Archive for July, 2011

More on Networking: The Power of Connecting Others

Posted on July 28, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Networking, Small Business | Tags: , , , |

Connect Others

Be the Connector of Others in Your Network

What’s more powerful than re-tweeting someone’s tweet or answering 1000 questions on LinkedIn? What will build relationships faster than the speed of light?

Connecting people to each other.

If you listen carefully to what people in your online and offline networks are trying to achieve, you’ll think of people in your network who would be a good fit for them. Make the introductions proactively.

You’ll be surprised at the results, not the least of which will be deeper relationships with the people you connect.

I had a few examples of that today, which reminded me to share the thought with you.

How have you benefited from connecting people in your network with each other?

Image from Jeff Sandquist Under Creative Commons License.

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Learning and Teaching: Do Both for a Dynamic Career

Posted on July 27, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Communications, Education, Inbound Marketing, Online Marketing, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Learning and Teaching a Dynamic Lifelong Cycle

Both learning and teaching contribute to a dynamic career

I’ve been thinking about the learning and teaching cycle.

When I first started this blog, I was an inbound marketing neophyte, just starting to transition my communications practice from traditional PR to an array of online services. At the time I was acutely aware of being a student and sought teachers and mentors.

Ironically, I was moving from a place where I was highly competent and knowledgeable and where I was teacher and mentor to interns who sought me out and went on to make it in the business. Stepping into their shoes turned out to be an exciting and energizing experience.

Today, I’m still a student because there’s always something new to learn. And I love being engaged in learning. It’s stimulating. But almost three years into this transition, with a body of good work to point to in my new service areas, I’ve begun to feel credible as a teacher again – even moreso with my new knowledge and skills integrated into my earlier experience.

It’s a good thing, too, because businesses still need a great deal of education in order to begin taking advantage of the powerful marketing tools available to them. Teaching is so gratifying because it reveals to us just how much we’ve learned and can apply to helping our clients. It also clearly points the direction to our next student stint.

The cycle of knowing and needing to learn keeps us moving productively into the future. What are you learning and teaching?

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Tuesday Tweets

Posted on July 26, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Social Media, Twitter, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Tuesday Tweets

Why We Spend Time on Twitter

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets for July 26th — where we take a look at tweets from my Twitter feed for do’s, don’ts, best practices – and sometimes just for fun. Keep in mind that what we examine here is in no way personal. We’re all learning about building audiences online. In that spirit, if you disagree with my assessments, let me have it! I’m learning, too!

@jerichotech Michael R.H.Stewart  Quirky: The Solution to the Innovator’s Dilemma | Jericho Technology | http://ht.ly/5NTOK

The surprise here was on me. First, the title intrigued me because I’m fascinated by innovators – a true keyword for me — and how they come up with creative ideas. Then I thought the link would take me to Jericho Technology’s latest blog post.

But no! It took me to a terrific article in Entrepreneur about a start-up company (another interest of mine) called Quirky that’s crowd sourcing innovation and product development. It’s led by a quirky young entrepreneur who already has a great track record of success in his early twenties.

This is what I love about tapping into my Twitter stream occasionally during the day. I feed my interests with pertinent information.

@bhalligan Amazon’s revenue up 51% y-o-y in Q2 to $9.9billion. Awesome growth at that size. http://t.co/Is5csVW

@RajeshNRao Amazon Revenues Jump 51% Amid “Fastest Growth in a Decade”: Amazon‘s revenues jumped 51% in the second quarte… http://bit.ly/qh6JoL

OK. Here’s a case of two different tweets on the same topic that came in one tweet apart. They’re both about Amazon’s earnings report today. The first is from Boston, MA-based Brian Halligan, co-founder of HubSpot and co-author of the best selling book, Inbound Marketing – which has its own Amazon earnings story.

The second tweet is from @RajeshNRao of Magpur, MH (Maharushtra) India. He’s a senior marketing analyst at www.copperbridgemedia.com. Here are two people on two sides of the earth with a shared interest in online business, tweeting about news they acquired at the same time – and at a moment when probably one of them should have been sleeping

Brian’s link went to an article on Barron’s and Rajesh’s to Mashable’s version of the story. Talk about your news roundups!

