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Press Release is Dead

5 Reasons the Press Release is Dead

Ever get the feeling that you just don’t get the same pick up from your press releases that you used to? Well, it shouldn’t be that surprising. As a PR Practitioner with more experience than I really care to admit, the press release might just have gone the way of the Dodo bird – well, the press release as we know it today. Want to make your press releases more effective? Take a look at these:

1. First and foremost your audience is wrong!

To effectively write a press release it can’t be written for your client! This applies to both your internal clients for those PR Practitioners who work for companies and also those who are consultants.

Press Release is Dead

HA MacLean Image

Remember the golden rule: Always write for your audience. If you are writing for your client you have lost before you begun. No reporter is going to be interested in an obvious self-promotion piece. There has to be more…see #2.

2. Ask yourself who cares

Directly tied to your audience, you need to ask the question who cares? What is it about the news that you want to share in your press release that is so significant? How does it impact your customers or the public? Given what is actually happening and being covered in the news, both locally and internationally, is your news tidbit really that much more important and/or interesting? What problem is it actually solving?

If you honestly can’t think of a reason that an objective person – with no skin in the game – would have to care about what you are pushing in your press release, then by all means, don’t write or issue one. Be honest with yourself. There has to be something interesting/relevant.

If you do decide to go ahead, at best it will be ignored by all media. However, the flip side of this there will be a number of reporters, assignment editors, producers shaking their heads and dismissing your submissions as well…useless. In the future they won’t waste the effort to even consider anything in their in boxes from you.

3.  Not understanding how to pitch

Admittedly this can be the most difficult part about getting to a reporter, particularly if you don’t know the reporter from Adam or Eve.

If you make a cold call and “IF” the reporter or assignment editor actually answers, you better have your elevator pitch fine tuned. And, I am not kidding when I speak of having an elevator pitch ready to go. You will literally have seconds to tell why your product, service or company deserves an interview, news story or feature in said publication and/or newscast.

Oh, and don’t call the reporter to ask permission to send a news release. He or she is already inundated with people sending news releases, both good and bad. Make the most out of the phone call with the details in an elevator pitch. If the reporter bites, then you can send along supporting information.

You need to be quick, some might argue pithy, and interesting. If you are unsure, hesitate or can’t convey the why the information in your press release is important and how it is going to change things, then forget about it. The reporter is moving on. He or she has tight deadlines and lots of expectations. And, that takes me to the next point!

4. Lack of environmental awareness

Now, I am not talking about global warming here. No, I am talking about how the news/media industry now works. Things have changed significantly in the last 10 years and even more drastically in the last three years. There are fewer reporters covering more stories and topics than ever before. Many media outlets not only have reporters interviewing and writing, but they are also researching, taking photos and if for TV or video, shooting that same video! All of this adds pressure to what a reporter can or cannot do.

If you really want to make headway with a reporter, there are a five key things that every PR Practitioner MUST do:Press Release is dead

  • Be absolutely certain to know and understand what their area of expertise/interest is. Sure some reporters cover everything, but there are still a few specialists. So, if you want to pitch a story about a revolutionary new product in the manufacturing industry, don’t call the court reporter. Not only do you annoy the person by distracting him or her from what they need to do, it shows that you didn’t do your homework.
  • Keep in mind that because some may specialize in a certain area, he or she will not know everything about that industry, so make it easy for him or her. For example, if you find the IT reporter and get through be sure to have your elevator pitch on this great new startup ready, but also have a fact sheet ready that you can send, if required.
  • Above all else speak in laymen’s terms. Too many times I have visibly seen what happens when people start to get all technical and using terms that the average person does not understand. The eyes glaze over and then it is the “well thank you” and they move on. You don’t have to speak in technical terms to sound smart and most importantly you shouldn’t if you want the reporter to be interested. Remember, the reporter has to make quick decisions and if he or she is not really sure of what it is that you are talking about, not only does he or she not have time, but maybe their audience won’t either. That is then a colossal waste of time.
  • Have photos, interview subjects, quotes, Q&A’s, video and factsheets all ready and available immediately for the reporter.
  • Don’t ask the reporter to Tweet about you, your company, event or product. That is just not going to happen and by asking you are again demonstrating that you don’t understand the roles and responsibilities of the media.

