Market-Network: A New Type of Business Model

Market-Network: A New Type of Business Model

Social network. Marketplace. SaaS. These buzzwords are no longer synonyms of massive business opportunities.

The gold rush has already happened.

But a new business model has emerged.

Market-networks are hybrid animals: part social network, part marketplace, part SaaS. [1]

It’s a social network. Professionals use profile pages to showcase their work and demonstrate their credibility. They also connect with each other and build relationships.

It’s a marketplace. Professionals come online together to find other parties with whom they can do business.

It’s a SaaS tool. Professionals use the tools on the top of the marketplace to negotiate, do the job, or manage the paperwork.

Social networks are designed to connect people. Marketplaces are built to sell simple products and services at scale. SaaS tools are here to make your job easier.

Market-networks focus on more complex services; the types of services that are not easily scalable and require more human collaboration. [1]

So get your pick-axe and prepare yourself for the next gold rush.

Think about the number of opportunities in M&A, scientific research, construction, management consulting, marketing, media production…

[1] Thanks to James Currier for sharing his thoughts on this emerging business model.

[2] Here are a couple of examples:

AngelList is a market-network.

It’s a social network for startups and investors. It’s a marketplace where business angels can find startups to invest in and startups can post job openings. It’s a SaaS tool that helps business angels create syndicates and startups get introduced to business angels.

Contently is a market-network.

It’s a social network for freelance writers. It’s a marketplace where companies can find writers to create content—articles, eBooks, and other kinds of marketing collateral. It’s a SaaS tool that helps content marketers organize their editorial calendar, manage the writers’ work, and track the performance with analytics.

Article originated here:
https://boostcompanies.com/market-network/

Meet Writer Guerric

Guerric de Ternay is an entrepreneur
and digital & marketing strategist. A large
chunk of his work focuses on behavioral
science, customer experience, and digital
strategy. His passion?
Helping people and businesses level up.

 

 

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

When Markethive discovered herself

From Social Networks to Market Networks

 

Markethive is a full suite “Inbound Marketing” platform integrated with a full scale “social network” targeting the 800 million “Entrepreneur” global populations. Like Facebook meets Pardot. This new revolution of the next wave of progressions is known as Market Networks, compared to the last wave of Social Networks. Even MarketHive’s name reflects this new revolution. Experts predict the “Market Network” will dwarf the “Social Network” market.

1. Founder (Thomas Prendergast): 40 years’ experience in Ad Agency and Marketing professional. Educated and developed technology awareness from 1982 – 1992 in the Silicon Valley. Visionary, skilled programmer, innovation 1sts, Stanford and UCSD Super Computer Center foundations and over 20 years building marketing innovation on the Internet.
 

2. Pardot, a full scale Inbound Marketing Platform (very similar to Markethive's platform) sold for $95 million to complete the ExactTarget platform in preparation to be sold to Sales Force for 2.5 billion Using these metrics it is easy to assign a value to Markethive of a minimum of $100 million. see story: www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/atlantech/2013/06/atlantas-pardot-helped-drive.html
 

3. The experts (like Nir Eyal) and many bloggers (like Guerric de Ternay) are recognizing the new emerging systems called Market Networks.

  1. Market-networks are hybrid animals: part social network, part marketplace, part SaaS.
  2. It’s a social network. Professionals use profile pages to showcase their work and demonstrate their credibility. They also connect with each other and build relationships.
  3. It’s a marketplace. Professionals come online together to find other parties with whom they can do business.
  4. It’s a SaaS (Software as a System) tool. Professionals use the tools on the top of the marketplace to negotiate, do the job, or manage the paperwork.

4. Hooked: Systems that improve with age are the sought after prizes as they retain growth and are considered monopolies, not commodities. Markethive possesses this trait on 4 serious levels.

  1. Leads (called children) from the profile pages advance organically and improve with time
  2. Blog subscribe organically builds subscribers (automatically publishing) to top social networks
  3. Profile page improves with organic advancement in workshops, blogging and groups
  4. Increased reputation builds via blogs and profile page growth

5. Markethive is the indisputable full platform Market Network and has the distinct advantage of ready to launch and be "First to Market".

6. At least three patentable products; Blog Subscribe, Blog Swipe and 1Click Subscribe Widget

7. Projected funds of minimum $1 million with 20% to polish the system in preparation to officially launch and the remaining 80% to drive the marketing and crowd funding to record breaking status.

 

Summary:
see story: https://techcrunch.com/2015/06/27/from-social-to-market-networks/

Social Networks Were The Last 10 Years. Market Networks Will Be The Next 10.

First we had communication networks, like telephones and email. Then we had social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn. Now we have market networks, like HoneyBook, AngelList, Houzz, DotLoop and Joist.

You can imagine a market network for every industry where professionals are not interchangeable: law, travel, real estate, media production, architecture, investment banking, personal finance, construction, management consulting and more. Each market network will have different attributes that make it work in each vertical, but the principles will remain the same.

Over time, nearly all independent professionals and their clients will conduct business through the market network of their industry. We’re just seeing the beginning of it now.

Market networks will have a massive positive impact on how millions of people work and live, and how hundreds of millions of people buy better services.

“Markethive has the ability to be an incubator (hive) to produce more strategic “Market Networks” as well”. 

 

Thomas Prendergast
Founder and CEO Markethive, Inc.

 

P.S.
The "Market Network" Illustrated
(Do you see Markethive?)

P.S.S.

Definition of Hive (Curious aint it?)

hive (hīv)

1. A place swarming with activity.

2. To work with many others in a close network.
3. a network showing signs of great industry
4. a teeming crowd; a network

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

From Social Networks To Market Networks

From Social Networks To Market Networks

Most people didn’t notice last month when a 35-person company in San Francisco called HoneyBook announced a $22 million Series B*.

What was unusual about the deal is that nearly all the best-known Silicon Valley VCs competed for it. That’s because HoneyBook is a prime example of an important new category of digital company that combines the best elements of networks like Facebook with marketplaces like Airbnb — what we call a market network.

Market networks will produce a new class of unicorn companies and impact how millions of service professionals will work and earn their living.

What Is A Market Network?

“Marketplaces” provide transactions among multiple buyers and multiple sellers — like eBay, Etsy, Uber and LendingClub.

“Networks” provide profiles that project a person’s identity, then lets them communicate in a 360-degree pattern with other people in the network. Think Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

What’s unique about market networks is that they:

  • Combine the main elements of both networks and marketplaces
  • Use SaaS workflow software to focus action around longer-term projects, not just a quick transaction
  • Promote the service provider as a differentiated individual, helping to build long-term relationships

An example will help: Let’s go back to HoneyBook, a market network for the events industry.

