Making The Most of Your Total Online Presence

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blackboard with textYour company’s online presence is a huge opportunity to grow your business.

Unfortunately, it’s also an excellent opportunity rob you blind . . . of your time if you aren’t careful.  BUT . . .

Here are five (5) ‘basic’ options that will:

1.  build your online presence, and

2.  require very little time to maintain

Create a Google Alert for key brand, industry, client and competitive terms
You can create an ‘alert’ on Google for any phrase, name, competitor, client, etc. to stay current about their online mentions and activities.  I’m often surprised to learn what a client (or, competitor) is doing.  Often the only way I’d learn what they’re doing is when a Google Alert tells me about them!

Create Twitter lists of your clients, competitors and key media contacts.
Lists on Twitter are a great way to create highly targeted groups of key people for you and your business.  If a message is more relevant to some than others, have a list of those who are most likely to enjoy it.  At the same time, lists that segment your contacts can help you ‘tune in’ to what your clients, competitors, peers are saying.  Very helpful!

Create a Google Reader account and follow 25 ‘Top Dog’ blogs in your industry
People are talking, aren’t they?  But it’s hard to keep up, right?  Wrong.  So go to Google, create a Reader account and ‘subscribe’ to some great minds offering the best and brightest ideas for your industry.  A quick scan of recent posts will make you a ‘sparkling conversationalist’ at your next meeting with clients.

Use social media settings in your CRM and add Rapportive to your email
Wouldn’t you love a personal assistant who can whisper in your ear everything someone you know has been doing online?  Rapportive is a great plug-in / add-on that will do that for you.  It saves you time and makes you wise.  How cool is that?

Monitor mentions using tools such as TweetDeckHootSuite or SproutSocial 
These are called ‘Listening Posts’ for a (very) good reason.  They search out ‘mentions’ of you, your firm, your competitors, trends you’re watching, etc. and ‘deliver’ them to you.  Again, these serve to keep you ‘in-the-know’ about what’s important to you and, once you set them up, they work 24/7 for you.  Cool, huh?

KEY POINT:
Creating your total online presence begins by LISTENING . . . but it doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming to do it if you use technology wisely! 

High Growth Strategy for Professional Services

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woman with calendar bookAt 2012 winds down, you (like many of us) are probably looking back at the year and trying to make sense of what worked, what didn’t and why.  That’s good.  I applaud you.

You may also be reviewing all those articles and posts you’ve bookmarked in hopes of getting back to read them.  But you didn’t.  Until now.  Me, too.

In reviewing articles I didn’t get to read earlier, I came across a recent study in MarketingProfs that I was glad I filed so I actually found it when I wanted to read it!  It revealed some very useful insights about what is working for firms in various professional services fields — law, high tech, consulting, etc.

Key Findings
Firms that grew ‘significantly’ (20% or higher for at least 2 consecutive years) used:

  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • White Papers / Content Creation

even more than firms in the ‘Marketing / Communications’ fields which acted as a ‘control’.

growth rate graphicBut I was really impressed to see that firms experiencing “high growth rates” were generating a disproportionate amount of their leads from online sources!

In fact, for all professional services firms, those generating at least 40% of their leads from online sources ALSO experienced the highest median growth rate (53.8%).  That should make you stop and take serious notice!  (It sure did for me!)

That also makes me appreciate all the more the timing of our newest coaching program: Total Online Presence that will be available in January 2013.

Click here to download a Special Report on this program!


KEY POINT:
If you’re a professional services firm and you want to generate significant growth, you’ll do well to figure out how to leverage both digital media and the many opportunities available to you in the online world. 

Don’t Do Social Media

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. . . UNLESS . . .  you can justify it, financially.

I just love it when a brilliant mind takes on a topic that’s so inviting of opinion that a clear conclusion seems highly unlikely. Drew McLellan did that in a recent post on MarketingProfs.com and it’s inspired this post from me.

coinsIs It Worth Being on Social Media?
I speak with a number of business owners who tell me that if they’re not doing social media, then they’re probably missing out in some way.