5. Time is of the Essence

Always remember to pitch new information. Never pitch something that was released previously and may not have been picked up. If it wasn’t picked up last month, there is probably a good reason for that. See # 1 and #2. If it was picked up, it won’t be difficult for the reporter to determine that this is not news and that you just wasted his or her time. Again, not cool.

So, what are the key take-aways to make the best out of today’s press releases?

  • Know your audience and write for that audience (and it is not your client)
  • Be prepared and don’t waste a reporter’s time
  • Ensure that what you are pitching is really news
  • Help reporters by having all the relevant information they could want/ need ready at your finger tips

Remember PR is not a science. It is an art. We are dealing with human beings. This means that we need to remember the basics in terms of human wants and needs. Reporters are people too. They need a lot of things to be successful. Let’s give them what they need.

Want to learn more? We can help you with your press releases, pitches and media training.

 

6 Easy Tips to Overcome Communication Failures

We all think we can communicate. After all, we are all good listeners. We are all very good at sharing information and conveying messages. Right?  Wrong! Most people are not good communicators. As we move through the corporate world, we are sensitized to “time is money”, “get to the point” and “what’s your ask?”  Our leaders, mentors and peers share these messages with us constantly through words or body language.  Add to that, we all have our own agendas.  We do.  You can deny it, but if you do, you are only fooling yourself. So, we add all of this together and we are hard-pressed for time and we want to achieve our objectives and meet our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  Now, think about your customers.  Think about your prospects.  How are you communicating with them?  There is a good chance that there are some communication failures happening.  Here are 6 easy tips to overcome communication failures:

5 tips to over communications failure, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormade solutions (Canada)

Image courtesy of graystoneadvisors.com

1.  Know your Audience

This is by far the oldest piece of advice going when it comes to communications. Despite this, I am often surprised by how many people and as a result organizations, just don’t know their audience. They use communication media that they feel most comfortable with and communicate when they want to communicate. They often have more than one audience, but choose to communicate in exactly the same manner for each.

Key Take-away:  What is (are) the personas of your audience(s)?  Are they in their 20s, 30s or 60s?  All of the above?  How do they consume content?  How often do they want to hear from you and consume content?  Do they prefer mainstream media, social media or public forums?  Does it depend on the situation?  If you can’t answer these questions with validated data, you have some homework to do.  If you don’t have the resources in-house, hire a consultant to find the answers for you.

2.  Slow Down

Yes, this is hard for most of us. Everything is a rush. After all, time is money right? It is..but and there is a big BUT..if you fail to communicate with your customers or prospects, the costs will be much higher. Customer retention becomes an issue. Reputation management becomes an issue. Stakeholders, including boards of directors get riled up as profits dip and stock prices follow. Slow down and pay attention to what is happening in your environment. When you do this, you hear, see and learn a lot. People notice that you are present. They appreciate this. Showing up only when you want something also gets noticed.

Key Take-away:  Be present. Don’t just show up when you want something or when there is a problem to fix. Your customers or prospects will soon associate you with only being there when YOU want something or when something has gone horribly wrong. Customers and prospects are people. People need and want relationships. They need to have confidence in you. They need to trust you and trust that your organization will do the right thing.

3. Follow-up and Follow-through

Similar to knowing your audience, this is one of the oldest and best pieces of advice when it comes to communication.  As mentioned in Good Customer Service:  What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You, be sure to follow-up on your customers or prospects.  This builds real trust and confidence.  And always under promise and over deliver. This can be hard to do at times, but consistent application will pay off in spades.

Key Take-away:  If you aren’t sure of your answer, then say so.  If you can’t deliver the product at a specific time, be up front.  The sooner the better.  And, when you do execute on “whatever” it is, circle back to ensure that your customer or prospect got what he or she needed. Yes, it can be time consuming, but it will be worth it.