An event planner builds a profile on HoneyBook.com. That profile serves as her professional home on the web. She uses the HoneyBook SaaS workflow to send self-branded proposals to clients and sign contracts digitally.

She then connects to that project the other professionals she works with, like florists and photographers. They also get profiles on HoneyBook, and everyone can team up to service a client, send each other proposals, sign contracts and get paid by everyone else.

This many-to-many transaction pattern is key. HoneyBook is an N-sided marketplace — transactions happen in a 360-degree pattern like a network. That makes HoneyBook both a marketplace and network.

A market network often starts by enhancing a network of professionals that exists offline. Many of them have been transacting with each other for years using fax, checks, overnight packages and phone calls.

By moving these connections and transactions into software, a market network makes it significantly easier for professionals to operate their businesses and clients to get better service.

We’ve Seen This Before

AngelList is also a market network*. I don’t know if it was the first, but Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi deserve a lot of credit for pioneering the model in 2010.

On AngelList, the pattern is similar. The startup CEO can complete her fundraising paperwork through the AngelList SaaS workflow, and everyone in the network can share deals, hire employees and find customers in a 360-degree pattern.

Joist is another good example. Based in Toronto, it provides a market network for the home remodel and construction industry. Houzz is also in that space, with broader reach and a different approach*. DotLoop in Cincinnati shows the same pattern for the residential real estate brokerage industry.

 

Looking at AngelList, Joist, Houzz, DotLoop and HoneyBook, the market network pattern is visible.

Six Attributes Of A Successful Market Network

Market networks target more complex services. In the last six years, the tech industry has obsessed over on-demand labor marketplaces for quick transactions of simple services. Companies like Uber, Mechanical Turk, Thumbtack, Luxe and many others make it efficient to buy simple services whose quality is judged objectively. Their success is based on commodifying the people on both sides of the marketplace.

However, the highest value services — like event planning and home remodeling — are neither simple nor objectively judged. They are more involved and longer term. Market networks are designed for these types of services.

People matter. With complex services, each client is unique, and the professional they get matters. Would you hand over your wedding to just anyone? Or your home remodel? The people on both sides of those equations are not interchangeable like they are with Lyft or Uber. Each person brings unique opinions, expertise and relationships to the transaction. A market network is designed to acknowledge that as a core tenet — and provide a solution.

Collaboration happens around a project. For most complex services, multiple professionals collaborate among themselves — and with a client — over a period of time. The SaaS at the center of market networks focuses the action on a project that can take days or years to complete.

Market networks help build long-term relationships. Market networks bring a career’s worth of professional connections online and make them more useful. For years, social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook have helped build long-term relationships. However, until market networks, they hadn’t been used for commerce and transactions.

Referrals flow freely. In these industries, referrals are gold, for both the client and the service professional. The market network software is designed to make referrals simple and more frequent.

Market networks increase transaction velocity and satisfaction. By putting the network of professionals and clients into software, the market network increases transaction velocity for everyone. It increases the close rate on proposals and expedites payment. The software also increases customer satisfaction scores, reduces miscommunication and makes the work pleasing and beautiful. Never underestimate pleasing and beautiful.

Social Networks Were The Last 10 Years. Market Networks Will Be The Next 10.

First we had communication networks, like telephones and email. Then we had social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn. Now we have market networks, like HoneyBook, AngelList, Houzz, DotLoop and Joist.

You can imagine a market network for every industry where professionals are not interchangeable: law, travel, real estate, media production, architecture, investment banking, personal finance, construction, management consulting and more. Each market network will have different attributes that make it work in each vertical, but the principles will remain the same.

Over time, nearly all independent professionals and their clients will conduct business through the market network of their industry. We’re just seeing the beginning of it now.

Market networks will have a massive positive impact on how millions of people work and live, and how hundreds of millions of people buy better services.

I hope more entrepreneurs will set their sights on building these businesses. It’s time. They are hard products to get right, but the payoff is potentially massive.

by (@JamesCurrier)

Is Markethive one of the new pioneers called a Market Network?
Please comment below what do you think?

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

There Is No Such Thing As Flexible Work

Technology was meant to herald a new way of working anytime, anywhere – but that’s not the case.

Original article by Georgina Kenyon

We didn’t get the flying cars or the self-lacing shoes. But we did get the work world of the future – you know, the one where the internet allows us to work anytime, anywhere, resulting in the death of the 9-to-5 life.

Our ability to trust each other has not advanced in parallel with the technology we have created

Oh, wait. As more and more companies promise flexibility, the reality, it turns out, is pretty far from the culture we dreamed of.

For almost all of us, flexible work really means working a few hours each side of the core workday of 09:00 and 17:00. And, if you think about it, that makes sense, because many businesses still run within those core hours when markets are open, banks process deposits and payments and daylight makes it easier for tradespeople to do their jobs, for example.

 

(Credit: iStock)

Flexible hours have made working from home possible for many – but how many people actually make the most of it? (Credit: iStock)

But while digital technology has enabled a very small degree of flexibility around the regular working day for some, there have been unseen and sometimes unsettling repercussions for employees and employers. For instance, experts say that always emailing your staff and colleagues, even though they sit a metre from you, has had a hidden, but very real impact on morale and trust.

That, in turn, has made truly flexible work nearly impossible for most of us.“There can be a dark side of innovation, and unintended consequences of some organisational innovations,” says Almudena Cañibano, lecturer in human resource management at ESCP Europe, a business school in Madrid, Spain.

No matter how much a work rock star you might be, your manager does not trust you

Our ability to trust each other has not advanced in parallel with the technology we have created. And therein lies one of the real reasons flexible work is little more than a catch phrase. No matter how much a work rock star you might be, your manager does not trust you. Your colleagues do not trust your manager. And, truth be told, you probably don’t trust most of your colleagues or your boss, either.

Trust and the digital age

For Rachel Botsman, a visiting economics lecturer at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, it’s simple: “Institutional trust isn’t designed for the digital age.”

 

(Credit: Alamy)

Technology has let us work anywhere, anytime – but trust issues can get in the way (Credit: Alamy)

 

That’s also the case for the trust people have towards colleagues, within organisations. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, we’re also less able to understand or make room to consider each person as, well, a person.

