Category Archives: Social selling

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.

Olivier Taupin on Vertical Markets

How to generate revenue from Vertical Markets

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 

Vertical markets are irresistible for their direct connections. In the world of print publishing, some of our most successful editions came from creating special publications tightly focused on a specific industry.

Investopedia defines vertical markets this way: A group of companies that serve each other’s specialized needs and that do not serve a broader market. For example, a company that manufactures furniture would belong to a vertical market while a company that sells furniture  would be described as a horizontal market for its various target audiences.

Niche groups have been around from the time of trade magazines. The 21st century version of trade magazines is the vertical network. Of course, networks are much less expensive to operate than printing and distributing paper to reach industry members. I can tell you it’s a tantalising business model for former print publishers.

How to generate revenue in social networks

Yes, there’s money to be made in these social networks. Think about LinkedIn where brands pay for these opportunities:

  • Sponsorship;
  • Advertising;
  • Profile-matching to help identify potential job candidates.

According to Jon Reed, writing on Diginomica. “Company pages are OK, but it’s the topical groups that spur the most engagement… thousands of members, but more importantly, active, on-topic discussions…”

Brands have always wanted to get their message in front of audiences that align with their mission. Think how pharmaceutical companies have disappeared from mass advertising over recent years. Their names do appear, though, amidst conversations hosted by subject experts and contracted by the pharmaceuticals on matters of great medical concern to their groups. Think diabetes and Pfizer.

There are more than 2 million groups on LinkedIn notes David Sumner Smith of www.NextDimensionMedia.com. The vast majority are very small, with less than 100 members. Just over 200 groups (i.e. 0.01%) have more than 100,000 members. Forty groups have more than 250,000 members, while each of the top 10 have more than 500,000 members.

Sumner Smith and his partner, Olivier Taupin, remain committed to LinkedIn. After all, it was Olivier who founded LinkedIn:HR, the largest professional group on LinkedIn and the largest HR community worldwide with 975,000 members.

Yet, both gentlemen are captivated by the prospects that come with emerging Vertical Networks.

Sumner Smith likes to quote Ben Boyer who says, “LinkedIn groups represent a slight verticalisation of the horizontal network itself by allowing people to populate themselves into these defined buckets.” The managing director of Tenaya Capital couches his comments, though: “They are very different from Vertical Networks.”

Branded Vertical Networks own their IT platforms. They also serve a specific profession by offering tools, resources and information that is practically useful to members of that profession. For example, Spiceworks delivered a network management tool that is now used to manage 170 million hardware devices and more than 10 billion traditional and cloud-based application installations.

Here’s a few more examples.  Avvo.com is a U.S.-based network that connects lawyers to other lawyers, and also enables their customers – individuals or businesses – to obtain speedy online responses to legal questions.

Chef’s Roll is a global culinary community of professional chefs, food authors, and industry professionals. Their website recently posted an opportunity for brand ambassadors to represent their flavour smoke products.

The Alumni Advisory Council for my own alma mater, MacEwan University, is exploring the benefits of building a Vertical Network for graduates. The educational institute could align with potential sponsors who want to get their name in front of future job candidates and clients. Of course, such close alignment between vendor and audience is something that businesses handsomely support.

More ways to generate revenue in Vertical Markets

Sumner Smith describes two more ways for Vertical Networks to generate sales:

  • Revenue sharing of products sold through the network between vendor and network owner;
  • Tools provided by networks to help professionals do their job more easily. “Usually those tools (developed by the network owners) are provided for free,” says Sumner Smith. “But paid extensions can be made available, too.”

Olivier Taupin created a Business Directory of Vertical Professional Networks defining the more high profile Vertical Markets. He says that Academia.edu claims membership growth of 10% per month while Spiceworks states a high-growth revenue category of 20% year on year. Edmodo for educators says it’s averaging 5.5 million new users per year.

