#Focus Friday: Focus on Learning and Understanding Marketing

Do you know how to market? Do you know what marketing actually is? Do you have a plan for marketing yourself or your business or do you simply take periodic actions or coast along? It is not surprising for people to learn that many individuals admit that they are not following a plan in terms of their marketing. Most people have limited or no knowledge of marketing basics and fall short in terms of experience. It is clear however, and I have been told this many times, that people know marketing is important but the dont have the time to learn or they are not sure where to go to start learning.

No matter where you stand today in terms of your personal marketing, understanding marketing and learning how to use it is critical for your success tomorow.

The questions I listed above are all important. The fact is that if you are involved in business development in any way or you are seeking career success you need to have a marketing plan. You need knowledge, tactics and strategies to succeed so it is time to start studying and learning about what’s out there and what you should be doing.

I was recently asked by a member of the media writing a story on networking where people should go to learn about personal marketing and where they should start. The first step in this process is relevant to this blog series – focus on learning and understanding marketing. Make the commitment today to continually learn about marketing, marketing trends and marketing technology. It is vital you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and strategies. I would like to provide you with a complete outline and strategies, however let’s stick with the basics.

What do you need to know?

Newbies to marketing or those who need a refresher need to start with the basics. Read and learn about the core elements of marketing. These include:

Goals – An observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe. In more simple terms, where do you want your marketing efforts to take you?  Define your goals. Goals can be: How many leads do you want, how many closed deals do you need, or how much customer engagement do you require?

Message and Messaging – Underlying idea or theme in an ad or campaign. You message is the central or primary content or information that passes from a communicator (you) to a receiver (your audience/customers).

Position – An effort to influence consumer perception of a brand or product relative to the perception of competing brands or products. Your position’s objective is to occupy a clear, unique, and advantageous position in the consumer’s mind. What do you want customers to think of when they hear your name, your product’s name or your company’s name.

Value proposition – An analysis or statement of the combination of goods and services offered by a company to its customers in exchange for payment. What value do you offer that makes you or your product preferable to those of your competitors?

Differentiators – Unique features and/or benefits of a product, or aspects of a brand, that set it apart from competing products or brands. Being different is incredibly important; highlight what you do differently and this will attract attention.

Competitive advantages – A superiority gained by an organization when it can provide the same value as its competitors but at a lower price, or can charge higher prices by providing greater value through differentiation. A competitive advantage results from matching core competencies to the opportunities. We are all competing against each other for time and attention. What do you do that your competitors don’t or can’t?

Marketing assets – Customized content such as presentations, brochures, email campaigns, and other promotional items used to promote products or services. Your website, your social media sites, PR coverage and videos are all assets that should be used to market your brand and company.

Marketing vehicles – A marketing vehicle is a specific tool for delivering your messages to a target audience. They are particular channels within a medium that you use to get your message across. Marketing vehicles are contained within marketing mediums. Like your assets, these tools give you the ability to communicate with your audience.

Audience – People or market segment at whom a message or campaign is aimed. Your audience includes your customers, referral sources, individuals from your industry and all those who interact with your company/brand, staff, products and services.

Ideal client or customer – A subset of your potential clients. Ideal clients are those prospects who will provide you with the maximum return on your marketing investment. These are the individuals who will hire you or buy from you. Recognize the fact that every customer or client may not fit the “ideal” client category.

Ideal referral sources – A person or company that interacts with your ideal client prospects and is willing to actively recommend them to you. For example accountants are considered by many as ideal referral sources because they work closely with business and individuals. They know their clients needs and they are trusted advisors, when they make a recommendation it is often acted upon.

*definitions include information gathered from online resources including businessdictionary.com, activedemand.com, trackmaven.com, eyeswideopen.com.au, and lisacherney.com.

Where can you go to learn?

We are living in the age of online learning and the internet. You can use books, blogs, podcasts, online courses, seminars, training programs and event individual training and coaching. As a trainer and personal branding coach I find those individuals that make the investment in some one-on-one or small group training get the greatest value. This personal interaction allows the student to ask questions at and get answers at their own pace.

What should be in my marketing plan?

Your marketing plan should start with your goals and build from there. Check out this blog where I discuss your personal marketing plan. You plan should include a timeline as well as time and financial budget. How much time and effort you will spend are important especially for small business owners and solopreneurs. A timeline of activities is also critical. Map out when actions will be taken, identify themes and schedule activities that will take place during each month. This includes the preparation work that needs to be done the month or two months before a campaign is launched.

An important part of a marketing plan is assessing success. You must examine what works and what did not work. Learn from this process and move forward. Don’t give up on campaigns and strategies right away, some may take months or even longer to show results.

