Not Another Article on Social Media Engagement

social media engagementWhy are there so many articles written about engaging on social media sites?

I think the real reason is people do not know how to define engagement and they are worried that people will find out that they basically broadcast information and really do not engage on social media sites.  My frustration with this topic is that everyone talks about engagement a but no one ever provides examples on how to effectively do it.

I look at engagement a bit differently than most. I think broadcasting and engaging really go together and if you work at it, you will get better at it over time. It does take some work, but it is much more than staring at Twitter or Linkedin for 4 hours straight and trying to engage others in conversation.  Let’s take a closer look at this topic using the Twitter and Linkedin platforms.

Engagement on Twitter

Most of the talk on Twitter is broadcasting. People have something to say and they just put it out there for people to read. Many people link to a news article or a website or blog site.  I typically tell people about a blog article I have written and try to get people’s attention. The engagement piece for me is trying to effectively tell people why they should read an article I have written.  I need to be sharing something of value and make sure I am communicating that to current followers and potential new followers.

In addition, I try to read other people’s content and if I feel it has valuable information, I think it is my duty to tell others about it. For me it is about gaining knowledge and sharing that knowledge with others.  It is always great to acknowledge the writer when possible and I will often modify the current tweet to stay within the 140 character limit.

I try to use hashtags too more for subject areas or keywords but I have not found them as effective professionally speaking. Kids are more into creative hashtags.

With such a limited amount of characters, the only way to effectively engage with others is to get people’s attention. Here are some phrases I use on a consistent basis.

“Posted Today”
“A must read for marketers”
“Great comments from a CEO”
“A must read today”
“Great Article”

Obviously, I will also look at following up with a personal message after the initial conversation, but you have to start somewhere.

Engagement on Linkedin

Linkedin is the place for me for true engagement from a professional standpoint. The Linkedin Publishing Platform  has helped me see the value of engagement with business professionals. If you write “great content”, people will notice and they will take the time to comment on your articles. In addition, I have started following a number of great people who use this platform and it is really a great place to share comments and ideas with others.  Linkedin has groups too that can also be powerful places for engagement too.

It is important to leave comments with others and give people credit for coming up with topics for discussion. There is real value here.

Some hints:

  • If you question someone’s position on a topic, make sure you do it in a professional manner. (No Brainer)
  • Always try to leave a comment for the person who wrote the article. I see too many people disagree with other people’s comments. Let the author deal with these items (Many people forget this)
  • Check out the people commenting on your articles…See if there are opportunities to connect or follow back (You are probably doing this. Nothing new)
  • Any comments outside of the original article should be taken off-line, consider sending a Linkedin email to the person if you have a paid account. (Good Advice)
  • Start using the Linkedin Publishing Platform and share more ideas with professionals  (Best Advice – It is a difference-maker on Linkedin)

Can’t Engage With Everyone

Engagement is such a strong word for the act of “communicating and sharing” of ideas and information.  Let’s just call it what it is. People are only interested in information that personally and professionally affect them. If you want to be effective on social media, share information on a particular topic, get people to share their comments on your topic and respond back to their comments.  It really is that simple.

Your Service Stinks

Poor ServiceIn today’s world, it’s hard to go a day without someone complaining about the service that he/she received.

People these days are also very short with their responses and they often go to the extreme to show their displeasure.

As a company representative you have several options. These are the typical responses I have seen lately.

Ignore the person’s complaints and write it off as an anomaly
This type of approach indicates that the company knows more than the client and the representative feels the company would be better off without this type of client. Be careful using this technique. It could lead to many clients being turned off to your products/services if these people talk about their experience with other customers.

Try to give some type of value in return to satisfy their displeasure
This approach is used way too often. People generally complain about the same issues and the company does not want to address the real issue and is more concerned about making sure the consumer goes away with something of value like an additional coupon, discount or free item.   This approach never addresses the “real” issue and people may take advantage of this type of action or not come back because they question the type of service that they are receiving because their complaints are not being acted on.

Listen to their concern, try to take the emotion out of the complaint and write document their concern
This approach is the best approach in my opinion. It really looks at the complaint and really tries to find the “root cause” of the issue. People, naturally want a voice and want to know that someone is listening to their concerns. In the past, there was a phrase, “the customer is always right”. I don’t particularly like this phrase because it is not true. However, a more appropriate pharse would be the following, “the customer should always have the right to voice their concern”. If you do not let customers voice their concerns, you could be missing out on a lot of vital information.

