I’m putting the finishing the finishing touches on a presentation I’m giving this week in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA at the Terranea Oceanfront Resort for a large trade association. My talk is on Brand Turnarounds about how companies prepare for potholes and recover after a brand hit.
As I conducted my pre speech research for the engagement I discovered several of the large and respected companies scheduled to attend had some not so favorable search results when I Googled them. Claims of scams and questionable business practices populated the front page search results. Many of these negative results were old, but still they were prominent on the front page. It was not a good first impression for anyone checking out a brand.
Grant it some companies deserve the dark comments, but many times it is a few sour grapes venting their opinions resulting a brand black eye for an innocent brand.
All companies and brands need to regularly audit their search engine results look when someone types in their brand name. This audit should include all of the major search engines, Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com, AOL not just Google. And, if the first or second pages are showing a slew of negative posts, you need to clean this up.
If they are legit, you need to reach out to the posting party and try to correct the situation. If they are not, and are just some pesty, cranky pants people venting their “hate the world everyday attitude”, you need to bury this bad rap with positive search results.
Here’s how you do it.
1) Conduct keyword research monthly so you know what words are most popular with online users looking for brands like yours.
2) Post educating, positive content on your site and other high traffic sites. Move from hard selling tactics to helpful, useful and “on brand” related consumer relevant information.
3) Earn honest links from other online channels and use services like PR newswires to send out news about your brand. These PR service can earn 1000 links or more in minutes, depending on what size list it is blitzed to.
4) Tag content, images, video, both on your main website, and on social media channels.
5) Update your content often; spiders will have more confidence in your expertise.
6) Buy and use your brand name in as many URLs as possible and related ones. This means to use different combinations of your name with .com, .net, .org, etc.
7) Be social. This means have a strong presence with all of the top social media sites. Social media sites invest a lot of resources to make sure they show up in results. This is an easy, low lost effort. Don’t underestimate the power of social media results in search.
8) Become viral. I recently watched a great video from the head of YouTube’s content department. It is a great video, you should see it. He claims the top three ways to become viral with a video are: Post content where large communities will participate and share the clip, expose Taste-makers to your work. Taste-makers are anyone with big influence like celebs, bloggers and news venue reporters. Lastly, create content that is unexpected, shocking or just plain amazing.
9) Maintain a killer blog; post every 30 days and seed in the right rivers (high traffic channels), not low traffic creeks.
10) Request deletion from search engines or party that posted negative comment. This is not an easy task, but all search engines have a contact department where you can request they remove a result if you can prove it is malicious and or false.
Negative results always stink. But with the right efforts you can bury the bad news and push forward your brand story.
I know first hand social media can be a valuable, income generating tool.
My social media efforts have landed me business (a million dollar contract in 2008), sold books and products, aided my international media presence and hooked me to important resources and new friends.
Social media can provide a garden of goods that are aligned to your goals, or it can make you feel like your endless efforts produce no more than a crop of crappy connections that suck time and don’t produce a worthy return on your investment.
Follow these tips and your odds of success will increase.
1.) Tend your efforts based on a plan with goals, strategies and tactics. I write 80% of my content in one scoop at the beginning of the month. I also update a content bank in Excel to store future ideas.
2.) Automate as much as you can. I use Hootsuite to manage scheduling and tracking.
3.) Carefully mix personal with professional content along with your strengths and your vulnerabilities. This strategy will keep you interesting and human.
4.) Promote others. It’s the best fertilizer around.
5.) Provoke. Progress doesn’t happen when everyone agrees with what you think.
6.) Have the big guns ready behind the seductive links, lines and comments. A click through means nothing without the real value you provide. Your website, blog, products and services must walk the social talk.
7.) Master the craft of being a concise, punchy, smart and entertaining word smith or hire someone who is.
You’ve experienced a brand earthquake. A recession hit. Your once-successful retail company was forced to declare bankruptcy. Everything around you has crumbled, your credit has been destroyed and all that was once working for you and familiar to you is now gone, including most of your customers.
But suddenly, after a year of reorganization, legal battles and a production freeze, you have new investors. And you’re in charge of leading the brand turnaround—introducing the new face to a 30-year-old store brand.
For a shaken brand that has lost its core buyers, the goal is to find the new and former buyers who will forgive and forget past missteps and love the brand like it was loved once before.
To bring your brand back to its glory days, you’ll need to create new brand momentum, excitement and desire. All while resources are still tight and you have the giant task of changing tarnished perceptions about the old brand.
In my recent book, Brand Turnaround, I take readers through the journeys of more than 75 brands, exploring how they managed to bounce back from blunders and turn themselves around. Along the way, I identify what I call Game Changers—seven key concepts to brand transformation. Staying relevant is one of these Game Changers.
Staying relevant means to:
- Solve complex problems with simple answers.
- Keep eyes and ears on the market, watch trends, converse and listen.
- Walk in the shoes of stakeholders, whether customers, employees, investors, vendors or even critics.
- Understand the buyers’ value system.
- Identify strong segments of the top buyers’ base.
- Don’t want to or attempt to please everyone.
- Be fluid and flexible.
- Be able to detach to the past if it’s not working today.
Especially, when a brand is emerging from a dark space, it’s temping to want everyone to love you. No retailer or any business wants to miss a sale, but that’s the kiss of death in brand turnaround. If you try to be everything to everyone, you will end up being nothing to a lot of people.
As a brand leader you must focus on the most meaningful aspects of your brand—the ones that make buyers loyal, make them love the brand and want to tell their friends about it.
The very essence of brand relevance is
- The magnet that attracts new buyers and attention.
- The connection to common values and concerns.
- A relationship to exchange shared interests.
- A two-way dialogue that demonstrates that you care (you can do this by educating buyers, treating them well and never forgetting them).
- The application of your brand to their world and its needs.
- A clear message that convincingly tells buyers what’s “in it for them.”
Follow these steps, and you’re on your way to being a relevant, turnaround brand of choice.
1) Gain insight.
Identify and understand who your top customers are
This may require conducting research. In the long run, it will be a worthy investment. Your goal is to identify the customers who have the most influence with others like them, who will recommend you often, who will be repeat spenders and whose lifetime value to the business is the greatest.
You can’t please everyone. Go for your core buyers, those who matter most. I’m a strong believer that 80% of your best business comes from 20% of your market. Use segmented, strategic communications and relationship-building programs to get your core target buyers back on board with your brand.
Next you must understand what matters to these top customers and prospects, not what matters to you or your marketing department
To do this you must study buying trends, ask questions, identify common values that provide emotional satisfaction and also set up multiple dialogue channels for two-way conversations about your store, its products and the buying experience.
2) Innovate—with new solutions, recycled ideas, a mix of both.
Providing buyers with first and fresh answers to their needs and challenges not only positions you as a problem solver and savior, but it opens up many opportunities for brand exposure in the media, word of mouth and social networks.
3) Add extra value to your offerings.
Increasing the value you offer can be the difference in a buyer selecting you over one of competitors. Whether this is a tangible or intangible item, improving with more and relevant offerings count.
4) Deliver an amazing experience.
The customer experience is a three-point opportunity to be relevant. Consider the touch points before they buy, at the time of transaction and after the purchase. Include visuals whose look and feel go along with operational ones.
5) Listen and communicate.
Building brands is no longer a one-way monologue from the company. Today all brands, especially those in turnaround mode, must listen a lot and then communicate in ways that your buyers prefer. Two of the most powerful tools available to big and small companies are social media and live observations with customers. This means get social, participate in high-traffic social networks in a conversational way and pay close attention to what happens with customers and your team in the store and in other venues.
6) Stay flexible and current with economic and societal changes. This means embracing change.
Maybe you were a niche retailer at your peak. No one else offered merchandise with quite the same essence as you. But during your time out of production, other companies popped up and attempted to cash in on your niche market. You’re no longer as unique as you were before. What now?
Finding relevance doesn’t automatically guarantee sustaining relevance. At any moment, your brand could begin to lose it.
These things often happen:
- Brands grow, and with that comes bigger marketing departments, more audiences to cater to and larger committees to appease. Suddenly brand relevance is so watered down that it’s not serving the brand base or producing the outcome that everyone wants.
