Communications

How to Move Clients from Old Marketing to New: Synthesize!

Posted on August 8, 2011. Filed under: Business Strategy, Communications, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Small Business, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Synthesize old and new marketing.

Jose James Synthesizes the Old and The New Jazz

I read a recent study revealing that only a small percentage of small businesses are using social media and other online tools for their marketing. Of those who have used or are using online marketing, even a smaller fraction considers the new tools essential.

These statistics support what I’ve been recognizing anecdotally as I speak with small businesses about inbound marketing and new online marketing tools. There’s indeed a resistance to adopting these new methods, even though there’s plenty of evidence that online is where potential buyers are already looking for products and services these days.

I’ve been chalking up this phenomenon of reticence to a need for more education. And I still believe this is true. But a personal experience I had this past weekend triggered another thought: The way to encourage adoption of the new is to synthesize it with familiar experiences and expectations.

Here’s what happened. Jeff and I attended the annual jazz festival at Caramoor, a marvelous summer music venue outside New York City.

The first artist on the bill was a wonderful guitarist from Cuba, Juan Carlos Formell, with a group called Johnny’s Dream Club. All of the tunes were new to us and sung in Spanish. They also shared an enervating sameness of tone and tempo, so although the music was beautifully played, at the end of the set we were happy to move on.

The next set brought James Farm to the stage, a group of fine young players led by the saxophonist Joshua Redman, son of the legendary Dewey Redman and now becoming a legend in his own right. The program notes asked that we, “keep an open mind,” for an hour of original music composed by members of the band. That meant another hour of nothing familiar and in a musical style that had Jeff, a musician and drummer, complaining that he couldn’t even tap his toes or bop his head to it.

We were expecting more of the same in set three, to be performed by a vocalist Jose James, who apparently has been around for awhile, but who neither of us had heard before. The program notes cited his influences, which included Prince, hip-hop, electronica, spoken word jazz and avant garde poetry in addition to jazz standards.

I can’t wait to hear Jose James again and will go to some trouble to seek him out. First of all, he has a marvelous baritone voice, reminiscent of the late Johnny Hartman who recorded an iconic album with the great jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. In fact, Jose James is reviving that collaboration on a tour with former Coltrane pianist McCoy Tyner.

That said, the set was anything but a re-churn of the past. James synthesized all of his contemporary influences with historic expectations of a swinging jazz set to create one of the freshest hours of music I’ve heard in a long time. It was fun to hear street rhythms applied to standards.

His love of spoken word makes him an innovative scat singer qualified to grab the baton from none other than my all time favorite jazz singer, Mark Murphy, who is almost 80 now and whose artistry I’ve shared on this blog – beginning with the second post back in 2009 where you can hear him. The set included covers of well-known R&B tunes, which helped carry us along into less charted waters – an original or two with hip-hop riffs.

During the set, the familiar and the new brilliantly synthesized into something so appealing and energizing that we wanted to embrace it. As I approach existing clients and new prospects about the benefits of applying new marketing approaches to meet their business goals, you can bet that I’ll be referencing marketing basics that still provide a solid foundation for what’s now and what comes next.

How are you synthesizing past and present techniques to motivate wider acceptance of today’s marketing tools?

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )

Competition and Other Annoying Business Realities

Posted on August 4, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Business Strategy, Communications, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, News, Online Marketing, Small Business | Tags: , , , , |

Business Competition

We can be our own competitive edge!!

The Dow fell more than 500 points today. Bad news was exuding from every media outlet. I had an opportunity to get some perspective on it in my weekly networking group meeting from members who are highly sophisticated financial experts.

Then I came home, shared some conversation with my neighbor on her garden swing, pulled a bunch of weeds that have been bothering me while thinkingabout what my blog topic would be for today. Relaxing and getting still allowed me to realize what was concerning me – and probably you, too.

When markets go crazy and economies are shaky and there’s less business to go around, we can’t help but think about how we’ll compete for what business there is. This has been on my mind for some time and brought to the forefront by today’s events.

