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The Secret of Good Writing

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Quill Pen

In these times of blogging and content marketing we can all be looking to beef up our writing skills. In the past I’ve mentioned that I subscribe to a free vocabulary builder newsletter, A Word A Day (AWAD). I recommend that you all go get a subscription at www.wordsmith.org.

One of my favorite features of AWAD is A Thought for Today, a daily quote on communications, life, human nature and other important topics. Today’s quote really grabbed me:

“The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or a new thing in an old way.” -Richard Harding Davis, journalist and author (1864-1916)

Finding an interesting way to discuss a topic that’s been fairly well hashed out will certainly make your writing – and you — stand out.

On the other hand when you’re trying to discuss a new idea, it helps people to understand it if you couch it in terms of an idea that’s already in their knowledge base.

We in Inbound Marketing have that challenge – as you can tell from the recent contest here to succinctly define IM. Lately I’ve found myself describing it as the opposite of traditional Outbound Marketing – print and broadcast ads, direct mail, telemarketing that get blocked by modern technology like TiVo/DVR, voicemail, Do Not Call lists, etc.

Or I’ll say that Inbound Marketing is an online ‘pull’ strategy as opposed to an offline ‘push strategy’.

How are you saying old and new things in your writing?

The image is from the flickr stream of sure2talk under creative commons license.

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A Relationship Between Labor Day and Education

Posted on September 5, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Business Strategy, Education, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

 

 
Labor and Education

President David Dubinsky discusses workers' education at an ILGWU luncheon for students and teachers at the Center Hotel, April 10, 1937.

Two thinkers who I respect blogged about some aspect of education in the past couple of days. Seth Godin offered a rather chilling history of how our modern education system is tied to the workforce and capitalism. It’s a must read: http://bit.ly/rmdTYh

A new friend and fellow Philadelphia native – marketing consultant Jim Matorin – @cannes53 – wrote about the new classroom. http://bit.ly/obPWbN

I commented on Jim’s blog that what education needs to focus on is what students need to learn in order to score one of the rare jobs available these days that will contribute to the future of work.

To synthesize the two posts – and I encourage you to read both of them – in order to positively influence the future of a global economy, education must foster tech-aware and savvy practitioners who feel empowered to trust their own knowledge and intellects.

I don’t think that’s where education is at the moment. And I believe that’s where it must go.

Image from Kheel Center, Cornell University under Creative Commons license.

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Tuesday Tweets for August 30, 2011

Posted on August 30, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Business Strategy, Communications, Content, Marketing, Small Business, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Twitter Tweet Reviews

Reviews of Tweets from My Twitter Timeline

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets for August 30, 2011 — 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!

This week we’re adding an extra special treat – a musical accompaniment to your read. Be sure to hit the play button if you’d like to smile.

The most frequent comment I hear when I broach the topic of adding Twitter to the social media mix is, “We have an account, but have no idea what to do with it.” So I decided that it might be useful to use this week’s Tuesday Tweets to show how a number of businesses and organizations are using Twitter to move toward their objectives.

@NewsTimes It should read $15,000. Good catch! #correction RT @JackBouffard @NewsTimes $1,500 or $15,000?

Here’s a daily newspaper using Twitter to interact with a reader to flag and quickly correct an error in its reporting. This is the kind of nimble use of social media that might help traditional media evolve and survive.

@TheArtsCenterNY  Red Cross is here until 5:30PM accepting blood donations! By taking a short time to donate blood, you can save lives.

This arts center is using Twitter for real time promotion of a Red Cross blood drive – a nonprofit boosting another nonprofit’s mission, helping its community and boosting its own engagement and value at the same time

@dancommator Social Media Check-In Promos Reward Frequent Branch Visits http://t.co/EJ… via @FinancialBrand #financialservices #banking #sociallmedia

Can you believe that a few banks are reversing the trend of pushing customers from bank branches to online banking, and are using social media check-ins to encourage branch visits – and human contact! This retweet could be a harbinger of a new era of bank service. One can hope!

@ScottMonty RT @ThePeoplesFleet : Help @abetterla win $5K by simply watching a video! Check it out here: http://t.co/Ic… #tpfla

Another smart nonprofit is using Twitter to boost its chances to win a $5000 grant from Ford by asking folks on Twitter to vote for them. Using the hashtag gets them beyond their own followers.

@AMAnet New programs added to the AMA’s upcoming events calendar — Webcasts are FREE! —http://t.co/6t…

The American Management Association is using Twitter to get the word out about a new free Webinar series, a great way to develop its membership.

@1day1brand  Are you ready for a bold new brand? Complete our assessment below, and we’ll email you the results right away – http://ow.ly/6…

@1Day1Brand used this Tweet to recruit participants to take a survey that was designed to subtly (sort of) educate about its brand building seminars and generate leads. A bit obvious, but not bad.

@MichelleDamico Change supply parents into demand parents. I tell principals: parents yelling at u are engaging. #CPS #Brizzard #chicagoPublicSchools

Thanks to live tweeting, an address by the Chicago Public Schools Superintendent gets wider attention. You can get similar visibility and leverage for your organization’s spokesperson and amplify public speaking engagements.

@HourWestport Connecticut Humane Society is having an emergency Cat Adoption Event. Locally try theWestport location:455 Post Road East, 203-227-4137

Another local newspaper is using its Twitter bully pulpit to get out community news that it probably doesn’t have room for in the print edition.

@SierraSez  It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a bus? More details coming soon…you won’t want to miss out on this.

An enterprising tweet creates anticipation for one that’s yet to come. I’ll put up a Twitter search for @SierraSez so that I’m sure not to miss whatever it is. Curiosity is a powerful motivator! ;-}

@MagicSauceMedia Looking 4 SRProduct & Co Evangelist 4start-up in search,aggregation,content & semantic search space. Loc: San Fran or NYC.Email me w/leads

And we’ll end with a highly practical – and hopeful – tweet. Here’s a company using its Twitter updates to seek and hire a new employee.

It would be great if you’d share the creative ways your business or organization is using Twitter.

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

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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?

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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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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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