How much should you spend?

Typically 5 to 10 percent of annual revenues is the standard that most in marketing consider to be appropriate. However this varies depending on the industry, business and how aggressive you wish to be.

Where can I go to stay up to date?

As mentioned earlier, there are tremendous online resources that are free or not very expensive. They will give you the ability to stay up-to-date and see what competitors or others with similar businesses are doing or are planning to do. You can create google alerts on topics of interest, subscribe to magazines like Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur and others that provide quality content about marketing and business growth.

Learn by reading constantly and listening to podcasts. I find podcasts, while many have an underlying sales message, provide quality information and success stories. These are educational and motivational. Look to thought leaders, follow them.

Gary Vaynerchuck – #AskGaryVee podcast

Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income podcast

Chalene Johnson – Build Your Tribe

John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur on Fire

Tim Ferris – The Tim Ferris Experiment

All offer great content in terms of books, videos, podcasts, examples, tools, resources and more.

Finally, consider attending local or national marketing, small business or personal development conferences and events. These programs come with a cost, sometimes significant. The value of this focused time and effort can be immeasurable. The quality learning, inspiration and ideas can make a profound impact on your business. These are some events that you might want to consider:

Entrepreneur Magazine Events

The 16 Best Digital Marketing Conferences of 2016

14 Conferences Every Small-Business Owner Should Attend

Focus Friday is all about being more effective and successful in business and life activities. Focusing will allow you to save time and achieve goals in both your personal and in your professional life.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

Join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

 

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Beware of the Groundhog: Groundhog Day Lessons

Punxatawny PhilAs public relations officials, we are constantly on the lookout for media opportunities for clients; some even call them “PR stunts.”   February 2, aka “Groundhog Day,” is one that is often used by politicians.  Everyone wants an end to winter so why not?  The politician will get the photo op and even if the hog sees his shadow, it’s still a win right?  Well, ask New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In 2014, when doing the Groundhog Day event, he dropped Staten Island Chuck. Not a good move. Instead of seeing a shadow, Chuck saw stars. And unfortunately, did not recover. (See links below)

What do we take away from this? First, make sure when you do a special event or media event you are well prepared. Walk through what you have to do. Talk about contingencies and if you are not comfortable with picking up a groundhog, don’t do it. The negative press that will be short term and long term can be problematic.

From a marketing perspective, Groundhog Day is cute and there are certainly campaigns and social media comments that can be used to attract some attention.  Groundhog Day is Feb. 2. This year it falls on the first Tuesday of February. Groundhog Day can be a day to actually get your marketing on track. If you have stumbled and have failed with your marketing New Years resolutions, get started again and set your goals for February. You have six weeks till spring (despite what Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck and Malverne Mel say).Groundhog

Need some inspiration and a laugh? Watch Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and directed by the late Harold Ramis.  The marketing and life lesson here? Just ask Einstein and his famous quote on the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Bill Murray’s character in the movie – Phil Conners – is stuck in a day that he is forced to relive over and over and over again.  Unbeknownst to him, he is changing what he is doing every day. He may not know why at first, but eventually figures out that he has to change who he is to get the girl. After potentially living the same day over and over for years, he makes the changes and he wakes up on February 3. In marketing we have to adapt and change our messages until they resonate with target audiences. Look at what works and what does not. Make the changes and keep track.  Learn from Phil Conners and take Einstein’s advice.

http://nypost.com/2014/09/25/groundhog-dropped-by-de-blasio-died-of-internal-injuries/

http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2014/09/25/staten-island-zoo-may-stop-allowing-mayors-to-handle-groundhogs/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107048/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-phil/post-football-depression-_b_1251109.html

Personal Brand Actions to Take in 2016 – Start Today

hourglass 2016.jpgStrategies and Predictions

I recently wrote a blog about taking action steps to achieve goals. As we end 2015, let’s look at some specific action steps you can take to Grow Your Personal Brand in 2016, achieve your goals and attain long term success.

Make time, don’t waste time.

First, stop talking about not having enough time. Recognize that your time is valuable and you need to focus on what you need to get done. If you want be successful you may have to get up early, stay up late and work more. Do you know that billionaires typically get up three hours before the “work day” starts? Set your priorities and create real deadlines. Block off the time you need each day to move closer to your goals.

As part of time saving, examine social media activities. Are you getting the ROI (return on investment) or ROE (return on effort)? If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” then it is time to re-evaluate these activities. For most small business people and solo entrepreneurs your time is very valuable; Tweeting, Facebooking and posting images to Instagram is probably not the best use of your time. If it is not generating income or leads, delegate it or stop doing it. Focus on what works in terms of business development and sales.