Documenting Client Complaints

It is really critical to document client feedback, both positive and negative. I have found great value in understanding the client experience and this type of information is not provided by clients on a regular basis. Client complaints should also be documented and followed up on to see how the issue can be resolved. Some issues cannot be resolved right away, but it helps to document the concern and see if it happens to occur again in the future. This information really helps improve service overall and helps

I have also found through this experience that people are willing to talk about their complaints if they know someone is listening. If you are in charge of the customer experience at your company, make sure you are not ignoring your client complaints and consider reviewing these complaints on a regular basis. The information will speak volumes about your services and the clients that you serve.

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2 Important Reasons to Consider Brand Penetration

Brand PenetrationBrand Penetration – This is the concept that I feel more people will be talking about in 2014 and into 2015.

As you can tell from the past few weeks, I am trying to take marketing in a new direction and set a new tone. We are quickly circling back to having a strong company brand that penetrates the market and gets noticed.  Today, people are really confused about what a brand is. Companies are buying each other out, changing their identity and trying quickly to make more of a presence. Established brands are trying to keep pace with change and are continuing to reinvent themselves. It is a never ending  job for a company. Today, I want to focus on two important reasons to look at this concept of brand penetration.

Serving Client Needs

This concept is the minimum requirement if you want to be in business today. Serving clients means so much more today that it ever has. You may provide a great product or service, but if your ordering system is not quite up to par with Amazon, you may have some work to do. I received a client complaint that our company was not saving his credit card profile and that we make him key-in his credit card each time. It may  sound like a small thing, but Amazon and other sites have provided this convenience. Banks would like to serve client needs better, but they need to be careful of violating regulations.

Imagine your front desk person is sick and you put someone in their place and they get upset with the consumer because they don’t relate well to clients. It may have been a one-time event, but one experience is all it takes to lose someone’s business.

On another front, companies are very desperate to attract new business and they may try to compete through much lower prices to take business away from you. How are you going to react? If your only option is to come back with lower prices again, what does that signal to your client. How are you going to build up your brand value so this type of action is not even a consideration by your clients.

Listening to your clients and working toward not only servicing their needs but exceeding their expectations is the only option for companies to continue to make a difference in the market. Also, remember competitors are always selling out around you, it is a prime time to establish your brand like never before and become the place that people recognize and go to.

Online Marketing is rapidly changing

Google is changing the rules quite a bit. Google Authorship is still alive and well. Google wants to collect a database of information from known people and not some type of bot. It is for this reason that personal branding and company branding are huge. Marketers need to develop content relative to their audience and find a way to draw people to their site to learn more.  Content marketing is alive and well. Social media makes a great distribution for this information and it helps to maintain a brand presence.

Mobile technology, (smartphones, iPads, tablets) are really changing the dynamic of  brand penetration. Google likes to know where you are and provide you with search results respective of your current location. This is great if you are a local company and your audience is all local consumers. For smaller, national companies like Midwest Laboratories it offers challenges, because keyword search does not have the search power like it once did. Companies are going to need to buildup their brands to see if they can have more of a national attraction to them. Obviously, this means other channels are going to be needed then just content marketing to make this happen. Companies are going to need to find a way to get more creative than ever to see if their brand can get more attraction. Colleges and Universities recognize this and consistently include their brand identity with content that they put online.

Summary

Brand Penetration – It should be a goal of every marketing department. In a very noisy and busy world, consumers are making decisions based on information they can obtain.  Companies are going to have to find creative ways to insure their brand is being recognized in the market. I believe this new direction will bring about new technology in the future.  In the meantime, it is important to continue to follow the direction of the current technology and associated internet platforms and look for trends. Finally, the key really comes back to listening and serving clients, without this piece the other parts quickly go away. Do not lose site of that and always strive to be client-driven.

I would welcome your comments on Brand Penetration. What are ways you are penetrating the market today?

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Keywords or Branded Keywords

Branded KeywordsMobile is changing the way we search the internet!

Think about this statement for a moment and think about your own actions with your mobile device.  You are looking for the following items:

  • mens clothes store
  • gas station
  • grocery store
  • convenience store

Now, consider the following way to search. You really like certain brands and you want to see if a particular location has these items.

  • Dillards
  • BP
  • Kroger
  • QuickTrip

Now, think about yourself as a marketer who wants to market your product not only locally, but nationally. In the past, many marketers were able to create great key word search terms that were specific to our current businesses. In fact, many of us including myself purchased domains that were keyword specific.  Up until a year ago, organic keyword search was a viable search strategy. Today, it is still a factor, but its overall penetration has weakened a bit. It appears there is a better way to approach this whole topic of key words.

The Future of Branded Keywords

Moving forward, the direction for smaller businesses  will need to look closer at this idea of combining key words with “Branded Entities) More and more it appears that Google is looking for search results from trusted brand entities to help establish credible search information.

