Bradley Johnson Productions

Become A Full-Time Writer

Hit the like button if you like this info!

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/markgrow/~3/VZKJxsIiuks/

tomorrow's hope

By Keith Reynold Jennings {grow} Contributing Columnist

How, on earth, are we to sell anything right now … especially, if what we have to offer is generally considered to be non-essential.

It seems if we tie our marketing into the coronavirus/social distancing narrative, we’ll be drowned out by the noise. Yet if we market apart from the coronavirus/social distancing narrative, we’ll likely be ignored as irrelevant.

In a recent post, Mark Schaefer suggested we approach our prospects and clients, at this moment in time, as if we were at a funeral. As if everyone were grieving. And that sparked an interesting connection for me: the blues.

For 150 years (at least), blues music has offered joy in the midst of sorrow, love in the midst of loss and hope in the midst of despair. The blues harness a powerful idea I think all of us could use right now. It gives us a heavy dose of reality while clinging to a hope for a better tomorrow.

Follow along now. You’re about to learn a fascinating lesson.

To get us started, let’s time travel back to another turbulent time: 1969.

A Narrative That Earned $20 Million in Six Minutes

As the war in Vietnam peaked, the Nixon Administration sought to cut $20 million in public broadcasting funding to feed the war effort.

The Senate Subcommittee on Communications was charged with holding a hearing in May 1969 to assess the impact of this cut. Senator John Pastore, who had a reputation as a tough, impatient man, chaired the hearing.

Two days into the hearing, a 41-year-old Presbyterian minister who, a year before had begun hosting a national children’s show, spoke to the committee.

He shared stories. He recited lyrics from children’s songs. And he emphasized the importance of helping children navigate everyday situations such as getting haircut, understanding divorce or grieving the loss of a pet.

While mid-sentence, Senator Pastore interrupted, “I’m supposed to be a pretty tough guy and this is the first time I’ve had goosebumps for the last two days.”

In six minutes, that man – Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers) – influenced a group of hard-nosed policymakers to approve the $20 million in funding to public broadcasting. And many of us grew up with shows like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Sesame Street, The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross and others, because of this.

When I first saw the video of this hearing on YouTube, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How did he do that?”

At first, I thought it was storytelling — Fred Rogers told a better story. However, over time, I came to realize that he was doing something much more powerful.

He created an open narrative – one others could join and impact – focused on creating a better future for kids.

Which leads to the question, “What is an open narrative and how can we use it right now?”

Narratives and Stories Are Distinct

It’s critically important we don’t confuse stories with narratives. They are distinct in what they are and how they work to influence us.

All stories are narratives. However, not all narratives are stories. Think about it like whiskey. All bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. Other whiskeys include moonshine, Irish whiskey, Scotch, etc. In the same way, stories, whether true or fiction, are one type of narrative, but there are other types, as well.

A story can move us emotionally. It can connect us socially. But it rarely moves us to action on its own.

A story has a beginning and an end. It contains a protagonist and antagonist. And it typically tells about what was.

Stories and storytelling are essential to the human experience. We learn through stories. We communicate and connect with people, places and things through stories. We store and remember feelings through stories.

Stories are great for providing context and connection. But they depend on something else to do their job. They depend on contextual power of narrative.

Unlike a story, a narrative is open-ended. It doesn’t have to resolve itself. And it tells us about what is and what will be.

Stories capture and communicate a moment in time. Narratives create momentum over time. Stories are consumed. Narratives are co-created.

And that’s the secret power of an open narrative. You can’t join a story, but you can join a narrative and impact its outcome, since it is not yet resolved.

Let’s return to 1969. The Apollo space program and the first moon landing are stories we tell today, because they had a beginning and end. But the race to the moon started as an open narrative — it started as a challenge from John F. Kennedy to Americans in 1962. And the country chose to rally behind that narrative and make it a reality.

No one, except maybe an author, has sacrificed their life for a well-told story. But billions have sacrificed their lives for a narrative.

The Blues: Tomorrow’s Hope

Wynton Marsalis, the legendary jazz musician and artistic director at Jazz at Lincoln Center, has played in every type of setting with all types of musicians from B.B. King to Itzhak Perlman, Sonny Rollins to Willie Nelson, and Stevie Wonder to Yo Yo Ma.

In his book, Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life, he writes, “What sorts of songs could all these diverse musicians possibly find to play together” without rehearsal time or organized music?

His answer: the blues.

