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15 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Writing Persuasive Content

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Writing Persuasive Content

I have a confession to make: I hate trying to convince people to do something.

I understand that this is an important part of marketing, but writing persuasive content has never been my strong suit. That is, if I’m persuading someone to do something that will benefit me. I think I can argue my own point well to persuade you that I’m right about something, but persuading you to buy something, download something, etc. has never come naturally to me.

Luckily, there are people out there who are insanely good at it, and they’ve shared what they know in blog posts. I hope this week’s edition of Brilliant Bloggers is as helpful to you as it has been to me!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

henneke 58 Ways to Create Persuasive Content Your Audience Will Love by Henneke Duistermaat

I love this post on Copyblogger because it gives you a roadmap to making sure that your content is as persuasive as possible without crossing any lines. Internet marketers get a bad name because there are so many people using slimy, gray-area techniques to convince others to spend money. Henneke’s post, however, doesn’t encourage you to do any of that. Her tips simply help you take your content and make it more persuasive.

After you read the post, which includes all you need to know from writing the headline to editing before you publish, check out Henneke on Twitter at @HennekeD and visit her blog, Enchanting Marketing. (Psst…she also has a great guest post on Kissmetrics about this topic called “7 Lessons Apple Can Teach Us About Persuasive Web Content“)

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 11 Ways to Write Persuasive Content by Thomas Timely
  2. 48 Elements of Persuasive Written Content by Uttoran Sen (@uttoransen)
  3. How Do I Write Persuasive Content? by Jeff Hahn (@HahnPublic)
  4. How To Create A Persuasive Message To Motivate Your Audience by Aura Dozescu (@AuraDozescu)
  5. How to Write Persuasive Content? by Jeevan Jacob John (@JeevanMe)
  6. The Psychology Behind Persuasive Writing by Jani Seneviratne (@janiopt7)
  7. The Secret To Being Memorable And Persuasive by Joe Romm
  8. Ten Recipes for Persuasive Content by Colleen Jones
  9. Ten Timeless Persuasive Writing Techniques by Brian Clark (@copyblogger)
  10. What is Persuasive Content? by Ian Truscott (@IanTruscott)
  11. What’s more persuasive? “I think…” or “I feel…”? by Derek Halpern (@DerekHalpern)
  12. Writing a Persuasive Blog—The Key to Content Marketing Success by John McTigue (@jmctigue)
  13. Writing Persuasive Headlines with the FAB Formula by Julia McCoy (@expwriters)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about writing persuasive content? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Social Monitoring Tools

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

30 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Landing Pages

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Landing Pages

A “landing page” is simply any page that promotes taking a certain action. As the name implies, this is where you want people to land when they click a certain link. You can also heavily optimize this page for search engines to try to get interested parties to land there. Sometimes, your landing page is a sales page, but more often, they promote downloading a free resource, signing up for a mailing list, etc. In other words, most landing pages are made with the goal of capturing leads.

Why have a landing page? Well, the hope is that anyone who comes to you landing page is extremely interested already. You aren’t trying to woo them with content marketing. Most landing pages do not have navigation or other links to get anywhere else on your site. The only thing for a person to do is take the action you want (like giving you their email address).

This week, I’ve compiled a collection of links giving you advice for creating a landing page. The most important piece of advice I can give you, however, is to TEST. Bloggers and marketers have lots of opinions on what works best, but you won’t know what works for your specific audience if you don’t systematically try new things and record the results.

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

Cameron Chapman Beginner’s Guide to Landing Pages by Cameron Chapman 

Looking for a really great guide to landing pages? If you’re a beginner, look no farther than Cameron Chapman’s post for KISSmetrics. Cameron goes over everything you need to know about creating a landing page, from start to finish.

Do you have a clear goal? What are some common design mistakes? Is your copy optimized? You can leave all of this from Cameron’s post.

After reading this post, you can also read more from Cameron on her blog and follow her on Twitter at @cameron_chapman.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 3 Neuromarketing Considerations For Landing Page Optimization by Mona Elesseily (@webmona)
  2. 3 Reasons Why Landing Pages Are Important by George Passwater (@georgepasswater)
  3. 3 Ways to Create More Engaging Website Landing Pages by AJ Kumar (@ajkumar)
  4. 5 Tips for Landing Pages for Affiliates from Brian Massey by Kelly Clay (@kellyhclay)
  5. 7 Key Design Tips for High-Converting Landing Pages [+ Free Templates] by Anum Hussain (@anummedia)
  6. 7 Landing Page Tips to Boost Lead Conversions by Katrice Svanda (@katricesvanda)
  7. 7 Tips for Highly Effective Landing Pages by Subhash Chandra (@indiadesigners)
  8. 10 Expert Tips for Increasing Landing Page Conversions by Megan Leap (@MeganLeap)
  9. 11 Simple (But Critical) Tips for Creating Better Landing Pages by Pamela Vaughan (@pamelump)
  10. 13 Landing Page Tricks that Increase Conversion by Morgan Brown (@morganb)
  11. 84 Tips For A Killer Landing Page Design by Alhan Keser (@AlhanKeser)
  12. A “Formula” for Landing Page Optimisation by Dave Chaffey (@DaveChaffey)
  13. Creating Landing Pages That Convert by Adrian Drysdale
  14. Designing Landing Pages That Work by Karol K. (@carlosinho)
  15. Five Tips For Creating The Ultimate Landing Page by Greg Shuey (@shuey03)
  16. Four Expert Tips on Landing Page Design by Stacey Acevero (@sacevero)
  17. How to Craft Phenomenal SEO Landing Pages That Rank & Convert by Ken Lyons (@KenJLyons)
  18. How to Make a Landing Page That C.O.N.V.E.R.T.S. by Beth Morgan (@bethmorgan)
  19. How to Make Money With Facebook Landing Pages by Jim Belosic (@shortstackjim)
  20. Keep It Simple, Stupid – 6 Tips for Creating Clean & Simple PPC Landing Pages by Randi Lucius
  21. Landing Page Optimization Is Not a Strategy, CXO Is by Mark Simpson (@MarkJ_Simpson)
  22. Make a Big Impact on Your Landing Page with a Small Budget Video by Andrew Follett (@demoduckvideo)
  23. Simple Trick to Measure Social Media Efforts by Becky McCray (@BeckyMcCray)
  24. The Biggest Piece of Advice for Increasing Landing Page Conversions by Obaidul Haque (@obaidulhaque)
  25. The Landing Page Optimization Process [Infographic] by Oli Gardner (@oligardner)
  26. The Secrets of Selling Like a Skeazy, Slimy Used Car Salesman by Joanna Wiebe (@copyhackers)
  27. Top Problems with Landing Pages & How to Improve Your Conversion Rates by Ashley Zeckman (@azeckman)
  28. Why “Going Naked” Makes Sense for Landing Pages [Data] by Hubspot (@hubspot)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about landing pages? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Content Curation

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

The Unintentional Thought Leader: Seven Steps For Small Business Blogging

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When I launched Marketing Sparks three years ago, “thought leadership” was not a goal. Discuss issues I care about? Yes. Stoke my desire to write? Absolutely. Maybe even attract new business as a bonus? Of course.

Over time, though, I discovered that a certain style of writing could help position my small business blog as an authority and go-to expert. That said, I use the term “thought leadership” hesitantly and humbly—it tends to sound lofty—and there are no hard and fast rules defining it. When it comes to blogging, my definition revolves around having expertise on a topic, shedding light on issues, offering a point-of-view, and sharing innovative thinking…and doing this is easier than you might think.

Here are seven steps you can take to start your own thought leadership blog or tweak your current one to elevate your content from standard fare to superior must-read.

1. Write About Your Passion

It starts with a cliché we’ve all heard: “Write from the heart.” Nothing could be more true in a thought leadership blog. That doesn’t mean pontificating or talking down to your audience, it means sharing your interest and expertise and giving that information to your audience freely. In the process, your readers will feel smarter too. Spreading insights through a blog that excites and energizes you—the kind you can’t wait to share with the online world—is contagious, and your readers will ultimately share with their own networks.

2. Choose Your Audience and They Will Choose You

As Daniel Rasmus said, “Go vertical or go home.” Pick an area to cover and stick with it. Let’s face it, we can’t all be experts on everything, and frankly, generic information is pretty useless. Think of it as a marketing campaign: Who is your target audience? Who will care about your knowledge base? What can you offer them that they can’t get elsewhere? Once you start adding value to your audience’s professional or personal life, you will slowly be viewed as a trusted source and develop a loyal following.

