Looking for New Ways to Serve your Target Audience and Make Money? Try Affiliate Marketing!

In case you haven’t yet tapped into it, affiliate programs can be a *great* source of additional income for anyone who has a sphere of influence.

How big does that sphere of influence have to be you ask? Well, if they are like-minded and share similar interests, it doesn’t have to be very big at all – maybe a couple hundred people. The more important question is – how influential are you to that sphere of influence?

Where to start? Are there products/services/providers you LOVE? Chances are, they have an affiliate program. Go to their website and look. Probably near the bottom of the home page, sometimes near the top. There could be a link that says “Affiliates” or “Referral Partners” or “Referral Partner Program.” <see example illustrations at the bottom of this post> Click that link and find out how to sign up to be an affiliate. If you don’t see a link, and you believe that the company is big enough to have a program, send them a message via the contact form on their website.

As you blog/post on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, etc and speak about your daily life and interests, you can insert your affiliate links and when someone clicks your link to find out more, their IP address is generally “hard coded” to your link and whenever they return to the site to make purchases, you get an affiliate commission. Typical affiliate programs pay 20-50% commission on the products bought through your affiliate links! In some cases, that can mean some serious dough!

And, think you don’t have time to recommend these products? WRONG! Most quality affiliate programs give you sample posts/tweets to use which you can use to promote their products and just insert your affiliate link. Then you can use a tool like Hoot Suite to schedule posts to go out on your various social networks, or include them in your email updates, or blog posts.

**Things to Note**

  • The more of an ‘invitation’ that you are to these products and programs, the more effective you will be. Natural communication about them rather than straight promoting
  • Keep in mind that when promoting on social media, you should only promote less than 20% of the time that you are online. If you ‘use’ your online networks strictly for promotion, your sphere of influence will stop paying attention to you. Use a majority of your posts to provide value and engage your audience.
  • Know that in order to get people to click on your affiliate links and take action, you may need to post things several times on a variety of the social sites you participate in. This isn’t a ‘post it one time, make a million dollars’ gig. Although, anything is possible!
  • Ask yourself if the products/services that you would like to recommend from a certain provider will resonate with your tribe
  • The more connected you are in various niches, the easier this will become. For instance, being an active member of a hiking group online and then evaluating hiking equipment and sharing that info within the hiking group will be more effective than just posting it to all of your Facebook friends in general.

Enjoy playing with this, it can be a really fun way to make extra income!! There are people out there who make a tremendous living from just affiliate marketing alone!

Here are a few affiliate programs I participate in and recommend:

Rikka Zimmerman, Consciousness Facilitator, World Changer, click here.

REI, Inc. (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), for the best in outdoor equipment, click here

Certus Professional Network, Denver’s best Networking Organization, click here.

Social Media Manager School, quality training program to turn you into a social media manager, click here.

 

REI affiliate program, REI.com

REI affiliate program, scroll to the bottom of REI.com

Rikka Zimmerman's referral partner program

Rikka Zimmerman’s referral partner program, scroll to the bottom of RikkaZimmerman.com

10 Steps to a Successful Social Media Strategy, Part I; Social Media Marketing Goals & Objectives

Strategy – the preeminent component of your social media marketing efforts. Without it, the question, “what’s the ROI from my social media marketing efforts” cannot even be answered or addressed accurately. When I hear people say “I’m not getting results from social media,” my first question to them is “where is your social media strategy?” and “What are you measuring your results with?” Their response is typically the deer-in-headlights look.
deer in headlights