@TechCrunch Video: Motorola Triumph Screens Flicker Black And White, Owners Seeing Red http://tcrn.ch/qQvVum

This tweet from TechCrunch resonates with the memory of great newspaper headline writing. The story – TC’s own review – is about problems with the new Motorola Triumph smart phone having flickering screen problems. And you can see it on video. Truthfully, my inner writer focused on the great headline and only now did I realize that there’s video showing the problem. Think I’ll go back and watch.

Obviously this week I’ve selected tweets that represent the best of Twitter. I must be in a good mind frame not to have gone looking for the worst examples. Oh, well. Next Tuesday will be here in a flash!

 

The recently adopted Tuesday Tweets graphic is from Freshalex Online under Creative Commons license.

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Inbound Marketing Education is in Middle School

Posted on July 25, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Content, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, SEO, Small Business, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

HubSpot Inbound Marketing System

HubSpot Developed an Efficient System for Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing has been around for several years now. It’s the subject of bestselling books by David Meerman Scott and HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. In fact, HubSpot has surpassed the 5000-customer mark for the Internet-based content management system they invented to put all of the pieces of inbound marketing together.

Yet, when I sit in a roomful of business owners and ask how many people know what inbound marketing is, frequently all hands stay down. Or a hand will shoot up and the eager contributor will say, “Social Media.”

It’s clear to me that we inbound marketers have a lot more work to do educating the marketplace about the approach. Yes, social media is a component of inbound marketing, but it’s only one.

There seems to be pretty widespread awareness of other inbound marketing components, too, like SEO, blogging and email marketing. Yet there’s little awareness of how all of these efforts can coalesce in an effective and measurable process. This post is one of a number I’ve written to help flesh out the process in a way that’s meaningful to business people.

At heart, inbound marketing is just marketing updated to reach our potential customers where they are – online – then to get their interest and win their trust so that when they buy, they buy from us. These days, it’s harder, if not impossible, to find our prospects by advertising in newspapers (why they’re shrinking), by telemarketing (think voicemail), on TV (thanks to TiVo and DVR) and other traditional channels. But future buyers are almost all online – at least enough of them to keep our businesses growing.

Business owners and managers I speak with will often say, “Well, we’re driving lots of traffic to our website, but we’re not sure what it’s getting us.” Then I ask, “What’s your bounce rate? And what are you doing to convert traffic to leads?”

They begin to understand inbound marketing when I explain how it serves as a lead generation and lead nurturing system. When they realize that inbound marketing can be planned and implemented with the objective of helping them reach revenue goals, it becomes a much more interesting idea to explore. It becomes a compelling idea when they recognize that analytics can be integrated and success measured.

There are a lot of steps to inbound marketing. It can seem daunting at first. It does take some re-thinking about how you do marketing. And it does take an investment of time, staff resources and budget. But, properly done, it works and pays big dividends.

I use HubSpot’s content management system for my own company’s inbound marketing. There are other ways to approach and handle inbound marketing using multiple sources. But for me, HubSpot offers the best system, education and support – especially for small to mid-sized companies I work with.

As the product matures, there’s now a developer’s marketplace growing up around HubSpot that’s yielding and will continue to produce plug-ins, variations and customization for the original software, similar to WordPress. They’ve also made some recent acquisitions that will beef up various aspects of the product – including middle-of-the-funnel and larger enterprise functionality.

At minimum, HubSpot walks the walk regarding sharing useful information. The company is a virtual content factory and you can immerse in free educational downloads, blogs and other information, free webinars and a free trial to get a good feel for how inbound marketing works.

In the interest of disclosure, I’m a HubSpot Value Added Reseller in addition to being a user. But I don’t mean this post to be a commercial. I became a VAR because HubSpot is the most intelligent and efficient inbound marketing system I’ve found. It can help my clients to grow their businesses and I can help clients to better utilize the system from the VAR position.

Have you learned enough about inbound marketing to begin implementing it in some form?

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Networking Online and Offline: Anatomy of a Great Day

Posted on July 21, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Networking, Online Marketing, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Networking Online and Offline

A Day Of Networking is Energizing

Today was a marathon networking day with both online and offline communities that are important to me – and to my business.