Here’s 4 more Vertical Networks

StratasysManufacturer of 3D printers and 3D production systems for office-based rapid prototyping and direct digital manufacturing solutions. It surprised the investment industry, since there were very well known suitors for the acquisition: Adobe and Autodesk.

GrabCAD (now Part of Stratasys)- A mechanical engineering community platform that connects mechanical engineers with manufacturers and product development companies. GrabCAD is leading the open engineering movement, helping engineers get products to market faster by connecting people, content and technology.

Edmodo operates a social network for education in the U.S. It enables teachers, students, and parents to connect, share content, and access homework, grades, and school notices. The company’s network enables teacher-to-teacher resource sharing, global professional development, and networking opportunities.

Doximity Doctors/Physicians Founded: 2010 Launched: March 2011 Headquarters: San Francisco, California Number of Employees: 105 (June 2015) Membership (Registered Users): Over 400,000 verified U.S. physicians (December 2014), which represents more than 50% of US Physicians.

It’s worth your time: Keep your eye on Vertical Networks.

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.

Olivier Taupin and the Keystone Cops

Social Media Strategy Stage 1: Change Mindset

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

Keystone cops from the great silent-film comedies refer to, in this case, a lack of coordinated social media tactics performed with great zeal on behalf of your company. The term describes how nobody really understands what’s happening or gets where it’s all going.

“I see people doing tactics before setting up distribution networks,” says Olivier Taupin who owns 100+ groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million members.  It’s better to first establish the proper mindset for social business as part of an overall strategy.

Here’s four more red lights the social media strategist encounters on a regular basis.

  • This increasingly common request: “We want you to manage our social media.” There’s great expectations for product launches and frantic calls to promote attendance at special events—yet, relationships haven’t been established to help share the messages on networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and Pinterest. The CRM’s email database is incomplete, too.
  • We have an event in 2 weeks and need a Twitter campaign to fill the room.” Alarmingly, this is a familiar call. The challenge is the company has insufficient followers which often leads to reliance on the network belonging to their social media specialist. It never works because the vendor’s followers generally have nothing to do with your business. Don’t get us wrong: It is possible to generate much interest with little advance notice using certain tactics but those relationships are shaky and likely won’t last.
  • “We know our customers. We have a list.” You may know your clients well after years of long-time service but there will be trouble going forward finding new prospects. Customers retire…move on…change positions. You constantly need to develop the sales funnels and new prospects are living online.
  • My company doesn’t have a social media plan but I’m pretty good.” Yes, individuals may have connections here and there on various networks but the overall company is entirely disconnected. “The future belongs to the corporation that recognizes its strength is the sum of personal brands belonging to all who work there,” predicts Olivier.
  •  Hiring a social media manager to do it all does not work. If you assign all responsibility for social media to a single person, “You are setting up the social media manager for failure.” You might want to call the position a social media coordinator since it is not possible for one individual to do it all. “The good news is when 100 people send out 100 positive tweets about a product launch, the brand takes full advantage of the power of social media.”

Confusion also reigns when social media is not aligned with the corporate vision, mission, and strategic objectives. If all the departments are constantly tripping over each other, the promise of your brand becomes an empty pledge. Worse, a brand can derail.

Each department may be using social media but employees are using different networks for reasons known only to them. For example, branding gets confused when HR considers the company culture to be traditional in nature but IT staff regard themselves as forward thinking while PR delivers still another profile to investors and the media.

Sales Bench Index (SBI) echoes this message in How to make your number in 2016. This insightful report advised that, in 2001, “57% of the buyer journey was complete before a salesperson was actively involved in the process. By 2015, this number had reached 69%.” Content marketing did not work so well and neither did social selling or free trials—if these strategic plans masqueraded as strategy.

Departments were working in isolation and in conflict with one another. “…The wheels were all spinning, but not in the same direction,” noted SBI.

“It’s time to set up a collaborative group drawn from key departments,” says Olivier. “Social media is everybody’s business,” which means that representation comes from sales, marketing, operations, customer support, IT, and HR.

