SMBs Shun Websites – Big Mistake

In a Zoomerang survey of more than 750 small to medium sized businesses with marketing budgets less than $1,000, over a third said they use social media as part of their marketing strategy.

Here’s the breakdown of SMB social media channel usage :

Facebook – 80%
LinkedIn – 37%
Twitter – 27%

Sure, it’s smart business to explore social media channels, but neglecting to build a solid Website presence is being penny wise and pound foolish. Only about 50% of SMBs have a Website and those that do only provide a basic overview and contact information. Big mistake.

I’m sure many SMBs are running Facebook Pages for their web presence, but to be found online, you want to spread your good word on as many channels as possible. And, because of some of the search engine limitations of social media,  having a Website is a must.

With free WordPress templates and platforms such as Posterous, you can easily customize a Website and Blog so there’s no valid reason not to have one. And, the cool thing is that they easily interconnect with social media channels.

For example, all of my Website blog posts via my WordPress Website/Blog platform are reported in my Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile automatically.  And, I can connect Facebook as well.

As important, a Website is far more powerful than a Facebook page because:

  1. Not everyone is on Facebook – more people are online
  2. Facebook owns YOU and can change things anytime
  3. Facebook has SEO limitations within its 4 walls – most activity stays there not all over the Web

SMBs, if you don’t have a Website, get one…soon. You and your customers will be happy to have one.

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3 Secrets to Achieving Social Media Success

If you want to be a successful, profitable brand via Social Media Marketing, first remember one thing above all – it’s not about the tools, so don’t be one!

The secrets to success in life and business are so basically simple (certainly putting them to practice requires focus, hard work ) that we get so caught up in tools, investments and processes that we lose sight of the easiest ways to get from Point A to Point B.

For example:

  • If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. Burn up more calories than you consume.
  • To find love in your life, first be a loving person. Give and you shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened etc.
  • If you want to be treated nice, follow the Golden Rule and on and on

Brands today get so caught up in the the “new new” tools of Social Media (Blogs, Twitter Facebook etc.,) that they lose sight of the true secrets of success. The reason I call them secrets is because most brands are unaware of them, avoid them or think they’ve already uncovered and accomplished them, but they’re not even close.

And, these secrets are not tasks you complete once and move on, rather they’re they’re three pillars of success that need to be strengthened every day through a brand’s daily actions.

Here are my three secrets to Social Media Success.

1. Build a Rock Solid Brand of Character and Integrity – Are you a stand up brand when no one is watching? Do you keep and deliver on your promises? Do you follow your ethical standards in tough times? Not easy to do, but certainly doable.

Check out Gallup Ethical Standards ranking of people in the various fields listed below. Take for example, “business people” – only 12% say they have very high/high standards. Don’t you think we can all work a bit harder on building our reputations than another Facebook Fan Page?

If/when you do, your customers and acquaintances in the Social Media world will be banging their Social Media Marketing drums, praising your name!

Gallup Ethical Standards 11.09

2. Deliver REMARKable Products and Services – Do you simply produce a product or service to get by or do you really “bring it and WOW people!” Are your standards and expectations higher than the norm? Do you sometimes hit them or blow them away all the time? Do you work hard to surprise and delight your team members and customers? Do you deliver a truly unique, meaningful and memorable experience?

When the REMARKable Susan Boyle performed awhile back on Britain’s Got Talent, her authentic, transparent and awesome talent delivered a a truly unique, unexpected (can you say, “WOW”) meaningful and memorable experience?

And, in a few hours/days, 100+ Million Youtube Views were achieved and she became a richer person and a household name.

The REMARKable Brand of Susan Boyle

3. Be a Servant Leader – Lead from Behind

Finally, brand leaders would do well to remember that the most successful ones long-term lead best by serving the needs of their people. In a servant leadership based brand, the leader’s role is one of a resource (people, capital etc.,) steward and encourages leaders to serve others while staying focused on achieving results in line with the organization’s values and integrity.

People (customers, vendors and employees) want to be aligned with brands they respect, value and admire and servant leadership driven brands deliver on every one.

10 Key Servant Leader Traits

If brands today would simply work hard to lead and improve their business in these three key ways, the social media world would take care of the rest and freely spread their good news and great stories using their Social Media Marketing tools!

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Social Media Marketing Presentation

Yesterday, I was honored to give a Social Media Marketing presentation at the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association’s Western Chapter’s Harvest Your Profits Fall Summit (click here to download presentation). The presentation certainly had a restaurant, hospitality focus, but it’s applicable to most any retail industry.

