Glance Links – January 2015

30 01 2015

business-balance

Just some marketing stuff that caught my eye recently… lots of talk about balance – in business and life! If you have any that you would like to pass on, please share!

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Does Posting More Content Lead to More Engagement? – The big bass drums have been beating for several years now… Boom! Boom! Create More Content! Boom! Boom! They’ve been drowning out the tiny tom-toms that have been trying to tell us that the glut of content will ruin us all. This article from Marketing Profs measures content engagement over the past two years, and it’s not pretty. But it’s great data and worthy of some thought. Do we back off some? Start looking at quality more than quantity to achieve an equilibrium? Zen Marketing, if you will…

Bridging The Gap Between Sales & Marketing – Last week I was asked by a friend to sit in on a new kind of discussion. Pat Walsh is an experienced marketer who has also spent decades as a facilitator in a variety of professional environments. Pat’s recognition of a gap between sales and marketing is not groundbreaking, but his presentation and conversation techniques could be. I’m not sure if there are many others out there that have the chops to build this bridge in your organization. Check him out!

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The Four Agreements – After much prompting by some friends, I bought this book and read it. I’m not a motivational, self help, incense burning kinda guy. But the author has been on Oprah for god’s sake!! I liked the book… it seems simple enough and I get the benefits of the behaviour he wants us to aspire to. But as I was reading I couldn’t help sifting out the kumbaya moments and applying these tenets to a business environment. I find that being impeccable with my word, not making assumptions, not taking anything personally, and always doing my best has made my business life a lot more palatable. It’s how I’d like to be going forward, and definitely how I’d like the people on my team to be.

Social Feeds: Why The Intern Can’t Do ItWe’ve all heard this… young people are native internet users so it’s logical that they should handle your social media postings. But there is much more to it, and Ed Lynes explains it succinctly and, dare I say, brilliantly.

One more thing… “Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius” ~ Pietro Aretino… Nah! That didn’t warm me up either!

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Vote, Or Not

4 11 2014

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Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

I voted this morning… stopped in on my way to work. I got the sticker to prove it! I politely refused the candidate handouts on my way in, and I said my “hellos” the nice poll workers who are also my neighbors. I was in and out in three minutes.

Voting always makes me feel good about myself, and my country. I firmly believe that my vote counts, and in some small way I am involved in shaping our laws and policies. It’s interesting there is nothing explicitly stated in the constitution about our “right to vote”, only amendments that guard against discrimination – age, race, sex, etc. But the language of our constitution fills us with the pride and sense of duty that many have. We often talk of the battles fought to ensure this pride, and of those that “have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”*

True patriots have made those sacrifices, not me. But I am patriotic. I feel that pride very strongly, and voting is how I express it best.

The news is reporting about expected low voter participation, and which candidates will be adversely or positively affected. Reporters are at the various polling places talking about turnout or issues with machines. The pundits are having their day… their fifteen minutes of fame.

My social media feed is full of people talking about how they got out and voted this morning… Awesome! I’m glad. There are also statements saying that “if you don’t vote today, you have no right to complain in the future”. This notion that participating in the election gives you more rights than others makes me uneasy.

handRights… such an interesting word. Technically, most of us are “allowed” to vote without restriction. But like anything else, there are rules we have to follow… registrations, residency, frequency, etc. When we talk about rights, we should make sure that we fully understand them.

My feeling is that if you don’t vote today, you have your reasons. Maybe a last-minute business trip or perhaps you are sick or unable to get out of your house. Or maybe the candidates or issues didn’t inspire you – a sadly increasing situation.

If the spirit of our constitution inspires us to have the freedom to vote, then part of that freedom must be the choice not to vote. I’m not a constitutional law scholar, but this is the sense I make of it. So, while I revel in the opportunity to vote, I won’t look down on those who don’t think as I do.

Vote, or don’t vote. And complain all you want… enjoy that freedom of speech!

LET’S NOT GET INTO THAT MESS!

* Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Mrs. Bixby, 1864





Reviewing Ascend Summit 2014

26 10 2014

10608268_10152699765736880_3145006299031809068_oLast week I attended a marketing conference. I’ve been to dozens in my career and I am very careful choosing which to attend. With the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing and because I’m very picky, very few have been disappointing in giving great information.

