5 Content Marketing Tips for Start-ups

Entrepreneurs have a lot on their minds when doing a start-up.  Not only are they building a business, but because of being resource-challenged, they are also doing their own marketing a lot of the time.  Those who have marketing mentors will get some great advice on how to actually develop and execute marketing plans, strategies and tactics, but  for those that don’t have mentors just yet, here are 5 content marketing tips specifically for start-ups.

5 Content Marketing Tips for  Start-ups, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of flatironcomm.com

1.  You are a Brand

If you haven’t had much of a personal brand before starting up a company, you will definitely have one now. And, depending on your business, you could be a real hot commodity for people.  This means that everything you do, there will be someone watching. With start-ups being super sexy right now, founders of start-ups are like the modern day rock stars. Everyone wants to say they knew you “when.”

This really is where the challenge/opportunity is. You can and will have influence. So, while you might not have thought about what you Tweeted, posted to Facebook, or shared in some forum previously, you now need to think about it. How does what you are doing/sharing reflect not just on your own brand, but your start-up brand? What will advisors think? What will potential investors think?

2.  Develop a Content Calendar

This is probably one of the big misses that many Content Marketers have.  Never forget to create a content calendar. Creating a calendar and mapping out what is happening will help you develop themes and key areas to focus your content marketing efforts.  Your calendar should also include what channels you will leverage, what paid media you will use and any influencers that you include.

Having a content calendar will really help you be focused and clear.

3.  Know Your Audience

If there is one constant I have for reminding people of how to do content marketing, it is to know your audience.  Exactly who are you targeting with your marketing? Where do they hang out? What language do they use? What information do “they” want. What information will help your audience? When you know this you need to tailor your language as well as where you share your content to meet audience expectations.

This also means writing for your start-up audience and not your personal audience. Going back to point #1, carefully consider what you create for blog posts for example. Remember you are not writing for your college dorm friends. You are now writing for your business audience. So, forget blogging about your past weekend adventures at the bars.

4.  Include a Call to Action

Great content is always helped with a call to action at the end of each post.  Be sure to always include one.

5.  Measure

Once you start publishing content, be sure to measure your results. What is working? What is not working?  Track your numbers and understand them. Measuring your progress will help guide you to make informed decisions about what is working well for you and your business, saving you time while also generating leads.

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The Sunday Brief (May 11, 2014)

Welcome to this week’s Sunday Brief.  The Sunday Brief is intended to share with you a few of my top picks from the previous week.  As I always say, sit back and relax with your favourite cup of Joe and enjoy! (If you have a fav that is not on the list, be sure to let me know). The Sunday Brief heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

1.Top Pick of the Week:  Over 100 B2B Content Marketing Statistics for 2014

Thanks to Lee Odden (@leeodden) for this one.  He has not only reminded us of the fantastic report done by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, but he provided highlights. You get a good overview of what is working for most marketers and what isn’t.

This is an awesome read and I highly recommend it.

2. Most presentations aren’t bullet proof by Seth Godin

This is an interesting and quick read. Seth points out that we really abuse bullet points and quite frankly don’t know how to use them properly.  He has a point.  Pun in intended!

3.  Bring Back Our Girls by 

This one is definitely not like the others in this list, but it is in part inspired by this being Mothers’ Day.  I find it unconscionable the actions of these men.  I find it difficult to believe that in 2014 we continue to have these conversations.  The absolute worst however, is that these actions continue to happen.  I have written about women’s rights a few times and while I don’t consider myself a feminist – I also abhor labels – I cannot, as a human being, ignore inhuman actions.

Regardless of your age, sex, race or religion, human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and equality.  Ignorance and hatred never result in positive results.

Thank you for taking the time for reading The Sunday Brief, if you have comments or suggestions for other great posts from the past week, do comment!

(For more Marketing and Communications, visit us at TaylorMade Solutions.)


9 Media Interview Tips for Start-Ups

Start-ups have a lot going on.  Not only do they have very few resources doing development, looking for beta customers, seeking funding, but they are also trying to do marketing and get some media attention so they can get the customers and funding.  It can be a vicious cycle.  When a start-up gets good media, it can be a real godsend.  If you aren’t prepared however, if can turn out far from what you expected.  But not to worry, here are 9 Media Inteview Tips specifically for Start-Ups.