“The blues is a vaccine,” he writes. “It trains you for life’s challenges by administering a heavy dose of realism.”

Blues music accepts that things are, indeed, bad right now. Someone’s lost a loved one. Someone’s lost their job. Someone’s been cheated.

The blues hits us between the eyes with our stark reality (what is), while never losing hope and optimism for a better tomorrow (what will be).

I can’t think of anything more needed that that right now, can you?

What the blues does is it presents a story of now, as a micro-narrative. Then it hooks that story into a macro-narrative of hope that carries us into the future.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi and other inspiring leaders weren’t merely storytellers. They were narrative builders.

So what does this mean for us, as professionals trying to sell to others in this tough time?

It’s Time To “Reach for Community”

What future narrative are you now serving today?

How can tomorrow be a little better for us? What opportunities are you seeing? What hope are you holding onto?

Sure, you have to survive. We all do.

Sure, life isn’t fair. We’re all feeling it.

But, in the end, we’re not living merely for survival. We’re not even living for success.

We’re living for significance. We want our lives and work to ultimately matter. We want to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.

One of the serendipitous upsides that’s resulted in much of the world being confined to their homes is that it’s opened up access to people we normally wouldn’t have access to.

I had the unique opportunity to join a Zoom call with Wynton Marsalis, as I’ve worked on this post. So, I asked him, “What do the blues have to teach businesses and workers during this tough time?”

Wynton’s response: “Reach for community.”

The blues is survival music. The blues won’t put food on the table, but it bonds us together through shared struggle. And shared hope.

Wynton said this is a time we need to rely on the collective wisdom we can only access when we’re connected together in community. No one has the answers, including you and me. But, together, we can find some answers.

This is a time to acknowledge and accept today’s reality, while never losing hope and optimism for tomorrow.

The blues offers resolve. And resolve is what you and I can offer to each other and others right now.

This isn’t the time to sell like we typically have in the past. This is a time to serve one another. It’s time to ask for help and offer help.

So please share in the comments section or on social media: What losses and fears are you facing right now? And what hope are you holding onto for tomorrow?

Keith Reynold Jennings is an executive and writer who serves as vice president of community impact for Jackson Healthcare. He’s also an advisor to goBeyondProfit. Connect with Keith on Twitter and Linkedin.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com

The post Where today’s hurt meets tomorrow’s hope appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Drop a comment below if you’ve recognized anything cool for bloggers!

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/markgrow/~3/VZKJxsIiuks/

tomorrow's hope

By Keith Reynold Jennings {grow} Contributing Columnist

How, on earth, are we to sell anything right now … especially, if what we have to offer is generally considered to be non-essential.

It seems if we tie our marketing into the coronavirus/social distancing narrative, we’ll be drowned out by the noise. Yet if we market apart from the coronavirus/social distancing narrative, we’ll likely be ignored as irrelevant.

In a recent post, Mark Schaefer suggested we approach our prospects and clients, at this moment in time, as if we were at a funeral. As if everyone were grieving. And that sparked an interesting connection for me: the blues.

For 150 years (at least), blues music has offered joy in the midst of sorrow, love in the midst of loss and hope in the midst of despair. The blues harness a powerful idea I think all of us could use right now. It gives us a heavy dose of reality while clinging to a hope for a better tomorrow.

Follow along now. You’re about to learn a fascinating lesson.

To get us started, let’s time travel back to another turbulent time: 1969.

A Narrative That Earned $20 Million in Six Minutes

As the war in Vietnam peaked, the Nixon Administration sought to cut $20 million in public broadcasting funding to feed the war effort.

The Senate Subcommittee on Communications was charged with holding a hearing in May 1969 to assess the impact of this cut. Senator John Pastore, who had a reputation as a tough, impatient man, chaired the hearing.

Two days into the hearing, a 41-year-old Presbyterian minister who, a year before had begun hosting a national children’s show, spoke to the committee.

He shared stories. He recited lyrics from children’s songs. And he emphasized the importance of helping children navigate everyday situations such as getting haircut, understanding divorce or grieving the loss of a pet.

While mid-sentence, Senator Pastore interrupted, “I’m supposed to be a pretty tough guy and this is the first time I’ve had goosebumps for the last two days.”

In six minutes, that man – Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers) – influenced a group of hard-nosed policymakers to approve the $20 million in funding to public broadcasting. And many of us grew up with shows like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Sesame Street, The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross and others, because of this.

