Social Business – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting http://www.convinceandconvert.com Fri, 25 May 2018 14:13:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-convince-convert_C-orange-32x32.png Social Business – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting http://www.convinceandconvert.com 32 32 How to Reap the Revenue Rewards of Smarketing http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/how-to-reap-the-revenue-rewards-of-smarketing/ Tue, 08 Mar 2016 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=30896 Smarketing is the harmonious alignment of sales and marketing teams. A 5 step process for doing it right and reaping revenue rewards

The post How to Reap the Revenue Rewards of Smarketing appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
How to Reap the Revenue Rewards of Smarketing

In most companies – especially B2B firms – sales and marketing don’t get along. Ultimately, both groups are tasked with the same revenue production goal, but their core skills and perceptions are different enough that much is lost in translation.

They sing the same song, but in very different ways. Yet, they are required to work together to accomplish company-wide objectives. This creates something of an awkward, arranged marriage, but with expense reports. It’s not always pleasant, according to the Corporate Executive Board:

87% of the terms sales and marketing use to describe each other are negative.

And really, the whole construct doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s a historical relic of a bygone age. If you were a space alien and were sent to Earth to observe the human race via how we buy and sell goods and services, you would be startled to learn that companies have two, separate groups (with different management, tasks, and compensation schemes) that each are charged with generating revenue.

WTF? would be your response (or whatever “WTF?” might be in your alien tongue).

The Power of Smarketing

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Sales and marketing can work together harmoniously, and doing so make enormous financial sense. Research from The Aberdeen Group found:

Aligned sales and marketing teams produce 400% higher annual growth than teams that are unaligned.

This is the power of Smarketing: the harmonious alignment of sales and marketing teams.

Recently, I delivered a presentation at Cisco’s Marketing Velocity Partner Summit in San Diego about Smarketing, and the 5 critical components of making it work. I’ve embedded a modified version of the slides below, for your perusal and download.

(Huge credit to my friends at Hubspot here, as they initially popularized the concept of Smarketing, and have done a lot of great work on this topic that inspired my presentation)

The 5 Components of Smarketing

The slides have more detail, but here are the five key points in crafting and implementing a Smarketing program in your company.

Smarketing Component #1: Develop Mutual Understanding
Much of what prevents sales and marketing from working well together is that they don’t really know each other all that well, particularly in larger companies.

You need to create mutual understanding by implementing familiarity programs on two levels.

First, individual familiarity in one or all of these ways:

  • One-on-one lunches every month that pair a salesperson and a marketer;
  • Marketing Shadow Days where sales spends half a day paired up with a marketer, and observing what they REALLY do all day;
  • Sales Ride Alongs where marketing spends half a day paired up with a sales person, observing actual sales calls.

 

Second, group familiarity in one or all of these ways:

  • Smarketing committee meetings each week where a small group of program leaders gather to talk process and flag problems;
  • Embedded partners, whereby there is a sales person in every marketing team meeting and a marketer in every sales team meeting;
  • Executive Smarketing sessions monthly, where exec-level leaders meet to plot strategic course.

 

Smarketing Component #2: Shared Strategy, Metrics, & Reporting

Both groups need to agree on target audiences, personas, customer journey and funnel, and where and how leads get handed off from marketing to sales.

Shared language is also critical. If you have a zebra in your office and a group of people insists on calling it a “striped horse” confusion will occur.

Sales and marketing have to agree EXACTLY on what constitutes a lead, a marketing qualified lead, a sales qualified lead, an opportunity, and so on. That may send obvious, but it’s not. In fact, according to MarketingSherpa:

Just 45% of businesses have a company-wide definition of a sales-ready lead.

You also need to have the same reporting system, and marketing needs visiblity throughout the entire process, not just through the initial lead generation.

You’ve heard the saying “I know half my marketing dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half?” If marketing cannot determine – at the specific, program level – what marketing pieces resulted in closed sales and revenue, you can guarantee that they won’t know which half of the budget is wasted.

Smarketing Component #3: Commit to Mutual Accountability

This is couples counseling, but for sales and marketing. Both groups must make promises to one another that cannot be violated.

Together, it can be determined the steps and stages necessary for the company to meet its company-wide goals (rather than department-level goals). For example, you must agree on how many total leads are necessary each month by calculating the percentage of leads that are sales-qualified, the percentage of those that close, and the average revenue for new customers.

Then, once you have that total lead count determined, marketing becomes accountable to sales to hit that number.

Sales is then accountable to marketing to follow up on those leads quickly and comprehensively. An example of an accountable promise from sales might be:

“We will follow up on every lead – not just the ones we like best – within four hours of receipt. And we will make five closing attempts on every lead, within 21 days.”

Smarketing Component #4: Embrace New Roles

For a long, long, long time sales controlled nearly all the information customers needed. Marketing’s job was to create awareness, and sales did everything else. Today, it’s different.

Customers have access to almost all the information they need, for free, online. (This is a huge part of what my book Youtility is about). This self-serve information has disrupted sales’ traditional role so that marketing now handles brand and awareness-building, but marketing ALSO now handles early and mid-funnel consideration via content marketing and similar.

Smarketing and sales' changing role

And with 70% of B2B marketers planning to create more content than ever this year, that trend won’t be reversing any time soon.

So, sales’ role is now the “last mile” of the customer journey. Which means that when a prospect becomes a lead, they are choosing to do so, and sales needs to follow up FAST, and recognize that the customer is likely to be well-educated on the basics.

Today, business relationships are created with information first, and people second

If your information is good enough, you will be allowed to graduate to a conversation with the prospect, but not before then.

At the same time, sales people can also play a very important (and relatively new) role in customer conversion by interacting with prospects in social media. In many cases, unofficial “touches” between a sales person and a prospect can have a far greater impact than official nurturing campaigns delivered via marketing (in email, most often). In fact, according to IBM:

When a lead is developed as a trusted relationship of a salesperson in social, that lead is 7 times more likely to close.

So, marketing must encourage and enable sales to use social media, instead of trying to prevent sales from using these tactics. Marketing must commit to ongoing training and a social media “help desk” that sales people can use to optimize their social media behaviors.

Smarketing Component #5: Rely on Data, not Anecdotes

One of the problems in business is that it’s too easy and too common to use stories to justify action (or lack of action). Our minds naturally remember and gravitate toward stories (we have a whole podcast series devoted to this concept), so it’s easy to see why this occurs, but it’s a terrible way to make decisions and run a business.

Anecdotes describe one occurrence, not necessarily a pattern of behavior. So, when someone in sales or marketing tries to use an anecdote as a proof point, say these magic words:

That’s an interesting story. How often does it occur?

When you respond that way, it instantly reframes the conversation around patterns – a much more accurate way to make Smarketing decisions.

 

You can put Smarketing into practice in your organization. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Remember aligned organizations see a 400% more revenue growth than do non-aligned organizations. Are you ready to get started?

 

The post How to Reap the Revenue Rewards of Smarketing appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
What’s Next for Social Data Intelligence http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/social-data-intelligence/ Thu, 09 Apr 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=23318 Since social data analysis has become a mainstream business practice, the actions we take with that data have become more crucial than ever.

The post What’s Next for Social Data Intelligence appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
What's Next for Social Data Intelligence

The early adopters of social listening and analytics, who first saw its value, were all communications specialists and early pioneers in digital marketing. But almost overnight, the sector exploded and went mainstream, across management silos in enterprises large and small, traditional and new. The birth of the digital native confronted corporates with a new set of challenges—and opportunities .

Today, it is more important than ever to harness the power of technological advancements in a way that empowers companies to easily create actionable intelligence from a large volume of complex social data.

What Lies Behind the Concept of “Social Data Intelligence”

The sector is quickly becoming more sophisticated in the way it analyzes, collates, and presents data. Just as clients are becoming more astute about what we can do for them, so they become more data dependent, and more demanding.

The days of tracking how many times a client has been mentioned online are long gone. We are in a new phase, partly thanks to our own innovation. Analysis, context, distribution, and ease of understanding, in whatever language, are the new drivers.

None of this would be possible without significant technological leaps. For us at Talkwalker, data integrity comes from understanding our customers‘ needs and the sector’s direction of travel. In a global market, we analyze 187 languages, filter conversations 50 ways, and access historical data which we categorize and curate. We have pioneered fast and efficient reporting, customizing dashboards for clients that can be applied across teams and delivered by email.

That’s how we provide the framework in which our clients can depend and act on the intelligence we provide. The foundations on which we combine other data streams from CRM and Relationship and Customer Insights teams enable them to build unprecedented 360 degree understanding of their customers.

Understanding Data Starts with Understanding How It Can Empower You

The term “big data” often invites more questions than it answers, because if you’re not an actuary, chances are you’re going to be intimidated by a tsunami of statistics. A good starting point is found in simplicity. Data fears fall away when you can click on a tab and find an answer, or when you unearth nuggets of gold, which lead you to unearth more of your own volition.

We are liked as much as we are respected because of the ease of use of the platforms we design—platforms that can be customized, accessed, integrated, or shared across an enterprise. It makes everyone’s life simpler. We inform our platform with the views of our customers every day, making its evolution a shared experience.

Why Is It So Important for Businesses to Pay Attention to Social Data?

People post their emotions, thoughts, and opinions. In the globalized village, social media is Earth’s biggest focus group. We slice and dice it, giving unprecedented levels of insight that directly affect company strategy.

I mentioned the Bank of England, whose Director of Strategy we recently interviewed. The BoE understands the time lag that sits between what people say they think and how those thoughts are interpreted by financial analysts. Social media analysis cuts to the chase, spotlighting trends in real time. The Bank no longer has to rely on third party interpretation to understand public opinion.

Along with speed comes integration. The information tsunami comes in all shapes and sizes from multiple channels, so the ability to integrate data is invaluable to a modern enterprise whose decisions depend on its public’s opinions. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, as they say. Never was a holistic understanding of the individual, let alone the collective customer base, as attainable as it is now.

