Social Media Communications that Executives Ignore

Posted on February 20, 2016 at 1:22 PM Comments comments (0)
When it comes to social media communications with business executives, I heed the Law of Diminishing Returns; the longer the message, the less likely it will receive feedback.  I know this is true because of all the social media messages that I ignore.
You’d think that the people besieging busy executives and major influencers with long messages, some with very good ideas, would learn this by now.  But they don’t.
It might be that they think a long message will impress the reader, it doesn’t.  Or that their request needs to be explained in detail because the reader is already hooked, they aren’t.  Or that the length will convince the executive of its importance, that is not the case.
Length isn’t the only reason messages don’t receive feedback.  Here are three more:
1. Asking the executive to do too much.  If you require the recipient to do too much you have a good chance of getting ignored.  Asking the executive to “check out our website and let us know if you have questions” sounds like “please read our novel and write a book report for us.”  Asking a busy decision maker to figure out your solution and value proposition is too much work.  Make your initial requests simple ones, and make the requests about them, not about you.
2. Many people are too logical and data-driven.  They organize their communications with facts and figures as if those numbers are all the proof that is needed.  Their dialogue has no storyline or emotion present.  Humans, including executives, are built for a good story, without one you will probably not grab or hold their attention.  Remember, we may make decisions intellectually, but we buy based on emotions.
3. Your credentials are not readably apparent, which is to say your social profile is weak.  You’ve reached out to contact the executive through a social channel (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) which means they can instantly peruse your background.  Is your profile picture professional looking?  Is your bio information executive-level compelling?  First impressions are important and they are lasting.  You generally won’t get a second chance.  That means your social profile needs to look trustworthy at a glance.
Of course this strategy doesn’t necessarily apply to all audiences.  Different people need to be communicated with in different ways about the same subjects.  In general though, there’s no percentage in boring a CXO with nuts-and-bolts details in your initial communication.

How to Use SEO and Content Marketing to Keep Your Visitors

Posted on January 13, 2016 at 10:01 AM Comments comments (2)

Will it play in Peoria?

This phrase is synonymous with questioning the success of, well, just about anything.  You can see the principle behind it in use throughout the world, whether it is science or business strategy, marketing or product placement.  But what does it mean for something to play in Peoria?  Why is that so important?
Delving behind the metaphorical question, you’ll find that it is all about testing.  Small scale tests that measure the success of an idea within certain limits.  You might even think of it in terms of a “staging-ground” for content marketing.
Nobody wants to work hard and put a lot of money into launching content that immediately flops, but if you don’t launch it, how are you going to get that feedback?  With small scale content testing, companies not only can get an accurate feed of how popular and well received their material is, but in this technological day and age, they can accrue feedback on how to make it better if it does fail.  Content marketing isn’t just about watching what happens anymore, it’s about listening to your customers and your clients for their valuable feedback, making the changes that are necessary to ensure a localized delivery platform on which your business venture succeeds.

The nature of the internet is that of information overload, and if you don't grab the attention of your visitor it will not be long before they click off your website and go elsewhere.  This is all about content.  It has been said that "Content Is King."  However, understanding the behavior of website users can have a huge impact in how you present your content.  Long and drawn out dissertations are probably not a good idea to grab a user’s attention.

Users Will Scan First.
A user coming to your website will first scan your page.  This is natural behavior. The human eye will take in a huge amount of information in only a second, like pictures, layout; the brain will ask whether the content looks difficult or easy to read.  Guess which one wins there!  They will often read the introduction before deciding if this is relevant to what they want.  So, make sure the introduction is great to grab their attention.  Most of the time users will just scan down the page looking for anything to grab more attention.  You can do this by using sub headings throughout the post to draw them in to read more.  Lists and bullet points work great too.  So in a list with bullet points this is what you can do:
1. Write a great headline.
2. Write a short to the point introduction.
3. Use sub headings to grab their attention.
4. Vary the content with lists and bullet points.


