|Posted on August 17, 2017 at 12:50 PM||comments (6)|
Building your personal brand requires tenacity and dedication. If you’ve been focused on developing your personal brand you also know it takes time and money. It takes time to engage your audience and it takes even more time to create content that will get noticed. The last thing you feel like doing is working overtime trying to monitor your results. Fortunately there is a quick, easy, and free method that you can use to gauge your efforts.
This is where “Twitter Lists” can help. Get in your Wayback Machine because Twitter released this feature in November 2009!
In short, Twitter Lists allow you to organize the profiles you’re following into groups. As you can see above I’ve created (Subscribed to) 15 lists. The filtering aspect of this feature is helpful if you are trying to zero in on something specific, such as Twitter users based on location, employer, or any other relevant categories. Creating a Twitter List is a simple process. The first thing you’ll be asked is to provide a name for your list. That’s where this feature becomes useful as a reputation management tool. If you’ve been listed you’ve caught someone’s attention. Something in your bio or the content of your tweets has made an impression. In the future, the person who listed you will be able to find you quickly because they filed your profile under a group they intend to monitor. In other words, your reputation or influence has been noted. You can review the lists you’ve been placed on by clicking “Member of.” Next you’ll want to take a good look at how they’ve named and/or described the list. A few examples of lists I’m a member of:
Overall the Lists feature is a quick and free way to monitor your influence and reputation. If you use TweetDeck ( https://tweetdeck.twitter.com … also a free tool) you can also see how many times you’ve been listed (4,883 times). In that way you can also get a feeling for how fast your reputation is growing.
Let me end with one more suggestion. When someone lists me in a category that fits with my personal branding strategy I make the effort to thank them for their consideration.
In most cases they will hit the Like button or reply “You’re welcome.” It’s a small gesture that pays big dividends. After all, they’ve just added value to your brand.
|Posted on May 15, 2017 at 12:57 PM||comments (2)|
Free white papers and eBook’s, free seminars and webinars, free assessments, free consultations, free demonstrations, free software download, free, free, free. It sounds great, after all, why pay for business advice and knowledge when you can get it for free?
But it’s not really free because every choice has cost. What we don’t spend in dollars, we spend it time, attention, and effort. There is also “opportunity cost” to consider. When you pick one path you are losing the opportunity to explore another. That means economically speaking, nothing is truly free.
Does that mean lead generation campaigns should be using the phrase “with our compliments” instead? That phrase does more closely imply that something is being given as a courtesy, but that there still may be time, attention, an email address, or some other information required to get it. While that phrase is a bit more transparent, it doesn’t have the catchy ring of “free” and isn’t favored by marketers. I’m sure you don’t see it used very often.
This topic really is important for content producers to consider. It takes both time and money to produce quality content for lead generation campaigns. While most organizations insist on tracking the ROI of every marketing campaign I’m not confident they always include all the costs associated with the development of quality content. In some ways the production of content is now a “sunk cost” because in today’s social media environment if you’re not investing in a steady stream of engaging content you’ll soon be forgotten by the influencers and targeted personas you’re trying to attract and nurture. And let’s not forget; for every individual on this planet “attention” is a limited resource. In fact, in most situations you’ll be lucky to snag “partial attention,” let alone your target audience’s full-attention.
If content producers charged would that change your perceived value of the exchange? Can you really see yourself paying? Yes, there is some content we all pay for. But in relation to most of the thought-leadership material produced for sales lead generation purposes that is not the case.
So content has a real cost, but is difficult to charge for it. And attention is a limited resource meaning it’s technically not free either. In order for some type of communication to begin you’re going to need to start building rapport.
Without rapport, you will not get what you want.
In Genie Z. Laborde’s book “Influencing with Integrity” she points out that when rapport is not present, it becomes top priority in communication. In fact, rapport is like money: it increases in importance when you do not have it, and when you do have it, a lot of opportunities appear. You’ll know you have it when you have a sense of shared understanding. We have more attempts at communication today, that is, more attempts to talk to others than is imaginable. Yet true communication often remains elusive because the data explosion and noise levels have gone up so fast that it feels like no one really takes time to listen any more. Does your brand really listen to the voice of the customer? Or just broadcasting? If you’re not listening, how do you know if you have a shared sense of understanding?
Coercion is about getting people to do what you want them to; persuasion is about getting them to want to do what you want them to do. Persuasion takes time. It requires rapport and understanding your target markets needs and desires. You need to develop trust by building rapport and credibility, and minimizing their risk. If you’re not getting what you want from your content it’s time to change your strategy.
|Posted on May 3, 2017 at 6:37 PM||comments (14)|
“Thanks for following! Let me know if I can help!”
