In a F2F networking group recently, we talked about how it’s helpful to identify a highly specific target market for your business. One person, an insurance salesman, told about a colleague in his industry who works exclusively with dog trainers. By combining the sub-culture of dog trainers with the universal interest in insurance protections, he is able to reach a high degree of success in his business; and to build a loyal clientele who know and proclaim him as the go-to person for anything to do with insurance.
I loved that story because it shows how social media is supposed to work. Too many companies remain faceless, all-business, and always selling. They ignore the miracle of the internet, which allows us to be real people, with diverse interests and talents.
Online, the truest way to establish your brand is to show your humanity. No one is simply an insurance salesman. No one is just a bus driver or janitor or CEO. Everyone has a life, too.
Do you love dogs and also sell insurance? Do you play golf and also run a travel agency? Do you enjoy going to spas and you work as an accountant?
Tell us about it.
If you have trouble adjusting to change, you may have problems with the internet, because the overall beta mode of everything online is nothing if not subject to change.
Sometimes I fear that my clients’ patience will give out. We set up some app or site and then the rules shift.
I wonder how anyone who doesn’t study the internet in depth can understand what’s going on, much less trust any of it. When you are there everyday, the pieces fit together; but if you check in only sporadically, it must seem a crazy tangle of nonsense. How can you keep up with all the changes?
This is why the person you select as consultant for your business needs online must be someone you deeply trust. As with your broker, your lawyer, or your doctor, you may at times trust them to take actions on your behalf whether or not you completely understand the rationale. You’re too busy to stay on top of all that: you trust your advisor to handle it.
Look for technical and communications expertise in an inbound marketing consultant; but far more important is to know the person sincerely has only your best interests at heart.
We’re off to the beach for a couple days. It’s been a while. I talked to a friend yesterday about how you have to schedule off-time, creative-time, zone-out time. It’s not an indulgence, it’s part of being the best you can be.
I think it’s fascinating how often we can find focus by shifting focus. Do you have a question about anything? Ask it clearly, and then shift your attention elsewhere. Read a book, take a walk, watch a movie. More often than not, during these activities, answers to your questions will be forthcoming without further ado.
This principle is particularly applicable to blogging. There’s an ongoing tension between blogging as an honest expression of your involvement in a certain area, and blogging as something you owe to your readers without fail or lapse. It’s a professional journal as well as a public relations vehicle. So how do you consistently meet the demands of these extremes?
You keep your focus shifting. You give up control and let circumstances guide you. You watch, listen, and report, leaving your Self at home in bed. It doesn’t matter what you want to say: your testimony, your professional observation is the value you offer.
Lately, we’re embarking on the fearsome path to purchase a new car. In the process of exploring dealerships, I’ve been thinking about social media. See, even in 2011, the car salesman is still an unsavory character by stereotype and also quite often in actual experience.
Selling cars is a job that attracts hustlers, and while we all want to be clever hustlers, we certainly don’t want to be hustled. My partner and I have gone to great lengths to avoid prolonged contact with these people, just because we expect to have to combat a hard sell from a greasy character.
What a shame. Surely the majority of car salespeople are fine upstanding folk. Their reputation probably does them injustice.
So if I was a car sales person, I would use social media to prove that I am a human being. I’d have a Facebook page for business contacts. I’d blog about the business. I’d collect email addresses and send newsletters full of useful info about cars but also other things besides cars. Advice for golfers, maybe, or travel tips.
I’d use the internet to become a real person, someone trustworthy, instead of a mere stereotype. Bet my sales would skyrocket.
A client asked me to write blogs for them, entirely from scratch. They wanted me to create the editorial calendar, select the keywords, research, and compose the posts once a week.
Now let’s say that the client’s business is home remodeling. My business, on the other hand, is administrative and marketing assistance.
I can take your title and keywords plus a few thoughts from you, do some research, write with confidence while empathizing with readers, and publish outstanding posts that come across authentically.
On such a level, blogging can be outsourced.
But many misunderstand. You can’t outsource the entire blog if you want to be successful with it.
If I’m Googling to find a good home remodeler, one that blogs personably will be more attractive to me than one with generic, throw-away posts.
Blogging is not marketing; it’s not even business networking. It’s the genuine voice of the organization.
If you do not want to write your business blog, you can:
- have a weekly conversation with a writer, who will summarize your voice for a post;
- find a person in your field and pay them to post on your website regularly;
- post photos or videos or podcasts.
A bird’s eye view of Phoenix or LA shows endless hives of houses and industries stretching as far as you can see.
