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Friday, April 30, 2010

Strategy or Tactics?

Which is more important in social media, strategy or tactics?  That's the question asked this week by TopRank's Online Marketing Blog in great posts here and here.  They asked the question to several marketing and web professionals, and the consensus is that strategy must come first.

Why, then, do so many companies try to grow their online presence before they have a clear strategy? 

Using eMarketing tools like social media, SEO, and online advertising can help you reach a large audience for little or no money.  That can lead to wonderful things for a business that is ready to handle the attention, but it can be disasterous for those that are unprepared.

On Monday I wrote a post about a company that contacted me to offer their services.  My interest was piqued, and I clicked on the link to their website.  However, the content on their website was so inept that I quickly deleted their message.  I will never do business with them, even if they fix their mistakes. 

Their tactics were effective enough to get me to their website, but their lack of an effective marketing strategy turned me away.  Consequently they're worse off than if they never contacted me at all.

Has anyone else had a similar experience they'd like to share?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why I Use

Over the weekend I was contacted by Shawn Hessinger, chief moderator and blogger for  He had read a post of mine where I mentioned as one of the social media tools I use regularly, and he asked if he could conduct an interview with me.  I'm a fan of his site, and I'm a sucker for free publicity, so naturally I agreed.

The interview includes a quick bio, how I started using social media, my basic SMM strategy, and my thoughts on  Check out the article here: Why Do You Use

Also, if you haven't been to their website I suggest looking around at  You'll find links to some of the best business blogs on the web.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Know Your Strengths

This weekend I received a message from a marketing research firm offering to provide me with high quality marketing services, including email campaigns and data collection.  However, their website contained a great deal of grammatical errors and phrasing that didn't quite make sense.  Why would I consider outsourcing my marketing communications to a company that doesn't communicate effectively? 

Knowing a few things about SEO and web design does not make you a marketing professional.  I wouldn't hire a mechanic just because he knew how to drive, so why would I hire a technology firm to run a marketing campaign?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Too Much Communication

I typically spend 2-3 hours each week blogging, and maybe another hour replying to comments.  I also spend 1-2 hours reading tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts, etc.  That's on top of the two hours or so I spend emailing.

So I spend around 6 or 7 hours each week on electronic communications.  That's a much greater time investment than I thought I was making, but I know people that spend much more time than that.

How much time do you spend on social media in a given week?  A couple hours?  A few?  Several?  At what point is it too much communication?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Deciding Who You Aren't

Monday I wrote a post asking why customers should choose you instead of your competitors.  It lead to lots of great conversations, particularly one with Mike Klassen in the comments section of that post.  (Not a surprise considering a previous conversation I had with Mike lead to one of my more popular posts.) 

Anyway, the discussions here and in LinkedIn got me thinking about how many companies try to be everything to every customer.  It's a nice idea, but it doesn't work.  In order to find your place in the market you have to decide who you are, and more importantly who you aren't.
  • Are you high quality or low price?  
  • Are you the fastest or the most reliable?  
  • Are you the sexiest or the safest?

Lots of companies do a variety of things reasonably well.  But if you do just one or two things incredibly well then you'll have a much easier time distinguishing yourself from the competition.  Then you'll find customers that appreciate you for who you aren't.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Why You?

Why should someone choose you instead of your competitor?

Are you faster?
More reliable?
More flexible?
More effective?

If you can't answer these questions, your prospective customers probably can't either.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Little Help From My Social Network

About 6 weeks ago I posted the following question on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn:
I'm trying to get set up with Google Voice but can't seem to get an invitation. Anybody have one they can send me?
I expected the invitations to come pouring in.  Instead I got nothing!  Well, one person did ask if I'd had any luck, but there was no offer to help.  Anyway, I was a little sad that I didn't get the Google Voice invitation I had asked for, but I was much more disappointed that nobody responded.

Since then I have made considerable effort to expand my network, not by adding random people but by making real connections (particularly through this blog).  I'm also constantly working to increase my understanding of these social media tools so I can use them more effectively.

Today I posted the same thing in Ask A Question on LinkedIn.  Within an hour of posting I had a Google Voice account up an running!  Thank you to Paul for hooking me up.

I know I still have much to learn about effective social networking, but it's nice to know I've made a little progress!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Social Media in National Media

Tuesday seemed to be a slow day for my social media and RSS feeds.  Looking for something new to read, I wandered to Google News and searched for "social media."  I found 3 very interesting articles that suggest social media has now taken center stage for many marketing campaigns.