The Many Roles of Social Data Intelligence for Businesses

From its roots in the branding and comms sectors, social data is blossoming across sectors, informing customer engagement strategies one day, providing predictive analysis the next.

Marketers are able to benchmark existing and bygone campaigns for engagement and cost effectiveness, as well as competitive action. Market researchers are spotlighting trends and directing corporate activity quickly and accordingly. Pioneers in this space are building emotion filters that dig beneath the social conversation to enable businesses of all shapes and sizes to fine tune their marketing and product strategy.

I would say that the most dynamic and impactful development is the ability of customers to spread the intelligence we provide across departments. Knowledge is power, and when it is shared successfully across a company, it can be transformative.

What Does The Future Hold? Our Industry Predictions

Not so long ago, social data did not exist. Today, no self-respecting enterprise would act without it.

There are no precedents for the pioneering that is taking place in such a thoroughly dynamic sector as ours, and the future will see some big strides. Our ability to automatically decipher meaning and emotion from text, for instance, is a huge issue at present, given the variety of ways in which people express themselves.

Companies will be able to use social intelligence analytics to understand and engage with the individual, not just the group. Companies will outwit each other based on their speed of analysis and response. Data will increase in volume, and software will have to cope, while platforms will have to become all the more able to simplify analysis while becoming all the more robust.

Technology will give way from tracking and analysis towards more sophisticated integration that makes everybody in the corporate supply chain their own analyst. Comprehensive social listening, deep analytics, fast and efficient reporting, an intuitive user interface, the ability to integrate using an API, or just the ability to easily export data will be key.

Most importantly, social data intelligence will bind the disparate silos within an enterprise into a unified and coordinated powerhouse, based on new dimensions of customer understanding, internal communication and coordination.

Continue the conversation on our Facebook or Google+ pages.

The post What’s Next for Social Data Intelligence appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
How the Millennial Workforce is Changing Business http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/how-the-millennial-workforce-is-changing-business/ Mon, 09 Mar 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=22651 As Millennials begin to dominate the workforce, traditional business values begin to change. What new values will take precedence?

The post How the Millennial Workforce is Changing Business appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
How the Millennial Workforce is Changing Business

A lot has been written about the Millennial generation in the last ten years or so, and to be frank, a lot of it is really not helpful, especially in a business context. So why is the focus of our new book squarely on the Millennials and the way they might be changing just about every aspect of how we learn, lead, and grow in organizations?

They just happen to be at the right place at the right time.

Millennials are entering young adulthood at a unique point in our history, where society is poised for a tectonic shift, particularly around business, leadership, and management. There is a “perfect storm” of trends converging in a way that will generate an actual revolution in business, affecting organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Yes, a revolution.

Our approach to management has been stuck in a rut—not just for the last few years, but for the last several decades. We have been running our organizations like machines, and today’s lack of engagement and agility to meet the shifting needs of customers, members, and employees are indications of how this approach to management is crumbling. Add to this the shake-up that the social internet has brought to business and society (which we wrote about in Humanize), and you’d think the revolution would have happened by now.

But it hasn’t. We needed another element, a catalyst that could connect the dots in a way that would bring a much needed management revolution to fruition. That catalyst is the third front in our perfect storm: the Millennial generation.

As the Millennials ascend into management positions over the next several years, they will simultaneously become the largest generation in the workforce. While the Millennials won’t formally “take over” (no single generation ever runs things on its own), they will serve as a kind of “secret decoder ring” for all of us, helping clarify what the future of business will look like, post-revolution.

Change is coming, and smart organizations will start making the necessary adjustments today to stay ahead.

Our newest book, When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business, provides exactly that kind of guidance. We studied organizations with remarkably strong cultures and conducted interviews with Millennials who had been in the workforce for some time. What emerged from our research and feedback from our clients were four organizational capacities that we think will prepare organizations to be successful, both today and into the future: Digital, Clear, Fluid, Fast.

The companies we found with ridiculously strong cultures had built these capacities into the heart of their operations and philosophies, and the Millennials we spoke to could not understand why these capacities were not woven into every organization to begin with.

Digital

Digital is about perpetual and exponential improvement of all facets of organizational life using both the tools and the mindsets of the digital world. Digital in the Millennial era has an unrelenting and disciplined focus on the customer or end user, including the employee. Millennials are the first generation to have only known a digital workplace, and they are used to leveraging that power on an individual basis. Digital organizations break through the assumed constraints of the previous approach to managing organizations, unlocking new value continuously in areas like internal collaboration and even human resource management.

Clear

Clear is about an increased and more intelligent flow of information and knowledge that supports innovation and problem solving inside organizations. Millennials have always had access to more information than they could possibly handle, and they are confused by organizations that control it tightly. Clear organizations make smarter decisions that generate better results. They will successfully build a transparent architecture that makes more information visible to more people to enable better decisions.

Fluid

Fluid is about expanding and distributing power in a dynamic and flexible way. Fluid in the Millennial era is about systems that enable an integrated process of thinking, acting, and learning at all levels of the organization. Since the social internet started distributing power across traditional lines, the Millennial generation does not expect organizations to task the higher levels with the thinking and deciding and lower levels with implementation. Fluid organizations serve customers more effectively and are more nimble in both strategy and execution. They may still have hierarchies, but they are created and maintained in a different way.

Fast

Fast is about taking action at the precise moment when action is needed. Fast in the Millennial era is about systems that can learn and adapt while still maintaining the efficiency and productivity of the previous era. Beta testing has become normal and expanded outside of the realm of software. We may call the Millennials “entitled” for wanting things right away or expecting more authority, but remember: That’s all they’ve ever known. Fast organizations leap ahead of the competition by releasing control in a way that does not increase risk . They go beyond efficiency and productivity to find the key variables that unlock true speed.

What This Means For You

This is not speculative, theoretical content—this is happening in the world today. One of our book’s case studies is the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, an association in Chicago that has embraced the digital mindset fully, not only investing more in technology than some for-profit companies its size but also redesigning its workspace around the needs of the employees. ASSH and the other companies that we profile are all tremendously successful by traditional measures, and their cultures are so strong that nearly all of the employees we spoke with could not even imagine working somewhere else.

These are the positive deviants. They are role models that are showing us that the management revolution is indeed possible.

It is up to you now to continue leading this revolution in business. If you want to become more digital, clear, fluid, and fast, take a hard look at your organization, particularly your culture. You’ll need to make a solid connection between what drives the success of your organization and what is truly valued internally—not the fluffy values statements, but what gets the attention, what gets the resources, and what gets people rewards. When you can align what’s valued to what drives your success, you have a better chance of creating a culture that makes sense in this new, Millennial era.

When Millennials Take Over is available both in print and as a 99¢ Kindle ebook. Learn more about the book here.

Continue the conversation on our Facebook or Google+ pages.

The post How the Millennial Workforce is Changing Business appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
How Humanity Drives Customer Experience http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/how-humanity-drives-customer-experience/ Tue, 17 Feb 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=22186 Smart companies rarely act like companies. Instead, they operate as real people, united by a common cause under the umbrella and auspices of the collective. An amazing case study from Jay Baer shows this principle in action.

The post How Humanity Drives Customer Experience appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
How Humanity Drives Customer Experience

According to Nielsen, we trust friends and family members’ recommendations 92% of the time. We trust advertising from companies 47% of the time. We fundamentally trust humans more than companies or institutions (highlight to Tweet). This is why the smartest companies don’t act as such. Instead, they operate as real people, united by a common cause under the umbrella and auspices of the collective. When companies do this – when they let the humanity of their team members take center stage – the impact on customer experience can be extraordinary.

Sometimes this humanity is just a little thing, like an employee working off-script to make your day (see my story about Delta here). In other instances, seemingly the entire corporate culture is built around putting real people out front.

Humanity-infused customer experience is what Bellhops is all about, and my recent experience with them was so remarkable, I wrote a case study about it.

Bellhops – Inserting Humanity Into the Moving Process

Screenshot_2_13_15,_6_29_PMFounded in 2012, Bellhops is a startup company that seeks to be the Uber of moving. They have built a large network of “bellhops” – young, cheerful, strong, and male college students who will help you move whatever and whenever. The Bellhops are very carefully screened for attitude and cultural fit (similar to Zappos or Southwest, according to Keith Peterson, a former Red Bull executive who now heads the Bellhops brand).

Unlike conventional movers, Bellhops doesn’t have trucks, they just have labor. If you get your own truck, they’ll load/unload it. Or, as in my case, if you just built a new home office and need to move dozens of boxes from basement to garage and vice-versa, they are the perfect solution.

Humanity and The 11 Step Bellhops Experience

Booking Bellhops is about as difficult as ordering a pizza. Their website (and newly launched mobile app) is clean, crisp, clear, and transparent. $40/hour per Bellhop, with help available in 130+ cities – just about everywhere there is a college or university to supply the labor force.

The process is simple, with no calls or negotiations needed. You just estimate how many guys you need, and for how long. You then pay a $20 deposit via credit card to hold your reservations, and that’s it. The entire process was two minutes.

But, it’s AFTER you make your reservation that the humanity magic begins.

1. Confirmation
First, you receive a very clear and detailed confirmation email, promising that your “move captain” will be in touch to answer questions.

2. Personalized explanation video
Then, hours later you receive a personalized video that explains how the entire process works, including payment (via stored credit card), tipping (same, like Uber), and other details. Remarkable! The video is long on humanity, with straightforward production and genuine (or so it would seem) desire to help. You’ll notice that they start introducing their signature green headband look here, too. Here’s my video:

3. Another personalized video with a more detailed explanation
To make SURE you know how this will unfold, and to ramp up the humanity even further, another video was sent out featuring a different Bellhop. Here’s that video:

4. A second confirmation email, the day before
As a reminder, another confirmation email arrives, 24 hours before the move.

