The Importance of Being Heard

How do you get your message out? More importantly, how do you get your message out so that it is heard above the cacophony of others struggling to get their message out?

That is the trial of the age in which we live. People are constantly exposed to messaging whether it be via TV, radio, online music, Internet browsing, Facebooking, email campaigns, ads in your favorite apps, or a combination thereof (for example, we just signed up for HuluPlus and one of my kids first questions as we were enjoying reruns of a favorite program was, “How come there are commercials? Aren’t we paying for this?”). Now there is group texting as a targeted way to get your message out – this supposedly requires the end user to opt in but we’ll see how long that lasts.

So what is the best answer? There is no single BEST WAY. But it is very important for you to understand who you are trying to reach and what that particular audience is most likely to respond to. In other words, you should not try the shotgun approach. I recommend, instead the artillery approach: carefully determine where your message needs to go, and then fire away, but don’t stop there. Find out if you were on target and if not, then readjust your settings and fire again.

How does that work?

Well in actual artillery you usually have a forward observer who scouts out the location and communicates the coordinates back. This forward observer is crucial. Without one, the artillery has no idea where to fire. In your campaign, you need to do some forward observing. Where is your target? Where will they be when you begin your campaign? How are they “outfitted”? Do they use smart phones? Do they text a lot? How do they receive news and information? Via the Internet? TV? Radio? How do they interact with various media? All of this information should be gathered as part of your forward observing.

In real artillery the forward observer communicates with the fire direction center which actually computes the distance from the target, the precise direction to the target and handles all the other data calculations. For you this means you need to evaluate the data you discover or receive about how your target actually behaves so you can determine which forms of communication are most effective for your target.

The command post is where the power lies – it is the command post that controls the firing of the guns. For you this means now you get to make the decisions: What venues will be used (provided the input from the fire direction center); when the campaign will start; whether it will be shooting only once or “walking the fire” onto the target with multiple shots.

But the story too often ends there. What you need, just like real artillery, is to go back to the forward observer and make sure you hit the target! For your business, that means you need to measure the results of your campaign. Did you hit your target sales? Did you get the right number of leads? Did the phone ring enough times? Whatever you determine, at the outset you want to measure, you have to actually measure. If need be, now is the time to readjust your sites and fire again. If you scored a direct hit, you can determine whether it makes sense to go after the same target again or whether to shift your sights to another, similar target.

While the goal of an actually artillery campaign is to rain down death and destruction, the goal of a business communication campaign is to grow your business. So in your case, collateral effects aren’t damaging. If you focused on one specific area of communication and got lots of collateral effects such as people close to the target area calling, buying  or otherwise doing business, this is even more data you can take into account with your next artillery campaign.

(Details on artillery taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_artillery)

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Convergence

One of the cool things that I see happening again and again is the convergence that happens in Social Media. Personal and Professional lives converge and people make connections that never would have happened otherwise.

This has always happened in Face to Face networks but the obvious limiting factors in such instances are geography and room size. We’re limited to the number of people that are or can fit in the room and to the people who are in the area.

But online those two limiting factors disappear. This first hit me a couple of years ago when my friend Max, who organizes cool tours to exotic places told me how he posted something on his personal facebook page about a trip to Africa. His post wasn’t marketing in nature, it was along the lines of “Looking forward to the upcoming trip to Kenya”. The convergence happened when he booked a couple of spots on the tour by folks who saw his post.

I was conveniently reminded of how this convergence works when I posted, last week, on our corporate Facebook page, about how thrilled we were to be working with two new customers, a Lutheran Church and a Lutheran School. An old friend from Iowa saw that posting and invited me to a Lutheran conference in Florida in January. Seems like a no-brainer. Spend my time and energy networking in cold Colorado in January or spend it in sunny Florida. Hmmm. What should I do?

In the first instance Max’s personal sphere attracted new customers into his professional sphere. In the latter, my professional sphere overlapped into my personal sphere, creating an opportunity that wouldn’t have otherwise been there.

What does this mean? (a very well-known question in the Lutheran Church) It means what I have been telling people for years – don’t forget the SOCIAL part of Social Media Marketing – people want to know you personally, even if they’re doing business with you but also don’t forget the MARKETING part of Social Media Marketing. Often people don’t do business with you because you haven’t asked them to.

So I guess I’ll close this with our pitch – Partner – Engage – Convert. Lots of firms partner with their customers to engage web site visitors. And then stop. We help folks figure out how to convert their visitors into clients. Need help with this? Call Brian at 303 268-2245 to find out what else you can be doing.

