Twitter - Lead Generation Workshop

If you are in business, you know how important quality, targeted leads are to your continued growth.

On August 11, 2009 at 7pm, I will be teaching a workshop in Fort Worth on how to use Twitter to generate qualified leads, for free.

Twitter can help you get visitors to your website, build relationships with your prospects, build a personal or company brand, and create "buzz" online.

The workship will be held at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center located:
1150 South Freeway, Ste 106
(Corner of Rosedale & I35W)
Fort Worth, TX 76104

The cost will be only $50 (this will be the last workshop at this price) and the class will last two hours.

Bring your laptop if you have one, as there will be free wifi (although it is not necessary to have a computer with you).

Here's what you will learn:
  • How to set up and use a Twitter account.
  • How to build a following strategically by targetting Twitter users by location or by specifics keywords.
  • How to create a personal brand and use Twitter to become a recognized expert in your field.
  • Shortcuts and tools that will minimize the time you have to spend in front of your computer.
  • How to lead your Twitter followers to visit your website and opt-in to your email list.
  • Why giving free information is the key to success on all social media.
  • Other business benefits you can gain from using Twitter.

How to register for the workshop?

Send me an email at
Be sure to mention "Twitter Workshop" in the subject line of your email.

If you are on Facebook, you can also register at:

Seating is limited, so be sure to register as soon as possible.

If you like this article:

COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

7 Great Resources For Using Facebook as a Business Tool

Facebook has grown on me.

It took a while for me to "get" Facebook and understand how I can use it to grow a business. But as time has passed, I have come to appreciate it as a truly awesome marketing tool with application for any organization and any movement.

Part of my growing understanding is the recognition that social media is all about creating or engaging with groups.

Groups are THE secret to creating success with social media. Instead of the old style approach of sending a message to an audience, group marketing involves energizing others to work with you to spread the word. (Notice I didn't say "your word" because a group adopts the message and makes it its own.)

A group can be your fans who tell others about you, or it can be people you lead on a mission to achieve a goal.

Seth Godin has a marvelous quote in his book Tribes that says it all:
In Permission Marketing, years ago, I wrote about how marketers must earn the right to deliver anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them. And that's still correct, as far as it goes.

But tribes go much further. That's because in addition to the messages that go from the marketer or the leader to the tribe, there are the messages that go sideways, from member to member, and back to the leader as well.

Groups exist because people want to belong and do. They want to get involved with your message and help spread it (but remember, along the way it becomes their message).

Facebook is the ultimate tool for engaging, cultivating, nurturing and empowering tribes or groups online.

With that said, here are seven great resources for using Facebook as a business building tool by empowering tribes:
  1. Top Ten Tips For Creating BUZZ With Facebook Events. Tribes need events and this piece by Mari Smith shows how to create buzz for an event. Even if you are not the sponsor of this event, and EVEN if you cannot attend this event.

  2. How To Manage Your Facebook Relationships With Friend Lists. Nick O'Neil has written this very helpful article on how to organize your friends on Facebook. Just a very helpful piece.

  3. Attraction Marketing Facebook Strategy. This is a very effective video about how to use Facebook groups to generate leads and build relationships with the people who "friend" you.

    Note: This video is designed for building an MLM business, but frankly the approaches is so brilliant that I believe ANY business can benefit from it. So if you can overlook any prejudices you may have about network marketing, you will still get a lot of benefit from this video.

  4. The Facebook Marketing Toolbox: 100 Tools and Tips to Tap the Facebook Customer Base. This is just a wealth of information about the many business applications of Facebook. It is practically a library of articles and tools that you can use.

    I especially like the section of links entitled, "Free Marketing Opportunities."

  5. Share Your Favorite Marketing Tips and Ideas. This is a group that I started designed for marketers to share their ideas and tips with one another. It's a new group, so it's still getting started (but this is my blog, so I wanted to include it).

    I encourage you to join and participate by sharing your favorite marketing ideas. I'd like to see this become a vital tribe built on helping one another.

  6. 32 Ways to Use Facebook for Business. Meryl Evans has compiled a very helpful list of ways a Facebook beginner (or someone just starting to use Facebook for business) can benefit from using it.

  7. Top Ten Tips For Promoting An Event On Facebook. Another great article by Mari Smith, that takes you by the hand and shows you how to set up an event on Facebook and then how to promote your event. I just keep wondering how Mari keeps coming up with all these great ideas.

Bonus Article: How To Create and Promote Your Facebook Fan Page. This is yet ANOTHER Mari Smith article about creating and promoting fan pages (not personal accounts) for your business. (Maybe I should have just dedicate this whole piece to Mari).

If you like this article:

COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

Build Your Marketing List For Free

How expensive is it to build your marketing list?

No one disputes that a good list is the most valuable asset any business can have. Your list can generate more and more sales for you. Over time it can be more valuable than advertising, or any other way you might be using to bring in new business.

BUT, building that list often involves spending a lot of money. Many marketers spend sizeable amounts on PPC advertising, or engage in expensive joint ventures. However there is a way to build your marketing list for free.

First, imagine you know a marketer who makes a lot of money because she has built a large, very targeted list of prospects. This list consistently produces sales everytime this marketer contacts her list.

Now suppose you ask that marketer if you could copy her list for your own use? Obviously that is not likely to happen. A business person with a good list knows to protect that list at all cost.

But there really is a way to copy a top marketer's list, sort of.

On Twitter all you have to do is find some of the rock stars in your field of interest. Typically these are the most well-known names and who have massive respect - and lots of followers.

Notice that all of their followers are available to you to look at. On Twitter, a person's followers are open to all.

Just follow the people who follow the rock stars. Why? Because the people who follow the rock stars do so because they are interested in the same things the stars are talking about. This is a targeted list.

And because you also talk about the same things, there is no reason they won't follow you as well.

So follow these followers. As a rule of thumb, about 33% to 50% of the people you follow will follow you in return. Now your job is to build relationships with these people.

Here is a very important point:
The real success of a marketing list is not simply the names and contact information of certain people. It is also vital that these people come to know, like and trust you. "Borrowing" someone else's list will not enable you to duplicate their results, because that person has also built relationships with these people.

Your job is to provide as much or more good, quality information as the rock star. Build a relationship with these people and gently lead them to visit your blog and ultimately to opt in to your email autoresponder.

How do you do this? By being a friend. By being generous. By providing value. By giving them problem-solving information. By educating the people on "your" list.

Borrowing someone else's list is just the start. It will help you find targeted followers, but it is up to you to make them know, like and trust you.

And that's how you build your list for free using Twitter.

If you like this article:

COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

20 Excellent Articles on Social Media Marketing

  1. Tweetable Eats: What Street Vendors Can Teach Big Business About Twitter Ann Handley has written an excellent article on how the smallest of small businesses are doing some really innovative things with Twitter marketing, and what the biggest of big businesses can learn from them.

  2. 10 Really Tangible Ways To Measure Social Media Success Most businesses know they should be using social media, but the whole thing sounds a little too touchy feely for them.

    This article shows how to derive hard data and measure actual results from your social media efforts.

  3. 30+ More Ways to Create Twitter Groups One of the givens of social media is that it is all about groups. Smart marketers find their way into groups and becoming part of the culture. Once in, the job is to then build relationships by being transparent, informative and generous. In other words, build social capital.

    But it is also possible to create groups. This article shows how to create groups on Twitter.

  4. The Facebook Marketing Toolbox: 100 Tools and Tips to Tap the Facebook Customer Base If you are looking for a whole library of information on how to use Facebook, this is the place to look.

  5. 5 Things Your Social Media Expert Should Know Anyone can put "Social Media Expert" on their business cards and make big claims. But how do you really know who can help your business? This article shows you how.

  6. The Use of Social Media to Increase Social Capital This is just an interesting article on how social capital works and how to build it.

  7. Build Your Mailing List with Downloads The money is still in the list. Your list of people who entrust you with their email addresses in order to receive information from you, is your most valuable assett. This article has some great ideas on how to attract opt-in subscribers.

  8. The 7 Benefits of Online Customer Service Communities A lot of talk about social media focuses on marketing. But what about customer service?

    This article explores some of the experiences some companies have had from implementing customer service groups

  9. 9 keys to the perfect corporate blog What good is a blog that is simply used to disseminate the same talk you find in press releases? In other words, what good is a boring blog?

    Make your blog interesting (or even fun). According to one source quoted in this article: "The purpose of using blogs and social media for businesses is to build up a community around a product or service." Don't always be spouting off your company's talking points. Engage readers and ask for their ideas as well.

  10. 10 Steps to Social Media Success This article compiles the branding and social media insights and ideas from various speakers at the recent event: "Brand Exposure: Practical Strategies in Social Media".

    Among the speakers are Tara Hunt, author of The Whuffie Factor, Faris Yakob, Ian Schafer and Paul Worthington.

  11. Spread Your Wings- Get More Retweet Action Today Having your messages retweeted is the viral component of Twitter. Not only has your tweet gone out to the people who follow you, they now go out to the followers of the person who found it compelling enough to retweet it.

    Chris Brogan offers some straight forward advice on how to get more of your messages retweeted.

  12. Brand or Be Branded I recently wrote about this article in my post, Why Personal Branding is All About Creating Content. Today it is simply a given that recruiters and H.R. specialists will Google any job candidate at some point during the hiring process. What they find, or don't find, will not only impact whether you get a job offer, it will also be a huge factor in whether you even get an interview.

  13. Confused About Twitter? Just Be An Information Resource This is one of my own articles on this blog, and it is one of the links I most often send to people who have questions about how to use Twitter as a marketing or personal branding tool.

  14. 5 essentials for social media marketing All too often I've heard people talk about social media as if it is an easy fix for a company's marketing problems. While I do believe almost any company can gain from using these tools, they must be used strategically. Before realizing any benefit, an organization must understand how social media works and how to best use it to reach an intended audience.

  15. 15 Business Benefits of Using Twitter For those who scratch their heads and say, "But how can I help my business in just 140 characters?" this is just a very good list of how Twitter can create more traffic, attract more new clients, become a channel for learning more about your customers, etc.

  16. This Twitter Post a Long Time in Coming This is just a great little essay on Twitter that delves into the human behavior that has made it successful and that also poses its biggest problems. It is a great read.

  17. Giving Away Your Expertise IS Your Competitive Advantage I've already mentioned that social media is a tool, not a strategy. In most cases, the strategy is to deliver quality, free content in order to create a following. This article is another display of Joe Puzilli's insights into why giving away your ideas and information makes absolute business sense.

  18. 7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work It's hard to think of a greater treasure trove of great information than Copyblogger. This is just a great article on why list articles are so effective in gaining readers, traffic and, ultimately customers.

  19. 10 Stunning (And Useful) Stats About Twitter Some really interesting information about Twitter and its impact on our world.

  20. Casting a Digital Shadow; Your Reputation Precedes You This is another article on personal branding that shows why creating content is so essential to having an impact on the web.

If you like this article:

COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

8 Ways to Differentiate and Move Past Your Competition

I was re-reading some of my older material and found this article I wrote in 2006. If I do say so myself, it isn't bad and it has some insights you may find helpful, even if it is about marketing in general and not necessarily about web marketing. I hope you find it worthwhile:

Jack Trout succinctly says, "Price is often the enemy of differentiation." Unfortunately, price is also the easiest thing for lazy marketers and copywriters to brag about.

The trap, of course, is that unless you have the muscle of a WalMart, you will eventually lose every price war. Competitors don't usually play dead, so they will come back and advertise even lower prices, forcing you both into a death spiral of price cutting.

But differentiation, despite the fact that it requires creativity and work, allows you to side-step the price war. Here is a list of triggers I use to come up with ways to differentiate a product or service:

  1. Start by focusing on your non-price benefits. Does your product or service save money? Does it makes someone's life or work easier? Does it improve how others regard that person?

  2. Single out the most "beneficial benefit." Of all your benefits, which one will make the biggest positive difference in someone's life?

  3. Approach your product or service from the viewpoint of your prospective customer or client. Make a very long list that begins with the words, "This widget is for the person who wants ____."

  4. Now make a companion list that is about, "This widget is for the person who does not want ____." Don't worry if both your "want" and your "don't want" lists overlap. It is OK if some items on your lists are mirror images of each other. You never know whether the positive "want" or the negative "don't want" version will resonate with your buyers. In fact, some customers will connect with one and others will connect with the other, so don't close any doors.

  5. Make another list of every problem your product or service solves. View what you offer as the solution to someone's problem.

  6. Everything that has ever been written on the subject of business success can be summed up with the words of J. Paul Getty, "Find a need and fill it." What is your market crying out for? What needs are not being filled by your competitors already?

  7. Don't claim to be the "best," the most "experienced," or even that you've been in business since 1776. These things don't differentiate since everyone claims to be the best in some way. Your message will just get lost in all the noise. But you can specifically explain WHY you are the best, if you can give examples and evidence without using the word "best" or any similar words. For example, if you are working on a copywriting assignment for a hotel chain, explain in detail the step-by-step process your staff follows to make sure every room is immaculately clean. Contrast this to the steps your competitors take. Now you are saying your rooms are the cleanest without using those words. Follow the copywriters: Golden Rule: Don't tell them, SHOW them.

