Word of Mouth Advertising: Give ‘Em Something to Talk About

Something to talk aboutEarlier this week I awoke to find my car vandalized. In the middle of the night someone smashed the windshield, stole my stereo and broke the steering column.

Stressed and frustrated I called my insurance company, GEICO. I was dreading the conversation, expecting to speak with a callous insurance agent that couldn’t care less about my situation. Although I had never before filed a claim with GEICO, I developed a preconceived expectation based on the hundreds of customer service reps I’ve been on the phone with over the years.

To my surprise, the GEICO agent (I wish I remembered her name!!!) went above and beyond.

“Ms. Morris” she said, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been with GEICO for over 7 years. Thank you for being a dedicated customer. I know you might be worried about how this will effect your premium. This is covered under the comprehensive portion of your policy and since it’s a not-at-fault claim, your premiums won’t increase. I’d be glad to help you find a body shop in your area and arrange for you to drive a rental car while your car is being worked on.”

Wow. Thank you for talking to me like I’m an actual human being and not just a number. You exceeded my expectations and now I am telling my friends.

The lesson? People will talk if you give them something to talk about.

If you meet my expectations and nothing more – I have no story.

If you are terrible and don’t meet my expectations – I will bash you.

If you are stellar and exceed my expectations – I will praise you. This is the key to Viral Marketing.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Web 2.0 Burnout?

squidoo-small.gifHere’s a riddle for you, what do you get when you cross a traditional website with Web 2.0?

The answer? A whole new ballgame.

Squidoo.com (a project with marketing guru Seth Godin at the helm) calls their new ballgame a lens – aimed at providing easy searches, low-maintenance and affiliate/PPC advertising incentives. According to the Official Squidoo Lens,

“We believe that when you go online, you don’t search. You don’t even find. Instead you are usually on a quest to just make sense…There ought to be a way for you to talk about what matters to you, what 10 things matter to you, without the pressure of keeping it up daily (like a blog); and you ought to be able to make some money if someone buys something because you recommended it.”

Interesting concept – I signed up for my first lens last week. Although it’s still in its infancy, you can check it out by clicking here.

Zude.com is scheduled to launch May 1st. Its main feature is the ability for users to “drag and drop” modules to create their own pages. Zude’s creators hail it as the “next generation and ultimate evolution of web interaction.”

Regardless of the tool, one thing is clear – Web 2.0 has increased the demand for user-friendly, intuitive online interaction. And yes, these sites do provide branding value and the potential for passive income.

But how much is too much? Is it possible to suffer from Web 2.0 burnout?

Personally, I think so. Between my website, blog, myspace, meetup, technorati, squidoo, dogster, livejournal, my yahoo! and the countless other sites I belong to – it can become overwhelming. And with the plethora of new tools on the horizon, users may not be as eager to jump on board as they were a year ago.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Joost.com – Inflated Viral Marketing

Joost Beta InviteLooking to build buzz about your business? Take a hint from Joost.com – a new online TV service from the founders of Skype that’s sure to knock the socks off traditional cable. Through a deal with Viacom, Joost.com offers name-brand channels like MTV, VH1, BET, and Comedy Central. And negotiations with other networks (like CBS) are happening as we speak.

In order to participate in Joost.com beta, users must receive an “invite” – which is a brilliant way to boost buzz. People will always want what they can’t have. Bloggers sense scarcity and post their desired demand.

It’s no surprise some holders are looking to capitalize on their invitation’s value by posting them on auction sites like eBay or joostswap.com (where bidders offer everything from web hosting services to Belgian chocolate and beer)

This is a similar concept to the crazes of toys such as Cabbage Patch Dolls, Tickle Me Elmo or XBox 360. Low supply + High Demand = Lots of Buzz & Inflated Value

So what does this mean for Joost.com? Blog posts are tangible evidence of demand – which is a big chip to play when negotiating with networks and advertisers.

Only question is – will the product live up to the hype? Bloggers are posting about their desire for the concept – not the product itself. This can be a risky move. It opens up the gates for competitors if Joost.com doesn’t meet the high expectations they have set for themselves. We’ll just watch (if I get an invite) and see.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Congrats Ad Man!

Congratulations to my friend Geoff Livingston of Livingston Communications who celebrated the first-year anniversary of his business!

As he puts it…

“We’ve had great experiences, from promoting Godsmack lead singer Sully Erna’s new book “The Paths We Choose,” and the Washington Nationals to well over a dozen stories placed in the top 50 newspapers in the country.

