People Over Profit: This Could Change the World

People Over Profit

Break the System. Live with Purpose. Be More Successful.

Can you imagine a world (or a city) in which all business owners, CEO’s, Presidents and Entrepreneurs embrace this business philosophy? When I connect with messages like this, I get a feeling I can’t describe – a reassurance that I am not crazy to believe that people really matter – Thanks Dale, for leading the way to #PeopleOverProfit…

If you’re in Lakeland, join us on August 7th for a discussion of this book, and the business philosophies contained within the brilliantly written pages. Our facilitator will be Nicole Welch, with Rap with Nic – a Podcast covering Real Men Only.

Spend 7 minutes watching this video as Dale discusses the context, and the application of this philosophy. I guarantee you’ll find value in his words. I did.

When I started my journey as an entrepreneur, I had several conversations – with myself.

They went something like this:

“You – in business? Are you kidding? Crazy, Crazy, Crazy.”

and

It’s not personal, it’s business’ – they say this all the time, but it can’t be true! Everyone is a human being before they’re a business owner! How in the world can businesses expect to succeed if they are only looking at their bottom line? I totally get ROI – but don’t people matter? Aren’t THEY what impacts the bottom line the most?”

and my personal favorite….

“If there’s any way you’re going to succeed in business, it’s going to be by being yourself. Don’t (PLEASE DON’T) lose sight of the things that matter most. Don’t get all caught up in making money and forget who you are. Make money, but not at the expense of others, or yourself.”

It’s been 6 years since I started that journey. And I have learned that I am not crazy – well, no crazier than any other entrepreneur – and I am good at what I do. I am proud of the work I do, and the 2 companies my partner, Craig and I continue to build.

Finding people like Dale, who write books like People Over Profit, who share my personal philosophies, who have similar passions, and who are breaking the rules of the establishment, and creating a new system – one that I can embrace and to which I can be contributor, is a sign that I am on the right track, keeping things real – and giving the best of me to my clients and to my community – because at the end of the day, people, are what make the world go ’round. Profit is just a byproduct of everything else. And living a life of purpose, on purpose has been the greatest gift I have ever given to myself.

Separating your Personas on Facebook is a Slippery Slope

When speaking to groups, I often ask the question:  “How many of you have more than one Facebook account?”  There are always several people who nod, affirming that they indeed have created two (or more) accounts to represent themselves on Facebook.  Whenever I ask the question, “Why?” I am most often given a response that indicates there is some concern for privacy, and a desire to separate their “business persona,” from their “private” lives.

This might be necessary for some people, and this post is not intended to place judgment on those who have a valid reason for separating their accounts.  I believe, in some cases, this separation might make sense.  An example would be college professors, teachers and others in education who must keep a distance from their educational contacts, but in the interests of connecting, while they are in classes with their students, for example, they have a need to  connect with their students and engage as “friends.”

There are certainly going to be other exceptions, but I believe, for the most part, creating a single account, and managing the privacy settings as appropriate is the best way to build a legitimate business network.

Here are 8 reasons creating multiple accounts on Facebook could be more damaging than helpful for your professional networking efforts.

1. Once you have friends with your “private” account, you’ve created a “breach” in your privacy.  You can remove your account from being discoverable in regular Facebook searches, and you can prevent it from being discovered by search engines, but as soon as you engage with your private connections (like, comment, tag photos, etc) you run the risk of “friends in common” seeing that you have a separate, “private” account. In most local communities, there will likely be overlap and this will immediately be noticed by those you have been deemed only “public” friends, and, thereby indicating that they are not your “real” friends. Whatever that means to the individual, it’s likely not going to support your desire to build the KLT (Know, Like, Trust) Factor, but it’s also going to create a shred of doubt about the authenticity of your relationship.

The reality is, once you have embraced social media for business purposes, the definition of “friend” is used a bit more loosely.  There are still those who use Facebook strictly for their “real” friends.  Ultimately, everyone is in control of who they accept into their network and that will depend on what each individual wants to accomplish with their social networking efforts. . My warning to those considering segmenting themselves in this way is, unless you’ve explained to your connections why you have placed them in one account or the other, many people will wonder about it and you cannot control how this will effect the way they interact with you.

