Traction: The Ultimate Guide

Traction screenshot on a laptop.

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Targeting Blogs

TRACTION – the startup’s guide to achieving explosive customer growth.  Author’s Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares provides digital marketers with the tools necessary to increase startup growth potential for their company. Our team here at Pintler Group took on the task of dissecting each of the 19 traction channels. We did this because 1: we wanted to gain a deep understanding of how the traction channels worked together. And 2: we wanted to walk-the-walk. In each of the examples below, we used real stories from clients and our own experience growing a personalized software: GeoFli. What worked and what didn’t.

The following article is a summary of Traction, including a brief description of each channel and media (articles, podcasts and YouTube videos) crafted by our Missoula Montana based digital marketing firm, Pintler Group to provide a greater understanding of each 19 channels. Click on any of the podcasts, videos, or links to our blog posts below to engage and learn more.

Before running through the 19 channels, let’s take a look at a simple marketing framework for any business to operate with. Coined famously by Dave McClure of 500 Startups: this is the AARRR method. Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue.

The important piece to pay attention to in this framework is the acquisition piece. For any new business, the acquisition component of the framework will be the most challenging, especially when starting out. And how’s this for a transition: this is where the traction channels come into play!

1. Targeting Blogs

In the first traction channel, we jump headfirst into targeting blogs. This is a tactic that’s been around a while, so we changed the language to “targeting attention.” This means targeting blogs that can help lift up your product. Are you launching a photo-editing app, targeting experts in the photography field might be a good option. Use tools like Buzz Sumo, Answerthepublic.com and Google’s keyword research tool to find what blogs and what people are considering experts in a specific vertical.

Does finding a pre-existing, captive audience of people already interested in things similar to your product or service seem too good to be true? Well, when you begin targeting blogs and other influencers it becomes a lot easier to find an audience like this.

Want to learn more? This podcast covers targeting blogs and social media influencers in greater detail.

targeting attention

The following article highlights targeting attention in the new age.

Here is a YouTube recording of this first traction channel – targeting blogs.

Below: Kassi walks through three tips for “Targeting Attention.” Our spin on the targeting blogs traction channel:

2. Publicity

Sure, getting traffic to your website is important, but publicity can help get the word out and fast. Public relations (PR) relates to the messaging a company addresses publicly. You can get published in a news story, you could be featured in a magazine or you could have a product announcement that solves a problem in a fun way: this is all kindling for a potential PR fire (in a good way).

This episode (above) covers the Amazon press release strategy: any idea brought to the table of Amazon includes a press release to think about how the company would, if the idea takes flight, release it to customers. We talk about the difference and evolution of press releases ten years ago to today!

megaphone

Here is a blog post that shares five tips to modernize your press release for a fresh appeal.

Above: the podcast video

Below: Shawn Nicholls helps explain Publicity in 2020:

3. Unconventional PR

Make a splash. This common saying could be found squarely in the unconventional PR category. Stand out from the crowds with something big and, well, unconventional. While most companies direct their attention to traditional publicity, success can be achieved using unconventional ways to create viral messaging. Publicity stunts and customer appreciation are two types of unconventional PR and will be explained in greater detail below.

Michelle and Shawn discuss two types of unconventional PR: publicity stunts and customer appreciation. From storming Area 51 to sharing your customer’s photos on Instagram, listen to this episode to learn more about using unconventional PR in your business.

press release

Here are five unconventional press release campaigns in the real world that worked!

This video (above) will provide a greater understanding of what unconventional PR is and how you can use this channel to elevate your marketing strategies.

4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing: where marketers go to spend a bunch of money without knowing the results, right? WRONG! Search Engine Marketing is one of the few places you can strategically spend money and outperform the big-players. With small budgets, you can make a big impact for your business.

Bidding on keywords in search engines like Google and Bing is what is referred to as search engine marketing (SEM). We attempt to take a look at how anyone, regardless of technical background, can launch a successful campaign.

Michelle and Kyle answer questions about key words, Google Ads, search engine ad possibilities and much more on this episode!

search engine marketing

Search engine marketing also relies on utilizing Google trends. The following blog post will describe this process in greater detail.

Here is a video on one of our favorite (but least used) metrics for measuring the impact of a paid search campaign: Search Impression Share.

5. Social & Display Ads

Online marketing is noisy. The Facebook newsfeed, your local news website: it’s crowded with ads. It’s hard to ignore those pop-ups and banner ads that appear throughout your online activity. Social ads appear within your social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These ads are aimed towards signing up for contests, buying a product, or subscribing to a newsletter. Due to their popularity in terms of selling products or services, social ads are constantly changing and influencing the way consumers interact with a company’s brand and their messaging.

In this episode, Michelle and Shawn talk about strategy behind social and display ads. They discuss how to use them most effectively, when to use them and why they are important to your business!

compelling content

This blog post provides a road map with how to create compelling ads for your products and services.

The following video discusses the advantages of using paid social and search across popular social media platforms.

Here’s an inside look at our internal paid-search framework:

6. Offline Ads

Offline advertising: busses, billboards and coasters: still very much has a  place in the digital world.

The traction channel offline advertising can often be overlooked in today’s digital age, but Michelle and Shawn dive into how digital marketing efforts and offline events can come together to make a very successful marketing campaign.

eye catching

Next, this article will provide insight on how to design eye-catching offline marketing events.

