Make the Promise You’ll Deliver with this No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing

As indicated by its name, the goal of direct response marketing is to elicit an immediate response from prospects. The opposite would be mass marketing, in which prospects are — perhaps and eventually — motivated to check out a product at the store after seeing the product’s (or the store’s) television commercial an ad nauseum number of times. Unlike the disengaged television viewers impatiently enduring commercials, social media prospects are somewhat active and some kind of connection to the seller. No wonder, as Kim Walsh-Phillips writes in No B.S. Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing, that “nothing has proven to give a higher ROI than social media marketing. Dollar for dollar, day in and day out, over and over again — you get the idea.”

Social media consultant Walsh-Phillips and co-author Dan Kennedy, a well-known, direct-response copywriter, combine to offer specific how-to advice on social media marketing. Their advice is generously illustrated with real-world examples, often reproduced in the book. The first lesson of the book, and one that the authors emphasize throughout the book, is that business is about money. It’s not about tweets, followers and any other social media metric about which too many businesses get excited.

“Let profit be the true measure,” writes Walsh-Phillips in the introduction, while Kennedy later notes that “you can’t go to the bank and deposit likes, views, retweets, viral explosions, social media conversations or brand recognition.” To help their readers make money, the authors offer a wide array of recommendations, often organized into concise but comprehensive lists.

One of their early offerings, for example, lists the six rules for effective marketing:

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Customers Buy. Fans Buy In.

Our guest blogger is Lee Elias, co-author of Think Like A Fan.

What do you call the people that do business with you? Are they consumers, patrons, customers, etc? I have become fond of referring to these people as fans. In reality, anyone who does business with you, whether it is monetarily or through trade, is making an investment into your brand and company. The physical transaction between a person and business may make them a literal consumer, however the choice to put their trust and faith in what you are providing is what makes them a fan.

Fans come in many forms; casual, fair weather and die-hard. Simply taking money from these people is no longer the most effective business model. With today’s limitless connectivity and ability to communicate, cultivating relationships and making these fans feel like part of your organization can be infinitely more beneficial, both monetarily and mentally, than ever before.

In a time when challenging the status quo has become the status quo, consumers have placed a responsibility on all organizations to stand out in order to gain their loyalty, not just their money. In order to find continued success moving forward, organizational leaders will all need to gain an understanding of how digital technology is reshaping the consumption of media.  Our entire market is integrating deeper and deeper into wireless, mobile, and digital solutions that consumers crave. These innovations are a major opportunity for revenue and brand building if implemented and integrated correctly. Proper planning and preparation for a digital migration effort is essential, and business leaders will find they cannot sit back and “see how it plays out” for as long as they may have been used to with earlier, more traditional marketing methods.

Today’s connectivity has opened the door for organizations to touch an audience 24/7/365.  Fans are constantly calling for a better overall experience – how are you answering the call?

There are several opportunities to transform from “merchandise” people buy to a “mission” they believe in. For example, organizations can

– “Broadcast” uniformed information across multiple platforms

– Speak with their audience, not at their audience

– Enable current customers and followers to promote your brand

– Stay constantly visible to supporters in order to stay relevant

– Continually “tap” their audience to engage and incite interaction

– Understand how to respond to both positive and negative reviews

– Substantiate internal sales forces to increase creativity and productivity

– Establish trust and authenticity as a keystone of the brand

– Create a digital community in which followers want to visit

– Utilize social media platforms to their maximum potential

– Work with (not against) competitors to maximize profits

– Create a culture of confidence in their brand

There is no doubt that a digital migration is happening. The question most of the elite are looking to have answered is when to make the change…the answer is now, as in right now.

Join us on September 29th at 12 PM ET for our Soundview Live webinar titled “Think Like A Fan”.

How to Optimize Your Digital Footprint in a World Where Your Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset

LIVING ON THE GRID

Is your reputation ruined? Perhaps. And chances are great that if, indeed, insurance companies consider you uninsurable and potential employers consider you unemployable because of something in your digital “record,” you don’t even know it. Welcome to “The Reputation Economy,” the title of a new book by privacy experts Michael Fertik and David Thompson. The theme of The Reputation Economy is that soon, if not already, people know everything there is to know about you — and thus have enough “information” to define your reputation and take steps accordingly.

