Blog Archives

Big Idea 2013: Be the Head Marketer of You by Linda Coles

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”   Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

Entering 2013 with a tight economy, restructuring, and new ways of doing business, the competition for a position or sale has become intense. Who shines out above everyone else in those situations? Those people who are spending time developing their own personal brand.

We all recognize great brands by their logos such as the Nike flash or the Starbucks face, but how do we recognize you? How do we know that you even exist? And when we do, what are you known for? You need to become the head marketer of You.com, and 2013 is a good time to make a start if you haven’t already.

10 simple ways to work on your own personal brand

Back in 1997, Tom Peters wrote a great piece about working on your own personal brand, which was way before any of the online networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook had even started. Now that we have these tools available, promoting your personal brand has become a whole lot easier.

  1. Have the best-looking LinkedIn profile that you possibly can and use it. People are checking you out online.
  2. If you are happy for others to see into your Facebook life, switch on the subscribe button.
  3. Tweet and re-tweet what’s relevant and interesting, keeping away from gossip.
  4. Apply some etiquette when replying to emails and online posts. Always start with a salutation or greeting and finish with a valediction or sign off.
  5. Look closer to home with your personal presentation such as ensuring your shoes are always shiny. Dress “just a little bit better” than those around you.
  6. Develop your own online soapbox by way of a blog or personal website where you share relevant content, your thoughts, perspective and encourage discussions.
  7. Buy the domain http://www.yourname.com
  8. Use your media contacts to get published in the press and on air.
  9. Write and publish a great book.
  10. Speak at industry events.

Make a start now because it takes focus and time to build a great brand. Seth Godin published a very famous book called “Purple Cow, transform your business by being remarkable”. How about applying some of those principles to the business called you?

Linda Coles is the author of “Learn marketing with social media in 7 days” (Wiley) and is a speaker and trainer on building relationships. She lives in New Zealand on a fig orchard. You can get a free sample of a chapter of her book by registering for her newsletter.

Shout out to and Peace & Love to Linda Coles

Ways to Stand Out with your Contacts by Kim Althage

Generally speaking, most people tend to talk more than they listen and they like to talk about themselves. If you’re listening and then you ask good follow-up questions based on the information you just heard, you are already more likely to stand out in the other person’s mind.

 

Focused Attention is important, as well as asking the “right” questions. Focusing on them, as opposed to yourself or your awesome product (as most salespeople do) makes you memorable in the most positive way. Again, GIVING IS IMPORTANT, for by providing valuable information they might not have had before is the biggest factor when creating a solid business contact.

 

In other words, if you leave a networking event with a clear plan of how you can help others and you did not discuss your products or services…you have done well!

 

But there is another important element that can separate you from all others…THE LOST ART OF FOLLOWING UP.  Most people drop the ball here, but this is the most crucial step. How you respond sets the tone for who you are and how others remember you. Send each person an individual message, be it a phone call, email or note card.

 

Best methods for following up:

 

  • Handwritten  Notes – Ideal and certainly states your  desire to invest the time in fostering a relationship.  Should always be your first choice for  your highest priority contacts.  Utilize email and phone as viable secondary options.

 

  • Voicemail  – When you need to communicate your energy and attitude. Smile and be in a good mood, as your voice will  reflect your state of mind.

 

  • Email  – Good for a quick note or when time is of the essence. Craft a clear and attention getting subject line to get thru the clutter. Email works well  in conjunction with a voicemail or handwritten note to let someone know you will contact them.

What success stories can you attribute to your ability to follow up with contacts or clients?

Hugs and Peace to Kim Althage, St. Louis Professional Network Team

 

Need a system to stay in contact with your contacts and customers?  Go to www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian.  You can create one card as a campaign and re-use THE SAME CARD over and over again for every new person you meet, to thank a customer or to show appreciation.  Each card can be personalized or used as a standard company correspondence response card.  Questions? Email me at loryfabian@sbcglobal.net

7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid by Todd Pillars

This is an updated post from 2009 which started me on a path of discovery that took my business from a 1-trick pony to the national stage in 2 short years!

Funny how it’s STILL all about relationships – and it ALWAYS will be.