Location Brand : City   (Example: Omaha)

Personal Brand:  (Examples: Full Name + title, company,location, profile, experience)

Combine Keywords with Brand  (food testing, Omaha) (ethanol testing, Midwest Laboratories)

This is not an easy endeavor and it will take some time to see results, but I think if companies are going to be able to connect more and more with their brands and the products and services they provide. To rely strickly on long-tail keyword phrases is very risky.

Transparency

More thought needs to go into how to make branded keywords come to life. One way is through transparency. Companies and their representatives are going to need to come to the forefront and talk about experiences that add value to clients. Being transparent needs to be a cautious approach, especially in light of personal brands connected to company brands. Again, a lot of planning and due diligence needs to occur to insure brands are presented in the best light possible.

Showcase Value to Clients

The ultimate goal here is offering value to clients. Developing a strong brand that people notice is always a daily goal and it should come through with the way clients are served. Companies need to recognize that if they want clients to know what value they can offer, they need to take steps to insure they stay on people’s radar. One way to do that is by looking closer at search marketing and determine where they want to go in the future.

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Build it and they will come

Build it and they will comeI know you have heard this familiar phrase and right now you could say many marketers are using it with respect to their content marketing initiatives.
So much emphasis has been placed on producing content and the results it will bring once it is there. Then, there are people who say it is all about creating quality content for people to read. In both cases the “build it and they will come” mentality is the driving factor.

If you have forgotten about this phrase, check out the scene from Field of Dreams.

The part here that is missing are the other processes that need to take place to help make the content come alive.

Content must be promoted
Yes- It is not as simple as just maintaining a blog site or content site. Marketers need to get the word out and promote the content more and more. Social media sites are a great place to share content and get the news out regarding information that you have posted. I think Linkedin works the best with it’s new publishing platform. I try to do this each time I post an article on the Midwest Labs Blog Site or this site.

Content must be specific
General articles on information do not do nearly as well as articles written on specific topics. Focus on a particular topic and target that market through the use of #hashtags on social media sites. Don’t be concerned about the number of hits you receive on the day the article was posted. Look at the number of hits over a longer time period and determine what follow-up type of articles should be written on specific topics.

Write on Topics that others are not writing on
Too many articles are written on certain subjects. “Why companies should be on social media?” How many of these type of articles can a person read. There are so many articles on this topic that it is really hard to stand out and more than likely your article will say about the same thing every article is saying.

Hare a long-term strategy
Too much emphasis is made on getting results from content marketing in a 30-60 day time period. Unless you are a famous athlete, movie star or some type of celebrity your chances of hitting it big by developing content are not going to happen overnight. That is really ok. I have maintained content on this site and a company site for over three years and the beauty is when you can begin to Build Content on Top of Content. This is where people will begin to see that you are knowledgeable about a particular topic. It is a never-ending job.

Summary
Have a realistic strategy when it comes to content marketing. Make sure that once you start, you keep it going. You will experience peaks and valleys when it comes to readership, but if you write content that no one else is talking about and you promote it and you keep building on it, you will see results. You will not see results necessarily in a viral way, but in a sustaining consistent manner which is much more easier to manage long-term.

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Do you know your internal clients?

Internal ClientsIs this a difference-maker?  Yes it is!

Yesterday, we were visiting with a current client and they graciously thanked our management team for locating our office staff next to our current production processes. They pointed out several times that employees appreciated the top management being accessible at all times. Think about it for a second, how many large companies have their offices in a completely separate building, many miles from their production facility. This is the design of many large companies.

Clients quickly notice this type of culture and really do not know how to address this matte run conversation. This real-life example really helped me  revisit this topic to look at specific areas to look at as part of an evaluation and review.

Names of Employees

Do you know the names of your employees on your production team? Think about a time when you worked at a large company and the CEO came walking down the hall of your department. Did they know your name? If so, that really makes you feel important in a matter of seconds.

Awareness of Issues

The last thing you need as a manager or executive is to learn that an issue has existed for sometime and you were not informed. I see this all the time. Some executives are too busy to want to know what is really happening at their business and they turn away from such issues. Over time, employees pick up on this and tell these type of executives less and less information. Don’t be one of those executives who isn’t aware of issues or turns away from employees who try to communicate potential issues.

Measuring Production

How productive is your staff? Which departments are performing well and which departments are under performing? This information could be extremely important, especially if a new clients is doing business with your company and you are trying to determine why the client’s needs are not being met. Develop a set of metrics to use to help measure productivity.

Understanding important processes and assets

Many top executives do not understand some of the back-bone processes in place at your company. Executives should continually try to build up their knowledge of the company’s products, services, assets and key resources. If you as an executive do not make any attempt to learn more about current processes in your company, why should your employees try to learn more. Lead by example.

Do your internal employees understand how important their job is with respect to clients’ needs

Do you employees simply perform the same tasks day in and day out or do they have a good understanding of why their job is vital to the overall delivery of a product/service. Make sure to connect with employees and ask them what type of work they are working on.

