Social Media and Content Marketing Explained

Posted on May 19, 2015 at 11:27 AM Comments comments (0)
Volumes of blogs, articles and research have been written on the millennials.  My married daughters are members of that generation and have started families of their own.  I've watched them ditch Facebook for Instagram and have left them both in the dust when it comes to Twitter.  A text message will still get the quickest response, but an immediate reply is never guaranteed on any platform because their lives are busy.  Reaching your target market through social media and content marketing can be complex.  That's why I've engaged Wade and Levi to take you through some important points to consider.

1. Without strategic goals and a roadmap you will not reach your destination.

2. Lead by example.

3. Use social employee advocacy applications.

4. Social platforms should have different strategies.

5. Don’t broadcast, collaboration and two-way conversations build relationships.

6. Viral is not a strategy.

7. Empathy is more effective than public shaming.  Don’t be a social bully.

8. Does your social marketing content tell a story?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I’m paying in jelly beans.

(You can watch the video version of this post here: )

Has your marketing message been muted?

Posted on May 14, 2015 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The mute buttons on phones and TV remote controls are very useful.  They are not without risk though.  Nothing life threatening, but the possibility of embarrassment and agitation exists.  Like the time you thought your cell phone was on mute and you carried it with you into the restroom during that conference call.  And there was that time you muted a TV commercial and missed an important part of the dialogue when your show came back on.
About a year ago Twitter introduced their “mute” feature.  Muting a user on Twitter means their Tweets and Retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that profile.  It’s a way to be able to discreetly silence a follower without the drama that occasionally occurs if you were to unfollow them.
Have you used the mute feature yet?  I have, so here are four points I keep top of mind in hopes of avoiding your mute button:
1. Content carries consequences.  You are what you tweet and retweet.  If your material is offensive, shocking, or your followers see it as consistently off topic, be prepared to be muted, unfollowed or even blocked.
2. Go with the flow.  Don’t try to control it because machine gunning tweets is dangerous.  Yes, marketers want attention and one tactical way to try and capture it is to quickly tweet in an uninterrupted sequence.  But if that sequence is basically spray and pray type content with low value-add be prepared to have your voice muted.  If you want to experiment with sequencing try a “Burma Shave” story strategy referenced in my “How to Use Social Media to Create Interest and Credibility” presentation.
3. Out of sight, out of mind.  If you are muted, future conversations are over.  What I mean is that there is a low probability they will remember to turn the mute button off at a later date.  In essence, your voice has been hidden.  Yes, this presents a big dilemma if you are extremely chatty.  On one hand it’s great that you are engaging in one-to-one relationships; however, not all of your followers are interested in viewing a timeline filled with conversations that mean nothing to them.
4. No warning.  If you’ve ever presented at a conference and noticed your audience was not engaged you were lucky because you had the opportunity to make adjustments to get back on track.  You won’t be so lucky in this situation.  There will be no notification or message that you’ve been muted.

There you have it.  The mute feature gives the audience control over the content they see on Twitter.

How to Engage a Social Media Influencer

Posted on May 4, 2015 at 8:18 AM Comments comments (0)