5. A call from the move captain, one hour prior to the move
As promised in both emails and both videos, Joshua (the move captain) called me right on schedule to double-check the time and make sure everything was ready for them. The move captain also tells you who else is on his crew, what their majors are in college, and some other fun facts about them, to make sure you’re thinking of them as people. When was the last time you knew some fun facts about a mover? (most of the movers I have had in my life might reveal some facts that I didn’t want to know, actually)

6. Arrived early
I have moved quite a bit and have had a lot of movers. NEVER have I had movers show up 30 minutes early. I’m not certain if that’s part of the “blow away customer expectations” plan at Bellhops or not, and I’m sure they can’t always do it if they have back-to-back jobs, but it made quite an impression.

7. Brought my wife chocolates!
BellhopsAnd here’s where the human-side of customer experience gets kicked into high gear, and the Bellhops experience becomes truly remarkable (worthy of remark, as I emphasized in my recent blog post about content marketing killing our language). The Bellhops brought my wife chocolates, for Valentine’s Day. I’m certain this doesn’t happen to everyone, and I’ve been talking to Keith so perhaps they wanted to do something extra special for me, but that was astounding.

Note that Bellhops also decided that they would move for free any couples in their service area that were moving in together on Valentine’s Day. Awesome gesture (and smart newsjack).

8. Finished early
Movers (even Bellhops) are paid by the hour. So you would think they would be taking their time. Not these guys. They hustled all the way and finished in half the time we estimated (savings that translated into a juicy tip, as it turns out)

9. Ask for User-Generated Content
This is so smart. Instead of just relying on customers to possible snap a photo or share their experience in social, the Bellhops ask the customer to take a picture with them when the job is complete. Ours looked like this (I took this one):

10. Humanization After the Sale
A few minutes after the Bellhops departed, I received an email asking me to confirm start/end time. Once that was handled, I received a detailed satisfaction and rating survey that asked me to review each guy individually across multiple attributes like effort, punctuality, attitude, and so forth. Screenshot_2_13_15,_3_45_PMPositioning the reviews as of the PERSON rather than of the COMPANY continues the humanization theme. Even tips are handled that way, as you determine how much you want to tip each person, rather than the crew as a whole.

11. Turn Customers Into Advocates

After the review process, Bellhops encourages you to share about your experiences in social media (Facebook and Twitter for now, although I think Instagram would be a natural fit for them). And, customers receive a customized promo code that gives them a 5% commission on all future moves booked using that code (my code is baer1 if you’re interested!)

You Can Add Humanity to Your Customer Experience

It may be difficult to build your entire company around these principles, but you CAN insert humanity into your business. We’re starting to use more video email (we use BombBomb) when connecting with clients and prospects at Convince & Convert. We make sure our customers know more about our consultants, and are in touch with them more often. I’m starting to use more video to respond to tweets, too.

Think about it.

If Bellhops can take an industry live moving – which has been the exclusive territory of cigarette-wielding, late-stage Merle Haggard and/or late-stage Iggy Pop types – and turn it into an experience you actually WANT to have, you can certainly add some of this humanity to your customer experience.

The post How Humanity Drives Customer Experience appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
How to Create Effective Competitor Campaigns Without Pointing Fingers http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/how-to-create-effective-competitor-campaigns-without-pointing-fingers/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/how-to-create-effective-competitor-campaigns-without-pointing-fingers/#respond Tue, 06 Jan 2015 11:00:32 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=21256 A smart competitor campaign can help you reach potential customers looking for alternatives without pointing the finger at your competitors.

The post How to Create Effective Competitor Campaigns Without Pointing Fingers appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
How to Create Effective Competitor Campaigns Without Pointing Fingers

Image via BigStockPhoto.com

When it comes to lead generation, you’ve probably got your bases covered with digital ads, SEO optimization, and lead generation.

But what if your competitor’s customers could become yours? No, we’re not talking about poaching their satisfied clients. But what if you could introduce yourself to those already looking to leave your competitors?

It was this strategy that led Formstack to create our competitor alternative campaign. We didn’t want to point fingers at our peers in the industry, but we wanted to offer our product as a viable alternative to those seeking a change.

So, we drafted unique landing pages, such as our Wufoo alternative page. We include a comparison chart for easy scanning and highlight a few benefits we offer our customers. Then, we encourage visitors to start a free trial and try out our product on their own.

Here are a few things we learned about effective competitor campaigns that won’t endanger your reputation.

Do Your Research

Don’t just create landing pages that shout “We’re better than they are!” Another page that hypes your benefits doesn’t differentiate this campaign from the rest of your site. Instead, research the real differences between your product and its competition. Then, share your findings.

On our Google Forms alternative page, we outlined the comparison, so users could easily see the differences between our tools.

Since many products release new versions, it can be a challenge to keep up-to-date on every detail of your competitors’ products. Make it easy for their team to contact you if the data is incorrect. We do our best to represent our industry peers fairly, so if we’ve made a mistake, we want to know! We include a link underneath our comparison chart where visitors can report errors in our research. Anyone can use it to help us stay up-to-date on the facts.

Tell Your Story

It’s doubtful your product is best for everyone. As you compile your research, consider who would benefit from the uniqueness of your product. Who are you the best tool for? Find your angle, and build your page for those customers. Let them know how your product solves their problems in ways your competitor cannot.

There may be areas where your competitor offers features your product does not. The purpose of a competitor campaign is not to compare products point-by-point. That’s just boring! You want to share the situations where your product is a better fit.

When we created our SurveyMonkey alternative campaign, we didn’t go head-to-head on building surveys. SurveyMonkey is a great tool for that purpose. Instead, we addressed customers looking to build more than one type of form. We spoke to those users seeking a SurveyMonkey alternative. An effective comparison campaign will craft a narrative highlighting your product for those who would most enjoy it.

Be Transparent

Honesty, even when revealing where your product is weaker, goes a long way in establishing trust and building customer confidence in your data. It’s not necessary to spotlight areas where your competitors outshine you, but you can share a balanced view.

One of the earlier versions of our Wufoo alternative campaign offered a low-down on the pricing plans. Our tool cost a little more, which we shared openly. We didn’t want to hide the investment differences, but we offered it in context for what each tool offers. For those looking for our unique features, the comparison is helpful and clear.

Focus on Keywords

You’re not trying to steal your competitor’s customers. You are trying to introduce yourself to people already looking for an alternative. That’s why it makes sense to focus on keywords in competitor campaigns.

Do the SEO research to find out what your customer base is searching when they are looking for a replacement for your competition. Then, be strategic in your copy to help them find you.

Our initial creation of competitor campaigns actually came from the suggested Google Search. We learned that after simply “Wufoo,” the second search was “Wufoo vs Formstack.” It let us know that there was an interest in this topic but no page already addressing it head on. So we decided to create one!

Competitor campaigns help dissatisfied clients find a company that better suits their needs. (click to tweet)

At the end of the day, you and your industry peers want happy customers. Competitor campaigns help dissatisfied clients find a company that better suits their needs. And if they ever need to switch again? We’re sure your other competitors will politely introduce themselves.

The post How to Create Effective Competitor Campaigns Without Pointing Fingers appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/how-to-create-effective-competitor-campaigns-without-pointing-fingers/feed/ 0
Would You Rather Give Up Your Work Life or Your Personal Life? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/would-you-rather-give-up-your-work-life-or-your-personal-life/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/would-you-rather-give-up-your-work-life-or-your-personal-life/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=19567 Clearly, having to choose between giving up your work or personal life is an unfair decision. Yet it’s an unfortunate reality that many employees around the world are faced with. How can we avoid making the choice and create happier working and personal lives for ourselves and our employees?

The post Would You Rather Give Up Your Work Life or Your Personal Life? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
Would You Rather Give Up Your Work-Life or Your Personal Life?

Image via BigStockPhoto.com

Clearly, having to choose between giving up your work or personal life is an unfair decision. Yet it’s an unfortunate reality that many employees around the world are faced with.

We spend hours commuting to and from offices, we work nights, we give up weekends to finish up projects, and we use vacation time as a form of “catch up.”

However, in today’s world of flexible work environments, collaboration platforms, new management approaches, and the like, should we have to choose between work and life? Considering that today, we spend more time working than doing anything else in our lives, this is NOT what the future of work is all about.

Whether you call it work-life balance or work-life integration, the reality that we are seeing is a merging of everything into a single experience that is just called life.

If you are in the social media (or digital marketing) space then consider yourself to be one of the fortunate ones. Recently, a study was done which explored the best jobs for work-life balance. Out of the 20 best jobs, “social media manager” was tied for second along with: data scientist, SEO specialist, tour guide, and life guard.

The reasoning is that social media managers have the unique opportunity and flexibility to rely on technology to get their jobs done regardless of where they are or when they work. However, not everyone sees these benefits.

Harris Interactive recently released a few interesting statistics from a poll they conducted. According to Harris:

“The vast majority of Americans (89%) feel employers should try to offer workers flexibility to meet their families’ needs, so long as the work gets done, signaling a strong sentiment in favor of the concept of flexible workplaces. What’s more, over half (52%) of U.S. workers (not including those self-employed) – and nearly six in ten working parents (58%) – feel they could do their job better if they were allowed a more flexible work schedule. Similarly, 43% of workers and 46% of working parents say they could do their job better if they were allowed a more consistent and/or predictable schedule.”

Another study conducted by Randstad found that:

“42 percent of employees feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation and more than a quarter (26%) feel guilty using all of their allotted vacation time. … 67 percent of workers report feeling more productive after returning from vacation… research shows 45 percent of workers feel obligated to respond to email after hours, and 47 percent feel guilty if they don’t work (either on site or from home) when sick.”

When you add this to the fact that only 13% of employees around the world are engaged in their jobs, you start get a pretty bleak picture of what our work lives have become.

