To Social Media or Not to Social Media

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I’m often asked “should I be doing social media?”  Teachers, athletes, corporate executives, doctors, and lawyers all struggle with answering this question. And even if they’ve answered “yes”, they still need to decide just how active they want to be. Jumping into the realm of social media requires time, knowledge, and consistency.

Here are some reasons why you should participate in social media regardless of your occupation:
1. More than 1 billion people on Facebook
2. Nearly 300 million LinkedIn users
3. More than a billion people watch more than 6 billion hours of YouTube every month
4. A quarter of a billion people on Twitter

Need more reasons why you should get involved with social media? Here goes:
1. News and world events are unfolding on social media often times faster than they hit traditional media. Accidents, disasters, and gossip, all originate via social media channels first before the Main Street media picks it up.
2. Sales, offers, deals, etc are all launched on social media. See ads for Nordstrom, Jos. A. Bank, Macy’s, and even your local bakery via Twitter, Facebook, or a daily blog.
3. Embrace technology and the new communication of the world. You can fight it all you want but social media is not just here to stay but is growing. New social media platforms are being born all the time. Think Instagram and selfies.
4. Social media is where your friends, family, customers and prospects are hanging out. It’s where conversations begin, problems are voiced and solutions are provided. Many companies are employing a social media staff to build a community they can engage and learn from. It provides these companies with real-time insight into the customers wants, needs, problems, etc.

How should you get started? Here are a couple of ideas:
1. If you’re a business person you MUST have a LinkedIn profile. This profile must be complete with a photo and contain sufficient background information. Less formal than a resume, yet powerful enough to provide the reader with a clear view of who you are and your capabilities, interests, and accomplishments. Join some groups. There is a group for just about any of your interests. Join and participate in their discussion boards, or better yet start a discussion of your own.
2. Tweet. Set up a Twitter account and Tweet. HubSpot, a major Inbound Marketing firm, suggests tweeting 5 – 7 times each day throughout the day. Anything less than that is insufficient. Once you set up your Twitter handle look for people to “follow”. You’ll find that those you follow will open your door to followers of you. Tweet relevant content. Stay away from personal, emotional tweets. Don’t drink and tweet as your comments once posted live forever and can be found by any one.
3. Set up a Facebook page. Yes Facebook is a bit more personal than LinkedIn or Twitter but you must have one. Prospects you’re targeting, if you’re a business, or customers you’re trying to learn from are all on Facebook. If you’re not there, rest assured one of your competitors is.

Jump in. Get involved. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn and how many doors begin to open.

Just Enough

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We’re taught to be right at all costs. Not to make mistakes. We learn at an early age that failing is the mother of all curses in life. If we do fail the voice in our head tells us we didn’t plan enough, think enough, study enough, or work hard enough. And so begins our journey toward the ever-popular destination called “Just Enough”.

We do just enough to get by. Just enough to not be too visible. Just enough to not stand out. We focus on doing just enough work to keep our jobs, get that standard raise, and maybe, just maybe, retire with free healthcare for life. (Oops, didn’t plan on ObamaCare).

But doing just enough carries a huge risk. The pace of change today is faster than the speed of light. Seth Godin, author of The Icarus Deception writes about the infinite connections now created through the Internet that he refers to as the “connection economy”. The connection economy is where every human is capable of connecting with another for any reason, without needing any money, for any cause. This connected economy provides us all with an even playing field as we all have the ability to stand out, speak up, and make our unique thoughts known. The question is, are you taking advantage of this newly created connection economy or are you doing just enough?

For years I worried about being right. Getting it right. Making the right decisions. Doing the right thing. My journey has been filled with ups and downs like many others. But recently I have come to understand that it’s less about getting it right and more about being sure.

You see, often times in our lives it’s impossible to get it right because we simply don’t know what is right. Should you submit the report that shows your division’s poor results to your boss? Should you take a new opportunity offered to you or stay where you are and play it safe? Should you go to that big-name school or stick with the smaller college no one has heard of?

The point is, doing what you’re sure of, will often times result in better outcomes for you. Being sure of something means that it feels right rather than is right. Being sure of something carries an emotional connection to making it right.

If Steve Jobs worried about being right he most likely wouldn’t have invented and introduced the iPod in 2001. But he was sure it would be a hit. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook wasn’t worried about getting it right. He was sure that Facebook was needed and would become THE way people communicated with one another. Or how about Redbox, the dvd rental kiosk company. Started in 2002 as a joint venture with McDonald’s, Redbox looked at the changing market for home entertainment, listened to what customers wanted (cheap movie rentals) and innovated. They were sure first…and ultimately got it right.

Think about the important decisions in your life. Make time for yourself when you can be alone and ask yourself that all-important question…“what am I sure about?” You may be surprised by your own answer.

3 simple steps to get started with Small Business Marketing

Small business owners often ask “Do I really need Marketing?”  The answer of course is absolutely yes!  In fact, as a small business owner you need to market yourself more than the bigger brands that have already established awareness and familiarity with their products and services.  But how do you do this on a tight budget?  When do you find the time to market your business when you’re doing inventory, payroll, selling and servicing?  Take a breath and relax.  It’s not complicated and it won’t break the bank either.  You will need to spend some time getting started, but once you do you’ll find the positive results to be energizing and encouraging.  And when you begin to see favorable results based on your early efforts, this momentum will make adding an additional Marketing tactic here or there so much easier.  So what can you do to get started Marketing your business?

Here are 3 simple steps to introduce some basic Marketing tactics for your business.

  1. Set up a LinkedIn profile for yourself.  Set aside 30 minutes to get started.  You’ll need to write a short summary of what you do and what makes you special.  It’s important to highlight your “specialty”.  If you deliver outstanding service before, during, and after the sale explain how you do it in a brief statement or two.  Be bold but don’t mislead.  Be clear, concise and to the point.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Make sure to also include your photo on your LinkedIn profile.  This is an absolute MUST regardless of how much you dislike pictures of yourself.  Get over it.  It’s been proven that people are more likely to read, click, or pursue an interest when there is a personal picture accompanying the profile.
  2. Recognize customer milestones.  Most small businesses really know their customers.  Use that knowledge to your advantage.  Recognize birthdays, anniversary’s and key milestones.  Word of mouth is the best advertising you’ve got and paying that extra bit of attention to your customers will help create strong advocates for your business.  People spend an average of 3.2 hours per day on social media, and with 1.1 billion Facebook users it’s likely you’re getting talked about already.  Make sure you’re included in that conversation.  Satisfied customers will talk, and the power of social media will only expedite your message getting out to new prospective customers.
  3. Networking.  Most people associate networking with Sales but it’s really a Marketing function.  What’s the difference?  Think of Marketing as all the activities required to create the opportunity to sell.  It’s all the front end work.  Studying your market, knowing your competition, pricing correctly, creating a strong and compelling value proposition.  Sales is just that…taking that lead that’s been created from your Marketing efforts and turning it into a revenue generating customer.  So think of networking as an outbound Marketing effort.  You need to identify which functions to attend, who to talk to, what to say, how to follow up.  Networking is critical for small business owners.

These are 3 simple steps to get started Marketing your business.  I will dive deeper into each of these steps in future blogs.  In the mean time, check out the Small Business Administration website for some additional Marketing tactics.