But I was completely blown away by last week’s Ascend Digital Marketing Conference put together by AWeber Communications. It was billed as “an exchange of ideas, information, strategies and success stories designed to elevate your business to the next level”, and each presenter was a top expert in the field of content creation and digital marketing.

It was tough to whittle down all of the information I received, but here are my top five takeaways from an outstanding two days…

1. “We don’t need more content, we need better content.” The first presenter, Ann Handly, set the tone that this conference was going to be something special. I was halfway through her book – “Everybody Writes {Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content}” – so I was well aware of her fresh, honest approach to writing and content creation. The formula is simple – Useful x Empathy x Inspired = Great Content. The importance of the math is the multiplication, and if one of the key aspects is missing your product is a big fat zero. But to ensure relevance, ask yourself after every point… “so what?” You’ll end up with focused content that your customer will come back to.

2. “Having an audience is a privilege, not a right. Like wearing spandex. So you better be relevant.” Clearly the spandex part was an attention-getter, but Peter Shankman doesn’t need that. His upcoming book – “Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans” – is about creating fervent fans that help companies massively increase their customer base, brand awareness, and most importantly, revenue. I ordered the book as soon he was done. Shankman’s high energy presentation included tons of great information and best practices gleaned from years of entrepreneurial experience. The highlights included:

  • “Never underestimate the power of getting up early. Before everyone else. You’ll do your best work with the perception of that edge.”
  • “Put ten times the amount of help into the universe to one time you ask for it.” Sounds like obvious karma, and a tough number to hit, but I’d like to do more things for the good of the game.
  • Call ten people in your contact list everyday. Check in. “What are you working on? How can I help you?” More good going out…
  • In America… we expect to get treated like crap by customer service. The simple things make us loyal. “Treat your customers one level above crap.”

3, “Only 60% of marketers do A/B email testing.” As one of the disgraced forty percent, I squirmed in my seat during Anne Holland’s presentation. Methodologies are documented in many places, but my important takeaway was to get off my ass and do it. Getting better results from our current list reminded me of a sales belief I have repeated so many times – the greatest opportunities lie within your existing base. I need to make sure I am getting the most from my current list.

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4. “Treat your customers as you would like to be treated.” No one works the room like Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion. His stunningly simplistic approach and equally stunning results should change the world of marketing, if we can get all out of our own way. His many rules included: “Treat your customers as you would like to be treated”, “Become the Wikipedia of your space”, and his four word philosophy… “They ask. You answer.” Sheridan’s ultimate belief is that “Honest and Transparent content is the greatest sales tool in the world. Period.” That last statement left everyone clapping and invigorated. But seriously… who in the room is going to have the balls to fully implement?

5. “Don’t worry about the fold. Embrace the scroll.” Our partying group unsuccessfully tried to get Justine Jordan from Litmus to hang with us late into the night. We were rewarded by HER good decision to make it an early night. Her leadoff presentation on the importance of formatting your email for mobile devices perfectly set the tone on day two. Forget about the increasing number of emails that are delivered to your phone… the real grabbing statistic is that over 80% of users delete emails if they don’t look good on their device. And a growing number of people will unsubscribe. Lesson learned! Maybe I’m late to the party, but now EVERY email I do will be optimized for mobile.

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Commander AJ and his little buddy…

Some other great tidbits and soundbites from the two days of sessions:

“Consume more than you produce! Subscribe to ten blogs in a day, leave ten comments. Follow people on social – set an example, show the initiative.” – Lynette Young (AWeber Communications)

“Stop driving clicks and start building cliques.” – Will Reynolds (SEER Interactive)

“Next time I need advice from someone, I’m going to ask someone who hates me.” – Peter Shankman

“Analyzing audience needs? Get out of your own head. We don’t need segways, but cup holders are a must!” Jessica Ivins (Center Centre)

“Email is not an eblast. Blasts are weapons of mass destruction.” – Justine Jordan

“Your website is mousetrap, your marketing is the cheese.” – Andy Crestodina (Orbit Media)

“Brand everything you do. If people can’t get back to you, what’s the point?” – Peter Shankman

Last but not least, the conference attendees were also the cream of the crop… so the networking opportunities were fantastic. Plus.. some great food and swag! Few conferences give this much bang for the buck. I joked with Hunter Boyle, AWeber’s Sr. Business Development Manager, at the end of day two that they had nowhere to go but down. Can’t wait until my expectations are exceeded again next year.