Whether you are a social media manager, marketing professional, customer service representative, or product manager, there are a few things that everyone and every company can do to make things easier.

Here are three things that need to be adopted and understood:

Flexible Work Environments

In a Forbes article I wrote a few months called the 8 Indisputable Reasons Why We Don’t Need Offices, the key to healthy flexible work environments involves giving employees a choice for when and how they want to work. In turn, employees need to be accountable for producing timely and quality work.

The notion of having to work 9-5 in a cubicle is outdated. Most of the social media and content managers that I know work from home, co-working locations, or cafes. Their hours are all over the map provided that they can get their jobs done.

Connectivity is Not Availability

With email and collaborative technologies running rampant, it’s very easy to always stay connected. It’s no wonder that one of the things we do when we first wake up is check our emails or social media (and the same is true before going to bed). We can stay connected in the city, in a cab, in an airport, or in a remote village somewhere in China.

However, just because we are connected doesn’t mean we need to be available. For you social media managers (or social media addicts) out there this especially applies to you!

Creating what I like to call “social service level agreements” on company profile pages is a great way to facilitate this. This “agreement,” which can on a Twitter page, Facebook page, etc. basically tells your customers the hours when social channels are being monitored, how long customers can typically expect for a response, and what types of responses are going to be responded to. For emergencies, most social monitoring solutions today allow you to set up alerts and notifications to warn you when a trend in negative feedback starts to bubble up.

But the key here is to remember to disconnect. It’s a conscientious decision that we need to make and stick to. It’s okay for us to not be available all of the time.

Manage Expectations

Managing expectations is up to both employers and employees. As an employer you need to be respectful of your employees’ time. This means no meetings at 6am or 7pm.

It’s understandable that the occasional off-hour meeting might take place, but this should by no means be a regular occurrence. Employees need to me comfortable with saying no as well. This means being able to push back against things that interfere with your personal life.

Open dialogues are always ideal even if they feel uncomfortable at first.

At the end of the day, we shouldn’t have to choose between our professional lives and our families. We should be able to make both work.

What other tips do you have for keeping a balance between your personal and professional life?

Editor’s Note: If you buy a HARDCOVER copy of Jacob’s book within the next 72 hours he will also give you:

  • Ebook: Hire Fast & Build Things: How to recruit and manage a top-notch team of distributed engineers
  • 20 Quotes to Challenge Convention Around the Future of Work
  • The original book outline which is very different than the finished product
  • An actual proposal template from a publisher
  • Seven versions of the original book cover
  • The document Jacob sent out to companies and executives to help secure their endorsements and features!
  • Official Guide to “The Future of Work”
  • Things You Need to Know About Writing a Book That Nobody Else Will Tell You!
  • Proposal guidelines and helpful tips for your book proposal from Wiley

Jacob will be sending all of these things out within a few days, please email him a screenshot of your receipt or proof or purchase at fowreceipts@gmail.com.

The post Would You Rather Give Up Your Work Life or Your Personal Life? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/would-you-rather-give-up-your-work-life-or-your-personal-life/feed/ 3
Forget Your Social Strategy. What’s Your HR Strategy? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/forget-your-social-strategy-whats-your-hr-strategy/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/forget-your-social-strategy-whats-your-hr-strategy/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=18946 If your employee isn't your biggest advocate, you have an HR problem, not a social media problem. It's time to start hiring, training, and retaining based on cultural fit to make sure the people inside your company embody the strategic and marketing goals of the organization.

The post Forget Your Social Strategy. What’s Your HR Strategy? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
Forget Your Social Strategy. What’s Your HR Strategy?

Image via BigStockPhoto.com

badge-guest-post-FLATTERI’m a firm believer that no one should “own” social.

Owning social does not only lead to bias, but it is usually not scalable. As everything I do is through the lens of a global, multi-branded enterprise, I’m big on scalability. And it doesn’t get more scalable than employee advocacy.

At Hilton Worldwide, we have a team of 100+ employee advocates that tweet through the @HiltonSuggests handle. We’ve been doing this 3+ years, long before employee advocacy was the buzzword it is today. 

When people learn of this program, they are usually shocked by two things: 

  1. The team is not made up of full-time dedicated staff. It is comprised of Hilton Worldwide employees around the globe and is integrated into their daily job responsibilities.
  2. That a company like Hilton Worldwide let’s 100+ people tweet on behalf of a corporate handle.

The second idea is what I want to dive into today.

There are usually several questions that follow: 

  • How did you gain legal and executive approval to do this?
  • How can you trust your employees to not tweet something offensive or embarrassing?
  • How do you mitigate risk?
  • How do you “keep tabs” on what they’re doing?

I never cease to be amazed by these questions and how frequently they come up no matter where or to whom I’m presenting. To me this is really quite simple and straight forward: Hire good people, train them, and empower them to succeed.

That’s it. 

But therein lies the problem. When you press further and look around at the social media blunders that take place on an all too often basis, we realize that good talent is not only hard to find, it is hard to keep. And we need to think very differently about our employee relations than we did in days past. 

We live in an age of uber publicity. Everything today is public. Private and confidential documents are easily leaked, private messages can become public, and emails meant for a few can spread like wildfire.

Everyone is sharing and we need to ensure our employees understand the implications in this new world. 

Furthermore, we need to hire, train, and retain based on culture like never before. Today almost everyone’s private life is displayed on social media and just because you haven’t given your employees permission to do so doesn’t mean they aren’t out there representing your brand.

This can either be a really good thing, or a really bad thing. 

These opportunities are no longer optional. Pretty soon it won’t be only about the brand. It’s possibly fair to say that it is officially not about the brands. Brands have been trying to do advocacy marketing for years but who is a better advocate than your employee? And as Jay Baer says, “If your employee isn’t your biggest advocate, you’ve got much bigger problems than social media.” 

So, I want to offer up a controversial statement: Stop worrying so much about your social media strategy. Instead, schedule some time with HR and ask them about their strategy.

With more and more people foregoing traditional employment opportunities and instead exploring freelancing, what are you doing to recruit, train, and retain the best talent? Are you training them on how to develop a personal brand? Are you enhancing their job skill set in creative ways to keep them enticed and engaged? Are you setting up opportunities to empower them to achieve success? If not, at the very least I’m sure a quick Twitter search will reveal some complaints from employees. 

I’m insanely passionate about Hilton Suggests because it has provided a vehicle for our employees to do more, to stretch their limits, and grow their job skill set in creative ways. This should be celebrated.

Going back to why social shouldn’t be “owned” – some of our best tweeters have been chefs, HR managers, and catering managers.  These aren’t usually the go-to resources for social media marketing, but the content they produce is some of the most relevant, compelling, and authentic destination content available. They represent us every single day offline, so why would we be worried about them doing the same thing online? 

Which camp does your company fall into? Do you have crazy passionate employees you should be leveraging and just need to figure out the process by which do so? Or do you have a serious HR issue on your hands and you need to educate your company on the fact that they won’t be able to source and retain good talent if they don’t get creative?

Whichever one it is, I believe the social media strategist should spearhead the conversation. So yes, get ready to add the HR strategy feather to your cap.

The post Forget Your Social Strategy. What’s Your HR Strategy? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/forget-your-social-strategy-whats-your-hr-strategy/feed/ 9
The 3 Most Important Traits of a Great Social Agent for Your Business http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/the-3-most-important-traits-of-a-great-social-agent-for-your-business/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/the-3-most-important-traits-of-a-great-social-agent-for-your-business/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 10:00:17 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=18759 You may be making sales that you're not even aware of as a result of your positive relationships and social media recommendations. These are called "invisible sales," and there are three different types of people that can help you get them.

The post The 3 Most Important Traits of a Great Social Agent for Your Business appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
The 3 Most Important Traits of a Great Social Agent for Your Business

Image via BigStockPhoto.com

badge-guest-post-FLATTERThere are two kinds of people in digital networking: social agents and prospects.

Everyone in sales knows what a prospect is, but what is a social agent? Who are yours? And what role do social agents play in your social selling strategy?

Social agents grow your business by sharing your content online to amplify your message.

While they may never do business with you, they do business for you by recommending you to others. Social agents are equally as important to business growth as prospects, and the biggest mistake salespeople make is undervaluing them.

Picture this:

Invisible buyers are prospects who seek out information on their own before making a purchase and before you know they exist. Say you own a small company who makes and sells bamboo flooring. One day, a prospect of yours gets on Facebook and posts the status, “Looking to put in new floors in the house. Thinking bamboo. Any recommendations?”

You can’t reach this person. You don’t even know they exist. But you have a friend who sees this status online. Your friend has never bought your bamboo floors himself (he’s a carpet kind of guy), but he knows you do great work, so he responds to the status with your name, website, and his affirmation that you install the best bamboo floors of anyone in the area. While he isn’t your customer, he just found you one.

That’s a social agent. And he just made you an invisible sale.

What Makes a Great Social Agent?

Not everyone you know makes a valuable social agent. You have to invest in the right relationships with the right people to find agents who will want to represent you. Here is the sort of person you should look for.

1. People like you

A good social agent should be “your people.” Look for people who share your worldview and value systems. Your best social agents will be the sort of people you want to spend time with, the sort of people you’d pick to be trapped on a desert island with. Why? It’s psychological. When these people promote you, they’ll feel as if they are promoting a piece of themselves.

2. Background Singers

Not everyone can be the star of the show every time. Good social agents must not threatened by the success of others. (tweet this)

In the example above, let’s say the social agent doesn’t just prefer carpet over bamboo flooring – let’s say he actually owns a carpet business. A good social agent would be comfortable recommending your business anyway because he knows it is what the prospect is looking for. He doesn’t try to push the prospect to buy carpet instead, he’s comfortable enough with his own business to step aside and sing backup vocals for you this round.

3. Givers

Similar to background singers, social agents need to give more than they take. If the carpet salesman only thinks about himself, he’ll never recommend your bamboo business. He’ll always try to convert your prospects into his own. Great social agents love helping others succeed as much as they love success for themselves.