Focus

archery[1].jpgWe live in a world where distractions are killing our productivity and sucking away our time. One way to save your valuable and precious time is to learn how to remove distractions. Distractions hurt us in many ways more than just stopping us from doing what we need to do – they make us lose focus and concentration. It takes 10 to 25 minutes to get back into our productivity zone again. What’s the solution?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Put your cell phone in another room or turn it off (I personally need to have it in another room or I am tempted to check it every 5 minutes). Do whatever you can to get it out of your view and reach. I know you are afraid to go without your smartphone. What do I do? I go into settings and forward my calls to my office. My staff answers or it goes to voice mail. Give staff, colleagues, clients and friends the message that you can only be interrupted in the case of a real emergency.
  2. Remove distracting sounds. Sounds break up your flow and concentration. No surprise, this is a natural response to danger. What can you do? Try noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs. For some people it requires moving to another room and closing the door or even going to another building.  Create a distraction proof environment.
  3. Turn off all message notifications from social media, texts or email. This is hard to do, we want to be connected but these messages distract and even if you can avoid looking, you know you really want to. Your scheduled time should be sacred and this means email and other digital messages should not distract you.   Emails and texts can wait an hour or two.

Create that Plan

I always ask my LinkedIn or personal branding students if they have a plan for marketing with LinkedIn or a personal marketing plan. Only 5 percent have a plan. For this year make the commitment – not resolution – to create a plan. You need to have a road map and a plan to get to where you want to go. You may be successful without a plan but think about how much more successful you could be with one. I believe the average sales person, business owner or entrepreneur will be 20 to 50 percent or more effective and successful if they simply created a plan and modified this plan every quarter and annually. From a personal perspective, I have a plan with goals and multiple action steps. I regularly achieve goals when I have a plan, when I don’t those goals take longer or are never achieved. The plan is critical for achieving goals, staying focused and saving time.

Create Your Video(s)

If you don’t have a video for your brand today you’re falling farther and farther behind your competitors. This statement is true not matter what industry you are in. Why? In the mobile age people (a.k.a. customers and prospects) don’t have time and they want video content. If you are not providing it and a competitor is, guess what?  The competitor is winning the battle for attention. The other more long term problem with not having video content is the fact that you are falling behind in the content war. By not creating content and getting comfortable communicating it on video you do not appear to be up-to-date and ready for the challenges of the digital age. Communications is an art and a skill, it requires practice. While anyone can fire up a camera or smart phone and shoot a Periscope video or post a video to YouTube, it takes practice to learn how to speak and present a quality message on video.

If you don’t have a video you are not conveying your brand message to contacts, prospects and referral sources. These are the people who create your brand and reputation. Without your personal content to guide them, perceptions will be inaccurate, they will not know what you stand for and they certainly will be less likely to hire you or recommend you to others.

Two predictions about video in 2016

  1. Video on LinkedIn will be much more important and likely will be positioned higher in profiles. Making/having a personal video not only will be needed on LinkedIn, but required for optimal success. Those who are ahead here will dominate for at least a year.
  2. Live streaming video from Periscope, Facebook and others will become much more widely used. If you are not doing this you’re going to get beaten by competitors, lose market share and you will not project the right image to those seeking you or your services.

Be Consistent with your persona marketing and messages

Your message and personal brand must also be consistent in the real world and online. Make sure all of your profiles, images and videos are consistent with your current personal brand and what you are passionate about. Confusion in the marketplace is not something you want when people are looking at you and considering you for a referral, recommendation or to hire you.

To succeed in marketing and in business you must present your messages and content regularly to your audience. Make the commitment this year to be consistent with your marketing. Regularly create and post videos, write your own blogs, post on on social media, attend events, send email newsletters and content and execute your marketing plan. Examine what works and don’t be afraid to change. Remember that for your personal brand to resonate with audiences you must have a consistent message that is delivered often. Consistency and frequency build and maintain trust, a critical component to personal brand growth and business success.

Have a great 2016 and make the commitment today to Grow Your Personal Brand.

Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com to learn more about personal branding training programs, events and more.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Revisited 2015 – July 4th Independence Day – Lessons from the Founding Fathers for Social Media and Personal Branding

I wrote this blog 5 years ago it is still relevant today.  However, the world has changed.  Today Americans have more ways to market and communicate.  With smartphone technology in our hands we have enormous power to broadcast our messages and engage with others. I call smartphones, PMD’s Personal marketing Devices they can also be seen as your own personal broadcast center. (More on this in a future blog)

The technology we have however is not being leveraged effectively by small business people.  Many don’t see the opportunity because they are overwhelmed with time pressures and lack of understanding of the power that they have. Understanding marketing and why and how it must be done is also a challenge.

