Is It The Content or Something Else?

We're now in our fourth year of reporting the business news of the nation, region and the IOB_podcastv2 Greater Des Moines Metro during Insight on Business the News Hour. Each weekday starting at 5:05pm we take to the air on AM-940, FM-104.5 and in HD at 103.3 HD2 and report the business news of the day, what the market did and why and then conduct two long-form business interviews with startups to established corporations. To date we've conducted over 1,500 of those interviews with nearly 147,000 downloads on just one of our podcast pages, Podbean. You can see that here.

That's the history.

And we've noticed something that should be of interest to those of you attempting to extend your voice with social media.  

Social media experts tell us that "content is king". If you produce good and valuable content people will notice and engage. We think that's true as long as the content is about cats or food. Business? Not so much. The vast consumer population could care less about how to grow, maintain, start and stay in business.

Or wait...might it be something else?

We watch, very carefully, the download and listening numbers as they appear on iTunes and Podbean. We also follow the data on Bitly and we've noticed that those business people and businesses who join us for an interview and then share their story along several social media Man Megaphonechannels gain a big advantage. In other words they are not keeping their story...secret or to themselves they are telling the world and it matters.

And, if those businesses or business people carry their message forward for several days/weeks their download numbers explode. Sure we're there carrying the water as well but when the organic tweets and Facebook posts and LinkedIn posts happen more than once...it extends their voice so much further.

There is a valuable lesson here: Social Media is not a "one-and-done" effort. Think of it this way, if you got a new job or you're about to get married or you've just closed a huge deal... would you tell just one person?  No. You would repeat that story several times over the life of the news.

It's the same thing here. The very same thing. Content does matter but so too does properly sharing that content.

Your turn!

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Referral Marketing - Just Ask

This week Mike Colwell, a guest on the Business News Hour, and I had a conversation about Mike Colwell MPL 14 Dec 2016referral marketing. If you want to check out that podcast, here is a link. Referral marketing works really, really well and to get there you don't have to buy fancy software or a third party platform. Much, if not all, can be done on your own. But there are some critical steps to help you get there.

  • Know Your Best Customers - Small and large businesses know who their best customers are, or you should. The first step in referral marketing is to identify who these people are. Who has made your business their favorite? Who is already a brand warrior for you? You may have five or five hundred, it doesn't matter...just know who they are;
  • Ask Them - Once you've identified who your best customer is simply ask them why they love doing business with you. Is it service, selection, price, location??? What? Reach out with a phone call or in person the next time you see them and just ask.  You are already halfway there;
  • Share the Love - The next step is to ask them to share, what they have already told you, with their friends and family. And, if they really do love your business they will not feel put upon to do so. After all they have already told you they love doing business with you now all they have to do is share it.

Because we live in a sharing world (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram...) there are plenty of ways for your best customers to share why they love doing business with you. Imagine the impact of a customer doing a thirty second video on their phone telling the world why they love you. You can then post that to your website and share across several of your social media channels. Other ways to share the love:

  • Remind them to rate you on Google or Yelp or Facebook;
  • Ask them to do a selfie with your logo or your product then post it and tag your business;
  • Ask them to re-tweet a message or two each week;
  • Share the love on Instagram;
  • Have them write a recommendation on Facebook, LinkedIn or just have them send you the email and use part of that...with their permission.

Remember, people do business with people they know and trust...your best customers can be your best marketing asset if if you do just two things: Identify and Ask

Thanks for reading...

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Working It!

One of our preferred methods of communicating with businesses is on Twitter. The reason is simple; if the company is social media savvy the response time on Twitter is much faster and more direct than an email or phone call. Why? Because of transparency. When a company says they are "customer focused" yet ignore consumers the promise is empty.  In other words their action, or often inaction, speaks volumes. However on Social Media, and in this case Mid American Energy CONVO USE August 2016Twitter, everybody has a peek at what is really going on.

Sometimes things happen that allow the cream to rise to the top (if you've never milked a cow you might have to go look that up). Sometimes big and small companies outperform and here are two examples.

Last week there was a power outage in much of Iowa due to storms. Here in the Des Moines Metro thousands were without power. MidAmerican Energy is the local provider and I've learned, over the years, to turn to Twitter for help and input. I mentioned we were without electricity in our part of the Metro and within moments help and advice came back from @Mid_AmEnergyCo. So I checked their Twitter Stream and found their social media team was responding with not only advice but empathy. Actual REAL PEOPLE were responding and showing concern.

You can read the conversation above and to the right. If you click on the image it will enlarge...start at the bottom.

DART Convo August 2016Then, later in the week, I rode a Des Moines Area Rapid Transit bus to the Iowa State Fair. The bus lacked air conditioning and folks were opening up windows on the ride from the Capitol to the fairgrounds. I sent a Tweet chiding @RideDart and within two minutes they responded and were on it...notice the second screen shot.

Bottom Line

It does not matter if you are a small business or a large corporation you need to know and understand that in the world today there are many ways to communicate and be transparent. Those companies who "get it" and respond with feeling, empathy and honesty will always rise to the top and I, as a business person, am proud to call them out and share with you why I support them.  It takes work and dedication from the part of the company but it is so rewarding for those of us who count on you for service...well done! 

