Bonitamedia’s Weblog

Creating a lasting impression for small business

When mistakes work out for the best – the Power of Social Media

I help businesses establish Social Media campaigns and create a transparent presence on the web. I have spent countless hours writing corporate policy, establishing best-practices and teaching social media neophytes the do’s and don’ts, as well as the jargon that can be expected to be found in this arena. However – I never taught my wife….

It all started – and ended – when my wife jumped on her Facebook page and read the following: “RT @JamesAkersJr: One of my friends has cancer & is shaving her head on Sat. If I can raise $500 I am going to shave mine as well…” Experienced Twitter users know that was a forwarded message from James Akers. However, she didn’t. She mildly objected – knowing full well I have been known to do some odd things in the name of charity before. Well – before I had a chance to correct her, no less than 10 of my friends were egging me on, offering to donate money to the cause. So I agreed to do it…

Bald is Beautiful!

Bald is Beautiful!

What makes this story unique is this. I have never met James – except via Twitter. His friend (who shall remain nameless) is suffering from Stage 3 stomach cancer – and up until 2 days ago, I didn’t know her name. Social Media is intended to connect people with common interests, create a communication channel that is nearly instantaneous, and establish a level of trust and transparency through this open communication. As a business using SocMed, sometimes the goal is to create a “viral” response. I felt James’ pain for his friend through his tweets and decided if I already had support to go for it.

As of today, nearly $500 has been raised to help this woman with her medical expenses. Yes, a small sum given the costs to treat such a dreaded disease. But the fact that this started because of a single post on Twitter and has reached out to a group of people from all corners of the country is simply amazing.

That my friends, is the power of Social Media…

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May 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evangelist or Shepherd?

message from heavenAn Evangelist is one that travels from town to town and from church to church, spreading the gospel…

Interestingly enough, many people become evangelists of products, services, business and the like because of an experience so outstanding, so unique and so wonderful that they can’t help but “spread the good news”! Isn’t that what we are trying to create – evangelists and raving fans to create a level of trust and to strengthen our referral and word-of-mouth business? But how do we nurture these relationships once formed? Does it get old hearing the same message over and over again?

A FLOCK OF GOATS AND SHEEPOn the other hand, we have the shepherd, guiding the flock from infancy to maturity. The shepherd’s job is to lead, protect, educate and so on. The shepherd cares for the safety of the flock – often times putting him/herself into harms way. The flock develops a level of trust for the shepherd that is difficult to break, following wherever they are lead, under any circumstance. Maybe this is how we should be treating our customers.

Or – is there a time and place for both? Aren’t our marketing and sales efforts both evangelical and shepherd-like, depending on the situation? Most businesses want a steady stream of loyal customers they can depend on. Consistency, after all, makes planning easier (not to mention less sleepless nights!), budgeting easier and the overall business atmosphere more pleasant. The evangelist’s job is to get someone excited – to try a product once and then move on. They want to “get the ball rolling” or create the inertia in a relationship and then pass it off to the shepherd to be handled and managed.

If you are an evangelist for your business, your chances of repeat business is slim because you are great at getting the ball rolling, but no so great at keeping the momentum. If your a shepherd, you can cultivate a loyal following, but may have a hard time generating new business.

Which are you? How can you learn to put your evangelical hat on and change roles into the shepherd? Keep in mind the situation: spread the good news whenever it truly is news to the target. Nurture those relationships already familiar…

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Impromptu 10-Minute Presentation…

Rolling the dice with some random ramblings..

dice on white tableAt this morning’s BNI meeting I was discussing different Social Media ideas with some members when I was asked to fill in for our 10-minute presenter because her material wasn’t prepared.  Never being one to turn away the opportunity to speak, I said “Sure – I can cover for you” without having any clue what to speak about.  Then it hit me – continue the discussion about blogging, Twitter, Facebook – maybe even talk about last night’s post.

Here are the random thoughts(in no particular order) I penned at BNI.  I would love your input!

There is a HUGE difference between Baby Boomers and Gen Y – besides age!  As an early Gen-Xer, I can tell you I was raised with a certain level of modesty.  However, today’s younger generation (Gen-Y and Millenial) are less modest.  You can tell by what they post online (both text and pictures).  They appear to be more comfortable with the “transparency” that the internet brings.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility“(Ben Parker – SpiderMan).  As noted in my previous post, anything digital must be assumed to be permanent.  Anything you do, say or post is subject to immediate and perpetual scrutiny.  The power of Social Media is tremendous – use it wisely.  Knowing that we are rapidly moving towards “Big Brother” may actually create a more morally-conscious society, while at the same time, creating an underground society that is darker and more secretive than ever before.

