“It’s just a fad.”

•February 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Really?

Did you know?

  • There are over 155 MILLION users on Facebook.
  • The United States has more users than any other country.
  • 56% of users update their status once a week.
  • The average user spends 55 minutes on Facebook DAILY, many of whom check their Facebook prior to even getting out of bed.

I would say these are some pretty staggering statistics that demonstrate that the platform isn’t going to “go away”. And in fact, I believe it is changing our culture permanently.

So if you are a business owner, marketing a product or service and avoiding this platform, I encourage you to think again.

Twenty years ago, every business needed to be in the phone book in order to be found, so that the potential client could contact you by phone to find out more about your product or service.

Ten years ago, every business needed to have a website in order to be found, so that the potential client could learn more about your company from the webpage and potentially contact you to find out more about your product or service. (Did you know that the “contact us” link is one of the most “clicked on” pages on any website?)

And today, every business should have a Facebook page in order to be found … AND interacted with.

When I explain to my clients the importance of this web presence, I try to help them understand that having a website is like hanging a sign – it’s a one way communication stating information. 

Having a Facebook page is like having a conversation. It is one of the very best ways to be in front of your audience 24/7, providing new fresh content, information and photos. AND you get to hear what your audience thinks, feels and believes about you and your product or service.

But the best part for you, the business owner, is the impact that it has had on viral marketing, allowing users to “share content” with their “friends”. These days, people use Facebook as a built in “phone a friend”. Need a carpet cleaner? Ask your “friends” who the best, cheapest and most reliable source is in the local community and an hour later you may have 16 comments  essentially reviewing all the carpet cleaners in the area ~ good, bad and indifferent.  And for a “real-time” society, you are remiss in thinking that they will take the time to search out this information themselves, survey your website and then decide. Not any more.

So for what it’s worth, I encourage you to take a gander at what all this “Facebook buzz” is about.

You don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer, but dip your toes in the water at least. And if you need some help, I specialize swimming lessons .. starting you off with water wings on  … and teaching you how to master this platform without it consuming their life. (Which is what most business owners are afraid of.)

Who knows? You just might like it.

For what it’s worth, that’s my two cents.  

*I got my statistics from digitalbuzzblog.com, Huffington Post and facebook.com in the above blog post.

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To FourSquare or not to FourSquare? That is the question.

•February 23, 2012 • 2 Comments

I admit that I am not always the first to jump on the bandwagon with new technology. I like to wait until they “work the bugs out” first. So when FourSquare came out, the first thing I thought of was, “that’s one great tool for thieves!”

But after a few encounters with close friends who were always “checking in” wherever we went, I started asking questions. And I decided that if I only “friend” people who I would otherwise trust to tell my whereabouts to, there really wasn’t a safety risk … and there WAS potential for coupons, special deals and offers. Plus, I’m in marketing, so I feel a responsibility to understand such platforms in order to better serve my clients. So, I decided to take the plunge.

And just like Facebook, Pinterest and angry birds, it’s addicting. Maybe not if you aren’t competitive, but if you are … watch out!

As I checked in at T.G.I.Friday’s today for lunch, I took the time to read the “tips” and I realized just how important this platform is for retail establishments, from restaurants to grocery stores, anyone on FourSquare is giving an instant review of their experience with your brand. There were nine tips for this T.G.I.Friday’s … everything from how hot the bartender is and how fast the service is, to the disappointment over the lack of vegetarian choices on the menu.

So my advice is this: if you own a brick and mortar business of ANY type, take the time to check out this platform. It’s a wonderful opportunity to leverage your brand, to monitor your “buzz” and to improve your product or service. AND, it’s ok for you to check in, but don’t try to be your own “mayor” or those who *are* competitive, might choose a competitor just for the sake of bragging rights.

For what it’s worth, that’s my two cents. 🙂

 

What lure are you using?

•December 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Happy New Year!

In the post prior to our tribute to Steve Jobs, we talked about defining your target market. I hope you have given some thought to who your ideal customer is.

Once you have defined your target market, you need a strategic plan to deliver your unique message and selling proposition to those ideal clients. The first question to ask yourself is: What differentiates you from your competition? Essentially, “what lure are you using?”

Let’s talk about your brand and unique position in the marketplace. … What is Branding? I define it as: “A critical component of your marketing strategy, that points your ideal customers to your identity, highlighting your strengths, or “value added,” and differentiating you from the competition.”

In my opinion, branding isn’t just a logo or a tagline, it STARTS with your company name, logo, and tagline and goes clear through to your competitive edge and unique position in the industry, the marketing channels you choose and your signature personal interaction with potential clients and those who will refer business to you, … and everything in between.

By defining your unique niche, and by delivering your message consistently, respectfully and attractively over time, you establish your brand. And when those ideal clients are ready, they will buy from you when the time is right.

At it’s core, marketing is story telling. And that’s what makes your brand a memorable one. Isn’t it so much easier to relate to someone if you “know their story”? What is your story? What is your company’s story? What are the success stories of your product or service? What are the stories other people are telling about you (testimonials). That should be the core of your branding, and the “marketing” happens through the channels you choose to deliver your message.

A brilliant mind.

•October 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This week, we lost a brilliant mind, one of the greatest innovators the world has ever known, and a true marketing genius. Of all the wonderful quotes that emerged from his commencement speech at Stanford, this one touched me the most. I hope you enjoy it.

