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Post Tag: Word-of-Mouth

Being “Memorable” is the “Long Tail” of Success
Are you memorable? As a business/organization, or individual, or product, or service? People talk and share memorable... But memorable isn't being the best of the best of the best as Will Smith so aptly quoted in his movie "Men in Black".  No, memorable is being the one that someone remembers to tell someone else about you. Let's kill a myth right out of the gate.  You don't have to have the best product or latest development to be memorable.  If that was the case there would only be one memorable company in any one category, clearly not the case [read more]
BE the “Clown” – BE “Memorable”
With the upcoming 4th of July holiday coming up, it made me think of the parades and fanfare that goes on around this terrific holiday.  But it also made me start thinking about the "noise" level that accompanies these events.  Then it hit me… With all the companies I talk to about social media, by far the majority of them are using social media as if they were in the 4th of July parade we go watch every year. There are bunches of floats coming down the street - each one "trying" to look different and get noticed.  They are [read more]
“Passion” is way too UNDERESTIMATED…
"Passion" generally takes the backseat to "Promotion" - it is just way easier to promote than to build your messaging around Passion.  The path of least resistance is of course, least resistant. Take, for example, the normal Business Owner started or came into their business because of this very reason - they were passionate about what they were offering.  It's still there - just not shared freely with their current and prospective audiences.  When I consult with companies, I don't hunt down the brightest and smartest people in the company.  Nope, I look for those with the most passion. They [read more]
ALL Generations use Word-of-Mouth
It happened again last week...when I was giving a speech, someone asked me who was using social media because they thought their target audience wasn't a big user. Guess again...but that's a topic for another day. The question I came back and asked them was, "Who is their demographic, and social media aside, do they think they "talk" to other people about their company or what they do?" Of course the answer was a resounding yes and they went on to describe their demographic - more senior management  and a newer workforce of younger people entering the workforce.  [read more]

What scares Google to death?

While I can’t profess to know the internal workings or conversations inside Google, I can tell you something that I know they are afraid of and it isn’t rocket science and it isn’t Bing either.  Can you guess what this might be?  I can tell you they are afraid of the same thing everyone else in business is afraid o – not being used or not being relevant.

Google’s dream is to have everyone use them to find people, places, and things.  If you don’t know, “Google it” and you can find about anything and everything.  And they have to absolutely love the fact that there are billions of pieces of new information entering the internet every year – that makes things harder to find and thus you need Google to cut through all this noise and find what you are looking for.  This is how the search engine game is played and is well known to all of us – it is the standard.  But there is another option for your business…

What if you could be found by your prospects and they never had to “Google you” to find you?  What if you were found ahead of your competition regularly and you weren’t even on “Page One” of the results the search engines retrieved? What if you didn’t have to pay for all that SEO and you were still “top-of-mind” to your customers and prospects? Does any of this sound attractive?

This happens to a select group of businesses every day – it’s called “word-of-mouth” and is the most powerful way to get found without worrying about whether Google likes you or not.  That’s because when someone tells someone else about you (either in person or online) they don’t say, “Oh, Bob at ZYX company is awesome and if you want it done right, just go to Google and search for Bob at ZYX Company.”  No, what they do say is, Oh, Bob at ZYX company is awesome and if you want it done right, call Bob.  You can find him at www.ZYXCompany.com and when you visit them online you can read their interesting stories as well.”

This makes Word-of-Mouth the most dangerous enemy to Google because in this situation, Google isn’t  even in the equation when this occurs.  If your audience doesn’t have to go to Google and search for you because they have the “exact URL”, they will bypass the search engines altogether.  Because of the recommendation by your friend or colleague, this goes around the need for a search engine and directly to learning more about you and your product.

