5 Secrets To Starting An Influencer Relations Program

Let’s face it!  We all want to be associated with people who are influential.  One of the best things that can happen for sales is to have an Industry Influencer speak, blog or Tweet positive comments about your product and/or service.  Having this third party endorsement from an independent Thought Leader can be gold.  So, how do you go about creating an environment that can foster organic Influencer commentary?  It is not as difficult as you think.  Here are five simple steps to take to get started:

HA MacLean Image

HA MacLean Image

#1 Have a good product/service – The first step should not be a surprise.  You need a product or service that is top-notch.  For an Industry Influencer to promote something it can’t just be good, it has to be great!  Focus on being great!

#2 Delight Your Customers You need to make your customers happy.  Delight your customers.  Delighted customers talk – as do unhappy customers. As momentum builds, Industry Influencers interest will be piqued!

#3 Identify Your Influencers – Think about the people in your industry who are of interest to you.  Who inspires you?  What books are you reading?  What blogs do you follow?  Who would you like to emulate and/or be your mentor?  Chances are, these people are your Industry Influencers.

Build a list of these individuals and build a database for easy tracking and future reporting purposes.

#4 Follow them, but don’t stock them – Follow your Industry Influencers in all their social channels.  Some information maybe the same, but since each channel can be used differently, following in all could expose you to different content and through engagement you could meet different people, thus expanding your network.

That being said, just because you follow an Industry Influencer does not mean that you are best buds.  It takes time to build a relationship, particularly online.  To help build that relationship, comment on the Influencer’s blog, ask thoughtful questions and offer additional insight.  Over time you will build a relationship.

#5 Determine Your Objectives & Execute – Once you have gone through steps 1 through 4, you then need to determine what you wish to accomplish through having an Influencer Program. To help keep you focused, avoid the 5 Myths About Influencer Relationships and align your objectives to your top three business KPIs and start to execute.  Just remember Rome wasn’t build over night.

(A version of this post previously appeared on a salesforce blog)

5 Myths About Influencer Relationships

Influencer Programs have been the buzz for some time and when programs are done well, there can be great business success. The key however, is getting it right. Here are 5 myths that could be hurting your bottom line:

HA MacLean Photo

HA MacLean Photo

There are many opinions on Influencer Programs and more than one definition of an influencer.  In my opinion, Michael Brito’s definition works well:

“Influencers tend to have a wide reach due to their large social networks, and need to try and maintain independence and offer unbiased opinions as they tend to be category bloggers, journalists, etc.”  This definition and more can be found in Michael’s book: Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Enterprise Social Media.

Understanding and getting consensus from management on the definition and role of Influencers in your program is key.

Myth No. 2 – Influencers = Advocates

While both are good and have a role to play, they are different.  Advocates are more likely to be customers or employees.  They have some sort tie to your organization.

Influencers, independent persons, who speak positively about your product or service, can be invaluable.  The positive endorsement happens because the person believes in the product, service or company, despite not being officially affiliated.

Myth No. 3 – All you need are Influencers

Influencer Programs should never be considered in isolation.  They should be part of a larger integrated marketing plan that supports top of the funnel awareness.

Myth No. 4 – Audience = Influence

When defining your Program and identifying Influencers, be judicial in your selection process.  The number of followers or fans that someone has doesn’t necessarily reflect Influence.  Remember that many people “buy” followers.  Be prepared to review your Influencers.  How often to do they share or comment in social? Who is in their networks? Do they interact with their networks?

Myth No. 5 It’s a One Way Street

Influencer Programs should be about building relationships. Learn about your Influencers and build an authentic relationships.  Be prepared to promote and share their content and expertise.  The more you learn about the Influencer the more he or she will be interested in learning about you, your brand and what you stand for.

This is my take on Influencers.  What is your take?

(A version of this post originally appeared on the salesforce blog.)

8 Simple Ways to Cut Customer Service Costs (Hint: Use Pinterest)

Simplicity.  We all want simplicity, right?  As customers we want simplicity when we have an issue.  We want to contact customer service at the time it is convenient for us.  We want to connect with customer service using the channel of our choice.  After all, we are the customer.  As business owners and managers, we want efficiency.  We want to cut costs through reduced call time, first call resolution, etc.  Ironically, there is an easy way to meet the expectations of both customers and businesses: use Pinterest.  Not sure how to do that, read on to learn 8 Simple Ways to Use Pinterest for Customer Service.Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 8.56.29 AM

Pinterest continues to be popular and contrary to popular belief, Pinterest is not just for women.  In fact, when a businesses uses Pinterest properly they have access to a very powerful tool.  Depending on what research you use, we know that at least 65% of the population are visual learners.  So, as managers, let’s leverage Pinterest to reduce costs while also meeting (or exceeding) customer expectations.

