• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on January 22, 2015

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • MCohen
    Marcy Cohen on January 21, 2015

    Could a Pair of Bedazzled Bowling Shoes Lead to Social Good?

    What if 2015 became the year when the collaborative model didn’t just make it easier to buy groceries but helped emerging economies on their path to inclusive growth? What if it could be a force for social good?
  • It’s no secret that effectively producing content is a key aspect of marketing your business. Not many people are going to start patronizing your establishment simply because they heard or saw a commercial, or banner ad for it. Today, if you want to reach consumers where they really live, you have to meet them online.

    It’s no secret that effectively producing content is a key aspect of marketing your business. Not many people are going to start patronizing your establishment simply because they heard or saw a commercial, or banner ad for it. Today, if you want to reach consumers where they really live, you have to meet them online.

    Here’s the thing, though – putting content out there is only an effective strategy if you’re actually able to get people to see it. A tree falling in an empty forest might make a sound, but you’d really prefer if an audience were around to hear it. The goal is to engage with people, make connections and eventually land a few paying customers. You can’t do that if no one sees the blog posts, social media updates and multimedia content you are creating.

    So how can you do it? How do you, if you’ll forgive the cliché – market your marketing? Figuring this step out is a key aspect of becoming successful in business. Once you have an engaged audience for your marketing material, you can begin to move people further down the sales funnel. A great side benefit….? If you do this right, they’ll bring others

    A great side benefit….? If you do this right, they’ll bring others.

    Starting from the bottom
    The great challenge of content marketing is that when you first get started, you have nothing. If no one is visiting your website and no one cares about the content you’re producing, it can be a daunting proposition. Where do you even begin?

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    A field of dreams content strategy simply doesn’t work. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean the masses will be beat a path to your website.

    According to Forbes, the “tree falls in the forest” problem is an all-too-common one for numerous entrepreneurs. Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of Seattle-based marketing agency AudienceBloom, explained that you’re going to need to start from the bottom. Creating content is relatively easy, but generating awareness is often the hard part.

    “If you’re a savvy marketer, you’re already actively engaging in content marketing,” DeMers noted. “Unfortunately, many business owners are so focused on the creation of their content that they’re forgetting the marketing component of the equation. After all, what good is amazing content if nobody knows about it?”

    Your strategy for “marketing your marketing” is going to depend on a few factors. For example, how much money do you have to spend? And do you have any connections in the business world that can help you? Once you’ve assessed what kind of resources you have to work with, you can begin to put together a road map.

    Working with owned media
    Obviously, the easiest resource to use for marketing is one that you control by yourself. This is what’s known as “owned media.” You have your own site, your own social media profiles, your own web and mobile applications and so on. The beauty of these platforms is that you have complete autonomy to control what they say and how they say it.

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    Another big plus… YOU own the relationship.  Your relationship with the audience you’ve built is not dependent upon someone else’s platform or algorithm.

    Of course, there’s an obvious drawback there. Owned media may be the easiest to use, but it’s also the hardest to get any real impact from. Why would anyone visit your blog if they’re not aware of the content there? Owned resources, therefore, are only going to be effective if you use them in conjunction with other strategies.

    One thing you can do is focus on search engine optimization (SEO) – if your site is loaded with keywords and subject matter that will draw the attention of Google searchers, that is definitely a huge plus. Another viable strategy is to use platforms that are already successful – maybe you have a strong email newsletter, mobile app, twitter following or direct mail campaign. Use it to create awareness of your other owned media channels. Eventually, awareness will spread.

    Reaching out in new directions
    It’s very difficult to get where you want to go using owned media alone. There’s another avenue that can be more effective, but it’s a more difficult challenge – it’s called branching out to “earned distribution channels.” An example of this strategy is publishing a guest blog on another site that’s more prominent, or getting favorable coverage for your business in the press.

    This can be hugely effective. If you’re able to land exposure for your enterprise from a major outlet that will bring eyeballs to your site, that’s great – but it won’t happen overnight. Getting to this point requires that you make connections in the business and leverage them at opportune times.

    Ultimately, one of your goals should be to establish a position for yourself as a thought leader. If people in the business respect your opinions and want to hear from you more, you should be able to turn that reputation into big marketing opportunities. If you’re well-respected, you won’t have to beg people for a guest blog or a PR spotlight – they’ll come to you and ask first. Getting to that level, though, is a gradual process.