4.  Put Your Best Foot Forward

Just like meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, you want to put your best foot forward.  For a brand, this might be about the person they send to a meeting or the one that acts as their spokesperson.  Regardless of which scenario it is, you want to ensure that your point person has the facts, can present the corporate brand meeting or exceeding the brand standards and that that person or persons have the ability to make decisions and answer questions – any questions.

Key Take-away:  Putting your best foot forward, or your best people forward does not necessarily mean the most senior and certainly not the most junior. Each situation requires consideration and judgement. You need to consider your audience and the situation.  Who will provide win/win results?  Who will irritate or provoke?

5.  Be Timely

This one is quite important.  For any communication, it needs to be timely.  Your communications’ professionals need to always be thinking about timing. Depending what the communication is, too early and you sell the farm.  Too late, or too little you will lose creditability and trust.

Key Take-away:  Communications should never be an after-thought or relegated to lower importance.  Communications is a strategic component of everything you do.

6.  There is No Such Thing as Over Communicating

Once a upon a time someone actually said this to me – that we were over communicating. Think about that for a moment. Think about how people process information. Think about how people receive information. Think about how many times a message MUST be shared before it is actually absorbed. This is all proven documentable information.  If you apply fact and research, you cannot possibly over communicate. It is that simple.

Key Take-away:  Just because you know the answer or a few of your stakeholders know the answer, doesn’t mean your audience does.  People absorb information differently. Therefore you must apply proven communication techniques using various media and multiple messages to reach your audience.

Like this post?  Follow me on Twitter:  @MacLeanHeather

 

How to Have the Perfect Professional Twitter Bio

Do you use your personal Twitter handle for professional purposes?  Of course you do!  I recently surveyed 150 people and 99% indicated that they do in fact use their own Twitter handle to communicate, network and conduct research in a professional capacity. As a part of that survey, I also asked questions about their bios, how they were set up and what information they added to their bios.  A staggering 85% indicated that they did not put much thought into their bios.  And, 100% of those respondents were concerned that their personal brand was less than stellar and that they were not as professional appearing as they could be.  So, you are not alone if you have had these concerns.  To remedy the situation, here are 8 Best Practices to use to have the perfect professional Twitter bio:Social Media, Twitter

1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Nothing could be more true.  When a Tweet appears, what is the first thing you notice? It is the avatar of course – good or bad.  So, if you want to have a professional appearance, the first place to start is your avatar.

Best Practice is to have the same professional photo that you would use for LinkedIn.  You want to look your part AND you want to be recognizable.  For occasions when you get to meet Twitter connections, it is great to actually recognize or be recognized!

2.  Don’t Be Cute with Your Twitter Handle

Not only are you a brand in and of yourself, you want people to be able to remember you. It is Best Practice to use your own name as your Twitter handle. Now, that can be difficult.  For example, there are a lot of Heather MacLeans out there.  I could have gotten my full name, but it seemed long and with a hyphen in there, that might complicate things.  So, I ended up using @MacLeanHeather.

As a point of reinforcement, there is a wonderfully talented person in the industry that I like to keep in touch with.  Unfortunately I always forget her Twitter handle as it is something obscure.  So, I inevitably have to resort to communicate with her via LinkedIn, even though I know that she is on Twitter more frequently.

3. Use Your Real Name

Again, searching, finding and connecting to people can be difficult if you don’t use your real name in your Twitter bio.  Best Practice states using your real name versus nicknames, or variations on your name.  Of course, if you don’t want to be found…

4. What to Include in Your Actual Bio

You are human and not a robot..right?  So, be sure to use a combination of key words that reflect your profession/industry, but also include some interesting personal information. I used to include that I was an airplane nerd, which I am, but I don’t tend to Tweet about airplanes.  Now  I include that I am a dog lover and wannabe chef.  That makes sense to me as I do Tweet, on occasion, about these things.