How many social media blogs and white papers have you read where one of the first points of advice reads:
“Find the key influencers in your space and engage them.”
Finding key influencers is not that hard.  Engaging key influencers is much more difficult than most people realize.  In fact, most social media managers struggle with this task because they have never been trained on how to approach an important influencer.  OK, I can already feel the heat rising from that last statement and you may very well disagree.  Let me explain my B2B point-of-view before you turn on the flames.  First of all, it’s not just social media managers who fumble with the influential.  Most people approach key influencers incorrectly because approaching key influencers is not unlike approaching a key executive decision maker.  So, how many of your employee’s had training specific to the approach of C-level “shark tank” type buyers?  Is your answer zero on the social media marketing team?  Key B2B social media influencers are like top B2B executive level decision makers for the following reasons:
1. They have an audience who listens to them. In many cases that audience is much larger and more loyal than any corporate executive could ever hope for.
2. They have their own point-of-view and agenda. Of course they do.  Did you think they became influential by being a social profile wall flower that only curates other people’s material?
3. They have a healthy ego. That is they are confident in their knowledge and comfortable expressing their own opinion. Don’t try to put your words in their mouth.
4. They are responsible for capital. Social capital and in some cases a real P&L.  Like all top executives they are not going to just hand over a piece of their capital without getting value in return.  So, have you even thought about a “value proposition?”
5. They are human. That means first impressions matter. Yes, they are sizing you up in the first couple of seconds.  It also means they ask themselves “what’s in it for me?” each time you make a request for their time and attention.
6.  It’s personal. It’s always personal; don’t let anyone tell you different.  If you’re using social media automation (auto DM’s, etc.) to get your messages through you’re wasting your time.  They are not going to just pop over and “Like” your Facebook page.  In other words, don’t expect results from your automated “call-to-action” requests.
7.  They are busy. That’s how they became influential.
8.  You must learn to listen with rapt attention. Key influencers like key executives want to be heard and understood.  If your initial communications suggest that you want them to “find out what you do” so you can “see if there is a fit” you are really kidding yourself.  You need to prove you are listening (reading their blogs, tweets, etc.) and engaging with their agenda first.
9.  You must have unlimited energy and patience. You may need to engage them for a very long time before you catch their eye and they start replying to your comments.  This rapport building time is necessary and cannot be avoided.
10. Do not think in terms of “closing” the influencer. Key influencers like key executives do not like to “be closed.”  You want to build a long-term relationship with the influencer and that means working to show them how you are “opening doors,” not closing deals.
There are additional points I could raise, but these are a good start.  Can you change your current mindset in order to work with B2B social media influencers?  Your intern may know how to set up a Facebook page and search for hashtags on Twitter.  But are you providing training on how to swim with the sharks?  You need to because in many cases B2B social media influencers and key B2B executive buyers are one in the same.


How to Establish Business Rapport in 140 Characters or Less

Posted on April 16, 2015 at 10:42 AM Comments comments (1)
In 2002 Nicholas Boothman penned a book titled “How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less.”  Pinterest wasn’t around in 2002, so yes, I mean he is the author.  It was a spin-off from a book he released in 2000 titled “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less.”  In his books Boothman states that research has shown that we have approximately 90 seconds to make a favorable impression when we first meet someone.
“If meeting is the physical coming together of two or more people, then communicating is what we do from the moment we are fully aware of another’s presence.  And between these two events - meeting and communicating - lies the 90-second land of rapport that links them together.”
How quickly can you build rapport with others?  Without rapport, you will not get what you want, but when you have it a lot of opportunities appear.  Obviously Boothman’s works are focused on face-to-face situations because they were written before social media came on the scene.  But I believe many of the suggestions he offered can be applied to the social media world.

1. Rule Number One: When you meet someone, look them in the eye and smile.  Online this means make sure your profile picture is business class.  When you follow someone, or are following back a new connection the first thing they are looking at is your picture.  I don’t want to see a picture of your company logo pasted into the spot where your face belongs.  Also, you might be a fun loving adventurist mountain climber in great shape.  But your end goal is to try and schedule a business meeting with me.  So, is that really the picture you want to use to create my initial impression?  Remember, I’m making a decision in just a couple of seconds on whether or not to take you seriously and at this point of our relationship I don’t care about your personal life.  I care about people who can add value to my day.

2. Rule Number Two: When you want them to feel like they already know you, be a chameleon.  What does a chameleon do?  They instinctively know how to fit in.  Online this means you need to fit into your target markets world and not force them to feel like they need to follow your world.  Here is a suggestion on how to quickly connect with your audience and improve your social graces:
Before: “I hope you enjoy my tweets.”
After: “I’m looking forward to reading your tweets.”
See the difference?  A chameleon makes it about their environment and synchronizes appropriately.  When you adapt to their world they will feel more comfortable and be more inclined to like you.

3. Rule Number Three: Capture the imagination, and you capture the heart.  Online this means your content needs to build trust and fire the imagination.  What does your content look like?  Do your blog posts tell a story?  Or are they guaranteed to induce sleepiness?  Is your Twitter stream engaging, or nothing but “Thank You for Following” messages post after post?