What about SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is always on the mind of the writer or creator of content.  Keywords need to be included for search engines to find your content.
Use Long Tail Keywords.
Using short keywords like, as always, 'Dog Training', might not be worth much to you as there are probably millions of others using them.  Try and find something more unique using long tail keywords.  You might want to try 'The Best Dog Training Courses in Arizona.'
Ranking Much Higher with Unique Keyword Phrases.
There will be less competition and you will rank much higher using long tail keywords, such as the one quoted above.  Get creative and use Google Keyword Tool to test and find new keywords to use.

Search in Google.
A great idea is to just type your keyword phrase into Google and see what the results are.  If there are millions of results then your chances of getting ranked are pretty dismal.  In conclusion about content, the best advice I can give you is to keep it simple and the language simple too.  Short paragraphs with a good layout and sub headings, will hold the reader's attention.  Try and use long tail keywords for better rankings in Google and other search engines.  Be creative and check the results on Google by typing them into the search engine.

How to Keep Your Audience Looking Down

Posted on August 15, 2015 at 11:59 AM Comments comments (0)

It was the most engaging of times. It was the least engaging of times. It was an age of fabulous fellowship. It was an age of fake followers. It was the spring of sharing. It was the winter of shilling. Our audience was looking down, but would our prospects ever look up?
Are you looking down right now? There is a good chance you are if you are reading this post on your cell phone. What type of content makes you look down?

·         A funny video?
·         A pithy blog post?
·         A text message from a friend or family member?
·         A scandalizing picture?
·         An email from your boss?
·         A good book?
We all look down for many reasons. Sometimes we are just bored, or want to appear busy or popular. Other times we are truly interested in and engaged with the content on our mobile screen. It’s no secret that marketer’s want your attention. They want you to engage with their content and they spend money to tempt you to bow your head as though you are praying to their “Like” button. But what type of content truly captures the imagination and holds attention?

Sure, the content should be relevant to their needs.

Of course the content has to interest them. It helps if it’s also timely.

OK, it’s also helpful to tap into their emotions to create a connection. And you definitely want them to feel understood.

Yes, nothing captures attention or creates a bond quite like a good story…

When you create your relevant, timely, interesting and emotional content who is the hero in your story? Who rides in to save the day?

·         Your company?
·         Your product or solution?
·         Your executive team?
·         Your sales rep or other staff members?

If you want to keep them looking down and engaged with your content you need to turn your prospect into the hero of the story. Who doesn’t like to be the hero in the story? You can’t expect them to begin to like you if your approach keeps suggesting that they are the villains and their own worst enemy in their current situation. Does your copy state the following?
·         You have outdated technology.
·         Your people haven’t changed with the times.
·         You haven’t kept up with the competition.
·         You write product focused stories that are just like all the others.
OK, just kidding on that last one. Yes, I know, I’m suggesting you drop the direct fear, uncertainty and doubt babble. I was raised to use FUD too during my sales tenure and I know it’s hard to let go of. But if you continue to transfer ownership of blame back onto the shoulders of the person you are trying to woo you are in for a long day. Accept the role of the hero’s mentor and let a new story begin.

It’s the Story, Not the Status that Matters

Posted on August 11, 2015 at 8:06 AM Comments comments (0)

It has now been over 9 years since its launch and NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has traveled more than 3 billion miles at a cost of over $700 million in order to send us back a clear picture of Pluto. Will the new data from the spacecraft have the potential to change Pluto's planetary status? The real question is; ‘does Pluto’s status really matter now?’

Pluto had been classified as a planet since it discovery by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. But in August 2006 the International Astronomical Union downgraded the status of Pluto to that of "dwarf planet." That change in status has been a heated point of discussion ever since, even outside of the planetary sciences community. In fact, in 2006 "Plutoed" was chosen as the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. The society defined "to pluto" as:
"To demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to Pluto when the IAU decided it no longer met its definition of a planet.”
Human nature is funny that way. Many of us do not do well with change, and once we understand “the facts,” we don’t want them to move, shift, or be downgraded.