Before you start, here’s some guiding principles.

  1. Train your employees and then trust them. Host regular company webinars/seminars to update employees, deliver general information materials including the annual report and on-boarding guidelines, send event hashtags and photos for sharing to employees together with corporate identity logos.
  2. Link everybody. CEOs are linked to their direct report and one level lower. All employees are linked to their team lead who make up the umbrella group for social media. This helps the entire company know what each other is saying and doing in the networks, implement a rapid response strategy when required, and immediately handle customer service requests.
  3. We’re all receptionists emphasizes Olivier which means employees at all levels become the eyes and ears of the company. Where responsibilities previously were assigned to a single individual, “we’re all part of it.”

As to general social media policy, keep it simple, says Olivier:

  1. Confidential information is not shared;
  2. All shared information is positive;
  3. The corporate identity that includes logo, colours, and content previously approved by the company is available for publication;
  4. New material is passed by communications marketing or respective unit managers before publication;
  5. Comments align with the company culture outlined within the vision, mission, values, and current strategic objectives.

Now you’re ready for the 7-Point Setup Plan

  1. Conduct an audit. Learn which networks your employees have joined on behalf of the company, determine their activity level, and whether messages are aligned.
  2. Form a collaborative social media team with department heads to build an aligned and coordinated social media strategy.
  3. Set up personal profiles on selected networks for all executives who don’t have accounts including the CEO and members of the board.
  4. Set up the company page on LinkedIn.
  5. Position the Twitter account with an individual rather than the corporate logo.
  6. Set up profiles on LinkedIn for everyone in your business unit. If you have 100 people in a business unit, you have 100 LinkedIn profiles on LinkedIn and on Twitter.
  7. Ensure that everyone is linked together through the social media coordinator appointed by the collaboration team.

Next up: Build connections, followers and fans on each of the social channels. This helps with finding your existing customers online as well as attracting people with a potential interest in your business.

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.

What are you doing with all your contacts asks Olivier Taupin

You’ve got 5,000 social media contacts. Now what?

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

It’s a rare person in business who is content spending time making friends on social media without an endgame. You want to know there’s a reason for trading your precious hours for liking, sharing, and publishing endless blogs.

Yet, so many people are growing lists without seeing results. Who’s got the time to waste? Not you.

First, identify your motivations. Are you trying to boost your credibility among clients? Do you need to establish authority to attract investors? What about a higher public profile to book speaking engagements?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want to achieve with all those contacts on your lists?
  • Have you identified the characteristics of your ideal investor?
  • Do your contacts reflect the characteristics of your model customer?
  • What exactly do your customers want from you?
  • What have you prepared to offer them?
  • How will you deliver on your promise?

Next, determine the number of contacts you need to make and work back to see how you will meet those goals.

The 3-D Effect to growing your online business

“Make sure you’ve got the right 5,000 accounts,” says Olivier Taupin of Next Dimensions Media. Olivier owns 100+ groups on LinkedIn with 1.4 million members.

“What’s important to me is that the people make sense,” continues the social media thought leader. “If you were in the energy industry, and there was somebody in the hospitality sector who wanted to connect, it won’t work for you.” He recommends that you evaluate all your invitations by first studying their profiles.

What about those people who’ve viewed your profile. Should you invite them to connect? Yes, says Olivier.  If they align with your organization’s mission.

Olivier’s developed his own 3-D process to determine the value of a connection but cautions, “We live in an imperfect world, so each element is flexible.” His go-to tactics are published here for the first time.

  1. Industry. Start researching your preferred field of commerce. If you’re having challenges reaching into the auto industry, for example, discover who is speaking to your targeted dealer. It might be the tire people who will give you clues—including potential contacts.
  1. Function of the people you want to reach. Is the purchasing agent not available to you? Instead, try their colleagues for your second choice: people in marketing, production, or finance who might help get you a connection.
  1. Geography. Decide the range of of your business reach–from local to international. If it’s not possible to connect with HQ, try going through a local branch office to reach inside the company.

