social is a marketing tool, not a strategy

I often make the analogy that social media marketing is like building your house on land that you don’t own. To be certain, social media marketing is an essential element in today’s marketing plans, but to put all the marketing eggs in that basket is crazy. You have no way of knowing how the social platforms will change and how those changes will affect your strategy. Two things have popped up lately that have reinforced this point to me both as a user and as a marketer.

A few weeks ago, I was in Nashville at a speaking engagement and was shocked to discover that I could no longer check-in on Foursquare. They have split the app and now are forcing me to download a second app called Swarm to check-in.

I could easily go on for paragraphs on why this is a stupid idea (check the dreadful iTunes reviews for Swarm to get an idea of the backlash). But the main reason it affects me is that I don’t use Foursquare “to easily see who’s out nearby and who wants to hang out later” as Swarm promises to do. I used Foursquare as a diary / travel log, restaurant discovery tool, and coupons. (free chips/salsa at Chili’s!)

Unless Foursquare reverts to something similar to what it was before, I will abandon Foursquare much like Peter Shankman did.

Life devastating occurrence? Of course not. As the hipsters like to say, it’s certainly a first-world problem. But all my check-ins are there. If I stop using Foursquare, they’re gone. My personal history wiped because a few people I don’t know changed an app. And the potential for destruction lies in wait elsewhere such as my personal travelogue currently presented as TripAdvisor reviews, all my tweets, etc.

The Foursquare debacle is from an (angry) user standpoint. Marketers using social media have much more at stake with adjustments and changes to the platforms. This Facebook post from a blogger I follow shows the foolishness of how the social platforms are killing their golden goose.

don't trust facebook

And I agree with Matt. Good content always wins, but you need to gain control of your list. If your marketing strategy is just to get more Facebook fans or more Twitter followers, or whatever, then you are ensuring your eventual failure when you no longer have access to those consumers you worked (and maybe paid) to get.

Your goal (every marketer’s goal) SHOULD be to gain more audience who is dedicated to consuming your relevant content. Use social media as a tool to deliver that content, but own your list.

Always remember, especially with social media, that if something is “free”, then YOU are the product that is being sold.

Posted in online Tagged with: , ,

airquote marketing

Dear small business whose ad is featured in this photo…social media done wrong
Firstly, you’re not “using” the right term for people to “like” your page on “Facebook”.
I further “suggest” that you actually take a step back with your social marketing “strategy” to find actual “fans” and “customers” to connect with through social media than using a short-sighted “bumrush” to win something that has a $99 “value”.

Posted in advertising, online Tagged with: ,

the takeaway is to annoy them

This graphic popped up on my LinkedIn feed today. Many people were amen-ing and high-fiving the content in the post’s comments.  I suppose it backs up why I’m a horrible salesperson and why I dislike so many salespeople. Apparently, the key to successful sales is to annoy people to death.

sales

I’d rather people buy things from me because they have said “this is something I want and need” rather than “alright, I’ll take it to get you off my back”. I think that leads to the 2nd sale.

Posted in marketing Tagged with: ,

are you a spammer?

People tend to think of spammers as shady dudes sending emails about questionable manhood pills and Nigerian fortunes, but there are lots of ‘legitimate’ business owners who are email spammers.

It’s because of one of the primary marketing sins of many business owners — “I think my business is interesting, valuable, needed, etc — so therefore everyone does.”

A few weeks ago, I had answered an inquiry from an owner of a speakers’ bureau about my speaking services. We traded a few emails. It didn’t go anywhere. I thought we were done. This morning, I crack my email open and find I’ve been added to their email newsletter that I had never asked for. Looking back through the correspondence, I now think this woman just trolls LinkedIn looking for people to add to a list.

Do you have an email subscription list? Here’s the simple rule:
If you add someone to a email list and they haven’t specifically asked to be placed on that list, then you are a spammer.

The basic definition of SPAM is email that you did not ask to receive.

If you’re adding people to the list who don’t care – or even worse if you’re buying names to add, then you’re wasting time, attention, and money and slowly destroying your reputation. Don’t do it.

An email list that is not opt-in is like sending pizzas to people who didn’t order one.

This is not a hard thing to understand. Permission marketing works better than force feeding. It’s better to have an audience of 50 that want to listen than to have an audience of 50,000 that don’t care and never will. It’s not about numbers; it’s about the relationships.