It’s time for small business people from across America to take charge of their destiny and bring their brands and messages to target audiences.   Failure to utilize the marketing tools that are available (for free) today will see many smart and capable people struggle to succeed in the new economy and within the new marketing paradigm.

As we look back at the lessons of our Founding Fathers below, consider what they would do today.  I believe that they would be regularly leveraging social media, blogs and video to get their message to the masses. They would engage in conversations and share their vision for the future.  They would be making connections, building relationships and beating their competition.

The pursuit of happiness lies in our hands both literally and figuratively.  Use marketing technology today as a vehicle for achieving success and your American dream.

First Published 5 Years Ago 

Today we celebrate Independence Day, July 4.   Beyond the fireworks and BBQs, we all should think about the great nation that we have the pleasure to be part of, and the many people who gave up their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy.

Exactly 234 years ago, a group of brave, brilliant and industrious individuals met in a steamy Philadelphia room and agreed to do something that had never been done before—start a revolution.  The risks were great; the price that was paid was high in terms of lives lost, lives destroyed and money, but in the end the reward was unmatched in human history.  The American Revolution gave us a country where freedom is sacred.

Today despite a challenging economy we have the freedom to express ourselves and pursue our business as well as our personal dreams.  For many the dream is being an entrepreneur or a small business owner or simply pursuing a career in a chosen profession or industry.  Having this choice is an integral part of our national character and a driver of the entrepreneurial spirit.  While entrepreneurs and small businesses are under attack from many directions, the American entrepreneurial spirit lives on.

The information age has brought with it new media vehicles which are allowing individuals to voice their opinions, develop creative ideas and start new businesses.  Like the minutemen of Lexington and Concord, individuals can stand up, and take control of their own destinies like never before.  Like the “shot heard around world” that started the American Revolution a simple Facebook post or Tweet can literally be seen around the world just in seconds.

Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Adams, Hancock and the other Founding Fathers all understood the importance of individuality and expression.  They were passionate individuals with a mission, and the creativity and drive to achieve their goal – a free and independent nation.

While the Founding Fathers did not have social media vehicles and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Youtube, Flickr and Foursquare I am sure that they would have taken advantage of them as mediums for communicating with contacts, public, friends and others interested in “the cause.”  Social networking and marketing did not exist, but these individuals knew the importance of publicity, having a personal brand, word of mouth marketing, networking, effective writing, publishing and public speaking. Do these skills and approaches sound familiar?  These techniques and others are the same that individuals need to capitalize on today to build their own personal brands, the foundation for a success in life, in business and in any community.

Did Franklin and Madison have a Blog?  Not exactly, however they did have a printing press.  They were able to create a buzz using well written content, printed books, flyers and newspapers. Papers and printed materials were circulated in pubs and homes across the 13 colonies and beyond.  People held discussion sessions and analyzed the information they were provided.  They debated and came up with their own comments and then shared materials with others who they thought would be sympathetic to their dreams of an independent democratic nation.

Today’s social media and personal branding gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)Dan Dchawbel (@DanSchawbel),  Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki), Peter Shankman (@skydiver), Seth Godin and others are taking similar approaches as the Founding Fathers.  The Founding Fathers published articles and spoke to small and large groups to educate, motivate and inspire individuals to become part of a movement that included the individual but also was much larger than any single person.

Let’s look at some of our Founding Fathers and how they relate to personal branding and communications.  There is much we that can learn from them and ways we can apply these lessons to social media marketing and personal branding efforts today.

George Washington – Founding Father and First President of the United States of America.  Washington is also

known for his leadership abilities, speaking skills, political savvy and ability to stand out in crowd.  Although he did not sign the Declaration of Independence his leadership of the Continental Army made him a front runner to lead the country after the war.

During the Revolutionary War era it took weeks or months to get information or important messages out to thousands of people, or just one letter from one colony to another.  Hand written copies of the Declaration of Independence were circulated by hand around the 13 Colonies and read in front of groups gathered in pubs and in front of churches and other community buildings.

Today we can disseminate messages and blog articles in seconds using social media sites and digital communications.  The speed of distribution may have changed but the goals of communicating ideas messages and attracting attention remain the same.

We can learn from George Washington an important lesson, humility.  When offered the opportunity to become king of the new nation, he turned it down.  He also turned down the opportunity to run for a third term as president; instead he retired.  In today’s world full of online and off line self promoters and overexposed celebrities seeking the lime light, humility is a trait that seems to be in short supply.  We could all benefit from more people following Washington’s example of humility and grace.

