Monday, January 30, 2012

Success with Twitter

Most everyone I know is using LinkedIn or Facebook, but recently I realized that not all of these people have embraced Twitter.  I admit I was a late joiner of Twitter myself, well after I established a presence on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Many people wonder why they need Twitter. They think that it is only for celebrities or companies trying to spread their message.  The fact is, used properly, Twitter can be a great resource for information.  Here are a few tips and tricks to get started:

1. Pick an interest or a group of interests, and make it a focus of your tweets.

2. Follow proper Twitter etiquette.  Find the best practices for sharing information.

3. Find the proper tools to help with sharing and finding information.

Now you need to find information worth sharing.  If you enjoy writing your own content, consider writing a blog like this one. If not, find the best websites and blogs that contain information you are most interested in.  You probably already know a few good sites.

Then you need to find the right people for you to follow on Twitter.  You may start with all your family and friends who are on Twitter, and then move onto your extended network.  Now go out and find people that share your interests.  You can start with some of your favorite authors or reporters, you can aslo find established lists online for subject matter experts.

Once you start following more people and adding more tweets, you will start to see more people following you, and sharing information with you.

Finally, be engaged, and remember you only get out, what you put in. Find a schedule for sharing information that works for you, and stick with it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why you should care about SEO

I see the term SEO posted all over the web and on blogs, and I know what it stands for, but I never really understood it fully.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is about getting more traffic by improving your rank in internet searches. SEO is about getting free long-term exposure for your business.

The internet is constantly growing and people are spending more and more time online doing research and collecting information for potential purchases.

At the center of this trend are search engines—they are the primary way of finding or being found on the internet. SEO is about getting you ranked well and helping you profit from search engines.

SEO brings traffic. More people able to find your business online, it also increases visibility, so your business can be found.  Most importantly, it manages your company’s reputation online.

If you want to expand your business onto the internet, there really isn’t another choice but to understand and implement good SEO.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Are You Too Busy to Improve?

I know this blog is dedicated to social media and technology, but I want to bring up a sore subject.

As a salesperson, I make phone calls to prospects all day long.  The biggest challenge is always making that first connection to determine if there is a need for my product and services.  We all know the common objections, no money, bad timing, no need, maybe later, etc.

This knee jerk reaction is understandable considering the barrage of incoming messages we receive throughout the day.

The second biggest challenge is getting the prospect to commit the necessary time to evaluate your solution.  I cannot count how many times I have started a conversation with a prospect, shown them the value of my solution, only to have them drift off into oblivion, because they are too busy with their daily tasks.

I keep a cartoon posted on my desk of a King preparing for a battle with a sword, he is telling his lieutenants that he is too busy to speak with the sales guy who is selling………a machine gun!!!!.

My point is that we are often too busy to evaluate things that might make our lives easier.  Every business should evaluate their biggest pain or issue, and then set aside some time to listen to 2-3 vendors to see if they can offer a cost effective solution with a strong return on investment.

It has always been about being bigger, better, and faster, and everything we do is towards these goals. However, we can’t always do it alone, and we need to periodically take the time to evaluate different tools that will make us more successful.  If you are not willing to commit the necessary time, then you are not serious about fixing the problem.

Work smarter, not harder!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Importance of Demand Generation

Demand Generation is the process of creating and nurturing interest in the products and services that your company offers.

Decision makers and prospects are forming opinions about your company’s products and
services, long before your salespeople talk to them.

Think about the last time you purchased an item worth more than $1,000.00.  I bet the first thing you did was go online to do some of your own research, am I right?

That is why you need to create a positive image early in the buying cycle and gently push decision makers from stage to stage.

You must provide the prospect with the right information at the right time in the buying cycle.  The only way to know what to provide at what time is to “watch” their
behavior. This is typically done using a marketing automation solution such as HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, or SilverPOP.

Which parts of your website are they visiting and who is visiting?  For instance, frequent visits to your pricing page may mean a very interested prospect.

It‘s also important that you communicate with people who could be customers but are not ready to buy today – because many of those buy eventually.

The more you tailor this to the person and buying stage, the more effective you will be.

In order to engage early with the right content to create a positive impression and keep in touch with those not yet ready to buy.

Build it and they will come.

Content is King

When it comes to marketing strategies, content marketing has just been crowned king, far surpassing search engine marketing, public relations and even print, television and radio advertising as the preferred marketing tool for today's business-to-business entrepreneur.

Recently, 400 marketing professionals were surveyed about the state of the business-to-business, or B2B, market, and discovered that marketers are retreating from traditional marketing tactics such as search marketing and have made content marketing the most-used tactic in their brand-enhancing tool box.

So what exactly is content marketing? It's the creation and publication of original content -- including blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos and photos -- for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand's visibility, and putting the company's subject matter expertise on display.

