Say No to Shortcuts

Whenever we got into the car with my dad for a trip that was not part of our normal routine, we got ready for adventure. Why? It wasn’t so much that our destination was that adventurous. It was the trip itself. My dad loved to devise shortcuts. The problem? They never shortened travel time. They either increased the time we spent in the car, or increased time spent in the car AND got us lost.

ShortcutsI often see the same thing happening with newer social business journeys. The driver gets excited by apps, tools and other shortcuts “guaranteed” to grow their fan/follower/connection base in a lightning quick fashion. Unfortunately, many of these shortcuts lead that social business driver on a merry chase full of wrong turns, detours and one way only avenues that end up with the driver lost and unsure where they are or how to get home.

“With record speed” and “get it fast” are phrases bandied about by many an app/online tool developer ready to promise you a shortened journey. The problem is that successful social endeavors require that you take active part in the journey. Shortcuts, while seemingly faster, often take you in divergent directions that detract from the real reasons your engaging in social business.

  1. Relationships can’t be rushed. They build in their own unique time. Relationships that result in business are built on trust. Trust can’t be rushed.
  2. Social business relies on stories rather than sales tactics, telling rather than selling. What happens when you speed through a story? Key points get missed. The listener finds themselves unsure of the plot, the message. Sharing stories takes time.
  3. While sharing is an integral part of social business, you can’t just share anything. It’s vital that you read and assess each item you think you might want to share. Rapid fire shares and retweets without reading often create bad business buzz. You might share a dead link, spam or worse – information that is completely outdated or off base.

Yes, it’s important to build a following – you want someone to see and appreciate that great information you’re creating and sharing. But you can’t rush. All likes are not created equal. Same goes for followers on Twitter and circles on Google+.

While Facebook like parties are going strong, as are ladder events, don’t rush to like hundreds of pages to get several hundred likes in return. You might get the numbers, but will you get:

  • People who will actively take part in discussions?
  • Content worthy of sharing?
  • People willing to share your good content?
A recent blog post on this very topic started a lively discussion about these like building events and the people who take part. You can read it here.

While the idea that you must follow to be followed on Twitter is basically sound, again – you don’t want to just click the “follow” button without real intent. Michael Hyatt states that “the higher your follower count, the more people assume you are an expert”, and therein lies the quandary for us. Do you want to be an “assumed” expert, that assumption based solely on one number? Or, would you rather be known as an expert based on the ideas, tips and tools shared? I’ll state openly that I prefer to work toward the latter.

Numbers for the sake of bigger numbers don’t have any real ROI. And yes, as much as social business is about the relationship over the sale, you have to consider and track ROI. There’s a purpose to the building of that relationship (see what Social Media Examiner has to say on the topic), one that your boss really wants to see well documented.

Shortcuts don’t build the types of numbers that help you put together the reports your boss, even if you’re the boss, wants to see. Careful planning, attention to detail and good old hard work build the relationships that build the numbers that net you positive ROI. Skip the shortcuts and get busy creating that plan of action!

Keyword Research and Optimization Are Integral To Online Marketing

Keyword research and keyword optimization are not dark arts! There’s no danger of becoming “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” if you use the tools that are available to you as they were intended to be used. It’s when you attempt to game the search engines that there will be problems. Every business does itself and their customers a disservice if they do not properly optimize the content that they produce.

keyword researchWhen I was born, there was no internet. At all. That’s only forty years ago. Now we use it all the time, almost regardless of where we are. We expect the answers to all our questions to be instantly available and verifiable at the mere click of a mouse or the tap of a screen. This is such a seamless process that we often forget the technology involved in getting those answers to us.

From a small business perspective, this is an amazing opportunity, to have the ability to reach your audience by answering their questions and providing solutions to their problems without leaving your office. You can reach a section of the global marketplace that you could never have hoped to only a few decades ago. We’re right to get excited about this world of opportunities that have opened up to us.

It’s not a free lunch, however, you still need to work to get your content in front of your audience. Most will use search engines to find the answers they’re looking for; the volume of search queries increase year after year, and there is no end in sight to this trend.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) attempts to bridge the gap between what the search engines need in order to consider your content relevant and of high quality and providing what your audience will find compelling to see and read. Think of it as optimizing your content for both people and computers.

