3 Tips on How HGTV’s Timber King’s Conquered the World

In Part 1 of this two part series, I interviewed Bryan Reid Senior, founder of Pioneer Log Homes and learned how passion, people and relationships built this world class business.  In this post, we will learn about Joel Roorda, one of the brilliant craftsmen of Timber Kings and the 3 proven tips on how HGTV’s Timber King’s conquered the world. HGTV Timber Kings Conquered the World

If there is one thing I learned from interviewing Bryan and Joel, its that these guys love what they do.  It all starts with passion.   If that is the only thing that readers take away from these two blog posts, I think that is a great.  However, we can learn some very important things from them to be truly customer-centric.  These guys just aren’t just Timber Kings, they are royalty when it comes to understanding the customer.  So, let’s jump into what I learned from Joel.

1. Listening is An Art Form

There are tons of business books and even courses that tell us that we need to be good listeners to be successful.  Listening is work.  Regardless of what people say, listening is a lot of work.  You need to focus on the individual or individuals, tune everything else out and pay attention.  Listening to Joel, I have a new respect for doing it the right way.  In fact, it is listening with your eyes, as well as your ears.  Here’s what Joel had to say about getting to know his clients:

“I always spend time before each project to learn about the client. It is my personal mission to try to satisfy each client with the style of log home that he or she is dreaming of.  Not only do I ask a lot of questions and really listen to what they are saying about everything, but I pay attention to things like what type of vehicle he or she has drives, what types of clothes they wear, etc.  These details outline the type of person they are and the type of life they live.  These are important details to match the house we build for them, to the dream they have for their house.  Like Bryan said, we aren’t just building houses, we are building dreams.”

After hearing Joel’s approach to getting to know his clients, I can certainly see why the homes he builds are so spectacular and special.  Each home is a piece of art, and as unique as the owner.  No wonder their clients come back over and over again.

2.  Building Relationships is an Extreme Sport

Again, there are tons of blog posts, books and gurus that tell us that we need to build relationships in order to be personally and professionally successful.  What these resources don’t convey however, is that building relationships is more of an extreme sport or a lifestyle.  Here’s how Joel approaches it.

“All my clients have my personal contact info, know me well and can contact me at any time. In fact, most have come to my home, spent time with my family and walked through my home.  They experience my dream of my log home and how I achieved it through hard work.”

The other thing that really impressed me about Joel is that over and above this being a lifestyle for him, you know it is authentic based on how his clients treat him.

“We work in countries all over the world and on every job I have the homeowners giving us gifts and cooking us meals.  On a recent job in Moscow, our billionaire client prepared a traditional meal for me and my crew, and then he gave me a very expensive bottle of Scotch. I truly feel blessed to meet these incredible people and to get to know them and their families.  I feel blessed that we remain great friends and I always have a place to stay, regardless of where I am in the world.”

3.  Achieving Implicit Trust Can’t Be Faked

It struck me when speaking to Joel that he and all of his colleagues are not only expert craftsman, but really, there is a lot more to what they do.  While we didn’t speak of trust specifically, Joel and all of the Timber Kings are experts at achieving implicit trust.

“I love the challenge of the big unconventional and complicated projects that are logistical nightmares. I have built homes all over the world from mountain tops to islands, secluded lots to fly in type resorts.  I truly love my job and it is actually a lifestyle.  I work a lot of long days and last year did a stint of sixty-two days straight.  I don’t need to work this much but, it drives me, and it satisfies me.  It is a great accomplishment to build a complicated home from raw logs that you shape, mould and cut to create a client’s dream home. I do not think I could do anything else, except maybe be a fishing guide for myself and Bryan.”

