifer: I start with a 15-minute call just to get to know eachother quickly. Then after that, I go into a 1-hour phone call. I love to just let somebody talk. I want their whole story, the good, the bad, the ugly. I want the who, what, why, when, and how of of their business. 

Hopefully, they’re in business for 3-5 years before I talk to them. I have worked with a lot of new entrepreneurs, but…. You would probably know the statistics on new businesses and what the failure rate is. (I do, it’s about 20% in the first year) Not to be negative, but I’ve worked with a couple entrepreneurs that I don’t even know where they are anymore. 

So I do that hour-long phone call, I delve deep, and I literally just keep my mouth shut and let them talk. I absorb the information, I take appropriate notes and then we just talk together about a strategy, a budget, and a plan. 

If they’re in the mental health space, I love to have a pseudo-editorial calendar set up. If it’s May Mental Health Month or October’s Mental Health Awareness Week, that’s a great way to set some deadlines, and bring in breaking news or something relevant. This is because it increases the media relations opportunities, but it’s also a community outreach opportunity. So there’s a lot of thinking and strategizing that goes into this. 

Not to get ahead of myself, but I do that strategy call, listen, and if they don’t have a bio written, I love to write bios. My bios are different. I really try telling a story that can be a separate piece. I’ve been told by another editor, “I love this bio because it makes me want to interview them and get to know them better.”

It was then that I knew that I was on the right path in terms of including quotes, their educational background, but also making it warm and intriguing. I think that’s what journalists want today, as well as anybody else that would interview them.

Ruth: That makes sense. From the client side of things, it sounds like they should be trusting you to do your job, but also being prepared to be that person who talks a lot so you can do all of that incredibly valuable listening. It sounds like there’s a lot of trust and communication involved.

Trust is Huge When You Work with a Public Relations Professional

Jennifer: Yeah, trust is huge for me. Public relations is not a one-sided game. It’s a collaborative effort. I want to educate that person on what public relations truly is, and the value that I can bring them with connection, visibility, and credibility.

Credibility is huge. They need to have a really solid website. If they want to go on paid or unpaid speaking engagements, I need some video. I need them to have their bio done. I need talking points. I love to do a draft press release, because something can pop up quickly if there’s breaking news. 

One of the cases I’ve dealt with was the Ford-Kavanaugh situation. I talked with her for months ahead of time. I told her, “Listen, this whole Me Too thing is gonna blow, and we need to be prepared.” So we prepared a couple of months in advance. Mental Health Month was also coming along. 

The day that I called her, I said, “It’s D-Day. We’re good to go. Use your talking points for each interview.” To me, that was the perfect, dream situation because when I first met her, I already knew that this was going to happen. (No, Jenn isn’t saying #MeToo is great. She’s speaking strictly about how her preparedness and the opportunity lined up.)

She was such an amazing person. I knew that we would get along so well because she said, “You know what, do what you need to do. Just tell me where I need to be and when I need to be there, and I will do it.” So I just felt the creative juices flowing since the day I met her. 

That’s when you get up in the morning, and it doesn’t feel like work. It’s what I love to do and I love, I love when the synergy is there. That’s really important for me. 

How Does a PR Professional Go About Getting Media Coverage for a Business?

Ruth: Okay, so what’s involved in terms of how you would try to get media coverage for me and my business, now that we’re working together?

Jennifer: Like I said, I want the bio done. I want to get to know that person. I want to really figure out where they see themselves vs. my constructive criticism of them. I’ve had people call me going, “Oh, do you have a friend at the Today show?” And I kind of take a deep breath and explain that media relations isn’t everything in public relations. You really have to earn the right to get on that outlet, or get that podcast, etc. 

There’s a lot of planning. Honestly, the person needs to be a legitimate expert in their field with a lot of backing educationally. They need to have local media placements behind them. So, that’s why I love going local first. 