Bottom line, I’ve decided not to worry about who else is competing for a piece of the online/inbound marketing pie. Instead, I’m working on my own story. Thinking harder about what I bring to the table that will have value for my clients and that I can speak powerfully about to prospects. I’m thinking about my strengths – what I really do better than anyone I’ve encountered.

Then I’m evaluating my lighter abilities — what I fully understand but need partners to execute well.

And I’m working on my messaging so that I can communicate clearly and effectively. That includes listening and testing… talking to as many people as I can find who are willing to offer feedback as I hone my messages.

I’m asking myself:

  • Are my offerings aligned with the needs of my client/prospect?
  • Is my language completely understandable, or too jargon-y?
  • Am I creating enough curiosity that people will be willing to stick around and learn more?
  • Am I explaining my services so that the benefits and value come through loud and clear?
  • Am I being human enough to connect and credible enough to build trust?

I believe that refocusing my energies on being as meaningful as possible to my market is my competitive edge.

How are you dealing with the competitive and business realities of the current economic environment?

Image from tableatny under Creative Commons license.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

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?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

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.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

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.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )

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.

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

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.

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

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?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

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.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Online Marketing for Small Business: Helping a Diverse, Ill-Defined Group

Posted on July 13, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Communications, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Nonprofit, Not-for-profit, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Online Marketing for Small Business

Regardless of definition, small businesses need help putting it all together online.

Because I write for this blog for small businesses – a very ill-defined segment –I’ve decided to talk today about who you are from my perspective. You’re a group that ‘s quite misunderstood in terms of your diverse human characteristics – everywhere from government statistics to media coverage. Truth is, you’re not a monolithic group, but you do face similar marketing issues.

Although I keep up with the latest advances in web technology on your behalf, as I speak with you, I know that’s not necessarily what’s top of mind for you. Most of the companies I’m working with – or who are calling me in to help them get to the next level online — are very savvy. They have an earlier generation website, they have social media channels going, they’ve set up an ecommerce store, they’re doing email campaigns, have attended LinkedIn seminars. They know that online is where the world is and will continue to go. They’ve done the best they can.

But they need help figuring out how to make it all pay off for their businesses and how to organize online marketing into a manageable system. Time and limited resources are the enemy.

I can also tell you that small businesses defy easy categorization. We all see references to SMSB – Small to Mid-Sized Businesses. But the definitions of who they are and how small/large these companies are is all over the map. Attempts are made to define them by revenue, number of employees and other metrics. But in my experience, that’s not enough. So who are they?

Here are some of the varied characteristics of small businesses I’ve worked with:

  • Main Street mom-and-pop bricks-and-mortar stores marketing locally.
  • Start-ups with great ideas or products and bootstrap budgets.
  • Established businesses with a few employees that market nationally or even globally.
  • Growing regional companies building infrastructure.
  • Exciting businesses – and nonprofits, too — transitioning from the original entrepreneurial founders to management with next-stage experience.
  • Established bricks-and-mortars launching ecommerce divisions.
  • Start-ups with angel funding.
  • Divisions of larger companies with Round ‘A’ venture funding.
  • Entrepreneurships with varying levels of experience and previous success.
  • Billion dollar enterprises with three employees looking for the right kind of strategic marketing help.
  • Manufacturing and service companies with revenues up to 150 million dollars.
  • Established innovators ripe for acquisition with the right positioning and visibility.
  • Any and all of the above trying to gain recognition for any number of strategic and tactical reasons.

What you and the aforementioned small business types share is that you need scalable help making the web work for you. Regardless of revenues or budgets, you have limited time, staff and/or budget resources and need to get effective and efficient outside advice and/or implementation help.

The objective of this blog is to help you understand the current and emerging environment, for sure, but at a level that does not forsake the practical advice that will help you make the best use of what you have available.

Conversation is part of the equation, so please continue to send your comments, questions and ideas.

Image from deanmeyersnet under Creative Commons license.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

« Previous Entries Next Entries »
  • Enter your email address to follow my blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Thanks for your support!

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: