McCain’s missing market share

I have difficulty understanding how McCain is targeting the millennial generation. When I look through my lens, it’s like he doesn’t even exist. His marketing campaign is so skewed that his presence is invisible to me.

Barack Obama on the other hand, is overtly present. Every time I log on to facebook, my sidebar is adorned with some sort of pro-Obama promotion. A quick 20 refreshes on my profile, and Obama’s presence was there a whopping 17 times, compared to McCain’s zero. And in case you’re wondering, I don’t indicate any sort of political preference in my information.

I, like most of my generation, rely heavily on social media sites. I’ll check facebook an average of 20 -30 times per day. When I watch TV, it’s digitally recorded, so I skip through the commercials. Actually, I get more of my entertainment from places like Netflix and hulu.

To me, it’s like McCain doesn’t even care about my vote. If he did, wouldn’t he want to interact with me? I’ve told you how to reach me. Now where are you? I’m an undecided voter, a prime target. But you’re spending your advertising budget in ways that I’ll never see you. Barack seems to care. He’s interacting with me. So you’ve essentially given my vote to him simply because you didn’t show up.

So just what does this impact mean? Well, there are 42 million members of Gen Y who could vote this year. According to a recent survey from MeriTalk, 73% of Gen Y respondents plan to vote in the next election.

That’s over 30 million votes that John McCain is ignoring.

Not smart marketing if you ask me.

10 Tactics for Top-Notch Testimonials

Testimonials – the magical way to turn boasting into evangelism. Sure, they’re effective – and their use is hyped in every corner of marketing communications. But just how do you go about gathering them? Here are 10 ideas:

1. Have something worth talking about. Having a mediocre product that simply meets expectations encourages silence. People talk about something that is either 1) really awful or 2) really amazing. The closer you are to the middle, the less chatter you hear.

2. Put a feedback button on your website. Encourage your customers to send you their opinions – regardless of whether they’re “good” or “bad”. In truth, they’re all good.

3. Give to get. The networking organization BNI hypes the benefits of “givers gain”. And it’s true. Give colleagues a well-written testimonial and ask for one in return.

4. Use LinkedIn. Log in to your LinkedIn account and under the “Service Providers” tab at the top left click on “Request a Recommendation”.

5. Paraphrase & e-mail. When a client gives you a verbal testimonial, send a friendly e-mail thanking them for the conversation, paraphrasing what you heard and requesting permission to use their testimonial.

6. Give stories the spotlight. Weight Watchers encourages participants to submit success stories. Stories sell. Bragging bores.

7. Market research sweepstakes. Give respondents a prize for completing a survey about your company. Prizes encourage response rates.

8. Ask for specifics. When writing a survey, break down large, open-ended questions into bite-sized, directive questions which are more likely to receive a response.

9. Give credit. Did a great idea come from customer submitted feedback? Share the credit to entice readers to share their opinions.

10. Strength in numbers. When requesting testimonials, ask for quantitative data. For example, “After hiring Randy, my profit increased by 20%” or “Gina helped reduce my production time from 2 weeks to 3 days.”

Related Links

Fastread: How to Get Testimonials for Your Product by WorkatHomeChannel

How to Get Quality Testimonials by Mike Williams

5 Tips for Getting Freakin’ Awesome Testimonials by Brent Hodgson

A Potential Adieu

cat-out-of-the-bag-2.jpgWell, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. I’ve accepted a position as a Senior Copywriter for a large Fortune  500 company and I’m super stoked about this opportunity.

See, landing a job as a full-time copywriter is sort of like a singer who makes it to Broadway. There are simply too few organizations who can afford a full-time position that most of us end up freelancing to make the best of it. I’ve certainly enjoyed freelancing and I’m looking forward to working with and learning from a team of top talent.

So….the question remains. What am I to do with my blog? I won’t have the time to dedicate like I did when I was freelancing. Yet, my readership is decent and I don’t want to disappoint. I’m considering continuing to post once a week or so as long as I have people who are getting value out of what I have to say. Like I said in my bio – I don’t want to be blogging just to hear myself type.

So, please, let me know your thoughts. What do you enjoy reading the most and how can I continue to serve you through this blog? Leave your answer in the comments below.  🙂

To your success,

Andrea

Toby Bloomberg’s Kick-Ass Keynote (as presented at the New Media Nouveaux Conference)

diva_marketing1.jpg

Transparency, passion and lessons learned – all presented in a clear and entertaining fashion. How could you have a better keynote?

