indiana business

Choosing A Social Media Marketing Specialist

Do you think spending a couple of hundred bucks on your social media strategy is all that it takes to create the necessary engagement and depth of trust with potential clients and customers, as well as reach a broad audience? No way, Jose! (If you can’t afford more than that, I get it. I have experienced bootstrapping first-hand, and this post is not directed at you.) If, however, you can afford to spend more, but choose not to because you’re thinking “hey, these days anyone can throw some posts up on your Twitter or Facebook account”, let me just stop you right there! Yes, it’s true that your 14 year old nephew can use a mobile app on his phone to create a graphic that can be shared on Instagram or Pinterest and that you can buy clicks and likes for a few bucks any day of the week, but will using a person or a company that doesn’t have the depth of experience or the ability to customize an approach to your specific business really make you money? I don’t think so. You may as well not have a SM presence at all. And a lot of people chose not to. Sadly, those same people are missing out on a ton of sales.

My thing is, if you own a business and want to stay relevant, connect with customers and make sales, you cannot ignore social media, and by extension, unless you have the time and energy to run your Social Media efforts yourself, your absolute best bet is to plan to use and SM specialist to help you and budget accordingly.

Pay careful attention to that last word. “Specialist.” A specialist is a person who focuses on and is an expert on a particular subject or activity; a person highly skilled in a specific and restricted field. My focus is to build relationships with customers on a client’s behalf. In Social Media terms, we call that “creating engagement.”

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but right now, marketing is ALL about engagement. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. People buy from other people or companies they trust. Trust takes time. It takes conversation. It takes active listening – for your sake and that of the customer. Becoming *PERSONALLY* familiar with your business and the customers you serve is my job. Knowing just the right questions to ask is also my job. Both skills need to be present and well-honed in order to create and customize content for the right kind of engagement.

So yeah, if you’ve got the budget for marketing, but are choosing not to spend it on experts, you may want to reconsider. I like a deal as much as the next girl, but in this instance the cliche applies – you get what you pay for.

Remember that communication is key in building relationships. It’s absolutely a necessity to start and continue conversations on your social media platforms to start adding to your business’ trust account. Without that engagement, you will be losing customers to your Social Media savvy competitors every day of the week.

“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

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!

Your Achilles Heel Needs To Be Broken!

Once upon a time, a business acquired a client.  This business acquired this client because potential was seen, but many fixable flaws were also seen.

Ok, the business is mine and the client – well… I’ll keep that anonymous.

What I will tell you, though, is that what this client had to offer me was really priceless.  He did a fantastic job, saved me a ton of stress – and also was more than affordable.  What’s wrong with that?  Nothing!  He was great… when he actually showed up.

You might not think your lack of organization has an impact on your business.  You might want to think again.  When I met this client, he was writing his appointments down on scrap pieces of paper that he’d leave in different bins in his office.  Then, when he got phone calls (like mine) asking why he didn’t show up, he’d apologize all over himself, explain his lack of organization and do the appointment for free.

What he didn’t understand is that as a customer, I felt like he didn’t value my time.  It wasn’t until we sat down and talked it through that I understood – he just has no strength when it comes to this at all.  This is where I jumped in. I got him organized with an online calendar that synced with his phone and to my knowledge, he hasn’t missed an appointment since.

We live in a world where people talk.  They don’t just talk face to face anymore.  When people talk now, they talk to their audience of 1500 or so through Twitter, Facebook or whatever their SM outlet preference is.  If I had been any other customer of his, he would have lost his money for the day, I would have lost my time for the appointment he didn’t show up for and he would have lost a lot of business due to me running my digital mouth.

Yes, I’m well aware that this is Social Media 101 – but sometimes we all need a reminder.  Myself included.  So here’s your swift kick in the pants.  Find your Achilles Heel and fix it.  Pronto.  If you can’t – find someone who can.

Knock Knock Knockin’ on…

Have you ever said, “I wish (fill in the blank).”  “I hope I …..”  “One day I’ll _________.”

While all of those things are nice thoughts, that’s all they are.  Thoughts involve no action.  If you want something badly enough, bust through whatever is holding you back (often fear of failure or rejection) and make that first step.  A step, on the other hand… that’s action.

About 3 years ago, I had gone through two cars, both lemons and was on my way to my third.  My aunt always talked about how she loved driving her car that was a manual transmission.  I secretly always admired the fact that she was coordinated (and cool) enough to drive one.  From the time I was around 23, each time I went car hunting, I thought about manual – but always ended up with an automatic.  Self-doubt.

“You’ll never be able to get this thing all the way home.”  “You’ll kill it 20 times, cause an accident and a traffic jam.  You’ll be all over the news, be a complete embarrassment.”  “You’ll get stuck on a hill, under compensate on the clutch and wind up eating someone’s bumper.”