Read on…

Today’s business is all about relationships. Social Media is here to stay; you have to be seen on Facebook, you must tweet and retweet on Twitter, your LinkedIn profile has to be top-notch, and now we have Google+, however the more we connect in the virtual world to more we have to tend our roots on Terra Firma. Routinely overlooked, the original social networking – face-to-face, is a crucial high-touch strategy to build critical local business relationships that are crucial to your success.

In my observations coaching business owners, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals, and attending numerous networking events over the years, I have recognized consistent networking mistakes that can kill anyone’s chances of developing any new business contacts. Avoid these seven deadly mistakes and you should quickly build your referral business in any economic conditions.

Mistake #1 – No plan, no goals… no results

Without a networking plan, you waste valuable resources; time, energy and money. You should know, before you enter an event, what you want to accomplish. Practice Bob Burg’s 10 Feel-Good Questions and The One “Key” Question That Will Set You Apart From Everyone Else so you are prepared to chose three or four to engage others that you meet at the event. These questions will show your new contact that you truly care about them. Do set time limits on what you discuss – don’t go through all 10 – or you may appear nosy. Just as you would role-play and practice these questions, picture positive results in your mind even as you enter the room.

The BIGGEST edit: Mistake #2 – Bad (or worse, no) elevator pitch

The first seven words that you speak when meeting a potential client, a.k.a. a prospect, may be the only chance you have with that person. An elevator pitch or 30-second commercial is meant to cause the prospect to say “tell me more”. Many networking novices try to cram as much company information as possible into their pitch. Keep it simple and you’ll strike more interest.

Mistake #2 – Ditch the (elevator) pitch

This is more of do than a don’t but it’s vitally important that you leave the commercial in the car. You see, elevator pitches gained popularity during the Internet Boom of the late 90′s – early 2000′s as a way to “pitch”, or spark the interest of, venture capital investors in the time it took for them to ride up on an elevator to the gilded top floor office. (Makes for a compelling visual reason to do it, doesn’t it?) Well, if the first seven words that you speak when meeting a potential client, a.k.a. a prospect, are only about what you want you’ll probably get the door slammed in your face during what may be the only chance you have with that person. There is a time and place for a 30-second commercial – and it’s not during a networking event.

Try something like the anti-mercial; You know how (whatever pain your prospects may have)? Well, what I do is (how you solve that challenge for your clients). Simple, concise, and easy on the ears. The goal here is get your new contact to say “How do you do that?”. If they do the door is now open for a deeper conversation about your solution, preferably at a later time. Don’t be afraid to set an appointment then and there.

Mistake #3 – TMI or Too busy telling

As an old mentor said “If you’re too busy telling, you ain’t selling.” The primary goal of the networking event is to make a connection – start a conversation – not to make a sale. Ask questions (see #1 above) and don’t “throw up” all over the place, regardless of how wonderful your product or service is. If it really is that good it will keep until you can sit down one-to-one. If you make a friend you can present your solution later, however, if you get the deer in the headlight look then you’ve lost the chance.

Mistake #4 – Talking to “Knowns”

Probably the most common mistake. Networking events present an opportunity to meet new people in a relatively receptive environment. Generally new sales people and business owners are challenged by meeting new people, they tend to end up talking to “known” friends instead of seeking “unknowns”. Make it a point to limit polite conversation with current referral partners to less than a minute. Better yet, adopt this new do; become an unofficial greeter. Scan the room for the people that look lost and ask them if you can help them find someone and see what happens.

Mistake #5 – Poor etiquette

Understanding how or when to join a group of individuals talking with each other is very important. Probably the biggest networking faux pas is barging in on a conversation. An introduction from a well respected business person is always the surest way. Sans that, look for groups of three or more that are standing in semi-circle – never a closed circle – and approach them in an up-beat manner and making eye contact. Always shake hands firmly, speak confidently when you introduce yourself, and practice your table manners when seated for lunch or dinner. If you are polite, respectful, and ask engaging questions – and then intently listening to the answers – you’ll be one of the most remembered people from the event.

