6 posts categorized "Marketing"

August 10, 2010

Thank you, Social Media!

Okay, I finally gave in to Facebook and at least one excellent thing has happened. I set up an account after attending Banded Together's social media gathering on July 20. While I really only wanted a P.S. Writes Facebook page for business, one has to have an individual page first, so that's where I've been bending my learning curve. Special thanks to Karey Bader, Blizzard Communications, for my private tutoring. Looking forward to more learning at your August gathering.

My Facebook friends now number 110 and I've been keeping tabs on other business owners, friends and even family members for a couple of weeks. The value of social media for a business like mine has been a big question mark for me, but that question mark became more of an exclamation point this week. The most excellent happening: I won a free 60-second Web video from Munoz Productions. I "like" them and their Facebook post said they were giving three free ($150+ value) Web videos away to the first businesses to contact them. 

I'd managed to find my "news feed" area, and was exploring all that my Facebook friends had been doing when I saw Dave and Margie's post. Looking forward to working with these two pros and to saying that "I won something for my business!" the next time someone asks me how social media is impacting my bottom line. 

July 08, 2010

"Customers will expect you to find them..."

I'm finding it impossible to keep up with the social media frenzy. But I'd better keep trying. At today's luncheon for NAWBO-CI (National Association of Women Business Owners - Central Iowa), Adstringo's Gabriel Glynn told all-too-busy business owners that in the future "people are going to EXPECT YOU to find THEM." I'm having trouble with a vision of reading the minds of potential customers and knowing precisely when to enter their lives and have them look up from their cell phones and say, "I'd hoped you'd be in touch. Here's what my company needs communicated..."

So they won't be LOOKING for me anymore outside of their preferred social media networks. It's just assumed I'll be there. One NAWBO member said a 40-something woman told her that if she couldn't find a company on Facebook she wasn't going to use them. Facebook was her TOOL, and that was that.

So I came home and decided to explore Foursquare, the location-based social network which as 1.9 million users and nearly 13,000 are new each day. I've heard and seen the name a lot, but didn't know how it worked.

I wanted a clear definition of their service and when nothing happened when I clicked on "What is Foursquare?," I typed the same thing in the search box. Up popped 22 venues in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Johnston, Urbandale, Ames, Clive, Ankeny, Perry and Ames (including the ISU recycling trailer). I hadn't told them my geographic location (Big Brother is watching!). If you're the top (and sometimes only) visitor to one of these venues, you're the mayor. You can see who on Foursquare has been there. You can even earn badges. Is this to appeal to my inner Girl Scout? I am clueless on the value of this. I will have to try harder. Next week, next year, next something.

April 05, 2010

Word Watching 101

What business buzzwords and phrases make you crazy when you see them in print or hear them in meetings, conversations with sales folks, or even from the podium? Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs, had so many that she listed them for two days on Open Forum. They make us "sound like tools," says Handley of words that have morphed into something ugly, overused and annoying. Here are some she'd like to ban from marketing, sales, corporate communications, business schools, blogs and boardrooms:

1. Impactful - What ever happened to influential, powerful or substantial?

2. Leverage - Depending on the intended meaning, try influence, exploit, enhance, rely on or use.

3. Learnings - What's wrong with lessons? Will we next be putting an "s" on knowledge?

4. Synergy (or synergistic, synergism, synergize) - Cooperation, help, joint/pooled/combined effort are simple substitutes.

5. Revolutionary - Few things qualify for this overused word. Handley would reserve it for "an escalator to the moon."

6. Proactive - Try active, anticipate, forestall or foresee. Handley finds the word too pompous, as if you're reacting to issues even before they occur.

7. Incenting/incentivizing - Use encourage or provide incentive.

8. Almost any word ending in "ize" (productize, monetize, budgetize, optimize, operationalize) - Handley urges us to use a word that don't "sound like it was first uttered by the robot on Lost in Space."

Handley shared a few other things that irritate her:

* Businesses that use "solution" to describe a new product or service they can't otherwise explain

* Technology words applied to humans (ex: "I'm offline" for "not working" or "bandwidth" to mean "capacity")

* Harmless words that are mashed together (buy-in, mission-critical, value-add, push-back)

* Silly phrases that have become corporate-speak (Run it up the flagpole. When the rubber meets the road. Peel the onion. Touch base.)

* Phrases routed in unfortunate, regrettable events in history (because they're just bad taste), such as "brand Nazi" or "drinking the Kool-Aid" as applied to accepting ideas or concepts.

Some of us write for our livelihood, but ALL of us converse. It's worth paying attention to what clearly communicates and what words we use when we think we're adding energy and punch to our message.

July 29, 2009

Leverage to "Uplevel Your Business"

ChristineKane-promo4 SInger and songwriter Christine Kane has carved out a niche as a coach for creatives. Her Wednesday teleclass, "Uplevel Your Business: The In's and Out's of Clients, Creativity and Cash," previewed the four-month program she's kicking off to bring clarity, action and a blueprint for living an empowered 2010 to business owners. Wednesday she shared five power sources for entrepreneurs and her stories of growth in each. 