2. If your content for your “business” account is all business, people will hide you (or delete you). No matter what you think about Social Media, the connections you are making are being made with real people.  If you think you can sell to your social network, and not share anything about your regular life you are sadly mistaken.  You’ll be better off paying for ads in magazines, buying a billboard, getting some radio commercials or sending out mailers.  When a one-way broadcast is all you have in mind for your “business” persona in a social network, you’re going to diminish the value people place on you as a member of their network. It’s a two-way street.

3. It’s against Facebook’s Terms of Use! I am pretty sure this is not going to be a huge deterrent for most people, but if you are looking beyond the moment, you might want to consider the fact that you are investing time and energy in building a network.  If your violation is ever discovered by Facebook, you run the risk of having all of your content removed.

4. Managing two accounts is not efficient. Let’s be realistic here.  No matter what your intentions for creating the second account, it’s going to take double the work to be effective.  Logging in and out of accounts (on all of your devices, browsers, etc.) is tedious.  It’s easy to forget which account is logged in and this leaves an opportunity to post the wrong thing from the wrong account.  With so much room for error, it would be easy to get into a predicament that would be awkward to explain.  You might decide to use a social media management tool like Hoot Suite, or Buffer, to toggle between your accounts, but you’ll have to commit to learning how best to use those tools in order to be effective.  In addition to the risk of posting to the wrong account, there is also the risk of confusing yourself when having conversations with others.  People like to know they matter, and when you cannot keep details straight, they might begin to think they don’t… and, if you are separating yourself from them, do they?

5. Facebook allows you to manage business “Pages” from your personal account. When you create a page, you can still log in to your personal account and manage the page (without anyone being aware that you “own” the page). You don’t need to worry about separate log in credentials, or being logged into the wrong account.  Facebook makes it easy to navigate between your personal account and your business page.  Posts to pages are always public, therefore the content can be indexed and picked up by search engines, and the content can reach a broader audience than just your approved “friends.”  I think people forget the importance of content and think that people connected on social networks are looking to be advertised to.  I have never had someone tell me they appreciated constant blasts of promotion/advertising in their News Feed.  When content is interesting, informative and conversational, it has more of a chance of being engaging and that is when people begin to listen.

6. Creating “lists” can help you separate your connections and control which contact sees what.  Before I go any further, I want to mention that no matter how “private” you think your content is, your content is public.  The most important statement that can be made about privacy is, if you don’t want your boss, client, prospect, mother, or teacher to see your content, don’t post it – anywhere.  Sure, you can block someone from seeing a particular post, but it can be captured with a screen shot, or the photo can be downloaded and then it’s just a matter of where it might end up.  It’s like putting all of the feathers back in a Down pillow!  Here’s an example of what could happen when someone takes a screen shot of your content – Ex-Facebook Employees Katherine Losse, Brandee Barker Exchange Pleasantries

Now, with all that being said, Facebook allows you to segment your friends into lists and create a privacy setting for each individual list.  I recommend doing this sooner, rather than later, if you are going to do it, because once you have hundreds of friends, it is going to be difficult to place everyone accurately.  Every time you post, you can use the audience selector to determine who will be able to see your post, giving you complete control of your privacy.

7. Make it possible for people to “follow” you. Many people don’t realize that there is a Facebook setting that will allow people to subscribe to your public updates.  Whenever someone requests your friendship, while they are waiting in your queue, they will become followers.  As soon as you approve their request, they move from “follower” to friend.  If you do not accept their request, they will remain “followers.” This can provide a nice option for networking and for those of you who want to provide some accessibility to people you know professionally, but still maintain a distinction between a friend who can see most of your personal details, and someone who you just want to see your public updates.

8. Real relationships lead to real results. The nature of these connections being online vs in person 100% of the time, serves as an enhancement to the process.  The fact that people can learn about you, what you do, how you share information, and how you engage with your connections, enables you to open your business up for opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have.  If you are authentic, and genuine in your posts, if you are generous with your interactions, and if you work to support others in your community, you will reap great returns on your investment.  With Facebook, you are not restricted to one organization.  You can network with everyone, near and far.  You can connect with groups, support your friends, meet new people and build a solid network and referral source like nothing you’ve ever seen before.  Once people know about the services you provide and you have proven you offer quality services and products, you’ll find yourself being tagged into conversations in which people are seeking your service/products simply because you are connected!

