marketing

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.

The Magic of Social Media

There really is something magical about it.  Not in a hocus pocus kind of way, but in a connectedness kind of way.  I’ve said before on this very blog that it’s of utmost importance that we not hide behind social media.  It’s so easy to do.

Instead of using it as a shield, use it to bring you out from behind the shield.  Some time ago, I was a hider.  I wanted to be heard, but not seen.  I hid behind my witty comments and clever posts.  My following on Facebook (the only platform I used to use) started to grow with friend requests from people I didn’t know from Adam… or Eve for that matter.

They saw a glimmer of who I was and they must have liked what they saw.  I started getting invited out by new friends.  There was anxiety and most definitely hesitation. I was imposing judgements that they would have about me upon myself before I even met them! (All of a sudden I feel like this should be a Face You Fear Friday post.)

One of the people that got me to step out of my comfort zone was a co-owner of a little mom ‘n pop on the east side of Indianapolis – [Papa Roux].  Papa’s wife, Colleen, reached out after many posts bantering back and forth with lots of laughter.  “I have to meet you.”  And so, we did – at another little mom ‘n pop in Greenwood – Vino Villa (you should ABSOLUTELY check both of these places out by the way.)  We sat and chatted like we’d known each other for years.  And so, I thought, this whole getting out thing isn’t quite as scary as I thought it would be.

In fact, I started watching them (Papa Roux – the business, not the man) run as a company.  It really has grown because the owners know how to develop a relationship as a community and WITH their community.  Another thing I’ve mentioned is that in social media, the reason it works is because people want to feel like they belong somewhere.  When you let people know they matter – it shows.  You can’t fake it either.  People can absolutely sense when you’re being less than genuine.

I’ve fancied how [Papa Roux] has done social media since I became a follower. It boils down to this:  they’re real and they keep it real.  I talk about the restaurant a lot on my personal Facebook page… and I’ve had quite a number of my friends ask who this [Papa Roux] character is… So about a week ago, I organized a field trip so they could experience it for themselves.  To my knowledge, not one of them left disappointed.  The food (as always) was amazing.  The owners came in just to hang out with the 20ish people that showed up for the field trip.  They sat, they chatted – and then they threw ice cream sandwiches at my guests.  Haha!  All in good fun.  Keeping it real – it’s what they do.  Give it a shot – my bet is… it’ll work for you too.

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.

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 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. :-)

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.

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.