Are you including all employees with respect to personal development?

Some employees are looking to grow and grow at a rapid pace. Are you helping facilitate this process of personal development? Many companies do not have any type of personal development programs. It is critical that employees be able to led through instruction as well as encouraged to seek out their own education outside of work. Try bringing in an outside motivational speaker or determine a topic to discuss.

Do you meet with your client service staff and sales staff on a regular basis?

The relationship that you establish with these teams will speak volumes with respect to the way you inform, sell and support your clients. Everyone needs to be on the same page and know their objectives.  Take time and work with these team members on a daily basis. Find out what projects they are working on and make sure it connects with the work that you are doing.

Accounting/Information Technology

Typically, people in these areas are harder to relate to, but if you make a conscious effort to understand the work that they do, you will see how that relationship may help you down the road when you need these resources for a future project.

 Summary

Get out of your office and start connecting more with your internal clients. These people are the backbone of your company.  Sometimes their work is overlooked and taken for granted. It  you want to be a leader inside your company as well as outside, you need to make sure people are listening to you and are committed to your company mission and vision.

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Marketing Turnaround Time

Turnaround time is a huge differential for many companies.

Turnaround Time MarketingHere are a few examples of how turnaround time is critical to serving clients.

  • How fast can product x go from inventory to shipping, to the client’s house?
  • How soon can a contract be executed to close a sale?
  • Can clients receive  “X” service as a rush service as opposed to the normal process time?
  • How fast can people get checked out during peak shopping times?

What about marketing turnaround time? How could marketing turnaround time be a differential for companies?

Contact Us Page – Website

Everyday, clients go to our company website and leave notes asking for information about particular services we perform. The real key here is that questions must be answered in a short period of time. This act of answering client question is critical to insuring clients knowing that they are working with a company that is listening to their needs. How many times have you left a question on a website and not ever received a response back? It is very frustrating.

Email Messages 

It is always appropriate to acknowledge emails received from clients and potential clients. Sometimes client expectations are not quite the same as what can be delivered. Here it is important to 1)acknowledge receipt of the email and 2) provide some type of response back. Sometimes you can even buy some time in item (1) with a proper acknowledgement of the information received and when the client can expect to receive an answer.

Phone Calls

Always, always get the person’s name and determine what the expectations are regarding the person’s request. From here, if you can answer the client’s question, give them the information they are requestting. If you cannot answer their question, take down their information and tell them you will get back to them at a specific time, (in 15 minutes, before a specific time) Do not tell them you will get back to them today. That is really not specific at all and your message might be telling the client they should seek out another similar company.

Tradeshow

Make sure to follow-up with clients within 5 days of the last day of the particular conference or show. Also, consider following up with an email or better yet, a personal letter. It shows that you valued your interaction with that person.

Summary

The key is getting back in a reasonable time. This window is getting shorter and shorter. Don’t wait too long or you may have lost this particular lead or client request. All client interactions lead somewhere and are very valuable in establishing relationships and nurturing relationship. Do your part and make sure your client’s are not waiting on you for answers.

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Time to be more inviting

WelcomeLast week, I talked about the whole concept of “setting a tone“.

My point was that marketers like myself need to work on creating a message and experience that people have not heard before, that is different, much different than the information being presented today.

I received a lot of comments regarding this topic. Some people were concerned that I thought I knew what was best for my clients and that I needed to listen more to clients. Setting a tone incorporates listening to clients, but it takes it to another level.  I think companies need to define the client experience at a minimum and work at exceeding expectations.

Here is a great story about a university who obviously knows who their clients are, “New Students – freshman and transfers”. The college recruiters and faculty have done an excellent job keeping in contact with the new freshman coming to the campus and working with them to determine what direction they want to go with respect to their careers. They knew their clients very well, just as many companies do.  However, here is how one particular university takes it to another level by setting a tone!

Here is a great example.

This weekend, my wife and I moved our son into Rockhurst University. At Rockhurst University, you receive instructions which tell you that when you arrive on campus, you are supposed to drive to the dormitory that your son/daughter are going to live in. The University had several teams of student volunteers that operated the 7-minute move-in rule to perfection. A team of kids and school faculty greeted each family  a their vehicle and proceeded to take the student’s boxes, supplies and clothes directly to their assigned room in 7 minutes. This simple act, accomplished several objectives: fewer trips from room to vehicle, more time to spend organizing rooms, more efficient traffic flow in dormitories and a great way to meet people in a more efficient manner.

I think by having a mind-set of being invitational and not conversional, you really look at ways to take listening to the client to a new level. What other ways has your company taken this type of approach with your own clients?  I think all of us are looking for ways to exceed our client expectations and give them a Wow Experience.

