Do It Yourself!

The other day on our radio broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour, we talked about DIY for social media and why that works better than hiring somebody to do the work it takes to engage consumers...your consumers. Don't get us wrong, there are lots and lots of very Keep Calm and DIYtalented people out there who will Tweet, Facebook and Blog for you but...they will never be as good as you.

The push back we get is, "I don't have time to write a 300 word post every week" or "I don't have time to Tweet ten or twelve times a day". The fact is...you do. Let me help you break it down.

If you are spending time with an outside contractor telling them your story, telling them about the impact you had on consumers last week telling them what is hot in your business then you've got time to write it down. It's not that you "don't have time" it's that you simply don't believe in the tools of social media and consumer engagement so you don't MAKE TIME.

I can share, from years of experience and collecting fees for doing social media for others, it is often painful. While we can write and communicate we are not as invested or know the details you know about your business. That is unless we have daily or weekly conversations and then we simply parrot back what you've already shared with us.

So, yes, you have the time.

So let's get started with the a simple three step process to get you to engage your customers in your business blog:

  • What is your Competitive Advantage? - Don't write stuff that doesn't matter to your customers...write down why your customers do business with you. Take fifteen minutes and think of the reasons they have built a relationship with you. Forget about "fast" and "free" focus on how you have built value into the business transaction; 
  • No Weeds - Don't get caught up in selling the steak...sell the sizzle. Far too often business wants to list out the details...all the details. You are miles ahead if you keep it simple and direct;
  • Solve Problems First - What is it that your business does to make your customers or clients life easier, less complicated more enjoyable. You, after all, are the expert in what you do. Now go and share those stories with others who have the same business or life issues. 

Three topics and fifteen to thirty minutes a week and you're in business. DIY Social Media is real and important to consumers they would love to hear from you. Once you've got this down then it is on to the tools that make organic social media work better.  That's next.

Thanks for reading...


National Small Business Week - Marketing Tips

All this week, in the United States, there is a celebration of National Small Business Week. Since 1963 the federal government has set aside a week for a Small Business Week Imagecelebration that is critical to our economy. A few Small Business Facts:

  • There are roughly 29 million small businesses in the U.S. which account for 54% of all sales in this country;
  • Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs in the U.S. and 66% of all net new jobs;
  • There are 600,000 franchise operations here that employ over 8 million people;
  • The American small business sector occupies nearly 50% of all commercial space up to 34 billion square feet.

Astounding yes?

Many of you have a business that has under 500 employees so, this week is also your week. What can you do to take part in Small Business Week?  Some thoughts:

  • Share Your Story - Contact the local newspaper, radio or television station. Let them know this is National Small Business Week and share your small business story. Take a moment and share what your small business means to your employees and customers and how money spent with you stays in your local community. Believe us, reporters are looking for stories they can use all week long;
  • Get Social - Grab the National Small Business Logo from this post and share it on your social media channels...and tell your story there as well;
  • Say Thank You - Remember your customers...they are the people that keep your business in business. Post a note on social media, send a note to customers, enclose a note in your shipping items...let people know how important they are to your small business;
  • Email the Message - Send out a coupon or at least a thank you reminding your email list that this is National Small Business Week...many of your customers are also small businesses.

Happy National Small Business Week!


Blue Microphones Customer Service ROCKS!

Our advertising agency is what fuels and powers Insight on Business the News Hour the only daily, hour-long business news broadcast in the Midwest (Outside of our friends at WBBM in Chicago). When on the road and away from the studios of our friends at The Des Moines Radio Group we use a Yeti microphone from Blue Microphones out of Westlake Village, California. It's easy to transport, has great sound quality and works directly with a USB into the computer. We also love it that with a dial we can flip from directional (one voice facing the mic) to Yeti New 17 April 2017 an interview format where BOTH sides of the microphone are live.

It's a beautiful piece of equipment.

We like them so much that we've got three of 'em...no really!

Not long ago one of the mics refused to stay connected to the USB port. The cord...just fell out of the bottom of the mic. Don't know if it was wear or if the part was bad...it just wouldn't work. So...called Blue Microphones and their ALWAYS chipper customer service person walked us through the steps to get it back to the company for repair or replacement.

A brand new Yeti arrived in the mail this week.

No questions, no back to back emails, no calls...just replaced.

I want you to know how much we appreciate the culture of this company and for how well they took care of us. Seriously...if you're looking for a business partner and not just a retailer... go...BLUE.

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Wyndham - It's Not Nice to Lie

Our business is advertising and marketing. For years we've assisted companies large and small in creating images, messages and tools that will reach out to consumers and interest them in buying what our clients are selling.  Man Lie Dectector

Part of what we do is assist companies in creating a brand. While it is true that it is the consumer, and not the company, that actually creates the brand our job is to move that connection along, make it stick and do nothing to tarnish what has been built.

Sometimes however a brand gets sideways with business and makes a dumb mistake which can tarnish the brand. That can be a simple mistake or a bold lie. Ouch!

Want a small, real world example?

Late in 2016 I made reservations to stay at the Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk for several days of client meetings with the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association. My arrival was to have been on January 18th, 2017. However, late in December it appeared that I could not make the trip and cancelled my reservation on 31 December 2016. The automation at Wyndham is pretty good. I received an email confirmation within just a few minutes. (image left)

Hotel Cancel From San AntionoHowever when my American Express bill came there was a charge for $138.93 from the Wyndham property. I made contact with AMEX, provided them the details of the reservation cancellation and the policy on "no shows" and let the dispute effort take over. I called American Express because I trust them and I've been a member for decades. 

A few days ago I received a letter from American Express saying that,, "...the merchant has explained that they have no record of cancellation."  They placed the $138.98 back on my bill. Either the property made an error or they are simply lying just to see if they get away with it.

Here is what should have happened:

Once the hotel received word from AMEX there was a dispute they should have said, "We'll take care of it." Then give the consumer (me) a call and figure out what went wrong and correct it. Simple right?  And then...can you imagine what the blog post might have been like? It would have polished the Wyndham brand rather than...well you get the idea.

Customers want to do business with people they know and trust...it's worth the effort.

Did I communicate again with AMEX and with Wyndham. Yes...we'll see where this goes.

Thanks for reading!

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Negative Branding with Food?

I want to take a few minutes and share with you a branding story that, I'll bet, nobody thinks about but it does have an impact on your brand.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a business centric event/conference for a breakfast and a speaker. Hey...food right? Now, to be sure the buffet Ham and Cheese Egg Casserole wasn't very large but it looked to have some cheesy egg something as the main offering. You could also get some fried potatoes, pastries...you know the regular stuff.

So, I put some of the egg stuff on a plate and went into the dining room. But there hiding in the eggs and cheese was some, I'll bet, really good ham...an Iowa staple.

Here is where it gets interesting. As a Jew I can't eat the egg stuff...two reasons: We don't eat milk and meat together and we, of course don't eat ham. But this has happened many times in the past and it's no big deal. Or is it?

Also in the room were a couple of Vegan folks and two of the people there were Muslim. We get it about the Vegans but you should also know the Muslims are also not permitted to eat pork.  Of the 40 people in the room I counted 7 that took a pass on breakfast but had paid the fee.

The thing meeting planners should think about is that in this increasingly diverse country we live in some folks, and the numbers are growing, have different dietary restrictions than say, a decade ago. It is a growing consumer trend.

I made no fuss nor did my other friends but it bears reminding folks that while we celebrate diversity we'd also like to celebrate breaking bread with our fellow conference attendees.

Thanks for reading and, as always, I'd love to hear your take. 


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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