The Worst Social Media Business Blunders

June 26, 2014

Guest post by Larry Alton.

Businesses and celebrities are supposed to be professional, so why are there constantly mistakes being made, sometimes by even the largest of companies? Well, the answer is because there’s a human behind those Facebook post and endless tweets.

social media failsFrom bad grammar to getting visibly frustrated and engaging in flame wars, there are lessons to be learned from the social media faux pas of others. If you were on the fence about hiring a professional social media manager, these might push you over the edge.

1. Justine Sacco, Africa and AIDS

It’s going to take a serious blunder to knock Sacco out of first place probably (hopefully) for many years to come. She was a well-known New York PR Rep, yet for some strange reason felt the urge to tweet (as she boarded a flight to South Africa) “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Although she vehemently backtracked and apologized, she was fired and hasn’t really been heard from since.

2. Dr. Phil, teenage girls and sex

Poor Dr. Phil, this probably wasn’t really his fault since he was just trying to make do with Twitter’s short character limit. However, when you’re a middle aged man who tweets, “If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no @drphil #teenaccused.” To many, it sounded like he was rather interested in having sex with a drunk teenage girl and wanted to make sure society thought it was okay. Of course, he was really just trying to open a dialogue (and for the record, Dr. Phil has assured everyone it is not okay) and it backfired.

3. Epicurious and the Boston bombing

Trying to drum up social media attention by making use of one of the biggest tragedies on American soil in recent years is never in good taste, especially when a brand has nothing to do with Boston or marathons. The social media post, “In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones!” Many thought this was insensitive at best.

4. NYU Lecturer, fat people and grad applicants

Geoffrey Miller is a lecturer at NYU who seems to have serious fat phobia. He wrote (out of the blue), “Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.” The good news for NYU is that he was a visiting professor. He later apologized, calling himself idiotic and with bad judgment.

5. Home depot, monkeys and racism

Perhaps it was a massive oversight and/or lack of knowledge of racist history and slurs, but Home Depot tweeted a photo of two black men and one man in a monkey mask drumming at a college game day event hosted by Home Depot. The post read, “Which drummer is not like the others?” Apparently somebody clued in the Twitter manager and it was quickly taken down, but screenshots had already been saved. In what was probably the best move, Home Depot chose to keep quiet on the matter.

There are many others, but these top the charts (for now). Here’s to better judgment in social media for the rest of 2014.

Larry Alton—–

About the author: Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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The Six Most Irrational Social Media Concerns of Brands

June 24, 2014

Note: the following is an excerpt from the book The Social Employee by Cheryl and Mark Burgess. Reprinted with permission.

The first step toward transitioning to a culture full of empowered social employees is to address some of the most common concerns brands face when considering going social. The following lists the most common concerns surrounding social media, as well as why these shouldn’t be concerns at all.

The Social Employee - book by Cheryl Burgess and Mark Burgess1: Fear

There’s nothing quite like good, old-fashioned fear. Everyone has heard Franklin Roosevelt’s famous Depression-era quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It’s remarkable how often these words go unheeded. In truth, fear often arises out of lack of knowledge, but brands can’t afford to be ignorant in any era. Fear of social media will likely result in paranoid, overprotective, and ultimately misguided business decisions. Even worse, it will make a band seem out of touch and unwilling to see the writing on the wall.

If brands have anything to fear, it’s not social media, but losing touch with customers. Marketers need to remember that just because something is new and different  doesn’t mean it’s bad, or even dangerous. And in all honesty, social media isn’t even that new anymore. It’s time to face the music. Brands should be aware that “I haven’t done this before” only works as an excuse the first time they use it. Afterwards, they’ll just start to look rigid and stubborn.

2: What If I Do It Wrong?

Many Brands express misgivings as to how they should enter the social media fray. What if the wrong platform is chosen or organizations are not properly structured to accommodate these new technologies? On the surface, this may seem like a legitimate concern. As we’ve already discussed, social media certainly isn’t a static entity. But no technology is. Using the same logic, brands shouldn’t use computers simply because they continue to change as well.

