3 Reasons Why Social Media MUST Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Social media is all the rage these days, yet many business owners struggle to understand why they should bother to jump on the bandwagon.  They are mystified about how to monetize their social media efforts.

Here are 3 reasons you can’t afford to miss this online ‘boat’ plus 3 simple things you can do to capitalize on this ‘Brave New World’.

1.  Print media is dying and with it, print ads.
Even when it worked, advertising was primarily useful only for building brand awareness. Unless someone sees your ad at the moment they’re thinking of buying something or you have a killer sale going on, it’s likely that it won’t generate a sale for you.

2.  Email marketing is dying – fast!

People are inundated with email these days.  Many people receive over 100 per day, so the chances that yours will get read are really slim. If you don’t know the right techniques, your messages may never be seen.

3.  Networking only works if you follow up quickly and most people don’t.
Actual face time is critical for building relationships and credibility.  Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to do that properly. So they smile, chit chat, shake a lot of hands, exchange a bunch of cards and that’s where the story ends.

So what’s a business owner to do?
1. Shift your print advertising budget to online media.
Facebook ads are effective, inexpensive and highly targetable toward your ideal prospect profile.

2. Connect online where your ‘peeps’ are hanging out.  Add value, build relationships.  Share enough about yourself that people can get to know (and like) you.   Make sure you have an account and profile on LinkeIn, Facebook and Twitter.  Start a blog and make short, relevant comments on it regularly.

3. Attend networking events with a plan for the kind of people (industries, professions, etc.) that you want to meet.  Ask other attendees if they will introduce you to them. Make a commitment to follow up with a few key people you meet at networking events, not to sell them right away, but to get to know them better to see if there really is a match for what you each do.

It’s simple to get started in social media. Make sure you have a strategy of who you’re trying to connect with and how you want to be known in those communities.  You’re building a new reputation in a new world. Do it thoughtfully.  Once you’re ‘in’, continually refine your efforts.  Draw people into your lair by giving then once trust is built, make them offers they can’t refuse.

3 Questions You MUST Ask to Keep Your Job or Clients and Make More Money

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of responding to all of the urgent requests you get.  If that’s all you do, you could be putting your livelihood at risk.

Early in my career, I worked at the worldwide headquarters for Kraft Foods as the Corporate Recruiter.  The VP of HR gave everyone in the department a token for our desks to remind us how to stay focused.

It displayed 3 simple questions…

1. What’s my job?
You must be clear about what’s expected of you.  How are you supposed to spend your time and energy?  What are you supposed to do?

People (bosses, employees, clients and vendors) make assumptions about what’s supposed to be done.  They often assume that the other person has the same understanding that they do.  This is not always the case.  It’s critical that you confirm your understanding of your job with your boss or clients.

Be clear. Write down your understanding. Have the review your document and then discuss it.

2. What counts?
Once you have the clarity, the next step is setting priorities. I remember hearing a story about a new senior manager at Apple asking her Director boss if her job was to get things done or make people happy.  She knew technically what she was supposed to do – oversee the implementation of all software development projects.  She just needed clarity about HOW to go about making that happen.

If trade-offs have to happen, make sure you’re clear about what criteria will be used to make those trade-offs.

3. How am I doing?
This is a great question to ask yourself AND the people you’re delivering your service to.  You know if your slacking or not.

You may not know though how well your boss or client think you’re doing.

Better to check in periodically than risk being blinded-sided by the sudden disclosure you’re not measuring up.  People are sometimes reluctant to offer negative feedback. So they may just put up with being unhappy until they can’t stand it anymore.  Then they fire you when you don’t measure up to their (uncommunicated) standards.

Don’t be caught by surprise.  Assess your performance constantly and get feedback from people important to your success to make sure you stay on track.

Pay the Piper and Fill Your Pipeline

Last week, as I was on my morning walk, I encountered a runner (I hate running and deeply admire those who do it regularly.)