Please share your thoughts on this conference. What were your takeaways? Also… What would your theme music be? I’m going with “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, but I’m a known head banger… Hope to see you next year!





Glance Links – August 2014

1 08 2014

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I like to fill this post with links that will help your marketing efforts. But since I’m on vacation and in a pretty good mood, I thought I would share some examples of “social media done right” with these favorite Facebook pages. The only criteria is that each are funny or interesting (or both), and engaging to their communities. Enjoy!

Upper Darby Police Department – The boys in blue in this Philadelphia suburb (pictured above) stay connected to their community with this hilarious page, with great stories about just how funny peeps and perps can be. It’s also full of news and crime reports… serious when it needs to be. Kudos to this genius content creator.

George-TakeiGeorge Takei – Actor, artist, activist… renaissance man. He’s done it all and he posts some hysterical stuff. Oh Myyyy….

The Order of the Good Death – Caitlin is a Los Angeles-based mortician who sees death everyday, and shares her interesting, albeit unusual insights into dying. Not very funny, but certainly insightful. And definitely worth a look.

10462459_928795490469983_2205502833807129176_nRandom Hearts with Roxy and Friends – This is a charming page that my cousin put up a few months ago, and it never ceases to make me smile. Roxy challenges us all to find and post images of hearts, and her friends have responded with photos… everything from clouds to water stains to bruised toenails. I’ve yet to be so inspired, but I’m still looking. Shouldn’t we all be? Follow her for that extra little nudge…

We Are Ultras – Allow me just one soccer page to promote… dedicated to the Women Soccer Supporters of the world – The Ultras. The women who hold nothing back. The women who know Ultra is a way of life! May the soccer gods bless them all!

10590473_692454767476177_3217539378266761369_nDangerous Minds – Celebrating weirdness of all kinds, with specific favorites like 60’s and 70’s advertising, obscure punk rock and various counter-culture oddities. You may not find it funny or interesting, and you may just shake your head a little… if it is still attached! I guarantee you will share something on this site with your warped friends!!

The Onion – Yeah, yeah… who doesn’t know about the Onion? But they make me laugh multiple times a day, and any list would be incomplete without them. The standard bearer for online, irreverent satire since 1765.

This is my weird, fun stuff… where is yours? Share your favorite pages…





Flippin’ Facebook

8 07 2014

cs9NN“I’ve had it with Facebook.” ~ John Q. Public

How many times have you heard this complaint? The constantly changing layout, hard to follow rules, more ads in your news feed, and the dwindling reach for company pages… flippin’ Facebook is a nightmare! Users can’t comprehend how Facebook has the nerve to make changes to the FREE site they love so much, and company page owners are mad that they now actually have to PAY for Facebook advertising. It’s exasperating!

Users need to relax. Breathe… Embrace the changes, because they are almost always designed to give you a more positive experience. The ads are the price you pay for using Facebook for free. And be honest, you get enough out of the Facebook experience to justify putting up with a few ads in your News Feed. The reality is that everyone has the right to make money – including the gods of Facebook. To think otherwise is Un-American! Truthfully, I can’t believe they took this long to end the free ride for company pages.

I’ve been speaking with a lot of small business owners about the decreasing reach of Facebook company posts. While we have been lamenting the decline, it should cause us to embrace and understand exactly what Facebook advertising can do. That “free” ride has been over for a while now, but Facebook is still the best way to target specific customers.

20130812-full1If you have been doing it correctly, you have built a Facebook following of the right people – people who want to do business with you. And you have been providing them with good content that helps grow your business. “Boosting” those great posts to your loyal “listeners” must now be a part of your budget. Low cost Promoted Posts not only reach your followers but can be expanded further to reach potential customers, by using specific demographic targeting and keywords – at very affordable prices.  I’m not saying that every post deserves boosting, because your core customers will probably visit your page frequently. Pick your spots and, most importantly, track your results.

