Carmel Indiana

The Marriage of PR and Marketing

I skimmed through an article today about the importance of making sure your social media team is also well versed in public relations.  My first thought was, “Well, crap. Someone else got to it before I did.”  It’s alright though.  It just lit the fire under my butt to write it myself.  Every person’s experience is different, right?  Right.

Names and company names will be changed (or eliminated) here to protect the…. less than innocent.

I offer my social media services in different ways.  I can be the person who hovers over your different social media platforms and pats you on the back when you do something great.  I will also tell you when you’re wrong.  But in this role – I’m pretty much hands off.  Merely a consultant.

Then there are the clients that I do everything for.  All of their marketing.  I look for trade shows that would be good for them.  I’m the voice at the end of their client’s line.  I do all of their social media, including engagement, etc…

Well – I do all of it until they decide they want to muck things up a bit. And here’s where the fun begins.  Social media is…. well… it’s social.  And so, it involves many things – one of which is emotion.  There’s something to be said for being transparent (some of the time.)  However, when being attacked by what seems to have been coined as “haters” – you HAVE to let that slide (to a certain extent.)  There’s a lot of ambiguity in the last two sentences so let me clarify by using an example.

One of my clients was recently targeted by a group of people.  They claimed his business practices were less than ethical.  Let me start by saying I wouldn’t work for such a client.  While he may not always be the brightest crayon in the box (hey, I keep it real) – he’s not morally or ethically inept.

So let’s call my client “Bob” – because that seems to be what I like to call my clients  (ADD moment:  All clients, male or female, from this point forward – will be called Bob. I like Office Space.  What can I say?)  Bob used to do business with another entity – a not-for-profit.  This group and he parted ways in one of the least amicable ways possible.  I knew things would blow up – and they did.  An anti-Bob Facebook page was started.  The anti-Bobs started harassing the Bob fans on his Facebook page.  Bob was called a thief, a liar, all sorts of nonsense.  It was a PR disaster.  It got so bad that it warranted being addressed, in a non-emotional, only the facts, ma’am sort of way, on his Facebook page.  And so, I did.  I gathered the facts and I wrote the letter.  I knew Bob was far too emotional to do so himself.  The letter was working exactly as it was supposed to.  It had a reach of over 15,000 people by the time it was all said and done. His following, at the time, was only around 4,500. About 95% of the comments that came as a result to that letter were positive, uplifting messages about how Bob helped them or someone they knew. Woo-hoo! Success!!

And then Bob’s family and marriage started coming under (written) attack from the anti-Bobs.  Keep in mind, this whole time, Bob was replying back to their hateful posts, then I’d call him and tell him to take them down.  Down they came.  Next day – same thing.  It was like babysitting a toddler for a week and a half of my life.  “Bob, ignore them.  They’re trying to get a response out of you and you keep feeding them exactly what they want.”  “Ok, Amber.  You’re right.”  Next day – any guesses?  Yes.  Same game.  I was one worn out shit storm stopper by the end of that week.

After a long conversation with Bob about what PR is and how his fans were viewing him because of his emotional outbursts toward the anti-Bobs – he chilled.  He got it.  Finally!

If I had been someone else, say just a Facebook poster… this story would have a much different ending. He’s called and thanked me more times than I can count – telling me that if it weren’t for me, he’d be out of business. Thirteen plus years in Marketing AND PR prepared me for what I handled.  If you’ve hired someone that can post on Facebook and Twitter and make it look nice, but doesn’t have any sort of background in marketing or PR, please… PLEASE…. for the love of….. well, Bob….. think about switching it up.  It’s not all about the posts.  It’s about being knowledgeable, implementation, engagement, staying one step ahead of the game – and if worst comes to worst – putting out fires.

Signed,

Fire Marshal Amber…. “Let me show ya something.”

#HashTagCampaign

^^Clever, no?  Haha – sometimes I amuse me.