The key to a stellar social agent is their desire to help you – social agency is personal. Cultivate strong relationships with social agents so that they’ll go the extra mile to bring customers straight to your product or service.

For more information on how to leverage your network of social agents to win more invisible sales, visit conversedigital.com or purchase The Invisible Sale today — with an enitre chapter devoted to cultivating your relationship with your social agents.

The post The 3 Most Important Traits of a Great Social Agent for Your Business appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/the-3-most-important-traits-of-a-great-social-agent-for-your-business/feed/ 1
How to get approval for marketing strategy shifts http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/how-to-get-approval-for-marketing-strategy-shifts/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/how-to-get-approval-for-marketing-strategy-shifts/#comments Sun, 11 May 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=18209 The best way to turn a battleship is with many small maneuvers. Jay Baer talks about the value of internal pilot programs in this blog post about internal marketing approvals.

The post How to get approval for marketing strategy shifts appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
Baby Steps

Image from BigStock.com

Inspired by YoutilityOver the past few weeks, I’ve done several keynote presentations about Youtility at small, focused events where nearly all attendees were CMOs or other execs at large companies.

In each of these situations, I received the same question from an audience member:

“I work at a big company with entrenched marketing processes. How can we possibly move to creating marketing that’s totally different and useful?”

It’s a great question, because it strikes at the heart of two truths about Youtility.

First, creating Youtility – marketing so inherently useful that people would pay for it if you asked them to do so – is as much about corporate culture as it is about marketing execution.

Does your company have the COURAGE to TRUST your customers and prospective customers to deliver awareness, sales, loyalty and advocacy EVENTUALLY? Some companies have that courage in their bones; in their very DNA. Other companies simply do not (yet).

Second, I have discovered after spending 20 years in digital marketing trying to convince and convert large businesses into shifting their thinking and their norms, that the way you turn a battleship is with a series of tiny maneuvers.

The bigger the company, the smaller the first step towards marketing change needs to be. (click to tweet)

If you’re trying to make any sort of major change to your company’s marketing or customer experience protocols, start with a small, under-the-radar pilot program. (and that goes double if you’re in a large company). Prove that it works in YOUR company, with YOUR customer, and YOUR dollars.

Remember, the power of a success in your own company – even if it’s a small success – has more credibility and credence than a stack of case studies from other companies.

Stop trying to adopt Youtility by boiling the ocean. Grab a teaspoon first.

The post How to get approval for marketing strategy shifts appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/how-to-get-approval-for-marketing-strategy-shifts/feed/ 1
7 Ingredients for Employee Social Advocacy http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/7-ingredients-for-employee-social-advocacy/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/7-ingredients-for-employee-social-advocacy/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 10:00:55 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=18082 How to work with your employees to make them your best social media advocates. Includes downloadable slides from Jay Baer.

The post 7 Ingredients for Employee Social Advocacy appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
Employee Social Advocacybadge-jay-says

A few weeks ago, I presented a breakout session at Social Media Marketing World. I put together an all-new presentation about employee social media advocacy, which I have excerpted below.

Employees are a key to social media success because they:

1. Genuinely love your brand (hopefully)
2. Are trusted far more than the company
3. Are not filtered by social networks the same way that corporate messages are

Thus, employee social media advocacy gives you Authenticity, Trustworthiness, and Reach. But, getting there isn’t a snap. There are many steps involved in creating and maintaining an effective program of this type. You need strategy, research, metrics, software (I recommend Addvocate.com, where I’m an investor).

If your employees aren’t your biggest fans, you have bigger problems than social media. (tweet this)

I encourage you to download the slides above for far more detail, but here’s a primer for the “give it to me right now” contingent…

7 Ingredients for Employee Social Advocacy

Note these are not the only ingredients. That would be a gross oversimplification. But these are seven that you need for certain.

1. You Need Culture
Only corporate cultures rooted in trust can do employee advocacy well.

2. You Need Guidelines
Social media participation guidelines encourage participation, they don’t squelch it. (contrary to popular belief, in many cases)

3. You Need Options
Social media advocacy doesn’t work at bayonet point. You need to allow your employees to choose the role that fits their skills and interests.

Social media advocacy rarely succeeds at bayonet point (tweet this)

4. You Need a Platform
Software that helps the company share content with employees (and vice-versa) is an important part of these programs. I’m a big fan of Addvocate.com. Easy-to-use, reasonably priced, mobile-friendly. I like it so much, I invested in the company.

5. You Need Metrics
Like anything else in communications, at some point you need to know whether this is working. Figure out your measurement narrative before you start. (the slides have a bunch of recommended metrics you may want to track)

6. You Need Champions
A big error in employee social advocacy programs is rolling it out all at once. You need to start with the motivated few, get them loving it, and then use their success to bring new employees on board in waves.

7. You Need Coaches
This is critical. You must have a system where employees can get honest, private advice and counsel about social media on a day-to-day basis. Check out the increase in IBM’s results when their employees were watched up with social coaches (in the slides).

If you need help thinking through or implementing this kind of program, let me know. The team at Convince & Convert and I would be delighted to assist. We’ve done a lot of this type of work.

The post 7 Ingredients for Employee Social Advocacy appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/7-ingredients-for-employee-social-advocacy/feed/ 2
It’s Not Too Late to Return the Social to Social Media http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/its-not-too-late-to-return-the-social-to-social-media/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/its-not-too-late-to-return-the-social-to-social-media/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2013 11:00:49 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=14248 The social industry should be ashamed of itself: Failed promise. Failed mission. #Fail. We must save ourselves — now. Here’s what I mean: Three years ago, while I was still at salesforce.com, CEO Marc Benioff wrote “The Facebook Imperative.” It was a manifesto that urged enterprises to tap into the power of social media so that employees could more […]

The post It’s Not Too Late to Return the Social to Social Media appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
It's Not Too Late to Return the Social to Social Media

Image via BigStockPhoto

badge-guest-post-FLATTERThe social industry should be ashamed of itself: Failed promise. Failed mission. #Fail. We must save ourselves — now.

Here’s what I mean: Three years ago, while I was still at salesforce.com, CEO Marc Benioff wrote “The Facebook Imperative.” It was a manifesto that urged enterprises to tap into the power of social media so that employees could more easily collaborate and share information across departments.

His point?

That such collaboration creates a hive of enterprise productivity focused on customer needs — driving sales. That single manifesto brilliantly encapsulated just how social media could transform business.

Benioff’s premise resonated with the industry — and kick-started the second generation of social media. No longer purely a medium for self-expression, it has become the predominant marketing channel. In the years since Benioff wrote his manifesto, enterprises have become obsessed with connecting with customers via Facebook, Twitter or other social media, as they then monitor sentiment and measure effectiveness.

As head of Salesforce’s social media efforts and strategy, I helped build Marc Benioff’s social imperative. In my role, I applauded forward-thinking companies that set up and staffed “command centers” so they could monitor and respond to comments they spotted about their brands. I helped customers harness social media as new marketing and ad channels. And I cheered as social media became integral to enterprise marketing.

And then things got ugly, as marketers went extreme.

I hate to say it, but the social-business industry has pushed crass commercialism to new levels aimed at getting customers to LIKE us, LOVE us and, above all, BUY from us.

And I went along with it.

Social Marketing Speak

When I founded Addvocate, I described it in marketing terms: Terms like “empower employees to be brand advocates” (or sometimes: “brand amplifiers”). Those phrases made me uneasy, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. And then it hit me: By adopting marketers’ mindset, I inadvertently implied that employees are tools for brands to wield on their behalf.

I blame myself for not emphasizing what I always knew: Social media’s true utility — its fundamental reason for existence — is for building genuine connections.

That’s because social media is best used as a conduit for information, sentiment, support and insight from anywhere within a company out to its customers — practically at the speed of thought. Yes, social enables enterprises to know what their customers are thinking and saying about them. But it also allows anyone — anywhere within the organization —to step in and answer customers’ questions and solve their problems. Equally important, social media can relay that interaction to customer service, alert R&D to product flaws, and inform the marketing folks of a potential problem to address.

Forget about hammering customers with corporate messages and ads. Consider: When Nielsen asked consumers which form of advertising they trust, 84 percent said they trust recommendations from people they know, and 68 percent said they believed opinions posted online. Studies prove that people trust others just like themselves.

It’s also interesting to see just who, inside a company, those consumers believe. The latest TrustBarometer from Edelman, for example, found that consumers trust a company’s rank and file workers — especially people with technical expertise — more than they trust top executives.

Emphasis on Empathy

Think about what it would mean when business processes run on top of social. Everything will change. People will become less self-involved because they know — and care — about their customers’ experiences. And that will create a culture of empathy that encourages everyone throughout the organization to connect with customers, contribute comments, solve problems, and safeguard the reputation of the enterprise. People would behave differently.

Here’s a story I recently heard that illustrates the point:

A family took their 6-year-old daughter to Disneyland where she bought a Minnie Mouse wallet. A few rides in, she started crying when she realized she’d lost her wallet. Naturally, the parents made a show of looking for it, but they all knew the chances of finding it were slim. A Disney employee took notice and came over to ask what the wallet looked like. “It’s red and has Minnie Mouse on the cover,” she said. “I think I know where it is,” he said, leading the family to the gift shop, where he pulled a wallet from the counter and gave it to the little girl.

You can imagine how impressed the parents must have been — and not just because of the overt act of kindness. Disney had empowered its employees to go the extra mile for its customers. That’s the culture of empathy I’m talking about. This goes way beyond getting your employees to Tweet for you. You need to give them the full support of the brand, and empower them to turn their empathy into social actions on behalf of your customers.

Few companies already have this culture. But I’m convinced enterprise-wide empathy with the customer is critical for establishing authentic, meaningful lines of communication. With it, companies can truly humanize all customer interactions, influence customer sentiment, improve products and burnish (or even salvage) a brand’s reputation.

