Mining Data Like It’s 1849

“Thar’s gold in them thar analytics!”

With all the information so readily available to us, I’m always surprised to learn that even some of my most tech-savvy colleagues aren’t diligently tracking their online marketing efforts. There are so many things your fans, followers and subscribers are telling you by their actions (and inaction) – and getting the message is as easy as just paying attention! For instance … (more…)

Will Your Marketing Budget Last the Year?

September always feels like a fresh start for me.

I suppose it’s related to memories of “Back to School,” with its pristine notebooks and newly sharpened pencils. It’s a “clean slate” sort of feeling, and it’s exciting to contemplate what can be written in the pages of that notebook in the upcoming months.

Speaking of sharpening our pencils, how’s your 2011 marketing budget holding up?

By this time in the year, it’s not unusual for businesses to be adjusting marketing budgets for the 4th quarter, in order to weed out what’s not working and make the most of what’s available to close out the year.

I know …. I used to find myself in the same position every year.

But since I’ve been utilizing social media, online, and email marketing to reach my past, present, and future clients, you know what I’ve found? (more…)

Do You Really Care So Little?

I got another one today.

Another friend and colleague sent out an email newsletter that was so badly broken I was embarrassed for them. Glaring mistake right up front in the “From” line. Broken links within. Pictures/graphics that didn’t upload properly (the dreaded little box with the red “X” in it). It was a nightmare. A simple pre-launch test would have avoided the whole mess and what I’m sure was a brutally embarrassing day for them.*

Later, while on a (different) colleague’s LinkedIn profile, I was shocked to find (more…)

How NOT to Greet Your Prospects & Clients for the Holidays

As an early adopter of email marketing who now helps others harness the power of online and social media marketing to move their businesses forward , I felt compelled to send a little note to a company I follow on social media when I received their 2010 holiday email greeting.

I’m keeping their name to myself, for reasons that will become obvious to you:

“All of us at [Company X] would like to wish you and your family a happy holiday. [So far, so good…] If its [sic] Chanukah or Kwanza [sic], Solstice, harvest or December twenty-fifth; Peace on earth to everyone and abundance to everyone you’re with. Happy Holidays”

Yes, there are also usage, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization errors in the body copy as well, further tarnishing what should have been a welcome holiday greeting – reason enough to call them out. But to name no fewer than four December holidays and then to allude to Christmas simply as “December twenty-fifth” – well, I’m amazed. No, make that appalled.

With the stroke of a pen – well, the tap of a keyboard – they’ve just potentially offended fully one-third of their audience. Of course, that’s only if their reach is worldwide. But for this particular company, it’s much worse. You see, their market is exclusively the United States, which means they have potentially alienated over 75 percent of their market!

I can guarantee that a certain percentage of those receiving their email will not want to hear anything more from them after this slight – that is, they will opt out of future emails. Some will actually complain to the company, but others will share their anger online – on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other online forums – and they’ll name names!

Depending on how diligent the company is about monitoring these channels and addressing potentially reputation-wrecking complaints across the media spectrum, they will either rebound from this and maybe even win over a few new fans or they will experience the very expensive sting of watching enough of their future marketing efforts fall on deaf ears that they will be left scratching their heads and wondering why.

Your Takeaway: Please, please take extra care with ALL of your business communications. If you do not have someone on staff who fully understands the critical importance of your interaction with your prospects, clients, customers, vendors, employees, and others – and knows how to use that knowledge consistently to build and maintain your brand – your investment in outsourcing those responsibilities will pay you back tenfold.

Social Media "Gurus" Need Not Apply

I’ve been involved in marketing for much of my career. And over the last several years, I’ve immersed myself in the world of email and online marketing, in particular, developing a level of expertise that my clients, friends, and colleagues have come to rely upon. I’m going to make a bold statement here.

I am appalled at what is passing for “Social Media Expert” in some quarters.

But maybe I’m wrong. What do YOU make of the self-described social media expert who doesn’t respond to comments on their Facebook Business Page and posts little more than “inspirational” quotes and links to their own website – but who conducts seminars and workshops that purport to tell YOU how to “do” social media?

