Personal Brands Are Different Than Product Brands

Personal Brands Are Different Than Product Brands

The concept of a personal brand is a relatively new one. Throughout modern times, we have come to generally associate the term brand with products. As personal branding gains traction, though, it requires different consideration. You can’t simply take what we know about branding sprockets and widgets and apply it blindly to personal branding and expect it to be successful.

As you devote more time and effort to your personal brand, consider these 4 key differences between a personal brand and a product brand.

1. You are on your own.

Sure, you can (and should) get help from designers, coaches, accountants, and assistants. However, when the newsletter is late, when there are issues with the presentation, when the website isn’t up to par, when the you-know-what hits the fan, you will be the one dealing with it front and center.

You can’t run from this, so use it to your advantage.

Promote the importance of the one-to-one connection and don’t be afraid to be seen as a one-person band. Use first person language in your copy. Be up front about your limitations as an individual. Your audience will respond to this, as it’s much more authentic and real than trying to make yourself look BIGGER.

2. Your personality and your brand have to mesh.

How odd would it be if you cultivated a button-down image for your personal brand when you’re more of a loose and casual individual?

Part of the job of a brand is to give people who don’t know you a blueprint for how future interactions will play out.

Imagine, then, how jarring it might be to project one persona in your website and other marketing materials, only to arrive as a totally different person IRL. Or, worse yet, how bad would it be if you had to put on an act to meet expectations? Sounds exhausting.

Be true to yourself and make sure your brand is an extension of your REAL personality. You should be so comfortable with your brand that it feels like your favorite item of clothing. If there’s a disconnect, it’s time to put your brand under the microscope.

3. You NEVER get to walk away from your personal brand.

You know and I know that there’s personal life and there’s business life. No one that I’ve ever met is the exact same persona from client to family to friends. That, though, is a tough distinction to expect potential clients to make.

Whether people see you in the setting of a ballgame or a networking event, they are going to associate you with the services that you sell. This leaves you with two options: 1) make sure all visible elements of your personal life are carefully sanitized or 2) create the kind of brand that can exist peacefully within your personal world.

In other words, if your Saturday consists of a couple pitchers of beer and drunkenly butchering it at karaoke night, you need to make damn sure that stays private (I’m looking at you, Facebook) or pick clients that are okay with handing their problems over to you, regardless.

4. Products are bought. You will be sold.

Think about the last few things you’ve bought. Chances are, you went to a store or to Amazon.com, chose the product on your own, paid for it and went on your way. In essence, a very simple transaction.

If only selling your services were so simple.

If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to convince someone that you are the right person for the job. More often than not, though, coaches, speakers and consultants have the added task of convincing someone that they have a problem that needs fixing in the first place.

For example, most people that I talk to don’t see where their website is costing them time and money, they just vaguely know that something in their business needs fixing. I have to first convince them that their website is the issue, THEN convince them that I’m the right guy for the job.

So, what do you do about this? Build qualifiers into your brand: “if your website is missing this plugin, and you do this for a living, then you’re probably losing money, and here’s a few reasons why.”

Never forget the necessary educational component of your brand materials. No one is going to buy your services solely because you’re the cheapest, the smartest, the tallest. Educate your audience. If you start by showing them WHY they need you, convincing them that they need you gets a whole lot easier.

Your Assignment!

Think about these items over the next couple weeks as you make tweaks to your website, send out your newsletter or prep materials for your next event.

Is your brand in tune or is it merely acting out the old-school tactics we’ve been taught for branding soda and vacuum cleaners?

I’d love to know if these points lead to any practical solutions. Send me an email, leave me a comment or even give me a call and let me know what you come up with. We love working with those looking to become more aware about the development of their personal brand.

4 Ways Ninjas And Digital Marketing Don’t Mix

4 Ways Ninjas And Digital Marketing Don't Mix

There are certain titles, those used in social media profiles and about sections, that make each of us cringe, laugh or even snort derisively. I’ve often admitted that the “evangelist” title, especially, makes me a little sick to my tummy.

But across the board, it seems, there’s one digital marketing title that surpasses them all as the most overused, the most silly and the most ineptly misapplied.

That title? Ninja, of course.

Today, I’m taking to Wikipedia, not my beloved Merriam-Webster, to add a little insight into the inappropriate appropriation of this profession, or calling, as a title digital marketers.

A ninja (忍者?) or shinobi (忍び?) was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, and open combat in certain situations. Their covert methods of waging war contrasted the ninja with the samurai, who observed strict rules about honor and combat.

I’m going to break down parts of the definition above to showcase the silliness of applying this title to your digital marketing expertise.