As a result, they set up social media profiles, create a facebook page, a LinkedIn profile, etc.

But when I ask them, “So, is social media working for you?”, they often can’t say.

If I then suggest that maybe they shouldn’t do any social media, they come back with, “But if I don’t . . . it’s going to cost me.  Look, maybe I can’t say that being on social media has made me money, but I’m concerned that not being on it will cost me money”.

So, as a purely defensive position, they engage in social media for their business but they’re not able to justify their time online in terms of real sales or value to their business.

Sorry, but that’s unacceptable.

How To Tell If You Should Invest Your Time on Social Media
If you can MAKE or SAVE money by being on social media, DO IT.  If not, DON’T.

Drew McLellan actually suggests a number of ways to assess if you’re getting value from social media.

Is Social Media MAKING You Money By:
Allowing you to stop doing something you’re currently doing?
Allowing you to extend or expand something you are currently doing?
Lowering your customer acquisition costs?
Connecting you to existing customers in an efficient way?
Creating a community specifically for your customers?
Making it easier for your customers to rave / create positive word of mouth?
Making you look ‘in tune’ with the times to my customers if you’re there?
Introducing you to new potential customers at a low lead-generation cost?
Making you easier to find (within the social network or on search engines)?
Improving your search engine results (so you don’t have to buy results)?

Is Social Media SAVING You Money By:
Shortening your sales cycle?
Creating credibility and trust faster among prospects?
Establishing you / your firm as THE expert?
Shortening customer service response time?
Creating a sense of accessibility for my customers?
Increasing trial of my products or services?
Allowing me to connect with more prospects at once?
Increasing repeat sales?
Will it increase upsells?
Helping me collect or leverage testimonials?

KEY POINT:
Social Media is never ‘free’.  The time you must spend online has a definite ‘cost’. If your cost/benefit ratio is not attractive, don’t do social media until you figure out how to make it make or save you more than it costs you to use it.

Memory Cues — What The Energizer Bunny Knows

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This post is provided courtesy of my distinguished colleague, Kurian Tharakan.  Kurian lives in Edmonton, Canada (Brrr!) and is one of the newer and brighter stars of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.  I am so impressed by his experience and insight that I asked him to share some of both in today’s post.  Check out his website before you go . . . Enjoy!   

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It may surprise you to know this, but most people simply do not spend every minute of every waking moment thinking about you and your amazingly wonderful product or service. It would be great if this weren’t true, but most people have other more mundane things on their minds: mortgage payments, the boss, the kids, career paths, vacation plans, in-laws, etc.

It is therefore imperative to understand that for maximized sales revenues you will have to “CUE” people to “REMEMBER” positioning and feature/benefit elements at the most critical time: THE BUYING MOMENT. Everything that happens before this only serves to “prime” the sale. THE BUYING MOMENT is the true test of your marketing campaign. As well, it will be an all-or-nothing response from the customer: either they buy or they don’t! Your advertising and promotion campaigns are meaningless if the customer cannot remember what your offer is supposed to be about at the buying moment. A classic example of this is the tale of Energizer vs. Duracell batteries.

Do you remember the cute little Energizer bunny? You know, the one beating the little drum in all those television commercials that keeps going, and going, and going, and, well, you know…going. The point is clear: Energizer batteries last a long time. However, in market research tests on memory recall, most people could not remember which brand of batteries the little bunny represented (in fact a lot of people thought it was Duracell). So at the till, where all marketing efforts are supposed to converge and produce results, the expensive promotion and advertising campaigns of Energizer weren’t being much help.

What was the solution? Aid the memory recall process. Energizer started placing a picture of its bunny on all of its battery packaging. This made it much easier for the customer to RECALL that this was the same battery advertised in all those commercials.

KEY POINT:
Always make it easy for your customer to say “yes” by not only providing critical information about the purchase decision at the right time, but also by assisting their memory recall process with memory cues.

The Best Marketing Methods Are Personal

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I’m reading a research brief from The Center for Media Research . . . about the effectiveness of various marketing ‘tools’ or methods.