So, be professional, but have some fun too!

5. Use Links

The great thing about your Twitter profile is that you can include a link to your own website, LinkedIn profile, about.me profile, etc.  Take advantage of this to help people get to know you.

6.  Location

Be sure to include your location data.  People love to connect with people in their respective regions and/or in new areas.

7.  Use of Header

Be sure to select a header image that not only scales, but also reinforces who you are. Having a blurry out of scale image is not good. Neither of course is something totally inappropriate.  If in doubt, look to others that inspire you or that you admire. Get a feel for what they use. Don’t copy of course, but emulate.

8. Completeness of Information

It is Best Practice to complete the details above.  If you really want to connect with people, they will want to know who you are.  Remember, this is social media.  Many people, including me, tend to return follows of people that share no details about themselves.

So, in the end, these are easy tips and Best Practices to follow.  Still have questions, let me know.

Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

5 Essential Tips to Ensure Survey Completion

Yesterday I received an email from a local company that wanted me to take a quick 2-minute survey to help them improve.  The idea itself is a good one; however, the execution of the survey was not so great.  If you want to leverage the power of surveys, here are 5 essential tips to ensure people complete your surveys.  

5 Essential Tips to Ensure People Complete Your Surveys, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Richard Dawson of Family Feud

1.  Proof Read

While normally I am all about the survey design and developing questions that produce unbiased results, I have to say that after reading this survey, someone should have proofread it.  In some cases, there were missing words.  In one specific question, I really didn’t know what they were looking for.  That is not good for a survey.

In at least one other case, the grammar was just a wee bit off, which meant that I read the sentence several times. Not that it didn’t makes sense, it did, but it was just odd.

Key Take-away:  We all make mistakes.  If possible we should always try to have another set of eyes cross our surveys.  

2.  Have a Clearly Defined Purpose

This may sound like common sense, but when designing a survey first think about its purpose.  What information do you want to learn or confirm?  Are there themes?  How many themes?  Do any of these themes have a correlation?

If you have more than three themes, it might be prudent to break your survey into different surveys.  For example, the survey that I referenced above had a number of different things that they were looking for.  It appeared to be a hodgepodge of questions.  As a Marketing Practitioner, I couldn’t help but “try” to determine what it was “exactly” the organization wanted or needed.  As a customer, I found the questions to be random and lacking clarity.  I don’t believe that this survey was tested for clarity or usability.

Key Take-away:  If you feel that you can’t afford an experienced marketing professional (but really can you afford to not have one?), really think about your purpose and the logical sequence. Seek a couple of people whose opinion you trust and ask them to take the survey and give feedback.  This can save a lot of time and frustration, not to mention money.

3.  Use Proper Question Techniques

To get good responses, there are a few techniques to use.

  • First and foremost is language.  Be clear, concise and use words that have fewer interpretations.
  • Avoid leading questions.
  • Consider alternative ways to ask the question.

If using a scale, make sure it is meaningful.  For example, “Please rate your satisfaction with the speed of the application. On a scale where 5 means ‘Very Satisfied’ and 1 means ‘Very Dissatisfied.” 

Key Take-away:  Using best practices for question development will help you get better intelligence AND make it easier for your respondents.

4. Don’t Spam People

As a Marketing Practitioner I truly value customer insight and I love…love..love data.  As an individual, I am inundated with email.  Some email are completely my doing as a result of signing up for various news services.  Other email however, are completely unsolicited and unwanted.  As a customer of this organization that sent the survey, I don’t recall signing up for email.  Not saying that I didn’t agree to it at some point, but I sincerely do not recall.

I was a little surprised to receive the email asking me to do the survey.  As I follow this company on Twitter, it would have been nice to see a pre-notice there. Or, the link in a Tweet inviting customers to participate.  They did not do this. I think that this is a miss on two fronts.  First, they are not offering the feedback process to all of their customers.  While sample surveys are important, there are also times when you want great customer feedback. In this case they were looking for market development information.  The second miss is on the missed opportunity to give a heads up to people about the survey.