The Internet’s potential to hurt your reputation is not necessarily new. Clearly if your arrest makes the local newspaper, your name has been indelibly besmirched in hyperspace — but then it’s already been ruined in your community. What the digital age has changed in this example is the breadth of the impact — from your small town to, essentially, the world.

The future Reputation Economy, however, is not about general public information such as newspaper reports. Fertik and Thompson describe a 1984 world that watches every single move you make on the Internet. As they explain, “Massive digital dossiers are being developed on every individual, right down to the websites you visit and the links you click on. There is even a fast-growing underground economy of archives and data-storage sites that quietly collect records of trillions of online activities, often just waiting for someone to figure out a way to make use of all that data.”

And numerous websites are finding ways to make use of that data. Spokeo.com mines government records and address databases and makes them available. Klout goes even further, analyzing social media to determine a score on how much influence you might have. Despite some setbacks (notably Klout’s scoring Justin Bieber above Barack Obama), scoring sites are bound to become more numerous and more sophisticated.

The growth of all of these reputation scoring sites, the authors write, will inevitably culminate in “reputation engines.” “Instead of searching for Web pages with relevant information about a particular topic,” the authors write, “reputation engines will search the massive databases of personal information to return all of the relevant information about a person — or find a person who meets a set of criteria.”

It is impossible, according to the authors, to avoid becoming fodder for such reputation engines. “There’s no way to ‘live off the grid’ online,” the authors write. “The reputation engines of the future won’t have an easy opt-out mechanism, and we will all participate whether we like it or not.”

So, what to do? In essence, the authors recommend a “you can’t beat them, so join them” strategy. Don’t try to get off the grid. First, it’s nearly impossible. Even if you don’t have a Facebook page, your friends do and they’re posting pictures of you. And there will always be government records, and a variety of other digital trails of your existence.

Instead of trying to get off the grid, the authors write, it’s better to take charge of your reputation by carefully curating the information on the Internet. As with an art-exhibit curator who selects the pieces in the art show, curating your information on the Internet refers to selecting the “items” you want to highlight. For example, if there’s a picture of you and your sales team receiving an award for sales team of the month, post it. Curating also means avoiding the negative. For example, don’t use social media to insult others, the authors warn. You’ll be the one hurt in the long run. “By carefully curating and highlighting positive information — successes at work, trust among friends, a positive social life and more — you can flood the computers and scoring systems with the type of information you prefer.”

Fertik is the CEO and founder of Reputation.com. Thomas is the chief privacy officer of Reputation.com. In short, the authors of The Reputation Economy are in the business of privacy. For the majority of the reading public, who may be only dimly aware of the breadth and depth of intrusion allowed by the Internet of today — and even less aware of what awaits on the horizon, The Reputation Economy offers vital advice on how to protect yourself from harm. And even better, according to the authors, anyone can turn the threats of the reputation economy into opportunities.

The Art of Social Media

HOW TO LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA

Perhaps in a few years, as the leadership of companies is taken over by a generation that grew up with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the myriad of other current and future social media channels, there may be less need for books such as Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users. Kawasaki, the former chief evangelist for Apple and author of the highly popular book on entrepreneurship, The Art of the Start, joins forces with co-author Peg Fitzpatrick, a social media strategist, to produce a short yet surprisingly exhaustive primer on the vast variety of tools and processes that individuals and companies can use to leverage their social media efforts.

Feeding the Content Monster

“The biggest daily challenge of social media is finding enough content to share,” Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick write. “We call this ‘feeding the Content Monster.’”

There are two ways to feed the content monster, according to the authors: content creation and content curation. Content creation is the traditional approach: writing copy, taking pictures and/or creating videos, and posting them. The problem is that such creation takes time, making it difficult to add more than two pieces of content per week to the page. Not enough, write the authors. The better approach, therefore, is content curation, which consists of finding high quality content from other people’s social media, then summarizing and sharing it on your page. The authors offer a list of 14 of their favorite curation and aggregation services that make it easy to find good content to curate. They do warn against too much straight sharing, which, they note, will “dull your personal voice and perspective.”