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, agonized for weeks to find the right language and consulted with other Founding Fathers to craft this historic document.   We learn from this example that writing passionately and choosing the right words is important.  On Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other writing quality has certainly suffered. Today it remains true that quality writing and compelling content will attract followers, and poor and uninteresting content will drive them away.

In our fast paced mobile technology society we are constantly on the move. A telling example of this is that on average there are more than 3,000 Tweets being placed every second.  Jefferson’s quote: No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing,” is apropos for today.  Many people are always “doing,” (communicating).  However, how much doing is actually wasting time? How much time is being spent on social media marketing with no measured results? Social media marketing programs must be planned and have goals. Without goals or a plan, the “doing” is nothing more than wasting time.

John Hancock – We know the name and we know the signature, he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence and did so in large and bold script.   John Hancock knew the importance of standing out, making a statement and doing something different.  My favorite quote from Hancock is: “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” This statement is especially true today. To be successful in business relationships and trust need to be built.  To influence people to act, purchase products or services, information and proof of abilities need to be conveyed to the target audience.  Be bold, but also have objectives and consider how relationships are being forged.

Benjamin Franklin – Frequently clients ask what should be said or what information should be put out on social media streams?  This quote from Benjamin Franklin answers the question perfectly: Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.”

Benjamin Franklin was truly an original and individual who understood celebrity and personal branding.  His exploits, scientific experiments and inventions as well as his larger than life personality made him a celebrity in France before he arrived to solicit their support for the “cause.”

We have much to learn from Franklin but for now, his grasp on being relevant and authentic can be our take away.  If something interesting or newsworthy is done write about it, don’t just write something for the sake or writing something.

John Quincy Adams – Are you a leader or do you aspire to be one in business, politics or in another field? If your answer is yes then this quote from John Quincy Adams is most appropriate:If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” To be a leader you need to be relevant and interesting.  Self-promotion and self-serving actions will not attract the right attention or inspire others.  Remember that being successful is not what inspires; what motivates and inspires others are the stories and examples of overcoming challenges and hardships to become successful.

There is much we can learn from studying our Founding Fathers.  From humility to creating relevant content their lessons can be applied to many facets of business and life today.

Every day of the year we should celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have been given.  We continue to enjoy this freedom because of the sacrifices of those who came before us and those who fight for us today in foreign lands and on other fronts.  We can honor them by embracing the American entrepreneurial spirit and following the examples set by our Founding Fathers.

All comments welcome, Happy 4th of July.

Extending the Value of Trade Show Marketing with Social Media

This article originally appeared February 23, 2012 on Digital Brand Marketing Education & Interactives

Social media networking and marketing allows businesses to reach and provide tremendous amounts of information to clients, prospects and referral sources.  However, face-to-face marketing still has an important place.  Trade shows are one area where social media can provide significant support to face-to-face efforts and create opportunities for overall event marketing success.  Exhibitors can use all the help they can get; The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that 80 percent of exhibitors make no attempts to follow up on their leads from trade shows. Considering how much is spent on trade shows this is a shocking statistic.

c/o http://skgtechnologies.com/

Trade shows are typically face-to-face, relationship-based marketing events.  However, when in-person marketing activities are combined with social media, sales success can be improved, and the effectiveness and lifespan of marketing messages and branding can be extended well beyond the trade show itself.

According to marketing industry veteran David Clark, “Ratcheting up your social media marketing, before, during, and after a trade show is proving to be one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your booth and cement the relationships.”

Before the show a business must leverage its collective social media presence to promote its appearance and related activities.  Post information, pictures and/or videos (perhaps a preview of a new product or video invitation to visit the booth) about the event, the business’s participation and/or booth activities.  The goal is to let people/prospects know the who, what, where and when and most importantly the why they should visit the company’s booth.  Use social media to promote contests, giveaways or prizes that will be connected with a specific trade show appearance.  If the trade show has its own hashtag, include it in all posts.  Hashtags can be used to engage audiences, generate buzz and form relationships.  Promoting the show in general helps attendance and all exhibitors should work together to mutually support each other.  Often show producers can help lead a team of exhibitors and provide them content to help them promote their appearance as well the show.

Getting Connected

Connect with the show organizer/producer, show marketing firm and other exhibitors with whom there may be synergies.  Non-competing exhibitors can use this strategy to build relationships and find cross selling opportunities as well.  Exhibitors and show managers can and should share content via social media. Starting early and being proactive will allow exhibitors to reach more people and prospects with a variety of messages and images and get a jumpstart on creating a buzz which will attracts booth traffic.   From a media relations perspective it is essential to get to know and communicate with show managers and their marketing firms.  Here is a link to a short video I recently published with a few tips on trade show public relations strategies.

c/o http://www.diymarketers.com/

Post often to social media sites during shows.  Show people what is happening and what will be happening at the booth or the show.  Invite people to check-in on Facebook or Foursquare, perhaps for a drawing or other reward (show special) or simply to invite people to visit the booth in person to learn about something new.  Be sure to remind attendees of the contests, giveaways, and all the exciting and interesting products or demonstrations happening at the booth.  Post information about the show, pictures, video, or gems of information from seminars or workshops.