I’ve covered it before, but I feel like I should again.  What is a hashtag and why should I use it?  Well, here’s the [definiton].  Why should you use them?  Well, a number of reasons, really. They can boost your [SEO], target your audience with better precision, make it easier for your potential clients to find your content… and the list goes on.  Use them – but do so wisely.  Whatever you do, please don’t hashtag every word in your post.  That’s going to land you a spot in [Hashtag Hell].

Now on to the title of this blog – a Hashtag Campaign.  You’ve seen them before and may not have even realized it.  On Twitter, specifically, hashtag campaigns have become one of the most effective marketing tools a company can use.  For Nike, however, their #MakeItCount campaign was used through Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest.  Their campaign started in 2012 and was so successful that it continued into 2013. After watching this video – maybe you’ll understand why.

So what are the rules for this hashtag campaign?  Make it easy to remember and most importantly – make it something that is intimately related to your business.  Maybe your business’ tagline?  Be creative, but wise when choosing.  If you’re doing product promotion or a short term promotion, make it something unique (that’s key), catchy – and something your audience will be excited to promote.

If you’re looking for further examples to help get those creative juices flowing – here are a hand full to help out.  [Hashtag Campaigns via Mashable.]  As always, collaborate with other great minds.  I have no doubt you’ll wind up on the road to #success <—- See what I did there?

Who’s the Hero? NOT You!

Well hello fellow Social Mediaites.  I just made that up – feel free to make it your own.

Today is NOT about you.  Neither was yesterday, but yesterday you didn’t know it yet – so starting today – it is no longer about you.  What the HELL is this woman talking about??

I’m talking about how you market to your clients.  I’ve stated it many times before – your relationship with your clients is….. ???  That’s RIGHT!  It’s a relationship.  Think back to one of your worst dates ever.  You know – where the guy/gal on the other end of the table was all like, “me me this, and me me that, oh and also there was this one time where I, I , I and me me me …….” And oh. my. GOD will the endless droning ever stop??

Well it did stop and I hope you never called him/her back because they need a wake up call.  Maybe a wake up call a little like this one.  Your business as a marketing professional should not start and end with you.  Should you be mentioned?  Absolutely.  Not to do so would be equally asinine.  While your current pitch to get Social Media work might sound a little like this:

“I’m a marketing professional that has worked with the likes of ___(fill in the blank)____.  I took over his marketing efforts in June of 2010 and have single handedly grown his business 10-fold.”

When it should sound more like this:

“As a marketing professional, I was given the opportunity to work with ___(fill in the blank)____.  In 12 months time, his business grew 10-fold. If you’re interested, I can walk you through the steps he followed to make that happen.”

It’s amazing what results come from someone who really knows what they’re talking about – with a side of humility. Give your client their due – it’ll come back in your favor every time.

Effective Social Media Marketing Part III (Final)

Using Social Media for Research

Your audience is  your best shot at cost effective research.  Cost effective and small business go hand in hand.  We have to keep up on what works as well as what fits our budget.  That being said, all of us like to be heard.  We all want to know that our opinion is of some value.  Even many larger companies are discovering that valuing your audience’s opinion is a better solution than spending millions of dollars on marketing campaigns.

Maybe it’s been a while since your store has started selling a new brand or a new item plus you’ve also seen that traffic through  your store has started to slack a bit.  Maybe you’re a business that realizes that staying one step ahead of the game is in your best interest – which I hope is the case.  Either way, let your customers know it’s not all about you.  You’re interested in what their wants and needs are.  This is the key to any relationship, be it professional or personal… not just the knowledge of, but the willingness to take action on needs and wants.

According to [Social Media Examiner][Air Tran Airways] “posed the query via a clever website which asked one productive and meaningful question of the audience members: ‘What do you think should be on every AirTran flight?’”  “The response and feedback from fans was gangbusters and quite creative! After several weeks, the message was clear from all of the ballots submitted online. The audience wanted Wi-Fi on every flight. AirTran asked the right question, collected the data and delivered upon that request. Wi-Fi is now an option on every AirTran flight!”

