« November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

After The Social Media Marketing Sugar High


Candy cane The holidays are a time for indulgences and that often include eating more sweets than usual. Scattered energies run high, feeling great for the moment and then a sudden sugar crash the next.

While watching the kids play I thought .. how many of us find that our social media initiatives are like sugar highs? The excitement of the new idea, the buzz of the launch, followed by some engagement and then the candy cane C-R-A-S-H!

Too often social media marketing (or traditional marketing for that matter) strategies are also like white elephant gifts. Your customers don't really want them but you feel the need to develop them because .. well it's what marketing is all about.

It can be a big disappointment for both you and your customers after the sparking tinsel and pretty wrapping is ripped away and the batteries included were forgotten. As with presents that don't really "fit" other gifts take priority and yours is soon forgotten.

I begin to wonder .. what would happen if .. marketers viewed developing social media marketing programs as gifts that fit that we create for our customers all year long? Those gifts that would help bring us closer to understanding each other to build stronger digital relationships, to having fun with each other with less candy cane C-R-A-S-H!

If social media marketing is a new way to listen and communicate with our customers then framing strategies as gifts that fit may be one way to conceptualize new tactics. Can marketing VIPS really think first of what would delight customers and then develop the message and strategy? Of course girlfriend, it's called Marketing 101! 

6 Tips For Creating Social Media Marketing Gifts That Fit

1. Understand what your customers want and need. Listen and participate in their conversations on blogs, Twitter, social networks, etc. Michael Fruchter's post Ten Tools for Listen is a great way to get started.

2. Set a budget. Understanding financial limitations is important but becomes critical in a down economy. Be creative. Perhaps it's a community on Ning and not one developed from the ground up.

3. Plan. Take time to understand how all of the moving parts will fit together to support other "gifts" that you've developed previously. Is it a new video that is incorporated into the widget you built last year? Who will be involved? If your program crosses silos bring all the players - yes including the lawyers - into a round table discussion.

4. Presentation. Part of the fun of presents is unwrapping the gifts. Consider how you will launch your new initiative that will add to the excitement.

5. Be prepared to fix or exchange if necessary. Monitor the progress of the program. What do you need to incorporate to make it "fit" perfectly? Sometimes even the best gift breaks. As part of your Plan (see #3) build in a support effort.

6. Build an initiative for feedback.Help your customers continue the convePeppermint cheesecakersation with you.

What are your thoughts? Have I indulged in too many brownies and too much peppermint cheese cake? 

Holiday Social Media Lessons From The Silver Screen


Social media teaches us lots of lessons. The big one for marketers is it is not all about the brand .. it is all about the customer. As with so many lessons, we seem to keep relearning this one.

Before you go off the grid .. or perhaps when you come back on .. think of a gentler time before the Internet, before Twitter, before blogs or Facebook or even before email. It is Christmas 1947 and the CEO of a major retail organization briefs the company's ad department.

"No high pressuring and forcing the customer to take something he doesn't want. We'll be known as the helpful store. The friendly store. The store with a heart. The store that places public service ahead of profit. The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before."

With those words Macy's Department Store launched the most innovative sales program ever viewed...on the silver screen. It was a Miracle on 34th Street. Customers would not be coerced into buying what they did not want and if another store had a better, less expensive product Macy's would send them to that store.Miracle_on_34th_street

Fast forward 61 years. Social media is one of the most exciting marketing strategies we've seen in the last 60+ years. However, in this model there is no room for high-pressure sales techniques. The customer is in control of the brand experience. As Mr. Macy learned .. the customer has always been in control but few marketers have helped to create that experience for their customers .. especially when it goes outside of the company-brand/s.

Adding a social media strategy to the marketing mix is a powerful tactic that actively demonstrates your customers' needs matter. The digital relationships that the people (not departments) in your company develop create continuous listen which leads to continuous learning which leads to a continuous conversations which leads to trust which leads to the cash register bells ringing. And every time a cash register bell rings a marketer gets a bonus or gets to keep her job (!).. oops wrong film. Sorry.

Corner grocery store digital relationships that are build not only with you and your customers but among your customers could never have been imagined when Kris Kringle entered Macy's Department in 1947. For many organizations these open conversations still seem like a Miracle on (insert organization name here) or like the ghost of Xmas future (oops wrong movie again. Sorry.)

Often it is not easy to hear the answers to questions you did not ask. In developing new ways to conduct business there maybe a few wobbles and perhaps even acknowledgment that all is not perfect behind the curtain of your brand. However, the surprise gift is that strategies built with integrity, honesty and transparency that offer an opportunity to create dialog with your customers show that you are more a like than not. And that builds relationships.

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible... consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

As the year 2009 approaches, technology developments spin even faster taking digital marketing into areas that were impossible in '47 or '57 or even '08.