Here is a video (above) that provides you with five tips on how to manage offline events and campaigns for your company.

One of our favorite podcast episodes to date is all about offline ads: Billboards, Busses and Coasters!

7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Everyone uses search engines. Don’t believe me, Google it! Providing answers that best suit their query is what search engine optimization is all about. Being a credible source for information online allows your company to stand out from the rest. SEO of course deals with organic search position, but it also encompasses the way anyone learns about you online. It could be through your YouTube channel or a directory site.

Kassi and Michelle dive into the traction channel Search Engine Optimization and share tips for using your blog and video content to increase the SEO of your website.

graph results going up

This blog (above) highlights how readability extends beyond words to achieve a high search engine optimization rating among search engines.

What is SEO? This short YouTube video describes what search engine optimization (SEO) means and how it can be effectively applied to your business.

Interested in learning about how to use Google Search Console to find blog and content opportunities: check out our video here that walks through our advanced tactics you can implement today!

8. Content Marketing

This traction channel provides a chance for your company to express its expertise through a variety of platforms including blog posts, video and podcasts. The goal of creating fresh new content is to get interactions like shares, reposts, comments and likes. This type of engagement translates to growth. All these forms of content combined can create a very nice array for website visitors to choose from. Moz, Unbounce and OkCupid are all great examples of how content marketing works so well – just look at the number of comments on all these good articles.

Content about content. Meta, we know. In this podcast, Shawn and Michelle walk through how to cut through the noise when it comes to content. What works. What doesn’t. Curious about what length of content performs best? We’re here to help.

thought bubble

This blog post helps outline how much your company should be paying for (i.e. money and time invested) content marketing.

Podcast video time (above). All about content marketing and what you should do next to create fresh, new content.

Below: How to build out your content marketing strategy.

9. Email Marketing

Email marketing is still to this day one of the most powerful forms of outreach. If done correctly, no other traction channel will drive as much referral revenue.  This traction channel is personal. Email marketing is a delicate process made up of segmenting, subject lines and setting up conversions. With this in mind, email marketing is most effective when it’s personalized to each of your customers or prospects.

Listen to this episode to learn more about how to get started with email marketing, how to get the most out of your efforts and why we think it’s essential for all businesses.

email marketing

Check this article out for ways to sharpen your email marketing skills.

This video outlines the email marketing framework to aid in any successful business campaign.

10. Engineering as Marketing

Providing tools and resources for your website visitors to engage with will not only generate leads, but expand your customer base as well. With your team’s engineering skills at hand, creating useful tools like landing pages, microsites, virtual tours and calculators will put your company in the forefront of potential customers.

In this podcast, Shawn and Kyle discuss the traction channel: engineering as marketing.

gears

This blog post provides additional info on how to tie together engineering skills into your marketing strategies.

(Above) Successfully navigate engineering as marketing as a traction channel!

11. Viral Marketing

Getting your message out to as many people possible – every business wants this, but how can this be achieved? Viral marketing creates referrals to your products by word of mouth, social shares and press releases. “Going viral” means your existing customer base is sharing the good word about your services.

In this episode, Shawn and Michelle talk about the traction channel, viral marketing. They discuss what it is, who it is for, how to make it work and much more.

viral bubbles

The following blog post tackles the first steps to creating viral content for your business.

Above: Our podcast video!

Here are two videos related to viral marketing and how it can be incorporated within your business.

12. Business Development

Much like with sales, business development shares many of the same facets with the addition of exchanging value through partnerships. With sales, the primary focus is exchanging dollars for products and services. Sales are a direct focus with the customer, but with business development the goal is partnering to reach customers in beneficial ways.

Kassi and Michelle discuss the different types of partnership models in this episode. Specifically, Kassi talks about a few of her ventures and some of the possible partnership opportunities she’s explored within them.

handshake

The following article relates to finding the right partner in a business development situation.

Podcast video!

13. Sales

To fit “sales” in a traction channel is casting a wide net. In the acquisition channel, sales could be your entire strategy… and your only strategy! We look at using sales both online and offline to grow your business. Sales is such a key component of any company that in some form, every business or non-profit must sell. The question is, what percentage of your resources will you devote to the channel? We have some key resources for you to discover the answer to that question.

In this episode, we look at the traction channel of sales. Many books have been written on sales, and sometimes time spent doing is better than time spent reading how to do. Shawn and Kyle talk about the sales funnel, sales cycles and what to do after a lead is submitted on your website.

confirming leads

This blog post is all about how to gather leads that convert to paying customers. Read this post to learn more about finding quality leads for your business.

The Psychology of Sales (below):

Podcast video (above):

14. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketing is a paid arrangement made between your company and someone (individuals or a business) to develop content, make a sale, or drive qualified leads. An example of this is a YouTube influencer recommending your product in their video. The influencer is paid a commission on any referral traffic they drive resulting in a sale.

Michelle and Kassi discuss in the ins and outs of affiliate marketing. They dive into the different components that make a successful affiliate marketing campaign, why it is such a powerful channel, who should give it a try and much more!

affiliate programs

This traction channel blog post for affiliate marketing covers the do’s and don’ts when creating a successful marketing campaign.