Moving from general to the specific, subsequent chapters range from how to perfect your posts, how to get more followers and how to respond to comments, to how to socialize events, how to run Google+ Hangouts on Air and how to rock a twitter chat.

One of the great strengths of this book is the succinctness of the advice offered. A chapter on “how to perfect your posts” exemplifies the authors’ cut-to-the-chase approach. One section, entitled “be visual,” argues that every single post should have a picture, graphic or video. You can be visual, the authors explain, by including a link to the original story or creating your own graphics, using a company called Canva. Taking a screenshot or “save as” picture from the source and adding it manually to your post is another option but could be legally tricky. The authors refer their readers to a University of Minnesota checklist to see if they are not breaking fair-use laws.

Opt for the E-Book Version

The Art of Social Media is available both as an e-book and in print. However, the University of Minnesota tip exemplifies the problem with the print book. There is no explanation of where to find the University of Minnesota checklist; instead, the words “the University of Minnesota provides a checklist” are underlined in the text, which signifies that it is a hyperlink in the e-book text. The book is crammed with such hyperlinks that will leave print readers frustrated, as these links substitute for examples.

The Art of Social Media is both comprehensive and succinct in its explanations of the myriad possibilities of social media. However, it is recommended to skip the print version and read the e-book.

Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype

YOUTILITY

MAKE THE MOVE FROM HYPE TO HELP

Marketing depends on being able to command your customers’ attention. Historically, the strategy for marketing rested on “top-of-mind awareness,” explains marketing consultant Jay Baer in his new book, Youtility. Top-of-mind awareness is predicated on companies putting their brand names in front of the consumer as much as possible.

A more recent marketing strategy is the concept of “frame-of-mind awareness.” In this case, the brand appears when the consumer is in the right frame of mind — that is, when he or she is ready to buy. Search engine optimization and a presence on specialized sites is key.

Inbound marketing, as this type of marketing is called, is important, Baer writes, but it’s only half the story. As social media starts to compete with websites and search engines, companies cannot rely only on frame-of-mind marketing to sustain them in the information age. Today, instead of using a search engine, someone with a new dog might ask for a vet recommendation from his or her Facebook friends. As a result, companies need to engage in what Baer calls “friend of mine” awareness; instead of saying, “I’m here,” they need to ask, “How can I help?”

Baer calls this helpfulness, Youtility. He writes, “Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers.”

Three Facets of Youtility

How do you translate the attitude of helping your customers into action? The first step, according to Baer, is to understand the three facets of Youtility:

  • Self-serve information. Unlike in the past, people today are used to researching the information they need rather than depending on the advice of professionals. To build loyalty, companies must help customers and prospects in their quest for self-serve information.
  • Radical transparency. Companies shouldn’t try to hide or distort information; prospects want to know the unfiltered details. Make it easier, not harder, for them to find information.
  • Real time relevancy. The information must be useful — not only today but, in the age of apps, useful at this very minute.

Blueprints to Create Youtility

Having established the three facets of Youtility as guiding principles, Baer then offers a step-by-step blueprint for “creating” Youtility. The first step, not surprisingly, is understanding customers’ needs. Baer urges companies to use the technology available today — including social chatter and web analytics — to determine exactly what needs customers are looking to fulfill through their purchases. Mapping customer needs to useful marketing is the next step and involves how to best convey the information. “Determining the optimal conveyance mechanism requires a level of research beyond understanding customer needs,” Baer writes.

The third step in creating Youtility is to market your marketing. In other words, promote the useful information your company is pulling together. If you have an app, make sure the app is promoted on your website, describe the app in your email marketing and even create a related YouTube video. The fourth step is to insource Youtility, which refers to getting a wide variety of employees involved in the “useful information” effort. Whether this involvement is voluntary, assisted, mandatory or even circumstantial depends on the situation.

A Process, Not a Project

Baer also urges companies to “make Youtility a process, not a project.” Youtility must be an ongoing program for a number of reasons, including shifting customer needs as well as technology advances, he writes. Finally, companies need to keep score; they should use different categories of measurement — including consumption and sales metrics — to gauge the effectiveness of the effort. Admittedly, the return on investment may not always be easy to calculate.

