Category Archives: Communications marketing

Olivier Taupin on Who's on 1st in social media in the c-suite?

The CEO, the Executive Assistant or the Hired Help?

By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog.  You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here. 

It’s agreed: Social media is here to stay. Studies increasingly report that executives (76%) would rather work today for a social CEO. MBA Central also found that 3 in 4 customers say a company is more trustworthy if its high-level leadership participates in social media. The proviso is that clients don’t like brash business styles and that “controversial personal opinions can turn off consumers.”

How do you get started in social media? Find the “why” behind your professional brand and tell us what inspires you to do what you do. Digital pioneer Olivier Taupin of Next Dimension Media reminds us that Tom Peters introduced the concept of personal branding in 1997 – five years before LinkedIn was founded. Peters said, “Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the age of the individual, you have to be your own brand.”

CEOs are being asked to write blogs that enhance their professional brand…frequent the company website…self-author posts on social networks. And, oh yes, please be authentic; no more company platitudes.

How do you manage these new demands on your time and resources? We’ve detailed a list of things-to-do but, first, here’s four general guidelines.

  1. Find your own way to express in words the company’s vision, mission, and culture. Nobody wants to hear slick and packaged slogans, anymore. “The ability to clarify your corporate culture,” emphasizes Oliver, “helps to synchronize external messages with internal communications.”
  2. Developing your online brand requires that you first build distribution networks while you create and publish content to engage with followers. It takes time to build trusted relationships in person – and online.
  3. Please don’t vent on social media…”You’re going to regret it later,” cautions Olivier.
  4. Avoid talking hard-core sales in the networks. You can talk positively about your product and services but don’t offer fans, followers, and contacts 20% off your products or get-rich-schemes in the networking platforms.

CEOs DO THIS

Start listening online to monitor your name and brand. You can gauge how often your company is discussed, the sentiment (positive and negative) and the reach. Terry Williamson of Boom! Social likes SocialMention, Hootsuite, and Topsy for these services.

  • Thoroughly complete your LinkedIn profile; reach for all-star status. By the way, your profile is not a resume emphasizes Olivier. You are not looking for employment. Also don’t forget: If you do get a new job, update your profile.
  • Ensure your headline serves your connections on LinkedIn, followers on Twitter and Google+. Think beyond the position title on your business card.
  • In your LinkedIn summary: Include the mission statement for your company in addition to describing the culture of the business. Remember that your website bio parallels your LinkedIn profile.
  • Read mentions about your company each week.
  • Set up your accounts on Twitter and Google+ or ask your EA for help here.
  • Grow your contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. You will probably want assistance here, as well, after the social media strategy is defined and approved.
  • Olivier is a strong believer in connecting with people who have viewed your profile but who also suit your purpose. It’s worth your time to pay attention to this strategist who founded over 100 groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million contacts. Be very careful that your connections reflect your strategic mission.
  • Write a blog in your voice. Sources of content for blogs are found in myriad places—either original or acquired to reflect your strategy. There are numerous tools to assist you with this task.
  • People helping with your social media will need to use your accounts and passwords. They should work under existing privacy policies or NDAs (non-disclosure agreements).

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANTS DO THIS

Your right-hand person understands your business, comprehends your mindset, is proficient in technology, and is able to write. It’s a good idea for EAs to be trained to post in the social networks, too, based on strategies designed to support your business goals.

  • Monitors your reputation using software such as Hootsuite or other social media management tool.
  • Helps grow distribution on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and FB, if applicable.
  • Manages your personal database and contributes to the company CRM for overall company database management.
  • Knows the optimum number of contacts for your network. Olivier suggests a relatively small organization could have 10,000 but a multi-national probably needs a million. Think quality over quantity.
  • Once a week, creates an event to report on Twitter or a Q&A with the CEO using the up-and-coming blab.im.
  • Sets up an information funnel from the management team.

DON’T HAVE AN EA…BUT YOU DO HAVE A SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER? 

The above duties also could be assigned to an individual in these departments. We are seeing sales and marketing working more closely together these days as departments join forces when it comes to social media.

  • Understands branding and storytelling.
  • Manages the company CRM.
  • Finds images, creates infographics, and writes ebooks to accompany posts.
  • Attends events and takes photos or video shorts.
  • Joins in the company sharing of social media content.
  • Content creators may be found throughout the company – from the receptionist to the CEO.

HIRED HELP DOES THIS

The above duties also may be hired out to a specialist, mabye even a team. A good content creator will be able to write blogs, create copy for better automated email opening rates, and manage event campaigns; another individual may know more about SEO. In addition:

  • Creates a plan.
  • Helps design social  media policies.
  • Defines personas to inform all forms of content published across channels.
  • Trains and educates the c-suite and employee groups.
  • Establishes an editorial calendar.
  • Recommends social media tools to speed up tasks.
  • Asks for an audit of all relevant content previously authored.
  • Posts, trains employees to post, or sub-contacts to social media posters. By the way, Twitter is like a radio station – tweeting once a day is not enough. LinkedIn is a different culture that benefits a great deal from group participation and management.

Did we say that social media takes time? Yet, easier to manage with time-saving tools and worth the effort in this age of the personal brand.

Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.

CEO Alert the courts want your Social Media Policy 2

Social media policy: Stern or lenient?

By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog.  You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here. 

It’s relentless. You find stories every day on Google that announce how someone got fired for posting senseless comments on social media. We call that getting “dooced”.

Sometimes, the comments are intended; other times, not. Who can forget the Royal Bank of Scotland Chairman Rory Cullinan who did not mean to go public when he sent Snapchat messages to his daughter saying he was bored at work. Cullinan lost his job after his daughter posted them on Instagram. It’s almost unbelievable that people will broadcast their most risky thoughts in a public forum.

And yet, they do.

This blog is not for those idiots. It’s for the vast majority of human beings who are sensible, generally respectful, and who appreciate guidelines to avoid the “lack of common sense” that occasionally befalls all of us.