1.  FAQ Boards

What are the questions asked most frequently by customers?  Every business has a list.  Sometimes it is available on the website, sometimes not.  While this is good, many websites have become labyrinths to navigate.  Why not make it easy and have a Board for “just” FAQs on your Pinterest Page?

2.  How-To Boards

As businesses move away from printing user manuals and/or how-to guides, create a board specifically for your visual representations of your products.  The visual aspect will always be appreciated.

3.  Special Offers or Sales

There are two great opportunities with this type of board.  Customers are rewarded for visiting your Pinterest page and will be able to see special offers and or sales at any given time with great visuals.

Additionally, businesses that use the merchant version of Pinterest can make use of the automatic alerts for specials and price changes that go direct to those following your boards.

4.  Customer Board

Creating a customer board can showcase how your customers are using your products.  Such boards not only give your customers new ideas, but they act as testimonials of your product at the same time.  Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 8.57.21 AM

5.  Contests

Another way to reward customers who focus on your Pinterest page, is to have contests that originate on Pinterest.  This is a great way to inform and educate customers about all the great content and resources available for them.  Giving them a great one-spot source will ensure that they visit your Pinterest page frequently.

6. Customer Insights

Want to really learn about your customers and the things that are interesting to them? Take a look at their boards.  Use this information to build better boards for them to use on your page.

7.  Collaboration Tool

Want to really impress your customers and show that you are listening and want their input to improve customer service.  Create a collaboration board.  Invite your customers to pin ideas, information and issues directly.  The key of course is to monitor and act in a timely fashion.

8.  Product Reviews

Want to really demonstrate your confidence in both your product and your customer service?  Have a product review board.  Let your customers share their experience. Not only will you learn new insights, but you will build trust and create ambassadors for your product.  Product reviews occur outside your marketing channels, but when you create an environment inside your environment, you demonstrate confidence, openness and the willingness to listen to others.

These are some simple ways to cut your customer service costs, while increasing communication with your customers and reaching out to them in the channel they prefer.  What are your thoughts.  Have you tried Pinterest?

10 Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Jerk When Using Email

We all know people who would rather email than pick up the phone or even walk down the hall to talk to someone.  Heck, if I am being honest, I have even done that.  Sometimes it is done through laziness other times it could be to CYA.  C’est la vie, right?  For the most part, yes; however, there are times that the answer is no.  So, here are 10 ways to avoid looking like a complete jerk when using email:

Image courtesy of www.bubblews.com -

Image courtesy of www.bubblews.com –

10.  Use “Reply All” Judiciously

Not every email needs to have everyone on the distribution list or even an entire string.  It is good etiquette to acknowledge that some information is for information only.  On top of that, it is good practice to acknowledge that email is moving to a smaller distribution list who can and will and act on the issue(s).  When more information is ready, the entire group will be added back to the email distribution.   Being up front and transparent about actions is important.

9.   Understand the “To” and “CC” Fields

Think about who needs what information and when.  For example, many people don’t realize that when sending an email and using the “To” section, you are actually looking for feedback or input from that person or persons.  Using the “CC” section is to ensure that you are providing information to people so that they are in the know, but not necessarily for response.

If you are CC’ed on a message you do not need to respond if you don’t have something to add or contribute.  People often feel that they need to respond to all email even when  CC’ed.  The fact is,  you don’t.

8.   Double Check Spelling and Grammar

To err is human and everyone makes mistakes from time to time in what they write and heck even in speech.  Despite this, mitigate the damage and do good proof read.

7.  Work to Keep Email Short

Ever receive an email and see paragraph after paragraph and think…”Do I really have to read all of this?”  Sure you have.  If you feel this way, think about others and avoid having your audience dread your email.  If you are about to recite War and Peace, it might be better to call a meeting.

6.  Format Email

Make it easy for readers.  Don’t blend all content in one long paragraph.  Break it up with spaces, bullets, etc.

