Dear Marketers: Easy Does It With Easy, Please!

Dear Marketers: Easy Does It With Easy, Please!

All it takes is a quick run through my tribes on Triberr or a fast dash through Feedly and there you have it. Effusive use of “easy.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”Did you know that everything related to #marketing is easy? I had no idea!” quote=”Did you know that everything related to marketing is easy? I had no idea!”]

I was under the misconception that many of us actually work pretty ding-danged hard to gain our level of expertise in our chosen fields. Shame on me!

All of the time spent researching, testing and tweaking, keeping up with industry trends and articles … all a big fat waste of time. Because it’s all SOOOOOOOO easy.

Once again I find myself quoting the brilliant (and fictional) Dr. Sheldon Cooper. For the most part easy is no more than malarkey!

Easy Is As Easy Does!

And it often reverts back to the quote I bogarted for the heading above (in case you don’t get it immediately, think Forrest Gump).

Easy is a relative term. We all have something, or several somethings that come easily to us. Using myself as an example, most athletic pursuits come pretty easily. Reading and research also apply.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Easy is a relative term. There’s NO one-size-fits-all EASY solution for everything.” quote=”Easy is a relative term. There’s NO one-size-fits-all EASY solution for everything.” theme=”style4″]

You might think that I’d add graphic design, blogging or social media marketing to that list. But, SHOCKER, as much as I love them, and while I do think I’m pretty good at each, they don’t always come easy.

Creativity Isn’t Always Delivered In A Consistent Stream …

When your chosen profession draws on your creative ability and also requires consistency, you’re often faced with the dreaded dry spell. Sometimes you have to power through writer’s block, the inability to come up with a killer color scheme, a lack of fresh ideas.

It’s not as simple as shaking it off. A quick walk around the block doesn’t always bring the next BIG idea or burst of innovation.

Sometimes you have to keep on keeping on, creating schlock, deleting it, starting anew … over and over again.

Does that sound easy?

Time Spent Has To Be Considered

Even if the task itself is rather natural and falls handily into your skill set, it still takes time and effort.

[clickToTweet tweet=”At what point does #easy fail to make the cut-off? Five minutes? An hour? A day?” quote=”At what point does easy fail to make the cut-off? Five minutes? Half hour? An hour? Half a day? A day?” theme=”style4″]

I could keep going, but I’m guessing I’ve made my point.

Easy Devalues Talent, Expertise & Hard Work!

And it’s this point that really ruffles my feathers. Talent is something we spend time cultivating, expertise something we spend time honing. Delivering on creativity isn’t about speed or ease, it’s about work done well.

Sure, it’s easier for some than others. But, please note I used the word “easier,” not “easy.” It goes back to that idea of easy being relative. What takes me four hours might only take you two.  But I bet those two hours were filled with your expertise, your drive, your ambition and your hard work. Much like my four.

Tools Too Often Tout Easy!

Every day we hear how a certain tool or app is going to revolutionize the way we do business because it’s going to make our daily tasks easier. From design tools like Canva to scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, everything is now easy.

To be fair to many a tool creator, I’ll use the ever awesome Buffer as an example, they don’t all tout their tool or app as the second coming of easy. In fact, Buffer excels at creating content that showcases how the tool requires some time and effort even as it makes scheduling posts something we can automate.

Sadly, it’s often users of the tools, those that readily proclaim themselves evangelists of the easy application of said tool, that muck things up.

Tools, are simply that, tools. It’s the preparation and the skill that makes the tools valuable. Preparation, research, and the expertise behind them … NOT easy.

Hate To Tell You, But It Ain’t A Piece Of Cake!

Can we please stop throwing around easy like it’s the end all be all and everything that matters to business and brands?

It’s not easy. Most of it isn’t simple. It’s certainly not a snap of the fingers, nor is it a cake walk. Most of it involves hard work, plenty of time and effort, lots of trial and error and maybe even a tear or two. If you’re not prone to the occasional angry tear, you can substitute random swearing, desk bashing, what have you!

I’ll leave you with a final thought. When you try to come across as if everything you do is a breeze, easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy, you can come across like an absolute ass.

Lording it over your peers, potential clients, current clients, even friends and family isn’t cool. Give easy a break and showcase your commitment, your excellence, your talent instead.

Death To The Marketing Is Dead Trend!

Death To The Marketing Is Dead Trend!

Do you ever feel like you’re surrounded by drama? I’m sure I do my fair share to create much of the drama that surrounds me. You certainly can’t publish snarky sentiments and expect to get off drama free.

But I often find myself scrolling through articles, mostly via Feedly or another RSS gatherer, wondering why we have to go for the dramatic when it’s less than necessary.

Death, Dying & Killing It When You Content Market!