The point is this: just because something is constantly changing doesn’t mean a brand is unable to adapt right along with it. Whether it’s with social media or not, brands can’t avoid risk. All things considered, we believe in the old adage that there’s safety in numbers. Countless brands are struggling with transitions into social business models at this very moment, and they are all learning from each other. It’s better to jump in now and learn through trial and error with everyone else than try to wait it out. If the latter is chosen, the competition will have a clear advantage over the more reticent brands.

3: Social Media Policies Don’t Offer Concrete Metrics or Proven ROI

This May have been true at one point, but as you will see from our success stories in the following chapters, pioneering social businesses do indeed measure investments in social media against real returns. Even the value of contributions from individual social employees can be measured, and tremendous results are being seen. As Dion Hinchcliffe and Peter Kim say in Social Business by Design, unlike the early days of social media, results are not the problem managing the richness and sheer scale of outcomes presents the greater business challenge.”

The social media versus ROI debate has actually become somewhat of a punch line in marketing circles. As much as business culture can have its own memes, the ROI conversation has certainly become one. For our favorite example, we suggest checking out “The Social Media ROI Conversation” on YouTube.

It’s important to note here, however, that even though brands are finding proven ways to measure the ROI of social endeavors, it is generally agreed that ROI, in some ways, is beside the point. When talking about social business, the discussion refers to building a culture of empowered, engaged social employees who are as confident working collaboratively as they are working independently. Social business then, is a long-term game plan for corporate sustainability, accountability, and transparency. The benefits of social business grow exponentially- and will continue to be felt for generations to come. Thinking simply in terms of ROI is, quite frankly, far too narrow a view when experiencing nothing short of a cultural revolution.

4: Inertia

When thinking of inertia in business terms, think of a brand’s forward movement, or in this case, the lack thereof. It’s far too easy for brands to dismiss global changes in the business world as fads, or as somehow inconsequential to their individual enterprises. Dismissive brands are content doing what they do, and have no desire to go beyond that, despite the many indicators suggesting that perhaps they should.

To a certain extent, there can be no talking sense into brands or executives who stubbornly cling to such a mindset. The truth is that the inertia mentality has been dangerous to businesses long before social media came along. Time and time again, brands have been dragged kicking and screaming into the future. Even though a fierce resistance was initially shown, most have been happy with the results. The most successful brands year in and year out are the ones ready to challenge the status quo. These are the brands that don’t accept the idea that business as usual is god enough. In order to foster a culture of engaged social employees, brands must disavow the dangers of inertia directly in their mission statement-and then make sure they put their money where their mouth is.

5: Lack of Internal Structure

To many of the unindoctrinated, the idea of social businesses sounds like pure anarchy. Without a clear organizational hierarchy, wouldn’t the whole enterprise simply descend into chaos? Let’s put it this way: If a brand lacks leadership, it doesn’t matter how elaborate-or sparse-its internal structure is. Without leadership, brands will lose the confidence of their employees, and if this happens there will be much larger problems to worry about. Social business is not an argument for abandoning a structured approach to organization and collaboration. Instead, its an argument for enriched interaction, stickier connections, and more organic collaboration. In other words, social business is about putting your employees first in order to expose and promote pockets of expertise and skill sets that tend to go unnoticed in traditional command-and-control models.

As the case studies in this book demonstrate, social businesses still maintain clearly defined roles for their employees. However, the difference is that these new social employees have much more freedom to maneuver within these roles, and they are better connected to the enterprise as a whole. To some brands, this approach might reflect the fear of losing control we addressed in Chapter 1. We think it’s more important to focus on the upside of this new approach. Social brands put more trust in their employees than previous business models have allowed the to. The wonderful thing businesses are finding is that employees are almost categorically rewarding them for this newfound trust.