Jennifer McGinley, CEO, JLM Strategic Communications

Alumni Publications Can Be a Great Starting Point for Public Relations

Don’t forget about your alumni publications. If you went to a college and you have a new book out, or you’re trying to grow your business, tell your alumni. Whether it’s in your alumni publication, or in an alumni reunion, where you can have a table to sell your product, book,  t-shirts if you’re a nonprofit, or something like that. 

That is such a great way to get your name out, because think about it: there are a plethora of fields that those alumni are a part of. I like taking that shoestring budget or community outreach approach to PR. 

I think when you’re building a community in such an authentic, raw way that it’s going to give you a lot more attraction and mileage. Especially when compared to paid advertising, Facebook ads, or hustling in a scattered approach. 

I work with my client in a very realistic way. We’re kind of just filling in each-other’s gaps and have a really nice, flowing thought process. That’s really what I let you do.  Trust, communication, collaboration, strategy, and research are all key components. 

I like to use those first three months to get to know the client. I reassure them that if I text, email, or call them, it’s not going to be a waste of their time. I will only do that if I’m on a deadline or breaking leads. So that’s the respect that I have for that client and their time. 

It goes both ways. If I tell them that an opportunity came up. I have a 7.00 deadline, it’s 3.30 now. We need to get this in. My clients are like, “Absolutely, what do you need me to do? I’ll cut and paste, I’ll edit, I’ll get it in.” I love that because it’s fun. It’s on a deadline and we’re working together to help them with their organization.

That is great public relations, and it’s a great approach.

*****

If your PR person doesn’t sound like Jenn, well….. I suggest you start working with a new PR professional ASAP! If you missed it, here’s Jenn’s first segment on The Defiant Business Podcast. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Measuring The Value of Content

Many people start with the content before establishing the value, but this ain’t the chicken and the egg. One of them definitely comes first. If you want to create high-value content that generates serious ROI for your company. Learn how to set clear expectations based off of business objectives to ensure no content efforts are wasted. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today we’re going to talk about measuring the value of content. The reason why is because I know a lot of writers and content specialists who don’t understand the value of what they create. 

I know a lot of marketing directors, marketing managers, CEOs, you name it, who don’t understand how to measure the value of content. 

That’s what makes this such a critical topic. You cannot sell or buy something effectively if you don’t understand the value of it. 

The Goal of Your Content

The value of content really depends on why you created it (or had it created) in the first place. Before you go buying or selling anything, you need to understand the goal of the content. 

So whether you’re the content specialist or you’re the person looking for content, you need to understand the goal first. 

Why do you want this created? What is this blog post series meant to accomplish? Why do you want this white paper? What’s the goal of this case study? 

Created for Different Purposes

A blog post is the simplest one. That’s where most companies start. A blog post that’s meant to generate search engine traffic is going to be written and perform differently than a post that’s meant to interest prospects on your mailing list. 

Those are two different goals: generating interest from prospects on a mailing list and generating search engine traffic. 

The timeframe on those two different goals is going to be huge. Seeing an increase in search engine traffic can take months. My awesome SEO guru friend Jason Firch on Linkedin says that it can take up to 8 months to see search engine traffic coming in. 

This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. It also depends on the age of your website, the domain authority, and many other factors. When considering SEO, for a piece of content to do well, there’s a lot of things that have to happen. Time is a must.  

So you have to wait months to really understand the impact of a piece of content. Search engines can have an almost instantaneous effect, or it can have a more delayed effect. 

Generating interest from a highly engaged email list could generate more traffic to your site. However, you have to put in the work to build that highly engaged list!

Interpreting Your Content’s Success

Developing a Relationship

If you’re using an email marketing software, you’ll be able to see that people opened your email and clicked on it. If you’re sending an email, and you don’t have a CRM tracking or email marketing, you’re not going to be able to see these things. (Here’s the CRM and tracking software I use. <– Yes, that’s an affiliate link. I make a small commission if you choose to buy. But there’s the option to use the CRM for free too!)

But let’s say you’re using an email marketing software. So you’ll be able to see that they:

  • Weren’t interested
  • Don’t reach out to your sales team
  • Don’t reach out to you
  • fail to reply or take any action

Does that mean that piece of content failed? No, it means that it could be a step further in this buyer’s journey. You haven’t done anything wrong there. 