Having worked in hospitality and restaurant marketing for over 20 years, it’s close to my heart because it’s one of the toughest, yet most gratifying industries. If you’re looking for leading edge marketing, look no further than the folks in the hospitality industry because the great ones know that they need to “bring it” every day – the successful ones know that they’re only as good as their last meal!

You got to love people with that kind of attitude and passion – it’s contagious – and a BIG reason I love working in the industry.

And, you got to love the people who volunteer their time and expertise to associations like the PRA and staffers such as Heidi Howard. They selflessly work hard to help move the hospitality industry forward  to make it better for themselves and their customers and at the same time defend it against government controls – many of which are unconscionable efforts to blatantly rob them (e.g., crazy drink taxes) of their hard earned money.

My thanks to PRA Western Chapter president Steve Musciano of ARAMARK and his board for inviting me, Susan Sansale, owner/operator of the beautiful venue The Chadwick (and incoming PRA Western Chapter president) for hosting the event and super organizer and board member extraordinaire Murrie Emamzadeh for orchestrating a super event!

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Erik Qualman’s Social Media Revolution Part Deux

I’m a big fan of Erik Qualman and his Social Media Blog Socialnomics.

He’s helped me and my clients a ton. He’s a smart guy – so smart that being a James Bond fan, I think I’ll call him “Q.”

Q’s Socialnomics the book is a great read too.

And, his outstanding Social Media Revolution video which hit YouTube last year generated about 2 million views.

If you haven’t seen SMR 1 don’t worry, check out Q’s new Social Media Revolution 2 video below which launched a few weeks ago and has been updated with more fascinating facts.

Next time someone tells you that Social Media is a fad, send them a link to Q’s video!

P.S.: The facts blaze by, so if you’re interested in Q’s key facts in text, click here.

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$6 Google AdWords Campaign Lands Dream Job

For anyone looking for a new job (pay attention college grads) or trying to get that next big sale and running into a roadblock because you can’t get the attention of a key decision maker, check out this brilliant job search strategy by copywriter Alec Brownstein.

  1. Brownstein used Google AdWords to target Ad Agency Creative Directors on Madison Avenue in New York
  2. He bet 15 cents per click that these Creatives were no different than the rest of  us self absorbed people who Google ourselves
  3. What the CD’s saw when they Googled themselves was a personal ad from Brownstein – BRILLIANT!
  4. Young & Rubicam offered him a job!

Note: Brownstein’s Google Job Experiment YouTube video has been viewed over 500,000 times!  Rock on Alec!

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Guilty on All Three Counts

NERD ALERT!

This chart shows that nearly 30% of U.S. consumers use their cell phones and/or computers at the same time they watch TV.

And, I have to say that I’m guilty on all three counts and possibly four, because I can hold a conversation at the same time – at least I think so – but, don’t ask my wife!

The integration of marketing messages across platforms is becoming more critical by the minute – as well as the ability for Brand’s to create clear, easy to understand and remarkably meaningful communications.

Keep this chart in mind the next time you try to pack 60 seconds of vanilla milkshake copy into a 30 second television commercial!

Source: Experian Simmons DataStream 4.13.10

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Social Media Mistakes by Tiger and Toyota

Typically, in times of crisis, most brands fail in their communications before the crisis explodes not during or after it happens. Then, long after the explosive facts are out, whatever a brand does to quell the unfortunate act never seems to be quite enough.

And today, in this ever changing and rapidly growing Social Media Marketing environment we all live in you can get yourself into a whole bunch of trouble.

Two cases in point…Tiger Woods and Toyota.

On Tiger Woods’ Web site, you’d think nothing’s wrong with his brand.

You can read all about Brand Tiger’s accomplishments and of course buy a ton of stuff. On Facebook, you can also buy Tiger’s Stuff, but 1.3 million fans can’t communicate via Facebook anymore. Well they can (sort of) to posts back in November, but Tiger has not responded. Plus all I can see are positive notes of support.  Is Brand Tiger jsut keeping the good and editing out the bad?

Tiger’s been “off the Facebook air” since November 6, 2009. In fact, when you click through to Facebook at times there are no comments since. Tiger is supposedly hiding out in a sex rehab bunker..I mean clinic…so why no more news? An apology? A simple update?

Now Toyota is underway with its largest recall ever and has looked foolish and disorganized in its scrambled up mess of communications. Sure they’ve been “backpeddling” (no pun inteneded) off and online and its certainly not easy while battling legal, economic and staff issues, but tough, they’re a big boy company.