Boosting works. Ads are similar, and certainly hit a wider audience. Think about spending $50 to reach 10,000 very specific people… Can that be accomplished with any other traditional B2C advertising method?

Whether you do a Facebook Ad or a Promoted Post, dedicate a portion of your marketing budget to make a big impact. If you are a small business it is a no-brainer. You’ll wonder why you weren’t doing this all along.

And quit yer whining…





Glance Links – April 2014

28 04 2014

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Just some stuff that caught my eye recently, and might help you in your marketing efforts! If you have any that you would like to pass on to me… hit me up!

Internet-Addiction-Social-MediaSocial Media For Increased Mental Health – Many thanks to Chuck Hall from SoMeBizLife for sharing this article that examines the positive and negative effects of social media, specifically Facebook. Chuck used this article as a discussion point in a recent seminar, and I’m sure it really got the conversation off and running. What are your thoughts?

Some Thoughts on the Imminent Demise of Google+ – Three words… “It ain’t happening!” I’ve recently been beating the streets about the wonders of this platform, which I think is extremely worthwhile for the search boost alone. The recent resignation announcement of Google+ champion Vic Gundotra has set the interwebs abuzz with panic. Two of my purple haired friends (not saying I have many), Lynette Young and Cecily Kellogg, recently shared how fantastic articles on the subject. The common theme is DON’T PANIC. Here are the two articles they shared:

The Power of FailingWhat do the world’s greatest entrepreneurs have in common? The courage to fail. Checkout this article and discover why failure is the ultimate driving force behind genius.

failingThe Experts Speak – The most common question I hear from small businesses interested in social media is, “Where do I start?” Here is some great information from the email marketing site, Constant Contact… 50 Expert Tips for Getting Started in Social Media. It’s cool that I know some of these people, including one of the aforementioned purple haired friends

Spring has sprung. May it bring to you many exciting ideas… JL





Get Acquainted

5 03 2014

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“Surround yourself with creative people. Dammit…” ~ Epitaph of John J. Langan  (1960-2060)

In October 2007, when filling out my Facebook profile for the first time, and with my tongue firmly in cheek, I stated that my Political Views were “Conservative, But Willing to Learn”.

I was quite the joker six and half years ago…

I’ve had a bit of a journey since then, especially in the last couple of years. Nothing earth shattering and don’t get me wrong – I’m still the brash, opinionated asshole that my family and friends have come to know and love. But over these years I’ve left my mind open to new ideas that have certainly changed me. Most of the credit goes to my sons, who are more open than I ever was at their ages. It must be a generational thing. And I’ve been shaped by my friends… who are in greater numbers because of social media and a conscious decision to allow time for them.

More friends? That used to be my question. “Why do I need more friends when I don’t have time for the ones I want to see?” What a stupid thing to say…  In the past few years I have discovered such richness and variety of life because I have opened myself to more people. Not everyone can be your close friend, but I no longer place any limits on acquaintances. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled to many places in the world, but lately I’ve been more interested in meeting people and hearing their thoughts. “Where” doesn’t matter, it’s the moment that counts.

Opening yourself to new thoughts can’t help but change you. I’ve altered my thinking on so many things in the past few years… from conservative to liberal (maybe not all the way). Simple things like not keeping score in youth sports so we can teach the fundamentals, to stricter gun control laws, to gay rights, and for god’s sake… Let’s make love, not war! Take care of your fellow man, man…

And there are life lessons… In the past couple of years quite a few people I know have passed on. Some were acquaintances, some slightly more than that, and some were family and friends that I loved very dearly. It happens that we all go through stretches of attending funerals. That’s life, and we have no choice but to accept it. Loss, like any experience, shapes and changes you. And it creates a void that must be filled with new experience. With people!

562187_10150691436993494_214597061_nMy mantra is “Surround yourself with creative people.” Seek them out… lots of them. Interact! For this, quantity beats quality.

I can’t predict how much time I have left on this earth, but I do know that the bulk of my time is behind me. I’m sure my sons are shuddering at the thought of their 104 year-old Dad passing gas in their living room. I still want to travel and experience things and events, but going forward the true richness of life will be with my family and friends. And lots of acquaintances!

And that’s living, my friends…