So, over the next several months, I’ll be covering my Mistress of Social Media™ Strategy Model, a step-by-step roadmap for building your measurable, rock-solid strategy.
The first component in this formula is setting goals and objectives. This is where you set the targets for your online efforts; how can you know where you’re going or if you’ve arrived there if you don’t know what you’re measuring, or measuring against?
Your social media goals and objectives should directly relate to the goals of your company. I will use a fictitious business as an example throughout these blog posts to illustrate how this all gets put into play. A close friend of mine in Denver and I tend to get bored always saying the same thing when we meet other business owners and get the standard question “what do you do?” So she made up a response – she’s a “Jellymaster” for the nation’s aquariums. She travels around the country as a consultant to the aquariums, mating the jellyfish and ensuring their quality and longevity of life. And, she has mastered the art of delivering this information with a straight face. Yes, you can chuckle :-) She usually throws in fun facts like “Did you know that jellyfish are the #3 attraction at most aquariums?” She then follows up with the comment, “It’s my mission to make it the #2 attraction by 2015!”
Typical goals and objectives for companies who are using social media to market their brands:
• Increase brand awareness, strengthen brand
• Acquire contacts
• Generate prospects
• Generate sales
• Increase customer retention
• Improve customer service/contact
• Increase SEO & website traffic
• Grow business partnerships

Here are the steps, simplified: Determine an overall business goal or objective, then lay out the social media goal(s) that can help you achieve that overall business goal, and lastly, nail down the action steps you and your team will take to reach these social media goals.

Set goals

Using the Jellymaster as an example, one of her overall business objectives is to increase her jellygigs by 20% this calendar year (from 20-24.) My friend, we’ll call her Sandra, knows that this objective requires that she get introduced to and have webcast demo meetings with 10 new VPs of Sea Life Quality at aquariums each year. This year she needs 4 new VPs to hire her. Knowing this, Sandra can set her social media goals in order to meet her business objectives.

One of her major social media goals will be to increase brand awareness through her online efforts. She can break this down into tactical action steps to get her to her goal. First, she will want to identify her tribe (more about this in Part 2 of this blog series), then make sure that her online image is consistent across platforms and represents her brand culture, core competencies, design look &feel, and overall marketing message.

Next, she could reach out to four new aquarium CEOs or VPs of Sea Life Quality via social media each quarter in order to secure enough webcast meetings. Sandra also sets the goal to blog & vlog weekly using keyword optimized content to keep and boost Search Engine Optimization & to be seen as the Subject Matter Expert in her industry.

Sandra also attends the annual Aquarium Enthusiasts Expo, which attracts her potential clients and presents her with an opportunity to get connected with them in person. She uses LinkedIn to conduct research on the people she knows will attend the conference and arranges mutual connections to introduce them in person while she’s at the expo.

We’ll get into the tactical, day-to-day implementation ideas for Sandra’s social media strategy later in this series of articles. We will also show the importance of measurements and metrics in determining your level of success in achieving your objectives in further articles. Gather your team and set those goals!

Home Remedies for Removing Fruit Flies

I had to write this blog post because these dang insects are driving me nuts, I’m sure there’s someone out there in my tribe who’s getting driven nuts by them too! I will let you know which remedy works best!

Embed Facebook Posts on Your Website/Blog!

Have you seen? You can embed public Facebook posts on your blog or website!! This example is from my Facebook page and is posted as a blog post on my WordPress blog:

So, what is this good for?

  • Giving Facebook posts with good engagement more views
  • Getting visual, engaging content on your blog
  • Exposing more of your blog subscribers and readers to your Facebook presence and give them the opportunity to “like” your page and interact with your brand
  • A cool way to “change up” the same old same old format of your blog posts

It’s easy…

In the top right corner of your FB status, click on the upside down arrow and select "embed post"

In the top right corner of your FB status, click on the upside down arrow and select “embed post”

 

Select the entire embed code, copy it, and then paste it in the text editor field of your blog post.

Select the entire embed code, copy it, and then paste it in the text editor field of your blog post.

Logged in to your Facebook Business page, you can go to any status update that is a public post, then:

Click on the little drop down arrow in the top right hand corner of that status

Select “Embed Post”

Copy the entire code that pops up and then you can paste that code in to the “text” editor field of your blog post, save draft, preview, and voila! your Facebook status is viewable in your blog post.

 

 

For a bit more information, straight from the mouth of Facebook, click here.

 

Have you tried this embed functionality yet? What do you think about it?

New Facebook Feature – Photo Comments!