Is it just me, or do an awful lot of marketing articles tap into the idea of killing something? And, if not that, then they’re talking about the impending death knell of a practice we’ve all come to hold dear. Anyone else notice that? Just me?

Why do we feel the need to pronounce currently accepted and still valuable practices dead in order to be provocative? Every time I turn around I’m bombarded with another announcement of imminent death…

  1. SEO Is Dead! Stick With Social!
  2. Content Marketing Is Dead! Stop Beating A Dead Horse!
  3. Facebook Is Dead! Switch Immediately To Myspace!

Okay, I admit it. I may have gone just a bit too far with that last fake headline. But I know plenty of you have seen these pronouncements populating your feed of late.

While I’m all for taking off the rose-colored glasses and looking a bit deeper to see the two sides that make up every story, I have some problems with this Chicken Little, “the sky is falling” mentality.

Several problems, actually, and what better way to share them than with a dose of my patented Simmer Down Sassy Pants snark and sass.

#1: They Tend To Be Ridiculously Premature

People have been writing about and lamenting the death of Photoshop for years. It was not too recently ramped up with the launch of Canva, the supposed “democratizer” of graphic design – seriously don’t get me started, that’s another rant entirely – anywho … where was I, oh … the death of Photoshop.

It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Derek, my husband and partner in Go Creative Go business crime, still uses it every day. While I was never a big Photoshop fan, I’m still using Fireworks on a several times per day basis. FYI, Fireworks is another image editor/creator, optimizer owned by Adobe.

Photoshop is still available and still being updated by the fine folks at Adobe, though it’s now a cloud-based product. And, I see articles and tutorials published almost every day by fellow graphic design enthusiasts.

There’s no reason to jump ship quite yet!

#2: They’re Gimmicky!

Someone told someone else that provocative headlines were the hot ticket. Content marketing with catchy titles is the way to go.

Not so fast there, Tiger. Those are blanket statements. And you already know how I feel about blanket statements, don’t you?

Sure, the occasional provocative title will gather eyes for your well-written (we hope) content marketing prize. I’m not categorically against the pithy, the provocative. As a matter of fact, the title of this article could very easily be described as provocative, and, YES, some could say it detracts from my point. Maybe! Kinda!

Gimmicks are great in the short run, but if you don’t deliver on what’s promised they won’t reap you any rewards.

A catchy title that draws eyes CAN be great. But if those eyes aren’t delivered the promised goods and ideas, you’ve possibly lost a reader. Possibly a prospect. Maybe even a paying client!

#3: They’re Uninspired!

Bandwagon jumping is often the first sign that someone’s run out of creative mojo. When we’ve lost the ability to create something relatively new and targeted, we fall back on the standbys. The gimmicks. Click bait. Eye candy.

Again, there are times when a provocative title draws eyes to a real prize. A well crafted, ideas-full article or other form of content (podcast, infographic) that packs plenty of punch and generates real discussion.

There are some great “death to” articles that are absolutely on target and worthy of the shares the title generates. But it’s become too easy to add the word “death” to a title, and then fail to deliver on the expected punch and pithy entendre.

It’s at that point when the uninspired ruin a tactic that can be quite effective.

Death is, for all intents and purposes, permanent …

Yes, we could certainly discuss many a religious belief to the contrary, but work with me here.

Digital marketing, social media marketing, content marketing … each is equal parts fleeting and permanent. Permanent in that someone can always take a screen cap and reference your past foibles. But fleeting in that new ideas, influencers and best practices crop up every day. Dare we say every hour?

Let’s not bring pre-mature death on anything that remains useful, even for only a margin of our audience. Let’s, instead, consider how to bolster what’s flagging, how to revive what’s grown a little tired, and breathe new life into tactics and practices before we relegate them to turn to dust and blow away.

Stop Assuming Connections Need Your Help!

Stop Assuming Connections Need Your Help!

Be it via automatic DM or a Linkedin reply, I’m getting pretty tired of the assumption that by choosing to connect with you, I somehow need your help. Nine times out of ten I don’t require your assistance, nor do I desire to pay for your services.

My Connection Just Might Help Y-O-U!

There are a variety of reasons why I might be prompted to follow you. Just a few include:

  1. I like your bio.
  2. We work in the same industry.
  3. I’ve checked out your blog and you publish some great content.
  4. We take part in the same group activities (Google Hangouts, Tweetchats, etc).
  5. We share a hobby or passion (coffee, craft beer, music, etc.).
  6. I think you’d make an interesting podcast guest.

While I’m hoping to gain a connection, I’m not going in thinking you’re going to be my next big client. I don’t have a Twitter list titled “Hot Prospects.”