This scares Google to death – being cut out of loop of someone finding what they need without doing a “search for it.”  Think about it…how many of your customers, partners, friends etc. are helping your current prospects bypass Google? If there isn’t a strategic process in your company to help your audience bypass Google, you are missing a huge opportunity and spending far more cash than needed on SEO when you might not even need to.  Think about a new benchmark for your company; how to get more traffic direct to you and having your prospects spending less time on the internet searching for you…this is the FUTURE model for how social media can really drive more revenue while reducing costs – might be worth considering…

USA Today suggests a choice…”Easy” or a “Relationship”

USA Today - Social Media - blogging is dyingI lost count of how many people either sent me or handed me a recent article in USA Today titled, “More companies quit blogging, go with Facebook instead.” There’s no mystery to why…they all know I am a HUGE fan of blogging and believe a blog represents the core of “engagement” in Social Media.  So why are companies aborting blogging and moving to facebook, or twitter - did we miss the mark?  Is blogging dead or dying?  Is your blog a thing of the  past because facebook is here to save the day?  Rest assured, none of these are true…but let’s get below the surface and see what’s behind the USA Today article…

If you look at the numbers they discussed in the article, they say the number of blogging companies has dropped over the past year – as much as 13% from 50% and only 23% of the Fortune 500 companies had a blog in 2011.  They also cite the statistic blogging dropped a whopping 2% in the 18 – 33 year old age group.  But perhaps what was most interesting, is after they cited all these statistics, they said, “Blogging requires more investment.  You need content regularly.  And you need to think about the risk of blogging, accepting comments, liability issues, and defamation,” says Ganim Barnes, a professor at Dartmouth.  They also added, “It’s a tool and content you own, which was a big benefit.”

When we dig a little deeper…the examples they cite are primarily B2C rather than B2B, but that’s OK.  However, after all this talk of people aborting blogging, Lou Hoffman, CEO of The Hoffman Agency said something profound, “Many corporate blogs fail to attract readers because they exist solely to pitch products and are badly written! Companies don’t understand that the content on the blog shouldn’t be “about me” – such information tends to be dull.“  AMEN.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

In a world where there is more and stronger competition, pressure on prices, fewer customers, increased operating costs in all areas, wouldn’t you want to find a way to DIFFERENTIATE yourself and become more MEMORABLE than your competition?  As a business strategist, this is the first thing I explore with a company.  Having a blog that “helps your customers” instead of “Pimping your products” is a HUGE differentiator today!  Being able to have a “dialog” on your blog with customers and others who are interested in how you can help them solve their own issues and problems makes more sense today than ever before.  Companies saying they want to “turn off” blogs because they don’t want to deal with comments is just like telling your customers to stop talking to you and let you shove your information at them instead.  Your customers are asking to have a dialog with you when you are not in front of them and talk in front of the world…what if they are saying great things about you???

My advice, STOP BLOGGING if you are set on wanting to “Push” content and “Pimp” yourself or your company!  Lou was exactly right, why would anyone want to read more advertising being thrown at them over many “channels” (social media tools) when they didn’t really care about your brochure the first time? We need to get over ourselves.  The customer doesn’t want to hear this from us.  What they want to hear is how we can “HELP” them be better at what they do.  I you can help them do this, they will “PULL” you, your content, and your blog into their world and THANK YOU for it! Anything else will fail – regardless of which tool you use.  So I completely agree, if you are going to “Pimp” over the airwaves, don’t bother.  And you might as well not write a blog because it is just more work producing something that won’t get read, so stop blogging!

If you decide you want to HELP your audience and give them content and stories and perspectives to grow their business, then the blog is absolutely, positively the best social media tool to communicate this to your audience.  And if you’re still on the fence, just consider this final thought.  Considering all the social media tools available to a business today, if your customer wanted to SHARE something with a prospective customer, would you rather have them share a bunch of stories you have written that would help their business or 140 characters? Answer the question from your own perspective, “what would YOU want to get?” I think you just found the answer to whether or not you should blog…

 

Radio was a good teacher for using Social Media today…

Let’s go back in time (at least a few years ago) when the Radio was ruling the airwaves and if you were a business you were trying to get on the best shows to promote your business.  If some of you are still thinking and acting this way, I apologize for fast forwarding you into the future of today…but we can always learn from history.

Radios have “channels” that you “tune into” and if you like what you hear you go back there frequently and then tell your friends and colleagues about it since you just had a great find.  This could be a variety of interests – music, talk radio, public radio, news, etc.  In fact, if you were like most people, you had different channels for each of these because sometimes you either wanted some variety or you want to “skip and ad” and keep the music going.  This is how most of us were trained to get this information when we weren’t in front of the TV or reading a newspaper (which unfortunately have experienced the same or even more dramatic declines than radio).