"The digital age… has resulted in an ‘assault on empathy’, that makes us less able to appreciate the situation of another person,” writes Sherry Turkle, director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A lack of trust brings about fear, which goes a long way to explaining why we put in face time, even when we probably don’t need to

In other words, the propensity for email, texting and quick-type apps has led us to forget some of our people skills, including distinguishing the nuances of language and meaning, fostering of a feeling of belonging among groups of people, and knowing our bosses and colleagues well enough to have confidence that others will pull their weight. That, in turn, has diminished implicit and earned trust among the people we work with.

 

(Credit: Alamy)

Technology has disrupted the workplace – and not always for the better (Credit: Alamy)

 

That lack of trust brings about fear, which goes a long way to explaining why we put in face time, even when we probably don’t need to in order to do our work well. It also can explains why we feel we’ve got to have our “butt in the seat” even if our work could truly be done from the corner café or the back garden.

Mother, may I?

Phyllis Moen, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota in the US, calls this the ‘mother, may I’ problem. It’s when we feel fearful of asking our managers if we can work from home or work altered hours if, say, we need to help a relative or attend a series of medical appointments or simply want to work during hours we’re feeling more productive or efficient.

 

(Credit: Alamy)

While it is technically possible for many to work odd hours, the majority of us only need flexibility a couple of hours either side of the typical 9-to-5 day (Credit: Alamy)

 

Some workplace psychologists take it a step further, saying that modern technology is a way for employers to constantly keep surveillance over their staff. In turn, people are increasingly suffering from the impacts of feeling watched, even when they are allowed to work remotely. The Future Work Centre in London released findings earlier this year that showed the emotional reactions we have to constantly being connected to our work causes “a toxic source of stress.”

As a result, we often start thinking up more ‘creative’ ways of excusing ourselves to create flexibility.

What next

There’s also the worry that flexible work options may actually get more limited as automation and advances in information technology now threaten many traditional white-collar jobs, such as accounting and law.  And that’s led to a feeling of insecurity that keeps people in their seats, playing out face time for the boss, and avoiding flexible options when they are available.

As a result of job insecurity, even when flexible work options are offered in a workplace, employees do not always take them up

One report from the World Economic Forum examines how, just as technology made manufacturing largely automated, now white-collar jobs will be automated (for example, when selling a house, the seller will fill in all the required information for an 'online solicitor').

As a result of job insecurity, even when flexible work options are offered in a workplace, employees do not always take them up. Being present it seems in the workplace, seems the most secure option for most.

 

(Credit: Getty Images)

As automation threatens more jobs, it may seem more important to be present in the office (Credit: Getty Images)

 

But, that could be counterproductive for employers. The more control that we have over our time – of when and where we work – the more job satisfaction increases, says Moen. The University of Warwick in the UK found that being happy at work makes people, on average, 12% more productive. In the paper, the researchers found that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which people work without sacrificing quality.

In reality, for some of us, the flexibility of a few hours outside of core hours actually turns out to be enough to improve quality of life. 

In Spain, Iberdrola, one of the country’s largest utilities companies, decided a few years ago to allow its employees to choose working 08:00 to 15:00 with no lunch break – a major change in a country where most people work 09:00 to 19:00 with a two-hour lunch break. The company reported employee satisfaction levels increased as a result and lower turnover (90% of the workforce has been with the company for more than five years).

Changing habits

How do you change a workplace culture? Bring in blanket company rules, say some experts, making benefits universal to all staff if possible. Financial company Moody’s instituted a policy that women returning from maternity leave do not have to fulfil the usual 'billable hours' for several months. “Middle ranking managers can also help introduce flexible and healthy workplaces by getting rid of low value work – like meetings every Monday with no agenda,” says Moen.

“It’s said that to understand something you should try to change it. We are trying to redesign working conditions, giving employees greater flexibility and control over their time with more supportive supervisors,” says Moen.

But, maybe like flying cars in the film Back to the Future, truly flexible work wasn’t ever really going to happen.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they show on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Executive Overview of LinkedIn

 

If you would like to learn more about LinkedIn, and you have a spare hour of time, tonight is the best way to come away with a better understanding of this powerful network.

I will be presenting the Executive Overview of all six of the LinkedIn Workshops I have taught in the last 10 months.  Profile Optimization, LinkedIn Search and Invitations,  Privacy and Settings, LinkedIn Groups, Automated Marketing using LeadOutcome, Email Best Practices.  

This is the best way to get an A-Z overview of LinkedIn.  See you there at 7:00pm EST! 

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

The Reach aka Blog Casting

Markethive the Social Network for Entrepreneurs Marketing AutomationUnderstanding the Markethive blog and cloud

Markethive Backlinking and Social Networking using Automated Marketing

Markethive did not invent the blog, but we certainly have made it exponentially more powerful.  We certainly have added fun, understanding, reach, groups, daily workshops, understanding and power to the process.

Markethive has successfully combined all the technical and tactical aspects and requirements into one system, but have also overcome the obstacles to make blogging a group process, combined with motivated mentors to help the newbie easily immerse and embrace the process.

We did not invent Word Press, but we have significantly taken Word Press serious and made it exponentially better. This blog’s focus is to help you understand the paradigm dynamic shift Markethive has brought to marketing, blogging and the individual within the hive.

The following video attempts to reveal and illustrate how the whole social blogging platform in Markethive changes the entire Internet field of engagement.

 

 

Understanding SEO

You can approach the challenge alone, hire a firm and/or a virtual assistance and take the Internet on. This ego centered approach works for many who have the grit and stamina and educated skills of journalism and polished writing (a note here: As the Internet has evolved, the polished blogger vs the blogger that lacks the polish but has the passion, wins in today’s culture).

Approaching the blogosphere as a crew, a group, a gang or a family wins today.  Because fresh, new, consistent and current content win and win you combine a social network into a blogging platform, the results are impressive.

Understanding  SEO isn’t easy, and Google doesn’t help things much by changing the algorithms and policies on a regular basis. Seems like every time we get a handle on things, the rules change, and we’re all left wondering what we’re doing wrong and what we might still possibly be doing right.

The whole SEO quotient changes when the social network variable is integrated. This is why SEO at Markethive changes the playing field.

So a social network integrated blogging solution is at hand, and, there’s one thing you may have been doing correctly already from the start: That being blogging. You probably have a million reasons to blog, not the least of which include building trust among your buyers, positioning yourself as an expert, and simply sharing news with your company’s followers. Then, of course, there are those activities that help to boost your SEO rankings. These can only help you if you know how to use them, so make note of these 9 reasons blogging can boost your SEO.