In my experience, those who build authentic relationships and invest in the people they meet, receive immeasurable returns.  As long as you are committed to engaging authentically in an effort to build a network of professionals you know, like and trust, your social media strategy will benefit you for years to come, and the relationships you build will stay with you as long as you continue to nurture them through your authentic posts.  Please feel free to share your thoughts. Keep the conversation going.

Online Community Etiquette – 7 Ways to Build your Network

Online communities are growing daily.  As more and more people turn to Social Media to build relationships, grow their businesses and develop new ideas, groups (on Facebook) and communities (on Google+) are becoming more and more prevalent.  Unfortunately, there is no rule book (aside from, in many cases, common sense) to follow when trying to determine how best to connect with people in your selected communities.  It’s still important that certain basic guidelines are followed, if you intend to build a network that will help you grow your business.  Afterall, if you are truly building relationships, your reputation is on (the) line.  Here are 7 basic guidelines for navigating online groups that will help you establish genuine relationships with people in your network.

  1. Use your real name. Especially when you are connecting with professionals you will actually see in your local environment, it’s important that you are transparent about who you are and what you do.  Avoid the awkward conversations when you run into someone you only have met online when they call you by your online persona and your name is actually quite different.  Being yourself establishes credibility and legitimizes the relationship you are establishing.  Relationships that are built solely online are tenuous.  People are skeptical.  Don’t make it more difficult to establish trust by selecting a pen name that makes people wonder whether you are someone they can trust.
  2. Fill out your profile with your professional details. When you are communicating with people in a Facebook group, people have the opportunity to visit your public profile to learn more about you. When they visit, it’s recommended that they are able to see your position at the company you currently work (linked to your company’s official Business Page so they can access accurate contact information, should they want to call); your current location and a professional looking photo of you.  Profile photos do not need to be professional head shots, but they should clearly show a photo of you that represents you in a positive way.
  3. Create conversation. One of the most common mistakes I see people make is they don’t make any effort to show they care about anyone else.  They simply advertise their business, tell people to come buy from them, or talk about how awesome they are, or how their company is the best in the industry.  The bottom line is that people in a social network want to be treated like they do in a real life setting.  At a dinner function, the best way to see people making a bee-line for the punch bowl is to blast the conversation with promotional or self-promotional conversations.  At some point, when the time is right, there will be an opportunity to promote, sell or advertise.  It’s simply something that must wait until the audience has a level of comfort, and trust with you.  Conversations are already in place, so the best thing to do is find something you can talk about and get involved in those conversations.
  4. Make an introduction when invited to do so, or when you first enter the group. Typically, there are guidelines for groups, and if there is a moderator, or group facilitator, they will encourage you to make an introduction.  This is your chance to tell everyone in the group (once) about yourself.  Make sure you include links to your website or other social links to allow the audience to learn more about your business.  Once you have made your introduction, get involved in the conversation, and support the existing members of the group.  People will appreciate you, and become curious about you, and certainly tell them about your services when someone asks questions that are related to what you do!
  5. Don’t Cross-Post From One Group to Another. Most of the time, especially in local communities, members are in several groups together. If you are not someone who has invested any time or effort in what others are saying, and you post the same message in all of the groups in which you are a member, you’re likely to create a reputation that will be hard to change later.  Each group offers something different, and the audiences vary, if only slightly.  Show that you are catering your message specifically for that particular audience, or you’ll lose their interest very quickly.
  6. Invest your time and effort into one group of a particular type. There are always multiple options for engagement, and sometimes there are similar groups with similar functions.  Some groups might suit your personality and your business better than others.  Select one group and commit to that group for an established period of time.  Focus on authentic engagement and interactions and build real relationships with the members.  Don’t spread yourself too thin, or dilute your message by trying to be everywhere.  If you have built solid relationships, you will garner recurring rewards from the investment you have made in the people you get to know.  If, after your previously determined time, you feel you are not seeing a return on your investment in the group, or its members, move on.  Sometimes you might learn quickly that the group is not for you.  Don’t spend too much time forcing yourself into a group that doesn’t seem to notice your efforts. Realize, however, that it does take time to establish trust, and groups that have been around awhile will recognize someone who is just there to take advantage of them, rather than invest in them.
  7. Be generous with information. This is the key to successfully growing your business in this type of environment.  Find out what people in the group need, whether they ask for it, or if by the conversations, you can determine that they need help and they don’t know it.  Share content from known resources, and ask questions.  Share content from your own website or blog, and ask the audience for feedback.  Share a story about a business experience that helped you.  Share community events, locally or nationally that would be interesting to the particular audience.  If you are not given feedback in the way of comments, ask yourself what you can do better next time to make your post more inviting.  Pay attention to the information that is interesting to the audience and then find your own unique way of bringing similar information to the conversation.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions that maybe I have missed?  Any examples, or stories that you can share with us?  Please add your comments, we’d love to know about any success you have found navigating in the world of online communities.