And that’s why I founded Addvocate. I believe people want to talk to others like themselves — not to some company’s logo. Our platform enables people across the organization to opt in and use their own social networks to offer advice, solve problems and become the human face of their brands. Notice I said “people,” who are every company’s greatest assets.

Our customers, investors, and market influencers tell me I have it right. Isn’t it time we reclaimed social media’s true mission of building genuine connections?

People are not tools to be wielded for crass commercialization. Companies need to think about, and simplify, how their greatest assets can reach out to customers. Connect them. Give them an outlet for goodwill and customer rapport. Empower everyone throughout the entire organization to react and respond to their best impulses.

This is our next cultural imperative: Putting human empathy at the core of every customer interaction, and at any level of communication. We are not tools, so stop treating us as if we were. Empower us to build relationships, and to thrive on those connections. That is, after all, what humans do best.

And if that doesn’t translate into customer trust and loyalty, nothing will.

Editor’s Note: A version of this post originally ran on Medium.

The post It’s Not Too Late to Return the Social to Social Media appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/its-not-too-late-to-return-the-social-to-social-media/feed/ 6
Where Most Got Social Business All Wrong, Including Me http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/where-most-got-social-business-all-wrong-including-me/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/where-most-got-social-business-all-wrong-including-me/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=12510 Regardless of how you define social business; it’s hard to argue that organizations today must change if they want to stay relevant and competitive. I have seen business change and lived through many of its ups and downs for many years. My first book, Smart Business, Social Business was my eyewitness account of living through […]

The post Where Most Got Social Business All Wrong, Including Me appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
badge-guest-post-FLATTERRegardless of how you define social business; it’s hard to argue that organizations today must change if they want to stay relevant and competitive. I have seen business change and lived through many of its ups and downs for many years. My first book, Smart Business, Social Business was my eyewitness account of living through this organizational change while working for large brands in Silicon Valley. In the book, I plead the case that all business, large and small, must evolve into a social business just for the sake of being a social business.

That’s where I got it wrong.  I didn’t continue the story.

Companies that want to become a social business for the sake of “becoming a social business” doesn’t make sense. Enterprise collaboration for the sake of enterprise collaboration is silly. Deploying internal communities using software platforms like IBM or Jive just because your competitors are doing so is a complete waste a time, money and resources.

There must be positive business outcomes.

There needs to be reason “why”.

There has to be a strategic initiative as to why you want to change your business.

Even before the book, I talked about the need for companies to start thinking about socializing their business. But the question I often get is “why?” Why is it important for my business to deploy internal communities, tear down silos, coordinate go-to-market plans or get my butt out of my cubicle and have a conversation with my colleagues down the hall? These are all good questions. Becoming a social business without a vision for where it’s going to take you is like investing thousands of dollars building your first home from the ground up and never moving in to live in it and enjoy it.  It’s a waste of time otherwise.

I look at social business strategy as an enabler. Let me explain.

I am a marketing guy by trade so many of the challenges I help my clients with are the ones that help them improve the way they communicate externally and internally. Sometimes it’s about operationalizing their content marketing strategy. Other times, it’s about building processes and workflows that can help scale social media globally. And many times, it’s fixing disjointed content and community management practices.

In other words, in order to fix many of these challenges, you need a social business strategy that can stand the test of time and change organizational behaviors.  Doing so, will enable better content, smarter marketing, integrated communities and more effective customer relationships. And that’s exactly what my next book is all about – enablement.  It’s about tackling a real-world marketing problem (and opportunity) and using a social business strategy to capitalize on it.

So what is this real-world business problem?

It’s actually pretty simple. Your brand needs to start thinking, acting and operating like a media company. And the reason why is right in plain sight. There is a content surplus in the marketplace today and consumers have an attention deficit. In order for you to reach consumers with your value message, you need to manufacture an environment where you are creating, curating and aggregating relevant content – at the right time, in the right channel and to the right customer. And your brand story must be consistent everywhere. Unfortunately, it’s not like we can turn on the “media company” button and change operations and behavior overnight. It requires a change in attitude, behavior, thinking coupled with processes and governance models; as well as technology that can facilitate the transformation.

Tom Foremski, publisher of tech blog Silicon Valley Watcher has said for several years now that “every company is a media company.” Sadly, some companies don’t know it, resist the change or have no clue on how to fully transform their businesses into media companies.  My book, Your Brand: The Next Media Company will help enable your brand, whether large or small, to leverage the frameworks, practices and strategies of social business to fully transform your brand into an operational content marketing machine. Or better yet, a media company.

media-company

To learn more about the book and of each chapter, here are some quick slides that outline the narrative of what you can expect.

The post Where Most Got Social Business All Wrong, Including Me appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/where-most-got-social-business-all-wrong-including-me/feed/ 16
Funnel Vision: Why Companies Need To See The Light At the End of the Funnel http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/funnel-vision-why-companies-need-to-see-the-light-at-the-end-of-the-funnel/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/funnel-vision-why-companies-need-to-see-the-light-at-the-end-of-the-funnel/#comments Tue, 30 Apr 2013 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=11504   Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Brian Solis‘s new book, What’s the Future of Business? Learn more about the book and purchase a copy at http://wtfbusiness.com. Over the years, businesses have developed sales, marketing, and service strategies around the sales funnel. The model of awareness, interest, desire, and action describes the likely steps […]

The post Funnel Vision: Why Companies Need To See The Light At the End of the Funnel appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
 Funnel Vision

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Brian Solis‘s new book, What’s the Future of Business? Learn more about the book and purchase a copy at http://wtfbusiness.com.

Over the years, businesses have developed sales, marketing, and service strategies around the sales funnel. The model of awareness, interest, desire, and action describes the likely steps a customer may take in making a decision. If only the world were that simple.

It was assumed that the linear path of the funnel would continue despite the evolution of technology and behavior.

That has changed.

Today, the customer journey goes beyond a simple sales funnel. Yet it is the funnel model that dictates how businesses invest in product development, sales, marketing, and service strategies. It’s a big problem.

In a narrow, but honest, view businesses are designed to pull customers into the funnel. Strategists see people as targets and use marketing, not products or exceptional experiences, as bait. It’s assumed that customers make decisions that follow a series of linear and equally weighted steps to find and purchase your products and then later advocate to anyone and everyone on your behalf.

Think about what a funnel really operates on:

1. The Persuasion

Convince the prospects that they need your product without considering their need, experience, or the reward. This is done through clever marketing and advertising. Contests and campaigns also raise awareness to create need or the perception of it.

2. The Hook

Emphasize the reasons to buy in the moment rather than the long-term relationship or outcome. Packaging, price, rebate, gifts, and promotions are often the lure necessary to convert browsing into action.

3. The Exchange

Convert the prospect into a customer. This is the moment someone officially becomes a stakeholder. There is an exchange beyond the payment for a product. Value must now be delivered on both sides of the relationship.

4. The Distance

The distance here is that the space between the brand promise and the customer experience begins to spread. If a customer encounters anything negative, the distance is then measured by the steps it takes for a customer and business to connect and bring about resolution.

5. The Re-Enchantment

Realizing that the customer experience is not completely understood, this stage is dedicated to finding ways to keep customers interested and coming back. Strategies include discounts, promotions, exclusive offers, loyalty programs, and beta tests, among others.

6. The Governance

Once customers are enticed or in some cases ensnared, the relationship moves into a state of customer relationship management. You’re now forever known as a number with a record on file. Conversations are now managed as tickets and placed within a queue for engagement and resolution. Your service level and attention level can be tied to your position within the customer hierarchy.

Businesses today invest to varying degrees and effectiveness in marketing, advertising, and communications programs. However, customer attention isn’t a switch that toggles on and off— it is a state of perpetual engagement. (tweet this)

The blaring noise that customers continually experience has forced them to adapt. Second nature acts as a defense mechanism to tune out the constant barrage of marketing messages and clever campaigns. Awareness at the top of the funnel is elusive but the stakes have never been higher.

What was once a simplistic representation of a fluted customer journey must become much more dynamic and connected. Learning how to uncover the moment of truth and shape experiences will set the stage for more meaningful outcomes and relationships.

Your market has already been disrupted. Through an unforgiving series of technology revolutions in an era of individual empowerment, your customers are not only more informed, their expectations have grown. It’s time to turn off the funnel vision and write a new future of business.

The post Funnel Vision: Why Companies Need To See The Light At the End of the Funnel appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/funnel-vision-why-companies-need-to-see-the-light-at-the-end-of-the-funnel/feed/ 5
How Social Media and Smartphones Breed a Petri Dish of Negativity http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/how-social-media-and-smartphones-breed-a-petri-dish-of-negativity/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/how-social-media-and-smartphones-breed-a-petri-dish-of-negativity/#comments Sat, 13 Apr 2013 14:01:57 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=11656 It’s time to recalibrate your expectations about customer complaints. 57% of Americans will have a smartphone this year, meaning that the majority of your customers (and in some industries, the vast majority) now possess two things, at all times, in their pants: Access to almost the entirety of the world’s knowledge Several different mechanisms to […]

The post How Social Media and Smartphones Breed a Petri Dish of Negativity appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
photo from Bigstock.com

photo from Bigstock.com

Jay Baer Blog PostIt’s time to recalibrate your expectations about customer complaints.

57% of Americans will have a smartphone this year, meaning that the majority of your customers (and in some industries, the vast majority) now possess two things, at all times, in their pants:

  1. Access to almost the entirety of the world’s knowledge
  2. Several different mechanisms to instantly express their displeasure

As Amber Naslund and I wrote in The NOW Revolution way back in 2010, every customer is a reporter. But now, smartphone proliferation and the app-ification of interaction is enabling and encouraging them to file their reports more easily than ever.