Now, you see the chief reason to have an overall strategy that involves your CEO and other key players in your organization. If you cannot connect with a preferred individual, perhaps your CEO can provide an introduction. Or someone else in the organization has a connection to help with the contact. This is where LinkedIn’s Navigator function serves larger organizations well to keep track of team interactions. It’s likely too expensive for small business who can do a lot at the freemium or premium level of service.

There’s also a great deal that can be done for free on Twitter. Or you can enhance your Twitter strategies by following Michael Kawula’s blog  and checking out his  software service at http://www.socialquant.net.

Did your invitation get accepted? Good. Olivier relies heavily on the tag function in LinkedIn and the list function on Twitter to categorize contacts. Here’s the 3D Effect he personally uses to stay organized.

  1. Champions are your door openers and influencers at the level of CEO, VP, journalist, politician or industry influencer. Nurture these relationships by retweeting their comments and blogs and generally showing yourself to be a fan. Don’t ask them for favours or introductions to their world before you’ve first shown them a lot of respect.
  2. Prospects reflect the characteristics of your ideal customers in each of the niches you serve. Same idea here: Don’t ask for their business before you demonstrate your worth to them.
  3. VIPs are your customers or those you would love to have as customers. Say hello to these individuals on a regular basis and send them salutations. But not too often.
  4. Fans are people who want something from you. We are grateful for fans because they easily like your posts…share your content…and comment on your insights.

Share respect for people online 

“One of the biggest problems I see,” says Mr. Taupin: “People look at who I know and ask for an introduction to someone on my list. But I don’t even know the person asking for the connection.”

This also is the #1 complaint reported by HubSpot from successful people like venture capitalist Mark Shuster and entrepreneur Paul Brunson: “We need to give (many times) before asking for anything. We need to provide value up front.”

Take a look at their L.O.V. Graph showing how to “add value”.  HubSpot published their insightful graph that visualizes ways to strengthen relationships. The inbound marketing agency says that sharing value six times gives you a 50% chance of getting some form of response. Increase that shared value to nine times before asking for something gives you a 90% chance of getting what you want.

Here’s some ideas on how to show the love.

  • Introduce them to someone
  • Appreciate them
  • Offer your expertise for FREE
  • Make them laugh
  • Add value through social media
  • Comment on their blog
  • Feature them in an article you write
  • Buy them a book (Kindle is easiest)
  • Give them insightful feedback on their product, company, or work

Final counsel from Olivier Taupin: “Don’t try to sell me today or you’ll get kicked out.” That’s old style.

Instead, demonstrate your worth by showing you’ve thought about their challenge enough to have worked out a solution beforehand. Give to get.

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.

Karen Unland with Shelly Barless of Dust Queen Maid

The Age of Collaborative Marketing

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

“It’s nonsense to believe that selling has fundamentally changed, just as it is nonsense to believe advertising is dead,” pushed back a reader from last week’s blog. You may recall I had reviewed Darren Hardy’s CD interview with Jeoffrey James and Todd Duncan on how the “Internet of Things” affected sales over recent years.

Darren’s empire now includes a print magazine titled Success that reaches 2 million readers, a social media following with 216K followers on Twitter, 289K on Facebook, and over 17K on LinkedIn. He also blogs, email markets, and publishes CDs, DVDs, digital downloads, and ebooks. http://darrenhardy.success.com

I believe the reader missed the point.

Fundamental elements of sales—as well as marketing—remain the same. Yet, there are tools combined with an emerging culture that are best embraced if business leaders don’t want to get left behind. After all, the Internet made its appearance over an entire generation ago.

The same is true for advertising as my agitated reader pointed out. Yet, I am not one of those who believes that print is dead—or that social media should stand alone to achieve results.

