If You Build It, Will They Come?
It is hard work as of late, convincing individuals that blogging needs to be part of their digital personal brand strategy.
Especially those that have amassed valuable knowledge over the years and even those with great ideas and opinions.
Some tend to believe that all they need to have is a static presence, say hello on Twitter or Facebook once in awhile, occasionally add connections to their network and they are set to attract clients.
The “build it and they will come,” theory.
Lets be honest, this method doesn’t work and those that are venturing into this arena can back me up. There is no “one size fits all,” path to success.
It’s about creating relationships and you have to drive traffic. BUT it is not only traffic that is important. Unlike traditional media where today’s news is tomorrows fish and chip wrapper, the world of the Internet has staying power. So every entry into the online world leaves a digital footprint about you that can be found.
Magnetism & Four-Letter Words
Streetwise professionals would probably also agree that publishing blog articles is like magnetising your target audience to you. When the blog is quiet, the traffic to your blog slows or stops.
Lets take a look at some benefits:
• Gives the writer credibility.
• Focuses on the author’s ideas and expertise.
• Establishes credibility in the author’s niche.
• Attracts the reader to the author & the author’s additional content.
How awesome, right?
Who wouldn’t want that?
Ever met a salesperson that didn’t like the spotlight or to talk more about themselves?
Even so, when I say the word, “blog,” it’s like I’ve said a four-letter word.
The definition of this word has also changed; with the advent of 140 character micro-blogs i.e. Twitter, the use of video blogs i.e. YouTube, picture blogs i.e. Flickr. Penning a few words can lead to engagement however the richer the content the richer the engagement.
Walking the talk
So, for some time, I’ve been pondering how I could get more people interested in blogging. A little more exciting…more “sexy,” if you will.
It would have to be, or I’d lose my audience.
In this case:
• Sales Professionals.
Individuals, that clients will make decisions about, in 2012 and future.
These days, the Internet is a haven of nifty new media. A place where we read, play games, buy, sell, trade, socialise, and more…
Building a boat
Back to my challenge – To making blogging more attractive and enticing. As a parent, my instincts are to put a fun slant on it.
Much like how we convince our children to take their medicine with the song, “A spoon full of sugar.” Or inspire others to remember something with a groovy acronym.
Finding the Hot Button
So, playing to what gets people enthused I realised this is the sweet spot…the hot button. I should find a way for them to get just as excited about their blog as they might be about “MONEY“.
M – More
O – Opportunity
N – Needs
E – Engagement
Y – You
More Opportunity Needs Engagement from You
Oh yes, Show me the money!
What sales person wouldn’t get excited about that? Information about themselves – about their purpose – rippling across the Internet where their target audience is hanging out!
Can you imagine what could happen with this slightly changed perspective?
Pen is mightier than the sword
The 2015 roadmap will be tough. Battles between competitors are intense, at a time when our clients need answers and solutions.
Dell are changing customer engagement with mighty mileage from social media. From a marketing, brand and personal standpoint, a blog should be the hub of your social media and digital presence.
Technology is already changing who wins and how.
Employees – regardless of time served, status, or experience – NEED to stop snarling their nose at penning a few words once in awhile, and start realising the benefits.
For them, and their clients.
More Opportunity Needs Engagement from You
- Don’t fret as much about the technology. Don’t have a blog? Start one at WordPress.com or Tumblr.com. If you want more flexibility, get your own WordPress blog (affiliate link) by clicking the 4th option on this page.
- What are you passionate about? What is useful to others? These two thoughts combined are your best bet at defining your platform.
- You might be the “little drummer boy,” worried that what you have to say isn’t worthy. Everyone has something to contribute, especially if you remember to be the real you and not a copy of others you feel are successful.
- Get in the habit of writing daily, even if you don’t post daily. Start with 200 words. Then 300. The current best bet for a blog post’s length is between 300-500 words. You can get that.
- Remember that there are all kinds of platform-making choices. You can do blogs, video, newsletters, social networks, and many more avenues. What you can’t do is do ALL of those well. Pick a few and work from there. One, maybe two, is a good start.
- Don’t be afraid to consider video or audio as part of the mix. We are inundated with text. Why not give all those shiny new smartphones and tablet computers something to consume?
- The simplest of messages is often the one we need to hear the most. Paulo Coelho has a world record for how many languages and countries his book, The Alchemist, has been translated into for consumption. The real core of the book is about love and how all things are essentially the same.
