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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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March 7, 2014

Tools of the Trade: A Process (and 6 Blogging Tools) I Can’t Live Without

March 7, 2014 | By | No Comments

Blog toolsI got an email the other day from Steve in Madison, WI, asking me for tips on how to blog more effectively and efficiently. Well, Steve — and everyone else — here’s what I do.

  1. It’s all about process. You can’t write regularly about any topic without a really solid process. I’ve developed mine over the course of some 9 years of blogging, plus loads of conversations with good friends like Mike Moran, Rob Petersen, and others about what works for them.
  2. Learning. First, I try to keep up on what’s happening in the world of e-commerce, digital marketing and marketing strategy. I talked a couple of weeks ago about using Feedly to keep track of my favorite news sources every week and keep a fresh list of ideas top of mind.
  3. Archiving. For news stories and viewpoints that I really like (or at least want to give more thought to, I use the web clipping feature in Evernote. Very handy, and it works across desktops, the Web, iOS, and Android, so I’ll always have my content where I want it.
  4. Brainstorming. I’m a big fan of outlining my ideas, though I especially like mind-mapping as a way of thinking through those ideas. These days, I’m using FreeMind (for the desktop) and SimpleMind+ (iOS). I may switch to using SimpleMind for the desktop, but I’ve got lots of all FreeMind maps, so… we’ll see.
  5. Planning. I develop a weekly and monthly content calendar. I haven’t switched to more robust tools yet, and still keep everything in an Excel spreadsheet (which you can download here).
  6. Composing. I love MarsEdit for writing and compiling my posts. No, like really. I’ve highlighted the program in my 2013 Holiday Gift Guide and bemoaned its absence in my list of essential iPad blogging apps way back in 2011. In fact, I’ve used MarsEdit for just about every post I’ve published since roughly 2007 or 2008. While you can definitely write and compose posts within WordPress’s editor, I find it’s easier to keep drafts on my local computer and only upload when they’re close to done. The editor integrates beautifully with WordPress and Tumblr (my two go-to publishing tools), as well as Squarespace, Blogger, Movable Type and lots more. I can’t imagine blogging without it. For images, I like iStockPhoto a lot. And I have a handful of little, but useful Python scripts I’ve put together over the years to help with things like compiling the top monthly posts quickly each month.
  7. Publishing. For me, it’s all WordPress, all the time (I run the self-hosted version at Dreamhost, though am really excited about their Dreampress offering). I’ve looked at most of the other big tools out there (and like many of them), but I’ve been using WordPress for most of my blogging life and can’t imagine changing now.
  8. Promoting. Finally, building a successful blog for your business entails promoting your work… but that’s another post. I’ll be sure and offer more details in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Anyway, that’s what works for me. Do you have a different process? Something you can’t live without? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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February 6, 2014

Your 10 Favorite Topics This Month (January 2014)

February 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

Top content on Thinks - January 2014

Wait a second… how in the world have we made it through the first month of 2014 already? Is it just me or did the last four weeks fly by? Oh… for you, too?

See, I knew it wasn’t just me.

Anyway, as I do every month, it’s time to take a moment and reflect on your favorite posts from the last month. Here’s what you all loved in January:

  1. By far, the most popular post in this past January was a Travel Tuesday entry that asked
    “What’s the State of Hotel Reputation Management?”
    Even more impressive when you consider that it only went live with 4 days left in the month. Of course, that’s no real surprise given that reputation management represents the single most effective way to improve your brand’s digital marketing.
  2. Another Travel Tuesday post takes the #2 slot, this one looking at the “4 Lessons You Need to Know from Google’s Affluent Traveler Report.” Good stuff.
  3. Another big entry from January explored “Trends Shaping E-commerce in 2014: Internet Everywhere.”
  4. “The Minimalist Guide to E-commerce Strategy” was another very popular post, this one coming in at #4.
  5. It’s no secret you all like reading about where digital is heading. Which explains the popularity of this post: “What Your Customers Expect from Mobile and E-commerce in 2014.”
  6. OK, so maybe Yahoo’s not in such bad shape after all. How else do you explain the popularity of this post that asks “Should You Still Listen to Marissa Mayer?” Apparently, you all feel Ms. Mayer’s got a few tricks up her sleeve yet, too.
  7. Mobile commerce will be huge. Well, not just huge, but HUGE. Emphasis, unfortunately, on “will be.” Despite some impressive growth—and significant projected going forward —today there’s still plenty of opportunity. Which led me to ask, “Why Isn’t Mobile Commerce Bigger?” And, you all seemed to find the answer interesting.
  8. For many marketers, search isn’t a marketing channel; it’s the marketing channel. But, given most business’s reliance on search (and, more specifically, Google), it’s worth asking, “Should Marketers Really Trust Google in 2014?”
  9. The Internet continues to shape organizations in myriad ways, including whether employees work in a centralized office, from home, while traveling, or some combination of all three. And, the popularity of this list of the “3 Key Things to Remember About Remote Work” suggests many companies continue to have questions about how to make remote work, um… work for their organizations.
  10. Finally, despite having only gone live with a couple of days left in the month, episode 59 of my Thinks Out Loud podcast, “Are Your Customers Ready for Mobile Commerce?” (along with episode 57, “Internet Strategy in a Changing World”), attracted lots of attention in January.