Stop to think. If I’ve connected with you because I think you’re a great writer, I’m probably going to share your stuff. It’s a mutually beneficial connection. I have a new source for share-worthy content and your content has the chance to be seen by some new eyes. In this instance we both win a prize!

Gee, Could You Stop Being So Generic?

How may I help? Put a lot of time and effort into that incredibly individualized response, did you?

C’mon now. If I’m connecting with you, there’s a good chance you’re some sort of digital marketer. Color me unimpressed when you can’t come up with anything more exciting than that!

Did you take the 30-90 seconds to read my bio? Did you take a moment to peruse my latest publishes, to seek out my latest shares? No. You just assumed that the only reason for the connection was your own awesomeness. I must need you or your skills.

Would you want to hire someone who boiled everyone down with the same generic formula? I wouldn’t.

Connect With Intent & Purpose

I’m coming back to one of my favorite phrases. I really need to hashtagify that bad boy, #intent_purpose.

Each connection starts with a specific intent. But the purpose just might change over time. I may connect with you because you tweet terrific when it comes to oatmeal stout, but as we continue to build that connection, through conversation, I may find that you’re also a stellar proponent of podcasting or something else that interests me.

People, like diamonds, have many facets. Or maybe we’re like onions and have many layers. Whichever analogy you prefer, we’re all different. We can’t be cut from the same cloth. We can’t be helped by one-size-fits-all generic solutions.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Consider your intent when you connect and when you respond. #SMMsmarts” quote=”Consider your intent when you connect and when you respond to a connection.” theme=”style4″]

Is your response or follow-up valuable to the individual or is it catered to the masses?

Meet & Greet Before You Mine For Client Gold!

Relationships, even those between prospect and provider, take time. Lots of time. Engagement doesn’t happen in minutes. Sales require subtlety. I’d like it if you took your time and sorted out whether we’re a good match before you pitch me.

And, yes, an unsolicited, too early, “How Can I Help You” message is absolutely a pitch. Not a good one, certainly. But we can see the dollar signs in your eyes, and the lust for acquisition in your heart.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Connections aren’t acquisitions. We’re people. Treat us like individuals! #SMM” quote=”Connections aren’t acquisitions. We’re people. Treat us like individuals and you’ll soon see that connections more readily build into relationships.” theme=”style4″]

Focusing On A Niche Doesn’t Make Me A Numbskull!

Focusing On A Niche Doesn't Make Me A Numbskull!

I have two reasons for writing this article.

First off, I attended WordCamp last weekend and had a fantastic time. But I also came away with an increased desire to niche-down my design and digital marketing services to best suit the target audience with whom I’d most like to work.

The second prompt was this Google Plus post, by good friend and savvy marketer, Stephan Hovnanian. Before I dive into the topic, I don’t think Stephan was calling me to task, or insinuating my preference for WordPress or Fireworks makes me a ninja or guru. As a fellow fan of pushback and discussion, Stephan will, probably, appreciate my take on the subject (fingers crossed).

WordPress Is Our Way, NOT The Only Way!

When it comes to web design, both halves of Go Creative Go choose to use WordPress.

Focusing on WordPress doesn’t make me one of the unsavory usurper experts (think guru, ninja, evangelist, etc.).

What does it make me? A web designer determined to focus my skills so that I can offer the best options for my clients. I prefer not to be a jack of all trades, master of none. To quote Seinfeld, I want to be master of my own domain. I want to focus on continuing to be a fine WordPress designer/developer.

Have I seen some fantastic sites created with Joomla or Drupal? Sure. I’ve seen some snazzy sites created with Wix, if I’m being honest. And, on the flip side, I’ve seen some utter crap designed and developed using WordPress.

That doesn’t change my choice to focus on designing and developing the best sites I can using WordPress as my weapon of choice. WordPress is my way, it’s not the only way.

Focus Isn’t Futile!

Focus increases functionality.

If I dabbled with Drupal and jumped around in Joomla, I’d probably learn how to do a few things. But I prefer focusing increasing the functionality and customer fit of the sites I design and develop based on my WordPress focus.

As a team dedicated to learning everything we can about this tool we’ve chosen to use, we can tackle almost any client want, need, even dream.

Targeting More Than The Tools!

Our business niche and focus is about a lot more than the tools we use and the finished projects we create with those tools.

Over the course of the weekend, immersed in learning about running a WordPress business, I found myself thinking long and hard about creating a client niche. A niche that would allow me to work with the very individuals I hang out with online every day.

I was already excited to be geeking out with my peers and fellow design doers. But, I’d been feeling stretched when it came to my service offerings and those to whom they appealed. I was losing my mojo, bit by bit, and feeling tired.

I’ll speak more about the client niche in another article, once I’ve made some changes to the site and sussed out my service offerings.

