I have never been a big fan of tri-fold brochures that attempt to convince me that I should buy a particular product or sign up for a certain service. These marketing materials tend not to be persuasive enough due to the fact that information has been crammed into a limited space. The customer benefits are not always obvious, contrary to emotional appeal – nice images, unusual fonts and unique paper may catch my attention, but not for long.
White papers appeal more to me as they provide logic through facts, statistics and quotes from end users or industry experts. They are not flashy, but usually filled with facts. For me, they are much more informative. I consider writing a good white paper a real art form as the author has to be a good researcher, persuasive essayist and a marketer all at once. At the same time, a good balance between the right amount of facts, images, quotes and often industry terms has to be achieved. Case studies tend to focus on customer stories and testimonials whereas white papers add a touch of credibility through unbiased information.
High quality content is becoming increasingly important as people crave useful information and have access to growing number of information channels before making buying decisions. All marketing materials should educate; therefore, business people, especially marketers, need to become avid readers and dedicated students to continuously improve their skills. I am planning to master the art of writing effective white papers in 2010 to deliver quality leads for my own business and customers. I encourage you to do the same. Good content leads to good customers.
Some small businesses are hesitant to embrace social media. Blogging seems time consuming, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook scary or unknown. At the same time, old marketing strategies don’t seem to work any more.
Business owners may not always realize that they need to re-visit their marketing plan to create and adopt a marketing system to get results. The same principle can be applied to Social Media – do your research, learn from others and create a well thought-out Social Media Marketing Plan to implement your Social Media Marketing System and benefit from social networking.
During last couple of months I have been helping my clients research social networking opportunities for their organizations. They have been using Twitter and Facebook to listen and learn before they plan and create their own Social Media Marketing Systems. This is what we’ve learned:
Make Twitter a part of your marketing strategy. Create a Social Media Marketing System. Determine whether your business could use free social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook for market research, customer service and/or for reaching your target market.
Improve your professional skills by paying attention to what your competitors, potential clients and current customers are talking about. Then meet their needs.
Learn how to educate and inform your target audience. Share information about the articles, products and opportunities that your followers/fans may find useful.
Person handling tweets/posts/fan pages for your organization should be familiar with the web and web-based tools.
Make it your goal to become an “informer” who has the potential to be a “trust agent” – someone who is an expert and has an ability to influence other people.
Use each Twitter wisely. Listen first, then chime in.
Avoid words and phrases that may attract unwanted followers/fans.
100 loyal followers/fans/subscribers who look forward to reading your tweets/posts may be worth more than 1,000 random followers.
Learn to use Twitter/Facebook/Blogs as your company’s online reputation management tool.
Don’t waste your time if you don’t have a social networking strategy.
It takes Warren Bennis 480 pages to describe leadership, compare it to acting, and tie together the three pathways to becoming a great leader. Bennis, a UCLA management professor, has many stories to tell.
He points out that leaders have the ability to draw together a fragmented public, be it on the radio, television or in person.
Bennis quotes Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as he says, “Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” He cautions the reader not to assume these three paths get equal traffic.
Most leaders, he says, achieve greatness when a role requiring it is thrust upon them. Bennis compares leadership with show business again when he says actors and directors may feel a role is too big for them. It is a feeling many leaders are familiar with. But the leader’s leap into the unknown and accepting the risk of failure, is the first step in becoming great.
Like great actors, great leaders create and sell an alternative vision of the world, a better one in which we are an essential part. He says leadership may be “the greatest performing art of all, the only one that creates institutions of lasting value that can endure long after the stars who envisioned them have left the theater.”
The Essential Bennis by Warren Bennis and Patricia Ware Biederman, Jossey-Bass, 480 pages, April 2009.
Facebook gave us a way to find old classmates and renew friendships, find clients and share ideas.
Email has given us a way to quickly conduct business or send silly stuff to co-workers and friends.
So now we have IM, text messaging, friends on Facebook, and constant communication by 140 characters or less on Twitter.
All of this messaging is great as it is supposed to bring us closer to our friends and find new ones, but if we aren’t careful, these interactions can harm our real-life relationships. Columnist Elizabeth Bernstein quite recently said that she is experiencing Facebook fatigue because loved ones are sending so many photos of their children or parties, forwarding funky quizzes, and posting dozens of jokes. And they are tweeting about their whereabouts and what they are doing at the present moment.
To improve our daily interactions, Bernstein says: Before posting an item, ask yourself if it’s something you would want one of your contacts to send to you. Reward people by responding to interesting messages.
While private blogs can be platforms for political ranting, it can be considered poor form on Facebook to constantly post your political opinions.
I have been traveling quite a bit lately. I embrace these opportunities as there is always so much to learn from people who live in different parts of the world – frugality and resourcefulness from citizens of countries that have to get by with much less than people in the U.S, relaxed and easygoing attitude from a young man who lives in Brazil, efficient time management from German professionals and eloquence from British gentlemen.
I have witnessed different approaches to marketing and politics as well – pre-election Germany had a different feel than pre-election Estonia. Overall, it looked like Europeans had taken a low key approach,
people and governments are tightening their belts.
Just like people in different countries have different needs, so do small businesses. Product and service customization as well as getting to know your customer are both equally important, or you’ll miss the mark. We have so much to learn from each encounter with potential and current customers.