Mobile Marketing Allows Customers to Dial in on Good Deals in Lakeland

Green Mobile Marketing in Lakeland? Yes!

Quick! What’s the one thing you are most likely to have with you, wherever you are? I think it’s pretty safe to say you are not going to mention the Coupon Book, the Clipper Magazine or the Sophisticated Buyer, mailers, the newspaper or the yellow pages.  The thing is, everyone, without exception has their cell phones with them at all times. As mobile technology advances, and more people are upgrading their phones to “smartphones” (by Christmas, 2011, Nielsen predicts that 1 in 2 Americans will have a Smartphone. (Nielsen, 2010), businesses today can do their part in saving and protecting the environment by shifting their marketing efforts away from printed coupons, mailers and advertisements that are more likely to end up in the trash can or forgotten at home, than the cash register.

Mobile Marketing in Lakeland is Sustainable

Sustainability is not a buzzword anymore. It’s a best practice for all businesses. Environmentally conscious or not, businesses need to pay attention to reaching their customers in more efficient ways. Mobile technologies provide an exciting solution for Lakeland businesses on several different levels. When a customer is mobile, (or not in front of their computers) they are still connected to their networks, via e-mail, Social Media, Text and even their Search Engines.
Businesses who have learned to leverage this are reaping the rewards and thriving, in spite of the recession. How? Because they are providing special offers that can be created once and recycled, updated and tracked and sending them to their customers on the one object they never leave home without – their cell phones.

Lakeland Consumers are Ready for Mobile Marketing

There are thousands of consumers in Lakeland that are eager for their favorite businesses and business they have never visited before, to give them a reason to shop with them and give them an opportunity to express their loyalty through their social networks. Mobile Marketing strategies are a no-brainer. It just takes a little strategic thinking to figure out how it can work for any business.
Here are a few ideas that businesses in Lakeland can use right now to reduce paper waste, generate buzz around their business and increase their bottom lines.
  • Businesses can partner with other businesses to create an SMS campaign that can offer special promotions to their Mobile Subscribers
  • Individual Businesses can have Mobile Contests, Like a Text2Vote or Text to Win Campaign
  • Mobile strategies like QR codes and SMS/Text campaigns can drive traffic to websites that have been optimized for viewing on mobile devices
  • Location-Based Social Media Applications like Foursquare, Facebook Places, SCVNGR, Gowalla and Yelp can be utilized to offer customers special discounts for “checking in” with their mobile phones and sharing with their social networks.
National Brands have proven the power of this marketing tool and have launched Green/Mobile Campaigns with incredible success. This proves that Lakeland consumers are likely looking for ways to enjoy these technologies locally too, because Buying Lakeland Makes Good Cents!
Chrissanne Long is a Media and Marketing Consultant and Partner with Marketing System Blueprints, an interactive Marketing agency that offers Search Engine Optimization, Video, Mobile and Search Engine Marketing services for local businesses seeking to improve their online visibility and brand awareness in Lakeland, FL and other local markets.

Think Like a Customer, Get More Business

More and more studies are indicating that people Search before they Buy.  Think about when you are shopping in a retail clothing store.  Do you want the sales clerk to swarm around you while you are browsing?  Do you prefer to search on your own, without the stress of the hard sell to interrupt your shopping experience?  Marketing your brick and mortar business is very similar.  When the shopper is ready, by all means, you should be there, ready to answer questions and assist her in making her purchases.  But how can you tell when a customer is ready?

