Reading Resources that have impact

Great reading resources for your stocking in 2014.

Reading is a passion for many of us and this year was no different. I’ve been swept away to distant and unique lands with Lev Grossman’s wonderful Magicians Trilogy; enchanted by the events in The Night Circus; and educated by Joseph Boyden’s 2014 Canada Reads winner The Orenda.

It’s the schooling aspect that this blog will focus on – the books that most impacted my thinking and development in 2014.

With so many great works this year, this is by no means intended to be an exhaustive list, just those that I’ve read, executed on, re-visited and referred to others (in some instances on numerous occasions).

The six titles embrace not only the business world, but opportunities for personal growth in addition to building skills for business applications. Not all of the titles were released in late 2013 or 2014. Some have been business standards for awhile and I found myself referring to them this year to help guide clients in their search for answers. So here in release order are my 2014 reading resources that I’d highly recommend to anyone (no affiliate links).

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: April 2012, Free Press; McChesney, Covery and Huling:

Definitely a book that I’ve returned to on numerous occasions and a constant challenge for clients and others I’ve met over the year. A great many people have wonderful ideas. They can effectively communicate those ideas to others and build a following or interest. And then, for some unforeseen reason, the idea doesn’t bear fruit. The main reason is typically that the great idea was poorly executed on. If you have a team, whether they be full time employees, part-time collaborators or contracted help, success will depend on your ability to provide the right environment to achieve success. The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a guide to help you identify and achieve the “Wildly Important Goals” that you’ve set out for your organization. The author’s have laid out the book in three sections. The first is what the 4 Disciplines are. The second, how to instill the 4 Disciplines with your team to create a great culture. The third, how to instill the 4 Disciplines in your whole organization. As Alex Azar (The president of Lilly USA, LLC), noted in his letter discussing his introduction to the 4 Disciplines as a new Lilly VP:

“I often look back on the decision to attend that initial meeting, and more important, on the journey we’ve made to create not only great business results but also a high-performing culture. It was a pivotal decision for me – one that changed the way I lead forever”

My clients are not large organizations, but struggle with very similar issues. A not for profit leader that I consult with has found great results when she has implemented the formula with her team. They’ve grown in size and are well on their way to making a major impact on our culture here in Ontario. As Henry Ford said: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”.

Give and Take: April 2013, Viking Press; Grant, Adam:

Grant’s look at “A Revolutionary approach to success”, is indeed truly that. We’ve all heard Leo Durocher’s famous quote “Nice Guys Finish Last”, then along comes Grant to illustrate that the quote is not true. Throughout the book, he gives clear illustrations of not only doing the right thing, but what on occasion looks like business suicide. Grant defines the three personalities the “giver”, the “taker” and the “matcher”. In today’s collaborative environment, it helps to understand who you are and who you’re dealing with. A gifted researcher and storyteller, the book is not only informative but highly entertaining as well. It is well laid out and I particularly liked the actionable items included at the end. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, this book provides the guidance and resources to help you shift, if even slightly, in your orientation to a “giver” style. An important read, if only once for everyone.

I worked with a business owner that would shake his head when I’d recommend a WordPress site for a small business so that they could control their own website, be coached and encouraged to make minor changes, all updates, and write their own blogs. He was certain that they’d never buy from us again. Instead we increased sales 4x over some of our other clients, because they called on our expertise for the bigger items, more consultation on strategic and integrated marketing initiatives. We gave them, with no additional cost, the ability to be independent and agile, in return, they trusted that we indeed had their clients and their best interests at heart. Give and Take illustrates the advantages of a “giver” mentality.