Enter the Markethive Social Network Engine combined with the Inbound Marketing Engine. Kind of reminds of the Hot Rods of the 60s like Eddie Hill’s double dragon (see image):

Except with Markethive, the combining the two huge engines of the Internet, Social Networking and Inbound Marketing has an exponential nature to it, not just a geometrical quotient.

This innovative integration of these two power houses has a powerful effect on all that ios Internet Marketing as I illustrate, please read on.

 

Backlinking

The following is the conventional wisdom perspective to today’s linking approach.

Some of the techniques used for SEO when blogging raise eyebrows, and back linking is no exception. Many will tell you link schemes will get you a slap on the wrist from Google, and they’d be right. Does that mean you can’t build relationships with other companies and blogs by including links and asking for some in return? Not at all.

You can still benefit greatly from being linked and linking to others, but there are some things to keep in mind. First, if you’ve paid for your link, be sure they use the nofollow designation. Otherwise, you’ll be penalized. Next, work with reputable, quality sites that fit your blog’s niche. When links to your blog appear on sites that have nothing to do with your company, you’ll get another ding from Google. Finally, use the same basic rules for any blogs you link to on your site.

Good quality links from popular, well-respected sites can definitely help your SEO rankings, but only if you do it right.

Now, with that said, the amazing change that occurs to your campaign to build organic, condust and create relationships in the blogging power of the Inbound Marketing Social Network of Markethive, delivers a plethora of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SNM (Social Network Marketing) and the advantages therein if developing unlimited streams of unique content, automated into literally millions of sites, social networks, social bookmarks, blogging platforms from the stream of content that flows out of the Markethive Social Network you are part of or built.

So what does all that mean? As the natural order of our recent tech releases of the Blog Casting (Social Broadcaster) and Blog Swiping (where your friends and other members can easily copy and edit your blog) then publish it and with the advent of this opening the possibility with these new tools produce a cacophony of your content, links, back links, side links, social reaches into the millions. All built upon chaos theory and technology.

The natural organic process to build a huge amazing white hat mass of blog and site links and social reach, thereby, the vision of the Blog Cloud has come to be reality, thank you Markethive, the social networked Inbound Marketing juggernaut.

Simply put, not just combining but fully integrating two platforms, the Entrepreneurial Social Network and a fully appointed Inbound Marketing platform, has opened up doorways not otherwise capable or even aware of or identified in the exponential character of the Markethive Hybrid. Sort of like Twin Towers built on the same foundation.

Actually more like a million communities of twin towers all inter connected and pulsing and thriving with the constant flow of content and videos and communications (comments and messaging) even further empowered with a constant thriving community of live conference room activity.

 

Guest Blogging

 

Again Markethive takes the awkward and difficult process of guest blogging and turns it into a graceful social dance. I will explain after I share again the Internet’s explanation of what has been defined as guest blogging.

The  latest hoopla suggests guest blogging is dead, but that’s not necessarily true. As with the backlinking, guest blogs can be tremendously beneficial to the SEO of your website. If you work with reputable writers who are indeed experts in their industry, their popularity can only help you.

For this tactic to work, you must be vigilant when screening potential bloggers. Interview them, research their backgrounds, and compare their submission to everything they’ve written before to make sure you get truly unique content. If you follow Google’s quality guidelines, your guest blog from a well-known source will bring you tremendous traffic and boost your search engine rankings.

Markethive has turned this difficult proposition into one of grace and ease. Because the core of your blogging can now be centered within Markethive, which supports and publishes to just about every blogging platform out there.  As a social network, you can build a sphere of influence easily with others who are open to and or capable of assisting in your blogging efforts.

Groups also serve as additional blogging platforms, for the individual who keeps track of different campaigns separated by the groups. Groups also parlay into teams of content creators, allow a team captain to manage and lead the agenda and monitor and choose the array of articles by the group to which blog(s) that article automatically gets sent.

The options that the Markethive tools has created for diverse and distributed content is unlimited and better managed than any other option available in the blogosphere.

Group Blogging not only replaces the old guard of guest blogging, it enhances it, makes it easier to, manage and distribute. It changes the entire playing field.

You can integrate single Markethive members, and/or integrate entire groups into as many blog systems you wish. By simply organizing, selecting and developing different cock tails groups for your blogs, you can literally create unlimited selections and unlimited content for unlimited blogs, your blogs, their blogs, unlimited groups of competent writers and marketers. Get into the mix, join some groups, and get into some Workshops and put the system to work for you.

We can even say that you can produce dynamic content on your blog without as much effort as the conventional way.

 

Fresh Content

Search engines love fresh, unique content. How often do the pages on your website change? Probably not very often at all. That’s why you must keep a steady blog filled with new information every week. Those search engines customers used to find companies just like yours will pull the freshest and most relevant content whenever a search is performed. If your site hasn’t been updated with new information in over a year, you can bet someone else’s will rank higher than yours in the results.

By blogging, you build relationships with your readers, position yourself as an expert in the field, and perhaps most importantly, provide new content for Google to index.

By joining Markethive you build relationships with thousands of others who are actively building business, blogging, researching, etc. basically being “entrepreneurs” and advancing their businesses and agendas. Often you can join with these people as friends, group members and subscribers of theirs via Blog Casting, Blog Sharing and Blog Swiping.

When you are an active member in a good group (active and current), using meetings and live webinars, discussions breed inspirations which support developing new content. Here is a tip I use to help with fresh content. I want to write about the “current trends for the entrepreneur market”. So I go to Google and I search the tail words SEO entrepreneur trends but I designate a small tool many are not aware of.

It is found in “Search tools” in the Google search as the illustration below demonstrates. Choose last week or within 24 hours to get very fresh current content to use in building your blog article. This way, you are assured to be utilizing current references building current articles, sharing with your groups and creating a dynamic culture. Checking new content with Google daily in relations to your agenda is something that should also be shared (the search link) within your groups for discussion.

Keywords

Keywords go hand in hand with fresh content. It also pays to see what current or newest results are shown for current sites utilizing the same technique for current content for your research and agenda.

Even though keywords really don’t hold the same weight they once did, it still needs your attention.  In fact, this is another aspect of SEO you can do really wrong and end up punished for. The age of cramming keywords into a blog over and over, regardless of what they add to the content, is over. Now those keywords have to serve a purpose. You really want to make sure you choose unique keywords that will lead searchers to your site but not so unique that no one thinks to use them. If you choose words that are used too often, you won’t get much benefit out of them.

Your best bet with keywords and search terms is to use long-tail keywords and phrases that people may use when searching. Instead of focusing too much on keyword placement and making sure you include the words a certain number of times, concentrate on simply answering questions. Provide knowledge for those who reach your site. They don’t need a million keywords; they need answers.

