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Who You Gonna Call For A Summer Internship? YouIntern.com


The lines of MSM (main stream media) and social media continue to blur. Last  week I received a press release pitch that said, "As a member of the Atlanta media ..." Now, Girlfriend I readily admit that I've always coveted a backstage press pass and I love those cute foreign correspondent jackets with zillions of pockets, but I've never considered Diva Marketing to be media.

Sidebar: In an up-coming interview with RichardAtDell, that will post on Monday 3-3, RichardAtDell told me that unlike some companies e.g., Target, Dell doesn't distinguish anymore between a blogger and mainstream media.

Interesting. Richardatdell_brendan_hurley_toby_a Diva a la Murphy Brown .. wonder how those jackets would look with a pink boa ;-) Photo of me - in a pink boa, with RichardAtDell and Brendan Hurley Goodwill of Greater Washington at the AiMA cocktail party, complements of  Geoff Livingston

As with many other bloggers those pitches continue to arrive. Last week I also received a personalized email from Anand Chopra-McGowan, who with a few friends, recently launched a new community. Oh no! Toby you're thinking spare us one more social networking community! This one is a little different. YouIntern.com targets college students who are looking for internships and the organizations that provide those internships. Wonderful idea!

In the true sense of social media networking, not only does the site provide links to opportunities but candid reviews of the companies. Wonderful idea! Just for fun here's Youintern_tbs_2 Atlanta based Turner Broadcasting System. Please click to enlarge the image.

I asked Anand Chopra-McGowan to tell us the the who-how-and-why. Remember as YouIntern.com becomes a social media rock star .. you heard it on Diva!

Toby/Diva Marketing: About YouIntern.com: What's it all about Anand?

Anand Chopra-McGowan: It's simple: we encourage advertising students to review their internship experience on YouIntern.com. We then link these students with employers, who post their open internships so students can apply after reading reviews. We also solicit expert advice from advertising industry professionals and write some sharp blogs so as to provide as much information as possible to students, and to keep them coming back. Our goal is to build a community that allows students to find worthwhile internships, and employers to recruit more qualified, energetic, motivated interns.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Back Story: Are you and Dan the 2 adv execs noted in your release? Who are the students mentioned in the release? Do you come from the same school? Is this a class project?

Anand Chopra-McGowan: Yes, Dan and I work in advertising. I was recently at Arnold in Boston, now Director of Development at The Ad Club of Boston (so that connection's covered! Haha), and Dan is in account management at BBH in NYC. Dan Chaparian, Anand Chopra-McGowan Jason Kahn, Jeff Li - Dan and I graduated from BU in May ;07, Jason and Jeff are current juniors there. After having some frustrating and some very rewarding internship experiences, Dan and I came up with the idea for an internship rating/review site. No, it isn't a class project.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Agency Involvment: How active a role are the agencies taking?

Anand Chopra-McGowan: We realized that in order to truly have an impact on the way internships work, we had to bring the agencies into the equation. Students could then apply for open internships, and employers interacting with the site could see what students were saying about their experience. The ideal situation (and we've reached this already in the case of a few agencies) is to have an open Youintern__woman_2 internship posting from a company, and compare it to a review right there, from a student.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Response from Agencies: What do the agencies think of the concept, especially when they might get a "bad review?"

Anand Chopra-McGowan: Agencies have been incredibly positive to the idea, with HR managers eager to hear what students say about their internships. We've found that YouIntern.com is able to provide a forum for feedback, without the awkward, often scary, prospect of telling your internship manager exactly how you feel, directly to him or her.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Promotion: How are you getting the word out?

Anand Chopra-McGowan: Since we're currently focused on advertising/marketing/pr only, we're getting the word out in a number of targeted ways: For students, letters/emails/calls to Professors at universities across the country, career services offices, posters on campus, Facebook social ads and groups, and we're testing with some Google AdWords.

For agencies, various forums across the internet, painstakingly compiled email lists for agency executives across the country, letters and "intern trading cards" mailed to them, follow-up phone calls, bloggers like you!! We plan to develop working relationships with Ad Clubs, AAAA, AAF, and such.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Monetization: How do you plan to monetize .. what is your revenue model?

Anand Chopra-McGowan: At this point, our only monetization is a few Google ads on the site. Once we reach certain bencmarks, however, we'll be charging for premium postings, more prominent listings, the ability to upload photographs, direct applications from the site. We also are working to develop partnerships with various players, where premium members receive certain discounts, like magazine subscriptions and such.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Sustainability: How will the site be sustained over time?

Anand Chopra-McGowan: This is the wonderful thing about YouIntern.com. Every year we will have a certain percentage of users graduate, and that exact same percentage come in as freshmen. Internships are now an immediate concern for most college students, and these freshmen will have access to our incredible database of content and opinion as soon as they start school. As they experience various internships, this database will grow. Further, most internship reviews, barring any huge changes at the agency, will stay valid for at least 4 or 5 semesters. And finally, we plan on introducing a number of forum and interaction features that will allow users to ask each other questions, update reviews, and help keep content current.

Youintern_guy Toby/Diva Marketing: The Future: Full-time gig?

Anand Chopra-McGowan: Yes, if all goes as planned, this could definitely be a full time venture. Jason and Jeff developed the platform using a programming language called Drupal.

Sidebar: Interesting resource for job hunters to use to understand a company's corporate culture.

Diva Marketing Talks About Sponsored Niche Communities (a la Sermo) with Dr. Daniel Palestrant & Dr. Richard Thrasher


Diva Marketing Talks is a live, internet radio show.  30-minutes. 2-guests. 1-topic about social media marketing. Why? To help you understand how to participate in the "new" conversation without getting blown-up. Miss today's show? You can pick it up as a podcast.

