Using UGC in Your Content Marketing

Concluding the series we started yesterday, User Generated Content is an incredibly valuable resource that you should incorporate into your strategy. In today’s episode, we go over the difference between reviews and endorsements, and different ways you can use UGC in your content marketing strategy.

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

Today we’re going to finish the series that we started yesterday about user-generated content (UGC). Yesterday we talked about how UGC is created by your customers or clients. It could be reviews, a video, audio, or text testimonial about how awesome your product/service was. 

When we explored what UGC is, we talked about why it’s important. ⅔ of consumers trust UGC more than they trust branded company content, but you don’t know when UGC is coming and you can’t solicit it. You can ask your customers or clients to create it, but you can’t buy it, so it’s earned. We also talked about the differences between influencer content and UGC. 

If you didn’t get a chance to listen to that episode, I highly recommend that you do. It will be linked right here in the show notes. 

Moving forward, we’re actually going to talk about how you can use user-generated content in your content marketing strategy. How can you turn user-generated content into content assets for your business? 

Why Should You Care About User Generated Content

So the reason why you’d even want to do this ties back to that number I just mentioned, ⅔, or over 66%, of consumers trust user-generated content more than branded company content. 

If you’re wondering, “Is it really that high? Really?” Well, think about it. When you’re on Amazon or another site where you know they have a lot of reviews, what’s one of the first things you do besides finding the product that you actually want? You scroll down to read the reviews from strangers.

So, is it any more of a surprise that UGC on social media would also impact a client’s buying decision? I don’t think so, because I’m one of those people. I will read the reviews of strangers. If many people say the same thing, then that could actually sway my buying decision. 

If enough customers or clients say the same negative thing, I may not buy. However, I may be swayed to buy if enough customers or clients say a positive thing. So it comes out either way.

The Difference Between a Review and an Endorsement

Let’s talk about the difference between a review and an endorsement. 

A Customer or Client Review

A review is something you will typically find on Facebook business pages. You may find it if you sell your product on Amazon, Facebook, or Google.

They are a bit more formal, and a customer leaves that review with the intent of it really being a review. They may use more formal language, depending on whether they feel comfortable interacting with the brand and for service providers or B2B companies in general. 

You may also consider your Linkedin recommendations as reviews, especially if your business is very, very small. In my case, my business is very small, so my Linkedin recommendations are incredibly reflective of my services, my business, the image that I work to portray and the partner that I always attempt to be for my clients. So my Linkedin recommendations are also reviews for me. 

They’re typically freely given. Don’t pay for them. Sometimes influencers and people who blog will say “I was given a free X in order to provide my honest reviews.” Typically that’s what you see. 

You won’t see paid reviews often, but they do happen. And fake reviews are a plague on Amazon, but that could be a whole other episode. 

An Endorsement

So what’s an endorsement? For me, an endorsement is what you see on Facebook, or what you might see on Instagram or Linkedin, if it’s a business product. But, let’s say I’m on Facebook right now and I post a picture. 

So I’ve got a picture of me, my little plastic Groot pot, and it’s got some air plants in it. So cute! I post this picture and I talk about how my husband got it for me. You’ll hear how happy it’s made me, and how I bought these little air plants off of Amazon.

The little Groot pot and the air plants came from Amazon, and I found the perfect thing to put inside of the pot’s head. So now he looks like he has hair. And you know, if you’re like me, you super love Groot, and you see that on my Facebook, you’re like, “Oh my goodness, I have to get a pot for myself too! And those air plants, that was such a great idea.”

So I’ve actually just generated sales for two different companies: the one that sells air plants, and the one that sells the Groot head pot. 

That’s user generated content, but it’s also an endorsement of a product because I’m talking about how happy I am about it. No one solicited me. I only posted it because I wanted to, and I’m sure that now I’ve described it, you’ve seen it all over your social media channels as well. 

Using UGC in Your Content Marketing Strategy

So how can you use UGC in your content marketing strategy? I’ve listed a few ways here. Obviously depending on where your customers or clients leave these reviews and endorsements, you can get really creative. So this is just something to get you going.

Take Screenshots

Take screenshots of UGC of your product/service and share them on social media. It’s almost like you’re creating user content for yourself because when you take that screenshot, people can see it’s a screenshot. They can typically identify which platform it came from, so it just somehow seems a bit more real and authentic. 

Then, you share that on social media and so now you’re just basically quoting somebody via screenshot. 

A Testimonials Page

If you want, you can also copy the text and place it on a testimonials page on your website. 

Maybe if you sell products, you might just call it product reviews

If you have a service business and you’re getting these reviews in a lot of different places, and they’re just all over the place and you’re like, “Man, I wish that review was over here.” Sometimes the best that we can do is create a testimonials page on our website and bring them all there.

Maybe people left you reviews on Upwork, recommendations on Linkedin, Facebook, on your business page, maybe somebody just said something awesome to you in an email. Ask them if you can use it on your website.

And so, we could bring all of those things together on a page and show them simultaneously, or maybe you place some of those testimonials on your homepage as a reason why people should work with you. 

Stylized Graphics

You could also create stylized graphics optimized for the social media platform that you want to use the graphics on. On Twitter and Linkedin you can use the same image size, but on Instagram, the square images are the best option. You could write a post about what this review means to you, or you can tell a little bit more about the product, provide the link to it, as well as tag the user to give them an opportunity to interact with you on the post. 

Send an Email to Your List

We already talked about asking for permission, why you should, and the opportunity it has for you in Episode 28, so make sure you listen to that if you didn’t. 

You could also send an email to your list about the post. 

Maybe these people purchased products in the pat, but they haven’t purchased this product. You should give them a review about it because it would be incredibly relevant to them. 