For instance, the long-tail keyword “Inbound Marketing” had barely begun trending in 2009 with a slow crawl upward until just recently, with the advent of Markethive’s soft launch and discussions of the definition of “Inbound Marketing” and the increase of Social Network chatter in that regards we are now seeing the current trend start to grow.

My first company invented what we called “Automated Marketing” but today fits the new definition “Inbound Marketing” As you can see the term “Automated Marketing” is trending down from a long crown of being a top searched keyword.

See the trend towards “Marketing Automation” beginning? Why is Marketing Automation trending up and Automated Marketing trending down? Does it deserve research?

In my opinion no, but, what does need to be looked at in my regards is our new pre launched/soft launched company (as of May7, 2016) is the Trademark “Markethive”.

Because if we read these trends right, we want to make sure we mention Markethive often in connection to “Inbound Marketing” and “Marketing Automation”. This will place squarely in front of the trend curve binding the “long tail” keywords together.

Markethive’s SEO keyword system leads us to these research outcomes, but until the Google API is fully integrated to Markethive’s Keyword platform I go to the Google Trend panel here as well.

https://www.google.com/trends/

Popularity

When your blogs are shared and consequently clicked on, they move up in the search rankings. If you’re providing quality content, your readers will want others to know. Of course, the only way to make sure your blogs contribute to your website’s popularity is to create unique content, provide answers for visitors, and then share your blogs wherever you can.

That key point “Share your blogs wherever you can” is another way of saying “Broadcast” them. And Markethive has taken Broadcasting to new heights with Blog Casting and SNAP.  Blog Casting is a Markethive subscribe feature that other Markethive members use to subscribe to your Markethive blog. When they subscribe (and the potential is 1000s of them), your blog posts are automatically posted to their Facebook Newsfeeds, LinkedIn activity feeds and your Twitter tweets feed.

When you understand that this down stream of subscribers, fellow entrepreneurs at MarketHive, are exposing their connections to your message, they are lifting you up, increasing your popularity and building greater branding for you.

Then there is the Blog Sharing feature that also allows your fellow Markethive entrepreneurs to import your blog posts to their WordPress blogs using the SNAP plugin increasing your message (your posts) to another 25 of their social networks, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn company pages, SumbleUpon, Tumbler, Livejournal, Blogspot, ets, exponentially increasing your exposure and adding to your back links.

When you discover the responsibility this represents that you show respect, produce quality content to your loyal downstream, you now have the opportunity to build a huge popular following. Markethive, The Rise of the Entrepreneur. We have put a great future in your hands. Now it is up to you.

 

Images

Image search Automated Marketing Inbound Marketing from Markethive

Including images in your blog gives you one more way search engines can find you. Make sure you name them according to the search terms or keywords, and then do the same for the alt-text. The alt-text is meant to describe what’s in the image for those who don’t or aren’t able to see images on their computer screens. For this reason, your alt-text must be carefully crafted to serve two purposes: SEO and information.

I search a lot in images and so do others. They may be looking for an image to fill a need, the reasons vary, but a lot of traffic does come from image searching, so do not ignore this small duty. Alt tags serve an important batch of duties.

When installing images in the Markethive HTML control panel, the following Image control panel, second tab, is where to enter your keywords and descriptions.

Alt tags Google search Markethive

When looking at the HTML code, this is exactly what ALT tags look like and search engines Index.

Alt tags html code

 

Video

Google indexing video

As with photos, video simply gives you more dynamic content that you can share with your readers. Remember they’re looking for excellent, unique content, so be sure you include only videos that serve a purpose. Proprietary videos are always the best bet, since syndicated content will show up on several different sites during a search result.

If you have never made a video, get some screen capturing software. I use Camtasia (cost about $300)

https://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html

Camtasia the video capture software used by Markethive

A viable alternative (I cannot recommend as I have not used it) is called MOVAVI

http://www.movavi.com/

Markethive has not evaluated Movavi

I also down load others videos to use them in my final productions. I build titles and other content with Photoshop Software, but there are other cheaper alternatives. Many of my friends recommend GIMP for image editing. https://www.gimp.org/

A video download app for Chrome I use is free. http://keepvid.com/

I recommend you make as many of your videos you can, but do not produce bad or funky videos. Today, you need quality and you are welcome to download and use all Markethive videos I produce for yourself.

Be sure you tag your videos with appropriate search terms before you post. Let readers know exactly what’s going on in the video so they can find your content in a search.

Youtube and Markethive

I know video editing and production can be daunting to many at first. However, we have plenty od excellent talent that offer video workshops in Markethive. Just check the calendar or enquire within the membership (Social Network).

Remember we are all Entrepreneurs and most of us are also philanthropic and want to help you succeed. I know I do.

Check the calendar

 

Social Media

Markethive Marketing Automation and Social Network Integration

Believe it or not, Google also returns social media search results. If you connect your blog to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts, you give search engines one more thing to find when people look for your company. As long as you use search terms in your titles and meta descriptions, you’ll boost your SEO through social media listings, too.

A popular set of current wisdom pulled from the Internet void (5 Things to Think About When Considering The Impact of Social on SEO) :

1. Social Links May or May Not Boost Your Search Rank

Okay, social signals pertaining to a profile’s authority are out, but does Google consider links published on social accounts to be credible backlinks? When a blog post goes viral on Twitter, do those new links boost the post’s search ranking?

Many marketers believe that links to your website via social media accounts do have a major impact on your rankings. Says Marketing Consultant Brian Honigman:

 

Today, links are mainly achieved through developing original content that is in turn, shared across social media. Links to your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and other social networks help the search engines understand what websites are credible and should be ranked for what keyword phrases.

 

 

In Danny Sullivan’s 2010 interview with Google and Bing for Search Engine Watch, Google first says that it doesn’t incorporate the number of times a link has been tweeted into their search rank algorithm, and then it goes on to say that it does (doh). Bing says that it definitely looks at this data:

 

We take into consideration how often a link has been tweeted or retweeted, as well as the authority of the Twitter users that shared the link.

 

While Cutts’ 2014 video is crystal-clear about the absence of social signals from the search algorithm, he does say that Google crawls social websites for data in the same way that it would any other site:

Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index, and so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it then we can return that in our search results.

This leads me to think that while the authority of a social account doesn’t impact search rank, links published on social media could be marked as credible back-links and thus influence a page’s rank.

Takeaways: When Cutts made his statement about Google not factoring in social signals I understood him to mean clues about a particular company’s authority on social media, which, for me, is distinct from the number of times a page has been linked to on social media. Further research didn’t help me get much clarity on this point.

