WordPress Props

If you are a small business interested in starting a free blog, I really have to recommend WordPress.com. Which may come across as sketchy since I’m a WordPress user. But it’s legit! Because there’s a reason I’m a  WordPress user. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m new to not only this medium but kinda to technology in general. Don’t get me wrong, I can surf the web and check my email. But I was that typical English major whose idea of technological savviness was putting together a Powerpoint presentation. So I’m fairly limited in my knowledge and expectation of technology. So when I think, “man, I wish I could do *insert genius idea here* in my blog,” and then I realize WordPress already has the capability and all I have to do is press a button, it’s pretty exciting to me.

We’ve been on WordPress for a couple months now and I’ve had quite a few of those moments. But I’ll admit, when I first visited the site, the format kinda threw me off. It seemed hard to navigate. So I went elsewhere and actually originally set up the blog on one of those other free sites. Yeah, that definitely didn’t work out so well. I mean, I canceled it before anyone saw it so no harm, no foul. But it was still a very frustrating experience. Sure it was simple to log into and seemed pretty cut and dry but that’s because it really had nothing to offer. The themes were horrendous, I couldn’t customize my header or adjust the margins of my page. It was impossible to track my posts and adding pictures? Easier to not. Basically, the whole thing was just, well, tacky.

I decided to revisit WordPress and after taking a few minutes to familiarize myself with the site, I decided to give it a shot. And it has been great. It’s clean, easy to use and has more amenities than I could have predicted. And all for a free service.

Not bad.

Plus they make it snow in the background in winter. How seasonal and cute.

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The World According To Twitter

Alright, some info from the “Twitterverse.”  

Ok, you know what…I tried but I can’t do it. I really dislike that term. I’m trying to get with the lingo(…I sound like I’m 65 years old now, don’t I?) but must we always combine names!? We’re typing! It’ll take two more seconds to complete the words and press the space bar!

sigh.

Sorry, little rant there. So anyway. Ahem. Here’s some interesting links having to do with the Twitter Universe. Or the world according to Twitter. Or heck, just Twitter.

Mark Ramskill
“The Smart Way”
http://www.twitip.com/using-twitter-the-smart-way/ 

Mark Ramskill’s introductory blog about Twitter is just that. It assumes only that you’ve heard of Twitter and begins its explanation there. Which, let me tell you, is refreshing in the world of Twitter how-to articles. From what I can tell, Twitter is a very nuanced world and getting bogged down with information about how to maximize your Twitter experience with tips and programs is rather intimidating and off-putting for a newcomer. Ramskill does get a bit more in depth later in the post but it’s still a good jumping off point for starting “The Smart Way.”

Maria Pergolino
“Dreamforce 2009: Using Twitter Effectively for Marketing and Sales”
http://blog.marketo.com/blog/2009/11/dreamforce-2009-using-twitter-effectively-for-marketing-and-sales.html 

Pergolino’s focus is more on how to use Twitter to your advantage once you’re fairly well-versed. Which is kind of a jump forward for us newbies but it is kind of inspiring to see the creative ways in which some have used Twitter to reach out to their clients and the world at large.

Now then, I don’t mean to sound like too much of a Twitter cheerleader. I’m not a Twittizen yet. This is an evolving process of research and trial and error. But you have to admit, using Twitter to send someone champagne on a plane is pretty sweet…

Also, how good of an idea is this: “Giving money to charity if people talk about your brand online. In one example, Virgin gave $1 for every tweet to a charity at a conference.” Awesome.

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Filed under GoLeads, marketing, Uncategorized

It’s Twitter Time

It seems that I have a meeting coming up for a crash course in Twitter. Meaning I’ll be spending some time this week researching using Twitter as a small business marketing tool.

And man, there’s a ton out there. Absurd amounts really. Even with all that information, it’s hard to feel like you’re reading anything unique and it’s especially difficult to comprehend that info in relation to your own industry. But that’s my job. To take the general information I gather and morph it to my needs. And it can be done. There’s plenty to say, plenty to offer, plenty of questions to address. But I’ll admit, I’m a bit nervous about approaching those things via Twitter. I have trouble seeing how real business can infiltrate a medium so overrun with fluff, annoyance, and incomplete sentences.

But Chris Brogan is telling me it can be done, Seth Godin is telling me it can be done. About 50 million other blogs are telling me it can be done…so I’m thinking it can (and should) be done! 

There’s still a lot more to learn but as a simple observer, I think there’s one thing I’ve really noticed about the importance of Twitter. Yes it’s a quick and immediate way to connect with your clients and potential clients. It’s a fantastic means to attend to their wants, needs, etc. But one of the most beneficial things it supplies is that it not only gets your name out there, but it demonstrates your competency. Think about it. There’s A LOT of work that goes into this. And if you do it well, it legitimizes you and your company. Especially in B2B, where businesses are familiar with the struggles of social media and respect those who can pull it off. You gain automatic street cred.

But I guess it’s still a matter of being able to pull it off. Check back for some links. Since I’m already sorting through the dozens of websites, I might as well save you the trouble by posting some of my favorites!

So what experiences have you had so far using Twitter for B2B?