Finding Your Element: May 2013, Viking Press; Robinson, Ken with Aronica, Lou:

I first learned of the work of Sir Ken Robinson from a Canadian National radio program Q, when he was in shortly after the release of “The Element”. The Element was about understanding “where natural aptitude meets personal passion”. The radio program lead me to his acclaimed Ted Talk: How schools kill creativity (located below), along with 30 million other views. I was hooked on his work and went back to read “Out of Our Minds” on creativity. In 2013, the authors took their work a step further and released a reading resource to help you learn “How to Discover your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life”. It is a refreshing read and a guide to help you discover where your aptitude and passion intersect. Since hearing Joseph Campbell’s famous quote “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls”, many have been on the pursuit of finding their passion. But it is not that easy, as we occasionally mistake what we’re good at for what we should be doing. But as The Element reminded us, you should love it as well. After doing the circuit, Robinson notes that he was frequently asked how one could find their element. Thus this sequel, companion. It is inspiring and easy to read. Filled with wit and intelligence, it is a great read that you’ll find yourself returning to time and again for the practical guidance, resources and stories that the reader can relate to.

If you are seeking, I hope you find some answers here to help you on the right path.

Maximizing Your Social: September 2013, John Wiley and Sons; Schaffer, Neal:

Billed as a “one-stop guide to building a social media strategy for marketing and business success”, Maximize Your Social lives up to it’s billing. Schaffer has provided a step by step guide to building a social media strategy. In the next few chapters he relays solid tactics to employ to achieve your goals. Having said this, some of the tactics are already slightly dated due to the change in platforms. However, the underlying principles are sound and it’s one of the strengths of his work.  Schaffer was a successful business professional before becoming a social media writer and teacher (a common thread in the authors and specialists I follow). The work demonstrates best business practices in networking, client service sales and marketing. The fundamentals are easy to find and then applied to the social media universe, no matter the platform. I’ve liked and followed Neal’s work and presentations for a while and would encourage you to do so as well. In addition, the book covers the analysis you’ll need to ensure that your strategy and tactics are on target. As Winston Churchill was quoted as saying “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”. With this book, you’re given all the guidance you’ll need to cover it all. (Note, I received my copy of Neal’s book as a gift from Hootsuite in a random draw).

Social Media Explained:  January 2014; Schaefer Marketing Solutions; Schaefer, Mark:

One of the most common issues I see my clients struggling with (and in this, size does not matter) is understanding social media. It seems to be such a common issue that it drove Schaefer to write Social Media Explained. Unlike most other books in the social media spectrum, it does not focus on the “how to’s” of any one or multiple social media platforms, but focuses on the business trend as a whole and how business can successfully adapt it to their communication, networking, marketing, service and sales strategies. The book is divided into two segments, the first is the “five most important things you need to know”. Secondly, the “five most important questions you’ll face”. Schaefer creates a modular exploration of the “five foundational strategies of social media marketing“, that take the reader step by step into clarifying and demystifying social. A part of that is advising the reader that there are three key elements to any successful social media effort.   They are: Targeted Connections + Meaningful Content + Authentic Helpfulness = Business Benefits.  After which he tackles the five most common questions/objections to social that hold companies back from success. Issues like, how to measure social media success, how much to invest in advertising on social platforms vs traditional sources and more. I’d recommend (and have) this work to anyone interested in applying social to their business. Especially to those that feel they have to be there, but haven’t the foggiest idea. This work will help you understand why you’d want to invest and apply resources to develop a sound social media strategy for your entire organization. As Albert Einstein once noted; “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding“. Develop your social media skill to bring peace to your client, staff and business relationships.

Everybody Writes: September 2015; John Wiley and Sons; Handley, Ann:

I recently touched on this work in my blog Struggling with Content Creation, so won’t spend much time on it here. Everybody Writes; is an essential go to guide for anyone looking to improve their writing abilities. It’s never been easier to share your thoughts and feelings, or to share your knowledge with a much larger audience than before. Because of the advances in technology, it’s become harder though to stand out in the crowd. In Content Rules, with C.C. Chapman, Handley illustrated the need to create good content that serves your audiences’ purpose. In Everybody Writes, Handley takes the reader deeper into the how to(s) of successfully writing good content. It’s a step by step guide for the budding or experienced author to get the most from your efforts. The book debunks some traditional rules that may be holding you back from sharing your ideas. At it’s best, it is an encouraging friend that you can return to time and again to dig deeper, take the next step and know that it’s alright, you indeed can write. The book promises to be “Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content” and it delivers. As Benjamin Franklin shared; “Either write something worth reading or do something worth reading about“. With this guide book by your side, you just might do both.