Key Take-away:  Think about how you will give advance notice of the survey along with how you will minimize spam. Your customers will love you!

5.  Be Up Front about the Time Commitment

People are busy.  So, being up front with the time commitment will increase your chances of completion versus abandonment.  Of course it is always best to keep surveys as short as possible, but when that is not possible, being up front will be truly appreciated.

Key Take-away:  Acknowledging time commitments increases the probability that people will compete the survey once started.  Surveys that consume a lot of time without an upfront warning increase the probability of abandonment.

 Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

Easy Tips to Help You Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Easy Tips to Help You Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

These are some basic tips for your LinkedIn profile. We can help you make your profile stand out.

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.

Want to learn more?  Sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

3 Ways to P!$$ Off Your Customers – Keurig Canada Customer Service #Failure

Customer service is not something that you expect some of the time.  Customers expect good customer service all  of the time – period – full stop.  Great customer service is what sets a brand apart from its competitors.  Unfortunately, some companies are failing at customer service – both traditional AND social.  Even more unfortunate is the specific epic #failure of Keurig Canada.  Here three things we can learn from this bad experience.

The Issue

For the first time I opted to buy my coffee online direct from Keurig Canada.  This is not a complicated process.  Create an account, select the coffee you want, check out and pay for it.  Check, check, check and check.  All was well up to and including the confirmation email receipt.  This email stated that I would receive another email when shipped.  Days passed, no email.  A week passed, no email.  More days passed, no email.  I checked on line.  What did I find out?  My payment was taken, but yet there was no status on my shipment.  In fact under delivery date, it said: “N/A”.  I made my original order on November 30th.  After approximately two weeks, I called.  In total I called three times.  Each time I waited on the line for close to an hour and still could not reach a human.  An option was given to leave a message.  I left a message with my name and telephone number and asking about delivery.  No one returned my call.  I emailed Customer Service as well.  No one ever responded.  I resorted to social media and did get a response and a call from the main location in the US.  Unfortunately they were unable to help.  They couldn’t see my order because I was in Canada.  They were fantastic.  In fact, I want to stress that when dealing with Keurig in the United States, their brand representatives are among the best.  I love dealing with them.  Cross the border and well, that is a different story.  Dealing with Keurig in Canada is painful at best and enough to make you rethink your coffee machine purchase.  Keurig Canada’s customer service is a failure.

So, how can your business excel at customer service – both traditional and social?  Here are 3 lessons learned from Keurig Canada’s epic #fail:

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 5.19.42 PM

1.  Understand the Brand You Represent

It is incumbent on all organizations to ensure that all employees, and particularly customer-facing employees, know and understand your brand – the brand values, voice and how to actually live the brand.  If you are going to outsource parts of your operation, this is even more important.  It only takes one person to hurt your brand and reputation.

Keurig Canada failed to understand the brand.  Their website states the following:  “Keurig” is derived from the Dutch word for excellence, which is our standard for everything, from our patented brewing technology to our gourmet brands of beverages and our customer service.”  

Keurig Canada if you believe that not returning phone calls and/or email which you specifically point your customers to as a communication channel is “being excellent,” I beg to differ.  This is NOT excellence.  Failing to keep your customer informed is a fail.

 2. Staff Your Customer Channels

There is no question that certain times of the year more busy than others.  The business cycle should not come as a surprise.  Staff for it.  Keurig in the US was able to answer and respond to calls.  Their population base is larger.  They have more customers.  They were staffed appropriately.  Jump on a plane and get schooled by the Keurig experts at your head office.  Please!

 3.  Rethink Your Processes and Actually Make Changes

Clearly there was an issue and Keurig Canada realized it.  I received notification that there was an issue with unusually high volumes and therefore they were offering a free box to make up for it.  Good on them, sorta!   This is an opportunity for a second chance.  Unfortunately, they have failed yet again.  Not only did they require that you make a minimum purchase, it has now been a week since my last order.  Guess what?  For days there was no information.  My delivery date said:  N/A.  I checked today and my order apparently shipped yesterday. I have not received the verification email that they promise.  So, the question is:  has it really shipped?  I could call or email, but based on my previous experience, I will pass.