5.  Have a Large Attachment to Send?  Ask first

Some organizations restrict the size of incoming email.  It is best to ask in advance if there could be an issue and/or if they would prefer to receive the information via another medium.

4.  Know When Not to Use Email

If your email could be perceived as alarming, punishing or angry, it would be best to pursue other communication channels.  For example, ask yourself if it would be better to meet in person to help put the issue in context and to be able to answer questions/concerns immediately.

3.  Avoid Using All Caps

I am surprised that some people still don’t know that using all caps is the equivalent to yelling at someone, but it would appear that this is the case.  In a few instances when people have sent me an email with sentences written entirely in caps, I called to ask what I had done to cause the person to yell.  The person who sent the email was completely surprised that I took it that way and was only intending to draw more attention to a particular sentence.

2.  Know When to BCC Others and Use Caution

When sending out a mass email to people it is best to BCC the entire distribution list.  This helps  protect people from unwanted return emails or in some cases, protects privacy.

Where it becomes really tricky is when a person responds to someone and BCCs others in order to make the another person look back or to CYA.  It only takes one “Respond to All” by the person who was BCCed or a conversation to realize that there is a trust issue at hand.

1. Respect People

It goes without saying that you should not put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want a third-party to read.  That being said there are some expectations by the sender  that the receiver will not respond and include others in the email, except in certain circumstances:

Some acceptable times to include others in an email distribution that they were not originally cc’ed on include:

  • You have changed jobs and the person sending the email is looking for assistance based on your old role
  • A person is looking for help or advice in a particular area and as a result sent an email asking if you know of someone who could assist
  • The originator of the email is looking for contact information for another party.

These are three examples where cc’ing another party is completely acceptable.  In each case, the person responding would include the third-party and offer an explanation and/or introduction.

Some examples of when it is not acceptable and makes you look kinda like a jerk include:

  • A person in authority sends an email looking for information and you respond sending the information, but include others.  In this case you should let the person in authority determine if and when another will get the information.  There could be a very good reason that the person was not included in the original email.
  • A colleague sends an email and either has inaccurate information or missing information and you respond correcting the person and cc their boss.
  • The sender of the email has or is looking for information from you and in your response you cc the entire department and/or management.

In all these cases, the person who responds and adds others to the email really comes across as trying to make the other person look bad.

What has been your experience with email?  Have any items to add to this list?  Disagree with any?  We would love to hear from you.

How Eating Haggis Makes You A Great Lover, Scholar and Business Person

You have heard Mike Myers say, “If it isn’t Scottish, it is CRAP!”  And on top of that, Arthur Herman wrote and entire book:  “How the Scots Created the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It.”  So, what is it about this great nation that enabled us to enjoy the things that we do.  Well, it all comes down to the Haggis. Think about it.  No one else was eating it, but the Scots.  It contained all the nutrients and food value to get you through the cold and damp weather.  So, yes, I believe that Haggis can make you a great lover, scholar and business person.

Image courtesy of thefabulousreport.com

Image courtesy of thefabulousreport.com

Aye…don’t be so squeamish!  If you haven’t tried Haggis, you honestly don’t have any idea what it tastes like.  Therefore, before deciding you think it is gross, I ask you the following question:

Have you ever had:

  • calves liver?
  • headcheese?
  • sweetbreads?
  • foie gras?
  • escargot?
  • lobster?

The items on this list are sought out by many who either believe that they are the best tasting morsels anywhere and/or true delicacies.  I have tried everything on this list and I have to say that haggis tastes better than a lot of them.  Yup!  Haggis tastes BETTER!

If you have tried these foods, then get off ye high horse and acknowledge the fact that many are actually kinda more gross than what people perceive Haggis to be.

The Scots are a hearty lot that have preserved and prospered.  This means that their population has not only continued to grow in Scotland, but the Scots have invaded the world.  Even with the Highland Clearances, our lot has thrived.  Thus, they must be great lovers.

The Scots invented the modern world bringing advances to education, healthcare, transportation and much more.  These have all lead to business advancements and new inventions.  Thus, the Scots are great scholars and business people.  Don’t believe it?  Give Arthur Herman’s book a read.

So, you will excuse me now while I go make an order for some Haggis. I seem to have an hankering for a wee dram and some good ole Haggis.  Yum! And, oh yes I would be remiss if I did not wish you a wonderful Robbie Burns Day!

