Google is not pushing Google+ in order to compete against Facebook. Google has bigger ideas.
Google is pushing Google+ because they want to incorporate social metrics in some future iteration of their page rank algorithm.
Google is not pushing Google+ in order to compete against Facebook. Google has bigger ideas.
Google is pushing Google+ because they want to incorporate social metrics in some future iteration of their page rank algorithm.
I am a ham radio operator (callsign WB7OBG). I keep a radio tuned to a local UHF FM repeater most of the time, and most of us who use it know each other to some extent. Think of it as a little community. We even get together in person about once a month.
Everyone in this little community is an equal. We use our radios and the repeater to converse with each other about a variety of topics, most of which are not even related to ham radio. We all have an equal voice (though the repeater's owner is a 'little more equal' than the rest of us, I suppose).
Contrast this with the local AM or FM broadcast radio station that you probably listen to: The only 'voice' or 'message' is that of the broadcaster.
Unfortunately, there is a tendency by business owners to use social media like AM/FM broadcast instead of 2-way radio. They bast out their marketing message on their blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They never listen for feedback or dialog. They may even have outsourced their entire social media activity to a third party.
Which is a shame. Using social media solely as a broadcast medium reduces it to the level of junk mail. When's the last time you paid attention to a piece of junk mail? This is not to say that you should never mention your latest product or service - it means that it shsouldn't be the majority of your content. You'll never build community and create conversation by talking exclusively about your product.
This is from an excellent website called WhichTestWon.com that performs A/B testing of verious website functions and features. The version on the left used six static images on the home page. The version on the right used a slideshow. The version on the left had a 187% higher click-through rate and increased sales by 75%.
Slideshows are OK if they are used as an 'accent' feature, but if you try to use them to present facets of your sales or marketing message you are probably doing yourself more harm than good. Website viewers are not going to wait around to view the whole thing in hopes that one of the slides resonates with them.
Designers love sliders. but you should engineer your website for revenue.
This morning I needed to call a tow truck for my son's car. I knew the name of the towing company and back in the dark ages I would have looked them up in the phone book. Guess what: I no longer even own a phone book.
Today's answer is to Google them and copy the phone number off the website.
Message: Even if you are a legacy business you need a web presence to at least replace your old phone book entry.
If you are a photography buff and own a Nikon then Nikonians is the place for you - A vibrant community full of the entire range of people from experts to beginners all passionate about their topic and eager to share and talk about it.
All of these communities have one thing in common: They are full of conversation and knowledge. Each time I visit Nikonians I learn so much and come away feeling enriched.
None of these communities are on Facebook.
Pick a topic and try to find a vibrant group on Facebook for it. In fact, there doesn't even seem to be a way to find people who share your interests. And even if you could find them and 'friend' them, most of their Facebook posts will have nothing to do with your specific shared interest. Facebook used to have a Discussions tab you could add to a page. That function was removed a long time ago. In fact, Facebook is devoid of the structure necessary for people to gather around a common interest and focus on it.
Perhaps this is why so many people feel that Facebook is a waste of time.
The message here for small business owners is that you need to think carefully about what you are trying to accomplish with social media. Sometimes Facebook is the perfect tool. Sometimes it is not.
That's right. As of Wordpress 3.2 IE6 will no longer be supported. I think that is a bad move. I know of some very large corporations for whom IE6 is the one-and-only standard. I fear this may cause a lot of trouble.
If you've been around me for a while you know that I am a proponent of using Buyer Personas as an integral part of your marketing.
Ask your customers, "Why did you buy our product/service?" Why did you choose it instead of our competitors'? Equally important, ask "Why didn't you buy our product" of the ones that got away.
And so here we have Aston Martin, preferred supplier to Her Majesty's Secret Service. Builder of some of the fastest, most powerful, most gorgeous automobiles on the planet. And they're making an econobox.
Not just any econobox, mind you: It's a rebadged Toyota at twice the price.
Do you think the people who chose not to by an Aston Martin told them, "I was really looking for something slow, ugly, and overpriced instead of gorgeous and fast."?
If you have been around me for any length of time then you know that I am a strong proponent of developing Buyer Personas to help you reach the right people at the right time with the right message. Much of what I advocate and practice has been learned from Adele Revella.