As you can see . . . the MOST EFFECTIVE means of generating new business opportunities are:

1.  Referrals . . . 59% of respondents agreed

2.  Networking . . . 57.4% 

2.  From Existing Clients . . . 57.4% . . . a TIE with ‘networking’

3.  Presentations or Speaking . . . 24.6%

KEY POINT:
While the world of marketing media has grown more digital and online . . . the prominence of ‘direct’ marketing . . . and building ‘personal’ relationships . . . has not gone out of favor!  Don’t forget this! 

Keeping In Touch / Building Your Personal Brand

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Are you in a profession or field where selling WHO you are is just as important (if not more so) as WHAT you do for your clients?

I like to say, “If you focus on building transactions, you’ll fail to build relationships.  But if you focus on building relationships, you’ll build transactions, too”.  It’s a truth that will help take you to the bank . . . if you practice it in your business or practice!

My Advice:  Write Personal Notes
In these days when no one ever seems to have enough time to do everything we want to do, the mere act of setting aside the time to write a personal note  is a behavioral statement that, “Dang it, You Matter To Me!”.

Now I can’t speak for you, but most people are a little ‘stroke deprived’.  We get all kinds of you-know-what but never, so it seems, enough ‘love and recognition’ from others.  In basic human terms, we don’t get recognized as having value — in an unconditional way!  So . . . by sending a note to someone who’s a prospect, client or center-of-influence, you’re effectively validating that, at least to you, they matter!  And that, is what marks you as a person of interest and value to them.  That builds goodwill and . . . sooner or later . . . revenues for you.

And here’s a simple, powerful and highly effective way to do this . . .

Write One (1) Personal Note / Day
While there is value in doing more than this, let’s not overwhelm you before you even get started.  So I’m deliberately suggesting you ‘start small’ with this idea.  Once you get to the point where you’re consistently and conscientiously getting ONE personal note written (and, sent!) each day, you can ramp it up a bit.  But remember . . . ‘walk before you run’ . . . just doing ‘one note’ a day is far better than doing ‘no note’ a day.

By the way you don’t need to say a lot!  Something as simple as, “Dear Chris,   I just had a moment and wanted to say how much I admire how you never let the economy get you down.  You’re an inspiration to me.  Thank you, Dana” will work just fine!  In fact, you could even print up a nice ‘notecard’ for yourself as the gifted author (and prolific note-writer!) Bob Burg has done here:


Who and Why?
Your business network consists of many people who fall into three (3) main categories:

1.  Prospects
2.  Clients, and
3.  Centers-of-Influence

Each person in your network is in a position to do at least one of the following:

BUY . . . what you’re selling or doing, and/or
REFER . . . others to you / you to others . . . who can

Your network is your business lifeline . . . so it’s important to keep it working –– for you!  And there’s nothing like any act of recognition to demonstrate how important and valued they are to you.  That breeds tons of GOODWILL and BRAND PREFERENCE for you.  And, while that may not be a tangible asset on your balance sheet, it’s a critical factor that drives value to it.

But here’s the problem:  “HOW . . . do you stay on the ‘Mental Shelf’ of your prospects, clients or centers-of-influence in a way that makes you both memorable to and appreciated by these people?”

And, “HOW . . . do you get them to think of  you FIRST and FAVORABLY???”
whenever they (or, someone they know — a friend, family member, client, co-worker, etc.) — develop a ‘need-to-know’ about something YOU can do.

The Method . . . Ya Gotta Have a Method!
Here’s what I suggest you do . . . to get started.  Once you’re doing this for a few weeks, you’ll be ‘hooked’ on the practice because of all the positive and wonderful feedback (not to mention goodwill and business opportunities!) that will be coming your way.