- People always worry about how often or rarely they should post. The answer is “how often do you have something worthy of tapping into my attention?” Do it that often.
- It’s hard to create consistently without inspiration. Read often. Keep your eyes open. Be wary of how your world offers you stories every day.
- No matter what other tools you use, make sure you have a website that is your “home base.” Everything else is an outpost. You can spend more time on the outposts, but your goal is to encourage a visit to the home base for a furthering of the relationship.
- We are in a consumption society. People can barely read a tweet. Keep everything brief. Note how a numbered list helps with this? Do similar things. Think bite-sized.
- We tend to overwrite. Most people’s first few paragraphs are throat-clearing, and their endings are weak. Try cutting from the beginning, and making sure the ending of what you write lands well.
- Short sentences rule. Read The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. You can’t not write like her afterwards.
- In video, the goal is under 2 minutes, unless it’s a speech or an interview. A trick: you can break up videos with your own “commercials.”
- People can barely read tweets. If your blog post is super long, make it worth it.
- Writing commentary about other people’s ideas is great – occasionally. Start formulating your own brief ideas.
- Want to master brevity? Learn how to create useful posts on Twitter. It spreads to other mediums quite well. Participate in a few hashtag chats like #blogchat on Sunday nights (US time).
- If you can say it with fewer words, do so.
- Think of ways to “chunk” your content, so that people can consume it. We’re consuming more and more on mobile devices. How will you serve that marketplace?
- Email newsletters were born to be brief. One “ask” per email is plenty.
Video. Video. Video
- Find a video recording tool and start using it. It can be your laptop. It can be a standalone like the Kodak PlayTouch. Whatever. Just start recording. Practice getting comfortable. Delete the first dozen until you feel like you can look at the lens.
- Get a YouTube account. You can use any other platform you want, but you must also use YouTube. It’s the #2 search engine in the world. Why would you NOT use it?
- Practice recording daily. Practice publishing weekly. Even if it’s just a few minutes. (It’s better if it’s just a few minutes.)
- Remember that brevity rules. 2 minute videos (or even shorter) get much more play and have many more views until the end than long videos. Yes, interviews are a different beast. Break them up with “commercials” or other ways to segment them.
- You can edit just fine in iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. If you graduate to Final Cut Pro or Sony Vegas or whatever, great. But don’t worry about that at first. Just start with the simple and the inexpensive.
- AUDIO is the secret to better video. People forgive a lot of visual mess if you have solid audio.
- How I learn more and more about video comes from watching and dissecting how others do what they do. Find interesting video shows (or TV shows) and figure out how they get what they get.
- Remember: start somewhere. You don’t have to do amazing video. You have to start telling a story that reflects you, and that is helpful to others. This is the core of a humble platform.
- Interviews are a great way to get started in video, because you can ask others to talk about themselves. Learning about others is often helpful to people.
- The more you practice with video, the more you’ll see rewards. We are a visual race, we humans. But don’t forget to add text in the post that contains the video.
Ideas Drive Platform
- If you’re the same as everyone else, how will we notice you? Ideas need contrast to make sense.
- The best ideas are the ones people can take and make their own. Give your ideas “handles” and let people take those ideas with them when they go.
- If you can clearly articulate your ideas, even simple ones work well.
- Sharing other people’s ideas helps show that you don’t feel you know it all. (Humble, remember?)
- Sometimes, a question makes for a great idea. I’ve learned plenty from admitting I don’t know something.
- One amazing idea trumps a lot of little ideas. And yet, usually really little ideas can be amazing. Sir Richard Branson’s biggest business idea is to keep his companies small. For a long time, only the airline bucked that trend.
- To come up with great ideas, read and listen to other people’s great ideas. To make your ideas great, share them as often as you can.
- Hoarding ideas is like stashing ice cubes under your mattress for later. Use them when you get them, and share them liberally.
- Never worry that someone else “stole” your idea. Ideas are free. Execution is what makes you money. I’ve met countless bitter people who “invented Facebook” years before.
- We love learning from people who have interesting and positive ideas. It’s harder to keep an audience, if you’re forever in the negative and griping camp.
- The more I act like myself, instead of like what I thought the world wanted, the more successful I become.