If you provide services, you should take notes about the services that people buy. 

If you sell products, then that product information should just be loading in there automatically. 

Always Engage with the Customer

And again, you want to connect with your customers: make them feel appreciated, thank them for their opinion, interact with your customer and ask them more in-depth questions. So do not miss this opportunity, especially if you’re a growing business. Capitalize on it. These people already want to talk about you, so they definitely wouldn’t mind talking to you. 

What is User Generated Content?

What is user generated content (UGC)? User generated content comes as text, photo, or video content from your clients or customers. The kind you should get excited about is positive, since you can use it in your marketing. Of course, you should pay attention to anything negative for improvement opportunities.

Why do you care about UGC? Over 2/3 of consumers trust UGC more than branded company content. But you can’t control UGC, so you just have to keep your ear to the ground. 

This is a two part series, so be sure to tune into tomorrow’s episode as well!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re watching/listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your Monday through Friday, 10-minute- shot of business knowledge. 

Today we’re going to talk about user generated content (UGC). So, what is user generated content? It could be photos, videos, or text posts of a customer talking about your product/service. 

You’ve probably seen these before. We see them all the time on Facebook and  Instagram. I can record myself saying “I just got this Google Pixel 2, and I love it so much! It’s way better than any other phone that I’ve ever had!” And if you’re in the market for a new phone, you should consider getting a Google.” That’s just me saying it as your friend, unsponsored.

Maybe if you hadn’t considered getting a Google phone before, you would consider it now. You know that I really enjoy having awesome technology at my disposal and you trust my review. So even if you choose not to buy it in the end, I prompted you to research it, and you may become a customer at some point in the future. 

Consumers Trust User Generated Content

User generated content is content that companies just can’t buy. And it’s so critical because studies show that over ⅔ of consumers trust UGC over branded consumer content, or branded content from companies. 

This also applies to service-based businesses. If somebody writes a post on Instagram or Linkedin about your services and how great they were, that’s user generated content too.

So just because you don’t sell a physical product, it doesn’t mean that you can’t also benefit from user generated content. Like I said, it’s valuable because over 66% of consumers trust UGC over branded company content. 

The Importance of Authenticity

Another important thing to note is that user generated content that’s created on a cell phone or smartphone, the vertical image is considered more authentic by consumers as well. Landscape photography (the longer, wider version of the photograph) may not actually be to your benefit because it doesn’t look like it was taken on a smartphone. 

In my estimation, the reason why that authenticity is so obvious with vertical images is that for most of us who have a smartphone, we’re typically not too far away from it. So when you or a consumer posts UGC, it helps other people feel like they’re in the moment and part of the experience. And that is exactly what it is. It’s just that person sharing their experience.

Customer Engagement Promotes UGC

We know that either someone really hates something, or they really love it, in order to leave a review. The masses in the middle, who are often just content, won’t leave a review either way. Even if they’re only mildly upset or mildly pleased, they won’t leave reviews. 

So, positive UGC is definitely something you want to keep an eye out for. You won’t see it if all you do is schedule posts to your social media and you never actually check those channels. 

I have people that I’ve followed in the past, especially on Linkedin, whose posts I’d comment and try to engage with to try to help them out too. The reason is that, if I’m talking and I’m asking questions, it gives them an opportunity to show off their expertise. An answer never came.

I realized it was because they only scheduled their posts, and they never actually checked LinkedIn. So I actually unconnected with that person. But again, it was kind of a missed opportunity for them. 

Reach Out Before You Share

One of the rules of etiquette that not a lot of companies follow when using UGC in their own strategy, is that they don’t reach out before sharing. 

Reaching out is actually something I really advise you do. Why wouldn’t you reach out to customers who are obviously ecstatic about your product or service? You’re missing an opportunity to directly engage with a happy customer and get feedback. 

Utilize These Customers’ Feedback

If the person’s willing to post how great your business is onto their social media channels, why not send a message and say “Hey, we saw that you were talking about X product/service, and we were so happy that you were thrilled. We wanted to reshare it on our social media channels. Is that okay?” The customer more than likely is going to say yes, and then you continue that conversation with thinks like:

  • What they liked about the product specifically
  • Ask them about their buyer’s journey
  • How they heard about you
  • What made them decide to choose you

Because they’re already willing to share on social media, they’re more than likely going to be willing to answer those questions. While not empirical data, that is valuable information that you can use as you make refinements to your website, and further hone your buyers’ personas. 

Discover New, Thriving Platforms

This could also alert you to a channel of referral that you weren’t aware of. Perhaps there’s a subreddit where somebody posted about your company, and that’s how that person found your company. Reddit might have never even been a thing that you opened before, but now you know about it because you actually asked the customer. 

So don’t miss out on these valuable market research opportunities. Just because you’ve got a successful product/service doesn’t mean that the market research stops. If you want to stay successful, then you need to keep researching and figuring out what your target market loves about your products and services. 

Responsiveness Inspires Appreciation from Clients

On top of all of that, engagement makes your customers and your clients feel really appreciated and heard in the future. If they do have a problem, it’s more likely that they would probably just respond to that message and say “Hey, this happened. Is there any way you can help me?” 

I actually had that experience with Naked Wines. I order my wine from them and it’s fantastic. However, the first time I got to interact with them directly was not on social media. I was calling their service desk because FedEx had signed for my wine package themselves and left it upside-down on my porch, in the rain, which you’re not allowed to do.

There are many things wrong with that, but it wasn’t their [NakedWines] fault. I was just calling to let them know that their carrier made several mistakes. They were profusely apologetic and I advised them to request something from the carrier in return. They also gave me a $25 credit for my trouble.