According to trade show marketing professional Timothy McClain, by “link[ing] your Foursquare account to your Twitter and Facebook accounts…you [can] check in, add a special note, and it will appear with your location link on Twitter and graphical map on Facebook and be shared across your channels.”

At the booth businesses can use smart phones and social media apps to grow their social media “followers” directly on site.  Give access to social media pages in the booth by setting up a designated computer or tablet to allow users to “Like” the business on Facebook or follow on Twitter.  Recruit booth visitors to “Like” the business using their smart phones as well a QR (Quick Response) code can be used or link visitors to Facebook on their phones.  After Facebook is mobile enabled, people can then text “Like” and the business’s Facebook page username to 32665 and they will automatically “Like” the page.

After the show, continue to post pictures and video from the event.  Post pictures and create albums to Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, etc. to show booth activity and interactions.  Be sure to post thank you messages to the event organizers and to key prospects and contacts.  Social media can assist with follow up.  It provides the opportunity to present images, messages, video and other branded content in such a way that will allow prospects learn about the company, but not be hit with hard sales messages.  Use LinkedIn and Facebook direct messages to start conversations, share information and continue relationship building.

Social media’s role in the trade show space is growing.  It can make trades shows more fun, support branding and assist in the relationship building process.  This is key to building trust and we all know that people want to do business with people that they trust, like and know are capable of doing the job.  Social media can help create a buzz before the show, make interactions at the show itself more interesting and extend the marketing value of a tradeshow appearance.

Stop Using Social Media Now…If You Don’t Have A Plan

Your Social Media Plan: Why you need one and first steps

(This blog was origionally published on the Digital Brand Marketing Education Blog – www.digitalbrandmarketing.com )

Over the years I have conducted workshops and sat on panels discussing social media and marketing.  From these interactions it has become clear that many businesses and individuals struggle with understanding and using social media to market effectively.  However, social media is an important marketing tool for every business and an element that needs to be incorporated into every marketing plan.  According to an August 2011 survey Marketing in the Digital World conducted by Zoomerang.com, nearly half of the small businesses surveyed are utilizing social media to market to customers.  This survey noted that the most effective tactics for businesses to reach customers through social media is with wall posts and direct messages.  The survey stated that the most important reasons small businesses use social media are to connect with customers, enhance visibility and self-promote.

Social media strategies need to be tied together with a comprehensive marketing plan.  Without a plan, social media marketing can be a colossal waste of time. However, with the right approach it can reap tremendous branding and marketing rewards.  A social media marketing plan outlines the proper use of time, effort and money.  Unfortunately most small business owners are not marketing professionals and do not approach social media with a marketing perspective.

It is impossible to outline a complete plan in this blog, but I will discuss the first important steps needed to get started.  A successful plan does not have to be complex and it can be created and implemented quickly.

To successfully harness the power of social media for marketing, users need to understand it, understand how their customers and contacts are using it and how they are going to use it.  I purposely did not mention sales because one of the greatest misconceptions is that social media is a sales tool.  Social media is a branding and marketing tool used to build relationships and brand awareness, which can lead to referrals and sales.

The first step in the process of creating a plan is education.  Individuals and businesses must learn how their target audiences use social media and what sites they use.  It is essential to find out as much as possible about the behavior of clients and prospects.  Collecting and reviewing this information is an important part of the process.  For example, LinkedIn can be an ideal site for your business if you want to connect with other active business networkers.  According to a Lab42 survey of 500 Americans who were registered with LinkedIn, 35 percent check the site daily and 42 percent update their profiles regularly.  From this we can see that a large number of LinkedIn users are active on the site. These users are interested in keeping their profiles up-to-date for others to view.  Therefore LinkedIn’s business-focused online community is an ideal social media platform that should be included in a business’ social media marketing plan.

The research and information gathering phase will allow you to understand target audiences and choose the right social communities and sites to use.

Ask questions such as:

  • Where do clients, potential clients or referral sources interact online?
  • Where are my clients and prospects gathering, posting and commenting?
  • Who are the leaders in my sector and where can I find and listen to them online?
  • Where can I listen and participate in conversations online to grow my personal or business brand?

With this information in hand, strategies can be implemented and goals can be set directing where, how often and what messages should be posted.