List of 6 reading resources had an impact
2014 Reading Resources

Additional Resources:

Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk:

Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk, How school kills creativity 2006.

 The Tao of Twitter, Revised. by Mark Schaefer. The best resource I’ve seen for effectively using Twitter.


Social is hard, but not with these Resources

Content Marketing, social media posts

The crowd has spoken and once again the most popular social media posts were about leadership and resources. From a look at some “Free SEO” resources to a well written and timely review of what your agency should be doing for you with your social media efforts. Without any further delay; here are the five top social media stories that you might have missed last week.


It’s a popular topic with those in leadership roles and those aspiring to be effective leaders. This topic posted in the HBR Blog is getting a lot of attention recently. After all, who really wants to be the “pain in the A$$” boss that employees just don’t like. However, being too nice can have a major impact on your organization as well. I always appreciated seniors that would fall into the “hard but fair” category, how about you?



Creating really effective visual content has never been easier (if you take a little bit of time to play and watch some very useful videos), but finding the right tool to help you with the smaller graphic tasks can be confusing with so many tools available. That’s why this post Social Media Examiner, like struck a cord with readers.


Facebook, the platform that everyone loves to hate but can’t help but continue to pay attention to. With all of the changes and their impact on the newsfeed and your ability to connect with your communities, it can be hard and frustrating. Yet,  finding useful resources can make the journey friendlier and more effective. This week I saw a very useful post on the MarketingProfs blog.


Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing and ever evolving requirement for any size business. It’s impossible to stay relevant with a “set it and forget it” mentality. I always encourage clients to do a SEO Audit at least annually, but the biggest concern is budget. If you feel you don’t have the cash, than it’s imperative that you exchange some time to gain more knowledge. These SEO resources that I came across on the Kissmetrics blog, may just be the ticket to resolve your concerns.


Community Management:

Let’s not confuse things, participating in an effective social media strategy can be hard work, time consuming and a little bit daunting. What to talk about, where to post and when are the stuff that can keep you awake at night. It might be easier to abdicate your responsibility to that agency/marketing consulting firm that said they’d just do it for you. The issue with that is simply that these are your current and future customers that you are trying to build and develop a lasting relationship with. The firm may curate and post on your behalf, but are they qualified to converse with your customers with the same level of understanding, empathy and commitment that you are. In my experience, the best results have always come from a collaborative approach to social and community management. That’s why it was so refreshing to see this post from the Arcompany.


I hope that you find the information compiled here of great value to you. If you have any questions, drop a note in the comment section or fire off an email, I’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Top stories: Resources, Leadership and Motivation

Helping Hand Service.jpg

From all indications, followers of our social channels were most interested about resources, leadership and motivation (specifically what motivates someone to make a buying decision). With the push to create and use more content in our marketing efforts, it is understandable that you where looking for quality information around tools and resources to help you connect more meaningfully with your audiences, while easing the workload through the effective use of tools.

This is the first in an ongoing weekly series that will summarize the stories that you felt had the most interest and/or are of the greatest use to you in your day to day activities. The series will focus on original content from Diverse (if warranted by reader selection) as well as curated content from our favorite and proven resources.

As a small business ourselves, we understand the challenges (specifically the time challenges) that you face. For our own efforts, we are constantly on the lookout for materials that make the work lighter and the information more meaningful for our audience. Our goal for this segment is to give you a spot to find useful information on a weekly basis that time may have not allowed you to find on your own. After all, we can all use a hand up!


