Sword and the Script

Small Business Love Affair with Content Marketing


small business content marketing

Photo credit: eMarketer

by Frank Strong

Small businesses are engaged in a growing love affair with content marketing according to a survey by BusinessBolts.com and analyzed by eMarketer.

Three-quarters of small businesses are engaged in content marketing and 74% said they plan to increase their budget on content marketing in the next year.  The results mirrors other findings, for example, in late 2012, a joint report by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing and budgets were up 26% from the previous year.

The BusinessBolts.com study says small businesses are finding benefits in traffic, search rankings and brand building in exchange for minimal effort.   Sixty-two percent of small businesses reported spending less than $100 per month on content marketing and almost half (45%) said content has lowered their advertising costs. Read More…

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Is Yelp the New Front Page?


Yelp is the new front page

Yelp reviews, especially in local search, rank well in organic search results.

by Frank Strong

About a month ago I needed to get my carpets cleaned. As is instinctive with so many consumers these days, I turned to Google to find a professional carpet cleaner.

The first organic search result was from a review on Yelp for “Beto’s Carpet Cleaning.”  There were 30 or so reviews for the company and the commentary was overwhelmingly positive.  One reviewer wrote, “I created a Yelp account to write this review, if that tells you anything.”

The company’s carpet cleaning site is simplistic. He’s not on Twitter or Google+.  He doesn’t have a blog, he’s never issued a press release, and I’m the only fan on the company’s Facebook page.

I called up Beto — and two-days later he and a helper showed up to do the cleaning.  They were in and out in under 90 minutes — and maybe less — and I was set back just $140.  That’s very inexpensive for this neighborhood and the quality of work was top notch.  I was a happy customer. Read More…

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Brand Extension: When a Beer is No Longer a Budweiser


Photo Credit:  Flickr

Photo Credit: Flickr

by Frank Strong

Budweiser drew well deserved applause for its Clydesdale commercial.  It was good story which made for great marketing.

Like other brands, it turned to social media to extend the life of it’s big game investment. The commercial on YouTube has racked up nearly 2 million views at the time of this writing and search volume skyrocketed.

However Budweiser had another commercial on the Super Bowl and the company ran a few variations several times before the Clydesdale commercial was shown.  It was the launch of Budweiser Black Crown.  The video, which was also uploaded to YouTube, has just shy of 300,000 views at the time of this writing and search volume is tepid by comparison.

Black Crown is purported to be a premium brand, with a premium price, which also comes with a higher concentration of alcohol.  It’s a brand line extension that says it’s a Budweiser that really isn’t a Budweiser. Read More…

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Content Marketing: Five Creative Ways to Repurpose Content


Instagram.com/frankstrong

Instagram.com/frankstrong

by Frank Strong

If we want people to read our content — we’ve got to tell them about it.   A great way to do that is to repurpose content as part of a content marketing program.

There’s a good case for repurposing content beyond content promotion:  For me, writing, and specifically blogging, is thinking.

Often my best ideas come only after I’ve written a post. Creative PR is part art and part science.  It’s also cumulative, which means one idea leads to another — that’s the art.

Repurposing content is also practical — it extends the shelf-life of content.  To that end, maybe “repurpose” isn’t the right descriptor perhaps “multipurpose” is better suited, especially if we publish with the preconceived intent to repurpose — that’s the science.

While this post is specifically about taking a blog post and repurposing that content, there are virtually an infinite number of useful ways to repurpose content. I’ll list a few more easy ones below. Read More…

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Confluence: Kredibility, Social Scoring and Marketing


social scoring

Image credit: Kred

by Frank Strong

Social scoring is a polarizing development in social media.   It’s a label that boils the value of a person down to a number.

Numbers can be positive like the #12 of a quarterback, or negative, like a prisoner number.  I’ve spent a long time in a military uniform — we all get numbers — but in that case its a means for equalizing the playing field.   As the famous line in Full Metal Jacket (NSFW) goes, “Here you are all equally worthless.”

With numbers comes comparison and contrast — and a difference that’s akin to the argument over the have’s and the have not’s.  I believe people should be paid for performance and promoted for potential.