Toby Bloomberg is the author of the top-ranked blog Diva Marketing Blog (in the top 2,000 of Technorati), and is a self professed “Atlanta gal who is a Yankee from Boston.” She believes new media, “is a credible marketing strategy – even an industry. It can help you with branding, marketing research and public relations. But the most powerful part is building relationships with customers.” Diva Marketing Blog has literally changed her life.

It all began when she wanted a way to make marketing “not boring” so she began writing in a sassy and pithy style that maintained professional credibility while tossing in fun references to appletinis & pink boas.

To her surprise, days after launching the blog e-mails started coming in from people saying people liked what she had to say. Her website never got comments, but her blog did – this was the first sign that something was different. Weeks after launching the blog, search engines began indexing Diva Marketing Blog where it took seemingly months for Google to find her traditional website – obviously this “blog thing” was a powerful marketing tool.

Toby’s keynote was delightful because she expertly weaved in personal stories and shared her lessons learned. It was simply awe-inspiring to sit back and listen to her experience.

While I was furiously taking notes, typing as fast as my little fingers could, I was unable to capture all of the details of the stories, which are the real juice to her keynote. I was however, able to jot down a few of her lessons learned:

  • Social media can be used as a credible marketing strategy that supports branding, public relations, customer service, research and other marketing and business initiatives.
  • The heart of social media marketing, and the real power is in establishing relationships. Successful blogging does not occur in a vacuum.
  • If the passion about a topic doesn’t exist – the blog will die on the vine.
  • People interact with you. You can carry on a conversation on a blog and then take that conversation off-line if you want to pursue it further.
  • Search engines and blogs go together.
  • Check your blog stats. Create an ego search using key words that include: your blog title, your name, your company name. Consider adding competitors and industry trends.
  • Bloggers care. Bloggers are people.
  • With the ease of using blogs, podcasts, vlogs, you can’t contraol the message, but you can manage the conversation.
  • You can manage user generated media conversations by listening, participating, engaging and caring.
  • Social media is built on culture.
  • The voice of one turns into the voices of many and changes how a company conducts business.
  • Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to ensure your posts are accurate. Credibility builds trust, builds readership which can lead to relationships and community.
  • It wasn’t the voice of one blogger who influenced a major research company to change their business practices – it was the community.
  • Bloggers take blogger relations very seriously and believe they have a role to play in communication and information dissemination
  • Mainstream media is looking at blogs and they may just look at yours.
  • Blogging is not a silver bullet.
  • Social Media is not like any other marketing strategy
  • Do something great and you’ll be cheered.
  • The culture is very demanding. Break the trust by being disingenuous and you might harm you brand…and your reputations.
  • Social Media Mantra: transparency, authenticity, honesty and passion.
  • You have to put something of yourself in this game.
  • The rules are still being defined. No one has all the answers or all the questions.
  • There is no going back – social media is here to stay.

I can’t wait to see her live in action again soon!

Social Media Overload – Is Your Brain Fried Yet?

The New Media Nouveaux Conference has been a magnificent catalyst for conversation.

nmn-toby-bloomberg-and-geoff-livingston.jpgGeoff Livingston gave an insightful introduction to new media – citing case studies from his upcoming book, Now Is Gone.

He started by mentioning the impact that social media has on today’s society. Being in the Northern Virginia area, the audience is intimately aware of the change that viral video had on the fall Senatorial campaign. George Allen was literally the front runner for the US presidential seat – however, after the “mecaca” disaster, his career is over, the Virginia senatorial race was radically changed (I know I changed my vote because of the incident), and ultimately the shift of power in Congress changed from Republican to Democrat. So yes, this stuff matters.

The main focus of Geoff’s talk was how pervasive social media is on our society and how it enforces a culture of transparency and honesty. It is an opportunity to engage your “community” (Geoff doesn’t believe in the word “audience” because it gives the perception of a one sided conversation), get immediate feedback and implement innovative business strategies immediately.

He referenced GM as the first fortune 500 blog and how the CEO responds in video format to comments posted on the blog.

Southwest airlines also demonstrates how the comments of a corporate blog can change the course of a business plan. After Southwest posted a blog about how they were planning on changing their strategy and move to assigned seating, they received over 700 comments against this change. Southwest listened to their consumers, took them seriously and created more brand loyalty because of their response.