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 10.28.14 AM

What’s Your Experience?

These three items are three easy fixes.  If you value your customers, establish processes to avoid these missteps.  The next step is mine.  Will I continue to be a Keurig user?  Or, will I sell my machine and go another route?  I am not certain just yet, but I can tell you that I am seriously evaluating next steps.

So, what is your customer service experience with Keurig?  Would you choose another coffee system?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

It’s Dec 26th – 20 Updates to Make to Your Profiles

Not everyone is recovering from Christmas Day or enjoying Boxing Day, so this is a great time to look at your social media profiles.  It is an even better time to update your profiles so that they are top-notch for 2014.  Here are 20 updates that you can do this week:

Forgo pet pics for your avatar - image Courtesy of soundcloud.com

Forgo pet pics for your avatar – image Courtesy of soundcloud.com

 Twitter

  1. Update your Avatar – This is your Twitter profile.  Why not use a good photo of you?  Be recognizable.
  2. Add your location – I love knowing where people are that I am connecting with.  I am not alone in this.
  3. Complete your Bio – I tend not to follow people who share nothing.  This is social media after all and it is about building relationships.  If you can’t share anything about who you are…you seem unfriendly.
  4. Make Use of the Header – This is a great way to show more about who you are.  Use it.  Don’t leave it blank.  That is just boring.
  5. Add a URL– Add your blog or website URL.  Again it is about sharing more about who you are.

Facebook

  1. Understand Different Features – For example, if you use Facebook for both personal and professional purposes, you may wish to make use of different lists for your friends, colleagues and business associates.
  2. Complete your “About”section – Fill this section out with as much information that you feel comfortable sharing.  Remember that you can set your security settings to share with friends only.Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 10.56.55 AM
  3. Set your custom URL – Go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ and get your custom URL for your personal page and/or any pages that you administer.
  4. Update your Avatar –  When is the last time you updated your Avatar?  And…forget the cat pics.
  5. Have a unique cover photo – Standing out in a sea of social profiles is something that people usually want to do.  Having a custom cover photo shows personality.  Have fun, but remember that it is public and anyone can see it.  Don’t be Stupid – Social Media Can Get You Fired.

LinkedIn

  1. Photo – This is definitely the place that you want a professional photo.  This is your living resume and brand.  This is your time to shine.  Sharing a photo with another person is just weird and confusing.
  2. Be sure to get your custom URL – Like your photo this is important.  This helps in searches.
  3. Complete your summary – This is probably one of the biggest misses for people using LinkedIn.  This can be your elevator pitch.  Keep it short, accurate and punchy.  Whatever you do, don’t write about yourself in the first person.  That too is just weird!
  4. Get Recommendations – This is a great opportunity to showcase your skills and accomplishments.  The fact that others take the time to write you a recommendation speaks volumes.  When people prepare recommendations for others, it says just as much about that person as it does you.  People do not enter into recommendations lightly.
  5. Highlight & Describe your Experience – Another faux pas that people make repeatedly is only listing their jobs, and not outlining their experience.  Even if you are not looking for a job, this is your time to showcase your experience.  People use this information when recruiting for Boards of Directors, mentors and more.

Google+

  1. Think about SEO – Don’t over do it on keywords.  That won’t really get you a higher SEO rating. The unique algorithm used by Google will likely look at your variations on the same keywords as spam.
  2. Use a Good Avatar – This is a consistent message of this blog.  We all like to see who we are connecting with.  Some might think it fickle, but it is reality.  Go with it.
  3. Select a Solid Cover Image – Like in Facebook and Twitter, choose a good quality image.  Grainy images that are distracting is not the image you want for your brand – be it personal or business.
  4. Get your custom URL – This is still “relatively” new.  If you are able to get your custom URL, do it.
  5. Complete your About section – This should be a no brainer after reading the tips above.  It also applies to Google+.

