Don’t be like the US Government. Learn to love your problems.

I know that I know best.

Not about everything. Don’t ask me to do math. I have no idea how to program my sprinkler system. And I’m sitting here waiting for my 13-year-old son to get home and fix my phone.

But when it comes to many things in my life, I think I’m the expert. Especially when it comes to my work.

You know you do it too.

Oh, please. You can’t tell me you don’t feel the same way. That moment when you get an email from someone pointing out something you’ve done wrong or changing something you spent hours on – you know you get that prickle on the back of your neck and your joints seize up just a little bit as you hold yourself back from writing a scathing response.

Yup. I’ve been there.

That’s because we’re focused on the solution, not the problem.

It’s time to fall in love.

When you invest so much in the solution – YOUR solution – many times it can lead to a poor result. Or, at the very least, a lot of frustration on your part. By falling in love with your own solution, you’re not working the problem.

You’re focusing on an outcome that just might not be the best answer.

Falling in love with a problem is not an original idea, but it certainly does change how you operate. Because when you focus on the problem and not YOUR solution, you’re determined to do what’s best for the work, the client, the…whatever…and you switch from being an unyielding ass to someone others are thrilled to work with.

Not that I’ve ever been an ass, of course. This is all purely hypothetical.

Let’s take this idea and run with it.

Have you ever served on the board of an organization that gets ABSOLUTELY NOTHING DONE? Why do you think that is? I mean, the people who are serving with you obviously have good intentions. Most of them are probably experts in some area that could benefit the organization.

But most of the time they’re so focused on their own answers to the issues, they don’t listen to everyone else’s.

How about an even BIGGER picture? What do you think the US government would look like if every person involved fell in love with the problems and not their own solutions? Wouldn’t that be better for all involved?

Bottom line.

So, the next time you feel yourself reaching for your keyboard, ready to defend your solution…think about why you’re doing it. Is it even possible that someone else might have the right answer? Or a piece of the puzzle that you’re missing?

Focusing and falling in love with the problem opens up so many different possibilities for you and the people you work with. By just changing the way you think just a little bit, you might find yourself less frustrated and more productive.

If anything else, you won’t have people talking behind your back and saying that you’re behaving like the U.S. Government.

 

Don’t make a misstake.

Remember graduating? That feeling of FREEDOM? Knowing that you had passed that last test (okay, maybe not aced it, but who cares?) and that you would never ever be graded again?

Sorry to burst your bubble…but that’s not the case.

Written communication is so important and your “grades” these days come in the form of judgement. Whether it’s business communication or an online dating profile, people are actually hunting for those imperfections.

Covfefe, anyone?

Are we being set up for failure?

I remember sitting with my daughter’s 5th grade teachers for a conference, expressing my concern about her spelling skills.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” one of her teachers said. “There’s always spellcheck.”

That was the wrong thing to say to an English major.

And spellcheck doesn’t pick everything up. What’s worse is that we’re also dealing with an autocorrect world that can’t seem to recognize when I misspell “think” and changes it to “honk.”

I “honk” a lot.

Your written communication says more about you today than ever before. It speaks to your education level, your expertise, and your attention to detail. A poorly worded email to a client could cost you the gig. A misspelling could lead to a misunderstanding.

And, more importantly, it could cost you that online date.

But here’s a twist.

In certain cases, I’m all about the deliberate mistake.

That’s right. I’ll actually encourage a client to send out a newsletter with a subject line admitting they were wrong about something. Or post something on social media that points out a mistake they made.

Mistakes get more attention than anything these days. Sad to say, but it’s true.

When I attended a digital marketing conference this summer, the workshops were saturated with a lot of the same type of information over and over again.

Know what got my attention? When a keynote speaker was flipping through slides during his speech and finally landed on one with a glaring error.

It was completely intentional. He knew a room full of content marketers and digital experts would all be proofreading his presentation.

And guess what? That’s the presentation that stuck with me.

What I can’t do for you.

In the last few weeks, I’ve dealt with this subject several times with clients, non-clients, potential clients, and Joe the Plumber. It is inspiring me to actually create a contract going forward that I’m hoping will accurately detail what can be done through social media marketing and what I expect from my clients.

Yes. You read that right. I expect you to actually do some WORK.

I’m in this to help you succeed, but I can’t do everything. That’s because social media marketing is all about who YOU are as a business. Your potential clients don’t want to read what I have to say.

They want to hear from YOU.

So, yes, while I do much of the legwork, send you prompts and ideas for blogs that you can outline for me and I can write for you, schedule everything, and generally make you look like a social media whiz…I cannot do that alone.