Imagine a site that holds current inventory and pricing, allows for on-line financing and results in better, faster cheaper processing.

Imagine a site that allows for product customization.

Imagine a site where you can start a conversation with a real person about what matters to you regarding a product or service.

Imagine a site where you can talk to a real person who doesn't respond with an FAQ list.

Imagine a site where you can actually help change the direction of a product or service before it's even launched.

Imagine a site where you can include your review of the product, service or customer care.

Imagine a site where you can talk to people about their experiences and learn from each other.

Imagine a company that doesn't close the door (or comment section) to you or your ideas.

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

It's interesting to compare a 1940's film, where finding solutions to customers' problems was perceived as unique, to 2008 where finding solutions to customers' problems is considered ingenious.

The techniques may have changed. New buzz words may be added to the mix. Bells and whistles may be a little louder. However, after all is said and done, the premise remains the same:



-Add value

-Do what it takes to go the extra mile to delight your customer

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

Toby max santa hats  And with that Max and I wish you a holiday full of joy.

Sidebar: A Classic Diva Marketing post based on an article written for Marketing News

13 Best Practices For Client Presentations


Jelly's last jam For the marketing consultants, and the people who work with consultants, this one is for you.

Sometimes I think of a consulting project as a well orchestrated event. So many pieces have to integrate to be successful. For example, you've spent hours and hours and possibly months researching, analyzing and developing recommendations. The day has finally come to present to your client. At this moment in time How you present is as critical as What you present.

One of my favorite from the heart gigs is co-teaching a management consulting class at
Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. This innovative course provides undergraduate (juniors and seniors) with a unique opportunity to actually be a consultant to a non profit "client. It's not often that a consultant gets to touch the lives of people beginning their careers.This is why I give up summer weekends to prep the course and cut business trips short ..

"This class has been hands down the best experience I've had at Goizueta. Several other classes do "real life" projects, but never to this extent. It was an eye-opening experience in all regards, and I think each group experienced the class a bit differently, which I think is really neat."

The course was profiled in Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell's ebook Creating Customer Evangelists - click on Bloomberg Marketing and highlighted in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Our clients this year included: Christian City, Parent to Parent of Georgia, Junior League of Atlanta, Martin Luther King Historic Site, Georgia Family Credit Union Project, Park Pride, MUST Ministries, National Gaucher Foundation.

In addition to working with the amazing students and great "clients" (over the past 5 years), I've had the opportunity to collaborate with some talented co-instructors. None more so than this year .. Dr. Skip Gunther, a retired Booz Allen Hamilton partner.

Skip has to be one of the most eclectic guys I know not only is he an adjunct prof at Goizueta but the Leader of Brookwood split Brookwood Split, The High Energy Party Band. The band plays renditions of the most popular rock, funk, soul, and R&B cover songs of the past thirty years. You're in the metro Atlanta area check out Brookwood Spit .. even worth a trip OTP!

In keeping with the music intro Skip wrapped the semester with a few notes on how to make a client presentation sing (ouch! sorry Skip). His advice to the students is equally, if not more, valuable to professional consultants. Thanks for sharing it with Diva Marketing Skip.

13 Best Practices For Client Presentations from Prof Skip Gunther

1. Be sure to put your presentation and report into proper context before jumping into findings, conclusions, recommendations – several of the teams missed an opportunity here.

2. Always think like an executive: how much will it cost, what will my expected returns be, what will it do to the organization, who can I have do this?

Often, these questions are answered in part by doing a pro forma financial analysis. Other parts of the answers come from prioritizing the recommendations so that your audience can see relative degrees of importance

3. Make certain that you introduce your team (name and role) as one of the first agenda items – it helps keep the audience focused on your presentation rather than thinking about who these other people are and why they are there.

4. Always tie your recommendations back to your research findings and conclusions. Your recommendations may be great ones, but, when not placed in context, they may cause your audience to wonder about why this particular recommendation over something else.

5. Always make certain that your client is totally on board before making a presentation to others.

6. Don’t try to disguise incomplete analysis by representing it as something that it is not – you will be found out and will lose all credibility with your client (and others). Intellectual honesty is always best.

7. Be careful with flipping dense word charts too quickly, or, if your intent is to make a simple point with obvious depth of supporting points, touch on a couple of the supporting points at least before moving on.

8. Rise to the cause if your team looks at you for the response to a question, and either give a thoughtful answer, or acknowledge that you will have to think about that and get back to the person asking the question – try not to come across as talking without thinking, as doing so will result in your loss of credibility, which is never a good thing.

9. Work to have some kind of mechanism at the start to totally engage your audience – a provocative question often does it – and make sure that the potentially distracting stuff like not introducing team mates is not present.

10. Always try to give credit to the client for good ideas, key insights, etc.

For example, all of your recommendations may have initially come from the client, but the contribution you made was to put them into a framework and in context so that everyone can see what great ideas they are.

