Promises Promises

promise

I recently had a potential client ask me to make them promises on how many “likes” my product advertising would gain for the business. I wouldn’t do it. But why? Shouldn’t a marketer be able to promise a return on investment? Absolutely, but for so many reasons this request was simply wrong. Let’s break down why.
As I’ve written before, likes are largely irrelevant. If you want guaranteed likes, well then you can just buy them. They’ll be completely worthless. Let me correct myself; they’ll cost you to buy and then, later, they’ll cost you when you have to pay more to get your content out to your page since you now have a page that’s filled with people who don’t care about your stuff. But hey, if that’s your measure of success then you can, indeed, just buy them. But you’ll need to find another person to do that for you. I don’t do that kind of work. I also won’t sell you a bridge. Ruining my reputation isn’t worth it.

Another reason this request didn’t work is that this contract wasn’t about likes or growing the page. It was specifically about advertising product for purchase. Now granted, a side effect of advertising product is almost always growing a page. If people like and purchase a product, they’ll often like your Facebook page as well. It is important, however, to keep the actual end goal in mind. Do you measure your sales success by how many people like you? I hope your mortgage company takes likes as payment. Mine doesn’t. Measure sales success by sales.

I should stop here and say that I have done work to grow a page’s following. Lots of work focused on that end goal. There is a time and place for that. But how you go about that is VERY different from how you sell a product. It’s important not to mix the two. Just like friends, you don’t want your friends constantly selling to you, and when you go to buy something you don’t want someone spending all of your time trying to become your good buddy. There’s a time and a place for everything.
So then, will I guarantee sales? Probably not. But, isn’t that what the ad was about? You bet. And I’ve done exactly that in environments where I had control of ALL of the details that went into selling a product. The minute that one of those details changed my ability to guarantee sales drops to zero.

I can bring you in sales leads but if your sales team doesn’t follow up on those leads nothing I can do will make your product sell. I can get people to your website but if that website doesn’t convert there’s nothing I can do to make people want to buy. I’m more than happy to guarantee at least industry standards for metrics; frankly I’d be surprised to see anything that poor… I’ve yet to have rates that low.

If you want me or any marketer to guarantee something, they’d better have full and complete control over whatever it takes to make that thing happen. Are you willing to let your marketer do that? Check out this AWESOME post on just what a marketer should ask for regarding control should you want to guarantee sales…

As a marketer part of my job is setting realistic expectations. Some of that is working with customers to determine what they really want from their marketing. Many people don’t truly know. It also means sticking to an end goal. “I want ALL THE THINGS” from a single campaign doesn’t work. It’s the very reason many people believe Facebook and social selling doesn’t work. They’re doing all the things at the same time.

It also means making sure a client knows that a sales process isn’t simply putting out an ad. “If you build it they will come” works in fantasy baseball movie land. A true sales process is far more complex and requires effort across all parts of a company. If any part of that is broken the sales process suffers.

A final note. While all of this is “sales” related the same is true for nonprofits. Perhaps even more so. Many nonprofits have trouble determining what the end goal is for their social media campaigns. Or alternately they start with the hard sell before they’ve established any friends at all. You might be able to do that with a great product. As a nonprofit, you’re VERY unlikely to do that, even with a great cause.

The final point? Sometimes the person you need to hire is the person who will tell you no. No, you can’t (or shouldn’t) run this wire through your bathtub no matter how much you want to. Don’t listen to the electrician who tells you yes just because it’s what you want to hear.

Anyone can tell you yes, but that yes comes at a price. And that price is getting the results you ACTUALLY want.


Negative Reviews-What Now?

Reputation Management Insta Post

 

There’s very little that will make a business owner more upset and scared than online review sites.  Sure, the in-person interaction with an upset or unreasonable customer is frustrating, but the review site?  That’s something that seems completely unfair, uncontrollable and, to many, just plain false.

And yet, most business owners know that review sites can make or break your business.

So what do you do?

There are a few tactics business owners use when it comes to review sites.  Sadly, some of these aren’t great ideas.

Tactics

Ignore.  