Covert

The idea that a digital marketing expert would act in a covert fashion is frightening. After all, aren’t social media marketing and other forms of digital marketing (especially content curation and creation) all about transparency and appearing as an open and honest voice for a brand or business?

Well, what do you know, it looks like I am going to get to use my dictionary love in this article!

co·vert adjective ˈkō-(ˌ)vərt, kō-ˈ; ˈkə-vərt
: made, shown, or done in a way that is not easily seen or noticed : secret or hidden

Covert acts are not avowed, which means they’re not stated in an open and public fashion. That’s the direct opposite of the way we are taught that social media marketing should be approached.

Open, honest, visible … all are important to building the trust that allows our digital marketing efforts to succeed.

Mercenary

We all know immediately if a digital marketer is all about what’s in it for them. One definition is mercenary is:

one that serves merely for wages; especially : a soldier hired into foreign service

If we look beyond the immediate association with soldiers, and apply the term mercenary to digital marketers, we’re looking at someone with no belief in the system, no real understanding of the value of the relationships developed. They’re just in it for the money, or perhaps the hopes of becoming a big name.

Is that the kind of person you’d choose to hire? Someone that isn’t going to listen to what you need, or factor in what your ideal clients are seeking? Of course not.

Infiltration

in·fil·trate verb in-ˈfil-ˌtrāt, ˈin-(ˌ)
: to secretly enter or join (something, such as a group or an organization) in order to get information or do harm

If we look at the idea of infiltration of your digital presence, it is, I hope, rather scary. Is the digital marketing professional you hired seeking to build on your current success for you, or for themselves?

Will they engage in less than smart, savvy and correct practices that will mar your brand, and the trust that brand has managed to build and maintain? Will they buy followers, spam leads, engage in link-baiting schemes?

No matter how small in scale, any of these activities do harm to your brand, to your reputation, to the trust you’ve worked so hard to create within your community.

Lacking Strict Rules About Honor

The samurai embraced honor and following the rules of honor above all else. The Ninja? Not so much. The job, for the ninja, was to get the task done, no matter the actions required.

Is that lack of code of ethics really what inspires you to hire someone whom you’re going to give access to your digital real estate? NO!

Say No To The Ninja!

Would you hire an accounting ninja? Someone who played loosey goosey with the IRS and your dollars and cents? Of course not. So, why would ever, even for one second, consider hiring a digital marketing professional that chooses to portray their expertise in such a way.

Open, honest, visible, honorable … all are terms you want tied to your brand and your business, online and off. None of those terms have anything to do with the covert operations and tactics undertaken by the too often romanticized, and obviously misunderstood, ninja.

Your Turn!

What digital marketing titles really get your goat? I’ve already stated, many times, that I find the “evangelist” title one of the most galling. Share your thoughts and title talk in the comments below!

Seriously? Admit You Curate or Cut Bait!

Seriously? Admit You Curate or Cut Bait!

Before I dive into the topic, I need to clear a few things up:

  1. I’ve had this article on hold, partially written, for several weeks. I actually started writing it soon after recording a podcast session with Cendrine Marrouat of Social Media Slant. The topic discussed on the podcast was, cannily enough, content curation.
  2. I chose to publish an article on dissenting opinions as a lead-in to this article, in order to make a point. I can dissagree with an article, an idea, an opinion, without hating on a person or group. I can actually completely respect and trust someone and still, occasionally, disagree with them.
  3. It will appear that an article published by Carol Lynn Rivera of Web.Search.Social was an impetus for a rant. But, as stated above, I’ve had this topic in mind for a while. It would be ludicrous, however, for me to say that Carol Lynn’s article does not factor into my own publish. It does, indeed.
  4. My writing style is fairly combative, snarky and often meant to make people laugh, mostly at my antics and language, while also getting them to think. I felt no compunction to change my writing style before publishing this article.

So, the short and quick of it? I can disagree with Carol Lynn on this specific topic and still think she’s spot on 99.99% of the time. I can still share her articles, comment on her blog posts, and engage in conversations with her on Twitter and Google+.

And, because Carol Lynn is a savvy marketer that knows the value of duscussion and dissenting views, she won’t immediately call me a dick, a jerk, an a**hole, or any other derogatory name. She may absolutely call me snarky, though!

That being cleared up, we can dive into the topic.

C’mon … Seriously? You “Don’t” Curate Content?

Content curation has become the love to hate topic of note lately. Possibly closely followed by the whole content shock conundrum.

Part of the problem, as pointed out passionately and pointedly by my respected peer and lovely friend, Cendrine Marrouat, is the lack of a one size fits all definition for content curation. People can, and do, curate content in a variety of ways. Maybe they just don’t know it yet?

I’m Going To Share Content, But Not Curate It!

Say what? I’ve seen this argument a few times and it always leaves me scratching my head in exasperation.