Today's Diva Marketing Talks explores an innovative, new model for a social media community. Dr. Daniel Palestrant, Founder CEO of Sermo, and Dr. Richard Thrasher, community member, join me to talk about Sermo, an online community open only to doctors (a niche) where for a fee sponsors can listen in, ask questions but not fully participate.

Big question: Would this model work for other verticals/market segments like moms or golfers or accountants or patients?

Topic for February 26, 2008: Where the Docs Are .. Someone Waits For Them. Paid Sponsors in a Social Networking Community.

Time: 6:30p - 7p Eastern/ 5:30p - 6p Central/ 4:30p -5p Mountain/ 3:30p - 4p Pacific
Call-in Guest Number: 718.508.9924


Drr_daniel_palestrant_2 Daniel Palestrant

Daniel Palestrant is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge-based Sermo, Inc. As CEO, Daniel is responsible for the overall vision of the Sermo community and business. His main tasks focus on ensuring that Sermo is a valuable resource to physicians while building a profitable and socially responsible enterprise.

Daniel's first experiences with Healthcare Informatics came when he conceived, designed, proposed and managed deployment of CIBUR (CIGNA Internet Based Universal Resource), one of the first commercial Web-based healthcare resources for physicians and allied health professionals. No stranger to the entrepreneurial side of medicine, Daniel founded his first company, Azygos, Inc., in 1998. During that time, he successfully raised $2.2MM in funding and deployed the company's first clinical application on schedule and on budget, before selling the company to BioNetrix in May of 2001.

After selling Azygos, Daniel joined BioNetrix (Now BNX Systems) as Director of Health Care. During his time at BNX Systems, Daniel helped numerous healthcare-focused businesses increase network security, improve patient privacy safeguards and comply with HIPAA. Daniel has done clinical and laboratory research in transplant immunology. He has a B.S. in biology from Johns Hopkins University, completed medical school at Duke University, and trained in General Surgery at Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospital, in Boston before leaving to launch Sermo.

Dr_thrasher Dr. Richard Thrasher

Dr. Richard Thrasher is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology. He established ENT practice - The Ear, Nose, & Throat Center at McKinney. He is also an active member of the Sermo community.

Dr. Thrasher received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and his medical degree from the University of Connecticut. He completed a general surgery internship in Denver before going on to an Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. While in residency, Dr. Thrasher spent significant time at Denver Children’s hospital (routinely rated in the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country) and has a particular interest in pediatric ENT.

Upon completing residency, Dr. Thrasher served on clinical faculty with the University of Nebraska Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery while he served as a Major in the USAF for 3 years at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. During this time he won three awards for best instructor as a clinical preceptor for family medicine residents and physician assistant students. He also served as medical director of the surgical service and chief of otolaryngology at his base hospital.

Dr. Thrasher was the first otolaryngologist in Nebraska, and first in the Air Force, to perform the new Balloon Sinuplasty® surgery. He was also the first otolaryngologist in Nebraska to perform an innovative base of tongue procedure for sleep apnea and is one of only 6-7 surgeons in the country currently doing this procedure. He has extensive experience performing the Pillar Palatal Implant® procedure for snoring. He has authored several publications and remains active in pursuing clinical research in sinusitis and sleep apnea.

Dr. Thrasher’s special interests include pediatric ENT, snoring/ obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid surgery, and sinus surgery. He is an active golfer and self-proclaimed technology geek. He lives in Plano with his wife and 2 children but hopes to move to McKinney in the next several months.

Tips From The Diva Bag

Complements of Dr. Richard Thrasher

  • Log on frequently and just observe how things work for a little while. Some may feel comfortable seeing the personality of the site within a couple of days, some may need some more time. But I would observe how the interaction works first before just jumping in with a post. There is an etiquette on-line that is not always readily apparent to novices.
  • When you do begin to interact, do so frequently. If you make a comment or post a topic, follow up on it frequently to see if there is any feedback regarding your input. This will definitely bring you into the community. Those who post and run will not feel like they develop a relationship with other users as well.
  • Avoid trying to make overt discriminatory comments—this is the surest way to be ostracized. Whether you have a bias toward something whether it’s race, gender, educational background, etc, if you make those types of comments known, you will be quickly attacked. I have seen this on many on-line communities. Most importantly be open-minded of the opinions of others and at least respectful even if they’re factually wrong. There are definitely better ways to handle differences of opinion than through attacks.
  • Disclose, disclose, disclose. If you market yourself or a product on Sermo and do not disclose a financial interest, but one is discovered, you will immediately be ostracized by the community at large. If you fully disclose your interest in the marketing, you stand a fighting chance of having a constructive discussion of your particular topic.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about patients who have a diagnosis that you can’t figure out or who has an adverse event that you want to discuss. Often these are the best discussions on Sermo.

Can't call in but have a question? Drop a comment and I'll ask it for you. Let me know what you'd like Diva Talks to chat about. Don't forget Diva Marketing Talks morphs into a podcast.

Update: Enoch Choi, MedHelp of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation joined the conversation. If you have any interest in healthcare in the U.S. or where physicians' interest are in changing the healthcare system do not miss the After Show. In Ophra style, the After Show continues on a free for all flow for as long as the conversation goes on.

Atlanta Marketers - Social Media Marketing Event


,Atlanta marketers you are in for a treat this Wednesday , February 27th! It's been my pleasure to chair this month's Aima_logo AiMA - Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association - event .. Social Media Marketing Gets Some Respect!

Case studies from three major brands: Dell, The Home Depot, Goodwill of Greater Washington that utilized social media/Web 2.0 initiatives to impact brand perception.This is the first time any of the cases have been presented in Atlanta by the marketers who made it happen!

Learn how using social media took Dell from customer Hell to customer Heaven.

The Home Depot shares the strategy of their first entrée into consumer generated media and what they learned from listening to the unfiltered feedback of their customers.