You’ve probably already been alerted to potential disputes such as these:

  • Are you legally exposed when it comes to the rights of employees who want to freely post on social networks?
  • Who is liable when a disgruntled employee tweets about getting passed over for a promotion?
  • What about a customer who complained on Facebook about their restaurant meal to a reporter. Do you respond?
  • Should you just ban all employees from accessing their social media sites at work completely?
  • What exactly is the proper way to go about sensitive issues?

Your company—big or small—needs a social media policy advises social media pioneer Olivier Taupin of Next Dimension Media. He’s the guy who originated group rules for LinkedIn managers. The degree of leniency is up to you and your management team to decide based on the structure of your company. By the way, if you don’t have a policy, your lawyer’s hands are tied when it comes to an employee suing for wrongful dismissal because they dissed your company online. You will have a difficult time winning in court because you never told employees they couldn’t do what they did.

Examples of social media policies

Social media policies that are too broad may lose the chance to help employees develop good habits. You might even miss finding great “brand ambassadors” for your brand message.

Zappos is an example of a company that’s created a brilliant social media culture. Their policy is seven words long: “Be Real and Use Your Best Judgment.” It’s too brief for my taste and the Zappos policy is not for everyone.

Policy wonks generally refer to three approaches when making rules of engagement. The first is evolutionary to see which slip-ups—and opportunities—present themselves more frequently before scripting instructions. A second way is to establish a clear policy from the outset which leads to a third hybrid option. This method starts with composing a strategy based on your culture before determining what needs to be adopted over time.

For example, you may prefer this stern approach to social media:

  • Employees who develop and update social media postings will only do so with the approval of the president or his/her designate;
  • Only employees that have been chosen as “official” social media representatives are allowed to contribute to the brand’s social media;
  • Social media is not allowed in the workplace at all.

Oracle’s social media policy has evolved over the years. This global enterprise with 130,000 employees that designs and manufactures IT networks previously regarded social  media as a “hindrance to productivity because it could lead to too much personal use.” The company now encourages “…all employees to share official company social posts and content on their own social channels.”

There’s evidence this change-of-heart recognizes that employees with a greater voice are a happier workforce, says Eric Siu in The Globe & Mail.  He’s referring to research from the University of Warwick on how happiness makes people 12 per cent more productive.

Personally, I don’t think harsh policies are relevant today. It’s a switch-up from “Old Style PR” designed to focus on things that employees cannot do rather than what they can do.

Olivier adds that stern policies will not work in the context of social media since employees do have a life outside their workplace.These narrow-minded policies will not prevent some of the most damageable posts: Those made in the privacy of their home on personal social media accounts where they’re speaking with their friends and followers.

Don’t forget sites like Glassdoor, either, cautions Olivier. They encourage anonymous and identified authors to post reviews of current and former employers and company executives.

I like the IBM method which allows employees to comment on behalf of the company while retaining some of their personality. Here’s an example: “Lead Development Representative for #cloud at @IBM#Bluemix #Softlayer – I like fashion and news. Tweets are my own opinion.” 

IBM’s last item in their policy cheekily reminds employees: “Don’t forget your day job. You should make sure that your online activities do not interfere with performing your job responsibilities or commitments to customers.”

I also love this one from GAP when it comes to confidentiality: “Don’t even think about it. Talking about financial information, sales trends, strategies, forecasts, legal issues, future promotional activities.”

6 More Ideas for Your Social Media Policy 

When crafting guidelines, make are the 7 essential Must-Dos:

  1. Start Day One. Include briefing notes for new employees on policies in their employee handbook or however you hire a new person. Make sure that employees understand the policy is contractual and there are consequences for violating it. This early start sends the message that you’re serious about social media management.
  2. Update your Social Policy Regularly. Social Media is a fluid environment that reflects the laws governing the Internet. Expect your policies to change accordingly.You will need strategies in place as you learn this new marketing tool.
  3. Please use common sense. Yes, it seems everyone should know to resist sending a racial slur, demeaning or inflammatory comment. Yet, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and tell employees to be polite. Advise them to agree to disagree with others, especially on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, where things can go viral wrong very quickly.
  4. Create safe places. Have a genuine open-door policy. Organizational trainer David Meade says it’s the leader’s job to figure out how to help your workforce feel safe. Why? Because employees want to feel respected…listened to…and trained. So, if an employee has a grievance, encourage them to visit their supervisor before taking to social.
  5. Ask employees to amplify key messages. Social media more likely will pay dividends if employees are behind it. Give them access to content that framesss company positions and directions on key subjects. Ask them to share those messages. Also think about using social as a way to build buzz for upcoming products or services.
  6. Encourage Self-Monitoring. More and more HR departments are checking employee profiles and activities. Controversial? Yes, for good reasons. Informing employees they do not have reasonable expectation of privacy in their social media communication is often a good enough deterrent. But there is even a better one: Encourage employees to follow each other and invite managers to connect with them. The purpose is to create a team spirit, not a police state.
  7. Most important of all: Don’t stop training your employees after day one. Use the training sessions to update your workforce on policies and as strategies change.

Everyone wns.

Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.

How CEOs Win at Social Enterprise

Before you invest in social media, read this post.

By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog.  You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here.  bit.ly/1JuaV8k  

A strong mindset for company leadership always begins in the C-Suite.

Except conviction is lagging among executives when it comes to how business benefits from social media as a corporate strategy. “Only 52% of companies say that executives are informed, engaged, and aligned with their company’s social strategy,” reports the Altimeter Group on the state of social business. The path to 20% more revenue and 60% higher profit growth is being held up by the head honcho.

McKinsey and Company – named in the top 10 of Fortune magazine’s World’s Best Companies for Leaders- says decision makers must champion social change if it’s ever going to happen for an organization.

Social media visionary Olivier Taupin of Next Dimension Media is vexed by the gap in commitment in this Age of Knowledge. According to the New England Council for Educational Research, knowledge is defined, “Not for what it is, but for what it can do. It is produced, not by individual experts, but by ‘collectivising intelligence’ – that is, groups of people with complementary expertise who collaborate for specific purposes.”

Here are 4 vignettes we regularly come across when it comes to implementing social media for the benefit of most organizations. Recognize anyone?