Researchers have found that an impressive 82 percent of B2B marketers now employ content marketing as a strategy in their marketing programs. Coming in at a distant second place is search engine marketing at 70 percent, followed by events at 68 percent, public relations at 64 percent and print/TV/radio advertising at 32 percent.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said driving sales and leads was the top marketing goal of their organization, followed by boosting brand awareness and establishing or maintaining thought leadership.

Part of the popularity of content marketing is its ability to generate qualified leads while engaging prospects in a branded environment without busting the budget. Nearly half of the content marketers interviewed said they dedicate less than a third of their budgets to such marketing expenditures. In addition to frugality, B2B marketers also believe most of their customers and prospects are online, which is why they're focusing their marketing efforts on the Internet.

Content marketing is only going to become more important going forward, whether you market to other businesses or to the public at large.

Once you have the content, then allow your employees to spread the word using social media networks.  Good news, and good content, travels fast.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Get a Hoot from HootSuite

I manage multiple social networking sites, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter and I was looking for a quick and easy way to update all three sites.

I tried applications such as FutureTweet, which can help with schedule Tweets to go out at specific time, and it worked well.  However, I knew that there had to be something else out there, and that’s when I discovered HootSuite.

Using HootSuite’s unique social media dashboard, you can schedule updates to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, WordPress and other social networks via web, desktop or mobile platforms.

Launched in Dec. 2008, HootSuite helps organizations use the social web to launch marketing campaigns, identify and grow audience, and distribute targeted messages across multiple channels.

Companies can work collaboratively, and track campaign results and industry trends to rapidly adjust tactics.

It is also a powerful tool for individual users as well.  I found it to be very user friendly, and a great time saver.

If you want to be active with social media and you don’t have all day, then HootSuite is a great solution.

The Perfect Time to Launch an Email Campaign

When is the perfect time to launch an email campaign?

Throughout my sales career I have always had an interest on how to get the biggest bang for my buck when it comes to running email campaigns. And believe me, I've tried it all. I have tried tweaking the message and subject line. I have tried sending it during different times of the day, and during different times of the year. I have also learned how to avoid those pesky SPAM filters.

Although I consider myself somewhat of an expert, I do get a surprise from time to time. The latest surprise I got involved a massive email campaign I did on July 4th week. I didn't actually choose that week on purpose, but was assigned the week as part of a marketing queue. Now to be honest, the campaign was targeting companies in Canada, so Monday was not a holiday. They did have their Canada Day the previous Friday, and I assume that it was still a popular vacation week.

Here is the surprise, we sent approximately 4000 emails, and we got a 18% open rate!! Better yet we included a video in the email, which was watched by 8%, and the click-through rate was 11%. Most email campaigns are happy with a 1-3% open rate, and as far as click-throughs go, it's usually only a portion of the 1-3%. I really had to scratch my head on this one. I started by doing a little research and here is what I discovered:

1. I had less competition, because fewer companies are sending emails during this time.
2. My audience, if they were at work, had more time to read my email.
3. You can benefit from all of the “out of office” emails, which contain useful information.

So throw away some of your pre-conceived notions and try to keep an open mind. I did forget to mention that I did rely on some proven email tips and tricks, such as:

1. Keep the subject line short and direct, mention their company name if possible.
2. Keep the message short and simple. Make sure they can read it all in the preview pane.
3. Use links to multi-media presentations that will increase retention rates.
4. Build in a way to track who has opened the email and what they have clicked on.

I will warn you to be prepared for this type of surprise, and make sure that you have all the resources you need to follow up on all the new leads.

Social Media Basics: Why it's worth your time

Why should you invest your time getting more involved with social media?

I have always considered myself an early adopter of social media. I was one of the first 1.5 million people to sign up on LinkedIn during 2004, and I have been an active user of Facebook for a few years. I recently started spending more time on Twitter, to see what it was all about.

This is when I became aware of the importance of social media to myself, but also to my company. Here is a quick breakdown of how I use all three services.

LinkedIn – A great way to stay connected to business contacts. I also use this to research prospects and find out more about their companies.

Facebook – I can stay in touch with all my friends and family. I use this to share personal updates, pictures, social events, and anything else I think would be interesting to my friends and family.

Twitter – A nice way to share information with a much larger group. I can share a common interest and I can connect with people of that same interest.

The key to staying active is to continue to share information on all three. If you are curious how you rank compared to other social media users, check out to find your score.

Looking for interesting information to share, try to find random links based on specific interests.

Too busy to upload Tweets all day long? Then schedule them to go out at intervals using a tool like futuretweet.

Now that I have spent several years building up hundreds of contacts, I now have a great base to share information with and to learn from.

In the market for a new TV, or dishwasher? Send out an update to your social network and see what they recommend.

More and more people these days buy something based a personal recommendation and not on typical advertising. Many companies realize this, and they are now encouraging their employees to promote their products and services using social media.

When it comes to branding and spreading the word, no one does it better than happy employees.

Spread the word.