  8. Ask questions. As anyone who has ever been watching TV and had a small child come up and ask a question can verify, questions have the ability to interrupt our thoughts and pull them in a different direction. Brainstorm as many questions you can pose directly to readers in your ads, website or sales letters that will single out your most exceptional benefits. Here are some examples: "How long are you going to wait until you move into your dream home?" Or, "What can you do right now to help your child get better grades in school?" Haven't you settled for second-class service long enough?"

It takes hard work to differentiate your product or service, but the rewards can be great. When you are unique and different (in a good way) the market pays attention to you.

You can't win the game of competing on price. At least not for long. But you can win if you stand for something no one else stands for. Differentiation is a winning game.

COPYRIGHT(C)2006, Charles Brown. All rights reserved.

If you like this article:

Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

Personal Branding: Building a Parachute or an Escape Hatch?

I just read a very interesting article this last week by Mark Glaser, called Personal Branding Becomes a Necessity in Digital Age. In it, Glaser builds a strong case for employees taking time to build their own personal brands even while building their empoyers' brands.

The first example he cites is that of Scot Karp, director of digital media for Atlantic Magazine, who was chosen as one of the 40 most influential people in publishing. He was not selected because of his work for Atlantic, but because of his own personal blog, Publishing 2.0, in which he writes about how technology is changing the publishing industry.

According to Karp:
"My blog became resume, business card, references, network all in one," Karp told me. "I would go to conferences, meet people, and find they already 'knew' me through my blog -- an odd but useful form of micro-celebrity."

There is no doubt that having a quality blog - or for that matter even a Facebook page, a Google Profile or a site to post your portfolio of work - is an essential tool in an age in which job security is a figment of one's imagination. The more content, or body of work, one can make available online, the more security one can create.

I call these sites "Basecamps" because they are like owning a personal piece of online real estate. Such a place can (and should) supercede a resume because they are mini-libraries of one's work, knowledge and ideas. They can demonstrate to prospective employers or clients that you are an expert in a certain niche.

But just as importantly, these basecamps are places in which you can build a following. They are networking springboards that give you entrance into the most exclusive clubs in your field.

But can one build a personal brand without detracting from your employer's brand?

As you might imagine, opinons on this question vary. Some organizations are threatened by an employee blogging about their industry, specifically when the firm's name is mentioned from time to time.

The fear is that the personal brand might overshadow the company's brand. Or worse, that the employee will build a personal brand at the expense of the company's brand.

Another fear is that the employee is building their escape from the company rather than a parachute in case something disrupts the company or the individual's careeer.

The reality is that the more a person builds a personal brand, the more options they have. Which to some organizations is perceived as a threat. These are companies who still rely on the sweatshop mentality that likes it better when an employee cannot leave and find better opportunities elsewhere.

That is not to say there are not some very enlightened firms out there as well. Some of these realize that having high profile people on the team adds to the organization's own profile.

Professional services firms like law firms have long embraced having their partners mentioned in their industry's directory, such as Martindale Hubbell which profiles top lawyers along with mentions of their published articles in the field.

But in the end, it is up to the employee to establish the game plan and ground rules for building a personal brand:
  • NOT building a personal brand is NOT an option. Relying on one employer to see your career through to retirement is a particularly painful form of career suicide.
  • Become an expert in some area of your work. The more knowledge and ideas you have, the more valuable you are to your employer.
  • Demonstrate that expertise with a blog, or at least some other type of basecamp.
  • Build a following. Use tools like Twitter and other social media to get the word out about each new bog post, each time you speak to a group or each time your name is mentioned in the media.
  • Don't expose your company's dirty laundry. Don't use your platform as a way to vent about company policy or your idiotic boss. It won't help your brand and it could only makes you look small. Not to mention the fact that it could wreck your career.
  • Use your blog as a basis to form contacts in your industry. Interview other experts, and cite articles in industry trade publications.
  • Build up your own company whenever you can. Without being a shill, find ways to make your firm look good whenever you can.

If you like this article:

COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

How NOT to Handle a Social Media Disaster - United Breaks Guitars

I wasn't going to write a post about the YouTube video by Canadian musician, Dave Carroll: United Breaks Guitars. It seemed that everything that could be said about this world wide rave has already been said. But I think the latest news angle on this story is in how United Airlines has failed to respond to this social media tidal wave.

For those of you who may not have heard about this viral phenomenon, Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell, were traveling to Nebraska and had a stop over at Chicago O'Hare. While on the tarmac, they witnessed United ground crew throwing guitars on the ground. Carroll tried to bring the matter to the attention of three United employees who couldn't be bothered.