What are the consequences if you hire a “ghost writer” to handle your blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts?  Think about how well received you and your company would be at a cocktail party or networking function if you sent the equivalent of your sports agent or PR firm in your place…

All of these topics are blog-worthy (if not research paper fodder).  Thanks in advaznce for chiming in!

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL, SWFL Hodge Podge | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Dangers of Poor Planning…

A very short discussion broke out on Twitter tonight (ok – maybe 3 or 4 total comments – more of an extended thought than a discussion really). I commented on how poorly-planned Social Media campaigns can be just as fruitless as their traditional-media counterparts. However, it was quickly brought to my attention by @pattyg23 that a poorly planned SM campaign will probably be worse. After thinking about it for a few moments, I tend to agree – and here’s why…

Everything done via SM is digital – and therefore unlikely to be destroyed. Think about it for a moment. Open up a separate window and go to Google. Type in your Twitter ID, or your Facebook or Myspace name (or alias) and see what you find. Your tweets are public (in fact I had one of mine used recently in a newscast in AZ – thanks @Careypena3tv) Nothing done on the internet is private anymore. NOTHING. Not just the pics you wish were never posted when you were drinking too much at a nightclub (or taking a bong hit in SC), but every word you type – no matter what your mood, reasoning or context, is saved somewhere in this surreal place known as CyberSpace. Any mistake you make may come back to haunt you in the future. It’s very difficult to put a spin on any written mistakes, but easy to spin other mistakes. An example would be Alex Rodriguez’s recent apology for steroids. It was easy for him to say “I haven’t taken anything since 2003” when he hasn’t been tested since then (no “paper trail”). However, it would be much harder to overcome this little PR nightmare had he told someone online he was juicing in 2007.

So – what does this all mean? First – don’t just jump into a SM campaign haphazardly. If you don’t choose to hire a professional to guide you through the maze, take the time to learn how SM works. Learn what makes members of each community tick, learn what the expect, learn how to earn their respect. In this digital age, news really does travel at the speed of light – and you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make yours count…

Editors Note: As luck would have it, Marc Meyer posted on his blog (and subsequently on Twitter) some examples of mistakes he has made throughout his career.  He and Mack Collier both make the point that no one knows everything, and my post isn’t meant to deter anyone from participation, rather to think before you write(speak).   Thank you both for your insights! (BTW Mack – if you’re reading this, I still need to figure out the Tweet This code for WordPress!)

Just a quick follow-up…
We have all heard stories of someone getting in trouble for their antics in public haunting them online…
Here is a great example provided by Tamar Weinberg in her Social Media Etiquette post.  Tamar – great info… Thanks!

February 10, 2009 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Must Everything We Do Be Tangible?

I guess this would be a follow-up to a previous post – maybe an addition…

I have never been surprised when a customer/client asks “So – how can I really measure the results of…?”  It’s a great question, one I wish I had the answer to.  I don’t think there is any way to accurately measure individual parts of any marketing campaign.  When it comes to marketing, 2+2 doesn’t (or shouldn’t) equal 4, it should be more.  However, you may never see tangible results from one aspect, while others get all the credit.  I made the mistake myself this week.  Looking through my client list, I came across The Crexent Business Center. My immediate thought was “I was a client of theirs, that’s where the business came from”.  WRONG!  In actuality, I found them through the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce and became their client.  Then – about 18 months later they became mine.  So in reality, the Chamber is the real source of the client.

Schlüssel zum ErfolgEnough on that.  What I really want to know is this:  Will marketing/advertising/pr ever really be 100% trackable?  With all the variables and the ever-changing landscape of options, I highly doubt it.  Convincing a small-business owner that untrackable intangibles really do have value is the padlock on the door to earning their business.  Education is the key.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures…

It’s another oft-too-used cliche and it is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society.  Times are tough and people are finding new ways to pay bills or even put food on the table.  In fact, I had to replace my water heater a few days ago, so I put the old one on the curb for garbage pickup and it was gone within 30 minutes (I am on a dead-end street)!  I had know idea there was enough value in a broken water heater…

desperateWhat I really have a hard time understanding is why businesses feel they need to veer away from their image, their core competencies, their experience, THEIR BRAND.  I see it every day, locally, regionally and nationally.  “Going Out Of Business” has been transformed from a store closing to staying opened because of the new-found foot traffic.  I see prices slashed to the nth degree.  Loads of money being wasted on advertising and marketing all in the name of getting the consumer to spend what little money they have left.

I’m here to tell you this won’t work, it can’t work, it never will work.  Campaigns that are “too good to be true” are exactly that.  Today’s consumer is more informed than ever before.  The fact that a vast majority of people turn to the internet first for information should tell you something.  The consumer is looking for information.  They crave it.  They need it.  It’s time for businesses and marketing professionals alike to give the consumer the respect they deserve.  Don’t compromise your mission as a business in the name of the ole-mighty-buck.  Doing so will create a rift between you and your loyal customers that is unrepairable.  What’s worse is the consumer feels lied to – or even betrayed.  I would guess that’s not the image businesses want to portray.