Coercion is about getting people to do what you want them to; persuasion is about getting them to want to do what you want them to do.  Persuasion takes more time.  It requires understanding your target markets needs and desires.  You need to develop trust by building rapport and credibility, and minimizing their risk.  If you’re not getting what you want from your online networking behavior it’s time to change your strategy.



The Social Media Marketing After-party Discussion

Posted on April 10, 2015 at 12:38 PM Comments comments (1)

You created a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter placing your small business on the social media party grid.  Free word-of-mouth marketing was supposed to take over and the cash register start ringing.  It hasn’t played out that way, so what happen?

A Foundation for Growth
Social media platforms can provide the foundation for growth.  Social platforms can help you and your organization be found, find, and engage your target audience.
· Be Found: To be found during the “search” process when a customer or prospect has a need or desire for a product or service that your organization is capable of delivering.
· Find: To be able to find and approach prospects with characteristic’s that line up well with your organizations target markets.  To create awareness, interest, desire and action (AIDA).
· Engage: To be able to approach customers and prospects with relevant content that creates awareness and builds trust.  Also, to be able to communicate in a way that positively impacts the customer experience across sales, marketing, and customer service.
Still, there is nothing magical about social media.  Other channels can provide those same elements including good old face-to-face meetings.  But social media can be very powerful if you remember the following six key points.
6 Key Points to Get Your Social Media Program on Track

1. Strategy: Do you have a social media strategy?  Social media is not a stand-alone marketing strategy.  It’s a component of your content marketing program and works best when it’s integrated through your strategic marketing plan.

2. Technology: Social media requires technology.  It means thinking about how your online social profile looks when presented on a smartphone, tablet and PC.  It means researching and understanding the complementary social applications that are available in the development ecosystem that help improve efficiency and effectiveness.  It means understanding the feature functionality of several platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube just to name a few.

3. Processes: Process discipline will help keep your social media strategy from falling into mass confusion.  Or at a minimum, you’ll be able to keep the opportunities that surface through your social channels from slipping through the cracks.  For example, how often are you going to create and post content?  How often are you going to login to your profiles to check for direct messages and new connection requests?  Your customers and prospects may expect you to be online real-time in order to receive the customer experience they’ve come to expect from your company.

4. Money:  Social media is not free.  The “free” versions of many social platforms are designed as a teaser if you will.  Full functionality is only made available with the paid version.  And you will need full functionality if you are using social media for business.  That means you need to make room in your marketing budget for social media expenses.

5. Time:  Preparing for, and engaging in customer and prospect conversations takes time.  That’s why social media takes time.  Not just time to learn how all the various social media sites and complementary applications work, but time to prepare the content to distribute through those channels.  And if it’s not your time, then it will be your employee’s time, and employees cost money.  So, we’re back to the budget issue.

6. Training:  The term “digital native” is often used to describe individuals born after 1980, when social digital technologies came online.  In other words, social media and other digital technologies are supposed to come natural to them. Don’t believe it.  Whether you are a digital native or digital immigrant (old-world settlers, who have lived in the analogue age and immigrated to the digital world) using social media for business requires training.  Social media channels often become the “voice” of your brand.  In order to minimize your risk you will want to have well trained individuals driving those channels.


Why Chief Marketing Officers are thinking about HR

Posted on April 1, 2015 at 2:16 PM Comments comments (0)
If you are a technology vendor or CIO don’t panic.  Chief Marketing Officers still love you.  We continue to think about and are concerned with technology and data.  But I’m starting to spend more time with HR this year.  Yes, I’m concerned with whether or not marketing has the “right people on the bus.”  That’s a challenge that never ends, particularly when the business environment is constantly changing.  What I’m bringing attention to, and becoming more concerned with, is the individuals we don’t have room for on the bus.  Let me set up the scenario.
Think about your total recruitment this year.  Based on the size of your company, your HR department is likely to post several jobs, for several departments, across various platforms depending on job scope and level.  Some of your organizations have appeared on “lists” recognizing your company as one of those “Best Places to Work.”  That means you are likely to get tens if not hundreds of applications for each position you seek to fill.  Now bear with me because I’m going to apply some math, logic, and then get personal in a moment.
For one mid-level management job you received 50 applications.  Your HR department called the top five best choices, based on geographic location (you didn't want to pay for relocation), experience and so on.  After the Skype interviews three were extended an invitation for personal face-to-face interviews and one job offer was tendered.  Actually, the person hired didn't technically go through your formal job process, they networked their way into the position.  OK then, here is the tricky part, were forty-five applicants sent the following standard HR email?