- Brand leaders can’t see the big picture because they are caught up in the details. They don’t recognize the problem because they are relying on old ways of researching and thinking.
- Brand leaders are reluctant to push out into new categories that they create, can own and rule for fear of failure.
At the end of the day, ask yourself: is your brand relevant? Is it clear on what’s in it for the customer and does it bring a high level of emotional satisfaction?
This article is based on content from Karen Post’s latest book Brand Turnaround (McGraw-Hill 2011).
In the spirit of love and affection as many celebrate Valentine’s Day, the day of awesome relationships, frisky friendships, risky affairs and just plain gushy lust, I thought it would be appropriate to mention the everyday occurrence of unavailable brands. You know the kind, the not so healthy, lots of issues, not worth the time and certainly not worth the loyalty—when company brands get so chilly, so unconnected and just straight up are not available to their paying customers who truly want to love them.
The sad fact is there are many brands who behave like this and then wonder why their customers cheat and defect to a younger or more loving competitor.
Here are the red flags to know when it may be time to start dating- I mean shopping around:
- You’ve got a problem and there is no phone number on their website.
- Or it takes way too long and way too much work to find it.
- Or a “contact us” form with no reply or at best a form reply that says: “we are very busy, we’ll try to get to you some day”.
- Or you call them and after 20 minutes in the phone tree jungle, you speak with a customer service rep by the name of Carol, who you can’t understand, and you know darn well no Carols’ live in that country.
It’s unfortunate there are not horse-mounted brand police that would issue costly citations when companies play like this. But then again, unhappy customers now have a voice with social media, word of mouth and on high traffic blogs, just ask Dell, Bank of America and Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Tonight at tennis I asked my buds who they thought were some of the worst offenders, the not available brands, here’s what I heard. Tazo Tea, the Starbuck’s company, Sam’s club, the Walmart Company, Skype and the Microsoft Company. I’m sure you’ve got your list too. It is a shame that these big brands would be so clueless to the basic concept that open communication is essential to keep a relationship red hot.
Smart brands who value relationships with their customers make it easy for them to talk and they listen.
How easy is it for your brand to be loved?
To learn about more brand bumps and how the got back on the saddle, view: Brand Turnaround.
I can’t believe it’s here. My new book will be on bookshelves and ship from online bookstores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble this Friday, December 16th. Thank you all for the hundreds of congrats notes and words of support.
I know many of you downloaded the sample chapter per my LinkedIn and Facebook author page notice. If you had trouble getting your chapter, it is because you were already in my opt-in list. So I’ve set up a direct download here without any further sign up needed, just click the book below. Sorry for that inconvenience.
Following this note from me is the official news release the McGraw-Hill PR team sent out for the launch. Their efforts along with my marketing team‘s and Staples Copy and Print Centers have already generated some exciting promotion around the book. Big thank you to the team! Here are just some media highlights.
The Small Business Advocate Show
The world’s only weekday radio program dedicated to small business, The Small Business Advocate® Show, on the air since 1997 and the Internet since 1998. The interview with Karen will run Friday at 8:25 ET. To listen go to Small Business Advocate Show. If you miss it, they archive all shows.
The Godfather of sales, Jeffrey Gitomer’s Sales Caffeine and in Salesblog
My good friend Jeffrey will feature my book to his over 400,000 friends and fans on December 20th, I’ll update the links next week.
News Release from McGraw-Hill
It can strike without warning. It can slay your stock and drive away your customers. It’s bad news when your brand undergoes a complete meltdown. The good news is there are proven strategies to get your business back up and running after a cataclysm.
Today’s competitive and transparent environment offers any number of threats from within and without, from customer complaints, negative press, product recalls, natural disasters, to financial failures. A single individual with a strong social media following, or the poor performance of a highly visible employee, can turn the company tide. These events can blindside even the strongest of brands.
Karen Post knows that a loss can be a gain, and she has the turnaround examples to prove it. BRAND TURNAROUND (McGraw-Hill Professional; December, 2011; Hardcover, $28.00) examines the seven principles and strategies that will protect your brand against any corporate storms that may arise without warning – and get you back in the game.