I’m not a realtor.

I’m don’t work in finance.

I don’t know the ins and outs of your business. YOU are the expert. My job is to represent you that way.

While it would be nice if you could just hire me and then never hear from me again while you SEO went through the roof and you magically attained clients, that’s not how this works.

Social media marketing, while far-reaching, is very personal. It is the way YOU can effectively connect with tons of potential clients. It’s about telling your story, showing your personality, and building trust.

That means that you have to invest in the process before anyone is going to invest in YOU.

 

social media marketing

Why I just don’t care about the size of your audience.

Whoops. There’s a typo in the title. That should read “Why I don’t JUST care about the size of your audience.”

So.

You have a dream. You want to wake up one morning, scroll through your social media accounts, and where you once had “23 followers” it suddenly says “23k followers.”

I’m sure you’ve been spammed with this before – companies offering to get you thousands of likes within a week if you’ll just give them your credit card information. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is.

It’s just not necessarily effective marketing. And it kind of feels a little hooker-ish.

How social media marketing actually WORKS.

You can probably figure out the companies that have actually used this “tool” – they’re the ones who have that magical “k” after a number. And they don’t have one retweet, like, or share on any of their posts in any of their accounts.

So, basically what they’ve done is pay good money for a bunch people who couldn’t care less about their business. Those people aren’t clients. They’re not buying what you’re selling. They don’t care about the amazing service you offer. They’re not connected with you at all.

They were paid to like you.

I know. Kind of makes you want to go take a shower, right?

Any good marketing professional will tell you that, while it’s great to have a ton of people “liking” you, it’s useless if they’re not interested. In my previous company, they had thousands of “followers”….

And the only person who “liked” the company’s Facebook posts was the mother of the woman who was creating them.

Love your audience – no matter the size.

social media marketingI know that some clients look at their 20 followers and wonder when they’re going to see that number rise. And the truth is…it’s going to take a while. That’s because, if you’re working with me, I’m never going to encourage you to “buy” likes – but I will celebrate with you as you build the RIGHT audience that is actually interested in what you’re doing.

ONE organic, involved follower is worth a thousand people who could care less about what you’re doing. That one follower is interested. They’re engaged. We didn’t ask them to like you…they genuinely do.

That rise in your audience means that you’re speaking to them in a way that has caught their attention. And in doing so, they’re more likely to share your name and talk about what you’re doing.

Here’s an example.

I have a client that currently has a couple hundred Twitter followers which, for her industry, is pretty good. But what makes it even better and what lets me know that we’re doing things right is that for just about every post we share, she is retweeted at least once or twice and her “likes” on her posts are consistent.

That means that people are actually reading what she is promoting. Sometimes it’s outside content. But almost everything is coming from her blog and website. That’s great traffic. That’s usable engagement. Millions of followers aren’t necessary because her potential client isn’t every person on the planet.

And if you think about it…yours probably isn’t either.

So, why would you make that your goal?

Wait. I’m not saying that growth is a bad thing.

Yes, it would be awesome if your social media pages suddenly exploded overnight. And YES that can happen. But if it does, it should be that you wrote a piece or offered advice that communicated something so amazing that thousands of people wanted to share it. That creates a true, sustainable audience that will stick with you and stay involved.

social media marketingThose of you who follow this blog and who are currently working with me know that there is a method to my madness. My goal is to make you a resource. I don’t push your product or service on your audience – I promote original and outside material that will bring people in. That makes it genuine. That creates trust for you and your brand.

And it (usually) doesn’t happen with 1000 likes overnight.

It happens one engaged follower and one true, potential client at a time.

 

Click here to read Seth Godin’s thoughts on creating a “minimum viable audience.”

What do 7 Strippers and a Moose have in Common? Changing the way men view the minivan.

There’s a problem out there. And I believe good marketing could fix it.

I am the PROUD owner of a new minivan. I’ve had the SUV. I’ve had the sports car. My husband and I have owned Jeeps and trucks. But the one car that I have truly loved is the minivan.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve become so hyper-sensitive to the look of – is it condescension? Pity? Exasperation? – on the faces of my male friends when I strap myself into into my deluxe, 8-seater ride and leave their little Ford 350s in the dust.

I know it’s not just a male thing; there are women friends I know who would never go near owning a minivan. However, I DO think that most women have the ability to get over themselves and recognize the fact that strapping three kids into car seats while hauling a week’s worth of groceries and the family St. Bernard is just easier when you have automatic sliding doors (incidentally, those doors come in handy when you’re carrying a case of wine, too).