But we do love a good story…

And the New Horizon story is more than Big Data; it’s about Long Distance Data. At approximately 2 kilobits per second it will take until late 2016 to bring down all the encounter data stored on the spacecraft’s recorders. That means many of the missions major discoveries will be made well after New Horizon flies through the Pluto system. Then, like the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft, New Horizon will eventually escape the Sun’s gravity and fly out into interstellar space – never to return to our solar system.
Along with the advanced instruments and systems that enable New Horizons’ historic exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the spacecraft carries nine mementos:
· A portion of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes and an inscription
· A “Send Your Name to Pluto” CD-ROM with more than 434,000 names of people who wanted to participate in this great journey of exploration
· A CD-ROM with project personnel pictures and messages
· A Florida state quarter, representing where New Horizons was launched
· A Maryland state quarter, representing where New Horizons was built
· A cutout piece of the historic SpaceShipOne and an inscription
· Two U.S. flags
· The 1991 U.S. stamp proclaiming, “Pluto: Not Yet Explored”

So, at this point in my post, do you really care if Pluto is classified as a planet or dwarf planet? Or is the New Horizon adventure what’s capturing your imagination? Yes, it’s the emotional connection through exploration and adventure that has your attention now. Remember that point the next time you try to lead with facts, figures and logic to persuade your prospect to buy.

You’re Always Both the Messenger and the Message

Posted on June 30, 2015 at 1:39 PM Comments comments (0)

For your entertainment; a short knock-off skit based on the Drew Carey TV series “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

The Host: Welcome to “Whose Content Is It Anyway?” Where the quota is made up and the revenue doesn’t matter. Our first skit is called, “Your marketing content sucks.” Mr. Sales VP, you’re very nervous; you’ve just examined your sales pipeline and discovered your team will not meet its sales objectives.

Ms. Marketing Rep, you are a super confident business development person from a marketing technology company ready to save the day.

Ready? … Action!!
Sales VP: Oh my! No wonder we don’t have a #salespipeline. We don’t have the support we need to nurture our leads and move them through the #salesfunnel.
Marketing Rep: I know #whatkeepsyouupatnight. You have a #contentmarketing problem! Our #robust #scalable #cloudbased #revolutionary #unique #endtoend solution helps business #engage with their prospects so that they can #buildprofitableloyalrelationships and #closedealsfaster!
Sales VP: I’m glad you called! I’m so lucky you just happen to come across my #LinkedIn profile and decided to reach out! Our #marketingcontent is terrible. Is there any hope??
Marketing Rep: Never fear! Although your pipeline is practically nonexistent, we can help. We can quickly implement our solution and you’ll be #fillingyourfunnel in no time!

Sales VP: Oh thank you!! I’ll sign the #orderrightnow!

Content is the Totality
Can you relate to the skit above? Of course not, your quota may feel like it was just made up, but you know revenue always matters! OK, on a more serious note; did you notice that marketing was thrown under the bus? The “what keeps you up at night” situation was described as a “marketing content problem.” But what if the social profiles of the sales force is the real content problem? Content is the total picture. And that means you’re always both the messenger and the message. Your message may contain great content concerning your product and your company, but the receiver is still going to check your personal credentials. Yes, they are going to look you up on LinkedIn and will probably Google your name. The question is; are they going to find someone they believe is capable of adding value to their day, and allow you the opportunity to develop their trust?
Making a Good First Impression 
There is no room for error here. Does your profile brand you as a professional?

  • Profile picture: LinkedIn data shows that having one makes your profile 7 times more likely to be viewed, so don’t use your company logo. Profiles with photos receive a 40% InMail response rate. Enough said. Use a professional business photo. Sure, cell phones take pretty good pictures these days. But this is not where you want to post a selfie. On the other extreme I wouldn’t recommend glamour shots either. If you don’t keep it professional looking you are putting your first impression with the viewer at risk.
  • Headline: Be descriptive. How do you help organizations accomplish their goals? What’s your value-add? The headline must be compelling enough to persuade the viewer to look deeper into your profile. If your picture passed, but your headline fails engagement will never start. I’m not going to lie. An important job title as a part of your headline will help. Executives like to network with other executives and they are more likely to respond to individuals they believe to be their peers. That may not seem fair, but that’s how it unfolds most of the time. That means you should think carefully before sending your summer interns or most junior sales people after the C-Suite because the odds are not in their favor no matter how revolutionary you think your product might be.
  • Summary: Your picture and headline passed. Congratulations on making it this far. The pressure is not off though because you’ve only got a couple of seconds to impress the viewer enough to examine your credentialed experience. Tell your story, capture their imagination. But don’t wonder, stay on point. How does your “story” benefit the viewer? You can also use this section to post videos, blogs, white papers and other marketing artifacts that help establish your authority and your organizations credentials.
Social platforms, particularly LinkedIn, are ideal for business development. If used properly they can be a map of all your business contacts, and create a route to important prospects you don’t know yet. Just remember, you are both the messenger and the message.