The Pretender. This CEO saw a major sales initiative fail at his mid-sized manufacturing company. They needed a CRM installed to support lead generation and track sales engaged through social media. Management requested that he demonstrate strong support for the project and provide visible leadership. The CEO refused, saying: “I haven’t got the time. Who else is willing to take on this responsibility?” The CEO is a pretender. He reluctantly accepts the importance of social enterprise but would not make it a personal priority.

The Evangelist. This CEO believed the newly created infrastructure was not sufficiently integrated to handle business growth. She had a “gut feel” about personally selecting a third-party vendor to replace the infrastructure, and was dogmatic in her direction. She would not listen to her staff who had had done their due diligence. The project was over-ambitious and it failed.

The Pessimist. A CEO recognized that social media was increasingly central to his sales department. But he also was extremely cautious. “Don’t ask me to invest in training our employees; they can learn on their own time,” he would say. “I need to see ROI when it comes to social media.” Many CEOs appreciate this common-sense approach to such initiatives. Unfortunately, he concedes social media may be important but is not prepared to back his instincts.

The Champion. This CEO reviewed her competitors’ strategies. She found her rivals were all using social media in similar ways. For her, social media became a rallying point for employees. Over time, she espoused this belief in management meetings, seminars, and company conferences. This CEO had faith in social media as a source for competitive advantage and committed her time and attention to making it happen. She championed the move into social enterprise.

To reduce risk when it comes to rolling out your social media plan, consider these recommendations from Olivier:

1.Set priorities. Decide in favour of managing social media instead of controlling messages in the way of “Old School PR”. Traditional methods streamlined corporate messages through a single company spokesperson or the CEO.  All other comments by staff were forbidden for fear of dismissal.

There is an attitude adjustment about control that organizational psychologist Dr. Bill Crawford describes this way: “What if we decide that being clear, confident, creative, and caring are the qualities we want to be able to access, regardless of the situation, and that this is our highest purpose. The good news is that these qualities can be within our control, AND they will also help us become successful in achieving what we want.”

2. Review Like it or not, says Olivier, “Many of your employees are talking about your company on every platform.” Networks are changing fast and frequently which means that policies cannot be carved in stone and put on the shelf. “Why not collaborate with your employees?” encourages Olivier. “Connect with staff on the networks…teach them how to use the platforms…and give them good social media polices.”

3. Set aside quality time. Champion CEOs study rather than avoid change in the market place. They devote time to scanning new and emerging technologies while reflecting and talking extensively to others on how social enterprise might impact their own industry and business.

4. Train everyone. Educate employees on social media culture, language, and rules of engagement. “Would you rather have a trained or untrained employee?” when it comes to managing what’s being said about your company asks Sharon McIntosh in Empower Your Employees To Become Your Greatest Brand Ambassadors.

It is important for you to manage what employees are tweeting and posting, especially on issues that pertain to the workplace.

Will you be hampering their rights to freely post whatever content they see fit for their social networks? Should you just ban them from accessing their social media sites at work completely? What exactly is the proper way to go about this sensitive issue?

Next time, we’ll give you ideas for social media policies.

Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.

How to sell your businss

How to sell your $million business & retire: A case study

By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog.  You can also find more Modern marketing strategies for business here. http://bit.ly/1cKPcjn

“Did you have a plan in place when you decided to sell?” I asked newly retired business owner Sharon Romank.  We were musing over the recent sale of her multi-million dollar self-storage company.

The veteran entrepreneur winked at me across the dinner table and smiled. “Yes, I did.”

Full disclosure here: Sharon and I have been lifelong friends. We attended high school together and I watched the budding entrepreneur open her first start-up during university. It was a roller skating rental business during the days when the sport was hot. After picking up a degree in home economics, she travelled the world with a knap sack, articled at a management consulting firm, and worked as a show researcher for a local Martha-Stewart-type radio personality. Her MBA came later.

The idea for a new company sprang in 1988 when a property manager noticed the lack of storage in downtown Edmonton.  It wasn’t long before an old warehouse was spruced up and the Affordable Storage sign displayed prominently on the four-storey brick building. They provided space for files, equipment, commercial inventories, and household goods. The enterprise grew to include five facilities with a reputation for excellent service, trained staff, cleanliness, and top-notch security. Sharon wanted to change the way self-storage was offered to home owners and business clients by “delighting” them with a new type of experience that was spotless and felt safe.

She raised a family of three children through those years and nurtured a long history of giving back to her community, primarily through Rotary. But her marriage also ended. Sharon kept ownership of two sites after the divorce including the state-of-the art Sherwood Park property. https://www.affordable-storage.ca Fifteen years after the facility was built on vacant land, Sherwood Park found itself in a premium location and ready for sale. Sharon wanted to retire from the demanding life of business ownership.

Successful women in business

Sharon belongs to that too rare assemblage of women in business who made the jump from small home-based initiative to a corporation with distinction.  I believe we need to celebrate and encourage this type of achievement. So, I celebrate Sharon and take delight in knowing that she realized her exit strategy. This new stage allows her to assist Rotary with their annual medical missions, and to spend more time with family and new husband.

How did she plan for the sale?

1. Budget. The entrepreneur first prepared with a major renovation of the 2.8 acre facility with 480 units and retail store. She developed a financial plan to refurbish the reception area, new office space, security system, mechanical systems, landscaping, and site elements such as driveways, parking, and walkways. Sharon got the place in shape.

2. Solid management: Sometimes a decision to sell must look beyond spreadsheets and databases to people. All the ideas in the world won’t make it off the ground with indifferent employees. The owner treated her general manager and staff with understanding and a sense of fair play, offered employee training and coaching, and she always said, “Thank you.” Leadership pays dividends.

3. Good management begets well-organized books. Sharon excelled where financials, policies and operations were tracked on many levels. Buyers will do their own due diligence to understand the potential for the purchase and this type of knowledge helps to facilitate negotiations with buyers.

4. A marketing SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). This is where I came into the picture.

Sharon had defined her Vision and Mission statements 15 years earlier. Her vision had never really changed–yet, her current employees were not privy to her original thoughts. So, we peeled back her purpose to reveal short- and long-term sales and marketing objectives for the company. This process helped everyone to gain clarity of expectations, understand their personas (updated target markets for digital marketing) and drill down to the consistent messages for posting to the various mediums relevant to the company.

Here’s how it evolved:

Vivid Vision with owner and staff. Digging a bit deeper into surface-level questions went a long way towards creation of an effective and authentic communications marketing strategy. Since Affordable did not need to bolster its sales, the focus settled on deepening relationships with businesses in the ‘hood and the wider community.

Company values. As a contributor to the world, the values of Sharon and staff needed to be embedded into the foundation of the sales and marketing plan. Staff researched potential relationships with local nonprofits while Sharon maintained her efforts on behalf of global charities. Giving back contributes to overall wellness on the part of employees as well as to staff retention.

Defined personas.This was an early first step to define the characteristics of their clients. We wanted to know about customer attitudes towards the company; tangible and intangible rewards that customers believed they received from Affordable; knowledge of websites that customers preferred to visit before making a decision to join Affordable Storage.

Enhanced internal communications with existing customers/increased external communications with the community. A newsletter delivered by an automated email system kept customers conversant on seasonal improvements to the site; offered a chance to recognize customers and partners through story telling; promoted company events such as a new Community Garage Sale initiated by staff.

Editorial plan for postings across channels. In addition to the newsletter, content was repurposed for the company’s social media platforms which included Twitter and Facebook. Sharon understood that all of these efforts meant nothing if they were not made known to customers as well as to the wider community—and to potential buyers.

Close eye on measurements. There wasn’t any sales or marketing component that escaped scrutiny. A red alarm system was esablished for everyone to take immediate action if sales dropped below a pre-determined level…open rates for the newsletter were monitored and celebrated, especially when they hit 49%…and staff were rewarded when conditions exceeded expectations.

Here’s to a successful retirement, Sharon!

                                                                         

                                                                       xxxxx

Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com.

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

Kim Garst

Get real–or risk killing your brand

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

We hear the phrase “authentic behaviour” repeated everywhere today. It’s a contemporary expression heard in the media…at the office…and, this week, in a branding meeting for a university. Yet, I’m wondering who understands what being “authentic” really means.

Mature business people grew up knowing that advertising, promotions and public relations were not always authentic. Business leaders spent their entire lives positioning their company in the best possible light by omitting details that could harm a carefully constructed image. To move these agendas along, an entire generation of public relations people took on the–often unfair—handle of “spin doctor.” My own early career started here, as well.

Thankfully, change is afoot which Digiday regularly flags as a shift in attitude. It’s been serious enough for the Pulitzer-winning Guardian newspaper to run a headline that said, “The fastest way to kill your brand: inauthenticity.”

Hype vs help 

It’s a challenging hurdle for those who live on hype, over promise and under deliver, or hide behind walls of privacy.

I remember dealing with a very secretive tycoon at my business magazine a few years ago. Our columnist attended a heavily promoted opening-day reception where the writer asked the mogul a few pertinent questions about financing. The tycoon instructed the writer (read course language here) to back off and his PR gal later demanded to know how the reporter had the nerve to ask such a delicate question.

We’re clearly in an age of unprecedented consumer empowerment, where the reality of products and services is just a Google search and tweet away. That’s led to an influx of citizenry demanding business leaders to be “authentic.” Here’s how 3 executives define authentic.

Kyle Sherwin, vp of media, Sony Music: “The original “idea” of authenticity was essentially a way for corporations to attempt to not sound corporate in their marketing efforts — or at the very least to stay true to their essence.”

Rick Maynard, senior manager of public relations, KFC: “To us, being real means being honest, inclusive, boldly unapologetic, refreshingly to the point, insightful and occasionally, a little edgy. We steer clear of being artificial, judgmental, insecure, full of hot air, timid or gimmicky.”

Joe Barbagallo, social media manager, Volvo Cars US: “Authentic means being transparent. We know our audience knows us well, and so we have to be honest. You’ve got to be forthright, especially if consumers are asking you a question.”

The best insights I’ve come across on the topic of authenticity are from Kim Garst http://kimgarst.com/beyoubook. Her most recent title explains the movement: Will the Real You Please Stand Up, Be Authentic and Prosper in Social Media. Kim currently is ranked by Forbes as the #8 female social media power influencer in the world.

There is nothing disingenuous about Kim. What you see is what you get. Here’s how she defines business embedded in passion: “It’s not rooted in selfish gains or desires, but instead constantly looks for ways to make life easier for others. Unlike hype, it cannot be hyped.”

She adds: “CEOs and marketers who believe they are in control of the message of a brand in today’s social world will kill the authenticity of that brand…Today, consumers own the message. What they say about a brand carries more weight than what the brand says about itself.”

People today want to know what drives your passion. Because if you can drill down to the very essence of why you deliver your products and services, that clarity makes us care, too. It’s captivating—and makes us want to follow your parade.

Those who can’t express their vision in a short elevator pitch—the time it takes to go from one floor to the next—will have difficulty leading their sales teams and explaining what they can do for their customers.

Terry O’Reilly, http://www.cbc.ca/radio/undertheinfluence in his popular radio program, Under the Influence, says, “A clear and compelling elevator pitch says so much about the founder of the company…or the director of marketing and her campaign or the salesman and his product line or the politician and his vision.”

By the way, brand is more than a listing of your product features. The miscue happens when business leaders haven’t nailed their core values and vision for the company that attracts the emotions of customers. The snowball effect is that all marketing materials miss the boat, too.

Back to Kim Garst. These are my favourite 7 ways that she recommends to be authentic in this digital age.