Want to learn how to get started with affiliate marketing? Kyle has the answers you need in this video.

15. Existing Platforms

By leveraging existing platforms like websites, apps, or social networks with a large user-base your business can get traction. What the heck do we mean by existing platforms? Learn more in the content below:

Kassi and Shawn dive into what existing platforms are and how they are used to build brand awareness.

megaphone social media

How to use existing platforms to cut through the noise and grow without spending money.

How can you build better brand awareness? Check out this podcast video.

Existing Programs: The Early Days of Instagram Stories!

16. Trade Shows

The ageless trade-show! A staple in getting out and showing your product or service to the world. Does it make sense for your business to take your show on the road? Find out below:

Trade shows help generate interest in what you’re currently developing and provides a stage to showcase your business on a large scale. As your business builds more traction, trade shows can be a great resource to make big announcements, generate sales from larger clients and develop community-wide partnerships.

In this podcast, Kassi and Kyle talk about the three prongs of trade shows and specifically, they talk about geotargeting your trade show before and during the event. Whether you’re an attendee or a vendor, this episode is sure to be valuable for you.

geofencing

Want to learn how to attract more customers at trade-shows? Look no further, this article helps clear the air with this traction channel deep dive.

Learn more about how to successfully geotarget before and during trade shows with this video insight. GeoFli is a great software tool to provide effective geotargeting search results to new and existing customers.

Geofence your next trade-show: here’s how:

17. Offline Events

Sponsoring or running offline events – from small meetups to larger conferences – can be a primary way to get traction and interest in the acquisition and activation stages of marketing. Offline events are particularly effective for startups with long sales cycles, as is often the case with enterprise software.

The traction channel offline events can often be overlooked in today’s digital age, but Michelle and Shawn dive into how digital marketing efforts and offline events can come together to make a very successful marketing campaign.

eye catching

The following article can provide inspiration for creating your next eye-catching offline event.

How to market your offline events!

18. Speaking Engagements

You can win business with speaking engagements. What better way to show thought leadership than by showcasing, well, your thought and your leadership! Small conference breakout session are a great place to start. Share a case-study, work collaboratively with a client or a customer to tell about a success story.

Above: Shawn and Michelle talk about the traction channel speaking engagements, if they’re right for your business and how to get the most out of your presentation.

press conference

Want to be successful in your next speaking proposal? Look no further – this article has it all wrapped up for you. Starting with the basics, up to winning your next speaking engagement. Here are some tips for success!

Podcast Video!

How to leverage your speaking engagements:

19. Community Building

Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, forums and message boards: these are all examples of community building. Can you be a leader or a group-thread contributor? Can you start your own community through Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Groups? Learn more about all the different ways you can use these tactics to grow your business in an organic way.

Kyle and Michelle discuss the final traction channel community building in this podcast. Covering communities like Google Tag Manager and Facebook Groups, learn about how creating a community for your startup can foster relationships with your customers, instill trust in your brand and keep customers coming back.

Community building thumbnail

This article provides five helpful tips on where to start with community building online.

Kyle and Michelle take the seat for this final traction channel and discuss ways to develop stronger relationships within the community for your business by utilizing online and social platforms.

Listen. Grow. Execute.

Phew! That’s a lot of marketing knowledge to process. Are you ready to hit the ground running? If the answer is “maybe?” then you’re in a good place. That uncertainty is an itch that can only be scratched by doing. So, pick, three-five traction channels above to test, and devote yourself and your team to testing those five and only those five.

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the framework: it’s time to tackle the method. Roll up the sleeves and get in the weeds. Track results and iterate.

When you discover your core channel – hone in and put it on the board as viable. Then find the next viable option to grow your startup. We hope you enjoyed the series on Traction Channels. We sure enjoyed putting them together for you. What should we cover next? Let us know by shooting us an email or leaving a comment. We look forward to talking soon.

Pintler Group is based in Missoula, Montana. We’re a performance-based marketing shop with expertise in paid search, paid social, email marketing management and retargeting. Our superpower is designing customer marketing solution for mid-size clients looking to grow.

Community Building Online: Five Places to Start

Students sitting in a circle on the lawn.

The final traction channel in the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares is community building. Many of the traction channels in this book seem to overlap and build on each other. But this is a channel that more often seems to stand alone. Community building is when you are purposefully fostering relationships and connections with your customers. This encourages them to bring others into your circle. An easy ma and pop, brick and mortar type example could include hosting an offline event, or opportunity for your customers to get together, bring their friends, and talk about how much they love your product, but what happens when you are an e-commerce or tech company that would like to take advantage of their community and help it flourish? Here are five online locations you can implement community building in a tangible and impactful way.

Reddit

Reddit is an enormous and ever-growing collection of forums where users can post about news and other content as well as comment on posts made by other people. The world of Reddit is huge and easy to get lost in. But, when used strategically, it can be a powerful community builder, especially through subreddits specific to your business.

In case you aren’t familiar with the platform, subreddits are the individual forums within the larger site. Subreddits are free to create and can play many purposes for businesses. For startups, creating a subreddit can help customers give feedback and connect with each other, helping the company grow and gain traction. For existing businesses, subreddits allow customers to connect with each other and members of your team, enter giveaways hosted by the business and simply chat about what they love (or hate) about the product or service. With over 330 million users, Reddit is sure to be a place where you can build a community for your business. 