3. Get A Hub With Spokes

Now that you found your audience, it’s time to stimulate, educate, and even entertain them with your expertise. The key is to write on a variety of topics from your knowledge base and cast the widest net possible. When I take on my “hub” of marketing, there are a lot of “spokes” in that wheel: I write about branding, advertising, social media, events, technology—the list goes on. I also sprinkle in a diverse range of blog styles so that unpredictability is the only thing my audience can count on. That means:

  • Opinion
  • Interviews
  • Breaking news
  • Guest blogs
  • Follow-up pieces
  • Evergreen/timeless topics (my PowerPoint alternatives blog post from two years ago still garners steady hits)

Click to tweet this quote!

4. Circle-Slash Vanilla Views 

Rehashing a trending hot topic—say, Apple’s court battle with Samsung—is more about content aggregation than delivering any meaningful insight to your readers. You might get a lot of Google hits, but are not illuminating anything new. Blogging as an authority means taking a stand and doing it authentically. One of the keys is not just to understand a topic fully, but to offer readers an alternative point of view or additional insight. In other words, content that makes your blog worth reading and stand out from the crowd. As Jessica Northey said at this year’s NMX in the  panel session How To Build Your Blog Community: Three Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets, “Tell the truth, make it matter, and never be boring.” Amen to that.

5. Do Your Homework

Having earned a living as a reporter early in my career, I’ve always had a nose for news, curiosity, and a desire to ask questions. And when my reputation is at stake, I take that very seriously—and your readers will too. They count on you to do the background and research for them. Make sure you are using the best and most current information before you hit “publish.” If an important data point is missing or there is sloppy attribution, your credibility suffers. Conversely, if you get corrections from readers, cop to it, update your blog, and even thank the person for pointing it out. We’re all mere mortals…even those gunnin’ to be a thought leader.

6. There is No “Self” In Promotion

Ever heard the old saying, “Let someone else say how great you are”? Don’t promote your business or anything that smacks of it in your blog. Readers will sniff it out and run the other way. With so many choices on the Internet to spend their precious time, readers come for new ideas and practices, not thinly-veiled or overt pitches.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t market the heck out of your blog on a regular basis: Promote it to your personal and business network, leverage your social media channels by sharing and starting conversations, and of course reciprocate with other bloggers in your field. Don’t forget to mention your blog to clients and prospects when a related topic comes up. And, yes, in case you were wondering, I have gained new clients from my blog posts. Not only do prospects get a shortcut to your knowledge and skill set, it builds instant confidence in you before you’re even hired.

7. Leadership Versus Readership

There are so many blog styles: newsy updates, opinion blogs, branded blogs, affiliate marketing blogs, mommy blogs, and on and on. Choosing to do a thought leadership blog is a quieter and narrower path—dare I say “quality over quantity.” It takes time to grow your audience and build credibility, so be patient.

For most small business owners, blogging is a “sideline” to the busy life of running a company and does not pay the bills. Yet if you stay the course on the slow but sure path, you will be rewarded handsomely in personal gratification, respect, and potentially new work.

How could your blog be changed by adding a thought leader slant? What benefits would you gain from doing so?

Consumers Are Connected: Are You?

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Just the other day, I went shopping with a friend of mine who is obsessed with her phone. She checked into the mall via Foursquare, telling others exactly where she intended to shop. We found some cute shoes, which prompted her to like the brand on Facebook, and before leaving the store, she double-checked movie times for the film we wanted to see. We had some time, so we stopped for a bite to eat before the movie, and of course, she had to share a picture of her meal on Instagram. During the movie was the longest she was away from her phone all day!

It’s easy for me to point fingers and snicker at my friend’s phone addiction, but I’m not much better. Even when I’m at home, I sometimes find myself using my laptop, phone, and Kindle at the same time.

Today’s consumers are connected. There’s no doubt about that. The only question is this: is your business connected too or are you being left behind in the dust?