Do you seek out the content of others because you can’t possibly create enough content to satisfy the needs of your audience? Yes? You curate content!

Curating isn’t something people in tweed jackets do as they sit amidst the dusty books in their library. You don’t have to share the articles you read and find worthy on Scoop.it or share them with paper.li to be a curator. But if you do, that’s groovy,too!

Do you seek out smartly written, savvy articles to add to your Buffer account? Articles that will be shared in a timely fashion via Twitter, Google+, maybe even Linkedin? Yes? You curate content.

Why Waste Time Researching & Reading?

One argument against content curation states that it’s silly to spend soooooooo much time reading and researching the content of others when you could be creating that content yourself.

I’m sorry, but are you both all knowing and all powerful? Omniscient and omnipotent? You can write on any subject under the sun without having to do any research, without having to reference any resources? Nope! I call bullshit!

If you create content without ever looking to your peers, your competitors and your betters (that’s right, you’re not the BESTEST at ALL BUSINESS) then the content you create is often going to be CRAP.

You’re not an expert on/at EVERYTHING. No one is. Curating and then referencing well written, helpful content means you care enough to educate yourself on topics that you think your audience might find interesting and helpful.

I Am Marketer, Hear Me Toot (My Own Horn)

Meet Joe Schmoe. Joe is THE marketer. It’s all about him and what he knows and shares. Everything he tweets is coupled with one of the following hashtags:

#Schmoesays
#Schmoeknows
#Schmoetivate

Joe Schmoe is a self important shmuck. There’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing your own content. You worked hard to create it, of course you want to get the maximum shares out of it.

But when you constantly hashtag your own content with #IKnowBest add-ons, especially that content which has long passed its expiration date for relevance or usefulness, you show your following that you’re not interested in sharing content with value. You’re sharing how much you value your own content. Do you see the difference?

Content Curation Isn’t Helping Your Customers

Or Landing You Leads …

It’s not? Color me shocked, because I absolutely take to Google to research the topics on which I am not an expert. Why? Because, once again – say it OUT LOUD with me, I’m not a flipping expert at everything!

I ain’t no guru! (and neither is Carol Lynn)

I had a meeting yesterday with a potential client interested in expanding their online presence and using that presence to recruit new talent. New real estate talent.

Go Creative Go has designed, implemented and managed real estate websites and digital marketing campaigns, but always with the intent to showcase listings and neighborhood benefits. Never with the focus on recruiting.

So, to prep for this meeting and to show this client I’m as knowledgeable as I can be about the subject of using digital marketing for real estate agent recruiting, I chose to look to the experts. I sough out, read and collected (curated) the BEST content on the subject.

I DID NOT INSIST on only sharing my own content. Why not? I’ve never needed to create it. I don’t have any.

Could I have created it? Yes, but there wasn’t a need. It was there for me to read and for me to share.

FYI, I landed the client even though I shared two articles written by competitors.

Curate Because It’s Already Been Said & Said Well!

Why do we feel we must reinvent the wheel? If someone with a sound grasp and understanding of the topic has already written the article, what’s wrong with reading it, asking questions if the author is available for it, and storing it for future use or sharing?

There’s nothing wrong with that.

There will be times when I can research a topic and manage to create my own fairly compelling content on said topic. But there will also be times when creating valuable content on a topic will simply be beyond my capability. I can’t become an expert at certain things with a quick Google search and and three article reads.

Some areas of expertise require years of study, practical training and much mentorship. In those instances it’s much smarter to seek out the smarts shared by those who are actually the smartest!

Curating Is About MORE Than The Content!

Curating is about connections, peer review and the potential for collaboration. I’ve stated this on many occasions.

When I share the content of my peers, I’m not doing it out of some ridiculous and unrealistic idea of reciprocity. The reciprocity share has never had any real value.

Where then is the actual value? In the connections made, the conversations had, the possibility of building a real relationship that will allow for sharing ideas and maybe even collaborating on projects.

I would not be who I am today without curating and sharing some fantastic content, which allowed me to connect with some great people.

So Put Up Or Shut Up!

Is Sharing Completely Different Than Curating?

Some would say yes. You don’t have to curate to share content. I disagree. You don’t share articles, videos or infographics that you haven’t read, viewed, deemed worthy and valuable do you? Of course not!

And I don’t disagree because I’m a dick or because I live to rant. Here are my reasons:

  1. Every time I record and subsequently publish a podcast interview, I’m curating content. That’s right. Curating! Without researching and reaching out to my guest on THEIR expertise, there’d be no means for me to create that “unique” content I’m calling my own.
  2. Every time I ask my readers to tell me what they want to read about, I’m curating content. Those ideas are NOT my own, even though I’m using them to create content to be delivered from the digital real estate I own.
  3. Every time I take the time to read an article, deem it worthy of sharing, and add it to either my bookmarks or Buffer for later sharing, I’m curating content.