 

To celebrate our birthday, we’ve published an interview on our Buzz Bin blog with Laura Ries, co-author of the celebrated books “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR” and the “Origin of Brands.” The latest in a series of interviews with great marketing minds, Laura discusses the impact new media is making on brands. You can view this interview at http://www.livingstonbuzz.com/blog/?p=246. We’ve also launched a new version of our web site at www.livingstonbuzz.com.

 

Again, congrats Geoff and may you have many, many, many more successful years to come!

 

 

To your success,

 

Andrea Morris

Write Ideas Marketing

The Secret to Spectacular Writing

Idea PaintingMany of us search for the perfect words to help sell our product or service. We tweak the recipe until we have a proprietary blend of personality and professionalism. The words jump off the page and the reader feels connected. That is great writing.

I’ve discovered a secret during my career as a copywriter and marketing coach. Toning ideas down is a heck of a lot easier than jazzing them up.

My first few projects started from a logical point of view. I wrote and edited at the same time as most people do. The words were acceptable, but they lacked that certain je-ne-sais-quoi. It needed some sparkle – but adding sparkle to swill isn’t easy.

One day I decided to give my thinking a makeover. I set a goal to find all the outrageous ideas lurking in the far corners of my brain and get them out of my head and onto my computer screen.

I decorated a piece of card stock with silly symbols and the words “JUST THINK” and covered my computer screen. Somehow the paper removed the tiny editor that sat somewhere in my head trashing ideas before they even got to the screen. Since I couldn’t see my work, all my crazy ideas (not just the logical ones) made the journey from my brain, through my fingers and onto the computer.

The result? I discovered many of the ideas that normally wouldn’t have made the cut were more effective than the so-called logical ideas. With a little tweaking and toning down I had writing that worked. The process also saved me time and was fun to boot.

So the next time you’re experiencing writer’s block try covering your screen and opening your mind. Then sit back and watch your ideas blossom.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Interactive Ads – Make me notice you on ABC.com

As a Grey’s Anatomy fan I’ve been relying on the interactive player at ABC.com to get the latest gossip of McDreamy & McSteamy. I like watching episodes online better than TiVo a) because I travel and don’t have to worry about being home b) don’t have to schedule anything & c) limited commercial interruptions.

Over the past few weeks, a couple of ads caught my attention – not because they had the latest and greatest graphics – quite the opposite actually. While most ads featured the same streaming video I had seen on normal TV, Fidelity Retirements and Florida Orange Juice implemented simple flash players that relied on interaction from the viewer. The result? I noticed.

Fidelity Investments had a funny “easy” theme – including an interactive quiz, “the wheel of easy” where you spin and it randomly selects an “easy” task such as blinking an eye, and a trivia quiz that consists of questions such as:

Dogs are covered in:

a) fur
b) sequins
c) cat

After the ridiculously easy questions, the end of the flash program states, “We’ve also made retirement planning easy. click here to learn more. Don’t worry your show’s not going anywhere.”

Florida Orange Juice’s campaign began with a video of a children’s party where breaking a pinata resulted in exuberant children going nuts over celery as if it was candy. It proceeded to a game where you the viewer “break” an interactive pinata. The final commercial break was an interactive quiz about OJ and its health benefits. Although I enjoyed the quiz, I found the game a bit disappointing. After 10 unsuccessful attempts to break the pinata, I resumed my show feeling unresolved.

The point? Take into account the end user’s point of view. How can you engage them? Will inteacteraction result in interest?

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Write while the juice is in ya

When I talk to my friends who have a “regular job” (meaning they sit at an office from 9 to 5 M-F) they are often mesmerized at my hours.

I like to say that my office is wherever my brain and laptop are and I work when there’s work to be done. This tends to send the misconception that I go out and sit at coffee shops for most of the day not really doing anything. However, they don’t see this side – the fact that I’m up at 3:24 in the morning because I had an idea for a client that I needed to get down right away.

Why? Because right now the juice is in me.

Being a writer is somewhat of a two-sided coin. I write every day just to keep myself disciplined. I also consider myself “on call” with the muse. If an idea pops into my head, I’ll work with it right away (no matter what time it is) because I know that I’ll never be able to replicate the vigor of my original thought.

So today my office hours are at 3:30 in the morning. But hey, it still beats the heck out of a desk job!

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

All I could say was “Wow”

Checking my blog stats for today I noticed a dramatic increase in traffic due to a single post I wrote over a month ago titled “Could you win Richard Branson’s $25 Million Dollar Prize?”

Turns out if you Google “Richard Branson 25 Million” (w/o quote marks) my blog post shows up on the second page (#12).

