Maintaining work-life balance is a frequent theme in the modern world that is a direct result of incredible advances in personal technology and mass adoption of those tools. High availability to corporate networks break down the formal walls that once separated work from home. (more…)
I’m a huge fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and have been following his work for the better part of a decade. If you’re like most people, you might be thinking to yourself, “Who is Gary Vaynerchuk?” The short version: Gary took his family’s liquor store from $3M per year to over $60M per year by leveraging social media to establish himself as a leading expert in his field. (more…)
Last week I was in San Francisco to attend the 2014 PCBC event for home builders. While walking to the Moscone Center from Blue Bottle Coffee, I saw that the line was wrapped around Moscone and was worried I would be waiting hours to get in.
Turns out, the line was actually for the Google I/O conference which was being held in Moscone West, which is a different building altogether from where PCBC was taking place. I didn’t have a chance to keep up with the announcement’s coming from Google’s event until after it was over, but apparently, I didn’t miss much.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the conference has to do with what wasn’t discussed, rather than what did get announced. The two Google properties conspicuously absent from I/O: Google Glass and Google Plus.
Martin Beck, writing at Marketing Land touches on Google Plus and its infamous status as a virtual ghost town:
As one Google+ commenter put it, “We seem to know that G+ is no ghost town. It is more of a social referral graveyard.”
It’s a bit of a puzzle, really. Why don’t more people click through from Google+ to publishers’ content? It’s an important question, one for which we don’t have a definitive answer.
Perhaps Google+ users are content with the content on the network and don’t see the need to exit. Perhaps it’s more of a platform for conversation than consumption of news and entertainment links. Perhaps there aren’t enough loyal Google+ users spending enough time on the network to move the needle.
Source: Marketing Land
Image courtesy Wikimedia
Checking off one item on my bucket list, last week I had the sincere pleasure of seeing Gary Vaynerchuk speak live at PCBC 2014 in San Francisco. As usual, Gary covered a number of topics that are incredibly relevant to businesses everywhere. I want to highlight just a couple of those concepts here.
Gary Vaynerchuk is highly in demand as a speaker at business conferences, even though he regularly challenges the status quo. Plus, how often do you see an explicit content warning for a keynote speaker at a professional conference?
Stop being romantic about your company
In the clip below, from a previous talk, Gary tackles The Innovator’s Dilemma—the idea that once innovative companies lose their edge when they stop innovating. Businesses resting on their laurels, celebrating previous success, are ripe for disruption from others:
Most companies using social media act like a 19 year old dude…
…trying to close on the first transaction:
This is covered in much greater detail in Vaynerchuk’s latest book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World
Are you marketing in the year we live in?
One of the number one points that Gary makes—really the primary thesis of his talks—is that you have to go where your customers are. Perhaps more to the point, you have to go to where the customers you want to have are. In 2014, that means using social media. It means mobile, first. It means always looking to the horizon to find out what medium your (prospective) clients are heading to next.
The difficulty, of course, is justifying the time and money spent in such pursuits. This is the dreaded ROI of social media issue that so many marketers must unfortunately deal with. Here is a slideshow from Gary on the topic:
What’s the Point?
With his brother AJ, Gary has established an incredibly successful social and digital media marketing agency called VaynerMedia that caters primarily to large enterprise companies. VaynerMedia’s value proposition isn’t so much about the content produced, as much as it is helping brands understand the context within which it exists.
During the brief Q and A following Gary’s talk, one gentleman mentioned probably the number one topic on everyone’s mind. (PCBC is a builder’s convention, so everyone in the room is connected to the real estate/construction industry in some manner.) Here is roughly what he said:
Let’s say I want to connect with the president of Wells Fargo. I don’t think he is sharing what he ate on Twitter or SnapChatting away with his friends. So how am I going to reach him?
To which Gary replied, “what were you planning to do—take out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal hoping that he’ll see it?” Then Gary told a story about how he and the VaynerMedia team landed a multi-million dollar contract with an executive that was fairly old, and definitely not a big social media user. However, this executive’s children were active on social media and VaynerMedia targeted content at them with the hope that they would in turn share it with the old man.
The gentlemen in the audience asking the question then said to Gary, “that story was worth the price of admission for this whole conference,” and then walked away.
Gary Vaynerchuk on stage at PCBC 2014
In discussing websites, blogs, and professional branding with many of the professionals and business leaders that I advise, there is a phenomenon that I have observed, which I call Brian’s Paradox. The basic concept is this: Your website or blog probably won’t make you any more money – there is no guarantee that you will increase business, or even necessarily be able to calculate a clear Return On Investment (ROI). However, without a decent-looking, responsive (mobile-friendly), regularly updated online destination for you and your firm, you are going to work much harder to close deals.