Three of the top five posts can be categorized as resource oriented; posts that look to provide useful information. Two of the posts where information based; one about the top marketing acronyms that we should all be aware of and the second about common grammar errors noted on a lot of digital content. The third is about tools that can help you with your content marketing efforts.

1. 60 Marketing Acronyms Every Industry Pro Should Know @HubSpot

A comprehensive list of marketing terms from A – Z. Worth having at hand, especially if your agency folks like to roll them out in meetings and documents.


2. 6 Embarrassing Grammar Mistakes @TheWriteLife

The lesson of this post, “Even the most valuable content will be dismissed if it’s riddled with errors”.

3. 5 Free Content Tools to Enhance your Social Media Marketing  @smexaminer

You’ve likely heard of Storify, but have you discovered Thinglink and Qzzr. They look like very interesting tools to add to your kit, providing you with unique ways to stimulate engagement.



4. Why This And Not That   @bernadettejiwa

Bernadette is the author of “Difference” and a talented marketer. Her short and compelling posts always hit the mark. What motivates your buyers to make the decisions they do?



5. Manage a Difficult Conversation with Emotional Intelligence @HarvardBiz

We’ve all had to have them, difficult conversations. You’ve taken the time to craft your arguments based on logic. However, it may not go as well as you’d hope. This excellent post from Susan David, provides great tips to help you communicate clearly and with empathy.

3 of the Weeks Best Stories – Jan. 19/14

A great week for content last week, seems everyone is really getting back into the swing of things. Here are our 3 of the weeks best stories ending Sunday January 19, 2014.

This weeks contributions come from some very recognizable names in the content marketing world and indeed some topics that generated a lot of conversation. One of the biggest topics was and is around the conversation on “Content Shock”. The term dubbed by Mark Schaefer in his post sparked a lot of conversation. It will be the subject of the next best of the week installment, as there were and are more opinions coming in.

This week, we’ll be looking at the continuing discussion on “gaming” the social proof measurements; some excellent tools to help you to understand your social media analytics and activities; and a compelling podcast PNRs This Old Marketing. All told you’ll need about an hour to go through all three pieces. In my opinion time well spent and an opportunity to gain additional tools to help your social efforts.

1. Can You Build a Career on Social Proof – [Blog] Mark Schaefer’s {Grow} Blog.

Fake Followers, Social Proof
Photo Credit:AlbumExchange

The on-going discussion of “fake it until you make it”, has been rampant the last week, with serious discussions about the social gaming platform Empire Avenue. In this post Schaefer explores the allure of building an impressive array of followers and likes so that others coming to your profile believe you must know what you’re talking about. Like the cover of Elvis’ compilation album “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t be Wrong”, the thought is that if all those people are following or like what you’re doing, you should be worth following.

Of course, as the post clearly demonstrates, this is “folly”. Once someone starts to pay attention to what you’re doing, then you will need to really deliver the goods. This is hard enough to do in today’s world of instant news, distractions and tons of content when you do have some knowledge of your topic, never mind how impossible it is when you really don’t. In Elvis’ case, he had the chops to keep those followers and it is evident when someone doesn’t. Most of these folks are banking on two things, 1. you won’t bother to unfollow or unlike them because it takes time and effort. Also, 2. you’ll stick around long enough to keep the pipes open and keep their numbers up for the next person to see.  Schaefer goes on to make the argument about why the numbers matter, to a certain extent. For a large portion of folks gravitating to and paying a little attention to the social space, those numbers are indicators (whether the followers or Klout score), whether we, that are a little further along and mature in the field, like it or not. We know this is a short term strategy, but it can work. The difficulty comes when the person gaming gets addicted to the easy way and doesn’t put in the hard work to effectively build their following, which unfortunately impacts us all negatively. One of my three words for the year is “courage” and it’s why this post resonated with me. Mark states that it takes courage to stick to the right path and I agree.  I do believe it takes courage to do the hard work, stick to your principals and build lasting and valuable relationships with the new tools we all have at our disposal. In the long-run, we all benefit.

