Don’t Get Zombified: Fight Back Against Summer Brain Drain

Zombies love brains. It’s a fact.

Oh, and they’ll strike at any time and suck your brain up like an ice cream cone. This summer vacation, there will be zombies lurking around every corner waiting to drain your brain – of every valuable piece of information you learned this past school year.

These zombies could take the form of your video game console, your buddies hanging around all day, cruising websites, your comfy bed, or the TV in your room.  Like we said, they’re everywhere. It’s your responsibility to fight back.

Summer Brain Drain is the “zombie” we’re talking about, and this summer slump isn’t just a myth that teachers and parents warn about to spook you into reading your summer reading assignment: it’s a loss that’s been proven across studies and test scores for years. In fact, ask your favorite teacher what they plan to cover in the first month of school next year, and they’ll probably tell you they need to re-teachstudents what they already knew when they left in June.

Worried about zombie brain loss this school vacation? These frightening facts might help prevent you from getting zombified this summer:

So what can you do to keep your brain from being eaten up this summer? Fight back! Read good books, do math problems you’ll see next year, and learn about science topics that interest you (who doesn’t like volcanoes, for example?)

When it comes to staving off the zombies this summer: get armed and ready. Your brain will thank you next fall.

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Guest Post: 5 Lessons Trick-or-Treaters Can Teach Us About Inbound Marketing

Original post featured on the HubSpot blog – October 31, 2011

5 Lessons Trick-or-Treaters Can Teach Us About Inbound Marketing:

Each Halloween the ghouls, goblins, and princesses come out and parade their costumes en masse across towns and cities everywhere. With hundreds of houses and apartments to pick from, what makes some places a raging success, while others can’t get a ‘treater to save their lives? It turns out all of those little super heroes and skeletons can actually teach us a thing or two about our own inbound marketing efforts.

Lesson 1: Make Sure They Know You’re Home

Remember those houses with the lights off, no cars in the driveway, and no decorations adorning the walkway? Not only were they spooky, but you had no idea whether anyone was home to give you candy! Although the occasional trick-or-treater might be brave enough to run up and ring the bell, these houses are generally overlooked even if they have great goodies inside.

Marketing Takeaway: Make sure people know you’re open for business. For marketers, this means always keeping your website up-to-date and providing fresh content through your various online channels such — posting often to your blog and social media accounts, making sure your landing pages are optimized and filled with valuable offers and content, etc. No matter where your visitors stop by, they should always feel like “someone’s home” to help them out.

Lesson 2: Tell a Great Tale

Whether it’s like a haunted mansion, a spooky graveyard, or a zombie apocalypse – what makes your house stand out from the rest? Pull in the candy-grubbers with a great, consistent tale about your home and goodies. Parents and kids alike always remember the places that surprise, enchant, and entertain them, so slap those bolts to your neck, get out the green face paint and lab supplies, and get your Frankenstein on!

Marketing Takeaway: Telling compelling stories is a major part of getting your new audience’s attention. Captivate them by telling the tales you know best. While for trick-or-treaters, this might mean tales of ghosts and gore, for your business, this means sharing riveting case studies, addressing industry problems on your blog, orcreating a valuable ebook to attract and generate leads at the top of the funnel.

Lesson 3: Give Out the Good Stuff (But Don’t Just Give it Away!)

If telling great stories is a major part of getting new ‘treaters to your door, then another big piece of the pie is: what kinds of goodies do you have? The best houses don’t hand out lollipops and hard candies. Instead, they give out the chocolatiest chocolate bars, the chewiest gummies, and the sourest sour candies! Make sure you’re offering the best of the best, and never just leave your goodies on the doorstep unattended. The smart candy-givers know it’s a two-way street: trick-or-treaters request their loot, and candy-givers get a chance to enjoy their goofy little costumes and squeaky thank you’s!

Marketing Takeaway: Give away valuable content freely, and always interact with the folks who stop by! Find your customers’ pain-points, have the conversations they want to hear about most, and talk about the technologies you see revolutionizing your industry in the next few years. Then create ebooks, webinars, podcasts, and other content around these great topics. Just like you require a “trick-or-treat” in exchange for candy from the kids who knock on your door on Halloween, make sure you’re distributing your marketing content in exchange for lead information; use landing pages with lead-capture forms and plan to follow up on visitors’ clicks, form submissions, and downloads with a phone call or a timely lead nurturing campaign.

Lesson 4: Be Prepared. Don’t Run Out.

When you decide to open up your doors to the candy-frenzied masses, don’t get caught off guard when your house is a wild success. Be prepared to bring out more goodies, as the zombies, witches, and dinosaurs keep asking for them. Remember those houses that *gasp* ran out of candy when you were little? Definitely don’t make that same mistake.