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Are You Throwing Money Away?

I often hear comments like “We tried Facebook and it didn’t work” or “I spent $4000 on Google AdWords and didn’t get anything”.  The first question I ask is “What were your goals?” and follow up with “How were you measuring results?” The answer, all too frequently, is a blank stare.

Throwing money at problems is a solution best reserved for government. Well, I’d prefer they not use it either but that is a different discussion. If you are planning to do any kind of online marketing you need to have a plan. Otherwise you can just drive down the highway, open your wallet, and throw the money out the window. You have just as good a chance of someone picking it up and tracking you down as you do getting any kind of results that will help you grow your business.

Here are the important elements to putting together an online marketing plan:

Understand Elements: What are the parts of your online marketing. Often the most important one is the one most overlooked – the website. Often the website is the centerpiece of the marketing because it is the piece you have the most control over. Other elements include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Paid Search (usually Google AdWords)
  • Paid Advertising (on other web sites)
  • Email campaign(s)
  • Foursquare
  • Landing Pages (usually a part of your website)

Understand Offline Elements:  Usually an effective Internet Marketing campaign is folded into a larger marketing campaign. This might include a direct mail campaign, distributing flyers, newspaper advertising, ads on bus benches, billboards, or a variety of other venues. The important part of bringing these together is understanding how they work. For example QR codes can be an effective way to move people from print to digital. It is also important to maintain consistency in brand and message across media.

Start with the End in Mind: You have to have a clue – that is, it helps to know where you want to go so that you can use your resources wisely. So determine what success will look like:

  1. Will it be an additional $x in revenue each month?
  2. Will it be x number of new customers?
  3. Will it be x number of new leads?
  4. Will it be x number of downloads of a video or file?
  5. Will it be x number of new appointments?

You can add to this list as needed. The important thing is that the end is geared toward helping you grow. Once you know where you are going, you can begin to plan how to get there.

Determine Parts to Include: Now you are ready to figure out what all needs to be included. If the goal is to generate leads for your business, you might determine that paid advertising or paid search aren’t the right venue. But running a contest of some kind on Facebook and Tweeting about it on Twitter might be just right. One of the strengths of Internet Marketing is that you can change your mind pretty quickly. If the paid search yields zero results, you aren’t stuck with it – you can stop within minutes. Or start it nearly as quick.

Determine Integration and Flow: It is still important to keep the big picture in mind. If you’re doing a print campaign as well and using a QR code to get people to your Facebook page, test the code with several different devices to make sure it works. Boy it gets embarrassing (and expensive) to direct people to the wrong (or a non-existent) page. Another thing to consider is steps in the process. While the ultimate goal may be getting them to fill out a form on your site, getting them to first “Like” you on Facebook makes it much easier for you to reach out to them in the future.

Determine Measurement Points: We strongly recommend the adage “What gets measured is what gets done” So determine what all you will measure. A good example of this can be seen in the travel industry.  While a very large percentage of folks research travel online, a much smaller percentage actually book online. So bookings would be one thing to measure but “intent to travel” is also something to try to measure. This can be measured by how many people actually viewed a deal on your web site or Facebook page. Or by how many people checked pricing. Or by how many people liked your page.

A key here is to have several measurement points. If you’re just looking at online bookings for example, you might consider the campaign a failure even though overall bookings are up – an indication that people are researching online and then calling. Without several measurement points, you might miss what is actually happening. Of course you can always build in better tracking by adding text like “mention deal 23 when calling” to your online ads.

Determine Evaluation: Once you’ve got the parts above figured out you can determine how you’ll evaluate success. The most obvious measure will be the one that impacts your bottom line. But you also want to be flexible and look at your results. If your goal was x number of downloads of that whitepaper you worked so hard and you fall short, you could say, “I give up” or you could look and see that you actually got more Facebook “likes” than you anticipated and that once you were liked, it was 25% more likely that someone would do business with you.

So the thrust of this part is to keep an open mind and look at all of your metrics to better understand what is working and what is not. For the parts that are working, see if you can tweak them to make them more effective. For those that aren’t working, determine whether tweaking or tossing is the best course of action. Then start your next campaign, incorporating everything you’ve learned from the one just completed.

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Social Media Engagement Strategies

I often encourage and cajole people to post to social media whether it be blogging, Facebook, Twitter or some other medium. It’s just like when I was a kid back in Nebraska – we had to shower once a year whether we needed it or not. You need to post to your social media regularly – far more than once a year. Yet I often see blogs or Facebook pages that have been orphaned and left to whither. Usually when I see that I can tell someone didn’t have a strategy.