Community on Reddit
Blog Comments

Similar to Reddit, popular blogs provide an online space for people to discuss specific topics that interest them. As mentioned in our blog post about SEO, writing quality blog articles can help your website show up higher in search engine results, ultimately leading to higher amounts of organic traffic, but this is not the only benefit of a good blog. Once a business establishes a blog that provides meaningful information to its readers and brings traffic to the website the blog can become a very powerful tool for community building. If users are finding value in your blog they are more likely to interact with you by leaving comments. These comments can then create conversations with different customers and with your team. Getting engagement can be difficult at first, but here are a few tips to hook your first few commenters: 

    • Ask questions in your article. Readers are much more likely to comment when there is a question for them to answer. 
    • Use social media to share your blog posts. Then encourage your followers to comment on the article instead of the social post. 
    • Talk about your readers or customers in your post. If something that is shared interests you and the community talk about it on your blog.
    • Respond to all comments when they first start to be made. This will provide value to those who are commenting and encourage future comments.
Pioneer Woman Blog

 

Wikipedia

While most millennials grew up being told that Wikipedia is not a reliable source for scholarly papers, it still proves to be a site that is read by many when searching the internet for an answer to a question. It might surprise you that Wikipedia actually doesn’t have any employees. Any knowledgeable person with access to the computer can create the content. This is the exact reason many teachers advise students to avoid using the site as a reference. The lack of proof that professional research has gone into a Wikipedia article is concerning to academia, but, for your business, this open-source information is a great opportunity to encourage community building. Having a Wikipedia page specific to your business can allow your current customers who are subject matter experts on your business to share information and encourage discussion of your product or service.

Trader Joes Wikipedia Page

Topic Specific Forums

Even though it’s hard to believe, forums still exist outside of Reddit! Creating a forum that allows your current and prospective customers to discuss, ask questions and give advice about your product, service or other topics pertaining to your business is a great way to create community. Hosting a forum allows you to directly interact with the people who post on it similar to how you could reply to a blog article, but it also allows for readers to communicate with each other on an even higher level. Another way to leverage forums is to comment and interact with customers in an existing one. Find a forum that has a topic that resonates with your brand and start a conversation with participants.

Amazon Community
Facebook Groups

Facebook is arguably the most popular online community and can easily be leveraged for your business, especially through the use of Facebook Groups. Here at Pintler Group, we love putting all aspects of Facebook to use for our digital clients, including the groups feature. Creating a group for your business is easy. It allows you to share posts, images and other pieces of content with the group’s members. You can decide if the group is private and invitation-only, or open to any interested parties. Consider your intended audience and create a group that creates value specific to these individuals. If you have multiple audiences you would like to reach, create multiple groups. This way you can cater even more directly to individual audiences.

It is also important to remember that these groups do not need to be all about your business. Try creating an open space where members can talk about various topics that relate to your business. Cast a wide net to catch anyone interested in the topic rather than only people familiar with your brand.  

Instant Pot Facebook Group

For more on community building and the other 18 traction channels, check out our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise and our YouTube channel.

 

How To: Win a Conference Speaking Proposal

Crowd with raised hands.

Win a Speaking Proposal

Kyle Pucko
Kyle Pucko and Nick Shontz speaking at the Montana Economic Development Summit

The digital marketing world can be noisy. Submitting a speaking proposal to a conference is a great way to but through the noise. Clarity is often found in remote pockets of the internet delivered by trustworthy individuals. Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel and Seth Godin are a few of the folks online putting together consistently solid content in their respective areas of digital marketing expertise (SEO, Analytics and Marketing Strategy). 

But where do you discover the up-and-coming talent in the digital marketing world? Conferences. Specifically, the breakout sessions at conferences. This week’s article focuses on finding and booking speaking engagements to grow your business. We used marketing as the example above, but it can apply to any crowded industry. Becoming a thought leader in your vertical can open doors you never knew existed. 

Why Submit a Speaking Proposal?

When we think of speaking engagements, we think of a hub and spokes. When you attend a conference, you’re a spoke. Does that sound mean? It’s not. To put it another way, you’re a passive traveler through the conference agenda. When you’re a speaker at a conference, you immediately become the hub. The person people gather toward. The person people ask questions to and value their insight. Why? Because you made it through the vetting process to get yourself on that stage behind the mic. And that’s no easy task! The benefits of being the hub for the spokes are many.

Pros: 

Unselfishly, you’re sharing wisdom in your field with people that are hungry for the knowledge. You’re potentially clearing a path or throwing the rope down from the top to make it easier for people to get to where you are. In the case of marketing, Pintler Group might share results from a campaign that was unsuccessful in order to help another marketing team avoid the same mistakes we made. What geotargeting softwares are we using? Are there form completion softwares that we find useful for lead generation? We’ll test and write digital marketing analysis for them. 

Selfishly, your status in your field increases. With great presenting power comes great responsibility. You might gain LinkedIn followers that help your future articles get more eyeballs and new features or products get more shares. Your company is mentioned in the conference program next to your name: Sara Williams, Chief Financial Officer for Sherpa.shera, a dating app connecting Sherpas with other Sherpas, talks about the busy climbing season and how to plan for cash-flow windfalls. Your business gets exposure to a valuable audience of connectors. 