Here's your chance to get 30 minutes of free consulting from the preeminent thought-leader and practitioner of buyer personas.
A few weeks ago we evaluated several wordpress mobile plugins and Wp-Touch Pro edged out the competition. We've been playing with it for several weeks and we were about to go live with it on a client's site.
WP-Touch Pro couldn't be activated.Stymied, I went to their support site and saw that it was dark.
Here is a company that obviously has other higher priorities than its customers.
A recent post on Everything Typepad informs us that TypePad's Widget Gallery has been pulled down.
I know I'm not alone when I wonder if we're seeing the decline of TypePad. Turnaround time on help tickets now seems to be about 72 hours. It's been nearly two weeks since I sent my email to TypePad's new GM and I've not received a response - a world of difference since the days when a comment on Twitter would prompt Anil Dash to call me on the phone.
The other day I made a foray into TypePad's Advanced Templates to see if we could use them to solve a specific customer's problem. While the documentation for Advanced Templates was never great, almost all of it has been removed. Advanced templates are now pretty worthless.
All this leads me to worry that TypePad's best days are behind them.
Douglas Rushkoff posted an interesting article a couple of days ago predicting that Facebok's days are numbered. It's an interesting article and worth reading.
While it's inevitable that Facebook will fade eventually, I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future.
MySpace, AOL, et all declined because (1) they failed to continue to innovate as an earlier commenter pointed out, and (2) there was 'something better' for users to migrate to.
I don't see the 'something better' on the event horizon. And my sense is that the innovation continues. My opinion? FB has plans for all those 'Like' buttons we're putting on everything and those plans mean that if anyone should be worried about a decline it's Google.
A central Pennsylvania technical college is blocking access to all social media sites for a week.
I'd say that someone doesn't get it. Social media isn't just an alternative form of entertainment. It is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate, ask and answer questions, and make decisions.
Social Media is a tool.
Here's an example. I wanted a new dishwasher (I don't understand why appliance manufacturers make automatic diswashers that require you to wash the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher, but's that's another rant for a different time.)
As a foodie, I went to the forums where my fellow fodies hang out and discuss all manner of foodie topics including kitchen appliances. After some online conversation, I came away with the make and model of dishwasher I wanted to buy (Bosch Integra 800). Next I went to the Bosch website to find the local appliance dealers who carried it. FInally I went to Yelp to read the reviews of those dealers and pick the dealer I wanted to work with.
Thanks to social media, the entire pre-sales conversation at the appliance dealer consisted of "I want to by a Bosch Integra 800".
Blocking access to social media is not like unplugging the TV. It's more like chaining the campus library's doors shut.
Isn't it ironic that the two biggest names in social media are so disengaged from their customers?
I woke of this morning to discover that Facebook had suddenly changed the rules for Fan pages. (It appears that they've now changed it back. Perhaps the smell of tar and feathers was too much for them.)
A few weeks ago portions of a valuable Twitter application I use suddenly stopped working. Twitter had changed the rules without warning.
I and many of my colleagues spend countless hours evangelizing about how to effectively use social media - pull your customers into the processes of developing your roadmap, involving them in your problem-solving. In general being open with your customers.
Yet two of the biggest names in social media are so imperious.
It's a ridiculous comparison and it's meant to me. The two are designed for two completely different types of people and two completely different types of driving.
Mashable doesn't seem to see the distinction. Last week they did a 'WordPress vs TypePad' poll, and it's just as ridiculous as the 'Convertible vs Pickup' comparison - the two are designed for two completely different types of people.
WordPress' template system is simpler and easier to understand. If you need to heavily customize your blog then you are probably better off with WordPress (Having said that, I customize every client's TypePad blog and so so with only a few CSS changes. I never modify the templates themselves).
The big issue is this: Do you have the technical ability to host your blog, and understand all the maintenance issues that go along with it? New Wordpress versions seem to appear every month. Yes, WordPress has made the upgrade process easy, but is your theme compatible with the new version? Are your plugins compatible? What if they are not? Are you prepared to handle it if something goes wrong?
My clients are business owners. Their business is running their business, not running their blog. For most of them, TypePad is a better choice.