When I first saw the video of this hearing on YouTube, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How did he do that?”

At first, I thought it was storytelling — Fred Rogers told a better story. However, over time, I came to realize that he was doing something much more powerful.

He created an open narrative – one others could join and impact – focused on creating a better future for kids.

Which leads to the question, “What is an open narrative and how can we use it right now?”

Narratives and Stories Are Distinct

It’s critically important we don’t confuse stories with narratives. They are distinct in what they are and how they work to influence us.

All stories are narratives. However, not all narratives are stories. Think about it like whiskey. All bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. Other whiskeys include moonshine, Irish whiskey, Scotch, etc. In the same way, stories, whether true or fiction, are one type of narrative, but there are other types, as well.

A story can move us emotionally. It can connect us socially. But it rarely moves us to action on its own.

A story has a beginning and an end. It contains a protagonist and antagonist. And it typically tells about what was.

Stories and storytelling are essential to the human experience. We learn through stories. We communicate and connect with people, places and things through stories. We store and remember feelings through stories.

Stories are great for providing context and connection. But they depend on something else to do their job. They depend on contextual power of narrative.

Unlike a story, a narrative is open-ended. It doesn’t have to resolve itself. And it tells us about what is and what will be.

Stories capture and communicate a moment in time. Narratives create momentum over time. Stories are consumed. Narratives are co-created.

And that’s the secret power of an open narrative. You can’t join a story, but you can join a narrative and impact its outcome, since it is not yet resolved.

Let’s return to 1969. The Apollo space program and the first moon landing are stories we tell today, because they had a beginning and end. But the race to the moon started as an open narrative — it started as a challenge from John F. Kennedy to Americans in 1962. And the country chose to rally behind that narrative and make it a reality.

No one, except maybe an author, has sacrificed their life for a well-told story. But billions have sacrificed their lives for a narrative.

The Blues: Tomorrow’s Hope

Wynton Marsalis, the legendary jazz musician and artistic director at Jazz at Lincoln Center, has played in every type of setting with all types of musicians from B.B. King to Itzhak Perlman, Sonny Rollins to Willie Nelson, and Stevie Wonder to Yo Yo Ma.

In his book, Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life, he writes, “What sorts of songs could all these diverse musicians possibly find to play together” without rehearsal time or organized music?

His answer: the blues.

“The blues is a vaccine,” he writes. “It trains you for life’s challenges by administering a heavy dose of realism.”

Blues music accepts that things are, indeed, bad right now. Someone’s lost a loved one. Someone’s lost their job. Someone’s been cheated.

The blues hits us between the eyes with our stark reality (what is), while never losing hope and optimism for a better tomorrow (what will be).

I can’t think of anything more needed that that right now, can you?

What the blues does is it presents a story of now, as a micro-narrative. Then it hooks that story into a macro-narrative of hope that carries us into the future.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi and other inspiring leaders weren’t merely storytellers. They were narrative builders.

So what does this mean for us, as professionals trying to sell to others in this tough time?

It’s Time To “Reach for Community”

What future narrative are you now serving today?

How can tomorrow be a little better for us? What opportunities are you seeing? What hope are you holding onto?

Sure, you have to survive. We all do.

Sure, life isn’t fair. We’re all feeling it.

But, in the end, we’re not living merely for survival. We’re not even living for success.

We’re living for significance. We want our lives and work to ultimately matter. We want to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.

One of the serendipitous upsides that’s resulted in much of the world being confined to their homes is that it’s opened up access to people we normally wouldn’t have access to.

I had the unique opportunity to join a Zoom call with Wynton Marsalis, as I’ve worked on this post. So, I asked him, “What do the blues have to teach businesses and workers during this tough time?”

Wynton’s response: “Reach for community.”

The blues is survival music. The blues won’t put food on the table, but it bonds us together through shared struggle. And shared hope.

Wynton said this is a time we need to rely on the collective wisdom we can only access when we’re connected together in community. No one has the answers, including you and me. But, together, we can find some answers.

This is a time to acknowledge and accept today’s reality, while never losing hope and optimism for tomorrow.

The blues offers resolve. And resolve is what you and I can offer to each other and others right now.

This isn’t the time to sell like we typically have in the past. This is a time to serve one another. It’s time to ask for help and offer help.

So please share in the comments section or on social media: What losses and fears are you facing right now? And what hope are you holding onto for tomorrow?

