Archive for August, 2011

Social media marketing for the big and the small…

You know what is great about social media marketing?  You can do it successfully whether you are a multi-billion dollar organization or a small mom and pop style grocery store.

  • For the mom and pop store, it allows you to seem bigger than you are.  You know, what having a cool website did for you about 10 to 15 years ago!
  • For the large corporations, it allows you to become smaller.  I know what you are saying…”what? Seem smaller?…Why would I want that?”  Ah, grasshopper, the reason is community and relationships.  As companies grow, their line of sight to individual customers narrows to something that you need a telescope to see.  So, by actively listening and then engaging in social media platforms, large corporations can get back to the one-to-one marketing they used to do when they first started out.  It makes a difference…really.  Just ask Starbucks!
 
A mentor of mine, Dr. Bret Simmons, posted a question on Facebook asking about how conducting social media marketing would differ (if at all) for a company in a metropolitan area than for a company in a rural area. My short answer to this question is:  it really shouldn’t be any different…that is the beauty of social media!  
 
The only difference in social media marketing in a rural area versus a metropolitan area is reach.  Because rural areas tend to have fewer options when it comes to internet connections and fewer people in general, the reach you will get with your social media marketing efforts  in a rural area will be much smaller than in a metropolitan area.
 
One point to be made about social media marketing…it cannot be done in a vacuum.  Your social media marketing campaign has to be:
  • Integrated into your company culture:  You can’t say one thing in social media and then do another during the purchase or post purchase experience.
  • Integrated into your marketing campaign:  To get through today’s clutter, you need to integrate your social media into an integrated marketing campaign.  So, combine your social media efforts with your direct mail, advertising and digital marketing efforts.
  • Fully emersed:  You can’t just do a couple of tweets and expect the world to come to your door.  You have to consistently be there and engaging with your community.

So, how are you integrating your social media marketing efforts into your customer service efforts and your marketing campaigns? 

Happy Marketing!

 
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Entrepreneurial Permission

As I toiled away on my elliptical machine tonight, I re-read Tina Seelig’s book “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.”  And what I love most about this book has to do with what makes a small business owner successful.  Is it being a marketing genius? Is it being a financial wizard?  Is it having a parent with a very large bank roll?  They all help, but that’s not it…at least not for the long run away.

At the end of the day, it really just boils down to a couple of traits or states of mind; traits/states of mind I would like to share with you.  The presence or absence of these traits/states of mind will tell you if you have the stomach and the know-how to become a successful small business owner.

  • Turning failure upside down—entrepreneurs can take failure because they know that failure shows them how to succeed the next time.  Failure is temporary.  Failure is sometimes necessary.  And, guess what? It took Thomas Edison something like  1,000 “steps” as he liked to call it to perfect the light bulb.
  • Knowing that “no” sometimes means not now—let’s face it, very few people in life like hearing the word no; especially as it relates to their business/baby.  Successful entrepreneurs understand that “no” might mean call me next week when I am in a better frame of mind.
  • Try everything, at least once—Successful small business owners will do just about anything to keep their dream alive.   And, they get creative…both inside and outside the box.  They are constantly thinking about what is next for their business and questioning whether if they are doing everything right and everything they should be doing.  Just like their business, they are in constant motion.
  • Test and learn beats fast and furious (…just ask the rabbit)—successful small business owners don’t waste money on big splashes, they take a disciplined approach to just about everything. They aren’t tentative, but they do their due diligence.

Here is my favorite and the most important part of being a successful entrepreneur.

  • Give yourself permission—the permission to start, the permission to stop, the permission to take risks, the permission to accept failures, the permission to say you were wrong, and the permission to say you were right.  Whatever permission you are denying yourself…give it freely.  You don’t have to wait for permission from someone else.  Who cares what they think?  Give yourself permission to start doing what you love today!

Since this blog isn’t about my normal marketing or market research topics, I have decided to end with a quote from Thomas Edison rather than “Happy Marketing”.  Here goes:

 

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

 

Here’s something from me…I give you permission.

I’m an expert, how about you?

When you have a small business, minutes matter.  You have to stay focused, which is very hard to do in this chaotic business world in which many of us operate.  In the past, many companies operated and sold either locally or, at most, regionally.  Now, we are global.  So how can you differentiate your brand, in addition to your products and services?  Become the Expert!

I was reading Ivana Taylor’s article regarding influence (You 14 Step Roadmap to becoming an Influencer ) on openforum.com and it got me thinking…what can small businesses do to make themselves brand experts? 

Here are some ideas that I gleaned from Ivana with my additions (of course).