Another example is how [Vitamin Water] crowdsourced a new drink flavor.  You can find the whole story [here].

It could be a simple question about how you can improve a current product.  It may be the aforementioned question run as a contest.  Winner wins  $20 in free merch from your company every month for a year.  Be creative.  Make it something that your fan base wants to share with their friends.  The more creative minds put together, the better!

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. :-)

Pickles and Customer Service

If you didn’t know before – now you do:  I’m an avid local supporter.  I absolutely adore seeing small, local business soar.  That’s the reason I decided to go full time into marketing.  I have no desire to work for a large advertising company or marketing firm.  My intention is to take my experience to the mom and pops of the world and help them soar.

I just moved this past weekend.  As most of you are aware – this is no minor task.  Thank God I have amazing friends and family that gave up their Saturday and risked their digits to frigid Midwest temps to get the job done.  After it was all said and done, I rewarded them with a trip to our local watering hole, [The Stacked Pickle] in West Carmel.

When we walked in, we were promptly greeted and seated.  Immediately after, our server cheerfully took our orders and we cheerfully accepted our drinks in return.  Hey – they were well deserved.  We placed our order for food – and literally within 5 minutes, it was placed in front of us to snack on.  My cousin, Stacey, decided she wanted something different so she placed an order for some nachos.  Two minutes later – BOOM!  Right in front of us.

A couple of rounds into it, my cousin (Joe) had to make a bathroom run.  A little background on Joe.  Not only is he a trained chef, but he also has his degree in business.  He’s every restaurant manager’s dream (and of course also potential nightmare).  As he passed the kitchen, he felt compelled to let the kitchen staff know what an incredible job they’d been doing that night.  He busted open the kitchen doors and did just that.  Just so happened, the manager of the joint heard his little speech and was delighted.

He and Joe apparently chatted for a couple of minutes, then Bryce (the manager) stopped by our table. He knew we’d been moving all day and was honored that we’d chosen his establishment to visit after a hard day.  He offered us a shot on the house and spent a few minutes getting to know us better. The entire evening was an overwhelmingly positive experience and needless to say if anyone ever asks for a place to grab food and a drink up on the north-side, you know that the Stacked Pickle is always going to be on my list of suggestions.

The lesson here is three-fold.  If you’re a manager of a small business, please understand that customers love personal attention – even a small gesture can go a long way to make your clients feel special.  Lesson two: When you’re in the role of the customer instead of the business owner, remember that recognizing good service helps to reinforce it and keeps the positive loop going. Lesson three is the power of social media in its rawest form that you’re witnessing through this blog post.  Do well – you’ll be recognized for it.  Do poorly, you’ll hear about it.  And so will 15000 other people.

Next time you’re in West Carmel – I expect you to pay this guy a visit.  They do parties as well.  Call Bryce Gerlitz at 317.876.0981

Chaos – Where The Living Gets Good!

I’ve just come back from an event with [Pattern].  As always, networking with people has provided me with a reminder of why I do what I do.

I met so many people tonight.  Some of those were established business owners.  Some of them new businesses.  Others – up and comers.  This blog is for you.  The up and comers.  While I hope I provided some sort of encouragement to you – I know that there’s strength in numbers.  I also want you to know you’re not alone.   One of my friends, Scott, has agreed to let me share his most recent blog post with you.

My hope is that you not stay in the place that you are now – but let this be a little push or a huge shove forward into the place you should be.  The place where YOU become the encourager for another up and comer.  Live.  YOU!  LIVE!  No longer is it OK to exist and hope that you make it.  Take steps.  Get out of your head.  Step outside of logic.  Chaos is where the living gets good.

I hope you enjoy his blog – but more than that, I hope you do something with it.

Last night consisted of a myriad of vivid dreams. One, in particular, woke me up with tears dripping down my cheeks.