If there are any SEO experts reading this, I’d love for you to chime in below in the comments.

 

2. Social Media Profiles Rank in Search Engines

While social shares may or may not affect a webpage’s position in search listings, your social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. In fact, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names. When I searched “General Electric” in Google, the company’s Instagram and Pinterest profiles appeared as the 5th and 6th listings, respectively, and Twitter was the 8th result.

Google Search Markethive

Moreover, Google displayed the company’s Google+ profile information in the right-hand sidebar at the very top of the search results page.

Google Markethive Profile

While social shares may or may not affect a webpage’s position in search listings, your social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. In fact, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names. When I searched “General Electric” in Google, the company’s Instagram and Pinterest profiles appeared as the 5th and 6th listings, respectively, and Twitter was the 8th result.

Social channels can feel more personal than webpages, and they’re a great way to get a sense of a company’s personality off the bat. When I’m researching a company I don’t know much about I typically go straight to their Twitter or Facebook page. So if a social account shows up at the top of the search results, I’m just as likely to click on it as I would be to click on their website.

Takeaway: There’s no doubt that your social profiles matter to Google and especially to people who are looking for you online. A few active social channels can make the experience of getting to know your brand online more fun, engaging and personal. Also, while some may consider Google+ a non-essential social channel, marketers shouldn’t discount the fact that a company’s Google+ profile is one of the first things a searcher will see (and potentially click on). As such, it pays to have a profile with up-to-date info and engaging content.

 

3. Social Media Channels Are Search Engines, Too

Nowadays, people don’t just go to Google and Bing to look stuff up; they also use social media channels to find what they’re looking for. Patel makes this point in his article on why social is the new SEO: “We need to understand that search engine optimization includes the search that happens on social media search engines.”

This works in a couple of ways: First, if you’re active on Twitter, it’s entirely possible that people will discover your company’s new content distribution app after searching for content marketing-related tweets with Twitter’s search engine. Likewise, brands that lend themselves to beautiful visual content can benefit from making their content visible in Pinterest and Instagram by using hashtags and properly categorizing their pins.

Moreover, as mentioned in point #1, if someone wants to check out your company, they’re likely to open Twitter and Facebook and do a quick search to see what kind of presence you have on each channel. YouTube, and, of course, Google+ are also search engines.

Markethive Instagram

Here are some impressive stats that illuminate just how much people are using social media to search:

As of 2010, Twitter handled 19 billion search queries a month (that’s more than 5x the queries handled by Bing!).

In 2012 Facebook said it got around one billion search queries per day.

As of March 2010, YouTube got roughly 3.7 billion search queries a month. Also, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, making it one of the largest content repositories on the web.

 

Takeaways: Companies should expand their concept of SEO to include not just the traditional search engines––Google and Bing––but also social search engines.

When searching for a brand on Facebook or Twitter it’s not uncommon to see several different profiles pop up, and it’s not always clear which one is the real deal. Marketers need to ensure that it’s super easy for users to identify their official social profiles.

This may mean deleting duplicate accounts and/or clearly labeling each social account so that users understand what purpose they serve (for example, accounts for HR or press versus general brand pages).

 

4. Not Now Doesn’t Mean Not Ever

Just because Google says that social signals don’t currently impact search rank doesn’t mean they never will. Social media shows no sign of becoming a less important part of a brand or person’s online presence anytime soon; moreover, given that link-building strategies like guest blogging have become a less reliable way to indicate the quality of a webpage, it makes sense that search engines would begin to look for other signals of authority and value.

Takeaways: There’s no reason why social signals won’t begin to affect search rankings in the future, so smart brands will continue to build their authority in key social channels and think about social when designing their SEO strategy.

 

5. Don’t Forget Bing

Google may have back-tracked and changed their stance on social signals, but I haven’t found any evidence that what Bing told Sullivan for his Search Engine Watch interview doesn’t hold true today.

Remember, Bing said:

 

We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results.

 

Takeaways: Bing, which is the second most-used search engine, has been crystal clear about how their algorithm incorporates social signals into their search results, and, unlike Google, they haven’t flip-flopped on the issue. With its market share steadily growing, companies would be wise to include Bing in their SEO strategies.

 

Wrapping Up

Cutts’ claim that Google’s search algorithm ignores social signals should not be seen as an invitation for marketers to dismiss social’s impact on SEO. Instead, marketers should broaden their concept of search and SEO to take into account the myriad ways that people find content on the web. They also need to think about the positive effects that increased traffic from social can potentially have on their search rankings as well as the prominence of social profiles on first-page search results.

Ultimately, the web is all about building relationships, fostering audiences, expressing identity and sharing ideas––it’s inherently social, and there’s no reason that SEO best practices would go against the grain, especially since the rules that govern SEO are ultimately meant to make the web a more enjoyable and useful place.

 

Indexed Pages

Google Markethive Indexed pages

Perhaps the most important reason of all to blog is the fact that each post counts as a new page on your website. Google really does like fresh content and will reward those who share frequently. Those who do include a business blog on their site will see up to 55% more traffic than companies who don’t. The reason for this is the indexed pages. For Google to index those pages, you need to include at least 300 quality words. That means reblogging, short blogs, and duplicating content won’t help you. There is a time and place for the previously mentioned blog types, but not when you’re hoping to boost your SEO.

Now that you understand why blogging is essential to improving your SEO results, you probably want to get started right away. Don’t get bogged down or feel overwhelmed. A systematic approach is what you need, starting with a content calendar. Simply start by answering those burning questions your potential customers have. Plan blogs that will touch on their pain points. You’ll see results sooner than you ever thought possible.

Markethive
Join the Revolution

Thomas Prendergast
CMO Markethive, Inc.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Win Mindshare to Influence Your Market

Win Mindshare to Influence Your Market

 

Years ago Peter Drucker, the father of business consulting, made a very profound observation:

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Yet the marketing function is broad, challenging, and often misunderstood, especially at the small to mid-market level. The Fortune 500 and savvy mid-market consumer products companies approach the marketing function from a fundamentally different angle from that of most small to mid-market companies:

They start with market research and devise a focused, comprehensive strategy to penetrate their market, build their brand, and win mindshare before they enter a market.

The typical small to mid-market company is focused on sales, a tactical function of the marketing process, and gives little thought to researching the market, building a brand, and winning mindshare. When you consider the mindset of the typical small to mid-market CEO, this makes sense; most were very-skilled and well-trained engineers, salespeople, or finance people prior to starting their own company or taking over the top role.