Posted in marketing, online Tagged with: ,

weakest link

An eager entrepreneur is passionate about food. He scrimps and saves with the dream of opening his own restaurant.

Why invest in other restaurant startup costs if you're going to butcher your restaurant menu in Microsoft WordOne day, the opportunity presents itself. He sinks all of his financial resources into the building, fit-up, and other start-up costs. His success hinges on the success of that restaurant. He has spared no expense to make it the best it can be.

Opening day approaches.

He cranks up Microsoft Word and makes the menu complete with typos and freakish justification.

The end.

***************

While I’m on a rant about restaurant menus…

  • If I’m eating something in a restaurant, then logically it CANNOT be “homemade” (unless you’re in trouble with the health dept). The word you’re looking for is “homestyle”.
  • Do you sell salads? Most people eat salad dressing on those. How about a listing of your salad dressing choices?
  • Own a restaurant? Have a website for it? Do you know why people come to a restaurant website? The menu. Why have you hidden it, strung it out on 8 different pages, and made it a 25MB PDF?
  • Dear Fast Food Behemoth: How about listing what you have and the prices on the menu boards instead of blinky-flashy tv screens that change about the time I start reading them?
  • And to the original point of this post – If you own a restaurant, please hire a graphic designer to design a menu that works. Proofread it. Pass it around to people who are not your friends to see if it makes sense to them. It’s amazing that the single most important marketing piece for a restaurant is so badly butchered by so many restaurateurs.
Posted in marketing, other Tagged with: , , ,

read your veggies

After many late nights of eating ramen noodles, rolling my eyes at a publisher’s style guides, and general frustration with the book retail system while publishing Brand Zeitgeist, I swore I would never write another book.

I have written another book. And to borrow the line from Monty Python, it’s something completely different. It’s not about marketing. It’s not about business. It’s not about media.

It’s about vegetable gardening.

Back up. How did we get here?

I’ve been aware for a few years of the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program at Amazon. Even though it’s platform exclusive, it’s an egalitarian idea that puts content creators closer to book consumers in the same disruptive fashion we’ve seen in things like music and media publishing. It eliminates many of the frustrations and problems with traditional, self, or POD publishing.

I had a few ideas of short e-books for marketing topics I wanted to publish in the Amazon program. Before putting a massive amount of work into those projects, I wanted a guinea pig project to learn more about the program firsthand and just for fun.

I also needed to step away from writing about marketing for a bit. As I’ve said before, I’ve exhausted my commentary on traditional marketing and there‘s too much being said about digital.

I had written a column for a local alt-monthly newspaper for a few months about vegetable gardening. I used those columns as a nucleus and wrote an e-book around them.

Kentucky Dirt - A practical guide to vegetable gardeningThat short e-book (about 6500 words) is now available on Amazon as “Kentucky Dirt: A practical guide to vegetable gardening”. The book takes you through a year in the garden with tips and common sense advice on how to grow a garden and why the effort is worth it.

It’s written in a very laid-back first-person style. It’s like Lewis Grizzard, P. Allen Smith, and Justin Wilson got together and wrote something. Kentucky Dirt offers an eclectic mix of folksy humor, recipes, and stories.

It is available exclusively through the Amazon Kindle platform. The download is priced at 99 cents. The book has also been accepted into the Amazon KDP Select program which means, among other things, that Amazon Prime members can borrow the book for free from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

So won’t you buy a copy? It’s only 99 cents!

Posted in book reviews, other Tagged with: , , ,

living by the sword

A little over two years ago, Morton’s steakhouse pulled off a promotional stunt that generated tons of publicity by meeting a rabid Morton’s fan (who is also a social media celebrity) at the airport with a steak dinner after he tweeted he was hungry. It was talked about on social media for weeks and the story got picked up by national traditional media outlets.

This past weekend, the Morton’s in Nashville threw a cancer patient out of the restaurant for wearing a cap to cover his hair loss from chemotherapy. They are getting destroyed across all social media platforms and are in major crisis management control mode.

If you live by the sword, you’ll die by the sword.

I’ve said several times that the underlying key to social media success is simple. Invest less in the social media message and invest more in your people who are on the ground providing customer service. Customers will post both the good and the bad experiences they have. (TIP: You want the good to outnumber the bad.)

Posted in online, strategy Tagged with: , , , , ,

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