Social Trust

At BusinessNext Social 2013, Mobile Marketing Academic of the Year Lin Humphrey will be be presenting “The Connected Consumer,” a session where he’ll talk about his study findings on psychographics of social media users and what some digital marketers are doing to feed into this need for connection.

In an interview with USA Today, Humphrey remarked, “Research shows we trust our network more than advertisements or celebrity spokespeople, so it makes sense for a business to encourage photography and social endorsements.”

Social networks enable this kind of sharing, but what is your company doing to connect with consumers who want to use these networks?

  • Are you easy to find on social networks?
  • Do you reply to consumers’ questions and complaints via social media?
  • Are you actively looking for people talking about your company?
  • Do you reward social sharing, encouraging customers to talk about your company online?
  • Do you say thank you when people are complimentary about your company?

You have to be able to scale your social media efforts; talking to every single customer or potential customer isn’t sustainable. But you’d be amazed at what any kind of social presence can do for your company.

Best Online Marketing Practices

So what can your digital marketing team do to engage consumers via social media? There’s a laundry list of techniques, but something the best marketing campaigns have in common is enabling self-expression and connectivity not just to the brand, but to other users.

  • Clothing company Betabrand gives $20 discounts to users who take pictures of themselves wearing Betabrand items.
  • Coke and Pepsi both unveiled programs allowing consumers to buy a soda for someone else at a random vending, and then watch the receiver’s surprised reaction. The person could then send back a thank you note.
  • Back in 2004, Burger King already realized the power of online self-expression and connectivity. In the “subservient chicken” campaign, they allowed users to log online and give an actor in a chicken suit commands to follow. The site is still live to this day, and promotes Burger King’s “have it your way” philosophy.

Of course, hiring an actor in a chicken suit isn’t the right course of action for all businesses, but there’s still something to learn here about connecting directly with your audience. For even more “best practices” and tips for digital marketers who want to reach the customers, make sure you attend The Connected Consumer session at BusinessNext.

Are QR Codes Dead?

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If QR codes are already dead, its epitaph would read “we hardly knew ye.” It seems like just yesterday that someone was explaining a QR code to me, and I’m a pretty tech-savvy person. I know that some of my less Internet-y friends don’t understand or use them, my sister doesn’t even have a smartphone, and at BlogWorld, a group of us were actually talking about how the scanning aps we have don’t work very well, so we don’t scan them very often.

So are QR codes already dead? Is this a failed technology that we should put in the “it was a cool idea that never really panned out” pile?

Recently, Dave Wieneke from AdAge wrote a piece entitled “Why Marketers Shouldn’t Waste Their Time With QR Codes.” It’s hard to disagree with his claims – that marketers love them more than consumers do. They’re overused and often just lead consumers to more advertising, which is turning off anyone who has decided to check out what this QR thing is all about.

Not everyone agrees with Wieneke, of course. On ClickZ, Melinda Krueger argues a case for QR codes and if you do a quick Google search for “cool QR codes” you’ll come up with tons of results for people and companies using them in really unique ways. At BlogWorld LA 2011, Peter Shankman actually used the Stefan Pinto ad pictured at right to highlight smart advertising – it’s an example of a QR code used in a really funny way.

But there are a lot of people misusing QR codes, and it’s perhaps making them irrelevant for all of us. I can’t tell you how many times I see QR codes on websites. Really? That doesn’t even make sense. Or when I scan a code, it often takes me to the company home page. So what? I could have found you easily online after shopping…a QR code wasn’t necessarily. There was no “next step” for users (like “liking” a Facebook page) or benefit (like getting a coupon for some free products).

I don’t think QR codes are dead…yet. They are perhaps in the hospital bed, but the disease isn’t incurable if we take action. What do you think? Are QR codes on the way out? Do you use them for your website or business? As a consumer, do you scan them when you see them as part of marketing campaigns?

The Story: Building and Growing Online Communities

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Session: Successful Solutions for Building and Growing an Online Community
Speaker: Debba Haupert

Question: How do you build an online community?

The short answer: two girlfriends were dealing with cancer and I felt helpless. I wanted to know how best to be there for them. I also found myself with a strange, overwhelming need to be close to my girlfriends – those two and others.

That was the genesis of my online community – Girlfriendology.com. Definitely not with the intent, initially, to build an online community, but to address a personal need to express my girlfriend gratitude and a desire to inspire women to be better friends to each other.