Baer’s book is a detailed, very well-organized manual for adapting marketing to the parameters of today’s world of information avalanche. At the beginning of the book, Baer writes, “If you sell something, you make a customer today. If you help someone, you make a customer for life.” Youtility will help guide you in making more customers for life.

Book Review: Can’t Buy Me Like

by Bob Garfield and Doug Levy

by Bob Garfield and Doug Levy

The perplexing state of the business landscape is beautifully summed up by journalist Bob Garfield and strategic consultant Doug Levy in their new book Can’t Buy Me Like: How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results. They write that the current era “is a confounding paradox: an economic revolution that in one critical aspect takes us backward.” Social media and other digital tools enable any business to reach tens of millions of people. Capturing the attention and purchasing power of those individuals in large quantities remains an almost unapproachable mountain for the majority of businesses. In the recently released Soundview Executive Book Summary of Can’t Buy Me Like, Garfield and Levy offer a better method to grow your business in the age they call the “Relationship Era.”

The Relationship Era is the product of four major forces as outlined by Garfield and Levy: the collapse of mass media, the increase of transparency, the rise of social connectivity and the primacy of trust. Garfield and Levy provide extensive insight into the workings of the relationship era. They then guide readers through a multi-step process to navigate the Relationship Era and create a productive interaction between a company and its supporters.

Garfield and Levy call this process “The Shift.” They describe it as “the shift from mass to micro, the shift from top-down to bottom-up and the shift from traditional marketing to purposeful marketing.” Can’t Buy Me Like also signals a critical, positive shift of its own, a shift to a philosophy of authenticity in how a business engages its online audience. Hopefully, executives of organizations big and small will take notice. The summary is an excellent place to start the conversation.

Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?

THE IMPACT EQUATION

AN EQUATION FOR SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS

Bloggers Chris Brogan and Julien Smith burst onto the publishing scene in 2009 with their social media marketing best-seller Trust Agents. They return with a new book, The Impact Equation, which delves deeper into how to be heard and noticed in an age when everyone is connected.

Brogan and Smith know their subject. As the authors explain: “Anyone can write a blog post, but not everyone can get it liked 40,000 times on Facebook and not everyone can get 75,000 blog subscribers. We’ve done these things, but it isn’t because we’re special. It’s because we tried and failed… We tried again and again, and now we have an idea how to get from point A to point B faster because of it.”

How to CREATE

The authors’ secret to getting from Point A to Point B is encapsulated in the equation:

Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E)

The “C” stands for Contrast, which is another way of saying positioning or differentiation. A successful contrast, according to the authors, offers both similarity and a noticeable difference.

The “R” stands for Reach, that is, how many people you connect with in as many channels as possible. At the heart of reach is your platform, which is basically, the authors write, “a combination of all the tools you use to reach others.”

The “E” stands for Exposure. This is a tricky area: Too much exposure and you just become more spam. The authors offer several strategies for building your exposure, including: start with like-minded people before trying to raise awareness; tell stories that make the buyer a hero; and help others first.

The “A” stands for Articulation. For the authors, the key with this attribute is to use small words and connect the dots.

The “T” stands for Trust. A prerequisite to successful impact is understanding why we trust others. Credibility, reliability and self-interest are the key elements that generate trust.

Finally, the “E” stands for Echo, which, the authors write, is the “feeling of connection you give your reader, visitor, or participant.” The best way to create this feeling of connection is to find common experiences and use these experiences to show people that you understand them.

Guiding Principles

The Impact Equation is divided into four sections that give a guiding set of principles for moving forward with your high-impact initiatives. First, begin with your goals, exactly what you are trying to accomplish. The next set of principles is built around the concept of ideas, and covers the Contrast and Articulation attributes. As mentioned above, platform, the next category of principles, is a key component of successful social media Reach and Exposure, while the attributes of Trust and Echo are grouped under network.

Every hour of every day around the world, people are striving to connect with each other. Most of them are no more than grains of sand on the beach, unnoticed by others. The Impact Equation offers solid advice from two veterans of the social media arena on how to break through.