Through an innovative, integrated, strategy that incorporates multiple Web 2.0 tactics Goodwill of Greater Washington is repositioning from a thrift store to a vintage shop.

Geoff Livingston
Author, Now Is Gone

Nick Ayres
Interactive Marketing Manager
The Home Depot

Richard Binhammer
Digital Media/Blog Outreach and Relationships

Brendan Hurley
Senior VP, Marketing & Communications
Goodwill of Greater Washington

Shera Shrago
Interactive/Email Marketing Manager
The Home Depot

If you work in B2B, B2C or Not For Profit this is one event you can not afford to miss. Keep in mind the conversation is happening with you .. or without you. Here is your opportunity to learn how three organizations stepped into the space.

Where Are They Early Business Bloggers?


When Diva Marketing launched in the spring of 2004 business blogs were barely a blip on most people's radar. To help marketers understand why organizations were beginning to view blogs as a business tool, how to sell-in to management and most importantly to pass along critical lessons learned, in 2005 I launched the Biz Blog Profile Series where people who were doing "it" shared their experiences.

Fast forward to 2008 and blogs are just one tactic in an over-flowing social media tool box that are now used by Fortune 100 companies, small business and not for profits.

Recently Alex Brown and I had an interesting email volley. Alex was one of the first people I interviewed for the Biz Blog Series. He had the innovative idea of turning the Wharton Admissions blog in a portal which has since become the go-to place for how to get into B School.  Inspired by Alex, I thought wouldn't it be fun to  take a look at "Where Are The Early Business Bloggers Now?"

Seemed appropriate to start with Alex. I think it's fair to stay that social media has not only changed Alex's life but impacted thousands of people and horses too!

Alex_brown_2 Background: I now manage alexbrownracing.com which is a horse racing web-site that focuses on horse welfare.  Our mission statement (something we needed to create once we became a large community) focuses on ending horse slaughter, and rescuing horses that are in the slaughter pipeline. To date we have rescued more than 2,000 horses headed for slaughter raising close to $850,000 in doing so (not bad for an organization that does not exist ?)  alexbrownracing.com used to be timwoolleyracing.com and gained traction on the internet as we followed Barbaro's fight for life after his accident in the Preakness Stakes.

Basically I was in the right place at the right time and chose to blog about Barbaro with all the access anyone would need.  We gained a large community quickly.  Along the way I had to add a discussion board as the community grew too large to be managed simply by a blog.  Subsequently I also created a wiki to manage additional content: alexbrownracing.com/wiki

We are now working with others in the anti-slaughter community to put together Americans Against Horse Slaughter, two days of lobbying in DC, March 4 and 5.  We are gaining momentum and hoping to end horse slaughter once and for all.  I have committed to this project to the extent I no longer teach at the University of Delaware (Internet Marketing) nor work at the Wharton School (MBA Admissions).  My business card now reads: Horses.

What were your success?
I think as a community we can be proud of what we have accomplished.  2,000 horses have been saved to date, we have helped gain some ground on horse slaughter legislation.  It is wonderful to be doing something you can be truly passionate about and something that combines all my interests (Internet Marketing: which I began teaching in 1997) and horses (I have worked in horse racing on and off for more than 20 years, in the US and in the UK.)  Site data is also pretty cool.  Our busiest day, 70,000 visits.  Our discussion board gets on average over 1,000 posts a day (thanks Prospero).  Our community is large and active.

What were your challenges?
We have a huge online community that while can all agree on one issue (horse slaughter is wrong) has fundamental differences of opinion over many other issues.  Myself and one other administrator (WendyMI) has to try to keep this community together, and when things start to unravel, we need to figure out how to get people back on track.  I have realized that I do not have to agree with everything, and to be perfectly frank, I don't have to like everyone, but I do have to act with a very even hand.  That is very hard.  Some issues that came to the community came from previous history of which i was unaware.  There is a group of people on the internet who absolutely dislike more than one participant in our community.  Their goal is to get them banned.  Banning people is another issue.  When you ban someone, their friends leave with them.  These sorts of things I had not factored when we began.  Shit, I thought we would have no problems given the mission of the site.   Well welcome to the horse rescue / slaughter world to me!  I can provide links of discussion threads on other boards that absolutely bash me and the work of the site, and these are from anti slaughter people.  Odd stuff! 

Tomorrow the site may be over. It is unique I think, but a challenge to keep it going for sure.  It is the most intellectually challenging job I have undertaken, and I am thankful of a little knowledge in game theory and other fields to compliment my internet marketing background, and what I learned setting up communities at Wharton and teaching Internet Marketing with Blogs at Delaware.

What would you do differently?/What lessons have you learned?
Fortunately the mistakes I have made have not (yet) been catastrophic in terms of managing the community.  There are a few people I banned that perhaps with hindsight I should not have banned.  Early efforts to get help managing the site were a little rough, but overall I think for what we have done and the size of our community we have managed to bumble along without too much disaster!

What's next for Alex and the Barbaro in the world of social media?
I truly hope we can end horse slaughter this year.  I also want to explore a little more deeply what we have done, and what we can learn from it.  I want Knowledge at Wharton to do a case study on it etc.  I also plan to move out of this grotty motel room in Houston ... and by the end of 2008 be back in the UK!

Diva Marketing Talks About YouTube With Kevin Nalts and Ben Relles


Diva Marketing Talks is a live, internet radio show.  30-minutes. 2-guests. 1-topic about social media marketing. Why? To help you understand how to participate in the "new" conversation without getting blown-up. Miss today's show? You can pick it up as a podcast.

Today's Diva Marketing Talks is a first .. with YouTube/video rock star comedians Kevin Nalts and Ben Relles. They'll give us their take if sites like YouTube can go beyond “cool” to being a credible marketing strategy.  And by the way, how do you get a video viewed by thousands or even millions?