When you dissect what is being done when building these homes with behemoth logs and complicated structures with weights that would scare us all, it really does come down to implicit trust.  Joel and all the Timber Kings are being trusted with the most precious commodity of all – human life.  They are building dream homes for people – families, young and old.  Maybe this is a little more at the forefront for me after experiencing the winter from hell and looking out at the still present mountains of snow that normally would be long gone by now.  Maybe the recent collapses of roofs on commercial buildings and homes that are no longer safe to live in, is this part of my psyche right now, but regardless, the fact that their customers keep coming back and welcome Joel and his colleagues into their homes and lives is completely indicative of implicit trust.  That can’t be faked!

I sincerely want to thank both Bryan and Joel for taking the time to answer all my questions – it was a true East-West Canada Connection – From New Brunswick to British Columbia.  I can’t wait for the next season of the show to see some more spectacular homes.

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How To Be Customer-Centric Like the HGTV’s Timber Kings

We all talk about customer service and being customer-centric, but few of us really live up to that standard quite like Pioneer Log Homes, also known as HGTV’s Timber Kings.  If you have ever watched the show, you know what I am talking about.  These guys are not only absolutely amazing craftsman and engineers, they are some of the best at being customer-centric.  So, want to learn how to be really customer-centric like HGTV’s Timber Kings?  Here’s what I learned from an interview with the founder, Bryan Reid Senior:HGTV Timber Kings of Customer Centricity

1. Passion is Innate

This is not lip service.  You learn very quickly that Bryan, does what he loves.   When asked how he got into the business, it is obvious that it is something that “just happened.”    When it just feels right, I guess you know it.

“My step dad was a trapper and I worked with him a lot.  At the end of the day, with temperatures dropping to -40 to –50 degrees in the winter, we would get to the old trapper log cabin and light a fire and half hour later, we had no more worries. There was just something about being in a log cabin.  After I finished high school, I built my own log home with help of First Nations man, Samson Jack. It wasn’t long before others wanted me to build them a log home.  It also didn’t take a long time for me to realize that I loved doing it and there was a need to fill.”

When I see someone with passion, it really helps me realize what a difference it makes.  I couldn’t help thinking about the times in my career when I was truly passionate.  Like Bryan, it was something that just felt right!  It didn’t feel like work.

2.  People First

I asked Bryan about his incredibly skilled craftspeople and what it is like to work with so many gifted people.

“Where would we be without people?  Whether it is working with my team or working with clients, our business is about building dreams. My guys are my equal at very the least, and even my boss at times, and never critiqued for over delivering.  They are praised and rewarded equal to me. In the recession of 2008, I cut my wage to zero and kept my guys on. They mean so much to me!”

When it comes to his customers, Bryan has some pretty simple but powerful advice.  In fact, it is  so simple, that we probably tend to forget the basics, but Bryan doesn’t and it is refreshingly honest.

“Many companies spend their entire budget on advertising, etc. and don’t take care of the customer right through to the end of the process.  It was our goal to always over deliver and we wanted to.  Going that extra mile and giving the customer more than they expected, sets us apart.  And really, when you think of it….what a novel idea?…Give the customer value for their dollar and in return they recommend you to their friends.   In fact, many of our customers are our friends.  This is a very, very basic human behaviour.  Treat people well and they treat you well.  Some of our original customers from more than 35 years ago still call us and visit with us. For us, this is priceless.”  HGTV's Timber Kings of Customer-Centric

3.  Relationships Are Forever

If passion is innate and people are first, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that for the Timber Kings (Pioneer Log Homes) team to be truly customer-centric, the relationship with the customer doesn’t end when the sale is complete.

I asked Bryan if there was a specific customer story that stood out for him over the years and here’s what he had to say:

“There are many great stories for me, but one that often comes to mind is one couple who were buffalo ranchers in the US.  Over 22 years, we built three different homes for them.  They are a wonderful couple whom we have become very close to.  They are now in their 80s now and have decided to downsize, and they want us to build them a smaller log home!   Now that’s a story.”

 4.  Use Your Brain

I asked Bryan what advice he would give to people just starting out.  Here’s what he had to say:

Bring your brain to work every day. If strength was everything, horses would rule the world. Watch what successful people do and try to translate that to your business. Same rules different industry. I learned a lot from how Las Vegas did things. They made the whole world aware of them – quite a feat when they are not the biggest.  Finally, take care of the customer and they will take care of you.”

