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Asking Your Audience Works

When you are marketing your products and services, it's easy to get caught up in the process and forget the basics. Recently, I saw a video on TED (below).  The premise was simple. Ask the intended audiance what they like, give it to them and the end result is a group of people who are emotionally invested in the product.  That should be the goal of every service and retail provider.  It goes beyond just providing something good.  It shows your intended audiance that you care about what they think. You care about how the product is going to impact them. You care about creating something that is lasting. It shows them that you are not just here to sell them, but that you truly want to bring value to their lives. And that makes a huge difference to them. It's so simple. Just ask. And they will answer. [ted id=2183]

Stretching Your Online Marketing Dollar

What tool do you currently have in your tool box that has the capacity to reach hundreds or thousand of prospects that costs you pennies a day? The answer: Your Website. Most Websites have a one time fixed upfront cost and a monthly or annual hosting fee. Once your site is up and running, there is little in terms of financial investment that is required to keep it working for you. There are many tools freely available on the internet that will help you to spread your message and get you noticed. First, look at organizations that you are already a member of, Chambers of Commerce, Professional Associations and Industry Associations. Check out their Websites and see if they have a member listing page. If they do, make sure your Website is listed there and if it is not, contact them and have them put it up. Any activity that you participate in online must have your Website address attached to it. Look for industry related forums that you feel comfortable participating in. Join in and make sure that every post you put up has your Website address in it. Similarly, make sure your Website address is on your email signature. If you like to read blogs that pertain to your industry or even just as a hobby, leave a meaningful comment with your name and Website address in it. Create profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, start a blog, do something that gets you into a conversation with potential customers. The conversation is the most important part of the process. Customers want to talk to you, the business owner. When something goes wrong or they have something to share with you, today’s consumer wants to [...]

The Rules of Engagement

As we close the door on 2010 and open to 2011, I have a thought I'd like to share... There are still a lot of people doing it wrong. Image by fredcavazza via Flickr They are using social media as a platform to yell, blast and spam out their goods and services.  At no time do they explain what they are about, who they help or how they work.  While the goal of using social media is awareness, the best way to get there is by encouraging people to talk, write, converse online and off. We live is a world where there are so may people / businesses / things screaming for our attention.  Sometimes the noise level is painful. Encouraging people to get into the conversation, by sharing things that are of interest, peek curiosity and by simply being nice is a far better use of Social Media tools. For example: Real estate agents typically post about an open house or a new listing in their Facebook status or Twitter stream.   Does this spark interest or encourage conversation?  No.  It's flat out boring.   Talk to me about the trek in the snow you made while showing the property, share tips on making the house show ready, talk about the goings on in the neighborhood, upload a photo of something cool you saw on the property... these things create curiosity and encourage interaction. Quick ideas: Post up on other people's pages Ask questions Be interesting Take an interest in others Be informative Be helpful It's never been about the tools, it's always been about the outreach.  Get the methods of outreach down and you can succeed in any platform you chose to use. Make a promise to yourself and your connections in 2011 to do social [...]

An evening with Peter Shankman: Inaugural Social Media Club of Tech Valley Event

The big take aways: Transparency Relevance / Ask your audience how they want to receive information Brevity / Learn to write Top of mind Sponsored in part by NewWard Development, LLC. Visit the Social Media Club of  Tech Valley to learn more or visit us on Facebook! Related articles Come meet Peter Shankman at Union College (timesunion.com) Social media | you can't buy friends or loyalty (swordandthescript.com) Facebook's New Profiles - A Shot through the Heart of LinkedIn? (shankman.com)

Avoid Reply All in “Mass” Facebook Emails

Help a girl out... will ya? I don't mind those Facebook emails that get sent out to 25 people.  What I do mind is the "Reply All's"  I get in return.  I don't need to see everyone's responses (I don't want to either). So - here's a tip to reply to only the person who sent the mail: At the top of the email there is "Reply" in text form.  Use this instead of the reply at the bottom of the email message to respond to only the original author. See how easy that was? Related articles Facebook Page Admins Can't Reply To Fan Comments (allfacebook.com)