6: Ambiguity

This issue may actually turn out to be the root of all other concerns we previously listed. Sure, everyone has heard the term “social media” as nauseum at this point, but its exact meaning and application remain elusive. Social media in business extends far beyond networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. As the brands in our case studies demonstrate, going social affects every aspect of business, including the way a company structures itself, communicates internally, and communicated externally. the sort of brand engagement the public sees-external social branding-is only the tip of the iceberg. If brands are afraid that the concept  of social business is too big of a pill to swallow, we encourage breaking social initiatives down into more digestible pieces and tackling them one step at a time. No one can go social overnight.

Mark BurgessCheryl BurgessCheryl and Mark Burgess are the principals of Blue Focus Marketing and co-authors of
the best-seller The Social Employee: How Great Companies Make Social Media Work.

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14 Brilliant B2B Marketing Strategy Guides

June 17, 2014

Much has been written about how the internet in general, and the explosion of content marketing in particular, has changed the nature of b2b marketing. In less than a generation, information has gone from being scarce to overabundant. Today’s b2b buyers are typically 70% of the way through their purchase process before they contact a vendor’s sales team.

B2B brand emotional connectionInformation proliferation means buyers are better-informed than ever about potential approaches to solving  problems, and the related product and service alternatives. But the increased availability of data means vendors are also more knowledgeable about what matters to buyers, how they conduct research, which content resonates with prospective customers (and what types of content fall flat), how to refine and act on key measures and metrics, and most importantly, how decisions are ultimately made. The old “sales funnel” model is giving way to more sophisticated analytical frameworks.

How should b2b marketers adjust their strategies to keep up with this evolution? What types of messages matter most to today’s buyers? Which long-held beliefs of b2b marketers need to be discarded? What do elite marketers do well that their more average counterparts don’t?

Find the answers to those questions and others here in more than a dozen insightful guides to b2b marketing strategy from the past year.

How To Market For the Top Four B2B Business Growth Strategies by g2m Solutions

Sarah PernSarah Pern examines “four major business growth strategies identified by the Ansoff Product-Market Matrix and shows you how to develop marketing strategies that are aligned with achieving the business goals you want.” For example, recommended marketing strategies for the business growth approach of market development include market research to help develop rich buyer personas, and awareness building using “online advertising…PR, SEO, Social Media, attending exhibitions, sponsoring events” (basically all of the elements of the web presence optimization framework) plus outbound tactics.

How To Do It Right: Demand Generation by Forbes

Patrick SpennerPatrick Spenner brilliantly makes that case that b2b marketers should focus on “improving the connections among stakeholders at customer organizations” rather than those between the supplier and individual stakeholders. He astutely notes that personas are often created as isolated individuals, with the connections between the different stakeholders who make up the B2B customer buying team left unexplored and unaddressed.

New Study Shows That Most B2B Marketing is Talking Past Customers by Ideas@Work

Glenn TaylorGlenn Taylor reports on the disconnect between what B2B companies tend to say about themselves and what potential customers want to hear (that is, what types of messages contribute most to perceived brand strength. He advises vendors to take the “opportunity to dig into your positioning and try to tell your story and the ‘why’ of what you do. Statements like ‘driver of innovation’ or ‘leader in our field’ are over done and past their prime. Most marketers cannot deliver on these and almost no customer believes them.”

4 Ways Elite Social Brands Separate Themselves From The Pack In B2B by MediaPost

John_LeeJohn Lee details four practices used by the most successful social brands in B2B, such as using measurement to drive integration (“Lack of measurement is the number one reason that social fails…Nearly 90 percent of brands measure volume and engagement (likes, followers, etc.), but only 31% measure it against revenue”), and developing individual strategies for each social media platform.