Topic for February 19, 2008: YouTube (and social networking video sites): Play Toy or Credible Marketing Strategy?

Time: 6:30p - 7p Eastern/ 5:30p - 6p Central/ 4:30p -5p Mountain/ 3:30p - 4p Pacific
Call-in Guest Number: 718.508.9924


Nalts Kevin "Nalts"  

Kevin Nalts is a career marketer (formerly with Johnson & Johnson), and now is a Consumer Product Director at a Fortune 100 company. By night he’s “Nalts,” one of YouTube’s most prolific video creators, and a top-10 “most subscribed” YouTube comedian.  He and his online videos have won numerous awards, and have appeared on CNN, ABC, BBC, Fox and CBS News.

He has created more than 600 videos that have been viewed on online-video sites more than 25 million times, and include the popular “Farting in Public,” which was featured by YouTube has been viewed more than 4 million times. Note: as of this am  4,496,359 views!

He has developed sponsored videos for such brands as Mentos, Holiday Inn, GPSManiac, Cox Communications, DoMyStuff and Crowne Plaza (see “hire Nalts“). Nalts recently accepted the International Radio and Television Society “Foundation Award” on behalf of YouTube’s Community, and is a YouTube Partner.

Kevin also speaks at industry events to help video creators learn how to monetize their work, and marketers and advertisers effectively leverage online video. In addition to creating videos, he covers the industry in this Will Video For Food blog, as a writer for now-dorman TheDailyReel and assistant editor for Politics & YouTube In Review.

Catch Nalts at Bio CubeBreak YouTube Channel Best of Nalts 

Ben_relles Ben Relles

 Ben Relles is the founder and creative force behind BarelyPolitical.com. The site launched with the video "I Got a Crush on Obama", a political parody that quickly went viral and has now been seen over 100 million times, including national television coverage in countries such as the United States, Japan, Germany, Russia and Australia.

His  has established himself as a leader in digital entertainment, creating original content that gets blogged about, talked about and viewed around the world.

Relles, an entrepreneur by nature, began his career as the founder and president of MarketVision Inc, which grew under his leadership into a $3 million company. Relles holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business where he graduated with a degree in Marketing Strategy and received the Ben Franklin Award for his contribution to the Philadelphia Community.  Following Wharton, he joined the OmnicomGroup, where brands such as Nissan, Pepsi, Snickers, E*Trade and Siemens benefited from his innovative strategic thinking.

Relles has lectured on college campuses and been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC and ABC for his perspective on what's next in digital entertainment and new media. Always a fan of comedy, he wrote a weekly humor column at the University of Wisconsin and can be found on rare occasion performing his 10-minute stand-up set throughout New York.

Catch Ben at BarelyPolitical.com

Tips From The Diva Bag

Complements of Kevin Nalts

  • 1) At a minimum, listen to what videos are saying about your brand. If Buzzmetrics or Symphony are too expensive, set up a Google alert and subscribe to YouTube videos that use your brand in the tag or description (both are free).
  • 2) Engage. Create recreational videos about a topic of interest, and explore the online-video community beyond one-hit wonders and superficial surfing of YouTube. There's a community there, and even the brands actively promoting through YouTube often miss subtle but vital nuances because they're not a part of it.
  • 3) Post any video content and tag it well. This cost virtually nothing and will at a minimum help your brand with search engines. Google treats video very well.
  • .. and one more .. Kevin's Free eBook - How to Become Popular on YouTube (Without Any Talent)

Can't call in but have a question for Nalts and Ben ? Drop a comment and I'll ask it for you. Let me know what you'd like Diva Talks to chat about. Don't forget Diva Marketing Talks morphs into a podcast.

A La Oprah .. make sure you listen to the "After Show". . !
Update: Steve Garfield joined us for the After Show conversation. Not to miss!
Millie Garfield,Steve's 80 something mom -  YouTube Videos  MyMomsBlog

(HP) Social Media Means NOTHING If Your Internal Processes Are Broken


To: Smart corporate marketers who are including social media / Web 2.0 strategies
From: Your customers

Blogs, podcasts, videos, communities building, social networking, widgets and gidgets and digg and Twitter and the ten thousand other technologies are worth NOTHING if your internal processes are broken.

Forget about how to create, measure and analyze the buzz about your brand. It means NOTHING if your internal processes are broken.

My friend Marianne Richmond details a very frustrating story of how HP is playing games with the education of Sam - a high school freshman - whose HP laptop has been zonked (I think that's a technical word) since November 2007 ..  with no resolution dispute hours with tech support, emails to bloggers, on and on. What adds insult to injury is that this is the company that boasts not 1 or 2 or 10 or 15 or 20 but over 50 HP blogs along with podcasts and other social media initiatives. There is even one about social media by Scott Berg. They all mean NOTHING because internal processes are broken. 

HP, I'd like to introduce you to two of your customers SamSam_richmond and his mom Marianne,  Marianne who are about to go MAC. Well, HP  you might say, the loss of one high school student and his mom .. no big deal. It's not like they are a Fortune 100 company where you might have opportunity for an account with hundreds perhaps thousands of orders.

Oh, by the way, HP if you or one of your 50+ bloggers happen to be listening to this conversation, I forgot to mention one minor detail. Mom Marianne is a highly respected blogger. Her post - HP: Customer Experience Disconnect might influence as many potential customers as that one Fortune 100 account. 

Some times life shows us some unexpected humor this cartoon Gaping_void_love_hate_2 from gapingvoid.com was next to Marianne's post.

Lessons Learned:

  • Social media is more than a well written blog.
  • Social media changes how we conduct business.
  • In developing your social media strategy do not neglect a review of internal processes. How will information be disseminated?
  • In the nano second world of the Internet, internal systems must be developed to ensure rapid responses to questions and problems.
  • Excellent customer service is not a nice to have .. it's critical.
  • Listening in on conversations means NOTHING if you can't take corrective action .. immediately.