Businesses Who Are Using New Media

new-media-nouveaux-jen-sterling.jpgThe first panel, led by Jen Sterling from Hinge (an award winning professional services branding firm) focused on the business impact of using new media.

Jill Stelfox, CEO and Cofounder of Defywire told the story of how her 13 year old son has had an influence on how her company uses new media. Defywire focuses on software and technology to keep children safe in school crises. After producing several videos on how to keep children safe (ex: how to prepare your kindergardener for their first day of school). The initial marketing strategy was to produce these videos to DVDs and distribute via mail. Instead, at the suggestion of Jill’s son, the videos were put on YouTube and as a result, Defywire has built a strong viral message that has spun new product lines and increased business.

Kim Hart from The Washington Post gave insight on how the traditional media relies on new media. Let it be known – this is straight from the horse’s mouth – the press release is dead. It does not work. Journalists are so busy, they do not have time to read a story with spin. Instead, a quick e-mail (literally a sentence or so long) with a link to a new story is the best new-media-nouveaux-business-panel.jpgway to peak this journalist’s interest. She also gave insight as to how the success of a story may not be a “traditional article on page D4 in the business section.” Now that more people are on blogs and the participation level is increasing exponentially, a company may very well have more success with a short blog post that can create viral buzz than they would in print.

Pamela Sorrensen, an active blogger on DC’s social scene showed how you can turn your passion into a profitable platform. Her blog was created after friends requested updates of her intense social life. She constantly attends parties and events, rubbing shoulders with the who’s who in the area. Her blog allows her to share her pithy posts without sending individual e-mails. Now her fans come to her and her readership is such that she can earn money from advertisements.

Strategists – How to Use Social Media

new-media-nouveaux-andrea-morris1.jpgOk, so I wasn’t able to live blog this portion because I was the moderator. The panel consisted of Alice Marshall from Presto Vivace, Qui Diaz from Ogilvy PR, and Jennifer Cortner from EFX Media.

This was an interactive discussion of not only the panel, but the audience (wait – I mean community) as well. We discussed strategies for how to blog, whether or not to use Facebook or Myspace, how the government is using wikis, why del.icio.us is a great tool, how you can use videos and podcasts to promote your business, and the all important question – how to avoid burnout.

new-media-nouveaux-specialists-panel.jpgAt the end of the fast paced discussion, Success in the City founder Cynthia De Lorenzi came up with the brilliant idea of creating a regional networking event digging deeper into each social media initiative. Be sure to check the calendar at successinthecity.org to learn when these events are happening.

What’s coming Next?

So this is the big question – what’s going to happen in the future. Although no one has a crystal ball, New Media Nouveaux featured the next best thing – a panel of experts who have their collective fingers on the pulses of the social media industry.

Sean Gorman from FortiusOne is the innovator of GeoCommons, a Web 2.o tool that allows users to create interactive visual maps.

Here are his definitions of the evolution of the Web:

  • Web 1.o – Read – Brochure like websites with a one-sided point of view
  • Web 2.0 – Read & Write – People can respond to information through comments and links.
  • Web 3.0 – Read, Write & Execute – Driven by massive amounts of data. Most of this data is housed in the government level. Governments are notoriously slow in investing in technology – so this is a large roadblock to overcome. One example is how you can househunt. In web 1.0 you would view pictures online and research crime statistics, schools, and community resources on individual websites. Web 2.0 allows you to blog with individuals who live in communities and get feedback on their lifestyle. In web 3.0, Sean predicts applications that will allow you to enter all of your preferences for a community in one location. Then, the program will go out, automatically aggregate your requests and arrange the data in an intuitive manner.

new-media-nouveaux-futurists-panel.jpgHe referenced the movie Minority Report is an example of where we can look to. For example, if you walk in front of a billboard, it will create a customized campaign based on your past purchase history. Technology will be more than mobile, it will be an integral part of every person’s daily life (even more so than today).

Aaron Brazell is the Director of Technology at B5 Media and his professional blog, Technosailor is highly regarded in the industry. Aaron referenced an experience that demonstrates the influence bloggers have.