All of these were possibilities.  But I did one thing that most people don’t or won’t do.  I asked for help.  My cousin went with me to get that third car.  A red, 2003 Mazda Protege 5.  She took me to a parking lot a few miles away, spent about an hour with me going through the basics and… voilà!! Three years later, I stalled in traffic approximately 10 times.  I rolled backward down 5-6 hills before learning how to work the clutch perfectly.  I even …. blew the transmission.  It’s true.  But I did it.  I made something happen that I’d wanted for 10+ years.  Now it’s mine.  And no matter how old my Bella gets (yes, that’s her name.  No, she’s not named after the Twilight character.) – she’s my girl.  

I’m well aware that taking thought and turning it into action involves the mind more than anything physical, but I think a particular law of physics applies here.

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Objects tend to “keep on doing what they’re doing.” In fact, it is the natural tendency of objects to resist changes in their state of motion.

So do SOMETHING.  If you don’t think you can do it alone, ask for help!  You’ll be surprised how happy people are to help you. Even if it doesn’t work, you’re moving.  You’re taking action.  Maybe that unbalanced force Newton spoke of will be enough of a force to push you in the right direction.  You won’t know until you do (not try.)

“Do or do not.  There is no try.” – Yoda

How Do I Find The Time to Blog?

If you aren’t blogging, would you please tell me why?  Probably the #1 issue is time if you’re like most small business owners.  I usually find myself rush, rush, rushing through my day, doing all the “must dos” and then right before bed (no matter how late) – I find my inspiration… and I write.

You have an audience whether you can see them or not.  That audience has a need for information that YOU canprovide.  There are creative ways to work around the time issue.
Posting on Facebook and Twitter is good.  No mistake about it.  But blogging is less about you and more about your end users.  It’s about taking care of them.  Find things that interest them or relate to them.  If you own a club, you have an all adult audience.  Post events that are coming up in the community that relate to them.  Run a family eatery?  Blog about anything family related.  It doesn’t have to be about food.

Now comes the time issue.  We’re all well aware of the time crunch.  Do you have employees?  Do you value them and what they have to say?  Some of them will likely have creative writing talents, maybe some paint, some may be in bands.  Have them volunteer to do more for the business.  Maybe some have music they would be willing to have you share in the restaurant.  Perhaps the artist would like his or her work displayed on your walls.  And that writer – maybe they would like to be scheduled an extra hour a week to come in and do your weekly or bi-weekly blog.  Let them know that you’re particularly looking to start paying your blog more attention and are looking to hand that responsibility over.  Do a writing audition.  Maybe more than one employee gets the part.

Give your blogger an assignment once a week or once a month.  Give them specific parameters that you’d like them to blog about and let them work their magic.  Make sure you give them the credit!  Involving employees in different parts of your business not only builds strong morale among your employees, but it also lets your customers know each one of your staff members a little bit better.

What are you waiting for?  Don’t you have some writing to do?? Go, write.  But have fun with it!

You want me to WHAT?!

“I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” – Herbert Bayard Swope, American editor and journalist; first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize

And this, ladies and gentlemen is the truth.  There will be clients that want the world from you.  Once they get the world – they’ll want the sun… and the moon.  And the truth is that you’ll want to provide it for them to your own detriment and to the detriment of your other clients.  There will always be someone that you just can’t please no matter the hours you spend with/for them, no matter the effort put forth, no matter the amount of sleep lost.  Now there will be two possible outcomes.  Outcome #1 – You continue trying to please said client, suffer inordinate amounts of stress, possibly lose other (quality) clients due to time spent on this one – OR – Outcome #2 – You fire your client.  Yes.  YOU are the one in control of your stress level and you are the one responsible for keeping it at a safe and tolerable level.

 
Do the right thing by everyone, always.  Yourself included.  To conclude, a little ditty:  “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, Know when to walk away, know when to run.” – Kenny Rogers

Did a Social Media Professional just say….???

Hey you. Yes… You. You said you wanted to grow your business, right? Here’s the thing: You’re never going to do it hiding behind a computer. That’s right. I said it.

Our culture is on social media overload. One of the reasons I hear multiple people say they veer away from social sites is that we have lost the art of truly connecting with each other – and to an extent, these people are right. Social media is just one of many avenues to get and stay connected.

Networking in person is still a completely viable way to grow your contacts – and in turn your business. The difference now is that you use social sites to help you at your networking events. That’s right. I’m telling you to do some social stalking. *Disclaimer* – I’m not really telling you to stalk people. :-)

But what you CAN do is join local meetups. On these sites, you can actually see who will be there. Decide on a handful of people you’d like to meet there by checking out what they do. Google their names to find out businesses they’re in – or even better sometimes – is who THEY know.

Information is gold and it’s now at your fingertips. Let your fingers do the walking, but get your body there in person.  I promise that the extra effort will be worth it.