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Showing posts from 2011

Two things I am thinking about (and you should be too)

If you're like me at all you probably have a lot more popping in and out of your mind than you can ever act on in a given work day or week or year. But a few things keep sticking with me- probably for good reason. Here are two of the things I am spending too much time mulling over.

1) Where does my job begin and end?

I ask this a lot, but does it really matter? The truth is that if you see something that needs fixing and have the ability to fix it, there is rarely a good reason not to just get it done. And if that means you've skipped some steps or forgotten to get permission... I am yet to meet a good boss who would care.

2) Is being blunt bad?

I can definitely be direct in my feedback and I wonder if it's too much sometimes. But I want things to be as good as they can be so who am I helping if I tread lightly and things move slower or less effectively or both? You don't need to be rude in your feedback but sugar coating it seems to be a contributor to failure…

The Way Online Reviews Really Work

As an early snowstorm approaches I have been catching up on some long lost emails and articles from the past few months in hopes of reaching the holy grail of inbox zero (down to 35 right now!)

One of the articles that jumped out from the pile talked about a recent study from Cone, a marketing agency out of Boston. The article talks about recently released survey data that says 80% of people have changed a purchase decision due to a bad review they saw, especially on social media. And I believe it.

The skeptics will say that not many people ask for recommendations on social media sites, so how big can the impact be? But those people misunderstand how social word of mouth works.

Those of us who spend a lot of time (probably too much) on social networking sites are constantly being influenced by others and their experiences in an informal way. We know when our friends have an amazing meal or an amazingly bad one. Or which airlines are keeping us stranded at every turn. Or which …

How Social Media Really Influences Decisions

As an early snowstorm approaches I have been catching up on some long lost emails and articles from the past few months in hopes of reaching the holy grail of inbox zero (down to 35 right now!)

One of the articles that jumped out from the pile talked about a recent study from Cone, a marketing agency out of Boston. The article talks about recently released survey data that says 80% of people have changed a purchase decision due to a bad review they saw, especially on social media. And I believe it.

The skeptics will say that not many people ask for recommendations on social media sites, so how big can the impact be? But those people misunderstand how social word of mouth works.

Those of us who spend a lot of time (probably too much) on social networking sites are constantly being influenced by others and their experiences in an informal way. We know when our friends have an amazing meal or an amazingly bad one. Or which airlines are keeping us stranded at every turn. Or which ret…

When did we lose our marketing mind?

I was happy to be part of a great panel discussion earlier this week at the small business breakfast in Boston (#smb24) and came away with one big question? When did we lose our marketing mind (and why)?Often times on these panels I end up playing the role of "wet blanket" - which the contrarian in me loves but the marketing geek in me hates. But the truth is that most of the cool, exciting technologies are not yet ready for prime time, mostly because most businesses' customers and prospects aren't ready for them either. And shouldn't that be the answer to most questions? Unless you have unlimited budget or are serving the cutting edge you need to think really hard about investing in programs that are beyond the adoption curve. Do they meet my business goals? Do I have the content to support it? Will the people I care about know how to access it?These are all marketing 101 questions but too often they don't get asked when people are developing it showin…

Three things you need to know about your Facebook Fans

There is a lot you can learn about your Facebook Fans by keeping a close eye on what content they engage with and tracking Facebook insights, but some things you just need to ask. While you don't want to over survey your fans, here are three things you should know as you build out your strategy.1. Are your fans already customers? To best serve your audience, you need to know if you fans are already on board, considering a purchase, or just enjoying your content with no intention of buying (not necessarily a bad thing by the way!)2. Why did they become your fans? Did people click the "like" button for a specific offer? On a whim? Or because they really want to engage with you? Knowing what got them to act in the first place can help you grow your network and provide the right content.3. What do they expect? While you can learn a lot from Facebook insights about what works, it never hurts to ask. How often do they want you to post and about what? If you give your fa…

The secret to interviewing good candidates

We've been interviewing lots of people at my job lately and I often wonder if we all over think the process. We look for specific skills. We scour resumes for companies we admire. We ask thoughtful questions and hope for great responses. But are we really using the right measuring sticks? I'm not so sure. We all spend so much time with our co-workers - more than with our families - and yet we often use impersonal methods for evaluating job candidates. The truth is that you know pretty quickly if someone is close to right. If the conversation is easy, enthusiastic, and enjoyable and they have a background close to what you need the details can always be taught. I mean, how many skills truly transfer directly from one company to another?So, my advice is to not think so hard. You know when a candidate is right. And that may mean placing more value on the personal connection than the resume.

An open letter to companies planning to start a new social network

Dear Mr. or Mrs. Social Network Starter,I understand that you and your company have been working on building a social network for months, maybe even years, but most of the people you want to join and use it are not going to be interested. It's not that the functionality isn't great, I am sure it is. And we may even sign up to check it out. But we just can't divide our attention any further and we certainly can't convince our friends and colleagues and parents and children to move from one place to another.We appreciate your intentions but ask you to refocus your efforts. If Facebook is the new tv, you can be the AMC to our NBC. We are interested and eager to see how you can take Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin to a new level. But we ask you please... Do not make us sign up for a new network. Our dust covered Quora, Plaxo, and G+ (too soon?) accounts send their regards.Best,Internet users everywhere

Content Marketing and Dog Training

I read and write a lot about content marketing. In my opinion the beauty of content marketing is that you are empowering your customers and prospects to be successful before they even realize it. One tip after another you dish out small pieces of information that people can act on and before they know it they are already having success and bought into your philosophy (and often your products and services.)