For the most part, I think it’s a male-perpetuated stigma that I find really unnecessary. And I think if Toyota, Honda, Chrysler…all of the major minivan power players (I think we can leave Volkswagon out of this) would just step up their marketing game, we could really change how people view the family truckster.

From a female perspective, I found the fact that Mark Wahlberg proudly announced on Ellen Degeneres that he drives a Toyota Sienna my own personal catnip. AND, just to prove how powerful this stigma can be, I actually told a guy on a first date that I was picking up my new van the next day just to see what he said and without missing a beat he exclaimed, “I LOVED my minivan. I drove the wheels off that thing.”

That guaranteed the second date.

Now I just want to make a point to all of you minivan poo poo-ers and show you what you’re missing.

Did you know you could haul….

At least six kegs of beer…

 

…a new water heater AND furnace (I have personally done that one)…

 

…a small to mid-size moose…

 

…and seven strippers…

 

…in your minivan???

And it’s not like it has to be standard! You can lift it, lower it, light it up, and make it do the cha-cha. With all that extra space, you can finally fit those subwoofers that wouldn’t fit in that crappy Hyundai you had when you were 16! Need a cold one as you’re driving down the highway? Get the option with that extra mini-fridge built into the car!

Really. The options are unlimited. Why in the WORLD would you opt for a Mustang that you have to grunt your way out of or that super-duty truck you STILL don’t know how to park?

The minivan is your ticket to the newer, drunker, handier, with an STD twist YOU!

Viral Anger

My parents came over yesterday so that my dad could, yet again, replace one of my sprinkler heads. I’m still not entirely sure if there’s a problem with my sprinklers or if my dad has a secret crush on someone at Home Depot. But my lawn has never looked better.

Anyway, we started talking about the state of the world and my dad mentioned something about reading an article that talked about how anger is contagious.

I immediately agreed with him and had a flashback to a time in my old neighborhood when a neighbor turned me in for having firewood on the side of my house and not behind my fence (I know…how dare I?). This made me want to turn in every little issue I saw around the ‘hood. I didn’t do it, but I could see how one little tattle could have a domino effect.

It annoyed me and that meant that I wanted to annoy someone else.

And then I saw this today:

Trump

Which completely proved what my parents and were discussing yesterday. This is going viral because our president has few talents, but one that he does possess is the ability to anger a lot of people and “get ratings” (exactly the qualities you want in a leader).

The bottom line is that however you feel about the president, there’s no denying that he gets your attention.

What does this have to do with marketing?

Marketing is designed to make you feel SOMETHING. Love, pity, sadness, joy…any strong emotion that will make you remember the product or message and encourage you to share it.

Unfortunately, nothing makes us feel more…something…than anger. And maybe not just anger: self-righteousness? Smugness? After all, how many marketing emails that say “Sale Only Today!” do you open? What about “OOPS! We really screwed up”?

Of course you’re going to open the second one! How did they screw up? How will that make me feel better about myself? Even better – was there a typo in the subject line that will make me feel superior???

This is a marketing tactic that makes me incredibly sad…but there’s no denying that it works.

Business blogging isn’t for me. So I’m going to blog about business.

Whew. I’ve been really bad about blogging lately. NO MORE! Today is my first full day of being 41 and I say the blogging must begin.

You know. Again.

I feel like I’ve been going about this the wrong way. I’ve been business blogging like a business blogger. But that’s not how I built my own following; and even though the large audience that I have has very little to do with business, the premise is the same for all bloggers, not matter what the subject is.

It has to be readable, relatable, tell a story, and hopefully educate and inspire.

So, I’m done with “business” blogging. I’m now going to blog about business.

HUH?

I know you’re wondering, “What in the hell is the difference?” and I don’t blame you. But if you’ve read this far, that might mean that what I’ve written is somewhat engaging. And that’s the whole point when it comes to content, no matter what it is.

This week I attended a conference in Denver that completely focused on digital marketingĀ  and I walked away knowing two things for sure:

  1. No one, no matter how big you are, knows anything about digital marketing for sure.
  2. And everyone, no matter how big you are, is trying to tell a story through advertising that makes us laugh, cry, or just feel. In 8 seconds or less.

Back to the blogging.

Seth Godin – yes, THE Seth Godin – was the keynote speaker. If you haven’t read him, you should, even if it’s to just Google the many insightful quotes that will be sure to leave you feeling just a little bit better than you did before.

He’s one of my favorite writers (and now speakers) because he often says things you probably already know, but he does it in a way that’s much better than you ever could. He’s approachable with a twist of genius and I’d like to be just like him.