    One great place to start is HARO . From The New York Times, to ABC News, to HuffingtonPost.com and everyone in between, HARO, boasts of nearly 30,000 members of the media having been quoted as sources in their stories. As their site says, “Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for”.

    Investing in key markets
    The third level of marketing for your marketing is the use of “paid distribution channels.” If you’re willing and able to set aside a few dollars in the budget for promoting the content you produce, then such an initiative can go a long way.

    With some types of traditional media, like radio, when you bought advertising, thing were a little uncertain. You had no idea how many people would hear the ad, or how many would care. You had some idea of the reach but little was certain. But now, with digital media, you can pay a fixed rate for a sponsored Facebook post and guarantee that, say, 1,000 people will see it? That is value that’s guaranteed and predictable.

    Note that investing in paid distribution today is far different than the example of paying for radio commercials mentioned above. In the modern technology landscape, you have the potential to study your target markets more closely and zoom in on specific areas where you can make improvements. For example, what demographics are you interested in selling to more? Through the use of Facebook and Twitter sponsored content, and search engine boosters like Google AdWords, you can invest in specific areas that matter to you.

    Whether you’re trying to reach restaurant owners across the country, IT decision makers in a single zip code or anyone in between yopu can qith the robust advertising platforms of many of today’s leading social destinations and search engines.

    In short, you want to maximize your resources and invest in real marketing power. That means not just producing content, but also promoting it and making sure it’s seen. Remember, if you build it AND promote it, they will come.

    The post Marketing Your Marketing – Make Sure Your Content Is Seen appeared first on Cox BLUE.

    In this digitally connected world, I often hear about how people feel blindsided by how fast each day goes by. Without having been brought up or schooled on the new digital world, most executives still don’t even know how to type accurately and fast with ten fingers.

    In this digitally connected world, I often hear about how people feel blindsided by how fast each day goes by. Without having been brought up or schooled on the new digital world, most executives still don’t even know how to type accurately and fast with ten fingers. Some (many?) still have to remind themselves where the notification settings lie in the smartphone. That is: as opposed to having a second reflex to revisit your settings on a regular basis (especially after system upgrades).

    Level 1 – All hands on deck

    I refer to this as living in Level 1. In the figure below, it is the outer ring. It’s a world where we are being submitted to a bombardment of messages, notifications and invasions. These come in the form of too many emails, a backlog of voice messages and connection requests on Linkedin and Facebook. In this level, people will have notifications that regularly pop up and/or buzz on their smartphone and, in pavlovian fashion, can’t help but peep an eye at the incoming message. It’s like opening the email inbox and reading emails without acting on them. We are polluting our minds, distracting our attention and, frustratingly, not achieving everything we set out to do.

    Making sense in a digitally connected world 

    Level 2 – Achievers

    In this level (in dark purple in the figure above), people have taken the bull by the horns. The messages and notifications have been organized in such a way as to make the true strategic topics and VIP’s always stand out. Using the settings, as well as novel applications and platforms (e.g. Sanebox, Inbox by Gmail…), there is a systematic vetting and parsing of incoming messages. Time for writing and publication is set aside in a disciplined manner. Despite the massive amounts of data analyzed, messages managed and relevant content published, in this Achiever Level 2, we also find time for two other important things:

    1. taking care of yourself and the people in your inner circle;
    2. embracing chaos, which I also like to characterize as serendipity.

    Chaos (and its cousin, change) is an ineluctable part of our daily lives. In the world of astrophysics, chaos is a necessary reality. Similarly, in our lives, we must know that unexpected events are inevitable. But, beyond embracing chaos in our digitally connected world, it is also vital that we keep learning and expanding. By being open to learning, one is ensured vitality. Meeting someone knew, reading something different, tasting new foods, etc., are vital components of our experimental and experiential lives. But, only by having the discipline to filter and master the incoming waves of messages and notifications, can one truly find that extra time.