The point is, we can’t successfully work with a target audience that includes EVERYONE.

My Go-To Might Be Your Get Lost!

I admit I’m a Google fan girl. I love Drive, Docs, Gmail, Chrome and more. But I certainly don’t shun those that prefer Evernote for their blog ideation process. I have a Dropbox account, too. And I always have Safari open as my secondary browser.

I work with both clients and collaborators who have their own, different, systems in place. I adapt as needed.

Go-to tools simply mean you’ve taken the time to really dig into the full functionality of the tool in order to find what works best for you. What’s best for me, might not be best for you. And that’s A-OK hunky dory.

But it would be silly to turn up your nose and decide I’m a ninja, guru or evangelist (just typing that made me shudder with horror) based on my use of a tool.

Are my digital marketing strategies and practices somehow sullied by my preference for a Buffer/Tweetdeck combo over Hootsuite? Of course not!

Do Your Research, As I’ve Done Mine

I’ve spent a lot of time, dollars and effort to come up with my business focus and the tools that allow me to maintain that focus.

You must put in the same work when you choose both the practitioners and the platforms you’ll use to help your business succeed.

If you fall into the clutches of a ninja, guru or other shady dealer, it’s probably down to you failing to put in the effort to ensure that ninja was in tine with your own niche and specific needs.

The One Thing I Will NOT Do After WordCamp Atlanta!

The One Thing I Will NOT Do After WordCamp Atlanta!

Wordcamp Atlanta Absolutely Rocked!

I had a fantastic weekend full of networking and learning. From the fantastic food to the many new friends made, Wordcamp Atlanta (#wcatl) was a fantastic experience.

The day after a conference or event is often divided between playing catch-up and creating deeper connections with the awesome people you met while attending.

My rainy Monday morning to-do list includes the following:

  • Emailing clients whose projects need updates.
  • Cleaning out the email I didn’t get to read/delete over the weekend.
  • Adding some more handles to #wcatl Twitter list.
  • Connecting with a few folks on Linkedin.
  • Seeing which #wcatl attendees are Google+ geeks like me.
  • Checking out presenter and attendee websites.
  • Checking out presenter and attendee blogs (if applicable) for content to share.
  • Reviewing and setting up some of the tools shared during the weekend presentations.
  • Reviewing and setting up/revising some of the plug-ins shared during the weekend presentations.
  • Making some small tweaks to my own site, based on some of the smarts and best practices shared by event presenters.
  • Doing all of the same for Derek because he’s not the connecter/follower-upper that I am!

That to-do list isn’t complete. It’s actually about double the size, and I certainly won’t be checking off all of those items today, or even this week. But, you’ve now read more than 200 words, and you’d probably like me to make good on my title, so I’ll get to the point.

I Will NOT Be Adding Any Wordcamp Attendees to My Mailing List Without Permission!

Sadly, this is a topic I’ve written about recently, and fairly often in my content marketing past.

My email address and my inbox are sacred. I choose what enters that inner sanctum (to a point of course, I’m trying to create dramatic effect here). I choose which lists to join.

Spamming me will certainly put you on my radar, but not in the most positive of ways, In fact, I’m going to mark you with a yellow card and keep a close eye on you. A second misstep will get you ejected from the game. Yes, I’ve played quite a bit of soccer!

Permission Is Paramount!

We’ve talked briefly, between sessions or over lunch. And I absolutely do want to get to know you a little better. I took your business card or asked for your Twitter handle for that very reason.

And that’s the key. I asked. I did not assume. It’s about choice and willingness on both sides of this new relationship.

You can choose not to follow me on Twitter. You certainly don’t have to connect with me on Linkedin or add me to one of your Google Plus circles. I can follow you and even share your content without taking away your choice.

But if I manually add you to my mailing list, eschewing the opt-in process, I’m taking away your choice. I’m invading your space under an assumption that you want my email content. It’s like me walking up and taking a bite of your conference chocolate chip cookie (they were FABULOUS, BTW) without asking. At the very least you’re going to look at me askance. At worst, you may very well slap my hand or face!

My Inbox, My Choice!

Don’t assume and don’t presume. If someone wants more of your content or wants that content delivered via their inbox, they’ll take the required steps.

I’ll be signing up for a few mailing lists today. I’m also pretty sure I’ll be opting-out of some lists to which I never opted-in. It’s part of doing business the digital way. But it shouldn’t be.

Treat me with respect by treating my inbox with the same regard!

Dear Mailing List Moron: Permission Not Granted!

Dear Mailing List Moron: Permission Not Granted!

It seems that moronic marketing tactics and activities come round in cycles. Have you ever noticed that?