Decide one way or the other! If curation is such a waste of time, and the smart and sensible way to market yourself and your brand centers on creating and sharing content that resides only on your digital real estate, that’s fine. Share only your own content if it suits your style and your business model. Some bigger brands do that quite well!

But don’t call me out as stupid, silly or lacking sense for curating if you engage in activities that, when looked at under the light of the many meanings of curation, as there’s no one size fits all definition, show you’re ACTUALLY, by some definitions, engaging in curating content.

Have At It!

I expect some reaction to this. There will be some agreement and there’s sure to be some disagreement.

But I do know that we can have a discussion, no matter our opinions, without devolving into name calling (and Joe Schmoe was just a writing tool, people, you know that darned good and well).

I look forward to some chatter, some discussion and even some smart, but sassy, snark.

And yes, I realize the fish in my photo shows a lure, not bait, but the only bait photos I could find were large piles of worms. Not really what I wanted to go with here, as I’m not trying to open a can of worms. Get it?!?!

Dissenting Opinions Don’t Make Me A Dick!

Dissenting Opinions Don't Make Me A Dick!

And let me just add to my title for a bit, if you don’t mind.

My dissenting opinions don’t by default make me:

  • Stupid
  • Naive
  • Mean
  • Rude
  • Negative
  • Nasty
  • A Troll

I could probably add to that bulleted list with tens of other words, but that’s probably enough to get the point across.

That’s right party people. I can disagree with your article, your idea, your infographic, even your business model and still be a positive human being. I can even be your friend and confidante.

Positivity Passionistas Need To Practice What They Preach

I’m so tired of seeing people spouting off that you shouldn’t pay attention to the “jerks.”

Who exactly are these “jerks?” Anyone who disagrees with them, with their specific ideas, views or actions.

Let me tell you something, princess … that’s not positive or perky or powerful. In fact, the word I’d use to describe it is pathetic!

Calling someone out as a jerk for simply asking a question about your idea isn’t showcasing your positive nature and can-do attitude. It’s showing your petty side. The one that only wants pats on the back and accolades.

While both accolades and huzzahs can certainly be social, the main function that most of us hope to achieve with our social shares is conversation.

Opinions absolutely are like a**holes, we ALL have one. But we absolutely don’t have to act like an a**hole when we share your opinion. And we don’t have to react like an a**hole when someone does share an opinion that doesn’t match our own.

Dissenting Opinions Make For Open & Honest Discussion

While recording a podcast episode with Ian Anderson Gray, this very topic came up.

He actually likes it when what he publishes garners a dissenting opinion or two.

If the only conversations you choose to allow must involve a consensus that your idea is the only idea, that your way is the only way, you’re actually closing yourself off to a lot of ideas that might enhance and strengthen your own.

Look at all of the great leaps forward in science and technology. Would any have happened if all the scientist naysayers decided they didn’t want to be a jerk by sharing their new theory? I’m guessing Steve Jobs would respond with a resounding N-O.

But, I Didn’t Ask For “Your” Opinion!

Yeah, actually you did. As soon as you clicked on the publish button you put your article, your idea, your graphic, your slides, etc. out for the world to see.

Leaving your comments section open and issuing a call to action to discuss just might get you … that’s right a discussion!

Do you honestly think that every reader of every article agrees with you absolutely, 100%, every time?

I can understand that you might get upset, and rightly so, if someone sharing a dissenting opinion calls you out harshly, calls you a name.

Wait, hang on a second, aren’t you actually the one engaging in name calling? Interesting.

Sugarcoating Is For Suck-ups And Sycophants

I don’t expect anyone to agree with me all the time. 24-7-365 agreement would be boring and pointless. How would any of us grow and evolve?

Every time I publish an article I know there’s the potential for pushback. And I welcome that pushback if it’s delivered in a calm, rational, based on facts and or experience, comment that opens up the opportunity for conversation.

I’ve seen that pushback from big names and small. And I’ve delivered my own pushback, again without worrying about the cachet and clout of the author. Even the big names out there are looking to converse. They don’t expect you to swallow everything they’re selling whole without asking any questions.

So, why should you expect that?

I’m often in the minority. And I’m fine with that. I learn something new with every dissenting opinion I read and choose to take in the spirit in which it was intended. A chance to engage in smart conversation.

My bestest digital gal pal and partner in podcast crime, Brooke Ballard sums it up:

… if you need a spoon full of sugar for the truth to go down, go watch Mary Poppins!

Website Personality: Does Your Business Site Have Any?