    Level 3 – Finding sense

    This is all about being “in the zone.” The key to this “inner circle” is that the parameters and actions of Level 2 have all been passed through a special filter:

    To what extent does every action I take help achieve my purpose?

    news_compass digitally connected worldI like to talk about one’s purpose as one’s “North” (due credit to N.E.W.S.). The North direction is your mission. Ultimately, it is why you exist. When you do activities that serve your purpose, that help you get on your way toward achieving your mission, you feel naturally energized. You know why you are doing what you do and that feeling elates you. You are being busy for a good reason. The VIPs in your list are, by definition, a cross between personal and professional people. You take care of yourself, because without you, there is no mission control. You enhance yourself by allowing to meet new people and rise to the challenge of understanding the new because there may be ways and reasons to boost your mission.

    Setting your North has never been more important

    The big challenge for people, on a personal level and for businesses, more generally, is that people don’t take the time to understand their North. Without the filter of one’s Northerly purpose, the consequence is a lot of spinning wheels. And, worse, for those who have not taken the initiative to get on top of their communications — which are the lifeblood of any organization — the risk is a loss of direction and burnout. I have seen this happen time and again with individuals and in business. With the plethora of choices and the tsunami of incoming messages, finding one’s North provides a guiding pole to cut through the clutter. {Tweet this!}

    On a personal level, the real Valhalla is when the purpose of the brand for which you are working is clear, and it strongly aligns with your own personal purpose and values. {Tweet this!}

    Your thoughts?

    The post Making sense of your digitally connected world appeared first on Branding and digital strategy | Myndset by Minter Dial.

    I spend a good amount of time calling on the customers and prospects of my clients. Recently, I was doing some win reviews. We were very interested in learning more about why these customers bought from my client. The key competitor was much larger and the dominant force in the industry. Winning against them was a real coup, we wanted to learn more about how we could repeat that.

    I spend a good amount of time calling on the customers and prospects of my clients.  Recently, I was doing some win reviews.  We were very interested in learning more about why these customers bought from my client.  The key competitor was much larger and the dominant force in the industry.  Winning against them was a real coup, we wanted to learn more about how we could repeat that.

    The competitor, like my client, had a very broad product line.  There were significant overlaps between the product lines, both those of the competition and those of my client.  So the customer was slightly confused and concerned about which solution from each vendor would best fit their requirements.

    My client spent time understanding what the customer wanted to achieve, probed, asked some questions, talked to many of the people that would be using the solution on a day to day basis.  Finally, they determined the best solution for the customer, recommended it, explaining why they were recommending that solution to the customer.

    The competitor had a very different approach.  They were strongly product focused.  They were organized around major product line groupings—it’s a fairly common thing.  They had product divisions with product managers, marketing, sales, customer service.  Each product division was focused on maximizing their own growth and share of the market.  They knew there were overlaps between the products, but thought the “healthy” competition between divisions would drive stronger growth overall.  In some ways, from the company point of view, that wasn’t a bad strategy.

    The problem was, from a customer point of view it looked very different.

    They had two different sales organizations (actually channel partners of the competitor) calling on them, selling the competitor’s products.  Each, representing their solution was the best fit for the customer.  Naturally, the customer was confused.  They thought, “Both solutions can’t be the best solution for us, which is the solution from this vendor that is really the best for us?”

    Every time they challenged the sales people representing this competitor, they kept coming back, saying their solution was the best solution.  In the end, they were forcing the customer to figure it out for themselves.

    In interviewing the customer, they repeatedly said, “It’s not my job to sort through your offerings.  I expect the sales person to understand us, what we are trying to achieve, and recommend the single best solution to achieve our goals.  After all, they know these solutions far better than we do.  Plus we just don’t have the time to figure it out.”

    They cited my client’s approach.  “They had overlapping products, when we looked at them, we were very confused about what would be the best for us.  But that’s where the sales people stepped in, making it easy for us to buy.  They spent time understanding what we wanted to do, presented a single solution for us, explaining why they had chosen that solution over the alternatives.  It made it simple and easy for us.”

    The strategy adopted by my client’s competition isn’t that unusual, we see all sorts of manifestations of it.  When I first started selling at IBM, we had two computer divisions–one selling high end computers, basically focused on large enterprises, the other selling mid range business computers, technically focused on small/medium businesses.  But the product lines started overlapping, and there were different implementation alternatives (a company could install a large central computer, or there could be departmental computers).  I would sometimes find myself competing against the sales people from another division.  Fortunately, we had a process for working this out internally, so we could go to the customer with the single best solution.