These are just some tips for improving your profiles.  They don’t take long, so why not use this “quieter” time of year to update your profile.  You will have a head start on the New Year!

3 Tips to Fix Your #Failed Mobile Marketing

According to a 2013 Pew Internet study, 56% of Americans own a smart phone and 35% own a tablet.  Research from Canalys earlier this year predicted that tablet sales would increase by 59% this year.  In fact in Q3 of 2013, over a quarter of a billion units shipped worldwide.  So getting your mobile strategy right has never been more important for sales.  The C-suite no longer accepts applying outdated tactics that net poor results. (Please Click to Tweet So, here are 3 easy tips to fix your mobile marketing and sales now:

Image courtesy of businesstocommunity.com

Image courtesy of businesstocommunity.com

 1.  Understand that Most Mobile Device Use is Not Really Mobile

That’s right, the biggest mistake that marketers are making is NOT understanding how people are using their devices.  A joint study released by AOL and BBDO revealed that 68% consumer mobile phone use occurred at home.  Yes, they are using their devices at home!

Marketers need to have a two-pronged approach to reach the ‘at home market’ and the ‘on-the-go market.’  They have different needs.   There is an added level of complexity when understanding the use of tablets versus smart phones.  Marketers who succeed in mobile will be those who establish different strategies and tactics for each.

2.  Mobile Phone Use Does Not Equal Tablet Use

According to Pew, the demographics for those using tablets most include:

  • Those living in households earning at least $75,000 per year (56%), compared with lower income brackets
  • Adults ages 35-44 (49%), compared with younger and older adults
  • College graduates (49%), compared with adults with lower levels of education

In order to effectively reach tablet and smart phone users requires different approaches, particularly when it comes to advertising.  It is not a one size fits all approach.

3.  Advertising on Mobile?  Know Thy Device!

If you are still using the old “push” model of broadcasting messages in your  advertising, you are likely failing.

Marketers need to focus on micro-targeted “pull” campaigns that effectively result in the customer accepting messages. In addition to pull, Marketers need to forget banner ads.  While somewhat annoying to computer users, they are even less welcome on mobile.  They just aren’t scalable to mobile and therefore completely ineffective.

Finally it is important to know that those succeeding in the mobile market and netting sales have built relationships with customers.  Through these relationships, they have learned customer  preferences, including real-time location information.  They offer deals that result in real sales.  Starbucks for example leveraged mobile by offering a $5 credit to those who joined My Starbucks Rewards program.  This resulted in more than 500,000 downloads of the mobile app in its two-week trial period.

Take-Away Lessons:  

  1. Don’t push information.  Pull Information through offering something up to your customer or prospect.  What are the chances that someone who redeemed that $5 spent more than the credit allotted to him or her?  Probably pretty good.
  2. Understand how customers are using different devices and use appropriate tactics.
  3. Don’t annoy prospects and customers with annoying banner ads on mobile.  Be creative and delight your customers with real offerings to PULL them into your store or location.

If people thought that social media changed everything, mobile is like living inside a snow globe that someone continually shakes.  What changes are you making to your mobile strategy to accommodate for this different world?

Social Media Expert? I think Not!

Over that last little while there has been somewhat of a debate that has emerged.  The debate centers around people who call themselves Social Media (SM) experts.  Just over the last 24 hours, a very detailed discussion has been taking place on Social Media Marketing on LinkedIn.  This is a fascinating group with great discussions.  I encourage you to check it out.

In the end, I don’t believe that there are SM experts!  This is to new a game and everyone is playing it differently.  Because Starbucks and Best Buy were successful doing it “their” way, does not mean that you and your organization should follow the same path.

Let’s remember what the purpose of SM is – it is about building relationships.  You have to be genuine and build relationships your way.  To do so the same way that another organization has will be proof positive that you are not genuine.

So, please remember to think about how you want to build relationships and what steps you would like to take to do it “your way.”