Conference Attendees: 

Are no slouches. These are, in the words of Malcolm Gladwell, mavens, connectors and influencers. All congregating in the same spot. It’s a big opportunity to get in front of them and make your case. Your speaking proposal should be directed at them. What are they topics they care about?

The Research Phase:

List building. Behind every conference speaker is a Google Sheet filled with links to pitch your proposal. Perhaps the least glamorous part of finding speaking engagements starts with the first step. List building. And just like adult-league flag-football, it’s important to recognize what division you belong in. 

Set The Bar Low:

While not the advice you’d get from your fourth-grade teacher, the real world (conference planning committees) can be cruel and unforgiving. If you’ve never spoken at a conference before, it’s okay to start at the local entrepreneurial meetup held at the Best Western conference room. Find those local meetups and see if they’re in need of a speaker at their next event. The goal of setting the bar low early and often is to give yourself a couple W’s. Confidence and some momentum allows you to up the bar and take your speaking show on the road. 

Finding a Conference to Speak At:

Kyle Pucko
Speaking at the Higher Ed Web Conference in San Diego

In the book, Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnston talks about “the adjacent possible.” We love this concept at Pintler Group and apply it to a lot we do. The concept involves metaphorical doors that open illuminating the adjacent room.

Darwin’s theory of evolution was the result of traveling to different continents and compounding knowledge of different species found on islands, coast-lines and jungles. YouTube was made possible by the brilliant work of engineers at Adobe that solved sharing and uploading video on the internet easy. Youtube build a billion dollar business that ultimately sold to Google on the backs of that tech. 

Apply the concept to conferences you could potentially speak at and you unlock some pretty amazing opportunities. Specifically, think about the industries that are “adjacent” to your own. We find that digital marketing conferences are, as predicted, filled with other digital marketers. And as a result, it’s tough to come to the table with something brand new, bold or that stands out. We use platforms like podcasts, articles and video to promote our messages, and when we attend a conference, we meet a lot of people doing similar things. 

An adjacent conference (in the metaphorical room next to digital marketing) could be a conference all about video production filled with videographers that are technicians and masters in their craft, but then don’t have a way to promote the amazing videos they produce for their clients. 

An adjacent conference could be a conference all about an emerging industry: solar power. Trying to pitch a presentation at a solar power conference stands out: how to use social media to educate early adopters and early majority about the benefits of solar. Or: Shout through a megaphone. Ways to promote big wins with solar. 

Once you’ve found a couple adjacent industries you think would be up your alley, start submitting! Submissions can take a while to curate and you want to make sure to personalize and customize for the vertical you’re pitching. Using the examples above, the presentation to videographers would be different than the solar conference. Even if you’re running through a framework that you love, apply it correctly to the industry you’re pitching. 

Speaking Topics = Subject Lines

If you’re in marketing or if you’ve ever sent an email newsletter, you know the importance of subject lines as it relates to the all-important open rate. The same is true on the judging and receiving end of a speaking proposal. Conference board members and committees want the choice to be difficult when attendees are deciding which breakout to attend: they all sound so good!

Your job is to imagine yourself and your speaking topic in bold letters at the top of a conference packet and work backwards.

What Are You Best In the World At?

Position your speaking proposal around a topic or skill that you’re best in the world at. It’s okay to go narrow and deep here. When we attend conferences, we want to hear from experts and gain some insights and something practical to take back to our team.

Do Something I Can’t Find on YouTube

Have you ever sat through a presentation and thought: I could have just stayed home and learned that on YouTube? YouTube has made learning from experts incredibly easy. The question becomes, how can you provide value to the individuals that ponied up the money to fly middle-seat across the country, leave their families behind, navigate a new city to find the conference, navigate their morning coffee with a time-zone change to attend (among other things) your presentation. Are there ways to involve the audience outside of your favorite slide-deck? 

Video Yourself Speaking:

Many speaking proposals require the applicants to submit a link to a video of themselves speaking. Don’t have one? Make one! It’s pretty simple these days with a powerful camera in your pocket to take really sharp video. It might be worth investing in a quick microphone. But that’s about it. If you do land that speaking gig, make sure to have someone in the audience record the presentation for submission in future pitches. That way you’ll be able to show that you were actually in front of an audience 🙂 Future speaking proposals will benefit and the cool part about the recording is that it’s evergreen content. 

Huddle and share:

One way great educators from first grade up to graduate school engage participants is to quickly discuss a question in a group of three or four, and then the presenter picks a few to share out loud. An experience that is tough to do from your couch while watching YouTube. 

Ask participants to write things down. 

A study by psychologist Gail Matthews showed that when people wrote down their goals, they were 33% more successful in achieving them than those who formulated the goals in their heads. Use this knowledge to engage your speakers. Have them write down the key takeaways and what they want to achieve in the next 90 days or implement in the next 90 days. Hopefully you’ll see everyone in the audience writing furiously. Adding this to your presentation separates it from YouTube and adds a bit more value to the participants. 

Network and questions: 

Of course, the real value of conferences and speaking engagements comes from meeting and other influencers and connectors in your vertical. Check out this video we made all about leveraging your speaking engagements for your Business. And as always, let us know if you have any questions. 