I don’t know what business you’re in, but I’d be willing to wager that your customer complaint volume is going up, not down. Even with your commitment to humanization, social outreach, customer experience and all the rest, you’re still getting more angry missives than ever.

It’s certainly true in the airline industry, where LA Times reports that complaint volume is up 30% year-over-year. It’s happening at McDonald’s, too, despite their major commitment to real-time customer service via social media (listen to the Social Pros interview with their social media head Rick Wion for details). A recent Wall Street Journal article about the chain’s customer service issues noted that perhaps complaints are up because customers have more ways to complain:

The reason behind the rise in customer complaints is unclear, but some franchisees say it could be partly because customers now have more ways to supply feedback.

I Hate You (but not to your face)

I absolutely believe this is at least a contributing factor.

Customers don’t dislike you more, we’ve just removed all barriers to complain. (Tweet this)

If nothing else, social media and always-on Internet access has made us all passive aggressive. I have witnessed people sitting in a restaurant and tweeting negativity without first speaking to waitstaff or a manager. Hotel managers have told me that they are seeing more Trip Advisor reviews than front desk complaints.

Psychologically, it all adds up. Why go through the emotional toil of calling someone out face-to-face when we can hide behind our avatars and mobile devices?

This trend will not ebb. The genie will not go back in the bottle. You need to start measuring results of social media customer service via survey-driven satisfaction indices, rather than cases handled and call deflection, because the idea that socializing service will result in fewer overall complaints is a misconception. Or so it appears to me.

The post How Social Media and Smartphones Breed a Petri Dish of Negativity appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/how-social-media-and-smartphones-breed-a-petri-dish-of-negativity/feed/ 14
The 2 Ingredient Recipe for the Social Media Magic Middle http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/the-2-ingredient-recipe-for-the-social-media-magic-middle/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/the-2-ingredient-recipe-for-the-social-media-magic-middle/#comments Sat, 23 Feb 2013 15:37:32 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=11036 Silos are for suckers. Your customers do not care about your org chart. To them, it’s irrelevant how your organization is structured, and the internal power plays and land grabs that unfold across your company are immaterial. Your customers, potential customers and fans only care about two things in social media: They want to be heard. […]

The post The 2 Ingredient Recipe for the Social Media Magic Middle appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
social media magic middle

photo from Bigstock.com

Jay Baer Blog Post
Silos are for suckers.

Your customers do not care about your org chart. To them, it’s irrelevant how your organization is structured, and the internal power plays and land grabs that unfold across your company are immaterial.

Your customers, potential customers and fans only care about two things in social media:

They want to be heard.

They want to be loved.

Smart brands are adept at both socially enabled customer service and social media marketing, but few are equally good at both ingredients of the Magic Middle of social.

This is underscored in an interesting new social media benchmark study from JD Power and Associates. Jacqueline Anderson, the director of social media at JD Power summarizes the findings quite well:

“Companies that are focused only on promoting their brand and deals, or only servicing existing customers, are excluding major groups of their online community, negatively impacting their satisfaction and influencing their future purchasing decision. A one-pronged approach to social is no longer an option.”

In the study of more than 23,000 customers of 100+ brands, JD Power found that just seven companies were cited by consumers as being particularly adept at both social media marketing and social media customer service:

Very nice to see that Fifth Third Bank and US Cellular were named in the social media service category, as we’ve interviewed both companies’ social teams on Social Pros.

You Need Proactive and Reactive to Create the Magic Middle in Social Media

The social media magic middle of doing customer service and marketing equally well – of listening and loving – isn’t based on willingness, or technology, or even corporate culture. What I’ve found after 60 episodes of the Social Pros podcast, and many corporate social media consulting projects, is that companies are usually better at either service or marketing because that’s where social media is managed within the organization.

In companies where the executive sponsor for social is a marketer, SURPRISE! social marketing tends to be the area of emphasis. Conversely, in companies where the head honcho comes from a customer care background, the prime directive is usually reactive service using social platforms.

An axiomatic tenet of self-help books is that you should work on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Corporate execs managing social would do well to heed this advice, striving to bring their social marketing up to par with their social customer service, or vice versa.

Because, as JD Power uncovered, both sides matter. Among highly satisfied consumers (love) they found that 87% indicated online interactions with the brand positively impacted their likelihood to purchase from the company. Conversely, among dissatisfied consumers (listen) they found that 10% indicated their online interactions had a negative impact on purchase likelihood.

On the surface, it may look like social media marketing has a much larger impact on customers than does social media customer service. This is a misapplication of data, in my estimation. People who are dissatisfied are already unlikely to purchase, thus an ignored tweet certainly won’t help win them back, but it’s also not going to make matters much worse. If you have a rotten apple, leaving it out on the counter for a few days has no material impact on its edibility, or its future.

Social media success – creating the magic middle – requires two programs working harmoniously. Are your proactive and reactive social elements in synch? Are you equally good at listening and love?

The post The 2 Ingredient Recipe for the Social Media Magic Middle appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/the-2-ingredient-recipe-for-the-social-media-magic-middle/feed/ 5
Social Customer Service is Now a 2-Headed Monster http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/social-customer-service-is-now-a-2-headed-monster/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/social-customer-service-is-now-a-2-headed-monster/#comments Wed, 13 Feb 2013 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=10882 In this edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about customers using Facebook more and more as a customer service channel. Interesting new research from Social Bakers uncovers an important finding: The volume of questions posted on Facebook has increased 26% in 6 months. (tweet this) Historically, brands have put more […]

The post Social Customer Service is Now a 2-Headed Monster appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
The Baer Facts Social Media Controversies

Social Media Controversies Addressed, Fresh Each Week

badge-baer-facts
In this edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about customers using Facebook more and more as a customer service channel.

Interesting new research from Social Bakers uncovers an important finding:

The volume of questions posted on Facebook has increased 26% in 6 months. (tweet this)

Historically, brands have put more customer service eggs in the Twitter basket, and many noteworthy companies have Twitter programs that are managed (or partially so) by customer care teams, while Facebook and other channels are more often overseen by marketing and communications personnel. This must change.

As Facebook becomes (due to its much larger user base vs. Twitter) a more and more convenient customer service outlet for consumers, brands must break down internal, channel-oriented silos. Customers don’t care about your social silos and internal turf wars.

You must unify your social customer service processes and personnel to provide a consistent experience, regardless of channel. Not doing so is disrespectful of customers, and dramatically increases risk of social missteps resulting in crises. Let’s remember that as you wrestle with these questions of governance and staffing, customer expectations for social customer service continue to escalate. As we uncovered in The Social Habit research:

42% of consumers who have complained in social expect a response within 60 minutes (more details) (tweet this)

The post Social Customer Service is Now a 2-Headed Monster appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/social-customer-service-is-now-a-2-headed-monster/feed/ 4
The New Skill Every Social Media Marketer Must Possess http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/the-new-skill-every-social-media-marketer-must-possess/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/the-new-skill-every-social-media-marketer-must-possess/#comments Sun, 20 Jan 2013 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=10616 In The NOW Revolution, Amber Naslund and I predicted that social media would become a skill rather than a job. As companies take more steps to “be” social, and incorporate social business initiatives alongside the more common and obvious social media marketing programs, employees from all divisions and departments will utilize “social” to be more […]

The post The New Skill Every Social Media Marketer Must Possess appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
Snapshot 1:19:13 1:38 PMJay Baer Blog PostIn The NOW Revolution, Amber Naslund and I predicted that social media would become a skill rather than a job. As companies take more steps to “be” social, and incorporate social business initiatives alongside the more common and obvious social media marketing programs, employees from all divisions and departments will utilize “social” to be more effective, the same way they have historically used telephones, email and in-person meetings. This is happening, and my Social Pros podcast interview with Sandy Carter from IBM is a good case history of how big organizations are often leading the way in implementing social as an ingredient in many business recipes.

Companies will fully embrace this movement.

Social at work will become always around us like air, instead of something you have to seek out like water. (tweet this)

But even then, there will still be specialists that oversee or execute social media marketing as a primary part of their job function. The skills needed by this group are changing rapidly.

What Skills Does A Social Media Manager Need to Be Successful?

Just two years ago, the formula for a great social media or community manager was excellent communication skills, comfort with technology, knowledge of the organization and empathy.

18 months ago, when social measurement and ROI calculation became (thankfully) a requirement for most social marketing programs, a heavy dose of comfort with statistics and Excel became a best practice in the community manager job description.

Now, there’s a new requirement for many community or social managers, especially those who are running programs for mid-sized companies on a solo or nearly solo basis (and there are a LOT of those circumstances out there, far more than heavily staffed social media centers of excellence or command centers). Now, to be a “do it all” social media practitioner you must have some experience and expertise with photography and graphics production.

I’m not talking about professional grade computer graphics wizardry, but with Facebook’s EdgeRank and Google’s G+ favoring photos and graphics, plus the increasing influence of Instagram and Pinterest, effective social marketers increasingly must create and propagate images that get attention. There are a number of software packages that help create simple, disposable social media images, so this shift in job skills is less about producing graphics than it is about thinking graphically. Editorial calendars that were once full of pithy tweets and concise status updates increasingly contain graphics instead.

A picture may not be worth 1,000 words, but it’s definitely worth 140 characters. (tweet this)

Snapshot 1:19:13 1:27 PMB2B marketing software company Marketo is a particularly good example of this shift, as their Facebook page has moved in the last few months from mostly text to almost entirely graphics. They create a series of different graphics on a regular editorial schedule (this consistency is also a best practice on Facebook; where brand pages are becoming similar to digital magazines).

In addition to text graphics based on quotes, they execute humorous photo overlays and create images for Webinars and other thought leadership, so that those items stand out in the news feed visually. Smart.
lionel-2

Are your social and community managers thinking visually? If not, it’s probably time to invest in some additional training in that area, and the same holds true for agencies (PR, digital, social or otherwise) that are using staff members to manage social on behalf of clients.

What other skills do community managers need today? How else is this role shifting?