9 Media Interview Tips for Start-ups, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of talentbitsandbytes.com

1. Know Your Audience

If you are seeking out media, or they have found you, before you do an interview, be sure to understand who it is that you will be talking to.  When speaking with the producer and/or scheduler, don’t be afraid to ask a few questions. If you are unfamiliar with the reporter, the show or column ask about the themes, the demographic of the audience, examples of who else has been interviewed before, if anyone else is being interviewed for this particular piece, when will it air/be published. If it is TV or radio, ask if it will be live or recorded.

It is also very important to speak the language of your audience. Remember to adjust your language accordingly and don’t use industry jargon, unless speaking to an industry publication.  You must be able to present your thoughts using terms and words that the public will understand.  If you are overly technical and can’t relate, people will not care or understand.

2.  Google Can Be Your Best Friend

Be sure to take a few minutes and research the reporter, show and/or column.  Get a feel for the person.

3.  Time

While time is always of the essence with news, try to get as much time as you can to prepare.  This is particularly important for the first few.  Once you have gone through this entire list several times, you will not need as much upfront time for each interview.

4. Develop Your Messages

Seriously think about three specific things that are important for the audience to know.  Write them down and have them in front of you if possible.  This is your guide to bring you back to the three most important messages that you need to deliver.

5.  Don’t Script Yourself

While you have your messages ready and well thought out, don’t script yourself.  If you are being interviewed over the phone for radio, it will be obvious that you are reading.  The same goes for an interview for print.  The reporter will know that you are reading.  This can signal that you are nervous, unprepared or not informed.  These are all things that you want to avoid.

Scripting can also result in confusion for the person being interviewed.  If you are nervous and get off track, you might have a difficult time getting back on script.  The best is advice is to avoid scripting all together.

6.  Think About What-if Questions

One of the most effective things I do for my own interviews as well as my clients, is develop a series of questions – what-ifs.  For each question, think about how you would answer it.  These questions and answers help prepare you for just about anything that can be asked of you and might potentially throw you off your game and/or lead the reporter on a whole different path.

Even if your interview topic is not expected to be contentious, it does not hurt to be prepared.  For example, years ago while heading up the marketing for a global IT company, I was doing an interview with a local newspaper about some specific company topic.  It was all really benign when all of a sudden the reporter asked for my opinion about another IT company that was laying off a significant number of people.  Thankfully I was prepared with an appropriate answer.

7. Review

Always listen, watch and/or read your interviews.  You will always learn something about how you did that you will want to change.  This is normal.  Remember to look for real tangible things to work on versus thinking about things out of your control. Also ask trusted confidants to critique you.  This is not about pointing out everything that you did wrong or right, but rather to look for things that you can learn from to do an even better job next time.

8.  Respect

Remember to respect your interviewer, even if the situation is difficult. Being calm and polite will only work in your favour.

9.  Don’t Ask to Review the Final Piece

A common mistake that rookies make with the media is asking and/or expecting that they will have the chance to review, comment and approve an interview. This is not how it works.  So, don’t even bother to ask.

These are 9 very high level tips to for doing media interviews.  Depending on your role, it could be a lot more involved. Want more information?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

US Airways and #myNYPD Demonstrate Need for Professional Community Management

Let’s face it, even with a decade of social media under our belts, there are still examples of social gone wrong.  Two of the latest examples are of course the absolutely terrible tweet from US Airways of a naked lady and the #myNYPD’s campaign, which was supposed generate some love going horribly wrong.  There are many examples, but these two latest examples really demonstrate why you need professional community management. US Airways and the #myNYPD Demonstrate Need for Professional Community Management, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

A few years back, community management was all the rage.  Companies of all sizes were wanted community teams to manage their listening and engaging programs.  This of course became the style du jour when companies like Radian6 made it so much easier to not only aggregate all the conversations about your brand into one easy to reference location, but to also be able to respond (a.k.a engage) and workflow the conversations.  This was a phenomenal break through and made the whole process so much easier to do.  Unfortunately, many companies went overboard with their Community Teams, hiring far too many Community Managers, had too few metrics and too few hard core roles and responsibilities.  Before long, Community Teams were viewed by many as people just having fun and playing on social media.   That is neither the role nor goal of having a Community.  When done properly Community Teams save you money, protect your reputation and even find you leads.  Here are 4 things to help you deliver solid results (and create a team with purpose that can protect your brand):

1.  Identity Roles and Responsibilities

Community Managers need to have defined job descriptions with expectations made very clear.  This helps both the Community Manager and Management know and understand what is expected.