Winning Mindshare Starts with Positioning Strategy

If you believe in Drucker’s observation, then the most important part of marketing strategy, the positioning and branding strategy, should be owned by the CEO of a small to mid-market company. It’s simply too important to delegate to a consultant or tactical marketer.

Positioning and branding can be complicated, so to get started, think about the one thing you’d like your product/service/company to be known for – the mindshare that you’d like to own.

To win mindshare and influence your market, follow these steps at the highest level:

  1. Determine the mindshare you want to win.
  2. Create a brand strategy that embodies the mindshare you seek to own.
  3. Use a systematic approach for all your marketing and sales activities.

Tools for Creating Your Strategy

This short article isn’t meant to trivialize these tasks; all three can be very challenging for a mid-market company. It’s simply meant to give CEOs and marketers in small to mid-market companies some direction when it comes to long term growth strategy.

If you’re a CEO of a small to mid-market company, our new eBook written with our ShortTrack CEO partners goes into greater depth on how to influence your market (it’s concept 3 in the book). Download it here. Currently it’s complimentary.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Hooked: How To Make Habit-Forming Products, And When To Stop Flapping

Hooked: How To Make Habit-Forming Products, And When To Stop Flapping

We now know that Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen decided to take down his hugely popular—and habit-forming—game, Flappy Bird because he had a moral pang about the game’s addictive potential. There was speculation about legal problems, or coping with the stress of overnight success, but it seems that he has done what many large tech companies have avoided—taken responsibility for the misuse of his product.

Tweeting as @dongatory a a couple of weeks ago, Dong replied to an obsessed fan, “People are overusing my app 🙁 .”  The following day, in a series of four surprising tweets, he announced, “I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.” (Emphasis mine.)

All of this is familiar territory to behavior design consultant and author Nir Eyal (who also contributes in these pages.) His new book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, is a step-by-step guide to do intentionally what Dong seems to have done intuitively. In its simplest terms, Hooked describes how to convert the “external triggers” that make a person engage with a product into “internal triggers” that bring that person back to it again and again.

nir-eyal-the-hook-method

 

Games, like Flappy Bird are perfect examples of this mechanism, but an easy way for non-gamers to grasp this phenomena is to consider the catchiness of pop songs. When your first hear a song on the radio, you are responding to the “external trigger” of its transmission over the airwaves (or internet as the case may now be.) But when you find yourself involuntarily singing that song in the shower, it has become its own “internal trigger” in your brain. It’s like a client side app where all of the data required to recreate the experience is preloaded into your browser (i.e., your brain!)

Making products habit-forming, and the behavior design that makes it possible, has gone from being a nice-to-have to a need-to-have in the ultra-competitive world of apps and digital services. There are so many things screaming for users’ attention that only the things that they whisper to themselves about have a chance of sticking around for a while.

A research report back in 2011 by Localytics showed that 26% of typical users download an app and open it just once. The important corollary to this disheartening pattern is that another 26% will download an app and use it 10 or more times—often enough for it to become part of their routine. The difference between these two kinds of users—and how to convert the first kind into the second kind—is the focus of Eyal’s “Hook” method.

The Hook consists of four parts that must be combined in sequence to convert an externally motivated engagement with a product into one that is internally motivated and habitual. “Through consecutive hook cycles,” Eyal writes, “successful products reach their ultimate goal of unprompted user engagement, bringing users back repeatedly without costly advertising or aggressive messaging.”

Eyal stands on the shoulders of giants in putting together what is essentially an open source framework for user psychology. This framework draws upon the work of contemporaries like BJ Fogg, Dan Ariely, Charles Duhigg and Daniel Kahneman but also the inventor of behaviorism in psychology, B.F. Skinner. Eyal got an MBA at Stanford and now teaches there, and his debt to Stanford behavior design researcher and educator BJ Fogg in particular is evident.

But there are important differences in their approach. The Fogg behavior model applies equally well to one-time and repeat actions and for actions you want to motivate as well as actions you want to avoid motivating. Eyal focuses on just one of these quadrants—those actions that you want to turn into habits. But as we shall see, Eyal uses Skinner and others to expand upon what helps us to internalize actions and repeat them.

The essence of Fogg’s approach is to consider a person’s amount of motivation to do something compared with how easy it is to do. You don’t have to be tremendously motivated to do some thing easy, like click “like” on Facebook, but if a product requires an investment of time and/or money, like having your DNA tested by 23andMe, you need a compelling reason. The easier 23andMe can make that process, by requiring less information or lowering the price, the less pressing my reasons have to be to want to follow through. Importantly, no matter how easy an action is, or how motivated a person is, no action will happen without the presence of trigger adjacent in space and time to the means of completing the action.

The first step in Eyal’s hook model is this trigger. He sees the hook as an iterative process which begins with external triggers that after a series of cycles convert into internal triggers. How this conversion occurs is at the heart of what makes this method supremely useful to growth hackers and others involved in engineering the viral aspects of products. Getting back to the example of Flappy Bird above, Eyal points out that “Negative emotions frequently serve as internal triggers.” So the repeated epic failures that a new player experiences with that game make them angry at themselves. This anger is indeed the energy that propels the player to play again.

The second part of the hook is the action itself. The easier it is do something, the more users will do it. Eyal charts the growth of user-generated content from services like Blogger, which require you to actually create original content, to Pinterest, which reduces the participatory action down to the selection of what on the web to “pin.” Guess which one grew faster? There are many dimensions to ease, well-documented by Fogg in his six “elements of simplicity,” than range from amounts of time, money and effort required to levels of mental complexity, social acceptability and habitual familiarity. This is important because increasing your user’s ability to do something is far more within your control than boosting their internal motivation. Human psychology is not a uniform surface that can be wholly controlled by turning a couple of knobs, of course. Eyal emphasizes observed patterns of behavior that can be used as heuristics to increase the likelihood of a given action. We sometimes infer value from scarcity or assume form the presence of a sale tag that something is a bargain.

The third part of Eyal’s method takes advantage of these inconsistencies in how humans evaluate situations to excite our motivational instincts. It is important that product reward the actions that it triggers, but critically, if these rewards are variable we are far more likely to get sucked in. Decades of brain research has concluded that we are more motivated by the anticipation of reward than by the reward itself. In Flappy Bird, most of the time you fail, but the possibility that you could get a high score (or any score at all!) deepens the hook. The trigger is our self-inflicted anger, but playing holds out the reward of self-mastery. Eyal cites Pinterest as an example of the variable rewards of the “hunt.” Finally, when a friend “likes” your high score update on Facebook or follows your board on Pinterest you experience social satisfaction, rewards of the “tribe.” In Eyal’s model, the hook is a series of cycles and just as the triggers go from external to internal, so too can the rewards range from self to hunt or tribe. As described above, both Flappy Bird and Pinterest successfully utilize multiple types of rewards—but always with some degree of variability.