  1. Choose sincerity over overblown hype. This ranges from product design to the follow-up customer experience.
  2. Recognize and respect your heritage. History is not to be ignored because of new CEOs who hope to make their mark or new competitors entering the market, or customers drifting away to new offerings. A solid foundation exists for good reason.
  3. Become useful to your customer. Can your customers live without you? Think about adding value and expert advice—and don’t be afraid of giving away too much information.
  4. Understand what your customers value. Those values will be all over the map but you will spot a trend to focus on.
  5. Express your passion. People can detect a fake most times. A dearth of passion leads to lack of aim, dull messages, and mistakes in direction.
  6. Hype leads to professional burnout. The lines between professional and personal life are blurred today. Can you show interest in what gets your customers excited outside the office, as well? Otherwise, you risk burnout.
  7. Connect with a community. By providing consumers with the ability to interact with one another in addition to the company, businesses can build new and deeper relationships with customers.

There’s much more delivered inside 170 pages of Will the Real You Please Stand Up, Be Authentic and Prosper in Social Media.

It’s worth your time.

                                                                  xxxxxx

Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com.

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

IBM InterConnect

Zero to 60: A social media case study for industry

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

Rinnnnnng! “We’re registered for the big IBM conference at Las Vegas in six weeks and we don’t have a social profile,” said Blaine McGillivray with some urgency.  “Can you help us, Sharon?”

Blaine is Business Development Manager for Technology Concepts Group (www.gotgc.com) headquartered at Illinois. The IT firm specializes in computerized maintenance, facilities management, and Maximo for industry. Their new solution, Predictive Insights, is all about the “cognitive era”. That means complex mathematical models for analyzing data that help plant operators detect and prevent faults and outages before they occur.

Blaine organized a conference call with President Mark Rogers and Managing Partner Robert Januzik to help me understand their business challenge. “I didn’t really know where to go with it (social media)”, said Mark in debrief.  “I also hadn’t realized the time involved.”

An audit of TCG’s social footprint revealed accounts for LinkedIn and Twitter and a static website —functioning much like a brochure.  No blog.  I’ve seen similar medium-sized companies that want to catch up with digital marketing; nobody wants to risk getting left behind today. TCG was a solid enterprise in business for 16 years and the principals were respected armed forces veterans.

The important detail was that TCG had finished integrating Predictive Insights with Maximo for computerized maintenance and case management systems. Think big industry—chemical plants, oil gas refineries, even car manufacturers. The new service was being launched at IBM’s conference expected to draw 21,000 delegates with 200 breakout sessions, 13 keynotes and 3 general sessions. Seven TCG personnel were making the trip to host their booth and Blaine planned to present a session on Predictive Insights.

The special event meant a serious investment for TCG.  They had six weeks to create a brand presence and promote the session.

It’s not a great idea to launch a marketing strategy in zero to 60 for any company, let alone one with little or no profile.  The better idea is to establish brand presence over time and take advantage of special event opportunities along the way.

By the way, just having a social media presence—such as a LinkedIn account—isn’t actually a social media strategy. It’s a good idea to define a plan, and more importantly, execute that plan daily with your customers in mind as well as prospects and other interested parties.

So, the plan for TCG looked like this:

  1. Determine best platforms for speed-to- market;
  2. Discover relevant influencers and build relationships;
  3. Fill the sales funnel with potential prospects and existing customers;
  4. Acquire and create content to post on platforms;
  5. Capture names of prospects at the event to follow up after the show.

Here’s how we did it.

1. Best platforms for TCG: This was easy enough. The LinkedIn/Twitter combo provides business with the best customer intelligence available today. We needed to quickly build up lists for Mark, Robert, and Blaine, though—especially on Twitter which had no brand image or followers. We corrected that by immediately taking professional photos and creating a slick banner with a relevant message for Twitter. The bigger challenge: where and how do you find prospects?

2. Relevant influencers: IBM global marketers were brilliant. They identified important technical bloggers and provided introductions to the people that TCG needed to meet. We still needed to make the case for support, though. Influential media reps also were researched and contacted. All were followed on Twitter and LinkedIn and interviews arranged where possible.

3. Filling the funnel: There was no time to manually build a database for prospects, so we chose to automate. Of course, there are hundreds of platforms, maybe thousands, which promise the world in social media. The key is to know which software-as-a-service to engage and how to apply it for the mission. We chose Socedo. (This is not a paid commercial.)

Socedo is an automated system that matched our custom criteria in a search for prospects inside Twitter. Once we approved a contact, Socedo also searched for them on Linkedin and engaged with them automatically on both social networks. We estimated finding 200 prospects per day and we had 20 days left to build up and engage with those followers.

4. Acquire and create content. TCG did not have a blog and they had not created content on a regular basis. The content bank was virtually empty. However, Blaine did have the power point he created for the IBM session which led to the publication of his first blog. Of course, the social media challenge is to find followers who believe you’re worth their time. Fresh content is key.

The good news was that IBM did have many relevant blogs, and IBM gave us permission to re-purpose for TCG. We did not need permission but it was the respectful way to go.

A lineup of blogs, articles, infographics and videos was queued up using SocialOomph and we published all day long. People noticed and followed. They’re still following three weeks after the event including Veteran Radio.

5. Capture names at the event for follow up. TCG was clever here. They created a fish bowl to capture names of interested persons in their service. Not the regular iphone draw but a free Data Analysis valued at $2,000. The complementary proof-of-concept shows how a maintenance plant can avoid catastrophe by spotting the problem in advance; qualified prospects put in their business cards.

For another occasion, TCG could take advantage of a strategy I like from Instant Customer’s Crowd Catcher method. It works this way:

  • Identify serious prospects at an event;
  • Create urgency for prospects to sign up for services;
  • Automate the client’s payment process;
  • Build a mobile site for prospects;
  • Create customizable pricing packages to offer prospects;
  • Automatically re-bill customers and makes payments to a PayPal account.

What happened for the seven TCG people who attended the event? “There was not enough time to handle the line-up of visitors to their booth,” said Mark.

And, yes, there was positive ROI with respect to the TCG social media campaign and the IBM show.  “Absolutely,” replied Mark Rogers. “Especially the combination of LinkedIn and Twitter.” He was surprised by the “amount of followers we got so quickly.” He also was impressed with the willingness of people to talk about their needs.

There’s more. Mark and his team are in the middle of quoting on four proposals for multi-national clients who asked not to be named for purposes of publicity.