It appears to be a friendly welcoming, offering help to the receiver of the message, but it’s not. In fact, if you are using those ten words at the front end of your lead generation campaign then you are actually damaging your brand. Here is why:
1. You delivered it through a direct message automation application didn’t you? I thought that was the case. Sorry, but most people delete those messages without ever reading them. Many will even unfollow you based on your action. Those types of messages are viewed much like email marketing spam. So, unless you want your personal or corporate brand associated with that kind of activity you should turn it off.
2. Gratitude is a good thing. It’s always polite to thank people when the situation calls for it. But this is not one of those situations. Perhaps ten years ago, when Twitter was new and the rules of engagement weren’t understood. But thanking someone through an automated message (btw, that’s very impersonal) for following you, or in many cases they were actually following you back, now comes across as a rookie move. Are you currently calling yourself a “social media guru?” Too bad, because now they know you really aren’t.
3. “Let me know if I can help.” We really appreciate that you are willing to jump in and solve our problems. It’s very generous of you. But you might as well as said the following; “Now, please take the time to go to my website and figure out exactly what I sell. Then, think about your daily needs and problems and try to determine if you think my services or products can help you. If they can, let me know.” If you have spent any time at all carrying a quota then you know this is another rookie sales mistake.
Do you really think your audience is going to explore your website when you probably have less than eight seconds to make an impression and gain their attention? I didn’t have to ask that question because you already know the answer. Of course your audience is not going to take time to try to figure you or your company out. Their attention is limited and they want you to figure them out. So, turn off your direct message automation program and start over before it’s too late.
|Posted on February 14, 2017 at 9:11 AM||comments (86)|
My prime prospect is showing me their child pose. That’s code speak for “I’m not paying attention now, so don’t bother me.” The silence is deafening. What are my options?
1. Get busy with some loud broadcasting activity? You know, blast them with all the channels including the phone, email, texting and social media. Sure, I can wake them up and force them to engage with me!
2. Hoover over them and watch to see if their current position shifts in the slightest. At that point I could quickly swoop in and hijack their attention before they nod off again.
3. Monitor and listen; wait for them to wake and regain their focus. Use the downtime to reevaluate the environment and determine what type of content would be more relevant.
That last option is really hard for a sales and marketing person like me to consider. It’s hard to wait, listen and reflect when you are action-oriented. And what’s with the short attention span? Prospects seem to enter the child pose so quickly! Of course the idea of creating more content to build interest and keep the prospect engaged always feels childish and is exhausting.
So, under the banner of satisfying unmet needs, education and thought-leadership let the “do not call,” “unsubscribe” and “unfollow” risks be dammed. After all, I need to pitch my solution by getting the word out because I have a sales funnel to fill. And so the unsolicited pitches start to crank up the noise.
Except I’m not the only one pitching out there. Everyone seems to think they are unique, but all the approaches follow the same old templates.
What is your Unique Selling Proposition?
Contact Alan See CMO Temps, LLC at [email protected]
When Ted Turner was asked for the secret to success, he said; “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.” That’s not something that marketing people can bet their careers on anymore. We live in a relationship-based economy. Your prospect is looking for transparency, trust, relevance and engagement. It’s time to step-back and listen.
|Posted on August 23, 2016 at 11:34 AM||comments (140)|
|Posted on August 12, 2016 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
Yes, it’s true; you can monitor professional reputations on Twitter. So, if you are in Human Resources why bother asking for 3 references when you can quickly access hundreds or even thousands of short reviews on the executive you are vetting. It’s kind of like reading customer reviews on Amazon, and just as easy.
Here is what you need to know. Back in November 2009 Twitter launched an interesting feature called Twitter Lists. In short, Twitter Lists allow you to organize the profiles you’re following into groups. The filtering aspect of this feature is helpful if you are trying to zero in on something specific, such as Twitter users based on job title, industry, or any other relevant background information. You can create as many lists as you need, and yes, if you’ve caught someone’s attention you can be “LISTED.” If you’ve been LISTED something in your bio and or the content of your tweets has made an impression. In the future, the person who listed you will be able to find you quickly because they filed your profile under a group name they intend to monitor. In other words, your reputation or influence has been noted.