Dear (First Name),   

Thank you for your interest in our (Internal Job Number and Internal Job Title) position with XYZ Company.  While your credentials and experience are valuable, we have determined the credentials of other candidates may better fit our needs at this time.  Your profile will be available to our recruiters as they seek candidates for other opportunities.  Please check back for future opportunities.   

Kind regards,   

XYZ Company Human Resources   
** Please do not respond to this email.  This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. **

From a math and logic perspective are we good so far?  You might be thinking, yes, your math is in the ballpark, we’d get about 50 applications for a mid-level job posting.  And logically we don’t have the bandwidth to give personal attention to the forty-five who didn't make the initial screening.  Sure, several in that group were very well qualified, but we had to make the cut somewhere.
“It’s not personal, Sonny.  It’s strictly business.”
The Godfather
I love that line, but it’s dead wrong.  It’s always personal.  We are by nature, an emotional being.  So, let’s take a personal look at the standard rejection letter.
1. It’s not from a person.  Sorry the “HR Department” and “Do Not Reply” don’t count.  By the way, how do you feel when you get an email concerning a subject that you’d naturally like to respond to, but can’t?
2. The subject line “Thank You for Your Interest” might just as well be a Western Union Death Notice.
3. The wording is very similar in most rejection letters.  It appears that all HR departments are using the same group of lawyers for this task.  Sorry, just kidding.  But really, how original.
4. Your high-level feedback, “credentials and experience are valuable” is not helpful to the applicant or the process they are going through.
5. Your response was late.  They applied for that position three months ago.  We know, you almost forgot to send any notice.  Simply terrible.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.  Alan, you’re in marketing, I still don’t understand why you care about HR.  OK, here is why I care.  Forty-five (late) standard rejections letters multiplied by how many total job postings for the year?  From a branding perspective we have potentially upset hundreds of individuals who could very well hurt our sales in the future.  How?  Because many of the individuals we passed on could still end up in our industry.  They may end up as employees of our competitors, sales or marketing reps for our channel partners, or buyers for our current customers.  And we just dismissed their interest in our company with a canned rejection letter.  How much do you think they are really going to like us?  What makes it worse is that from a political perspective most of these individuals will keep their grudge silent.  Just like the consumer who has a terrible customer experience and chooses not to publicly voice their dissatisfaction, but they never return.

Is there an easy, quick and cheap answer?  No, this is a big problem that most organizations have given very little attention to.  I doubt the negative financial impact of these actions has ever been researched.  In fact, such research would probably be difficult to verify.  But I do have some ideas for improvement, and I’m going to be setting up more time with HR to discuss them.

Are You a Social Buzzkill?

Posted on March 31, 2015 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (2)