If they clicked on it, that means the next time you send them something, they’ll probably click and open and go further. That blog post could start a conversation. They reply, and now you’re emailing back and forth, and you’re developing a relationship with this potential client. 

That is critical. People don’t buy from people they don’t like. If they don’t like you, they’re definitely not going to buy from you. So sometimes a blog post is about starting a conversation. 

That’s what content marketing is about. Content marketing is about starting those conversations and giving you the opportunity to help your customer understand who you are and what you do. 

Building Credibility

If you offer services, you don’t necessarily have a product. You need to build your credibility, not just in the industry that you’re in, but in the industries that you specialize in. 

If you offer management consulting, you want to be seen as a forward-thinking company. Let’s say you decide that you prefer working with a particular industry of businesses, like technology. 

You want to make sure that you’re present there, and talking about how the best technology companies can manage their people and move their businesses forward. 

Creating Content That Helps With Outreach

You can create content that helps with outreach that improves your chances of success. So let’s say you write a blog post on a hot new trend in technology management. You’re able to use that blog post to reach out to podcast hosts who’ve talked about similar things. 

They read this blog post, and get introduced to your company. They get to know a little bit about you. Now, they see that you have some value to add to their podcast, and they may interview you. 

Maybe you get to guest blog or maybe feature in someone’s video on Youtube. You can use these pieces of content to reach out, and you should create content with that goal in mind. 

The more personalized you can make your content, the more effective it’s going to be for the people who’ve read it.

Establish Goals, Then Make Content 

What this entire episode is meant to say, is that content should be created with goals in mind. Establish the goals. Do not try to make your content fit the goal. 

Establish the goals first, and then create the content. Working from that goal, the value, and the ROI of the content will be more apparent because you’re working from a starting line. 

Work with the goal in mind if you want to be able to understand the value of your content, and generate ROI consistently from the efforts that you’re taking (or paying for). 

How To Stop Wasting So Much Time to Get “No”

If you’re a service or consulting firm, you’re going to get more no’s than yes’s. So that’s not really the problem. The problem is how long it takes you to get to that no. Instead of taking the expressway, you’re meandering through the hills, unnecessarily extending your sales process. Learn what you need to do instead. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today we’re going to go over why you get so many no’s. Why do you get so many no’s? 

You know that there is a demand for your services. You know that people use them. Maybe you’re a web design company. Perhaps you’re a business consulting firm, or you offer supply chain management services or supply chain consulting. 

It could be almost anything, but you know that there’s a need out there for it. There are other companies that are successful at it. Why are you getting so many no’s? 

You Will Get More No’s Than Yes’s

For service and consulting firms, solo practitioners, or freelancers, you’ll always get more noes than yeses, which is fine. For the most part, you’re just trying to get a few more clients than you had before, or trying to trade out lower-paying clients for higher-paying ones.

The problem is how long it takes for you to get to that no. 

Why You Get so Many No’s

I’m going to give you a couple of scenarios. Tell me if they sound familiar in the comments. You come across a great job listing or a Linkedin post. You respond, and they don’t answer or they reject your proposal. 

There’s a couple of reasons this might have happened

You Didn’t Address Everything in Your Proposal

This typically happens because you haven’t addressed everything in the proposal. If you only address one part of what they’re asking for, they’re probably going to reject you. 

What you need to do is make sure that you’re addressing every aspect of the proposal. Maybe you can partner with somebody, and you can say, “You’re probably not going to find somebody who can efficiently handle all of these things. You should consider building a team.” At least you present an alternative solution. 

You’re Wasting Too Much Time on Lost Causes

However, the next scenario is probably one of the most likely reasons you’re getting so many no’s, and why it’s so painful. 

Let’s say someone refers a new business prospect to you. You get on a call or you meet in person, which takes up even more time. Everyone’s really excited. You draft a proposal and you agonize over it. It takes you a few hours to do, and then you send it. 

