Distinguishing Between Content Marketing and Product Marketing

dan idhenga leadership

One of the most important things to take into account when marketing your product is what type of marketing is called for in a given situation. After all, marketing is all about messaging, and you don’t want to send mixed messages or, worse, the wrong message. It is thus of utmost importance that you make sure you are using the right type of marketing for content as opposed to any old marketing tools.

Unfortunately, marketing teams far too often make the mistake of simply conflating the two.

Fortunately, this guide can help disentangle and demystify the distinction for you.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the type of marketing you employ to create engagement with consumers as they research information about your products, the industry and region you service, and other pertinent details. The content can consist of articles, blog posts, videos, social media posts, and similar content. 

For example, if you work in the travel industry, your content can include articles about travel destinations, hotels, flights, and other pertinent information which is both interesting for readers and targeted to the topic in question.

This type of content should not typically be explicit in pushing any products and services. Instead, it should be about topics pertinent to your products and services, with maybe an integrated link or two to your products. This integration should be as organic as possible.

In short, content marketing is the “soft sell” of the online marketing world.

Product Marketing

By contrast, product marketing is far more explicit. Here, you are directly engaged with your product or service, creating articles, posts, and other content that features and describes the subject in question. You want to be sure to show consumers what sets your product apart from others on the market.

You want to take care to include your core product messaging points in this type of content. Content marketing should engage clients with material that is pertinent to the greater industry. Product marketing is all about your product.

With that distinction in mind, you should be able to create more targeted and effective content and product marketing materials.

from Dan Idhenga | Business & Entrepreneurship https://danidhenga.net/distinguishing-between-content-marketing-and-product-marketing/
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How to Show Vulnerability as a Leader

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One of the biggest mistakes leaders make, young and old, within business and outside, is that they all too often cover up their vulnerabilities and act as though they’re impervious to emotional pain. Not only is this obviously untrue, but it’s also a stance that can hurt your company in the long run.

For one thing, your employees want to know that they’re working for a person who cares and empathizes with others, not an emotionless egotistical psychopath who refuses to admit any weakness. As such, projecting an aura of invulnerability can really result in a culture of unapproachability, which is never something you want to follow you in business. There’s also the fact that your claim of invulnerability is likely to come off as a lie – never a good trait for leaders.

But how can you show vulnerability as a leader without looking “weak?”

“Weak” Versus “Human”

First, it’s vital to distinguish between looking “weak” and “human.” Making mistakes, failing from time to time – that’s human. Everyone does that, including your employees, and they’ll want to know that they’re not the end of the world. Projecting a façade of invulnerability can make everyone tense. Allowing for brief vulnerability can help people empathize and, thus, connect as a team.

Toxic Culture

One of the modern sources of this invulnerability myth is toxic masculinity and, to an extent, toxic femininity. The former too often scorns emotions as “weak,” leading to repressed rage and the kind of appearance of false stoicism and transparent insincerity we discussed before. The latter too often seeks to compensate for the very real problem of sexism and women being marginalized at work by going the other direction and becoming overly aggressive and hostile.

Sharing vulnerabilities can help you connect, become relatable, and succeed in interpersonal business ventures. Personal or workplace toxicity creating a lie of invulnerability will simply poison all that.

A Loss of Confidence 

Think admitting to vulnerabilities and mistakes will cause people to lose confidence? Think again. While some people will always be petty and pounce on the vulnerable, those with brains and emotional cores understand that revealing vulnerabilities takes courage and is, indeed, a sign of moral fiber and strength.

Honesty in showing vulnerability is a vital strategy for dealing with tough times and setbacks in business and life.

from Dan Idhenga | Leadership https://danidhenga.com/how-to-show-vulnerability-as-a-leader/
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How Leaders Can Inspire Great Culture

In the book Disney War, an anecdote is recalled wherein then-CEO Michael Eisner says that it’s not the job of Disney to make statements, history, or art, but simply to make money, and that to do so, they may inadvertently contribute to culture in the process.

However successful (and controversial) as Eisner’s tenure at Disney may have been, there’s something incredibly cynical and inaccurate of that mode of thinking. After all, great businesses such as Disney do indeed inspire culture – in the world and within their companies. Disney is famous for attempting to cultivate what it considers a cheerful, positive, “Disney-brand” corporate culture. Whether you want to model that or go for something less Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and more Silicon Valley, as the leader, you’re the one who starts and maintains company culture.