Or the webmaster whose own company website violates every “best practice” known to mankind? (Slow-loading Flash, click-wasting “Intro” or landing pages that are an exercise in self-indulgent “artistic” expression but add nothing to YOUR website experience, music or voiceovers that assault the ear as soon as you connect, dead links sprinkled throughout the site, etc etc etc)

Back in the day, I remember getting annoyed with the ad agency whose own print ads failed to demonstrate creativity and a compelling message. I mean, why would I ever hire you if you can’t even create excitement about your own service/product/brand? But what I see online on a regular basis is taking incompetence to a whole new level.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot! The examples above are the kinds of things that positively turn off prospective clients, so remind me again: Why would I be interested in hiring you to market MY products and services online??

And, truthfully, for me it goes deeper than that: As someone who HAS put in the time and effort to hone the required skills and expertise, I resent the fact that this kind of sloppiness tends to taint those of us who work hard to remain current in our knowledge and achieve results for our clients.

Because there is no official “certification” or “degree” for “Social Media Specialist,” I suppose it’s a case of “Let the buyer beware.” But those who have made it their business (and often their passion) to learn everything they could before launching their businesses are fairly easily identifiable, if you know what to look for.

  • They have researched and stay up-to-date with the various social media platforms so they know which ones are likely to work best for your business (one size does NOT fit all).
  • They have particpated in beta testing or were “early adopters” of new sites and applications, so they can help YOU avoid the pitfalls and problems known to exist in each.
  • They will develop a personalized, targeted online marketing plan for each client, rather than just “jumping in” and “winging it.”
  • Their approach is one of online ENGAGEMENT, and not just “posting” to social media.
  • They have first-hand knowledge and experience developing effective online communications (yes, it differs from print!).

So, please don’t just dive in head first with a so-called social media maven, expert, guru, diva, or consultant, because the main thing to remember about the world wide web is that once it’s out there, it’s there potentially forever – whatever “IT” is. There is always the chance that copies of “deleted” pages and posts still exist somewhere in cyberspace as a cached page, on someone’s personal computer as a “screenshot,” or as an excerpt being circulated by someone who received or saw your material before it was deleted. Wade into these waters with someone who knows the tides so your reputation isn’t at risk of being washed out to sea.

Social (Media) Gaffes

It’s so funny to me how sometimes a real-life situation can provide insights into making your online marketing practices better. Here’s a great example . . .

I met a woman for the first time earlier this week. Seemed nice enough. We were going to have some ongoing contact through some work I’m doing, so I was looking forward to getting to know her.

Within the first 20 minutes of the first day we met, she did the following:

  • Asked me if I colored my hair, then proceeded to recommend a hair salon (not even sure why … she said she doesn’t go there!)
  • Recommended (unsolicited) her OB-GYN to me
  • Made a pointed remark about “the natural look” while casting a sidewise glance at my eye makeup (conversely, I did not find it necessary to ask her why she doesn’t wear makeup or to suggest to her that she should)

The next time we saw one another, she mentioned that she “had been thinking about my situation” (the fact that I had just moved here three months ago) and proceeded to say that she didn’t think I should buy any real estate just yet, suggesting that I won’t be able to take a “Maine winter.” She then proceeded to “school” me on some of the local gossip, of which I was already aware since I have subscribed to our small town’s local weekly since 1989. She seemed perturbed that she didn’t really have any information to impart that I didn’t already know. She continued trying to impress me with her knowledge for 20 interminable minutes.

Today [still thinking about “my situation” in her “off” hours, apparently], she suggested a market segment to which SHE thinks I should market my services – and all the reasons why she thinks so.

Seriously. You just can’t make this kind of stuff up!

She does not know my background, my experience, my skills, my education, my reputation, my abilities, or my aspirations. Did I mention we just met??

She seems to choose her topics based solely on the likelihood of getting a rise out of me. For the life of me, I don’t know why. I wonder if my refusal to take the bait will continue to push her to ever greater lengths to get me to react to her increasingly bizarre and inappropriate choices for conversation?

All of which got me to thinking …

How many of us are guilty of this same kind of approach in our social media marketing?

Are we asking for too much information too soon?

Are we offering unwanted information/advice because we don’t know our prospects sufficiently?

When we get no response to our efforts, do we ratchet it up even further, rather than backing off and taking the time to get to know our prospects better and then fine-tune our message?

I saw a terrific post the other day – I believe it was on Facebook. It said, “Social media is like dating. You don’t ask to get married on the first date.”

Love that.