Tag Archives: Social Media

You’re Regulated – Control Your Social Marketing!


We are now several years into the maturity of social media as an accepted form of marketing as evidenced by Shawn Kincaid’s post regarding Twitter becoming mainstream.  Many other articles have been written about the dangers to your business of refusing to hop on the social bandwagon, including one I posted.

As marketers we know that one of the most powerful aspects of social media is the two-way conversation that takes place, the ability to “listen” to what is being said about you, your brand and your products.  Never before have companies been in such an enviable position of being able to directly respond to comments made about them.  But, with this power comes the cost of losing control over your brand and marketing, something many have real problems with.

This is especially true in industries that are heavily regulated, such as financial, municipal and as Brian Morrissey writes, pharmaceutical.  I have spoken with many business owners and business developers from these industries that face similar concerns about social media and how they can engage without getting themselves and their company in a lot of trouble.  I don’t mean to say that their concerns are unjustified, and I would strongly recommend hiring knowledgeable legal resources who understand these ramifications.  As Brian states, the penalty for a social misstep can even go so far as to having your key product or your professional license removed from the marketplace!

As such, since these industries must maintain a firm control over their social interaction, even to the point of hiding their involvement, they end up being on the sidelines watching the rest of the marketing world heading forward at warp speed and leaving them behind.  Their marketing is stuck in a serious auto-pilot.

What this tells me is that our regulators, the ones trying so hard to protect us, are seriously out of touch with reality.  The kinds of restrictions placed on financial, governmental and pharmaceutical companies, and their ability to stay current in their marketing, is stuck in the 20th century.

As we all know from the many stories of celebrities getting into trouble, what takes place on the Internet is so transparent that it would appear the perfect place to allow the kinds of open dialog that is the essence of social media.  Would it not be acceptable for regulated industries to have that same level of transparency and be able to enter into constructive dialog with their customers?  I think the phrase is “trust but verify.”

I’d love to know your thoughts.

Leave Them Wanting More: 5 Steps to Making Sure They Come Back


In my varied past, I spent some time on stage as a professional opera singer, a wonderful and enriching experience.  One thing I learned was that during the curtain call when there was applause (assuming you got applause), you never wanted to let the applause die down before leaving the stage.  Really it was ideal to leave when the applause reached its apex and therefore leave the audience wanting more of you.  They were never quite satisfied and probably would be talking about you for some time after leaving the show.  It’s the same reason that no matter how hard you scream for an encore, you never get to hear that one more song.

You may wonder how this relates to an effort to market and promote your business.

Let’s make sure that we’re not confusing what someone wants with what someone needs.  If you start to leave people needing more, than your product or service is not providing what is necessary to sustain the consuming experience and it is likely that you will lose that customer.  Meeting the market’s needs is fundamental to having a product or service that is worth anything at all.

What I’m emphasizing here are wants.  A fundamental rule learned in every Economics 101 course is, “Man has insatiable wants and desires.”  The statement didn’t say insatiable needs.  Every human on earth has basic needs: we need to eat, we need to work, we need adequate health care, we need shelter, we need clothing, etc. Meet the needs and you’ll be okay, but probably not hugely successful, nor will you likely be able to sustain much growth.

What is imperative is that you are able to find how you can leave your customers or clients “wanting” more.  And this really begins with their initial exposure to you, say through your website, and goes clear through the lifecycle of that consuming experience.  Seth Godin in “Embracing Lifetime Value” reiterates how important it is for you to be able to quantify the value of that lifetime experience in order to understand what resources need to go into the relationship. You can then keep them coming back for more.

So, how do you make sure that your customers or clients leave with what they need but leave definitely wanting more?

  1. Make sure your website landing page tells them exactly what they need to know, no more. I believe that it is imperative to give enough information to fulfill the promise of the ad or email that drove them to your site’s landing page, but there is no reason to go beyond that.  If they need more information, provide an easy means for them to contact you so you can enter into a direct dialog, either by phone or chat, which as most salespersons will tell you, is how you can overcome objections and secure the sale.
  2. Try to invite questions that will cause them to engage with your site, with your brand or with you by picking up the phone. The key to consumer loyalty is the ability for them to directly engage in your brand.  Many marketers profess that companies no longer really have control over their brand with the new social media tools. You may as well accept this fact and make it as easy as possible, plus it will help you learn about what your customer needs or maybe even wants.
  3. Regularly add new, relevant content to your website so people will want to come back and see what’s new. This seems so obvious but I can’t tell you how many business owners build a really nice website and then never touch it for months and months.  Not a good idea.  Fresh content will also help improve search results.
  4. Make sure you are enhancing or adding features to your product or service, something your competition isn’t. This also seems obvious but it’s easy to become somewhat complacent as you start to have some success and forget about what improvements could be made to what you offer.  Always be innovating. 
  5. Constantly tell them how much you appreciate their business. Everyone loves to be appreciated and I believe this is rapidly becoming a lost art.  Loyalty comes by making sure to say “thank you.” Reward loyalty through offers that entice them to come back.  Make it lucrative for them to refer you to their network of contacts. 

Leave them needing more and you’ll lose them.  Leave them wanting more and they’ll come back.

Let me know your thoughts.

Put the “Local” in Your Locale


Times are definitely tough, despite what Bernanke may say about the recession.  Squeezing the absolute most efficiency out of every marketing dollar spent has never been more important.  More and more lately my conversations with business owners have turned to what tried and true marketing efforts that they always relied upon in the past that are now starting to provide lackluster results at best.  For businesses whose customers come from a geographically local area, this concern comes in the form of, “my Yellow pages and local newspaper ads don’t seem to work anymore.”  These bright entrepreneurs have even dabbled some with Twitter and Facebook but are finding that these social networks are not providing the kind of local targeting that they need.  They’re a bit exasperated as to what to do.

Welcome LBS or Location-based Social Networking.  This is the true marriage of GPS services with traditional forms of social networks thereby giving the added benefit for the people who you are connected with being able to locate where you are at any given time.

The true viral potential of social networks can really come to play in LBS if your business is truly local and relies upon people coming to your location and buying offline.  Once you have become known, the people that like you and visit you tell their friends who want to join in the fun and they tell their friends and so on and so on.  The possibilities are really endless.

Jennifer Van Grove in her article Beyond Yelp: Location-based Opportunities for Vendors, talks about two relatively new LBS based social network sites that are starting to get some real traction, particularly on the coasts.

I decided I would take a look at three social networks: http://yelp.com http://foursquare.com and http://brightkite.com to get my own take to see what potential there might be for local businesses.  Keep in mind that there are constant suggestions and improvements being made to each of these properties so my opinions may become quickly dated.  I also look at things from a strict marketing potential, not as much from the standpoint of whether I would engage in these on a personal basis.


Yelp is kind of the grand daddy of LBS with a very successful track record.  It is a very robust property and would be appropriate for probably the broadest spectrum of businesses from dentists and doctors, to beauty salons and spas, to bars and restaurants.  Its twist is that users can provide reviews both positive and negative as well as providing lists of places that they frequent.  There are nice ties into Twitter and Facebook and profiles can be customized with pictures and personal information.  Keep in mind that anyone that is added as a friend or any review provided can be seen by anyone in the world, whether they belong to Yelp or not.  The really nice thing about Yelp is the use of interactive maps for locations, much like Google maps.


Foursquare uses the very creative concept of “checking in” once the member arrives at a location, thereby letting their network know where they are.  The unique aspect is the ability to build up check-in points with the ultimate goal of earning the badge of “mayor” of a particular location due to the number of times you visit the place.  For the marketer, this becomes the opportunity to provide free drinks or coupons for any mayor that checks into your shop.  This encourages them to notify their network of where they are.  As with Yelp, there are nice ties into Twitter and Facebook and lots of help for API developers.  There is even an IPhone application.  The drawback here is that Foursquare is not in every city.  As of the writing of this post I requested information as to when they would be in Kansas City.


Of the three, I felt like Brightkite has the farthest to go.  Yes it connects people locally and it is location based and yes it has nice ties into Twitter and Facebook, but I just couldn’t see the “thing” it brings.  What makes Brightkite special?  One distinct advantage over Foursquare is that Brightkite is available in more locations.

With all of these properties I would advise getting into them and experimenting some.  Perhaps with another post, I can talk about ways in which a business would promote themselves, to get better visibility on these LBS networks.