Researching, identifying, and providing what your audience wants has always been part of the product and marketing strategies of most successful businesses, making sure that their products or services meet one or more needs of the intended audience such as physical, legal and regulatory, emotional or aspirational ones. Small businesses have always been at a disadvantage because of how this type of research has until recently been very costly to carry out, but now you can look at data from various sources to find out what potential customers are searching for in and around your niche.

Keyword research is a valuable tool. It’s not for finding words to thoughtlessly stuff into your content as an attempt to game the search engines; it’s there to help you get inside your audience’s heads, to walk in their shoes and to understand the language that they use. This way, you can provide them with what they are looking for in a language that they understand. If you do this well by using your keyword research the right way then your content will also naturally be considered relevant and of quality by the search engines.

Not using relevant language and keywords across your content and site structure is a bit like owning a grocery superstore that has no street address, no signs to guide customers to the  store, no signs within the store itself and the shelves are randomly stocked with products in a haphazard manner. You might be happy to do this as it is less for you to have to think about in the short-term, but you’d have a hard time staying in business! People won’t be able to find you, and if they do by accident then they will leave frustrated having had a bad experience. Using keywords appropriately provides signposts for the search engines so that they can index your site and direct your audience straight to what they are seeking.

Give your business a fighting chance to be successful online — incorporate SEO from the ground up. There are plenty of free tools and tutorials that can help you get started with keyword research and SEO. Unfortunately, it is the case that a great deal of SEO information out there is less reliable than you would like, and it can be hard to work out who is providing solid information about the topic. I’d suggest that you head over to SEOmoz and start with their beginners guide to SEO; they walk you through the process in easy to manage steps and will have you on the right track in no time at all!

Do you use SEO on your website? What tools do you use to do your keyword research? Please leave a comment below!

Social Media Tips For Small Business Owners

We asked some of the SteamFeed authors to answer the following question: If you could give one or two pieces of advice to a small business owner who just signed up for their first social media account today, what would it be?

Here’s what they answered:

 

Carrie Keenan (@carrieatthill):

1. Learn a bit about the “rules and norms” of the social channel you are joining. (No hashtags or #FF on Facebook etc). Once you have an idea – jump in!

2. Take the time to grow & nurture relationships with people. Don’t use social media as a billboard, it is about the people. Find and build your community.

 

Mallie Hart (@themediabarista):

Begin as you hope to continue. It’s easy to go gangbusters as you’re starting out, but it can be hard to maintain the momentum. Social marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Pacing yourself is key to success, as it’s easy to get burnt out. Successful social presence and sharing requires research, reading and response. Only have time to research and read the content that will become one or two good posts per day, as well as carve out the time to respond to any questions or comments those posts might create? That’s fine, as long as you can maintain that going forward.

 

“Engage but don’t overdo it! Be genuine!”

 

Albert Qian (@albertqian):

1. Figure out what your goals are. Nothing is worse than being on social media without a goal.

2. Make time to engage with your audience. Audience is not just your customers through the door, but also those whom talk to you online! You can miss valuable opportunities by not speaking to your online audience.

 

Keri Jaehnig (@connectyou):

1.  Many people hop onto social media and feel like, “Okay, now, what do I do with this digital thing?”  If you boil it down, social media is just the opportunity to put “old time” business and customer service tactics back into place via modern technology.  We’re no longer just websites online.  You can put a face to your brand, and offer more personal attention than we have been used to doing for a number of years.  We can just reach more people with the power of the social platforms and the way they work.

REMEMBER: It’s not about you — It’s about them.  If you want people to react to your social media efforts, find a way to put your fans and followers in the spotlight; find a way to feature your customer.  If all of your messaging is broadcasting sales & marketing about your brand, those you are trying to attract will tune you out.

2. Resist the temptation to click those buttons and connect your Facebook and Twitter.  While you’ll think you would be saving time by posting to both at the same time, each network is different.  Facebook users don’t typically take to “Twitter-ese.”  And Twitter users don’t typically click on Facebook links in their tweet stream.  Find other ways of creating efficiency and appreciate each network for it’s unique ability to forward your brand.