A few days ago, my friend Mark Roberts wrote a great blog post about smores (Social Media Whores). From his comments to me this morning it's obvious that he stirred up something. It's a topic I feel strongly about so I want to elaborate:
You may know how to use a hammer, level, and saw but that does not mean you know how to design and build a house.
The Telephone is not a Marketing Strategy. It's a Tool.
When I started this business - way back before the term 'social media' became popular - a business owner could start a blog almost anywhere, write anything anytime to anyone and he would likely get noticed. Maybe even end up on the front page of the NY Times. Businesses that blogged were that rare.
It's different today. Technorati's 2008 State of the Blogosphere says that one million new blog posts are being created every day. "If you write it they will come" doesn't work any more.
As another friend and colleague Dave Cooke says, you must start with a strategy. Who are your clients? What does your perfect client look like? What are the problems you solve for them? What are their reasons for not buying from you now?
For example, in my Twitter webinars we talk about using Twitter as a branding tool, but if you don't know what you want to be known for then you've got the cart before the horse.
There are a lot of consultants and 'experts' who only want to talk about the tools. Why? Because tools are cool. Particularly bright shiny new tools. Several months ago I mentioned to one of these smores that I was planning to offer webinars. He immediately replied that I should use XXXXXX for that. Why did he recommend XXXXXX? Because it was new and it was what he was currently fixated on. A quick review of XXXXX revealed that it did not fit the needs of my business. It wasn't even close.
Don't focus on the tools. Focus on the business.
Mark Roberts has some great recommendations for steering clear of smores. I'll add my own:
Look for someone who starts with, "Tell me about your business". Questions like "What's your target market?", "Who's your perfect client?" and "What problems do you solve for your clients" tend to indicate that you are taking so someone who understands business and marketing, not just the tools.
When you engage us to create a blog for you, we spend over half of the entire engagement focused on issues like these. We help our clients answer these questions. The results is not just a better social media strategy, but a better business strategy as well.
An 'old media' guy said that.
He's viewing social media through a traditional TV/Radio Advertising lens instead of a Networking/Relationship lens.
I can attribute more than half of my business to referrals from people I am actively engaged with in social media.
Social Media is nothing more than building, nurturing, and maintaining relationships.
That same old media guy can probably rattle off lots of business he's gotten from building relationships at places like Chamber of Commerce mixers and other networking events. Social Media is the same activity, just in a different medium using different tools.
The most important word in social media is social. It's about real people, real relationships, and real conversation.
No, I'm not picking on Wordpress. I just want to point out that you have important things to do. Running your business is one of them. Keeping your blog's software up-to-date to insure that the latest security holes have been plugged should not have to be one of them.
The other day, I woke up to see this:Upgrading Wordpress page:
So when people ask me why I recommend Typepad, This Is Why. Or at least one of the reasons why.
If you have a TypePad site all this stuff is taken care of for you.
I just got off the phone with a woman who has a Typepad blog and needs a couple of things added to her sidebar. What's the big deal, you ask?
The big deal is that whoever originally created her blog used Typepad's Advanced Templates. There is nothing wrong with Typepad's advanced templates per se. They work wonderfully. They provide the designer with complete freedom to do anything.
The problem is that when you go to Advanced Templates you give up all control over your sidebar content. In this case, she wanted to add a 'Follow Me On Twitter' badge to the sidebar. If you've switched your blog to advanced templates then you must modify the HTML in the actual sidebar template module - not something your average non-geeky business owner can do.
My business philosophy is to empower my clients, not hold them hostage. I want my clients to be able to maintain as much of their own blog as possible. While I offer to maintain clients' blog for a nominal monthly charge and make these kinds of changes for them, I don't want them to be forced into that.
When my client wants something done that requires advanced templates I always tell them what the cost will be in terms of the flexibility they will be giving up. Invariably they make the right choice.
Frankly, setting up a client's Typepad blog in Advanced Templates without a compelling reason is IMHO professional malpractice. It is not operating with the best interest of your client in mind.
I'm not talking about automobile accidents.
I'm talking about the guy who shows up at your regular networking venue for the first time and you exchange business cards. You never see him again. Except suddenly you are receiving his newsletter.
When are these people going to learn the value of permission-based marketing?