    Organizing by product lines is a very common business strategy.  There’s some great power to this, but if we inflict our organizational structure on the customer, making it hard for them to buy, they’ll always default to the easy to buy choice.

    There are other forms of inflicting our organization on customers which make it difficult for them to buy.  Sometimes we have organizations that have differentiated, complementary products.  For example, Sales Automation Tools, Marketing Automation Tools, Customer Care Tools.  If our sales teams believe they are competing for the same customer dollar, they create great confusion for the customer by competing against each other, rather than saying, “Based on your strategies, priorities, and needs, you should start with this tool…”  Or better, collaborate with your peers, develop a strong business case and implementation plan to buy more than just one of the tools.

    I’ll stop here, you can think of many examples yourself, perhaps even within your own organization.

    However we organize ourselves to develop and manage our solutions, in developing our go to customer strategies, we have to think about, the customer buying experience and how we help them select the single best solution we can offer.

    Photo Credit: Product Focus/shutterstock

    Let’s face it. The world of business is a big and sometimes scary place. Given all the risks, for some business owners staying in the comfort zone feels like a very smart choice. It’s not. The business climate is constantly changing, so staying put is really falling behind. If you want your business to keep growing, you must consistently seek new opportunities. How do you find them?

    Let’s face it. The world of business is a big and sometimes scary place. Given all the risks, for some business owners staying in the comfort zone feels like a very smart choice.

    It’s not.

    The business climate is constantly changing, so staying put is really falling behind. If you want your business to keep growing, you must consistently seek new opportunities.

    How do you find them?

    Get Out and Explore

    Hunting for new business opportunities can be fun or frightening, depending on your perspective. For many of the passionate leaders I work with, the treasure hunt for growth is so enticing that they sometimes get lost. They head down a trail that seductively beckons “come and see,” without a plan to return to home base.

    Are you the kind of person who gets a glimmer of a new idea and then chases it ruthlessly until you hold it in your hand? Then be careful or before you know it, your business could be heading off in a new direction without any strategic intent.

    Of course, being opportunistic is a good thing as long as it doesn’t divert you from your true purpose. To avoid the risk put methods in place to identify and evaluate which opportunities are worth your time and effort, and which are better left untapped.

    This approach ensures that you’re not missing out on the next big thing, or taking your business down a path to ruin.

    Explore New Markets

    I spent yesterday with a group of curious business owners. We were at an event hosted by Amex OPEN on the ins and outs of government contracting. 

    Those of you who know me understand that this is not my core expertise. However, it is something that’s of interest to some of my clients, and it’s important for me to know enough to point them in the right direction when they need help.

    With that in mind, I decided to invest a day learning about the process and talking with other business owners about their experiences. I wanted to see why they found government contracting enticing – or intimidating,

    The diverse group of attendees included freshly minted entrepreneurs like Danny, just 10 days into his new venture, along with people like Michael, a veteran small business owner with over 20 years under his belt. It was a broad-spectrum of business owners and it was interesting to hear their thoughts.

    After talking with several attendees, I would guess that only about 30% will actively pursue government contracting in the near future. Several more, say 50% will take time to explore further and decide if it’s right for them. The other 20% will probably never do anything more than attend the conference.

    And that’s totally okay.

    In my experience, it’s better to explore an opportunity and decide it’s not the right fit than to ignore it completely. That way you’re making informed decisions with current information about the industry and your competitors, instead of assuming your current track is the best.

    The people in the middle – those who haven’t made up their mind one way or another – are most likely to get lost in the process.

    Don’t Get Off Track

    When you can’t decide which way to take your business, the risk of getting hopelessly off track increases exponentially. I don’t want that to happen to you, so here are some tips to ensure you’re decisive and confident in the path you choose.

    1. Establish decision criteria upfront.

    Define what you’re looking for and the data you need to support your decision. Are there revenue or expense metrics that will make this a go or no go decision? What about resources and timing? Create a list of vital questions like,

    “Is this worth doing if it takes three months, but not if it takes six?”

    “Does this opportunity align with my corporate purpose?”

    What’s the payback period for my investment?”

    Once you have the answers, make the decision and move on.

    2. Set a time limit on your decision.

    Allocate a reasonable amount of time to gather the information you need, evaluate what’s at hand, and make a decision. Depending on the complexity of what you’re looking at, this might be a week or even several months.