Keith Reynold Jennings is an executive and writer who serves as vice president of community impact for Jackson Healthcare. He’s also an advisor to goBeyondProfit. Connect with Keith on Twitter and Linkedin.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com

The post Where today’s hurt meets tomorrow’s hope appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Drop a site below if you’ve found anything cool for authors!

https://econsultancy.com/how-the-influencer-marketing-industry-is-adapting-to-coronavirus/

Many influencer marketing campaigns have been halted or completely cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, as brands put the brakes on any activity that could be deemed insensitive in the current climate.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of these campaigns have been related to the promotion of future events that are now not happening, or certain industries that have been overtly affected by the pandemic (such as travel and hospitality). At the same time, brands are simply very wary of coming off as flippant or perhaps allocating marketing spend that can’t always be tracked to sales, during a period of such uncertainty and upheaval for us all.

But while brands might be struggling to find a way forward for advertising, there is still huge scope for social content, with influencers in particular being well-equipped to adapt to the current situation – and the changing behaviour of consumers that we are seeing as a result. An increase in social media usage, and the deliberate seeking out of content that people might find helpful during self-isolation could potentially be grist to the mill.

So, what kind of influencer content are we now seeing on social media? Here’s a look at how some are effectively adapting strategies. If you want to find out more on how Covid-19 is impacting influencer marketing, check out Influencer Intelligence’s aforementioned report on the topic, What COVID-19 Means for Influencer Marketing.

Live-streaming grows in popularity

Live streams have always been a popular form of content for influencers, allowing them to talk to and interact with audiences in real-time. Self-isolation has resulted in people increasingly looking to build and maintain connections, and a surge of this type of content happening online. Live streaming platform, Twitch, saw a rise in viewership of 10% during the weekend of March 14th, as viewers increase time spent on gaming and other forms of digital entertainment.

Fitness is another sector that has capitalised on live-streaming, with influencers like Joe Wicks (aka The Body Coach) streaming live P.E workouts each morning for kids stuck at home. Each video has amassed well over 1m views so far, which is over twice the amount of views Wicks’ videos usually generate. Others, such as London Fitness Guy, and Katie Dunlop, have also seen increased engagement on live fitness videos, as users enjoy the sense of community and encouragement that comes from working out with other people at the same time.

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

As the weeks go on, we could see brands getting involved with this type of content, as well as in other areas such as live-streamed cooking, baking, or beauty tutorials – as long as they are mindful about tone and messaging. Interestingly, a recent survey found that consumers do not want to see brands stop advertising altogether. Kantar found that just 8% of global consumers (out of 35,000 surveyed) want to see brands stop advertising, giving hope to influencers who rely on brand deals and sponsorships.

If brands continue to shy away, it’s been reported that some platforms are investigating new revenue streams for creators who are seeing high levels of engagement (but also experiencing refusal from their usual brand sponsors).

Brand purpose comes to the forefront

Influencer marketing has always been a way for brands to promote purpose-driven campaigns; capitalising on the often wide reach of influencers in order to get a specific message across. Influencers can also act as an example of ‘doing good’, with audiences more willing to follow the advice of someone they like or trust rather than a large or faceless brand.

As coronavirus has unfolded, we’ve seen influencers help to spread the message of first social distancing and then self isolation. The World Health Organisation enlisted a number of global influencers for the ‘Safe Hands Challenge’ – its campaign to encourage people across the world wash their hands properly in the fight against coronavirus. Other celebrities including Selena Gomez and Kate Winslet have also picked up on the challenge, helping to further amplify the message.

Elsewhere, influencers and celebrities have collaborated to create the #StayHome video, which was published on the popular Sidemen YouTube channel. Not only did the video aim to encourage the message, but Sidemen also stated that any advertising revenue earned would go towards the NHS. Again, we could see brands getting more involved in these types of influencer partnerships going forward, or enlisting influencers to promote their own initiatives, which aim to spread a positive message as well as generate funds for those in need.

Tik-Tok engagement soars

While overall use of social media is up, certain platforms in particular are seeing big spikes. According to MBW, TikTok saw downloads in the US reach 6.2m in March, up 27% compared to 4.9m downloads in February. TikTok also saw a 12% rise in global downloads in a single week, going from 25.4m on March 9th to 28.5m on March 16th.

