Don’t settle for less!

Well I am losing count of the number of cafes, and local businesses I have seen open up shop and a few months later they’re gone; and truth be told it makes me sad!

In some respects I think the marketing and technology world combined is to blame for distracting the consumer away from a trip to their local shop. Yet, in other ways I understand that we rely on the efficiencies of social media so much now that puts responsibility on small and local business owners to ensure they have a some kind of presence online – And perhaps if they had applied the right principles and know hows of online marketing, they would still be here. Who knows? It’s a shot in the dark explanation, but what I do know to be true is that small and local businesses need to rally round fast and grasp hold of what is happening online – At least in my own local area they do… I am still getting Facebook friend requests from people who have tried setting up their Facebook pages as profiles.

Despite offering to give them a hand up. I was surprised at their response:

“We had thought about setting up a public page as I have experience through my day job with this and so do a few other committee members. With over 600 friends on the current page, we felt having a public page for people to like we are less likely to reach as many people…”

My personal thoughts: I think it’s fantastic that you’ve managed to drum up 600 ‘friends’ on your current page – and I respect the fact that you may have experience within a day job. However, I do feel slightly concerned that you think by having a ‘public‘ page you will attract less people? Surely you can expect to gain more, not less? Baring in mind that to reach anyone through a normal profile page, you must invite and be accepted by the end user first – Isn’t that more hard work?

This was one of many similar responses I received back from a few local businesses, mixed in with some silent treatment from others.

I get that people are unsure of online marketing and all it’s processes. I do – But burying your head in the sand will do no good, and neither will settling for less than best. The population of the area concerning the business response I just gave, is currently in the region of 13,000. Taking their current friends of 600 and multiplying it by 21.6 equals 13,000.

There is such an opportunity out there for any business of any size, and I believe that only those prepared to take up the fight will survive the journey. There is no sense in losing a battle before it’s ever really got started. My advice to business owners reading this is to get equipped and take on the fight (figuratively speaking)  – And don’t use size or fear as an excuse.

Just some personal thoughts, views and opinions. No disrespect to any business currently hiding from the buzz online, just a gentle encouragement to think differently.

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Social Media, Kindness and Culture

So here’s an interesting debate for you. Could social media be used to change a culture? This was the question, and idea posed by Grant McCracken, in his article ‘Could a Social-Media Tool Increase Kindness.”

In the article Grant uses Boston as his example. Speaking from his own experience, and in his own words:

“I was surprised by how standoffish everyone in my apartment building was. We would see each other twice a day in the elevator, but we’d rarely exchange a word of greeting or acknowledgment. It was so bad, I remember thinking to myself at one point: Maybe this building is in the witness relocation program, and people are afraid they’ll be recognized.”

He went on to say; “Normally, I’d say the situation was beyond our individual or collective control.” And then goes on to explain from there about his findings through a couple of guys who set out to prove him wrong – with social media.

As it turns out, these couple of guys are on the verge of launching a social media tool called Thank Bank, which I believe is a network designed to help people express their appreciation.

There are two points that spring to mind when reading this article:

  1. What makes Thank Bank different from pressing ‘like’ on Facebook? Could a social network specifically for expressing thanks be enough..? And do I really want to sign up to another platform without good reason.
  2. Surely the increase of kindness comes from an individual, or group decision to do something – and not a social media tool. If this were case then, I’d suggest we have much bigger problems at hand…

Personally, I am all for the idea of social media encouraging social good and increasing kindness. Social media is a powerful aid, which I fully support and salute the good work it has already done for individuals, family life, and business. I just believe that we must be careful not to mistake the different between our actions and the assistance of a tool in a world that has become so dependent on such smart technology.

In any case, I also believe that is more than possible to change a culture when a group of people together make a decision. On our own, I would agree with Grant, it is impossible. However, I believe there is power in a few.

To quote Margaret Mead, and American cultural anthropologist:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Read Grant’s article in full, here. Please let me know what your thoughts are on this by, posting your comments below, or connect with me on Twitter here.