You wait. 

Waiting… 

Still waiting… 

…and it just doesn’t come. They don’t answer you. They ghost you. 

Or, they tell you that they aren’t “ready to move forward at this time.”

Let’s go back over it. Either way, you’re drafting a proposal, but that can take a few hours if you don’t have a template, or a have a set of packages for your services. 

So a lot of consulting or service firms develop unique solutions for each client. That requires unique proposals. 

You’ve done some research on the client, which took up some time. The phone call or the meeting took up time. 

You’re using up all of this time. You’ve invested people, hours, and resources just to arrive at a no. 

Just Have That Budget Conversation

Oftentimes it’ll be the budget conversation that people are afraid to have, which is understandable. It can be intimidating, but it saves everyone time. 

Let’s say you go and have a phone call, a video call, or you meet in person. That’s time that the prospective client took as well. You’re saving them time by getting some of the logistics out of the way.

You can say, “Hey, I know we haven’t discussed your project yet. Have you had a chance to review my services page that lists my services, and where my pricing starts? If all of that sounds good to you, let’s go ahead and schedule that phone call.” 

You’re saving everyone time by qualifying early, especially with one of the most common main points: price. 

Get Those Time-Consuming No’s out of the Way

It’s not that you’re not going to get no’s. You just have so many long conversations that end in no. 

So if it’s going to be a no, you need to arrive at that no as early as possible. Preferably before you have a discovery call. 

A Services Page Could Help

I’ve got a services page where I have our starting rates for common projects that are often asked of us. That helps set customer expectations. 

What it also does is it gets rid of those tire kickers, who usually say something along the lines of, “I wanted to pay $25 for a blog post that was 1500 words.” When they see my starting prices, they realize that they’ve got the wrong one. That saves you a lot of time. 

You’re also dealing with customers who may be uneducated about what it takes, and therefore what it costs, to actually get these things done. 

You always want to speak from a point of value, but you can’t forget that you’re going to run into a lot of people who just don’t know. They’re unsure about what they want, they may be unsure about the value of what you do as well. 

So you’re going to get no’s. The goal is to get those no’s as quickly as possible. That way you can spend more quality time on the real, potential yes’s. 

Outsource Content for Better Business Performance

Content marketing doesn’t seem like a big deal until you trip down the rabbit hole of keyword research or trying to tie your content to business objectives. Once you do, you’ll find that employees are more likely to abandon the project and never look back. Don’t let your company’s blog be one of those website fixtures that never gets dusted off. Learn why you should outsource content to a trusted partner and how this may bring you the success you were looking for. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

The Steps of Generating New Content

When I talk about outsourcing, I’m normally talking about content, because I’m a content consultant. That’s what we do at Defy The Status Quo. So we’re going to run with that as an example, but keep in mind that this applies to pretty much any type of service that you would consider outsourcing to a freelancer, company, or agency. 

Trying out Blogging

We’re going to go with blogging. I feel like that’s where most companies dip their toes in terms of content marketing. Blogging doesn’t seem like too big of an extra task. How much time can it take to write up a blog post? 

The Steps of Writing a Blog Post

You have to consider the content plan and what you’re actually going to be writing about. In order to develop the content plan, we need to do keyword research. 

We should also be tying content to business objectives. Your marketing director is probably pretty clear on the business objectives, but it’s not always considered necessary to share those in detail with your employees. 

So now we’ve got:

  • Creating the content plan
  • Doing the keyword research 
  • Tying every single piece of content to a business objective. 

We should also probably also have a downloadable or lead magnet of some sort, like a white paper, an ebook, a research report, etc.

We covered white papers in Season 1 and a white paper can easily take 20-30 hours to finish. And that’s normally over the course of 6-8 weeks. Who’s going to do that? But I digress.  

Continuing on, now we need a distribution plan for our content. We’ve got the content plan, and we need to have a distribution plan. 

Once you write it, it’s not a case of “build it and they will come.” It’s a case of “build it and then distribute it, so people know about it, and then they will come.” So you actually have to have a plan in place for that. 