Photo courtesy Olivier Blanchard

Photo courtesy Olivier Blanchard

I understand that times are tough.  Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures. However, if your business plan is to thrive, not just survive, careful planning to be certain you are keeping true to your brand and your mission is just what it will take to push your business to the next level!  Ask yourself this: “What is the tipping point in my business?”  (great read by the way – The Tipping Point).  I doubt you want your tipping point to be a negative, desperate one…

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Measuring the Effectiveness of your Marketing Campaign

The following analogy is courtesy of Darrell Brown, a good friend of mine in the financial planning world. 

measuring-cupImagine if you will, you’re trying to impress someone important, like say, your future in-laws, or a boss, or a new love-interest.  You invite them to dinner.  This one dinner is going to shape your life for the foreseable future.  There’s only one problem:  You Can’t Cook!

So you call up your mother and ask for help.  She gives you a shopping list and says “Don’t worry son, this is easy”.  On that list you have: chicken, tomatoes, cheese, coffee, salt, chocolate, flour, cherries, capers, lettuce, asparagus, cumin, rice, ham, onions and more.  Each element plays an important part in making the meal work.  What’s really amazing, is you can adjust the recipe one way or the other slightly – and really modify the taste, creating different, unique results.  But remember, you can’t screw this up – there is a lot riding on this meal.  So you start putting all the ingredients together – all of them – into the same pot and throw it into the oven.  You check on it after an hour or so and start to wonder where the chicken kiev, salad, chocolate cake, coffee and rice are.  You only have a pot of slop that you would have a hard time feeding the local stray dog!  It’s at this point you realize there is some art to cooking and there’s some science to cooking. 

Your marketing campaign is very similar in so many ways. First: Who you call for help.  Calling a friend that owns a succesful business is ok, but following what they do may or may not work for you.  Chances are, some tweaking, if not totally different ingredients are needed (a music store has a totally different clientelle than Medicare suppliment insurance agent).  You will get a good starting point (at best).  Second:  Choosing the ingredients.  Just because your friend gets calls from the Yellow Pages, doesn’t mean you will.  It doesn’t mean it’s cost-effective.  It’s tough to prepare a gourmet meal with Ramen Noodles and Busch’s Baked Beans.  Many ingredients are required – in just the right proportion. Third:  Mixing the ingredients.  One size does not fit all, and one strategy does not fit all.  Sure, you can look at the science behind marketing, analyze all the data and create a plan.  Or you can rely on the art, or “feel” of a campaign, drawing on your personal experiences.  Neither of these works well without the other.  The science gives us an idea how things work.  The art is fine-tuning – adding more in one media and taking from another, or perhaps venturing into new, uncharted media.  Fourth:  Timing.  Just as a cake needs ample time to cook, you can’t expect a marketing campaign to work if you don’t give it the time needed.

In the end, the effectiveness of your campaign will be judged on the number of new clients and the cost to acquire them.  What you need to know is, there are many ingredients that can not be tasted, smelled or seen.  Without them, your meal is a disaster.  You see the cake, but not the baking powder.  Same with marketing.  Just because one piece of the campaign doesn’t generate direct traffic, does not mean it isn’t working.  In fact, it may be the most integral part – the unsung hero!

If you are not a chef and you need to impress, go to Roy’s.  If you want your marketing plan to work, hire a professional that understands science and art.  Hire a visionary!

January 17, 2009 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL | , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

4 levels of competency

This post I dedicate to a mentor and Friend, Gary St. Martin, who is a REALTOR in Westford, MA. Gary tought me a ton about real estate and about just being a good person overall…

Sometimes, thoughts cross our minds and we don’t mention them because we assume everyone already knows what we have to say, or even worse, the fear of looking or seaming foolish. It’s ashame that many thoughts are squelched out of fear. So here I am, going to talk about something we should all already know, but hopefully the reminder will be beneficial and remind us all where we stand…

The Four Levels of Competency

Level 1: Unconcious Incompetence. This is basically being totally oblivious to your surroundings. You are so totally consumed and excited with something new, you can’t help but talk about it. You Don’t Know Wat You Don’t Know. This is a very dangerous place to be….

Level 2: Concious Incompetence. Here is where things get interesting. You start to realize there is more to this thing than you thought . You Know What You Don’t Know. A very important transition. Here you can begin to assess where you stand against your competetion and give the respect that is due (respect that may not have been given before).