A bit like that red growth on your leg, ignoring reviews on a review site doesn’t mean they will go away.  Indeed, just like an unusual growth, the policy of ignoring a problem may well make things a whole lot worse.  It rarely takes care of itself.  Sure, it might.  But this isn’t a wound… reviews don’t go away on their own.  Ignoring a bad review means it just stays there, festering and showing it’s ugly self to anyone who happens by.  Is it true?  Is it false?  Anyone who happens to read it has no real clue.  They just get to see that ugly wound and wonder…

 

Respond with an attack.  

Tit for Tat.  The tactic of the schoolyard.  Another unfortunate response choice. Unlike the ignore tactic, this time the reviewer has successfully proven that they were right about the maturity of the business and its practices.  They’ve managed to bring you down to their level and more importantly, they’ve done a good job of getting you to make yourself look bad.  If their review didn’t do enough damage, the response sealed the deal.

 

This leaves the only other option… respond respectfully.  

But how do you do that when someone has insulted you?  The same way you would (hopefully) in any other emotionally charged situation.

 

  1. Step away for a bit- never reply right away.  You’re emotionally charged, and that’s OK… but we all know that doesn’t make for a great time to write logical and reasonable responses.  So let’s not even try.  Give yourself a bit to calm down.  The world won’t end if you take a day or two to respond.
  2. Is there someone at your company or org who is better at this than you?  Have them do it.  It may well be that this is too close to home for you.  Outsourcing a response or, at least, running it past someone who isn’t quite so involved is NEVER A BAD IDEA.  Do that.  If you can’t do that now, at least run your final response past someone before you post it.  Find someone who will tell you the truth about your writing, even if it’s harsh and not what you might want to hear.
  3. Gather the facts.  Don’t assume you know what happened.  Get ALL the information you can.  Is it possible that this person called and talked to someone else?  Is it possible they sent an email that got caught in your spam folder?  Look to see if there’s part of the story you’re missing.
  4. Reply with facts NOT emotions.  There are three options here:
    1. The customer was unreasonable and wants something unreasonable.  Say so nicely.  “It’s true; we do not allow pet monkeys in our apartment complex.”  Sure, monkey owners looking to rent an apartment won’t like this response, but you don’t want to rent to them anyway.  And those customers who are looking for monkey-free apartments are going to be REALLY ecstatic to see this response from you and will see this customer’s complaint as unreasonable.  This review actually works to keep away customers you don’t want and bring in the customers you DO want.  It’s a win for everyone.
    2. False story.  The customer is telling a story that isn’t true.  Be EXTRA careful here.  Tell your story as best you can and MOST importantly, stick to the facts.  Stay away from inflammatory words.  The more calm you sound, the better you will appear.  The more you seem like you’re attacking, the more credibility you give to the inflammatory reviewer.  Win the battle by being calmer than the reviewer.  Always strive to be and sound more reasonable.  This is your goal.
    3. You ARE at fault.  OK, this sucks… except there’s something to know about this… if you do this right, it really doesn’t.  You know why?  Because we’re all human and only the most unreasonable customers will expect that you never make mistakes.  How you handle yourself here is quite possibly the best thing you can do for your business.  MAKE THINGS RIGHT and do it publicly.  By showing your future customers that you’ll do what it takes, within reason, to make it correct you show them that while you might not always be perfect, you will correct any problem should something not go to plan.  Granted, if you have a ton of these reviews, you have a problem you need to fix, one or two over a series of many reviews will show a shop that people know they can trust.  This is one of your most powerful reviews, IF you handle it correctly!
  5. Check yourself… if you’re writing your own responses, have someone check them.  Have several people read each one.  Have people outside of your business check them if need be.
  6. Post it… and watch it.  On some review sites people can update their responses once they see yours… you may need to update your reply.  Not fun but it may still be necessary.

 

All of this can be overwhelming.  For many business people learning how to do this stuff can be troubling.  

 

Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews and the like do not need to be your enemy… but if you ignore them they will be.

 

Need help?  Let’s talk!


Breaking the Law

It never fails that you’ll see an article here or there on the “Rules” of social media or marketing as a whole.  Sometimes these rules are pretty solid.  Sometimes they’re stupid.  But like anything else, there is always a time to break social media rules.

One of my personal rules?  

Never link accounts.  What do I mean by that?  Never have what you post on Facebook automatically post to Twitter.  Never have what you post on Instagram post automatically to Facebook.  Etcetera.

Why?  

