Social media is an all or nothing proposition. No… I am not suggesting that you air all your dirty laundry, that you passive aggressively comment on a specific person's behavior on your Facebook updates or that we should all know how your marriage is going based on your tweets.
That's a discussion of discretion and propriety, which we'll hold for another day.
I was talking about how some people are clinging to the idea that they can embark into the world of social media and somehow maintain very distinct and separate personal and professional lives. You know…"I use Facebook just for my friends and LinkedIn for business contacts."
Life isn't that clear cut. And let's take it out of the social media realm for a minute. Do you know if your favorite client has children? Do they know if you like coffee? Ever share vacation photos or a book you love with a business associate?
Of course you have. We are human beings. And if you're doing business exceedingly well — odds are your customers are also your friends.
So what in the world makes us think we can or should keep those two interwoven worlds separate in social media? Does the fact that I posted photos of my daughter's play negate my ability to help clients with their marketing? If I tweet on occasion with an old college buddy, does that erase the tweets with insightful social media links and commentary?
That's not to say you shouldn't have a strategy for how you want to handle your social media exposure. You have a reason — often a business reason — for being there. And you shouldn't lose sight of that. But just don't create artificial barriers to the point of the extreme.
I was absolutely delighted with Aggie Villanueva (the Grandma Moses of the Southwest) invited me to participate on her radio talk show.
Aggie is an artist (photography) who also runs a place called Visual Arts Junction where she connects with artists of all kinds and talks about the business of being an artist.
So when she said she wanted to talk marketing — as you can imagine, I was all for it! We talked for an hour and barely scratched the surface! It was great fun and I hope, insightful to her vast audience.
Two good friends and smart cookies have just released some great content available to you for free!
Terry Starbucker has been blogging about leadership and life for many years now over at Ramblings from a Glass Half Full. He's captured some of his best thinking and insights in a free e-book called Leadership from a Glass Half Full: What you Need to Learn Before You Jump into the Pool.
Dan Schwabel, personal branding expert and blogger has been teaching people how to stand out in the crowd over at Personal Branding Blog for quite some time. Dan produces a fascinating magazine, chock full of interviews and helpful tips to build a powerful personal brand.
Dan's generously offering a free sample issue to you. All you have to do is click here.
Now that you've identified your weekend reading…. what's next on your To Do list?
In the drive up windows of one of the country's largest banks — there is a sign. "Please honk if we've delivered a "10" customer service experience."
I've never heard anyone honk or honked myself. Now…I want to honk. I feel bad about not honking. I can see that the tellers are being very friendly. They use my first name. They enclose a pen in the little tube so I don't have to ask to borrow one. But here's the thing. That's not being a 10. That's just being good. Being a 10 isn't about being good — it's about being spectacular.
For those of you over 40, you will remember the movie 10 with Bo Derek. The premise of the entire movie is that Bo Derek is so extraordinary that Dudley Moore makes a complete and utter fool of himself.
According to the movie, Bo wasn't just pretty. She wasn't satisfactory. She was stunning. She was so remarkable — she made everyone stop and notice.
That's what I want the bank tellers to be. Not friendly. Not doing their job. But remarkable. Do something that I can't help but tell others about. (Who is going to say…"boy, the bank teller called me Drew today.") Dare to be remarkable.
What does that look like? It looks like a small gesture that says you know who I am and appreciate me and my business enough to do something that most would never even think of doing.
Include a dog treat with my receipt because my dog is with me? Nice but not remarkable. Include a dog treat because you remember that I have a black lab, even when she isn't with me… remarkable.
Send me your newsletter, chock full of helpful hints? Nice but not remarkable. Drop off a book you think I will enjoy because you know that I grew up owning horses… remarkable.
Include a free sample when you ship my order to me? Nice but not remarkable. Include a packet of flower seeds that will grow perfectly in my climate with a note saying you can imagine how happy we are to see Spring after a miserable winter… remarkable.