Quick Update: You can now comment with a photo on updates… via your personal profile…

comment with pic

 

Cool, huh? Much more fun to engage with a photo… and perhaps this will result in me using far less emoticons to convey my sarcasm or other emotion. I can just take “selfies” of my reaction to someone’s post:

photo

 

I love this new feature! Give it a try!

Social Media Engagement Success – It’s All in the Foundation

A question I get frequently from small business owners is “how do I get more fan engagement” This point usually points to the lack of a developed content strategy, or the need to tweak their existing strategy.

As marketers of any brand, there are two assets to work with – time and money. Large companies (Starbucks, Nike, etc) have almost endless amounts of money and time to spray content out to wide gamut of audiences. Small businesses have one of these assets and that is time, which we need to spend wisely targeting the people we enjoy working with, those who know, like and trust us and will recommend us to everyone they know. As you know, social media and contemporary marketing as a whole relies on ROE – Return On Engagement. There are many pitfalls small business owners fall into that contribute to minimal engagement in the content we produce – on your website (blog, vlog, audio) and on the social sites in which you participate.

The first is that you haven’t truly identified who your target market (or as I like to refer to it, tribe) is and therefore you are not creating content specifically for them, which means that you are probably trying to be ‘all things to all people’ which translates to serving no one online. The content that twenty somethings want to consume is very different from that of the sixty year olds, as one illustration of this point.

The second, is that you are not giving them content in the format they want to receive it. This point ties directly in with the previous because knowing the demographics and behaviors of your audience is key to deciding what type of content to deliver. For instance, is your content primarily text based and does it point people to countless articles on your site and other sites? This tends to work well for readers who are over 50, however, if you don’t shake up your content and delivery now and then, you may see drops in participation. As another example, is your content consumers and clients made up primarily of 30-somethings? In this case, you’ll definitely want a healthy mixture of video, images, audio, and some written content.

The third is the content itself. Producing content that is strictly related to your business can be boring, while producing “entertainment” content can muddle your message. A healthy balance of educational subject matter expertise content and entertaining content is best. For example, if you are a cosmetic dentist who’s clientele is affluent women 45-65 years old, a healthy mix of content would be related to cosmetic dentistry (showing before and afters, videos of case studies, etc.) and also would share information about the community events she’s interested in and the articles on topics that matter most to her). This all, of course, requires getting to know your tribe well. social media engagement formula If you would like to create a DIY Content Marketing strategy, I recommend reading Get Content, Get Customers by Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett. Your content strategy is an important foundation of your social media strategy.  If you already have a content strategy and you feel as though you are looking for more ‘tactical’ step-by-step ideas for Facebook fan pages and such, I recommend checking out Amy Porterfield or Hubspot. Your overall social media strategy is comprised of: Objectives, Tribe, Content, Team, Brand Guidelines, Onboarding, Channels, Tactics, Metrics, Monitoring, and Modifying. When these items are applied to your social media efforts, they will create engagement, and they will create habit that you and your staff can adhere to and re-examine semi-annually for ultimate social media marketing success.

What hit you as the biggest “aha” in this article? Or what’s one thing you can go and apply to your business?

Why Leaders Who Produce Regular Quality Content Will Win

Participation Inequality 90/9/1 theory

Photo from Nielsen Norman Group

A concept I learned many years ago, which has helped me understand the psychology of Internet users and my clients, is known as the 90-9-1 theory of Participation Inequality. Studied and reported first and most by Will Hill and Jakob Nielsen. This theory states that, on the Internet, 90% of users are lurkers, producing almost no content, 9% of users are producing and contributing from time to time, and 1% of users are very active and produce most of the online contributions.

Why is this theory so intriguing to me? I would go to networking events, coffee shops, cocktail parties, and interact with people and time and time again I heard “Meghann, I just read your blog or watched your video or read your post on Facebook, etc. and I loved what you had to say.” And inevitably, looking at said blog posts, videos, other content, I noticed those people didn’t comment, share the content, or even “like” it! I was really befuddled by this because I am a flagrant commenter, interactor, sharer, and liker of other people’s stuff. I was having a conversation with a friend one day and he told me about this theory and it all clicked. A vast majority of people are lurkers.

