Crowd Hydrant Blog

 

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Recent Posts

Tracking the Impact of Content Marketing

 

You can track the impact of content marketing on sales, and many companies are doing it with incredible accuracy. But, don’t expect results overnight. Remember, patience is a virtue.

The companies companies featured in this article, including Dell, L’Oreal, and Target took time to let their content seep through their communities of customers. That’s how you should consider your content when you begin to enact it in your business. What you are putting out there is important, but allowing it time to grow naturally, through your effort and your customers interests, work hand in hand. Your company is building a voice and personality with your content.

The first thing you must do is start creating content, that is first and foremost. This is the new way of marketing for an ever growing electronically connected marketplace. The longer you wait before starting, the more time competitors in your field have to connect with your target audience.

Second, do not rush your company out into the Internet with content, regardless of how good it might be. Allow yourself a steady pace, this will keep you from bombarding the social feeds. 93% of marketers use social media for business, and you don’t want to be just a point in that percentage - you want to be found! A well-paced start builds demand over time with anyone who is reading it. Further, it allows you to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t work for your company.

Finally, don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. In the CMO.com article mentioned above, L’Oreal Americas CMO, Marc Speichert said, “What we realized is that we shouldn’t create just one piece of content that will be relevant to the majority of people. Instead we’re creating many different assets that address the specific needs of consumers.” For L’Oreal, that “implies a different content supply chain.”

 

The All Mighty Search Engine

 

In my last post, I talked some about the importance of content marketing in business. When you create interesting content you help your company stand out. Your content gets visibility through your own sharing, on social media sites, and through search engines like Google and Bing.
 

There are several ways people find your website. The first is called organic, meaning people know your web address and type it in. This usually accounts for the largest percentage of traffic on the average website. The second is refferal, someone sees your link on a different website and clicks on it. Searching for a need or service specifically, makes up a third category of website traffic, with links in marketing campaigns (email, etc.) taking fourth place. So why are search engines still the critical part of content marketing?

 

Simplicity, meaning it’s easier to type in a word or a sentence into, insert search engine here, and find what you are looking for. This goes for everyone and everything. Prospects will see your business on social media sites, especially if you connect and share your content. Yet, if someone is actively searching for a product or service, they’re most likely going to search the web. You’ve got to be visible there.

 

I said a little about who uses search engines in the above paragraph, but to embolden it, everyone uses search engines. It’s second nature now, when we want to know or find something, we Google it.
 

The algorithm is the how, what and backbone of any and all search engines. It’s what translates the sentence, “boots that won’t wear out” into 17,000,000 pages in .17 seconds. The algorithm is the maker or breaker of a web sites traffic.

 

 

Content Marketing in the B2B World

 

You can find anything you want on the internet these days, from how to make a tasty pie to shirts for dogs. That wealth of information comes with a price. You end up sorting through every little post and website that might have something to do with the keywords you typed in. If you’re at home, you might have the time to sort through all this “clutter”, but what about in the business world?
 

When was the last time you actually clicked a banner ad on a website? For that matter, when was the last time you even noticed an ad? Over time we’ve conditioned ourselves to ignore them. For small businesses digital advertising is becoming more difficult to justify. Even big companies struggle to get a return on their investment. This is where content marketing comes to the rescue.
 

Content marketing, as defined by The Content Marketing Institute, is “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience,”. In a simpler sense, its about creating information that informs and/or entertains your prospective customers.
 

Creating worthy content is important but, to increase the effectiveness, a company must also extend itself onto social media networks. A social media presence works like a spider’s web, one snag on any line and you can come to assist and inform. Your community of connections read your content, and when they have problems, think of you to help resolve them.
 

Publishing original content on social networks positions your company and your employees as thought leaders. Take LinkedIn for example. Every time someone is endorsed for a skill, that endorsement is visible to others in their network. It validates the person in their area of expertise. They are now someone in the B2B world that other businesses can come to and ask questions.
 

Now wait, before you go to facebook, twitter or any other social media site and begin making posts and comments, think about your content. You need to say more than “we work with computers”, you need to make the reader stop their scrolling and click on you. Just as the definition says, content marketing is more engaging than a banner ad. Its about demonstrating that your company offers practices that are innovative for the field. When done correctly, it makes your audience want to go beyond what you’ve shared and learn even more about your company.
 

 

SEC Ruling Changes Startup Funding

 

With the recent announcement that it would now allow startups (and other investments) to publicly market their offering, the SEC has opened a whole new world of opportunity in startup funding.

One of the startups we work with is a great example. It formed when a group of passionate people got together and rallied around an idea. In this case the idea was an application of a new technology with serious potential. We spent significant time setting up shop and have worked hard to gain traction in the short time we've been working together.

Soon after we formed our business, we met with our attorney who gave us a lesson on how traditional, venture capital was raised. When he explained the SEC's 81 year old ruling that prohibits startups from advertising their offering, I was gobsmacked.

Crowd Hydrant Announces Investment in New Startup

Crowd Hydrant, a Mason Ohio based business is pleased to announce that it has become an equity shareholder in a new startup, based in Cincinnati, OH called 3Dlt. 3Dlt.com is a 3D printing template marketplace. Industrial designers, inventors, and others will upload their original design files to the site. Consumers will search the designs and purchase them for use, at home on personal 3D printers or through 3Dlt’s network of online and brick and mortar 3D print shops. The site is expected to launch in beta in February, 2013.