Early this morning I read blogs I subscribe to including Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, my ethnomusicologist Sociosound and my rock ‘n roll management guru Peter Cook who posted a brilliant satire on blues lyrics that started my day with a smile.

Then I went to my Twitter profile to connect with some new folks who followed me yesterday and made initial contact. Next, I sent a few invitations to people I want to connect with on LinkedIn – and accepted some invitations that came in overnite. And I received notices that people who I put into Google+ Circles yesterday on my first interaction with that new social network had put me into circles of theirs.

At noon, I arrived at the Riverside Yacht Club inGreenwich,Connfor the summer luncheon of Thursday III, a professional group of senior PR executives and consultants. The group is fascinating and stimulating. The members are authors and PR icons who guided communications for Fortune 100 companies, major agencies and presidential administrations. I fall only marginally into any of those categories and am honored to sit at lunch with these brilliant and creative people every other month. The stories and the knowledge sharing that happens in that group is the stuff that NY Times bestselling books are made of.

A delightful aspect of the luncheon was that I sat between Ed Bloch who was a PR executive for Perkin Elmer and Ian Kerr who led important PR agencies in Fairfield County and represented luxury global brands including Jaguar and Rolls Royce. Both Ed and Ian are beloved figures in the local and broader PR community. Both have wry senses of humor that make them really enjoyable lunch partners.

Ed Bloch subscribes to this blog and noticed my increased frequency of posting. He good-naturedly teased me that my posts were piling up but that he intended to read them. I gave him some suggestions of how he could work them into his day – including bathroom reading, I’m afraid to admit. I’m including him in this post partly so that I can tempt him to read what I said about him when I post it.

After a bit of catch-up in my office, I met with Connecticut Networking Group www.ctconnected.org. This is a spectacular high-level group of mostly young and accomplished business people – entrepreneurs in fact and at heart. We’re more an advisory board to one another’s businesses than a so-called leads group. Again I’m something of an outlier as I’m a bit senior to most of the members. We get to know one another so that we can refer each other with confidence. We share a consultative and relationship-building approach to business development.

Going from my seasoned PR colleagues to my young, energetic and exceptional networking group was a particularly rich experience; so much valuable input across generations.

After the CNG meeting, I went to a meet-up event on a big paddle wheeler on the Norwalk CT harbor – across from my house. This was a big open group where there were a few people from my established network and many whom I didn’t know. Unfortunately this event was not well organized – in particular, no name tags that would have facilitated and focused networking. I jumped ship right before the group took off for an unannounced harbor cruise – in favor of coming back to the office and posting to my blog and attending to other to-do’s.

 All in all, this was a very positive day of connection. We never know what may come of a day like this. But who cares. It re-charges the engines to engage with our communities, reconnects us with people who add to our lives and gives us the opportunity to widen out our circles. Time well spent in my book.

Please share your on- and offline networking experiences.

 

Image via cambodia4kidsorg under Creative Commons license.

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Twitter: Still Misunderstood

Posted on July 20, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Content, Small Business, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Twitter Misunderstood

Not!! Twitter's Power is Misunderstood.

At a moment when we’re trying to get our arms around Google+ and its Circles concept, I continue to have people asking me about how and why to use Twitter. I’m beyond a novice about Google+, having just gotten in today for the first time. And I have no idea yet whether it will swallow Twitter.

But I continue to love Twitter – a highly searchable micro-blogging platform for identifying and staying in touch with defined communities – Circles?

Some of you may have read one of my Tuesday Tweets features where I review individual tweets from my Twitter feed. I intend these posts to serve as a tutorial about Twitter and how to use it effectively as part of online/inbound marketing.

To figure out Twitter you first have to spend some time exploring via Twitter search to find people and organizations with whom you want to engage. Take an hour and keep plugging in search terms that have to do with your company, products, services and industry. Do this until you find yourself viewing a Twitter stream that you can benefit from – by sharing your expertise or gaining the expertise of others — and best of all, both.

Image via jmilles under Creative Commons license.

 

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Tuesday Tweets

Posted on July 19, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Inbound Marketing, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Tuesday Tweets

Perfect Tuesday Tweets Graphic! Thanks to Freshalex Online Under CC License

AppJudgment @AppJudgment This iPhone Survived a 13,500-Foot Fall http://gizmo.do/qddCFM

Couldn’t help but click to see what this link might hold. Pretty wild. I’ve seen iPhones that worked for awhile after the screen was smashed – but they had fallen out of a car – not from the sky. Put this story into the A-mazing category. Some of the comments will give you a real giggle!