However, within social media circles, a few words of late have given me pause.  For example, in an interview with Geoff Livingston, Andrew Keen, the self-titled, “The Anti Christ of Silicon Valley” said:

In my book I write about Robert Scoble who epitomizes this new class of influencers. It’s a very sort of Darwinian world where has a tiny handful of people on Twitter and on Facebook and on Klout and all these other networks with huge amount of influence and then everybody else. So, we have a new kind of aristocracy in our reputation economy.

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Why PR Should Embrace Content Marketing



by Frank Strong

Why PR Should Embrace Content Marketin

PR should embrace content marketing.

If there’s one trend that has reached a tipping point in PR — it is content marketing. Content marketing is a perfect blend of SEO and social media for the online marketing mix.  But for PR, there’s one other key point:  media and blogger relations.

Joe Pulizzi, who founded the Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.”

He simplifies the definition in a subsequent paragraph by stating, “In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.”

Isn’t that also what bloggers and media strive to do?  Read More…

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Ode to the Contrarian


social media rant

Photo credit: Flickr

by Frank Strong

It’s not easy to take an unpopular stand, but it might be worthwhile.

How often have we mulled over a post and left it unpublished in the draft folder? There’s a dozen in mine and I generally take pride in calling things like I see them.

When the king is naked — he’s naked.

Some people dislike that — it can be abrasive. Some people love that — it’s transparent. Often, there’s a whole cast of characters that fall quietly in the middle.

Being a contrarian for attention’s sake is not useful. Being a contrarian because we’ve studied, we’ve practiced and we believe in something is practical.

An advocate, devil or not, is useful. Or it ought to be useful.

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PR Strategy: Paid Media Tactics for Earning Media


paid media for earned media

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by Frank Strong

Advertising offers great message control but questionable credibility.  PR offers credibility though third party validation, but there are no message guarantees.  As an industry we love to look at these separately to compare and contrast, but a better value is looking at how they can work together.

Paid media can earn media.  It’s a point that’s stuck with me ever since a professor placed a controversial ad on overlay for an overhead projector long ago.

Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine, uses this approach often.  My earliest recollection was during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal where he placed an ad looking for dirt on any Republican.

Flynt is, perhaps, an odd place to find a PR lesson, but I try to keep an eye out for marketing or PR in everything. His scheme got a lot of coverage and he’s since repeated this tactic time and again.

30-second chunks are often interesting and meaningful, so the ads are worth unpacking

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Techniques for getting Leaders Involved in Content Marketing


leaders content marketing

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by Frank Strong

Marcus Sheridan wrote an ever green post this week that content marketing success often hinges on management involvement.

“If your company CEO and/or management team do not fully embrace content marketing, your efforts to find massive success online and have a cultural transformation will very likely fail.” – @TheSalesLion

He’s right of course, active leadership in many cases personifies a brand. Personification makes brands more likeable.

Big companies personify their brands all the time: Progressive has Flo, Allstate has Dean Winters, GEICO has a gecko. The little green guy talks like a person, walks like a person, and complains about coffee like a person.

I’d point out too that these personalities are examples of integrated campaigns where paid media leads to earned media as well: Who is Flo? Is she getting more progressive? Is Flo going anywhere? Is Flo social? Yes. You can find Flo on Twitter.

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If Everyone Owns Social Media…


If Everyone Owns Social Media

Photo credit: Flickr

If everyone owns social media, then no one owns social media.

Ever work on a condominium committee? Everyone is an owner and little gets done.

Ownership is a strong word, especially for social tools, which are often credited with having a democratizing effect on the web.  However, using it successfully requires leadership and decisiveness.

Writing on the SHIFT blog, Chris Penn, classifies the question as silly. His answer?  Whoever can use it to help build your business, that’s who.

Penn’s thoughts mirror my own, though I’d further qualify social media as a role for the do-ers.  There’s a difference between those that talk and those that do.  Social media needs a champion to weave, both the tactics, and the teams together.

This question is old, it has its old critics and old champions.  It’s also new, with new research, that attracts view points from multiple angles.  But it never fails to unleash a firestorm of opinions that range from rants to disinterest. Read More…

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