2.  Clearly Define Metrics

One area that I personally experienced was that many companies didn’t have any metrics set for their Community Teams.  When they were implemented, the buy-in and acceptance was difficult.  Teams felt that suddenly they had to perform and be robots.  This was not the case, but  the individuals didn’t like the expectations, that should have laid out clearly at the beginning.  Metrics can and do change over time, but you need to be measured and measuring your team.

3.  Training

This is an extremely important component.  We all assume that people have common sense and that they will or won’t do certain things. I am not sure of the behind the scenes scenario with US Airways and the individual that thought it was appropriate to ReTweet the photo of a naked woman, but either it was a case of a disgruntled employee, someone with zero common sense or someone who wanted to get fired.  Either way, you need to train your employees with the understanding of what your brand is, what your voice is, what is and is not appropriate.  In addition, you need to ensure that you have a clear escalation process in place to address rogue employees, errors in judgement and/or community members.  You need to act fast in these circumstances.

4.  Have a Playbook

A Playbook helps everyone understand exactly what they are doing and what they need to do while monitoring and engaging on behalf of your brand.  It also helps Management to have the confidence that there are proper processes in place.

For more information on Playbooks, feel free to contact me through TaylorMade Solutions.  We can help!

6 Tips to Protect Your Personal Data, Including Your Digital Exhaust

How much thought do you give to your personal information that you share on line?  With identity theft on the rise along with scammers of all sorts looking for ways to find our personal data weaknesses, we should be thinking about this a lot more than we do. We need to always be thinking about our personal data, including our digital exhaust.

6 Tips to Protect Your Personal Data, Including Your Digital Exhaust, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of drbonnie360.com

There are many types of personal information that we leave behind, and it would seem that we do so willingly.  Sometimes we give up a significant amount of information just to get something for free.  Sometimes we put the information out there willingly not realizing what we are doing.  For example, I once had a coworker who not only put his birthday on LinkedIn, but he put his wedding anniversary and his home mailing address.  This is a lot of personal information given up completely voluntarily and is known as Digital Exhaust.  Digital exhaust is the information that we willing give out and leave behind when on line and downloading information, doing online purchases, playing games, adding details to our online profiles, etc.

At best, these little tidbits about our personal life tell people we know more about us.  Worse case scenario,  we have left behind so much information that we have basically given a full profile of who we are, where we live, what we do and what we like to do.  This is digital exhaust and many of us don’t even know that it exists.  In fact, there are many less than ethical people out there who will work to aggregate our digital exhaust and use it against us.  So, let’s get to the list:

1. Is Free Really Free?

Think about the offers that excite and intrigue you. Often times they offer something in return for you signing up for “something”.  But, like my mother always says, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  By filling out a form and/or downloading information, you are often asked for some personal details. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing.  Most reputable companies do this and they respect your data.  But, if you are asked for more than your title, telephone #, email, company name and information like this, think twice.  Ask yourself why they would need your birthdate for example?

2. You Want My Credit Card Why?

Ever get offered a free trial for something only to have them ask for your credit card info?  This is a personal preference, but anyone that  offers me something as a trial at no cost is NOT getting my credit card information.  If I choose to continue using the product/service, then and only then will I give that information.  Technology today is a wonderful thing and if they offer something for free for a month, they can easily cut me off at that point if I don’t pay.

3.  Birthdays, Anniversaries and Marital Status

Sure it is nice to get a Happy Birthday from someone, but why do you need to put this on your LinkedIn profile?  How many places is that “really” relevant.  At least on Facebook you can hide it.  For profiles like LinkedIn, and I love LinkedIn so don’t get me wrong, but you are already  willingly giving your workplace, the names of your schools, publications you have been in and much more.  Why in the world would you also give this additional information and make it public.

4.  Accepting Connection Requests

Certainly people want to build out their LinkedIn connections, but there is something to be said about quantity over quality.  Again, this is a case where you need to devise your own strategy to determine who you will connect with and who you won’t.  I recently wrote about LinkedIn becoming the next tool for spammers. I noticed that I was receiving a significant amount of connection requests from people that had no reason to connect with me.  With one google search, I realized my instincts were correct.  These requests were coming from people who were not being forthright with who they are.  I didn’t accept.  I have since learned that their accounts have been disabled. Good job LinkedIn!