Website Personality: Does Your Business Site Have Any?

If you spend any time interacting with social media and digital marketing experts and enthusiasts online, you’ll soon suss out that there’s an awful lot of personality bouncing around in their social media circles.

From intelligent introverts to effervescent extroverts, personalities abound across the social space.

So, I find it rather funny when I come across the websites of some positively peachy personalities – in any business, and find them antiseptic and almost clinical.

Website Personality: Does Your Site Have Any To Speak Of?

Recently saw this posted on Facebook, and immediately put on my devil’s advocate blogging hat:

A business website is all business. Your blog is where you can show the human side of your business.

While I do agree that your business website needs to put a professional foot forward, I don’t think that doing so to the extent that you completely lack personality is the smartest decision you can make.

While your website is the online premises of your business, it’s still the reflection of your brand and your brand is bolstered by your personality.

Design With The REAL You In Mind!

One of my topical categories on this blog is “Real You, Real Biz.”

Are you antiseptic, clinical, lacking color? Of course not. You’re so much more!

Are you warm and easily approachable? If so, why is your website color scheme cool and clinical? Why is the layout boxy with a lot of hard edges? Can you see how there’s a bit of disparity on display?

Forcing your personality to fit within specific boxes isn’t very genuine. Prospects and leads can smell disingenuous like something nasty on the bottom of their shoe.

Personality Beyond Your Blog!

If you only let your personality shine on your blog pages it’s potentially hidden from many site visitors. They don’t all click through to your articles.

Consider where your site visitors land? Is it your about page? Your FAQ? Your product/services page? Once you’ve figured out the point of entry you can consider how to add some professional, but still REAL you, personality.

Your bio, your about section, doesn’t have to read like a resume. While you want to showcase your expertise and your accomplishment, you can do so without boring your audience to tears.

You can share the REAL you with a photo of the REAL you. Professional head shots will always have their place, but they might not leave that prospect feeling warm and fuzzy. Absolutely use that ultra-professional image where it’s best suited, but a photo that shows who you really are as a person can absolutely have a place on your business website.

Consider Your Ideal Clients & Share What They’ll Want!

Of course you have to consider your industry and your ideal client. If your research deduces they want buttoned-up and extremely formal, then that’s absolutely the direction your site design should take.

But if your research shows that your ideal clients prefer engaging in business that shows a softer, warmer, funnier or more hands-on personality, then you need to embrace that mindset.

Professionalism doesn’t preclude personality.

Know, Like & Trust

It’s been said over and over again, by large sites like Inc. and Copyblogger, as well as the small fries like me: people want to do business with other people/businesses they know, like and trust.

Your professionalism, of course, adds to that trust. But knowing and liking you is directly tied into your brand and your business actually sharing a bit of the REAL you.

Do we tend to like those that are perfunctory, clinical, and always all about business? With the exception of the quirky and lovable Sheldon Cooper, not so much.

A little shared personality can go a long way toward creation a relationship based on prospects and clients liking the time they spend working with you, because you have allowed them to get to know you as a real person.

How’s Your Site Personality?

Do you think your site showcases the real you and gives your visitors a real idea of what it’s like to work with you, your team, your brand?

If the answer is no, how do you think you can remedy that lack of personality and create a better relationship with those looking to employ you? I’m always up for some discussion, so let’s do so via the comments.

 

Explicit Content: It’s More Than Potty Mouth!

Explicit Content: It's More Than Potty Mouth!

The title’s correct! It’s not link bait to draw you in then leave you disheartened, distrustful and disappointed.

I am ACTUALLY writing about explicit content today, especially as it pertains to the launch of my new podcast: Ready, Set … PODCAST!

Explicit Content! More Than Dropping F-Bombs!

Every once in a while you see an article making the rounds across the blogosphere and social media feeds. That article calls out the use of explicit language in blog posts and marketing materials. Such language is:

  • unprofessional
  • dumbing down language
  • offensive
  • etc.

Did you know that if you look up explicit in the dictionary, there are few, or sometimes – NO, references to potty mouth or swearing?

One of my go-to sites, Merriam-Webster shares:

Full Definition of EXPLICIT

1 a : fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity : leaving no question as to meaning or intent
b : open in the depiction of nudity or sexuality

2 : fully developed or formulated

3 : unambiguous in expression

4 : of a mathematical function : defined by an expression containing only independent variables — compare

While my writing style might give off a resounding WTF vibe, I rarely drop F-bombs. In fact, the only time I do is when I hurt myself in a stupid fashion. You know, walking into the door jamb, stubbing my toe, whacking my head on a low, open cupboard door. That kind of thing.

Most of the time, any explicit language you see on my posts is my own made-up alterations to commonly used swear words of a more benign sort.