Faucets and Filters – The Impact of Water: Blog Action Day

As I kid, I can remember the Sesame Street song telling me to shut off the water while I brush my teeth.   It seemed silly to me at the time.  After all, how much am I really saving in just my one little house? Little did I know. If my little house and the house next door and the house down the street, and so on and so on and so on, all saved a little water every day, that turns into a lot of water being preserved. Being a part of a Rotary club is the same theory.  It's not just one club, but thousands of clubs across the globe that band together under one umbrella to accomplish amazing things. Rotary International has proclaimed water purification to be the key challenge of the coming decade. To meet minimum world health goals, 125,000 people a day for the next 13 years will need to have access to safe water. Each year, 1.8 million people (90% of them children under 5 years old) die from preventable diarrheal diseases. Rotary has asked every club to identify a project associated with providing safe water in some part of the world. In my district of 43 clubs, there are water projects in Honduras, Haiti, China, El Savadore, and Pakistan.    Rotary water projects involve bringing in a slow sand filtration system that can be managed by the local population.    One club in our district , the Glens Falls Rotary, partnered with 74 other clubs, 4 districts, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, and Pure Water for the World, to combine funds and efforts to provide 2,500 bio-sand filters to serve 15,000 people with clean drinking water in Choluteca, Honduras. And that's just one project. Several factors [...]

What happens when you “Re-brand” then really screw up?

I have watched the whole Gap fiasco with interest. For those of you who don't know, GAP quietly launched a new logo last week.  The onslaught of responses they received forced the company to bring its old logo back.   They took a "we were only joking" sort of approach.  But that isn't the bad part, as I see it. On the GAP fan page, the admins put out a request for people to submit a logo they felt was representative of the company.  That's when the shit hit the fan.  Although some people did reply with design ideas, the majority of the comments reflected extreme offense at a major brand trying to get a cheap logo designed by its fan base. The response forced GAP to pull back again, with this response.  Basically saying "Thanks for your passion, we're keeping our logo."  Ignoring the fact that they pissed off every graphic designer on the planet. This whole story came at an interesting time for me.  I had just returned from a Rotary conference where the discussion on changing the Rotary wheel logo came up.  The Rotary wheel has been an icon for its members, the question is, does it mean anything to anyone else?   Rotary has managed to dilute its brand by having a dozen or so different logos for its programs, annual themes which force people to forget the "Service Above Self" tag line and other various marketing snafus.   As with most organizations, Rotary is trying to "spruce up" its image to stand out and capture the attention of the (busy) community service-minded people.   I am not sure revamping the logo is the right answer, but they do need an image overhaul... [...]

Facebook Fan Page SEO Tip

When you attach a link to your fan page, Facebook makes it an indirect link, but if you write the raw link in your status (not attached) it becomes a direct link. See examples 1 and 2 here http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/07/13/seo-facebook-pages-10-key-strategies/ Also, make sure to take the time to add a "Like" button to your web site.  Stats prove there is an increase in traffic (now, go convert them):  http://www.insidefacebook.com/2010/05/05/some-early-data-shows-facebook-plugins-increasing-sites-traffic/ More Facebook SEO Tips Facebook Fan Pages vs. Groups for Marketing and SEO (fathomseo.com) SEO Company Says Get On-Board with Facebook's Social Search Engine (prweb.com) 3 Less Known but Effective Ways to Share Your Facebook Page (searchenginejournal.com)

Social Media Marketing, Free is NOT Free

You've heard the phrase... Freedom isn't free. Sex isn't free either. Both take time, physical resources and an emotional investment. Social Media Marketing isn't free either.  Just because there is no cash exchange doesn't mean it doesn't cost you to participate in Social Media Marketing. Assume you make $100 per hour.  Assume you spend 5 hours online a week investing in the conversation.  That's $2000 a month you are spending.  Are you making that money back? Yes, it takes time to build a community... Yes, it takes time to listen, learn, be involved with the people you want to reach... But if you don't have a plan, if you don't have goals... if you are not measuring your cost, you have no idea if any of it is working! Plan Set Goals Track Rinse and repeat What say you?

Social Media Empathy

Have you ever walked into a room and felt the mood? Have you ever cried at the movies? Have you ever yelled at the television during a football game? These are example of empathy.  Our ability to become involved with and connected to the people around us. Leaders must be empathetic.  We must be aware of the mood of those around them, the interactions between them and be able to connect with and react affectively. Marketers must be empathetic.  We must be in tune with their client’s or prospective client’s position, mood, how they are feeling about the purchase and product / service in general. We human beings are social people and as such enjoy connecting with each other.   A significant portion of our brain is devoted to our interactions with others.  This is where the effective use of social media comes into play. Overwhelm your community with messages, and they will fall on a deaf ear.  They will sense that you are not there to benefit them, add value to their lives or care.  You are out to get noticed, make noise and crank up the numbers.  It is when you focus on your message, on sharing items of value to the benefit of your community that those warm fuzzy feelings of connection come to fruition. It’s the difference between the one night stand and a relationship.  In the first case you are there to get the goods and leave, in the second you get into the heart and head first then you get the goods – plus a whole lot more. While just about anyone can “score’ a meaningless one night stand; it takes effort, patience and understanding to build a relationship.  In [...]