The #1 Reason You Need to Hire for Experience Versus Inexperience

I have been working with a number of clients lately who are really on the fence about whether they should hire a really experienced, knowledgable person who would be a member of senior management versus hiring someone whom they feel has a lot of energy and therefore could learn quickly.  I have counselled them about the benefits for both.  And, there are benefits for both.  Now, I realize what I am about to say will sound boastful however, it is true that those that took my advice have been benefiting from the results and are pleased.  Curious about what my advice was?  Here is the #1 Reason that you need to need to hire experience.

Image courtesy of studentwire.co.uk

Image courtesy of studentwire.co.uk

Lack of Process and Subject Matter Expertise

If you are lacking processes and subject matter expertise in a particular area, you need to hire someone who has that expertise.  This applies to project management to marketing to engineering.

My clients have a burning platform.  They need to make “something” happen.  Whether that “something” is increased sales, increased brand recognition or helping a failing or compromised project to succeed, you need someone with the experience to analyze the existing environment and provide insight about potential pit falls and road blocks as well as set strategy.  In all cases, these clients are missing this experience.  Some are small organizations.  Some are much larger and established organizations.  They are struggling.  They have tried many solutions, including moving people into different roles and hiring the inexperienced, the so-called energetic people.

When evaluating their situation, I recommended in all cases that they needed the right leadership to take them to the next level.  I also suggest that just because someone has experience does not mean that they don’t have energy.  In fact, I went further to say that if you find the experience also look for passion.  If there is passion, the energy will also be there.

Through the course of the conversation with clients I learned that often times “energy” was code word for someone who can roll his or her sleeves up and actually do the work versus just developing strategy and directing others.  Once I realized that this was the issue, I worked hard to change that misconception.  Yes, there are people who only focus on strategy and managing people, but in this day and age, many leaders realize that they have to be able to roll up their sleeves too.  This is particularly true for start-ups and organizations in flux and/or crisis.

In one particular case I recommended that the client hire an experienced person to help them through the issues and to develop the team.  The client was ready to hire.  Unfortunately the client, in this case, did not listen.  The new hire had no background whatsoever in the discipline for which the individual was hired.  The client was very excited about this new hire.  The exact  words were:  “[insert name] is really excited and full of energy.  We are going to get a lot done.  This is good.”  Fast forward one month and the client called.  You could hear the anxiousness in the tone and cadence of the conversation.  The issue?  The new hire was overwhelmed with the work and while a lot of the of recommendations I had made were implemented, they were NOT seeing the results.  It was now do or die time.  I was asked back to help identify the issues.  I already knew the issues.  While the person was very keen, the individual had no background and was attacking things from the “I have to complete this list of activities that was recommended.”  It was a check list only.  There was zero strategy — zero understanding of the business, the complex culture and zero understanding of change management.

The client was willing to hire me for a week’s worth of work.  I summed up the issues and made a recommendation within one hour.  This time the client listened and hired for experience.  Flash forward one month, the project has seen positive results.  The client’s client is starting to see results and much happier. My client has now recommended me to CEOs he knows.

Key Take-Aways:

  • Think about the end-result. It is not failure to admit that you lack subject matter expertise in an area.
  • Hire for experience, including relationships.  In some cases, projects can be derailed because your project team doesn’t have the cultural knowledge of the organization that you are working with.
  • Experience doesn’t mean that a person cannot roll up his or her sleeves and work side-by-side with the team

What is your take on hiring for experience versus inexperience?  Is it really about energy?  If you want to learn more about hiring for experience, connect with us today.

10 Ways to Avoid Looking Silly on LinkedIn

LinkedIn continues to grow in popularity and is used by more recruiters than any other tool right now.  While you might not be looking for a job, you might want to use LinkedIn to enhance and maintain your personal brand.  But the question is:  where do I start?  Or, I have a profile, but don’t seem to be getting anywhere, what am I doing wrong?  Here are 10 ways to avoid looking silly on LinkedIn:

Image courtesy of swishdesign.com.au

Image courtesy of swishdesign.com.au

10.  Not Completing Your Bio

Be sure to put substance in your profile.  Don’t just list your employer.  Actually give context about “what” you do and “what” you are responsible for. Don’t be afraid to show  some of the professional interests that you have.