CoachNotesBlog CoachNotesBlog by GrowMap I voted for @GrowMap in the #SMBinfluencer Awards – please vote! http://t.co/0qbVStD via @SmallBizTrends #smallbusiness #socialmedia

I don’t know about you, but for me the quantity of @names, links and hashtags gets in the way of meaning. I couldn’t make myself read this it looked so confusing and unapproachable. Once in awhile you have to pass on an audience or consider sending a couple of tweets in the interest of people understanding what you’re trying to communicate.

WSJBusiness @WSJBusiness WebMD Lowers Its Outlook http://on.wsj.com/qw2T8O

As someone who has done a lot of work marketing in the medical sector and in healthcare technology, I’ve followed WebMD closely. This nice clean tweet of potential alarm from the Wall Street Journal grabbed my attention. I followed the link to a précis of the article which implied the problem is attributed to loss of customers for WebMD’s private portals – rather than the well-known public site. In addition to picking up a good morsel of info – I gave Rupert and James Murdoch a chance to entice me to subscribe to get the full story. I declined after tuning in for a little while to their testimony before Parliament earlier today.

JulieTNL @Julie Lead Generation: A closer look at a B2B company’s cost-per-lead and prospect generation http://lnkd.in/s4yBQc

As an inbound marketer, I feast on lead generation case studies. This tweet definitely got my attention. I was pressed for time when I saw it and almost passed, but them took the time to look. @JulieTNL had plenty of characters left to say the link was to Marketing Sherpa – a respected source that lots of us IM consultants read. I had seen and saved this post. A bit more info would have saved me the time of clicking. In this case less might not have been more. I’m guilty of this, too and will pay more attention to letting the choir know when I’m singing songs to them that they may have already heard.

JasonPeck @JasonPeck In case you missed it: Lucky Charms, Count Chocula, Super Mario and social media/email motivations in the same post: http://ar.gy/UM0

I met @JasonPeck almost three years ago at the Inbound Marketing summit inBoston. I’ve been following his tweets ever since. He knows his Web marketing stuff and shares good info. I also enjoy seeing him get all excited when one of the sports teams he follows is in the playoffs – or the dumps. The tweet caught my attention for two reasons. The headline was compelling and Jason posted a gravatar I hadn’t seen before – sporting a cool western hat. I’ve had the same image up for a long time now. Maybe it’s time to freshen up my online persona.

 

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Put Your Company First This Week to Drive Client Success

Posted on July 18, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Online Marketing, SEO, Small Business, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Marketing is a small business priority

Make Marketing a Business Priority

Welcome to Monday. After a very lovely weekend break – my darling Jeff and I jumped on the Harley and did 150 miles each way on an overnite to the Berkshires – I’m back with my nose to the grindstone. First on my agenda is how do I move my business ahead this week? I consider this a fundamental focus for getting better results for my clients.

Following is my list – in priority order – for today. You’ll notice that before I implement one client project, I’m focused on my own marketing. If I don’t ensure that I can keep my company moving forward, I can help no one else. And then my company has no reason to exist. After Monday I spend more daily time on client projects, but I dedicate time each day to my own marketing — and so should you.

Monday morning:

  • Write a blog post for publicizing and publicizing later in the day. (This is the one for Monday)
  • Check my website and blog stats and see what’s resonating with my audiences. Based on that, establish marketing objectives for the near and longer term.
  • Read and comment on trade blogs and news to keep abreast of market developments.
  • Write/Edit my co-authored column for theFairfieldand Westchester County Business Journals.
  • Write collaborative letter for joint marketing affiliation.
  • Spend time on my Hubspot content management system to plan traffic and lead generation and lead-nurturing campaigns.
  • Touch base with affiliates and networking groups and set personal get-togethers for the week.
  • Work on responding to requests for proposals.