5.  Public Profiles and Privacy Settings

Most social networks offer some level of privacy.  Always check and know your settings.  For example, to limit the exposure of my detailed information being used, my Public Profile for LinkedIn does not tell the entire story.  I chose what details would be public.  It is a great feature!

6.  Apps

You know the saying:  “there’s an app for that” and there probably is.  I would caution people on Facebook for example when playing games and using various apps.  While not all are like this, there are apps that require you to give up access to all your personal information, your connections, email and contact information, etc.  While you might choose to give up “your” personal information, your friends will appreciate you more if you don’t introduce them to risks!

These are just a few ways to help keep you safe while online.  In this case you are in the drivers’ seat and you can ultimately decide what you do and don’t release.  Anything that you would add to this list that I haven’t?

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11 Reasons to Celebrate LinkedIn’s 11 Years

First off, Happy Birthday LinkedIn!  As a Tween, you have a lot to be proud of!  So, let’s take a look at 11 Reasons to Celebrate LinkedIn’s 11 Years.11 Reasons to Celebrate LinkedIn's 11 Years TaylorMade Solutions heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

After starting out in Reid Hoffman’s living room in 2002 and officially launched on May 5th, 2003, the results are not too shabby.  Let’s take a look at the highlights:

  1. After one month, LinkedIn had a membership network of 4,500.
  2. LinkedIn operates the world’s largest online professional network on the with more than 300 million members.
  3. LinkedIn is used in over 200 countries and territories.
  4. 67% of LinkedIn members are located outside of the United States.
  5. Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second.
  6. The fast growing demographic is students with over 39 million (students and recent college graduate.
  7. LinkedIn is currently available in 22 languages:
      • English
      • Simplified Chinese
      • Czech
      • Danish
      • Dutch
      • French
      • German,
      • Indonesian
      • Italian
      • Japanese
      • Korean
      • Malay
      • Norwegian
      • Polish
      • Portuguese
      • Romanian
      • Russian
      • Spanish
      • Swedish,
      • Tagalog
      • Thai
      • Turkish

8.  LinkedIn has continued to evolve to offer products/services that professionals seek – for example a publishing forum for all users.

9.  If you include a photo with your profile, you are 11 times more likely to have your profile viewed.
Executives from ALL Fortune 500 Companies are on LinkedIn.

10. There are more than 1.5 million unique publishers actively using the LinkedIn Share button on their sites to send content into the LinkedIn platform.

11.  More than 3 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages.

With the increase in use and importance of LinkedIn for your personal brand, your corporate brand, have you thought about what your LinkedIn Profile looks like? If  you haven’t, you should and we can help.  For more information on LinkedIn Audits, contact us.

The Sunday Brief

Welcome to the Sunday Brief!  I have compiled a list of blog posts that I found particularly insightful and useful for clients and friends alike.  Sit down with a cup of coffee and check out this week’s Sunday Brief:The Sunday Brief heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

1. The Value of a Social Media Audit

My favourite post this week comes from Kathi Kruse, of Kruse Control Inc. She wrote about something very near and dear to me, the value of a social media audit.

I full heartedly agree that every company needs to do a social media audit from time-to-time.  In addition, don’t just have anyone do a social media audit, have someone who understands audience, personas, marketing and communications.  Remember, social media is not a strategy unto itself.  As a result, you need an auditor who knows and understand the bigger picture.

2.  Fight The Tyranny of Writing Authorities

There are so many books, blog posts and people willing to give advice these days.  And, of course I realize that I am one of them, so the irony of this is not lost on me.

However, that being said, I particularly enjoyed Jack Steiner’s  83,168 Mistakes Every Writer Makes.  It is a great read and tells you to listen and yet throw out advice at the same time.  The key take-away?  We are human and we need to have our human voice in what we write.  If we were to listen to every bit of writing advice, everything would be dull and boring crap written exactly the same way.  Love it!

3.  Times are Changing, are you?

Number three for me this week is sales-related.  Jill Konrath, always a good read, doles out interesting food for thought in My Boldest Sales Predictions – Ever.

Jill focuses on people learning agility.  I have to agree with her.  With our ever changing environment, those who are agile survive.  They are able to adapt more quickly and make the changes needed to be happy, productive and producing results.

These are just three of my top reads from this past week.  What would you add?

If you missed the posts I shared this week, you can view them here.