This idea, that an effective web presence has more of an indirect benefit, is a topic that some folks I respect greatly have recently written about. Let’s take a look…
Matt Mullenweg: Bloggers make money because of their blog, not necessarily from it
As the fearless leader of the company behind WordPress (arguably the best blogging software there is), Matt Mullenweg obviously has some opinions on the value of blogging. In an interview with LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Mullenweg says that successful bloggers earn money because of their blog, not necessarily from their blog. Here is the full 50-minute video:
Kevin O’Keefe: Blogging is about relationships and reputation
The video above was shared by Kevin O’Keefe in a blog post he wrote called, Non-monetary benefits from blogging are greater than the monetary. O’Keefe is someone that I credit with having more to do with mainstream acceptance of blogging in the legal industry than any other single person, through his company, LexBlog.
In his article, he makes the following points:
Much like authoring a book or speaking at a conference, blogging is a reputation enhancer. You don’t make a lot of money from either (unless you’ve achieved star status). You make money because of being an author and speaking…
Blog because you have passion, care, expertise, and a desire to share not for immediate gain. By doing so you can achieve a lifetime of significant earnings doing the type of work you love for the type of clients you want to represent.
More recently, O’Keefe took apart some perhaps misguided statements about the value of social media made by a “Legal SEO Consultant” in his post, Social media for business development by lawyers is a big lie? (Considering the negative reputation lawyers have going all the way back to Shakespeare, and the nasty reputation that most SEO consultants have, a mortician seems like a livelier guest at a dinner party than a Legal SEO Consultant, but I digress…)
The best lawyers get their best work from relationships and a strong word of mouth reputation. Not advertising or overt marketing. It’s always been the case and always will be the case.
It was true before legal marketing was permitted in 1974. It was true before the advent of the Internet in the mid-nineties.
Putting blogging and the entire social media “thing” in context for professionals, he says:
Social is all about relationships and reputation. If you’re not not nurturing relationships online, you’re going to lose opportunities for business. If you’re not building a reputation online that’s the equal of your offline reputation, you’re not getting that reputation in front of a lot of people that matter.
Chris Brogan: I’m not into social media – I’m into people and businesses
Another person who looms large in the blogging and social media space is Chris Brogan, author of several great books (speaking of which, he has a new one called The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators) and someone who just can’t seem to shake off the label of “social media.”
In his recent post, Shaking Off the Social Media Label, Brogan writes:
I don’t care about Klout. I find things like Facebook security updates boring. It doesn’t matter much how many people do or don’t follow me. None of that’s interesting. What’s endlessly interesting to me are human stories and businesses that treat people like they matter.
By treating “people like they matter,” it helps to build trust. Trust is the basis of any relationship, but is especially important when it comes to handing over our or our company’s hard-earned cash. Together with the amazing Julien Smith, Brogan wrote a previous treatise on the role of trust in business and how to build it in Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust
Mitch Joel: Trust. It’s what it all comes down to.
Founder of Canadian digital marketing agency, Twist Image, Mitch Joel is a blogger, podcaster and also the author of two different books. The first, Six Pixels of Separation deals with the fact that all people and businesses are connected in one way or another to all others online. His newest book, Ctrl Alt Delete, recommends that businesses and the people behind them reboot, and reassess their strategy in the wake of unprecedented change in the marketplace in order to remain relevant in the future.
In a recent post, Joel asks, Who do you really trust?
Trust is everything. Whenever I think about trust, I think about something that my dear friend, Jeffrey Gitomer, would often say in his public sales presentations: “All things being equal, people will do business with those that they know, like and trust. All things being unequal, people will do business with those that they know, like and trust.” Trust is a topic that isn’t approached or appreciated nearly enough in the business world, especially if you consider how important it is.
The statement above is how Joel introduces a video of David DeSteno speaking at Google on the topic of Trust, below:
What’s the Point?
Your website, blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, Google+ placeholder, or other artefact of your online presence, won’t likely make you any more money, but without it, you’re going to have to work a lot harder to close the deal with prospective clients. Why?
Your clients hire you because they trust that you are going to improve their situation. They trust that you will have their best interests in mind. They trust that you know what you are doing and have the expertise to accomplish the task at hand.
Social media gives you an opportunity to demonstrate who you are to facilitate the trust-building process. But it is just a tool, in the same way that your computer and phone are tools.
Anyways, that’s my take. What are your thoughts?
Matt Mullenweg, the genius behind WordPress, is a very cool guy. (Besides his penchant for renting awesome cars while on the road promoting WordPress, and long-time love of America’s most important art form, he has done a lot of amazing things for other people, as evidenced by this profile by the Houston Chron – his hometown paper.)
While social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc., etc. get so much mindshare in today’s world, one might get the impression that blogging is somehow less valuable or important. Personally, I do think that the various social networks add tremendous value by fostering additional mediums for communication, but my own blogs are much more valuable and important to me than all those other networks combined.
Mullenweg certainly has a vested interest in the future of blogging as founder (and not to mention, “chief barbecue taste tester”) of Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress, which powers 18.9% of the internet and is the de facto standard platform for blogging content management systems. Regardless of any potential biases, his recent post on the intrinsic value of blogging really resonated with me.
Here are some standout quotes:
Blogging is harder than it used to be. We’ve gotten better at counting and worse at paying attention to what really counts. Every time I press Publish the post is publicized to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Path, and Google+, each with their own mechanisms for enumerating how much people like it…
There is no predictable connection to the effort and thought you put into something and the response it receives, and every experienced blogger has a story of something they spend a few minutes on and toss out casually going viral, a one-hit wonder that makes your stats in future months and years puny in comparison.