Then, I will honk my heart out. I will tell everyone about your business. And, I will love you enough to never leave…no matter how much your competitors woo me.
That's a 10. And that's why we rarely (figuratively or literally) honk our horns for the companies that serve us.
In marketing, we talk a lot about being remarkable. We want to delight our customers. We want to create moments that they can't help talking about. In short — we want to stand above our competition in a way that we become the brand of choice.
I'm here to tell you — we don't have to be on all too high a step stool do just that.
Earlier this week I was in Mt. Kisko, New York conducting a social media workshop for an advertising agency. After we were done, the agency owner and I decided we needed some caffeine, so we swung through the local Dunkin' Donuts.
What I witnessed in those next 15 minutes could be a half day case course on customer care and employee relations. I'll try to sum it up.
It's around 5:00 in the afternoon, so most of the people in line (and there was a significant line) were just buying some form of coffee. There were two guys behind the counter and a manager who flies in with supplies (milk, syrups etc) and then flies out.
It's taking them forever to fill anyone's order or advance the line. People seem pretty frustrated with the two clerks — neither of whom seem to actually know how to make many of the coffee drinks. Worse…as they are getting it wrong, they're sort of giggling about it — clearly uncomfortable. But they're not asking the manager for help, which I observe and think is a bit odd.
Finally, it's my turn to order. I order the two coffees and the guy has to ask me 3 times what I ordered. Meanwhile, the other clerk is taking an order from an old man who is clearly agitated. The manager walks by (carrying more milk) and the old man says to him in a very loud voice, "this is the worst Dunkin' Donuts I have ever been in!" (Now before you keep reading…stop and ask yourself if a customer said that to you in front of a room full of customers…how would you react?)
The manager looks at the old man and in a very sarcastic voice replies, "thanks for the compliment." The old man shakes his head and then commences to shout at the clerk because he's making the wrong coffee. I'm thinking to myself two things: First…blog post heaven and second, this can't get any worse.
I was wrong.
After the old man leaves, muttering under his breath, the manager says to the two clerks — "if that old guy ever comes in here again — you tell him to go someplace else." In the next breath, he adds, "and if you two would stop talking to each other and listen (and then he shouts for some emphasis) LISTEN to the customers — you wouldn't be getting all of these orders wrong." He continues to berate his clerks for a couple more minutes and then storms into the back of the store.
As you might imagine, the two clerks gave him a look that pretty much substituted for the finger and get back to trying to fill the order. Now I get why they didn't ask him for help.
Meanwhile, I am holding up a $10 bill because we got our coffees (mine was wrong but it wasn't worth the drama of saying so) but no one has taken my money. Both clerks nod at the other guy when I ask who I should pay. I practically have to insist that someone take my money. Finally, the kid who filled our order starts to ring us up. I remind him of what we ordered. My coffee alone should have been $3.95 but somehow he ends up charging me $4.20.
The point of this incredibly long tale? Here are some of my takeaways:
Without training and setting a good example — no employee can be successful
Secret shopping is a vital investment if you own a retail establishment
The manager/leader of an organization sets the tone for everything that happens
As customers, our standards and expectations are incredibly low (which means it should be easy to exceed them.)
Some people just should not have "front of the house" jobs
It only takes one bad experience can taint the consumer's impression about the entire brand (I see and think about Dunkin' Donuts in a totally different way now)
The whole experience was a train wreck. Are you so sure that your management team and front line employees would fare better? Are you really sure?
I've had this conversation about 6 times this past week, so it seems timely to write about it as well.
For some reason — many companies and brands are not content to be who they are. They feel the need to create some artificial hybrid of themselves…. no doubt because they're afraid they're leaving money on the table, they are missing out on some customers or their revenue is down, so they're going to fish outside of their own pond.
Here's the truth about your brand. If you are a lion — then be a lion. Be the boldest, loudest, most confident lion you can be.
The minute you decide to become half lion and half tiger… you compromise your own brand. You become less of who you truly are.
