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January 23, 2012

How to Position Yourself: 6 Easy Steps – A SPN Exclusive Article

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Small business is pretty competitive these days, whether you’re a professional speaker, a lawyer or a software provider. What are you doing to get noticed by meeting planners, industry leaders, and your clients? Making loads of cold calls and strewing Faxes all over the world? Buying email lists to total strangers? Come on! The secret word is positioning. I consult 90% of the time and only speak 10% of the time for my daily bread, so I have zero time to cold call and plead with meeting planners or worse, total strangers from a call sheet. I position myself as a subject-matter expert through write-ups and blog posts that I write to create business opportunities coming at me, and so can you.

Adhere to this 6-Step Process to professional positioning with words:

Have Sustenance

This one is obvious. It’s rather easy for professional speakers, you’d think, but you’d be shocked how they and business leaders at large cannot really explain what that is. Quick Answer: Something readers can use straightaway that doesn’t require (vital word there) that they call you to fill out the blanks. Of course, a fraction will because they don’t have the time to do what you whatever it is you just taught them but love it all the same. Cha-ching!

Write Good Stuff

They have to be informative and easy to read. Your piece has a better opportunity at publication if it tickles the funny bone, so use humor that supports your arguments (not just jokes). Your topic’s not funny? Hey, with a little imagination and half a bottle of barbecue sauce, you can make a burning hen-house full of baby chicks enjoyable. (Try to get that picture out of your head, go on.)

Find Your Venue

Years ago, you could find Ulrich’s Guide to Periodical Literature at the library and spend the day looking up publications, sorted by subscription and subject matter that back up your concepts. Now of course you can go on-line to http://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com/login and register to use their service.

This is print periodical stuff, but blogs are even more important if you get in the appropriate ones. Just Google your topic and the really huge blogs (translation, big following) will appear, or Google blog rankings and the leading websites with blogs by categories like Technorati will turn up. Click on the blogs you like and find their submission procedure or editorial contact to figure out if they accept external content (some don’t, some do). Now develop your list of publications and blog sites by the subjects you cover. Every time you write on that subject, you have a list of probables that might accept it (with some modifications to get it in their format).

Entice Them to Your Sales Funnel

Write a byline at the end of your piece that lets the reader to talk to you by phone, email, and whatever you do, include your website URL (or a landing page on it) as a hyperlink. That hyperlink is one more back link to your website, which not only supplies an avenue in for the reader, but it boosts your website page rank for your SEO endeavors.

You can even provide a bounce back or lead magnet in the byline where the reader can contact you to get a top ten list or something else they may want for free. Of course, link directly to that freebee so they don’t have to work a lot to find it. Then make them enter their email addresses to get it, and that puts them into your sales list. Opportunities aplenty.

Submit Again and Again

Each week I write one to two pieces that right now we call blog posts. I post them on my website. I promptly develop a library of content that I have produced that expresses my expertise. It takes a little work, but you can then make versions of your initial blog pieces, either segments with only an aspect of the text or the entire content, re-written so that it is original in the Internet world.

I can write a whole article (actually I think I will) on making unique material from your really original content the proper way. There are plenty of article spinning tools around that can help you rewrite things, but be careful with these. Unedited even the best spinning applications will create a load of useless rubbish that is neither enjoyable and gets you the Google slap. I pay a virtual assistant (VA) every week to re-create 2-3 of my articles with the same ideas but completely different headlines, subtitles, and body subject, and then submit for me to my top 10 outlets.

Promote Yourself Socially

You can promote your blog posts via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Groups, etc. Most bloggers do. It’s just as big a deal to market the links of the blogs that publish your write ups. Your byline will give a means of getting to your site, as will well-placed text hyperlinks within the article, but by promoting the other guy’s blog, it advances your authority as a subject matter expert. It’s not only you that posted this piece on a site you control, but now a noted authority site thinks enough of you to publish your articles. That makes a big difference on your click-thrus from the byline to your website and on your ultimate conversion rate.

Keep submitting and promoting. If you observed these steps, the law of averages (my hit rate is about 75%) says your name will be in print or online. The phone starts ringing or the contact page starts generating and you’re in business.


Karl Walinskas is the CEO of Smart Company Growth, a business development and cost management consulting firm for small to mid-size enterprises. He has made a career of leading, inspiring and raising the game of small business people. He is author of numerous articles and the Smart Blog on leadership, business communication, sales & service, public speaking and virtual business and Getting Connected Through Exceptional Leadership, available in the Smart Shop, Amazon.com, or Barnes&Noble.com. He can be reached at kwalinskas@smartcompanygrowth.com.

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