Example: I often request that marketers refrain from engaging in activity that can be described with two of my favorite altered terms, jackassery and asshattery.

I’ve never been told by any of my readers, in private or in public, that my explicit language offends them.

Not Swearing? How, Then, Can Explicit Content Be Offensive?

This is just my best guess, I don’t have any metrics to back it up, but … I think people are offended when someone strongly, assertively, and without pulling the punches discusses the negative impact of an action or activity that the reader embraces as standard operating procedure.

This goes back to the definition of explicit shared above. When your content is direct, to the point and implies anything negative, people start to think you’re writing about them personally. No matter how careful you are to call out actions, rather than individuals.

That leads me to think that these people feel somewhat guilty for their actions, but again, that’s just my personal take.

I’ll Remain Explicit In 2015

So, after looking carefully at the definition(s) of the term, I will continue to adhere to my explicit content policy in 2015 and beyond. My new podcast, Ready, Set … Podcast, will have an explicit rating, because both my partner Brooke Ballard and I will occasionally use explicit language to make a point. Not because we think it’s cool, or because we want to be edgy.

We use the language we use because it’s real and authentic and that’s how we actually speak.

And my blog posts going forward? Same explicit content style. No ambiguity about what I think or the ideas I share.

Let’s lose the idea that explicit is simply the opening up and expelling of swear words. It’s a lot more than language that would have earned you a mouth washed out with soap as a child.

Your Turn …

Does explicit language, used well with the proper intent and purpose, bother you? Chime in with a comment!

Consultation Call Courtesy: If You Schedule, Answer!

Consultation Call Courtesy: If You Schedule, Answer!

If we schedule it … we will call.

Of course, after we schedule it, we’ll confirm it.

If we confirm it … we will call.

If we schedule, confirm and call … and you don’t answer?

Well, it’s a given that we’ll call you really bad names, privately of course, and then carefully reconsider your value as a prospective lead and/or client!

It’s Not Really A “Free” Consultation

No, I’m not involved in some ridiculous scam where if you pick up the call I’m somehow going to swindle you out of a squijillion dollars.

That call? It’s not so free for me, the one making the call. Why not?

I’ve taken the time to add you to my CRM as a lead. A very soft lead, of course, but your affirmative answer has led me to believe that you have some interest in me, if not in my product or service.

I’ve also added the call to my calendar, with you invited, and set up various reminder notifications. I’ve also crafted a follow-up email to make sure we are still on for the call.

Finally, because it’s important for me to understand you in order to understand how I might be of value to you, I spend a lot of time on research. Researching you, your company, your current clients, your staff and more.

I go to Google, peruse your Pinterest boards, tip-toe through your Tweets and more. Depending on how active you are online this can take fifteen minutes, or it can take over an hour.

I’ve Cleared My Schedule

While my pre-call time investment might not be that heavy, I’ve also cleared a block of time for our call.

Whether I’ve allotted you fifteen minute or an hour, I can’t give that time slot to someone else.

If you’d done the right thing and canceled the call when I sent the initial confirmation, I could have given that time slot to an actual interested party. Maybe I could have slept in a few extra minutes that morning after a long night prepping (are you feeling guilty yet?).

BUT, I had an emergency!

Sure, we know these things happen. Kids get sick. The dog ate a pound of baking chocolate. You somehow managed to fill your car with diesel rather than unleaded (funny story – my mom actually did this way back in the day).

But, in the instance of an emergency, you can and should reach out and make some amends after the missed call.

I can’t tell you how many prospects, some people we’ve known for quite some time online, simply ignore our outreach after the missed call.

At the very least you should acknowledge that you missed the call and apologize for the confusion or wasted time.[clickToTweet tweet=”You were not coerced! You can say no. If you say yes to a consult, pick up the DAMN PHONE!” quote=”You were not coerced! You can choose to say no. If you say yes, pick up the DAMN PHONE!” theme=”style4″]

You Weren’t Coerced To Take the Call

You can and should say no if you’re not interested. We’re big boys and girls and we are well aware that selling, even a free consultation, is going to result in a LOT of no responses.

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to take the call, don’t let me schedule the call.

Time, energy and effort ARE our money, too. Wasting it with an offhand yes to a consultation call doesn’t make you look good.

How do you proceed after a prospect, client or friend fails to pick up when you’ve scheduled a call. We’d love to know!

Dear Big Name Marketer: Thoughts From A Small Timer

Dear Big Name Marketer: Thoughts From A Small Timer

Yesterday I received an email from a quite well known (at least in digital marketing circles) social media expert. That’s really nothing new, as I’ve opted in to several newsletters to help keep me as up to date as possible on all things social and digital marketing.