9. Talking about Yourself in the Third Person

I have to admit that practitioners find this odd when people do this.  This is your profile.  You own it and maintain it.  I don’t know many people who speak about themselves in the third person when having a normal conversation.  So, the question is, why in the world would you choose to do that with your LinkedIn Profile?  Advice: don’t.  It is that simple.

8.  Not Using Recommendations Correctly

Like connection requests, giving LinkedIn Recommendations should be carefully considered.  Remember, Recommendations are public and visible on your profile as well as the profile of the person for whom you have written the recommendation. Sure you can manage visibility, but why bother giving a recommendation if you aren’t willing for it to be public.   You have to manage and develop your personal brand.  That being said, not giving anyone a recommendation also sends a message and not a good one.

7.  Over Sharing

Depending on your contacts and your network, the level of sharing will vary.  It is important to remember that LinkedIn is not like Twitter or Facebook.  Sharing one or two really good pieces of content/advice a day would be more than appropriate.  I only share a couple of pieces of content per week, but tend to like or comment more on the content shared by others.

In addition, LinkedIn is not the place to share what you had for dinner, where you are going on holidays, etc.  Remember that this is a professional networking site. Keep it professional.

6.  Not Using  Groups Appropriately

Groups are a great source to make connections and learn from others.  It is important to join groups that you have some interest or connection with.  Be sure to contribute to the conversation when you have something to add.  Don’t use it as a source to spam people with your services and/or products.  It is also important to be professional.

5.  Don’t Show Your Birthday

Some practitioners might disagree with me on this one, but this is not Facebook.  Why in the world would you show your birthday on a professional network?  Are you looking for birthday wishes?  Do you really want that level of personal detail available to your entire network, the public and possibly recruiters?

4.  Connecting with People When There is No Obvious Connection

Choosing whom to connect with is something that people should give great consideration.  Different people have different criteria for who they accept when new people reach out to them.  Some for example, will only accept LinkedIn connections from people that they know well and are in their respective industry.

Others, including myself, will accept LinkedIn connections from people in my industry as long as they are connected to other people I know.  I do not connect with individuals whom I don’t know and there is no obvious connection.  I also don’t accept connection requests from people who either don’t have a photo of themselves and/or it is a logo or some other odd image.

3.  Spamming People

One of the greatest pet peeves that I have, and I know that others feel this way too, is having someone ask to connect with me and then when I do, they start spamming me with:

  • Vote for me to win or be recognized for X
  • Endorse me for X
  • Recommend me for X
  • Buy my product and/or service

I did not accept your connection to be bombarded with requests or sales pitches.  If you want to ask a question or have a conversation, that is one thing. The action or reaction you will likely get from me is a disconnection.

2.  Not Having a Professional Photo

Ensure that you actually have a photo for your profile.  You should even go one step further and have a professional photo.  The photo should only be of you and not you and  your significant other and/or a buddy.  This is YOUR professional profile.

1.  Not Being truthful

Remember that this is a public profile and someone will call you out for using a more important title and/or claiming that you had a team of 50 professionals reporting to you when you in fact had no direct reports.

Of course there are other things you should/should not do.  And, if you still have questions, let me know.

Sex, Drugs & Rock n’Roll? How About Smart Technology, Ethics and Privacy?

Sure, sex sells and drugs and rock n’ roll still elicit a raised eye brow from many, but I have a question that is much more important to the masses.  Are we really ready for where smart technology – specifically related to appliances – is taking us?  Do we have the ethical issues identified?  What about privacy policies for vendors, industry ethical standards, laws and regulations?  Have we really thought out the implications and considered the ramifications?

Image courtesy of digitaltrends.com

Image courtesy of digitaltrends.com

It has been less than a week since a refrigerator has been identified as the source of more than 100,000 spam email.  Seriously…yes, a fridge was used to spam people.  It was spam this time, but my point is that someone was able to get control of the computer in the appliance – a fridge that was located in someone’s home or business.  We have been so focused on virus protection and firewalls for our computers, mobile phones and tablets, but what about all this great new technology that is already in our homes and yet to be in our homes – fridges, microwaves, and even diapers – I kid you not diapers.

Technology is emerging so quickly that we just can’t keep up with the implications and ramifications.  Regulators  and legislators are still struggling to catch up with social media and all the issues around privacy that have emerged.  Ethically, we are still working to deal with online bullying and distribution of child pornography as well as what rights employees have to privacy, and the rights of employer  to access to social sites and information of their employees.

