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You Do Know That Social Marketing Isn't A Fad, Right?

social marketing is not a fadIt’s funny to me that people are still asking whether social media is viable for business.

Obviously, the advertising industry picked up on blogs and social media pretty early on and revenue streams based on advertising has matured quite rapidly. And like with anything on the web, the internet marketing crowd, with their usual approach, moved into the social media space.

But for the most part businesses that offer services are only beginning to scratch the surface of how to use social media to create a space in the market and grow their business. And with the constant growth and massive potential blogging and social networking provide, it’s pretty obvious that social marketing is anything but a fad.

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Business Blog Advice: Your Blog Is Not Your Business

A number of the clients I work with blog. Either they want to get started and need to learn how or they’re already blogging and want to make a greater impact with their blog.

But one thing is similar between almost every client…they somehow see their blog as their business. I’m not sure where this developed exactly, but I see this all over the web as well. Perhaps there’s a misunderstanding between those who have made money blogging and those who want too.

But a blog is not a business. Blogging, in it’s own right, is no more a business than your gasoline is a car. Sure, the car and gasoline are forever linked, even dependent on each other, but you’re not going to step inside a can of gas and make it to the grocery store.

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Why Your Business Needs To Focus On Relationships More and On Money Less

hamster-wheel.jpgEvery business owner wants to make more money.

Doesn’t matter whether you sell products or pitch a service – you probably want more clients, customers, buyers, patrons, consumers, subscribers, users, etc. Doesn’t matter what you call them – you’d like more.

After all, doesn’t more subscribers equal more people to market too? More patrons mean increasing sales? And increased sales equals more revenue. Isn’t that how it works?

Most of us know that. Yet many business owners set their focus too strongly on increasing revenue. They spend their time, their energy and their resources focused on making more money. And so they become like a hamster running around the wheel of trying to increase their profits – often, getting nowhere.

But what if you took some of that time to build relationships with your clients and customers? What if you took some time to build relationships with some of your leads? Better yet, what if you spent some time and resources to build relationships with other business owners? Businesses that compliment yours in one way or another. Or grew relationships with other business owners you have other interests in common with? What could happen?

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Do You Call Yourself A Blogger?

Why? Why not?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since David Armano talked about it at SOBCon last year. His basic point was that “blogging is a commodity. Anyone can do it. We are human beings with passions and interests that come out in our blogs—not the other way around. Stop calling yourself a blogger. You are a… (designer, businessperson, marketer, artist, baker, mother, grandfather, etc). Calling ourselves bloggers takes away from what makes us unique.”

I have to say that I agree. I think the term blogger is overused and often misunderstood. When I talk with businesses about blogging, they often, even after all this time, think of journaling. They haven’t fully appreciated the breadth of what the term blogger can mean.

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Small Business Marketing Tip: Use Word of Mouth

bullhorn.jpgWant to know one of the biggest secrets to social marketing? It’s really quite simple…

People share things they find enjoyable, helpful or interesting with people they know. In other words, people pass it on. That’s what social marketing is about – passing it on.

But sometimes we forget. We’re rushed or tired or just ‘messing around’ on the web and we may not think to always share things we find with people that might like or benefit from them.

So why not remind them? And when you remind them, make it easy.

Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, and one of my favorite marketers, suggests just that. In is book he suggests:

Someone is on your website, looking at something that you are selling – and they feel the urge to tell someone else. Make it easy. That person is about to advertise for you, for free. Or they need to ask someone a questions before they buy, Or they just like what they see. Do whatever it takes to let the word of mouth happen.

I couldn’t agree more. Make it easy for people to share what they find on your site, on your blog and in your products and services sections. Really, everywhere. You never know where people will be on your site that will inspire them to share with a friend. So make it easy.

On page 124 of Andy’s book, he offers the secrets to creating effective tell-a-friend forms:

  • Make it fast.
    Design a form that can be filled out in less than 15 seconds. Get rid of optional fields, passwords, or anything that gets in the way of the referral.
  • Ask for several referrals.
    Be sure to explicitly ask users to forward the message to multiple friends. The more you ask, the more you get. Design the form so it is easy to add lots of names without confusion.
  • Use the sender’s name.
    When you deliver the message, make sure it is from the referrer, not your website. The recipient isn’t expecting mail from you and might delete it. He will open a message from his friend.
  • Include a personal message.
    Let the sender add text to the message. The referral is far more powerful when the talker gets to put it in his own words.
  • Make it forwardable.
    Take a look at the message that recipients get. Is that message a ready-to-go viral email, or is it some cryptic link?
  • Protect privacy.
    And brag about it. Be clear and explicit that you respect the privacy of the senders and recipients using the form and that you won’t use their emails for any other purpose (and stick to what you promise). Usage will skyrocket when you do this.

Just to drive the point home a little more, here’s a short video I found of Andy talking about how tell-a-friend is worth 1.6 billion dollars.

How do you ask people to pass it on? Oh yeah, and by the way, please feel free to share this blog with anyone you’d like.

(note: image from Duncan Davidson on Flickr)

In Business, Make It About The Relationship First

biz-relationship.jpgA couple of days back I was speaking with a client of mine. She’s a life coach who wants to know better how to use the web (and soon her blog) to increase her marketing reach and, ultimately, her business.

We spent the better part of an hour talking about how a blog, when used well, can become a hub for creating buzz about her business. But as we talked, I could sense there was something I wasn’t communicating clearly enough for her to understand.

She was focusing on how her blog would get her in front of so many more people than her static website and how those people would “just convert to clients.”

Of course it doesn’t just work like that. People don’t just become clients for no reason. And just because we’re blogging doesn’t mean our business will grow.

So I asked her to describe how she’d write a blog post to me. She said she’d simply write about what she does, how she helps people and what problems she can solve. She knew from our previous conversations that she wanted to use her blog to build conversation with her readers. And she was clear that she needed to followup with her commenters.

It all sounds pretty good, right? But something was missing for me. Then I asked her what the point of having the conversation in the comment box with her readers. She told me to convert them to clients. So I asked her, “do you see your readers and commenters as prospects?” Her answer was, “Certainly!”

So I asked her, “What about you, your family, your life…are you planning to share any of that through your blog?”

“Why would I,” she responded? “I don’t want them to focus on my life, I want them to do business with me.”

Ah, now my fog was lifted. I knew what she meant – that she wants to use her blog to draw perspective clients that she can then interact with and convert them into clients. But she was unknowingly leaving something out…the relationship.

Sure, there’s lots of ways to market your business using your blog. How I use mine is to build relationships with people. I don’t see you, someone reading my blog, as a reader (though I’ve used the term) nor a prospect. Rather, I see you as a person; someone who has some interest in what I have to say. Hence, I have interest in getting to know who you are. That’s fertile soil for a relationship.

So I share with my client how I’ve found relationships to be the key to growing my business successfully over the years. I’ve learned that when I let the relationship lead the way, the business end of things takes care of itself. I’m not talking about relationships over business. I’m talking about the relationship part of business leading the way.

That’s one way I’ve found conversational blogging to be so powerful. The comment box creates a space for us to have a conversation. Over time, that conversation can lead to a relationship. Some of those relationships can be acquaintances, some friendships, and some business relationships. And each on different levels that grow organically.

When I shared all this with my client (we went over our hour), she got it. Not only did she get it, she was invigorated by the potential to touch people. And while she wasn’t, yet, completely clear how to ‘lead with the relationship,’ she had a sense of how it worked.

So how has blogging helped you create conversations that have led to relationships? What type of relationships have you built? And how have those relationships benefitted your business?

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