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The Never Elusive MLM

Pick a product.  Any product.

Perhaps you’d like to lose 20 pounds in the next 60 days. Well – post it on Facebook.  I dare you.  Within a day (depending on the size of your network), I’d guess you’ll have private messages trying to sell you the latest, greatest product. You’ll likely get messages from people selling [Advocare][Herbalife] or [ItWorks].

No?  Perhaps, instead, you’d prefer a handbag.  Or jewelry. You know they have MLMs (Multi – Level Marketing Companies) that sell [Jewelry in candles]?  They have MLMs for … I think… nearly everything.  In fact – you can [click here] to get to a list of the 7 most Hilarious Products sold through an MLM.  Apparently not even our galaxy is the limit, let alone the sky.

Am I here to say all MLMs are scams?  Heck no.  I’m not an MLM pro, but I am a professional marketer.  What I do know is what works and what doesn’t work in marketing.  I’ve seen three posts just today on people being fed up with spam from people who are involved in MLMs.  I, too, have been turned off from pushy, spammy people.  The truth is that the product that many of these people are quite literally pushing – is good!  If they’d do subtle marketing and let the product speak for itself, their results would show it!

Instead, often times what happens is this person… let’s call him Bob… sees a product from a friend.  He gets really excited about selling it because of the benefits he’s seen personally.  That excitement gets harnessed by Bob’s “up-line” and is used to fuel his way to the top.  That’s all great so far.  No rules broken.

Until now.  Bob has asked each of his family members three times each if they want to be a part of this business. No?  Friends? No?  That leaves Bob feeling like he’s going to fail so he starts coming up with what he sees as creative ways to reach people (aka spam.) *sad face*

Not only that, but he also starts bullying people into joining.  “I just got a check for $350 and you’re over there whining about how you can’t afford show choir for your daughter?”  Oh yes.  This stuff gets slathered on thick – and on social media.  Do people actually think this is effective?  Do they think this represents their product and/or their company in a positive light?  Cyber bullying sucks no matter what mask it wears.

The moral of the story is this:  If you are part of a MLM, your company likely has marketing guidelines,  it may even have hard and fast rules about what you can and can’t do on your own, including on social media…FOLLOW those guidelines.  Your company spent good money to hire marketing professionals that know what you should be doing – and likewise, what you shouldn’t be doing.  Listen to them if you want long term success.

Social Media ROI objections

As a marketing professional – if you have any focus in Social Media Marketing, you’ll no doubt get the “but we can’t measure ROI” argument.  Big ups to [Olivier Blanchard] for putting this slide show together.  You saved me some serious time!

[slideshare id=1902502&doc=olivierblanchard-basicsofsocialmediaroi-090824230322-phpapp01]

Effective SMM Strategy Part II

Watch For Trends

 

So now that branding is out of the way (see here), another integral part of an effective social media strategy is to make sure you’re monitoring trends that happen with your end users.  Why is that important?  Well, as previously mentioned, my specialty is in working with small businesses.  In the ocean of the business world – small businesses are the dinghies.  The Fortune 500 companies have seemingly limitless resources (people included) at their fingertips.  They’re more like the freight liners and can keep trucking through those seas through even the biggest storms. Often they won’t even realize they’ve hit a wave, let alone been in a storm.  To a small business, that same storm may mean your poor little dinghy is toast and there you are, left floating in the ocean with (maybe) a lifesaver, praying for someone to come rescue you.

That illustration is exactly why you need to prepare.  Your goal as a small business is to stay one step ahead of the storm.  If you see that times are tough(financially) for your clients, it may be time to consider other inventory options that are still quality, but more cost effective for you – and your client.  If you ignore the trend, chances are – you’re going to end up with expensive inventory just sitting on your shelves that you’re going to have to discount anyway.  Win for your consumer – lose for you.

Other things you’ll want to pay close attention to:  Cultural happenings.  Maybe your business supports the Indiana HJR-6 amendment or maybe it opposes it.  You have the choice of making your opinion known or staying neutral on the matter.  If you’re vocal either way, it’s likely to have an impact on your business.  It also may produce or take away service or merchandise opportunities – both of which are very important to your business.