2. Social Media Dashboard – 4 Dashboards to track your social media performance.[Blog] Ian Cleary – RazorSocial

Google Analytics Dashboard custom

From all appearances, Ian Cleary is not only someone that provides exceptional value with the information he shares on his blog, but easily could be the top contender for someone you’d want to share a Guinness with. Ian knows his stuff and is very generous with his time and knowledge. The Razor Social blog is definitely worth bookmarking and paying attention to when you’re in the market to find tech to help make your social media activities better and easier to understand.

So if we’re encouraging you to do the hard work and grow meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships on your social channels, how do you know what you are doing right or where you might need to improve. Maybe, your information is solid, but your posting at the wrong times. All of these integral pieces to social success can be learned, discovered, analysed and acted upon. In the Social Media Dashboard, Cleary shows you four tools that you can use to get a clearer picture of what is happening with your activities. Three of the suggestions, I’ve not looked at or used, so really can’t honestly comment on them. However, the clear synopsis’ provided for all of the dashboards’ demonstrates them to be powerful tools. I do however have a custom dashboard on my Google Analytics and coupled with my Hootsuite analytics,  I get great information to work with (also excited that Hootsuite has just purchased uberVU).

What is nice about this post is the detail and step by step guide to using the recommended tools, with an honest evaluation of any potential limitations. I’d encourage you to find the one that most appeals to you and start using it to get the most from your work.

3. Will Native Advertising Ultimately Become the Norm – [Blog and Podcast] – Content Marketing Institute Pulizzi and Rose.

This podcast is a great addition to the content marketing environment. Full of great information, a splash or two of humor and a look at great integrated marketing programs from the past (you’ll enjoy the G.I. Joe story), this podcast is worth paying attention to. In each episode Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose take the pulse of current events in the realm of content marketing, including a fun “Rant or Rave” segment.  This episode was of interest for me because of the conversation around native advertising and what is called native, but is really “sponsored” content. Though as the authors/announcers clearly demonstrate, not a new field for advertisers; it’s just that we have much more powerful tools to take advantage of native advertising.  If you’re not sure what native advertising is, a great description from an earlier post should help:

“According to digital advertising firm Solve Media, native advertising refers to a specific mode of monetization that aims to augment user experience through relevant content that is delivered in-stream” (link to this post in the podcast post).

In addition to the ongoing discussions on native advertising, the podcast also looks at evolving areas like “the internet of things” and is digital marketing too complex?  I really enjoy listening to this podcast while taking a break and find I revisit the topics on a regular basis.

Hope you find the information on our top 3 best stories of the week of value for you.

One last thing (yes, I watched a Steve Jobs documentary this week); the discussion around native and sponsored advertising got me thinking about the work of Brett Heard and Fresh Baked Entertainment. If you’re a marketer or a producer of content and you’re not familiar with their work, you’ll definitely want to check them out, especially the new avenue that they are exploring to connect content producers and marketers together to mutually benefit their audiences. Full disclosure, Brett is a high school mate and I’ve really enjoyed watching the growth and excellent products, that he and the talented folks at Fresh Baked have created over the last few years, including web-based video series for notable brands. Their new venture though I believe holds great value for all. I’d encourage you to take a look at what they are doing – your clients will be glad you did – Fresh Baked Online Services [Video 1.42].

Website for Fresh Baked Entertainment

What was your favorite story from last week?