This screen shot is taken from the TweetDeck (https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/ ) interface. The search on my name reveals my profile showing that I currently have 86,450 followers and have been LISTED 4,653 times (my LISTED ratio is 5% of my followers). I like to review this number every month to gauge how quickly it is growing. If the growth is heavy that means my profile and content is continuing to make an impression.
Now, drill down to look at how they’ve named and described the list that they have placed you in. This will give you an idea if your content or tweets is projecting the type of persona you desire. There can be worst things in life than to be called out for “Marketing Legends” or “Inspiring Leaders,” so in this situation I can be assured that my social media reputation and influence is trending in a positive direction.
Alan See – List Sample
In our social economy your social media reputation is your calling card and bond. And we all know the digital world places a high value on trust and reputation. Good or bad, how you are LISTED or labeled is a quick gauge of whether or not your reputation is helping you build trust.
Let’s take a quick look at our presidential candidates. They both have millions of followers and have been LISTED thousands of times. In a few cases how they were LISTED was probably not in their favor. We are in for an interesting election.
|Posted on August 9, 2016 at 9:14 AM||comments (0)|
“Feel free to visit our website to learn more about us.”
I believe that is one of the most wasted phrases in a marketer’s persuasion playbook. I can just imagine Don Draper pitching that line to his client.
“Feel free to buy a jar of Ovaltine so your child can get a
Captain Midnight Secret Decoder Ring!”
As you probably know, the AMC prime time drama “Mad Men” provided a 1960s setting portraying advertising agencies as all-powerful influencers. In fact, much of the shows content suggested that “consumers didn’t know what they wanted until we told them.” The 1960 American Marketing Association’s definition of Marketing read:
“The performance of business activities that direct the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers.”
I’m a boomer and do remember some 1960s ads that seemed to directly implant certain brands right into my head. I begged my mom to let me choose my cereal based on the prize inside. I’m pretty sure “feel free to buy a jar of Ovaltine” was not used. Today, no matter how much I beg, my wife makes me choose my cereal based on its fiber content and total solution fit to my dietary needs. Yes, times have changed. Marketing’s evolution has also been very dramatic. Marketers have replaced their Mad Men approaches with sophisticated strategies that attempt to engage the consumer and build customer loyalty through complex analytics.
Does that mean that these new customer-centric strategies have eclipsed the need for marketing content to be persuasive?
Persuasion: An open appeal to reason or emotion in an effort to influence someone to do or believe something.
None of us like to think that we can be persuaded because it could expose our vulnerability. Besides, in the “information age” is it even possible to convince anyone of anything that they don’t already have an opinion on? There are many who believe that consumers cannot be repositioned and that creating a campaign to persuade those who start from a different view is a lost cause.
But I don’t think so, because persuading is a universal activity, and it plays a role in everyone’s daily life. Just because marketers’ can get closer to customers with targeted marketing messages through the aid of sophisticated customer analytics tools doesn’t mean the need to persuade has gone away. In fact, it may be more important than ever.
But you need to have great narrative in order to shift your targeted audiences beliefs or behaviors. You need to be able to wrap your persuasive content in a way that builds trust, presents logic, and tugs at the emotions.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I know. Everyone is “data-driven” these days. They’ve told you that they make decisions based only on the numbers. Well, that is just not how the buying process unfolds. So, you might want to invest more time on the art of persuasion.
|Posted on March 24, 2016 at 5:29 PM||comments (1)|
“I thought I’d reach out.”
In the business world it’s a casual phrase that’s tossed around all the time.
· I thought I’d reach out to tell you a little bit about our company.
· I thought I’d reach out to see if we could set up a time to chat.
· I thought I’d reach out to give you one of our new white papers.
· I thought I’d reach out to introduce myself and make sure you understand my company. And then you can buy something!
OK, that last one was over-the-top. But more broadly, "to reach out" means to initiate contact with someone, with the implied implication that the contact will be helpful or beneficial to the person being contacted. The problem is your targeted audience doesn’t believe you. They’ve been conditioned to understand that it’s not going to be beneficial for them because those messages typically result in the one-sided outcomes they’ve experienced time after time. In fact, in all the many ways I’ve been “reached out to” I remember very few occasions where the implied purpose of a first meeting was to listen and learn about my situation. Too bad, because shifting from “me-focused” to “you-focused” is not that difficult, and it yields a much better first impression.
Just how might a “you-focused” message sound? Probing statements or questions that open people up and eventually enable you to answer the ultimate thought that every prospect has on their mind; “what’s in this for me?”
· I’d really enjoy hearing about your company.
· I’d really enjoy learning about your career and particularly your work at XYZ Company.