Don’t forget to check out our podcast all about marketing and helping your business cut through the noise.

 

Offline Events and Online Tracking

Offline events bring people together to learn more about or to support your business. They can be anything from large trade shows to local concerts or races that raise funds. Even small workshops with limited seats qualify. Businesses can host, sponsor or even simply attend offline events such as these to gain traction.

Businesses savvy in digital marketing often overlook offline events. But at Pintler Group we celebrate the good news that offline and online efforts don’t have to live in separate bubbles. In this article, we look at how digital efforts can take your offline events to the next level. 

 

Offline Event: Board Meeting

 

Offline Fundraising Event

Many restaurants offer sponsorship opportunities to local clubs and non-profits. Typically, the restaurant will offer to donate a certain percentage of sales on a specific day to the organization, but the kicker is that many times, the orders only count towards this percentage if the customer mentions the fundraiser or hands over some sort of flyer or coupon to indicate their involvement. Recently, Montana Council BSA hosted an event like this at all Buffalo Wild Wings locations around the state of Montana. Customers presented a flyer to have the funds donated.

To effectively track, the flyer lived on a specific landing page that email and ad campaigns lead to. The page’s analytics can provide insight into attendance and campaign effectiveness.

While the method of creating a specified landing page for a ticket, flyer or coupon that corresponds with an offline event isn’t foolproof, it can give businesses a better idea of who is attending the fundraising event. This information helps you know which events are the most popular. Additionally, it identifies the most powerful targets.

 

Offline Event: Concert

 

Facebook Offline Events

We’ve all been “suggested” an event near us on Facebook. The feature is one that is proving to be quite powerful in the digital marketing space. Facebook Events are great for both large and small scale events and allow for tons of interaction from potential customers or participants.  When a company creates a Facebook Event they are able to select the time and location, connect it to their business page, keep their followers updated on event information, promote the event and, most importantly for this article, they are able to encourage and track RSVPs to the event.

When someone indicates they are “interested” in or “attending” an event, Facebook shares that information with a person’s friends. Facebook will then remind all who indicated they were “interested” or “going” that the event is coming up. People that attend can also let their friends know when it starts. Not only do Facebook Events allow you to track RSVPs, but they also act as a great tool to promote your event by allowing participants to share with their friends in multiple ways. 

 

Offline Event: Fundraiser

 

Sourcing Online Details at Offline Events

Once the offline event begins, there are still ways you can leverage online, digital marketing efforts. One specifically powerful digital way to use offline events is to collect information such as email addresses during the ticketing process or even at the event itself. Event participants are opting in to experience your event. Collecting their email addresses can help you track the number of participants who attended the offline event, but also allow you to continue to target them with future digital campaigns. And highly specialized audiences are more likely than not to be qualified leads.

 

Want to learn more about using offline events as a traction channel? Watch this video.

 

https://youtu.be/i3a7CdvACYk

Learn more about the 19 traction channels and other digital marketing topic by listening to our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

Readability Goes Beyond the Words

Screenshot of wordpress on laptop.

There’s no ignoring search engine optimization (SEO) causes a high level of anxiety for digital marketers. There are many unknowns. Hours of work don’t show immediate results. It’s easy to dive into a rabbit hole only to second guess yourself. With so many ranking factors to consider it’s imperative to focus on the crucial ones. You also want to focus on an overlooked one: content readability.

Part of why marketers overlook readability is it’s less technical than other ranking factors. It’s not as easy as adding alt tags to every image and checking off that box. It requires attention, thought and patience. SEO, after all, is a content strategy. And you want your strategy to be quality, right?

Keep reading for insight on why readability matters and ways to measure quality.

Why Readability Matters

Readable content is more likely to be share-worthy. And that’s a factor in improving search rankings. It also increases the likelihood that people will spend more time with your site and return. So not only are you improving discoverability but you’re improving key site metrics. Thus with smart, readable content, you’ve enhanced the chance of marketing funnel completion.

Additionally, Google tries to act and think like a human. So while forcing as many keywords into a sentence may seem like a good idea it might be creating sentences that normal people wouldn’t say or type. Thus, Google is going to ignore you. Just like any marketing practice, you need to think like the end-user. What would I type if I wanted to find something?

Finally, readability factors into voice search. One of the key indicators of readability is sentence length. When your smart device is reading an answer to your question, would you prefer a quick six-word response or a twenty word one?

Readability Helps Voice Search

What Makes Content Readable?

A service like Yoast looks at a variety of factors when determining readability. Specifically, according to their website:

 

      • Sentence Length
      • Paragraph Length
      • Subheading Distribution
      • Consecutive Sentences
      • Use of Passive Voice
      • Use of Transition Words
      • Flesch Reading Ease Score
      • Text Presence

 

They aren’t all ranked equally. And some are more complex than others. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the length categories. Check back often for additional articles!

Sentence Length: As mentioned above, the goal is to keep sentences under 20 words. This isn’t always going to be possible. So Yoast has set the benchmark of 25% being over. That’s certainly attainable. The importance lies in the ability of readers to quickly consume the content. It’s easy to get lost while scanning long sentences. Especially when followed by a longer one. Also, think about the way content appears in search results. The less that’s truncated, the better.