We exchanged nods.  I asked “How are you today?”.  He responded, “I’ll be better when I’m done running!”

How the truth of that rang out!  As I said, I hate running.  And it sounds like he doesn’t really enjoy the act of running but rather the benefits of running once he’s done. (I haven’t gotten past that first hurdle.)

I speak at a number of professional networking and association meetings about sales and marketing strategies and tactics.  In my conversations with these professionals, I have come to realize that many business owners and sales people hate the act of the marketing and sales aspects of growing their business. But then they expect (or hope for) the benefits of the sales and marketing activities that they aren’t actually doing.

So what do I mean by ‘paying the piper’?

Now is the time to be laying the foundation for the economic recovery that will occur, hopefully sooner than later.  This is the time to create visibility, build credibility with your target markets, position yourself as an expert and deepen the connection between your company and your prospects and clients.

Marketing, like running, may not be a lot of fun (hence the sense of ‘paying’).  Many people tell me they hate picking up the phone and calling people about their products and services about as much as I hate running.  But direct outreach is one of the most effective ways to connect, build relationships and ultimately make sales.

Here are some specific things you can do that won’t cost a lot of money but will create a solid foundation for the future and might even create sales in the short term. They may require you to stretch a bit, but who doesn’t benefit from learning and growing?

1. Write articles – Writing articles about your area of expertise is a great and often free way to get visibility while generating credibility for yourself.  Association newsletters and online article directories are always looking for content for their publications.

2.  Give referrals – When you send business to a colleague, it creates a ‘credit’ in your mental relationship account that your colleague (if they’re a good human being), will feel compelled to balance out with a referral back to you.

3.  Start a networking group – Many business professionals are looking for new low-cost ways to market their businesses just like you are.  When you start your own networking group, you have the advantage of inviting people you really want to network with. You become known as a great person to know because you will appear really well connected.

4.  Update your product and service offerings – Make sure that what you’re offering is relevant to the challenges people and businesses are facing these days.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just tweak your current offers to address the problems people are dealing with today that weren’t issues 18 months ago.  You’ll seem timely and relevant and your prospects will be more hungry for what you have to offer.

5.  Seek out big opportunities – Don’t abandon entirely the lines of work that keep your lights and utilities on and your employees paid, but strive to position yourself do to more business with Big Business.  Be strategic about the firms you seek out.  Read The Whale Hunters by Tom Searcy and barbara Weaver Smith for specific ideas on how to land bigger deals and transform your company in the process.

Paying the Piper speaks to the ‘dues’ you have to pay to grow your business.  The good news though is that while you may have to be more creative and put out more effort in the process, the Piper who will ultimately benefit is you!

Structure Your Week to Maximize Your Time

Many people I know complain about being too busy, not having enough time then feeling scattered and ineffective.  Yet they aren’t sure what to do about it.

In fact, we are each given the same amount of time: 24 hours, 1,400 minutes or 86,400 seconds each day.

The critical element is how we use that time.  Some people produce amazing results, mega deals or profound impact on their community.  Others seem to fritter away their time on meaningless activities, designed to have them feel comfortable and safe, but never reaching anywhere near their full potential.

I thought I’d share with you the strategy and tactics I use to allocate and leverage my time for maximum advantage and impact.

The over-arching short-term strategy is time blocking. I set aside chunks of time to focus and concentrate on one project or similar activities.  The advantage of this is rooted in early industrial age theories where doing similar, repetitive activities builds up a rhythm – a flow – which maximizes throughput.  When you multi-task, switching from phone calls, to email, to internet research to writing, your brain loses momentum.  The constant effort required to shift gears deludes you into thinking you’re accomplishing things while secretly eating away at your effectiveness.

I ‘see’ clients Tuesday – Thursday. That’s when I also attend a very few, carefully selected networking events and most speaking engagements. I schedule outside meetings around where I’m going to be in the city rather than driving all over creation for coffee or lunch. I strive to stay in the office on Mondays and Fridays and have very little client interaction on those days.  They are for me!