What does this mean for my business and for my clients? I keep putting out quality content. Even if it seems like people aren’t reading, watching or listening, I keep creating. I use new tactics to draw comments and shares out of my followers. I niche in more to my tribe and laser-focus my content to them. After all, there are an estimated 7 billion internet users out there. Am I going to be reach all of them? No! Nor do I want to; I want to reach the members of my tribe with the content I produce.

My tribe is women industry leaders and their teams who want to transform their marketing and catapult their business into the spotlight. Industry leaders are subject matter experts. They have a lot to say about their area of expertise. And for the most part, they are able to express their expert content well in one of three forms on their website: blog (written content with visual aids), vlog (videos), or plog (podcasts). And because their website is the hub of all of their marketing, and there is so much value in producing regular content for their tribe (and an  unending supply of content ideas), I encourage my clients to strive to be part of the 1%.

What’s the general formula for becoming part of the 1% you ask?

  • Hire a consultant to create your contemporary marketing strategy and train you on it
  • Build a ‘sticky’ website, and content and sales funnels
  • Connect with your tribe via your social networks, email distribution lists, websites
  • Produce regular viral content your tribe wants to consume in the form they want to consume it
  • Share that content with your tribe and ask them to share it
  • Test new ideas with your tribe, find new ways and new places to engage them, provide them continuous value, evaluate your results
  • Rinse and repeat

What will you get for being part of the 1%? Great SEO, a loyal tribe of raving fans who shares your viral content regularly, a positive reputation that precedes you and leaves you little need for introduction anywhere, more clients/customers than you know what to do with. Sound good? I think so!!

Here’s an incredible case study of an industry leader, Marcus Sheridan, who has proven this theory to be true. And to prove that this can be done by any leader in any industry, he’s the perfect example – he sells fiberglass pools.

Are you a leader? Do you have what it takes to be part of the 1%?

My tribe

Best Bootcamps in Denver, Blunt Force Training

I see a lot of posts for bootcamps that say things like “no more excuses,” “blast your fat,” but really none of that language appeals to me. What I love about Blunt Force Training is that the trainers are personable and they care about you and what you want to create in your life, there is a great community of like-minded people who are fun to work out with, they have a sports chiropractor and a somatic specialist (a massage therapist that is skilled in helping people with injury elimination and performance enhancement) on staff and in the building to get you to your optimal self, and they offer bootcamps nearly every hour of every day and never repeat the same work out. Oh, and they have yoga and kickboxing too.

So, I guess if they had to advertise like traditional gyms they could be the “all around best, most encouraging, fun, creative, supportive and all-inclusive gym in Denver.” Your first visit is always free, so head to http://Blunt-Force.com and check out the schedule. You won’t regret it!

 

 

Yes, I'm willing to show sweaty pictures of myself, that's how awesome this gym is!

Yes, I’m willing to show sweaty pictures of myself, that’s how awesome this gym is!

 

 

 

 

That's me in the pink jumping!

That’s me in the pink jumping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sledgehammer!

Sledgehammer!

Push it

Push it

 

425820_350731274971804_1159466336_n

Sometimes we’re even synchronized!

Networking Tips: Online or Offline, Connection is Everything

Whether you are just starting out in business or you’ve owned a company for years, you know that connections and authentic relationships are everything. And if you are a newbie entrepreneur, chances are you’ll spend a good amount of time your first couple of years running around town having way too many coffee meetings, resulting in repetitive caffeine crashes.

Why not save yourself some time, and some gas, by meeting new people online? I have met more quality business connections through online networking and have spent a fraction of the time that it takes to go to in-person events. This simple formula for networking success can be applied online and offline.

1.       Form authentic, meaningful connections with members of your tribe. Your tribe is made up of the people you want to serve through leadership as a subject matter expert. They are your customers, prospects, referral partners, friends, supporters, and raving fans. Getting clear on the shared characteristics, habits, interests, and desires of your tribe is key when connecting with them. Figure out who they are, then ask your friends to introduce you to them at networking events. Similarly, ask your well-connected friends online to connect you (personally) with the people who fit the description of your tribe.