Except he doesn’t own a TV so I can’t.

Anyway, during the Q&A session, someone asked how he has the time to blog every morning. And even though I consider myself a fan…I kinda didn’t know about the blog.

So, being at a digital marketing conference where everyone is buried in their phones anyway, I looked it up. And, sure enough, he does.

His response to the question was something along the lines of “I have to blog every morning to get a few thoughts out.” Which makes sense to me because, when I was a more relaxed blogger, that’s exactly what I did.

And then I got all uptight and businessy.

Looking at his blog…it wasn’t earth-shattering. Sure, he’s brilliant, but some of those blogs were just a couple of sentences. HE’S not worried about his form, readability, SEO (which, when you’re Seth Godin, you don’t have to), or if it’s going to go viral.

So, why should I?

The whole point of it is like a meditation or just a way of organizing his thoughts that day. And, as I know from previous experience, that probably means that he comes up with some pretty good ideas along the way.

So, THANK YOU, Seth Godin, for that amazing keynote speech and for reminding me about WHY I’m actually so good at what I do in marketing. It’s because I can write, I can tell a story, and I can help others tell theirs.

Thanks for reminding me that that’s the best part about what I do.

 

ROI

ROI: How to Know if Your Social Media Investment is Worth It.

Return on Investment

One of the first questions I’m asked when talking to a potential client is, “How do I know if what I’m investing in social media is worth it?” And let’s be clear – it is an investment; even if you’re doing it on your own, it takes a lot of your time and resources to do it right. You might even be spending money on social media advertising, boosting posts and creating ads. And if you’re outsourcing this task to someone else (please let it be me), then of course you want to know if you’re getting your money’s worth.

And that’s where things can get a little tricky.

Let’s Start from the Beginning.

Usually, when I begin working with a client, they have minimal to no current social media outreach which means we’re starting from scratch. And that’s great – it’s the perfect time to experiment, work on your company’s message, and begin to establish you as an expert in your field.

What we’re doing is developing your brand. We’re honing in on your message. We’re at the beginning stages of making people aware of you, your business, and what you’re bringing to the table. We’re establishing trust within your industry.

So, if I’m being honest, during your initial foray into the world of social media, sales are not at the forefront of my mind. I’m first trying to get you OUT THERE with a cohesive message.

And brand awareness is invaluable.

Going in the right direction.

In this digital age, I want your customer going to your website. I don’t care if you’re selling a product or offering a service, your website should be where your customer can get all the information they need to either prompt them to contact you or purchase your product.

This means that a well-thought-out, content-rich website is key to your success. We’re not going physically door-to-door anymore; social media is your knock, your website is your smile and your sales pitch.

So, your social media should do everything it can to get your customer to your website. In many cases this means you can’t just have a static site – you must constantly generate content that engages and, again, establishes you as an expert. These articles/blogs/posts are what we publish to get your customer to your site where they will, hopefully, read the content and want to know more.

And that’s when they contact you.

Measuring Success.

Now, keep in mind that the majority of my clients are service providers, so measuring success for that type of business is very different from advertising a tangible product. When you have merchandise, your ROI can be measured differently through specific ads or offers to figure out what is working, what is not, and where your customers are coming from. It could be a specific Facebook ad for a product or a special you put out in your monthly newsletter or email outreach.

As a service provider, things are a little different. Sure, you can offer a discount on services that you only advertise on Twitter and then you’ll know specifically who it’s reaching. But for the most part, you might notice an increase in volume, but not know exactly why or where it’s coming from. Sure, a customer might mention that they saw your Facebook ad, but it could be that you posted something on your business page that interested a reader who then shared it on their personal page where someone else picked it up.

And, truth be told, when it comes to measuring success…that’s really up to you. It’s important for you to determine your goals and keep them in mind as you’re posting OR make sure your social media professional (again, please let that be me) knows what they are.

  • How much is one potential customer visit to your site worth?
  • How does specific industry outreach benefit your business?
  • Are you looking for mass outreach, or quality prospects?

These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself. And the answers will be – and should be – always changing. Just as your business grows, your goals shift a little. And your marketing should shift with it.

Bottom line.

The truth is that there are thousands of articles out there that discuss social media ROI and each one is a little different. They might recommend software that measures different goals, traffic, and investment. Or they might make your head spin with different ways to define your success.

But, in my opinion, even the “experts” out there are still figuring out the impact social media has because there is no definite formula that says THIS + THIS = SUCCESS. Each business is individual and social media advertising is so different from, say, putting together a TV ad for the Superbowl; this coupled with the fact that social media is CONSTANTLY changing…many experts are still scratching their heads.