Based on the research and information gathered about current and potential followers and customers, set up or expand your social media accounts.  This may mean creating a Facebook business page and/or group, a LinkedIn company page or group, a YouTube channel or a Flickr account for photos.  Twitter, Google+, Stumbleupon, Tumblr and other accounts may be part of this initial effort as well.   Each site has its advantages, and each has strategies for its use.  Currently, Facebook remains dominant in many categories including time spent on any U.S. website according to the NM Incite – Neilson State of Social Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011.  The numbers are truly staggering to look at.  Facebook visitors spent over 53.5 billion total minutes on their site in 2010 according to the Neilson, Netview, Home and Work (May 2011) study of the Top 10 Web Brands.

Successful plans set realistic goals.  Goals should include consideration of ROI (return on investment), but must also consider the amount of time and effort put forth, what I call ROE (return on effort).  Social media marketing ROI is difficult to measure in terms of direct sales, but can be achieved when time and budgets are set.  At the beginning of a social media marketing campaign or program it may be difficult to judge how much time should be spent.  Start slow and allocate a specific number of hours necessary to achieve desired results.  Only add time when warranted.  Social media is not a waste of time, but it can be a tremendous time-waster.  You limit your exposure and potential losses by managing time wisely.

The investment of time and resources is worth it.  According to information published by CrowdSpring, 51 percent of Facebook friends and 64 percent of Twitter followers are more likely to buy the brands they follow or are a fan of.

This outlines the first steps in the process of creating and implementing a social media marketing plan.  Stay tuned for additional posts in which I will cover topics such as creating social media campaigns and marketing messages, personal branding, strategies for monitoring success, enhancing the power of media coverage with social media, online reputation management and protection, crisis management, business development strategies using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and others.

Don’t stop using social media – start using it now with a plan and goals.

Sources:

CrowdSpring
Lab42
Marketing in the Digital World
Neilson State of Social Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011

A week in the life of a PR Pro with a little twist – test driving a BMW 750i

Checking out the 750i

People often wonder what it’s like to work in public relations, and although it is a lot of work, sometimes it has its perks.  This week I have the distinct pleasure of test driving a fully loaded 2011 BMW 750i on loan to me from BMW of Bayside.  During the test drive week I will be sharing my observations and comments about the 750i as I go through all the activities in my busy schedule.   I will not be compensated for these activities and my comments about the BMW 750i.

As a father of 20-month-old twins and president of Corbett Public Relations, I am constantly on the go and I thought it would be fun to write about my experiences.  I’m interested to see what the impact of driving a luxury vehicle like this is like.  Let me know what you think.  Send your questions and answer the trivia questions I will be posting along the way; you can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. (twitter @liprguy or @wjcorbett  and hashtag #corbettbmw)

 

Day 1 – Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It was a beautiful day in the New York metropolitan area with clear skies and a bit of humidity.  After a brief stop at my office to collect equipment and materials for a presentation on “How to Boost Your Trade Show Efforts,” I got a quick lift to BMW of Bayside located just a few miles from my office In Floral Park.  I was greeted by Peter Turano, General Sales Manager and Bill Finsilver, VP of Sales.  After a brief conversation they had me sign some paperwork and then it was off for a once over of the sleek black 2011 BMW 750i.

BMW 750i

The car is truly great to look at and is packed with technology and all that is needed to ride in luxury and comfort.  I have driven in BMW’s before and even test driven a few over the years.  I also did some research before picking up the car and was prepared.  However, upon sitting in the vehicle I was very impressed with the modern layout, computer display and automatic gear shifter, a feature that was new to me.

Once on the road I found out quickly that the acceleration was responsive when I had to merge quickly onto a busy late morning Northern Boulevard.  A few moments later I was on the highway heading to Hauppauge.  Traffic on the LIE was light, which was unusual as most of us from the area know.  I made my way quickly across Nassau County and along the way I tested the radio, navigation system and voice commands.  After some trial and error I felt comfortable with this high-tech system.

Bill with Judy and Rob at Skyline New York

I arrived at my first stop, the offices of Skyline New York a leading trade show and exhibit booth design and manufacturing company.  I was greeted by Judy Fairbanks from the company and Rob Fishman of Sander Training.  Together we provided an informative workshop for local business owners and executives seeking to get more out of their trade show appearances.  We discussed trade show planning and social media topics, subjects that are regularly part of my day to day life in public relations.  Judy and Rob were excellent and the venue featured a new showroom with some of the best looking trade show exhibits I have ever seen.  This was the first of a series of events we are offering every Wednesday this summer.  I was happy to have the 750i as my luxury ride to this event.