- Realize that there’s a “hot mess” line, meaning that you have to filter the “you” that you put out there a little bit. People don’t want to hear every woe and misery in your life. (Most times. Dooce not withstanding.)
- Realize that being yourself means you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Embrace that.
- The “yourself” that most people want you to be is the one that they can learn something from. And yet, if that’s not what you want to be, disregard me and be yourself.
- Part of being yourself is untangling from other people’s expectations. This is a very difficult matter, and yet important to building your platform.
- “Be yourself” doesn’t mean be only about yourself. Connecting with and caring about others is always a trait that earns more attention.
- It’s great to have a lot of passions. When displaying this via your platform, try to tie them to a larger storyline so that people understand how they connect.
- Never let your shortcomings become your reasons why not. Richard Branson is dyslexic. Ryan Blair went from gang member to millionaire success story. Excuses are Band-Aids on wounds that don’t exist.
- Marsha Collier said it best: “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
- Start where you are. Lots of people worry that everyone’s so far ahead. Those people? They started somewhere.
Humble Is Better Marketing
- It’s better to focus on helping and creating useful information than it is to seek and share praise about yourself.
- Promoting others does more for your reputation and reach than promoting yourself.
- Share other people’s great work, and create great work. Yours will be shared, at some point.
- Leaving comments on other people’s sites with your links and promoting your stuff is poopy. It smells of desperation. Don’t do it. The only exception is when you’re invited to do so.
- Ask about others first. The most famous people I’ve met do this and do it well. Both Sir Richard Branson and Disney CEO Bob Iger asked me about me before I could start my interviews with them. In both cases, they were sincere and interested. Learn from the big dogs.
- The more you care about the success of others, the more you will be successful.
- Being humble isn’t a marketing plan. It’s a requirement for doing human business.
- Humble doesn’t mean “forgotten,” nor does it mean self-destructive. If you’re too humble, that’s also called “invisible.” Realize when the right times to chime in might be.
- Yes, occasionally, it’s great to pat yourself on the back.
- Remember that praise and criticism are the same: other people’s thoughts that shouldn’t sway your overall mission. (We tend to accept praise but loathe criticism. Learn to loathe it equally.)
Your Three Roles
- Whether or not you want to be, you are now in sales and customer service, along with whatever your main goal or drive might be.
- If you want your platform to succeed, you have to become comfortable with selling. Sell yourself. Sell your product. Whatever you’re looking to do, learn how to be open, clear, and honest with how you sell.
- Customer service (and use this term broadly) matters. If you’re selling something, serve those who are your customers. If you’re hoping to sell, realize that how you treat your prospects is how you should treat your customers.
- Marketing is part of sales. If you’re not finding ways to promote (humbly!) your ideas and your goals via your platform, you’ll not get the chance to have sales.
- Listening and responding are core to customer service. It’s amazing how many people miss opportunities simply by missing a reply. (Happens to me, often.)
- The old “ABC” from Glengarry Glen Ross was “Always Be Closing.” The new ABC is “Always Be Connecting.” Networks are what make selling easier. Your platform is part of how you network.
- Customer service also means sometimes learning who isn’t the best customer. It’s a tough moment when you have to let a customer go, but often times, this leads to improved success. (Tread cautiously here.)
- Most small businesses split their time in thirds: 1/3 prospecting, 1/3 executing, 1/3 serving your customers. That’s a good model for us, too.
- If you’re doing it right, all three roles complement each other. We buy from people we know. A platform helps with that. Serving the people you care about, your community, is just what comes with the territory.
- No matter how busy you are, if you’re not doing one of your three prime roles, you’re not working on your business or your platform.
- Building a platform takes time. Years. But you have to start somewhere.
- Doing the work requires more time and effort than not doing it. Unemployment is also easier than working.
- No one ever hands you success. Even those stars you sneer at, saying “but they had ____” , really have to earn it.
- Success, as I define it, is the ability to choose how you spend your day, and a full belly.
- It takes a lot of “kitchen table” time to find ideas that can bring you success. But you need to test those ideas out at the “lemonade stand” to know whether they have any play in the marketplace. And ultimately, the beauty of this platform you’re building will be that it provides a “campfire” around which you can gather and further develop the community.
- There are very few successes in the world that happened as solo acts. You need a team, a network, and a lot of goodwill.
- Success doesn’t just show up. It comes in tiny molecules daily. If you didn’t work today on building success, how will it come to you tomorrow?