Many people are surely turning to the short-form video app for escapism, but coronavirus-related content is also growing, with trends often started or popularised by influencers. On the other hand, these types of viral videos can also turn small creators into bigger influencers. One example is Rachel Leary, who recently created a viral video of herself ‘raving to the BBC News theme tune’, and now has over 19,000 followers on the platform as a result.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

As users spend more time scrolling on apps like TikTok, influencers are also seeing an increase in engagement on sponsored posts. A study by influencer marketing agency Obviously recently revealed that there has been a 27% increase in engagement on sponsored posts on TikTok between February and March. Again, this aligns with the findings from Kantar’s survey, suggesting that users are still open to ads – as long as they are not overtly insensitive.

More solutions-based content

Finally, a big trend that we are likely to continue to see is the kind of solutions-based content that influencers are shifting to. This could be anything from instructional or tutorial-style guidance, to advice on self-help or well-being. It’s also the case that influencers are turning to more interactive and community-building content. In short: anything fun or enjoyable that can help audiences pass the time whilst at home.

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

According to Influencer Intelligence, influencers such as Katie Snooks are using Instagram Stories to create quizzes and other forms of interactive content. The report suggests that this could be another way forward for brands hoping to connect with consumers in the coming weeks. It states that, “inevitably, for those brands that facilitate greater connectivity or can enhance lifestyles through isolation, the ability to commercially communicate appropriately via influencer marketing is far easier.”

Ironically, for an industry that has been a source of derision in the past – with people now searching for a sense of ‘community’ more than ever – influencer marketing is suddenly more relevant than ever before, too.

The post How the influencer marketing industry is adapting to coronavirus appeared first on Econsultancy.

Vintage WD: Murder for Profit, Mystery Story Techniques Part 1

In part 1 of this April 1931 WD article, George Dyer shares mystery story techniques that will ensure your readers will be left satisfied, not disappointed.


Mystery Story Techniques

By George Dyer

Writer’s Digest, April 1931

Writing a mystery story is like playing a game of chess with a thousand unknown opponents.

As a matter of fact, the game is one more fascinating than chess, and more intricate, for in it the pawns and bishops and knights are replaced by human characters whose value as pieces varies as widely as the poles, and because the “moves” are twists of plot and situation which are not limited by neat squares on a board. But definite rules do exist, and if reader or writer does not conform to them strictly, his opponent may justly raise the cry “unfair!”

The regulations governing the reader’s part in the game are simpler than those controlling the writer. He can only cheat in one well-recognized way, by looking at the end of the story or novel before he should. The author-player, on the other hand, is bound by a number of restrictions. If he disregards any one of them, he has not played square.

But the writer, once he has these rules clearly in mind, can have no more entertaining diversion than this, of pitting his skill against his readers. In spite of the greater complexity of his rules, or perhaps because of it and because of the mentality of his reader-antagonist is an unknown quantity to him, his is the more exciting side to be one. He, after all, is the chief player; the reader must follow along as the author chooses to have him. And so, within the rigid formula, the writer of a mystery story is referee and umpire as well as player.

The rules controlling the writer are not as complex as they might seem at first. Everyone who has read detective stories has spotted various unfair tactics on the author’s part, and is familiar with certain of them.

From such criticism it is easy to collect a fairly obvious list of “do’s and don’ts” for the writer, a sort of Hoyle for the constructor of mystery fiction.

In the first place, the author must not introduce some character at the last minute, a deus ex machina, to be revealed as the murderer or thief. The guilty man must have put in an appearance early in the story, and be well known to the reader throughout. How he may be introduced, and still be covered up from the reader’s suspicion will be touched upon later. This is the chief rule, and the most evident one.

In the second, the writer must not deliberately inject inconsistencies with the narrative to blind the reader to the identity of his guilty person. This is equally evident, and should not be taken to mean that the murderer cannot have an apparent “cast-iron alibi” or apparently no possible motive for the crime. Only facts which cannot be, or never are, satisfactorily explained are barred.

Less obvious rules, which apply in general to all types of fiction and which have been discussed in other issues of Writer’s Digest, have regard to the reality of characters and plausibility of plot. Highly improbably events and situations appear to be acceptable to the English market, but I think readers in this country demand more conviction. By this I mean that it cannot develop that the killer did his work by throwing a knife the length of a city block into the deceased; or that a man portrayed as a thoroughly likable fellow, showing all the finer social virtues throughout the story, is none other than the despicable slayer himself. A corollary to this proposition is that, where possible, the means of murder or theft should be characteristic of the criminal’s background. The reader will not be convinced if a gangster uses slow poison, or if a refined society girl, a machine-gun.