And, of course I had to ask if being Canadian made a difference when it comes to dealing with customers.

“As Canadians we are the luckiest people on earth. Being born in North America is like winning the lottery. We are intelligent, well educated and are entitled to work hard and get ahead if we are wise and treat people right, respect our resources, and plan ahead for the next generation. We can do well and leave the world a better place. Expect the best, plan for the worst.”

It was a real pleasure getting to know Bryan through this interview.  In Part 2 and final piece of this series, we will learn more about Pioneer Log Homes through Joel Roorda, one of the master craftsman that build those stunning homes.

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Insider Secrets to Using Emotions to Influence Buyer Behaviour

When making purchasing decisions we like to think that we are using a rational, and where warranted, an analytical approach.  Unfortunately, this is not really the case. Our emotions actually have a more signifiant impact on our buying behaviour than we realize.  Leveraging these emotions therefore, is an important component for anyone selling a product or service.  After all, consumers choose one brand over another based on an emotional response.  So, how do we leverage insider secrets and emotions to influence buyer behaviour?  Let’s explore.

Insider Secrets to Using Emotions to Influence Buyer Behaviour

Image courtesy of almigo.blogspot.com

Dr. Antonio Damasio, a renowned neuroscientist, argues that emotion is the necessary ingredient to nearly all decisions.  Of course as marketers we like to focus on the aspects of communication, advertising and marketing that influences consumer behaviour. When you actually start to analyze behaviour you can begin to understand how emotion is really at the root of the decision and on top of that, there are probably two fundamental components that really guide us.

Identity and Social Status

As human beings we are influenced by how “something” impacts us, or how something connects us to our identity and quite frankly our social status.  As individuals we might not realize that we think this way, but we do.  Really skilled marketers think about the positioning of a product or service in this capacity. We think about the image that individuals want to create when associated with a purchase.  Is he or she  smart, educated, well to do, sporty?  Or, is he or she hip, edging, etc.   At a subconscious level, all consumers want to be perceived in a certain way.

A really great example to understand emotional connection and specifically one’s identity and  the importance of social status is our choice when buying a car.  Recently Cadillac created an ad that showed its owners as successful people who have “stuff”. It suggests that working all of the time versus enjoying time off or doing things to better your community is what “it” is all about.  Then, Ford in quite the juxtaposition created their own version of the same ad giving a completely different identity and social status for those who own a Ford.  In their ad, Ford owners are working to create a cleaner, healthier community for all.  Two ads that look very similar, but have two different messages.

These two ads are a brilliant way to make the case for an emotional reaction and one’s sense of identity and social status.  Which one you choose is entirely up to you, but these marketers definitely positioned these brands for this purpose.   There is no question that you have an emotional response when you view these ads. Through my own testing, every person reacted to these ads.

Another great example is the Dove Self-Esteem campaign.  What parent wouldn’t be impacted by the power of these ads. So many girls have been negatively impacted by beauty campaigns.  The Dove campaign strives to evoke positive emotions and to take control of the message of natural and real beauty.

Great marketing really triggers an emotional response.  Great brands understand the significance of emotion, the power the influence to purchase and ultimately to trust the brand.

Emotions are powerful assets.  As consumers we often don’t realize that we have control over these assets.  As marketers we are always looking for ways to use them to influence buyer behaviour.  Next time you are about to make a purchase, stop and think about your emotional state.  Maybe it will make you think differently…maybe it won’t.

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How to Get More out of Twitter in 9 Easy Steps

How to Get More out of Twitter in 9 Easy Steps

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3 Quick & Easy Tips to Freshen Your Social Media Profiles for Spring

Think Spring cleaning is just for your home?  Think again.  Our social media profiles, whether personal or for our brands can also use a freshening.  Here are 3 tips to freshen up your social media profiles:

Updating Your Social Media Profiles - Image of TaylorMade Solutions

Updating Your Social Media Profiles – Image of TaylorMade Solutions

1.  Update Your Avatars (Profile Pics)

This should be the most obvious on the list.  When was the last time that you updated your social media profiles pics?  If you still are using the “egg” for your profile pic on Twitter, it is time to crack that habit and lay the groundwork for a professional pic that enables people to recognize you.

