Ian Aspin and Bob Poole talk about making connections around the world and collaborating on projects and dreams. You can find more of Ian at his website here.
Are you using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media for your business?
You need to be. You already know that.
But, do you know you need to wrap a strategy around how you are using all these amazing tools?
And, do you know you need to measure the results?
Otherwise, you're wasting a lot of time and you're going to give up.
And, that would be very wrong.
John asked me some great questions in a recent post. I’m going to answer him here.
First, I don’t have all the answers. I’m sure that’s no surprise to anyone. I think your last two sentences sum up your comment plus give us something to think about as we move into a new decade. You asked: “Where is the balance? How do I make a living and still respect my community that I’m striving to develop?”
I love that you use the term respect because it is tops on my list in sales and marketing. Without respect for our clients, our self and the services and products we provide, we’re dead in the water. I know that you get that and I think the people who read this blog get it. Sadly, not everyone does but that just makes it easier for us to compete.
I give away a free download of Listen First – Sell Later for one primary reason. I want it to spread. I know for a fact that people who sell and market will benefit if they read it even if they don’t pay me. By giving it away it gives everyone a chance to read it. This is especially true for many people in foreign countries as it is only available in print in Europe and the U.K. right now.
Also, I found that when I made it easy for people to download a free copy of the eBook my print sales went up. Every author I have ever talked with tells me the same thing happened to them. If people like it they often want to own it. Even the Kindle version sells well and people can get the same thing for free.
One of my goals this year (they will be on here tomorrow) is to conduct a number of free webinars. I’ve also offered to help 3 start-ups pro bono. Why do I do that? Because for me that’s what I love doing. I want to help people the way people helped me in my early years in business. I’ve been at this for over 40 years now and I’ve had wonderful people mentor and help me. If doing things for free means I don’t make as much money as I used too, I am good with that because I am happier doing what I do than ever before.
My life changed tremendously between 1994 and 2004. In 94′ I went from being well off financially to starting all over again. And, when 9/11 happened I had to stop and take stock of the true purpose of my life. That’s when I decided (with my wife Joann’s support) that I would spend the rest of my life using the talents and experience I’ve gained to help other people do the same thing. That meant giving up a lot of financial income that I had rebuilt over the previous ten years.
For me it became all about giving back and the feeling of satisfaction I get from seeing someone find entrepreneurial or sales success. It is a lot of work. I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder but I’ve never enjoyed anything so much in my life as these last five years.
There wasn’t any road map to follow. I bought all the books I could on new marketing and social media and more. I hired my own consultant to help guide me. I made new friends like Seth Godin and all the members of Triiibes which I was lucky enough to join from the start. I made plenty of mistakes but I have met more talented, authentic, honest and respectful people in this world of new marketing, Twitter, Facebook, etc., than I met during the entire time I would have been considered very successful based on my net worth.
My gut tells me that I am on the right path for myself for the rest of my life. And, I base my decisions on what I give away and what I sell by asking myself, “Does this feel like the right thing to do and is it in keeping with my life goals?”
You’re an experienced guy, John, and I know you use your own gut for making decisions too. We’d never have gotten this old if we didn’t! What is it that you want to do now? What’s your purpose for living? How can you best spread the word about how you can help people? It’s probably by building relationships with them, letting them know you care about them, helping them when they need help and one person at a time – making a difference.
You’re already made a difference in my life, John, and I know you’ll do the same for many others.
What kind of experience do you create for your customers? When I think back over this past year, I remember the really exceptional and the really frustrating ones. The ones that were average tend to fade away which means the next time I want what they are selling, I might not think of them first – or at all. You might think about that the next time someone says you are doing a good job. You don't want to do a good job. That's just average. You want to do an extraordinary job. You won't be forgotten if you do.
My frustration levels this past year were peaked by some huge communication companies, software companies and (insert airline name here). It is easy to place the blame for poor customer experience on the size of the companies who deliver it. But, that isn't true. There are large companies who get it and deliver an outstanding experience. Amazon comes to mind immediately for me. Watching how they deal when things don't go perfectly should be a case study for all businesses.
And yet, I believe that there were a lot more companies delivering great experiences this year than in years past. Some of them are devotees of social media and learn what it is their customers want and expect directly from them while interacting through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. And, some like my dry cleaner and the farmer who raises our organic vegetables don't need books or gurus to tell them how to delight their customers. They love what they are doing and they love their customers and it shows.
It is true though that most of the extraordinary experiences I had came from small companies. I believe that most people want to deliver extraordinary service. It only makes good sense. I believe that most of the time when it does not happen it is the company and not the individual at fault.
I also lost one of my champions this month. I've written here about Claire Signs, the fantastic bank branch manager in Chalfont, PA for PNC. It seems that others in the bank also noticed her awesome ability with customers and they have promoted her into a job teaching others how to deliver the same kind of experience she created in her branch. She deserves it and PNC is very smart for noticing. But, I'll miss her smile and her hugs.
I'm in the process of doing some goal setting which I always do this time of year. But, it is different for me this year. It's the beginning of a new decade and I am now in my 60th year. I see my planning and goal setting this time as a guide for the rest of my life's work. It's extremely exciting when I think of it this way.
Maybe you can take some time over the next few days to think about what's important to you, what guides your life and what is your purpose here. It can't hurt and it just might lead to you being part of even more extraordinary experiences this coming year.