But, you’d think Toyota like Tiger would know better.

Toyota only has about 77,000 Facebook fans and you’d think they’d have a ton more than Ford (79,000), Chevrolet (65,000) and Subaru (31,000 – would have thought they’d have a lot more) and other but they don’t. Heck, Harley-Davidson Motor Company has an amazing 467,000 Facebook fans.

Both Brand Tiger and Brand Toyota Web sites all talk about how great their brands are with no or little regard to their misgivings and what they’re doing to fix things.

Why was it so hard for both brands to fess up early and often – not to mention…don’t do bad things in the first place!

So much about crisis management is learned by all of us at a young age – well, hopefully its taught to us by good, caring parents – such as:

  • Be good
  • Don’t lie
  • If you do something bad (we all do), own up to it immediately in person, apologize and say you’re sorry and promise to make things (and do them) better and promise to not repeat your behavior

When you were a kid, wasn’t your punishment greater and more harsh when you put off owing up to it?

In these ever changing times of social media marketing, it’s more important than ever to have a crisis management plan, because something bad will happen to your Brand – it’s not a matter of if, it’s when.

Here are a few crisis management rules to follow:

  1. You never make friends in crisis, so build your friendship databases and trust bank deposits NOW
  2. Create and continue to work on extensive, ongoing social media outreach efforts
  3. If/when something happens bad to Brand You (Company), come clean, be visible and approachable and meet things head-on.
  4. Tough times never last, but tough people do. To that point, when times get tough you need to reach out to you loyal fans, customers, employees, vendors etc., but you need to create that fan base and it doesn’t happen overnight
  5. The best PR campaign and highest paid strategists can’t prevent all of the mudslinging and brand damage – preventive maintenance is key

Take a lesson from David Letterman’s confession here. Brilliant!

As a wise man once said to me, “That fish wouldn’t be on the wall, if it didn’t open it’s mouth!”

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The Kids Are Alright Part II

In an earlier post, I reported that it was great to see the Gen Y kids driving the tremendous outpouring of financial support for Haiti relief via texting.

I’m happy to report that the American Red Cross “Text ‘Haiti’ to 90999” campaign has raised $24 million to date. See the DMNews story here.

Think about this campaign for a moment. It has achieved some amazing accomplishments – in a short period of time – since this devastating earthquake hit Haiti just last week on January 12th:

  • $24 million has been raised via $10 individual donations to help the Haitian people – 1/5th of the amount the American Red Cross has raised to date – breaking all records by a huge  margin.  Reference note: After Hurricane Katrina – a mere 4.5 years ago – the ARC only received $120,000 via texting – and Katrina occurred on American soil!
  • The ARC has built a valuable mobile text database for future marketing communications and financial appeal efforts
  • The ARC’s core donor base skews older and texting gave the Gen Y folks an easy, quick and convenient channel to offer their support (marketing lesson – treat different people differently)
  • The campaign execution of  the ARC and its mobile firm partner mGive was flawless – amazing too – considering the fact that they started to work on the texting campaign the evening of the earthquake
  • The viral goodwill spread of the “Text ‘HAITI’ to 90999” campaign in Social Media channels such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (100K tweets/retweets)

I’m far from being in the Gen Y segment, but I did text a donation to the ARC and will tell you that it was easy for me to participate. As important, I felt comfortable donating because of the supportive and reinforcing messages I saw on TV news and various high profile broadcasts such as the NFL playoffs and the Golden Globes.

Also, after texting the shortcode “HAITI” to 90999, I was asked me to respond “yes” to confirm my donation and then I received a nice comforting thank you too – nice touch.

This overwhelmingly positive experience led me to spread the ARC’s good word and to feel more comfortable using this channel in the future.

Strong brand promise, ease, convenience, simple message and trust are the hallmarks of success for the ARC’s texting campaign and they could be put to good use for your brand’s future success too.

Photo by CollectiveGood.

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The Kids Are Alright

If you think young people these days are inconsiderate, selfish, concerned with only themselves and wear their “pants on the ground“…think again.

Soon after the devastating Haiti earthquake hit, @RedCross tweeted: “You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts in #haiti.”

Kudos to the Red Cross marketing folks for being prepared (excellent online disaster newsroom) and recognizing the fundraising opportunity available to them in this terrible time of crisis.