Now, with the chief rules disposed of, what are examples? How does the writer play the game?

It is common experience, I believe, and I have found it to be true, that it is safer to work from the “checkmate” backwards, so to speak. The writer first devises the method of killing or an unusual motive; then, with this in mind, develops his characters and plot to work up to a revelation of this first idea.

The simplest way to do this is to ask, “If I were going to murder So-and-so, so as to escape being hanged by the neck until dead, how would I go about it?” Fortunately, all of us know people with whom we could do away with pleasure, and this adds zest to the work! The next bit of self-interrogation is, “Why do I really want to commit homicide on So-and-so?” With a strong intensification of the answer to this question, or a slight modification downwards of his own character, the author has his motive.

For example, with all my heart I would like to kill Editor Jones, I know his working hours, approximately nine to five. I know where his office is located, up how many stories he takes an elevator to work, and by what street-car line he travels between desk and home. But I do not wish to go to the Chair after killing him. Life though good, would be much better were Editor Jones not in it. Now, shooting this individual would be gratifying, but firearms make a loud noise and could be used only on a dark winter afternoon as he walks from the trolley to his house. I therefore note those conditions as the best under which to shoot the abhorred publicist. Perhaps stabbing editor Jones would be nice, and certainly it would attract less unwelcome attention. Where could that be done, and how? Perhaps a painful poison would be most amusing of all. Where may it be best administered? And so on.

Then, why do I wish to remove this gentleman? Because he rejected that five-page narrative poem of mine called The Charge of the Violets, and was sufficiently rude about it, too. But changing myself into a Bolshevik, who has had an anti-bourgeois paper turned down, I may have an acceptable grounds for murder.

And so it goes. While Editor Jones might start and look nervously over his shoulder if he knew the gruesome nature of my thoughts about him, I am having a good time. And quite possibly even Editor Jones may be glad to see eventually what has grown out of my contemplation of his violent demise.

The method and motive developed in this fashion, or at least the method, since the motive may arise automatically when the characters have become flesh and blood, the next point to consider is the general plan of the work.

Check back next week for part 2 of this article.

[Read how one writer interviewed a serial killers and stayed sane in the process.]


12 Weeks to a First DraftIn WD University’s 12 Weeks to a First Draft, you will tackle the steps to writing a book, learn effective writing techniques along the way, and of course, begin writing your first draft. Register today!

The post Vintage WD: Murder for Profit, Mystery Story Techniques Part 1 by Amy Jones appeared first on Writer's Digest.

What’s the most useful marketing tip you’ve found from this post?

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/OnlineMarketingSEOBlog/~3/KMxhxxBH2tA/

Hand holding one of five white stars image.

Hand holding one of five white stars image.

What’s in a review?

With the right client testimonials and customer reviews, B2B brands can increase trust and loyalty in uncertain times while strengthening existing connections and fostering new ones. Your brand may even be sitting on a goldmine of evergreen trust-building user-generated content.

Let’s take a look at 20+ tips to invigorate and expand your B2B marketing toolkit with a smart customer review and testimonial strategy.

Making The Statistical Case For Testimonials & Reviews

With some surveys showing that  90 percent of adult Internet users rely on reviews before making purchases, and others placing the figure even higher at nearly 99 percent, it’s important for B2B brands to make sure they feature the reviews and testimonials their customers have taken the time to write and share online.

Despite their unique power to build brand trust, just 43 percent of B2B businesses use reviews in their marketing toolkit.

Conversion rates can skyrocket by as much as 270 percent when online reviews are smartly incorporated, however, as shown in the Website Builder Expert data below.

Website Builder Expert Image

Some 30 percent of businesses said that customer reviews had a major impact on their overall success, and just over 26 percent said reviews also had a major impact on profitability, as shown in the following chart from a recent ZenBusiness survey.

ZenBusiness Chart

The same survey revealed that 52.2 percent of older businesses monitor online reviews weekly and 18.5 percent do so daily, while 47 percent of newer firms monitor weekly, and 39.3 percent monitor daily, suggesting that more established brands have settled into a weekly cadence, while younger firms tend to keep a more frequent watch over reviews.

Businesses tend to monitor a multitude of online review platforms for reviews, with 67.6 percent using Google, 55.1 percent Facebook, and 46.3 percent Yelp, followed by others as shown below.