Mistake #6 – Not being present

Be interested instead of trying to be interesting. I’ve been guilty of this more than once myself. Most times networking attendees believe the goal, at best, is to get your message into the ears of as many people as possible. At worst, to hand out as many business cards as possible. In their haste to meet that next prospect, they are not present with their current contact. Instead of thinking of what witty or sage thing you’re going to say next, listen for the subtle meanings in the answers to question you just asked. The timing of your next question will always come from listening to the full answer and being engaged and you will look like a pro.

Mistake #7 – Lack of (correct) follow-up

Attending networking event after event without correctly following up with your new contacts is literally worthless. And follow up, just like networking, is not a one-time event. The point of following up is to stand out in the prospect’s memory forever. Again, it’s not a moment of selling but of reminding them that you’re interested in them and care about their success. If you want to stand head and shoulders above your competition don’t resort to the ubiquitous email. Cement your place in your new found business contact by sending them a sincere handwritten “Nice to meet you” or “Thank you” greeting card telling them how much you appreciate them for taking the time to talk about their business. Then keep in regular personal touch with them by sending them cards on a consistent basis. Turn the most missed opportunity in networking into a way to differentiate you from your competition.

Conspicuously absent is the iconic Business Card. My opinion is that the only reason to have your Business Card is to have something to exchange for their Business Card. If your main purpose is to attend Networking Events with the intention of passing out cards and saying “Call me and I’ll give you a great deal” then you need more of an intervention than this blog post can provide.

Put others interests first, practice appreciation, and avoid these seven deadly business networking mistakes like the plague.

Peace and Love to Todd |Excellent Advice!

I recommend trying www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian and start today cementing your business relationships today!

 

13 Ways to Create a Cringeworthy Social Media Presence by Corey Eridon

In May 2012, a new free social media tool called Klouchebag hit the web. If you haven’t played around with it already, it’s a tool that tells you how … uh … annoying you are on Twitter. Yeah, we’ll just go with “annoying” for the sake of this blog post. But it got me thinking: social media can be chock full of valuable content, but it’s often buried among the mundane and useless social media updates, or hidden behind poorly constructed social media profiles. And this makes a marketer’s job mighty hard.

So this post is going to outline all of the worst offenders we’ve seen in social media. If none of these apply to you, congratulations! Use these as entertainment over your lunch break. Otherwise, consider these cautionary tales to help protect your own social media strategy.

13 Ways to Make People Hate Your Social Media Presence

  • Launching a Private Social Media Account

Social media is about talking with and meeting new people. It’s right there in the name — social media. So why on earth would you set up a social media account and then set it to, gulp, private? That’s exactly what CVS did when they launched its CVS_Cares Twitter account. If you had tried to follow them around launch time, this is what you would have seen:

Seriously? Well, luckily they learned their lesson and now have a fantastic, active, public account! Remember, the benefits of using social media for your business are virtually wiped out when your social media accounts aren’t public — it prevents you from growing your reach, getting visibility for the content you publish, and growing referral traffic and leads back to your website.

  • 2) Having a Disproportionate Follower:Following Ratio

Have you ever seen an interesting tweet or gotten an alert that someone new is following you on Twitter, open up their profile to learn more about them and see if they’re someone you’re interested in following, and see one of the following screens?

Let’s break down each scenario, starting with that first set of data. This particular tweeter is following 825 people, but only 21 people have decided to follow him/her back. Why might that be? Well, the account only has 8 tweets. That’s not enough content to convince people you’re a worthy account to follow. Instead of maniacally following hundreds of people with the hope that one follows you back, spend time writing interesting tweets, linking to great content that you and others have created, and retweeting others’ tweets to build relationships and earn your followers.

Now let’s take a look at the second set of data. 4,044 people are following this person, and he/she has only returned the favor for 5 people. What gives? We just got done talking about how social media is a social platform … and that doesn’t sound like a two-way conversation to me. In this particular scenario, there are enough tweets to back up the large followership, but a lack of reciprocation such as this can rub many people the wrong way and prevent you from growing your social media reach at the highest rate possible.

  • 3) Writing Updates That Are Too Long

Did you know that Facebook lets you post an update that is 63,206 characters long? Nokia did. In fact, when Facebook expanded the character limit this past February, they took it as an opportunity to test the limits with this expansive status update on their Facebook page. If you’re counting, I cut it off a little less than halfway through.