Ford. Barbie. Exxon. Martha Stewart. Tylenol. Eliot Spitzer. BP. JetBlue. Michael Vick. Harley-Davidson. Pee-Wee Herman. Here is a diverse mix of more than 75 brands and celebrities, and Post’s fascinating post-mortems of how their public profiles tanked and how the losses in each case were specific and unique. All the examples Post features in the book were once at the top of their game, fell from grace, and rallied back in the face of loss using a series of Post’s key survival principles.
Researching the keys to brand recovery, Post has put together a strategic game plan that needs to go operational within the first moments of crisis:
- Take Responsibility – Shift the brand tide from crisis to composure. This chapter examples a wide variety of instant handicaps and how they should be handled immediately.
- Never Give Up. After suffering losses, here are profiles of companies and brands that bounced back stronger – and why.
- Lead Strong – The special qualities of the people behind the turnarounds, responsible for making key decisions in the turnaround process.
- Stay Relevant – How to indentify, prioritize, and craft a strategic communications and relationship-building program.
- Keep Improving – In addition to returning to that original state of glory, brands must also show that they are committed to doing even better than before.
- Build Equity – In the face of scandal, successful brands create bonds with an increasingly cynical consumer market that will stick by them through good times and bad.
- Own Your Distinction – Call it your unique attribute, your “Brain Tattoo.” What’s your compelling differentiator? What are the unique qualities of your brand that will fuel your comeback?
Writes Post, “If and when your brand gets hit by outside forces and uncontrollable situations, or if the bad or weak in you and/or your brand explodes, remember, there is life after a disaster and brand meltdown. Take a deep breath and apply the seven game-changing strategies.” BRAND TURNAROUND offers the keys to rallying in the face of disaster.
PRAISE FOR BRAND TURNAROUND:
“Karen Post is more than merely a game changer, she creates the rules for winning every time with a 1.000 batting average, no mean feat. Brand Turnaround will completely reverse your field and create the home team advantage every time.”
—Alan Weiss, Ph.D., author of Million Dollar Consulting and The Consulting Bible
“I hate to tell you—it can happen for any company: a brand disaster. Karen Post explores what a brand catastrophe means and, most important, how to survive when it strikes. Brand Turnaround is a great life jacket for every company preparing for the unavoidable disaster before it strikes.”
—Martin Lindstrom, bestselling author of Brandwashed
“Karen Post provides great lessons, not only for entrepreneurs, but for all of us as we build our own personal brands. Brand Turnaround is a must-read for all ‘students’ of entrepreneurship.”
—Rebecca J. White, Ph.D., James Walter Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship; professor and director, University of Tampa Entrepreneurship Center
“What separates GREAT brands from the sea of others is that they embrace failure and learn from their mistakes. Brand Turnaround embraces this philosophy and offers insightful, practical, and relevant advice on how to leverage the lessons of failure and turn them into moments of learning and ultimate competitive advantage.”
—Julie Cottineau, VP, Brand, Virgin USA, and founder, Brandtwist.com
“An amazing book, chock full of quickly read, easily understood, and immediately actionable ideas to turn around brands.”
—James Belasco, Ph.D., author, professor, and entrepreneur
In the past few years, personal branding has become a hot business topic. News anchors and journalists refer to individual brands when they cover business leadership superstars and business losers too. Executive recruiters consider a candidate’s brand when they are on a search for the best professional for a position and most entrepreneurs’ success depends on their strong, personal brand to attract employees, get funding and be an ambassador of their company.
Last month Daytime, a nationally broadcasted TV show that airs in over 35 markets, invited me to help out with a special segment called “Getting back to work”. The goal was to take two professionals who had lost their jobs and with an improved personal branding program, help them find the ideal career or opportunity.
Even though the segment focused on getting people back to work as employees, these lessons can apply to entrepreneurs as well.
Here’s the first segment that aired before Thanksgiving and a special shout out to Kendra York who owns Kendra & Company in Tampa for providing the hair, make up and style updates for our two makeover participants.
From here the plan was for me to give one-on-one coaching along with some branding tools provided by Staples that includes printing of business cards from their print and copy centers, Schtickers that provided a branded laptop skin and my design team that updated their brand identity.
These are some highlights from the coaching sessions.