The same goes for outdated pics across all channels.  If you are using a picture for LinkedIn from your first day on the job and that was five years ago, it’s time to update!  If people can’t recognize you by your avatar, then your impacting your personal brand.

For corporate brands, has your logo changed?  Are you using an image that is now outdated?  Shake it up and update asap!

2.  Update Your Bio

Like your photo, a lot can change over a year or a few years.  It’s time to wipe the cobwebs off of your outdated profile.  Hobbies changed?  New job?  New blog?  Remember to add the appropriate keywords for what you now do.

The same goes for corporate “About” pages, etc.  While your core business may not have changed, business terms and keywords do change.  Make sure that  you are putting your best foot forward by freshening up your corporate information and reflecting current business strategies and tactics.

3.  Create or Eliminate

Equally important for personal and corporate brands, if you are not listening and engaging with your audience in the right channels, then find out what channels you need to be a part of and carefully determine if it makes sense for you to be in that space as well. If you find that your audience (customers, prospects and competitors) are all in that space and you are not, then you are likely loosing out.

The same goes for channels that no longer work for your audience.  If you have found that you are spending  time and money in a channel that is getting zero engagement due to the fact that your audience is longer present, it’s time to re-evaluate.  If it is no longer working, exercise judgement and eliminate this time waster.  Focus on channels that net results:  leads, conversions and sales.

Looking for some additional tips for setting up your profiles in order to meet best practices?  Check out these resource for LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

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Mitigate Business Risks: Implement a Social Media Council

Collaboration and cooperation are important components of a business ecosystem. They can help us mitigate risk. We all know this. Interestingly enough though, not enough people consider this when developing and implementing different components of their operational functions and some of the communications associated with the various operational aspects.  For example, not enough organizations are implementing social media councils.  These councils are an important component of your operations; and here are the top 5 reasons to start your social media council immediately.

5.  Eliminate Functional/Communication Silos

Unless your organization is small and centrally located, then you have experienced the fact that different people in different departments could very well be duplicating efforts.  Some examples include communications with customers through such channels as Twitter for customer service. The last thing you want to do is to confuse your customers about what channel is the right one to reach you in the event of an issue. Approaching your social media as a collective can bring good ideas to the table sooner and ensure that everyone approaches it the same way.  A social media council will foster collaboration. Want tips on how to break down silos?  Check out Busting Silos: Workplace Design Offers a Smart Solution, Barbara T. Armstrong. Click to Tweet

 4.  Reduce costs

Silos not only increase confusion, they increase costs.  Creating a social media council can ensure that the right number of resources are identified and trained to monitor and engage on behalf of your company.  This will reduce costs.  Click to Tweet A social media council will also ensure that multiple resources are not carrying out the same function at the same time.

3.  Manage & Protect Reputation

Eisner  Amper’s 4th Annual Board of Directors’ Survey continues to show Reputation Risk at the top of the list, primarily due to the concerns around social media.  Developing and implementing a social media council is your first step in your defence. A social media council should be made up of people from different disciplines, including Human Resources, Legal, Public Relations, Marketing, Sales, etc.  Including Human Resources and Legal is absolutely essential.  Their approach will provide a different perspective that will make your overall effort more focused.  They will also learn about the issues of Sales, Public Relations and Marketing in a new context.  This will further foster collaboration and learning for all. Click to  Tweet

2.  Create an Informed and Educated Workforce

Creating a social media council, when done well, means that you are building a multidisciplinary   team.  This group of people should not only bring information, ideas and issues to the Council, they are also to bring information, ideas and issues back to their respective departments.  A successful, highly functioning Council gives and receives information.  It becomes a powerful communication channel for the entire enterprise – from the frontline workers all the way up to and including the C-suite.  Click to Tweet

1. Identify and Mitigate Risk

It all comes down to this.  If there is just one reason to implement a social media council, it is about identifying and mitigating risk.  When you look at each of the reasons above, it can all be boiled down to this.  I don’t know one organization that isn’t concerned about mitigating risk.