Also, who’s checking our analytics to make sure that everything is performing the way it should? Someone needs to check analytic sources, like Google Analytics. 

The Return of Investment on Blogging

At first, it seems very easy, but then it easily snowballs. People are asking questions about ROI. We have someone spending 10 hours/week on blogging. What’s the ROI to the business? We’re paying them for that! 

Getting real ROI from content takes time, but there are short term KPIs that you can measure to help predict how content is going to perform over time. 

Content marketing builds momentum, and that’s another way that it generates long-term ROI. But the level of content marketing that generates real ROI may take up more time than the people in your marketing department have. 

Everyone is Doing Something

What I’m saying is that, even if it seems like the people that you assign this to aren’t doing anything, they are doing something with their 40 hours. I’m assuming that your marketing employees work 9-5, Monday-Friday. 

They need to be able to fit in the content, so there’s going to be some juggling of responsibilities. It shouldn’t be a problem, but it is something new. 

Starting a New Project

New projects might only be taken up halfheartedly. Big projects can have many points of failure, like blogging, white papers, and case studies. 

Oftentimes, for employees who are only half-heartedly taking on a project, one failure is enough to put the project on the back-burner. Especially if nobody’s checking on them. 

Time Over Zeal

You may have to give a project to an employee, not because they’re the best fit, but because they’ve got time. 

Maybe your best writer or your best video person, or social media person is engaged in another marketing project. So this white paper’s gonna go to John Smith because he’s got time. 

Then, it kind of goes back to point #1 about employees taking up projects halfheartedly. John Smith doesn’t want to do a white paper. He would rather be updating his resume on Indeed, so he’s not going to be happy about taking on this project either. 

Why No One Points Out Your Bad Ideas

Employees aren’t always going to tell you when you’ve got a bad content idea. I have to be honest: one thing that most of my clients tell me in the discovery call is, “I don’t know this stuff. I just want somebody to tell me what we can and can’t do. That’s a good idea. That’s a bad idea.” 

So there are two reasons why employees might not tell you: 

  • Nobody likes to deliver bad news. They don’t. 
  • They may not know enough to deliver bad news. 

That’s what makes having somebody who knows enough to tell you that you’ve got a bad idea so important. 

When you’re spitting out these content ideas at your marketing meeting, you’re developing a self-reinforcing bias within your marketing department because they don’t have the expertise to tell you that it’s a bad idea. 

Assigning Content To Your Employees

So when you’re looking at assigning content to your marketing people, you need to check:

  • Have any of them received content training?
  • Do they understand writing for search engines, and writing for your audience? 
  • Do they understand the sorts of market research that they’re going to have to do? 
  • Are they well versed in the analytics, and are able to report to you on the ROI? 

Invest in Your Employees

If none of them have received that sort of training but you have people who are interested, then I would go for it. I would definitely develop those employees. 

When you invest in your employees’ education and help them grow in unexpected ways, they value that. It can increase employee loyalty and retention in your company. 

If All Else Fails, Outsource Your Content

If you don’t have people jumping up out of their seat for this, you’re probably going to want to outsource your content in order to create the best long-term assets. 

The best way to do that is through interviewing agencies or solo practitioners like myself. All of our professional knowledge will translate to your content. We’ll tell you everything you and your marketing team need to know to create the best content. 

Where to Find Content Ideas

Sometimes, you’ll feel inspired and all of the content ideas will come to you. Other times, you can’t think of a single thing to write about or make a video out of. Where can you find content ideas when you feel like this? Let me tell you where I find content ideas when my creativity has run a bit dry. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Write Things Down Immediately

Today we’re going to talk about where to find content ideas. 

I feel like I often just pluck them right out of thin air, which is an awesome ability to have. I have a ton of Google products, so I keep a running list in Google Keep. 

That allows me to write down content ideas when I’m driving, taking a shower, I’m cooking, just before bed or any other time. 