We recommend blogging on a weekly basis or more frequently. For a corporate Facebook account, your blog should feed into it so you have at least one weekly update. Beyond that, it really depends on your strategy and plans for engagement.

So what are some possible engagement strategies?

  1. Post bleeding edge information – this obviously requires you to be on the bleeding edge of your industry.
  2. Share important information about developments in your business that your friends / followers / customers would be interested in. We do this when we finish a big project, for example.
  3. Post video showing you or your people engaged in your industry. You can even try video blog posts although you need to remember that video isn’t as easily indexed by search engines.
  4. You can ask questions or take surveys but you want to make sure that you’ll actually have engagement as you do this. There is nothing more lonely that asking a question only to discover you’re the only one in the room.
  5. Post success stories and other anecdotes about your business that illustrate the excellence of your goods or services.

There are a lot more than these five strategies for success with social media engagement. But starting with these you can get the ball rolling.

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Blogging and Consistency

You’ve heard the old adage that the road to heck is paved with good intentions. That appears to be especially true when it comes to blogging. During the design and development phase of sites we have customers who are all excited about the opportunity to blog.

Then reality (and life) sets in. And that blogging thing gets pushed to the bottom of the heap. After all, I’ll get to it when I have time. But then you never quite get the time. And the blog grows stale before you’ve even really started it.

Sound familiar?

Here are a few quick thoughts about blogging and consistency.

  1. The bare minimum you should blog – can’t stress enough that this is the bare minimum – is twice a month. Less than that and it isn’t really blogging.
  2. We recommend at least once a week. One of our customers blogs several times a week and their traffic has gone up around 400% in the last year.
  3. Blogs don’t have to be long – they aren’t college research papers. A good blog post can be two to three paragraphs.
  4. Write about what you do – that way you provide good original content AND you use lots of keywords for your industry.
  5. Write about the questions you get asked regularly. If the people you are in front of are asking, you can bet people are also looking for them online.
  6. If you get stuck on what to write, set aside 10 minutes and perhaps bring in one or more people to help you brainstorm a list of topics. Then you’ll be ready for writer’s block.
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Seminar: Core Components of Social Media Marketing

  • Thinking about starting a social media marketing campaign
    for your company?
  • Wondering why your social media marketing isn’t getting
    results?
  • Wondering IF your social medial marketing is working?

If you answered “YES” to one or more of the questions above, plan to attend the next EduCyber seminar. Attendees will learn what the core components of a social media marketing
campaign are, how they interact, and how you can measure success.

Unravel whether being “retweeted” on Twitter, “Liked” on FaceBook or “Connected” on LinkedIn is really beneficial for your company and if so, why and how.

Learn how to build a firm foundation upon which to launch your success.

Who should attend this seminar?
CEO’s, COO’s, Marketing Directors and IT Directors. Those who make decisions regarding the company’s web presence.

When: Wednesday, May 18
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 am
Location: 4251 Kipling St.
(2nd Floor Conference Room)
Cost: $24.99 (includes a light breakfast)

Pay online to reserve your spot >>

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Online Cliques

Online Cliques

Sometimes you have to forget what you learned (or were told) in high school. Back then cliques may not have been good for you – contributing to peer pressure and leaving some of the “un-cliqued” feeling left out.

But in the online world, getting into a clique can propel you forward. There are several different ways to create or insert yourself into a clique.

There are three roles that people fill in online cliques. Each of them can help you:

  1. Leader. If you are the leader of your online clique, you get to be the expert. A good way to be an online clique leader is to create a Twitter following where others can’t wait to hear what you’ll say next. This could be appropriate for a restaurant (especially a mobile one), a thought leader (innovator in your field), or a producer of original content.
  2. Connector. If you are an online clique connector, you help others find the right online clique for their needs. This means that you’re out there in the online world and know what is the right spot to suggest for someone. This might be in Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups or even connecting people to each other on LinkedIn.
  3. Participant. If you are an online clique participant, you get to meet, interact with, and “rub shoulders” with others. To be a successful participant, you have to pay attention. Identify who you should be following on Twitter and then do more than just follow – interact with them and retweet them. On Facebook, choose the groups or pages you join carefully, pay attention to the conversation(s) and contribute as appropriate. The same applies for LinkedIn as well.

In high school you usually only had one clique – perhaps two – that you could be a member of. In the online realm, you can participate in several. In fact, you are only limited by the amount of time you have to put into it.