A friend ordered a laptop and realized that he made a mistake on which shipping option he chose. HP gave him the run-around and pointed him into walls and dead ends. Aaron took matters into his own hands and wrote a blog post called “HP Gives Consumer Middle Finger“. The post ended up on the front page of Digg, the negative comments from the community flooded in and as a result, Aaron’s friends issues were suddenly resolved.

In Aaron’s opinion, Web 3.0 is “becoming untethered from your computer. Right now I’m tied to a 17″ monitor. With the introduction of the iPhone (although I will never own one) it will force competitors to innovate and create new mobile devices.” He also referenced smart homes, where you can walk into a room, say “it’s cold in here” and the smart network automatically interprets and executes the function of turning up the heat.

Place your bets now – Aaron gave predictions of Sink & Swim companies to watch for.

Companies that will sink:

  • Yahoo! – especially because of their recent corporate challenges (losing their CEO)
  • Myspace – the developers are growing up and becoming more mature. The application is also too widespread with little niche value.
  • Mahalo – A search engine that harnesses the power of humans. Aaron believes this technology is “very 1998”.

Companies that will swim:

  • Facebook – especially since they just opened their application to development – new plugins are going to create an ultrarich content.
  • Concept Share – allows you to put graphic images, videos, etc. that allow you make comments and collaborate. Estimates this company will be acquired by Google.
  • Twitter – While I agree that the concept of “micro-blogging” is a new wave, I think Pounce will outpace Twitter – especially since Pounce allows you to upload files, links, images, etc.

Brian Williams is the CEO of Viget Labs, a full-service web consulting, design and consulting firm who touts clients like Brittney Spears and Kenny Chesney.

Brian pointed out how younger audiences are less concerned about privacy issues as older generations. As more data is collected on individual users (ex: Amazon.com and their recommendation system) more customization will occur.

One member of the audience (damnit – I mean community – I’ll get it eventually) posed this question – What advantage does the US have in this industry, are we a leader? Brian’s response: “We are a country built around innovation and entrepreneurship. Look at YouTube – this is a new age of kids in their garages and new applications can be built with the collaborative brainpower of few individuals. You’re not limited by resources – people who we have yet to hear from are going to be the superstars.”

new-media-nouveaux.jpgLessons Learned

One of the biggest lessons I learned from this conference is how varied social media strategies can be. While a blog may be the best strategy for one company, a viral video initiative may be what works for another. It was also apparent just how new all this new media is. Even the experts are on their toes trying to keep up with the constantly changing technology.

I can’t wait for the next event, which closing keynoter Toby Bloomberg called, “one of the best social media events I’ve attended.”

I’d agree. Cheers to a great event and all the excellent panel experts.

Live Blogging From the New Media Nouveaux Conference

I’m sitting at the New Media Nouveaux conference in Tyson’s Corner, VA – ready to learn more about the crazy world of blogging and new media culture.

nmn-cynthia-de-lorenzi.jpgThe conference is sponsored by Success In the City, founded by Cynthia De Lorenzi – an influential networking organization geared to C-level executive women.

nmn-toby-bloomberg-and-geoff-livingston.jpgUp as our opening and closing keynoters, we have Geoff Livingston, from the Buzz Bin whom The Washington Post called a blogging “guru.” Later this afternoon we’ll hear from blogger extraordinaire Toby Bloomberg from the Diva’s Marketing Blog – ranked in the top 2,000 blogs in the world by Technorati.

nmn-andrea-morris-and-jen-sterling.jpgI’ll be moderating a “Specialists” panel later this afternoon on specific techniques, tips and tools on using blogs, wikis, social networking, social bookmarking, vlogs and podcasts. Jen Sterling will be leading the “Businesses” panel discussing why social media is important. (The picture is of myself and Jen) And Jody Roth will be moderating the “Futurists” panel to explore what’s coming next and how we can keep ahead of the rapidly moving social media curve.

We’ll also be having a working lunch where each table will discuss various topics of new media and participants will share their ideas and lessons learned.

It’s sure to be a fun-filled day. Stay tuned for more.

LinkedIn – WE WANT PICTURES!!!

View Andrea Morris's profile on LinkedInI’m on a mission.

I love LinkedIn – it’s by far the most effective social media tool I use for my business. But I have one big issue and I want to get it resolved. Why isn’t there a place to put your picture on your LinkedIn profile?

The other day, someone contacted me through LinkedIn referencing our meeting over a year ago at a networking event. I can’t remember her. The name sounds familiar and I know I had a conversation with her, but if I had her picture it sure would help me spark my memory.