I’d also recommend you take a look at my slides for “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Internet Marketing” on Slideshare. Not only was it the most popular presentation there this month, but it fleshes out many of the topics in this month’s top posts:

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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July 17, 2013

5 Top Tips from Thinks E-commerce and Marketing All-Stars

July 17, 2013 | By | No Comments

Tips from the Marketing All-StarsI wanted to follow up on yesterday’s list of the 2013 Marketing and E-commerce All-Stars by highlighting why various members made the list. While I don’t have an example from each member (for instance, Inbound.org and Tumblr don’t exactly lend themselves to this type of curation), it should offer a picture of what makes each of these folks special.

  1. Jeff Bullas wrote a piece asking “Are You Waiting to be Perfect Before You Start Your Blog?” Love this line: “If you don’t start then nothing will happen…. it is that simple.” Want more? I also love his piece on How to Unleash the Power of Content.”
  2. Mitch Joel builds on Jeff’s theme, asking What’s The Point In Commenting On Blogs? Mitch offers clear thinking in asking questions like this:

    “…the need to leave the digital equivalent of a high five doesn’t fit with my personality. It’s not an indication that I’m not appreciative of the discourse (quite the opposite, I’m extremely thankful that individuals read the content and feel compelled to comment). I’ve had people leave a comment, then post to Twitter that they have left a comment, then posted a link to the blog post with an additional comment on LinkedIn, Google + and more. There are many social media “experts” who feel that every comment must be acknowledged on a blog post. Does this mean that bloggers must also acknowledge those additional comments, shares and more on every other channel as well?

    Counter-intuitive, but well thought out. And illustrative of the kind of advice Mitch provides every day.

  3. Get Elastic is a bit more prescriptive, noting “only 25% of the 85 retail blogs we tracked in 2007 are still actively updated today” and offering alternatives in “Beyond Blogging: 13 Content Marketing Opportunities for Ecommerce.” Good stuff.
  4. Mike Moran looks at the overall value of content marketing (and many other techniques) when he asks “Does Brand Marketing Still Matter In The Digital Age?” As Mike says, “Digital marketing, in fact, is way more about marketing than about digital.” Worth noting, no?
  5. And let’s close out with Seth Godin. Seth makes a great point (as ever), in his post “The Thermostat And The Frying Pan”

    “There is significant pressure on marketers to get it done fast. And so the inclination to spend a lot, to race around, to turn the thermostat to its most extreme state. Yelling, basically. But all the yelling doesn’t build your brand faster. In fact, it might do quite the opposite. Trusted brands don’t get there by spending their whole budget on one Super Bowl ad.”

As ever, each of the Marketing and E-comemrce All Stars offers a ton of great information, tips, and deep thinking to help you grow your business. Check out the whole list and let their advice help you grow.

Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of strategy, digital marketing, and e-commerce, including:

Tim Peter

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July 16, 2013

The 2013 Marketing and E-commerce All-Stars: The 9 Best E-commerce and Online Marketing Blogs

July 16, 2013 | By | 4 Comments

Blogging all starsWell, it’s that time of year again. As I’d mentioned yesterday, blogging remains an invaluable tool for business to attract customers and grow your business. Happily, a number of bloggers can help you learn how they’ve accomplished those feats, so you can too. So, for the third year running (and fourth overall), I give you the 2013 Marketing and E-commerce All-Star Bloggers:

  1. Future of Business & Communications (Gerd Leonhard). Leading off, we’ve got Gerd Leonhard, who calls himself FuturistGerd. His Future of Business & Communications blog offers countless insights into where technology, your customers, and, ultimately, your business is going. Well worth the read every day.
  2. Biznology Blog (Mike Moran, Editor). As I mentioned last year, Biznology is an All-Star team in its own right, featuring 18 bloggers focused on search and social and their influence on marketing, PR, and the enterprise. Full disclosure, I’m one of those 18 and am honored to be one. Happily, the other 17 do more than enough to overcome that and take home the honor. Required reading for marketers.
  3. Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog (Linda Bustos, Editor). Another holdover from last year, Get Elastic leads the way for e-commerce news and insights. Linda Bustos and her team do an amazing job of highlighting important trends in e-commerce and digital marketing to help you put those trends to work for your business.
  4. Six Pixels of Separation (Mitch Joel). I don’t know what to say about Mitch Joel. So I’ll let Marketing Magazine say it instead: “[the] Rock Star of Digital Marketing… one of North America’s leading digital visionaries.” So, yeah. There’s that. Mitch made the list last year and remains one of the most valuable players for me. Thought-provoking, inspiring, and all-around outstanding.
  5. Seth’s Blog (Seth Godin). Another brilliant marketer, Seth has inspired me for years. Even better, I met him at a Google event last year (see that handsome shot below), and, as it turns out, he’s not just smart, funny, and insightful; he’s a hell of a nice guy too. Tim Peter and Seth Godin
  6. Inbound Marketing Community (Community edited, founded by Rand Fishkin and Dharmesh Shah). From the creative minds leading HubSpot and Moz.com, Inbound.org aggregates the best inbound marketing insights from around the web every single day. An invaluable resource to marketers, it’s worth your time, every time.
  7. Jeff Bullas’s Blog (Jeff Bullas). Forbes, Huffington Post, AdAge and many others consider Jeff among the brightest minds in social media marketing. I quite agree. This author of “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” offers loads of useful information about the social web and how to make it work for your business.
  8. Duct Tape Marketing Blog (John Jantsch). I think my man-crush on John Jantsch is pretty well established by now. Read his blog regularly and you’ll understand why. John talks about marketing small businesses with a real focus on the bottom line. And that focus is something we all can benefit from.
  9. Tumblr (social media tool). OK, this may seem like a cop-out, but if you’re not paying attention to Tumblr, you really ought to be. Seriously. There are so many good people to follow on Tumblr (among them, Gerd Leonhard, Search Engine Land, IBM Social Biz and others), it’s like your own private Interweb. Particularly since the death of Google Reader, Tumblr has become one of my go-to resources for news and information.

Well, Big Thinkers, there are your 2013 Marketing and E-commerce All-Star Bloggers. (Not, of course, that I don’t want to put in a plug for my very own Tim Peter Thinks, too). Check ’em out (as well as the 2009, 2011, and 2012 lists), apply the lessons, and watch your game—and your business—improve.

Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of strategy, digital marketing, and e-commerce, including:

Tim Peter

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July 15, 2013

3 Reasons Why Blogging Still Works for Marketing

July 15, 2013 | By | No Comments

Blogging still works as a marketing techniqueIt’s no secret I’ve long been a fan of blogging for business. And, for the most part, I still am [*].

But in prep for announcing this year’s Blogging All-Star Lineup (you can see last year’s list here), I thought I’d give you three reasons why blogging still makes sense for your business:

  1. Your customers have questions that need answering. Customers, regardless of what they’re looking for, continue to begin their journey with search. And those that ask their friends (either IRL folks, or those they know only through social networks), typically rely on well-informed individuals. Guess where those well-informed folks get their information.
  2. You have answers for those questions. I’m sure you do. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be world-class (though, it helps). What you do have to do is a.) know more than your customers do and, b.) don’t overstate what you do know. A big part of your brand story is based on what’s true about you. Your customers are smart. They’ll see through BS. Just tell the truth about where you’re able to help and the people who need that help will find you.
  3. You want to rank well in search engines when people ask those questions. Not much to say about this one.

Blogging isn’t a panacea. It isn’t a silver bullet. It isn’t the Holy Grail. But in an era when many happily flit from technique to technique in hopes of finding a panacea/silver bullet/Holy Grail, it’s amazing how effective a well-structured blog that focuses on answering your customers’ needs works for many, many businesses.

Now, check back tomorrow when I announce this year’s Marketing and E-commerce Blogging All-Stars, the folks who share what they know to help your business grow.

Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of strategy, digital marketing, and e-commerce, including:

[*] – Of course exceptions exist. But, for many businesses, I think you should probably blog for your business. (I’m open to hearing about edge cases; let me know your reasons against in the comments).