Having said that, I don’t recommend joining every group. You’ll spread yourself too thin. Remember the power of focus. Concentrate on a select few groups or perhaps just one and get engaged. How should you choose the group? Consider industry group(s) or geographic-based groups that are in your niche.

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Building a Successful Internet Marketing Campaign

Last week I gave a seminar on how to build an Internet marketing campaign. I received feedback from one company that was represented that the content was “light” – not enough meat. Later on I visited that company to help them with their Internet marketing campaign.

Here is what I learned:

  • The seminar covered a lot of high level things like setting goals, creating a strategy to attain the goal, deciding on tactics to implement the strategy, implementation and measurement.
  • People like activity which for the content of the seminar translates to implementation.
  • Skipping goals, strategies and tactics may seem like a good idea because then you are “busy” doing stuff.
  • “Doing stuff” without having a goal, strategy or tactics usually leads to nothing being measured which then means no value being generated or no understanding of the value being generated.
  • The high level stuff might not be very “sexy” in the realm of Internet marketing but it is absolutely indispensable.
  • Helping people be ready to think about the high level marketing plan is not a good task to tackle in a 90 minute seminar.

Here’s what I hope I can help you understand from our experience:

1.       Don’t skip the important stuff.

2.       Spend time to determine where you are going and what you intend to accomplish BEFORE you start.

3.       Determine how you will measure success.

4.       Pay close attention to your metrics.

5.       And, because it’s so important, let me restate it: Develop a plan. Create a Strategy. Devise Tactics. THEN you’ll be ready to implement.

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5 Things to Measure in Social Media Marketing

Most businesses engaging in Social Media Marketing measure things like “Likes” or “Followers”. That’s not bad but Internet Marketing is more than a popularity contest. For a small business

  1. Number of Interactions on Facebook – shows they’re engaged.
    Developing a successful Facebook page where your fans or “likers” not only like a particular item but make comments. Developing a following that interacts with you on social media emboldens them to interact with you as customer.
  2. Number of click-thru’s – from Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn back to your site.
    This is easy to track. It’s also, if something you’re measuring, easier to create ways for people to do so.
  3. Increase in number of people who attend an event or call you after/during a campaign.
    Depending on your business and the appropriate call to action, you might “see” the results as click thru’s but if you hold an event that was properly publicized on social media and see an increase in attendance or participation, you can begin to make the connection.
  4. Number of hits on a landing page on your site from a campaign.
    While similar to number of click-thru’s, creating a special landing page is one way to very clearly check how much traffic you get from your campaign. It is also smart because you can have a page specifically created for that campaign, making it highly targeted.
  5. Increase in customers as a direct result of a campaign
    Ultimately, your social media marketing needs to get you more customers. For each business the method of acquisition is different but you need to measure this or you might as well not even do social media in the first place.

It isn’t a popularity contest, it’s business. It’s important to measure things that impact your bottom line. Need more help figuring out what to measure? Check out our March 15 seminar, How to Build an Internet Marketing Plan.

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Lessons from Conan O’Brien

I’ve never been a fan of Conan O’Brien’s style of humor. But I am now a fan of Conan. CNN Money did a story on how Conan O’Brien turned a “failure” into a new lease on life. I highly recommend this article to anyone interested in how to use social media and in understanding how YOU or YOUR COMPANY is a brand to be nurtured and marketed in new ways.

I learned or re-learned four lessons from reading this article that pertain very specifically to social media marketing:

  1. The old media mindset doesn’t work with digital media – a given time slot (11:35 PM) is old media. Realizing that fans will interact with you whether they watch (and tweet) on TV or watch clips on Facebook or from Twitter is the digital media mindset.
  2. For the kind of content Conan provides, real life fans are eager to become Twitter followers or Facebook fans (or likers).
  3. A strong brand can sell on social media very well – Conan’s 30 city tour sold out. Their method of advertising? Sending out Tweets. Cost = $0.
  4. Failure is an option. Sometimes it is the best option. By “failing” on the Tonight Show, he was in a situation where he and his team could think differently. So they did. And now instead of the old media bosses being in charge, like at NBC, Conan and Team Coco are in charge and blazing the trail that other artists will be sure to try to follow.

I would encourage you to think about what has driven your dream or ideal forward. Does it still make sense in the year 2011? What could you try differently? Want some help thinking this through? Give me (Brian) a call at 303 268-2245 x. 4 and we’ll help you learn what you could do differently.

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