Personal branding is no different than product or business branding which we all experience everyday. When a company has a strong brand, we as buyers have positive opinions about them, which in turn prompts us to select that brand over another choice. Product brands are competing to be the brand of choice.
The same concept applies for people and their personal brand.
A personal brand is what people think, feel and expect from you as an individual.
A personal brand is derived from the sum of what a person does, how they act, how they look and how they keep their promises.
In branding we call these brand opportunities, touch points.
Consistent brand touch points help a person manage their brand and peoples opinions of them.
A personal brand is one’s image, reputation and the impression they leave when they show up for a job interview, a business networking event or even after a phone call.
We all have brands even without thinking about them or consciously working on them, because people, our friends, colleagues, clients and employers are judging us and these opinions are stored in their heads, which become our brands.
The key to successful personal branding is making sure everything you do is lined up with your goals and that you consistently send out the accurate message that reflects the true you.
So when people find themselves in a down state, like being without a job or career they love, it’s time for action.
They need to follow these three brand-building steps to make sure they are projecting the right image that gets them closer to their goals.
1) Assessment and goal setting
2) Create an action plan
3) Work on it, with consistency and passion
I call the process, personal brain tattooing. Like a regular tattoo, a brand sticks to the minds of the market and it’s put there by choice.
Getting hired is often about risk and if your brand ensures the employer or client you are not a risk, but a good investment that can add value to their organization, that’s the ticket.
Step 1 – Assessment of what is.
What skills, persuasive assets and traits does the person have to build on and leverage?
When I’m working with an individual on their personal brand, I ask these questions.
- Can you tell me about yourself in a 60 second window? Please do.
- Why are you jobless?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- Describe your ideal job or next career?
- What are your 2-3 most important life goals?
- Have you experienced rejection and “No’s” in your job hunting?
- Did they give you reasons? What were they?
- Why do you think you were passed up?
- What tangible branding tools do you have? And what do you need to work on?
I also ask people to do a Google search on their name and see what comes up.
If it’s bad stuff that can tarnish your reputation, see what you can do to change it. Many times you can.
If it’s bad stuff that’s out of your control, like a criminal record, it’s good to know about it and sometimes you need to share this with a potential employer or client.
Next, I ask “What tangible branding tools do you have that reflect your desired personal brand?”
They can include:
- Your resume
- A strong cover letter of introduction
- A personal business card, laptop skin, brochures
- The appropriate wardrobe for interviews and meetings
- An appropriate web presence and social media footprint
I always recommend people buy their name URL, if it’s just a landing page with your contact information of social media links. If your name is not available, get something close, like with your middle initial in it.
As an example: I own www.Karenpost.com
Step 2- Next, one must develop a personal brand action plan to help get them from where they are “unemployed” to where they want to be, “in a great job or opportunity they love”.
A personal brand plan addresses:
- Brand essence
- Target audience
- Strategies (behavioral changes)
- Tactics (specific things to do)
I always start with the end in mind. What are your goals?
Strong personal brands are visible, memorable, distinct and relevant.
To “brand up” you, one needs to have:
Your personal essence defined.
A personal brand essence is the foundation around whom you are authentically.
Purpose - Why are you here? What do you do? How can you contribute to a company’s success?
Points of distinction- What is unique about you?
How you look
Your skill set
Who you have worked with
Personality – What are 3-4 adjectives that best describe you?
When building a personal brand, one’s personality attributes should be aligned with your desired job, career. Like in my case, being creative, having a sense of humor and being confident. Work well with my career choice being a consultant and speaker.
Promise – one’s promise is what they commit to delivering on.
For example – if you are in sales, you’ve got to be able to successfully sell. If you are in Healthcare administration, your attention to detail and problem solving must be mastered etc. One must be able to deliver on commitments and promises. Walk the talk.
After your brand essence is complete, then you must weave this platform into all of your touch points.
Who are your target audiences?
Who are the key company decision makers? Who are the other influential people in your network, who can make recommendations and introductions? Friends, former employers, people you do business with etc.
Touch points fall into three categories and need to be aligned with one’s goals.