This is not to say that all this technology is not great.  Just the opposite actually!  I love technology and the things that it can do for us. Technology has enabled us and empowered us to reach wider audiences and to have a voice.  Prior to social media, individuals didn’t really have this ability…not without a lot of expense and time.  Additionally, I believe that there is some great work being down with Smart Grid technology with a significant focus on protection and privacy.

The issue for me around all of this smart technology in terms of appliances  is really centred on who is the gatekeeper?  Who is helping identify all of the potential land mines that come with having access to so much personal data? Who is ensuring that the right people have the information versus protecting it from the wrong people?  As more and more smart devices enter our homes, there are countless companies that will have access to our activities including food and drink preferences and consumption, brand preferences and by extrapolation spending habits, when and what rooms we use and how, the frequency of cleaning and on and on and on.  In addition, who has the access and power to take control of our devices ( and information) and use it they way they want to use it?  Can our access be cut off?

As we become increasingly dependent or reliant on our technology, how long will it be before we  are rendered incapable of caring for ourselves?   What are we doing as individuals to ensure that we protect our data, our privacy and our ability to think for ourselves?

What are your thoughts on having “smart” devices in your home?  Are you ready to jump in with both feet?

Marketing Advice or Snake Oil: When to Walk Away (or Run)

I have worked in the management consulting/marketing/PR industry for a long time know.  I have seen many trends emerge and die.  I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly.  My colleagues and myself have also shaken our heads more than a few times when self-professed experts or gurus have emerged offering a one-sized solution.  This is the modern-day version of snake oil.  In fact, there are some signs that you need to watch for in order to know when to run away from the expert when he or she recommends the following:

Image owned by TaylorMade Solutions

Image owned by TaylorMade Solutions

Outsource All of Your Marketing

If a consultant recommends that you don’t need a marketing presence within your organization, this should be a red flag. If your business needs to understand and build an audience, have data and research to develop products or solutions, you need a marketing presence internally.  You might not be able to have an entire team based on your size and revenues, but you need at least one person who has the knowledge and real marketing experience to guide your organization.  You need someone who has a vested interested in the long-term success of the business and who thinks about the overall strategy versus just tactics and campaigns.


If either your consultant or your marketing team informs you that it is not necessary to measure your marketing efforts, run!  Yes, run.  While there are many thoughts on how to measure marketing and just what metrics need to be in place, they are absolutely essential.  They key of course is to have a marketing leader who understands the fundamentals of marketing and also how to align those activities to the overall KPIs of the business.  Not connecting the two is a big miss.

Social Media

You Don’t Need To Be In Social Media

If a management consultant advises you that you don’t need to be in social media, first laugh and then run away.  In this day and age, to still hold this belief is like telling a business that they don’t need to answer the telephone when it rings.

The issue at hand with social media is that far too many consultants, including those that specialize in marketing still approach social media as a push tool.  They don’t understand social media and/or the power.

You Need To Have A Presence in ALL Social Channels

If you are told by your marketing team that you need to have a presence in all social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, etc. etc.) you need to evaluate your marketing leadership.  This approach will fail and fail miserably.  This is neither practical, nor strategic

Public/Customer Comments

You Should Turn OFF the Ability for the Public to Comment

If you are going to go this route I would recommend not bothering to venture into the world of social media.  Social media is intended to be social.  Your customers and prospects aren’t interested in push communications.  They want to engage.

You SHOULD Delete All Negative Comments

If you want to create a problem and possibly an online backlash, this would be good advice.  The only reason I would recommend deleting a comment would be if it was containing threats, profanity or a personal attack.  Before deleting any comment you should have a policy in place and publicly shared that outlines the reasons that a comment would be removed.

You Should ALWAYS Respond to Negative Comments

While we might all have the urge to respond to negative comments, stop and think about it first.  Will responding to the comment give the person a bigger audience than he or she already has?  Is this a justified negative comment?  Can you take the conversation offline?

You Should NEVER Respond to Negative Comments

Again you need to apply some logic and common sense.  If you never address the issues at hand, you need to question what your purpose and objectives are for social media.