Adding a picture to your professional profile would also help when you’re sending new invites. People remember faces easier than names or titles. If I had an invite with a face I recognized, it would increase my feeling of connection with that person.

So, in an effort to make this request known, I’m starting a petition to gain support for LinkedIn adding the option to upload pictures to their service.

To sign the petition, simply leave a comment below.

If you’re curious as to what LinkedIn is, or how to use it – check out these blogs:

LinkedIntelligence

LinkedInBlog

BuzzNetworker

LinkedIn Business Discussion Index

Boost Your Career With LinkedIn

LinkedIn Notes

LinkedIn User Manual

Want Word of Mouth? Try This.

cherrick-at-j-gilberts.jpgBeing good is not always a good thing. Good is doing what’s expected. Good is standard. Good is everyday. Good is okay. Good is same-ol’, same-ol’.

Good gives me nothing to talk about.

Being great gives me something to blog about.

Meet Cherrick, a manager at J. Gilbert’s in McLean, VA who transforms a good restaurant into a great restaurant (although my friend Jen swears that the Hickory Salmon makes them great too.)

Last week I attended a networking dinner where nine entrepreneurs sat down for an evening of relaxed networking and casual conversation. Cherrick approached the table and explained the rules of “the game”.

“Name any two celebrities who have been in at least 2 films since 1975 and I will connect them right here in front of your eyes in 7 steps or less.”

Needless to say, the game acted as an excellent icebreaker among us as we searched for the most obscure celebrities we could think of.

Eventually, we settled on Bob Denver and Mandy Moore.

Cherrick, after thinking for about 2 minutes announced his connections:

– Bob Denver was in Cannonball Run with Burt Reynolds
– Burt Reynolds was in the Longest Yard with Adam Sandler
– Adam Sandler was in 50 First Dates with Drew Barrymore
– Drew Barrymore was in Charlie’s Angels with Cameron Diaz
– Cameron Diaz was in Very Bad Things with Daniel Stern
– Daniel Stern was in Home Alone with McCully Culkin
– McCully Culkin was in Saved with Mandy Moore.

Impressed, the table immediately began chattering about which friend they were going to bring back to J. Gilbert’s to try and stump Cherrick. Bingo! More customers, more loyalty, more money for J. Gilbert’s – and it didn’t cost a dime out of their marketing budget.

Andy Sernovitz had a great post last week on the rising importance of word of mouth advertising. In fact, his entire blog is dedicated to the subject. If you’re looking to boost your viral marketing efforts, take two minutes right now, visit his blog and add him to your reader. You’ll be glad you did.

How to Talk to Strangers: Finding the Right Tone for Social Network E-mails

One of the effects of social media is the ability to connect with so many people. We are able to reach out and form connections without regard to time or location. However, as in real life you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Here are two examples of e-mails that were sent to me through my social networks:

Dear Ms. Andrea

It is a great pleasure to be on your friend list with such intellectual and varied expertise. I feel we need to be in touch if not daily basis but at least on weekly basis for enhancement of knowledge with the experiences. Can I look for interactions to share these thoughts?

Have a nice weekend and warm wishes.

OK. Let me get this straight. You noticed that I’m a marketing consultant and you want to pick my brain every week. What’s in it for me? How is this a mutual exchange of knowledge? Plus, I’m so flippin’ busy that I can barely talk to my parents every week. Why are you different? Why should I bother forming a relationship with you? Why, why, why, why, why?

Needless to say, this is an ineffective way to form a relationship. You can’t force it or put boundaries around a new relationship. You have to get me interested first and then if we have chemistry we can choose to meet every week. Baby steps.

Here’s another e-mail that was sent:

Hi Andrea,

I am a proposal manager with a small consulting firm. My clients have been offering me more work than I can handle. I work as part of a tight-night community of consultants, but our current consultants are contracted through August. I would like to expand my network of consultants and was intrigued by your bio. I would really like to talk with you to see if you would have any interest – or know of anyone with the skills and interest – to provide proposal writing services. The pay is exceptional and the work is very much in demand. In most cases, the work can be performed remotely/virtually.

If you are interested, or know someone else who might be, please call me at my home office or e-mail me.

Thank you!

WOW! Of course I’m going to call. The benefits are clearly outlined and there’s a reason I should call. It’s obvious that this person took time to read my profile. I feel special – and obviously will get in touch right away.