First of all, when you’re constantly thinking about content, ways that you can relate to your audience and help them relate to you, educating and entertaining, these ideas are going to start coming to you. 

You’re just going to be thinking about something and draw an interesting connection. So you want to have something on hand. Why? Because I promise you that you’re not going to remember it. 

Especially if the idea comes to you just before bed, you are not going to remember that idea in the morning. You’re going to remember that you had an idea and that’s what’s really going to get you. You’re going to remember that you had a wonderful idea, and it’s gonna mess with you for the rest of the day. 

What About When the Well Has Run Dry?

So what about when it seems like you actually don’t have any content ideas? Now, this is a rough one. You feel like you don’t have any content ideas, but you need to put out some new content. 

Maybe you need to create a Linkedin post or you need to put something up on Instagram. Maybe you need to create a podcast episode on IGTV. Anything. 

You need to do something. There are some go-to sources that I have. 

Use Interest-Based Feeds, Like Google News

One of the sources that I love to use is Google News or any other interest-based feed. You can set up your interests and get feeds from newly published content and news related to topics that you’re interested in. I think that is key. It allows you to stay up to date on things that matter. 

You can also set those interests based off of what matters to your clients and prospective clients. That’s a really big deal.

You want to make sure that you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on, so you stay informed and educated on issues that matter to your clients. 

Twitter is Like a Minute-By-Minute Newsreel

Twitter is a fantastic place to keep up with what’s going on. Don’t forget to take a look at those trending tags. Again, those interest-based feeds are trending for a reason. You want to make sure that you keep up with those things. 

Quora: Find Questions and Answer Questions

Quora is another place that I like to get content ideas from. There are people asking questions, and sometimes you can even get ideas from the answers. You could also answer a question and you generate a lot of feedback. 

That could be a great content idea because, not only did you answer the question, but if people respond to your response then it shows even more interest. 

The one thing you should do is always double-check that people are interested in what you have to say.  One of the ways we accomplish that is through keyword research. That’s where SEO comes in handy. 

Linkedin, Where B2B Thrives

Linkedin is a great place to check out. There is a column in Linkedin, on the right of your homepage, with the top 10 trending issues. You can get really good ideas there. 

If you’re going to do a Linkedin post, maybe you should include one of those topics. Don’t forget to check your hashtags. Just like on Instagram, you can follow hashtags and stay up to date, which is incredibly valuable if your industry is B2B. 

Need to set up your LinkedIn Profile to win new business? Check out our LinkedIn Profile Infographic!

Utilize Google Search Console for New Content Ideas

I touched on SEO very briefly just now, but Google Search Console will tell you queries that people use and when you appear in those search results. That’s called impressions, and it’ll tell you when people actually click on your result. 

You may want to look at:

  • Keyword phrases 
  • Where you’re getting impressions
  • Where you’re ranking
  • When people actually look at you
  • When people pass by your search listing. 

Some of the phrases you see there will tell you about gaps that are missing in your content, or just the things that are of interest that you may be able to speak about in an intelligent manner. 

Google Search Console is a fantastic place to look for keywords. 

Answer the Public Website

Another great place to look for keywords is answerthepublic.com. You can take a keyword/keyphrase and it turns it into many different questions. 

So not only is this great for coming up with content ideas, especially for social media, but it’s also great for writing blog posts. 

If you’re writing a blog post and you feel like there are other ways you could approach a topic, but you’re not really sure how, pop your topic into answerthepublic.com, and that grumpy old man will turn your phrase into questions. 

You could take those questions and add them to your blog post, which would allow you to expand on the topic that you’re covering. 

Take Advantage of Scientific Journals and Publications

Let’s not forget industry publications and journals. Science journals are not just for science. There are journals for pretty much anything that anybody could conduct a study, experiment or observation on. 

You could use the latest research, and create content that helps connect the dots for your clients. 

I’m a content marketing consultant, but if something comes out in one of the marketing journals and it’s filled with jargon and it’s heavy on the marketing data, my clients may not find that very easy to digest. I could help so many people by taking that new research and turning it into a blog post, where I make it more digestible for people interested in what that research deals with. 