Later he discovered that his $3500 Taylor guitar was damaged, but when he tried to get United to pay for repairs, he was given the run around for nine months and then finally told that the airline would not compensate him for the damage. They did not even offer him the old standby of travel vouchers.

So Carroll wrote a song about his plight and posted a video on YouTube. Even though he posted on the day of Michael Jackson's memorial service, it has now received almost 3 million hits and tens of thousands of comments both favoring Carroll and rebuking United.

Clearly this has been a public relations disaster for United, but what I find particularly telling is how the company has failed to mitigate its black eye with a suitable social media response.

Many bloggers have written about the video and almost all of their posts have received dozens of comments. These comments represent the tip of the iceberg because many of these people have shared their own airline horror stories. This means that for every blog post and every news article about this story, there are many passengers who have faced the same sort of contempt from airlines.

Yet even though United has now been forcibly shown the power of ordinary people in the age of social media, it has to date only posted a single "tweet" on Twitter to address this nightmare.

One of the bedrock principles of public relations is that bad news must be responded to. If the response requires humility and contriteness, so be it. If it requires admissions of error, it is better to bite the bullet than to allow a vacuum.

The airline has not posted any mention of the video on its own website, nor has it responded by posting a humble, contrite video on YouTube. It has posted a paltry number of responses through traditional public relations channels, claiming "Mr. Carroll’s experience 'an anomaly, not the norm,'" but has not used Twitter (other than the single response mentioned earlier), no blog articles, no videos, no nothing.

There are several lessons to be learned from this situation:

  1. Every customer now has the power to embarrass a large company and bring it to its knees. Anyone with an internet connection can expose your dirty laundry.
  2. Customer service is more important than ever. Companies can no longer just give it lip service while at the same time failing to empower customer service reps to solve problems, or by shipping their jobs to India.
  3. Customer service reps still tend to be the lowest paid / most overworked employees in most organizations, even though they hold a company's future in their hands.
  4. Customer service reps' job performance are measured by things like the number of calls handled, and "talk time," which put pressure on them to get callers off the phone quickly, rather than to solve their problems.
  5. Top executives have not set up direct lines of communications so they can be attuned to what customer feedback comes into their companies. (I argue that every CEO should have a PERSONAL blog, and that blogging should be a Non-Delegateable duty).
  6. Fix problems quickly.
  7. More than ever, complaints are opportunities, not aggravations to be swept under the rug. The real test of a quality company is not that problems never happen, but that when they happen they get dealt with.

If you like this article:

COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

Why Content Marketing is Taking Over Advertising Dollars

I am officially a dedicated fan of Joe Pulizzi, co-author of the ingenious book, Get Content - Get Clients.

Earlier this month he wrote a thoughtful blog post called, "The Decline of Advertising and the Rise of Content Spending" about how more companies anticipate reducing their advertising expenditures in favor of creating content.

It stands to reason that content will be at the heart of what smart companies will be doing. Buyers are less tolerant of being sold to and are more self assured in their abilities to seek out information about what they want to buy.

Easily 80% of us now go online to gather information before making a large purchase. Moreover, many of us actively set up roadblocks for traditional marketing tactics such as TiVo to skip over commercials on TV or caller ID to screen our telephone calls. Add to that our brains' inherant ability to filter out messages that seem unimportant to us (How many billboards did you drive by today? And how many of them did you notice?).

It is no wonder then why companies are backing away from traditional advertising. It simply no longer gets the results it once did. It now costs more and more dollars to attract fewer and fewer customers with advertising.

But content - meaning information that solves problems, answers questions, helps us to accomplish what we want to accomplish or get to where we want to go - does get our attention. And content will, if done right, get better results than advertising.

While advertising may be in decline, Joe points out two areas that are expected to grow: Use of Social Media as a marketing strategy and Search Engine Optimization to help visitors find your information.

Regarding the first option, I can't possibly put it better than Joe: "Social media doesn't work without relevant, valuable and consistent content."

Social media without quality content is like making a telephone call and having nothing to say once you get the other person on the line.

SEO of course is also driven by content. This is what Google and the other search engines pick up to determine if your site fits the needs of a searcher's query.

What many companies have not yet figured out, according to Joe, is how much content actually costs and how to measure the results of content marketing.

There seems to be a very unrealistic expectation that creating content can be had on the cheap. I can personally attest to this based on when I wrote web content. My prospective clients ALWAYS displayed sticker shock when I quoted my fees, even though I was far from expensive. There seemed to be the assumption that content creation was a matter of waving a magic wand or something.