I can’t say enough good things about them, especially because of how they reacted in a time when I could’ve been a really upset customer and actually blamed them for what happened. Even though I was very calm, they were extremely apologetic and made me feel like a valued customer. 

Influencer Content Is Not User Generated Content

One last note: don’t confuse influencer content with UGC. Influencer content is purchased. You solicit an influencer to post about your company. This is not the same. Most people, while they do follow influencers, do know that it’s an influencer post.

Not to mention that influencers are starting to be regulated, and there are certain things they have to put in their post to indicate that it is a paid sponsorship. That’s not the same as UGC. UGC is earned. It’s not paid. It’s unsolicited. When you open up a social media platform, it should be a surprise. You didn’t even know it was going to be there. It’s genuine and authentic. 

Influencer posts are often very scripted or, with professional photography, and they don’t come off as authentic. This is especially true for major influencers, but micro-influencers might still have that authentic UGC feel to them. 

But again, even if you engage with micro influencers, do not confuse influence with UGC, which you can encourage your customers to create on your behalf. They may use a certain hashtag or something, but it’s always a surprise. You’re never going to know when it happens, or at least you shouldn’t. 

All right, so that’s been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. Thank you for joining me. Our premiere guest is a for season 2. She’s a PR professional, and we were so excited that she agreed to be on The Defiant Business Podcast . You will learn a little bit more about her in the upcoming episodes of this show. Thank you so much for joining me. 

Ranking #1 on Google Isn’t as Important Anymore

Yes, I hate to tell you, but ranking #1 on Google isn’t as important as it used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I think dedicated businesses can get there for many keywords. However, there are a lot of other considerations you need to take into account before you pay that SEO company to get you to the “top”.

Here is today’s podcast episode:

And the video:

And, of course, the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie Bowles, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your daily 10-minute shot of business knowledge. 

So what are we talking about today? Google rankings. They’re not as important as they used to be. I know. And that’s unfortunate, because there’s a bajillion companies out there right now just waiting to spam your email inbox promising to get you to the #1 rank. But are you actually #1, even when you show up that way? That’s the real question. 

Can You Really Be Number One in the Google Search Results?

The Featured Snippet

So, there are a lot of things taking away from search engine rank even when you do have that top spot. The first one that I’d like you to consider is the featured snippet. The featured snippet is that relatively new box that pops up with the answer that you were looking for. You often see it with things like recipes, or when you need a list of something, or if it’s a really simple answer, maybe it’s math or the definition for a word. 

But what it means is that you can get on the search engine results page, see the answer, and you no longer need to click through to go to a website. So the person who is ranked number 1, or number 2, or number 3 doesn’t matter. You’re already looking on the page and you’ve got your answers. 

You just close your phone, close your computer and move on. So even if you are number one, that featured snippet is taking away some of your stuff. 

Featured Videos

One of those things Google has been rolling out is featuring videos. That’s the next thing that we’re going to talk about. 

This will typically pop up with your how-to questions, and those how-to questions used to be some of the easiest phrases to rank for. That’s just not the case anymore because of the video features. 

If I say like the following, Google’s almost certainly going to feature videos from Youtube and other places too answer my question: 

  • “How do I install the Yoast plugin on my wordpress website?” 
  • “How do I plant tomatoes?” 
  • “How do I make jam?” 
  • “How do I milk a goat?”

When people ask how-to questions, they often want to see someone doing it. So those video features pop up right at the top on the search engine. Again, kind of pushing down and making the top ranking webpages not as noticeable. 

The Ads

And then of course, the thing that’s been there since forever. The ads. Ads always show up first, and what do we do? We scroll past them. In episode 19, I talked about ad blindness. 

We scroll past them, but what we’re not scrolling past is the featured snippet. We’re not scrolling past the box of “People also ask”, we’re not scrolling past the video features because they could answer our questions. So we have to give them even a little bit of time to review them. 

Consider, with things like video features, featured snippets, “People also ask” boxes… You are looking at all the things that can push search engine results further down the page. 

Snippets as a Point of Contention

The featured snippets themselves are kind of a point of contention between Google and content creators. You’re thinking “Why? They answer questions, they’re so helpful.” 

They’re a point of contention because what Google is essentially doing is taking content that’s not theirs, copying it, and presenting it on their page. Is that technically most helpful to the user? Sure. Especially for easier questions to answer. 

For something like on my website, if I ever popped up in a featured snippet, people will most likely click through to see the rest of what it is that I have to say, because my topics aren’t math questions, they’re not easy to solve, they’re not recipes. 

But Google is still copying content and presenting it on their website, and they didn’t ask anybody if they could do that. So that’s where the point of contention comes from. Google cares about user intent. It used to be that when somebody entered in something on the computer and they were looking for something, Google took those exact words and that’s what they were looking for. 

Focused on User Intent: The Where and How Matters

I don’t know if you remember… Maybe you’re not old enough to remember and maybe it’s just me, but I would have to type in different approaches to my key word to try to get the answer that I was looking for. If you’re a Millennial or older, you might remember that.

if you’re Gen Z, you’re like “Oh, what are you talking about? Google’s always known what I wanted”. That’s what I used to do. I used to change my search query to try to get what I actually wanted. Google noticed people doing that, and so they changed the algorithms because that way it could focus more on user intent. 

Your Ranking Worldwide

Google accounts for location of the people using their search engine. So, if you’ve been working with a search engine optimization agency and they just told you that you ranked #1 for “small business accounting” in Baltimore, you’re not going to rank #1 for “small business accounting” in New York or Miami. 