The bottom line is that many many people are using the smart phones to find friends, places to eat, recommendations for good doctors and places to shop and they want them to be local and findable.

Is your locale local?  If it is, then you need to understand location-based social networking.

All my best,


Social Media: It’s Written in Concrete


Remember when you were a kid and some neighbor was pouring a new concrete driveway, or the city was putting in some new sidewalks and what would happen next?  Yea, you can admit it: the temptation to go write your name in the wet cement overcame you and you grabbed the nearest stick and went to work creating something beautiful and yes, permanent.

There is a growing societal change that is taking place in our world.  Years ago, if you were caught stealing candy, breaking street lights, or teepeeing someone’s trees, you may be in trouble at the time, but you sure didn’t have to worry about potential employers doing a background search and discovering that you had participated in these acts.

I wonder how good a job we adults are doing at making sure young people understand that what they put onto Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace is something that may resurface twenty years from now, when they’re trying to land that next great job.  And maybe even if we tried, they wouldn’t listen.  We are all aware of some of the even dangerous activities taking place like “sexting.”

According to The Benenson Strategy Group’s latest research results, parents have a long ways to go toward truly understanding their children’s on-line behaviors.  Their interesting study results can be found at:


What do you think we as a society should do with this new found information?  If you thought it was hard to run for political office now days, just think how easy it’s going to be to find those closet skeletons in years to come.  It won’t work to say, “I smoked but did not inhale,” because it will be on video somewhere.

Do you think in the future that these “youthful indiscretions” will be written off as just what they are?  Will it be possible for our society to sustain the strict rules of former conduct that we have in place today?  Is the permanence of social networks and the information they contain something we can learn to forgive?

I’d love to know your thoughts.



Social Media: I’m Gonna Blow Your Doors Off?


I just love the mental picture I get when I hear the phrase, “blow your doors off.”  It takes me back to when I was a kid, reading my first Hot Rod magazine and seeing those shiny dragsters with the big scoops sticking out of the hood, smoke pouring off the oversized spinning tires and flames belching from the chrome exhaust pipes.  It was what was on my mind when getting ready to race a friend on my gold-flaked Schwinn bicycle with high-rise handle bars, slick rear tire and a banana seat. And out of my mouth came the threat, “I’m gonna blow your doors off.”

You’re probably saying, “wow, you’re really competitive, and what does this have to do with marketing?”

Yes, I am competitive but that’s not the point here.  I talk to a lot of business owners of companies large and small, and from a number of industries.  Inevitably, the conversation will work its way toward what everyone seems to be talking about now, social media.  And even though there are major brands who have embraced social media like Dell, Star Bucks and Dominoes Pizza, many of these business owners will say to me, “David, I just don’t get how it will work for my business.”

Just so we’re straight, whether correct or not, I lump many things into my definition of social media to include:

  • Social networks like Facebook and My Space
  • Micro blogging sites like Twitter
  • Bookmarking and blog rating services such as Del.icio.us, Digg, Stumble Upon and Technorati
  • Picture and video platforms like You Tube and Flickr
  • Business networks like Linked In, Plaxo and Naymz and their groups and associations that provide for the ability to ask and answer industry specific questions.
  • And finally, Blogging and blog sites (and I suppose newsletters could also be included here)

There is not doubt that social media is getting a great deal of hype right now.  This may cause people to believe that it is a passing fad that will soon become stale.

Most experts agree that social media has so dramatically transformed our world’s society that we can never really go without it.  In fact, in his article, “How Social Media May Save The World,” Danny Dover talks of its ability to stop pandemics.  Read his entire article at:


Beyond these lofty claims, active participation in social media has a proven basis in sound marketing practices in addition to strong customer service attributes.  Jeff Bullas, in his blog post, provides 8 reasons why this is true.


Everyone should be aware that social media is not free, even though there is no cost to become involved.  It does take time and a carefully thought out strategy for what you want to accomplish and a time-table for when you would expect to see results.  Don’t anticipate a quick payoff, as it does take time.  But make no mistake, social media is here to stay and you can choose to ignore it or you can start to take an active role.  If you choose not to participate, just know that your competition will and they’ll be saying to you, “we’re gonna blow your doors off.”

All my best,