When sending e-mails through your social network, keep it:

1. Short – Get to the point of your message quickly so I can easily “get it” and make a decision.

2. Conversational – I don’t want to feel like I’m being “sold.” I want to feel like I’m making a new friend.

3. Beneficial – Focus on what’s in it for me, not what’s in it for you. Give me a reason to reply.

4. Personal – Read my profile and reference specific points to make me feel special.

5. Actionable – How do you want me to get back in touch? Call? E-mail?

Make your hard work work hard for you.

Twenty years ago intellectual property was a different beast. Creators would put a big chain link fence around their work and say bluntly “back off!” to anyone who tried to spread their ideas.

Today, the landscape has changed. I remember sitting down with one of my clients to discuss her blogging strategy. I mentioned a quote I heard from I believe Seth Godin, but please correct me if I’m wrong – “Blogs are a way to create conversation, not control it.” With that in mind, the strategy becomes referencing other blogs, commenting often, linking strategically and sprinkling in your own opinion.  This new philosophy was one my client didn’t really get. She became concerned with bloggers stealing her ideas or being hunted down by the copyright police if she linked to another blog without their permission.

This is a fine line we walk. Andy Sernovitz posted some excellent insights into this topic.

“‘What if someone steals our stuff?’ is the wrong question. Ask ‘How can we get people to steal our stuff?’…When we advertise, we pay to spread our content. Don’t stop customers from doing it for free!” 

I have to say I agree with Andy. Make your ideas useful so your clients will spread the love. Of course as Andy points out, “Do insist that your content is properly credited, with a link to your site, but beyond that … encourage the sharing.”

As for blogging, it’s proper etiquette to link to the other blog when you are quoting (like I just did with Andy). You need not ask for permission ahead of time – that’s a part of the culture we’ve created. Linking helps them grow their blog. They will be glad you’re sharing their ideas with your readers. You would be hard pressed to find a blogger that says “No – I must protect my intellectual property. I don’t want your link.”

Which New Media Tools are Worth Your Time?

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I don’t know about you – but I feel like I’m a pretty savvy person, yet my capacity for online gadgets and social media tools is starting to reach the breaking point. I think Steve Rubel says it best.

So with all of the tools out there, which ones are worth your valuable time and attention?

Well here’s my brash, unbridled, no-holds-barred opinion on some of the popular sites you may run across:

MySpace.com
I use myspace to keep in touch with all of my friends and family. That’s it – very little business (although I do have a link to my business website). I like myspace because I can send out event invitiations to everyone at once. For example – my birthday is coming up (June 28th in case you’re feeling generous) and I wanted to get a bunch of my friends together. Instead of calling each friend individually, I sent an event invitiaton through myspace (similar to evite.com if you’re familiar with that). Myspace then emailed all of my friends and showed them the invitation. My friends can RSVP and leave comments.

Which businesses can profit from a campaign on myspace? Well, most of what I’ve seen that has worked is restaurants and nightclubs. Check out my friend Dougie at the Element Lounge in Richmond, VA. He posts which bands are going to be on which night – so patrons can properly plan their partying. The other use I’ve seen for myspace is entertainment – book authors/publishers, bands, comedians, etc. So if you’re an accountant do you need a myspace page? Not really, unless you’re going to keep in touch with your friends and family. (P.S. – If you don’t have either – you may want to start at Facebook.com – they’re poised to become the #1 social networking site)

Linked Innewmediaimages2.jpg
This is the one site that I can absolutely say did make me money this year. I’ll get to how in a minute. Let’s first talk about what Linked In is.

The main complaint I hear about Linked In is how it doesn’t DO anything. People say they have a profile and contacts just sit there. Well, it’s kind of like potential vs. kinetic energy. Linked In is a database of your networking contacts and their history. I use LinkedIn as a followup to networking events. Instead of sending an e-mail I send a LinkedIn invitation. It’s all about building the database (potential energy) and using it strategically (kinetic energy).

Here are three ways I use LinkedIn. First, if I have two contacts who need to meet eachother and they’re both in my Linked In network, I forward the LinkedIn profile instead of an e-mail. This way the person who’s receiving the referral can check out the other person’s history & recommendations. They can also e-mail them directly.