Finally, for the habit to really take hold, the user has to invest into it. The pictures you take with Instagram constitute your investment in the platform. Not only does the threat of losing this body of work keep you from switching to other photo apps, but your social engagement with others on the platform reinforce this continuity as well. By getting us to put ourselves into a product its designers are using our own narcissism to increase our perceived value of their product. Dan Ariely of Duke University, and author of Predictably Irrational and other books, calls this the “Ikea Effect,”  where our time spent with the ubiquitous Allen wrench makes our hearts fonder of the (possibly flawed!) end result. The other aspect of this is that since we are all creatures of habit, our investment in a habit becomes a form of inertia that makes it increasingly unlikely that we will engage in the cognitive dissonance of a new solution to our need.

Hooked is a very useful book for anyone involved in designing, managing and marketing products. It does suffer a bit from a duality of purpose that sometimes stretches the tone of the writing between earnest explication of the fascinations of human behavior to an practical boosterism for how to use of the techniques behind these phenomena. Behavior design is clearly a rising discipline with great effectiveness to help engineer beneficial habits, but it also can—and is—being abused for manipulative purposes.

In the sixth chapter of the book, Eyal discusses these manipulations, but I think he skirts around the morality issues as well as the economics that make companies overlook them. The Candy Crush Saga game is a good example of how his formulation fails to capture all the moral nuance of the problem. According to his Manipulation Matrix, King, the maker of Candy Crush Saga, is an Entertainer because although their product does not (materially) improve the user’s life, the makers of the game would happily use it themselves. So, really, how bad can it be?

Consider this: Candy Crush is a very habit-forming time-waster for the majority of its users, but a soul-destroying addiction for a distinct minority (perhaps larger, however, than the 1% Eyal refers to as a rule of thumb for user addiction.) The makers of the game may be immune to the game’s addictive potential, so their use of it doesn’t necessarily constitute a guarantee of innocuousness. But here’s the economic aspect: because consumers are unwilling to pay for casual games, the makers of these games must construct manipulative habits that make players seek rewards that are most easily attained through in-app purchases. For “normal” players, these payments may just be the way that they pay to play the game instead of a flat rate up-front or a subscription, and there is nothing morally wrong with getting paid for your product (obviously!) But for “addicted” players these payments may be completely out of scale with any estimate of the value of a casual game experience. King reportedly makes almost $1 million A DAY from Candy Crush, all from in app purchases. My guess is that there is a long tail going on with a relative few players being responsible for a disproportionate share of that revenue.

Understanding these potentially conflicting motivations is important for product designers of all kinds, and I believe it is a subject of intense interest to Eyal. Habit-formation is no longer a nice-to-have but a need-to-have aspect of making a successful product. This makes the temptations of manipulation all the more dangerous. We all now need to abide by the superhero credo, that with great power comes great responsibility. Habit-hacking is indeed a superpower, time to put on the capes!

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

I’ll say it: the days of outbound marketing are over.

I’ll say it: the days of outbound marketing are over.

entrepreneur

The "Wolf of Wall Street" mentality of harassing customers over the phone, sending spamy emails, and going door-to-door to close deals has become much less effective in recent years. Customers have access to so much information every day, they’ve become increasingly resentful of marketing intrusions. The rise of blocking tools such as caller id, spam folders and ad blockers is not coincidence.

Inbound marketing is the new normal. That’s the idea that if you provide value to customers first, they will respond by returning that value back and doing business with you.

To get a peak under the hood inbound marketing, and get tips on how others can use it, I had a chance to chat with A.J. Agrawal – an entrepreneur who built his business, Alumnify, around it. A.J. is a fellow contributor at Entrepreneur as well as at Forbes, Huffington Post, and others.

Here’s an edited version of our e-mail interview:

Why begin with universities?

We started there because we saw a strong decrease year after year in alumni engagement. Right now, alumni engagement is at an all time low – under 10 percent. It was obvious that institutions were struggling to adjust to the new ways their alumni were communicating and engaging. So we saw the opportunity.

For about 85 years, alumni engagement was pretty steady. Then all of a sudden, in the 90’s it began to fall drastically. In panic mode, many schools chose to double down on the outbound marketing tactics that worked in the past: cold calls, snail mail, and increased email addresses. They also deployed better data tacking and software to help optimize open email rates as well as make the giving process easier for graduates.

But these strategies had no effect (or even a negative effect on engagement) because they were built on an overall strategy that was broken. So we decided we would build inbound marketing solutions to provide value to alumni first. 

How do you begin inbound practices?

First, make sure you know what inbound marketing is. At its core, inbound is anything that provides a tremendous amount of value to your target customer without asking anything from them in return. There are tons of ways to do this and the best part is that most of the major strategies can be done for minimal cost.

One thing we recommend to companies we work with us is to start by getting a blog set up and to have someone be responsible for publishing regular content. One of the nice things about inbound marketing is that it requires companies to build major assets for their business. Your content library is a huge asset and will eventually help your SEO, and pull in more customers to your website.

Other popular inbound strategies include webinars, eBooks, infographics, mobile apps built to help your customers, and optimizing your social media.

Each business is different, so the strategy depends on factors including audience, industry, and expertise. Like most things, the hardest part is just getting started. Once you find an inbound strategy that starts to work, it becomes much easier to fine tune and expand on your traction.

Do you avoid outbound strategies?

Not at all. While inbound is definitely the future, some customers still respond well to outbound strategies. Even as an inbound company, we still cold call customers and send promotional emails once in a while — but as part of a complete plan.

When thinking about the brand I want for Alumnify, I don’t want prospects and customers avoiding our phone calls. The image of a customer seeing an Alumnify Team Member calling them and saying “Not these people again” is my worst nightmare. And it should be any entrepreneur’s nightmare too.

Instead, I believe that the key to getting customers to love us is to provide value without asking for anything in return. For example, we have a free inbound marketing email list we just launched yesterday with weekly tips and webinars. And I’m always happy to help any fellow entrepreneur hammer out an inbound strategy. That type of approach may take more work in the short run, but it’ll also help build a much better brand to our customers in the long run.

Article writen by:

Inbound Marketing solution

 

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Look Mom I have a Blog