Archive for April, 2010
Lynn Tilton puts her money where her mouth is – LOTS of money – about $7 billion give or take a million. I never heard of her until last week, and this week I can’t get her words or her mission out of my mind. Here she is on EconoWatch in 2008 at $5 billion and 30 companies, today she has 70 billion invested in her Patriarch Partners group in companies from helicopters to Spiegel Catalog. Lynn is focused on saving good companies with a solid structure, who may have lost their way, from being chopped up and sold in…
Go to Source
My good friend Kevin Burke (pictured here) of Lucid Marketing and Moms Who Blog wrote an excellent piece in MediaPost's "Engage Moms" this week. Kevin has been focused on Moms for a long time and as far as I'm concerned, he has the inside track. I trust his research and his opinion. This particular article, Understanding Why Moms Blog, is especially timely.
Let me just share a comment from the article that sums up the focus of brands up to and including the advent of social media, "Marketers are historically good at talking at people but poor at conversations. To work with Mom bloggers, businesses need to take the time to read the blog to get to know the writer and gain a better understanding of her audience."
Hello – this is true of all blogging and bloggers.
Make no mistake. If you're approaching pet bloggers, gossip bloggers, fashion bloggers, food bloggers, or Mom bloggers, you'd better have a clear understanding of who she is and who she connects to, before pitching her products/ideas that are of no interest to her. And don't try to "buy" her… she's not for sale.
Ok…onward and forward and let's see what Kevin had to say about understanding why moms blog.
Kevin lists a number of reasons moms go online to blog. Among them are social bonding where the woman who writes the blog connects to other like-minded moms and creates not only new friends, but long-standing conversations. Many moms I know use their blog to give advice, offer recommendations, and just be a sounding board.
Satisfaction is another reason moms blog. "Moms might blog," he says, "because writing about their experiences helps them better understand themselves and their families."
An area I am especially interested in, though I've done nothing yet to support it, is the "preserving memories" area. By writing about our lives, and chronicling the life of your families – including parents and grandparents – moms are creating the stories that will be told around the kitchen table for decades to come. A blog is a fantastic way to keep these stories alive and fresh, and create the truth about our world – a truth that is a perspective displayed and discussed differently by different people.
Kevin has many other forms of blogging which moms engage in. Moms, of course, are often eager to do product reviews and serve ads on their blogs, the better to supplement the family income or to turn their passion into a supporting income. They don't do it to "get rich", but they might do it to save for a child's college education and they might do it because they are passionate about a product – and willing to accept samples.
If you are looking to market to women and moms and understand that this is a group of people who are very well connected and have pride in their writing and their families, you may be able to tap into them for some key marketing support. Be respectful and honest. They'll return the favor.
Two weeks ago today my mother passed away after battling breast cancer for several years. As soon as I was able to I wrote this post on my blog, In Loving Memory of our mom, Eileen DeClemente. I tried to share what an amazing woman she was who meant the world to me and many others. I was able to find some comfort in all the kind words and messages that people sent, so my next blog post was titled "What Social Media means when you lose a loved one", which I invite you to read as well.
Today I'm now back to being the guest blogger here on the Lip-sticking blog and I'm wondering where do I begin? I've been trying to get myself adjusted and get caught up with all that has been going on in the world and in my business, but it's very hard. It all seems so trivial to me, but as they say, life must go on.
So I thought I'd say a few words about Facebook's introduction of the new "social graph". It's all I've been reading about since I've been back online and I'll link you to several very good articles to read throughout this post.
They first announced that they were changing the word fan to "Like". So now there will no longer be "Facebook fans" just "likes". That silly little Like button that turns into a "thumbs up" icon after you click on it when you "like" someone's status on their wall has moved to the top of the page…what we seem to be referring to now as "Business Pages" (formally "Fan Pages").
But not only will you see this "Like" button on Facebook, you'll see it on many websites throughout the Internet. The tech community is all over this right now and they're using lots of verbiage such as publisher plug-ins, semanic mark-up and developer API. And of course there is the privacy issue. Senator Chuck Schumer from right here in New York is already on it and doesn't "Like" it at all.
I've been trying to read through the lines and understand what this really means and how it's going to change the Internet. How will it affect all us bloggers? So now if I understand this correctly, we put the "Like" button on our blog and those who click on it, if they're logged into their Facebook account, will have it show up in their news feeds that they liked the post. But what if I don't have a Facebook "Business Page" yet? Does that matter? And what do I have to do to get this little piece of code so that I can place it on my blog? This is a Typepad blog, can you help us out Typepad?