In this case, the above mentioned goes hand in hand with what’s next – and that is government changes or potential changes.  It seems there’s nothing we like to complain about more than our government.  Everyone has an opinion – regardless of whether they voice it or not.  Truth is though – a good majority have no qualms about telling it how it is when it comes to government related issues.  Keep an eye out for that.  It could be tax changes, a lawsuit that will have an impact on how your company does business, increase in minimum wage (is any of this sounding familiar?)

So how do you keep track of what’s trending?  I’m happy you asked.  I’m even happier that someone else has done the work of tracking down all these tools for me!  Shout out to Social Media Today for making my work today a little easier.

[Click Here] to find your list of tools.  Use them.  That’s what they’re for. :-)

Effective SMM Strategy Part I

Promote your brand

As a business, your social media strategy can and should be customized for you.  However, there are a few tips that blanket most businesses.  This blog is the first in a multi-part series about effective social media marketing.

First, let’s start with the definition of brand.  [Entrepreneur.com] defines branding as this:  “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”

Having said that, if you’re trying to build your brand, starting with something visual like a name, logo or design, it goes without saying that that symbol needs to be consistent through all of your marketing.  Social media is no exception.  If your twitter handle is @MakeMeLaugh, that should be your handle across social media as well – or as close to it as possible.  The interwebs have done their part to make it easier on you too.  Wasn’t that nice of them?  Check out www.knowem.com.  You simply type in the handle you want to use, universally, across all social media platforms and it tells you at which ones it’s available.

Promoting your brand is also about good PR.  Yes, PR happens via social media now too – although not exclusively of course.  What do I mean?  Your company should be a tool (not the urban dictionary definition) to their audience.  Your social media should provide valuable information, it should entertain and it should be engaging.  Ineffective social media involves doing posts and walking away from your computer.  If your audience has questions, answer them.  If they have a problem with your product, resolve it.  Make them laugh, make them cry.  Make them love you.  In return, they’ll develop trust in not just you, but in your product or service.

Finally, follow yourself.  No, I don’t mean chase your own tail.  What I mean is that you want to know what your public is saying about your brand.  If there are issues, you absolutely need to know about them and should want to fix them.  Also, your following knows what they want from you.  You never  know what ideas they could be posting for you that you’ll miss if you’re not tracking what people are saying about you.  There are multiple free resources out there that do the tracking for you for free.  [Trackur] is just one.  Do your research and see which works best for your company.

Stay tuned for part II!!  See you soon!

 

To Hash… Or Not To Hash… THAT Is The Question.

I recently saw a question posed about whether or not an established business should be using hash tags as part of their social media marketing strategy.  Great question!  I’ll give my opinion in two parts.  Before I begin though, you may be unaware of this hashtag phenomena.  Click [here] to get a better understanding.

First, not everyone is an established business.  Regardless of whether your business is established or not, it’s important that you look professional.  You’re not a teenager, so hash-tagging every trending tag is not so much going to earn you business.  It might earn you a spot on [Top 10 Worst Marketing Gaffes, Flops, and Disasters] though.  Just kidding.  Just be thoughtful when using hashtags.  Don’t overdo it or you might get a response something like this:  “#HolyHashTag – I’ve seen it.  Multiple times.  Everything in moderation – hashtags included.

Hashtags USUALLY won’t make or break your business, but can be an integral part of keeping your marketing momentum.  If you’re a large established company, you want to maintain that image.  Hashtags certainly have their place, but they should be used minimally.  One way that corporations use them – and use them well – is for campaigns.  Beware:  Please think campaigns through or you might end up with something like [THIS.]

A little brain power  when it comes to campaigns… and always seek advice.  Two minds are better than one and three certainly couldn’t hurt.

I Have to Choose between Email and Social Media? … No.

I’ve heard some marketing gurus say that email is soon going to be the dead language of the marketing world.  I say something different.  Language doesn’t die if you know how to keep it alive, so keep email alive, we shall.

Marketing via email and marketing via social media typically reaches two very different audiences.  However, there is absolutely some overlap.  In fact, there’s quite a bit of overlap.

As with any post, any blog, any newsletter, you absolutely MUST keep your audience in mind.  Just because it’s interesting to you doesn’t mean it will be to the people who’ve requested to follow your business… so here’s the plan:

Your first goal is to get your email newsletter list compiled.  Your subject matter needs to be something that is so compelling… So inspiring… So shocking (in good taste of course)… that your audience can’t help but forward it.  Here’s the thing though – you also need to provide a way for your audience that uses both social media AND email to share the story – EASILY.  Humans – we’re such a lazy group! Give us an “easy” button and we’re set.  Make us save a picture to our hard drive, find said picture, upload it to Facebook – then post it… and we’re spent for the day.  So we’d rather just not.  Provide us a button.  Approve.  There it is!  And like magic – more followers.  And you look all the more genius for it.