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Accelerating the Management Process

Managing at a Faster PaceToday, there is a huge fear in the market.

Some of my professional friends are really fearful of where things are headed.  Some examples of these worries are the following.

  • We are seeing fewer hits on our company website.
  • We just lost client B to Company XYZ
  • Company XYZ has changed owners, will they still do business with us?
  • Supplier XYZ has been bought out and is discontinuing the supplies that we need.

It really is more a sign of the current culture. In the past, corporate executives would spend lots of time investigating these issues and looking for people and department to blame with respect to these issues. This type of thinking still exists today. With today’s constant changing occurring, a new mindset is needed. This mindset looks looks at the following:

  1. Quickly taking responsibility for these items
  2. Quickly finding a way to correct the situation at hand
  3. Quickly readjusting and implementing new processes
  4. Quickly looking forward and looking for continual changes in service, marketing and efficiency

Notice the key word here is “Quickly”

Companies

With companies constantly being purchased, sold and going out of business it is becoming increasingly important to keep in touch with people like never before. In addition, other companies are looking to move quicker and faster. Some companies understand this, others are struggling with the concept of change. Make sure you are aligning yourself with companies that are growing if you are going to grow too. Watch for companies that are starting to fall off or are looking to sell to another company. Be ready and be prepared.

Also, before you make a sizable purchase in supplies or assets, do yourself a favor and go and check out the company. It might be one of the best decisions you will make. We recently did this at our company and we learned quite a bit of information that will help us move in a more efficient manner in the future.

Clients

Clients have so much information at their fingertips and are always looking for more information about your company. Take the opportunity to understand the following:

  1. How could our services increase sales for our clients
  2. What information are people looking for on our website, that they are not finding
  3. What type of expectations do clients expect from us?
  4. Are there areas where our clients are using our competitors’ offerings instead of ours?

Summary

It is time to move faster in this process of serving clients. Too much time is spent on issues that are mostly irrelevant to serving clients. More time needs to be focused on gaining productivity and accelerating the decision-making process in order to be successful in this environment. Minimizing distractions and focusing on hard deadlines is very helpful and it sets a good precedence for achieving goals that are a win-win for internal clients and external clients. The choice is really up to you!

Are you seeing a similar scenario play out at your company?

How are you reacting?

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Set a Tone to be more social and less about social media

Set A ToneWe are starting to disconnect from people and it might be a path we should be concerned about.

More and more, companies are using technology, gathering information and are looking at this information to make future decisions.

Yesterday, I gave some information to one of my co-workers. I had talked to a representative at a company over the phone and received some great information. I asked this representative to forward this information to me in an email so I had all the information written down correctly.   – - From here, I told one of my co-workers to contact this representative and find out more about this information. I provided my co-worker with name, email address and the company website.

Now, this is where the problem occurred.

The co-worker instead of just calling the representative, decided to look at the company website more closely and could not find the information I found by talking to the company representative. The disconnect continued. More questions about the information on the website and how it did not match the information I was presenting to him from my dialogue with the company representative.

This example shows how people are using content and technology the wrong way. Do you tell your boss that a particular client or company is not a good fit because you cannot find the information on their website? Seriously?

Set a tone to be more real and ultimately connect with a person face to face, over the phone, use email to reinforce communication, but don’t base your decision on the presence or absence of words.

Social media is the next channel. Every social media expert claims that if you are not on social media, you are  really missing the boat. It is true that you might be missing some things, but I don’t think you are totally missing the boat. I would turn this whole conversation on its head by saying the following:

Find your tone – Develop that unique voice where people can find you in various places and they want to learn more about you and they see a win-win type of relationship for themselves.

I have personally cut back on the number of social media sites I work with. I use some social media sites for broadcasting – GooglePlus and Facebook. In today’s social media world that is a big no, no, but frankly I do not see myself growing socially on these sites so why would I invest so much time on them. They are good sites for broadcasting information and finding some good contacts, but overall I may visit these sites once or twice a day.

Linkedin is where I spend my time on social media. Connecting with professionals intrigues me. When Linkedin added the ability for people to post their own articles, it really opened up a whole new way to communicate and connect with other professionals.  I am really seeing a whole new culture where people are wanting to learn and grow more through other people’s writing. This new experience is quickly gaining popularity over the traditional participation in  Linkedin Groups. I really believe it is more about people using their time wisely and wanting to spend time reading quality content. Also, people like to comment on articles as opposed to short updates that must be interpreted.

Set a tone and tell people how you use social media and why connecting with people is more important than any words or updates you could state on a website or social meida site. Continue to look for ways to have a refreshing experience with other people and you will soon find an audience that is worth connecting with.