I've seen this too many times to think it is a coincidence or fluke. While you are out prowling as a liger…here are the results:
You chase after business that is outside of your sweet spot — so it takes up more resources (time, talent, money) for you to deliver what you sold. In other words — lower (if any) profit.
You end up working with customers who value something other than what you are best at selling, so in many cases, you are satisfying them but not delighting them.
Because you are a little (or a lot) outside of your usual scope — you price your offerings badly — either giving it away (what did we say about net profits?) or trying to charge a ridiculous amount, just proving that you aren't really an expert in that particular arena.
While you are working extra hard (see #1 above) to deliver on business you really aren't superior in, you're so busy that you can't chase or win sweet spot business.
In short….you are working harder, delivering less spectacular results and making less money.
I get the short term temptation of trying to be that hybrid — it's money in the pocket.
But, in the long run, you simply diminish your own ability to be remarkable. To be the brand that goes way beyond delivering satisfaction — but instead, your customers LOVE you. Those are the companies that are surviving this recession. Those are the companies who enjoy incredible word of mouth business.
If you are a lion — be the biggest, baddest, boldest lion you can be. You don't (and shouldn't) be anything else.
David Meerman Scott wrote an excellent book a few years ago called The New Rules of Marketing and PR. I have been recommending it to people for a long time.
Of course, the very use of the word new meant that David was in "trouble." After all, things can't be new forever. And when we're talking about the blur of change that viral marketing brings — new is a very fleeting concept.
Fortunately for all of us, David just released a 2nd edition. (check it out or buy it here) Even better news, this edition is not just a refresh of the old book. There's a huge amount of new content for the generalists and marketing pros alike.
Many of the "new media" books written today cover the same material and the same case studies. If you've read about Zappos once, you've read about them a million times.
The case studies in this book are varied and cover just about every type and size of business you can imagine. David's clearly searched high and low…and come up with plenty of variety to not only help illuminate his points but to trigger "hey, we could do something like that" sort of thinking.
This book is part high level examination of the dramatic shifts we're all experiencing in communicating for business today, but it is also equally a practical workbook — walking readers through very applicable steps so they can quickly leap from theory to action.
Are you a newbie — wondering how/where to dip your toe into the social media waters? This book will ease your concerns and help you evaluate the best tactics to help you achieve your goals.
Are you a seasoned marketing pro — wondering how to take your efforts to a higher plane? This book will show you how some incremental shifts in your strategies can be a game changer.
Smart, practical and very hands on. This is a rare case of when the sequel is in fact, better than the original.
[Note: David sent me a copy of his book so I could read it and review it if I chose to. Hopefully you know me well enough to be confident…the review above is because I mean it, not because I got a $15 book in the mail.]
Now, now…I didn't mean it like that. I mean in the "hang out and talk marketing, social media and connections" sort of way.
Chris and Ann (along with a host of others) are both playing a role in this Spring's hottest conferences…and I want to make sure you know all about them.
Why would you make the effort to catch one? Connecting on-line is fantastic. But, there's no substitute for face-to-face connections. Here's are two chances for you to literally and figuratively lock arms with some of social media and marketing's smartest folks.
How do you suppose Chris and Ann grew to be marketing/social media rock stars? I suspect they would both tell you — it happened as they were so busy learning and reaching out to others that being "famous" pretty much took them by surprise.
Two character traits that I believe you'll find in most of the professionals who have leveraged social media, content creation and viral marketing to their own and their company's advantage are:
They love to connect with people
They are generous with what they know
So you need to take advantage of these opportunities to listen, learn and connect. And I highly recommend you get to one of the two, depending on the timing and your geography.
SOBCon 2010: (click here for more info or to register)
Here's what they have to say: "This 2.5 day "conference" is the think tank of the social web, where the best minds in the Internet space gather to present models, discuss insights, and determine best practices.
We review the changing landscape, identify valid strategies, discuss and develop tactics, report case studies, and share actionable business ideas.
