Archive for February, 2011

5 Easy Steps to Failing at Personal Branding

I have been building my online personal brand for about 18 months now (I have been building my professional offline brand for over 20 years) and I am still shocked at what I see in social media; particularly as it relates to personal branding in the social media space. 

To me, these are some of the worst offenses:

1)      Using social media as a toy—many people get sloppy when they use Facebook and Twitter.  At worst they play games, post bad photos and use foul language or at best they waste people’s time by announcing that they are mayor of some city in Foursquare and/or  generally provide useless information

2)      Focusing on the sale rather than the relationship—whether it is following someone on Twitter, inviting someone to be part of your LinkedIn Network or “friending” someone on Facebook, you are doomed if you start the conversation off with a sales pitch.  The only person you are likely to attract and convert that way is someone like yourself…not your prospect.  You have to be patient and build the relationship first, the sale will naturally follow.

3)      Lacking commitment or better known as the invisible man/woman—once you have started providing meaningful content, people look for it.  You will appear to be flaky if you constantly start and stop.  You need to be all in or nothing in this game I am afraid.  Take it from me…I started and stopped and had some “splaining to do…”

4)      Being a meformer and not an informer—if you focus on providing people you’re your wisdom and valuable content, you are golden in social media.  If you are just talking about yourself and how great you are (or worse, your company and the products and services it offers), you will get nowhere in social media or worse yet…tuned out permanently.

5)      Being a mindless broadcaster—nothing I hate more is someone who retweets items without checking to make sure the links work.  I am sure to never look at that person’s stuff again.  Also, it is not an effective strategy to send 20 tweets in a 3 second span and then not tweet again for the rest of the day/week.  Unless the people you are trying to get the notice of are on Twitter during those three seconds, they are likely to miss your “wisdom”.    You need to have a strategy as to when you are going to post things in LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  And that strategy needs to align with when your targets are present on social media.

Hey no one is perfect, especially on social media.  But, that doesn’t mean that we should have a “devil may care” attitude about it.  Like any other branding or marketing plan we put in place, you need a strategy.  A strategy you can consistently apply and to which you are dedicated.

Happy Marketing!

Even more dollars to be thrown at social media marketing

For the social media non-believers out there, listen up…it’s here to stay.  So much so, that According CMOs, they are going to almost double their social media spend over the next 12 months…and triple their spend over the next five years. Interestingly, their reported current and future spend hasn’t meaningfully change over the past 18 months. 

Here are some of the results from the February 2011 CMO Survey conducted by the American Marketing Association and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business provided courtesy of eMarketer.

Percent of Marketing Budget Spent on Social Media According to US Marketers, Aug 2009-Feb 2011


I know what you are thinking…are there any differences based on the type of company?  Glad you asked…yes there are.  In fact, service-based companies reported a large scale increase in their current social media spending—particularly B2C service companies.  The opposite is true for product companies.  Check out the chart below for more detail.

Social Media Marketing Spending by US B2B and B2C Marketers, Aug 2009-Feb 2011 (% of total marketing budget)

Okay, so these are interesting facts but why should you care?  You should care if you are a service-based company because you are going to experience competition you didn’t even know you had.  You should care if you are a product-based company because, as your competitors spend less on social media, you probably have a greater opportunity to gain the “mind space” of your current and potential clients/customers.

Happy Marketing!

Who can you trust…in Marketing?

In the not so recent past, only the technologically elite could find all the information they needed about products and services to make an educated purchase decision.  The worldwide web/internet changed all that.  It truly was a paradigm shift in shopping.  No longer were you dependent upon printed “trusted” journals and magazines (like Consumer Reports) .  The internet gave you access to “expert” opinions from individuals, organizations such as JD Power and the all powerful customer comments/testimonials.

And now…social media has given us another paradigm shift.  It makes you the “expert.”  It gives you the ability to publish information about products, services and organizations…without going to through the rigors associated with professional journalism.  So while the lack of rigor is disconcerting, it does allow marketers to put a megaphone to their word-of-mouth marketing efforts in a way they have never had before.  The question is…does traditional word-of-mouth marketing work in a social media? 

So wondering how social media is changing the control consumers have in the purchases they make?  Here’s some data I found courtesy of eMarketer, The GlobalWebIndex “Annual Report 2011,” which includes data from Trendstream and Lightspeed Research.

  • The focus in social media is shifting from creation to distribution.
  • As social media penetration increases, so does the trust placed in the recommendations and referrals from social network contacts—nearly a 50% increase in their trust of social network contacts giving product recommendations, and a 21% increase for microblog contacts.   

And, I also found some great information from a study by Edelman’s Trust Barometer report for 2011

  • Trust in an expert/academic has increased—from 62% to 70% in 2010
  • Trust in a financial or industry analyst increased—from 49% to 53% in 2010
  • Trust in a “person like me” declined again—from 47% in 2009 to 43% in 2010
  • Trust in CEOs increased—from 31% in 2009 to 50% in 2010
  • Trust in government officials—from 29% in 2009 to 43% in 2010

Trust is key to product/service decisions.  With social media, the number of trusted sources has skyrocketed!  Remember to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing in all avenues…including social media.

Happy Marketing!

4 easy steps to a better campaign…

In my last blog, I told you that you should stop marketing until you have a well-defined marketing plan.  And that is true, you need to have a plan before you execute…it only makes sense.  But, I need to tell you, you need more than just a good plan.  You also need  to put together an effective tactical campaign.