Other businesses there are going to rank for that. Even though you could render your services completely online, you do not rank #1 for “small business accounting” all over the world. Even if you do rank #1, where do you rank number one? That’s the next question. 

These search engine optimization agencies would say “Oh, we’ll get you to #1, pay us all this money, we’ll get you to #1”. 

You ranked number one where? You ranked number one under what context? Google cares about context. So if I look for restaurant reviews and you have a blog that’s all restaurant reviews, is your blog going to come up? 

Probably not, because it’s going to present Google reviews, Yelp reviews, and Travel Advisor reviews before you. Getting to the top rank amongst that competition is almost impossible, unless you have as much money as Google to pour into the endeavor. 

Making the Shift into Topic Clusters

So, if ranking number one is so hard, why are we still doing content marketing? Because content marketers like myself have made the shift to what we call topic clusters. So it’s not just about the one blog post that you’re going to put up. It’s about the five or ten that you’re going to put up about one particular topic. 

We’re going to take a concept, like filing annual taxes, and we’re going to write 5 to 10 blog posts surrounding that topic. They’re all going to link together. Also, they’re all going to link to a main post on filing your annual taxes as a small business. 

What that does is it communicates to Google that you are presenting a comprehensive education on this particular topic. It also allows you to rank for smaller, lower volume keywords that are easier. 

We’re not getting precise Google keyword volume anymore from Google Keyword Planner. These topic clusters can help you get a better idea of the sorts of traffic that you’re getting and where it’s coming from. You’re better able to analyze a topic cluster than you are one single keyword anymore, because Google’s kind of masking the data. 

Clusters, in addition to building your search engine market share, also build thought leadership and credibility for you. By thought leadership, I just mean your perception of authority. So when you present something comprehensive like that to people, they appreciate it. 

Can Giving Too Much Detail Hurt Your Business?

Even if you were to tell me all the ways that I could file my own taxes, I’m still not going to do it. But because I read everything and now I know for sure that you know how to file my taxes, I’m going to contact you, because I trust you. Because you told me already. 

There’s a variety of reasons why you would give that level of detail. One of the biggest ones is that, just because you’ve given that much detail, it doesn’t mean that people are just suddenly going to start doing it and you’re going to lose business. As a matter of fact, you may increase your business. 

Show your mastery of a topic through topic clusters, and worry a little bit less about your Google search engine ranking, especially if your website is new. It’s going to take a while before you get there. 

So, that’s what I wanted to cover with you today. You should not trust those people who say they will make you rank #1 on Google. 

If you enjoyed this episode, I’d appreciate you leaving me a review or a comment wherever that you heard it or watched it. If you’re watching this on IGTV or Youtube – and I will see you next time. 

This has been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. Go ahead and leave us a review or a comment and we’ll try to answer your other business and marketing questions in future episodes. 

Customer’s in Control. How Do You Market?

In Season 1, Episode 19, we cover how to market your business when your client or customer controls marketing. You can’t ignore it, so what do you do?

Here’s the podcast episode:

And here’s the video version of this podcast:

Of course, I can’t leave you without the transcription!

Hi, I’m Ruthie owner of Defy The Status Quo and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast,your 10-minute daily shot of business knowledge. You don’t have a lot of time so I’m not going to waste it. Let’s get to it. This morning we’re going to talk about marketing, but today’s topic specifically is: when your customer’s in control, how do you market? 

So I’ve been making my way through Mark Schaefer’s book, The Marketing Rebellion, great book, available on Amazon. You should check it out if you’ve got your own business. I think the topics that he’s talking about are going to be critical for businesses moving forward, no matter your size. And it’s a serious indicator into how smaller businesses are able to attract such a ferociously loyal customer base. And so one of the key numbers he gives is that 2/3 of your marketing is not done by you.

Most of Your Marketing Isn’t Done by You

2/3 of your marketing is done by your customers. This happens partly because a lot of traditional marketing methods aren’t as effective as they used to be. One of the biggest trends that’s affecting advertising today is what we call a trend called ad blindness. 

You might be thinking “Ruthie, hmm, what’s ad blindness?” When you’re usingGoogle search results, have you ever quickly scrolled past the top entries to get to what we identify as the “real results?” You skip right past the ads right quickly to get to the “real results.” 

You want to see the stuff that people didn’t have to pay to be in the search results for. Sometimes we pay attention to the ads. But most of the time, particularly if we’re looking for an answer to something, you immediately skip past those.

Ad Blindness: Purposefully Skipping Past Ads

Also, when you’re on Facebook, right or Instagram and you see that something is sponsored, you may just bloop just go right past it just because it’s sponsored. You’re thinking “Oh, this isn’t actually content that I want to see.” 

Then there are also people who’ve installed ad blockers on their computers and their phones. And this is because they don’t want to see ads. When you consider one of Netflix’s main attractions, besides the fact that you can binge watch shows, there aren’t any commercials. You can upgrade your Hulu account so you don’t see any commercials. 

This is kind of where we are right now because companies are still putting a lot into advertising. And it’s not to say that they shouldn’t, but they’re not paying attention to what the consumer is saying. The consumer is saying they don’t want to see ads, they don’t want to hear ads.

If You Can’t Control Your Marketing, What Do You Do?

That’s where apps like Pandora come from. You pay a little extra on Pandora. Now you don’t have to hear ads. So if you’ve related to any of those things that I’ve said, then you have probably varying degrees of ad blindness. Even when it’s right there, like a Google ad, we just scroll right past it. 

What’s the key then? It’s not about controlling the narrative anymore, it’s not about controlling the marketing narrative. It’s about contributing to the marketing narrative. The only piece of the narrative that you can control is the minority, the 1/3. So you have to focus on contributing to the ⅔. You want to try and steer the conversation as best as you can, but you’re never going to have complete control over it.