The description I just shared with you actually hasn’t changed with Social Media…but the “channels” and our behavior  have changed.  Today, we want it when WE want it, not when the programming manager at the station decides we should have it – we have become an “on demand” world for news, music, commentary, etc.  Instead of tuning into your favorite program, you “tune” into your favorite social channel when you want to get the news, listen to music, get opinions/perspectives, and connect with your friends.  It is on WHAT you want, WHEN you want it. This behavior shift has occurred and is what the audience wants.

The beauty of this is that the “content” is still valuable, just the way we access it has changed.  The news is still important, but now I don’t have to wait until 5pm after someone has “sterilized” it to get it – I can get it real time as it is happening.  Switch hats.  Now you are the one wanting to “advertise” or “reach the audience” that used to be on radio. Now what do you do?  The answer…find out what “channels” your audience is dialed into and share your content on this channel – not in a “pimping” promotional manner, but in a “helpful” manner and they will be ready to listen on the channel they like. Understanding what “channels” your audience is “listening” to has always been the magic – nothing has changed, except the channels.

Develop a “Channel Strategy” to identify where your audience is hanging out and what “content” they would find “helpful” and “broadcast” it to them – they will be receptive and appreciative.  Oh yes, and don’t forget, with sharing over these channels, they can share it to THOUSANDS of their connections, friends, followers, or whoever else they are engaged with over these same and other social channels – the power of WOM (word-of-mouth) is massive.  And since most people know others like themselves, your audience will be the ones that do the work for you in sharing – no advertising dollars, no time – just sharing helpful content on the channels they “listen” to regularly.  We can learn a lot from history – radio is still alive and well, it just doesn’t come in the same box…

What “One thing” annoys me about social media?

I had the privilege of speaking to a great group of marketing leaders from the Sr. Marketing & Operations Roundtable (MM&O) of SMPS in Seattle this week at the offices of KPFF Engineering.  Generally my audiences are their bosses – the CEOs and Business Owners of companies and organizations.  But today, I got to speak to them.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how well my message would go over based on some of my past experience with marketing leaders – especially those who choose not to accept social media as a legitimate marketing approach.  This group was different.  They were receptive, open minded, and anxious to learn more about what I was seeing in the area of social media – today and in the future.  I have to personally thank John Roth from Versaire Group for introducing me to the group and arranging for our discussion.

After I had spoken for a little over an hour and we were having a lively discussion about the material, someone in the back of the room, Debbie Lematta from AIA Washington raised her hand and asked what I thought was a GREAT QUESTION and one I wish got asked more often, “What “one thing’ really annoys you, someone living and working in social media every day, more than anything else?” I didn’t have to think very long, unfortunately…because the answer is in front of all of us every day. It’s simply one word…

NOISE – from people claiming to be “social media experts” and companies missing the opportunity to use social media the way it was intended.  After talking to thousands of leaders and hearing how they are using it, over 70% of the people are using social media in a way that creates a tremendous amount of “noise” – more and more every day.  Noise, simply defined, is “volumes of self-promoting, non-helpful information their audience didn’t really need to know – making it all about them.”  Unfortunately, this overshadows those who are truly  trying to HELP their audience and share valuable insights, perspectives, and content.  Turning down the noise would change everyone’s view about social media and bring a lot more value to their business.

CEOs, Business Owners, and Business Leaders tell me when they go onto the social networks, all they see is a bunch of “worthless comments that add no value to them and simply take up their time, causing them to be more and more frustrated.”  When marketing, social media “experts”, and others using social media to communicate understand the core value in social media is the PULL factor, not just 365 more channels to PUSH their messages through, it will be an amazing place to find, interact, share, and engage with others and truly get the ROI social media has to offer.