The Marketing Automation Dream

Cycle vie des contenus
Content Cycle (Photo credit: raphaelle_ridarch)

Whether you’re in a large-scale enterprise, a small business, or a sole-proprietorship, we are all faced with a similar challenge in today’s changing markets; the shift from the “selling process” to the “buying process”. In the not too distant past, prospects needed to touch base with an organization’s sales department much sooner in the process to get the information they needed to make their buying decision. It provided the sales teams the opportunity to “persuade” prospects with why the product or service you offered was the best for their particular situation. However, in today’s world of digital natives and savvy consumers, the power has changed. Today, consumers can find as much information as they feel necessary to make their buying decision or ask targeted specific questions. It is more likely that they will put more credibility into other sources of information, instead of the well-trained and knowledgeable staff in your organization. Right or wrong, Joe, their recently met social network friend, is a trusted resource on what you have to offer.

In today’s marketing, that means adapting to this new model of business and integrating proven traditional marketing techniques with new digital tools and channels to get your message out. Instead of broadcasting your message, you’ll spend time planning how to make your information available to your prospects, when, where and how they want to consume it. You’ll be working diligently to provide valuable content to help them before, during and after the buying decision. I hear you, it’s a common refrain; how am I supposed to do all of this at the same time as run my business? It’s a good question and where marketing automation comes into the mix.

By definition; Marketing Automation is the process of automating repetitive tasks that are normally done manually, requiring time and resources that could be better used elsewhere. One of the goals of using automation, specifically in marketing is to streamline sales and marketing processes to improve efficiency and reduce potential human error. It’s main goal is to use techniques to improve the overall customer experience, to move closer to a meaningful discussion, ideally in person.

Automated Marketing Programs:

The outcome of most marketing efforts is to generate leads, whether that is a new prospect or up selling to existing clients to other offerings or more enhanced services. When implementing an automated marketing program your goal should be to improve the engagement from the inquiry stage to the close of the deal with your prospect (imagine Marketing and Sales living together in harmony). Complete marketing automation programs provide you with the ability to create digital and behavioral consumer profiles that allow you to market to a very specific niche of consumers. A full program will consist of content creation, lead generation, email messaging creation, comprehensive and unique landing pages, drip or nurture marketing campaigns for each segment you identify. Sounds like a lot and it is (most you are already doing, if not all), but by using an automation system the time required to complete each of these tasks is reduced significantly. It will allow you to have a meaningful conversation with your prospects about what matters most to them in the buying process.

Marketing Automation, Lead Generation
Goal is to get Face to Face

By way of example (as noted in an earlier blog post How not to sell an $18,000 Car), recently we bought a second vehicle for our home. We did our research, narrowed our choices to one known brand (used) and one unknown brand (new). All we needed was a test drive to make our final decision. We used the new brand’s online tools to price the vehicle, compare it to other brands and finally to arrange a test drive, all along sharing critical information with the brand. Five dealerships later, we finally got the test drive in the model we wanted. Had the organization as a whole, instead of independent dealerships, had an effective program in place, we should have been in and out and very satisfied within a couple of days, not the weeks it actually took which almost cost them the sale.

“By publishing content that shows buyers your understand their problems and can show them how to solve them, you build credibility”  Ardath Albee, author of EMarketing Strategies for Complex Sales.

The Process:

Let’s imagine how the marketing automation process works (this is true for any product/service).