Lead by Example

The most famous exemplar of this is that age-old adage of leading by example. We see plenty enchanted and animal kingdoms go to wrack and ruin in Disney films under the rule of rulers who set a bad example until the good, virtuous hero wins the day and restores peace and prosperity. That’s a simple, fairy tale view of morality, but when it comes to establishing a corporate culture, there’s more than a pinch of pixie dust to it. Like fairy tales and Disney heroes of old, your morals and attitude serve as an example for your workplace culture.

Be Empathetic

Another staple of Disney villainy? A lack of empathy. One of the quickest ways to sour company culture is to come off as a petty Disney-worthy tyrant who doesn’t care about their workers. On the contrary, like Disney heroes, you want to appear as though you care about everyone “big and small.”

Share the Battle

Another mark of Disney-brand villainy? Detachment. Treating coworkers as “underlings” and being detached from goings-on is a sure way to lose a kingdom or business. On the other hand, sharing the struggle and showing you’re one of the team reinforces the “teamwork” idea more than a thousand dull “inspirational” team-building speeches can.

Lead your company to Happily Ever After with these company culture-changing tips.

Originally published at https://danidhenga.com/how-leaders-can-inspire-great-culture/.

How to Actually Become an Effective Leader

Dan Idhenga Effective Leaders

Bonnie Tyler had it right – from time to time, we all need a hero. In the corporate world, that means becoming the kind of leader your company needs to take it to the top. You can have the best idea, the finest personnel on hand, and enough resources to make everything happen, but if you don’t have effective leadership at the top, that directionless uncertainty will filter all the way down to the bottom.

Naturally, you don’t want that to happen. You’d like to lead your company towards a brighter tomorrow. First, however, you have to find out how to actually become an effective leader. 

Write it Out

The drafting powers of paper and pen can be of great assistance when working out a new speech or presentation for a meeting. You don’t want your employees to think that you are scatterbrained or don’t have a clear vision for the company. Take the time to map out your ideas before you speak them aloud so as to give you the chance to work out any kinks first.

Accountability Counts

Nothing costs you leadership points faster than preaching A and teaching B. As a leader, you are not just held to a higher standard, you are the standard to which people look to set the moral and business character of the company. If you come across as lazy, petty, selfish, and short-sighted, guess what type of employees and corporate culture you are likely going to have?

Set Goals

Last, but not least, you want to be sure to avoid wishy-washiness or any semblance of lacking direction. That means setting goals. That said, setting goals and then never hitting them is a bad blow for your reputation as a leader, to say nothing of the crushing emotional disappointment it can bring you. Setting small, individual goals that can be quickly and regularly attained is a much better solution.

Above all, try. There are many types of leadership and many paths to get there, but none will succeed if you don’t put in the effort.

Originally published at https://danidhenga.com/how-to-actually-become-an-effective-leader/.

How Social Media Can Build Trust Between Businesses and Consumers

Dan Idhenga Business Social Media

The bond of trust between a company and its customers is crucial. Like any high importance relationship, it takes time and regular maintenance to build. Today, social media is one of the main ways businesses are seeking to build trust between themselves and consumers – and here’s how.

The Importance of Engaging

E.M. Forster makes the two-word phrase “Only Connect” the epigram to his masterpiece Howards End. While Forster was anything but a social media master (what he might have thought of is an interesting question) that ethos is still highly valuable in a corporate and social media context. While you don’t want to “only” connect with users, and instead want to translate their engagements into conversions and positive PPC data, all of that nevertheless begins with effectively engaging clients.

To do that, you need to be able to truly connect with them.

Social media allows you to craft a fun, engaging online presence with which everyday customers can more easily connect than, say, a bunch of businessmen in a boardroom.

Familiarity Breeds Trust

The more familiar something is, the more likely we are to trust it. For better and for worse, this is the case with social media platforms. If you see someone post on your Facebook or Twitter feed day after day, you tend to feel like they’re a natural part of your everyday life – and that’s great news for businesses trying to position their brands that way.

Posting regularly throughout the day on sites such as Facebook and Twitter can, thus, make your company a regular and, thus, trustworthy presence in customers’ lives.

An Individual Voice

Social media is one of the great driving forces of Individuality Culture, and this can provide a huge boost to businesses. There’s a reason why YouTube Stars and Instagram Influencers have become job titles, after all. You want your business to feel distinct to customers, and for younger groups especially, that all-important element of authenticity which is a prerequisite for trust is better captured via social media than traditional print advertising or TV commercials.

Build your brand and voice online with effective social media strategies.

This post was originally published at https://danidhenga.net/how-social-media-can-build-trust-between-businesses-and-consumers/.