Each of these platforms has its own unique ways of operating.  If you automatically post your Facebook content to twitter you’ll get tweets that are truncated and look bizarre.  You’ll usually be missing hashtags that could make you a part of a conversation or topic and you’ll likely not tag people who might need to see what you’ve written.

The same is true if you post your Instagram to Facebook.  Instagram LOVES hashtags.  HASHTAG ALL THE THINGS!  It’s how people find content they want to explore.  But seeing an endless stream of hashtags on Facebook is both annoying and tacky- Facebook doesn’t do hashtags except in joke.  

And really, regardless of the medium, your fans deserve quality content and effort don’t they?  Well… mostly yes.

But as with anything, there’s an exception to every rule.

 

Nial McGaughey of Hovercraft

 

Meet my friend Nial.  He owns and runs Hovercraft Amplifiers.  He builds beautiful stuff and does an awesome job of posting it to Instagram along with personal pics.  His fans love him and he’s growing a huge following there.

 

(you can see more of the Hovercraft Instagram feed HERE)

 

But Nial is also a sole proprietor who does everything himself, from answering endless emails to building these amps to packaging and shipping them out- and EVERY OTHER THING in between.

He doesn’t have time to manage every social media channel.  To be honest, he doesn’t have time to do half of the stuff he’s actually doing.  The fact that he can find time to even be on Instagram is a miracle.

And yet being on Facebook would be solid for his business and indeed Hovercraft has a page there… a page with 10k fans.  A page that he has no time to manage and has basically “shut down” by telling folks he won’t be posting there anymore.

My advice?  

You got it.  Link your Instagram account to Facebook and have it automatically post to Facebook for you.  He should be able to even turn off comments or at least, let fans know that they can’t get in touch with him on Facebook (remember, he has no time for community management… no really, he doesn’t).

This would help keep his page alive, with content and when it comes time to advertise on Facebook folks could see that something was being posted on the page.

 

For normal folks this would be problematic

REACH and all… but unlike most folks his fans actually are pretty rabid… he doesn’t need to worry too much about his reach and right now, with a page that isn’t being used, it can’t actually be less.  Remember, he posts pictures of his dinner on Instagram and people still love it.  Not everyone can get away with that.  He is a celebrity for the work he does and people want to see his process, even if it’s not well-polished marketing content with solid community management and perfect response times.

So yes, there are times to break rules.  Does this mean YOU should instantly have all of your Instagram posts pushed to Facebook?  Probably not.  Do you honestly have 10k fans you grew without trying who would care what you ate for dinner?  No?  Then the answer is NO.

The key to breaking rules is to know when it’s actually appropriate and not just doing it because you want to.

 

For those who want to learn more about Nial and the work he does you can read more about his work in this Popular Mechanics post here, or purchase his stuff here.


What You’re Paying For with BIG Marketing

marketing firms

 

Quite some time ago I had what I thought would be the great privilege to work with a huge marketing firm.  I was very excited about the project as I was going to get the opportunity to see how one of the “world’s leading global public relations firms” handles marketing, social media and the like.

I was thrilled to have such a great opportunity to look inside such a huge marketing juggernaut and to learn from them whatever there was to be learned.  But more importantly, I was extremely excited about a specific project they were suggesting for the tiny nonprofit I was working with at the time as a consultant.

Learning from the “Gurus”?

You see, just prior to this consulting gig, I worked with TechSoup Global and helped to run their Digital Storytelling Challenge.  We had a very small team of folks to run this international competition.  While we had, in my opinion, knocked it out of the park, like any other huge project done by a small group of people with a ton of other projects going on at the same time, there was certainly room for improvement.

This huge international marketing firm was suggesting something fairly similar to the digital storytelling event we had just completed at TechSoup.  It would be easier to run as it only involved photography rather than both a video and photography component as we had done at TechSoup.  Unlike the TechSoup Challenge, it was only going to be open to folks in the US rather than all over the globe, cutting out a ton of complexity.

And of course, with the HUGE global presence of a marketing firm with over 70 offices worldwide who contests all the time, marketing for some of the biggest companies in the world, watching them run something like this should be amazingly educational.  Right?

Learning How

As I sat in on the meeting a ton of the logistics about the contest didn’t seem to come up so I asked about them.  There didn’t seem to be much thought or knowledge about how these basics would work.  These things hadn’t even been considered.  I should add that I wasn’t talking to the high level idea people.  No, these were the people who would make this project happen for us.