McDonald's hires its first director of social media- 

The Boston Celtics said that they are about to pick a winner for a contest featured in their Celtics Banner Moments social media program- 

SAS introduces a tool to take the technology challenges out of Facebook, Twitter, blog and public-forum monitoring-

Monday, April 12, 2010

e-Marketing Isn't Magic

I recently came across a definition of e-Marketing that I really like:
Very simply put, eMarketing or electronic marketing refers to the application of marketing principles and techniques via electronic media and more specifically the Internet.
Yes, it sounds very simplistic, even obvious.  But if you take a look at many of the websites and blogs dedicated to e-Marketing the use of "marketing principles" is severely limited.  Many people like to focus on hot topics like SEO, social media optimization, Google AdWords, etc., but it rarely seems to be part of an overall, holistic approach to marketing.

Using internet and social media as tools can be a fantastic way to carry out a well though out marketing plan.  Using them instead of a real marketing plan can be a disaster.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sticks and Stones

Wednesday I wrote a post called Money Talks; Bullshit Walks.  In it I suggested that the measures that matter to small businesses most are financial, specifically cash flows and operating profit.  I received comments in LinkedIn group discussions and on this blog that strongly disagreed with me.  To clarify, I didn't mean to suggest that money is the only thing companies should ever be concerned with. I'm merely saying that startups and small businesses with limited resources should not worry about trying to measure intangibles like customer satisfaction until they have some financial stability. 

I enjoyed reading the comments from those that disagreed with me, even one that suggested my message is for "small minded, intellectually challenged people."  There's lots to debate here, and I look forward to bringing this topic up again in the future.  I also got a couple of comments from those that did not appreciate my use of "vile language."  Honestly, I gave the title of the post considerable thought.  I almost used "B.S." or "Bulls**t" or some variation thereof to try and avoid offending readers.  I also thought of changing the title to something else to avoid the issue all together, but in the end the title felt right to me.

I'm reminded of a post I read about a month ago on, a great blog I subscribe to.  In it Jim Keenan says the following regarding swearing:
Professional speakers dropping F-bombs that enhance authentic, real, presentations where the swearing brings value is exactly what we need. Gratuitous swearing does none of this and therefore I’m not a fan.
I know my use of swearing turned away some potential readers, but I also know that the same post helped my expand my social network. So does that mean it was a good decision?  Did it make my post more authentic, or was it simply gratuitous?  I'd love to hear everyone's comments on this.  Just please, no swearing!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Money Talks; Bullshit Walks

On Monday I wrote a post about reviewing business performance, and I got lots of great responses in the LinkedIn groups where I posted it as a discussion topic.  There were many different ideas about what metrics are most important, including customer retention, employee satisfaction, and marketing effectiveness. 

Each of these measures are helpful, as are countless others.  However, for startups and small business with limited resources the measures that matter most are financial, specifically cash flows and operating profit.  Customer and employee satisfaction don't matter if your business isn't profitable (and low prices and high wages might be what made them happy!).  Even effective marketing campaigns mean little if you can't afford to pay for them any longer. 

Businesses need to have their finances in order before they worry about other success factors.  No other measure matters if the company can't stay in business.  Without cash everything else is just bullshit.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reviewing Business Performance

The first quarter of 2010 is now behind us, and it's time for businesses to look back and see how they did.  There are typical measures of success that many companies use:
  • Did we make our target numbers?
  • Did we do better than first quarter of 2009?
  • Did we do well compared to our competition?
All of these are valid questions and can give a company insight into their business compared to their projections, their historical achievement, and the rest of their industry.  But does that really indicate whether or not a business is doing well?  Should you be pleased your company is doing a little better than others in an tumultuous industry?  Should you be upset if you don't achieve budget numbers that were overly aggressive?  Is it really smart to gauge year-over-year success compared to the worst economic period in recent history?

As corporations report these types of numbers their shareholders will overreact as usual.  Good companies will see their stocks devalued because of slow growth, and share prices in a few mediocre companies will increase based on performing a little better than expected.

Small businesses, however, have the luxury of looking at the big picture.  Can you meet your short term obligations?  Do you have a product/service mix that satisfies your customer base?  Is your company well positioned for future growth?  These are the types of questions that monthly/quarterly/annual reporting should attempt to answer. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Links To Readers' Blog Posts

Without a doubt my favorite thing about this blog has been the great conversations I've had with intelligent, engaging readers in the comments section here and in the LinkedIn group discussions where I post each blog link.

Today I'm featuring recent blog posts from three readers whose comments have created fun discussions and have given me a great deal of valuable feedback on my own social media and planning strategies.

B2B Sales and Marketing Team Integration

The value of a great magalog copywriter

Maximize your LinkedIn Profile and Expand Your Web Traffic and Business

I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I did.  If any other readers have blogs feel free to post a link in the comments section.  I'm always looking for new insights!