11. Good consultants look for ways to reflect praise back to their clients. After all, you are (usually) getting paid and that (plus the strong satisfaction of doing a creative, professional job) is your reward. The client has to live with what you present and recommend.

12. Present enough of the supporting analytics to motivate your conclusions and recommendations – much of this will find its way into the appendices, but always have ‘just enough’ in the story line.

13. Always be meticulous in citing your resources – it’s ok that you didn’t create everything, but what you did was integrate it into a story to solve a problem.

So .. how to you bring the notes together and make your cleint presenations rock n roll?

The Power Behind Social Media


Weop This post is dedicated to the awesome women entrepreneurs at the Women's Employment Opportunity Project (WEOP). Yesterday I was invited to spend some time with a special group of women who are creating blogs to support their new ventures. If you think that the U.S. has lost its edge on innovation think again. Some of the business ideas that are in development at WEOP ranged from financial services targeted to moms to an online resource center for divorced women to a community for women in non traditional jobs like construction.

We talked about the logistics of blogs (any WordPress experts willing to donate a few hours?), marketing (WEOP is using DivaTalks podcasts to supplement their learnings .. wOw!) and the power of social media marketing .. building relationships.

Speaking of relationships .. today I was surprised with an early social holiday gift from a BBF (best blog friend) Denise Wakefield who included Diva Marketing in blogs.com best of .. Ten Best New Media Marketing Blogs. What an honor to be among people like Chris Brogan, Chris Garret, Paul Chaney, Jeff Herring, Michael Martine, David Meerman Scott and Patsi Krakoff

So the fabulous entrepreneurs from WEOP asked, "How do you build those relationships?" "Great question," said I.  "There are comments, links, emails .. being part of the community and give bits of yourself in your posts .. as it is comfortable for you to do that of course.

When we first meet people in their offices we have "walls" that often give us cues to the first steps in finding common interests that go beyond business. We may find a college diploma that leads to a conversation about the school we both attended or perhaps it was a city that we both lived in. Or we may discover a photo of the family vacationing on the beach and find we have a love of the ocean. Or we may see a sports team pennant on the wall and realize we are both fans of the same team.

In the social media business world we have to give bits of ourselves to create those initial synergies that go beyond a mutual interest in marketing, advertising, PR, research, etc. One way to do that is through the meme games. Sometimes called "tag" it's a way of giving your friends a better sense of you. Some memes ask for your favorite books, some for places you traveled .. you get the drift.

The divine diva Ms. BL Ochman tagged me and asked me to give up 7 things that you didn't know about me. So here goes ..

1. It took me a week to decide to keep little Max the rock star YouTube puppy.

2. I love Xmas music. I especially like the songs from the '40's like White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Silver Bells .. I play Xmas DVDs when I bake for the holidays .. shh don't tell any .. and dance around the kitchen with Max (see #1).

3. I make a mean cheese cake. One year I spent all summer experimenting my friends loved me! Note see #2

4. Family rumor is my grandfather, Popsie, was a boxer in Boston.

5. My Uncle Hy White Uncle hy white is a jazz guitarist who played with the Big Bands. Maybe he knew BL's grandfather. He tried to teach me to play but the strings hurt too much ..ouch!

6. I want to have a home on the ocean and one in a real city.

7. I want to conduct social media workshops on a cruise ship .. combine a holiday what with I love.How cool would that be?

Now the next part of the meme is to tag 7 people who will continue the game by telling who tagged them and then tagging 7 more people who will .. well you get it.

I'll tag a few people who have recently commented on Diva Marketing -

1. Debba, girlfriendology

2. Lewis Green, BizSolutionsPlus

3. Luckie Daniels, and speaking of pink

4. Bryan Person, LiveWorld

5. Mei Li, No Fear, Just Diva

6. Yvonne DiVita, Lip-Sticking

7. Marney Lewis, Va4growth

Social Media Marketing Taps The Spirit of Entrepreneurship


Crayon It takes imagination infused with courage to bring a new way of doing business into the mix .. for a small business owner or the ceo of a Fortune 50 company. Brave with vision to take calculated risks is the way I think of entrepreneurs.  In today's down economy it is especially critical that small business owners tap into that spirit, step out of their comfort zone and color outside the lines.

Social media marketing is certainly one direction to pursue. However, even for a small business owner whose success depends on business done with innovation the openness that social strategies bring, along with the myth of lack of control (a post for another day), can be uncomfortable. Here are a few ideas to help ease on down the social media road.
Cost is in Time and People Not Dollars

Success for most businesses draws on three resources: human capital, financial capital and time capital. It's no secret that too often small business owners find them self short on all three. However, time capital is what most small business owners take from the resource bank.