That was my answer and the audience unanimously agreed – NOISE is a primary reason many stay away or don’t “engage” in using social media.  Right now it takes work and time to find the right content on a consistent basis, but it can be done and there are many people sharing great content if you know where to look.  If everyone just asked a simple question before sharing, “Is this going to HELP my particular audience,” we would be on the right track and would significantly reduce the noise factor.  After all, people still vote with their wallets so if companies expect to get any “votes” they better start campaigning differently…

Thanks again to the MM&O group and John for giving me this opportunity to have some fun at 7am in the morning!

 

Dear CEO – I surrender – you WIN…

OK – after giving over 500 speeches and consulting with numerous clients in the area of Social Media and Word-of-Mouth, I surrender, you win!  Social Media IS the biggest time suck and waste of time ever created and as a business you should wait it out and wait for it to go away.  I got caught up in all the hype like millions of others and after seeing how it has negatively impacted most businesses, my advice is simple – DON’T DO IT!!

It is all “smoke and mirrors” – just like the sets in Hollywood.  There’s no real substance behind this so called “new way to communicate with your audience” claim.  The audience is telling us over and over, “Stop sending me all this crap” and we aren’t listening.  We still keep sending all the crap – only now we have well over 365 channels to send it through.  Nobody wants to hear from you – especially everywhere they go and in everything they read.  We just have to realize this and STOP IT.  I know, it is hard for me to admit, but I was wrong…

Advocacy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either.  Do you really need that many people out there singing your praises and telling others about you?  No – it’s too much work to focus on such a small group of people.  It is much easier to focus on much larger groups – 10X as many people and just send them stuff on a regular basis.  They will either buy or leave but that’s OK because someday someone will buy from you and that’s all that matters.  Buy Google adwords and blast away – it really works!

It takes a big man to admit defeat – I’m admitting it.  You win!  Stop all this nonsense – business as usual is the new mantra.  Go forth and broadcast your message – it will work eventually and for a whole lot less time investment.  Newsletters really are read in depth by your audience – pump them out and watch the dollars flow in.  There you have it – the new Business Strategy for Success!!  Good luck with it and share your comments with me and all the readers of my blog – we all want to hear your success stories…

(Just one thing I ask before you send me your comments and suggestions…please wait until April 2nd :-))

 

“Promises” – still the foundation…

This week I was in a discussion with a new client about their business strategy and how we were going to help them integrate social media to help them build more word-of-mouth and sales – a conversation I have all the time – but this time it hit me and reminded me of something that is often overlooked – KEEPING YOUR PROMISES is the foundation upon which all this is built.

Your brand, your identity, your image, the company’s reputation, the quality of your people, are all tied to this basic foundation.  It is often overlooked in all the hype and buzz and excitement over such things as social media but it is indeed the core to your business.  Don’t overlook it – in fact – remind your employees about it as often as possible.  If we don’t keep the promises we make to our customers, we have no foundation upon which to build all this other cool stuff (technical term).  Sounds simple, yes, but often forgotten and overlooked.

In talking with this client and helping them develop their business strategy, that was the one question I kept coming back to – do you have the people and processes in place to keep the promises you are making – implied and implicit?  After some blank stares for a few minutes, I think we all knew the answer.  This is what reminded me that we should all be reminded of this basic principle before we get all excited about something new – take care of the foundation and the house will stand a very long time…

EJ Bartells – Leading the “laggards” with Innovation and Social Media

I just got back from Denver after giving a speech to a great management and leadership team that is part of an icon of Seattle Business – EJ Bartells.  What a great group of leaders and what a great organization that has endured countless ups and downs in the economy for over 90 years and is thriving today!  But there’s more to this story than just history…

You might think a company with this age and with the products/services they provide (insulation, fabrication, refraction, manufacturing, etc.) would just find a way to “hang in there.”  Not so – in fact they are contrary to what you might think.  Many would consider them in one of the “laggard” industries as far as innovation and especially in the area of “New Media/Social Media”.  I was there on the second day of their meeting and in time to hear the CEO, Rick Smith, deliver a brief, yet impactful speech.  It wasn’t the usual CEO speech I have heard a thousand times of thanking the team for how great they have done all year and keep up the good work and we are going to have the best year ever, blah blah blah speech.  Nope…something different.