Paragraph Length: The readability impact can be a visual one. When opening an article to find a specific answer you don’t want to be overwhelmed. First impressions matter. Shorter paragraphs are also easier to comprehend. If you find your paragraphs running on, consider planning each to be topic-based. Shorter paragraphs (Yoast defines as under 150 words) also force you to use subheading. Which is another readability factor!

Search Engine Optimization
Bottom Line

Readability is important. Not just for SEO, but for brand legitimacy. However, it’s important to not sacrfice quality or clarity for the sake of SEO. Don’t become repetitive by slipping an extra keyword into a paragraph when it’s already present plenty. Don’t mangle a sentence to the point it doesn’t make a lick of sense for the sake of flipping to passive voice. Instead, study what you’ve written. And pay attention to quality scores in your various tools. Producing quality and readable content will become the norm. 

Be sure to utilize Yoast and other tools like Grammarly. They let you know you’re doing well with green dots.

Go Green!

Want to learn more about SEO? Check out our podcast here and watch this video on Google ranking factors.

5 Steps for Modernizing Press Releases

Stack of newspapers.

In a time where technology allows for instant access to content, journalists and bloggers are always looking for a new story. For many years, press releases were a solid channel for sharing company news and receiving free publicity. Nowadays, the chances of small businesses gaining coverage through press releases are dwindling. According to a report conducted by Muck Rack and Zeno Group in 2018, approximately 53% of journalists surveyed in the United States don’t look to use press releases as new story topics. However, just because the reported numbers are down doesn’t mean your business should nix the channel of press releases completely. The way we look at it, these numbers tell us that journalists are bored and that there is an opportunity to revolutionize the tired, traditional process of writing press releases. 

 

So how can your business capitalize on this opportunity? Mix in the new with the old.

 

Step 1. Establish the goal of the press release.

Press releases need to be drafted with a goal in mind. What news are you trying to spread? Are you actually sharing something newsworthy or are you writing just for the sake of writing? Take the time to plan out what you want the press release to achieve and then determine whether it makes sense to push it to media outlets or if should it only live on social media or your website.

 

Step 2. Write with your audience in mind and provide value.

Targeting the right audience can make or break your marketing efforts, and press releases are no exception Keep your audience in mind when writing. Consider their language, the value they will receive from your business – or highlight it if they are not aware of it! – and make it known that your business cares. To take targeting one step further, segment press releases based on your audiences when considering what media outlets or platforms to share with. Writing a press release for the launch of new tech? Push to technology-focused bloggers and post on LinkedIn targeting users you know would benefit from your services.

 

Step 3. Tell a story.

Out with the bland, in with the storytelling. While there will be some releases that need to be “just the facts”, take the time to get a little creative with your writing. Think of how social media is used to share the news but in an engaging manner and try replicating a similar narrative for the release. Readers will retain the message – and your brand – better when they can associate a feeling with the content.

 

Step 4. Include infographics or media assets.

It’s no surprise that attention spans are changing in the age of technology. According to Wyzowl’s descriptive infographic, the attention span of an average person lasts about 8 seconds. When it comes to information, humans are gravitating more toward descriptive visualizations in a clean-looking format or watching short videos. To mix in new with the old, consider infographics or adding media assets to the press release. Capture the focus of the readers and entice them to continue by offering more than just black and white text. 

 

 

Step 5. Maximize your efforts.

Don’t be disheartened if the media does not pick up your press release. It will happen. We all can empathize seeing our efforts not live up to our expectations. However, take advantage of this channel and incorporate SEO and keywords into press releases. Just because the media didn’t run with your release doesn’t mean you can’t still drive awareness of your brand. Align these methods with the goal and audience of the press release and strive to push traffic to your brand. Two birds, one stone.

 

 

Bonus Step. Build relationships with media. 

Pitching press releases can be rough. Try to make meaningful connections with the journalists and bloggers you want to reach. Nothing frustrates a journalist more than receiving bland pitches of equally boring content. Check out this Twitter account for real-life examples to avoid. Be thoughtful with the narrative of your pitches, but keep them short and simple. Avoid gimmicky subject lines and keep it respectful. Make the effort to meet journalists in your community.

 

For more insights on getting the most out of publicity, check out our podcast about press release strategies and this video about publicity in the digital world.

Targeting Attention: Marketing in 2019

Colorful dart board with bullseye.

The Evolution of Targeting Blogs: 

Do you remember Digg? Think early Reddit. For me, the casual dial-up internet user, one of the early ways to discover interesting content on the internet.        You could “digg” an article and the more diggs, the more exposure on the site.

Digital Marketing

 

What does a defunct discovery site have to do with marketing in the crowded fight for attention online? A lot. 

Targeting Attention

Today, there are thousands of companies with social software features plugged into algorithms with the same goal: surface popular content. Upvote, like, subscribe, support, heart: actions a user can take to increase the visibility of a specific voice, product, idea, video, image or a tweet that contains all of these things. 

As a growing company, you’ve hopefully reached product market fit (you have happy customers and you want a lot more like them). It’s time to grow. The traction channel we’re talking about today is targeting blogs. Since Traction was originally published in 2014, our team here huddled and modified the traction channel to speak more to 2019: targeting attention.