- Success is also about knowing what not to do, and what to cut out. Success is about stripping down to the core of what you can do for the world. This takes work.
- Never mistake popularity for success. There are plenty of popular people who still haven’t made it.
- Success never comes to those who don’t put in the work. If this seems like a lot of repetition, it’s because this one lesson is often skipped over.
What to Talk/Write About
- Write about your potential audience or buyer more than you write about yourself.
- Sometimes, the best posts or videos come from the frequently asked questions people have.
- Share more than just a few tiny tidbits. People know if you’re trying to lure them in deeper.
- Interviews make great content, but only if you ask great questions.
- Product and service demos can be interesting.
- Testimonials are good to talk about, but ESPECIALLY if you can highlight the hero, your customer, and not your product. Meaning, talk about a successful ____ customer, but don’t talk as much about the product as you do them.
- Personal posts can make for really great content. And by personal, I mean, connect people with who you are and what you are about outside of your professional role. What else are you into?
- Point out the great people in your community. Posts or interviews really make this happen.
- Deliver instruction. Teaching someone how to do something never goes out of style.
- Don’t forget to do the occasional series.
What to Avoid
- Any post bragging about how great you are is a wasted post. You want to feel proud, but it’s just hard for people to feel it with you, unless you’ve built the relationships first.
- Posts that are selling, but that are masked such that they don’t appear to be selling aren’t good business. If you’re going to sell something, be clear about it.
- Try never to say “you guys.” Address one person, a very important person.
- Try never to write about us and them.
- Want to wow people? Don’t write nasty posts about your competitors.
- Don’t worry about link-baiting. Worry about becoming a trusted and valuable resource.
- Before you blog or shoot video in anger, rethink whether it’s worth it.
In the end, it’s up to you. Yes, this will take work. No, this isn’t simple. Yes, there will be mistakes. But I feel that the world is shifting from simply “use of social networks” into “seeking of value.” This is some of the way you can attain that.
reveals the following trends:
December 2011 Compared to December 2010 (year/year)
- Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales were up 5.4 percent over 2010.
- Mobile Traffic: 15 percent of all online sessions on a retailer’s site were initiated from a mobile device, up from 5.6 percent over this same period in 2010—an increase of 169 percent.
- Mobile Sales: Sales from mobile devices grew, reaching 12.9 percent versus 4.5 percent in December 2010—an increase of 186.5 percent.
- The Apple Shopper: Apple’s iPhone and iPad ranked one and two for mobile device retail traffic (6.4 percent and 4.7 percent respectively). Android was third at 3.6 percent. Collectively iPhone and iPad accounted for 11.1 percent for the month.
- The iPad Factor: Shoppers using the iPad also continued to drive more retail purchases than any other device with conversion rates reaching 6.1 percent compared to 3.8 percent for all mobile devices.
“This Christmas shopping season has been characterised by consumers looking for deals and increasingly using their mobiles to shop online,” said Andrew Jackson-Proes, Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) leader for UK & Ireland, IBM. “The report demonstrates that retailers can really benefit from Smarter Commerce initiatives by meeting their customers’ expectations for offers and service via any device.”
These early Christmas season findings are based on data from IBM Coremetrics Benchmark, the only analytics-based, peer-level benchmarking solution that measures online marketing results, including real-time sales data. All of the data is aggregated and anonymous.
Coremetrics Benchmark uses IBM’s cloud-based digital analytics platform to rapidly collect and analyse intelligence on how consumers are responding to the products and services being offered to them, enabling clients to make accurate decisions on marketing expenditures. As a result, marketing teams can gain deeper insight about their consumers and present personalised recommendations, promotions and other sales incentives across the wide variety of channels—including social networks and mobile devices—where consumers interact with their brands.
More information on Smarter Commerce can be found at:
A YouGov survey of more than 2000 GB adults shows that although 73 per cent of British citizens consider sustainable living to be important to them, more than a third (36 per cent) admit being confused about what they should or shouldn’t do to do more for the planet. In response to the growing need to change consumer behaviour, and specifically the role businesses can play in inspiring people to do more with less, an IBM (IBM:NYSE) summit is bringing together some of the biggest brands in the UK on 1 November to discuss new ways that businesses can empower consumers to achieve sustainable behaviour change.