The Internet Empowered the Consumer

I can throw up a website right now reviewing a whole bunch of companies and if what I have to say resonates with people over time, my website’s going to rank. It may rank one day, 10 years from now. It may rank as good as any of the websites that I review. And those companies don’t control me. The basis of my website would be that they can’t control me and that is why I would be popular. 

Your customers or clients love to post on social media, which means you need to be where your consumers are in order to have a chance at contributing to the conversation. You see what I’m saying So you need to be where they are. You need to be available to be a part of that conversation.

Social Media Customer Service 

So if your consumers statistically like to post on Twitter, customer service on Twitter is a big deal there. You know, a lot of companies will interact that way on Twitter. That’s where I go. When a website goes down, I go to see if anybody else is saying that it’s down. Like I did the other day about LinkedIn: 

For example, if I have a question for Hubspot, I’ll tweet at them and I know they’ll respond in pretty short order. Maybe even faster than their customer service will respond and they acknowledge that and that’s why they respond on Twitter. 

So whether it’s positive or negative,you should be where they are. If your customers like to communicate on Facebook, if they like to be on LinkedIn, then that is where you should be. You can’t control what your customers or clients say, you can’t control what they say directly, but you do have some control over the customer experience.

You can’t control the way that they interpret it, but you can control various aspects of it. And that boils down to things like product quality. So you want to invest and make sure that your product is the best that it can be. Because when you send off something that doesn’t look nice, if you’re an ecommerce brand or even if you’re a brick and mortar, if your customer walks away from a selling experience with you, with a product that’s subpar, and by subpar I mean not meeting their expectations. 

If it’s less than what they expect, then you can be sure that they’ll let their friends and family know. And that’s part of that 2/3 of marketing.That’s where word of mouth and people communicating about your products come in. 

Post-Purchase Delight: The Marketing Phase Companies Forget

So, and then one piece that companies are often forgetting is the post-purchase phase, the post-purchase marketing. What are you doing for the people who’ve purchased your item to help them out?

So let’s say its a more complex purchase. Maybe something a little more expensive. Just the other day, I was trying to figure out how my riding mower started. My husband’s normally the one who takes care of it. How could I start my riding mower I’ve already purchased? 

What I was able to do is able to go online and Google it and I found videos on YouTube from the brand, from the company that made that mower. 

I found a lot of basic “get started” videos. They supported me through content. I didn’t have to contact their customer service, or thumb through the manual. I just wanted somebody to do a quick video, show me how to start this thing so I could mow the grass. And that’s what I found.

They supported me in the post-purchase phase. And here I am now talking about this positive experience that I had with Cub Cadet. If anybody says “Oh, how do you start one of these things?” I can say, “You can go on YouTube and find their videos.” Now another person can have a positive post-purchase experience.

So they’re essentially turning their customers into evangelists, marketing evangelists. It’s somebody who will pretty much always say something positive about a brand. The way that your product is delivered can also incredibly impact your customers’ experience. So one company that comes to mind for me is Arbor Teas. I’m one of their evangelists and they offer organic fair trade certified teas and it’s all, you know, it’s online and it comes in the mail.

It comes pretty quickly. One of my favorite parts is their packaging. It’s a little box and it’s got their logo on it. But my favorite part is when I open it, I’ve got a handwritten note. Both times that I’ve ordered from them, it’s been signed by the same person, which made me really happy. 

I posted on Instagram about it, I posted on Facebook about it, and I’ve recommended them since to anybody who tells me that they like tea. So by that small,handwritten note, they’ve turned me into one of their brand evangelists. And that’s, that’s marketing that they can’t pay for, but it’s marketing that’s way more powerful than almost anything else that we could do. 

What About The Customer Experience for Services? 

So, and then also considering your customer experience if you provide services. So in my case, freelance content writing, if you provide services, the top complaint from clients is lack of communication. They don’t know what’s happening with their project. They’re not getting updates. They always have to reach out in order to get an update. You should incorporate that communication as part of your process. 

So, that is what I have for you today. This has been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your daily, 10-minute shot of business knowledge. And I’m your host, Ruthie, owner of Defy The Status Quo. And I can’t wait to see you next time.

How do you feel about the “customer controls marketing” concept? Let us know in the comments!

Missing Client/Customer Connections?

Business is getting crowded, which means you have to look for meaningful ways to stand out. You should always be looking for opportunities to create real connections with your customer or clients. 

The inspiration behind this post came from a campaign text I received asking me for another donation. I started considering whether or not I felt compelled to do so. Then I realized, they missed a lot of opportunities to prime me for this question. 

They missed a lot of opportunities to make me want to say yes. Instead, I just asked “Why should I?”

Here’s the link to the Twitter thread I sent to the Senator: https://twitter.com/annaruthus/status/1145126442856067073 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today’s topic is whether you’re missing potential client connections. This is important because today’s world is pretty crowded with businesses. 

What Makes You Stand out?

You really have to concentrate on how you can stand out, and it’s not always what you put out there that makes you stand out. Sometimes, it’s the way that you connect with your customers that that gives you that extra edge that incites brand loyalty. 

We’ve seen this amongst Millennials, and we’re seeing it with Generation Z. A loyalty program or a discount isn’t enough, because everyone can do that. You have to focus on what only you can do. 

If other people see that it works for you, they’ll copy it. There is value in being the first one to do something. Anytime you come up with something only you can do, you’re getting ahead of the game. 

The Inspiration for This Topic: Senator Cory Booker’s Campaign  

This Saturday morning, I received a text message from Senator Cory Booker’s campaign asking if I would be willing to donate more ahead of an FEC deadline. 