Following this program I used the navigation system to find my way to an IHOP on Motor Parkwaya few miles away.  I arrived on time for a meeting with artist and graphic designer Jan Guarino, owner of the Guarino Graphics and Studio.  I have known Jan for a number of years.  We share a number of clients and we are involved in a few networking groups together.  We had a late “lunch” and discussed some business synergies.

After our meeting I was off for home to meet my wife and pick up our twins.  On the way I was called by a few clients and did a 15 minute interview on crisis communications for a national trade magazine.  Yes, always working.  On the way home to Long Island’s south shore I tested the handling of the 750i.  Accelerating and maneuvering from lane to lane was a breeze.  The luxury setting made the ride very comfortable.  After the presentation, meetings and managing a few dozen calls and e-mails, it was quite a stressful day.  The comfort of the 750i helped me to relax.

Wrapped up the day with dinner including grilled bratwurst (actually weisswurst – “white wurst” a common food served in Munich the home of what automobile company?)

Stay tuned for day 2.

Bill Corbett – BMW Week Day 2

After a busy day July 7th, I started Thursday, July 8th with a breakfast meeting at the Sea Crest Diner in Old Westbury with Ira Kader of KW Graphics.  Ira is a member of LINX networking group which, I joined a few months ago.  We had a productive conversation and we both learned more about each other’s businesses. Ira is also a father of twins; he shared some of his parenting wisdom with me as well.

After breakfast I jumped into the 750i.  I tested the different ride settings including the two sports settings.  This feature is great you can really feel the steering and breaks tighten.

I spent the next few hours working on client media pitches, press releases and preparing for upcoming meetings.  In the early afternoon, I met with a number of business prospects and with Neil and Steve Levin of Webline Designs.  Neil is also a member of LINX, and I work with his other son Jon of Cardinal Trade Group on business to business trade shows and events.

After the meeting, I had a PR activities recap call with the marketing team at Teachers Federal Credit Union, New York State’s largest credit union and a Corbett Public Relations client for several years.  On the run again, I grabbed the “keys” to the BMW 750i and headed out.  The keyless entry is convenient because I am always carrying a bag, cameras and other materials.

The afternoon looked gloomy with a thunderstorm rapidly approaching. I was actually looking forward to testing the 750i in the rain.  I received my opportunity on the way to my last meeting of the day with Evan Bloom of Sir Speedy of Westbury.  Evan and I had a very productive meeting, discussing his company’s growth and planning a seminar that, we will be doing together later this month at the Brooklyn Library.  The seminar will be on mobile marketing and social media.  Evan and I regular offer workshops focusing on new marketing technology including QR codes, social media and personalized marketing.  I gave Evan a quick overview of the 750i.

The meeting with Evan was the last of the day, but the work day was not over.  Wet roads gave me the opportunity to test the handling of the 750i.  The road conditions did not matter the vehicle performed superbly, even in the 5 mile per hour traffic jam that I was stuck in for about an hour.

Day two ended with me pulling the 750i into the garage.  I was impressed that when the remote was pressed, the handles on the car illuminated brightly with LED lights.  It lookedimpressive and stylish.

Day 3-  BMW Week

Day three started off quickly.  I was hosting a meeting at my office for the Preferred Provider Network’s Advisory Board.  On the way I stopped a New York Bagels in Franklin Square.   I received two complements on the 750i when I was entering store.

Arriving at my office at 7:30 am, I was greeted by two long time friends Adam Schwam of Sandwire and Bruce Libman of Total Networking and Consulting.  The Advisory board meeting covered many topics.  We are always looking to enhance meetings and give members greater value and tools to grow their businesses. Some interesting new ideas were developed that will be implemented at the next meeting.  We had valuable input from CPA Gary Orkin and Attorney Glenn Franklin partner with the firm of Franklin Gringer and Cohen.

On a daily basis I work with clients to help them to improve events, promote events and create new ways to develop business and relationships.  I have worked with this group and the National Network of Accountants founder Joe Tucciarone for over 12 years.

Friday’s in the summer were once quite but now, I find that the firm is very busy managing multiple media relations programs and social media programs for over 25 clients.  After juggling a half dozen client calls and a few dozen e-mails, I quickly drafted a social media marketing program for a new project I am working on.  The remainder of the day included finishing up a proposal and working with a client to make sure information was ready for a Newsday story to be published in the next day or two.

This was a productive week, actually slower than a typical week for me.  I have a few small projects I want to take care of over the weekend but I also want to spend some time with my wife and twins as well as enjoy taking a few random spins in the BMW 750i around Long Islandfor pure pleasure.

Videos

 

Picking up BMW 750i

Video BMW Controls

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Overview with Adam Schwam

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