Book Review: The Thank You Economy

by Gary Vaynerchuk

Upon picking up the Soundview Executive Book Summary of author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk’s book The Thank You Economy, one concept should leap out at readers. Vaynerchuk wants you to provide one-on-one attention to your company’s entire customer base. This sounds like a considerable challenge to companies whose customers number in the thousands or tens of thousands. The fact that he believes social media is the tool with which to accomplish the task may do little to lighten the burden of this challenge to the reader. However, as the audiences who attend his speeches would likely report, Vaynerchuk is quite persuasive in getting his point across.

The Thank You Economy isn’t a social media primer, for those readers fearing another business book that spends half its pages going over well-tread ground. Instead, Vaynerchuk uses a fascinating array of examples from companies of all sizes to demonstrate the right (and, in some cases, wrong) way to use social media to connect with customers. He also devotes a section of the book to the importance of building a social culture within the organization, a process that begins with executives. Decision-makers quickly realize that Vaynerchuk is arguing the critical importance of connecting with customers is not a responsibility to be passed down the line.

The word to which Vaynerchuk returns time and again in his book is “opportunity.” While he may be referring to social media as the opportunity your business can’t afford to miss, there are those who would point to his book as an opportunity for advancement unto itself. For that, Vaynerchuk certainly deserves a thank-you of his own.

To get your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of The Thank You Economy visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.

How Businesses Are Using Video

I recently ran across a great article written by Jimm Fox of One Market Media on the many business uses of video. I’ve listed his main categories below, and you can check out the full article for more details.

  1. Customer Reference – video helps with collecting and showing customer testimonials, case studies and interviews.
  2. Product & Service Promotion – companies use video for product presentations, demonstrations and reviews.
  3. Corporate – corporations provide their company overview, executive highlights, facility tours and more with video.
  4. Training & Support – video is the latest thing in employee training, sales presentations and maintenance support.
  5. Internal Communication – video is now being used for business plans, company achievements, event coverage, employee orientation and health & safety education.
  6. Marketing – video promotions can take the form of commercials, viral video, content marketing and landing pages.
  7. PR/Community – video press releases are becoming more popular, along with video PR materials and community relation pieces.
  8. Events – at an event, presentations, roundtable discussions and Q&A with experts can all take place in video.
  9. Other – videos are also being used for recruitment, vlogs (video blogs) and research/surveys.

On the internet search side of the equation, research shows that a webpage with video is 30% more likely to end up on the first page of search results in Google then the same page without video. Google is now giving preference to video content in their search algorithm.

At Soundview, we are following this trend carefully, and have expanded our own offerings to include video. Our iPad format of each business book summary includes a video introduction from our Editor-in-Chief Sarah Dayton.  We now produce Executive Insights, a series of videos which interview active executives regarding key business skills. And we’re developing additional video content to be released soon.

Video increases engagement time, deepens emotional connections, and gives your company more trust and credibility with your customers and other stake-holders. And the cost of entry is becoming less every day with new technologies and web tools. If your company or organization is not currently using video, now is the time to jump in.

Trends in Customer Service

As social media has taken hold in all areas of business, and as the mobile device has become our primary vehicle of communication and interaction with companies, this phenomenon has brought with it a resurging emphasis on customer service.

The reasons are obvious. Now when I’m not happy with a company’s service, I have more options than calling them or filling out a survey. I can now post my complaint on Facebook to all my friends, Tweet about it to my followers, and even put together a video for Youtube. Viral complaints are the new catastrophe looming over company executives. Just ask United Airlines.

So it’s no surprise that business authors have caught on to this trend and are highlighting those companies that do customer service right. Here are just a few recent titles:

Among the lessons that companies are learning is that they must keep their finger on the pulse of social media. Someone needs to constantly monitor the major social media networks for mentions of their respective company and products. In this way catastrophes can be averted by a quick response to any issue that arises. Ford, PepsiCo and Southwest Airlines are among those companies with staff dedicated to monitoring social sites and handling issues as they come up.

Do you have stories about companies that have handled (or mishandled) customer issues aired through social media? If so, we’d love to post your stories with this blog. Please comment below.