The Great Divide from WebVisible on Vimeo.

 

With the Internet, you can’t!  That is why you need to anticipate where they will look when they are ready to buy, and make it simple for them to contact you and communicate their needs to you.  But where are they looking?  Online!  Specifically, the search engines. According to a Nielsen study, 82% of searchers search online before they make a purchase! This means that you don’t know who they are, or where they are or what they need, until they find you!  If you don’t think local businesses should be spending their advertising dollars on Internet marketing, I ask that you watch this documentary of real businesses who think the same way you do, and real consumers who think differently!  It’s not a about what you feel comfortable with, it’s about getting your business in front of your customers.  Putting your ears and eyes in their world, listening to what they want and being ready for them on their terms.  But don’t take my word for it – Watch the video and then tell me what you think!

 

Why are You Doing What You Have Always Done?

Traditions – Why Are You Cutting off the Ends of the Ham?

A few years ago, I heard the story of a young girl who was watching her mother preparing a holiday meal. She watched as her mother cut off first one end of the ham and then the other and then place it into the large pot for roasting. The curious girl asked her mother why she was cutting off the ends of the ham, thinking there was a trick to cooking the ham that she enjoyed so much. She was surprised at her mother’s response: “I really don’t know why, honey, it is just the way my mother taught me to prepare the ham. It’s how we have always done it.”
By the time the rest of the family had arrived to celebrate and all of them had gathered for their traditional Christmas meal, the mother had forgotten about her daughter’s question. The young girl, however, was not satisfied with her mother’s answer. She looked across the table at her grandmother and asked, “Gramma, why do we cut the ends off the ham before we cook it?”
“What do you mean, dear?” her grandmother asked.
“Well, today when Mommy was cooking the ham, she told me she cut the ends off the ham because that’s how you always did it when she was growing up. I just wondered if that was the trick to making the ham taste so good.”
With a puzzled look, the grandmother turned to her own mother and asked, a little louder, the question that her granddaughter had just asked her. It seemed the child had asked a question that neither her mother nor grandmother could answer.
The great-grandmother looked at her great-granddaughter and smiled, remembering. “No, sweetheart, there is no trick. I always had to cut off the ends of the ham because that was the only way I could manage to get the ham to fit in my small pot! There is no reason to do that anymore, because the pots are much bigger today than they were when I was cooking Christmas dinner so many years ago.”

Traditional Marketing – Do you have Enough Business?

There is no denying that traditional marketing still plays an important part for local businesses today. Yet, whenever I ask local business owners the question, “Why aren’t you marketing your business online? Why don’t you have a website?” I am shocked at their naïve response: “I get all my business from referrals and word of mouth.”
I have to think they are like the woman who cuts off the ends of the ham because that is just how it has always been done. The only reason they aren’t getting more business today is because they aren’t online, where thousands of new customers are looking for them, but finding the competition!
If you are satisfied with the business you are getting, if you don’t need or want new customers, then, by all means, keep doing what you have always done! But if you want to take your business to the next level, to stop feeling the strains of the recession, you need to consider these statistics:
  • 80% of web users have watched a video ad online, 52% took action after viewing the ad. 15% visited the store and 12% made a purchase (The Yellow Pages)
  • 97% of Internet users in the US use the Internet to shop (NPD Group)
  • 81% of Internet users look for information online about a service or product they are thinking of buying. (Princeton Survey Research Associates, Intl)
  • 82% of people searching online follow up with in-store visits, phone calls, emails and purchases (comScore Networks and TMP Directional Marketing)
  • 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet for the phone book. (The Kelsey Group)

Chrissanne Long has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing and is a co-founder of local Internet marketing company Marketing System Blueprints. Her passion is helping local businesses understand the importance of having and improving their online presence. Her company focuses on all elements of a business’s Internet marketing plan, to enhance their Search Engine Rankings (SEO) and Brand awareness across several platforms – Video, Mobile and Social Media.

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Are You Brave Enough to be a Follower?

Let’s Start a Movement!

 

I recently came across this video and feel it really encompasses the efforts of local Internet marketing professionals.  We are called visionaries, but the thing is, the time is now and in larger cities, the strategies we are utilizing have already been picked up by bigger, popular brands.  The marketing efforts that are becoming so familiar and that are being enjoyed by consumers (Facebook pages, Text Message Coupons, Mobile Ads in Applications, Deal Sharing) ARE available to smaller businesses as well.