Marketing Takeaway: There’s nothing worse than disappointing potential new customers with false hopes of content. Letting potential enthusiasts down on their first visit can almost guarantee they won’t make a second. For marketers, this means having a long list of ideas and content lined up as users come to your site looking for more great resources. Create content calendars, crowdsource new ideas from your employees and customers, and collaborate with like-minded businesses to make sure you can keep delivering those “delicious” goodies that feed your visitors as well as your inbound marketing programs.

Lesson 5: Reward Your Biggest Fans

Remember that pirate who’s been coming to your haunted house for years and bringing new friends every time? Don’t forget to say thank-you and give him the candy bar you know he likes best. Or maybe even an extra one for good measure.

Marketing Takeaway: When it comes to your business’ top fans who absolutely love what you’re doing – send the appreciation right back their way! For Halloween, this might mean a King Size candy bar for your loyal ‘treaters, but for your business, this likely means sending the retweeting love, celebrating your Facebook fanswith “insider” perks, or running a special contest for your biggest advocates. No matter how you choose to thank your best fans and customers, just remember to pay it forward. Who knows, down the road they might even help keep those naughty older ‘treaters from egging your house!

What else can trick-or-treaters teach you about inbound marketing?

Image Credit: scott feldstein

How to Content-Market for Free without a Single Drop of Technological Skill

Not everyone who uses a computer at work all day knows how to code HTML, and it isn’t like our public schools are planning to include a “PHP, Java, and Advanced Devlopment” course in place of Phys-Ed class anytime soon. So, for a business who wants to participate in Content Creation and Inbound Marketing to their website, what’s a non-techie to do?

Well, there are plenty of great content-creation tools that stir up some SEO-juice along the way without a single lick of code, and here are the best

3 Codeless Content Creation Tools Out There

… AND if you can take the extra step of linking these 3 resources together via RSS feeds (no code required) then you’re doing even better. Finally, if you can invest a few dollars into hiring someone to link these resources to your website (or getting someone internal to do it) then you’ve basically given your entire brand an often-updating facelift and a new lease on life.

1. Twitter.com – obviously you’ve heard of it, but do you know how easy it is to set up? If you’ve ever been frustrated that your static website just couldn’t express a single revelation or announcement that your company had EVER, think again. A Twitter account can be opened and up and running (with pretty logos/graphics) in less than five minutes. From here you can share content, update followers about events or seminars, and provide information must faster than you could ever get someone to update your site.

2. Facebook Groups – all you need to do is login, upload a photo, and request friends to join your group and it’s done. Announcements are as easy as hitting the “return” key, and users who might otherwise not go to your website daily now hear from your brand multiple times a week.

3. A Blog* – A blog requires some baby steps to get the maximum benefit out of it, but if you just want to set one up and start sharing your thoughts, then a simple platform like WordPress.com is super easy and the best way to go. All you need to do is define a URL for your blog, and you can be posting to it a few seconds later, e.g. YourBusinessHere.Wordpress.com.

That being said, the distinct benefit of a system like WordPress is twofold: it can be built easily, and it can morph into something much bigger and better down the road. Some small-to-medium sized businesses even use it as a template for their website: which means it can be easily managed and updates without any code – and it’s easy to include pieces from social giants like Facebook and Twitter as you go. The other great thing about WordPress is that you can eventually purchase your own domain for your blog, or fold it into your websites domain as well.

Once you have these 3 pieces set up, you’ve just laid a great foundation for future content marketing success. Sure, you can hire someone to update your website to include these new features, or you can convert your site into a WordPress blog, or spend money on making any of them look nicer… but at the onset as you “experiment” and try new ways to create content and share thoughts with your users – the only cost is the time you put in and the only skills you need are fingers and the internet, so why not give it a shot? It might just change the way you (content) market.

image: www.internetbillboards.com 

Originally posted on the ListEngage Blog – written by Kim Lindquist

Language International: Traveling the World from my Living Room

Language International ImageSeveral months ago I was given an opportunity to travel the world – from the comfort of my own living room! Cambridgebased Language International allows students interested in studying abroad to work with a knowledgeable team of language learning advisors to make their international experience a success.

From comparing programs, cities, and seasons to booking their next language learning adventure, Language International provides guidance all along the way. In order to increase site traffic and improve their SEO, I wrote many keyword-rich articles about the hundreds of cities where Language International places students.

Here are some examples:

Choosing a Country to Learn In

Italian Courses in Italy Description

French Courses in France

Japanese Courses in Tokyo

Not only was this project so much fun to work on, but now I feel I might need to travel to all of the hundreds of cities that I learned about while writing for Language International during this project!