I get waves of poorly pondered automatic DMs on Twitter. Then, a week or so passes and I start to see boorish batch posting, often on Twitter, but also on Facebook, Instagram and even Google+. If I wait another week I’m sure to see some other nefarious “ninja” behavior which will cause me to shake my head and bemoan the bumbling idiots who give the digital marketing industry a bad name.

This week, I’m sad to say (well, not all that sad as it’s given me a nice rant rampant topic for an article), sees one of the cyclical returns of the mailing list moron.

Who Is The Mailing List Moron?

So, who is this rogue marketer? Who is this moron marauding our inbox?

First of all I understand that a “marauder” is someone who steals, and I’ll get to that in just a moment!

The mailing list moron is that sad marketer or business owner who still hasn’t managed to suss out the difference between acceptable email practices and spam submissions.

Spam, it seems to me, couldn’t be easier to spot. If I didn’t ask for it, it’s probably spam. If you send offers and event invites without ever engaging in a single conversation with me, it’s probably spam.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a gigantic gray area for many a marketer. It’s some sort of cloudy mask that makes rather obvious spam sends seem smart and savvy.

I think all marketers should be forced to read, pass a test for reading comprehension, and the sign off on the CAN-SPAM Act. Yes, it’s a long and detailed document, but it’s LAW!

But even a quick scan pretty effectively spells out spam, so there really can’t be any allowance for confusion and continued spammy sends and suffering (on my part, and the part of anyone else who receives mail from the morons).

Permission Is Paramount!

I’m ready to get back to the idea of the mailing list moron engaging in thievery. No, I don’t think most offenders are intent upon stealing my identity or my clients. It’s a much more subtle swindle.

The acts of these individuals steal my choice and my time.

The email newsletters and updates that make their speedy digital way to my inbox should be of my choosing. I decide what’s right for my already full reading list.

Like many a marketer, my inbox is pretty ding-danged full of the messages I want to receive, along with receipts for digital services, update notices and, this might shock you, requests from my clients and colleagues!

I shouldn’t have to waste my time wading in to see what you’ve sent me when I didn’t ask for it!

I Shouldn’t Have To Opt-Out!

You might be thinking, but it only takes a few seconds to opt-out of the emails you don’t want to receive. And you’re correct. But, consider the marketer that makes a lot of connections. And consider if even a handful of those new connections decide to add that poor marketer to a list without permission. It ends up adding several opt-outs to that marketer’s to-do list.

If that marketer is anything like me (and probably you, too), that to-do list is pretty full. Possibly bursting at the seams.

Even the smallest of distractions can derail the busy.

And when I’m sent an email without my permission, I choose to let the sender know that I’m a bit miffed. So it’s not a few seconds clicking on the unsubscribe button. If there’s no means of mentioning their moronic measure in the opt-out form, I take the time to send a note.

Why do I do this? Because I have the tiniest tempting glimmer of hope that I can dissuade the moron from adding other busy marketers to his/her list. I’m paying it forward.

That, however, doesn’t stop the distraction or the time suck involved. If I didn’t ask for your email, I shouldn’t be forced to ask for your email to stop!

Connection Isn’t Permission!

It should come as no surprise that acceptance of your Facebook friend request doesn’t equal permission. Nor does my acceptance of your LinkedIn connection request.

Shockingly, that email I sent you three years ago? Also, not me actually giving you permission to add me to your mailing list.

If I want your email newsletter or your drip campaign to arrive in my inbox, I’ll visit your site and sign up. Professional email marketing apps and software make this rather easy. You can set up a sidebar widget or simple contact form and feature it prominently on your site.

Spammers, Seriously … Just Don’t!

This issue has been talked about in so many ways. Discussions have been had on Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin. Podcasts have hashed this out. It’s no secret that spammy sends are SO NOT social.

There’s simply no reason allowing for the continuation of mailing list moronics.

Social Media Smarts: Walk What You’re Talking!

Social Media Smarts: Walk What You're Talking!

I fairly often write about the idea of walking the talk. It’s a concept that many a social media and digital marketer has looked at and discussed. Each month we’re bombarded with new and increasingly ridiculous ways to get ahead and fast and easy. There’s no fast and easy when it comes to building a solid and smart presence online. If you fail to walk the talk and choose to engage in less than legitimate practices, it will follow your brand and your business like a dark cloud for some time to come.

That being said, why are so many new and even established social media marketers drawn to these shady tactics? I’m sharing a few of my thoughts with you today.

They’ll Never Notice | Those Rules Don’t Apply to Me:

Though I probably shouldn’t be, I am still shocked to see how many supposedly socially savvy “names”, be they big or small, feel that there’s nothing wrong with blatantly ignoring the unwritten rules of social engagement. It’s not as blatant as it used to be, of course. Remember, way back when, all of the ridiculous ruses to add contact information to cover images on Facebook? Right? Wrong. Those pages lost my like. Did that impact them much? Probably not. But I see the same things happening lately, whether it’s blatant disregard to stated terms of service or individuals simply engaging in gray area, murky tactics that leave many a marketer with a bad taste in the mouth.