And, much more kudos to the kids that drove this “texting bus” because they’re the ones credited with leading this Red Cross effort which has raised over $10 million for the cause since this record breaking mobile fundraiser was launched last Tuesday.

This is a great example of using technology to build rather than destroy.

Watch text marketing grow from this effort and put in on your list of things to test for your business too!

P.S.: Here is a list of 8 ways you can help Haiti by texting:

  1. Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
  2. Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee
  3. Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada
  4. Text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10 through the Clinton Foundation
  5. Text HAITI to 864833 to donate $5 to The United Way
  6. Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation
  7. Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International
  8. Text RELIEF to 30644 (to connect with Catholic Relief Services who will instruct you how to donate money with your credit card)

…the 9th way to help is to pray.

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15 Branding Lessons from the Salvation Army

Salvation Army Red Kettle

You may complain every so often about the number of competitors you face, but consider yourself lucky you don’t work in the competitive nonprofit world. I know, with this economy, you sometimes feel you are a nonprofit…but that’s beside the point.

There are over 1,000,000 charities throughout the U.S. – some great and some not so great – and the Salvation Army is one brand that is head and shoulders above the bunch. It was recently ranked as the second strongest non profit power brand behind the YMCA.

The late great father and guru of modern day management Peter Drucker called the Salvation Army the most effective organization in the world.

The Salvation Army doesn’t have a brand problem, you see a Red Kettle and you know where the money is going. Due to the today’s economy, donations are down (as they are with most all non profits) and requests for services such as food and shelter are up.

However, with the expected downturn in end of the year donations, which are often a critical source of revenue for nonprofits, keep your eye on the Salvation Army because these folks rock in what they do and how they do it.

And, here are 15 reasons why the Salvation Army brand is so successful (and a few things Marketers can learn from them in terms of building a quality brand).

  1. They do remarkable things – they rebuild and save lives
  2. They have integrity – and their mission is a faith-based calling.
  3. They’re authentic, honest, sincere, consistent, reliable and transparent
  4. They have a consistent brand image served with key brand icons such as their Red Shield logo and Red Kettle (you see a Red Kettle you know where the money is going).
  5. They have a great story and tell it over and over again wonderfully well (read Red Kettle Story here).
  6. They know what they stand for and who they are (read 11 Articles of Faith) and read their 12 Position Statements here about abortion, alcohol and drugs, economic justice, euthanasia, gambling, homosexuality, human equality, human trafficking, marriage, pornography, religious persecution and suicide. Now, you may not agree with all of their positions, but you cannot argue that they do not know who they are and what they stand for…do you?
  7. They’re a proven brand that’s been accountable for over 130 years which has made it one of the world’s largest and most trusted providers of social services
  8. Most of their work is done without beating their own chests – their word of mouth buzz is delivered by the grateful people they serve
  9. They’re transparent with their fundraising (83 cents of every dollar goes directly to providing services). The Army’s administrative costs are not charged against funds donated.
  10. They get results
  11. They’re typically the quickest responders to people in need (see Wall Street Journal article – Advantage: God – Why the Salvation Army beats the Red Cross – about the differences in their respective responses during September 11, 2001).
  12. They generate multiple streams of revenue via many online and offline methods (e.g., Classic, Virtual and Mobile – Red Kettle Campaign in retail and heavily trafficked areas and online Virtual Red  Kettle Campaigns).
  13. Their flat decentralized organizational model (e.g., each U.S. region typically controls its own e-mail campaigns) includes Salvation Army officers, staffers, lay people, volunteers and other committed fans. According to this USA Today article from a few years back, it coordinates nearly 4,000 officers, 113,000 soldiers, 420,000 members, 60,000 employees and 3.5 million volunteers. FYI by contrast, Wal-Mart, the largest private employer, has 2.1 million associates.
  14. They have a rabid fan base of marketing partners and such as JCPenney (see online Angel Giving Tree program), Target and Wal-Mart.
  15. As their donor base has been getting older, they’ve worked hard to be more modern and relevant and have ventured more heavily into Web 2.0 Marketing with Facebook (500+ groups), Twitter, iPhone apps, online banner ads on AOL, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Yahoo. They try to be everywhere their fans are – especially younger fans – and are into newer edgier tactics such as magic and stunts.

If you’re still looking for that perfect Christmas Gift to give, consider giving to the Salvation Army.

Merry Christmas and have a great New Marketing Year!

P.S.: Here’s an inspirational interview on the management philosophy of the Salvation Army’s National Commander Israel Gaither. He’s a heck of a guy – and why not – he’s from Pittsburgh!

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