I suspect that a driving emotion is most often the beginning of many successful online communities – a need to express our beliefs and passions, a desire to educate or inspire, and a longing to connect with like-minded people.

Whatever the origin or mission of a community, it will eventually weave a unique story. The story threads its way through the community manager, in and out through the communication and content, connecting the members of the community and, in the end, the story creates a ‘fabric’ much stronger because of all those elements.

And, just like any really good story, there are several, distinct, key elements to an online community that build into the story as the community grows. We’ll cover these in my BWELA session on Successful Solutions for Building and Growing a Successful Online Community (Thursday, Nov 3, 2:45 pm):

1. Community Goals and Objectives – From branding to managing expectations, for new communities or those who might need to re-examine their goals and objectives to get back on track.

2. Knowing and Growing our Communities – Who are the citizens in our unique community, and what connects us? We need to take stock of your community as it grows, and continue to provide substance and content that meets our objectives and is valuable for member participation.

3. Using Social Media to Grow our Community – I’ll share a variety of ways in how others have grown their communities using Social Media, as well as defining specific social media tools for managing community connections efficiently and effectively.

4. Managing our Community - Most of us wear multiple hats, from CEO to content creation, from ongoing social media updates to managing a budget. But the one hat that we may struggle with wearing most is that of managing a group of people who have their own goals, objectives and viewpoints. So we’ll share some lessons I’ve learned about managing communities – the good, the bad and the downright painful!

We’ll cover several case studies of a variety of communities, the advice they have to offer and the lessons they learned the hard way. Join us to as we share in the conversation of how to be successful at managing and growing our online communities!

Note: I’d love to hear your community manager/community story! Please fill out this survey and share your community insights. You may be selected as one of our seminar’s case studies. And we’ll note all the communities to thank in our presentation and upcoming eBook on Community Building for Bloggers.

p.s. And wear your best SHOES to the session. (:

Hear what else Debba has to say:

Watch more videos and see why other speakers are attending BlogWorld LA. See all Speakers here.

Learn more about BlogWorld LA and register Here!

With over 20 years of corporate marketing, DEBBA HAUPERT now focuses her marketing efforts on social media to help companies reach/build their ‘communities.’ She built the online community of women: GIRLFRIENDOLOGY . Debba has over 24,000 Twitter followers and 20,000 female Facebook Fans – and, keeping with the brand, she deletes (most) guys! She has worked with Biz, Kroger, The UPS Store, Frito-Lay, Healthy Choice, Crystal Light, International Delight and other brands. She teaches/speaks on social media marketing. She/Girlfriendology can also be found at @Girlfriendology and Facebook.com/Girlfriendology .

Why Authenticity Is A Lie (Bad) Marketers Tell

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Session: Creating Your Blogging Superhero
Speaker: Lisa Barone

Hi, I’m Lisa. It’s time for an intervention.

Bloggers and social media-types will stand on their heads to tell you that what your audience really wants is a more authentic, transparent version of your brand. They want you to bare it all on your blog, on Twitter and on Facebook so they can connect with you, engage with you, and so that you can become friends with your customer.

It’s a sham. All of it. And you need to get over yourself.

The truth is your customers do not want to know the depths of your soul or what keeps you up at night. Not even your mother wants to know that much about you, truly. What your customers want is the best version of you. The version of you that allows them to see themselves, where they want to be, and which helps them achieve their goals.

That’s what marketing is — Using yourself to show people their desired outcome. Even if that outcome is just your customer with a finally-working dishwasher.

As a marketer, you provide that experience by giving up the hokey authenticity act and creating a characterized version of yourself that exudes who your audience wants to be.

Whether you want to increase sales, build a community, or find new customers, building a sellable character, a caricaturized version of yourself, is how you do it.

Creating this caricature allows you to do a few things.

  • It gives you the freedom to magnify the personality traits you already possess to attract people.
  • It allows you to play on your strengths to establish a point of difference.
  • It makes your personality appear larger than life.
  • It gives you a cushion so that when the Internet gets mean (which it will), you’re not absorbing all the shots with your true self.

Said simpler – It makes your brand magnetic.