Time to Move on From Content Marketing and Social Media

Moving ForwardIn my last article, Setting a Tone I rambled a bit on the idea that there is so much information out there that people are looking for more than just content, they want to read about an experience.

Setting a tone, as stated in an earlier article is “looking look into the future and working toward a change which will really add value. It is all about transparency and communicating an experience that gets people’s attention. The best way to do this is to describe an action that you have personally experienced.  I keep reflecting on this topic, because it works if you really set your mind to it and try thinking differently.

Continuing to Set a Tone

This topic keeps playing over and over in my head. Too many people are fixated on information and are missing the experience. It happened again with my kids. I saw a motorcycle going extremely fast, 75-80 in a 45 mph zone. I asked my kids if they saw and heard the motorcycle go by. They both looked up from their smartphones and said, no – I was sending a text to my friends.

This is the type of world we live in. Many of us marketers are trying to create videos, quality content, images and other material in various digital and traditional markets. We work hard on these projects, but we need to understand there really aren’t any guarantees.

Take a Step Back and Reconnect

We need to take a step back and think hard about our connections. Going back to the kid example, I would say I know my kids pretty well. Just as marketers would say that they know their clients. The fact is, we are slowly losing clients to the abundant distractions in the world. My kids find texting their friends more important than their surroundings. I should have set the tone and told my kids to stop what they are doing and check out the motorcycle passing us at a ridiculous speed. I want my kids to know that type of driving is unacceptable and very dangerous. I am not sure talking about this event after the fact had the same meaning.

Yesterday, one of my professional contacts had a question about Linkedin. My day was full of meetings, calls and to-do’s but the two of us started a conversation on Twitter, email and Linkedin and were able to find a solution.  Never, once did we pick up the phone and just talk to each other. It wasn’t that we couldn’t, it was more a matter of trying to communicate as best as we could under the circumstances. (I think this type of connecting is needed more and more) We need to set a tone that we will connect with people we want to do business with and stay connected to for future growth. It is a matter of changing and communicating an experience effectively.

Time for a New Direction

While the marketing world is still focused on the need for social media and content marketing to be adopted, I think  it is time to look at a new direction. It is time for tone marketing to be more adopted. We need to find ways to connect these channels with our clients and create a better experience. The way people search for information is changing. Information overload is here. It is time to go back to our clients and build on those relationships both internally with our company teams and externally with people who are looking for ways to grow their own businesses.  Look at the definitions of tone and engage

tone - a particular quality, way of sounding, modulation, or intonation of the voice as expressive of some meaning, feeling, spirit, etc.:a tone of command. Source Dictionary.com

engage - to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons) Source Dictionary.com

Tone looks at communicating and connecting with a particular quality of sound. I think this word has been missing over the past few years. Engaging sounds nice, but it doesn’t really tell us “how” to do it. Also, do we really want to engage with every person we come in contact with?

Setting a tone is taking our current channels and raising them to a new level to hopefully create an experience that people remember. We need to put the old way of thinking behind us.

OLD Thinking:  Write content that is searchable and creates information and facts for people to read and act on.  This type of connecting is quickly disappearing because we are having a hard time getting on people’s radar.

NEW Thinking: Taking content, words, pictures and video and create an experience, (tone) that people will recognize amidst all of the information and news. Something different!

Setting a tone is the future. More work needs to be done in this area and I am simply scratching the surface myself.

What are your thoughts?

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Setting a Tone

Setting a ToneInformation, Information and more Information

Is there so much information around us that it is becoming just more and more noise? People are motivated in a number of ways.

I write from a standpoint of someone who works with different management and marketing principles on a daily basis and wants to make a difference. I want to grow, improve and get better.  I have to say, I quickly read a number of articles, posts and books to gain ideas related to management and marketing principles.

Everyday  I am immersed with information and I am finding myself less and less interested. Many articles today say the same thing. It’s like being stuck in  a Basic Marketing Course.

I am also seeing this play out also with my teenagers. They can hardly watch a movie at home without asking so many questions. They want to know what is happening before it happens.

The best information I read is that type of information that comes from people writing about their experiences. We learn more from each other and our experiences than restating facts and information.  I think words and phrases are overrated.  My new phrase that I am going to start using is “Tone Marketing”. I want more than just content, I want to communicate an experience.

I really saw this particular topic, “Tone Marketing” play out this week. I decided to shake things up and set a new tone. In the past, I had sent an email with a list of items to work on or as a set of reminders and wanted people to respond. Typically, 1 or 2 responses would be received. It wasn’t that the other people did not perform the tasks, but they really did not see the need to confirm to me the information I had sent.  This time, I setup a time to meet and I went over each task. Each item listed an activity and name(s) of people who were responsible for that activity. This brief meeting brought people together with a purpose as people saw their name listed on the sheet.