This email though, really got my hackles up. Got me feeling a little bit ranty. In fact I unsubscribed from the list.

I do have to thank this marketer, perhaps with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, for the idea for this post, however!

So, dear big name in the biz, this small timer would like to share a few thoughts with you.

Don’t Assume I’m An Idiot!

Consider your list carefully. While you might have your fair share of absolute newbs, it’s also a good guess that you’ve got some marketers with a smaller following, who are still fairly well established in the field.

With that in mind, stop with the schoolmarm shares. We don’t need you to smack our hand with a ruler for silly infractions. Why not? We’ve been in the trenches long enough to know better and your assumption that we don’t is ridiculous.

Dig in a little and share some useful professional knowledge, something beyond the basics that showcases your unique understanding of digital marketing practices and showcases your online clout. I mean, you’re an expert, right?

Your Way Is NOT The Only Way!

And shockingly, what works for you might actually make others shudder.

I can’t tell you how many “experts” I see resorting to sharing mindless fluff like the motivational quote, ridiculously off topic question, and cute cat meme variety.

Don’t get me wrong, I engage in the occasional #Caturday post and discussion, as I love my sweet feline beasties. But every day? No way.

I’m following you to gain some insights into better marketing practices and ideas. I can get motivational quotes and silly photos anywhere.

You certainly wouldn’t create a strategy for a client that included an overabundance of cute and kitsch rather than the sharing of interesting, informative and intelligent information that might actually result in leads and prospects? Would you?

Practice What You Preach!

if you can’t walk the walk, you shouldn’t talk the talk. Cliche? Yes, but also very true. And a tenet that many a smaller marketer will hope that you follow.

Don’t boast the benefits of the 80/20 rule then let me see your Twitter and Google+ feeds full of ONLY your own posts.

If you preach the idea that you should show appreciation for shares, then NEVER acknowledge those shares? You look like an ass. There, I said it. If you’re that busy, hire a staffer to monitor your mentions.

If I share your article every day, I don’t feel that you need to thank me for each and every one, but an occasional favorite and a short and sweet “thanks for sharing” message will go a long way to keep me sharing.

Shockingly, we notice when you don’t. And then we pay even more attention the next time we share!

Embrace The Real Idea of Evergreen!

We already talked about not filling your feed with only your own articles, but I’d like to take that one step further.

If you’re going to share only your own stuff, be up front about it. And more importantly, make sure the content is still timely, relevant, and – above all, CORRECT.

Sharing old articles about Facebook can REALLY showcase your lack of effort. Facebook has made so many changes over the years that you simply can’t just set up automatic sharing of all of your archived articles.

If a newbie reads it, they might do something that at present violates Facebook terms of service. And if a smaller, but smart and savvy marketer sees it, they’re going to ding you for sharing out of date information, not-so smart automation practices, and maybe even some hubris.

With That Being Said …

Let me state, loudly and proudly, that there are plenty of big name marketers more than worth their big name. These peeps know who they are because they walk their talk daily.

They engage in conversation and discussion with the followers who seek out and share their content and do not belittle those with whom they are conversing.

They respond to blog comments with a unique reply specific to the individual commenting.

They create new, unique, and compelling content each time they publish. There’s no rehashing of ideas already well discussed and debated.

I avidly follow many a big name and do my best to read and share (always read before sharing, even trusted sources) the articles and posts that appeal and resonate with me and my audience.

But to the big names that aren’t so savvily social, won’t you take a minute to think on what I’ve shared?

Negative Reviews: I’d Really Rather You Just Helped Me!

Negative Reviews: I'd Really Rather You Just Helped Me!

Dear Service Provider,

I’d like to share something with you. Something important. Something I really feel you should know.

I’d really rather do ALMOST ANYTHING else before I am forced to leave you a negative review.

While I’m known for the occasional ranting read and my sass and snark are oft mentioned before any of my other attributes, I’m really not all that into slamming your services online.

I’d rather not sign onto Yelp and leave a nasty review, or even a not so nasty review.

As a matter of fact, I’ve never left a review, negative or otherwise, on Yelp.

Provide The Services I’m Paying For!

While I’m sure a negative review might get you to stand up and take notice that I’m unhappy, I’d really prefer a speedy resolution.

This article was prompted by a heartfelt plea for understanding from a new digital marketing friend. She posted to Facebook, solely for the response of her friends and peer group, asking whether or a company with which she was having issues actually cared.

Let me reiterate, my friend didn’t tag the company in the complaint or blast them across social channels. She was merely looking for feedback and a little empathy from her trusted circle.

Hear me now service provider! Don’t make me complain to my friends. Because the next step up from there often involves my friends telling me how to take my complaints to the next level.