Then too was the issue of actually measuring how much content added to the bottom line. Here, Joe provides some really good ways to establish sound metrics.

The real lesson here is that content marketing is a strategy replacing an older strategy. It requires a whole new re-thinking of the business model.

Content marketing will be successful IF it is useful information and focuses not on the company, but on the buyer. Do you REALLY know what your buyers want and need? Do you know what problems they must solve? Do you know what pain they are experiencing that you can remove?

Without this information, your content is destined to fail. I am always struck by how much of most marketing messages are simply bragging about the lowest levels of expectiations. Home builders brag that they build "quality" homes. Shouldn't quality be a given? Shouldn't that be the least that a builder delivers? Isn't that like saying "We meet your minimum expectations."

Or my personal favorite is a local (Dallas - Fort Worth) law firm that brags that they are the litigation firm to choose when "The results really matter." Uh, ... if I have to go to court, doesn't that assume the results really matter?

It is precisely this kind of fluff that is the cause of the decline in the effectiveness of advertising. This is why 80% of us go online before making a significant purchase. We all go through an "information-gathering" stage at some point in our buying process.

And marketers who understand this will be the ones who succeed with content marketing. Those who don't will see no better results than they are getting from their advertising.

If you like this article:

COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

20 Marketing Ideas to Get Your Business Moving Forward

Need more ideas to give your marketing efforts a shot in the arm? Here are some ideas to get your marketing efforts moving forward:

  1. Develop "free samples" of your service. Usually the best samples are written or recorded information. Write a tip sheet or a short list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). Record a speech you give to a local organization. Record a short 2-3 minute video of yourself standing in front of a whiteboard talking about three or four bullet points of interest.

  2. Improve your existing advertising by writing ten new headlines for your newspaper or Yellow Page ads. Test these new headlines against your existing headlines in small classified ads. Measure the results and let the winner be the headline the next time you run a larger ad in the Yellow Pages or newspaper.

  3. Host a wine tasting or open house in your place of business. Invite several potential clients and prepare a short talk on a topic of interest to them. Use the tip sheets or free samples you prepared above to give to each attendee.

  4. Request testimonials from your best clients. Better yet, put these testimonials on video and load to your website and/or YouTube.

  5. Volunteer yourself and your employees to assist in a charitable cause. For example, your team could man the phones at the next public radio or television membership drive or help other organizations with fund raising.

  6. Join a new group. Select organizations that allow you to get involved and meet potential clients or networking contacts. Many a financial planner, CPA or lawyer has built a practice by volunteering for United Way as a fundraiser.

  7. Find non-competing businesses that serve the same client base as you. Approach these businesses about forming alliances and sharing referrals. Cross promote each other on your websites or other platforms.

  8. Sponsor a talk and invite a visiting expert on a topic of interest to your potential clients. Send out invitations and press releases to alert the media.

  9. Get in touch with ex-clients who no longer do business with you. Find out how you can help them and get their suggestions about how to improve your services.

  10. Sponsor a children"s club or sports team.

  11. Give an award for the "Best of ___." Use this award as a way to attract publicity.

  12. Create a profile of your ideal client. Then determine what groups these ideal clients are members of or what specialized publications they read. It is often easier to market to groups than it is to individuals. Find content in the form of information that solves problems, is interesting or helps achieve goals and use this content to attract these ideal clients.

  13. Find an online discussion group. is a search engine that specializes in discussion groups. Just read the conversations as they go back and forth for a while (this is called "lurking"). Then, after you have a feel for the personalities involved and the group's protocol, start adding your own input.

  14. Develop a "needs assessment" that you can use in new client interviews.

  15. Do a client survey to uncover your strengths and weaknesses. Make it clear that you are seeking honest and open comments and are looking for ways to improve.

  16. Become more active in your local Chamber of Commerce and other organizations that open up networking opportunities.

  17. Create a list of reference books and CDs you can recommend.

  18. Create a 21 word description of your business that clearly tells what you do, who you do this for, and what makes you distinctive. This is your "elevator speech" that can be used on your marketing materials, press releases and given to someone who introduces you at public speaking opportunities.

  19. Find barter organizations or set up barter relationships on your own. Not only can you reduce the cost of goods and services your business needs, you will gain new clients.

  20. Buy season tickets to a local sports team. If you take clients or give tickets to people you do business with, they will be tax deductible and fun as well.