Finally I asked the big question, the one we had struggled with at Tech Soup and the one that provides for a ton of really tricky concern as, if you do it wrong, you can get into a TON of hot water… RULES.

You see each state has a ton of different rules about what is allowed when it comes to contests.  Use the word raffle in some states and you’ll be in serious trouble… cause now you’re gambling.  Aka no one can pay to enter your contest and your contest has to be a contest of skill, not chance.

And this is where my mind was blown.  It wasn’t that they didn’t know off-hand about how rules for each state would be handled.  No, that wasn’t the shocker.

They Didn’t Even Know…

They didn’t know that there was even a concern about rules regarding contests.  They didn’t even know that there were rules that existed for contests.  They didn’t know this would be an issue or something to even consider.

 

I’m not sure if I did a decent job of hiding my shock at this or not.  I doubt it.

 

These people are paid BIG BUCKS… in this case more than $350 for a blog post with a few words and some pictures (as an example) and they didn’t even know that contests have rules?  I can’t recall how much they were charging for the contest portion of the marketing contract.  It was a lot.

That may not seem like a huge problem but if they don’t know that there are rules around this sort of thing what other hot water might they get our tiny nonprofit into?  What other thing might I need to watch for?  

Is it possible that we could get into serious legal issues because they don’t even know what they don’t know?


And with the HUGE cost of what we were paying for, shouldn’t we be able to expect they would have our back legally?  Shouldn’t that kind of thing be a given from a major global marketing firm?

The answer is no.  You shouldn’t expect that from a major marketing firm apparently.  You shouldn’t expect that from the majority of marketers you work with.

 

The take-away?

So find someone who knows better.  Find someone who thinks “is there something we need to look into here legally before we do this thing?”

 

Just because you pay through the nose doesn’t mean you’re getting what you pay for.

 


Who is doing your social?

Do You know--

Who is doing your social?  Are you sure you know?

Usually when people hire a marketing firm they believe they’re getting a professional marketer to do their marketing.  But is that really the case?

Just recently I came across this post on Facebook and it absolutely blew my mind.  And then I realized I really shouldn’t be too surprised.  You see, it’s not that I don’t know who is offering up a lot of the social media consulting.  I do.

But do you?

WHAT

 

Notice, nothing about actually selling product.  Almost anyone can “capture leads” but can they actually SELL?  Isn’t that what you’re paying them to do?

Do yourself a favor, take a look at job postings for social media jobs.  Look specifically for job postings for agencies looking to hire people.  And since most of you are too busy to do that I’ll tell you what you’ll (often) find.

Who is doing social…

First, you’ll find people hiring for agency jobs often looking for people with little to no true marketing experience required other than experience why USE social media.  And often these jobs pay minimum wage if they pay at all.  Sometimes they’re hiring interns and interns only and yet the job makes it pretty clear they aren’t offering much in the way of training as they want this new hire to be competent at most of the job tasks without any supervision.

Here’s the thing folks, using social media and selling on social media is NOT the same thing.  Just because someone has a lot of friends on social doesn’t mean they know anything at all about how to actually get people to your event or sell your product.  Indeed, having worked with MANY newbie social media managers, it’s often true these folks know little to nothing about how to actually sell via social (though they usually assume they do).  Being a popular kid doesn’t actually sell product.  Certainly not unless you’re a celebrity and sometimes not even then.

The most important thing for you to consider is that a number of these marketing companies are hiring people YOU wouldn’t hire if you were hiring your own marketing person to do marketing in-house, certainly not for the price you’re paying them for their services.

And yet many people hire marketing companies assuming they are getting experienced marketing professionals.

For that matter many people are hiring the consultants like those being trained above assuming they are hiring marketing professionals.  They don’t assume they’re hiring someone who has a few months (if that) of marketing training under their belt, most of which focused on how to sell their business to you and not how to sell your business and its products or services!

A short training program isn’t going to make you competent at selling via social.  What it might make you able to do is convince people that you’re a “social media rockstar”.

So how do you hire someone to sell your business?

The same way you hire for any position.  Results.