Consider this. Daniel Newman of Millennial CEO recently launched a discussion regarding the practice of tagging a multitude of followers in posted memes and motivational quotes. This isn’t a photo in which any of these individuals actually appear. It’s generally a quote layered over stock photograph or a cat or dog meme. While I admit to not being a big fan of either kind of post in general, I’d not take offense if a colleague or peer chose to cater the occasional meme post to me.

And there’s the problem. It’s not catered to me or occasional. The individuals who engage in this practice do it daily, if not multiple times daily, and they randomly tag as many of their followers/friends as they possibly can. Why? Reach. Pure and simple. Which is? Selfish! Pure and simple. You’re not looking to reach out to me with a thought. You’re looking to increase the likelihood of your post getting seen. It has nothing to do with me. In this instance, you’re using me and everyone else you tag as a tool. Not cool.

Too many unwritten, but well understood, rules are being ignored. And certainly not just on Facebook. The tagging things happens on Instagram, A LOT. And there’s my favorite, the asinine auto-DM. How many times do we need to write about the woes of idiotic automation? Twitter isn’t the culprit, you are.

I’m A Little Guy So It Won’t Hurt Anyone:

Remember all of the contest criminality in Facebook’s past. Sadly, many a marketer didn’t learn from that. Contests continue to be a gray are where tawdry tactics taint what the sanctity of social. Pinterest has rules. Instagram has rules. Why can’t certain individuals play by those rules?

Looking beyond contests, let’s consider spam. I’ve been delivered a rash of ridiculously spammy messages on Linkedin lately. When did that become acceptable? It hasn’t!

I too often see newer social media marketers engaging in these tactics, hoping to get ahead. It’s not easy to get started in this business. When you have a low follower count, you might not be seen as the real deal by many who call themselves social media experts.

But is cheating or gaming the system really gaining you an edge? Thinking that you’re small and no one will notice if you engage in less than smart and savvy marketing practices is silly. Nothing on social ever really goes unseen. What happens if someone you really admire, someone you’d like to work with, sees what you’re doing? You can’t do anything that will make it unseen.

Follower Fixation | Failure to Follow:

How often do we see big name experts with tens of thousands of followers who only follow a minuscule 2-300? I see it all the time. What do I “see” when I see this? I see someone who doesn’t see much value in keeping abreast of the thoughts of others. I see someone who is interested in broadcasting their own content and ideas rather than sharing the best content and ideas with their followers. I see someone engaged in a one-way broadcast rather than taking part in a conversation, someone interested in shouting rather than listening.

Love for Sale | Also Known as Back Scratch Fever:

Likes, connections and the act of circling aren’t commodities to trade like baseball cards or beanie babies. I can’t tell you how many times a day I see something resembling this statement in my feed or in private messages:

I have just liked/connected/circled you, and I would really appreciate it if you would return the favor.

Yeah, ummmmmmm, your business and, thus, your online presence is all about parakeet grooming in Redwood City, CA. I have three cats and I live in Tucker, GA. Where’s the draw, the value, the impetus for me to like your page? And if I was even slightly intrigued, that message, which is basically begging, would quickly change my mind.

Reciprocity does rule in social media marketing, but there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it. There are no favor connections. Real reciprocity requires social savvy and smarts on both sides of the relationship, as well as mutual respect. I certainly don’t respect messages like the one above. Who would?

The One Way Highway: Also Known As Me Me Me Me Me!

This behavior shows up on every platform, so there’s really no hiding from it. It showcases itself in a variety of ways, including:

  • Blast Posting | Feed Takeovers | Digital Diarrhea – you know, 15 tweets within 15 seconds, etc.
  • Inspirational Quotes with no “introduction” or follow up from the poster as to why they find them important. So, why should I?
  • Caption this photos trying to take advantage of the extra engagement that photos are prone to get, except the photo is lame and has nothing to do, whatsoever, with your business or your audience.
  • Fill in the blanks of the same type in order to get the most “reach”.

My little list barely skims the surface. So come on, help me “fill in the blanks” a bit. What gets your goat when it comes to the “names” that seem more intent on remaining a name than in actually working within the proper social circles. Everyone loves an opportunity to clear the air and even get a little rant on, so have at it!

In closing, I continue to remove the “Like” from a lot of Facebook pages, unfollow a lot of Twitter accounts and even disconnect from a handful of Linkedin accounts. Did my own numbers plunge? Nope. On the contrary, they’re rising – even on Facebook! People like seeing someone take a stand, even a small one. If we each take these small stands, we will “save” social. If we all walk the talk, every day…it’s going to get us to a valuable and viable destination.