ZenBusiness Chart

Only 11.9 percent of businesses said that they respond to every review left for them, while 60 percent said that they interact with either some or most reviews they receive, the same survey noted.

Younger B2B buyers are increasingly looking for reviews and testimonials to be delivered to them in methods that differ from those of older buyers, creating an opportunity for some brands looking to connect with younger audiences.

“Sixty-one percent of Millennial buyer decisions are influenced by user reviews that they trust,” Brian Fanzo recently noted in “Meet The Millennials: How Marketers Can Effectively Connect With The New B2B Buyer,” urging smart B2B marketers to not rely solely on traditional websites, and to instead “bring the testimonials — the trusted user reviews — to the buyer.”

Brian was one of the 13 B2B social media marketing leaders offering trends and predictions in our “13 Top B2B Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020.”

His sentiments are largely echoed in report data recently examined by Social Media Today.

“In 2020 social media marketing will shift from vanity metrics to transparent and authentic channels to focus on real-time customer engagement.” @iSocialFanz Click To Tweet

You May Already Have a Goldmine of Testimonials

Many established B2B brands may already have a fantastic cache of glowing testimonials from clients, however because some firms don’t have any established practice for gathering, collecting, and most importantly utilizing them in marketing efforts, they remain mostly hidden.

Gathering existing reviews and testimonials can be a great way to get new insight into your most loyal customers, unearth any points of customer dissatisfaction, and to build new mechanisms for improving communication with your customers.

“Your offerings should be so attractive to your loyalists that they have no reason to look elsewhere for additional products or services,” Rob Markey wrote in an insightful Harvard Business Review look at how to “Make It Easier for Happy Customers to Buy More.”

Client and customer kudos today comes from more channels than ever, which can make it challenging to gather and compile into a dedicated testimonials file. A list of only a few of the digital channels to search for possible existing testimonials includes:

  • Email Correspondence
  • Online Collaboration Tool Chat History
  • Private Social Media Posts
  • Public Social Media Posts
  • Mobile Device Text Message History
  • Voicemail Transcripts

Whether it’s each quarter, weekly, or every day, taking the time to mine testimonials from each of the channels your firm user is a great way to unearth potentially powerful customer and client testimonials.

Tactfully encouraging clients to consider leaving a review or testimonial is a nuanced process best customized on a per-client basis, however there are also some universal methods to help guide a good strategy, such as those outlined in “14 Proven Ways to Encourage Customers to Write Reviews.”

Social media and search engine firms have also done their part to try boosting the visibility of customer reviews, such as Google adding highlighted business reviews in Google Posts.

“Whether it's each quarter, weekly, or every day, taking the time to mine testimonials from each of the channels your firm user is a great way to unearth potentially powerful customer and client testimonials.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet

Testimonials & Reviews Increase Trust & Loyalty

Trust is paramount as B2B marketers seek to attract, engage, and convert new clients, and testimonials and reviews from satisfied existing customers are among the most powerful forms of messaging when it comes to earning the business of potential new clients.

It’s no secret that for many years study after study has shown that testimonials and reviews hold the power to build trust, and ultimately help persuade people to engage your company’s services.

Some 90 percent of B2B buyers said that they are more likely to complete a purchase after seeing a positive review.

“High rates of loyalty are a huge asset in business. They provide a necessary foundation for profitable growth.” — Rob Markey @rgmarkey Click To Tweet

The earned power of trust becomes even more apparent when paired with survey data showing that globally 54 percent of consumers would still buy from a brand even after a negative product experience if they felt that a firm hadn’t broken trust.

When trust has been lost, however, some 82 percent said that they would not purchase again from the brand, highlighting the importance of building brand trust — something reviews and testimonials excel at.

Testimonials & Reviews Strengthen Existing Connections & Foster New Ones

Testimonials and reviews showcase the ability of your business to provide best-answer solutions so well that people take the time to personally write appreciative messages sharing their gratitude.

Testimonials and reviews also take good business partnerships and strengthen them, and help bring B2B relationships to new levels of commitment and trust.

62 percent of consumers leave positive reviews in order to help others in making buying decisions, while 52 percent say they leave negative reviews to warn others, as shown below.

Website Builder Expert Image

The connections forged through testimonials and reviews makes the relationship between your business and your clients stronger, and also serve as an important and visible example for potential new clients who are looking for information about your company.

More firms are also making it easy for customers to leave video feedback, such as a method Airbnb has implemented that mimics the ease of use users have come to expect for sharing videos on YouTube or Instagram.