I just read this post on Ted Dziuba's blog entitled "Corporate Blogs, It's the PageRank, Stupid!"
My first clue was that Ted does not have comments enabled - trackbacks either. Perhaps he doesn't understand that a blog - corporate or otherwise - is about conversation, relationships, and learning from your market.
Dell Computer is the counter-example that immediately comes to mind, folowed by many others. Remember "Dell Hell"? Dell's stock price had tumbled. Del's igniting laptop made the New York Times. Del's support reputation was mud.
Dell started their blog - accepting comments and all. And Dell listened to those comments.
Dell understood that. I understand that. Who says corporations can't have tribes? Who says that blogs are not effective tools for corporations to connect with their tribes?
If a consultant tells you that corporate blogs are only for Google Juice, fire that consultant.
Yesterday while out for a walk I had a flashback: It was the early seventies and I was in college. I was hanging out in a popular drinking establishment across the street from the university. Across from me sat one of my few non-geek friends. As might be expected from a couple of testosterone-poisoned young males, the conversation eventually turned to the subject of sex. I still remember my friend sitting there - beer in hand - saying, “Hey man, sex is a great way to meet interesting people!”.
And because social media is also a great way to meet interesting people, at that moment it occurred to me that in some ways, social media is the new sex. By that, I mean that some of the same behaviors are present:
You know the type: each encounter is just another notch on his belt. The only thing that is important is the number of women he’s had. Just keeping score. (I’ve met a few females with the same attitude.)
They’re in social media too. These are the ones who smugly talk about the number of LinkedIn connections or Twitter followers they have. Just keeping score. Life is a game to see how many followers they can add each day. These are the ones who collect everybody’s business card at networking events and then promptly go home and enter them into LinkedIn. These are the ones who will follow anyone on Twitter who can fog a mirror with the hope that some of them will follow back.
Ms Casual Sex
These are the ones who use sex to fill an empty space in their lives. It feels good. And for as long as it lasts they experience a taste of the intimacy and connectedness that is at the very core of a real relationship.
Yes, they’re in social media too. They are the ones who’ll do anything for an @reply. Give them an @reply or two and they don’t need meaningful conversation. In fact, try to engage in an actual deep conversation with one of these and they start backing away fast.
At a recent Social Media Club meeting, my friend Brian Shaler made the comment that his main use of social media is to find and build great offline relationships. And that’s the crux of it.
It’s all about relationships.
Yes: use social media to build awareness of your brand. Yes: use social media to grow your business. But don’t stop there. Forge meaningful relationships. Use social media to nurture and maintain the meaningful relationships you already have. That’s when it starts to get rewarding.
Years ago I heard someone predict that the Internet would cause us to become much more impersonal and isolated. The opposite is true. Social media allows us to become more closely connected to our friends - if we work at it. And it makes it easy to make new friends without waking up in the morning needing a penicillin shot.
Hmmmmmm. Maybe there’s another blog post: What part of social media is like a social disease?
Small Business Owners: Consider what you are facing. Not "the worst economy since the Great Depression." Not "the worst unemployment rate in 26 years."
You have before you an opportunity that may occur only once in your lifetime.
The playing field has suddenly been leveled. Money has been neutralized as a weapon. Last year the 800-pound gorilla in your market had a million-dollar advertising budget and three marketing people, and he beat you up mercilessly with them. He doesn't have them any more. Now it's just you against him. Mano a mano.
And he's coming to this battle at a disadvantage. He's still in the mindset of playing by the old rules. You have a new tool available to you: Social Media. It allows you to build your brand and spread your word globally for almost no money. Social media allows you to accomplish what big companies with millions of advertising dollars cannot do.
Yes, It takes time and energy to successfully leverage social media, but a ton of time and energy is a lot easier to come by than a ton of money.
The playing field has been leveled. Seize the advantage.
Google Reader and Google Blog Search appear to no longer be on speaking terms.
If I click on "Subscribe to a blog search feed for _______ in Google Reader" at the bottom of the Search Results page, it responds with "Google Blog Search: has no items."
Or if I right-click on the "RSS" link in the left sidebar of the Google Blog Search Results page, select 'Copy Link' from the menu and then attempt to add the feed to Google Reader manually, I get "No feed available for ________________"
It's pretty pathetic with Google Reader doesn't like the feed URLs provided by Google Blog Search.