A successful social media campaign often fits best with an integrated approach to marketing which likely accounts for finding the multi-national prospects. Mark Rogers and his team with Technology Concepts Group showed impressive leadership and collaboration in meeting their objectives for the conference.

They risked going Zero to 60—and won’t be left behind. Look for TCG at the front.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

Troy Media Publisher Gary Slywchuk

Build an editorial experience for digital media

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

It’s been five years since I sold my print magazine.  I’m excited to get back in the game with a weekly Digital Marketing column for Troy Media, an innovator in the journalism marketplace.  You can read my first column here. http://bit.ly/1E1piPf

Other publishers haven’t been so lucky.

For example, Calgary’s Fast Forward closed its doors last month after a 20-year run. Understandably, there’s some grief and, maybe, bitterness attributed to the publication’s demise. The popular weekly joined the obits of the Montreal Mirror (1985-2012), Boston Phoenix (1965-2013), Victoria’s Monday Magazine (1975-2013), and Knoxville’s Metro Pulse (1991-2014). My magazine, Edmontonians, lived for 21 years. Postmedia—the company that swallowed up Sun Media last year—is expected to further slash operating costs.

Of course, it’s advertising that fuels all media and traditional media continues to suffer for the lack of it. The 2014 Pew Report suggests that the journalism marketplace is still struggling to identify revenue streams to sufficiently sustain an industry reeling from the sharp declines in print advertising. Television isn’t doing much better.

Digital advertising is expected to grow, says the Pew Report, though not nearly fast enough to keep pace with declines in legacy ad formats.

So, why am I still enthusiastic despite the bad news?

The last five years of learning and working in the digital world has opened my eyes to a world of new opportunities for everyone with a story to tell. Troy Media provides non-partisan editorial content to over 1,800 print and online media outlets within Canada and around the world. Publisher Gary Slywchuk (pictured above) figured out a business model that combines legacy newsrooms (in print, television and radio) with their more nimble digital counterparts .He uses digital-first strategies ranging from audience engagement to free content, and he’s been evolving the model for 10 years. It’s working.

The need to deliver content by all organizations—not just media outlets–has reached into the stratosphere. Everyone wants to create or acquire content to satisfy the algorithms that keep their story on the first page of search engines.

Some media entities are displaying exceptional dexterity. I applaud those visionaries and other leaders of commerce who jumped on the bullet train early.

NewsCred is another good example. This growing service matches companies which need content to feed the dragon of (dis) content with words, images, audio and video. It’s another option for larger organizations to turn their branded messages  into editorial experiences. Services like Troy Media and NewsCred provide an extra layer of expertise for day-to-day publishing by curating articles and images, leading custom content brainstorms and assisting with story development and writer selection.

Building a story vs telling a story 

Speaking of storytelling, in 2015, stories are no longer being told, they are being built for followers. Story-based pages are becoming much more interactive, incorporating rich images, embedded video, enhanced infographics, and personalized content based on user data.

Keep these tips in mind while building your editorial experience.

Creating content is more complex today. Good content for websites, social platforms or email is written specifically for different categories of your visitors. For example:

  • How many different channels are available to present your content?
  • What are their information needs?
  • How do they want to receive their content?
  • Is written text preferred over video?

Here’s the process to follow:

  • Identify what type of content needs to be written.
  • Get clear on the personas for whom you write.
  • Review and edit content to ensure consistency across all pages.
  • Load content into selected platforms.

Search engines don’t see content like humans do. To achieve naturally high rankings with Google, you need to structure and format your content so search engines can find it. This is where key words and phrases come into the mix.

“The creation and growth of Troy Media Marketplace has been an absolutely terrific addition to Canada’s marketplace of ideas,” says The Vancouver Province. “While we publish material from a host of sources, I find we rely on Troy Media on at least a weekly basis for columns.”

Yes, I’m glad to be back in the biz—alongside these new journalism innovators.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

Kyle Wong and Influencer Marketing

The influential world of blogging and influencer marketing

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

We know now that creating content, especially blogs, tops the list of every how-to strategy for marketing online.

You’ve got a few choices: You can publish your own blog, infographic, video or podcast, to name a few methods. Or you can distribute content acquired from other sources.

Another option is to find people with influence to help share your story through the clout they’ve built up across the different platforms.

We call this influence marketing. It’s the practice of working with prominent people online to spread the word about your products and services through social media.

I keep reflecting on how traditional publishers previously owned the influencer market. No more. Today, an assembly of bloggers can do the same thing—maybe better.

Here’s how Kraft foods recently handled a promotion for Christmas. Kraft cherry-picked 180 bloggers with verified fans and readers who fit the right customer profile. Each influencer wrote an original recipe that featured a Kraft ingredient and each recipe drove readers to a redeemable coupon at Target.

The national brand spent $43,000 to generate nearly 760,000 blog post views from around 180 recipes. Kraft engaged a snappy new platform called TapInfluence and the campaign was less expensive than traditional advertising.

Small and medium-sized business can do the same thing with sweat equity on a smaller scale by building their own lists of bloggers and developing relationships with them.

Influencers help with everything from increasing sales to public education campaigns, event promotions, fundraising, and new product introductions.

Yet, where do you even begin to find influencers?

Start within your own networks and move out from there. Build a database to keep track of these elements:

  • Name of influencer
  • Preferred network
  • Audience size
  • Age group
  • Engagement: Clicks, comments, shares, likes, retweets, pins, re-pins
  • Advertisers represented
  • Notes from conversations to remember what you heard them last say

Of course, there are hundreds of directories for over 250 million bloggers on the planet. When you run out of names from your personal circles of influence, try expanding your search of these directories:

Be prepared to give ideas about your audience to prospective influencers, as well:

  1. Topics important to your audience
  2. Background information for your clients who are considering making a purchase
  3. Answers to questions that your customers have not  thought to ask
  4. Online sources that customers research for information on similar products and services

What flummoxed me, though, was a way to rank bloggers with whom to develop relationships. Below is  what Kyle Wong, founder and CEO of www.pixlee.com pictured above, figured out. I love it.