Also, don’t forget to regularly check your industry journals and publications. They’re very valuable and they may even help inform your own strategy and approach to your clients. 

Not to mention that new research is always a great reason to reach out to past clients as a way to ask them, “I thought you’d be interested in this. I just wanted to check in with you and see how things are going.”

That’s the second episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. You are going to love some of the topics that we’re covering in Season 2. And don’t forget, Jenn’s next segment is going to happen next week, so make sure you subscribe.

Interested in seeing what other professionals think? Here’s what my LinkedIn network had to say about finding content ideas and inspiration!

“What is Public Relations?” with Jennifer McGinley

Season 2 is special, and certainly a step up from Season 1. Why? Because we welcomed our first guest on the show. Not only that, she’s a seasoned PR professional who makes PR honest and trustworthy. I invited Jennifer McGinley, the CEO of JLM Strategic Communications, onto the Defiant Business Podcast to educate us on what public relations means to her. You’ll be hearing from Jenn 4 other times this season. She gave us so much great content, it was impossible to put into one episode!

Here is the podcast episode:

Here is the transcript:

Ruth: Hi Jenn. I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming on The Defiant Business Podcast. This is a very special series since you are our first official guest. So, I just wanted to say thank  you. 

Jennifer: Thank you for having me. I value you so much for your experience and your intellect in this space. I’m really thrilled and honored to be here. Thank you. 

Ruth: Wow. You’re welcome! But our motto is that nobody has a lot of time, and so we’re not going to waste it. I’ll get right into our first question. 

I wanted to know a bit about your background and your business, as well as what you feel distinguishes you from others in your field. 

Jennifer: Three years ago, I started doing public relations on my own. I’ve been in the field for 25 years and I’ve done lots of jobs in-between. I’ve done a lot in healthcare for community hospitals or the behavioral health system. 

And after moving to Baltimore, I worked for the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. I would say the greatest amount of my public relations experience is higher education and healthcare. 

Now I started JLM Strategic Communications, which I’m so grateful and excited to be doing. I specialize in reputation management, community outreach, and media relations. My goal with all of my clients is increasing their connection, visibility, as well as credibility. I think that’s the summary of what I do. 

Do all of those things fall under public relations? 

Jennifer: They do. To really explain to others that are watching/listening what public relations is, it’s generally all about building solid relationships. 

I have a proper definition too. “A strategic communication process can build mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.”

It really is about building awareness. It’s about serving others. That’s really hugely important to me. 

I’m not trying to just make my clients happy here. Of course that’s very important customer service-wise, but I always have to serve the community. I need to educate others. That organisation wants to educate others. I love having that type of perspective. 

Jennifer McGinley, CEO, JLM Strategic Communications

Ruth: Well that definitely sounds like a differentiating factor for you, because I feel like oftentimes when people talk about public relations, you get the impression that they’ll just work with anyone and promote any cause or business. So I think that that is pretty significant. 

Jennifer has a rare outlook on the purpose of public relations

Jennifer: For me, it is. I think I was raised this way as well, with stellar or extremely high-end ethics, values, and honesty. I’m not going to take anybody on as a client, unless I do my due diligence and make sure that they’re rigid. 

I think the field of public relations does a disservice when they take on any organization, client, or individual person that’s not representing themselves in the best, most authentic way possible. 

Jennifer McGinley, CEO, JLM Strategic Communications

The differentiator for me is I only want people that truly want to serve others. I really want their community to be better-off, this world to be better-off. 

It might sound hokey, but I truly believe that it is my calling to do public relations to help others. I want to do it in a way that’s authentic, honest, and it’s not a rinse-and-repeat process. 

My public relations is completely customized. My clients aren’t exclusively physicians, dentists, lawyers, or authors. I take on people I vibe with, and there’s this instant connection. I meet them, I delve into their backstory, their mission, and their purpose. All of a sudden I know everything I can do for them, and it’s just this magnetic explosion of awesome. 