While he certainly recognized them for their incredible successes in a down economy, he was focused on something else – INNOVATION.  As he said, “It isn’t business as usual – it is about how can we innovate in ways to improve both our own operations and processes and what we can pass along to help our customers run their own business better.”  This is “Customer Focused Innovation” at it’s finest!  What a concept and coming from what many might think of as a “business as usual” type of industry.  This is what true leadership is about and what allows great leaders to lead.  He is also flanked by Brian Farnsworth, who is equally as passionate and committed to this focus and mission – which makes them a pretty powerful dynamic duo in their industry.

Their mantra going forward is simple – find more innovative ways to help our customers serve their customers better.  This could be internally focused, coming up with better processes in any department, or could be in creating more innovative solutions using the same materials to make life easier for their customers.  It also means putting muscle behind the words.  The words are easy to say, difficult to execute.  They are establishing innovation teams, creating an “innovation culture”, allowing people to fail on the road to discovering new ideas, and even blogging about all this in a new blog, SIMPLIVATIVE.

My hat goes off to Rick, Brian, and the team.  This is HUGE in this industry and without a doubt will give them a leadership position – one that many others will follow.  Will they succeed or fail?  They will fail many times on their way to breaking incredibly new ground and establishing this leadership position that others will watch with envy.  Not easy – but extremely satisfying and rewarding knowing you have the machete in hand and are carving new trails for your industry.  Congrats…can’t wait to follow your SUCCESS!

WOM10 and defining why Twitter is so powerful

This was an opportunity to be on Barbara Bollinger’s show on KKNW, Chat with Women network, and talk more about social media.  After Barbara finally figured out how to pronounce my name, we were off and rolling…

Since this was the first time being on Barbara’s show, we spent a little time talking about the name of my company, WOM10 and what it stood for and what we did as a company.  But then we got into the good stuff and her listeners had a big question about Twitter and what it really was about.  It was great to talk about its “freshness” and the role it can play in the business world today.  I hope you enjoy it…

Is the Sales Team the true home for Social Media?

Marketing, marketing, marketing – that seems to be all your hear about in regard to social media these days.  While no one can argue it has completely changed the way marketers have to think and act going forward (although many still haven’t adapted and believe traditional methods still work) I wanted to talk about something I think is critically STRATEGIC for the organization.  The area I believe has some of the most vital potential for an organization is in using social media for SALES…

To start with, think of the “language” used by sales – engagement, relationships, trust, reliability, customer-focused, customer experiences, advocates, word-of-mouth to just name a few.  Are these the words commonly used by marketing and others?  Rarely.  These are the words and the language sales leaders and their teams talk about every day.

Yet when you get under the covers of social media and see what it is all about, it is EXACTLY THE SAME LANGUAGE.  Social Media thrives in helping build deeper and stronger relationships, gives us the tools to share information and experiences, allows for word-of-mouth to happen 10X faster, creates many new relationships, sharing customer experiences, and building advocacy among clients and partners.

Sales is indeed undervalued in this discussion.  Marketing jumped all over social media, and for good reason – their traditional marketing methods are dropping like flies and becoming less and less effective and relevant.  It seems natural to put this in their domain and under their control.  But is it the right place for it to reside? Maybe, depends on who is running marketing.  I have met a number of very savvy marketing leaders who get this and will be very effective.  Unfortunately I have met too many others that don’t get it and won’t be very effective.

Sales needs to be in the mix in a very active way.  Whether they choose to “own it” or just be an integral part of it is determined by the company.  What I hope you as a business leader take away from this is to think broader about social media and where it’s value lies inside your organization.  Upon further examination, I think you will see the sales group not only needs to be in an active partnership with marketing but possibly even own it.  Worth the time to investigate…

A discussion about BLOGGING

Today Barbara Bollinger and I talked a bit about blogging – what it is and why it is so important.

The key to blogging is that it gives the person a chance to share their passion about something through their stories and experiences.  It isn’t for everyone because it can be lots of work if someone gets very involved with it.  But it is also important to remember this isn’t a way to “promote” yourself, it is a primary way to help others through your eyes experiences, and wisdom. Take a listen and let me know what you think – especially if you are a blogger – but even if you aren’t, chime in and let us know what you think or what questions you want to ask.