If you would like to learn more about social media councils and mitigating risk, let us know.  Check us out at TaylorMade Solutions.

Interview with Jeffrey Hayzlett – The Influencer Series

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a Primetime TV Show Host, Bestselling Author and as he likes to say, a ‘sometime cowboy.’  What he doesn’t say is that he is an industry influencer and people listen to him.  He also doesn’t say that he is someone you can actually speak to and get real and practical advice from.  It is for all of these reasons and more that I am pleased to have had an opportunity to interview Jeff for my Influencer series for my blog.  Be sure to follow Jeff at @JeffreyHayzlett. I know you will enjoy his posts. Now on to the interview!Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 11.49.15 AM

One thing you will learn from reading Hayzlett’s books is that he understands the complexity of issues around organizational change and also human nature.  He is quite up front with the fact that you sometimes have to make difficult decisions that result in people changes.

MacLean:  What advice would you give a CEO who has marketing efforts that are not meeting expectations?

Hayzlett: First of all CEOs have to ask themselves a question:  Am I being realistic? Is the dog eating the dog food?  If you are being realistic, then you’ve got to go looking for the problem.  Is it the team? Idea? The Budget?  Then you’ve got to fix it.  Sometimes it could be all three things, but typically the problem is in the execution because we hire smart people but something is stopping us from executing correctly.

MacLean:  Would you recommend hiring a CMO, particularly if they have no experienced marketing staff?

Hayzlett:  Certainly if the CMO possess key characteristics, particularly reliability and competency.

MacLean:  If realizing the company is missing a strategic plan – would you hire a CMO before or after going through the process

Hayzlett:  Definitely before! You have to think about who is going to implement the plan. You aren’t going to do it yourself. What CMO wants to inherit a plan someone else has built before they can tie in what they can do.

MacLean:  What advice would you offer a company that’s on the cusp of a major breakthrough in it’s life cycle but has employees that struggle with the change?

Hayzlett:  Change those employees. It’s the rule of thirds; 1/3 get it right away, 1/3 eventually will get it and 1/3 never do. You don’t want to drag people on a journey that they don’t want to take. It never works to take your kids somewhere they don’t want to go – that never turns into a good experience. Why would it be any different in business?

Hayzlett’s experience and advice are sound and provide good food for thought.  From experience I can say that having the right marketing resources are key to success.  If you are looking to expand your brand, be sure that you have someone who understands branding and the importance of the brand voice as well as the brand value.  If you are looking to expand your digital presence and build your assets, be sure to have someone that can lead those efforts.  When you are building out your marketing team, be sure to have a senior person with experience.  If you can’t hire a CMO yet, hire a senior enough person with the right skills, experience and education.  When doing your hiring though, do keep in mind to build your job requirements with great thought.  Combining some skills for your leadership might not be right.  for example, asking your leader to be skilled in PR and marketing is one thing, but adding art director to the mix is an unusual skill combination.  If you don’t have the background or skills in the marketing area, there are firms that can help you design the job and identify the right skills.

Looking for more resources on marketing and/or to build out your marketing team?  We can help.  Be sure to visit us at taylormadecanada.com

International Women’s Day – What Things Look Like From a 12-Year Old Girl

In honour of International Women’s today, which is tomorrow, what do young girls see when they interact in an adult world? What would a 12-year old girl see if she spent a week in an office environment?  What impressions would she be left with?  What questions would she ask?  Let’s imagine and explore through this fictitious summary.