  • Put in the time—You truly do need to be an expert to claim that status (don’t be a poser!)…Ivana recommends 10,000 hours…that means that you have to be working full time in an industry for at least five years to claim expert status…totally doable!  Remember though, focus is key… I am not just a market research and marketing expert…I am an expert in B2B insurance market research and B2B insurance marketing (as well as other things…wink). 
  • Strategically Embrace Social media—there are a lot of things you can do through social media that will boost your expert status, but you can’t afford to waste time.  Here are my quick hit favorites:
    • LinkedIn—join 50 groups…it’s fast and easy; and, actively post articles and ask questions in the groups from which you think you will get the most “expert status” bump. 
    • Blog—Don’t do what I do…keep your blogs short and sweet…and do what I do…keep them on topic.  When you blog, use key words you want to own/be associated with your name/brand…like marketing, commercial insurance, Net Promoter Score.  If you have more time…I suggest you also place comments on other people’s blogs—it helps with Google juice!  Another idea would be to guest blog, but few of us have enough time to write our own blogs let alone blog for other people.  I would try to get them to repost one of the blogs you have already written.
    • Create a YouTube video—if you have a video camera and an internet connection, you are pretty much set.  Make the video really short (1 to 3 minutes, tops) and very informative and instructional.  Oh, and make it fun.    Post these videos on your website…more Google juice!
    • Publish…Your Data—if you collect and analyze data and can publish it…do so!   Nothing better than providing the world with useful information.  And, after you have published your data…write a press release about it.  It doesn’t cost that much to get your press releases run through the newswires. 
    • In-person Networking—yes, you need to get out there and meet people face to face, not just online.  To do this, I recommend joining associations and attending their conferences (to the extent it makes sense).  Service clubs like Rotary are great as well, but don’t just focus on local things and events.  
    • Speak/Join Panels/Webinars—most of us would rather jump off a bridge than speak publically; but, there are few better ways to build up your expert status than having documented proof that people are willing to pay for your advice.

There are a heck of a lot more ways to get your brand elevated to expert status, but these were my favorites.  And, as you have probably noticed, most of them are absolutely free (except for your time). 

What are you doing to elevate your brand status to expert?

Happy Marketing!

Social Media and Living the Thank You Economy Dream…

I just finished the book The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk and it got me wondering, what if we all lived in the Thank You Economy world instead of the I Win You, Lose world? And, of course the second part of the issue is…does Gary practice what he preaches…the answer, by the way, is YES!

If you know me, you know that I am a wine enthusiast. And, as such, I am always looking to try new (good) wines. So when I found out about the winelibrary.com from Gary’s book, I decided to give them a try. The site is very easy to navigate and I found plenty of quality wines to buy…I limited myself to 4 just to try them out. Though there are a few more (a lot more expensive ones) that I have my eye on. So who cares? Well I do, but it’s what happened next that was the important thing.

Great Thing: The very next day after my purchase, I got a call at work from the Wine Library thanking me for my recent purchase. Can you imagine that? A personal call…in addition to the automatic email I received. I was floored. How impressive!

Not so Good Thing: The girl (ok woman, but she sounded really, really young…perhaps not even old enough to drink the wine I just purchased) had not been trained well enough to be on the phone with customers…particularly brand new customers. It seemed to me that she had just been given a list with customers’ phone numbers and then told call these people and thank them for their order. On the surface this seems fine right? But, the call was extremely awkward. The gal said “hi it’s so and so from the winelibrary.com and I am calling to thank you for your order.”  Dead space. Me: “ok.” Dead space. “Um, do you have any questions?” Me: “I saw on your website that you are having a shipping delay due to the weather, when do you think my order will ship.”  Gal: “You will get an email when it ships.”  Me: “So you have no idea when it will ship?”   Gal: “No.”  The call ends soon after that. So, the moral of the story is that she needed a script or at the very least an outline. Gary doesn’t think so…but I humbly disagree. 

Kinda Awesome Thing: Since I am following Gary on twitter, I thought I would see if we could converse about this experience I had. The whole purpose was to let him, the owner know, that he is losing the effectiveness of his thank you calls because at least one of the people making the calls (the gal I talked with) was not trained enough—just trying to help. Interestingly, I know that Gary detests having scripted calls. Being a marketer and a market researcher, I am dedicated to such things. So I expected a lively discussion. I tweeted Gary that he needed to improve his thank you calls. Within an hour of me posting the tweet, he sent me two tweets asking me what was up and letting me know that he didn’t believe in scripted calls. I explained what happened and why I thought it was necessary.

Did he say he was going to look into it? No. Did he say he would do anything? No. Did he thank me for even letting him know he has an issue? No. So the experience was just kinda awesome. He responded to the tweet, but he didn’t say anything more than the questions he posed. I don’t have closure. Oh well, I accomplished my goal…I let him know he had a problem.  As, a potentially long-term customer for winelibrary.com, hopefully I will have eventually helped the process. 

The key to the story for me is that Gary is living in the Thank You Economy and I think all businesses could benefit from living in this type of economy. But please remember…don’t let your process show while living in this Thank You Economy.

Happy Marketing!

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