I subscribe to Marketing Mondays when I generally write these articles. I make plans for the week of who I need to call for prospecting or follow up purposes. I sketch out email marketing campaigns.

I also have Financial Fridays on the calendar.  That’s when I deal with some simple QuickBooks accounting issues and sales tax reporting. This keeps me current by doing a little each week so it doesn’t pile up and become overwhelming.

Here are 7 of my favorite other tactics.

1. Be crystal clear of your Dream Destination.
Think about this like your own personal “Happy Ending”. It’s not about the end of  your life but it is the state and quality of your life several years out in the future.  If things had gone better than you ever expected, what would you be experiencing?

2.  Sketch out a plan for the coming year.
You likely won’t get to your Dream Destination in one year and it’s tricky planning concrete events much farther out than a year. Convert your goals and outcomes to milestones and events and put activities (calls, meetings, marketing campaigns etc) on your calendar. Be bold and courageous as you do this.

3. Review long term goals at least monthly.

This will keep you from getting too distracted from immediate burning issues that would otherwise knock you off of your big target goals. You might decide to change your goals but at least it won’t be because you ‘forgot’ about them and their due date snuck up on you.

4.  Before you leave the office every day, make a list of the most important things to get done the following day.
If you skip this step, you run the risk of losing focus and getting caught up in unproductive busy work. You’ll forget about the important things and the day will end before you notice.

5.  Make sure marketing your business is on the list every day.
It’s tempting to spend all of your time serving your clients, but you can’t ignore the importance of continually engaging in marketing activities and sales conversations. Whether it’s nurturing referral partners, making cold, warm or follow up phone calls, or building lead generation processes for your website, you must perform actions that bring potential new clients ‘into the fold’.

6. Do the scariest things first.

Think big.  Then think bigger.  Make that important call.  Prepare yourself by doing some research so you’re prepared but don’t postpone making big calls by consuming yourself with research.

7. Delegate, delegate, delegate

I’ve said this before but it’s so important, it bears repeating.  Invest your valuable time to business development and selected product development that creates value for your firm.

Implement these practices on a consistent basis and watch your productivity soar.

6 Critical Leadership Tools, Skills & Behaviors

Great leadership is the display of a combination of tools, skills and behaviors.  It isn’t the result of position power or personality.  Consequently, it can be learned and demonstrated.

Think of the great leaders you’ve known.  I’ll bet they demonstrated most if not all of these skills.

Here’s my list of the top tools, skills and behaviors.

1. Standards
Great leaders set high standards for themselves and the people around them.  They expect people to ‘step up’ in ways they may not even believe they can.  They require exemplary behavior and thinking.  They inspire others to perform at the highest levels possible.

2. Feedback
Honest, authentic communication is the hallmark of a great leader.  They are able to express difficult sentiments, communicate expectations and let people know how they are performing vis-a-vis the expectations while leaving those people empowered and ready to forge ahead.

3.  Rewards
Rewards are great for creating external motivation for achieving goals.  Effective leaders understand the unique values and priorities of the people around them and custom tailor rewards to activate the intrinsic desires that make people perform and  excel.

4. Stamp
When great leaders encounter inappropriate behavior, they don’ t stick their head in the sand and ignore it. They stamp it out – quickly and decisively.  They are swift in their response to restate expectations and request those expectations be met. This creates and a sense of fairness on the team and credibility for the leader.

5. Care
John C. Maxwell is often quoted as saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” When leaders go out of their way to demonstrate their humanity, empathy and concern for others, they create an ultra-strong bond with the people around them.

6. Belief
Great leaders have an unwavering belief in the potential of people.  They assume people want to excel and just need pathways, resources and the confidence to express their excellence.

Regardless of where you are in an organization’s hierarchy, you can practice using these tools and behaviors thereby enhancing your effectiveness as a leader.