Hi! My name is Tina. I am 12 years old. I recently spent a week in a local office as a part of my entrepreneur class.  The objective was to show us the importance of getting a good education so that when we finish school, we will get a good job.  It is not focused on girls, but all kids.

Image courtesy of sighswhispers.blogspot.com

Image courtesy of sighswhispers.blogspot.com

When the week started I was nervous, but also excited.  I had never been in a big office like this before.  I imagined all the adults wearing suits, being very serious, but very professional.  I pictured  the women and men working together in meetings and big fancy boardrooms – you know, like you see on TV and in the movies.  When the week was over though, I had a different opinion.  It wasn’t like what I imagined at all.  Here is what I saw:

1. Meetings

At first I thought it was funny when I heard the term Hen Party.  I told my friends about it and we all laughed.

Over the week though, I realized that when two or more men got together it was a meeting.However, when two or more women gathered, it was a Hen Party. I stopped thinking it was funny though. I actually listened to the conversations. Men could be talking about hockey, or their night out and laughing. That was called a meeting.  The women could be talking about budget items and something called accruals, but it was a Hen Party.  Seems kinda unfair and disrespectful to these women.

2.  Being Serious

I got to sit in a lot of meetings during the week, which by the way is super boring.  I am not sure why adults think they are cool. Anyway, there is a lot of serious discussions in those meetings. At most times everyone can be pretty serious.  Sometimes though, there are jokes. A lot of them I didn’t get, but they all seemed to think they were funny.

The thing that stood out for me though, was after one meeting my assigned mentor was asked to stick around, so that meant I got to stay.  The man that asked her to say said: “you know Susan, I have noticed that you are very serious.  I would recommend that you not be so serious. People don’t like that you know.” She thanked him for his observations and we left.

After we were back to her office, I asked her about his comment. I thought that he must be her boss. He wasn’t. He was what she called, a peer. It was strange to me that he thought she was serious. She laughed and joked like the others in the room, which by the way were all men. I didn’t think she was any more serious than they were.

They were talking about a contract negotiation. Seemed like a serious thing to me. So, I was really confused about why her peer, which she explained to me was her equal, would make such a comment to her. Again, I was feeling like she was being called out for something that was unfair.

 3.  Good Business Man versus the B-word

In several meetings I saw men get angry, raise their voice or at least in two cases, pound their fists on the table.  It really got people’s attention and it seemed to bring people around to that person’s point of view. I really didn’t like it.

The women in the room didn’t do that. They sometimes had to raise their voices so that they could be heard, but they didn’t pound their fists. More than once I noticed that women in the room were cut off or one of their male peers (my new word 🙂 ) would talk over them.  The women would stick to the point, wanting a solution and they wanted an agreement on the solution before moving forward. This is what they called an interesting dynamic.

After being in the office for close to a week, it seemed like the adults became more comfortable with me there and would have open discussions, maybe like I wasn’t there.  But that is o.k.  That is when I really learned the most. For example, after these fist pounding meetings there were comments like:  “Jim (fist pounder) knows his stuff. I respect his leadership and his vision.” It was different though when I heard comments about women. There were some nice things, but at least half of the time, the comments were not so nice. For example, “Connie can be such a b-word. She gets on one thing and won’t let it go. I wonder why she is so cranky,” which would be followed by some laughing. These comments didn’t make me feel good. I don’t know how these women do it every day. Will it be like this when I finish school?

 4.  Being  Too Nice

This one seems really strange to me.  After another meeting my mentor for that day was called into her boss’ office.  Again, I got to go.  Her boss told her that she was too nice.  That she had to stop being so polite and just not be as nice.  This mentor too thanked her boss for his observations and we went back to her office.  I asked her about this and told her about the other comments I had heard about women being called the b-word.

I told her I was really confused. She was really nice actually and she smiled and said that as women, we need to be prepared that in one meeting you will be told that you are too nice and in the next you will be called the b-word. It is just a fact of life. When I asked her if the same thing applied to men, she smiled again and said let’s get ready for our next meeting.  She answered me without answering me.  I am not sure that this being a fact of life is something I am prepared for.