Beyond a simple marketplace, 3Dlt will also become a fast track to innovation, allowing people to develop products much more quickly than they would using a more traditional product development process. 3Dlt recognizes this and wants to leverage this capability for social good. To that end, 3Dlt has just launched its first crowdfunding project on Indiegogo. The project will fund an Innovation Challenge to create new products that improve firearm safety. To learn more visit http://3Dlt.com/innovate or view the campaign directly at http://indiegogo.com/gun-safety.

 

Crowdfunding from the Inside Out

 

At Crowd Hydrant we help startups and entrepreneurs leverage crowdfunding for financing and to market their products and services on consignment. We also help businesses use crowdsourcing to drive innovation and reduce the cost of labor-intensive processes. We work with our customers to develop the project, pitch and rewards for these initiatives. We also provide logistical support, helping our clients deliver on their promises.
 
I‘ve spent most of my 20+ year business career in or around commercial printing and lately, everywhere I look, I see an industry in decline. Nearly every application for print has been affected by digital technology. Need to read a manual for some device? Google it. Want to see your latest phone bill? Visit your carrier’s web site. Want to read a book or magazine? Grab your tablet. Need to advertise your business? Unless you’re sitting on a big budget, search engine optimization, email, online ads, and social media – all digital technologies – are the most effective tactics.
 
A few years ago, I became intensely interested in 3D printing and recently I came to two important conclusions:
1. 3D printing is like 2D printing (the production processes are similar and both are being sold and produced online, at retail, and in-home via desktop devices)
2. 2D printers could create a future for their businesses by offering 3D print
 
As I looked around I didn’t see many people talking about this idea, so I started a blog to help evangelize 3D print in the 2D print world. 3D4printers.com was launched about 3 months ago and has been an early success. The site has had a lot of traffic and one of the articles I wrote for the site was published on TechCrunch. With that validation and momentum, I felt this was the time to seek out even more opportunity with 3D printing, which brings me to the reason for this post.  
 

A Future So Bright You'll Need 3D Printed Shades

ProtosThe 3D print-for-pay market is set to explode. Recent advancements in 3D printing, fueled in part by investment from crowdfunding initiatives, are creating a demand for 3D printed objects. Not only are consumers purchasing 3D desktop printers for home use, they’re paying others to print on their behalf, locally at 3D print shops, and online via web-to-print (W2P) sites. An entire industry is being developed to support this demand, creating opportunities from creation to delivery. I’m so bullish on this market that I recently created a blog to cover it and promote its growth.

In 2008, I had the opportunity to partner with the University of Cincinnati’s College of Business and guest lecture a group of undergraduate students. We tasked an Internet Marketing class with developing niche websites that would sell printed products to consumers. The class broke into groups, developed their pitches and shared with the group. We voted and the group elected to move forward with a site that would allow consumers to design and order business card-sized mini resumes. We determined what platform we would sell on, how we would market the site, and how we would produce our product. All we needed was financing.

Crowdfunding has the potential to remove the financial barrier - especially for those in the 3D printing business. Crowdfunding projects can be created quickly and inexpensively, often requiring little more than a working prototype and a kick-ass video. Those economics get even better when your prototype IS your product, as is the case with items printed on demand, in 3D. Several 3D printing projects have already successfully funded on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Even though most of these are related to 3D hardware and software, they’ve paved the way by creating a lot of buzz and educating potential backers about the technology.

Which leads to a thought...maybe there’s a formula here for creating new 3D web-to-print sites?

CROWD + 3D PRINT APPS = NICHE WEBSITE IDEA FACTORY

Crowd Hydrant On Video

Crowd Hydrant's John Hauer recently recently sat down with Michael C. Potter from Plum Street Productions to talk about crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, content marketing and social media.

CLICK THE VIDEO BELOW TO SEE OUR ENTIRE INTERVIEW

 

New Content Marketing Benchmarks

Looking for more data on how B2B companies are using content marketing? A new report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs was recently released. The report entitled, B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends-North America, was based on a survey sent to a sample of B2B marketers at North American companies in August 2012, and summarizes the answers from 1,416 respondents.

From our vantage point, the key takeaways are as follows:

Video Interview With CoupSmart

We recently sat down with Sean Grace, the Marketing Director at CoupSmart to talk couponing, social media, mobile marketing, and innovation.

Retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are looking for ways to grow their presence on social media. Studies show that the number one reason consumers visit brands on social media is to get a deal. CoupSmart, a Cincinnati, OH based company, provides technology that helps retailers build their fan base through a unique app that allows them to distribute coupons on their social media pages.

CLICK THE VIDEO BELOW TO SEE OUR ENTIRE INTERVIEW

Creating Awareness and Engagement with Video

B2B companies like CoupSmart are using video to build awareness, traffic and the time visitors spend on their website. In fact, 70% of respondents in a recent survey of B2B marketers said they were using video as a marketing tactic, up from 52% only a year before.

How are B2B’s using video? In addition to interviews like this, we work with clients to create welcome and intro videos that help them start the conversation, animated videos for conceptual presentations, demonstration videos to show key features and tutorials to train new users, among others.