We all know examples of companies that are tuned in and companies that are tuned out. A few months ago I pointed out how tuned out Delta airlines is even though they have a pretty active blog.
I have another example of a tuned-out company: Williams-Sonoma. A couple of weeks ago, I blogged on my foodie blog about a bad experience I had at the Williams-Sonoma store. Since then no less that five other people from around the country have left comments about their similar experiences.
A truly tuned-in company would be monitoring the blogosphere and almost immediately be alerted to any mention of it's name, url, etc. This capability is not just for the big boys. Anyone can set up the same thing for free using a few search engines, Google Alerts, and RSS. A truly tuned-in company would have tried to contact me to ameliorate the problem, particularly since it appears their customer-service problem is widespread.
DId I hear from Williams-Sonoma? Nope. Tuned Out.
Let me emphasize this: This is how little companies can eat a big company's lunch.
It costs nothing to set up a good reputation monitor except a little time. It takes only a few minutes per week to use it. When you find someone who has said nice things about you, thank them. When you find someone who has had a bad experience, here is your chance to fix it - and even turn the situation around - before any real damage is done. With a little effort, you can even turn that disgruntled customer into a raving enthusiastic fan.
Remember the Chrysler TC? It was supposed to be Chrysler's image-building flagship. Lee Iococca had it built in Milan, Italy and tried to convince us it was a Maserati. Savvy American consumers were not fooled: Underneath the Italian leather and nice wheels it was just the same old K-car - a Chrysler LeBaron with a thirty-thousand dollar price tag.
So it is with a lot of businesses these days. Only instead of some fancy Italian leather or expensive wheels, they put up a blog. By doing so, and spouting a few social media buzzwords, they presume that their reputations will be transformed and the pubic will suddenly see them as honest, open, responsive, and customer-focused companies.
It doesn't work that way. The blogosphere - and people in general - are smarter than that. It doesn't take very many interactions to discover that under all that fancy social media upholstery, it's still the same old company that thinks things would run much smoother if its pesky customers would simply shut up and go away.
My favorite word associated with blogging is 'conversation'. My second favorite word is 'disruption'. That's because for many companies, truly listening to their customers - and then taking action based upon what they hear - is too much of a disruption. It’s easier to keep doing things the way they’ve always done them and ignore the complaints, input - and sometime insults - being hurled over the wall.
Delta Airlines is a perfect example. In a recent blog post, David Meerman Scott wrote about his experience with Delta. They not only ruined his family's vacation, Delta's automated email system then proceeded to make matters worse.
Now you would think that a company of Delta's size that was truly customer-focused would have mechanisms in place to monitor the web to detect anytime its company name is mentioned. I do it. I teach every one of my clients to do it. Heck, some of them even pay me to do it for them. We understand that if you reach out to that unhappy client quickly, you can not only avoid the problem 'going supernova' as Robert Scoble puts it, you can actually turn that unhappy customer into an enthusiastic fan.
Did anyone at Delta reach out to David? Nope. And the number of comments to David's blog post continues to grow with other people adding their own personal horror stories about Delta. (I refrained from adding the story of my own 'adventure' with Delta last fall.) Is it a surprise then that when you type "Delta Airlines" into Google, one of the entries on the first page of results is "DeltaReallySucks.com".
Now it so happens that Delta has recently started a blog. There is a lot of content related to improving Delta’s website and check-in kiosks and such. And the Delta employee bloggers charged with dealing with those topics seem genuinely interested in making them better. In the airline business however, websites and kiosks are just the leather upholstery. When it comes to really listening where it counts - getting passengers and their luggage to their destinations on time - Delta’s blog is no more responsive than its gate agents. Here is a comment on the Delta blog from an unhappy customer:
"In summary, here you have someone who has been loyal to [Delta] for years and years and is being pushed away by what I believe is nothing more than squeezing every penny of profit out of every seat-mile dollar. There is a limit to what you can take for profit, without biting the hand that feeds. In this case, I have been bitten one too many times."
The Delta blogger’s response was:
While I appreciate the direct feedback, I am not in a position to resolve specific customer issues."