Get busy today and build a fire under your business. Do something, get out there and watch your business grow.

If you like this article, follow me on Twitter.
Facebook me!

NOT USING NON-SPAM EMAIL MARKETING FOR YOUR BUSINESS YET? Learn why email marketing is the easiest, most effective and most affordable way to get new clients. Download my free ebook and receive tips, ideas and case studies to help you get more new customers at
COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

What's Holding Your Brand Back From Success in Social Networking?

I just read a really great article in Marketing Profs Daily Fix called, A Brand's Largest Social Media Obstacle, by Samir Balwani, in which he makes the bold statement that the biggest thing holding most brands from truly engaging in social media is ... the brand itself.

Some of the reasons Balwani gives for why brands get in their own way when they try to plunge into social media are:
  • Just jumping into social media because that is what competitors are doing,
  • Cultures that strangle innovation and risk taking (social media marketing is ALL ABOUT RISK TAKING - it is a complete break from the old way of doing business),
  • Failure to allocate resources to the effort (especially failing to devote the time and people to do the work),
  • Resistance to humanizing itself (give your CEO a blog, let her listen to feedback, engage in real conversations with real people in the real world),
  • Failure to understand the company's own customers (Too often companies assume they already know the people who buy from them),

Jumping into social media requires that a brand, and the company, make some fundamental changes from the top down. The company must willingly become more transparent and be willing to engage in two-way conversations with the marketplace.

Wal-Mart, famous for its repeated failures in its social media experiments, is an example of a company that will not listen to outside criticism. When its Facebook campaign became full of conversations about its use of foreign sweatshops to make its products, the company just shut the site down.

Yes, their page was hijacked by those who objected to these practices, but the folks from Bentonville demonstrated all the candor and openness of Dick Chaney when asked about water boarding.

Dell is an example of the opposite mindset. Dell has made real efforts to listen (and improve) its quality standards based on the feedback it has received via social media. And its brand has benefitted accordingly.

Another Wal-Mart example: According to Tara Hunt, in her book The Whuffie Factor, Wal-Mart's first adventure into social media went like this:
Its first attempt in 2006 was a blog supposedly run by independent customers who were traveling across America. The blog characters, it was discovered, were faked and the content written by a public relations firm.

The backlash to the deception was severe, and Wal-Mart quickly pulled the blog off the internet.

But not content with learning a valuable lesson about the need for transparency when venturing into this new world, Wal-Mart again tried to use deception on social media. It created a site for kids called "The Hub," which one commentator said "had all the makings of a politician wearing a backwards baseball cap in a bid to win the youth vote."

But the worst thing Wal-Mart did was that it AGAIN tried to get away with creating false characters:
The company apparently tried propagating the site with fake profiles of hip kids wearing Wal-Mart gear. The dead giveaway was that the kids were talking about their Wal-Mart clothes in their profiles.

So how should a company use social media to promote its brand? Here are 7 ideas:
  1. Create TRUE case studies and feature stories about satisfied customers. When you get positive feedback, interview that person and either create a video or text story to post online.

  2. Showcase TRUE examples of your employees as heroes. When you learn that an employee has gone the extra mile to help a customer, USE THAT STORY and get the maximum exposure from it. Let customers see the human faces behind your company's brand.

  3. Educate customers with practical, "news you can use" content.

  4. Do good. Use social media to talk about any charitable causes your company or employees are involved in.

    One company learned that an average customer was about to lose her house to foreclosure due to a family illness and raised money to help this single individual. This is the kind of story social media was made for.

    Or use your social media site to raise money for a good cause or charity.

  5. Show your quality control standards. If you jump through hoops to produce a great product or deliver superior customer service, record a video of your process.

    Check out this article about how a beer company highlighted its quality control standards in its advertising.

  6. Listen to customers. Social media is a two-way conversation. Your customers will give you great ideas and feedback if you will listen.

  7. Drive traffic to your content. Once you create good content, make sure it gets noticed with social media. Attach links to blog articles, tweets, and Facebook updates.

If you like this article:

COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites

Why Personal Branding is All About Creating Content

I just re-read a great article by J.T. O’Donnell called, Brand or Be Branded (Are YOU Willing to Risk What Shows on the Top Fold?) in which she uses a case study of a college graduate who was unable to get a single job interview after months of trying.