B2B Content Marketing Strategy Best Practices

The world of B2B marketing has always been one of the more challenging to navigate. On the one hand, the consumer base to whom you are selling your products or services often has more income and capital to spend their money on than other types of clients. On the other hand, it can mean doing a lot more meticulous research into how best to sell to them in the first place.

Even so, there is always a risk of overthinking that process. You don’t want to over-plan every last detail and leave yourself in a position where you are stymying your own growth because of the rigidity of your plan. At the same time, you still need a strategy in place.

The key is to make sure that your content marketing is on target. Here are a few ways you can enhance your content marketing strategies in such a way as to make them more useful without making them limiting.

Develop Buyer Personas

To begin with, let’s flip the script on the old proverb “Know Thyself” and instead say “Know Thy Client.” Developing a buyer persona – however tedious the process may be – is nevertheless essential for making sure that you have an effective model to use for your strategizing. Make sure you spend time tailoring the voice, approach, and overall appeal of your product or service to the buyer or person you intend to target.

Do Your Research

To more effectively do that, you need to engage in that most exciting of corporate pastimes, yes, consumer research. For as much as you might not wish to do research on consumers’ every little spending habit, you need to get as much pertinent analytical data as possible. This will help you tailor your content marketing strategy and, in the end, your B2B approach.

Online Platforms and Paid Promotion

What is a great way to engage and research consumers all at once? Social media and online platforms. Paid promotions and the data given from the analytics dashboards on these sites are your friends.

Drive your company to greater B2B heights with an effective content marketing strategy.

This post was originally published at https://danidhenga.net/.

Strategies for Business Growth

It is fair to say that there are few principles that are more deeply embedded within the overarching ethos and ideology of business and capitalism than growth. The nature and consequences of growth-centric thinking have been much discussed over the centuries, but for our purposes, we care about one simple question – how can we enhance it?

This is a question that’s as deceptively simple as it is deeply complicated. After all, many of the easiest or most attractive ways of stimulating growth require more capital being spent in one capacity or another. However, if you are a startup, or don’t have the resources of a huge company, you need to find a way to grow without simply throwing money at the problem. These strategies can help you rethink and, thus, restimulate the growth process.

Target Your Sales Pitch

To begin with, you are going to want to do more to target your overall sales pitch. This is due in no small part to the fact that you need to make sure that you aren’t wasting money on target audiences or resources which aren’t going to help you accelerate growth.

This also means directly targeting clients in terms of specific products in which they may be interested. If you are a clothing company and are looking to sell to an outlet that caters specifically to moms, you don’t need to fill them in on every last clothing option you offer for men, women, and children. Stick to your mom and child inventory with a more targeted sales pitch, and your chances for sales and growth should be much improved.

Speed Is Key

Growth is often a zero-sum game. That means snagging territory before others get there, which means improving your company’s overall speed when it comes to things such as processing appointments and orders.

Avoid Organizational Rigidity

When making a stretch run, organizational rigidity is your enemy. Stimulating growth means growing and embracing new ideas, so don’t be afraid to innovate or deviate from “the old way” of doing business.

With these tips, you’ll be able to grow your business more strategically.

This post was originally published at https://danidhenga.net/strategies-for-business-growth/ .

Discovering Different Ways to Lead

It is no secret that different types of leaders have different leadership styles. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill formed one of the great national and personal alliances in world history as they led the US and the UK against the Axis Powers in World War II. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig led the New York Yankees to greatness in the 1920s and 30s. Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, François Truffaut, Spike Lee – they’ve all led and directed great films.

And yet all of those directors have vastly different directorial styles, including how they manage their teams. Ruth was a gregarious party animal, while Gehrig was very reserved. FDR and Churchill had their differences as well. Even so, all of those leaders found ways to lead their teams to success.

One of the first lessons in leadership, therefore, is that there are many different ways to lead effectively. These few tips are just the tip of the iceberg, touching on suggestions you may not have considered.

Develop Yourself

Before you can become a leader of men and women, you must first have mastery over yourself. From Aristotelian ideas of excellence and flourishing to Eastern concepts of mediation and self-control, this idea of self-mastery is at the core of philosophies for self-improvement around the world.

This means that before you can turn your gaze outward and start plotting the takeover of your industry, you must first look inward. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? And how are you able to manage your thoughts and emotions?

The answers to those questions are vital prerequisites to solve to master yourself before you can start leading and inspiring others.