1) One’s visual package
Research shows that visual elements are the #1 influencer in impressions people draw from others. This means your wardrobe, hairstyle and grooming all matter. Depending on the job and position you are seeking will determine the best look for a person.
Additionally, your tools like resume, business cards and thank you cards also impact the judgment you may earn.
2) One’s communication skills and style.
Next to the visual items, people are judged by their communication skills and style.
Communication style has three equally important areas.
How do you sound? Is your choice of words the best they can be and aligned to your goals? And the confidence and attitude you exude, is it consistent with your goals and does it lower the risk of the potential employer?
How do you write? From your resume, to a thank you note and your social media footprint, do these items communicate an impression that aligns with your goals?
What is your body language communicating? This includes your posture, handshake and eye contact. Are you poised and confident or unsure and down and out?
3) One’s substance and behavior.
The objective in personal branding is to be authentic, but based on your job goals; one must consciously increase the volume and clarity of their brand, offering potential contributions to a company’s success.
And finally, one must have substance and behave in a way that validates their position and image and supports all other touch points.
You must demonstrate evidence that you walk the talk, and are what your packaging communicates?
This means be really good at your craft and your job. The most skilled and competent people get the jobs first. And that’s where you want to be.
This may mean taking classes, accepting an unpaid internship or doing volunteer work with another job just to pay the bills.
And you must work the plan with passion and consistency everyday.
Think before you move. Stay in tune to the ideal brand you want people to have in their heads about you.
As a wrap up, here are five small things that have big instant impact on your personal brand.
1) Have a strategic online footprint that depicts you as you want your buyers to view you
This means have a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account and if you have business appropriate videos then a YouTube account too.
A landing page about you is a good idea, one that is hosted with your name.com. And if you’ve got something to say, a blog is extra icing on your brand cake.
2) Keep your promises
This means do what you say, say what you mean and walk your brand talk everyday.
3) Associate with people that are consistent with your brand
This means birds of a feather flock together. Don’t be hanging with bunch of crows if you are an elegant, sophisticated swan.
4) Look your brand
This means put the costume on when you are in public. Whatever your image is, support it with the right wardrobe, car and office.
5) Be consistent
This means frequency of a message, makes the message stick. Look at all your touch points, web, business communications, email, phone message, thank you notes, resume etc.
Need a little help with your personal brand? Check out some of my ebooks that can help you brand up your image and reputation.
Below is the second half of the Daytime segment that aired on 12/15/11
I highly recommend this book, Get Rich Click, The Ultimate Guide to Making Money on the Internet by Marc Ostrofsky to every businessperson and entrepreneur.
There are gobs of great books available on Internet marketing and I’ve read many. But this one is worth adding to your library of valuable references and tools. Not only is the author, Marc Ostrofsky a real-life success story (he had made millions with the Internet) which for me gives the book extra credibility, it’s also organized in a way that makes it easy to understand, access the learning gems and apply to your business.
The book covers just about every aspect of the Internet and how anyone can profit from it. Some of the more interesting sections for me were on URLs, keywords, and new vendors to help get things done. In addition to the book content, Marc does a nice job of making updates available on his website via his blog.
This book took me a bit to get through, not because it’s long, but I found myself stopping to try things and look up examples that he cites that made the content not only hit my brain, but really stick to it and become my new walking knowledge that I’m now using with my businesses.
Just a couple of my top take-a-ways:
1) Having a key word in your URL is golden.
My brand name and URL are proof of this. Many of you know I earned the #1 spot on Google last year for the term “Branding Speaker”. I’m now convinced that in addition to my voluminous writing, the noun in my name www.brandingdiva.com has paid off too.
2) Buying smart URLs can add to your wealth just like buying a prime piece of real estate.
They can be low cost, high return investments. Since reading Get Rich Click I’ve purchased over 50 new URLs that I’m going to start monetizing with parking pages and landing pages.
If you need one comprehensive book that helps you understand and profit from the Internet this one should be considered. It gets a thumbs-up from me.
I’m looking forward to his next book too that will be called Word of Mouse.
I’m very fortunate to have an awesome social media team supporting my message and assisting our client’s in reaching their goals. Allow me to introduce the “A” social team to you as they contribute to branding content, SEO solutions and marketing outreach on the front line and behind the scenes.