 Influence = Audience reach (#of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers.

Here’s 8 more points to remember:

  1. Don’t confuse volume of contacts with influence.
  2. Set objectives: Know what you want to achieve and make sure that you reach your targets.
  3. Think long term. Invest your time, attention and interest in the other person. Be careful not to be seen as only making contact when you want something from an influencer.
  4. Spot opportunities. Are you able to introduce the blogger to people within your network? Do you see potential partnerships or sponsorships to involve the blogger?
  5. Don’t forget your “everyday” customers and brand advocates. More than celebrities in your niche, this type of influencer/follower can boost small no-name companies to higher profiles.
  6. Mention the blogger on your own website or blog.
  7. Link to them – both hyperlink and other social media channels. Follow them on Twitter and retweet their best tweets. Suggest involving them in other more interactive ways – e.g. interviews or video
  8. Remember that bloggers are legally required to disclose if they are being compensated much in the way that traditional media must identify advertorials as paid messages.

In addition, when a blogger writes about your story and receives compensation, it is deemed a “sponsored post”. This means any hyperlink must be classified as ‘no-follow’ links which means they are not counted by search engines when calculating page rank.

Establishing presence in the digital world can seem overwhelming. Publishing a blog and identifying 10 influential bloggers to form relationships is a good place to start.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

 

Chris Anderson and The Long Tail

Pitching your story to bloggers and journalists: Both just want respect

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

You have a story about your new pet-tracking device, your mission to Africa, your latest software that saves time on social media. People need to hear about your amazing idea.

Who you gonna tell?

Certain bloggers like to say how easy it was to get coverage in traditional media. Grab some quotes, hire a photographer for professional photos, compose a media release and send it out through the wires. Newspaper and magazine editors would run the copy carte blanche and you’d have your story told.

Huh? That never happened on my watch during the 20 years I published a business magazine. Nor for my late husband, a long-time newspaper man and magazine entrepreneur.

On the other hand, we hear journalists complain that bloggers don’t subscribe to the same scrutiny of their facts, verify quotes, or back up statements with credible sources. Journalists typically work under a few layers of editorial filters before publication of their copy compared to the blogger who retains absolute control of their content.

I find that both types of correspondent want the same thing: respect for well-researched, unbiased commentary. Neither wants to be bought off. It’s called earned media and it means you might get your story covered by appreciating a writer’s skill and knowledge of a relevant topic.

In my previous life as a magazine publisher, we also turned down blatant gifts in exchange for coverage. It was even more stringent at the major media outlets. Yet, the provision of videos, books, pictures, and event invites are accepted in order to do the job. Today, bloggers typically accept early access to private betas for products, discount codes, or competitions to make available to their audience.

The key difference today for reaching out to journalist or blogger is technology and the culture of how that’s done.

Blogger outreach looks for either long-tail or A-lister. The A-lister approach will get you more attention for your initial post if you happen to grab their attention. The long tail, by the way, was coined in 2004 by Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief at Wired Magazine, and pictured above. The theory of The Long Tail is that our economy moved away from mainstream products to a huge number of niche products or niches in the tail. You benefit from Google algorithms when a blogger writes on a long-tail topic that boosts your SEO rankings.

Both the blogger and the journalist are important for your story. Copyblogger offers these guidelines to which I’ve added my own comments for you to prepare a social media release.

Optimize headlines

There are three types of readers that you can optimize for:

  1. Regular readers
  2. Search engines
  3. Socially driven sites

Let’s look at each category.

Writing headlines for regular readers

Writing headlines for readers requires the same skill from journalists and online writers. It’s the ability to capture readers’ attention by using imaginative and clever captions. Boring or misleading headlines lose readers in every medium.

You also want to make your title as short as possible because readers don’t have a lot of patience and you have mere seconds to get their attention.

Writing captions for search engines

What’s new is that puns and plays on words have gone by the wayside. We used to have more fun writing headlines but search engines rule here. Search engines also like compelling words to gain click through—especially since Google’s algorithms have become more responsive to get the most clicks. Keep these guidelines in mind for writing good post titles as well as subsections:

  1. Title lengths should average between 60 and 80 characters;
  2. Use keywords in your title but keep it captivating;
  3. If possible, start with key words for readers who scan for those words.

Subtitles have always been used because it’s easer for readers to consume all the text. They’re even more important in the digital world because subheads are indexed by a search engine.

Diagonal reading, skimming, and scanning  

CopyBlogger described the diagonal reader as someone “who gives the content a first pass by reading an article passively—just like one would browse a magazine, look at photographs, or watch television.”

New? Not so much– city columnists for daily newspapers and, well, for all traditional media have used these tactics forever.  Many people consider skimming and scanning search techniques rather than reading strategies. As readers, we consume about 240 words per minute or skim and scan about 900 words per minute by reading these 5 sections:

  1. The title or headline of an article;
  2. The subtitles;
  3. Any bold, underlined, quoted, or otherwise highlighted text;
  4. Pictures, graphs, charts, or images of any nature;
  5. A summary of the article.

What font type should you use?

We experimented with fonts all the time at the magazine. When websites first emerged with regularity in the early 90s, all the hipsters moved to the sans serif font. My editor liked to keep text in a serif to help with ease of reading. She had studied font styles forever and she was right. The “story” or main body should be in serif fonts such as Times New Roman, while titles, subtitles, and captions can more easily adapt to a font like Arial. Easier to read. (In the case of this blog, I’ve reversed the format because this WP doesn’t seem to allow me a choice.)

 How about font size?

I made a mistake with early automated email campaigns and blogs. We were accustomed to using a 10 to 12 point font in print but I received complaints from online readers. In general, 12-point font is a good size but I’ve moved to 14-point and also give the reader an ability to increase the size of page text.

The technical reason for this is because different operating systems display text at different resolution so no matter what size you choose, it will be difficult to enforce so that everyone sees the text in the same way. The common sense reason is that people’s eyes need as much relief as possible when reading the computer all day long. Our eyes get tired –and, I suspect, eyesight will be deteriorating at a faster rate than previous generations.

