As a longtime friend of Sumèr’s, Blase Ciabaton of TheDirectMailman.com has cohosted several webinars with me and has been featured on our blog in the past. We are delighted to share our new interview with Blase, where he discusses how blogging has helped his business and how it’s become a vital part of his online marketing strategy.
See below for our interview:
1. How do you use your blog, TheDirectMailMan.com, to generate leads?
My blog helps generate leads on a number of fronts. Probably the most obvious is that it helps to attract potential customers who would otherwise never find me.
Perhaps a less obvious benefit is that for existing clients or for people who already know me, but aren’t yet clients, it helps to move them forward in the sales process. In this case, my blog is a vehicle to showcase that I am an expert in my field of direct mail marketing.
Finally, an unanticipated benefit of blogging is that it’s made me a better listener. In many cases, the blog comments that I receive from readers lead to future blog topics. By leveraging the questions and information shared in the comments from my blog, I can be sure that my topics are relevant and interesting to my readers. This also leads to more interaction with visitors to my blog, which then increases quality leads.
2. Do you believe that blogging for business has helped you to express your brand message?
Absolutely—in fact, I’ve created a special animated superhero persona to brand my blog. While I can’t walk around in real life wearing a cape, my blog offers me the flexibility to express my brand and myself in a more creative way.
My mission with my blog is to literally act like a superhero and provide information that is timely, useful, and relevant to my target audience. The fun superhero graphic reinforces my brand message that I want to be the absolute best resource online to help businesses and nonprofits launch more successful direct mail marketing campaigns; I strive to be each reader’s personal superhero.
3. Where does your blog fit into your overall marketing strategy? Where does your blog rank in terms of the most successful marketing strategy you have?
In many cases, my blog is the engine that drives my other marketing initiatives. For example, I can pull a few blog posts together and quickly create a printed newsletter that I can distribute via direct mail to clients and prospects.
The content from my blog has also led me to get published in multiple business publications. I have adapted posts and submitted my own content for publication in business magazines, or in other cases, I’ve been contacted by local media for interviews as an expert in my field because of something they’ve read on my blog.
No doubt, consistently publishing blog posts ranks as one of my most successful marketing initiatives.
4. You’ve managed to merge online and print marketing quite well! How do you use the two in unison to produce your desired results?
Everyone wants loyal customers, but many fail to realize that lack of consistent communication is one of the main reasons that customers leave. Communicating through any single marketing channel will always result in gaps that lead to alienation of certain segments of the customer population. For this reason, I am a huge believer in the importance of integrating marketing efforts across different platforms, and I practice what I preach.
For me, QR Codes are a natural way to connect print with online content. These codes are essentially free to add to printed marketing collateral, and they provide such a convenient way for customers and prospects to interact right from the palm of their hand using a mobile device. QR Codes are the perfect bridge for these two diverse channels.
I think that integrating online and print is much easier than most people realize. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel and create separate content for different channels. In almost all cases, the same content can be repurposed from online and used for print or vice versa. In fact, for a business that wants to establish a consistent brand image with their customers, they will want to synchronize communication across different channels.
5. How have your online marketing strategies evolved over time? What has been your most effective online marketing strategy thus far?
My blog is the backbone for all of my social media activities and is hands down my most effective marketing tool. It would be much more difficult to interact without this content. Every time I publish a new post, I have something to share via Twitter, LinkedIn, and my e-newsletter. Minus my blog, I’d be limited to sharing only other people’s content; the direct link back to my business and me would be lost.
In terms of evolution of my online marketing strategy, I’ve refocused my efforts this year on developing deeper relationships instead of broader relationships. I think it’s very easy to get caught up with the numbers in social media. By obsessing over questions such as How many Twitter followers do I have?, How many LinkedIn connections do I have?, and How many subscribers do I have to my e-newsletter?, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s really important.
A quality relationship with a fellow blogger or peer who can refer me business is worth more than 500 Twitter followers. To develop those relationships, I need to engage with my key contacts by commenting on their blogs, sharing their content using my favorite social media platforms, and being timely and responsive whenever they reach out for help.
This renewed focus on quality interactions versus quantity is so much more rewarding, both personally and financially. It’s also much less stressful than chasing what, in many circumstances, are just arbitrary numbers.
About the Author: In 2009, Blase Ciabaton used his 6 years of expertise as a direct mail professional to launch the blog www.TheDirectMailMan.com. The blog caters to small businesses and tackles issues related to customer prospecting, improving response rates, and identifying targeted mailing lists. If you found this post valuable you may want to sign up for his weekly e-newsletter or following his blog’s RSS feed.
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