"I wish— and in ways do not wish, that I had enough free time to tweet, Facebook, and chat with tribe members on linked in. I am out seeing and servicing clients and sitting face to face with real people who may want to hire me. I do a lot of email, have a Facebook profile ( for personal stuff only) and am linked to LinkedIn. What exactly are business people such as myself supposed to do—when we are prospecting and servicing clients (and driving hours a day in between) and who
may want a life OFF the computer as well?"
It's a fair question and since I know this person well, I thought I'd ask two other friends who don't know her as to what they would advise.
Paul Durban, from Blazonfire has this thought. "I think it comes down to the type of clients she's servicing. Do they go online? Or are they technophobic? She'd be wasting her time prospecting via social media if nobody's home."
Megan Elizabeth Morris says, "Just do what makes you happy. Pick the best parts, and do those. Cast away any regret over the rest. It's not worth it."
I'd say if you have all the business you want and you're happy – why question if you're not engaging in social media? A friend was telling me today that he has a buddy who works only a couple of hours a day and lies around watching TV and playing golf the rest of time. And, he is happy as can be. He is in a position where he doesn't have to market.
On the other hand (you knew there was another hand) what if you get tired of driving hours a day and want to make a change in how you work with your clients? Thousands of business owners work from home with clients on the phone and use tools like GoToMeeting. They don't waste hours driving anymore. That might mean you'd have to either get your current clients to change how you work with them or you might want to change clients.
Or, let's say you get a lot of business from only a few companies or referrals. What if that suddenly dried up? Wouldn't you want to have your own community – your own tribe?
Unlike television and older media, social media is a two-way broadcast medium. You need to be part of the network and not just as a member. You need to participate. You need to be the person people think of when they need what you sell because you have earned their trust.
And, if you already have that kind of tribe and community, you have to continue to communicate with them. And, I don't know of any more effective two-way communication medium today than all of the things that make up what we call social media.
Kathleen Jaffee commented yesterday, "I'm struggling with how to provide help to folks at this point,
when I'm still in the early planning stages of my business. I don't
have a Web site yet (yeah, there's a page slapped up there, but the
actual launch is going to be in early January), and so I'm not blogging.
I am on twitter, with the goal of networking with the folks I want
to work with and establishing some trust and credibility by being
helpful. But how much value and help can one provide when limited to
twitter's 140 characters? 🙂
Actually, Kathleen, you are in a great position! You have a few months to read other blogs and start getting known in the community that you want to join or lead. You do that by first listening to what people are saying, what are their challenges, how are they successful, and who and where they are. By beginning to become known as a contributor and someone who provides value to the community, you're going to have more and quicker success with your own blog launch.
By the way, are you incorporating your blog into your website? Starting over, I'd have everything in one place. In fact, that's what you see here soon. You don't have to have your site up before you begin blogging, of course. But, if I were you, I'd listen and comment and spend a few months becoming part of the community.
Same thing goes for Twitter and other social media. Follow people you find interesting and who share your interests. Listen to them. Then slowly engage them in a conversation. Lots of people describe Twitter as a big cocktail party where you walk into the room and gradually engage people. Eventually, you'll want to promote and retweet people where you see value.
Ask questions. Let people know you're starting a blog in January. I'd ask them this one, "If you were starting to blog today, what would you do differently?" Or, "If you were starting your business in 3 months, how would you use social media today."
I can't wait to hear what they tell you. So, now you have to come back here when you get some answers and let us know what they said. Please!
Someone had a sense of humor when they created the slipper and gave it that name. Just think about it for a minute. How many people do you know who have slipped and fallen while wearing slippers? The damn things are dangerous.
I fell down my basement stairs while wearing a pair yesterday. I was taking two bowls full of water to my cats and so I not only fell hard but I ended up soaking wet. And, then when I tried to stand back up the slipper soles were all wet so I fell right back down again.
All I could think of is my wife, Joann, is going to never forgive me if I break my neck on our wedding anniversary which was yesterday. She is Italian-Irish and the mourning and wake would have gone on forever. But, other than feeling like someone took a baseball bat to me, I'm fine today.
But, it made me think about my community – my tribe. If I had been badly injured they would be here for me. I have family, friends and neighbors who I know I could count on if I needed help. They know they can count on me too.
My business tribe feels the same way. There is no doubt in my mind that I can call on people in my business tribe who would also do whatever they could to help me. I've built that kind of relationship and community one day at a time by engaging in networking with them. We took it small steps at a time until we established the kind of trust you need to become a true tribe.
But, I'm worried about you. You still haven't bought into this whole new marketing, social media, tribe building thing. You're talking instead of listening by using the same old advertising, direct mail, once-a-year picnic or golf outing.
You're not listening.
And, your customers and clients are talking. They're way ahead of you and they are talking about you. They're blogging, tweeting, creating websites, and telling the world all about you.
And, you're still running ads in newspapers while your competition is hiring full time bloggers and social media customer service reps. You've got your head stuck in the sand or someplace else.
Or, worse, you created a blog, joined Facebook, got yourself on Twitter and now ALL YOU DO is talk about yourself and your company. You're still not listening. You got a chance to join the conversation and instead of asking questions and listening, you throw out your virtual business cards and think that this is all about you.
It's not! It's about us. And, if you want to be one of us, you've got to earn your membership.
Enjoy building your tribe. It will do wonders for you and your business. Don't lament the changes and the past. It's past. I spent 40 years doing it the other way. And, I can tell you that by listening and being part of this new marketing, I've met wonderful, exciting people who have changed my life and my business for the better. You will too.
So get up off the old way of marketing floor! I want you to succeed. I'll help you do it. Just ask.
And, if you're not the one on the floor, then please send this to someone you know who is. They'll thank you.
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