Social Media Measurement – Tips from the Experts

Despite social media being a part of our lexicon for more than a decade now, many organizations still struggle with incorporating social media because they just don’t know what to measure or how to measure the return on investment (ROI).  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  While at Radian6 I worked with many companies that were looking for the right measurements fortheir community teams, while also helping people understand just how you could measure the ROI of social.  There were a lot of great minds there and I am going to share with you some of the social media measurement that we used- tips from the experts.

Image courtesy of measuringupblog.com

Image courtesy of measuringupblog.com

Like any business there was a strong focus on measurement at Radian6, ROI and having the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The best place to start when looking to measure your social media ROI, is with your C-Suite.  It is essential to understand what is important to your executive.  Asking the right questions up front can save a lot of time and get buy-in immediately.  The following questions can get you started:

  1. What are the key concerns or issues of the Board of Directors?
  2. What KPIs are being used?
  3. How are you currently measuring Share of Voice and/or Share of Conversation?
  4. Where does reputation monitoring and management factor in?
  5. What resources do you have to monitor brand mentions and do brand engagement?

It is extremely important to remember that social media is not a strategy unto itself.  Rather, it is part of an overall strategy and must be thought about in the big picture context.  The questions above are intended to help you think this way. Focusing on social media alone is typically the reason that social media ROI has been not been definable and/or reached.  Thus some companies have become disenchanted with social thinking it does not provide results.  It bears repeating that social cannot be planned and/or considered in isolation.  The C-suite, Marketers and Strategists alike need to always be thinking about the big picture and the overall objectives of the organization.

Key Take Aways:

  1. Remember to focus on the big picture.
  2. Social media is not a strategy unto itself.
  3. Select measurements that are important to your Board of Directors and Executive.
  4. Don’t focus on Likes or size of networks only – see #1- 3 and repeat.

Want to learn even more?  Sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

25 Stats, Numbers & Tidbits for Digital Marketers

Marketers and researchers love numbers, data and insights.  So here are a 25 numbers, stats and tidbits of interest for Digital Marketers.

25 Stats, Numbers & Tidbits for Digital Marketers

Image courtesy of www.tagxedo.com

Facebook: (source)

  • More than a Billion Users
  • 55% of daily users are using mobile
  • 59% of ad revenue is from ads on mobile devices
  • 65% of interaction with content is still done on desktops


  • There are more than 3.9 billion email addresses worldwide.  That number is expected to grow to 4.9 within three years (source)
  • According to one survey 84% of people shop online regularly and  27% are willing or very willing to receive promotional email (source)
  • 77% of the online shoppers who’ve signed up to receive promotional emails reported that they are more likely to purchase items online or in store if emails feature products based on their shopping habits and preferences (same source as previous line)

Youtube (source)

  • If you want to drive engagement, Youtube is your channel.  Research has shown that Youtube drives the most engaging traffic with most time spent on site, the most pages/visit (2.99) and the lowest bounce rate at 43.19%

Selfies (source)

  • Think you are cool doing selfies?  Think again.  Just under 50% of Americans under the age of 34 think selfies are uncool and 77% of people over 35 think that posting selfies is uncool.

Social Media and the Fortune 500 (source )

  • The good news is that the use of social media by Fortune 500 companies grew to 88% this year.
  • LinkedIn remains platform of choice.
  • Facebook saw a resurgence increasing back to 84% use.
  • Twitter use grew by 7% and is seen to have the most potential for sales growth.
  • Sadly monitoring a brand’s name, products and brand however has lost traction – with such incidents as US Air inappropriate tweet, it will be interesting to see if this will change throughout the year.
  • 75% of executives said they used original or reposted content for their social media channels.
  • According to the report, 59% of companies monitor its brands, products or company name in the social media space, down from 70% in 2010.  A lack of monitoring, suggests the report, could have consequences for companies given the potential for viral communications social media presents.

TV (source)

  • At the end of 2013, 77% of Americans own at least one HDTV and 46% have multiple HDTV.

M-Commerce (source)

  • sales are expected to hit Sales To Hit $57.8 Billion In 2014.

Mobile (source)

  • Did you know that 65% people say free information remains the most important attribute when selecting an information source to search for a local business.
  • Free content was followed by being able to trust a source at 59%.
  • Getting timely information came in third at 58%.
  • And relevant content came in fourth at 54%.
  • And strangely enough providing the correct amount of information came in next at 44%.
  • The ability to get more detailed information was the sixth most important at 41%.
  • And finally offering advertising free came in last at 41%.

Want to learn even more?  Sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)