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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

What Does The Fox Say? YouTube and Your Business

I’ve heard the question asked over and over again.  Why would I want to use YouTube as a channel to market my business?  I’m going to take the unconventional approach here.  I might get my throat figuratively slit by a few social media gurus when I say this.  You don’t necessarily have to.  Now wait.  I didn’t say you SHOULDN’T.  I said you don’t necessarily have to.

Lemme ‘splain myself.  If you’re a social media professional and your target clients are tech based, gamers, musicians, artists, etc… Then yes.  You should absolutely have a YouTube channel and you should actively use it to market your business.  Maybe you should consider that – even before you should consider blogging.

My target client is altogether different though.  My focus is on the mom and pops.  The small, home-grown, local businesses of Indianapolis and the surrounding towns/cities.  They don’t spend copious amounts of time browsing YouTube for Flula’s latest misunderstood colloquialism or Hannah Hart’s latest episode of My Drunk Kitchen – although they’re both two favorites of mine.  They’re busy making sure that stack of bills dwindles to zero, only to watch them stack back up tomorrow.  MY clients are on Facebook.  Why?  Let’s be honest:  They have little to no time to maintain relationships with people face to face.  Sometimes, this is all they’ve got.  Small business takes a TON of time to manage and run.

Now… ALL that being said:  If you do, indeed, find yourself with a little spare time on your hands, that time would be wisely spent on YouTube.  Here’s why.  What’s the #1 search engine in the world?  You betcha.  Google, baby.  So popular it’s now a verb.  “Google it.”  What’s #2?  Any guesses??  Most people don’t consider YouTube a search engine because of the content it displays – but it is.  YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.  Now I’m going to weave a tapestry of mind-blowing goodness.  Who owns YouTube?….. (It’s ok, I’ll wait for you to Google it.)…………. (hint, hint.)

Yep – GOOGLE owns YouTube.  So what does that mean?  Adding your videos from YouTube to your website (of course with proper tags, etc…) is perceived integrity in the eyes of Google. Perceived integrity then moves you up in the rankings of google (aka – SEO – Search Engine Optimization)  In other words, this gets you one step closer to being on the front page of Google when people search for your product or service.

Then of course – there’s the opportunity for your video to go viral. And let’s be honest. We all know what the fox says, right? :-/

#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 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

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.

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!

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?