Integrate mature media with modern sales and marketing

Even Melonie Dodaro, author of The LinkedIn Code http://thelinkedincode.com, with more than 24K connections, recommends taking it offline to advance a deal. Melonie joins fellow LinkedIn superstars Jill Rawley, Darren Hardy and Brendon Burchard in the network’s most viewed category with a pooled list of more than 72K contacts.

On the traditional side of media, the combined print circulation numbers for the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald newspaperssomewhere north of 200K every day—are not to be ignored.

It’s the reason I was delighted to know that Postmedia Team Lead Karen Unland included a quote from a recent blog of mine with those from 5 other entrepreneurs in her Capital Ideas blog. Karen’s photo is pictured above with Shelly Barless of Dust Queen Maid. The digital journalist’s post invites readers to like, share or comment according to the customs of social media. She also plans to run her blog with our contributions in the newspaper in coming weeks.

Capital Ideas started in 2012 to foster the, “Exchange of practical know-how…to create a marketplace of ideas for seekers and sharers of business expertise.” Video of the staged events are posted on The Edmonton Journal’s YouTube channel and also are converted to an audio file.

It’s a generous offer—if carefully constructed.

For example, we engaged slightly different collaborative efforts with my first digital business five years ago. Experts in the wellness space were invited to share content with their respective customers. Sometimes, it worked to everyone’s benefit, if the messages were relevant.

I do the same thing today inside Kim Garst’s Inner Circle. Kim is a power influencer on Facebook and counts over 300K Twitter followers. She has over 400 digital members in her Circle and we share each other’s posts on the various networks every week to grow our respective businesses.

Lessons learned about collaboration

Here’s 6 good tips to consider before emabarking on a collaboration of efforts.

1. Alignment. It works best if participants have similar ideas of what success means to each other. For example, our wellness experts would not share a message about surgical facelifts with their clients if their audience was passionate about holistic health.The same is true for traditional media. We would not seek coverage in a magazine about holistic health care if we were representing a surgical dermatologist.

2. Goal setting. It’s useful to write down exactly what you expect from a collaboration: does it mean straight forward sharing of posts or building a joint customer list using automated email marketing with personalized messages. Kim Garst calls it a “pinky promise” and her goal is simple: if group members tweet our posts, we promise to return the favour.

3. Expect value. Ask yourself how your clients will benefit from knowing about ideas and services from others using either marketing method. Not clear? Walk away. Trust and integrity are big here: how well do your proposed partners take care of their membership? A good idea is join their list to see how they care for their own customers before you make a decision to collaborate.

What about that radio show or Direct TV campaign—either on traditional airways or the web? What type of listeners and viewers call in to those shows? Is your message relevant?

4. Be the first to help. Evaluate what you have to offer a potential partner before making the first move out of the blue. Take an inventory of your assets and brainstorm some ideas before you make the connection. Once an opportunity is revealed, be sure to treat that company’s customers like gold — just as you would want them to treat yours.

Revisions to your Big Plan will be a living process. It takes time to succeed—maybe stumble a few times—before a rhythm is found. This could take weeks, possibly years, to cultivate into its maximum potential.

5. Follow up. Reputation is integral. This is your chance to fulfill a promise and be the catalyst for change, rather than settling in and waiting for the world to roll your way.

Sales and marketing have not fundamentally changed. Nor has advertising. Each discipline has evolved in powerful ways for those who refuse to be left behind.

                                                                  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.

Kim Garst

Ready for Social Selling? 5 Steps Get You Started

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

I’m jazzed. More people are reading my blog about modern marketing for the savvy bussiness leader. The percentage of readers opening my EduMail hovers around 20%, a solid rate. An increasing number of interested live souls—not web bots—are following me on LinkedIn and Twitter every day.

This ties in with Publisher Gary Slywchuk of Troy Media http://www.troymedia.com who distributes the blog/column to 1400 media outlets throughout North America. He reports that Twitter and Linkedin account for the majority of my retweets.