So what does this traction channel look like on the ground floor? The visual I used at our daily-standup when we talked about targeting attention, was the visual of a dimly lit room and a marketer huddled over a computer deep in a rabbit hole of comment sections on popular blogs. And while that image is bleak, there’s no way around hustle and grit when it comes to this traction channel. It takes effort. Finding, targeting, and thoughtfully engaging with the people behind the websites, handles, and sources of information your customers are paying attention to takes work.

Working Hard

Finding Fit:

There are 19 traction channels for a reason. And there’s a bullseye method for a reason. With time being your greatest resource, you can’t test all 19 traction channels at once and you can’t execute on all cylinders in all 19 traction channels. Some will drive growth and other won’t. We love the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. The same is true of Targeting blogs. In fact, it might be closer to 95/5. 95 percent of your traffic will come from 5 percent of the blogs you target. Let’s quickly review a couple key places to find those targets with the help of our Digital Marketing expert, Kassi!

Execution: 

Our Digital Marketing Manager, Shawn, went to MozCon (an SEO specific conference held in Seattle, WA) and they had a rule: don’t be human spam.

Human Spam

Don’t show up to the conference and spend the whole time peddling your software or services. Don’t join a conversation just to wait your turn to speak. Contribute! This can look different by channel:

  • Guest blogging
  • Influencer Outreach
  • Be a guest on a podcast
  • Comment and contribute to industry discussions
  • Start a group or join an online community.

“Judge a man by his questions, not by his answers.”

– Voltaire

It’s 2019, Voltaire, how about we change that quote to judge all people, not just men! Regardless, the quote applies to targeting blogs, influencers and attention. Ask questions, be genuinely curious and listen. Here’s a case study that we’ve executed internally for our software product: GeoFli.

Traction Tactic: LinkedIn Admin

When GeoFli launched in 2016, we were specifically targeting users in the higher education vertical. 

LinkedIn Marketing Tactics

Identify Customer Persona:

Identify the customer persona you’re targeting. Marketing 101: who is your customer. Not just male, age 34, median income. I’m talking about “Meet Ted. He’s got the newest iphone and it cost him 50% of his monthly paycheck. He prioritizes technology and lives in a downtown apartment so he doesn’t need a car. He’s taking a trip to rock-climb this weekend with some friends. Now that’s a persona!

Where are Personas Spending Time?

Where is Ted Spending his time online? How does Ted make purchasing decisions? What are red flags or objections you’ll need to overcome to move Ted closer to consideration?

Here’s what it looks like when we approached our LinkedIn Attention Targeting Strategy:

Step One: Identify a persona.

 At GeoFli, we built out many personas. Since this strategy was focused specifically in higher education, we built one specific to that initiative. Early adopters and entrepreneurial types exist in higher-ed staff, and it’s a pretty close-knit community because in a world of red-tape, it can get frustrating to try and move fast. Our persona was based on a couple of our earliest customers, specifically the ones that love our product and love working with us.

Sara is working in university communications and is five years out of school with a marketing degree. She’s analytical, though isn’t the one managing the website and gets frustrated by the approval processes required to tweak minor marketing-focused language. She’s interested in improving conversion rates on her website. She’s got a dog, chooses experiences over belongings and shares an apartment with her friend that works at the local coffee shop. 

She’s a decision maker, but can only make decisions that are less than $2,500. 

Step Two: Identify Where Your Persona is Spending Time

Vertical: Higher Education

Attention: Where are Higher Education professionals (specifically early adopters in the enrollment marketing space) spending their time? We chose LinkedIn but not just as a channel to target (organic social) but instead, we chose LinkedIn Groups.

Step Three: Make a Plan

I joined a lot of LinkedIn Groups to monitor (not be human spam) and see what people were talking about. Were there questions being asked I could help answer? Was there value I could provide? It quickly became clear that most of these groups had been overrun by sales-development-reps with a social-media-scheduling software screaming into the internet. To say it was noisy, thirsty and crowded would be an understatement. 

What could I do? Become an admin! I emailed (at least four times) the admins of one specific page (with over 25,000 members) and listed some ideas to improve the group. Primarily blocking people that weren’t contributing useful content. 

After numerous efforts, they accepted! I was in as an admin and was able to clean up the Group quickly. I could pin articles to the top of the group, accept or decline requests to join and send out monthly messages to all 25,000 members. It was a big windfall for our marketing efforts. 

Step Four: Measure What Matters

You’ve heard it from us before: don’t celebrate publishing, don’t celebrate impressions and measure what matters (we’re kind of downers in that way). We’re here again to remind you that insanity is not doing the same thing over and over again, it’s doing the same thing over and over again and now knowing the results. 

We like to use the simple Google Analytics screen: Referral. This tells us from a helicopter view which pages are driving traffic. More importantly, if we’ve set up Google Goals, this screen will tell us which pages are actually driving real results. 

Here’s a quick look at a referral screen. You can see what sites are driving traffic. What we’re not seeing here is the ecommerce conversion rates by channel and the pages-per-session by channel. 

Google Analytics Referral

Targeting attention can be used for any business in any vertical of any size. Understand your customer persona, decide how to find the right person and channel for your targeting, come up with a launch strategy, make sure you have access to Google Analytics and you’re ready to start testing!

Want to learn more about targeting attention? Be sure to check out our podcast episode on this topic!