Musical Advice For Bloggers

Long before any of us had any concept of the web or blogs, Kenny G had something to say about the risks you take in expressing yourself. What he said then, with sax in hand, is timely for bloggers today:

Kenny G

“During the show I play completely  alone. The rest of the band leaves the stage and I sit there (he plays a quick sax riff to demonstrate) and do that stuff.And I mean I’m putting my neck right out there. If people don’t like it, I’m gonna be feeling terrible…But, yeah, you’re vulnerable.

Because whenever you express yourself honestly, you have to put yourself in a position to where people may not agree with what you’re saying or what you’re playing.

And if you can do that, and just feel inside that you’re doing the right thing, then you can live with it.” Continue reading

On Protecting Your Integrity And Your Credibility

A few years ago, small IT companies could a make a pretty good profit on disaster recovery services and automated data backup systems.

They had a great “fact” to help them. There were a number of versions that went something like this:

According to a Gartner study, 80% of businesses that suffered major data loss due to a disaster (such as hurricane or fire damage) went out of business within three years.

Protect Your Integrity and Credibility

… but it can be hard to find.

Sometimes it was a Gartner study. Or a FEMA report. Sometimes it was from IBM. It was 2 out of 3, or 70%, or 90%. They referenced Hurricane Katrina sometimes, other times 9/11.

Funny thing, no one could seem to find the original source.

Now, was the whole IT industry scamming the market? Or were these small businesses just so desperate, they were willing to repeat without question claims they had read somewhere, and had come to accept as fact? Continue reading

Does It Really Matter What You, Or Anyone, Thinks Of Chick-fil-A?

I ask this purely from a marketing perspective.

Here’s why: Chick-fil-A takes in more than $4 billion each year by aligning perfectly with the community it serves: traditional, family-oriented people of all ages, races and creeds.

Chick-fil-A has raving fans

Meanwhile, they’re extraordinarily efficient about not expending resources elsewhere. They’ve targeted exceptionally well, just by being who they are.

If you’re not a part of their extended community, you may be unfamiliar with how the company became so successful. It’s more than just tasty sandwiches and lemonade, or cool ads from The Richards Group.

No matter where you stand on Chick-fil-A’s values, or the size of your business, or what markets you serve, you can take lessons from their success.

The secrets of Chick-fil-A’s brand power Continue reading

Why I love inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is kind of the opposite of Mad Men advertising

We were the Mad Men of the 80s and 90s. Kind of.

At a large ad agency where I worked in the early 90s, many of the copywriters and art directors would show up late each day. Then they’d spend an hour or so visiting, as if they hadn’t seen each other in months. Then they’d attend a “meeting” – to view directors’ reels with a production company sales rep bearing free pastries. Most attendees weren’t even working on TV projects.

After an hour of this vital work, many would go out for a Jamba Juice.

Continue reading

How not to engage in social media: A personal story

Coca-Cola North America does more marketing in a day than most of us do in years. And judging by the record, they do it extremely well. At the risk of seeming picayune, here’s some constructive criticism. Continue reading

The first job in email marketing: Build your list!

Do you have any tips for growing an email list? Please share them with us in the comments below.

A few days ago, I promised to talk about growing your email list. I think most businesses and organizations aren’t nearly as seriously as they should be about growing their list.Grow your email list

When I talk to clients who are considering email marketing, they’re so enthusiastic. And why not?  They imagine the professional look and branding, the efficiency, the easy tracking of opens and clicked links, the measurability – and all at such an unbelievably low price for the potential value.

But then the inconvenient question

What shape is your email list in?  Generally, I get blank stares.

Continue reading

HootSuite: The Twitter user’s essential tool

I wouldn’t call myself a Twitter guru, or even a fanatic. But I like it quite a bit, especially for promoting your content, networking and doing research. I don’t know how many times I’ve tweeted something like, “Any recommendations on a CRM system for a construction contractor? PLEASE RETWEET”, and gotten back tons of thoughtful responses.

So I always recommend small and midsize businesses give Twitter a try. Like anything else, it requires an investment in time (to do it yourself) or money (to pay your people to do it). Some people have money, some have time, some have neither. So you prioritize. Maybe Twitter isn’t a high priority with the time it requires.

But Twitter doesn’t have to take too much time, if you use a great tool like HootSuite.

I rarely go to Twitter.com anymore. I use HootSuite to review my lists and messages; and to compose, schedule and send tweets.

And now (drumroll please…): It looks like HootSuite just got better. Check out their new “Hootlet” auto-scheduling extension for Chrome and add-on for Firefox. It resides up there next to your address bar, and lets you quickly schedule link-share tweets, which are among the most retweeted. I think I’m going to like this.

Email marketing: Is it a part of Inbound marketing?

Like a lot of us who began marketing careers in the pre-Internet era, I try to avoid traditional marketing whenever I can. Frankly, I’m sick of it. I don’t like 99% of commercials, print ads, billboards or direct mail. I’m disgusted by telemarketing. I’m not a big fan of most email advertising, either.

Is email part of Inbound Marketing?

And yet, I recommend that almost every business develop an email marketing program. What gives? How can email marketing, which is generally fodder for the trash or junk box, be included in the Inbound marketing strategies I support?