· I’d be interested to see where your application fits in the various markets.
· I’d be interested in any background information you can share about the changes facing your industry.
Wait a second Alan; those aren’t typical qualification questions. How can those statements be helpful to my lead generation strategy? Also, why should an executive feel compelled to bring me up-to-speed or educate me on her career or company? Really, I just want to immediately work through my BANT process:
1. Do they have a BUDGET for a project?
2. Does the person I’m speaking to have the AUTHORITY to sign the deal.
3. Do they have a NEED for my solution?
4. Have they established a TIME FRAME for their decision?
Yes, I know the example above doesn’t necessarily reflect the order or all the questions that you might want to know for your particular situation. But the point is you’re currently trying to jam every encounter into your sales process and have dismissed the thought of nurturing prospects to tease out important information and to build a trust-based relationship over time.
I hate to break the news to you, but your prospect is just not that into you. If you’re hoping your prospect is “struggling” with [blah blah blah] and that they’re losing sleep and will instantly anointed you as their “trusted advisor” … well, as they say, “hope is not a strategy.”
“I thought I’d reach out” or “I just wanted to touch base” messages are best sent once you’ve earned trust. Otherwise they are viewed as just another gimmick to try and gain attention.
|Posted on March 8, 2016 at 7:46 AM||comments (0)|
Some of the smartest business people I’ve met place their trust in fantasy-based marketing plans. They believe it’s possible to do more with less. In truth, they know better. Because when “less” means reducing the marketing budget, “more” marketing activity is not what you get. A decreased budget means change, because something somewhere has to be reduced, compromised or eliminated. That means scaling back on lead generation campaigns, lower quality PR events, fewer advertising initiatives, downgrading your staff experience-levels (hiring less expensive/experienced talent), and or finally a reduction in headcount.
Now, I suppose one could argue that you can do more with less if you have been inefficient with your previous marketing spend. But I don’t know many executives who want to be associated with an inefficiency story. Of course, if you are the new CMO being brought in with marching orders to produce more with less you have your work cut-out for you.
Marketing budgets are historically the first to be cut during an economic ruckus. And economic business commotions are commonplace. That means if you intend to make marketing a career you need to be familiar with the term “bootstrap.” Bootstrapping is a phrased used to describe work efforts that are done with little or no assistance. You can translate that to mean; marketing on a perpetually limited budget. Are you ready to document some of your own bootstrapping stories? Well, here are a few ideas on how you can do more with less, and not lose your shirt in the process:
1. Hire an experienced marketing leader who has proven success flying solo. A marketer who has delivered results in an environment as a “department of one” has learned how to leverage limited resources to align the marketing strategy with the goals of the business. In addition, it’s likely this individual will have accumulated a large amount of social capital. Meaning they are well connected and know how to find freelancers and other help on an as needed basis. Their social capital may also mean they already have credibility with your targeted audience and are natural rainmakers in their own right. And let’s face it; your sales department can always use help with introductions to new clients.
2. You’ve cut the budget to the bone, and now have solid leadership in place. Now your marketing leader needs to get very focused with their limited time and resources.
a. Focus on your customers buying process, not your selling process.
Translation: Make sure you address competitive weaknesses within the four stages of the consumer purchasing process, and develop content focused on supporting the customer’s buying process, including:
· Information Search
· Purchase and After-Sale Service.
In addition, you may need to think smaller by breaking marketing initiatives into highly targeted micro-campaigns based on continuous selection of the best (most profitable) of the best (ready-to-buy) prospects.
b. You will not get a do-over, mulligan or practice shot.
Translation: Do your P&L homework and structure your best offer immediately. Don’t hold back; consumers with cash and a willingness to spend it are always in short supply. One of the major reasons small businesses go under is because they run out of cash. Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business and in order to keep the business healthy, cash needs to continue flowing. This is marketing’s chance to help the company generate quick cash flow and ride out the current economic downturn.
c. Don’t wait to nurture customer relationships, and engage your employees.
Translation: Make sure your organization is monitoring trigger events such as contract dates and service calls closely. Proactively nurture those relationships in order to protect current revenue. And finally, get your entire staff involved as social employee advocates.