Level 3: Concsious Competence. Well now the lights are going on. You Know What You Know(and sometimes you may tell too many people how much you now). You understand and are proficient at what you do, but may have a tough time articulating it. You can certainly do the job well – just not quite as efficiently as…

Level 4: Unconcious Competence. This is where we should all strive to be. Every professional pitcher, world-class swimmer, Hall-of-Fame athlete are here. You Know What You Know – and it is second nature. You are able to repeat with a level of consistency and confidence that is infectious. In fact, you are so good, you don’t even know it – you are just being you.

So I ask – where are you, and what are you doing about it?

January 9, 2009 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Advertising and Allocation… Learning from Wall Street

I have to admit, the world of branding, marketing, advertising and so on is fascinating (makes sense to be involved I guess 🙂 ). I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how advertising/marketing budgets- and how they’re spent – relate to my prior life as a financial planner for a large Wall Street firm. The parallels are striking.

There are some simple rules of thumb when it comes to investing, but the most basic is diversify. Sounds simple enough, right? well – not really. Models are developed for each client based on goals and risk-tolerance. A portfolio needs to account for both the long-term needs of the client (how much growth/safety-of-principle/etc…) and the short-term needs (from buying a home, to college funding, to being able to sleep at night). To accomplish this, the investor needs to buy different asset classes, multiple companies in each class, fixed income (bonds, preferred stock, etc…) of differing credit ratings, etc… One of the biggest challenges is convincing a client not to put too much into one sector (automotive) or one company (Enron). The days of investing in what you know are going away because, as we have all seen, no company, no industry is immune to financial problems. What’s worse is when an investor with little money wants to gamble on one or two companies, when buying mutual funds (albeit expensive) really give better diversification.

It is amazing how I find the same challenges when working with clients. First issue – the “My competitors do this, so I have to!” It’s like the golf buddy who speaks of the fortune he made on one stock, but leaves out the much greater losses on the others. Your advertising campaign needs to be designed based on your goals and risk levels – not on what your competition is doing. Second – Budget constraints. How many times have you seen this… “I have $5k to spend. I want to run a full page ad in the newspaper, or send out a mailer to 5000 homes from this list I bought.” Gambling with your businesses lifeline if you ask me. If you budget is low, you need to investigate mutual-fund-like marketing plans. Sure – you won’t get your full-page ad, but you will get what you really need – frequency and reach, which will invariably create a longer stream of new business. (Exception – if you are going out of business, tell everyone right away and short-term). Third – True diversification involves risky investments, so a truly diverse marketing plan will involve new media, different ideas, things that are out of your comfort zone. Anything from blogging, social media, mobile billboards, to digital sign networks are new to many marketplaces (especially mine) and are great ways to accomplish great things without spending a fortune.

I could go on and on about this, but I what I really want is your feedback in Assett Allocation for Marketing Plans.

Remember, a business with no sign is a sign of no business!

Jon

January 8, 2009 Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Saving money in tough times….

It always puzzles me when sitting down with potential clients when I hear “times are tough, so we cut our marketing budget to save money.”  It’s obvious from my last post and my line of business I disagree with that comment.  But let’s take a look at a couple of different ways to optimize your business without losing any service, without laying anyone off, without changing your bottom-line, all the while increasing your brand awareness and probably even growing your sales!

 

The first area to look is pretty easy – utilities.  Set your A/C 1-2 degrees higher.  According to Progress Energy, for each degree you raise your thermostat, you save 3-5% on your annual cooling bill.  Next is your communication costs.  Still paying long-distance charges?  Do you have an all-inclusive cell package?  Do you even need a land-line?  Just by re-evaluating these aspects of your business you could be looking at hundreds of dollars per month in savings.

 

Now let’s look at something that is real significant, and often overlooked – credit card processing.  Did you know the credit card processing companies are struggling as well?  (Let’s face it, if consumers aren’t using their cards, they aren’t getting paid…)  Because of this, many processors have cut their fees for new customers (not necessarily for existing customers).  Recently I spoke with a local restauranteur who told be in a typical year, 65% of his business is credit card driven.  This year it has jumped to 90-95%!  Think of your annual sales, and the fact you are paying 2-4% or more for credit cards.  They are a must to do business, but you certainly don’t need to pay too much for it. 

How much money would you save each month by implimenting a few changes?  Many businesses would see $1000 or more in monthly savings.  What if you were to apply those savings to your marketing plan?  How would your business look?  How many new, repeat customers can you generate?  Would that allow you to spend more time with your family?  Golfing?  Fishing?  Working?

Remember – we all are in business for different reasons, but very few of us are in business because we need a job.  In difficult times you need to think creatively about your finances, your marketing, heck – even your survival!

Next post I’ll touch on lifetime-value of a client.  If you don’t already know how much your existing clients are worth, you’ll learn – and hopefully be pleasantly surprised!

 

Jon

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Marketing in SWFL | , , , | 5 Comments