The characterized You is a heightened version of yourself. It’s where all the right traits are highlighted and where the ones that don’t fit the brand are simply deemphasized. It’s the You after you’ve had a few too many, when suddenly you know all the punchlines and you’re not afraid to take risks. That’s who you need to be to your audience. That’s who we’re drawn to.

No, you don’t need to be drunk, just compelling.

Wait! How can you relate to customers if you’re not being your “true authentic self” and are acting like a character?! You can’t just MAKE UP who you are!

Sure you can. You do it every day. Only you don’t call it acting. You call it being an adult.

  • You show one set of personality traits when you’re working at the office.
  • Another set when you’re at home playing with your children.
  • A different set when meeting your friends at the bar for Happy Hour.

It’s not deceptive there, is it? You’re not any less you, are you? You’re simply the right you for the right audience.

Same thing.

The authenticity lie has allowed too many marketers to make total blunders of their online persona, encouraging them to partake in Twitter rants, social media flame wars, and constant whining. Your 20 minute Twitter tirade about the bad service you received at your favorite restaurant doesn’t make you “transparent” or “more relatable”, it makes you appear unstable. Actually, sometimes it makes you an a**hole.

Which, fine, you probably are, but why broadcast that to the rest of the world?

Being a successful marketer doesn’t mean disrobing and letting all the nasty bits hang out. It means simply understanding what your audience needs and then identifying which traits that you possess that help you to be that person.

  • Blogworld speaker Shane Ketterman connects with people at Rewire Business by being so vulnerable and human that we can’t help but relate and be inspired by his words.
  • The Bloggess connects with people by being that person who says what we wish we could and by making us believe it’s okay if we’re a little off.
  • Chris Brogan connects with people by laying down in the middle of the road for his audience and being the most helpful guy on the planet.

I can pretty much assure you that there are days where Chris Brogan wakes up and doesn’t want to help or talk to a single person that day. But you never see them. Not because he’s not authentic or because he’s secretly a robot with no soul, but because those days aren’t part of the brand. And because of that, he keeps them out.

What you need to figure out is who YOUR character is. What natural traits do you possess that are helpful to your audience? What can you highlight about yourself that will help someone else achieve something? Because that’s what authenticity really is – it’s undisputed credibility. It’s you giving your audience the parts about you they need, and removing anything else that will distract them or take away from that credibility.

So maybe it’s not authenticity that’s a lie. It’s just our perception of what authenticity really means.

What traits make up your brand’s character?

Lisa Barone if the Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer at SEO consulting firm Outspoken Media. You can catch her blogging about marketing at the Outspoken Media blog or on Twitter at @lisabarone.

19 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About QR Codes

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge link of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: QR Codes

This year at BlogWorld was the first time I really saw people at a conference really talking about QR codes. Of course, they’ve been around for much longer, but I think QR codes have really taken off in popularity. I don’t know tons about using QR codes effectively myself, so I was actually excited to research and read all of the posts related to this topic. Let’s jump right into the posts this week; here’s what some brilliant bloggers have to say about using QR codes:

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

QR Codes 101: Make Links to Your Website from Anywhere by Charles Hamilton

I wanted to include this link as the first on the Brilliant Blogger list because it is such a good, quick overview if you’ve never really used QR codes before or don’t understand how they code be relevant to you. While this is a very brief overview (especially as compared to some other posts linked below), there are TONS of links within the post that you can click to fin more information about QR codes. When you’re done reading the article, you can also follow Charles on Twitter @chcs.

QR Codes: Are Your Read for Paper-Based Hyperlinks? by Mark Sprague

I love this Search Engine Land post by Mark Sprague because it not only gives a really good overview of what a QR codes, but it also gives readers real-life examples of how companies around the world are successfully using QR codes. Mark also gives you lots of ideas on how you can use QR codes as well, so if you’re new to this concept this is a great place to start thinking about how you can use the codes for your business. Check out Mark on Twitter @CMarkSprague.

How Effective are QR Codes with Consumers? by Grant Iven

Okay, QR codes might be neat, but I want to know the same thing most businesses want to know – are they working? Companies like to talk a lot about ROI, and while it might be free to generate a QR code, if you’re going to print it everywhere, there’s a bit of investment involved. This post is a little case study showing what happened when one company used QR codes to promote their Facebook page. You can follow Grant on twitter after checking out this post @saywhat_com.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about QR codes? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link!