 

David Schwartz (@brand_education):

The first thing that I would do is congratulate the small business owner on jumping into the exciting world of social media. I would encourage them to take time to learn the format, depending upon the social network, the communication can feel like learning a foreign language. Don’t get discouraged, social media success does not come over night, remember it is a marathon not a sprint.
Once they familiarize themselves with the medium, strategize a plan of attack. How do they want to use the social network?
  • Customer Service
  • Relationship Building
  • Education
  • Marketing
  • Build Awareness

Once they create a plan; set goals, track growth and activity. Analyze the results and re-set goals and adjust the strategy. Be flexible, have fun and engage with the most wonderful vehicle created for company and customer interaction.

 

Daniel Hebert (@danielghebert):

1. Make sure that your profile is 100 percent complete. Update your descriptions/bio, add links to your website, update your profile pictures, etc. Make sure that your audience knows exactly who you are, and what you do. This will make it a lot easier for your fans to engage with you.

2. Protect your brand identity throughout all platforms. Reserve your brand name on different social networks (even if you’re not necessarily using it). Use a tool like KnowEm to quickly check if your brand name is available on all of the popular networks.

 

What advice would you give to a small business owner that is just getting started in social media? Please leave a comment below!

Social Media: Walk the Talk

If I’ve learned anything in social media, it is this: You have got to walk the talk. You cannot claim to be a social media expert or even an enthusiast if you do not use social media. How am I supposed to believe you when you talk about the power of social media if you do not use it in your own business? I can’t. You lose all credibility. Even if you have a good product or service, I will never see its value because I will assume you are not believable because you do not walk the talk. Let me give you an example:

Our wireless bill arrived yesterday. Its usually pretty scary, but this month it was downright frightening. It was my fault, I went over on my minutes. $300 over. I don’t know exactly how many minutes that equals, but it was not a massive number. The bill prompted a conversation (rant) whereby I told my husband our monthly internet/TV/phones bill is as much as many people pay for their house payment. I went on to say that something needs to be done about the wireless companies. Imagine my surprise when I opened my inbox this morning to find an invite to a new wireless service, Solavei. Social commerce as applied to cell phone service.

At first I was really excited. An answer to a prayer (rant). Solavei makes some pretty big claims. I don’t know about you, but when I hear big claims, I want big proof. For starters, Solavei is crediting itself with the birth of social commerce.

That alone made me say “hmmmm”. I’m pretty sure that social commerce has been around for quite a while. However, this is a direct (MLM) marketing company, so some grandiose verbiage is not unexpected. However, what did pique my concern was when I watched the intro video by the founder, Ryan Weurch. He highlights 4 trends: the economy, social media, mobile and direct sales. Though I don’t see the economy as a “trend”, I do agree that social media and mobile are where its at. Keep in mind, if you are going to preach at me about mobile and social, I expect you to have a bang-up mobile site and a jaw-dropping social media presence…and therein lies the problem. They don’t. On either count.

The build-up

Normally when I get these MLM invite emails, I just delete them. This one was from someone I knew, a client of a client. I have spoken with the person in the past, so I didn’t expect it to be an outright mass-mailed, MLM form letter. My first clue should have been when it opened with “You are one of the first 20 people” and goes on to say “If this is not for you, please forward this to a friend in need of saving and making $$$ and I will pay you $25 for each person that you refer that joins my team in the next 10 days”. Silly me, I kept reading. In my defense, it was really early, I hadn’t had my coffee and I was stuck waiting in a long line to drop my kids off at school. So, I clicked on the video link. I watched for a minute and thought, “This guy is GOOD!”. Likable, humble, sincere. Then, he started talking about social media and mobile. Music to my ears. I was so excited that I immediately wanted to cut to the chase and go directly to his website. Mobile and social! How could I resist?

An undelivered promise

Then it happened. Mr. Mobile and Social sent me to a non-mobile optimized website. I couldn’t fit the whole page on my screen. It wasn’t responsive, it didn’t resize. I had to SCROLL…sideways. My excitement changed to disbelief, then to annoyance as I started to feel like I had been conned. With a hopeful but doubting heart, I made my way over to their Twitter account. Of course, there was not a link to the Twitter account, but I was momentarily buoyed by the fact that Mr. Mobile and Social had a Facebook “like” box on his not quite mobile site, even if he did not have actual social buttons.

A little investigating

Being the social media investigator that I am, I took a chance that they could be found at Twitter.com/Solavei. Lucky guess. Mr. Mobile and Social has apparently been very busy, but not with social media. They had not tweeted in six days, and before that, in two weeks. A total of 98 tweets, ever, to 3,471 followers. They follow back only thirty people (less than 1%) in their community. Way to be social. Looks like Mr. Mobile and Social is having a few problems with mobile and social…but his real problem is this: He is not walking the talk!

Take-away

So here is the bottom line: Solavei might be the next best thing to sliced, whole-grain, organically grown gluten-free bread. I WILL NEVER KNOW. Mr. Weurch built his foundation on touting the benefits of mobile and social, specifically the fool-proof combination of social commerce via direct sales in a bad economy using social media and mobile. His site is not mobile-enabled and his social media is all wrong. That leaves him with direct sales in a bad economy.

My advice to Mr. Weurch and Solavei: Walk the Talk. Mobile enable your website. Add social buttons and create a social media campaign that engages your audience and builds your direct sales community. Do not rely on a couple semi-celebrities to generate enough buzz to “change the face of the mobile industry forever” as you claim.

 

Learning the Wrong Lessons from Famous Innovators

Henry Ford went bankrupt in his first attempt to create the automobile. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times in his quest to create a light bulb. Steve Jobs suffered an embarrassing and very public ouster from the company he founded. These men risked their reputations and their wealth in pursuit of big visions. If you think I am gearing you up for a pep talk, think again.

People love to quote the likes of Ford, Jobs, Edison and others, but how many are willing to make similar sacrifices? Some entrepreneurs rely on the magic bag of quotes to justify pursuing untested, bad ideas. But ask yourself this question: Would you risk going bankrupt or losing your home? The usual response is silence and a blank stare. If you are not prepared to take such risks, then stop blindly quoting those who did.

Edison, Ford and Jobs

Here is a favorite Ford quote of those who consider customer feedback as some sort of entrepreneurial sin:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Yet, Ford’s first bankruptcy was due to his unwillingness to engage the market. He spent all of his time on the engineering and mechanics of his invention, a costly oversight. So, Ford tried again and failed. It was the third attempt, The Ford Motor Company, which finally broke through with the help of investors who swooped in at the last moment to save the company.

What people really wanted was to go faster, not to have faster horses. A seasoned salesperson or marketer faced with the same question would reply, “Well, a horse can only go so fast, correct? What if there was a way you could go faster than any horse that ever lived? Would that be useful?” Who would have said no to this? So, what is the real lesson here?

Steve Jobs famously said, “…We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.” Remember the Newton? How about MobileMe? Jobs described it as “Exchange for the rest us.” He would later call the MobileMe development team into his office for a stinging rebuke, suggesting in part they should “…hate each other for letting each other down.” Ouch. Apple can afford to take risky bets. Can you?

Thomas Edison is arguably the most successful of the three if we consider the number and widespread impact of his innovations. His most famous quote is the result of his failures with the light bulb:

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Another favorite from the magic bag of quotes. The lesson? Never give up! Not quite.

However, Edison was more than an inventor. He was a shrewd businessman. Consider the following quote:

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

To those who balk at understanding the market, consider this Edison quote:

“I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others. I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.”

Given the choice to be under the tutelage of these three men, which would you choose? I pick Edison but even in the case of Ford and Jobs, there is far more to them than random quotes suggest.

Bodies of Work, Not Isolated Quotes

Entrepreneurs as well as the public would do well to understand the complete body of work of innovators in order to extract the correct lessons. Yes, Thomas Edison was persistent and focused, but he was also a man of strategy who understood the importance of feedback and data. Ford gave us the automobile, but his real innovation was the perfection of the assembly line, which took planning, foresight and a team of brilliant people. As for those who still believe Apple does not conduct market research, you should read this article from the Wall Street Journal.

New entrepreneurs risk mistaking insanity for persistence by taking quotes out of context. Instead, spend time studying the biographies of innovators to understand what worked for them and what did not. The real lesson of Edison and others is to work smarter, not harder.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

Blitz Posting is not an Effective Social Media Practice

Social Media is not about Blitz posting (you know the folks I am talking about). Some people do absolutely no engaging with their social media community. They simply go on one of their many social networking accounts, and post about 10 to 20 posts all in a row, in the manner of a machine gun: One right after the other – Bam, Bam, Bam…

fine bottle of wine, like social mediaThis approach to social media is about the same as drinking a fine bottle of wine all in one gulp, just to get it out-of-the-way. Let’s talk about this and what you are actually accomplishing when practicing Blitz posting.

You are not engaging!

You are not by any stretch of the word “engaging” with your community. Engaging in social media means responding and posting relevant information that your community is going to relate to, and trigger some sort of conversation. How are you encouraging engagement if you are firing off one post after another? You would be much better off posting at different intervals and engaging when someone responds. Be a person, not a robot, for goodness sakes. I mean really, how many social robots do you know?

You are affecting your SEO, in a negative way!

By bombarding the space all at one time, you are gaining no SEO whatsoever. Part of SEO is about posting a particular subject topic (keyword) on a consistent basis. Consistent is not meant to be interpreted by flooding the space with a ton of repeated mentions (that’s the same as keyword stuffing in my book).

You are spamming!

Finally, when it comes down to it, you are spamming the space. Social media is not about annoying people. Disagreeing politely, general discussion, etc., are all acceptable ways of engaging in social media. However, flooding the timeline with post after post is simply rude – STOP IT!

There I feel better now. What do you think about these blitz posters…?

Here are some articles you might find interesting from other websites:

Book Review: Invest in Social Marketology by Ric Dragon

Ric Dragon is terrifyingly smart, that’s why he wrote Social Marketology.

He wanted to write a book that did not clamor about how social media is changing the world. He wanted the reader to have a book that offered a practical guide to help you organize a social media marketing process. He weaves ideas of sociology, psychology, history, statistics, process methodologies and philosophy into practical application for a social media business strategy. For golly’s sake, even the first chapter opens with a reference to the efficiency movement of the early 1900s. There was also mention of Russian Soviet Union satellite Sputnik and MTV! But you will have to read to find more of these goodies and see why it makes sense.

Well, he delivered! I carried his book (Social Marketology) in my purse for some time. I felt armed with knowledge. (You might have to refer to a dictionary once or twice though). And I would carry it again. It’s still on my coffee table not gathering dust.  You want to invest in the book if you’re handling social media – novice or veteran – or at the very least strongly encourage your community/social media manager or team to read it.

I know it gets overwhelming when you have to ransack countless blog posts, ebooks and free PDFs to figure out what – and especially who – can really teach you meaningful and profitable social media marketing. If you go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble in search of a book it still can be tough. But I’m here to tell you that Ric will, as his title states, help you “improve your social media processes and get customers to stay forever.”

To summarize, Ric explains the sub-processes that will be inserted in the master – meaning action – plan and those include:

  • Clarifying the brand’s values and voice – “Focus on desired vision, goals and objectives metrics”
  • Monitoring online behavior
  • Audience segmentation (seriously whittled down to microsegments such as the Airedale Terrier Club of Greater Atlanta)
  • Discovering target communities
  • Identifying key influencers in these communities
  • Executing, measuring goals and staying innovative

Scenarios are included to exemplify Ric’s points. Do I sense a sigh of relief? Yes, yes because examples are incredibly helpful and memorable.

You know, because of the rapid evolution of social media sometimes I wonder if relevant books are so 2010. Or 2011. If you’re worried, there’s no need.  The book acknowledges ongoing change in this industry and is designed to be a versatile framework that holds fundamental principles of social marketing. Heaps of great content are found online but some books still demand a physical presence and this is one of them – at least for me so I can dog ear pages and bookmark Social Marketology with post-its containing inspired ideas.

 

Why Yes, That Blog Post Can Help You Get a Job!

Just a decade ago, blogs were the new medium on the block. In my generation, they were used to vent about the day, stalk a school crush and share content. While generations after have continued this trend, blogs have also become an important aspect in careers: a blog is a crucial tool in the job hunt.

Speaking to students about blog jobI speak to many recent graduates in this tough job market. New graduates have the toughest time being able to find work, and it’s perfectly understandable: fresh talent, while cheap, is also a risk that some are unwilling to take. As a new graduate, it’s important to be able to explain to companies why you are a risk worth taking. Nowhere better is this than blogs!

Are you still on the fence as to why you should start a blog for your career? Consider the following reasons:

  1. Blogs makes you look professional: We’re not talking about your angst but rather your career interests. When you link your blog to your LinkedIn account or other professional profiles, you make it known that you are passionate about your topic, and are inviting potential recruiters and future co-workers to read into your ideas.
  2. Blogs makes you look passionate: Blogs are great tools to show your observational side. So much of the professional world requires that individuals are able to analyze, observe and draw conclusions. Can you do that? If you can, a blog is a great idea.
  3. Blogs builds your personal brand: I’ve blogged many times here about personal branding, and a blog is a perfect starting point for just that. Blogs serve as an excellent arena for stakeholders like recruiters, or your boss, to examine when they want to remember who you are, or to justify a new hire.
  4. Blogs builds your network (or “tribe”): Networking, as I have explained on this blog many times, is an important activity to partake in. Many bloggers out there are members of “tribes” where they help share each other’s content. In that process, you might just find that person who helps you out.

If you’re ready, it’s very simple to get started! Whether you’re using Tumblr (like me) or another software like WordPress or Joomla, each can have the power to help you get where you want to go.

Happy blogging!

Do you have a personal blog? Have you thought about starting a new blog? What has stopped you from doing it so far? Please leave a comment below!

My Biggest Start-Up Challenge? Software Development.

I blog for three reasons. (1) It’s fun working on a start-up, but it’s also extremely challenging and frustrating at times. So, blogging is a catharsis. (2) I blog to share the kewl things I learn and the bone-head maneuvers I make, so that others might benefit. And (3) I blog to connect with entrepreneurial-minded people.

Last night, while having dinner with friends in Chicago, someone asked me, “what was the most challenging aspect of working on my start-up, WeMontage?” Without hesitation, I replied, “getting the software developed to bring my vision to life.”

Startup ChallengeI recently discussed the challenge of finding a founding partner with a tech background – someone who complements my skill set.  While navigating said challenge, I discovered three key things about the software development process and, most importantly, about myself.

I Can Have It All. Just Not Right Now!

A good friend of mine, Neil, a software engineer who wrote the iPad and iPhone app for Pandora, shared a lil’ wisdom with me about writing software. He said, “you can build it fast, cheap, or really good. Pick any two.”

Ugh! Seriously? Now u tell me. :-)  Can you guess which two it’s gonna be for this guy? Here’s a hint. I’ve got champagne taste on a PBR-er-Pabst Blue Ribbon-budget. Nothing against PBR, but it ain’t the lovely bubbly!

So, it’s the cheap and really good options for me. Thus, my awesome web design and development firm is in NY, but they are project managing software engineers in the Ukraine. Ukraine?! Yep, the Ukraine. And that’s why WeMontage has been in development since January. Yes. Since January.

Enjoy The Journey. Don’t Focus On The Destination.

Two of my heroes, Dr. Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra, preach the mantra of staying in the present, and enjoying the process without attachment to the results; this is incredibly hard for me. I truly aspire to be more virtuous, but I often fall short of the mark.

So many of my friends are über supportive of WeMontage and think the project is super-kewl and I’m doing a great job. But I’m always surprised to hear this because sometimes, I’m just in the weeds trying to get things done.

From finding the right founding partner; to early on, trying to understand why I should build the software in HTML5 vs. the soon-to-be-dead, yet ubiquitous, Adobe Flash; to understanding if the developers say it’s gonna take two weeks, it’s really gonna take 5-6 weeks; It’s hard to enjoy the journey and not focus on the results and road toward the destination.

will do better.

#Nevergiveup

Despite my the challenges I’ve faced, the concept of WeMontage was pure inspiration, and I’m trusting the Universe to support it, and to do so abundantly. So strong is my faith, I’m launching a crowd funding campaign on IndieGoGo.com, which competes with KickStarter.com, to give WeMontage a jolt.

Below is a brief demo of the web application that is part of the IndieGoGo campaign. I’m incredibly pumped about the simple, clean, and elegant website and web application we’ve built!

If you’re interested, you can check out the WeMontage IndieGogo crowd funding campaign by clicking here. If you like it, please share it across your social media platforms.

My amazing wife is pregnant with twins and I’ll be a first-time dad in March. When my kids are older, I will teach them many things. But one of the most important things I’ll teach them is Never Give Up. Ever. 

Have you had challenges starting a new biz? Please leave a comment and tell me about them and what you did to overcome them. What did you learn about yourself? 

Invest Long-Term in Your Brand

Anyone running a business knows how tight money is. Every brand decision has to be analyzed, looked at and weighed.

  • Risk versus reward
  • Long-term versus Short-term
  • Immediate need versus “Are you serious? We have bigger things to worry about”.

Marketing is no different.  We have all heard about the 3 dreaded letters – ROI.  Let’s leave that for another discussion on another day.  Today, we are talking about investing in the future of your brand and how to maximize the long-term effectiveness of your marketing dollars.

I am not anti-paid media. Any solid media plan and marketing strategy should include a mix of traditional and “newer” media. However, I do think that traditional paid media is under attack and for good reason. Traditional media tactics are very successful, usually for the ones creating or selling the media. If you are a big brand, with huge marketing budgets that have enough to spread around to every type of media from TV, Radio, Print, etc, then keep on spending!

Do you stay awake at night wondering if your target audience saw or heard your advertising message?

If you are a small business or one that has a modest marketing budget to work with, I suggest you look hard at investing in digital. One of my favorite arguments for digital is that your investment can pay dividends months if not years down the line.  When you run a print ad in a newspaper, where do those ad dollars go after the day that ad runs? What about after that radio spot runs its rotation and the media buy expires?

It’s all about Search Engines

With an optimized website, blogging and social media engagement you have the ability to reap the rewards of your time and investment well after the day that content is shared with on the web. Thanks in part to search engines such as Google and Bing, your content can and will be found for those looking for what it is you are selling, promoting or talking about. Understand that I am not over simplifying this process. It requires what I call sweat equity, strategy and a strong digital foundation.

Make Yourself Search-able

5 steps to get you started:

  1. Build an SEO friendly, optimized website. I am a fan of WordPress myself. Stay Away from Flash! – it’s bad for search and it’s not mobile friendly.
  2. Use Google’s resources; Google Ad Words, Google Alerts, Google Analytics and even Google+. Go ahead and play in Google’s sand box, you will be rewarded with better search results.
  3. Be Targeted and Consistent with your content, use key words consistently to tie together your content and website.
  4. Start a Blog to help your customers understand who you are, what you do and how they can benefit as a customer.
  5. Get active in Social – set-up profiles to build RELATIONSHIPS with your audience.

Bonus: Read this helpful post about Bare Minimum SEO: 3 Things You Must Do

Analyze and Adjust

One of the things that I love best about marketing by way of new media is that you have the opportunity to adjust and evolve. This is the real beauty of the social web and digital media. Brands are living, breathing things and like all living things brands need to continue to grow. Sometimes that means changing how they communicate.  Unlike that TV spot or that billboard, it is much easier to edit and tweak digital content.

Create Your Own Content

Yes, creating your own content takes time, but so does coming up with your next advertising campaign. When brands create their own content, they provide the PR message for Sociable Butterflies, Brand Ambassadors and Loyal Fans to share to their audience as Brand Influencers. This is what the new marketing machine looks like. Who better to talk on your behalf than your own loyal customer? This is about giving a brand a voice and letting that voice to share your story.

Today, consumers trust peer recommendations before they trust advertising. Have you ever searched for a brand or company to learn more about hem or see what people are saying about hem? You are not alone. This is the world we live in, so you might as well plan for the future.

If you haven’t already invested in a strong digital foundation, the time is now to get started.

How do you use the digital space for your brand? Please leave a comment below!