I sat there starring at my screen feeling a sense of both accomplishment and disbelief. All I could say was, “wow.”

It just goes to show that you never know….

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Professional Millennial: My life in Gen Y

I have a secret…I’m a millennial.

I knew how to operate a computer before I knew how to write. One of my first “real” dates was with someone I met Online. Every research paper I wrote started with an Internet search.

Maybe this explains my ridiculous work ethic, my uncompromising idealism, my unwaivering integrity – it’s a part of my generation.

As Claire Raines explains in her article at generationsatwork.com, Millennials (born between 1980 – 2000) are the

“hottest commodity on the job market since Rosie the Riveter. They’re sociable, optimistic, talented, well-educated, collaborative, open-minded, influential, and achievement-oriented. They’ve always felt sought after, needed, indispensable. They are arriving in the workplace with higher expectations than any generation before them—and they’re so well connected that, if an employer doesn’t match those expectations, they can tell thousands of their cohorts with one click of the mouse.”

And you know what – she’s right. Here’s my story…

In high-school & college I graduated near the top of my class, was in too many extracurriculars to mention, and earned a darned good living working part-time as a telemarketer for an insurance agency.

After college, I entered corporate America and was severely disappointed by the “do-what-I-say-because-I’m-the-boss” attitude that many of my employers exhibited.

Like many Millennials, I job hopped until I found a company that operated with integrity and purpose. Within three months I was the top selling rep in my office. Within eight months I was #3…nationally.

I was wooed away by a company that shall remain nameless and was slotted to earn well over $100,000 a year before I was 26. Because of my ethics and integrity I made a tough choice and walked away because I refused to “sell out.”

Without skipping a beat I started Write Ideas Marketing – which has been profitable from day one. I now get paid to think of ideas that my prior employers not only had at their disposal for free, but actually told me “would never work.” Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

Are you managing a millennial?

If so, I can tell you from personal experience that most of what I’ve read about our generation is true. We are driven, confident and won’t settle for anything less than ideal.

The secret? Keep us challenged. Mentor us. Inspire us to dream bigger. And make things fast-paced. We’re used to instant gratification and find it hard to “wait in line” or deal with bureaucracy. If you don’t, you may see your top talent walk right out your door.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

No more text-n-drive!! Jott.com introduces hands-free emailing

trafficIt happens every time.

I’m sitting in the car on the DC beltway and *smack* – an idea. Out of nowhere the perfect solution to a problem or a fabulous tagline for a client will magically appear out of thin air. Only problem is – I’m going 85 mph and there’s no way I can write it down (that is without risking a 47 car pileup).

Never fear – jott.com is here.

Since I subscribed (for *free*) to jott.com I can now call a toll free number from my cell phone (I have it set as number 8 on speed dial. That’s how much I use it). I say my idea into my phone and *poof* – my words are transcribed and automatically sent to my e-mail.

Fabulous!

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Integrity Selling: An Interview with Fred Sarkari

Recently, I ran across a blog post that made me think. It was a man who openly admitted to double booking an appointment with a client and chose to be honest. You can read my former post by clicking here.

This fascinated me. For years I have been saying that it is not only possible – but essential for a salesperson to have integrity to be successful. So I decided to ask Fred what his thoughts were on the subject…

In a Gallup Poll released in December 2006, the sales and marketing industries represented 3 out of the 4 least trusted professionals. Why do you think sales people are perceived as untrustworthy and how can we change that perception?

Sales people at times get so caught up with the end in mind that they start making promises just in order to reach their goals. So, unfortunately we are least trusted with some level of validity.

The only way we can change that perception is to start putting our energies into the success of our clients. Our ‘end in mind’ should not be what will we receive, it should be how can I help my client succeed. Help enough people get what they need and you will receive more then you ever dreamed possible.

In your program descriptions, you mention, “gone are the days of sales people using closing lines.” Why do you think so many companies train their sales staff to sell in this style? What can salespeople do as an alternative to using traditional tactics?

Yes, closing lines are not only ineffective to our clients; they are out right frustrating and disrespectful to them. At the same time these questions are necessary in the questioning process. What makes them ineffective is not the questions alone but how and when they are used.

It is like building a house, for a house, the foundation is needed along with a roof and doors for the completion. To try and frame and roof a house without pouring the foundation is as ineffective as using questioning in the wrong process.

Maybe if enough people request, I will put together an article on effective questioning.

Some people feel that “integrity selling” is somewhat of an oxymoron. What are your thoughts? Do you feel it is possible to sell in an honest, ethical and integrity-based manner?