So how do you develop a successful direct mail marketing campaign?  It’s easy, here’s how:

  1. Make it openable—when developing your direct mail package, you need to pay extra special attention to the envelope. This element will make or break you.  There is no silver bullet when it comes to envelope design, but here are some things I have used that have worked:
    • Make it look like a bill—this is a plain windowed envelope; with the company logo and return address and nothing else
    • Make it look like it has to be delivered—this can be accomplished by having a small box that gives “non-delivery” instructions to the postmaster
    • Give them a compelling question—remember to keep the question on target
  2. Make it personal—you don’t need to use a professional printer to make a letter personal, you just need to use the “Insert Merge Field” to include personalization.  To accomplish the personalization, you just need to include the personalized information in your data file.  Include things like their industry and their city.
  3. Make it local—people like to do business with local companies.  If you are doing a mailing to local prospects, make sure you include information about the city/town/county/state in which you are mailing.
  4. Make it urgent—you need to make sure you give them a reason to call/email/fax/go to a landing page now…not tomorrow, and not next week.  If you don’t have a reason for them to contact you now…your overall message probably isn’t very compelling either.

There are many other things you can do to make your direct mail campaign successful.  What would you add?

Happy Marketing!

Stop Marketing Now!

Got your attention?  I thought so. 


Now, before you run to get your pitchforks and light your torches, let me explain.   You can’t just jump into marketing for your company and expect it to work.  You have to plan to execute and execute to a plan.

 Marketing seems so simple to many folks that they just jump right in and start throwing money at it.  If that is what you are doing, stop now…you are wasting money!   So what do you need to do?  Here are

Four easy steps to starting your marketing plan and effort:

  1. Determine the objectives, goals, and targets for your marketing effort
  2. Determine your strategies—will you be building awareness? Increasing consideration? Educating your target? Increasing Loyalty/Customer Retention?
  3. Determine your tactics—what types of marketing will you employ? What percentage of your budget are you willing to devote to each tactic? How many “man” hours will you devote to the effort each month/week/day?
    • Direct Mail—yes, it can be very effective
    • Social Media
    • Advertising
    • Internet marketing
    • Telemarketing
    • Etc…
  4. Determine how you will measure success—your answer should not be we will make more money…that will be an outcome, but that’s not a measure. This is the most often neglected piece of the marketing plan! This will need to align with your goals and targets.  Some examples of how you can measure success are:
    • Surveys—great way of measuring awareness
    • Click Throughs—Google Analytics is great for this
    • Customer Usage—this would be collected through internal data
    • Sales—again, this is collected through internal data.

Marketing is very important for your company.  If you don’t have an organized marketing effort, you will likely have a problem meeting your top line and bottom line revenue goals.  Start planning to execute and executing your plan today!

Happy Marketing!

Effecting marketing means watching your pennies…

With the advent of social media and digital PR and declining budgets during this economic downturn, many PR and marketing folks out there are left with a bit of a budgetary quandary:  how should I spent my marketing and PR dollars so that I get the best reach for my product/service?

While I focus on more traditional methods of marketing, direct mail and telemarketing for instance, I believe that there is an optimal solution when it comes to marketing spend. And, that optimal solution is going to vary depending on your business/market and your audience.

The biggest issue marketers face is how can I maximize the ROI of my marketing programs.  And, regardless of whether you use revenue or profit to determine the ROI, you need to make sure that you minimize your expenses so that you can maximize your ROI.  And, that’s where the problem creeps in…you go cheap to keep your costs low…but you get no conversions from your marketing expenditure at all.

So how do you know if your spend is optimal?  Here are a few helpful hints:

  • You achieve qualified responses from each method you employ
  • You can close/convert business brought in by each method
  • You increase the reach of your program at a 2 to 1 or more spend ratio as you ramp up your campaign
  • You obtain profitable, longer-term customers through each method you employ
  • You make more from your campaign than it cost you—either through a Revenue-based or a profit based ROI calculation

Hope this helps!

Happy marketing!

The “policing” of social media…they are watching you!

In our deliberate and not so deliberate personal branding efforts, we must always remember that everything we do and say is searchable and discoverable on the internet.  I saw a posting from a colleague Daniel Draz on LinkedIn that I believe everyone should see….the results from a study conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as shown on the website for  Fraud Solutions.

A little about the IACP: The IACP’s Center for Social Media was launched in October 2010 for the sole purpose of building the capacity of law enforcement to use social media to prevent and solve crimes, strengthen police-community relations, and enhance services. IACP’s Center for Social Media serves as a clearinghouse of information and no-cost resources to help law enforcement personnel develop or enhance their agency’s use of social media and integrate Web 2.0 tools into agency operations.

So what does that mean?  Big Brother is truly here and watching you!

Here are some of the highlights of the survey:

  • 81.1% of agencies surveyed use social media.
  • 66.8% of agencies surveyed have a Facebook page–yes the IACP has one as well…click here to view it
  • 35.2% of agencies surveyed have a social media policy and an additional 23.2% are in the process of crafting a policy.
    • Of the agencies not currently using social media, 61.6% are considering its adoption.

Okay so you might be asking why, as a marketer, I am showing you this.  Well, first off, it is cool information.  But more importantly, how you brand your company and yourself (what you do and say) on the internet  is discoverable, it’s all public record.  And, those of us that are higher up in our companies…we can do major damage to not only our personal brands, but our company brands as well if we get sloppy on the internet.

Happy Marketing!

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