After looking over both her resume and her cover letter, which O'Donnell deemed could be improved but were not so problematic that they were responsible for her stalled job search, the real problem turned out to be her web presence:
So, I decided to complete an Internet search on her – just as 4 out of 5 hiring managers do today. I put in her name and the school she graduated from. What popped up in the results shed some light. The #1 item in the results was her Facebook picture. It was a blurry photo of her in a sweatshirt and her eyes were closed. Okay, so it was nothing terrible, but it also wasn’t a powerful first impression.

And besides, what followed was much worse…

You see, her Facebook photo also happened to be the ONLY thing that popped up about her. Nothing related to school, nothing related to volunteering, nothing related to her field of study…absolutely nothing. In fact, the next 10 entries thereafter were for someone with the same name but different middle initial who currently writes a very open and direct blog about an alternative lifestyle subject.

So there you are, not only had this young graduate not bothered to put information about herself online, her own brand was being co-mingled with that of a person with the same name whose personal brand was somewhat questionable.

The solution is to add and create online content. Again quoting from the article:
Any person, at any age, at any time in their career can build a strong online career identity. The reality is you only need 5-6 good things to come up in a search so the top fold (the uppermost portion of the computer screen that shows the top search results) is filled with positive items about you.

O'Donnell then goes on to provide 4 very good tips for creating content that will flesh out one's online brand.

I am convinced that everyone who is serious about building a personal brand needs to make use of four tools: blogging, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

As I have previously written in my article, 38 Rules For Creating a Personal Branding Blog, a blog is almost a given for job seekers or people who need to become recognized experts in their fields.

That said, I realize as a practical matter that not everyone has the time or inclination to create their own blogs. One of O'Donnell's ideas provides a neat end around for having one's own blog. Her suggestion is posting frequent comments on blogs owned by others.

Thoughtful and insightful comments on blogs will gain an internet presence that in some cases may be used in place of one's own blog.

This still requires an active participation in the blogosphere. Find some worthwhile blogs that focus on topics you are both interested in and that will further your own brand.

However, this is only a substitute for having your own blog.

Imagine if this young graduate had written a blog on her field of interest for several months. It might still not raise her Google visiability significantly, but the link to this blog would have made a great addition to her resume.

A prospective employer would almost invariably look up the blog and find several articles that demonstrate her interest and understanding of her field. Can you imagine how that would have impacted her job search?

But what if you have something absolutely negative about your online profile?

Tara Hunt writes about such an example in her book, The Whuffie Factor. This is an all-too-common example of a young lady who foolishly allowed her boyfriend (and soon to be ex boyfriend) to come into possession of an erotic video of herself.

I almost don't need to finish this story because you already know that the ex posted her video online and it quickly became the very first thing to be found when someone conducted an online search for her. Talk about personal branding poison.

Getting such a video removed from the web is almost impossible. As soon as it is removed from one location, it is bound to pop up in three others. For most people this would be career poison.

Fortunately this young lady, although obviously foolish in her love life was pretty savy when it came to the internet. Her response was to create lots and lots of postive web content to overwhelm the negative video.

Before too long, the video was almost impossible to find online because of all the other information she posted about herself. Her strategy was that if she couldn't remove the video, she would just bury it.

So back to blogs. I firmly believe the day will come in which a blog will replace the old fashioned resume. It is the only true way to build a dominating personal brand online that will feature all your best ideas and insights. It is a place to show the world your expertise and get employers and clients knocking on your door. (Yes, I get several head hunter calls a week as result of this blog, and one day I might accept if the offer is good enough).

Facebook and MySpace. Is there a college student alive who doesn't have a Facebook (or MySpace) page? Yet, some parents and educators still oppose these sites.

A better approach would be instead of discouraging Facebook or MySpace pages, parents and educators should instead educate students that,like blogs, these sites can be showcases of one's skills, interests and preparation to enter the work place.

YouTube videos can not only rocket a person to the top of search engines, they can be used to create a better personal brand. In addition to recording the latest skateboard face plant, students could also record themselves giving white board tutorials on various serious topics.

Imagine a student taking a difficult economics class posting a series of tutorial videos about topics covered in the course. Not only would these videos help other students as they study the same material, they would also be very impressive to future employers.

All this holds true for working professionals who must market their services and expertise. Prospective clients are just as, if not more, likely to look you up online before deciding to do business with you.

This makes it vital to create conent to post online. Blog articles (yes, again), videos, comments on other blogs, a LinkedIn page, a Facebook page, etc. are all ways to build a personal brand online.

Creating content is only limited by one's creativity. There are so many ways to flood the web - and therefore one's online brand - with positive information about your knowledge, ideas and abilities.

If you like this article:

COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
Add to Onlywire
Add to Technorati Favorites