Lead411 Reveals List of Hottest Companies in DC

Lead4112222  begins the second quarter of the year with a lot of excitement for DC, as the company announces the list of Hottest Companies in the DC area.

As part of the Lead411 teams daily tasks, they go through more than 600 pages of press releases, as well as venture capital funding news, business articles, and more. This particular list originated from a total of 389 organizations/companies, and has been minimized to the top 24.

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When Your Blogging Well Runs Dry

If you’re writing a company or professional blog, the idea of writing on your industry into perpetuity may be daunting.  How can you possibly continue to come up with relevant articles every few days? Maybe you’ve exhausted every resource you can think of and don’t know what to write about next.

If you’ve got writer’s block because you worry you don’t have anything interesting to say, don’t. Marcus Sheridan says writing interesting things is overrated. Instead, focus on solving problems and delivering value through your writing. It gets easier from there.

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3 Ways Bloggers Are Your Brand Evangelists

There’s no denying that bloggers are quickly becoming respected for their influence. Brands are starting to come around when it comes to working with bloggers to get the word out about their products. According to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2011 study, more brands than ever are writing product reviews, giving advice about products, giving products away or offering sponsored content on their blogs. Big companies are doing more of this than small ones, but that’s no reason you shouldn’t get ahead of the curve.

Consider Bloggers Your Marketing Army

Consumers are listening to bloggers more than they’re paying attention to traditional advertising, there’s no denying that. Here’s how bloggers can make your brand shine.

1. They’re Talking About You Anyway

In this social world, people are talking about brands they love (and hate). Why not harness that to develop a long-lasting relationship that goes beyond a few tweets and create a true brand evangelist that can influence others to buy your products?

2. Working With Them Makes Them Feel Special

If you approach the relationship the right way, that is. If you do your homework, finding out what a blogger has been writing or tweeting about, you can go a long way to show you cared enough to research them. Don’t offer a one-size-fits-all proposal on how you can work together. Instead, invite them to contribute ideas on a collaboration.

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Not Working With Female Bloggers Yet? You’re Missing a Huge Market

Stern Woman Blogger

I’ve long been an advocate of brands working with bloggers. Every blog has an audience of readers who trust the blogger’s opinion, and often they trust the blogger more than traditional advertising.

I recently attended BlogHer, a conference for female bloggers, and a session proved that I am right:

According to a Nielson study, blogs by women are the most valued source for information, beating both corporate sites and social networks.

Blogs are more than two times more likely than magazines to have inspired a beauty-product purchase over the past six months (63 percent versus 26 percent).

Women are just as likely to trust beauty-product advice from a parenting (43 percent), health (42 percent), or lifestyle (37 percent) blog, as from a beauty and fashion blog (43 percent). (DeVries/BlogHer study)

Whereas when I attended BlogHer in 2008, when “mommy bloggers” was an up-and-coming term that brands didn’t have a clue what to do with, these days, the power of the female blogger is being noticed by brands, large and small.

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Get More Eyeballs with Creative Commons Photos

We all know how many words a picture speaks. So it should be no surprise that blog posts with photos get more attention. They’re pretty and fun to look at.  Compare these two blog posts (they’re both mine so I can point it out Smile)

no photo                photo blog

Hands down, the one that will get more attention is the one with the photo. It’s such a small thing to do, but adding a photo really enhances a blog post.

How to Add Photos the Ethical Way

Sure, you could just go to Google and grab whatever photo you find, but be aware that some (most) photos are not free to use, and are the property of the owner. So if you used a photo that wasn’t royalty free, you could get in trouble, or at the very least, piss someone off. Instead, look for royalty free or creative commons photos, which specify what you can use them for (usually on websites and blogs is fine).