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‘Tis the Season

It’s been a tough week if you’re a nationwide company. This weather sweeping the country has everyone’s schedules out of whack. You’re out of commission for a day or so because all the roads are a death trap (or because the city finally plowed your street only to trap your car behind a 4 foot wall of condensed icy plow snow…I’m not bitter), only to come back and find that it’s hard to close any business because most states to the east of you are dealing with the weather that just left you behind.

So yes, it has been a bit of a business pain. And it’s of course a logistical nightmare. But you know what I found? It was actually really nice in a lot of ways.

I moved to my apartment recently and had yet to meet most of my neighbors. But this whole experience really brought all of us together. We scraped and dug out and pushed each other’s cars. We were out there in our bathrobes, at 6 in the morning and 10 at night. We made each other coffee and called from window to window checking to see if anyone needed anything. And when the lady across the street had her son come and plow our street, we all stood outside, applauded and gave him money. There was so much community cheeriness it was like a Disney movie.

The whole experience was very uplifting and encouraging. People really do want to help those who need it. And they love sharing a story. So when clients do start answering their phones again, take a minute before getting to business. Ask them how they’re doing. Get their story and share your own. And not just that story about the city trapping your car behind a 4 foot wall of condensed icy plow snow…but about the 4 neighbors who spent 2 and a half hours helping you dig it out.

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Filed under Misc.

Business Marketing Myths

Marketing for any business can be intimidating but it can be particularly scary for a small business. You’re sending a portion of your limited funds out the door with no guarantee that it’ll return. But it’s vital to success. It HAS be done, especially in this economic climate, and you might as well do it right.

Here’s some of my favorite advice from a list of The Top 5 Business Marketing Myths from Small Fuel Marketing:

“Myth #2: The bigger the audience, the more customers you’ll get
A bigger audience is usually a less targeted audience. A less targeted audience will get fewer conversions. In the end, a large audience means you’ll spend a lot more money for the same number of interested potential customers.”

This is a call back to the point I made in my post ” The Core of the Problem” -market to the people that you should be marketing to! Carefully analyze what your target audience is and make sure your list provider offers the SIC codes that will allow you to arrive at that perfectly targeted list.

“Myth #4: You only need to market until you build up momentum
Having momentum is a good thing, but it’s very important to keep on the ball. Markets can change quickly, and people get bored fast—so stay on top of things to make sure your business continues growing over the long haul.”

Keep and update those contacts. If you make your presence known at reasonable intervals, you’ll be remembered when the time comes to buy.

“Myth #5: A really great product will sell itself
Even great products need marketing to really succeed. Having the right message, and delivering it to the right people, will help take your great product and turn it into a great small business with great sales. The product alone isn’t likely to do that.”

Remember that amazing target market you cornered using all those selects and SIC codes?

Remember that great product you have? Sounds like a marketing match made in heaven.

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Filed under marketing, Social Marketing

Plus a little something extra:

How many of you have heard of Radio Lab? It’s an absolutely outstanding radio program from WNYC. It’s kind of hard to explain something so genius but it turns out Seth Godin is a fan of it too so I’m just going to borrow his description: “The content of each show is a unique mix of science, pop culture and relevance.” You can read more about his love for the show in this post, aptly titled, “The best podcast/radio show of all time”

Basically the lives of everyone who listens to it will be enriched and enlightened. Plus you’ll feel way smarter than all your friends.

And now is the perfect opportunity to listen to it. About a year ago they actually did an entire episode about choice. And they focused on the difficulty of choosing …yep, that’s right…..apples (see below post “The Core of the Problem”).

Here’s the apple clip from that show. It’s fascinating and relevant. I highly, strongly, EMPHATICALLY recommend you give it a listen.

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The Core of the Problem

If you’ve ever read Seth Godin’s blog, you know that it provides candid, thoughtful and fascinating insight into the musings of a seasoned media specialist. He sees social media and marketing in all of his surroundings, which I think is a major key to his success since the basis of marketing really lies in an empathetic and intense understanding of human society and behavior. So it’s always interesting to check in on what quirky experience he has witnessed and read how he sees that behavior affecting YOUR business’s marketing success.

A few days ago he had a particularly compelling post (“Fear of Apples” )about the paralysis of choice: When talking about consumer hesitancy he states that, “In our industrialized world, people are now afraid of apples. Afraid of buying the wrong kind. Afraid of making a purchasing mistake or some sort of pie mistake.

And they’re afraid of your product and your service. Whatever you sell, there are two big reasons people aren’t buying it:

1. They don’t know about it.

2. They’re afraid of it.

If you can get over those two, then you get the chance to prove that they need it and it’s a good value. But as long as people are afraid of what you sell, you’re stuck.”

Let’s be honest, most of us have been guilty of this at one time or another. And it’s not getting less confusing or intimidating. In this society, new options and opportunities present themselves at an ever increasing rate. And he’s right; no one wants to choose the wrong thing and look a fool in front of their family, friends, or that pushy sales person.

This means we have to be all the more selective in our marketing efforts, but the answer is not to limit the options for the consumer. It is to KNOW who your consumer is and offer them what they want and, even more importantly, what they need. Take the indecision out of buying. Find your target and offer them what they want. Yes, these are the basics of marketing but sometimes it’s hard to remember in a world that alters and adds as quickly as ours.

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Filed under marketing, Social Marketing