Pictured above from left to right is Lauren Angrick, Chief Problem Solver for all my companies and to the right of me is Jess English our newest social media team member who is Community Manager for Restaurant Branding Roadmap, our soon to launch DIY self small business branding program for restaurants. Both are super bright, dedicated and are hard core social media-savvy professionals. Raining from the University of Tampa, their studies and expertise range from marketing, public relations and entrepreneurial matters.
This photo was shot last week at the first annual Splash Bash to End “High Tech Homelessness” in Tampa Bay sponsored by Tampa Bay Wave. Which was a blast! Tampa Bay Wave is an organization that I support. Their goal is to build a strong community of web tech entrepreneurs across Tampa Bay. If you are in Tampa you should check them out and other supporting web-based businesses, if you are outside Tampa finding a local organization like this is a worthy move.
To learn more about my companies, click here.
Social media continues to get lots of media coverage and buzz. Some, very well deserved and some is just a whole bunch of empty shoeboxes. Not good, because I love shoes!
Many of my blog readers and friends know that in 2009, after reading one tweet on a Saturday night at 11PM – and following up on it – this social connection turned into a million dollar consulting contract for me. I will forever love little blue birds!
I’ve also connected with and discovered some amazing professional resources through LinkedIn too. I love to find competent people that I can count on to help me do my work!
That’s all good, but as entrepreneurs and small or big businesses, can one count on meaningful results from social media? Like a concentrated 25-point social media blitz without investing any money, just time.
I’m curious too. So I’m going to conduct a test. We’ll call it the “25- point social media project”. This week my staff and I will leverage a two-part blog post article in 25 different ways through social media. In 2 week days we will report back the results. We will also track our time so you we can weigh out the investment to the return.
Here’s the test.
Join me, if you want to try this too and then we can compare results and lessons learned.
My blitz was geared around my new book, Brand Turnaround. I started by writing an article, which included excerpts from the book. The article was about brands gone bad and how they return to glory. The two-part series was called Branding and the Beast. So beyond the text, I had the book art and an image I bought from istock.com.
My 25-point social media blitz/how to promote your blog:
- I tweeted about it, included a link to the blog post and a unique headline.
- Posted a discussion about it on LinkedIn in my Brandturnaround group.
- Found a popular LinkedIn discussion, made a comment and included the article link.
- Posted a discussion in blogengage.
- Posted on .docstoc with links to blog.
- Turned it into a PowerPoint and posted it on Slideshare.
- I utilized pinging services. By pinging the blog post I let search engines know I just updated my blog.
- I posted it on Facebook with a different headline (because the blog autofeeds to my Facebook author page).
- I bookmarked the post on Reddit.
- I bookmarked the post on StumbleUpon and grew my stumble followers.
- Bookmarked the post on Delicious.
- Created a saved search for Twitter based on the blog’s keywords, replied to those tweeting the keywords with a comment and a link to my blog.
- I bookmarked the post to Digg.
- I found a high traffic site, TalentZoo, where they invite guest bloggers to submit stories.
- I submitted it to technorati.
- I wrote another discussion about it and posted a question on another LinkedIn group.
- I bookmarked the post to Blinklist.
- I posted it on Bizsugar, so readers could vote on it.
- I added my blog to Ping-o-Matic – it updates different search engines that your blog has updated.
- I produced a 3 minute video on the book Brand Turnaround, posted it on YouTube, Vimeo and then promoted it in Twitter, Linkedin and on my Author Facebook page.
- I posted my blog on blokube – a social voting site dedicated to professionals in blogging.
- I added 5 linkbacks within my blog to other blogs in my niche.
- I commented on 5 other blogs in my niche, with links back to my blog.
- Started a discussion on Google Groups.
- I posted an article on EzineArticles.com with a byline link to my blog.
and be sure to use a URL tracking system for every single URL you create, which tracks the effectiveness of your links.
We are off to the research laboratory and we’ll let you know our results.
For more on social media tips, view:
If you are going to tweet, why not make it really sweet.
This week Lauren, my marketing coordinator, and I were in New York City – to say our trip was amazing would be an understatement. We enjoyed a perfect balance of business learning and connecting with new interesting people, hospitality highs and a little drama from Mother Nature.