Regardless of the situation, businesses need a social media playbook to be able to quickly, consistently and accurately navigate social business.  A good social media management consultant will be able to give you the skeleton of such a tool or develop one for you. Your budget will determine whether it is a skeleton or a full-fledged playbook.


If your consultant and/or marketing team tell you that you need a blog, think about this carefully.  The same applies for if you are directed that you should not have a blog.  While blogs are all the rage, do you have a good understanding of content marketing?  Do you understand SEO, how to write a blog headline, or know which platform you should be using?  Do you have the time to do it properly?  If you say no or are not sure, do you have someone leading your marketing team that has this expertise?  If you say no or you don’t know, you need to engage the right person to lead you and your organization through this.

As you can see, there are many indicators that business leaders and owners should look for when getting marketing advice or hiring marketing leadership. It doesn’t need to be a frightening experience, but hiring the right people in the early stages is important.  Hire for experience and knowledge immediately. Hiring resources that you think will learn or gain experience as they go, is not the way to build and protect a brand.  What do you think?  What has been your experience in hiring the right marketing resources?

The #1 Way to Build Your Sales (Hint: Hire A CMO)

Great companies stack their C-suite with the best people they can find to support the CEO and the objectives of the company.  Great companies also realize that in order to build their brand and ultimately sales, they make marketing an integral part of the overall strategy. Entrepreneur.com said it best: many current business battles are marketing battles.  “The CMO owns the marketing strategy–and that often includes the sales strategy–and oversees its implementation. The CMO will know (or learn) your industry inside out and helps you position your product, differentiate it from your competitors’ products, enlist distributors, and make sure customers learn to crave your product….If your business’ success depends on marketing, you need to hire a CMO.”  So, let’s look at #1 way to build your sales:  Hire a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) 

image courtesy of naturallyadvanced.wordpress.com

image courtesy of naturallyadvanced.wordpress.com

Many think that CMOs are for large enterprise organizations.  That thinking couldn’t be farther from the reality of today’s business world.  In fact, leading companies whether start-ups or small and medium businesses have realized that they need to have a CMO on the team as early as possible.  CMOs work with the rest of the C-suite to build the overall corporate strategy and then they lead the execution of that strategy.  CMOs understand how to establish an integrated marketing strategy and look at all pieces of the puzzle.  They look at everything from segmentation to pricing, packaging to audiences/channels, advertising to digital strategies and tactics.  A strategy that doesn’t include all aspects of traditional and digital marketing is a missed opportunity.

Still confused and uncertain?  If so, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have you ever confused your customers or prospects with inconsistent messaging/advertising?  For example, if you are selling a specific lifestyle does all collateral including website, social channels, advertising, wording and imagery reflect that lifestyle?  If not, then you have confused your customers and prospects.
  2. Is your marketing department staffed with great people, but with no real marketing experience?
  3. Are you having to spend more time mentoring and guiding the marketing team to stay on track?
  4. Is your organization shifting gears, but still gravitating to old markets and/or practices that are no longer your core business?
  5. Do you have a burning platform, but don’t have the marketing team to build and/or execute upon an integrated marketing strategy?
  6. Do you desperately need a strategic business plan?
  7. Have you been attacking your marketing at a tactical level hoping that something will “stick”?
  8. Do you have partnerships with third party brands that have stringent branding requirements and implementation?
  9. Do you have a senior marketing strategist/practitioner onboard who can talk the talk with your branding partners?
  10. Have you implemented the tools of the trade or your competitors, but just aren’t seeing results?
  11. Do you need to build your  brand and protect that brand?
  12. Are you marketing and communicating in both traditional and new digital channels?
  13. Do you need to reach the right audiences to sell to?
  14. Do you know what evergreen content is, or even if you need it?
  15. Do you know how to develop and execute inbound marketing?
  16. Do you know what metrics you need to focus on?
image courtesy of contentmarketingup.com

image courtesy of contentmarketingup.com

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you need a CMO.  The second biggest mistake after not hiring a CMO is waiting to hire the CMO.  It is important to note that CMOs are strategic by nature.  Developing a strategy without the CMO should be done only as a last case scenario.  Developing the strategy and then hiring a CMO will likely result in hiring someone who is tactical only. Alternatively you might only attract someone who has experience in the areas identified. An integrated strategy will not exist and some important components may be totally missed.

So, summarizing entrepreneur.com, if your business depends on marketing, don’t wait.  Hire a CMO.