Some companies do get it. Hugh MacLeod, a fellow blog strategy consultant recently retained by Microsoft, recently wrote:
"From some of the recent talks I've had with Microsoft, I'm starting to see more and more people internally beginning to believe a simple truth: That if Microsoft wishes to change the world, then changing themselves is also, most definitely, a big part of the equation."
Another company who gets it is Dell. It all started with that famous 'Dell Hell' post on Jeff Jarvis' blog. Dell initially ignored Jeff. The comments started pouring in. Dell suffered an enormous financial disaster. Then Dell started to blog. I remember reading Dell's blog in those early days and you could almost smell the tar and feathers. Much to Dell's credit, they left all the negative stuff up there. Better yet, they listened. And responded. In contrast to Delta's response to an unhappy customer, here is the Dell blogger's response to a recent unhappy customer:
"I'm sorry for the frustration we have caused. I do care and can say there are lots of people working here who feel the same way. I've asked someone from our Customer Service to contact you so that we can work through this situation."
All of us business owners need to heed this lesson. When you start blogging, don't just put fancy Italian leather in the same old car. Be willing to air your dirty laundry. If you've discovered that some aspect of your product or service doesn't perform very well, admit it. Then talk about how you are going to fix it. Then fix it.
If a customer uses your blog to lodge a complaint, don't metaphorically hide in your office. In fact, pray that someone brings you a legitimate complaint. First of all, that means your blog is working and your clients see you as open, honest, and willing to listen. Once that happens you will uncover problems in your business that you never realized you had. And you can fix them. And your customers will love you for it.
Blogging is disruptive. Have the cojones to use that disruption to make your company better. Your customers deserve it. Your Employees deserve it. You deserve it. Be a Dell, not a Delta.
Mass Media and Mass Advertising are dead. I've been saying that for a long time, and here is more proof:
We are so over-saturated with advertising messages that we have become immune. My brand new digital video recorder has a button that allows me to skip ahead by 30 seconds. Why would I possibly want to skip ahead 30 seconds, Hmm?
Add to that the fact that the quality of content has deteriorated while at the same time the viewer's choices have exploded, and you have a train wreck in the making.
Owners of small business know deep down in their guts that the only way to cut through and reach their present and future customers is to:
Yesterday I published Part 1 of this article, which you can find here.
How do you find the time to blog?
A legeitimate question asked by a Rotarian. Part 1 of my two part answer was:
The sad reality is that the average business person won't find time to do even that much. And that's why the average business owner will remain average.
You are probably not average, however. If you were, you wouldn't be reading this. Exceptional busines owners recognize worthwhile activities and find a way to accomplish them.
Blogging can be as easy as writing an email.
Writing an article on your blog is just as simple and easy as writing an email. If you have time to write one extra email each week, then you have time to write a blog post. Don't get all hung up on the words. Just say it. An article on your blog doesn't have to be a novel. In fact blog posts just a few sentences long are great. The give your loyal readers something to do while their report prints out on the office printer or the copying machine is doing its thing. Short is good.
Divide up the work
Your readers love to read the behind-the scenes stuff. You may be the only one in your business that understands the whole thing but I'll bet you've got several people around you that each understand a part of it. Get them to write about it once a month. Then once or twice a month you can write an article providing the high-level picture. Once a month is doable, right?
The really time-consuming part is the driftnet fishing, meaning monitoring the blogosphere. You need to be doing it for three reasons:
Once the driftnet is set up, you can have almost anyone in your company monitoring it for you.
I am a Blog Strategy Consultant and part of what I do is to come up with strategies for helping you deal with the load. Among the services we offer is performing some (or in some cases) all of this work for you.
Blogging should be an integral part of your marketing strategy and it's becoming a more important component every day. Start, even if you have to start small.
I was speaking about blogging to the Scottsdale Airpark Rotary Club today and someone asked, "How does one find time to do this?". It's a fair question. There is an old saying:
To grow your business, you have to work ON your business not IN your business
In general, the average business person does not spend enough time working on things that will build their reputation, exposure and image. They don't spend enough time reaching out and staying connected to their most loyal customers and building relationships with new ones. And this is irrespective of whether or not these activities are done via blogging.