This is because I had donated $1, after seeing a Twitter Ad saying that the number of unique donors required for anyone to be on stage had been upped. 

I remembered him being completely disgusted with the director of Homeland Security because he thought she was full of crap. I thought she was full of crap too. 

I decided, “You know what? For all that emotion and passion he showed, I’ll give him a dollar. I don’t even really know anything else about him, but I’ll give him a dollar.” 

So when I got this text message asking me to donate more, I was wondering why. I don’t really know him, and the burden is on me to go find out about it. 

I decided to create a Twitter thread with my advice to them. Yes, this was specifically advice for a political campaign, but if you’ve read my blog post on conscious consumerism, you know that this method of communicating with your clients could be really beneficial for your business. There are many different ways of doing it, especially when you throw in AI, Facebook messenger, and chatbots. But the Twitter thread that I created is about their SMS marketing strategy, which I feel could be greatly improved. 

SMS Marketing Is Extremely Personal

Once I opted in a few days ago, you could’ve asked me if I wanted to learn more about your stances on important issues. You could have asked me which issues are important to me, and you could’ve been collecting empirical data. 

When I donated that $1, that’s exactly what I feel like they should’ve done. They should’ve sent me a text thanking me for my donation, and then they could have asked me which issues were important to me. 

And based on those responses, they could have sent me a set of text messages about them, informing me on Senator Booker’s stance. 

If I said yes to learning more about your position, I could have received texts boiling down your stances in the most personal marketing method possible. 

You could send me resources to learn more about what makes you different compared to the other Democrats running. 

This would have been a great opportunity for him to show me what made him different. He could have done all of this before asking me for more money. That is key. 

If he had made me like him more than just enough to donate $1, and if he had implemented a better plan, I would have been a lot more supportive. I would’ve felt like I could donate more. 

But when I got to the text, I thought, “Why should I?” It’s unfortunate because anyone who’s already donated $1 is primed to donate more. 

Automated Text Messages Have Tons of Potential to Be Beneficial

The point is that if you’ve got a cause surrounding your business and you’ve gotten your client to opt-in for SMS text messaging, you could implement automatic streams of text messages based on what their interests are. 

Because of the short nature of text messages, you have an opportunity to get rid of all the jargon, focus, and make those words really count. 

You Have Someone’s Full Attention

Take advantage of the fact that you have their full attention. You could tweet out the same things, but they might not see your tweets. You could put them on Facebook, but they might not see your Facebook messages. You could even put them in an email, but they might not open your email. 

But we’re automatically programmed to open our text messages. The only ones I don’t open are the school bus alerts telling me that my kid is going to be dropped off late because my kid calls me first. If I didn’t get that phone call, I would definitely open that text. 

Focus on the Opportunities That You’re Given 

The takeaway is that you have to focus on those opportunities. It doesn’t always have to be about SMS text messaging, but that was one example. 

You need to look around and see where you could be missing potential client connections. If you’re missing it, your competitors may be missing it too, which is an opportunity for you to stand out. 

Texting doesn’t have to be spam. When you get someone’s number without being asked, they want to hear from you. Even if you don’t have a big cause surrounding your product, you could still set up your SMS text messaging in such a way that it’s beneficial to them. 

Maybe you could offer to inform them 24 hours prior to any of your events. It may take a few tries, but they are likely to actually show up at your event at least once. Even something as simple as sending a reminder can be beneficial. 

So keep an eye out in your marketing. Let me know whether you’ve missed any potential marketing or sales opportunities! 

Marketing Your Blog for More Business

Okay, so you’re sold on using a blog to attract more business. How do you go about marketing it? In today’s episode, I focus on one technique out of many that you can use to market your blog for more business. 

For many small businesses, it’s about building relationships. And you can use your blog to do just that. Take a listen as I dive into this subject. 

What do you think? Would you use guest posting to attract more business? Before you discount this method, read all the way through!

If you still need help creating a strong content marketing strategy, you’ll want to take a look at our Blogging for Business Toolkit!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Utilizing New and Different Marketing Tactics

A lot of tactics you typically hear about are great for people who sell things like courses or ebooks, so you may have ignored them. 

Maybe didn’t pay attention to them because you may not sell digital products. Maybe you:

  • have brick and mortar store
  • have an online store
  • sell services
  • are an accountant
  • are a financial advisor, etc.  

So you ignore them because you didn’t feel like they were relevant to you. That’s fine because you weren’t their target audience anyway. 

But what I’m asking you to do next time you come across things like that, is pay attention to the suggestions that are made within that. You can take those tactics to stand out in your space. 

It’s always the people who are doing something different or innovative that get the most attention. And this is especially good for those business owners who feel like they do something boring. 

Guest Posting

I’m going to focus on one particular tactic that I really like in terms of using your blog to get more business. Guest blogging, or guest posting. 

To me, this equates with the new trend that businesses are using, which is hosting events in their spaces after hours or when they’re typically closed. 

An example of this is a networking event I attended recently at a coworking space called Spark Baltimore. 

Startup Grind Baltimore was putting on an event, and Spark Baltimore was the space that hosted it. I was already in Baltimore, so I bought a day pass and I got to see the space. 

If I start to regularly work and see clients in Baltimore, Spark Baltimore is going to be the place that I stop at. So it was a really good move for them, and worked out well. And of course, I’ve had nothing but good things to say about Spark Baltimore since. 

Letting Other People Guest Post on Your Website

So there’s two ways to go about it. The first one is that you allow people to guest post. 

When you allow people to guest post on your blog, you’re not just getting content. You’re also getting their audience, because, of course, they’re going to share it with that audience. What that does is it gets people, who might not have visited before, to visit your blog. I’m going to present a couple of examples of this. 