Afternoon:

  • Read and reply to imperative client emails.
  • Review projects and create client to-do list for the week.
  • Work on strategies to meet client objectives.
  • Research, write, review, edit, publish client content and perform SEO activities as required by online project timelines.
  • Email clients to obtain sign-offs on previously submitted concepts and content to move projects forward.
  • Make calls to clients to expedite project issues that are better served by phone that email.

Although the list seems longer for a.m. activities, there are far more moving parts in implementing successfully for clients.

The point of this post…Our clients are our primary focus, but if we don’t put our own businesses first for at least a morning a week – and for some concerted time each day, we’re abdicating our ability to remain successful contributors to the business world.

Image by Banalities under Creative Commons license.

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5 Steps to Finding Your Key Messages for Better Content Creation

Posted on July 15, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, SEO, Small Business, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Key Messages for Better Communication

Identify Key Messages for Better Communication

When you’re about to undertake a major communications project – a new website, for example – you have an opportunity to review your messaging. What are the most important points for an audience to know about you and your business, the things you will need to repeat continuously and consistently, regardless of the kind of content.

Many companies have never purposely developed key message lists. This exercise is more important than ever. Especially online. Messaging consistency and redundancy comes into play on websites, as you never know what page will be the entry point for a visitor. It’s not always your home page. It’s also important to include key messages in content you offer for download and that you post aound the Internet.

Here’s a 5-step process for identifying the key messages that will resonate and stick with your audiences.

1. Review your existing content and marketing materials. Sometimes we go on auto-pilot when writing or speaking about ourselves and our companies. Keep an open mind for stale messages that can use an update – or that you can lose altogether.

2. Interview your employees, customers, referral sources and others who know your company. Create a brief questionnaire (it may vary by auience) that asks for impressions about different aspects of your business. Anywhere from five to ten interviews should yield the raw material that will offer up key messages. The interviews will confirm some of your notions about what’s important about your business and refute others. Some of what you’ll learn will truly surprise you. You’ll likely get more candid answers if you hire an outside consultant to help you, rather than asking the questions personally.

3. Read the home page information of a few competitors, or non-competing companies similar to yours and take notes. See how they’re talking about their businesses, products and services. This will not only give you some ideas of what to say and not to say, but will also help you position your messaging to reflect your company’s market differentiation. 

4. Review the interviews and your competitor notes. In the interviews you will almost certainly see repeating comments and ideas. Some of these will be key points that you’ve made historically, some will be fresh ideas.

5. Let your review of the process sink in for a day or two. Then sit down at the computer and make a list of your key messages. They should not be in any order of hierarchy. Put them down as they come to you. You’ll never use all of them in one place, but will pick and choose from the list as appropriate. You’ll also vary the language from one place to another, as long as the key idea is in there someplace. Tweak the list. See if anything is glaringly missing. Ask a few of the interviewees to review the key message list to be sure they reflect your company authentically.

Once you have your key message list, you’ll be amazed at how easily you write your content. The copy will flow. You’ll find yourself working in the right key messages in the right places. Your key message list will also provide a good starting point for key word and search term research.

By the way, you don’t need a new website as a reason to review your messaging. Do it at any time. It will definitely help your ongoing content creation.

How do you identify your key messages?

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Online Lessons from My Offline Networking Group

Posted on July 14, 2011. Filed under: Blogs, Business Management, Communications, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

I belong to a networking group that I experience as exceptional. We’re all in service businesses. Some of us are business owners. Some of us work for companies. But we’re all entrepreneurial at heart.

Business Networking

Not! Networking Takes Time!!

We’re all competent at our businesses. We share high ethical standards and values. We found each other in the wider world through introductions, networking events introductions from other trusted connections. We identified each other as people that we want to ‘follow’ – to borrow the online concept.

Our group is not about trading leads. It’s a longer term play. It’s about getting to know one another. It’s about building confidence and trust. It’s about learning enough about each other that we can recognize good opportunities for other group members when confronted with them.

We span demographics of age and gender. We maintain decorum but are comfortable enough with one another that we can let down our guard and be human. We exist to help one another, understanding that the sharing will help our individual businesses.

When I build online communities for myself and for my clients, I think about the principles behind my offline network and try to approach online community building with the same sense of shared interest and generosity.

You can learn more about our group model at www.ctconnected.org. Feel free to borrow. It works.

Do you have an offline networking group? Tell us about it and how it helps you to build your business.

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