When we embrace something as a consumer, we must also realize as businessmen and women that our customers will most likely embrace those same concepts if we utilize them on a local level.  Yet it seems many businesses are waiting.  Waiting for someone else to pave the way.  The businesses that will reap the greatest rewards are the early adopters, the ones the set the bar for everyone else.  Once someone else emerges as the leader, they will get all the credit.  If you don’t believe it, you aren’t paying attention!

 

Chrissanne Long has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing and is a co-founder of local Internet marketing company Marketing System Blueprints. Her passion is helping local businesses understand the importance of having and improving their online presence. Her company focuses on all elements of a business’s Internet marketing plan, to enhance their Search Engine Rankings (SEO) and Brand awareness across several platforms – Video, Mobile and Social Media.

New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution for 2010

This year, there is a lot to accomplish!  But I have to say my number one priority will be to bring more awareness about technology to Lakeland.  This city seems to want to be trendy, and in many ways, it really is! But, for various reasons, continues to lag behind when it comes to emerging technology and new media – in spite of the many talented and passionate people who seem to be aware of the technology that exists. This year, I want to connect the community of Lakeland with the businesses in Lakeland.  No matter how I look at it (from a marketer’s perspective or from a consumer’s perspective) traditional communication offers huge opportunities for everyone interested in learning about the newest trends and emerging technology that will enhance the ways we are accustomed to communicating.

So, while this year will be focusing on growing my Internet marketing and consulting business, I want to dedicate some time to speaking engagements that will enable me to introduce some new concepts and enhance the awareness of mobile technology (and other related topics).  I want to get people in Lakeland thinking differently about how we do things around here.  From connecting customers to the local businesses that have what they need here in Lakeland (“Buy Lakeland, it Makes Good Cents”), to organizations that want to keep their members better informed about their events, to groups of people with common interests and ideas having opportunities to share with other like-minded people, we can connect like never before and I want to help get that started in Lakeland.  Since “a confused mind says “no”, I plan on “enlightening” those that might be interested in keeping up with the rest of the world

Chrissanne Long has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing and is a co-founder of local Internet marketing company Marketing System Blueprints. Her passion is helping local businesses understand the importance of having and improving their online presence. Her company focuses on all elements of a business’s Internet marketing plan, to enhance their Search Engine Rankings (SEO) and Brand awareness across several platforms – Video, Mobile and Social Media.

Cross-Channel Marketing: Get Maximum Results with Your Marketing Dollars

 

Cross-Channel Integration, in my opinion, is important within the context of the Internet as well as the traditional mediums of radio, television and print that take a business beyond the Internet world. What I mean by that is there are several different “Internet channels” that are essential to any business’s Internet Marketing Plan (IMP). Those channels, as I have discussed, are Mobile marketing, Video Marketing and distribution and Social Media Marketing.

I try to emphasize the importance of re-purposing content as much as possible with my clients. I have had several clients opt for traditional marketing choices, such as radio, TV and newspaper advertising. What seems to be ignored with the implementation of these channels, is the integration with the Internet channels! Why not take the commercial’s movie file, the audio from the radio, or graphical elements of any non-Internet marketing efforts and reuse them within the Internet!??

Say a local business wants to run advertisements in a local newspaper, gets a radio spot and a commercial on a local television channel. The amount of money invested in those should get an immediate return on the investment, but what about when that advertisement has finished running? If the business is looking at this from a strategic marketing perspective, they should be looking at rolling all of those productions into their IMP. The print ad can have a QR code, the TV and radio can have a call to action that calls the audience to text XXXXX to 12345 for a coupon, or special offer. Then, the video of the commercial can be published to YouTube and other video sharing sites, posted to Twitter, Facebook, Social Bookmarking accounts, etc.

The thing most businesses need to realize is that the SEO power of all of these efforts will never expire and it will continue to benefit the company long after the advertisements are gone.

Chrissanne Long is the co-founder of Marketing System Blueprints, a Lakeland-based Company providing Internet marketing services to local businesses in Polk County, and throughout the US.