Confused By The "New Journalism"


Clark_kent_superman__2 Is consumer generated content the new direction in journalism? Will reporters have alter egos like Clark Kent and Superman. Which media will be the super hero: the blogger or the reporter?

Richard Edelman has an interesting post about the Financial Times' new model of including blogs written by their reporters. Now incorporating blogs into main stream media is not new or news; however, I must admit it still confuses me. Last September Geoff Livingston and I cross posted about a situation where a reporter, our opinion, crossed the line of good journalism.

So I dropped this comment on Richard's post. Note: the quote is taken from the post.

Richard -Based on this - "The reporters are given the option of putting out short versions of breaking news, then adding to the story based on talking to sources, or using Reuters wire copy for the initial break and then posting a story when fact-finding is completed." - does that mean that those blogs would be consider "opinion" (since no research has been conducted) while stories would be considered traditional journalism?

Do you think that if reporters write posts before, completing a story, that the story is likely to be more subjective than would be considered traditional reporting?

Do you view this as the new journalistic direction?

I wonder what Robert French's students and Amy Gahran and BL have to say.  What about you?

Valentine's Day Relationships - Business Style


Happy chocolate hearts and candy kisses Blog_heart_2 on this day when we celebrate love and relationships. On Diva Marketing there is a lot of time spent talking about the Big R (Relationship) Word.

In all honesty, I have always been a bit confused about how one has a relationship with an animate object like a box of cereal, a computer or even a red rose. However, what I do get is that I can develop a relationship with a person. That's one of the reasons why this social media world makes so much sense to me.

On Valentine's Day it seemed like a fun post to explore business relationships. How do you build great business relationships with people? Do "clients" and "partners/vendors/suppliers" (I'm never sure word to use)have different points of view about what is important for each?

I asked a few successful marketers to play along with me on this one. I'm excited to present 62 inspirational insights from people who work in a wide range of verticals: academia, packaged goods, retail, services, engineering, healthcare, high tech, online and in B2B, B2C and Not for Profit. To add a global perspective there are thoughts from marketers in India, Belgium and Canada. Special thanks to Julie Squires, Michael Rubin and M/errill Dubrow for extending the viral buzz to their networks. A heartfelt toss of the Pink_boa pink boa to all! Happy Valentine's and may all of your relationship be sweet.

How Do You Develop Great Business Relationships?


1. Hilary Weber, Kaiser Permanente - "Own" the relationship, meaning, "your pain is my pain and your success is my success" -- if you have that from both parties, you will act as one and success will follow naturally.  (It's the business version of "walk a mile in the other one's shoes", in a way).

2. Ken Bernhardt, Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University - Never forget that relationships Heart_4 are two-way; both parties must see things as "win-win" (which requires an understanding of a win is for the other side). The words vendor and supplier should be abolished in favor of partner.

Donna Lynes-Miller, GourmetStation - Easy as 1.2.3...First, there must be an alignment of needs to what is being offered (product specification)...secondly, there must be clear communication regarding ability to provide the product and/or service (demand VS supply), and lastly there must be shared values (keeping commitments, doing the right thing, behaving with integrity).

3. Nick Jacobs, Windber Medical Center - If you actually believe in a vendor, their product, their work, their support . . .  voluntarily serve as a reference for the vendor.  It's amazing how many breaks you'll get from a vendor with whom you partner to assist in their growth.

4. Tim Jackson, Masiguy - When it comes to supplier/ vendor/ client relationships, it's just like any other personal relationship- be honest and communicate the truth. (I could go on for days on this…) I straddle both worlds all the time, so I get to juggle both relationships every day- I have many vendors to work with and many retailers and even consumers to work with as well. All require a little something different, but they all get the same treatment of open and honest communications.

5. Randal Moss, American Cancer Society/Community Mobilization Blog - Practice courtship! Nothing turns me off more than a vendor that contacts me on a cold call with no frame of reference. Some of the
best solicitations ever have been from people who know me, or read enough of my stuff to know me, and engage me in a conversation and work their pitch into it. It is like dating, you have to engage me in a conversation to get to the next level of the relationship. By spending quality time with me you let me know you care, and I am much more apt to listen to you.Heart_8

6. Becky Carroll, Customer Rock Blog (from the perspective of when I was with HP as Director of Marketing, UK and Ireland) - Include your vendor/supplier in your planning, where appropriate.  When I worked for HP in the UK, I used to include a few key vendors in planning meetings once we had our internal idea session completed.  This helped us make sure we were taking all needs into account - with the added benefit of making those vendors feel like part of the "team"!

7. RichardatDELL/Richard Binhammer, RichardatDELL Direct2Dell  - "Listening”…which is more than hearing.  It is interpreting, evaluating, learning, reacting, engage-deliver.  Listening includes true dialogue and conversation, as a component.

8. Rob Madonna, Palisades Insurance - I like my vendors/suppliers to know my “story.”  I don’t like to repeat myself.  I want them to know me so well that they can anticipate my needs, how I will respond to situations and how those that use me as an internal consultant need to understand issues.

- Hire your staff wisely.  Nothing bothers me more than frequent turn over which means I have to “break in” a new project team.  See item #1 about knowing my story.
Let your project team have a life.  I don’t like my team to be fatigued.  If they make a mistake then my recommendation will be wrong.  If that happens they make me look bad at the least and can put me on the unemployment line at the worst.  Keep them fresh, rested and ready to be brilliant. Always price the latest project for the next one.  If you do the job I need and at the best possible price you will earn my trust.  I will come back to you for project after project.

9. Michael E. Rubin, GasPedal - "Don't go to bed angry."  Communication is a two-way street, and if
there's a client-vendor issue, don't wait to air it out until later when it could boil over and permanently damage the relationship.