In truth, blogging can consume huge amounts of time, or almost no time at all (If you have time to write one extra email each week then you have time to write a blog post each week). And - crass commercial plug - we are in the business of making blogging as easy for you as possible. Even one blog post helps.
Consider time spent blogging as an investment: If you put a lot in quickly, then it pays off quicky. If you invest more slowly and in smaller amounts, it still pays off: it just takes longer and the payoff isn't as big.
The sad reality is that the average business person won't find time to do even that much. And that's why the average business owner will remain average.
Part 2 of this article can be found here.
Greg, Amy, and the rest of the gang at Your Guide to Green are not only my clients they are genuinly nice people. Their online store offers a wide variety of hand-picked environmentally-conscious items. If you are looking for green gift this Christmas please check them out:
I've lost track of the number of times I've woken up the morning after a networking event to find half a dozen new unsolicited newsletters in my inbox. Handing someone my business card does not - in my mind - constitute my permission to add me to their newsletter mailing list.
I publish a newsletter - and I have vowed that starting next month I'll publish it on a regular schedule. I may even ask you if I can put you on the mailing list. I won't do so just because we met once at a networking event.
Seth Goden talks about Permission Marketing: Getting your permission to martket to you. I am a firm believer in that.
Blogs are permission marketing. You are reading my blog or it's RSS feed because you want to, not because I've decided it is time to remind you that I exist. Furthermore, you are reading my blog at a time and place that is convienient for you.
While I view email as an interruption, I realize that you may not. Some people like email a lot, and for those people, I've made it easy to subscribe to this blog via emal.
I've also noticed that there is almost no overlap between my blog's RSS readership and my newsletter readership, so I am reluctant to drop the newsletter at this point.
So I'm keeping my newsletter for the time being, but I won't subscribe you to it without your permission.
Dave Cooke has a terrific post on his blog about getting feedback from your customers. Dave said:
Why don't people talk to their customers more about their general businesses issues, best-in-class service offerings, and things that they wish they were getting from their suppliers that they are not?
Dave, you've just described one of the most useful aspects of blogging. A blog can provide all that and more. In ClueTrain we learned that Markets are Conversations.
Hugh MacLeod has explained it as well as anyone I know. To paraphrase: Everything inside the outer circle 'Y' is your market. Area 'B' is the external conversation going on in the world about you and your products/services.
The smaller, inner circle 'X' representes your company. Area 'A' is the internal conversation going on within your company about your products/services.
More often that not, the internal conversation and the external conversation bear little resemblance to each other. For example, you think your product is wonderful; The rest of the world thinks it has a fatal flaw. That circle 'X' acts as a membrane keeping the two conversations separate.
You gotta blow holes in that membrane. In Hugh-speak, you must make that membrane porous. If the world thinks your product has a fatal flaw you need to know it. To hide your head in the sand is suicide. Quite frankly, if you are avoiding this conversation because you are afraid of what you might hear then you are committing professional malpractice. Your customers deserve better, your employees deserve better, and you deserve better.
Nothing blows holes in that membrane better than blogging.
Did that last survey reveal a problem? Get on your blog and admit it! Talk about the problem and what you are going to do about it. WIthin reason, air the dirty laundry. You'll be surprised at the benefits. Once you open up about your fallabilities, your loyal customers will confide in you and you will learn all sorts of things you dind't know before.
Not only that, if people are thinking bad things about your company or product, then they are probably saying those same things on a blog somewhere. Set up some search-driven RSS feeds (your 'Driftnet') and find out what other people are saying.
This isn't rocket science. It's easy. It's inexpensive. Yes, it takes a little time, but not much. and it's worth it.
There's an interesting conversation going on in the blogosphere. The most prominent is Guy Kawasaki's The Top Ten Reasons Why PR Doesn't Work post.
Mike Manuel at Media Guerilla has this to say:
"Personally, I have no retort, no counterpoints, no defense, and no qualm, just a suggestion really for those that believe this: go try advertising."
Advertising doesn't work either, and I can prove it: Do you subscribe to the daily newspaper? if so, with out looking tell me what was the advertiser in the full-page ad on page 3 (probably the most expensive real-estate in the entire paper).
We are already so over-saturating with mass advertising messages that we have become immune to them.