If you want a dynamic, protected web presence, a vibrant customer community, and innovative advisors who invest in you for the long term, this single event will meet your needs faster, easier, and more deeply than any other.
The relationships made at SOBCon extend across social networks online and off and well beyond the exchange of business cards."
The discount: If you use the code: SOBInsider you can save $250 off the registration. But hurry — this offer ends this week.
B2B Forum 2010: (click here for more info or to register)
Put on by the stellar people at Marketing Profs, this is your one-stop shop for the skills you need to drive sales now! Here's what they have to say:
"You asked for it and we're delivering you a broad-based B2B marketing educational program with a special focus on integrating social media.
You'll learn from B2B marketing experts in a variety of amazingly productive formats from panel discussions to roundtables to one-on-one therapy.
Therapy Sessions are worth the price of admission alone! Where else can you get 20 minutes of one-to-one advice from a top-level expert for FREE? Sign-up for an appointment with the expert of your choice and get 20 minutes of his or her undivided attention! Bring specific questions, or ask for an overall critique of your marketing program.
Loyal attendees flock to these FREE consulting sessions year after year! "
If after watching the video, you had to honestly answer no — ask yourself this: What could I do on a consistent basis that would get my customers to the point where they couldn't stop themselves from telling the story?
A big thanks to Laynie Kelly for telling me about this video!
Many of us are burning the candle at both ends and in the middle. Our companies have been “right-sized” which is a nice way of saying — same amount of work, fewer people to do it.
We’re trying to keep up on the trends and changes in our industry, use social media to create a personal brand (and grow our companies) and stay connected to our customers.
Then, there’s that little thing called new business. We’re all trying to hold and grow our market share, our market presence and build the brand.
Oh right…don’t forget about the charity boards, volunteering at our kid’s school and just managing our personal lives.
And we’re on call 24/7. Our devices makes sure of that.
Whew! No wonder we feel like we’re running on empty much of the time.
So here’s my question for you. How do you re-fill your bucket? How do you make sure you have enough in the tank to keep going? How do you stay physically, mentally and emotionally replenished?
Here are some of the things that work for me, but I’m looking forward to hearing your tips and tricks.
I serve others: Part of the reason I volunteer my time and share my talents is because it fills me up to know that I am using my gifts the way I believe God wants me to — in service of others. I only volunteer and sit on boards for organizations that I genuinely believe in — and care deeply about. That way, I can take immense pride in the work they ultimately do and my small role in it.
I have professional support squads: I learned a long time ago that I needed to bond and hang with other business owners who understood my worries, pains and joys. Through the years, I have either created or joined a small handful of groups that serve as my sounding board, my safe place to vent and my think tank.
But…perhaps most of all — they are some of my biggest cheerleaders. They believe in me and my abilities and when I am feeling like I can’t quite cross the finish line — their encouragement helps me push through.
I’m a dad: First and foremost — at the core of my being, I am my daughter’s dad. Having declared her as my absolute priority helps me find balance and give me permission to never miss a play, or pick her up after school and hang with her rather than schedule yet one more meeting that day.
I travel: My job affords me the opportunity to get on a plane and go somewhere at least once a month. I know for some people, traveling is a huge hassle but I like it. I’m rarely gone for more than 3 days — but in those few days, I am gloriously alone. It is more than a rare treat. It is absolutely replenishing.
I create an oasis where I can: I know I’m not going to get big blocks of “me” time. I’m not going to sit and watch an entire baseball game without multi-tasking or just do nothing for a couple hours. My life isn’t structured that way.
So I take little mini-breaks where I can get them. Music is healing for me, so I will often turn off my phone’s ringer, really crank up my car stereo and just let the music fill me. I’ll take the dog for a walk just to breathe in the fresh air and get some think time in. Or I’ll watch some ridiculous show on VH1 to laugh with my daughter.
It’s hardly perfect. And it’s probably not enough. But those are some of the ways I stay sane and re-fuel myself so I can keep at it. How about you — how do you make sure that your bucket is full?