B2B Marketing Trends That Will Shape Your Strategy by Anders Pink

Steve RaysonNoting that B2B marketers have been gradually shifting effort and budget from outbound to inbound marketing channels “as buyers increasingly manage the early stages of the buying process without contacting vendors by reviewing websites, talking to peers in the industry and reviewing resources. This allows them to often filter and shortlist without ever talking to a sales rep,” Steve Rayson details eight strategy-shaping trends, including changes in buyer behavior, SEO, and corporate websites, along with the growth in content marketing and social media.

B2B Marketers Need To Step Up Emotional Connections by MediaPost

Laurie SullivanB2C marketing is often perceived as emotion-based, while B2B buyers decide based on facts and logic. The reality turns out to be quite different though; Laurie Sullivan reports on recent research which found “Emotional connections are much more ‘intense’ for business-to-business clients compared with B2C…Between 40% and 70% of customers feel emotionally connected to brands like Oracle, Accenture, FedEx, SAP, and Salesforce, compared with between 10% and 40% for CVS, L’Oreal, and Wal-Mart.” B2B marketers need to become more adept at presenting the professional, social, emotional, and personal value of their products and services.

Everything We Thought We Knew About B-to-B Marketing Is Wrong by Forbes

Scott GillumExpanding on the findings reported in the post above, Scott Gillum reveals that “The company customers say that they are most emotionally connected to is…Cisco.” B2B purchases involve professional risk, particularly for the internal champion, and Cisco is very good at reducing risk for buyers. Furthermore, “Cisco is able to create…’personal value’ consisting of four parts: professional, social, emotional and self-image benefits.”

6 Persuasion Techniques: Science in B2B Marketing by Ideas@Work Blog

Vann MorrisFollowing up on the post above, Vann Morris describes half-a-dozen techniques for tapping into B2B buyer emotion, such as liking: “Research shows that we are more likely to say yes to people we like, and we tend to like people who are similar to us, people who complement us, and people who cooperate with us toward a common goal.” Creating the vision of that “common goal” (and the buyer’s emotional attachment to it) is a powerful marketing technique.

7 Tactics that Are Working for B2B Lead Generation Today by CustomerThink

Louis FoongLouis Foong shares seven tactics that work in b2b marketing today, among them lead scoring using behavioral data (“For example, when a prospect signs up for a free trial, you should attach a higher score to that behaviour than when a new subscriber gets added to your email newsletter list”); progressive lead profiling (asking for new, additional information each time a specific prospect converts); and social retargeting (“If a prospect is just about floating at the top of the funnel, gated content won’t work—you need to give away something valuable, easily, with no strings attached. Gated content will work for prospects that are already quite convinced that your company has the knowledge to educate them on specific problems they are challenged with”).

The Myth of the Infinite Selling Universe by DemandBase

Ardath AlbeeThe always-insightful Ardath Albee exposes the myth (often used when raising venture capital) that the pool of prospective buyers for a company’s product or service is infinite; why this myth is dangerous (“it costs more to generate more leads. It costs more for salespeople to spend more time following up with more leads. This increases the cost per opportunity.”); and suggests how marketers should focus their time on the small set of ideal prospects.

Five Ideas on the Business-to-Individual Concept for B2B Marketers by MarketingSherpa

David KirkpatrickReflecting discussions with industry experts including Brian Carroll and Brian Solis, David Kirkpatrick offers “five lessons on why you should be marketing to the individual, even as a B2B marketer,” among them: “Creating relationships should be a philosophy, not just a marketing strategy”; relevance matters; and the customer is now completely in charge of the buying process, so b2b vendors must “make it easy for those prospects to conduct self-discovery and self-service…provide content and tools that enable those potential prospects to make the decision to buy from you.”

5 Buyer Behaviors Reshaping B2B Marketing by iMedia Connection

Tony ZambitoFrequent best-of honoree Tony Zambito delves into five buyer behaviors that marketers need to be aware of and respond to, including that buyers embrace collaboration; they want to be involved in the co-creation of products and services; and “buyers want less content – yet desire smart content.”