It depends on two criteria.

One: Do you have permission to email?

Permission takes what would otherwise be a disruptive, unwelcome marketing technique, and makes it welcome. The only difference is that instead of the prospect actively reaching out to your website, they’ve asked you to send them information. They’re still coming to you – you’ve just made it more convenient for them. Continue reading

Inbound marketing vs. traditional advertising

I received this email a couple of days ago:

Hi Mr. Rossie,

I’m a grad student and I’m doing some research. Can I have your opinion?

1. Which type of advertising TV or Internet – is best at influencing consumer buying behavior?
2. Is there a difference in the motivational factors between TV and Internet advertising?

Thanks!

My first thought was: Why the emphasis on advertising? Why not inbound marketing? So I replied:  Continue reading

11 business reasons to try Twitter

Twitter isn’t for everyone. But maybe it’s for you, and you just don’t know it yet.

Twitter isn't for everyone, but it may be for you

Twitter inspires love and hate

It may be hard to see what value you can get from 140 characters competing in a sea of incomprehensible tweets such as “RT @SuperBlogDude, yo!” and yawners like “I’m at Denny’s.” I was just as skeptical, not that long ago.

If you’re looking for a shortcut to sales, Twitter isn’t it (though there are exceptions). But I now swear by it.

Mirroring my own experience, here’s why you may want to keep your mind open to Twitter.

1. It’s a great platform for customer service. A couple of years ago, I was ambivalent about Twitter. Then I read a case study about a company few people knew about. Zappos, an online shoe seller, had racked up a billion dollars in annual sales. They had created a reputation – among people who buy lots of shoes – for service that surpassed even Nordstrom. Zappos’ main brand-building tool: Twitter. They used Twitter mainly for customer service. It helped them be so responsive and so transparent, they created a business case that will be studied for years.

The Zappos case proves there’s more to Twitter than you can tell from the 140-character entries.

2. It opens up an entire new world of information. I wanted to learn about newer marketing techniques. Twitter was like getting a college degree on an accelerated schedule. It helped me identify experts in the field, follow them, and get quick notification of their newest blog posts. I learned what they are talking about and doing, and where to turn for answers.

On Twitter, you can find fresh, leading-edge information, often from unusual yet authoritative sources.

3. Twitter tears down physical barriers to meeting people. In my old life as an ad agency creative, I met and worked with some impressive individuals. But it took years to build up my Rolodex. (You kids under 30, look that up.) With Twitter, I connected and interacted with leaders in digital/social and social marketing in a matter of weeks.

I now communicate regularly with smart folks on every continent. Ideas know no boundaries. Business opportunities know very few.

4. Meet people locally. An unexpected benefit, to me, is how many people I’ve connected with right here in my own town, Spokane. Pretty valuable to someone who hasn’t lived here all that long.

Combine Twitter with your in-person networking strategy. Locate people locally, engage them, and create strategic relationships.

5. Twitter gently encourages you to take positive business action. I’ve never been the world’s best self-starter, but Twitter has made me better. Twitter forces you to prove your worth. You’ll have to provide good content yourself – or you can organize and curate other people’s content. You learn to focus and strengthen your message, and how to interact effectively.

The fact that people are just one click away from you and your business encourages you to get your business in order. It shows you how you stack up against competition, locally and globally. There’s no hiding behind your Twitter handle.

6. Twitter helps you research almost anything. Twitter’s search function helps you learn about people, products, companies and more.

You don’t even need a Twitter account to us  Twitter Search. It’s a great resource. It’s especially useful for real-time trends and information. Monitor your competition, or your foreign counterparts.

7. Get quick, candid feedback. Be direct and ask your followers about anything. Or target specific users, whether they follow you or not.

I use Twitter to ask questions to people I want to emulate, do business with, who have specific expertise, or those I just plain admire. Amazingly, they usually answer.

8. Establish credibility and expertise. Respond to comments, especially on your specialty topics. Answer questions. Ask great questions in return. Start conversations. Expand your influence.

Twitter is great for conversation. It’s why they call it “social” media. The 140-character limit imposes discipline, and lets you drive traffic to your site.

9. Promote your promotions. You have a white paper, a video, a free software application, a contest, a great blog post, a limited-time low price? Tweet it. Add a Twitter sharing button to your online communications. See them go viral. If you develop the right community, and offer the right value, Twitter can drive traffic to your website or your storefront.

Twitter is a gateway drug to other social media. It’s a good source of traffic to my blog. And with a Twitter “share button” on my blog, the reverse is true as well.

10. Google likes Twitter. I just Googled my name. The third item comes from my Twitter account. And it’s current.

Twitter is a fast way to improve your search engine rank.

11. There’s no right and wrong way to use Twitter. Twitter is new. It’s simple. Once you’re handy with it – in days – you’ll think of ways to use it that are just right for your business. [Edit to add: Actually, there are some wrong ways to use Twitter, as with anything else. There’s poor etiquette and obnoxious behavior. But that’s another post altogether.]

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Twitter is a tool for letting people know, like and trust you. What you do with it is up to you.

Give twitter a chance to help your business. Even if it’s not your bag, you’ll learn if and where it belongs in your marketing plan.

What are your thoughts, questions, reservations, or personal experiences with Twitter?