"I Made a Mistake."

I was sitting with a client last week talking with him about his marketing Man Choicesplan, his website, social media and traditional media. About fifteen minutes into the conversation, after I suggested he contact his web developer to make sure his contact information was correct, he looked at me and said, "You do it. I know my business but I don't know marketing.  I made a mistake in my former business by not hiring professionals to help me with what I don't do well. That's not happening this time."

That admission is unique. I've been doing this work for a very long time and the biggest hurdle for many small business owners is the belief they can do...everything.  The business person who knows his or her craft and has that for a primary focus while leaving "the other stuff" to those of us who are attorneys, accountants or advertising professionals wins.

It's what we do.  It's our craft and our business. It's like we wrote some weeks ago, "You do what you do and let us do that Voodoo."

Thanks for reading!



Email Marketing - Don't Let Them Guess

Each Monday before Noon we send out an email update for our business IOB Newsletter Clicks Usebroadcast that targets over 500 business people in and around the Des Moines Metro.  We use My Emma and our open rate runs about 30%.

Several weeks ago I was troubled by the lack of "click-through" numbers for the various highlights in the body of the message. And, then it dawned on me that we were not giving good direction to the viewer.  In other words, the links were there but we were not calling out that fact often enough.  So we upped our game and, several times throughout the body of the message, we remind the viewer they can click to hear a podcast, check out an sponsor, make contact with our advertising agency and more.

The result was a dramatic increase in the click numbers.  We learned something:

Don't make people guess what you want them to do.  Point it out...over and over.  And, then, do it again.  "One and Done" doesn't cut it.

The image you see has the highlighted clicks for the most recent mailing. Studying these over the past several months lets us know what our audience is interested in and can help us better program the Business News Hour and our mailing efforts.

Hope this helps in your efforts!


Trust = Value

I've been a LinkedIn user for several years and grateful to have many, Linked In Image
many people with whom I've made the decision to link with.  I also do a daily business broadcast and one of the stocks that has made news over the past week is LinkedIn. 

On April 30 LinkedIn stock was going for $252.13 a share. Today the price has plunged to $198.20. Why? The company shared user data which indicates a growing trend in users year over year however the professional networking company reported lower than expected guidance for the next quarter, leading to a significant drop in its stock price. Still falling as of today.

LinkedIn says it is the strong dollar that is giving it troubles.  However, we're wondering if the shine might be gone because many active users, me included, wonder if we can trust the information LinkedIn provides.

Take for example their newer method of helping you keep in touch with your LinkedIn connections. You've all seen the box that gives you tips on who has a new photo, a new job or a promotion. Trouble is many times that information is not correct or it's simply confusing.

Rather than clicking "Congrats" and moving on.  I like to click on the members profile when I'm told they have a new job only to learn they have been on the same job for years and only recently updated some information.  Yet there is a string of "Congrats!" in the member profile.

Value can often be linked to trust.  If I can't trust the information LinkedIn is giving me how much value can I place on the product?

So, what's your LinkedIn experience like.  I'd be interested. Perhaps I've got this all wrong.

Thanks for reading!



No, Don't Ignore It!

I was having a conversation with a business friend of mine who was railing Man Noiseagainst "these social media sites" that share customer input on their experience.  That would include Yelp, TripAdvisor and yes Facebook and Twitter among others.  He said, "I don't know why they complain on social media how come they don't say something when they are in the store so we can fix it there?"

He has a point but, welcome to the digital age where anything and everything goes.

I asked him what he does when he gets a social media complaint and he said, "I ignore it.  It's just stupid and it will go away."

But, it won't.  There is a way to deal with social media complaints that, as you do it, actually boosts your brand.  Here are some tips:

  • Acknowledge to Goof - If something happened that ticked off a customer don't hide from it.  Use it as a way to show your ability to listen to the customer;
  • Offer to Make It Right - True, some folks just want to play mean but if the complaint is real find a way to fix it and say so. And, don't be afraid to do it publicly;
  • Be Nice - Look, we get it...nothing feels better than to fire off a Tweet or a Facebook Post so you can "get back".  That is until somebody out there copies the post, circulates it and then who looks bad?  Resist the impulse;
  • Use the Moment - While it's true that in the digital age anybody can complain about anything and often stay anonymous.  No matter if it's a "troll" or for real.  Use the moment to help consumers better understand who and what you are really like.