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Turn Yourself into an Expert Through Blogging

I always tell people that they are experts in something. That might be getting stains out of the carpet. Pet allergies. Social media. Mobile apps. Food trucks. Whatever it is, you can probably talk for hours on the topic, should someone give you the opportunity. But so many people probably don’t realize they’re sitting on a goldmine of marketing opportunities with this knowledge. Content is by far the best working source of marketing these days, and turning yourself into an industry expert is the way to go, no matter what industry you’re in.

Blog With Authenticity Without Getting Fired

How do you do that? Blog.

Let me share my story. I started my blog, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, about five years ago. Right after I started my company. I did it as a way to show people what I knew about marketing, as well as to challenge myself to learn more. I had a modest following, but what it did more than anything was show potential clients that I knew what I was doing. I’ve had many contacts-turned-clients say they’ve read my blog and were impressed. They then sign a check over to me. As a writer specializing in small business content, it’s also helped land me writing gigs on Mashable, Small Business Trends, FutureSimple and here, on Lead411. I’m not bragging (okay, I am), but my point is: one client saw my work and liked it. Then another saw my work elsewhere and liked it. And so on and so on.

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3 Tools That Make Blogging Easier

Now that I’ve sold you on the benefits of blogging, I’d like to share some tools that make the task easier. Here’s what’s making me smile when I blog these days (I write for 5+ different blogs, so I need all the help I can get!):

 

1. Windows Live Writer: If you have a computer with Windows 7, you’re in luck. If not, chunk the one you’re working on and go get one! The best feature on Windows 7 to me is Windows Live Writer. With it, you can manage multiple blogs, add posts and switch between accounts without logging in or going to different websites. Once you set up any and all blog accounts you manage, you can choose the blog and start writing. You can add photos or videos, maps…anything you can do with WordPress or other blogging software. It’s software, so you don’t need to open a website to use it.

Why I Love It. I sit down and knock out a lot of blogging all at once. With this tool, I can save a lot of time logging in and flipping from tab to tab. I’m using it now to write this post!live writer

 

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One Article, Many Channels

If you’re not currently using content as a marketing tool, why not? The power of the written word combined with the social tools available on the internet make any writing you (or a representative of your brand) do extremely valuable. Here I’ll show you how a single article can be chopped up, mixed around and spit out in different channels to maximize efficiency.

1. Start With an Article

It should be on a topic that solves a problem or educates your target market on something in your industry. Maybe it’s an article about writing articles for small businesses and startups Winking smile. Or tips on home grooming pets for a pet groomer. How to create a podcast for an audio recording service. The list goes on.

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Skype Takes On Advertising

Skype is the new generation’s greatest innovation on communication. It makes getting in touch with friends and family all over the world fast, convenient, and affordable.

And like with any other amazing online invention, change is inevitable. And this time, change for Skype includes advertising. So do not be surprised if you start seeing ads on your Skype tool’s home tab by next week.

This is how ads may look like in Skype for Windows. Source: http://blogs.skype.com/en/2011/03/advertising.html

These advertisements will initially be appearing in the US, UK, and Germany markets.  For those who are not really fans of pop-up ads, you don’t have to worry. Skype promised that their advertisements will not interrupt you from enjoying your Skype experience. They also ensure users that their homepage will not be bombarded with ads, as they initially plan to showcase one ad from one brand per day in each of the markets where advertising is being sold.

Relevance is also key to advertising on Skype. They have partnered with great advertisers like Visa, Groupon, and Universal Pictures, so you’re sure to find something you can relate to, and actually use.

They may also be using some non-personally identifiable demographic data from their users (e.g. location, gender and age), to ensure that the ads will be relevant. However, if you’re not comfortable in sharing these information to advertisers, you can opt out of it by making changes through your Privacy tab in Tools ▸ Options.

Skype has taken extensive measures to ensure that you still get the best out of this great communication tool even with the presence of ads.  Test ads from Rdio have actually been rolled out in the past couple of months, and improvements are continually being done.

You can learn more about Skype’s taking on advertisements through this blog post here.