This process reminds me of when we were training our puppy (now a happy middle aged dog) to go up the stairs at our condo. He obviously had the ability to go up on his own but lacked the confidence to do it on his own. So we started by placing a piece of ham (he's a pug so food rules the day) on the second step, which he forced himself to go get. Next time out we put ham on the second and fourth steps. Based on his prior success he was willing to go a bit further and grabbed the second piece. Two more training sessions and he was at the top of the steps happily eating ham and tr…

Google+ for Small Businesses? Don't Bother (Yet)

Over the last week or so, there has been a ton of chatter in the online marketing world about Google+, a new social network from Google. The user experience is similar to that of Facebook (a news feed based on status updates and shared content, recommended friends, etc.), but the idea here is to make it easier to share content with specific sets of people (called Circles) instead of just publishing content on your wall for everyone to see. It's definitely a cool concept, even if it doesn't gain real traction (like some of Google's previous attempts to be social).

Right now Google+ does not allow businesses to sign up for a page, although they have said they will be bringing a business-friendly version to market later this year. While many business pages have actually been shut down, Ford was one of the first corporations to have a page launch legally earlier this week.
So ... as a small business, should you care about Google+? In short, not right now. Google has been amass…

3 easy marketing tactics realtors could use to differentiate themselves

Right now I am in the process of wrapping up both buying and selling a house.  As most people who have gone through this process can attest, it’s not easy and you often feel pretty helpless.  For me, it was even harder as a new age marketer who can’t stop thinking about things like inbound strategies, calls to action, and real-time insights.   Here are three relatively simple things that realtors could do to make the process easier and more effective for themselves and their clients.
Narrow the Calls to Action.  As marketers, we know that too many choices are a bad thing.  As are calls to action that don’t have a reason to act attached. Yet every day I walked outside of my front door to a “For Sale” sign with five calls to action and no reason to choose one or the other.  A phone number for my realtor.  A phone number and a web site for my realtor’s office.  A phone number for my realtor’s partner. And finally the URL for a dedicated website for my property.  Five calls to action for…

The Trouble with "Respondents"

One of my big pet peeves is when men and women who work within a company insist on using terms that de-humanize the people on the other end of the product or service they offer. I'm not saying that they use demeaning terms, but they choose words that make it okay to treat your best customers as abstract numbers or demographics. In the world of market research, the term most often applied to people like you and I who take surveys is "respondents." It's okay to give respondents a 30 minute questionnaire to complete. It's okay to ask respondents to go though numerous and repetitive choice sets. It's okay to speak to respondents in formal, stilted language. But would you do any of that to your college roommate? Your grandmother? Your child? Your neighbor? Probably not.In fact, most researchers cringe at the idea of even testing their own questionnaires. So before you put a new research study or product implementation or marketing campaign into the world…

A Memorial Day Lesson for Marketers

One quick memorial day thought about marketing...

Throughout my career I have been eager, aggressive, creative and excited to push companies to do things the "new" way.  In many cases I have been right.  But as I have gotten more experienced I have learned not to dismiss the people who did the hard work before me and instead to take their experience and build on it.  

Whatever you do professionally, people before you -even if you've never met them- helped to pave the way. Whether it is challenges in launching a new product, reaching a new audience, dealing with a tough employee or a challenging vendor.. To truly be smart about your job and make the "new way" and new tools successful you need to learn from and respect the work that has been done ahead of you.

As we reflect on the sacrifices of others this Memorial Day, think about how you can do it every day, whatever you do.

SXSW Summary: It’s all about the people

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This year was my first visit to SXSW Interactive, the annual tech and social media geek convention (wait, is it marketed differently than this?) in Austin, Texas that overlaps with an amazing film and equally amazing festival. I have been to a lot of conferences in the past ten years, but this one was definitely less about the presentation content (although some of that was good too) and more about the people you meet and the conversations you have.

Part of team’s mission at “South By,” as it’s known among the SXSW veterans, was to interview interesting people on the state of social media marketing and email marketing for small businesses. We got lots of great interviews, but here are 4 of my favorites. Enjoy! 
(I have more content related summaries on social media marketing and monitoring for small businesses that you can check out on the Constant Contact Blog here, here, and here.)








3 Pieces of Market Research Advice from the Client Side

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After spending over 10 years working primarily on the supplier side of the client/supplier relationship it is a very different view I am experiencing now. Especially as it pertains to working with market research firms, I have three Observations that I feel the need to share and offer as advice to my supplier side friends.

1) Ask questions when you get an RFP, even if you know the business.
The fact is that RFPs while well intentioned, can not possibly explain the entire situation that has led to a market research project. Amd even more importantly, they are not always as fully thought out as suppliers might assume. By asking a few questions before you write a proposal you are investing in you chance to win, building rapport, making it possible to have creative ideas, and confirming your assumptions. All important pieces to winning and successfully executing a project.

2) Don't show mostly numbers in a qualitative presentation.
Honestly, I can't believe this even needs to be in …

There is No “Wrong Way” to Do Social

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I often hear people who are into social media talk about how their friends or colleagues or competitors are “doing social wrong.” But unless you are running scams or spamming, is there really a “wrong way” to do social? Certainly there are more and less effective ways to achieve your business goals using social media and there are lots of great tools and resources out there to help you get on your way, but saying someone is doing it wrong implies that everyone has the same goals and that there is only one way to be successful in attaining them.
For example, here are three completely valid business objectives that require very different social techniques to achieve them. (Note: I haven’t included “building a large following” as a business goal. In my opinion it’s not, it is merely a means to an end.”)
Drive increased foot traffic from existing customers [Activate your Network]: For many businesses, especially small businesses, driving increased foot traffic from the people who already k…