It is the only way, as long as you are in this game for the long term.

First we need to define what integrity really means. Integrity is being true to your values no matter what circumstances you face. “People with integrity expect to be believed and when they are not, they let time prove them right.”

In essence, if sales people were to take the time to become aware of their values, be true to themselves and their values this game of ‘buying and selling’ would be a lot more enjoyable for all involved.

How can business owners help their salespeople sell with integrity? Is it more about hiring the right people or creating the right culture?

You can lead a horse to water but you cannot force it to drink. One of the major errors business owners make is chasing people with the right skill set causing more of a frustration to them in the long term. It is crucial that the people we hire want to be there and more importantly share your values and vision.

There are 3 things business owners have to keep in mind when hiring people for any position.

1. Hire the right person for the job. The right person is the one that shares your values and vision.

2. Then put them in the right position. The right position is the position that will bring out their greatness, this does not necessarily has to be their expertise. Connect with your employees in order to truly understand where their heart lies.

3. Give them the tools and resources they require.

Remember, the right people will never complain about the lack of resources. The right people will make it work with what they have.

Your question about the culture. As the business owner, you are the culture. Your culture needs to be defined first. Then you hire people that believe in your culture in order to sustain your culture.

Your foundation, Dare2Drm, is focused on instilling desire, direction, passion and purpose in our youth. How can we help a child in our lives achieve their highest potential and act with integrity?

Very simple, stop telling our children they cannot do something. Even when we know there is a good chance they will fail.

Parents think they are protecting their children by making sure they do not fail. We do nothing but set them up for their greatest failures in the future without the experience of how to overcome and move on.

Always let them be young enough to know nothing is impossible.

Let them fail, let them fall, let them hurt and in turn teach them it is okay to do so as long as they never stay down.

Your organization works with companies across the globe – do you feel that the values of honesty, integrity and ethics are universal or do they change from culture to culture?

From what I have seen they are absolutely universal. A culture in a company is nothing more then an accumulation of values within the people in that company.

Values are linked to principles, and principles are principles because they are universal and prove the test of time.

You also provide one-on-one coaching – is there one person that you would like to work with? Why?

Someone just asked me if I have a mentor. Yes, I do but I have many. I have ones that I like to learn from depending on what part of my life I am looking to grow in.

For a little over a year I have been learning from, or I should say trying to suck every ounce of experience from Callum Desouza’s mind as I can.

Why you ask? I find it very intriguing how he can run a multi million dollar business with such calmness and balance in his life. His employees would do anything for him without question as they have the utmost trust and respect for him.

www.belleviewcommunities.com

You’ve recently written a book, “How the Top 5% Think.” Who or what inspired you to choose this topic?

That is a tough question for me to answer. Not because I am unsure of the answer but because the book has a background journey that goes back approximately 15 years. It is a journey where I finally embraced and in turn it made me who I am today.

We all have our own stories and in turn our journey. Some choose to fall a victim of them and others choose to embrace them. I fell victim of my medical journey for close to a decade until I embraced it with the realization of it being a gift. Your purpose will reveal itself when you embrace your journey.

This was my way of reaching out to a larger population. Help others embrace their journey and in turn pursue that life of ‘happiness’ that we so long for.

What is your secret to success?

Wow! Where do you start with that question? I really cannot say there is one thing. Part of success to me is always staying true to your core values while fulfilling your purpose.

Most have a hard time with that, as most have not gone through the process of true awareness; a process where they have clarity to their values. If you do not know what you value then how can you live your values?

One of the main reasons would be not only understanding the process required but more so to implement the process in order to achieve your desired success. A clarity in awareness is the foundation to any success in your life.

For more information about Fred, please visit his website at www.fredsarkari.com

 

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

How to succeed in sales without really trying

Fellow blogger Fred Sarkari posted a true-to-life tale of a mistake that I know all of us have made at one point or another – double booking appointments. To read the full story click here.

Fred’s reaction to his mistake and the choice to be upfront, honest, and genuine is one we can all take a lesson from. We will make mistakes – there’s no question about that. The question becomes how do you handle your mistakes?

Do you hide, lie, and cheat? Because if you do – you are making a bad name for all of us who believe in selling with integrity. In addition, unethical sales is hard work – remember Quintillian’s quote, “a liar should have a good memory.” You are actually creating more work for yourself – and you’re busy already, so why would you choose to do that?

Instead, let’s dare to be honest. Let’s follow Fred’s example and reap the rewards of better clients, more referrals, and a cleaner conscience.

Kudos!

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit www.writeideasmarketing.com.

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