B2B Marketing’s Measurement Problem by B2B Digital Marketing

Eric WittlakeWriting “It is called a complex sale for a reason, but B2B marketers keep trying to fit it into a simplistic measurement framework: where did we get that lead?,” Eric Wittlake explains why simple B2B marketing metrics are not just ineffective but also misleading, and offers recommendations on how to “more effectively measure the impact of marketing on your business.” (We would agree that a new breed of marketing metrics is needed to understand cross-channel impacts.)

The Forgotten Stars of B2B Lead Conversion by Business2Community

Christabelle TaniWarning about the dangers of forgetting the “less glamorous but vitally important tactical elements that do a lot of the the hard, relentless work of attracting and converting visitors to real leads,” Christabelle Tani outlines three simple yet vital components of lead generation, including social proof (“evidence that other human beings are advocating your company and what you sell”) and their role in each stage of the sales funnel.

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Search and Social Lessons from the Zenith Social Media Marketing Conference

June 10, 2014

Last month’s Zenith Social Media Marketing Conference opened with a blast of presentational energy from Neal Rodriguez. While there’s no video of his keynote available, his YouTube channel will give you some sense of how Neal can wake up an early-morning crowd in a packed ballroom.

The conference, hosted by Marty Weintraub‘s agency, aimClear, was an impressive affair. Though Duluth is smallish metro area of roughly 100,000 population, the event attracted twice as many attendees as some similar events in larger cities, with speakers from around the country.

Among the first group of morning breakout sessions was “Using Social Media Analytics To Define ROI KPIs.” Grant Tilus and Katy Katz of Collegis discussed the virtual demise of organic reach on Facebook, and what to do about it.

Rethink Your Social Promotion Strategy

They also advised that marketers set SMART goals, and presented a selection of best practices for advertising on popular social networks:

Set SMART marketing goals

Facebook analytics best practices

Twitter Analytics best practices

Choosing which social networks to focus on

 

Among other key takeaways from Grant and Katy:

  • • Use the scientific method. Start with research: is your goal achievable? What’s the best way to accomplish it? Then form the hypothesis – the idea you can test, the goal, the KPI, what you are trying to achieve. For example, “This Facebook contest will drive 100 new leads in 90 days.”
  • • To crack the organic code, tap into human psychology; people like content tnat: makes us feel good, gives us answers, tells a story, or surprises us. Pick the right time of the day and week to post (e.g. Facebook work best over lunch).
  • • Track your campaign like a case study. Report positive and negative outcomes of the campaign. Learn what works and document it so it can be replicated. Separate the results from different platforms, but use consistent lamguage.
  • • Only 22% of businesses track their social results well.

Next up, Regis Hadiaris of Quicken Loans, Will Scott of Search Influence, and Joe Warner of aimClear presented “SEO, Social Media & What Every Marketer (SRSLY) Must Do.” The three played off each other adeptly, alternately focusing on the social, technical, and content-driven aspects of search.

How to really think about SEO in 2014

Key lessons about SEO in 2014:

  • • The days of tips & tricks in SEO are over. Google tests and updates daily. Follow Google Webmaster guidelines well – this is now the only option.
  • • Make a list of the questions that your customers and prospects ask most frequently (talk to sales and customer service reps if necessary to generate this), then provide content in various formats (blog posts, white papers, video, presentations, infographics) that answers those questions.
  • • Reputation management (the knowledge graph) is vital for SEO – Google wants to know who you are and how legitimate you are. This means making the effort to get dodgy links taken down or disavowed. Essentially, Google will judge your website by the company it keeps, so try to attach your content to high-authority sites like Forbes and industry-specific trade journals (a key channel in the web presence optimization (WPO) model).
  • • The “coolest newest thing” you can do is to implement schema tags, e.g. tagging your contact page for local SEO. Use a WordPress plugin to simplify the process of highlighting news, product, and other specific types of content.
  • • Three key technical elements in using Google+ for seo: 1) Link your website to your business G+ profile (and back); 2) Use Google authorship (link your blog to the author’s G+ page; and 3) add a G+ sharing button to all pages on your site.
  • • Implementing Google authorship can increase click-through rates (CTRs) dramatically, even without any ranking change, by adding photo to a business result. G+ interaction gets more rich data into search results, which increases clicks. 20% of searchers, on average, looked at the second page of results on searches back in 2006. Now it’s 2% (because search engines have gotten better).
  • • “If you don’t have open graph tags on your site, need to do that now.” For WordPress blogs or sites, use a plugin like WP Open Graph or Facebook Open Graph Meta Tags for WordPress to simplify the process.
  • • Google’s objectives is to classify EVERYTHING. Sponsorships create brand mentions that make you a real brand. Industry/community activities (associations, analysts, events, community involvement), which are good things to do anyway, also build your brand in search (and are another key channel in the WPO framework).
  • • To boost the value of your Google authorship, publish more in more places, and tag it back to your Google+ profile.

Finally, the brilliant Lisa Buyer and Lisa Grimm concisely and helpfully summarized everything new with Twitter in the past year or so, combined with timeless best practices, in “Breaking Bad with Twitter! Game Changing Tactics & Prodigal ROI.”

It would be impossible to top the summary of this presentation that Lisa Buyer published on her Social PR Chat blog, so check that out. A few quick takeaways:

  • • “Pin” a high-value tweet to the top or your profile, by going to your profile and click “pin to your profile page” from the bottom of your selected tweet. Best practice: use an image with this.
  • • The ideal tweet structure: headline, link, no more than three hashtags. End with a hashtag, but don’t start with one. Put the link near the middle of the tweet. Keep the total length under 120 characters.
  • • Perform random acts of kindness for followers.

The post-conference free martinis were a nice touch too.

 

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19 Remarkable Guides on Business Strategy, Leadership and Motivation

June 3, 2014

It’s a (sometimes forgotten) truism of business that no company can cut its way to growth. As the economy continues to slowly recover from the great recession, smart leaders, having pared back spending during the lean times, are looking at how to invest for growth. Entrepreneurs are forming new businesses at an increasing pace, hoping to take advantage of new opportunities in the recovering economy. Workers across the spectrum are a bit less fearful and a bit more optimistic.

Business Strategy, Motivation and Leadership GuidesBut the business environment has changed significantly in just the past six years since the start of the downturn. For example, no one was talking about the social employee as recently as late 2006, but according to Google Trends, search interest in the term has quadrupled in the past five years.

So investment in growth will return, but it will be different. How can companies tap the social exposure potential of their workforces? What beliefs do managers, leaders, and entrepreneurs need to discard–and what new beliefs do they need to embrace? How has the purchase cycle changed, and what are the expectations of today’s buyers? How can small companies use new ideas to compete more effectively against larger competitors?

Find the answers to these questions and many others here in 19 of the most noteworthy guides to leadership, motivation, business strategy, and branding of the past year.

Leadership Guides

7 Ways Management Can Boost Employee Productivity by westXdesign

Renee GaylorRenee Gaylor explains seven steps leaders can take to increase employee engagement and productivity, such as ensuring “senior leadership models behavior that makes the rank-and-file proud to be part of the team. Nothing demoralizes employees more quickly than seeing senior leaders act in a way they don’t respect, and few things energize employees more than a senior team they admire. Leaders are always being watched and judged; employees have keen eyes.”

Paid to Post? What the Social Workforce Means for All of Us by iMedia Connection

Greg ShoveWriting that “Savvy brands like Dell, Oracle, Intel and Accenture think the future of marketing is on social media and their best advocates are their own employees,” Greg Shove demonstrates why this strategy can be incredibly powerful, but also discusses the challenges involved. In the end, he concludes that to be successful in developing social employees, companies will need to “focus on producing cultures that employees want to advocate for. In terms of long-term sales growth, marketing success and talent retention, that will matter far more than the fine details of each advocacy program.”