10. Joe Jarvis, Banana Florist  - Make realistic promises and honor them to the letter, regardless of short-term losses (or gains).

11. Rick Short, Indium - COMMUNICATE: proactively, freely, honestly.
After you’ve followed the fundamental tips of a) vetting out vendors so you only work with highly-qualified people and b) working only with vendors you love and love the vendors you work with

Heart_9 Proactively: offer up your reactions, feelings, thoughts, uncertainties, and everything you’ve got inside.  If these vendors are good, and if they truly care about you, they want and need your thoughts to better serve you. They might not know to ask what’s on your mind – so offer it up.
Freely: don’t wait to be asked, and don’t think that you are a nuisance. Since your vendors care, they want to know everything you’re thinking. Be free in your feedback – good vendors appreciate it – and will use it to your benefit.

Honestly: sometimes we are all good, and sometimes we aren’t so good. Don’t hide your weaknesses from your vendors – make them obvious.  Once they know your shortcomings, as a company, and as a Marketing professional, they become able to “cover” for you and to augment your offerings. Additionally, they can even hire complimentary staff to complete your total package.

12. Nick Ayres, TheHomeDepot - Never assume - always over-communicate. As simple and "basic" as it sounds, I find I get into the most trouble when I start assuming instead of asking, prodding, inquiring, and generally working to understand exactly where peoples' heads are at.

Partner, Supplier, Vendor, Knowledge Partner,  Consultant, Broker/matchmaker" of Client-Vendor Relationships, Advisor, Strategic Partner, Agency

13. Pinny, Ice.com - Just like in a real relationship you need to woo the perspective woman treat your customer that way.

14. Nettie Hartsock, Hartsock Communications - Build them with the foundation of true collaboration for the long-term marathon, not the short term sprint or just the bottom line ROI.

15. Rajesh Lalwani, BlogWorks - Passion for client's business. 

16. Mary Hunt, Sustainable Products Ecolutionary Selling - Client Relationships. Do you use reciprocal currency? If money wasn't involved, would there be enough value and joint mission purpose to hold the two of you together?

17. Lewis Green, L&G Business Solutions - Meet your client’s/customer’s wants and needs, not yours.

18. Steve Woodruff, Impactiviti - Here is my (battle-tested!) input - in fact, it is the core of my business model: Discover needs that may not even relate to what you have to offer, then find a way to help out.

19. Elana Centor Funny Business - Flexibility.  Sometimes clients have a good reason for missing their deadline. Sometimes you have to be able to turn on a dime. Sometimes you have to give up your weekends. If the client doesn’t have a good reason, then they need to compensate you for your flexibility, or they need to become a former client.

20. Laura "@pistachio" Fitton, Pistachio Consulting - Be genuine, helpful, friendly and useful. Demand for your services is unlimited if you create value for your clients.

21. Stacy Williams, Prominent Placement - To build a successful business relationship, you have to be willing to give more than you receive and think more about how you can benefit the other person than how they Heart_6 can benefit you. -and-  Business relationships are more meaningful, lasting and rewarding if you reach beyond the sometimes impersonal nature of a business connection and get to know the warm, interesting, unique person behind it, and establish a personal relationship with them as well.

22. Larry Benet, Larry Benoit The Connector - I think one of the best ways on building successful business relationships is to tell and show your partners, vendors and suppliers how much you appreciate them.I like to send personal heartfelt greeting cards along with small tokens of my appreciation.  I will enclose a Starbucks gift card, or a gift certificate to something I know they might be passionate about. If they are a reader-I will send a Barnes and Nobles gift card, if they are into home improvement-a gift card to Home Depot.  I do this thru a stay in touch system I use  http://www.referralmagic.net

23. Lee Odden, Top Rank Results Top Rank Blog - Start right by clearly identifying and managing expectations. There is no bigger  business relationship killer than the perception of over promising and under delivering.

24. Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/CResearch -In order to build successful business relationship it needs to be a win/win for both sides.

25. Sally Falkow, Pro active - Really listen to what your client is saying. We tend to be focused on our own agenda. We’re waiting for the chance to get our point of view across and we often miss what the client needs and wants.

26. Wendy Piersall, E Moms At Home - My advice on building successful business relationships is no different than building any other kind of relationship - build a relationship with 'people' not with 'prospects' or 'clients'. :)

27. Greg Rathjen, Marketecture  - Try to remember that it is not about 'me.'  Have always thought that
good marketing was simply "smart empathy" in action. Same principal applies to client vendor relations.  Things go best when I put myself in their shoes and feel "their pain," so to speak, and create smart ways to fix it.  When I was in the agency biz and we were pitching new business I always fell on my sword to make sure the agency credentials were last, not first.  Nine times out of ten, if we demonstrated smart empathy they never even asked to see the credentials.

28. Julie Squires, Soft Scribe - Read Dale Carengie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and go and do likewise.  [Interesting, this book was mentioned from stage at two separate conferences I attended in the past two weeks: SoCon’08 in Atlanta and ALIS in Los Angeles.  It happens to be Softscribe Inc.’s corporate manual; every new team member gets a copy.]

29. Bill Flitter, Pheedo -The key to any successful relationship (personal or business) is to engage the other person through meaningful questions and active listening.
30. Scott Monty, The Social Media Marketing Blog - When I selected my title at crayon ("Consigliere"), I wanted to convey that I was a trusted advisor, both to my colleagues as well as to business contacts, because I believe that trust is the basis of any good relationship. But it takes more than simply telling someone you can be trusted - you need to earn their trust by demonstrating your value. As in personal relationships, it helps to put the other person first. Get rid of the WIIFM ("what's in it for me?") attitude.

Advise your client without any expectation of additional work; give them the best business advice possible; even show them solutions that may involve your competitors. If you demonstrate that you're there to help them succeed, the good clients will recognize your efforts and find you indispensable.

31. Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting -  When you give great customer service with honesty, integrity, and quality, they will come.

32. Joe Reger, Jr., Dneero - Whenever you ask a potential client to spend $X write two numbers on a piece of paper… the $X that you want the client to spend and the amount of cash you have in the bank.  Take a moment to reflect.  Even if you’re fabulously wealthy, putting the $X into the context of your personal cash will sober you up and help you empathize with your client. 

If you’re married and you don’t like paper you can just say this at dinner “hey honey, I just spent $X on a new [bowling ball/fishing rod/pneumatic jack]” and see how it goes.  Remember to duck.  Oh, and be honest, open, genuine and kind… duh.

33. John Cass, PR Communications - Instead of concentrating on what you want, concentrate on what your partner needs, take care of them first, and you will establish credibility and trust. Once established, your partner will either reciprocate or not have the common sense to respond.Don't be downhearted if you receive no immediate response, relationships are not build in one day; they take work and a steady head.

If you are a manufacturer or software developer and working with partners, give them business initially to sweeten the relationship, its an investment in future sales opportunities. Rather than relying on an empty piece of paper for a partnership agreement, forge a real relationship with your partner/customer by calling or meeting with them on a regular basis to discuss ideas instead of sales contracts.

What's important is to work together on something, that way you will forge a relationship, and both parties will see one another in action. Don't worry in the long term the strategy will pay off and sales will follow!

34. Holly Buchanan, Grokdotcom - Don't interrupt. I know it sounds almost stupid, but don't interrupt your client when they talk.  If they pause, do not rush to fill in the gap. Let them think and then complete their thought.   It is MUCH harder to do than it sounds. But when your client is talking, keep your trap shut. Don't interrupt.  It has this crazy effect - they think you are actually listening to them."
My two cents worth.  (oops, that was probably more than one line - sorry - I do love to pontificate)

35. Patsi Krakoff and Denise Wakeman aka The Blog SquadKeep in touch with clients by sending them links to blog posts that are relevant to their niche/field. Not only are you providing useful information, you stay top of mind with your client and position yourself as a valuable resource. For us, this has resulted in more referrals from satisfied clients.

36. Debra A Pearlman, Cambridge Buzz, Pearl Productions Love Loss Forgiveness - Like with any successful relationship, honest and open communication is key so I never try to inflate my abilities while instilling the sense that I can get the job done well.   

37. Kris Krug, Static Photography - Remember names. Send bday greetings. Take blame and deflect praise. Get in where you fit in.

38. Wayne Hurlbert, Blog Business World - There is no substitute for maintaining close contact with your customers and clients. For a smaller firm, contact is maintained easily via telephone, email, social media sites, and IM. For larger client bases, a blog, social media sites, email newsletters, as well maintaining as much personal contact as possible. will maintain relationships with customers. When clients know that you are available for them to help solve their problems, and in a timely manner, they develop trust and a sense that you truly care about their concerns.

When problems arise, prompt information to the customer base is also essential. No one likes surprises, and respect will be gained for trusting your clients enough to let them know you may be experiencing some difficulties as well. Your customers can even supply the solutions to your problems, as trust and assistance are a two way street. Developing mutual trust helps everyone succeed.

39. Sherry Heyl, Empowering Concepts - When you do not know, say "I do not know"

40. Ann Green, Millard Brown - My tip would be "suspend your agenda".  We should always enter business relationships with open minds and a partnership mentality.   

41. Paul Chaney, Bizzuka Conversational Media Marketing - Remember that your clients aren't a number on a spreadsheet. They are real human beings with needs, passions, families and lives. As such, it's best to treat them with respect and find ways to connect on a more personal level when possible. As Seth Godin has said, "Turn strangers into customers and customers into friends." Oh, and an ancient adage still holds a timeless truth: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
42. Mark Goren, Transmission Marketing - Always listen and be as reliable as possible.

43. Jody DeVere, AskPatty.com - Become a people collector: Attend a wide variety of networking events each year as your budget and schedule allow, collect business cards, build relationships and add them all to an email address book program like constant contact or other to send a monthly  fun newsy enewsletter to stay in touch and keep them up to date on what you and your business are up to!

44. Mike Sansone, ConverStations - Engage in the conversation by listening first and last.

45. Dave Taylor, The Business Blog @ Intuitive.com - Pay attention to the details. If they tell you they're not feeling well, ask them if they're better a day or two later. If their child won a prize, mention it again next time you chat.

46. Dmitriy Kruglyak, Trusted MD - IMHO, successful business relations are driven by having complementary abilities and needs. This is all about finding something that the partners or clients / vendors can help each other with. Interpersonal chemistry goes without saying.

47. Penelope Trunk, PenelopeTrunk.com - Build a successful business relationship by talking about something that's not business.

48. Drew McLellan, Drew's Marketing Minute - Always give them a little more than they’re expecting or they paid for.

49. David Berkowitz, Marketings Studio - Be giving of yourself.

50. Peter Kim, Being Peter Kim - Heart_10 Go “long” when building relationships, rather than seeking short-term dividends.

51. Des Walsh, DesWalsh.com - Love your client's business as you love your own, because in a very real sense your client's business is your own (which is probably why lawyers say "we" when they speak for their client).

52. Tom Collins, WME - See everything their way; you still may not agree with their point of view after seeing it, but this habit will give you the best chance at a long-term relationship.

53. Michelle Lamar, Online and Social Media - If YOU would not write a check for the product or service out of YOUR personal checking account, don't recommend that a client should spend the money.  It helps prioritize client spending decisions for marketing.