Secondly, If I have a question I can send it out to my contacts. For example, I was doing research for an article about websites that make businesses productive. I sent out the question to my contacts and got some great responses. I only had to post once, and the information was sent out to everyone – great time saver.

Finally, the way I made money – when I left corporate and started my own business I updated my LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn automatically sent an e-mail to all of my professional contacts letting them know that I had changed my profile and was now self-employed. Within 24 hours I received 15 phone calls, set 8 appointments and landed my first 3 clients. Granted, this is a one time event – but again – it’s the kinetic energy.

***Update***

If you used Linked In in the past where you had to pay to send e-mails (which was a big fat pain and kickout for many people) check it out again. Linked In changed their business model to generate more users by allowing anyone to e-mail without charge (smart move, I think).

newmediaimages3.jpgMeetup.com
I started using meetup for personal use, but have to say that I have made some amazing professional contacts through this site, so it’s high up there on my value scale. Basically, meetup is an online tool to help you meet people in real life. You may want to check out my previous post where I discuss in detail how to use meetup for business.

Twitter
I’ve tried it and think that this site is a complete waste of my time. Why do I need to post what I’m doing all the time? Who gives a rip? Plus, I can’t even search to see if my friends are already on the site, which gives twitter a real big thumbs down for me. I know some people swear by it – I just can’t figure out why I should bother.

SpinThicket
A listing of PR/Marketing/Advertising news stories. Thanks to Geoff for turning me on to this great site.

MyRagan
Kind of like Myspace.com but for MarCom professionals. I like it because it’s easy to use and has a lot of rich content. Granted, if you’re not in the marketing/advertising/PR field, you probably won’t find it as interesting as I do. I wrote a longer review that you can check out.

Squidoo
Ok, I kind of get the concept and I started my own lens. It’s kind of like a website meets a blog and you get paid based on the number of visitors who come to your page. Frankly, the cutesy names are a little much – it’s not as intuitive as I’d like. Looking at the top lenses (my favorite one is about tofu) I noticed that the content isn’t really all that rich – I mean, I could definitely post a bunch of stuff there. I just feel overwhelmed and don’t have the time. I guess one bonus is that once your page is created you don’t have to bother with it too much after that. Unlike a blog, the work is definitely on the front end – which is why I just haven’t taken the time.

Blogsnewmediaimages4.jpg
The biggest mistake I made when I started my blog was going to wordpress.com (they host and it’s free) and not wordpress.org (I host, it’s still free but I can use a blog promote my links). About 2 months ago I got a slap on the wrist because I was including a link to my website at the bottom of each post. Now it’s difficult to switch because I have dedicated readers and I’m not sure if they would follow me to a different site. I tried downloading the software and uploading my previous posts, but it came out all wrong. The frustrating part is that WordPress.org has importing shortcuts for a Typepad or Blogger blog – but not a wordpress.com blog. Argh.

But enough about wordpress (who I really do like – it’s open source). Who should use a blog and how often should you post? Well, it’s kind of like a gym membership. Any business can benefit from a blog – but if you’re not using it it’s pointless. Keeping with the metaphor, I advise my clients to start slow when beginning their blogs. Have you ever joined a gym January 2nd, told yourself you were going to go 4 times a week and then that eventually turned into basically twice a year because you burnt yourself out? Same thing with blogging. Start slow – once a week. Once you have that under your belt go to twice a week. Then you’ll eventually become addicted and be posting all the time. It’s better to be consistent than to push yourself towards unrealistic expectations.

newmediaimages4.jpgDel.icio.us, Reddit & Stumble Upon
All these sites basically do the same thing – they allow you to bookmark your favorite webpages so you can refer back to them later. It’s good to include links at the bottom of each blog post so your readers can easily “tag” your posts and improve readership. It’s a habit I’m trying to get into – the blog I’ve set up is a template and I can’t seem to do it automatically. Argh again.

My favorite of these is Stumble Upon because it allows you to “channel surf” the web. I highly recommend downloading the toolbar – it makes surfing & tagging ridiculously easy. Basically, you enter the categories you are interested and every time you press the “stumble” button on the toolbar a new page will come up. You can also rate sites to refer to them later. The more people that positively rate the site, the more often the page comes up. I found how useful this is first-hand when stumble upon readers sent over 800 visitors to my post Put Your Mind In the Gutter in just hours of posting.