Next Week’s Topic: Offensive Content

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Keep Your Contests Simple!

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… by Steve Piacente

It seemed like a good idea. Everyone said it was a good idea. My idea for a contest for my self-published book. And yet, when it came time to actually taking the “Script -Trailer Challenge,” it turned out very few wanted to be bothered.

Contests and challenges have been around since our ancestors scratched out tic-tac-toe in the dirt a billion years ago. These days, even the government has joined the fun, launching http://challenge.gov/ … “a place where the public and government can solve problems together.

So I thought I was on solid ground with putting together a book trailer contest. The concept: read a one-page, near-final draft of the script for the trailer, watch the video, and spot the differences. The prize? A signed copy of Bella.

The trailer, at www.getbella.com, does a nice job of previewing the story of an anguished widow’s search for the truth about her husband’s death overseas. She lures a Washington journalist into the investigation, and together, they learn a bunch about the power of temptation and the futility of revenge.

The idea for the contest was spurred by those side-by-side, nearly identical photos you see in magazines. The object? Spot the differences.

I jumped in like Patton, who said, “Accept the challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.” I posted simple instructions on my website that said:

Good trailers begin with a good idea and a sharp script. Of course the first draft is never the final. We found a late draft, compared it to the trailer, and spotted at least six differences. Find them yourself to win a signed copy of the book.

I provided links so fans wouldn’t have to leave the website, and I offered an easy way for players to email me their findings. I was excited and a little concerned that I might have to wade though hundreds of entries.

Then reality happened. It turned out that few shared my enthusiasm, though I did wind up declaring two winners.

The lesson? For contests to work, they must be simple. A better idea might have been to ask visitors to watch the trailer and spot something hidden within. It was also suggested that asking people to cross two mediums – print and video – was asking too much.

So if you’re contemplating a contest, keep it simple, or be ready to offer up a prize most self-published authors probably can’t afford.

Steve Piacente is deputy communications director at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), an award-winning former reporter, and an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, D.C. In late 2010, he published Bella, a novel that centers on Isabel Moss’ quest to uncover the truth behind her husband’s mysterious death on an Afghan battlefield. Watch the video trailer at: www.getbella.com.

Controlling the Message

Author:

… by Steve Piacente

I booked a booth at the recent BEA Conference in New York and, like every other self-published author, scrambled to attract media attention. As a former reporter, I was aware this was only part of the battle. The other part was remembering that success might not lead to the result I wanted – a positive review or story. The reporter might be hostile or unprepared.

So here are two good things to remember during interviews. First, the interviewer is not your audience; he’s the gateway to your audience. You’re using him to talk to them. Be polite, be friendly, but remember that this is a chance to reach your readers, or better yet, the readers you hope to attract.

Second, if you’ve got your core messages down, you can field any question, and then pivot to the point you really want to stress. As in, Yes, of course Sean Connery was the best Bond. Now his countrymen in Ireland will be able to read my novel because we just launched a Kindle version.

After I left journalism, I became a speechwriter in the federal government. As a speechwriter, the most you can hope for is that an audience remembers three of your principal’s key points.

I try to keep that in mind during interviews about my novel Bella. Specifically, I try to make sure the reporter knows:

  • The story is about a striking widow intent on proving the military lied about her husband’s death.
  • She lures a Washington journalist into the investigation. Working together, they discover more than they bargained for, namely:

    • The power of temptation,
    • The futility of revenge,
    • And the consequences of yielding to either.
  • I spent a year developing a social media-based marketing plan to promote and sell the novel, and we have a great trailer at www.getbella.com.

Third, don’t lose your sense of humor on the way to literary success. Yes, you spent years filling those blank pages with love, mystery and adventure. Know up front that not everyone cares, or shares your passion. Don’t take it personally. Enjoy the journey and have some fun. And make sure to control the message.

Steve Piacente is deputy communications director at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), an award-winning former reporter, and an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, D.C. In late 2010, he published Bella, a novel that centers on Isabel Moss’ quest to uncover the truth behind her husband’s mysterious death on an Afghan battlefield. Watch the video trailer at: www.getbella.com.

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