Imagine that you’re attending a major conference.  It’s time to head over to the networking kick-off session.  You’ve got your business cards in your pocket and your elevator speech is locked and loaded.  You’ve brushed up on current events and read the speakers backgrounds so you are ready to keep the conversation light and engaging.
And then it happens; you run into a social buzzkill.  He’s looking at your name tag now…
“Welcome Alan, thanks for shaking my hand!  Now, if it’s not too much trouble could you get out your smart phone and Like my Facebook page?  While you’re at it take a look at my website, and read my blogs and let me know what you think.  Also, let’s connect on Facebook and LinkedIn.  My company helps marketers get new customers.  Can we schedule a quick 30 minute demo to show you our stuff?”  Just let me know how I can help you! Well, here’s my business card, have a great conference!”
What a buzzkill.  Although, I’ll have to admit; at a face-to-face networking event I’ve never had that kind of greeting.  Why does it feel like a common occurrence when you’re on a social platform?  True networking is a give and take exercise.  I learn about you, and you learn about me.  We explore to see if there might be a mutual benefit.  Here are three signs that you might be a Twitter buzzkill:
1.  Social begging:  OK. It’s not really begging.  But you immediately request your new connections to “Like” your Facebook page, read your blog, or connect on LinkedIn.  You might even do all three through your automated direct message application you are using.  Automation can be helpful, and I understand the “call-to-action” temptation; but you need to turn it off.  You wouldn’t make a frontal attack like that during an initial face-to-face meeting, and you shouldn’t do it on a social platform.
2.  Extreme thankfulness:  Is it possible to be over-the-top with thankfulness?  I graduated from Abilene Christian University and I don’t find it difficult to be thankful for many things.  But I’m still going to put this on the table.  When your Twitter stream is just one long line of “thanks” or “welcomes” to your new followers it gets kind of annoying.  Even more annoying because you are doing it with an automation tool.  Plus, I’m not getting an idea of what real content you can offer.  We get it; you’re excited (and thankful) to be building an audience.  But again, turn off the automation.  When you list me with six or seven new followers all at once, and three of them are bots, it’s not like I really feel special.   Save the thanks and welcomes for key situations. 
3.  Welcome, but no follow:  You probably wouldn’t offer someone your business card, and then refuse to accept theirs.  But that’s what it feels like when you welcome a new follower, but don’t follow them back.  It might be that your follower to follows ratio is out of balance and you can’t follow more profiles just yet.  If that’s the case you need to unfollow someone who hasn’t followed you back yet in order to make room.  Don’t risk losing your new follower by telling them you’ll follow them later.  You’ll forget, or they may unfollow you if you don’t follow them back within a certain period of time.
I’ll get off my high horse now.  After all, it’s not like I’m the Ann Landers of Twitter.  In fact, you may totally disagree with the points above.  I do really like the buzz on Twitter though, and hate to see it killed.

Social Networking Choke Points

Posted on March 29, 2015 at 11:17 AM Comments comments (0)

A choke point is a strategic channel which could be closed or blocked to stop sea traffic.  At the Strait of Gibraltar, where Spain reaches for Morocco, only eight miles separate Africa from Europe.  It’s a strategic location that links the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.  When the world’s economy depended on merchant ships, control of Gibraltar meant control over the flow of products and profits to merchants throughout a large portion of the world.

Have your social networking messages sailed into a choke point?  It’s no secret in today’s relationship economy that your prospect is in control of their Networking Strait.  And that means where rapport reaches for credibility, a value-based relationship is built, and only then can the flow of products and profits begin.  Some relationships appear to be no more than anonymous encounters, lasting only as long as it takes to finish a simple transaction.  Others are the prelude to a full merger of supply and demand chains.  Whatever the duration or objective, strategic relationships generally depend on mutual value and trust.
Why you’re not getting that demo appointment
To enter an Executive Networking Strait you must be prepared to deliver a communication experience that builds rapport, credibility and creates value.  Unfortunately, that’s not what generally happens.  Whether by email, telephone, or through social media, the gist of the initial communication is often the following:

The usual headline or grabber statement
“Quick Question” or “Follow-up” or “Just reaching out”   

Alan,I wanted to reach out because our fully oxygenated, holistic, end-to-end digital marketing solution is revolutionary.  I’d love to get a quick 30 minutes of your time for a demo so you can see the full power and scope of our capabilities.  What time would work best for you? Or is there someone on your team I should be working with?   


Alan,Based on your title and background, I thought our marketing solution would be of interest to you.  Feel free to visit our website to learn more about us.  I’d love to do a quick demo so you can see the features and benefits.  You can go to this (URL here) to schedule a time that works best for you.


Alan,We seem to have several groups and interests in common.  Would you be open to a quick call?  We’re doing some exciting things here and I think our solution would be a good fit.      

I’m a little over-the-top with my examples, but not by much.  Yes, in general you can assume that the CMO has a budget and authority to buy (the B and A of the traditional BANT qualification mechanism).  And according to a Gartner report, by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.  So, of course you want to go straight for a top decision maker, who has dollars to purchase, and jump-start the sales process with an eye popping demonstration.  If the CMO could just see the product in action, they would instantly understand the value and sign the order.  However; I’m going to assume that your days are not completely booked with those types of executive level meetings.