 

When you begin your new online relationship with a member of your tribe, make sure to personalize it as much as possible. Make note of the information they have on their profile and engage them in conversation. Send them a “new friend video” that is a non-soliciting introduction to who you are and what you’re up to in the world.

2.       Figure out what’s most important to them by asking questions that help you get to know them authentically. Get more value out of networking by asking questions of those you meet like, “What do you do for fun? What is your favorite non-profit or cause you believe in? What’s an endeavor you’re working on right now in case I or someone in my network can help you?”

 

Ask those same questions of your new online connections. Show them they’re not just another friend on Facebook or connection on LinkedIn.

 

3.       Perform systematic follow up. Don’t let networking connections go by the wayside; create a spreadsheet or use your CRM system to keep track of follow up. I suggest friending them on Facebook, connecting with them on LinkedIn, or, if you aren’t able to find them in either of those places, send them an email and ask if they would like to connect somewhere online.

 

When it’s a new friend you met online, following up is even more important. Put them in a new friends list on Facebook, create a spreadsheet of follow up sequence, and reach out to them on a personal level several times before you even begin talking about business.

 

4.       Provide value in every interaction. In your follow up phone calls, meetings, and communication on social sites, help others as much as possible. Connect them with valuable resources, email them links to blog posts you’ve written that could assist them with a current project, comment, like, and share their content on social networks, and engage them whenever you can.

One last point to acknowledge. If you can approach it online and offline with the attitude of turning the people you meet into clients, you may be sorely disappointed. However, if you can go about it all with the attitude of getting connected to more people in your tribe who can be advocates of you and your brand, it opens you up to possibilities of endless referrals, and raving fans. Looking at networking as finding the golden geese will assist you way more than trying to find golden eggs everywhere you go.

What says you? Where have you found your golden geese?

 

Define networking

GOTCHA! How to Market a Product or Service Visually

If you’re reading this blog post it’s probably because the image that goes along with it grabbed your attention. If not, you are now looking for the image within this blog post and you’re going to read it. Perhaps you came to this blog post from Pinterest, or maybe from Facebook or Twitter or an RSS. In any case, it worked, because you’re here.
Do you know why it worked?

Get the attention of those who want your products/services the most!

I know my tribe. I know exactly to whom I am writing. When I write my blog posts or create videos, I visualize my tribe, I open up to the infinite energy that surrounds me, and I let the energy flow through that speaks directly to them as I write.

I have figured out that my tribe thinks visually. They love images and if they love the content on or with that image, they will click them, and go to the source of the content. I have trained myself to think visually and can pick images and words that will speak directly to them and will educate, entertain, and/or engage them.

Marketing my business has become far more fun now that I understand and apply this concept. Understand who your tribe is, find out how they like to be communicated to, and deliver your messages in their language and in the way they like to receive it.

I bring up Pinterest in the image illustrating this blog because it is the fastest growing social media site and drives more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, and YouTube combined. There are many more women on Pinterest than men, by far. Women go on Pinterest to swap recipes, create virtual vision boards and wish lists, pin things that inspire them, and, they follow posts that intrigue them to their website of origination.

Once you’ve delineated your tribe and have determined whether or not they spend a good amount of their online time on Pinterest, and that they are drawn toward images, you can begin to get creative and think of ways to convey your expertise through images. These images should be housed on your blog and should contain at least a couple of paragraphs of keyword-rich content expanding upon the subject your image addresses. Then, the image should be pinned from your blog on one or more of your boards which you’ve titled creatively. I recommend you maximize other means of getting these images out to your tribe, such as email, Facebook, Twitter, QR code, etc.

Have you thought of some images you could create while reading this blog? Jot them down! Keep a list of topics you’d like to cover and start taking photos with your smart phone to build a stash of backgrounds or use royalty free photo sites to find photos from others.

And tell me, what business or personal development book is on your nightstand right now?