Smarter Marketing: Say No To Shortcuts!

Smarter Marketing: Say No To Shortcuts!

I can remember that, as a kid, whenever we got into the car with my parents, going on a road 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 was always looking for the perfect shortcut. 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.

A funny family story, but it’s a whole different ball of wax if you’re constantly on the lookout for shortcuts as part of how you engage in marketing and running your business!

Marketing & Shortcuts Don’t Mix!

I often see the same thing happening with newer social businesses as they embark on their social media marketing journeys. The marketer, the driver of this social media or digital marketing vehicle, gets excited by apps, tools and other shortcuts “guaranteed” to increase and maintain their fan/follower/connection base in lightning quick fashion.

Unfortunately, many of these shortcuts lead that marketer on a merry chase full of wrong turns, detours and one way only avenues that end up leaving the marketing campaign and the company 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. They’re ever ready to promise you a shortened journey, a shortcut that will make everything quick, easy and painless. The problem is that successful social endeavors require that you actively take part in the journey. Shortcuts, while seemingly faster, often take you in divergent directions that detract from the real reasons your engaging in social media and digital marketing.

Relationships Take Time!

Social media marketing is all about the relationship. And relationships can’t be rushed. They grow and change in their own unique time. Relationships that result in business are built on trust. You absolutely CANNOT rush the creation and maintenance of trust.

Shortcuts Ruin A Good Story!

Social business relies heavily on the sharing of stories rather than sales tactics, telling rather than selling. What happens when you speed through a story? What exactly was the point?  Key points get missed. The listener finds themselves unsure of the plot, the message. Sharing stories takes time.

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. Do you want to be the marketer who shares information that is completely outdated or off base? I don’t think so!

Connections Count, So Take The Time To Connect Correctly!

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+.

What’s the point in rushing to like hundreds of pages? Are you hoping to get several hundred likes in return. It really doesn’t work like that anymore. Same goes with connecting on Twitter. Are you all about #teamfollowback? What’s the end goal of following anyone and everyone? 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?

While the idea that you must follow to be followed on Twitter, or any other social media platform, 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, one that your boss really wants to see well documented.

Shortcuts don’t build the types of numbers, the engaged and active communities, 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!

Say No To Marketing Shortcuts!

So now it’s your turn. We’re all looking to be more productive and get more done in the limited hours we’re allotted. We all have the same 24 hours in a given day. What marketing shortcuts make you mumble under your breath?

Be Nice To Your Bottom Line: You CAN Say No!

Be Nice To Your Bottom Line: You CAN Say No!

A recent Facebook conversation, with a large and well-meaning group, originating on Brian Fanzo‘s wall, prompted this article.

I’ve often written about the value of this very short and succinct word: No. But it seems there’s a rather misguided notion that in order to be nice you can’t say it. I find that frightening.

Why?

Because sometimes saying no is the nicest thing you can do. For a prospect, for your client, for your business, for yourself and for your bottom line.

You should say NO when:

  1. You don’t have the time do a task or job well.
  2. You don’t have the skill set to do a task or job well.
  3. You have to cobble together a solution because you don’t have access to the tools to get it done right.

The preceding examples are pretty cut and dried. But there will be times when it’s harder to suss out that saying no is actually in the best interest of all parties involved.

When did being nice become the end all, be all? When did being nice rise above being smart and professional? You can be both. They’re not mutually exclusive.

You can, and should, be polite and professional when doing business. But that doesn’t always mean you need to be nice. Especially in a time when being nice is so often equated with giving away your smarts, your talents and your business acumen.

At some point you have to stop giving it all away.

When Free Loses Focus

One main premise of social media marketing, of “being” social, is that you share for free up to the point that your prospect trusts you enough to buy. The key phrase we must focus on in this idea is “up to the point.” There must be an end to the freebies, else you never create the invoice that adds dollars to your bank account.

Free creeps into business in many ways that must be combatted.

  • The pick your brain call, coffee, lunch
  • The free 15 minute consult that stretches to an hour
  • The scope creep on projects that involves increasing hours and effort, but not the project price

At this point nice needs to get the nod to leave the room. Because at this point, being nice is negatively impacting your bottom line.

When Nice Is Not-So-Nice

Consider this. Is it nice when you have to forego a planned family outing because you’ve spent hours you should have been dedicating to paying projects on free calls that resulted in no revenue?

Or consider this. Is it nice when you rush a client job, possibly not delivering your best work, because you’ve spent the last several hours having your brain picked by a “friend” who will get you lots of exposure?

Saying No Doesn’t Make You A Jerk!