    Set a time frame that’s allows enough time to make an educated decision without falling prey to “analysis paralysis.” Whatever feels right, set a date and stick to it. Remember, speed counts.

    3. Use an emissary.

    Do you love the process of research?  If you do, you might want to hand the project off to someone else. Why? Because you can spend way too much time savoring the process you enjoy and never make a decision.

    Remember, the goal is to move your business forward, not to analyze every single possible angle. Be more productive by asking a key staff member or even someone from your advisory board to gather and condense information for your review.

    4. Get outside help.

    If you don’t enjoy research or you’re concerned about it eating up precious time you need for running your business, get somebody to help you. Delegate pieces of the project to someone on your team or hire a consultant to run the entire project and provide recommendations at the end. Having an objective third-party involved also takes the emotion out of the process, leading to better business decisions in the end.

    5. Find a partner.

    At the contracting conference, they called it “teaming.” You might think of this as an alliance, subcontractor agreement or partnership. Whatever you call it, working with somebody who knows the landscape has big benefits.

    Being a sub on a government contract, for example, is an excellent way to see if you even like working with the government. If you want to test the waters, look for a partner who can help you get your feet wet without sinking.

    Apply these tips and you’ll be ready to discover new business opportunities, pick the best ones, and keep you business growing.


    Need some help? Maximize your growth and profitability by working with Joey Sargent as a business coach or consultant. Give her a call at 678.823.8228.

    The post New Business Opportunities: How to Explore without Getting Lost appeared first on Joey Sargent.

    Photo Credit: Lost With a Map/shutterstock

    Every successful sales relationship starts with a conversation. Sales reps must establish rapport with their prospects before advancing through the buying cycle, and commenting provides a unique opportunity to initiate and strengthen relationships. In fact, 39% of sales reps who regularly comment on their sales prospects’ LinkedIn activities exceed their quota.

    Every successful sales relationship starts with a conversation. Sales reps must establish rapport with their prospects before advancing through the buying cycle, and commenting provides a unique opportunity to initiate and strengthen relationships. In fact, 39% of sales reps who regularly comment on their sales prospects’ LinkedIn activities exceed their quota.

    Inside Sales expert Ken Krogue calls comments one of his six core skills of social media, and believes that they are powerful tactics to start conversations with prospects. “Comments are the basic element of interaction on social media,” says Krogue. “Comments start engagement.”

    While liking and resharing status updates can help achieve top-of-mind awareness, leaving insightful comments can command the attention of your sales prospects.

    Finding the right balance with comments

    To find commenting opportunities, visit your LinkedIn Home page and view the LinkedIn activity of your connections. You can choose to view either “Top” or “Recent” updates. You can also filter by content your connections have shared, LinkedIn Group contributions, or by updates your connections have made to their LinkedIn profile.

    Focusing on quality over quantity will help you attract the right kind of prospect attention. When overzealous sales reps see prospect posts on LinkedIn, they quickly respond and move on to other opportunities. Krogue calls these messages “drive-by comments” and notes that they rarely generate thoughtful responses. Instead, he recommends approaching each comment as the start of a back-and-forth conversation.

    3 steps to meaningful conversations

    Imagine that you’ve just received an email from a high value prospect looking for your expert opinion. Before putting fingers to your keyboard, work through these 3 steps:

    1. Sit back and take a deep breath. This counters the body’s natural tendency to lean forward when excited or nervous. Leaning back makes you feel more assertive and confident.
    2. Reassess what you know about the prospect. What challenges are they currently facing in their line of work? What new opportunities are on their mind? Are they just looking for answers, or do they want to explore a topic further?
    3. Compose a thoughtful response. Address the specific pain points or topics that the prospect covers, and provide additional insight from your own experiences in the industry. This is not the time to sell your solution, however. You must first position yourself as a trustworthy industry leader before pivoting to your company’s offers.Here are some common techniques that can spark further conversations from comments:
    • Posing a thought-provoking question about the topic
    • Discussing a recent article or research that provides additional insight to their questions
    • Sharing how you, or a company you worked with, handled a similar situation

    Anyone can write a quick response in the comment section. But to achieve social selling results, view each comment as the start of a conversation. An enlightened comment encourages your prospects to respond, and elevates your status as a problem-solving partner.