The only way “Tone Marketing” works is if you can look into the future and work toward a change which will really add value. Today, my goal is to come up with a list of items that I can work on with respect to tone marketing.  Start simple and see results. Make it personal and engage others and bring them along. Start working toward building some experiences and take a break from articles and information. You might see a whole new scene. One which really promotes better growth and learning.

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When is your next update being released?

UpdateThis fall Apple is supposed to release a new iPhone update, iPhone 6. New features and benefits for consumers. Right now this information is creating hype on different internet sites and talk on social media.

Is your company planning a new update? Are you coming out with new services, new brand design, a major acquisition. What kind of buzz are you starting?

This is today’s culture! People like new and are always looking for the most current technology available to them. New updates indicate a company is growing and implementing innovative processes for its clients.

For me, this means I need to constantly look at ways to improve service and make sure I get this information out to my clients. Earlier, this year we released a new mobile app with a pretty nifty process for clients to immediately find value. The part I am still working on is getting this information out to my clients. People don’t read press releases that often and I have found the people who embrace this technology are the ones who have seen it up close.

Because of Apple’s strong brand, they can afford to wait a year and bundle all of their updates and technology into a single device. This has been a particularly successful model for Apple and other technology companies. For companies like mine, it is more imperative to continue to address updates like projects and work toward implementing these projects in a more accelerated manner.

Some update ideas could include the following:

  • New website look
  • Open House
  • Blog Site
  • Putting on a Conference
  • Mobile App
  • New Brand look

Again, these items listed above are just to give you some ideas. If it was me, I would look for something much bigger and better. If you are not planning on any updates in the near future, you could have other issues with your business. Companies need to keep reinventing themselves and make improvements. The key is to be able to do this in a much shorter time frame to keep pace with the current culture.

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Is Search Marketing more like following the Stock Market?

Stock Market and MarketingEveryday, people write blog posts that tell you to get involved with Content Marketing or Google Hummingbird or Social Media or you will not see results.

Frankly, companies are trying to figure out the best solutions for their search marketing initiatives.  Here are some things I have learned and some things I am working on.

SEARCH MARKETING

Local Search

With content marketing, my company ranks quite well locally. This really had more with the way Google has realigned itself in the “mobile” area and my willingess to change and adapt by using the Google Products in an integrating fashion: (Start with GooglePlus, add Company Location, add YouTube Channel – (Might have to delete old one) , add Google Hummingbird)  Learn more at Google My Business.

National Search

Still working on a good approach here. From what I can tell Google likes Colleges and University Materials. In addition, your company is competing with other “competitors in their local areas”. This is a tough sell, but I have started to see some inroads here as well. ( I cannot put my finger on why, but I am seeing leads in this area) (See Next Item – I think it holds the key)

Keyword Search

Even though some people would say this areas is dead. I think long-tail search can still have some impact. I look closely at analytics as best I can and in particular I look at Queries under the Search Engine Optimization category to help me see what items are generating more traffic among readers.

STOCK MARKET  COMPARISON

If you are a hard core marketer like myself who wants to focus more on organic search than paid search, then I would suggest that you always look at the above items closely and continue to look for patterns. Just like the stock market, we do not know when stocks will go up or go down in the short or long-term, we can only go with the information we obtain. There is a lot of good information, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story and sometimes we only hear a story right when the bell sounds and the stocks go sharply up or down.  The key is you have to be a player  in the market to have any chance at success. You also can refuse to be in the market and take your chances with other options.

It is the same for search marketing, you can be a player in the market by having a content marketing and social media strategy or decide these items will not help you with respect to your rankings in Google. My advice, stay in the market and continue to ask the following questions of your leads and current clients.

How did you hear about our company?

Do you follow our company on other web sites besides our company website?

Did you hear about our company from a particular person, company or trade show?

People are finding information in a number of ways, as marketers we need to look at it from a big picture view like the stock market and try not to get too caught up in individual channels.

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Is your pursuit of informaiton making you less productive?

Information ManagementIn a world of technology like tablets, computers and smartphones, we are all becoming more and more addicted to information.

You can see it in the way people use their computers. We don’t use keyboards anymore, we use our fingers and mouse devices to read through information.  Are we gaining more knowledge. The debate is out. Are we becoming more informed about the news happening around us. Certainly yes! Today, there are many sources for news. We spend an enormous amount of time collecting information for work, our interests and to assist us in our day-to-day activities.

I am not saying we should stop gathering information, all I am just saying we should be gaining information for a purpose and watch our time closely so it does not slip away from us.

Here is another way of looking at this topic,

“What if we took half of the time we spend gathering, reading and processing the information and actually applied it in a more constructive manner”

Sharing Information with others

I work with an employee who reads articles and shares them with his employees. He takes the time to copy them and put hard copies in our mail boxes.