If you’re hiring for a salesperson you want someone who has a proven track record of selling.  So hire a social media person who has a proven track record of selling.  Don’t focus on click-through rates.  Look for someone who has built pages, grown followings, someone who can get people in the door if you have a brick and mortar shop, and someone who has SOLD PRODUCT.

If they can’t prove that they can do this for you through their past efforts, find someone who can.


Social Media Results

Most marketers will promise results to you.  But the results they promise are things like CTR, or likes on Facebook.  I’m going to suggest to you that these aren’t results, they are fluff, at least they are once you’ve established a firm community on social media.
You see, once you have an audience you shouldn’t simply be looking for likes.  What you need is sales, or for a nonprofit, donations.  And for things like events, you need people in the door.  But for whatever reason most marketers won’t tell you they can make those things happen.

Now I will give a caveat.  If the event stinks or the product stinks no one call sell that.  But if your product is good, if your event is good, a good marketer better be able to get people in the door or get a product to sell.  And yes, it should be obvious that social made it happen.

Don’t believe me?  This Instagram post had at LEAST two people come in on a single weekday to see the bike and a number more asking about pricing.  Two people doesn’t sound like much but on a rainy weekday in January that’s actually pretty huge.

We’re not sure yet how many came in over the weekend to see the bike.  And these are just the folks who told us how they knew about the bike…  I have plenty more stories of proof of sales and event turn out to tell later but for now this is about getting people in the door during a time when no one comes in.

It can be done.  Don’t pay for someone who isn’t willing to make that happen.

A good marketer should be able to show you actual results, not just people clicking!


Marketing the Impossible…

 

Ducati EventEvery once in a while as a marketer you’re asked to promote something you just don’t think you can sell.  It may not be the product or the event itself.  Often the problem is the timing or something else outside of your control.

Just such a case happened last winter.  You see, winter in the motorcycle industry is not particularly friendly.  Few people are thinking about riding when the weather is cold and wet.

But when a major brand says they’re coming to your shop on a specific day you don’t get a choice in the matter.  And so it happened that I had to promote an event that would happen at what might well be the very worst time ever.  Tuesday, in March, at a motorcycle shop that’s hard to get to on weeknights, or really any time after about 3pm.

What To Do?

There are a couple of choices when you have something like this to promote.  You can go all in, trying absolutely everything to see if anything will stick or, you can decide to save your money for something with a larger pull.  I decided not to spend too much money on this event, knowing that I had a limited audience to pull from on a weekday.

What I did know is that if I targeted my audience correctly I might just stand a chance of getting people in the door.  Maybe.  So that’s what I did.

While the brand had done some advertisement, it really focused on general advertisement all over the US that basically said, we’re coming to a dealership near you… check out this page to see where.  Nothing that specifically told them to come see us.  Nothing that highlighted our shop in any meaningful way.  That was going to be up to us.

Competition

And it was going to be a huge sell.  Our local competitors had much better slots.  One of the big shops to the north had the Saturday slot.  Big city, Saturday.  And here we were at a shop that’s hard to get to on a Tuesday… Ugh.

So what did I do?  Well first I sent out our email blast.  With an open rate of over 50% our customers would certainly want to know if there’s something going on at the store.  We would make sure to tell them.  After all, we were joking that we’d have 6 people in the shop, 5 more than the usual 1 we see at this time of the year and we might not have that if we didn’t send our email blast!!

And then I did what I knew would be the most focused and least expensive marketing I could do… I advertised on Facebook.  For $15 I could very accurately target people I thought would have an extremely high likelihood of showing up at the shop.

But would it work?

The day came and almost immediately we were all blown away.  People were showing up at the shop all day.  And it wasn’t just our regular customers.

When all was said and done we had about 100 people in the shop, a miracle for a Tuesday in March.  And of those 100 people about 75% – 80% were customers who were new to us.

That is amazing.  For $15 we had a much higher turnout than we ever expected and more importantly, we had more new customers in the door than we have ever seen before at any previous event.

Needless to say, that was easily the best $15 I have ever spent on advertising.

Many may think that 100 people isn’t a ton of people through the door and for some businesses that would certainly be true.  For a motorcycle shop in March on a Tuesday none the less, it’s absolutely huge.

Spend, Spend, Spend!

When people tell you that you need to spend big money on Facebook what they’re telling you is that they don’t know how to run Facebook ads well.

A LOT can be done with $15.