It’s about the right kind of volume. Consistency. Posting things that speak to your potential customer. Being honest about who you are as a company and building trust. Getting a potential customer’s attention and keeping it. Yes, this outreach should be tracked so that you know what’s working.

But YOU will be the ultimate assessor of your success.

How Video WILL Affect Your Marketing

Video marketing has completely changed how companies represent themselves. And if you’re not doing it…you might be left in the virtual dust.

Connecting through Video Marketing

While I’ve been watching clips of Jimmy Fallon that people post on their Facebook pages for years and lately I’ve been sucked into that video of the cats ringing the bell to get their food, I’m a reluctant convert into the world of video marketing.

But whether you like it or not…it’s here to stay, folks.

And it truly is amazing. Of course, my kids have been solidly on board for a while, but I really got an idea of how effective it was when my son begged me to watch the launch of the new Nintendo Switch with him. And so I sat there in my pajamas at 9 PM my time and watched a live stream of executives in Japan showing off this new product.

Along with 23 million other people.

But I find that for most people, the idea of video marketing is extremely intimidating. They’re envisioning multi-million dollar campaigns, scripts, and a shirtless Chris Pratt endorsing their product.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Sure, that kind of advertising has its place. But the truth is that what every company wants – whether you’re Coke or the local dry cleaner – is to connect.

And that’s what levels the playing field.

Why Video Marketing might be Perfect for You.

Have you noticed lately that large corporations are trying to seem small? Of course they are! They want to be relatable and come across as genuine, which is hard to do when you have tens of thousands of employees.

For the small business, it’s much easier because we are genuine. We care. We’re passionate about what we do and we want you to know it. We actually want you to get to know us and that’s why we should infuse as much personality into our marketing as we can.

And using video is a great way to do that.

AsĀ  customer I want to know WHY: Why you? Why YOUR product? Why your service? Why you think you can help me?

Why should I choose YOU?

And when it comes to video marketing, there are several ways you can answer these questions:

Live Video

Sure, live video is a scary thing because you never know when you might make a mistake. But you know what? That’s okay. What’s important is that you’re letting us get to know you. You’re showing us around your office, promoting a sale that people can see you’re excited about, or giving us a tip that we can use. YOU’RE CONNECTING. We like that. This has been popular on Facebook for a while and now, with the new Instagram stories, you can post there as well.

Channel Yourself

Looking for a more planned approach? Try a YouTube channel! This way you can plan your content and post regularly. Tips and Q&As are great ways to provide information to your audience. However, keep in mind that YouTube and social media platforms go hand-in-hand. If you’re not promoting your channel through social media, newsletters, or other forms of digital communication…it might get lost in the 300 hours of video posted to YouTube every minute. For more tips on creating a successful YouTube presence, click here.

Vlogging

This has been the hardest one for me to digest because I’m such a blogging addict. But vlogging has become an effective way to interact with your clients because it’s like having a conversation with them. When the blog first came about, it really was like an online diary of sorts. Vlogging should feel the same. But remember the same rules apply when it comes to vlogging: Don’t make your posts too long or you’ll lose your audience.

I’ll leave you with this.

Keep in mind that while we want you to be genuine, we also want some sense of professionalism. You are representing your company. So while it might seem like a good idea to post that video of yourself at a friend’s bachelorette party in Vegas to your YouTube channel…please don’t.

Especially when it comes to the vlog or YourTube channel, experiment with what you’re wearing and make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. I don’t care if you’re wearing yoga pants as long as the upper half of you looks like I want to give you my money.

And PLEASE pay attention to what’s behind you in the video. Dirty dishes do not make me want to invest in your product.

For more tips on video marketing, click here.

The Power of Social Media: My interview on BBC World Service

Nothing speaks more about the power of social media marketing than actually watching it WORK.

Besides getting several business inquiries through Twitter last week, I also woke up to an email from BBC, asking if I would be available for a live interview that morning.

And where did I receive that email?

My Facebook business page.

The interview focused on an article in the New York Times that ties into my book. So, not only did I get to participate…my name and the title of my book were announced on a worldwide broadcast.

And I hadn’t even had my morning coffee yet.

Social media is now where people go to find you. And if you’re not there…they’ll move on to someone who is.

Oh – and when you click on it and see Paul Ryan’s picture, don’t worry. My interview begins about 25 minutes into the broadcast so just fast forward. The interview is worth it just to hear the adorable British guy who’s on the panel as well.

 

Click here.