The mission of our trip was to film a promotional video for my new book, Brand Turnaround, meet with McGraw-Hill’s marketing team to finalize book promotional plans and to experience the wonders of New York City. Mission accomplished, we did it all and more.
The most dramatic moment of the trip must go to the Earthquake. I’m sure you heard about it, well we experienced it. We were at McGraw-Hill on the 42nd floor filming a video trailer for the book and suddenly the floor moved, the building swayed and we all felt a bit drunk without any wine. Even though it was a small rumble compared to what the West Coast feels on a regular basis, because it was so out of the norm for NYC, it was freaky and scary. Then an intercom voice announced what we all thought, it was an earthquake and to stay calm and stay tuned for additional information.
So since we were women on a mission, we went back to work, trying to get a good voice and visual take in before the announcer blared more warnings or updates.
Dwelling on an earthquake accomplishes nothing, soothing your nerves after a little high rise building rumble with shopping and retail research does wonders.
So after filming for a three-minute book promo, we had an excellent meeting with the McGraw-Hill marketing team. The book launch is going to be grand and memorable. We brain stormed on publicity and joint venture and Lauren and I showed off some of the book’s brand new promo tools, like our laptop skins, new website and blog, Brand Turnaround Tee shirts and even our custom Brand Turnaround bling that the marketing team will be sporting. Then we hit the streets to do our part for Manhattan’s local economy (buy stuff) and find idea inspiration.
Shopping is one of the best forms of market research any brander or business owner can do. Even if your business is not retail, when you shop ask questions, take pictures, look at the brand touch points like signage, packaging and décor and when you see something cool, ask yourself: How can I apply this concept to my brand or one of my clients?
We ended up on Fifth Avenue and were smitten by Louis Vuitton‘s ultra fabulous windows display. The theme was Ostrich, eggs and LV’s best merchandise. The compelling idea was the big bird, he or she was huge, seemed at least 10 feet tall and extended from one window to the next. The head was in one window, the bird feet were in another and in others there were equally as mammoth bird eggs and all were dazzled with serious accessories. The split window look was not only creative, but engaged the viewer to follow the story in every window, instead of just stopping at one window and seeing one collection of their offering.
To see more shots go to Fashion Magazine
Merchandising is a critical tactic that builds brands. Whether you are a retailer with public window displays or a law firm with window boxes in an office lobby, these touch points are excellent opportunities to tell stories and should not be forgotten. And dividing something up, like they did with the bird, was an interesting way to present something, especially if it’s an unusual approach.
Is there a merchandising opportunity in your brand experience that can further express who you are?
The elevator attendants
We stayed at the Pierre Hotel, booked through American Express Travel. AMEX offers some very well-priced luxury travel deals with generous perks, like: stay three days, pay for two plus get breakfast everyday for two and $100 to spend anywhere in the hotel.
The property is almost one hundred years austere and elegant. The five-star everything from service, to ambiance, to food and beverage to gigantic fresh flowers was opulent. Part of their luxury brand was the attention to detail and the preservation of classic hotelier traditions. Every time you entered an elevator bank, a pleasant, professional staffer greeted you, smiled and made you feel like the most important guest in the hotel., pushed the floor button you needed and wished you a lovely day.
There was no heavy door to swing shut or any tricky floor buttons to push on these elevators, the attendants were there to deliver on the Pierre’s brand promise: the best of the best with impeccable white glove service.
What small touch can you add to your brand that reaffirms your brand essence? A brand essence is a brand’s DNA, it’s why you are here, how you are different, what your personality is and what you promise to deliver.
Got to run. Look for these topics in the next few days.
• How to brand-extend and not brand-dilute from Top Restaurateur Daniel Boulud
• Sampling trends and merchandising from hip, new Indian fare restaurant Junoon
• Video branding ideas from a super cool, online entrepreneurial TV by an insurance company
• What you can learn from a one scene Off-Broadway-production and apply to marketing
• Networking in NYC, it’s really such a small world
• A Book Review on Army of Entrepreneurs by Jennifer Prosek
Till next time, Brand on!