Tag Archives: business owner

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.

Finding customers online

How to find your (ideal) clients online

By Sharon A.M. MacLean

This week, I spoke with a business leader considering his post-retirement career, a tech start-up entrepreneur, and a long-time family business owner looking to increase her digital profile.

Each of these individuals had a general idea of who would be attracted to their products and services—if those individuals could find them online. The successful businessman believed others in search of financial advice would want his counsel once he left the corporate world; clients of the family business owner in the construction business increasingly were comparing quotes online; and the tech entrepreneur thought that all charities would love her IT solution for fund development.

The first task for each of these individuals is to get more specific identifying their audience by discovering everything about them. This means age, gender, business title, projected income levels, kids’ names, community involvement, biggest challenges, aspirations, fears and more.

One executive recently pushed back when I asked for these details about his prospective clients. The exec felt the query was too invasive—yet, he could not tell me who, exactly, he wanted to attract to his offering. Here’s a few good reasons for seeking clarity from Mike Koenigs and Pam Hendrickson:

1. Your story will be easier to write. When you understand your audience really well, it becomes much easier to connect with them authentically. It’s more like writing to a friend for whom you have their best interests at heart.

2. You’ll attract more customers. Koenigs/Hendrickson also illustrate an example of how British grocery chain, Tesco, understood that new fathers buy more beer at the store, as opposed to drinking it at pubs with their friends. They mailed new families coupons for beer as well as diapers, resulting in 8-14% redemption rates, as opposed to the 1-2% usually seen with campaigns.

3. You’ll lose that icky “selling” feeling. The way to remove yourself from hard-core selling is to tie your offering to a higher purpose. Think about how your products and services help to alleviate personal stress, build a safer, cleaner community or contribute to a healthier lifestyle, and you will start to meet revenue goals. People who say they don’t like to sell often confuse solving problems with being “pushy.” Helping people to solve problems is the heart of good salesmanship.

Sadly, very few of the clients I talk to don’t record the name of their customers on a marketing list. And, if they have a list, they don’t know much about them. Here are answers that will help you to understand your prospective client. We call it building a persona.

1. Overall group: family business owner
2. Gender: male
3. Education: university degree in arts or business
4. Profession: business owner with 50 employees
5. Gross annual sales: To $50 million
6. Geographic Location: Alberta
7. Family & Lifestyle: 2 kids (24 and 29)
8. Online Activity (where can you find this person): investing and retirement planning blogs, travel sites, sometimes on Facebook, if his wife points out family wedding pictures.
9. Authority or trust figures (what celebrities, authorities do they know, like and trust): Collins Barrows, Richard Branson

What about the flip side?
My friend also spends time working out who she doesn’t want to attract as her “dragon” client, those prospects who breathe fire for many different reasons. She prefers to spend time where she can add value to the lives of her customers and enjoy her day working alongside them.

You know the type of dragon: challenges every idea despite lack of  skill and experience, blocks all your energy, sucks up your ideas and claims for themselves, objects to payment for any reason. It’s not worth your time, money and resources. Here’s more ideas to consider when searching for online customers.

1. Avoid distractions. For example, if you’re looking for small business owners with larger size companies, skip the independent massage therapist.

2. Stay focused. If you’re seeking mature business owners for a retirement home in a warm climate, use words that appeal to wise investment and leisure time.

3. Dig deeper. The “Everyone” is my target market just tells me that you haven’t researched your market thoroughly enough. You’re trying to be everything to everybody and you’ll end up reaching nobody.

The latest news is the search engines want quality content—from contributors who can be trusted. It’s your sweet spot: real, credible, authentic people who others trust.

Need help finding your ideal customer? Email me here: sharon@worldgatemedia.com