He goes on:
The antidote I’ve found for this is to write for only two people. First, write for yourself, both your present self whose thinking will be clarified by distilling an idea through writing and editing, and your future self who will be able to look back on these words and be reminded of the context in which they were written.
Second, write for a single person who you have in mind as the perfect person to read what you write, almost like a letter, even if they never will, or a person who you’re sure will read it because of a connection you have to them (hi Mom!).
Whether you already have your own blog, or you are still on the fence about whether or not it is worth getting started when it may feel so late in the game, so to speak, I recommend giving Mullenweg’s full post a read. I got something out of it, and I continue to get a lot out of blogging — even when my mom is the only one reading!
Image courtesy LeWeb3
The “Re-humanization of business” is something I think, speak and write about a lot. In a nutshell the concept is really simple — beginning around the middle of last century, business shifted from one human connecting with another to a faceless unfeeling corporate marketplace, and now that trend is reversing, requiring companies big and small to embrace more human interaction.
That concept applies not only to the relationship between businesses and their clientele but also to the relationships between the business and its employees.
With 2013 now in the rear-view mirror, we can see that the re-humanization of business trend is only gaining momentum. For 2014, the lesson therefore is simple: People Come First.
Writing for Forbes, consultant Micah Solomon analyzes an interesting side effect of the human-first approach: Should businesses place a higher priority on customers or employees? As he indicates, the good news is that at least businesses are asking these kinds of questions:
I find this so heartening, especially because 2013 has been quite a year of business owners kissing off employees, and kissing off customers, in nearly equal numbers.
Some employee-antagonistic brands have taken hits directly to the bottom line due to their backward policies. And brands keep finding out for themselves that treating customers poorly is as bad for the bottom line as it should be.
I think the trick here is pretty simple: By and large, and in the long run, companies that treat employees well are the same companies that treat their customers well. Look at any list of “best companies to work for” and compare it side by side with a list of “best companies to buy from.” They’re pretty similar lists.
Image courtesy hamed
Writing for OpenForum, Dorie Clark posted a great rundown of small steps people can take in just a few minutes each day to improve their business:
We all know we should devote more time to building our brands, both personal and corporate. Blogging, tweeting or becoming the president of the professional association would all be great … if only we had more time. Instead, as Stephen Covey once described, we often focus on the short-term urgent—the ringing phone, the overflowing inbox—instead of the important, long-range activities that will pay dividends down the road.
Investing in your brand is important for every small-business owner, but it doesn’t have to be an onerous process. In fact, if you spend just 10 minutes a day—and do it consistently—you’ll rapidly begin to see real benefits.
- Engage with others through social media
- Produce a simple video
- Interview an expert in your field
The world of professional advertising and marketing can be really weird.
I didn’t watch the SuperBowl this year. Or any other year, for that matter. Apparently at some point during “the big game,” there was a power outage. Some advertising folks working on behalf of Oreo (the cookie) took advantage of the opportunity and tweeted about how you can still dunk an Oreo in the dark. They were essentially taking a page from the David Meerman Scott playbook (see Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage).
And it worked. Not only did Oreo’s brand receive massive attention, but the advertisers won a very desirable award at the Cannes Lion festival. Andrew Teman, an advertiser himself, now had to live up to a promise he published on his blog:
I promised that if the Oreo tweet won a Cannes Lion, I’d quit advertising. And now I’m going to do that. Kind of.
I’m leaving my day job, and heading off to create my own agency (with my friend and now partner Thomas), and it’s going to be called Heart…
We want to work faster, smarter, and lighter. We want to work at pace with other passionate people. We want to make smart things that make our partners richer and famous-er. We want to work in the name of work that works.
via Andrew Teman
Joshua Marsh, writing at PandoDaily, discusses the impact of social media on the customer service role within companies. The challenge that he points out, is to empower customer service reps (traditionally one of the lowest paying positions at most firms – sometimes even lower compensation than janitorial work) with more freedom to respond appropriately to customer needs. Social media provides a feedback loop that doesn’t allow for the current status quo of, “let me check with my supervisor, and we’ll get back to you.”
This may seem a superficial observation; after all, technologies change all the time, and each new tool introduces new possibilities and new demands. However, social media has changed the customer service game in a much more dramatic way: rather than pursue their complaint as a discrete transaction, customers nowadays reach out to corporations as naturally and effortlessly as they do their friends. The same way I’m likely to think my friend is rude if he or she ignores a message from me on Facebook or Twitter, companies, too, are learning, often the hard way, that the kind of service they need to provide has to be immediate and public.
To do that effectively, the old way of providing customer service won’t do. Too often, the traditional rep on the phone was trained to do one thing and one thing only, which is pass a complaint up the bureaucratic chain of command, receive a resolution, and report it back — a classic centralized model of corporate communication. Today’s customer service agent, on the other hand, must be nimble, smart, fast, attentive, personable, and talented at defusing volatile situations and creating new opportunities.