Bloglines, Google Reader, My Yahoo! & Newsgator
All RSS (Really Simple Syndication) readers so you can read all your favorite blogs in one place – BIG time saver! If you don’t know what RSS is, click here for a brilliant video – RSS in Plain English. I switched from My Yahoo! to Bloglines and I’ve been really happy.

I know there’s a bunch of new sites up too – so if there’s one that you love (or hate) post it in the comments section below. I’d love to check it out.

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and 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

The ABC’s of Marketing Terms

abc-blocks.jpgIn the marketing world, everyone has their own personal definitions for the various terms we run into – and I’m no different.

Here are my interpretations of various words you may run across:

Advertising – Any activity that either 1) introduces your product/service to people who have no idea who you are, or 2) reminds people who know who you are that you still exist. Also known as the Pick-Up Line.

Branding – The art and science of making an impression.

Customer – A purchaser who you try to get to 1) purchase from you again, and 2) tell their friends to purchase from you.

Dissatisfaction – The result of not meeting expectations because you either 1) overpromised during the sale and couldn’t deliver or 2) you didn’t listen to the client’s needs or 3) a situational snafu occurred and you didn’t make up for it.

Experience – The perception the customer forms while purchasing or using your product/service. Remember: Your customer’s perception is your reality.

Focus Group – A potentially unreliable way to gather information about your product/service that is better than having no data at all. Due to group psychology it’s difficult to get objective feedback. Instead, listen to and reward your clients who complain.

Guerrilla Marketing – A term originally coined by Jay Conrad Levinson that has come to mean a cheap, generally unconventional marketing technique that yields a high return on your investment (so, duh – this should be part of your campaign too!)

Headline – A pithy phrase whose purpose is to call attention to the rest of the article and have people keep reading. In reality – we are all so busy nowadays that your headline may be the only thing that is actually read.

Idea – A solution to a problem. Although they may be wacky, quirky, outrageous, abnormal or otherwise off-the-wall the goal is to be effective, not cute or crazy.

Jargon – Words specific to an industry that ignorant people use to try to make themselves seem smarter. Little do they know that using jargon in their marketing copy is a sure-fire way to confuse the heck out of their customers.

Knowledge – Complete understanding of a subject which results in the belief that everyone knows/feels what you do. Smart companies try not to be too knowledgable.

Logo – A graphic image that represents your company. Note: a logo alone is not a brand (see branding)

Marketing – A series of activities executed on a continuing basis whose goal is turning people who have no idea who you are into people who may consider purchasing from you when the time is right.

New Media – The latest craze that “all the cool marketers are doing.” Come on – there’s no pressure. Just try a blog. I swear you’ll like it. Not your style, maybe a social networking site? Uploaded video? Podcast? RSS? We’ve got a ton of new ways to get your message out now that high-speed internet is available to the masses.

Opinion – The way someone looks at the world based on their individual experiences and belief systems. Like bellybuttons (or other parts of the human anatomy) everyone’s got one and we seldom think about how it got there. In terms of marketing – it’s a good practice to listen to opinions so you can continue to improve and exceed your customer’s expectations.

Prospect – Someone who is vaguely familiar with your product or service and you are engaging in the marketing process. Also known as your date.

Quality – One way to compete – the other is price. To be effective – you can’t do both.

Referral – A sale that occurs as a result of word of mouth. Due to the high conversion rate (chance of becoming a client) it’s a smart strategy to get clients to spread the good word.

Sales – The process of turning a prospect into a paying client. First you must propose by asking for the sale, then you enter into a formal agreement where you are partners – for better or worse. Also known as the marriage.

Tactics – Techniques for turning strangers into paying clients.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – A statement that showcases how you stand out from your competitors. A critical component to a successful marketing strategy.

Value – The ratio between price and quality. Different for every individual at every single transaction. Sometimes, people are willing to pay more for higher quality. Other times, price is what matters.

Word of Mouth (WOM) – Exceeding customer’s expectations to the point where they run and tell all of their friends how wonderful you are.

Xenophobia – Fear of strangers. Probably a fear that marketers don’t have. (Come on, it’s an “X” – I’m scrounging here.)

You – The prominent pronoun in marketing copy. If you see “I” – it’s time for a re-write.

Zealot – A customer who is so enthused about your product or service that they voluntarily sell it to everyone they can. Smart companies work hard to keep zealots zealous.

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and 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