A B2C Example     

So for B2C, let’s say you sell fitness clothing products. Whether you own a brick and mortar store or you do it online, you might reach out to fitness professionals in your area. Even if you’re online, leveraging local connections is really good because it draws you into the community. 

You reach out to nutritionists and fitness professionals, and ask them to guest post on your site. 

Now you’re getting expertise that would have taken you longer to research. You’re also getting those people’s audiences. Not to mention you’re building relationships with local professionals in your area, which means that they may refer to you later on. 

A B2B Example

For B2B, let’s say you run a 3PL warehouse (third party logistics). What that means is that you own and run a warehouse, or you rent it, and manage the orders and shipping of other businesses. That’s why you’re a third party. 

So what if you turned your blog space into a place where B2B manufacturers can come and post relevant content that will be relevant to your audience? 

For example, blog posts like the struggles that B2B manufacturers face right now, pros and cons of 3PLs, etc. Those are the sorts of things you could allow other industry professionals to post on your website. 

And again, they’re going to share it with their audience and it’s going to spread. So you’re promoting content from your blog, but you’re also building relationships with people in your industry and related industries. 

Guest Posting on Other People’s Websites

If your blog is new, you’re still not going to see a whole bunch of site traffic. You can use your blog in a strategic way to develop relationships which lead to more business. 

Don’t forget you can guest post, but you want to come at it with a very strategic plan. 

Why would you guest post for this person? Probably for SEO purposes. The post gets a link back to your website, so that’s always nice. 

The site that you’re guest posting for will share your content and you’ll get new audience members. If they’re curious about you, they’ll click and go onto your website.

You want to get creative. If you’re pitching to a website that’s never heard from you or heard about you before, then you want to create a media kit. This isn’t super hard to do. You can do it in a program like Canva or Stencil, or if you have a graphic designer on staff.

Common Guest Posting Misunderstandings 

Whether you’re guest posting or you’re allowing guests posters onto your blog, there’s a couple of things to understand. 

When You Guest Post

Do You Get Paid for Guest Posting?

Honestly, we often do it for free. Now you have to be careful because if you approach professional writers, they may come back with, “Oh, you’re trying to get me to do free work.” Now that is a perfectly valid perspective because it happens to writers all the time. 

But when I, as a writer, had an opportunity to guest post for Cerasis, which is a transportation management system, I did not charge them for that blog post. 

However, it was great for me in terms of getting my name out there, building credibility, and getting website traffic. 

I got website traffic from that guest post, and I still do. But, like I said, I had other reasons for that. It was part of my own marketing strategy. So keep that in mind. 

Just be very upfront. Don’t dig in too deep with guest posting without getting clear on the payment. Now it’s not to say that somebody asking for payment is bad. You just want to make sure that you start out with equal expectations. 

Depending on who you’re asking, it may benefit you way than them if they guest post on your site. It’s all about give and take.

Agree on a Plan to Promote

The other thing that you can do on your side, if you’re guest posting, is making sure that you have a plan to promote, and ask the other person if it’s ok to do that. 

When You Let Others Guest Post

Showcase Your Appeal

If you’re inviting guests posters on, you want to make it clear why it would be valuable for them to post on your website and share your promotion strategy. You could reference that content repurposing podcast from the other day and show them that you’re going to consistently promote it to your own audience.

Follow up with People

But understand that guest posting is about give and take. It’s a relationship. 

And when you use this particular tactic for marketing your blog for more business, it’s also about relationship building. So don’t just guest post, share, and then never talk to that person again. 

You want to follow up. There may be additional opportunities for you. Maybe you can come to some of their events, or speak at their events. Maybe they’d even want to do a video interview with you.

Do you have guest blogging as a part of your marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments!

LinkedIn for Your Business

Have you heard that LinkedIn is another platform you should be looking for leads on? Hold on now, all of you who have B2C businesses. I’m still talking to you. Yes, you can carve out a space for yourself on LinkedIn, even if your business is B2C. How? Listen to this episode, because I give some great examples. 

I mentioned the LinkedIn Infographic that Defy The Status Quo published last month. Here is the link: https://defythestatusquo.com/2019/05/29/optimize-linkedin-profile-business-infographic/

Be sure to check that out as you prepare to update your LinkedIn profiles! Don’t worry, we’ll explore LinkedIn more as time goes on. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

Today we’re going to be talking about Linkedin for your business. Now, I love Linkedin. You can find me on Linkedin. I’m very active. Just search my name, Ruthie Bowles

I talk about Linkedin to all of the business owners that I meet up with. Normally, when I bring up Linkedin it’s greeted with the kind of, “I need to be on Linkedin but I’m not.” Or, “I haven’t updated my profile in a long time.”

It sounds like everybody knows they should be on Linkedin, but maybe they’re just not motivated enough. So this morning, what I’m going to do is be another person who tells you that you need to be on Linkedin properly. 

Why Should You Be Interested in Linkedin?

So why should you be interested in Linkedin if your business has B2B elements to it? 

If your business is entirely or partly B2B, you should definitely be interested. If you’re B2B, you should be on Linkedin. 

But even if you’re B2C, you should still be looking at Linkedin. If you have a cleaning business, busy business people could be your tribe on Linkedin.  You are also a business owner. 

It’s funny because I specifically have someone in mind right now, and when he listens to this episode, he’ll know who he is. You’re a busy business owner too. So who could you better empathize with other than busy business people? You should definitely be on Linkedin as B2C.

If you sell prescription glasses and somehow that’s your business. You’re manufacturer. There are plenty of people who wear glasses in their Linkedin profile.  And there you are. Somebody needs glasses. 