Looks like you’ve got some writing… or research… or editing to do.  I’ll leave you to it then.

Content Marketing Isn’t Part of your Marketing Strategy??

What’s this “content marketing” catch phrase you keep hearing about?  It’s one of your most powerful marketing tools.  That’s what it is.  If it’s not part of your marketing strategy, it’s time to reevaluate!

Content marketing is essentially selling your brand without (directly) selling your product.  How in the world could that possibly prove to be useful?  Theory is – make your customers smarter and they reward you with their business.  When you take a minute to think it through, it makes all the sense in the world.

Example:  Let’s say you’re a single parent with two young children.  As a single parent, chances are – pizza is one of your go-to dinners. Pizza Joint knows this.  They also know you’re likely looking for things to keep the kiddos occupied over the weekend, but you don’t want to fill their mind with drivel on the television.  Once a day or once every other day, Pizza Joint lets you know about events that are happening in your community that also benefit your family.  Their name is far more likely to be at the top of your list next time it’s pizza time.  Make sense?

A direct sell every so often isn’t a punishable offense, but it’s also not usually the best way to promote via digital media.  Make sure your content is relevant as well as current.

You have an audience to reach.  What’s keeping you?

Tarantula Tarantella

Ohhh boy.  Woke up yesterday morning knowing that I had to do a fear blog because…. well… today is Friday!  I had no clue what to do.  I have enough fears, I suppose.  But none of them (except for one) are paralyzing fears.

My friends who have known me for at least a couple of years – or those who have had the privilege of living with me – know this fear to be my biggest.  Their funniest, but my absolute nightmare.

I think I developed this fear when I was around 12 or 13 years old.  The movie Arachnophobia came out.  My neighbor was scared senseless.  I was bound and determined that i was going to show her what I was made of.  I was one brave chick!  So I watched it over…. and over…. and over… and over again.  Until I fully understood EXACTLY why she was so afraid.  And it stuck.

So yesterday morning, I decided.  I know my fears may be puny – but these silly Friday blogs aren’t really just about me.  They’re also about my readers.  I want you guys and gals to take steps outside of your comfort zone to meet your fears .

In my case, last night wasn’t so much about overcoming any fear because I think a fear of spiders is something of a rational fear.  In this case, it’s more about not letting anything  get in the way of your dreams and your passion.  Not a little spider, not a big snake, not fear of failure and not even yourself.

You’ll have to excuse my appearance. My hair had been under a scrub cap all day and I had to consume 2 glasses of wine and eat a Rice Krispie ® Treat the size of Texas before I even worked up the gumption to walk out the door.  When I got to the place (which will remain nameless due to their less than ethical purchasing strategies… hey, it’s the only place around that had a tarantula.  Back off. I didn’t buy anything.) the associate was with another customer and I had another 30 minutes of pure hell waiting around to hold a creature that I’m fairly certain was spewed from the mouth of Satan himself.  My. Nerves. Were. Shot.

I told the associate of my plight to face my fear of spiders.  I told him I wanted to hold one of the tarantulas at which he said, “on one condition. When I put this on you, you can NOT throw it if you get freaked out.”  Done.  The mission had begun.  I began to feel my nerves actually calm knowing this venture was coming to a close.  That is, until he opened the first container and said, “Ummm no.  That one won’t work.  Any time they pull their fangs up like that – I’m not messing with them.”  I’m sorry… THEIR WHAT?!  It’s ok.  It’s clearly for the best that I didn’t do proper research before I had an 8-legged hairy monster crawling on my arm.

The second monster seems less peeved.  Up and over… and…. ohmygoditsonmyarm!!!!!!!!!!!  Breathing.  Be very still.  Don’t let the monster know you’re scared.  They sense fear.  They like the taste of fear.  The monster most surely is going to bite me.  Ok, you may now remove the monster from my arm.

As it turns out, the monster liked me.  It’s when it had to trade hands to the associate that it decided to bite… him.  Poor sucka. :-)

spiders2 copy

 

Go do something that makes you grow!!!