Social media helps small business owners work smarter on limited resources/budgets. Most social marketing tools .. or to put into business vernacular .. tactics such as blogs, social networks, social sharing (e.g., videos, photos) are free so the investment is not in dollars or financial capital but in human capital and time capital.
Planning Is Critical

As with any marketing strategy (for a small business, a Fortune 100 company or a non profit) social media marketing must begin with understanding the organization's goals, objectives and defining success. Too frequently small business owners put "planning" last on their list of business to dos.

However, without a plan social media is but a cool conversation topic at your next cocktail party and not a business decision. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a YouTube video or creating an "in vogue" Facebook page. It's even easier to fail in the world of social media.
5 Get Started Social Media Marketing Strategies

1. Google Alerts - While more internet marketing than social media, creating Google Alerts provides you with a free way to keep tabs on the pulse of your industry. Google pulls its sources from news sites to blogs. Create several alerts that include: key words for your industry, your company name, branded products and throw in an "ego alert" with your name. Social pundits call this listening to the conversation.

 2. LinkedIn - LinkedIn has a reputation of a pure business networking and is an ideal first step into social media networking. It can be used to support strategies from building business-to-business relationships to creating stronger brands. 

3. Microblogging/Twitter - No time for a Big strategy? Micro blogging, a la Twitter, is the place to explore. 140 characters per message or "tweet" is perfect for busy entrepreneurs to not only develop relationships but extend your personal network. Pop in several times during the course of the day to connect with different people.
4. Facebook - For companies with target audiences who are active in Facebook, there are two ways to go. One is with a personal page and the second is building a group page for "fans." In addition to branding, Facebook provides an opportunity to "mix" it up with your customers and build stronger relationships.

5. Blogs - Of all the social media tactics blogs can become one of your most valuable social media assets. Creating relationships through conversations in your virtual 'home' can be powerful. You can authentically reinforce your brand promise, ask for feedback from your customers, build thought leadership positioning, provide extended customer delight support. And if that were not enough .. increase your lift in the search engines.

Buyer beware .. these benefits do not come without a price .. and that price is more human and time resources than Google Alerts, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
Something interesting happens when you step from behind the perfect world of a carefully crafted advertising campaign or a media release built by committee .. the spirit of entrepreneurship is set free too.

Inspired by my interview with Jim Schakenbach - The Power of Words

Digital Relationships


Road-trip This week Dana VanDen Heuvel, Bill Flitter and I will be on the road to Seattle for the last stop of our mini road trip for the American Marketing Association Hot Topic Workshop -  Digital-Centered Marketing.

It seems like kismet to me, for you see, it was almost 4-years to the day that Dana, Bill and I we were in Seattle for the very first national program on how marketers could use blogs - which was also sponsored by AMA. At that session we were joined by Robert Scoble, Ben McConnell and Dave Williams. Almost all of the speakers had met through some aspect of social media/blogs and most had never met in-person. It was a program build on digital relationships about digital relationships.

We learned a lot from those early days when social media, Facebook, Twitter and social networks were not even part of the vernacular. We were taught our first lessons in blogger relations by TDavid. What begin as a rather sticky situation ended up in a better program and a new friend. I'm thrilled that TDavid will be joining us on Friday. Lessons Learned from TDavid

One blogger can be the snowflake that can start an avalanche. There is risk and reward in a blogged economy. - TDavid

>Bloggers are people who want to connect. They want to know that they are being heard. Bloggers care.

>With the easy use of blogs, micro blogs, podcasts, vlogs and other social media tools marketers can not control how customers will reposition a carefully crafted message.

>You can not control customers’ conversations. The secret is you never could. However, you can manage those conversations by listening, participating, and caring.

Blogger social Collage_MARCH_5_Low 

Which has me thinking more about the challenges of building trusted digital     relationships using social media. It seems there are two aspects: the digital/web-based and the personal.

Although developed for traditional websites Stanford's Guidelines for Web Credibility provides some guidance on the first.

1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.

You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don't follow these links, you've shown confidence in your material.

2. Show that there's a real organization behind your site.

Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site's credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your offices or listing a membership with the chamber of commerce.

3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.

Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Conversely, don't link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.

4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.

The first part of this guideline is to show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. For example, some sites post employee bios that tell about family or hobbies.

5. Make it easy to contact you.

A simple way to boost your site's credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address.

6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).

We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like IBM.com. The visual design should match the site's purpose.

7. Make your site easy to use -- and useful.

We're squeezing two guidelines into one here. Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company's ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.

8. Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).

People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.

9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).

If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don't mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.

10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.

Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site's credibility more than most people imagine. It's also important to keep your site up and running.

. - Need your help .. let's build this one together. Please share your One Secret on how you build trusted digital relationships using social media. I've set a brief survey in Survey Monkey to collect responses. I'll let it run for about a week .. analyze the responses and post to Diva Marketing. Click Here to take survey