I’d rather you just help me when I create and send a support ticket. I’ve either already paid for your service, or I continue to pay for it on a monthly basis. When I have a problem I’d like to know I can contact you in order to effect a speedy and long-lasting resolution.

Don’t Make Me Jump Through Hoops!

I’m not a fan of the phone. But many people prefer it as a means of communication.

As much as I’d rather chat on Skype or via a Google Hangout, I actually post my phone number prominently in the header of my website, so that those with a preference for the phone can easily dial my digits as needed.

Far too many digital service providers don’t post numbers at all, or bury it so deep in their site that no customer can spare the time to actually dig it up.

I’d also like it if you actually posted an email address. Your forms are fine, but when I’m really having an issue, I’d like to know I have other options.

Last thing on this subtopic, if you’re going to post that you offer LiveChat, you need to actually have it operational, at the very least, during a business hours window.

Monitor Your Mentions Before We Melt Down!

I don’t really want to call out your company in 140 characters of scathing sass and snark.

I’d rather you actually monitor your Twitter feed to see if we’re mentioning issues. Then, once you see we’re sharing issues in tweets, I’d really appreciate it if you’d provide regular updates, via tweet, to keep me informed.

It would be great if you had a staffer that actually checked your Facebook messages from time to time. You see, I believe that you share negative feedback in private, thus I sent you a PM. Don’t make me take it public for all of the Facebook-o-sphere to see.

We’re Just Looking For A Little Help!

When we have an issue with your product, we’d like to think that you’re actually trying to feel some of our pain. So, act and react with a little empathy, please.

Have you ever been forced to take your woes to the next level with a public social media post? Have you ever left a negative review, be it on Yelp, a Facebook page or elsewhere?

Social Media: Is It Really Our “Right” To Immediately Complain?

Social Media: Is It Really Our "Right" To Immediately Complain?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least sixty-seven times (I don’t think I can come close to claiming 1,000 or 1,000,000) … I have a reputation for the rant.

I admit it, I don’t try to hide it. I’m up front and open about the fact that my writing style often employs language and tone that comes across as a rant.

That being said, you might have noted that my rants don’t call out actual individuals or companies. In fact, they don’t name any names at all.

Instead, I call out actions, rant about decisions and idiotic ideas, and try to create discussion around various topics, rather than various people or brands.

You might be shocked to know that I rarely tweet or post Facebook messages when a product or service lets me down.

Private vs. Public

Everything I’ve ever been taught about business and effectively handling conflicts says you absolutely DO NOT spout off in public. You take the time to step back and discuss negative issues in private, while you share any good news with the group.

I consider most social media discussions, if they’re not undertaken within private messages, to be public conversations. I prefer, whenever possible, to discuss outages, failure to deliver and other less than stellar customer service actions or customer experience woes in private. Generally by email or chat. I’m not a fan of the phone.

Why Private?

Why not just let my rant rip across social media channels?

Call me crazy, but I don’t think even big brands deserve to be bombarded with negative press, delivered across social channels, until I’ve got the complete picture.

Was the outage or disruption caused by a hacker’s attack? If so, the brand is already under enough pressure trying to find and deliver the correct fix. Do they really need to waste resources addressing the tweets of overly pissy peeps?

When it comes to digital services, from website hosting to mention monitoring and social scheduling, we have to consider hacks, especially the dreaded DDoS attacks. Should your site ever undergo that kind of attack, don’t you hope your clients understand and don’t immediately blast you via Twitter, Google+ or Facebook?

Service With A Smile?

I applaud companies like A2 Hosting and Buffer for keeping their clients well informed when they suffer attacks that take down their system and stymie the services we’ve all come to rely upon to run our digital businesses.

I do not applaud the companies that ignore the disruptions and don’t keep their client base informed about what they’re doing to remedy the situation.

Service with a smile means sometimes you have to smile through the pain of whatever you’re dealing with and provide the proper information to your clients and customers.

Social media makes it very easy to keep us informed. Tweet it. Share the situation on Facebook and Google+. Take a picture of whatever’s broken and share it on Instagram.

If you keep us informed and let us know you’re actively engaged in the fix, we’re less likely to complain.

Take It To Social?

Do I ever take my complaints to a social level? Yes, I have had to do so on occasion.

Why? Generally because the company ignored my attempts to get the situation sorted privately.

At that time, I take to Twitter and try to deliver a message that states the outage is affecting me, and my own clients, and I’d appreciate a heads up as to whether or not a solution is coming any time soon.

Sadly, this tends to FINALLY get me a response.  Even more sadly, it’s generally a too little, too late apology or lame excuse. Something that doesn’t beg much love for the brand, if you know what I mean.

How about you?

How soon do you take complaints social?