Whether the CMO is managing a global organization, or a start-up, the marketing technology landscape they are facing is large and continues to grow.  Large or small, the CMO doesn’t want to have their time wasted.  So, they’re probably not going to just stroll over to your website to “learn more about” your company.  In addition, they generally don’t open their calendars for total strangers to talk to them about something they are ill-informed about, or currently couldn’t care less about.  In short, you are pushing buttons that turn them off, so it’s no wonder they rarely return your call or reply to your digital invitation.  You want to project yourself as a “thought-leader,” someone who can be trusted.  But at this point the CMO is not thinking of you as a thought-leader nor as a future trusted advisor.  At this point, you are merely another transactional salesperson chasing a quota.
A Roadmap to Navigate the Executive Networking Strait
The networking roadmap appears straight forward, but customer relationships are sometimes messy and emotional.  In addition, customer relationships cannot be microwaved.  If your communication style is based on “always-be-closing,” where every message must contain a “call-to-action,” then social networks may not be the right communication channel for your accelerated time frame.  Remember, your communications need to focus on creating rapport, building credibility and demonstrating value over the long-term: 

·Rapport:  Rapport is the ability to understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.  Without rapport, you will not get what you want - not friends, not demos, not sales.
·Credibility:  Is the quality of being believable.  Its confidence in your competence in the topic or idea you are trying to present. 
·Value:  The relationship creates some form of value that clearly contributes to the fulfillment of the customer’s needs and desires, or helps them mitigate risk. 
Think about those three factors for a minute.  They have a lot in common with a job interview.  Yes, in many ways when you are trying to contact a top decision maker you are on a job interview.  Have you been thinking of that initial contact in that light?

·Making a good first impression:  There is no room for error here.  The executive you are trying to reach is probably going to check you out on LinkedIn first in order to understand your background and credentials.  Does your presence on the major social platforms set a professional tone?  Is the executive likely to view you … not your company and not your solution portfolio … as someone capable of adding value to their day?

·Listen:  This means listening with your full attention.  Read their blogs, review their LinkedIn profile from top to bottom, and follow their posts on Twitter.  Show them you are interested in understanding how they feel by listening with empathy.

·Stop trying to close:  Top executives don’t like “being closed,” or pounced on.  Just because they followed you back on Twitter doesn’t mean it’s time to ask for a short demo to “see if there is a fit.”  In fact, just because they followed you on Twitter doesn’t mean it’s immediately a good time to suggest connecting on LinkedIn.  Yes, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are all social networking platforms.  But connection on one doesn’t equal immediate and automatic connection on all of them.  They probably have a different networking strategy for each platform so you are shooting yourself in the foot by trying to move to fast.  Nurture the relationship before suggesting deeper engagement.

Leverage the Power Triangle to Bootstrap Your Marketing Program

Posted on March 20, 2015 at 3:02 PM Comments comments (0)
The other night I told my wife that I might actually be a growth hacker.  She just looked at me and said, “You spend way too much time online.”
Sean Ellis, who is known for helping Dropbox grow in its early days, coined the term "growth hacker" in 2010.  In a blog post, he defined a growth hacker as "a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth."  In April 2012 the idea of growth hacking really took off when a blogger named Andrew Chen wrote a piece called “Growth hacker is the new VP Marketing.”  Of course, now that CMO’s are expected to have a technical background my CIO counterparts don’t find the “hacker” reference particularly funny.
Is your true north pointed toward growth?  Yeah, that’s what I thought … who’s isn’t?  In one way or another we are all trying to create growth with resources that are subject to being hacked or cut out completely.  In my mind, the term “bootstrap” works just as well.  Bootstrapping is often used to describe situations of self-reliance.  It means to develop by effort with little or no assistance.  In the world of marketing this often equates to launching a new customer initiative with minimal capital or cash flow.  The current anxiety over the global economy suggests 2015 could be a bootstrapping year as chief executives, chairmen and company presidents focus on our slow growth economy. That means CMO’s will have plenty of opportunities to document their “how I bootstrapped the bear” marketing stories.