There are others I follow on Twitter and Linkedin who share some really great information on topics I am interesting in.

Writing Information

Instead of always reading, why not read and apply the information by writing content for a blog site. From here, you will actually apply the knowledge read and hopefully add additional information with respect to your company or professional experience.

Talk about Information You Have Read

Some of the best departmental meetings have come as the result of all participants reading an article at the meeting or watching a short video on a particular topic.

Summary

I am finding that people are wasting more and more time reading online information at their desks. Don’t fall into this trap. Be a productive reader and have a purpose when reading articles. Set an alarm and make sure you manage your time wisely.   Try writing more and incorporating information into your writing, whether its for a meeting, presentation a blog site or studying a particular topic.  Gather information and manage it and you will be amazed at how much more productive you can be.

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Time to Stick Your Neck Out

Sticking Your Neck OutAre you a risk-taker?

I thought about this topic as we are right in the middle of “back to school” time. This past week, my kids received their text books and e-books. Yes, e-books are the new focus this school year. Many schools have adopted this type of technology or various programs. Some schools have been successful and others have not been as successful. It is a big undertaking.  Schools are sticking their neck out and trying to integrate educational learning with new technology. I will probably write more on this topic as I follow its progress this school year.

What type of risks are you willing to take? Here are some examples to consider.

Mobile Apps – Everyday, you should be looking for those ideas that are completely different than what is happening in the market. Believe me, I have learned about this realization the hard way. This year, our company developed and released an iPhone App. It is very cool, but it is only gaining a few users a day. Apps are not new, even with cool features, it is a hard sell to your clients.  What I have found, is that the more I can show people first-hand the new app, the more acceptance I generate.  This is the Sticking Your Neck Out Moment!

Content Marketing - Many people stay away from this type of project because of the amount of work that is involved in writing content for people to relate to. What if this content was written by one of your executive team members? What if you used your content marketing to connect your people and processes to your current clients?  People relate to people! This is your Stick Your Neck Out Moment!

Introduction of a  new product or service – Many times people thing they have to come out with a new product or service to keep up with competition or they recognize a potential market. These types of introductions are typically well-planned and a lot of time is involved. They are a part of normal business. What about adding something outside this normal roll-out? Have you considered putting on a conference or training program and incorporating your roll-out with another company or an educational concept. People always want to build their knowledge and offering this type of add-on could help you stay connected with your clients. Time to consider giving your clients more. Time to stick your neck out a bit more and WOW your clients.

Inviting people to tour your location – This sounds simple, but how many times do you have meetings with clients, but you never show people what really happens behind the scenes. Wouldn’t you like a personal tour of Amazon or Google? Can you imagine seeing processes up close. This type of action is really sticking your neck out!

Summary

It really comes down to having a different attitude! If you look for ways to stand out from the crowd, you will see success because people get tired of the “Same old thing” mentality.  It is something to consider. Do you want more of the same, or something more? Can you just rely on doing things the way they have always been done.  Time to change!

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Do you have a list of your company projects?

Project ManagementIf I asked you what type of projects your company is addressing, could you provide me with this information?

It’s an area I am afraid that is rarely looked at. Often times, certain departments have their own project lists, but from an overall company standpoint, I would guess that many employees have no idea what type of projects are being worked on with respect to the company’s’ direction.

It really is time that companies become more transparent with their own employees. Tracking project work and communicating progress on projects needs more attention. A few months ago, I took on this task at our company, and it has really paid big dividends in helping our company get more focused on spending time on the processes that need immediate attention. It has also helped us get on the same page with respect to the scope of projects and meeting project completion dates.  Every company deals with project work to some degree.  With smaller staffs, limited resources and stricter deadlines, managing project work is really the game-breaker for most companies. The best way to track projects is not through the latest, greatest project management work. It really comes down to getting the project work on paper with the following information:

  • Project Title
  • Project Scope
  • Resources
  • Start Date
  • Estimated Completion Date
  • Total Estimated Hours
  • Regular progress updates
  • Project Manager
  • Priority

Other Items to consider:

  • Cost
  • Other Notes
  • Open/Closed
  • Status Reports
  • Resource utilization
  • Tracking Project Participant Hours

The hardest part of this process is collecting project information on all work currently being conducted. Once this information has been collected, it is important to store this information in some type of software. I prefer Excel, because it is easy to create project templates and track project information by individual tabs. In addition, printed reports can be created without a lot of programming or copy/paste of text.

One of the pieces that gets neglected is the communication regarding project process. Too often, project status information is only communicated to the top executives and not to the people who are affected or who may be doing some of the project tasks. I know this particular topic is one which I need to work at more.

The bottom-line is document your projects and use this information as a guide to keep your team focused on work critical to running your business.

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