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.

Don’t lose faith.

I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.

You’ve got to find what you love. …

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,

and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.

And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.

Don’t settle.

As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.

So keep looking until you find it.

Don’t settle.”

– Steve Jobs.

“Beauty for ashes.”

•September 12, 2011 • 2 Comments

“The towers fell, but we rise up.” – Scott Heiferman, the CEO of Meetup.com states in the following excerpt in quotes below taken in it’s entirety from an email I received yesterday about the origin of his company.

I thought it was worth sharing. I like when good things come out of tragedy (“beauty for ashes”), and this is one example.

Meetup.com is a great marketing tool, employed in the proper channels. It was brought about after (and partly because of) 9/11. Read on to hear this inspiring story.

(And for those of you who think all these social media tools are “just for kids”, I learned about meetup.com from someone at least twenty years my senior.)

Enjoy! 

“Fellow Meetuppers,

I don’t write to our whole community often, but this week is special because it’s the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and many people don’t know that Meetup is a 9/11 baby.

Let me tell you the Meetup story. I was living a couple miles from the Twin Towers, and I was the kind of person who thought local community doesn’t matter much if we’ve got the internet and tv. The only time I thought about my neighbors was when I hoped they wouldn’t bother me.

When the towers fell, I found myself talking to more neighbors in the days after 9/11 than ever before. People said hello to neighbors (next-door and across the city) who they’d normally ignore. People were looking after each other, helping each other, and meeting up with each other. You know, being neighborly.

A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was born: Could we use the internet to get off the internet — and grow local communities?

We didn’t know if it would work. Most people thought it was a crazy idea — especially because terrorism is designed to make people distrust one another.

A small team came together, and we launched Meetup 9 months after 9/11.

Today, almost 10 years and 10 million Meetuppers later, it’s working. Every day, thousands of Meetups happen. Moms Meetups, Small Business Meetups, Fitness Meetups… a wild variety of 100,000 Meetup Groups with not much in common — except one thing.

Every Meetup starts with people simply saying hello to neighbors. And what often happens next is still amazing to me. They grow businesses and bands together, they teach and motivate each other, they babysit each other’s kids and find other ways to work together. They have fun and find solace together. They make friends and form powerful community. It’s powerful stuff.

It’s a wonderful revolution in local community, and it’s thanks to everyone who shows up.

Meetups aren’t about 9/11, but they may not be happening if it weren’t for 9/11.

9/11 didn’t make us too scared to go outside or talk to strangers. 9/11 didn’t rip us apart. No, we’re building new community together!!!!

The towers fell, but we rise up. And we’re just getting started with these Meetups.

Scott Heiferman (on behalf of 80 people at Meetup HQ)

Co-Founder & CEO, Meetup

New York City

September 2011”

I Will Never Forget.

•September 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The American flag flying proudly at the site of 9/11

Every year on 9/11, I fly my flag, say my prayers, and light a candle for those we lost on that tragic day.

I remember every stitch of that morning clear as crystal. I’m sure most of you reading do as well.  

This year, I will do all these things, and I also offer you this imagery as a testimony to how permeating the reverence for this event is and should be … for all of us.

The Budweiser Clydesdales are some of the most recognizable and endearing icons in advertising today.

Not a single word is spoken in this ad.

And they only aired it once.

… They didn’t want to profit.

… They wanted to show their respect.

And so do I.

I will never forget.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zXZX2sXHYI

“Everyone” is not your target market.

•September 7, 2011 • 2 Comments

In the last post: https://rainmakermarketingandsales.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/building-castles-in-the-air/, we talked about starting with a firm foundation driven by a vision [statement] for your business. This month, I want to talk with you about the next step in forecasting a strong business plan unique to your brand. And that starts with defining your target market.

I meet with small business owners on a regular basis and I am continually shocked at how few actually have in mind who their ideal customer is. A potential client told me recently, “I sell to commercial and residential, so everyone is my target market.” Statistics show that on average ONE in TEN small businesses have a defined target market. Of the other nine, six of them go out of business within the first year  – compelling evidence that should drive every small business owner to examine “who their ideal customer is.”

Don’t think of it as who COULD I sell to … think of it as “who do I WANT to sell to?” Who is the ideal person that needs what I have to offer, can afford it, will pay what I want to charge, on time and be grateful for my help?

Many small business owners try to catch “everyone” and spend an enormous amount of time, energy, effort and money driving at the general population hoping to “catch” a client. I believe that you can spend less time, energy, effort and money by first defining who it is that you are trying to “catch.” I often say, if you think of marketing as a fishing trip, the target market is what kind of fish you want to catch, the branding is the lure, the message is the bait and the channels are the body of water you choose to “fish in”.

If you don’t care what kind of “fish you catch”, you can cast your line into the ocean all day and maybe you’ll catch something. But if you want to catch trout, it’s a whole lot easier when you go to a lake stocked with trout and use the bait and lure that trout like. Your results will be even more fruitful if you do it during their feeding time.

We will talk more in upcoming posts about “where to fish,” “what bait to use” and when the “feeding times are” … but for now, I encourage you to evaluate who buys from your brand the most. What gender, what age, what geographic location, what lifestyle, what income level?  All of these criteria help you come up with your ideal client.

 As always, I am wishing you all the very best.