Two core principles of social media for your business

We don’t expect a guy or girl to just jump straight into marriage, (at least most of us don’t) do we? So why would we then, expect anything different when it comes to business and more importantly social media.

Consumers connect with brands they trust, love and enjoy – There is just way too many options out there in the cyberspace of choice.

So what should be our priorities then? Making sure we are on Facebook? Making sure we tweet twenty times a day?

Regular tweeting is good, I believe. However; ultimately I believe the ‘quality over quantity’ principle plays a crucial part.

Build relationship first, and loyalty will follow.

Now, you could argue that given the vast number of options we have to choose from today that this could be an ambitious statement. That surely it’s impossible to keep a group of customers for more than 64 years, (yes this was actually achieved by some of the long standing companies) which is almost the span of a person’s life – In this day and age.

I believe it is possible. At least to reach beyond the ‘average’ and succeed more than… If you think I’m crazy then, I will save this post and dig it back out on the day this statement comes to fruition. It just requires wisdom, skill and a little faith.

Like with any lasting relationship, loyalty is a quality that is grown over time. If you can provide a reliable solution that solves the consumers problem, and have the right marketing mix then, why not.

A customer will respect a brand, client, or product that carries integrity, consistently.

What I will say though, is that it is much easier to throw out unopened magazines and email these days; and that is why we must be willing to put in the hard yards at the beginning – And build relationship first.

 

A simple social media recipe for every business

It’s lunchtime, and I can smell the beautiful aroma of home made soup brewing in the kitchen, next to my office. The beauty of this smell is that I recognize it from last week’s menu. It’s ham and lentil, made from homegrown vegetables, marinated with ham on the bone – My favourite.

There is something special when the cook uses ham on the bone, as apposed to something pre-packed, and mass produced. I believe the traditional ham hock adds a substance of value, flavour, and sustainability to the soup recipe that makes a meal well worth buying.

Taking the key elements of this story, I wonder what you would find to be at the core of your social media strategy as you think about the key ingredients you have chosen to bind it together.

Here are three essential questions to consider when evaluating your marketing plan:

  1. Are you adding value to the end consumer?
  2. Do you bring a distinct flavour that sets you apart from the crowd?
  3. Are you sustainable within your market?

There is plenty of exposure, and press on the importance of social media, but what sets a Tesco value meal apart from Tesco’s finest, is substance and quality.

We need more than a social media presence to stand the test of time. We need a sustainable strategy that doesn’t just look to be outsourced (mass produced), but one that puts social at the core.

If you would like to find out more on how we can help you, or attend one of our Social Media Workshops, get in touch today.

Our next workshop, will be brought to you by Tailor Made Social, and Vital PA. Subscribe, and stay tuned for more info coming soon!!

The Power Of An Idea

I love those lightbulb moments when all of a sudden, the penny drops. An idea has found its way into reality.

Ideas are a powerful tool, and when you find someone who can produce great ideas, you really should hold on to them with dear life. When your faced with unemployment rates as high as they are, and several economies hanging on the balance of survival, not to mention competition in an expansive market – You better take action, and take stock of what you have in your hand. There is no magic to survive in the current climate, except wisdom, ability to execute, and a heap of hard work that is required to build any business in 2012.

Three ideas to improve your current position:

1. Collaborate – The cost of hiring staff in today’s world is not cheap, and if you want to ensure maximum return on your investment, then either tighten up your interview process, or collaborate with people on a consultant/freelance basis. Why? When someone chooses to work as a freelancer they understand, and take more responsibility for getting the job done, and in the time that they agreed to.

2. Brainstorm – This is really an extension of my first point. You may have heard the expression before that two minds are better than one. Well, it’s true. In fact, I’d say get four, five, or even six together in one place, for a blocked out time, with no distractions; and get creative.

3. Step out, and be bold – I talked about being bold in a previous post, which you can find here.

If you would like to find out more on how I cut your costs dramatically, and increase the  influence your business has on the global market, then get in touch today! Drop me an email at thebrandadvocate@gmail.com.