What Does it Take to Lead a Social Business? by NewRayCom

Ray HiltzRay Hiltz identifies five characteristics required of R.A.R.E. (responsible, accountable, relevant, ethical) leadership, and notes “these are also the traits of a successful social business.” Leadership and social business are both grounded in developing relationships, and doing so effectively requires a long-term vision at odds with ever-shortening attention spans.

Motivation and Inspiration Guides

9 Mind Myths to Ditch for 2014 Success by Rebel Brown

Rebel BrownThe wise and delightful Rebel Brown steps “into the truth and beyond our limiting beliefs” here, debunking nine myths about our minds which she says limit our potential. Among the myths skewered are “we’re all limited by this crazy economy,” “failure is to be avoided at all costs,” and “change is hard” (“Humans are instinctively wired to avoid anything that is new and different. Our unconscious mind views it as a threat…[however] We can act to consciously remove that threat of change [by focusing] on the opportunity in the change, not the problem that caused it”).

How to Give Remarkable Presentations: Lessons from the World Domination Summit by Dr. Michelle Mazur

Michelle MazurMichelle Mazur shares lessons learned from speakers at the World Domination Summit (yes, apparently, that is a thing), including “Train to speak like an athlete trains to win the race” from Danielle LaPorte, on the importance of speaking frequently, and contrasting the gap between what is and what could be, from Nancy Duarte: “The best speakers – Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs and Eva Peron – construct a gap between what is currently and what could be in the future. Think of Steve Jobs comparing the world without an iPhone versus a world with the iPhone (can you remember the world before Smart Phones?).”

9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People by Inc.

Jeff HadenJeff Haden reveals nine characteristics that help define and create success, from approaches to time management and hiring to how to deal with failure and “go the extra mile.” A great reminder for consultants: “Only do what you want to do and you might build an okay business. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can build a successful business. Be willing to do even more and you can build a remarkable business.”

8 Things Remarkably Successful People Do by Inc.

Following up on the post above, Jeff Haden here turns the topic from the beliefs of successful people to their actions; things that most if not all successful people do, such as setting audacious goals, selling, and avoiding the crowds: “Remarkably successful people habitually do what other people won’t do. They go where others won’t go because there’s a lot less competition and a much greater chance for success.”

Business Strategy Guides

Small Talk, Big Results by strategy+business

Keith FerrazziKeith Ferrazzi introduces ideas from The Necessity of Strangers by Alan Gregerman, demonstrating how vital “small talk” is: “anthropologically, we are hardwired to be ready to fight or flee from someone not of our tribe—a state of mind that obviously has a very negative effect on our ability to innovate together. Small talk quiets that reptilian response of our brain.” The book excerpt details a simple exercise that can be used within organizations to increase success by creating a “culture of conversation.”

How Women Decide by Harvard Business Review

Cathy BenkoPointing out that “Today women occupy about half of all managerial and professional positions in the United States, including 37% of management jobs and 60% of accounting and auditing roles…They also make up 41% of employees with authority to make purchasing decisions,” Cathy Benko and Bill Pelster present research on how the differing physical structures of the male and female brains lead to different decision-making styles, and how these distinctions need to be accounted for when selling or presenting ideas.

5 reasons I hate big data by iMedia Connection

Chris MarriottChris Marriott brilliantly skewers the hype behind big data (and advises executives what to focus on instead), writing that it’s an old idea with a new name; that it makes something easy sound complex; and that it’s “like teenagers and sex:

a. Everybody’s talking about it.
b. Everybody thinks everyone else is doing it.
c. Most of those who claim to be doing it aren’t doing it.
d. Those who are doing it aren’t doing it very well.”