This event follows the success of last year’s IBM Summit at Start held in association with Start, a charitable initiative by HRH The Prince of Wales to inspire people with simple steps for sustainable living. Last year’s summit saw 1000 British business leaders collaborate over nine days to discuss some of the key business, economic, societal and environmental issues of the 21st century.
“We believe the imperative for sustainable action is strong and businesses have a real hunger to make a difference. No one organisation can do this alone and collaborative approaches are now needed to discover new ways for businesses to empower consumers to create a new era of innovation and growth” said Stephen Leonard, Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland. “To help make the planet smarter IBM is uniting powerful brands and some of Britain’s leading business figures to identify how they can play their part in driving social change by encouraging customers across the UK to think, act and live more sustainably.”
This year’s summit – START Now START Today! – has been organised by IBM, The Marketing Society, and Start. The summit will see some of the UK’s best-known brands including P&G, M&S, Asda and British Gas join forces to discuss how to engage consumers on sustainability issues, while providing real value back to business, with the ultimate goal of driving social change and encouraging the British public to live more sustainably.
“Start Today aims to unite powerful brands to inspire behaviour change in the UK public towards more sustainable living. The IBM Summit is central to this mission as it brings together some of the UK’s leading brands to examine the role of businesses in driving change for a sustainable future.” said Joey Tabone, CEO of Start. “Small changes in behaviour when multiplied by millions of consumers can make a real difference and show that marketing and marketers can be a force for good.”
The research, commissioned by Start, also found that although just under half (49 per cent) of those surveyed believe they themselves (i.e. the general public) are ultimately the most responsible for encouraging others in the UK to live more sustainably, a quarter (25 per cent) feel this is the responsibility of the Government, and one in six say it should be the role of British businesses (17 per cent).
Additionally, just over a third (34 per cent) said a simple idea to help them live more sustainably from a company whose products they already buy would make them more inclined to try the idea than if the Government suggested it. However, if multiple companies came together with a set of ideas, this number rose to almost three in five (57 per cent), highlighting the power of collaboration and working together to tackle this important issue.
During the course of the day attendees will discuss how businesses can reach out and influence consumers, ultimately driving social change to start building a smarter planet. They will be addressed by inspiring keynote speakers including Stephen Leonard of IBM and David Green, CEO of Ecolsland. Delegates will then break into smaller groups to debate key issues such as ‘how to engage and empower customers’, and what ‘incentives will be effective in accelerating behavioral change’.
At the end of the conference each delegate will be given a summary of the actions and decisions taken to help put these ideas into practice and make the UK smarter and more sustainable.
For further information please visit: www.ibm.com/uk/start/
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Notes to Editors
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2107 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th – 12th October 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
According to IBM‘s new, inaugural Global Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Study, 68% of CMO’s are under prepared to manage the impact of key changes in the marketing arena that relate to social media.
The survey, based on face-to-face conversations with more than 1,700 CMOs worldwide, highlighted that CMOs see four challenges as pervasive, universal game-changers in the world of marketing:
1.The explosion of data
2. Social media
3. The proliferation of channels and devices
4. Shifting consumer demographics.
When it comes to social media, CMO’s are acutely aware that social media is challenging older, mass-marketing assumptions, skill sets and approaches, and while the most proactive CMO’s are mining new digital data sources to discover what individual customers want, relatively few CMO’s are exploiting the full power of the digital or social media. In fact, only three-quarters use customer analytics to mine data, only 26% track blogs, only 42% track third-party reviews and only 48% are tracking consumer reviews. The reasons behind this are attributed to the fact that the tools, processes and metrics that CMO’s are using are not designed to capture and evaluate the unstructured data produced by social platforms.
More than half of all CMO’s think social media is a key channel for engaging with customers and four-fifths of respondents plan to use customer analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), social media and mobile applications more extensively over the next three to five years.
Of the top 10 priorities for managing the shift to digital technologies, 4 relate directly to social media, with another 3 potentially being impacted by social media. It’s also interesting to note that social media metrics appear as one of seven important measures for gauging marketing success – two years ago this would never have been the case.
The fact that so many global CMO’s are concerned about the impact of social media, and how they are going to resource, manage, analyse and measure it, highlights that social media is finally moving beyond the numbers of views or fans on various channels. CMO’s are starting to realise that social media can help achieve strategic objectives and transform their business if they invest in the right resource and planning and set metrics that match their key business goals.