These numbers do not reflect the superstar status of a Kim Garst  picured above who counts 350K in her Twitter feed. https://twitter.com/kimgarst (Full disclosure: I belong to her Inner Circle of 247 digital marketing disciples.) My numbers do, however, reveal a smaller group of people keen to learn about finding new customers online and nurturing existing clients using digital tools that save time.

That lifts my heart when it comes to my mission: Help the savvy business leader transition to modern marketing.

It’s the reason I’m not giving up on this message for leaders of commerce and the community: 79% of salespeople who used Social Media as a selling tool outperformed those who didn’t use the new approach. Business needs to get over their fear of modern marketing. You can include the Aberdeen Group and Jim Keenan (asalesguy.com) in your research to confirm these stats.

How to start social selling

What’s the single most important thing you do? Please don’t tell me all the amazing features of your exceptional product. Drill down to how your product or service helps a fellow human being to thrive in their own circle of influence. Successful Social Selling always starts with answering the question to WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.

Let’s get to these 5 steps.

1. Build your Professional Brand. This exercise does require some introspection on your part. Think about answers to these questions:

  • How do you want others to view you?
  • How do you want to be known professionally as you go forward?
  • How might your colleagues, friends, and peers describe you?
  • What’s your ideal description of yourself?

Next, you can decide on which networks you’re most comfortable but also think about where your ideal customers spend their time. For example, business people spend most of their time on LinkedIn in these ways:

  • Top level executives primarily use LinkedIn for industry networking (22%) and promoting their organizations (20%);
  • Middle-management professionals primarily use LinkedIn to keep in touch with their peers (24 percent) and professional networking (20 percent);
  • Entry-level employees primarily use LinkedIn for job searches (24 percent) and co-worker networking (23 percent).

You’ve heard this before. Upload a professional head shot because it’s important for people to see who they’re dealing with. Photos of you with your dog or you at the lake are better suited for Facebook and Instagram. That gray silhouette positioned next to your name sends the message that you might be too lazy or time-crunched to bother with details. That’s not the first thought you want to convey to someone thinking about working on a deal with you.

Also complete all of your profile details. On LinkedIn, there is a difference between choosing keywords so that you will be found on LinkedIn and choosing keywords for your website. The core difference is that with a Google search, people are typically looking for things or information. In LinkedIn, people typically are looking for a person who provides a particular service or product.

2. The Art of Conversation. A monthly event I frequently attend hosts people from all walks of life with the promise that mobile phones are stored away and that attendees must talk about more than work.

Great networking is about “being seen to be believed” and adding value to relationships. Listen to what others have to say and ask questions. Nobody likes people who talk constantly about themselves. Always be ready to take the conversation to a next step – whatever that may be.

3. “The difference between helping and selling is just two letters,” says noted marketing consultant Jay Baer. Helping people is the new mantra for marketing. What are you doing right now that’s adding value to your current and potential relationships? Here’s how to add value:

  • Offer helpful tips that benefits professionals in your industry;
  • Blog about topics that your ideal customers want to know about;
  • Think about what your customer is looking for, thinking about, and taking action on, as if you were making that purchase;
  • Remove stress by thinking of yourself as a teacher more than a closer striving to hit month-end targets

4. Become a Hunter/Gatherer of Content. Prospects are online today and they have an insatiable appetite for information. Do them the favour of giving it to them and they will remember your name. Blogs, Infographics, podcasts, Edu-Mail, Video, and newsletters are ways to use content marketing to “sell” your customers’ experience to other potential customers.

5. Know your prospect’s behaviour, inside and out. I hear this all the time: Everyone is our customer. Nope—it’s never been true in the traditional world of marketing and it’s even less true for the online prospect.

We want more than the typical demographics. Where do your prospects spend their time online? Which websites do they visit? Which testimonials are they reading? On LinkedIn, which groups have they joined? The more you identify the behaviours of your ideal customers, the better a marketer you’ll be.

Social selling is here to stay. The sooner you get active online, the better for you.

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.