There’s nothing inherently evil about these two little letters. Problems arise via perception of the delivery. You can say no and maintain a working relationship. You can say no and still be polite and professional. You can say no without hurting feelings.

You absolutely can be a nice person and still be a shrewd and savvy entrepreneur.

Nice guys (and gals) really do finish last if the act of being nice negatively impacts their bottom line. Paying the bills, feeding your family, and investing in the growth of your business must come before being nice simply for the sake of being nice.

What Do You Think?

Can you say no and still remain nice? Remain professional? Remain a smart and savvy entrepreneur?

Let’s Talk Turkey: The Marketing Tools Aren’t The Problem

Let's Talk Turkey: The Marketing Tools Aren't The Problem

Last week I took a strong stance against the idea that content curation is a waste of time or a “dumb” activity. I found that I wasn’t the only online marketer with an affinity and allegiance to what we’ll call smart content curation.

I can only hope that today’s topic, which ties into curation, will result in a similar affinity.

Today I’m digging into the delusional idea that automating the sharing of content, content that you might have created, as well as content you might have curated, somehow impedes connection, conversation and the building of real and mutually beneficial relationships.

It’s Not The Marketing Tools, It’s The User

Not a single one of us can be connected or plugged-in 24-7-365. I’ll take it one step further and say that anyone attempting to be “constantly connected,” just isn’t running a very good business.

Why do I say that?

Because successful business owners know that marketing is only PART of what makes your business a success!

There are a handful of other key items that are pretty ding-danged important to overall business success, including:

  • Actually doing work for your clients so you can send out invoices!
  • Sleeping, as without it your brain can’t function.
  • Face-to-face client meetings. Shockingly enough, we occasionally have to get in the car and drive to a coffee shop or office complex to land a new client.
  • Phone calls. As much as I loathe and despise the phone, and will do almost anything to avoid a conversation via this tool of torture, I still have to pick up occasionally to answer questions and make initial impressions with prospects.

When Always On = Inattentive

Consider this. You’re at a coffee shop with a prospect. But you’re that guy or gal that proudly professes that you’re ALWAYS ONLINE. You’re in the middle of a lovely conversation with your prospect. You seem to be a great match. Then your phone buzzes. You have a mention, a retweet, or an alert.

What do you do?

If you immediately hold up a finger and ask for a minute (yes, I’ve had this happen to me), the tool IS the problem. But neither the phone nor the app is the tool in this scenario. The person who can’t disconnect for a thirty minute consult, however, is absolutely a TOOL.

It may seem that I’ve gone a bit off topic here, but I hope you’ll see that I’m trying to make a point regarding the human factoring into the idea that marketing tools are a bad bet.

Marketing Tools Aren’t Inherently Evil

I’m going to pull out one of my handy catch phrases here. The value of a marketing tool is absolutely tied to the intent and purpose of the human making use of the tool.

Mailchimp, AWeber, ActiveCampaign? Not evil. These email tools don’t spam people, the individuals using them do! Drip campaigns aren’t the problem. It’s the drips that don’t personalize the sends, don’t make the content shared valuable and viable, that give the tools a bad name.

Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social? Not the bad guys? The individuals who automate posts with no intention of ever monitoring mentions and actually engaging in conversations around their shared posts, though? You bet they’re the bad guys.

Using tools improperly shouldn’t end up being a problem for the developer of the tool. The blame should rest firmly on the individual that can’t remain human while making use of the tool.

Use The Marketing Tools To Evolve As A Better Marketer

The development and use of tools is a large part of the evolution of our species. Problems arise when we become so entrenched in the wonder of the tool, that we forget to be a human being.

Smart users of marketing tools, especially those that automate content delivery, understand that the delivery is only part of the strategy.

The delivery of the content is just the beginning. Where do you plan to go from there? This is where successful marketers embrace the balance between human interaction and the wonder of delivery tools.

Successful marketers monitor mentions! When they see their content shared they strike up a conversation. Even in less than 140 character bursts on Twitter.

Why do they do this? Because the conversation just might lead to a connection request, a new follower, a new subscriber. Because the conversation might lead the initial sharer to seek out the content of the secondary sharer. And if that content smart and savvy, all the better. A new content resource can be added to your curation system.

And when you share the content of your new connection? There’s a chance to continue the conversation. Deepen the connection. Maybe even build a long-lasting mutually beneficial relationship! A relationship that leads to collaborative partnerships that might just bring in a buck or two!

The Tools Aren’t The Tools In This Scenario!

If the title above is confusing, it’s because you’re not thinking of this alternate definition of a tool!

Used with understanding and the proper intent and purpose, marketing tools, especially those that automate the delivery of content we’ve created and curated, make for better marketing.

Because when you can save time on the delivery, you can spend MORE time on the conversations!