The post The New Skill Every Social Media Marketer Must Possess appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/the-new-skill-every-social-media-marketer-must-possess/feed/ 21
Convergence of Marketing and Journalism is a Recipe for Better Content http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/convergence-of-marketing-and-journalism-is-a-recipe-for-better-content/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/convergence-of-marketing-and-journalism-is-a-recipe-for-better-content/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=10392 In this week’s Baer Facts, Kyle Lacy from ExactTarget and I talk about a recent blog post by social business smartie David Armano that illustrates an emerging marketing team structure that includes journalism/editorial guidance. This is an interesting and exciting development, as it wasn’t that long ago that marketing and journalism were like two beta […]

The post Convergence of Marketing and Journalism is a Recipe for Better Content appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
badge-baer-factsIn this week’s Baer Facts, Kyle Lacy from ExactTarget and I talk about a recent blog post by social business smartie David Armano that illustrates an emerging marketing team structure that includes journalism/editorial guidance.

This is an interesting and exciting development, as it wasn’t that long ago that marketing and journalism were like two beta fish in adjacent bowls. Now, with documentary-style storytelling increasingly being imbued into content and social programs, will “brand journalist” be the new “community manager” and become the hot new communications job du jour?

The post Convergence of Marketing and Journalism is a Recipe for Better Content appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/convergence-of-marketing-and-journalism-is-a-recipe-for-better-content/feed/ 2
The Most Valuable Lesson a B2B Marketer Will Ever Learn http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/the-most-valuable-lesson-a-b2b-marketer-will-ever-learn/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/the-most-valuable-lesson-a-b2b-marketer-will-ever-learn/#comments Fri, 04 Jan 2013 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=10284 As a journeyman marketing writer, my job is to simplify stuff. It often works like this: I go into a meeting. My client invited a number of others because they really know the product and the market. These are experts. After the handshakes, card swaps and small talk, I go into listen mode. My digital […]

The post The Most Valuable Lesson a B2B Marketer Will Ever Learn appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
Time And Money

Image via BigStockPhoto.com

badge-guest-post-FLATTERAs a journeyman marketing writer, my job is to simplify stuff. It often works like this:

I go into a meeting. My client invited a number of others because they really know the product and the market. These are experts.

After the handshakes, card swaps and small talk, I go into listen mode. My digital recorder is rolling. I’m writing. I might interject a question now and then. Usually, a slide deck is being used for support. Invariably, the client team comes up with a little list of stuff they need to email me because it’ll really shed some light on things. These meetings tend to take a good bit of time.

When the client’s done talking and I’m out of questions, they then say, “So what do you think Barry?” Pause. Scribble, scribble. Then, with my fingers crossed, I muster every bit of sincerity I can find and respond with something like, “It sounds like your product saves people time.”

Silence. Gulp. Fear. No one wants to go next. People check their phones. I’m squirming. What did I miss? Where did I go wrong? What’s wrong with me?

Relief. Heads slowly begin to nod a bit. Everyone wants to challenge my simple assessment, but they can’t. Eventually, someone comes right out and says it. “You got it. That’s brilliant, Barry.”

What makes me so smart?

Oh, now you’re embarrassing me. I’m not that smart. I have been doing this a while though. Is there a book in all this? Not even. I’m scrambling just to get an article out of it. But what’s “it?”

It is my lesson, the one I told you was so valuable.

In B2B marketing, your value proposition can be about two things. Only two. Dos. Deux.

  1. Time
  2. Money

That’ll do ‘er. Time and money. Time’s really simple. Your value proposition can be about saving it. It can’t be about making it.

Money gets more intricate. Your money proposition can have two takes. One, you can propose to save your customer money. Two, you can propose to make them money.

This is business.

Sorry friend, I can’t allow you to get any fancier. We’re not selling underwear here.

B2B isn’t the same as mainstream consumer marketing. Over in the consumer realm, your value list is a little longer – sex appeal, love, fun, memories, power, prestige, tagless underwear for increased comfort… Jordan might be helpful with these strategies.

But you see what I mean? The list varies quite a bit.

Not so in B2B. You’ve got time and money. Comfort doesn’t fly unless you can relate it back to time or money.

So why all the torturous, long, frustrating value proposition meetings? Here’s why.

Businesses think their customers care about their products.

It’s true. This is what businesses think. But it’s actually false. Your customers don’t care about your products. I swear.

I’m in the value proposition forming stage with a couple of clients right now. A run-down of the process I’ve gone through with one of them ought to help me make my point and serve to represent millions of similar, if not identical, scenarios.

The client has himself a bit of a commodity service. Don’t we all? But he sincerely believes his company has a stronger value proposition. He explains:

Every employee has an MBA. They never miss a deadline. The company has won several awards for its work. They’re recognized as a leading employer due to their unique corporate culture. They comply with rigid international standards and use the best of the best practices, the proven ones like just-in-time, Six Sigma, and kaizen. The clients are ridiculously loyal due to the company’s super serious service orientation. And now for the real zinger…

They have a far superior infrastructure with a proprietary combination of software and hardware technologies no other company can claim to offer. You might say it’s state of the art. Ouch.

As dreadfully far away all of this is from a valid value proposition, you have to admit, if half of this stuff is true, this company would appear to have its act together. The boss can really bring it. He’s nearly as convincing as Michael Jordan.

But darn it, he doesn’t know what a value proposition is.

He’s confused it for an “About Us” page, or brochure, or ad, or commercial, or slide show, or on-hold message, or something boring that will never, ever move the relationship to the crucial next step—the decision process.

Do you think anyone would possibly take in this information and respond with, “Now that sounds valuable. When you can meet with the CEO?”

Not going to happen.

The client got all wrapped up in his company and fell victim to the dreadful trap where he spouts about features. Now why did he do that?

He was trying to differentiate his company. That sounds good. It’s not.

Want to differentiate your company in the way you do business? You should, or die trying. Want to differentiate your company in how you articulate your message? Definitely a smart line of thinking there.

Think differently, right? But sorry, in B2B, you can’t differentiate the value proposition. If you do, there’s simply no value to your proposition.

You can tell me about time or money.

That’s it. I’m a businessperson. You’re a businessperson. That’s what we value. And it’s all we value.

Scalability? Nope. Interoperability? No sir. Reliability? Compatibility. Sorry, I don’t care how many words you come up with that end with “ility.” Nor do I give one bleeping-blank iota if you’re the cross-platform, user-friendly, mission-critical, market-proven, or industry-leading so-and-so.

If you’re going to force-feed me your meaningless, tired, self-serving, hyphenated clichés, I’m out of here. Try these hyphenated value props: (1) time-saving, (2) money-making.

Now I’m listening. Please go on.

The post The Most Valuable Lesson a B2B Marketer Will Ever Learn appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/the-most-valuable-lesson-a-b2b-marketer-will-ever-learn/feed/ 32
Is Your Social Media Policy Against the Law? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/is-your-social-media-policy-against-the-law/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/is-your-social-media-policy-against-the-law/#comments Tue, 02 Oct 2012 10:15:11 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=9080 Social media policies can be unlawful. In 1935, Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act to protect the rights of employees, encourage collective bargaining and curtail dangerous workplace policies.  Today, when an employee in the US believes they have been wrongfully terminated they notify the National Labor Relations Board, which has local offices nationwide. Over […]

The post Is Your Social Media Policy Against the Law? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
Social Media Policies Best Practices

Social Media Policy photo from Flickr user: cambodia4kidsorg

Social media policies can be unlawful.

In 1935, Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act to protect the rights of employees, encourage collective bargaining and curtail dangerous workplace policies.  Today, when an employee in the US believes they have been wrongfully terminated they notify the National Labor Relations Board, which has local offices nationwide.

Over the past 18 months, the NLRB has released a series of memos on the lawfulness of corporate social media policies. The memos found most corporate social media policies to be overly broad and unlawful.  One of the most common offenses was restricting employee’s from discussing “confidential information” such as wages and working conditions with co-workers on social media.

This month, the Board issued their first decision on social media policies, striking down Costco’s rules and regulations as unlawful.

They stated:

(c) “[s]ensitive information such as membership, payroll, confidential financial, credit card numbers, social security number or employee personal health information may not be shared, transmitted, or stored for personal or public use without prior management approval”; and

(d) employees are prohibited from sharing “confidential” information such as employees’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses.

Here’s the deal.  If a work rule has the potential to reasonably chill an employee’s right to organize or bargain collectively, it’s unlawful. Employees have the right to complain publicly if they think their employers’ labor practices are unfair.  So if I complain on Linkedin that someone else is making more than me, and it’s unfair, that’s a protected activity.  If you fire me for disclosing confidential salary information, you’re going to lose in court.  It’s as simple as that, and if your social media policy prohibits it, you are opening your company up to a NLRB action.

Your Social Media Policy Cannot Limit Free Speech

You don’t have to reference the National Labor Relations Act to violate it. If your social media policy uses language that restricts employees from using social media to “damage the Company, defame any individual or damage any person’s reputation” the NLRB sees it as restricting labor’s protected rights, because that social media policy it could have a chilling effect on what is seen a free speech issue.

On the other hand, if the retrictions are subordinated to a clause on sexual misconduct or racial harrassment it would be allowed, since employees would be able to appreciate the rule in context.  It’s the overly broad restrictions (often wrapped into social media policy) that the Board opposes.  The best social media policies will be more exacting in their language.

If you’d like to read it yourself, here’s the NLRB Decision: Costco Wholesale Corporation and United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 371, No. 34-CA-012421 [PDF]

Here’s my online course on social media policy development, if you’d like some pointers on what employers should be thinking about when they draft their policies. But even a good policy isn’t enough. You need to educate your comployees and ongoing social media training is the best way to get it done.

The post Is Your Social Media Policy Against the Law? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

]]>
http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-business/is-your-social-media-policy-against-the-law/feed/ 24