Growing up, my Mom always hung enormous photos of my brother and I on the hallway walls most near our bedrooms. One particular wall seemed like a prison lineup of school photos of the both of us, sequenced chronologically over the previous 8 years. They nearly were. It was a wall of nerdy, quirky, humorous, and embarrassing mug shots.

As we grew older, we started acquiring hobbies, and identities. So, as you would imagine, our photos began to parallel those changes. My brother had photos of him doing his hobbies. I had photos of me doing mine. Intermixed were photos of our whole family, Mom and Dad included.

All of these, of course, are photographs. They are accurate and definitive glimpses of a moment in time. Frozen memories behind a pane of glass.

My dream last night, as you may imagine, was a bit more.

Picture your family, let’s say five years ago, meeting together at the house you will always consider your one true home. And picture a painting on a specific wall of that house, which you will always remember. This isn’t a photo, this is a painting. This is a painting that changes with time.

This was my dream. Bear with me.

The first time I notice the painting, it is of my Grandpa and Grandma. They were beautiful people. As I look at the painting, Grandpa begins to fade away, until he is gone. As there were lineups of photos on the walls of my houses growing up, consider a wall of paintings on this wall. To the right was a painting of my Grandfather and Grandmother. They, too, were beautiful individuals. Grandfather fades away, until he is gone. Looking back to the left, Grandma is alone in her painting. Looking right, Grandmother has faded, and is gone. Their painting is now a sheet of black.

I don’t dare look back at Grandma’s painting, because I know the inevitable outcome. I knew this would become a painting that I would never want to buy. Empty. Lonely. Black.

Their painting is now a sheet of black.

In my dream, I receive a letter from Grandma. She had long passed. In her letter, she tells of a painting that has been in our family throughout the generations. This painting is a painting in motion. It changes as our family does. It is a timeline only seen by who is looking at it.

Looking at it, I see our immediate family. Mom, Dad, brother, and me. This particular painting is a rendering of a photo that a park ranger took of our family in the Smokies a few years ago. The four of us were there. Then, one wasn’t.

I wasn’t.

When I woke up at 4:00, I started sobbing. Not because I saw myself dying, but because I didn’t see myself living.

I don’t know when I am going to die. Truth be told, I hope I outlive all of you. But, if in the enormous possibility that I don’t, I hope I live my life alive.

I’ve lived most of my life in the fear of being beaten, in perhaps every sense of the word. But, I haven’t. Not nearly in any sense of the word. I’m learning to live my life in a way that motivates me, that pushes me, and makes me happy. And in that sense, I won’t be beaten. And in that sense, hopefully, I won’t fade to black.

So what’s keeping you from living?  Don’t just say you want it.  Seek it. Find it. Do it.

Ready, Set, Network!

You’ve decided you’re ready.  No time like the present.  It’s time to put yourself out there and start rubbing elbows with all the other movers and shakers.  But wait.  What do I do when I get there?!

Ok, before anything else – sign up.  Absolutely don’t let anything keep you from this networking event.  Your signing up will likely keep you accountable to making sure you do everything else you need to do.  No excuses.  None.

After you sign up, take some time to develop your [Elevator Pitch.]  People need to know what you do and you need to have enough practice with your pitch to deliver it with confidence and subtle enthusiasm.  Keep in mind, everyone goes to a networking event to network.  As much as we would all love for it to be all about us… it’s not.  Be genuine when asking about the business of others.  A good majority of us really do enjoy lending a helping hand when we can.  This networking event could be your opportunity to do just that.  Of course, keep plenty of business cards within reach and hand them out!

My mother always used to ride my case when I was younger telling me to quit being such a wallflower.  As is normally the case, mom was right.  As I’ve aged, I’ve certainly come into my voice – and thank goodness!  You have a voice too, so find it and use it.  Don’t stand back and wait for others to come to you.  One thing we love as humans are other humans that exude confidence.  We’re drawn to it like a gnat to wine.

Of course that couldn’t hurt now that I mention it.  But keep it to one glass ;-)

Happy Networking!

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.