A Tale of Two Social Media Strategies

Posted on June 23, 2015 at 12:29 PM Comments comments (0)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness... it was the era of brands buying Likes and Followers, it was the era of executives pushing the same old content, it was the period of social media spray and pray marketing.
I’m sure you recognized the reference to Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” It’s fitting because you can often see a duality when you compare the way organizations use social media channels. Many use social communication the same way they use traditional media. They’ve resisted the social relationship revolution and have let yesterday’s marketing rules resurrect inside the new platforms. They continue to broadcast tired old content. They spray and pray for results.  And then turmoil erupts because many in the social audience want to overthrow the brand aristocrats. Take them to the guillotine … off with their heads!  OK, it’s not that dramatic; but you get the picture. Adjustments should be considered for social media. Here are three areas to examine:

I) Follow back your targeted audience.

Most major brands don’t take the time to follow back their audience. In fact, in the example below, you can see that the average NFL team only follows back 0.40% of their fans.

I’m sure they have their reasons for not following back. It could be a time or budget issue. Or perhaps they feel it would damage their elite brand status. Yes, that must be it. Major brands don’t have the time or money to spend managing that aspect of engagement on social media. And even if they did they’d probably feel funny acknowledging their audience with a follow back.
Of course we know they are missing an easy opportunity to influence the customer experience. After all, how would you “feel” if your favorite brand actually followed you back?


II) Turn off the automation and fake personalization.
Yes, social media automation promises to improve your marketing efficiency. But just because it’s efficient doesn’t mean it’s effective.  In fact, some forms of automation throw key social media tenets to the wind. Take for example transparency and authenticity. Does an automated direct message that thanks me for following you and then suggests I “Like” your Facebook page improve your transparency and authenticity? It might feel like a polite and efficient thing to do, but it’s really just a non-value-add annoyance. Besides, is the content in your automated direct message really the first impression you want to make with your new connection?

III) Focus on content.
Your social content is the voice and personality of your brand. And since the average attention span is only 8.25 seconds you don’t have much time to make an impression. This may very well be the toughest area you will examine because you need to ask yourself:
1. Are we agile? Can we quickly produce a variety of channel appropriate content? Does our content proactively support all phases of the customer buying cycle?
2. Is our content entertaining? Is our content available in several formats (video, etc.)? Does it quickly capture attention and tell a story? Does our content invite two-way conversation?
3. Is our content relevant to our audience? Does it answer their most important question, “what’s in it for me?”

It’s the age to use your social media program to make this the best of times.

How to Use Transparency for Power

Posted on May 27, 2015 at 11:57 AM Comments comments (0)

What does “transparency” in business actually mean? A lot of material has been written on that topic over the last few years in relation to social media marketing.  Most of articles deal with transparency at the corporate branding level although some authors provide commentary around personal branding.  I’ll admit that a few of my own blog posts touch on transparency; yes, in many cases authenticity, relevance and trust are also mentioned.  One business dictionary defines transparency as a “lack of hidden agendas or conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making.”
If we go with that definition, what might a transparent exchange sound like?

Of course transparency doesn’t imply being rude or cutting people short.  In the example above both individuals are showing a type of transparency.  The executive is asking very direct “what and why” questions.  Yes, the example may feel a bit abrupt, but according to G. Richard Shell’s bookBargaining for Advantageyou often get more by finding out what the other person wants than you do by clever arguments supporting what you need.”  On the other hand, the sales rep is not making any attempt to find out what motivates or might inspire the executive to move forward with a meeting.  He is circling around what would be a good outcome for him.
Information about what people want is power.  Are you using transparency to gather information?  Or does your transparency represent a threat to your prospects because it’s obvious you are only considering your own needs and perceptions?

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: )