While it is true that  in the words of Virginia Slims “We have come a long way baby,” we still have a long way to go.  I would hope that by the time my 12 year old niece (who is not Tina) is finished University and working, that these views are not a fact of life.  My post last year in honour of International Women’s Day looked at women being persons under the law.  Let’s hope we move the equality issue faster and further than we have over the last 85 years.

Agree or disagree.  What are your thoughts on this issue?  

To Pay or Not Pay Industry Influencers – Part 2 with Jeff Bullas

In the first part of our interview with Jeff Bullas, we discussed seven key marketing trends you shouldn’t ignore. This time, Bullas provides us with his insights on influencer marketing, influencer relations programs, and the big questions…

HA MacLean Image

HA MacLean Image

To Pay or Not to Pay Industry Influencers?

MacLean: As an industry influencer, you are an independent and objective voice. People and brands want to associate with you. How do you feel about influencer programs that brands develop?

Bullas: “This is an interesting area. The world of online influence has moved the goal posts. Brands are learning how to deal with influencers and influencers are learning to work with brands.

Quite often, a global influencer can have a very large platform and network that is larger than the reach of a national magazine, and even a mass media outlet such as a newspaper. This means that an Influencer doesn’t need a brand to provide a platform or an audience. In the past, an expert or thought-leader needed access to an audience and that was provided through a speaking opportunity at a conference. The reality now is quite different. They often already have a large, global network that has been accelerated by the crowd-sourced marketing of social media.

So it comes down to a grey area of how to provide mutual benefit for both parties.

For the brand this could be the Influencer providing access to their focused networks. For the Influencer it could be access to decision-makers at a conference that result in consulting or [other] business opportunities.

Some bloggers are happy with a free trip and some baubles to attend an event for free. This all takes time and a blogger has to work out if spending the time outweighs the opportunity cost of not earning income while doing so. This is not an objective but a subjective decision.

Payment could also be an increase in credibility by attending and speaking at a blue ribbon event. It could also be financial compensation. There has to be a fair exchange of value and brands need to ensure they don’t take Influencers for granted based on old paradigms.”

MacLean: As an industry Influencer, how do you feel about brands that seek out Influencers with the intent of having them write blogs, create videos, and post positive comments for a fee? What role do they play in the Influencer Marketing ecosystem? What obligation does the influencer have to disclose that there are fees tied to the endorsement?

Bullas: “I don’t see it as being much different to having someone being sponsored, like Tiger Woods is by Nike. At the end of the day, it has to be a match that is congruent for both parties. Woods wouldn’t be sponsored if he thought that the Nike brand wasn’t a good product that he could stand behind. Some bloggers will declare for each article that they have been compensated, [while] others will provide a catch all phrase on their blog.”

MacLean: What elements do you consider important in measuring the success of an influencer program — both from the brand side as well as being an Influencer? What is important to you?

Bullas: “The brand will have its own goals for an influencer program whether that is creating more brand awareness, or an increase in leads or sales.

What is important for me in measuring success is that it is consistent with the values of both parties and helps both parties achieve their goals.”

MacLean: Based on your experience and strategic nature, what would be your #1 piece of advice for a brand wishing to establish its own influencer marketing program?

Bullas: “I think it would come down to a longer term strategic partnership that isn’t based upon ‘hit and run’ marketing. Continuous marketing is a much better approach on a ‘search and social’ web that doesn’t like silence. It takes time to build a sizeable social media network of influence.”

I want to thank Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions around trends and influencer marketing. As brands we need to take the voice and opinions of our influencers into account when building our programs.

The advice and recommendations that Jeff provided in this interview provide a solid look at the value that Influencers can play in your continuous marketing strategy. And Jeff answered the question on everyone’s minds?  What role does paid Influencer Marketing play in our plans – there is definitely a role, as long as it is mutually beneficial and the influencers self-disclose!

For more information on Influencer Relations, feel free to connect with me @macleanheather.