Mini Case Study
A small software development company (less than $20M revenue) increased qualified leads 7% while cutting their marketing budget by 24%, and the decrease in spend was not the result of reducing headcount. During the campaign time frame the sales force set three consecutive monthly sales records as well as three consecutive quarterly sales records. The integrated program responsible for those results combined a social media / social employee strategy with a content-based marketing campaign. The goal of the content-based marketing program was to engage the targeted decision-maker by providing fact-based research that was relevant to their unique needs and challenges. The intellectual property was developed in-house and the follow-on corporate blogs, podcasts, webcasts and social media activity through LinkedIn and Twitter provided low-cost forums of engagement between all functional areas (including: sales, marketing, product management, product development and support) of the company and the customer. In short, the organization was able to “deliver more with less” but still retained their staff to generate relevant content and to engage customers and prospects through the social media channels. Yes, their media partners took a hit from the stand point of less print advertising and fewer trade shows, but overall the new direction reduced the cost per lead and engaged both employees and customers.
Linking social media channels to content-based marketing programs doesn’t necessarily cross over into all industries or business environments. However, research does show that mutual long-term commitment and engagement between employees, companies and customers does pay off.
|Posted on February 28, 2016 at 11:13 AM||comments (339)|
LinkedIn’s advice on sending connection requests reads that you should “only invite people you know and trust.” The number of requests I receive from individuals I’ve never met (and therefore have no basis for trust) leads me to believe there are a lot of people who are not following that rule of thumb. Or, perhaps it suggests their “trust” in certain profiles is deep enough to overcome their fear that they’ll be rejected because they don’t personally “know” their desired connection. Research shows that social rejection activates the same part of the brain that physical pain does. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like pain. So, I generally don’t like taking on a great deal of risk in those situations.
LinkedIn connection strategies can vary from one extreme to another. On one side you have the LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) who is open to both receiving and sending connection requests to people they don’t know. Apparently they don’t feel pain. On the other extreme are individuals who will only connect with people they personally know and would professionally vouch for. Those individuals probably tend to be risk adverse. I’ll admit that when I first joined LinkedIn I followed the suggested rule. I had to know and trust you, and I followed that strategy for several years. In the past couple of years I’ve found myself being less strict, but still nowhere close to the LION strategy.
The world is flat and we live in a 24/7 global economy. If you have a passport and a website you’re a worldwide citizen, right? It seems like the best practice for that mindset and environment would be open networking. The big downside with that strategy is that you get approached by hundreds of individuals with ideas, products and solutions that are not remotely connected to your interests, needs or desires. In short, it quickly starts feeling like endless spam.
That’s why I found it useful to leverage different networking strategies across the various social platforms.
Twitter: My approach on Twitter is the most open. Most of my Twitter content is focused on marketing, sales and management theory and my strategy is to connect with as many other like-minded (English speaking though – yes, I’m handicapped by only understanding one language.) individuals as possible. Twitter is a great real-time news source and a fantastic business platform for driving traffic to my website and LinkedIn profile for deeper engagement.
LinkedIn: As I mentioned earlier my strategy has shifted over the years with LinkedIn. I still don’t attempt cold connections in the LION fashion. If I’m interested in networking with an individual I usually try to establish the relationship first through an introduction via a common friend or try to build a solid relationship with them through other social media platforms (Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.). And I always customize the invitation to connect letting them know why I’m reaching out. When approached by someone I’ve never met or interacted with on other platforms I asked myself one question; what would connecting with this person do for me? Yes, I know that sounds terribly self-center and has no “pay-it-forward” vibes. But down deep it is what we are all thinking, so we might as well get it out in the open. Now, of course that question leads to several other questions that I often can’t answer. Like the following:
1. What does this person think a connection with me would mean to them?
a. Do they want to sell me something? Why do they assume I would be interested?
b. Do they see mutual value in our connecting? If so, what is it? Because I can’t read their mind! That’s why connection requests that are not customized with some amount of content that explains “why” they are reaching out drives me crazy. You should not assume that just because you are a LION that your motives are crystal clear.
2. Do they focus in geographic areas or solution areas that are important to me?
3. Does their job title and current position suggest they are a major player that I would be foolish to ignore?
Facebook: I save my personal Facebook account for family and old school chums. If you don’t fall into one of those categories your chance for a personal connection or a “Like” is basically zero. Yeah, I know Facebook has a billion users or something like that. But guess what, I found out very quickly that my family and old school friends don’t want to constantly see my business stuff. Therefore, I separated church and state. I have a personal Facebook profile and a business page, and the two never meet.
If you were to dig down deep I’m sure you would find that most individuals in your target markets have different strategies for each platform they have a presence on. They probably can’t even verbalize why they do what they do. But they’ve found out what works for them. And what works for them is what you need to be mindful of because it’s not about you or your brand. It’s about your customers.