Help Employees Define Their Work

We all know that employees are supposed to be “engaged” and “share your vision.” But how do you help them do that, exactly? It is vital that you make employees see how they directly contribute to the larger goal, and why that larger goal matters. Define their work, yes, but also leave room for employees to define it themselves. 

Create a Lively Company Culture

There’s a difference between running a tight ship and being a tyrant. There’s a reason we didn’t list Stalin alongside FDR and Churchill, after all. Strength and control alone do not make for good leadership, and an obsession with it can create the type of paranoid iron fisted-ness that dictators are made of. Instead, try to foster a company culture in which everyone feels free to and, indeed, wants to contribute.

Armed with these tips, you’ll be able to lead your team towards a brighter future.

Originally published at https://danidhenga.com/discovering-different-ways-to-lead/

How to Leverage Your Strengths to Be Your Own Boss

Want to hear something funny about freelancing? While a lot of people make the switch to freelancing to “be their own boss” or “do their own thing,” the popular construct of “the ideal, successful freelancer” seems to consist of a conspicuously small cluster of traits. This kind of freelancer pounces on every opportunity, is a mini-mogul, and has their elevator pitch down pat. It’s like leaving the “successful company employee” box only to feel pressured to fit into the “successful freelancer” box.

For instance, a good friend of mine let me know she had left her job at a design agency and begun to pursue freelance graphic design full-time. When she asked me if I had any pointers for a newbie solopreneur, I suggested she tap into her network and let everyone know she was available for projects.

My advice was met with a bit of hesitancy. She was afraid of coming off too salesy. My friend is certainly not alone. If you’re uncomfortable with the hustle or having to put yourself out there, don’t fret.

What I’ve found to be the most useful in building your own business? Tap into your inherent strengths and ways of being. Here’s how:

Use Your Abilities as a Natural Connector to Build Your Network

If you’re a natural connector and helper (like me), think about cultivating your network by building rapport on LinkedIn and Twitter. My good friend Kate is a pro at connecting with folks on Twitter by engaging them in message threads. What’s more, because she’s so active on LinkedIn, and is connected to editors and marketing managers, she’s usually the first to know of cool freelancing writing gigs.

I’m definitely more behind-the-scenes when it comes to connecting colleagues with opportunities. I get a nagging feeling when I can see how two people can benefit each other professionally, and feel inclined to link people up. I typically spend a few minutes shooting an introductory email or providing referrals to someone seeking freelancing help.

Focus On Creating Standout Work

If the work itself is strong, then people will find you. My partner is an artist and because of his compelling, unique work, people reach out to him. He’s received commissions from major food brands, participated in shows funded by corporate sponsors, worked with innovators in the immersive art space such as Meow Wolf, and collaborated with major fashion labels. His Instagram presence and press clippings have made him an even more powerful magnet for opportunities.

If you’re most comfortable putting yourself out there in the world by way of what you make or do, then focus on the work itself. Whether you put a unique spin on things or simply produce rock-solid work, people will take notice and seek you out.

Home in on Your Personal Brand

Some folks are naturals at personal branding. They know how to convey their story and message through their online presence, and how to fold that message into the work they do. Some are more comfortable being more visible as a spokesperson of sorts and identifying themselves as experts in a specific niche.

If branding is where your strengths lie, then you can use that to position yourself to land more gigs or to serve as a brand spokesperson of sorts for your clients, then continue to increase your visibility through your personal brand and individual story.

Get Super Niche

It’s easy to feel intimidated when you’re getting your feet wet. A few years ago I attended a marketing presentation for small businesses. One of the panelists used to head the marketing department for a major company that made instant rice. She said that rather than cater to the broadest possible market for instant rice, they focused on their most devoted consumers, for whom instant rice was a daily part of their lives. Bottom line: Don’t be afraid of getting very specific with your audience.

For the unfamiliar, getting niche is figuring out exactly what services or products you offer in a specific industry. For instance, maybe you’re a graphic designer who specializes in data visualization in the health and tech fields. Or you’re a logo and branding expert in the beauty industry. That kind of specificity will do wonders for getting you noticed.

A lot of freelancers when just starting out don’t want to feel boxed in due to fear of getting bored or missing out on opportunities. They would rather dabble in a bunch of different industries and offer a bevy of skills. I get it. But here’s the thing: It’s far easier to land work if you get deep within a specific industry. And at least at first, start looking for jobs within a single niche and go from there.

Focus on Connecting Needs to Wants

Freelancing is a lot like dating. You’re on this ultra-connected superhighway with a bunch of  people who are looking for something specific, all trying to meet someone who fits their criteria. Some of the solopreneurs who I admire the most seem to be really skilled at connecting wants to needs. They’re super organized and have the intake questionnaires handy when making initial contact with a potential client.