Again, let’s keep this simple.  Make an appointment with yourself on a Saturday or Sunday for just 30 minutes. During your appointment with yourself, here’s what you want to do:

IDENTIFY . . . five (5) people you’d like to build (or, continue to build) a relationship with
CHOOSE . . . something about them worthy of noting — in a note, of course!
WRITE . . . a brief note to each person recognizing them for that quality or action you admire
PUT . . . each note in an envelope, address it  and add a stamp (remember those?)
SCHEDULE . . . to send out one note . . . for each day of the week

That’s it.  Kind of like working out at the gym.  Don’t overdo it.  But do get started.  The benefits you’ll enjoy will be amazing.  People will call you to say, “Thank You”.  Sometimes they’ll even say, “Funny how, after your note arrived, a friend called me looking for some help with . . . and I thought maybe you could help . . . here’s her number . . . why not give her a call and mention my name when you do . . . ”  Yes.  It WILL happen.  And yes, it is all good!

KEY POINT:
In a world where the simple act of recognition has become increasingly elusive, taking action to honor the relationships you have with your key people — by writing them a personal, handwritten note — is huge.  Hugely appreciated by your key people and hugely productive and profitable for you, as well.

PR Opportunities Are . . . Everywhere

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Whether you love the tragic-comedy Lifescapades of Lindsay Lohan or not, you have to admit that she’s getting a LOT of media coverage lately.

In fact, all that media coverage has not been lost on the good people at Goodyear Tire.  Yes, the people with the blimp.

Lindsay — You’ve Got Mail!
It seems that, following the recent episode in a NYC parking garage where Ms. Lohan allegedly hit a pedestrian while attempting to park her Porsche — and the media that went nuts like a bunch of sharks in a feeding frenzy, good old Goodyear has taken it upon itself to help save the world (or, at least make it better) by offering driving lessons to Lindsay and Amanda Byrnes.

OK, That’s Funny.  But Goodyear is Totally Serious!  
How serious?  Serious enough to send her publicist an actual letter in which they offer Lindsay FREE DRIVING LESSONS with a professional driver at the Goodyear headquarters.  And, oh yes, they guarantee there will be “no paparazzi allowed”.  You can read the actual letter by clicking here

Naturally, the letter does a nice job of promoting Goodyear’s local dealers and tire products.  (Why not, it’s THEIR letter, right?).

Listening for the BUZZ . . . Attracts the GREEN!
Goodyear’s PR people were smart to jump on this ‘current event’ (Linday’s notorious driving reputation) to raise Goodyear’s AWARENESS to a nice level using the very same media who were covering Linday’s latest lifescapades in the first place!

What’s Good for Goodyear Is Good for You, Too!
If you’re lucky enough to have an in-your-face media fiasco like Linday produces predictably and periodically, you have a readily available source of inspiration for a ‘newsy’ angle on which you can build a story for your brand, company, product or service.

When you do that, you are also likely to gain the attention of the media and all the good things — increased brand awareness and probably increased website traffic (to name just two things of many!) that go with that.

KEY POINT:
PR is a great way to raise the public’s awareness of your business and brand.  The secret to PR that doesn’t end up lining birdcages in Baltimore is to piggy-back off of some highly touted and visible event that everyone seems to know about and leverage that media coverage into a highly visible PR opportunity for you.

Why Less is More

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I had an epiphany this week.

It happened because I was seeking to create a video . . . to introduce an idea to others.

My first attempt was, I thought, “Pretty good”.  I mean, I was willing to share it with some people I trusted.

Less Is More
I’d asked for feedback and I got it.  In spades.  “You’re trying to cover too much.  FOCUS!”

Sculpting a Message 
Michaelangelo, the Italian artist and sculptor, created magnificent works of art that included ‘David’ and the ‘Pieta’, among others.  In the beginning of every masterpiece he created, Michaelangelo was staring at a big bland ‘block of rock’.

In his day, it was the equivalent of a ‘blank page’ in a Word or Powerpoint document.

Slashing and Burning is Best Done with a Laser
My original ‘message’ covered far too much.  Everything it included, suffered because of it.

So I sought to create an ‘under 2 minute video’.  That meant I had to do some serious ‘editing’ of the video.  And, the message I was seeking to convey to my audience.

Find The Filter
That’s when something rather amazing happened.  Creating a ‘shorter’ message forced me to refine what I was seeking to say.  I must credit my colleague, Craig Chapman with his challenge to craft a video that runs “under 2 minutes”.  Without that, I doubt the final product would have been what it is.