The video review format has led some customers to share lengthier and more precise feedback, which in turn allows businesses greater insight into their customers.

“Videos can be richly emotional — offering the real voice and face of the customer. That emotion, transmitted directly to front-line employees and leaders, often generates the sort of empathy that inspires and motivates thoughtful action,” Rob Markey has noted.

By making video reviews a simple and optional part of customer feedback surveys, brands can have the best of both traditional text-based input and — for those who choose — the advantages of video reviews.

“If they say yes, then we’ve incorporated a video widget into the survey where they can just turn the camera on on their phone or computer and leave a response,” Airbnb customer insights manager Raj Sivasubramanian has said.

“The customers that chose that option really embraced it. And we actually had a lot of customers tell us in the video, ‘This is really cool. I love the fact that I can do this,’” Sivasubramanian added.

B2B firms can also utilize more formal video testimonials into their feedback efforts, as Business 2 Community explored in a helpful how-to guide, “How to Shoot the Perfect Video Testimonial.

“Testimonials and reviews take good business partnerships and strengthen them, and help bring B2B relationships to new levels of commitment and trust.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet

The Challenge of Combating Inauthentic Reviews

While no firm wants poor reviews, they are nonetheless important in their own way to consumers. 62 percent of U.S. consumers found that negative reviews were just as important as positive ones when it came time to make purchasing decisions.

Customers have grown to be suspicious of businesses that have conspicuously uniform five-star reviews, however, and more now say that they look to utilize multiple sources of reviews when researching a firm.

Despite this, 65 percent of U.S. adult consumers believe the reviews they read are generally accurate, however.

Recent survey data has also shown that 55 percent of consumers see the biggest red flag with reviews that use the same wording, while 35 percent view an overwhelming number of positive reviews to be indicative of inauthentic reviews, as shown below.

Bazaarvoice Chart

Testimonials & Reviews Are Evergreen

Most testimonials focus on the things that a client or customer loved about working with your team, and these are also largely the type of praise that isn’t particularly directed at a specific time, which makes testimonials excellent sources of evergreen content that can often remain relevant and convincing for years.

HubSpot has compiled an extensive list of good examples of testimonial pages that can serve as inspiration, in Lindsay Kolowich’s “14 Testimonial Page Examples You’ll Want to Copy,” showing how to implement quotes, video, audio, case study, customer interview and other types of testimonials.

To help you along your path to building more powerful testimonials and reviews into your current strategy, or to begin implementing your first such plan, here are several additional recent resources that have been published:

Reinvigorate Your B2B Marketing Testimonial Strategy

We hope this introductory look at the power of client testimonials and customer reviews to help B2B brands boost trust and loyalty and strengthen connections has been helpful, and that the tips and statistics we’ve shared will help make your marketing testimonial strategy more robust and successful.

The post 5 Stars: 20+ Tips to Invigorate Your B2B Marketing Using Testimonials & Reviews appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Hit the like button if you like this info!

https://wordtothewise.com/2020/03/misinformation-on-filters/

I’ve seen reports that someone is asserting that utm=COVID19 in URLs results in all mail going to bulk at multiple ISPs. This is the type of thing that someone says is true and dozens of folks believe it and thus a “deliverability phact” is born. For a plethora of reasons, this doesn’t pass the sniff test. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

It’s very tempting to identify this One Simple Trick to get your email into the inbox. Change this font. Take out this UTM. Change this hostname. And, in some cases it may even work for a time.

But, look, if filters really were that simple they’d be wholly ineffective. Not just slightly ineffective but wholly ineffective. Anything that is easy to test can be defeated, and spammers test as much or even more than marketers do.

Don’t believe me? Over a decade ago I was invited to a meeting with a “marketing company” based out of San Francisco. After I got there and signed the NDA, they explained their strategy to get mail into Hotmail. Starting at 5pm they would have their content staff start writing emails and sending them to Hotmail. They’d test and test and test until one of them got into the inbox. Once they found content that would get through the filters, they’d turn on the floodgates and send as much mail as they could until the filters caught up. They’d do this all night, every night. (They were shut down by the FTC not long after I declined to work with them.)

It’s naive to believe that filters would be so transparent and think they’d still work. Anything so simple is going to be discovered and exploited by the spammers. Don’t fall prey to this kind of deliverability nonsense. Think about what the bad guys would do if this were true. And then remember that the bad guys have a lot of practice exploiting naive filters.