Ruth:  I don’t think that that sounds hokey at all. When you consider the transformation that media in all channels is going through, and some of the outlets that have just had their reputation shredded, what you’re talking about may be the beginnings of the PR response to the new consumer demand for honest media. 

Jenn on trusting her gut as an entrepreneur

Jennifer: I have made mistakes. I have wrongly judged people in a way that I thought I could trust them. 

I think the floodgates to the entrepreneurial space are open, and you have to learn that there’s appropriate boundaries. Looking into word of mouth is huge, but I also Google everybody before I talk to them. I delve deep into their online presence, and if my gut says red flag, I pay attention to it. 

In the beginning I was like, “I need to help people. I need to serve others, whatever needs to happen.” But I do have to be careful because my reputation is on the line as well. 

In fact, I had a conversation with another PR expert yesterday and she said, “If something’s off, go with your gut.” And whenever I don’t go with my gut, I make a huge mistake. 

I’ve definitely learned and I’m excited for the good, the bad, and the ugly of being an entrepreneur. I’m going far in this journey and as I go along, I’m just being smart about my decisions. That’s extremely important to me.

Jenn gave us so much great information in her interview. I can’t wait to share the rest of it with you throughout the season! What are your thoughts on public relations? Are you using it in your company’s marketing and communications strategy? Let us know in the comments.

Influencer Marketing Today

My assignment this week for my social media marketing class was to take a brief look at influencer marketing. The primary task is to share my perspectives on it. Being a professional in the content marketing space means that influencer marketing has been on my radar from day one.

Arguably, every company is trying to influence their audience into making a purchasing decision through their content. You see it when you look at the buyer’s journey. It’s in our buyer personas, as we explore reasons this semi-fictional person will buy something. Content marketers carefully weigh the placement and content of each call-to-action, in an effort to get the audience to BUY. So onto my assignment 🙂

What do you notice about this type of influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is taking the marketing and advertising world by storm. Kim Kardashian and her family are probably the influencers you know best. Whether you love them or hate them, you know them. That’s the point. I think that recently, in the last year or two, the focus has turned from mega influencers with large audiences to micro-influencers with strongly connected audiences. 

It’s pretty similar to how I advise my clients to create specific target audience personas when we’re building their content strategies. If you have to say “or” in your personas, you have to ask yourself if you need to create a separate persona. Saying “man” or “woman”, then you can probably keep that persona together. But if you’re saying CEO or CMO, then you might need to consider creating two different personas. 

The same could be said for the benefits of using micro-influencers, who have smaller but more connected and engaged audiences. 

What strategies are they [influencers] employing?

I think that the most successful influencers are often in B2C markets where the cost of a particular item may not be as much as the average B2B purchase. Their marketing strategies often seem to lean toward the entertaining, glib, and amusing. 

What role do these influencers play in marketing?

Influencer marketing certainly falls into the category of paid marketing. However, it is presented in a different format. A true influencer’s audience isn’t paid for, therefore the consumers in that audience are expecting to see the influencer’s content. Ad blindness doesn’t apply to a great influencer’s audience. 

So while a company pays the influencer, the influencer doesn’t pay their audience. So the effect their getting can be similar to what we see in friend-to-friend content sharing. 

How does the use of marketing perspective impact the relationship between the company and consumer?

Influencers represent an in between space between the company and the consumer. I know it, and you know it: consumers don’t trust branded company content. As a matter of fact, 66% of consumers trust user generated content (UGC) over company content. Your customers and clients expect you to say your products or services are awesome, don’t they? Of course they do. But what they trust almost anyone else more. 

That sounds drastic, but the value of Amazon reviews really demonstrates the truth of the statement. Whenever I purchase something online, I’m always looking for the reviews. I know I’m not alone too. Yes, I know that influencer content isn’t UGC. However, it has the advantage of looking and feeling like UGC.

When you think about it, all of us have the potential to be influencers, whether we monetize that or not. It’s about sharing helpful information that guides purchasing decisions with our audiences.