When you’re connecting with a potential client, it helps to know where they’re headed, and how they’d like you to help them get there. On the flip side, you’ll want to gauge whether it’s a good fit with your larger goals. Sure, getting paid for a gig that has nothing to do with what you want to do could help you cover bills, but how will it help you in the long run?

By focusing on connecting needs to wants, and pinpointing your particular zone of genius, it can help you stand out from the crowd. After all, someone out there certainly could use your talent and know-how. And instead of thinking that you’re tactlessly hawking your wares, so to speak, just focus on how you can solve a problem, or alleviate what’s painful or hard for someone else to do.

To build a thriving freelancing business, you don’t have to fit into this image of the brash hustler with impenetrable gusto. You can arrive at success using your natural interests and well-honed skills. The most important thing is to get started and figure out what jives best with you.

The post How to Leverage Your Strengths to Be Your Own Boss appeared first on MintLife Blog.

from MintLife Blog https://blog.mint.com/early-career/how-to-leverage-your-strengths-to-be-your-own-boss/
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3 Ways Female Leaders Can Successfully Manage Multigenerational Teams

women leadersWritten for EO by Lu Zhang, the founder and managing partner of Fusion Fund and a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Upper management has a gender problem. According to 2018 data from Pew Research Center, only 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and less than a quarter of boardroom seats among Fortune 500 companies are occupied by women. The startup world isn’t immune, either: A 2019 report by Silicon Valley Bank found that half of startup leadership teams include no women at all.

To close this gap, many organizations are encouraging risk-taking and mentoring among their female employees. But these strategies simply aren’t enough. Once women do reach top leadership positions, they find themselves wildly outnumbered by their male counterparts. They face deep-rooted stereotypes, particularly among older team members. Many women leaders develop imposter syndrome, an unshakable feeling their success isn’t deserved.

When I became the leader of a team with male colleagues who were older than me, I bumped up against many of these stereotypes. People assumed that I wouldn’t have big ambitions or that I’d be aggressive and hard to work with if I did. They thought I wouldn’t be able to handle older male colleagues. They would automatically assume an older male team member was the leader, rather than me, the young female. The list goes on.

These stereotypes are particularly harmful to women entrepreneurs. Recent data from TechCrunch Disrupt New York City found that women are twice as likely to be viewed negatively when asking for money. And according to data from PitchBook and All Raise, female-founded startups received just over 2 percent of venture capital funding in 2018. The statistics are even more grim for women of color, who received less than 1 percent.

The onus shouldn’t be on women to diffuse stereotypes. However, we also must work with what we have. I have used the following tactics throughout my own career to prove naysayers wrong. The key is to trust yourself and, perhaps more importantly, to project unwavering confidence and authority.

1. Create an open, communicative environment. Be straightforward about what you expect from team members, and provide opportunities for people to both get and give honest feedback. When people feel heard, they’re more likely to respect you as a leader and feel like valued members of the team. By creating an environment of open communication, you’ll be able to better identify problems and stereotypes and confront them head-on.

2. Focus on results. Experience is overrated as a measuring stick for the value employees bring to the table. Instead, steer the team toward placing a heavier value on results and solutions. Set specific goals and establish a clear structure for decision-making that is rooted in hard, rather than anecdotal, evidence. When you get a win, own your role in the success, but also give credit to your team.

3. Stay calm in the face of antiquated attitudes. When you do encounter a sexist attitude, don’t waste your energy getting mad. Anger won’t change a person’s mind, but you might shift his attitude by refusing to stoop to his level and by demonstrating how a real leader acts: strong, confident, and dedicated to results. Again, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of women to “fix” sexist attitudes, but the reality is that, as leaders, we’ll occasionally bump into them. That said, I’ve converted more than one person with a sexist attitude into a loyal business partner.

Being a female leader in VC and tech has its challenges. But by following the tactics above, I’ve won respect from my older male colleagues and experienced years of success.

Lu Zhang is the founder and managing partner of Fusion Fund, a company dedicated to promoting early-stage venture capital for entrepreneurs. She’s also an elite member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was nominated as a World Economic Forum Davos 2018 Young Global Leader.

The post 3 Ways Female Leaders Can Successfully Manage Multigenerational Teams appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

from Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization https://blog.eonetwork.org/2019/09/3-ways-female-leaders-can-successfully-manage-multigenerational-teams/
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