  1. Create content to attract prospects to your organization (Blog, Ebook, Whitepaper, Newsletter, Imagery and Video) and share that content with your networks.
  2. Capture the leads driven by your content (using a sCRM system). Establish the quality of the lead and where they may be in the buying cycle/consumer journey.
  3. Nurture your lead(s) – provide additional content that helps the prospect know more about the solutions to their particular issues, show value and thought leadership (blog, additional resources in Ebook, video, podcasts). Monitor the feedback and tweak your messaging to better serve the prospect. This is accomplished by creating compelling email marketing campaigns, not one offs, but a series, spread out over time.
  4. Convert the consumer of your information to a consumer of your product or service. This is achieved by having generated a better understanding of the prospect and their pain points and demonstrating you can provide the solution).
  5. Deliver your product/service and provide outstanding service. Provide content on best practices. For example, you own a beauty salon, and to provide added service you’ve created a series of How to videos on your website so that your customer can maintain their look in between visits. You also recognize, that some will be leery of trimming their own bangs, or worse aren’t and shouldn’t. To show greater value, you offer a touch up in between scheduled visits. You now generated the loyalty and opportunity to offer more products or services.
  6. Up sell your customers. They’ve signed on to your basic package, love your product and your service. It’s time to share additional information to show how moving up the product scale can save them what matters most (and to most of us it’s time or money). Demonstrating the value proposition of moving to an enhanced service is huge. For example, if you are a Hootsuite user, you know the free version is very useful. However, the power in the Pro plan is immense and may help advance your business at a very low and effective price point, including having two of you able to post, monitor and respond to your various social channels.
  7. Get Referrals! You’ve earned your customers respect, trust and vote of confidence. They now turn to your first and foremost when they have a question. Sorry Joe, but you’ve been replaced. You may now reap the rewards of the fields you sowed, by cultivating new leads from your current customers. You’ve shown they matter to you, you’ve tweaked your messaging and reacted positively to both negative and positive product/service feedback from your customers. They are brand champions and would be pleased to share your company with their personal and guarded networks.

If you think about it, you’ve all likely experienced marketing automation at work. Have you downloaded an Ebook about your favorite hobby, watched an instructional webcast or signed up for a newsletter on great Italian recipes. If you have, you’ll recall receiving a thank you email, a follow up message about other activities, a call to subscribe to the paid version that provides greater details, etc.; marketing automation at it’s best.


There are many excellent all-in-one marketing automation systems on the market that seamlessly connect to CRM systems. They vary in scale and price depending on the size of your organization, your prospect list and so forth. On average you can expect to invest a dollar figure between $300 and $1,000 per month. I’ve been fortunate enough to have used an all-in-one and test drove many others in the past and they are worth their weight in gold. I understand that not everyone may have this commitment in their current budgets. It’s okay if you don’t, you can do this on a limited budget. To do so, all it takes is more planning, a front to end strategy, a piecemeal of tools, and an investment in time (as not all the processes will be seamlessly integrated). So for example (please note all suggestions are just that, are available at no or low cost and should be researched to meet your organizational goals):

  • Using a blogging platform (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad) and create the content you are going to share;. 
  • Promote your content via email on an email system (MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber, etc) and through your social sharing channels (Twitter, G+, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc)
  • Create a unique landing page for your content to capture the leads that are generated from your content (for example a child page on your website or using Premise if on WordPress).
  • Integrate your email list into a CRM system, ideally one that provides for social integration (Nimble, SugarCRM, SalesForce, etc)
  • Create and nurture an email campaign within the email system you’ve chosen and provide a thank you, an automated follow up within a given period of time, an offer for more content, a free review, etc..
  • Monitor your social channels with a social management tool such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck, etc. Use the information from listening to your networks to tweak your offerings and create additional content to resolve their issues. Also use tools such as Google Analytics to monitor your engagement, where and who is consuming and sharing your content to more efficiently use your channels to get your message out to your network (prospects, customers, advocates, influencers, etc).
  • Engage with your prospect to get additional information, invite them to connect with you on a webinar, or to contact you directly to answer any lingering questions.
  • Close the sale; service; rinse and repeat.

Your ultimate goal:

Imagine an Internet that is uniquely your own. You see only the content that interests you, and you can browse in peace without salespeople getting in your face until the moment you’re ready to buy. After your purchase, you receive automated answers to questions you haven’t even yet asked, and when you visit your vendor’s website for more information or training, forms already include your contact information, as if they’ve been expecting you.

David Diamond (source: Automation vs. You – posted in CMS Wire).

David’s piece is about the oncoming clash on marketing automation making our life easier against the issue of your privacy. It’s a compelling and thought-provoking read.

No matter the size of your business. You can do this and you’ll be glad you did.

A version of this post appears in Beyond the Square Small Business Magazine‘s inaugural edition.