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Posts Tagged ‘networking’

What should you do with social media?

July 22nd, 2010 No comments

Last week 4 companies contacted me about writing/setting up blogs, FaceBook, and Twitter. This topic is hot, and it’s definitely hit mainstream. Here’s my take on everything you need to know about social media.

Be cool

First off,  a few things to keep in mind.

Social media is cheap, but it demands a lot of time to do it right. Have a plan, approach it with discipline, and be sure the time you spend is worthwhile. Some of your efforts will never get you anywhere. Know who you’re trying to reach, and be sure to entertain and enlighten them or they’ll stop following you.

Twitter’s not so big with the up-and-coming generation, the Millennials.

I happen to know a bit about this, because for the past tow years I’ve been working with a client who is all about marketing to Millennials.  Early last year we co-authored a white paper on social media, which involved interviewing people in their late teens and early twenties–some of them hadn’t even heard of Twitter yet, many of them didn’t like it for some very specific reasons.

Twitter, I think, has the most potential with very close communities. The businesses that use it successfully are the ones with super-eager customers–they want to know the location of a lunchwagon, they’re eager to hear the latest news or research, the company CEO has celebrity status or the product is inherently interesting.

In other words, if your business is full of frequent news that your clients sincerely want to know about, you should Twitter. But if you’re just going to Tweet about what you had for lunch, you won’t get much business from your efforts.

Marketing your face on FaceBook

FaceBook seems to be the best keep-in-touch option for social media. The only people who see your FaceBook are the ones you choose who also choose you. The biggest challenge with FaceBook is that there’s not really a way to separate clients and prospects from friends and family. Here’s what I suggest.

First, get a fan page for your business. This will let you truly devote the page to business, but the downside is a lack of easy visibility. Unless you’re selling something cool that people like to talk about, your fan page won’t get a lot of traffic on its own. But you can fix that.

Post lots of good, interesting, valuable content and then cross promote it via Twitter, blogs, and your regular FaceBook page.

The second strategy is more “soft” but it’s a lot of fun, and ultimately more productive. Use FaceBook and all your other social media to promote yourself, and build your brand. As prospects get to know your personality, they’ll be more inclined to do business with you. As friends and family get to know your business, they’ll be better sources of referrals.

Business becomes pleasure, and pleasure becomes business

This “personal branding” is probably the best part of social media. Whatever business you’re in now, you won’t be doing it for the rest of your life.  But once you’ve build a strong network of friends, family, fellow skydivers and homeschoolers–your network goes with you.

One of the best resources on this is the book Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck.

You’re not just a salesman/consultant/CPA/coach. You’re a multidimensional person with many talents and passions, and so are all your prospective clients. Social media lets you put all of your personality into your marketing.

Use social media to make friends, build relationships, find markets and invest time in future clients–maybe the distant future. Today’s posts are like a bond that matures in 10 years (well, maybe not that long). You never know who might be listening, who might be useful.

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Escaping the Starbucks Marketing Trap

December 1st, 2007 No comments

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You meet someone at a Big Networking Event.

There’s a chance to do business with them.

If you’re like most people, you swap business cards, and a few days later you invite them to Starbucks for a sales pitch—I mean, a double latte.

This is an “offer.” You ask the other party for something, and you offer to give them something in return.

Give me 30 minutes of your time and I’ll show you how I can:

*solve one of your biggest problems
*fulfill one of your greatest dreams
*spill hot steaming chai down the front of your shirt.

The trouble with this approach is that your time is valuable.

If you make an appointment with every single person who might be a possible client, your entire marketing plan is limited to 24 hours a day.

Plus you haven’t qualified the prospect to see how interested and eligible they really are.

Unless you happen to meet a financially independent millionaire (and there are lots of them at networking events), people with the free time to hang around in coffee shops don’t usually make good clients.

But what can you do instead?

Offer something other than your time, at least at the beginning. Ideally you’ll have something that nobody in their right mind would want unless they need your service.

That’s why the best thing you can offer is free information, especially if it addresses some critical pain or desire your prospects have. I assume you have a fairly sophisticated business that takes time to explain. You’re not just selling lemonade.

You know more about your field than your client does. You’re an expert, and the real buyers sincerely want you to share some of your knowledge.

That’s the idea behind a “free consultation,” which is what all your competitors are offering.

Be different than your competitors.

Make your suspect demonstrate their interest by signing up for a newsletter, going to a seminar, or reading a report or white paper.

The format is simple. You meet that potentially interested networking warrior.

Instead of immediately seeking caffeine, you say to them, “It sounds like you might be able to benefit from a degrommetization. Check out my website. There’s a free guide on the homepage telling you the top sixteen ways to save money by getting rid of distracting grommets.”

On your homepage there’s a special opt-in form where anyone concerned about the side effects of grommets can download the free guide you mentioned.

(Ahah! An offer!)

If they follow through, you now know you’ve got a qualified prospect who is desperately trying to rid their life of grommets. They’re in your database, so now you can send letters, email, or phone calls as you slowly educate them on the benefits of degrommetization.

If they continue to express an interest, then you can make an appointment. (Coffee time!)

If you don’t want to put together written content, there are other ways to present your free information.

Reserve a large table at a local restaurant at lunch on the first Tuesday of every month for a presentation.

Now you tell your new networking friend (and scores of others) that in two weeks you’re giving a free seminar on degrommetization. After a month of serious promoting, you should be able to draw a nice-sized group. You give your presentation not to one potential suspect but to five or ten prospects who are sincerely interested.

Not only that, but you help your restaurant buddy get more business. He might even reward you with a free coffee.

You can do this with a teleconference as well. Or a webinar. The point is, your offer of free information, whether it’s written, audio, or live, sets you apart as an expert.

You’ll save days of time, and automatically screen out the tire kickers who are just out for a free blended mocha.

To get ahead in business, you have to stand out from the competition. You have to do something different. You have to be bold.

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