Obviously, this was a joke (and a great marketing move!) by Nokia, but it certainly proves a point. Is anyone going to read so much text? If your updates are even approaching the length of the update in the screenshot above, get yourself an editor stat. In fact, data from Buddy Media shows that the ideal length for a Facebook update is less than 4 or 5 lines — posts under 80 characters receive 27% more engagement.

  • 4) The Airing of Grievances

You know what no one cares about? This.

Late last year, a Boloco employee tweeted about disliking her job at Boloco. Bad move, but pretty common. What ensued was a dramatic Twitter firestorm from the Boloco CEO, a truncated version of which is pictured above. It all started when he took to firing the employee over Twitter, and then tweets shot back and forth about the situation, attracting horrified onlookers.

The lesson? Keep your personal business to yourself and off of social media — whether you’re an employee, or an employer. If your brand, or employees representing your brand, go on a rant like this, you look petty, unprofessional, and offer nothing of value to your audience. There’s not much else to say on this one except if you’re thinking about using your social media presence as a soapbox to rant and rave, step away from the keyboard and walk away. Your PR team will thank you for it!

  • 5) Talking Smack About Competitors

It’s not just public rants that make you look petty. Attacking your competitors on social media makes you look just as unprofessional, and gives your more sensitive customers another place to send their business. Does anyone remember the Whole Foods case from the early to mid 2000s? For 7 years, Whole Foods CEO assumed an online identity completely unaffiliated with Whole Foods, visited forums and blogs, and posted complimentary comments about Whole Foods while smack talking a smaller direct competitor — who they then ventured to purchase. Aside from an SEC investigation when this was all uncovered, this type of behavior makes your organization look extremely unprofessional. Even if you’re tempted to draft a snarky Facebook update or pointed tweet, hold your tongue and rise above!

  • 6) Making Off-Color Comments

Finally, the last in the series of reputation management disasters. You’d think it would go without saying that joking about or commenting and capitalizing on sensitive news is the wrong way to go about newsjacking. You’d think. But for some reason, every few months we hear about some brand or spokesperson making off-color comments to propel their Twitter following or make a few extra bucks. Remember this tweet from Kenneth Cole?

When considering popular topics in the news to discuss in your social media updates, remember that everyone has a different sensitivity level. Sure, pushing the boundaries is alright, but defer to your common sense; if you’re on the fence about whether you should post something, you probably shouldn’t.

  • 7) Publicly Solving Customer Service Issues

Whether you like it or not, people will take to social media for customer support. Which is why more and more brands are being proactive by maintaining a social media presence (some have set up accounts dedicated solely to customer service, in fact) so they can handle questions and complaints expeditiously. Where some brands fall short, however, is failing to direct customers to an offline or private channel to actually solve their problems. Take a look at how KLM handles a customer service issue correctly on its Facebook page.

See how they sent Ali a private message to handle the details? That’s the right method — nobody wants to see how Ali is going to get a replacement card through a series of back-and-forth comments. The value is in seeing that KLM can handle all manner of customer service issues on its Facebook page, not how they solve them. Don’t clog up your fans’ and followers’ feeds with customer support, and show them that you’ll handle their problems quickly and professionally over email, the phone, direct message, Facebook message, etc.

  • 8) Hijacking Hashtags

What’s hashtag hijacking, you ask? Here’s an example from HabitatUK, courtesy of Social Media Today.

Notice all those hashtags called out in red? At the time, they were very popular hashtags (some still are) that indicate lots of people on Twitter are talking about that particular subject. So if your tweet includes the hashtag, it will appear in that popular conversation. Great! More visibility for your content, right? Well, yes, but it’s not good visibility, because those hashtags have absolutely nothing to do with what

HabitatUK does — sell home furnishings. When you hashtag hijack, you’re putting irrelevant content out to the masses and frankly, spamming. That’s not the reputation you want to have in the social sphere.