8 Real-World Stories Of Why Startups Fail by ReadWrite

Scott GerberScott Gerber shares the stories of eight “(now) successful founders from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share why a prior start-up didn’t make it – and what they’re doing differently knowing what they know now.” Among the lessons: manage cash flow (“Numbers are not only the oxygen of a business, they are the vital signs as well”), match your timing to the state of the market, and be careful about choosing employees (“hire people who are sincere and trustworthy”).

Marketing and Brand Strategy Guides

Fire the funnel — 5 stages of the real buyer’s journey by Chief Marketing Technologist Blog

Scott BrinkerContending that “The funnel model of marketing and sales doesn’t reflect reality very well” (and we know this), Scott Brinker suggests an alternative five-stage model that is less exclusionary and more positive, recognizes that today’s “lost” prospects may become tomorrow’s new opportunities, and acknowledges the importance of continuing to market and sell to existing customers and convert them into brand advocates.

Thought Leadership Requires A Little Thought by CMO

Jeff PundykJeff Pundyk rants (intelligently) about how, far too often, “thought leadership” is anything but; rather, it’s ego-building, internally focused, disorganized, and doesn’t address reader or market needs. Instead, he advises marketers to “find creative ways to tap into publishers’ audiences…venture beyond the walls of your own Web site. It will force you to up your content game: to think hard about your audience…(and) to start listening and collaborating.”

Integrated marketing: optimizing the connected customer experience by i-SCOOP

J-P De ClerckJ-P DeClerck makes the case that marketers should shift their focus from channels, tactics, and campaigns, to addressing what customers really want: “we shouldn’t optimize for media, channels or tactics in the first place. We optimize for the customer experience.” Customers don’t care how a company organizes its campaigns or silos; they care about consistency and the company meeting its brand promise.

How Underdogs Can Market Effectively by MarketingProfs (free registration required)

Abhay PadgaonkarAbhay Padgaonkar outlines three strategies small companies can use to win against larger competitors, starting with aiming “for your competitor’s Achille’s heel.” That can come in the form of scope (starting out by serving a neglected segment, which is how Southwest Airlines got its initial foothold in the market); service; or scale (targeting segments that don’t fit with investments larger competitors have made).

Big marketing opportunities for under $10K by iMedia Connection

Greg KihlstromGreg Kihlström details four “ways to connect your audience with your brand” that won’t break the bank, such as creating new content, experimenting with new channels, or giving something back: “Help an organization in need. There’s no downside to this one…(for example) let your customers choose which organization they’d like you to donate the money to by allowing them to vote for their favorite nonprofit every time they submit a photo that includes your product.”

6 Expert-Endorsed Ways to Improve Your Marketing TODAY by HubSpot

Katie BurkeKatie Burke outlines half-a-dozen expert “tactics and strategies you can employ within a workday to help attract, convert, engage, and delight more prospects, leads, and customers.” For example, on video marketing, from Kevin Daum: ““You don’t need cats and babies to make business videos that work…By aligning on a goal, a target audience, and a core story, your business can benefit significantly from using video to foster growth.”

The end of digital and social media by iMedia Connection

Rebecca LiebTerms like “digital media” and “social media” will soon be redundant, according to the brilliant Rebecca Lieb, as all media are increasingly both digital and social. So, Rebecca asks, “How do you cut through the clutter of media, messaging, and a ridiculously busy social life spanning all channels, digital and otherwise? There are six traits that matter. Employing as many as possible — in concert — will greatly enhance a brand’s ability to be noticed in a relevant and meaningful way.”

The Seven Pitfalls of a Modern-Day Brand by MarketingProfs

Matthew TurnerDespite the unprecedented reach that social media provides, “Brand Awareness is hard to come by,” writes Matthew Turner. He identifies seven pitfalls of brand-building (such as lack of voice, too much “sell,” and being easy to forget) and how to avoid them: build a “brand story that delves deep into your brand and discovers what it’s all about…A brand story allows you to create something of worth, and most important, something that matters to you: It’s built on your terms.”

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