One story surrounds the word "leverage." Kane told of arriving to do a show to find only 150 people, a half sold-out venue. A professional who would still give her best to her audience, she asked herself how to take where she was right then and lengthen out the end point. Call it leveraging, making lemonade out of lemons, maximizing an opportunity or indefatigable marketing. She thought about the women's seminars she was doing that she hadn't "put out there in a big way" and some other seminars she'd "done quietly." Kane decided to start connecting all the parts of her brand, her package and her creativity with those before her. These were people in the audience by choice; they had already "opted in" to a relationship with her.

So between numbers she told a couple of funny stories from a women's retreat and from creativity training she'd done for the CIA. "I just talked about that work with enthusiasm," said Kane, who gave energetic insights into her other talents as well as her soulful music. After the show, five women came forward and wanted to get information on her next retreat. Two people wanted to hire her to speak at their companies. The additional income: $18,000. The lesson in leveraging: priceless.

After listening to her free telesession, I'd say that lesson in leveraging was no one hit wonder. She gave a 75-minute sample of the savvy and business brain behind the songwriter to 1,000 people from her social network. By sharing insights and telling her stories as a creative and coach, she further built her brand and gave her audience something of value, as well as a choice in how to grow as creative entrepreneurs. The goal: entice up to 50 people to sign up. Yes, the word is "leverage." 

July 10, 2009

What can sharing on social media cost you?

Have you tried to attract business by using social media to tell about a successful project you completed for a noteworthy client? A LinkedIn user reported that doing so actually armed a competitor with a source of leads. And the competitor began targeting his clients. He asked if others found social media marketing to be a double-edged sword? My thought: Time to refine that social media strategy!

Lee Witcher of Database Marketing Solutions in Oklahoma City, reminded LinkedIn Answers readers that "social media marketing is about building trust with your target market and positioning yourself as an authority. Direct selling in the social space tends to be ineffective. People are looking for information and/or connection there...Companies are increasingly using social media to build communities of devoted followers...Once they have been sold on you, people will seek out your products, services, and recommendations. In this sense, social media marketing is a longer term lead generation process."

Mike Volpe, vp of inbound marketing at HubSpot, said social media is one of this company's top five sources of leads and sales. He answered: "I don't think what your competitors are doing will be effective. The last person they should want to call is one of your super happy case studies! Also, while they are cold calling your happiest customers, other people (like me maybe) see your case studies and then want to call you! The right way to do lead generation in social media is by answering questions and posting useful information. This builds authority and makes people curious about what you do, and makes it more likely they will read some of your resources (blog, videos, etc).

Volpe gave four basic steps for implementing this form of inbound marketing:
1) Produce useful content (blog articles, videos, webinars)
2) Optimize that content for search engines
3) Promote that content by using social media (Volpe gave links to his company's Web
resources and a free July 9 Webinar, as well as his Twitter moniker)

4) Convert using offers, calls to action and landing pages 

Volpe: "The key step for lead generation is to use the links you leave within social media to start your prospects down a path to get to know you better. You should have some great content, but also calls to action next to that content for them to fill out a form or subscribe to your list. Over time as the relationship progresses you can call them and ask them how you can help, or send them some product info."

And like any business relationship, the real sharing begins in "private" when you feel there's a connection and all parties involved want to move forward to develop something of value together. 

Your social media strategy is fluid, something to be revisited and continually refined to avoid getting stabbed by a misstep of sharing too much. The good news: course corrections can be made quickly. Social media opens doors, but you can't win the "sell" without proving your worth.

July 01, 2009

Five Strategies in a Challenging Market

Work life would be good if it took only five actions to get a business-building reaction in today's economy.

But I applaud Principal Financial Group for its latest teleclass for business owners, "Marketing Your Business: Five Strategies to Position Your Company in a Challenging Market." The transcript should be available online in a week (visit "For Business" and "Teleclasses for Business Owners" under the Education Tab).

Carolyn Sawyer, Tom Sawyer Company, shared the following: 1. Stay Connected (use high tech tools, join groups, attend conferences to connect and stay top of mind with people); 2. Create an Online Presence (your Website is your storefront, keep it fresh, blog to communicate and share company news); 3. Maintain Flexibility and Creativity (get in front of people wth e-newsletters and awards—whatever has value—and do it simultaneously to maximize at all levels, be fluid and alert and adjust); 4.Develop Partnerships (with large companies or bring small companies together to increase one's capacity to serve); and 5. Leverage Internal Investments (to keep your talented folks, reorganize teams and retrain them for a more active area of business).

Carolyn give me some good reminders:

  • Do the right thing for your business, not just the hot thing.
  • Ask yourself, What is it my customers ARE willing to buy?
  • Marketing is critical for visibility, but balance it with being healthy and happy. Get your sleep. The strong survive.
  • Find the right fit. An opportunity that is really FOR YOU is for YOU. It's not a bad thing to say NO.

When asked what was her favorite marketing tool, Carolyn replied: "A good reception. It's what I do well. I make connections and build relationships." She told of attending a reception at the White House, visiting with someone she'd known through a volunteer opportunity, and learning about a contract (the gentleman called it just a small government contract) that became the largest contract her company had to date.

One just never knows what action will get the reaction that brings in the next energizing piece of business. Keep working all those marketing strategies.