 

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The Business News Hour - The Friday Wrap

We are the fuel that powers Insight on Business the News Hour. It's the only daily, hour-long IOB_podcastv2 TuneInbusiness news broadcast in the Midwest. (No, really...we checked.) It airs Monday - Friday starting at 5:05PM on AM-940, FM-104.5 and (if you are really cool) in HD at 103.3 HD2. While we don't record and save the news and markets (that could get old....) we do save the long-form business interviews. 

So, in case you missed it...here's who we talked to this past week. If you would like to hear the interview click on the highlighted name or the media player.  Thanks for listening!

Just saying you want to start a business isn't enough.  Today we learn the Who, What and When of a business startup through the help of Thomas Kutz and Sam Kreamer of the Kreamer Law Firm. Lots of great information here that you need to know before you startup that startup. 

There is a program designed to assist children in the nation and here in Central Iowa. It's called Court Appointed Special Advocate or CASA of Iowa and here to explain what it is and how you might help is Jean M. Baker an author and advocate for children. Learn more...now.

Our guests are from Iowa Works of Central Iowa, Edgar Ortiz and Vonni Stewart are in to share with us what Iowa Works does for businesses and for individuals seeking employment or employment skills. We also talk about the event coming up on the 13th in conjunction with the Iowa Wild. Listen in...

It's coming to the Des Moines Metro on April 22 & 23 and to learn more about the Young Entrepreneur Convention we make welcome founder Brandon Adams. What to expect and the "young" does not have an age attached to it...Listen up...Brandon is "stoked".

Just over a year ago Michelle Hanson joined the ReMax Real Estate Concepts Team and said it was the best decision she's made in a very long time. We talk about selling real estate, the drive and ambition it takes to be successful and working alongside her Father-In-Law Lance Hanson. We also squeeze in some conversation about the current housing market in Des Moines. 

In addition to our special guests each Monday we feature our Networking/Social Media Contributor Laura Kinnard with networking picks and social media tips for business and each Friday we end with our Friday Fun Contributor Sheryl Tessier from Eat, Play, Love Des Moines and her top picks of "Stuff to DO in the Metro".

Thanks for reading and catch you tonight at 5:05 for the Business News Hour...


Why Don't They Call?

Two weeks ago I attended a BNI meeting in Urbandale. They tell me it's the largest Business Telephone DustyNetwork International group in the Des Moines Metro. The breakfast meeting was well attended and I knew a great many of the thirty plus people there...I've been around awhile.

When it came my turn to address the group I offered them each a gift. I gave each person the business card for Insight on Business the News Hour and said, "I do the only daily, hour-long business broadcast in the Midwest and I would love for you to call me and let's get you on the air to chat a bit about your business. There is no charge."  

But, I knew they wouldn't call. I've been doing this business broadcast for years. I knew.

Perhaps having the 11,500+ people who listen to the three stations isn't impressive. Perhaps having us hand each guest their own copy of the recorded broadcast, in podcast form, along with the studio photos so they can share their story beyond the broadcast isn't impressive. Perhaps they figure it's "too good to be true" and it's my way of squeezing out a client relationship. Perhaps they just want to do business with each other.

Or they miss the value or they think we to "toxic talk radio" with "gotcha" questions.

I dunno.  Maybe you do.  Maybe you can help me understand why the phone sits there and collects...dust.  I'm really interested. 

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So What Does This Tell Us?

This morning I made two telephone calls to well known businesses in the Des Moines Metro. I Too Busy was not selling anything I was, actually, seeking to buy.

The first call was answered by a human (within three rings) who not only sounded pleased that the phone rang but also gave me her name.  I asked for the CEO, whom I know well, and Stephanie said, "I'm sorry but she is not in. Would you like me to send you to her voice mail or may I take a personal message?"

What?  A PERSONAL MESSAGE from a person...like written down maybe even on PAPER and HANDED to my friend?  Think I'll get a call back? (I will...)

The other call was to a business, that I also know well. The connection took over thirty-five seconds to complete.  I know because I called back just to time it. When the call was answered I was told that "everybody was busy" and that I should leave a message.  No directory, no option...just "General Voice Mail Hell".

My only other option was to fill out the very generic online form (which I've done before) and have my message go to "General E-Mail Hell". I know that because the last time I did this I received no call back.

So...what does these two brands say to you?

No, I ain't calling back number two.

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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!

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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:  

 

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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!

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Smart Business or Just Don't Care?

It's the political season.  You can tell by the number of signs sprouting Man Dunce Cap up all over the place. And, along with that is a trend that, seems to me, to be retail suicide.

A growing number of retail businesses are posting political signs in front of their business. (I'd post the photos but why offer free publicity?) Either this is a stroke of brilliance or it's really dumb.

It is brilliant if you, as the business owner, believe that everybody is on your side or you, frankly, don't care what other people think and from this time forward you wish to cater only to those customers who share your political beliefs.

It's really dumb if you believe anything in that statement.

Why would a retail business seek to alienate a consumer base?  Even if that retail establishment honestly thinks 90% of consumers agree with their political statement...they are still willing to offer up the "single finger salute" to those who don't?

This might very well be a mirror of our inability to have a civil conversation in this nation.  When retail can say, "To hell with those who disagree with me!" I guess there is deeper issue.

So, what do you think?

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