54. Dina Mehta, MOSOCI -  "Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi

Playing Both Sides of the Street

55. Wendy Maynard, Kinesisic - Always respect your vendors and pay them on time.

56. Ann Handley, Marketing Profs MPDailyFix.com annhandley.com - I guess I don't really draw a distinction between business relationships and personal relationships -- not in a weirdly inappropriate way, but in the sense that I try to treat those I interact with some similar fundamentals: I try to be approachable, accessible, friendly and respectful. Until, you know, you piss me off. : )

57. B.L. Ochman, WhatsNextOnLine - Instead of behaving like the Vice President of Sales Prevention, concentrate on what you CAN do, not what you CAN'T; then under-promise, over-deliver.

58. Beth Kanter, Beth's Blog - The rules of reciprocity help build successful business relationships. Following this rule, I've never had to make this speech:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1RcTeAJ6GY

59. Luc Debaisieux, mind blob - Empathy and trust. If the first one is possible (empathy) and bilateral, the second (trust) leads to building successful business relationships.

60. YHeart_12vonne DiVita, Lip-Sticking - Listen between the lines. People often don't verbalize what they really want or mean. They skirt the issue a bit, they hem and haw, and hope you'll read their mind. If you feel this happening (by listening between the lines), start asking some focused questions to uncover what's really going on. Then, solve the issue - even if it means sending them to a competitor.

61. Christopher Carfi, Social Customer  - Stop creating tired brochures and cookie-cutter websites and templated press releases, and instead to actually interact at a human level with your customers and prospects.

62. Toby Bloomberg, Diva Marketing - Leave your ego at the door but bring your skills, passion and values to the party. Know when it's time to leave the party too.

63. Your Ideas ...

Inspiration: Best Kept Marketing Secrets


Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends, asked a few friends to share their Best Kept Marketing Secrets Whisper . Lots of wonderful, inspirational ideas. Don't miss the comments.

Anita gave not one - not two - not three - but Four tips!

  • This is a tip for those of you who run blogs and online publications: Treat PR people with respect.
  • (1) PR people bring news your community will value and save you the time of finding it on your own. I’m not suggesting you regurgitate press releases word for word. Instead, use the release only as a starting point. Gather additional facts. Then write it YOUR way.
  • (2) PR reps will bring you scoops and exclusives. PR reps who come to trust you will send you news early, under “embargo.” They’ll also make company executives available for interviews.
  • (3) PR reps will circulate your article about their client on email distribution lists and on company intranets. Sometimes you’ll get linked back from the Press section of the client’s site. This can drive considerable traffic. (Never pander to get links. Write objectively and only about subjects of value to your audience — you’ll still get links AND preserve your self-respect.)=
  • (4) Don’t lose your temper in public on your blog at some inexperienced PR rep who sent an awkward email pitch. Just hit ‘delete.’ There’s no upside to making public enemies of PR firms.

And this was mine -

Forget what your mama or your preacher taught you. The Golden Rule does NOT work for developing marketing strategy. Your customers do not want to be treated “as you would like to be treated.” In understanding your customers you might discover that their values, needs and expectations differ from yours. New Golden Rule For Marketers: Do Unto Your Customers As THEY Would Like To Be Treated.

Friday Fun: Memes The Blogger's Game


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Red_rover Red rover red rover send me right over. Recently I was tagged by two BBFs Peter Kim and Cyndee Haydon to play in a couple of memes. Peter's game is 4x4 Things About Me and Cyndee's is called 7 Facts About Me.

Ann Handley, who recently launched her very own diva fabulous blog - Annarchy - had this to say about why join in the game -

So why would you publish these few revealing details for strangers to gawk at? The short answer, of course, is that none of you are exactly strangers; and, what’s more, it’s all about getting to know a bit more about each other.

It's rather nice to be asked to play (sometimes - smile) and I don't think Peter or Cyndee would mind if I followed Ann's example and combined both into one mega meme. So here goes .. and it might be nice to have your beverage of choice near by.

For Pete: 4 x 4 things about me

Four jobs I've had in my life:
Brownie Leader - in Boston's Back Bay and Beacon Hill. (I think volunteer work should count!)
Cashier at a a swimming pool - high school summer job. so much fun. crushes on the lifeguards!
Hawked the Boston Phoenix newspaper - college pick-up $
Georgia Lottery - great fun giving away $$

Four places I've been:
Belize City, Belize River - boat ride through the jungle was amazing and so surreal I thought I was in a Disney movie
Paris, France - perhaps the most beautiful city in the world
Hydra, Greece - wonderful, warm people, fabulous food. time seems to stop.
New York, NY - it's more than a city .. it's a state of mind.

Four TV shows I DVR:
SNL - a classic
SITC  - wouldn't want to disappoint you!
Iron Chef - love the creativity under fire
Desperate Housewives - great escape

Four favorite foods:
Ice cream
Fried clams - with bellies
Hot corned beef sandwich with lots of pickles

Peter asked for 4 people to be tagged. Red rover red rover send  Rick Short, Jason Kapler, Jack Yan, Robert Bruce right over. Sidebar: Since Cyndee asked for Seven Fabulous Women it seemed only fair to tag guys for the 4x4.

For Cyndee: 7 Facts About Me

1. Wine or beer - wine
2. Dog or cat - Dog 
3. Mountains or ocean - ocean
4. Coffee or tea - Coffee
5. NYC or LA - NYC
6. Summer or Winter: Summer
7. PJs or nothing - ??? ;-)

undefined rules are to tag Seven Fabulous Women. Red rover red rover send some of the W List Women Michele Lamar, Carolyn Townes,  Tammy Lenski,  Average Jane, Glenda Watson Hyatt, Sunny Cervantes Holly Buchanan right over.

If you still want to know more .. I had the honor of being part of Kevin O'Keefe's LexBlog's Interview Series with Rob LaGatta.  The interview is split into two posts - one and two.

Speaking of honors, a belated but heartfelt thanks to Holly Buchanan for including Diva Marketing in her 2007 Best Marketing To Women Blogs.