  • 9) Piling Your Tweets With Too Many Hashtags

Speaking of hashtags … Twitter has forced a certain kind of social media shorthand on us all. People r used 2 writing n reading updates in a dif way to fit everything into 140 characters. We’ve also all gotten used to reading through tweets interrupted by a hashtag — an annoyance, yes, but one that lets us piggyback on trending topics and find content related to our field more easily. But there’s such a thing as hashtag overload, as evidenced in this tweet:

I’m thrilled that this user shared my content! But including four hashtags — pretty generic ones, at that — make this tweet hard to read, give it a spammy feel, and doesn’t really contribute to the conversation around the subjects of social media, marketing, Google+, or Pinterest. Instead, choose one or two hashtags to include in your tweets that will really contribute to the conversation happening around those topics.

  • 10) Insulting Your Customer Base

Seems obvious, right? It wasn’t to online pawn show Pawngo. After the 2012 Super Bowl, Pawngo dumped a huge pile of Butterfinger candy bars in the middle of Boston’s Copley Square a day after New England’s heartbreaking loss. The reference was to New England Patriot’s receiver Wes Welker dropping the catch that sealed the team’s Super Bowl loss. Take a look at one of the tweets Pawngo sent out leading up to the PR stunt:

Pawngo ✔@Pawngo We’re giving Boston a late morning snack to get over Sunday’s loss #butterfingers

7 Feb 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite

Seem like a low blow? Customers certainly took it that way — and they took to social media to let them know. Quite a different hashtag than the one above, eh?

PROPER @plymptonproper 8 Feb 12 @Pawngo You’re venture capital group shouldn’t be impressed by PR stunt. Good business is a game of addition, not subtraction. #Customerlost

Pawngo ✔@Pawngo @plymptonproper Sorry we lost you as a customer. If you live chat w/one of our reps on the site, u might realize that we’re not that bad :-/

8 Feb 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite

Thing is, Pawngo really meant it to make Boston fans feel better; but it didn’t feel that way to Boston residents. Make sure you know your customers well enough to joke around with them before getting so familiar like Pawngo did.

  • 11) “Targeting” Poorly With Automation

Otherwise known as spamming people. That’s what happened to AT&T back in March when they were trying to capitalize on the March Madness hoopla for which they had set up a promotion. The goal was to get the word out about their contest to those who would be interested, but what actually happened was poor targeting. Take former HubSpot employee Brian Whalley, for example, who was the recipient of one of AT&T’s tweet. Brian doesn’t follow AT&T, he has never been their customer, he doesn’t tweet about basketball, and there is no indication he is even a sports fan, according to his biIn fact, the only thing Brian had in his profile to indicate he might be interested in the March Madness promotion was the fact that he lives in one of the many cities in which the promotion was happening. And it wasn’t just Brian Whalley who noticed this problem, either. Thousands of spammy tweets had gone out to unsuspecting tweeters that had little or no interest in such a promotion. Which brings us to our next cringeworthy social media activity …

  • 12) Posting WAY Too Frequently

Another result of AT&T’s social media automation snafu was a barrage of tweets that clogged up people’s news feeds. Take a look at this posting frequency:

That’s multiple tweets a minute. And nobody has that much remarkable, relevant content to share. Every social media network has a different optimal posting frequency. In fact, Twitter lets brands get away with the highest frequency of all the social networks because content is buried so quickly. But tweeting more than once an hour has shown to decrease the click-through rate of your links by over 200%, according to HubSpot’s Dan Zarrella. And if you’re using Facebook or Google+ for your brand’s social media presence, shoot for 3-5 updates per day.

  • 13) Retweeting Instead of Generating Original Content

Okay, so I did a little photo editing of my own Twitter account to prove a point for this one, but it did come from a particularly RT-heavy week for me. See those green arrows in the top right corner of every tweet? Those indicate the tweet was written by another user, and retweeted by me to my followers.

Retweeting is a way to share someone else’s content — a good thing! But doing it to this extent is going too far. That’s because people have followed you to hear what you have to say. That means they want to hear your original ideas, see links to your content, and get access to the content others have published that you find valuable. If your balance tips too heavy on that last part, back off the RT button and start creating more of your own content that you can publish to your fans and followers.

Shout out to Corey Eridon @ HubSpot