I really liked this piece from Hootsuite and how they used negative comments to re-build:  



The Power of Connection

As most of you know I do a daily business news broadcast. Along with the MPL Studio Editbusiness news of the day and the markets we'll make welcome one or two business guests during the hour. The interview segments run, on average, eight to twelve minutes. We've had hundreds of conversations with established business leaders to start-ups.

Within 24 hours we send out guests the radio blog links, podcast links, photos and any video we take during the interview.  What happens next is interesting.

Some of our guests take the information we share with them and post it on their own blogs, Facebook Page, Twitter, Flicker...etc.  Some clearly don't. How do we know?

We watch the number of "plays" each has.  Those who are connected to social media and have their own audience start to build "play numbers" right away.  Those who don't...don't.

It's the power of connection.  Sure, while we're live we'll reach hundreds of listeners but, for those who understand the power of social media, hundreds more get to listen to the interview segment on "their time".  That, my friends, is the new reality of media.  Listeners, viewers want stuff when they want it and not built around our schedule.

Oh, the times they are a changin'!




April 21st - Are You Ready?

There is an important business date coming up in April…and it’s not April Google Logo15th…but April 21st and it has nothing to do with taxes but everything to do with Google and your business.  What’s going to happen?

We believe Google will launch a new mobile crawler (probably with an Android user-agent) that can, and will, identify your site as being mobile friendly and tell the world if you are or are not.

What this means is when you do a search from a mobile device and get your results…if your site is not mobile friendly Google will flag it as such allowing the person doing the searching to know, at a glance, that there is no use in going to this site because they will have to pinch and squeeze their screen to figure out what’s on the page.

Up until now those of you that do not have a responsive website design perhaps have not seen any value in moving forward. That could all change drastically come April 21st when the new Google algorithm helps searchers decide…at the search screen that your site ain’t worth looking at…from a mobile perspective.

Friends…this is huge, huge, huge.  Sort of like when those of you who are on Facebook decided to plow all your marketing dollars into your business Facebook site and now realize that less than two percent of the people who like your page can…see it..without you paying Facebook to publish on a wider basis.

How do you KNOW if your site is mobile friendly?  Google has published a tool to help you learn if it is…or isn’t.  Here is the link to the Mobile Friendly Testing Tool.  All you do is put in your site’s URL and you’ll find out…

What if it isn’t…we need to talk…quickly or you need to talk…quickly… to your web developer.

And, you are welcome.


Who OWNS Your Website?

Our firm has been working to help a non-profit re-claim their website. Huh? Own It Words Yep. We've now run into this a couple of times and it's something you should know.

You may "think" you own your existing website but, not so fast! Sometimes the web-developer continues to hold the magic keys and when there are "issues" that can't be resolved they "own" it and can take it down.

Because your website is, most always, the first point of contact with consumers you need to make sure you hold the keys.  Here are some quick tips:

  • Ask the Question - When you're in development make sure you ask, "When we're done with this project do we have control over the site from updates to hosting?"  And, get the answer in writing;
  • Non-Profit Boards - I've been on hundreds and because they are made up of volunteers who have "real lives" often the record keeping is pretty bad. Make sure the "contract" or "agreement" is on-file and everybody has a copy;
  • Cheap is Not Always Good - Non-profits (and many small businesses) don't have a pile of cash to invest into their website. However, cheap is still cheap and not always the best of solutions. Get some professional help. Your job is to run the non-profit mission or business not become a marketing professional;
  • Document Unresolved Issues - If you already have a website and you've been experiencing slow updates, a developer who is always busy and doesn't have time to help make sure you document the interaction between your board and the developer.  It keeps everybody in the loop and, if legal issues follow, you've got a record;
  • Stay Professional - It can be frustrating to work with unresponsive firms but stuff gets "passed around" try, hard, to stay professional in your email conversations.

Each non-profit board member has a "friend in the business" and the member really wants to help.  That's great but when it comes to business (and make no mistake your non-profit is a business) don't short-cut the decisions.  It could all come back to bite you.


Doing It Right!

A couple of weeks ago I was having trouble finding my favorite flavor of AmarettoCoffee-Mate. Never bothered asking the local Hy-Vee about it because I figured it would show up sooner than later.

Three weeks into the "Amaretto Coffee-Mate Drought" I popped off a Tweet to @Coffee_Mate who responded, timely by the way, "We're sorry but Amaretto has been retired why don't you try..."

WHAT?  No Amaretto Coffee-Mate?  My mornings were going to from sleepy to sad...very sad.