In a slow growth economy, one of the major reasons businesses go under is because they run out of cash. Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business and in order to keep the business healthy, cash needs to continue flowing; and slow growth can be particularly hard-hitting for small businesses unless they have plenty of capital to ride out the doldrums.  In my blog post “You Can Support Headcount and Share of Voice on a Tight Budget” written during the 2008 economic downturn I presented a high-level case study in which a small business was able to increase qualified leads by 7 percent while cutting their marketing budget by 24 percent.  And the decrease in spend was not the result of reducing headcount.  So, let me offer what I consider a business development “power triangle” that may help you bootstrap your 2015 marketing plans.
1. Blog: I know; you’ve been blogging for years now.  But you need to get more people motivated and involved.  One person creating one post a month means you are far behind in the content-marketing arms race.  Attention spans are short and quality expectations are high.  So, keep them short and entertaining with relevant stories.  Focus on building trust, rapport and credibility.  And remember, relationships are not developed overnight.  Think long-term, not every communication needs to blast a “call-to-action.”  You can create focused content by leveraging your in-house subject matter experts to provide material that supports each phase of your sales cycle.  As always, make sure the content is search engine-optimized so certain keywords are likely to be picked up in industry-specific searches. 
2. LinkedIn: I know; you’ve been on LinkedIn for years.  But too many people in your organization still consider LinkedIn as a resume tool that you only think about when you are searching for a job.  They don’t understand that LinkedIn may very well be the best business development tool on the planet.  Help your organization understand how adding blog posts, video, projects and presentations to their profile helps increase their credibility.  The decision makers your sales force is trying to contact are reviewing their profiles.  If they don’t like what they see, chances are they won’t be returning any phone calls or accepting any meeting requests.
3. Twitter: I know; it’s been a month since you logged on and you still don’t really see the value of Twitter as a business development tool.  This element of the power triangle is where most organizations will fall short.  They don’t understand the value of Twitter to help build and nurture a targeted audience.  And they haven’t figured out how to use the platform in an integrated way to start conversations that actually develop into business relationships.  At best they’re probably using Twitter merely to broadcast product-focused messages.  New social employee advocacy applications can help.  So, renew your perspective on this application and build your audience.
By integrating your social media platforms and content strategies you can create a focused marketing program that can make a cost effective difference in both your lead generation and lead nurturing programs. It will also help you maintain your customer-focus while you’re doing everything possible to manage your cash flow in a slow economy.


How Does Word-of-Mouth Marketing Really Work?

Posted on March 12, 2015 at 9:46 AM Comments comments (1)
Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WOMM) today is both online and through face-to-face interaction.  At times we think of WOMM in terms of marketing buzz, the interaction of users of a product or service that amplifies the brand and in some cases goes viral.
In reality, regular old everyday “buzz” is not as glamorous as we marketers like to imagine.  Recommendations from friends and family don’t often come with viral like excitement, but from a place of more practical experience.
This perspective was driven home for me during a lecture with some senior business students during their capstone marketing course.  The class had been working through a marketing media planning session focused on a national plumbing company. The students did an excellent job. In fact, I was impressed with their recommendations to leverage social media in addition to the traditional media typically used for advertising in the plumbing industry.  Of course, most 22 years olds have never actually had to call a plumber, and that fact came out in the following exchange:
Alan“What I would like for you to do is to close your eyes and imagine that you have recently purchased your first home. You walk down into your basement and you notice water on the floor because your hot water heater is leaking. What’s the first thing you are going to do?”
Student“I’ll probably still live in this area, so I’ll pick up the phone and call my dad.”
Alan“You’re not going to leverage one of your social media communities, or go online and do a search on plumbing? … Is your dad a plumber?”
Student“Well – no; but he will know who to call.”
When I think about it, it’s not hard for me to imagine that the situation above would play out the same in my home. I can hear it now:
My 24 year old daughter“Dad – my hot water heater is leaking!! Can you help me?!”
Alan“Yes, don’t panic, I’ll be over in a second and we’ll figure it out.”
So, which plumbing company do you think will get the business?  Well, when is the last time I used my plumber?  Do I still have their number?  Should I do a quick online search?  Should I grab my yellow pages directory?  Didn’t I recently get a direct mail coupon from a plumbing company? Should I send a tweet asking my followers for a local recommendation?  Perhaps I should grab some tools.  No, I definitely should not do that because I’d create a disaster!