A version of this blog previously appeared on the Marketing Cloud blog.

The Influencer Series – An Interview with Jeff Bullas, Part 1

7 Key Trends You Shouldn’t Ignore

Image courtesy of blogs.mcafee.com

Image courtesy of blogs.mcafee.com

Influencer Marketing and Influencer Relations have played an important role in marketing and sales for organizations both small and large.  As brands develop and consumers become more demanding, we tap into the insights and thought-leadership of Influencers like Jeff Bullas to help us navigate this ever-evolving space.  In the first of a series of Influencer interviews, we talk to Jeff Bullas.

MacLean:  No stranger to the fast-past world of marketing, your blog is read in over 190 countries and you have been recognized by Forbes, Huffington Post and many others for your thought-leadership and influence.  You are a strategist at heart and it shows.    So, as an industry influencer, what are the top trends that you see emerge for marketers?

Bullas:  There are many trends that have been emerging in the last two years. Here are 7 key trends that you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Content marketing

The importance and role of content marketing and how it works across social media, search, multimedia and mobile is becoming a key focus for many brands.

Brands have been blinded by the shiny new toy of social media.  They think that this is all they should be doing beyond their day-to-day habitual marketing. The same thing they have been doing for decades.

Key Take-Away:  Content is the foundation of all digital marketing and is the reason people read, view or share.  Creating “Liquid” content is vital to create brand awareness and tap into crowd-sourced marketing.

2. Mobile Marketing

The rapid rise of smart phones and tablets has flatfooted many marketing managers and delivering marketing messages and content that is optimized for mobile platforms is becoming a “must”. Increasingly consumers are viewing content, receiving email and buying products from “small screens”.

Companies need to urgently redesign websites and blogs that are “responsive” – to respond to all device screen sizes for optimal viewing and usability – to ensure they are optimizing for mobile devices.

Key Take-Away:  Some websites are recording 30-40% of all viewing from mobile devices. That should not be ignored.

3. Integrated Digital Marketing

Companies with savvy marketers are realizing that digital marketing should not be one-offs that are islands of isolated tactics. Increasingly social media and content is impacting search results. Google created Google+ for a few reasons, including capturing social signals. Ensuring that your approach is allowing you to tie them all together to achieve maximum effectiveness is becoming key.

Key Take-Away:  This is optimized digital marketing.

4. Social at Scale Marketing

Brands are also realizing that “doing” social is complex and is like juggling many balls at once. We are seeing the rush to develop, buy up start-ups and implement Enterprise platforms that are assisting marketing professionals to market, manage and monitor multiple social networks and even other digital marketing (e.g. email).

Key Take-Away:  This is “social at scale” marketing. 

5. Continuous Marketing

Marketers need to realize that a strong trend is emerging called continuous marketing. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t run “campaigns”. The reality is that being found online requires constant SEO activity and content creation, publishing and marketing.

Key Take-Away:  Google hates silence. To do this well requires implementing some marketing automation. 

6. Personalized Marketing

The “one size fits all” approach to marketing of mass messages on television and traditional media are becoming less effective due to media saturation. We are seeing the rise of personalized marketing on ecommerce sites, websites and email that tailor the advertising and user interface to the relevant interests of consumers.

Key Take-Away:  This trend is being driven by technology using “big data” to increase marketing effectiveness.  

 7. Visual Marketing

We first saw visual marketing creep into the landscape when YouTube entered mainstream consciousness a few years ago. Since then this creep has turned into a torrent of visual marketing with the emergence of Pinterest, Instagram and even Slideshare. In the last six months this has gone to a whole new level as Vine’s six second snack-size video and now Instagram’s new 15 second video app has marketers scrambling for creative inspiration to apply and leverage this new trend.

Key Take-Away:  Use and maximize visual marketing tools.

Be sure to check out Part 2 of my interview with Jeff Bullas, To Pay or Not Pay Industry Influencers.

A version of this post previously appeared on the Marketing Cloud blog.