A 12-step program to creating a social media release

Here’s a list of to-dos when preparing your next social media release.

  1. Write a headline with 60 to 80 characters.
  2. Use a keyword in the headline.
  3. Sign up and publish royalty-free stock images that enhance your story.
  4. Use keywords for your lead paragraph but aim to write naturally as possible.
  5. Use bullet points to convey a list of facts.
  6. Attribute statements of fact to credible sources. Add links to any supporting information.
  7. Obtain approved quotes from CEOs, customers, and experts.
  8. Provide the URL of your media release.
  9. Supply embed code. Preferable hosted on your site with a branded video player.
  10. Offer whitepapers, charts, and graphics for the reader who wants more.
  11. Provide contact information with website, social signature, and telephone.
  12. Share this buttons make it easier to share the content.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.

 

Sharon Romank

How to get a 49% email open rate

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

I’ve been thinking a lot about newsletters and automated email marketing that evolved from direct mail in the 80s.  Both methods have been used diligently in my career.

Newsletters certainly offer a solid tool for staying in touch with clients. My blog titled, “We still revere newsletters with a twist” remains the highest read among missives this year. I still love the medium.

A really good example of a newsletter program developed for Affordable Storage Sherwood Park  that included a personalized email letter averaged the highest open rate: 49.6%. Yes, you read that correctly. Company President Sharon Romank is pictured above and I’ll tell you how we achieved results that exceeded the industry average of 16% a bit later.

It makes sense.

We like to feel as if a company from which we receive email is speaking directly to us. Email expert Karen Talavera backs this up: “Those one-to-one email messages are the key to revenue and response optimization, because they convert at 10 to 20 times higher than generalized broadcast campaigns.” And, according to Epsilon, triggered email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than traditional bulk messages.

Everyone craves personal attention, especially in a world so reliant on technology for relationships. It might sound ironic that it’s possible to automate your email messages for a more personal connection with each each customer. That is company gold.

What’s the first step? Forget using Outlook or Gmail; they’re too cumbersome. Standard email services just don’t give you enough flexibility or information to study results. It’s more useful to discover how many emails were opened and how many links were clicked for more detailed analysis and follow up. Certain Email Service Providers (ESP) can also add photos, short videos or landing pages which are like flyers that lead to a certain action.

Companies that use marketing automation have 53% higher conversion rates than non-users, and an annualized revenue growth rate 3.1% higher than non-users, according to the Aberdeen Group. And B2C marketers who take advantage of automation for everything from cart abandonment programs to birthday emails have conversion rates as high as 50%, eMarketer reports. As mentioned earlier, Affordable Storage Sherwood Park averaged 49%.

It’s true that installing email automation needs some time to get off the ground. But automation doesn’t need to be complicated—and it shouldn’t be daunting. The decision is to select software to carry out the task of automating your email campaigns such as Instant Customer, which I use, Infusionsoft on the high end or Mail Chimp on the low end. These services automate marketing communications with customers on a regular basis.

ESPs help with monitoring your email deliverability and bounce-backs and ensuring your compliance with anti-spam regulations. When you send your email campaign through an ESP, it will include a standard opt-out and global opt-out link as well. If you have no design experience, ESPs can help provide templates to make email campaigns look professional.

We now know that email tops marketing preferences. This is because not everyone is always logged into Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. But most people constantly check their email, even when they are not at their computers.

Here’s an example of how email marketing automation can work in a campaign:

  1. A potential customer registers to download a free white paper;
  2. The customer’s email is captured via the download form;
  3. After the download, a follow-up thank-you note is sent introducing the company and sales contact;
  4. A series of emails (a 3-part how-to for example) is triggered to this potential customer over time);
  5. If the prospect engages with the other mails, as well, the prospective customer will be considered to be more sales ready;
  6. You can now assign the leads by quality and buying stage. For instance, points are allocated to leads that requested download reports. Higher points are allocated when a price sheet is downloaded. The demographic of the lead is captured and weighted;
  7. Someone whose title is Vice President is given higher weight than someone with a designation like Office Manager if the VP is responsible for those decisions.

Now, leads are weighed and scored, with only the effective leads sent to business development. It doesn’t have to be a follow up; many companies just want to know better timing to present an offer.

Companies also need to set realistic expectations—based on past performance—of what a successful email campaign looks like.These are some of the reasons why a company will adopt marketing automation:

  • Save time. Multiple campaigns can be scheduled way ahead of time and released when you’re ready. This gives you time to work on something else—like your golf swing;
  • Efficiency. Time and resources can be reduced, therefore costs can be reduced too;
  • CRM integration.  Automation helps you keep track of those leads, so they don’t drop off the radar after a couple of unsuccessful contacts;
  • Data collection. Modern marketing isn’t always sales driven. Additional information can be used to collect specific details to improve future campaigns or communication;
  • Multi-channel management. So many channels, not enough time.  Marketing automation can help you keep tabs on any channel;
  • Personalization. The goal is to be warm, welcoming, and relevant in this mechanized world. They will be more open to you.

It’s also helpful to understand the various personas or target audiences that make up your customer base. Put yourself in their shoes and identify where the customer experience falls short as they interact with your brand.

I promised to tell you how Affordable achieved a 49% open rate. Here’s what we did:

  1. Clarified the company’s vision, mission, and values statements that informed all methods of communication for existing clients and prospective customers;
  2. Identified personas. These personas represented 3 different buying personalities that helped us write specifically to their lifestyle;
  3. Combined a warm and inviting covering letter from the general manager with a quarterly newsletter or landing page in the intervening months for product promotions;
  4. Introduced staff members and their responsibilities and invited clients to say hello or stop by the store for a draw to win monthly door prizes;
  5. Ensured that customers could easily reply through text messages, email, social  media or telephone while staff were geared up to respond immediately.

Newsletters combined with automated email marketing is a beautiful combination.  You save time while keeping your customers up-to-date on important developments with your company.

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Need help with modern marketing? Contact me through LinkedIn or by email: sharon@worldgatemedia.com. You can also pick up more ideas from my website: http://www.worldgatemedia.com

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.