If you deal with childcare and you take care of other people’s children for a living, you could definitely connect with busy business parents on Linkedin. That’s thinking outside of the box, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone suggest that. 

So I’ll say some marketing ideas of off the top of my head, regarding how important it is to have quality care for your children. That way, when you come home from work, your children are still getting the right upbringing, they’re training, they’re eating the right foods, etc. So investing in childcare can pay dividends later. 

It’s just a different way for you to communicate your message no matter your industry because B2B people are still people, and they still need B2C stuff. 

Linkedin Has Reliably Active Users

40% of the monthly active users on linkedin are active every day. You can count on a serious chunk of the monthly users logging in and checking things at least once a day. 

I’m probably a 2-3 times a day person on Linkedin, maybe more. It just depends. If I’ve posted something and I’m getting a lot of engagement, then I’ll definitely be on there quite a few times a day. The reach can be really good on Linkedin. It’s like when Facebook had its heyday, where you like something and everybody could see that you liked it. That still happens on Facebook to a degree, but on Linkedin it’s just way more basic. I like something, I comment on something, and pretty much anybody in my feed could see it if they look at the right time. 

Making Use of Linkedin

Update Your Profile Now

One of my tips is you need to work. You need to update your LinkedIn profile before you start reaching out to people. So if you’re an entrepreneur now and you weren’t an entrepreneur before, your industry has changed, or any major significant changes have happened, you want to make sure that your Linkedin profile is updated. 

I have a blog post with tips on how to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Business.

Send Personalized Invited

Always send a personalized invite. When you reach out to somebody to connect, you’re sending that connection request. It’s like a friend request on Facebook. 

Send a personalized invite as well. It could be the difference between you sitting in somebody’s invites for a really long time, and actually being accepted. The people who send me actual notes that show they read my profile for even 2 seconds will get approved pretty much immediately. 

Even if you’re copying and pasting it, make sure that you check it carefully. I had someone say, “Hey, we’re both in content marketing. We’re both in the Bay.” And I went on his profile and saw he was in San Francisco, so we met at the San Francisco Bay. Then I told him, “I’m not from San Francisco.” And he didn’t even respond to it, much less apologize. So I ignored his connection  request. I did not accept it. 

Links Are Completely Unnecessary 

Don’t include any links when you send your invite. That’s silly. They don’t care about you yet, and they should be able to go find any relevant links on your Linkedin profile. When they get your connection request, they click to view your profile, they can check out your business, and they can check out any links that you’ve put in your summary. 

Write a Genuine Initial Message

When they do choose to connect with you, do not spam them to death with a link filled message as your initial message. See where they are first. Say; 

  • “Hey, I heard the weather was pretty bad up there. How are things?”
  • “Hey, your weather was really nice.”
  • “Hi, I’m in content marketing, and I’m just trying to expand my network. Thank you so much for connecting with me. If you need any content created in x industries, please think of me. I look forward to seeing your posts.”

It’s usually something like that, where I mention what I do. And if they want to talk more, they can. 

Personalized Voice Messages

Somebody did something for me that was pretty cool, so I want to share it. Her name is Nadia and we connected on Linkedin just last week. 

She sent me a voice message just giving me a short course. I think it was 18 seconds. You could totally make it even shorter if you wanted, but everybody will know that voice recording is just for them, even if you don’t really put anything specific in it. 

I just thought that was the neatest thing, so I’m going to start doing that. A pro tip; you could only do that on your phone, so you have to use your phone. 

The Advantages of Linkedin over Other Platforms

It’s Less Crowded

I think you can connect with people on Linkedin more easily than on other platforms. Let’s say you want to connect with somebody and they’ve got like 10,000 – 50,000 followers on Instagram.

You could follow them without any problems, but actually being seen in their comments is probably going to be difficult because so many other people are commenting. But maybe on Linkedin they only have 1000 – 2000 because they pay attention to the platform but they’re not out there hunting to build a following on Linkedin. That gives you an opportunity to stand out. 

Anytime they post something, you can comment on it. Even if you’re the only person commenting. Sometimes, I think that’s even better, because if it’s somebody that you want to talk with, they could be a great partner for your business. 

Maybe they’d be a great client for your business. Maybe you just want to connect with them, and you don’t know what it’s going to turn into, but it could be something good. 

You can do that with people pages, profile pages, but you can also do that with company pages. Company pages don’t get a lot of attention. If you follow them, they’ll pop up in your feed, and if it’s a company you’d like to work with/for, then comments on their company updates. As a result, it becomes really easy to stand out. 

Gary Vee talks about Linkedin a lot, but I was interested in Linkedin before he told me to be. No, I probably wasn’t, but I hadn’t heard that Gary Vee said that we should be on Linkedin. I actually first ran into Gary Vee as a persona online on Linkedin, and I ignored him for a while. I recently finished his book. It was great, I highly recommend it. 

You Have a Better Chance of Standing out

If you aren’t B2B and there isn’t a clear way for you to market your business on Linkedin, all the better. Because guess what? That means all of your competitors who aren’t gonna try as hard as you aren’t going to do it, which means you will be the cleaning person on Linkedin. You’ll be the glasses person on Linkedin or the person offering child care, because your competitors aren’t. 

What About Other Social Media Platforms?

Should you still compete on Instagram? Should you still be on Facebook? Sure. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be there. I’m just saying that you should consider Linkedin as a viable social media platform to generate leads for your business. 

I love Linkedin. All right. That’s been another Defiant Business Podcast episode with me, your host, Ruthie from Defy The Status Quo. Don’t forget to look for the Linkedin profile infographic link down in the show notes. I’ll talk to you again soon.