Over the past couple of weeks I Tweeted my disdain to my former friends @Nestle and @Coffee_Mate. Ya know, photos of the Coffee-Mate section without Amaretto. A friend of mine even chimed in with #FreeTheAmaretto for Twitter.  The brand was sorry for my troubles and suggested that maybe some new "Caramel and Coconut Girl Scout" flavor might be a replacement. What?  Who thinks of this stuff?

This past Sunday I included @Hy_Vee in my tweet...moaning about the loss of the Amaretto flavor. Within a few minutes I get a Tweet back suggesting that I send an email to hvcs@hy-vee.com with my concern. Told them the flavor was retired but went ahead and sent an email anyway. On Sunday! Within the hour I got a response...from a real person...with a real name and a real email address.  

Amaretto Coffee CreamerShocked!  Who does this?  What no Bot response...but a nice note from Kourtney?  

I responded back...just to make sure it wasn't a Bot and she wrote back, "You’re most welcome Michael! We run a 24/7 operation here so if you ever have any store requests or Fuel Saver inquires there will be someone here to take care of it!"

Oh...so what did I do?  Made my own!  Another friend on Twitter supplied me with this recipe and BAM we're in business...and, of course, I picked up the ingredients from..."My Hy-Vee".

Welcome to Des Moines Price Chopper...you've got some work ahead of you.


Well played Hy-Vee...very!


How To Buy Stuff - Chapter Two

My friend and I have been working on a book idea.  Both he and I believe How to Buythere are enough "How to Sell" books.  What business needs is a book on "How to Buy Stuff".  Tips on how to move your business forward by paying attention to sales and marketing...not yours...but "The Pitch" and then how to and how not to take action.

Chapter Two, we've decided is "How Not to Allow Deadlines to Assist in Not Buying". Ready?

Here is the set up: Let's say you manage or own a business and every day of the week you are called on to listen to a pitch. (Here's what I think about your duty to listen to every one!)  When the pitch is complete you say to the salesperson, "This is fantastic! It's exactly what we need. Let me get back to you in a week."

Then the week goes by and the salesperson, who has kept in touch with you during the week hears nothing back. Crickets!  

The day comes and the salesperson finally catches up with you and you say, "I know today is the deadline for the offer but, I just can't get it done today.  I'm sorry!"

So, we went from "Gotta have!" to "I don't have time to put my signature on a document."

The customer used the deadline to help him/her fail to follow through with the buy.  Sad.

What should happen is the buyer, during one of the interactions between the pitch and the deadline, should have said was, "Look we considered this but, in the end, it's not going to work for us because..."  It's important the salesperson hears the "Why.." because perhaps the objection is something you just don't understand.

Or...you just made up your excitement during the pitch which is phony and not a good way to do business. 

Your thoughts?


Own Your Space!

Most small, or owner managed, businesses simply don't have the resources Own It Wordsto cover all the media bases available. So what often happens is they "dabble" in several.  A little money goes to print, a little goes to radio, a little goes to television.  Then they add the "free stuff" the many social media platforms thinking they must be on everything because so many people use social media.  So they dabble in Facebook, Twitter, have a Blog, maybe Pinterest maybe LinkedIn. 

Dabbling rather than owning their space.  And, by dabbling they are hearing a great sucking sound and not much impact from their advertising. Spending lots and not getting an ROI.

If any of this sounds familiar.  I get it.  That's why you need to alter your marketing and "Own Your Space".

Once you identify where your target demographic is hanging out get in there and don't just "dabble", own it.  If it's print (newspaper) be there several times a week.  If it's radio be there in a rotation that will make it seem like you own the station. If it's television don't buy just one newscast...buy as many as you possibly can. But...do not DABBLE.

Here's how you start.  Right now add up all the advertising you are currently doing:  Radio, Print (Newspapers to "Neighborhood Magazines"), Professional Online Listings, Trade Shows, Billboards, Google Ad Words, etc. The Chamber Membership that has never brought you a dime. Even include the High School Sponsorship you've been doing for ten years after your kids have graduated because you feel "a relationship".

Bet it's a pretty good chunk of change.

Now pick a media, one that is in concert with your target demographic, and "own your space".  Learn how to say "no" to everybody else until your seeing measurable ROI.  Then, and only then, move on to another media.

One other thing.  If you are "owning your space" in whatever media you use, make sure you alter your message.  Stay with the over-reaching theme but change things up so folks don't get tired of what you are saying. 

Thanks for reading!