The Pleasant Surprise
As the message was filtered to fit the time allowed, it changed.  For the better. My original message was really a number of messages.  Not unlike an orchestra when they’re tuning up.  It was more cacophony than concert.  As the production time reduced, the message was refined.  It was tighter.  It was better.  It became a concert . . . where everything in it was in tune and harmonically reflecting the same note.

Once again, I am indebted to Craig Chapman of Cray Marketing for his admonition to ‘Cut It Back’.  Pruning is good for plants.  It’s even better for your marketing messages.

If you’d like to see the final product . . . VISIT THIS PAGE.

KEY POINT:
Less is (definitely) more and . . . better in the end! 

The Deadly Direct Mailing

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I just received a direct mail piece from a firm I did business with years ago. They’re still in business.  Which is nice to know.

But their mailer is, well . . . ‘deadly’ to say the least.

The copy is self-centered drivel and their offer is non-existent.  How sad.  For them.  I hope his mom ordered extra copies for her bridge club because at least she’ll see some value from this mailer!

What’s The Goal?
The creation of any promotional marketing communication must begin with as clear an understanding of what you want to happen after someone receives it as is humanly possible.

That implies, of course, that you expect ‘some thing’ to happen as a result of receiving and processing your message in whatever medium of delivery you may choose to use — print, verbal, online, etc.

Response . . . Must (ALWAYS) Be Your Goal
Given the time, money and effort required to produce and deliver a message these days, you really can’t justify any marketing that doesn’t call for your reader, listener or viewer to do something in response to your message. This is a ‘Call To Action’ or ‘Offer’.  Same thing.

Of all the goals for your marketing communications, make sure a response is one of them!

KEY POINT:
Any communication that doesn’t invite response is a wasted opportunity.

Will a Real (Good) Website Stand Up?

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I just read an excellent rant (or, venting?) by a noted business growth consultant — Andy Birol.

Andy’s earned a solid reputation based on a history of helping clients build their business and value.

He’s actually quite good at it, too.

His latest post reflects his honest frustration with how well his website is working for him.  Or, maybe not.

The Problem With Many Websites
What Andy and many advisors realize is that “good-looking websites” aren’t necessarily ‘effective websites’.  Of course, it might help to define what ‘effective’ means, right?

Effective‘ means that your website can create an opportunity to help you generate revenues.

In most cases, this doesn’t imply an online transaction or purchase.  But it does suggest your website should be able to create well-qualified opportunities from which you can generate a client (and, the revenue that suggests) in a reasonable amount of time.

Let’s face it.  Whatever your expertise, it’s safe to say you probably aren’t a website developer.  Your expertise may lie in helping your clients manage their risks, make good investments, protect their intellectual property, and the like. So the lure of a ‘pretty-looking’ website may be quite compelling.

If It Looks Terrible But Works Great . . . Don’t Mess With It!
What Andy’s learned is that ‘good looks’ aren’t all that important in producing the performance criteria he’s learned is really important — i.e. identifying a well-qualified individual for his services.  That’s a huge insight.  And, a valuable one to remember.

I am constantly amazed (but not surprised) at how often a website built on the HubSpot platform looks ‘clunky’ but works extremely well.  There’s a New Yorker magazine cartoon where two dogs are in the library and on their master’s PC.  One dog says to the other, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”.  Very true.  And that’s why even ‘ugly’ websites can be more productive of leads than pretty websites . . . ‘pretty useless’, that is!

On a Google search, if your website or blog offers highly relevant content, it will attract traffic in the form of well-qualified visitors to you.  Once you have qualified visitors, using CTA’s (Calls To Action) and offering items of value can help reveal their identify so you can begin a marketing dialogue with them.  Just as Andy’s learned.

KEY POINT: Find Out If Your Current Website Is Working As You Wish
A valuable service of HubSpot is a complementary review of your current website.  The service is called “Marketing Grader“.  It takes only a few moments. You enter your URL (and up to 2 of your competitors) and it will give you an most insightful report on where you’re doing good and where you might be able to be doing even better.