I traveled to Los Angeles and back last week. I’ve made the trip often, but still the sheer crawling mass of humanity sprawling over this continent never ceases to amaze. We peeps are legion, slathering desert and shore with our stuff, no square mile untouched. We cum, we consume, we culminate in wastelands.
Makes me think of the individual struggle to stand out amongst the teeming hoards of websites and competing online brands. The internet’s size is unfathomable, scary.
How to negotiate beyond this threat?
Get clear on where you want to be. There’s the Valley and there’s Santa Monica. There’s About.com and there’s Wikipedia. Know the difference.
Establish an expense account. You get what you pay for, no surprise here.
Be ready and willing to jump on board. Are you ready to rev up into the freeway fast lane? If not, don’t even go there. Faking it won’t work.
Believe (and make believe). Hollywood, new age gurus, Jerry Brown. Faith is crucial.
Appreciate. LA’s June flowers and landscaping are beyond compare. Observe and love, and anything’s possible.
I really love Twitter and attend to it multiple times daily. Other sites I’ll check now and again, but Twitter’s my top allegiance, even though it remains fairly mysterious to me. It’s a mystery because I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to do for us. It’s probably the prototype for a future way of communicating that we can’t yet fathom.
Nonetheless, I love the site. But lately I’ve been bothered by a burgeoning trend.
There are an increasing number of no-face ad-type accounts. You know, the ones with usernames like InvestorsABC or CorporationX. No real person is in evidence, no names or locations are given. The tweets, which are repeated five or six times each, are all linked back to one website and they are all strictly on-subject.
What’s the problem with this? No actual people, no trust, no rapport, no relationship. No connection. Lest ye forget, social media is about connecting. If you don’t connect, your time is wasted.
Face up, everyone. The whole point is that you are human and not corporate. If no one in your organization is ready to represent you, re-group. Find a way to be viscerally real, and then come back to tweet.
I figured out how to do Facebook iFrames! At least, I managed to create one client’s page so far. I wonder why FB is entirely replacing the old FBML. Why not offer both systems?
With iFrames, the content is pulled in from another site; with FBML, the content is built on FB. And iFrames allow for much greater versatility on many levels: more choice in media, design, functionality.
What iFrames does not allow: an ‘Official’ Page – if it is to include serious customization – requires the user to control their own proprietary cyberspace: i.e., a website or at least a host server.
If you want a branded Page on FB, you must be able to upload files from an outside host. Which means you have to purchase hosting if you don’t have it already, and learn how to build pages and how to transfer them to your server. You can take some courses and buy software to help in the process. It’s cheap, well worth the investment if you have time.
‘Course, once you have hosting, you can just delegate the rest. Your inbound marketing assistant, for example, is perfectly positioned to keep your social media up to par (!)
A recent Quora question asked: Should every business have a blog?
Currently, I’m hoarding all commentary about blogging because I have a community college class to teach this spring, centering on inbound marketing with a special focus on blogging. So the Query (Quory?) was pertinent.
But I was amazed that the answers (before my input) were all effusively in the affirmative, with the top vote-getter claiming that doing without a blog is okay if “you don’t actually sell to humans,” but de rigueur otherwise.
How insular we can be in the vastness of cyberspace! How proud, forgetting that the vast majority of humankind has no inkling of blogging or anything of the sort. What blind arrogance to suggest that every manicurist and bagel joint will fail without an online presence.
The point is not that every business needs to have a blog. Blogging must be guided by the top minds, the recognized leaders and the challengers to leadership; the innovators, reporters, and socialites.
No, every business does not need to produce a blog. But every business, sooner or later, will need to read blogs, to stay current with their market and peers. Blogging isn’t mandatory, but respect for blogging is.
There’s an ongoing trend in social media that is patently at cross-purposes to the best of digital communications.
The world of online marketing is divided in two: those who get it and those who game it.
There are those, for instance, who suddenly get in a snit about avalanches of spam on their Facebook accounts. Of course, they have indiscriminately added all takers as friends over the past couple of years, so that by now most updates are from total strangers.
Similarly, there are people who invite the world to connect with them on LinkedIn.
And people who use a service to write updates once and spread the same message across all platforms.
These folk are into quantity. They haven’t got the message that inbound marketing values the quality of your connections far more than their quantity.
It’s easy to get “followers” online; but what you want is leads, actual potential buyers, right?
The internet’s solution to that ancient quest is to drastically heighten the impact of branding. Instead of pursuing huge numbers of faceless followers, you seek only the most qualified leads.
Social media’s tools cover a broad range of uses. Do you manipulate them with savvy or greed?