Since I'm very involved with online promotions, I'm also wondering how it may change that. Levi's is one of Facebook's initial partners who has really engaged this new technology to show what it can do for online retailers. Consumers can now customize their online shopping experience based on what they like and then share with friends. Levi's has put this "Like" plug-in button next to individual pairs of jeans, so you can just click what you like and that like gets populated on to your news feed. Oh and by the way, friends news feeds can show up on these websites as well. Levi's has also created the friend's store which means you can virtually go jeans shopping with your friends and family. Sounds pretty wild, huh?
But you know, in light of what I just experienced with the passing of my mom, I realize more than ever that it all comes back down to relationships and how we communicate with one another. The "friend" who sent me a tender poem, a prayer, shared a personal story or just told me they were thinking about me through various forms of communications, including social media, will always mean more to me than a little thumbs up "Like" button. I have to really "like" the person before I really care about what pair of jeans they like or what article they just read.
So that's my initial take on all this. But I do admit I will be watching, and reading, and probably writing more about it. Here's a few good articles I recommend on the topic. Thanks for listening and I'd love to hear what you think it all means as well.
by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief of Social Media Strategy at xynoMedia
If you haven't heard the latest scuttlebutt (don't you just love that
word?!) about Ann Taylor LOFT's alleged FTC blogging rules violations,
I won't recap it all here, but click here
to get the skinny. Seriously, click that link and read the blog post
there – I'll wait. C'mon, it's important to read it so you understand
what I'm about to say below…
Here's my advice for Mr. Muto:
clean. Even if you technically didn't do anything wrong, this looks
bad. Your response of, "They could write whatever they want. Obviously,
there's freedom of speech," is a horrible defense. It brings up the
same sentiment for me as when someone says, "It's his word again'st
mine." It make me think that most truly innocent people don't make
statements like that. Honesty trumps here. A solid, "We were trying to
move into the social media space and we may have gotten over zealous.
It was not our intent to break any laws. We're all still new to social
media. Our brand stands for classic integrity and we still uphold
that." You don't have to say the dreaded "A" word (apologize) or the
"S" word (sorry) and you make sure people can still connect with your
brand's values. But, right now, the brand looks like it got caught with
its hand in the blogger jar.
- Develop a social media "home base"
and do it now. If this little snafu has taught you anything, it should
have taught you that in order to defend your brand in the brave, new,
wild west of social media, you need to be ON the social media grid to
do so. Trying to defend your brand from blossip (blog gossip) with
traditional PR methods is like trying to win the football game by
playing out in the parking lot. I went to all the Ann Taylor web
properties and didn't find ONE social media icon. A Facebook search
turned up a darned near blank Business Page. A Twitter search was not fruitful. The company does have a Company Page
on LinkedIn. *Yawn.* C'mon Mr. Muto. The fastest growing population
segment on LinkedIn is women ages 45-55. Why isn't the brand there???
bloggers to blog about your products is NOT a shortcut to using social
media. There is NO shortcut to engagement. Just because bloggers are
writing about your products, doesn't mean you're "doing social media".
Understand that, influence is but one piece to a solid social media
This is precisely why companies need to
work with "someone in the know" about social media activities. When you
don't, you get into hot water like this. Again, even if they did
nothing wrong (that's for the FTC to decide), it looks crappy (to say
the least) for their brand to be in the middle of this mess.
Right about now, Ann Taylor has just undone any social media street cred they worked hard to produce. Bummer.
I asked one of the top media law guys, Damon Dunn, about the Ann Taylor fiasco and here's what he says:
the FTC has been talking about regulation, there hasn't been much enforcement,
creating more confusion about company published content. The decision not to
bring enforcement action against Ann Taylor adds to the confusion."
I agree. So, what can you do?
the best possible advice you can afford before you do anyhting. And,
ALWAYS check with your attorney. If you don't have one and your
business is based in New York, I recommend Nina Kaufman WITHOUT reservation. She really gets this star spangled, new fangled social media stuff.
trade seemingly unbiased social media content for anything of value -
not a gift card, not for in-kind services, not for money. Nada. Bubkus.
(Yes, you can engage the services of a copywriter to help you write
blog posts, but that's different.)
- If you do "incentivize", disclose and make bloggers sign an agreement to disclose. CYA and keep your nose clean.
with your gut. If you feel like something might cause a problem,
chances are it will. Mitigate where possible and expect and prepare for
I remember reading a blog post several years ago that was talking about how to be more successful at blogging. This was before Twitter and Facebook, mind you. Businesses were just beginning to consider having a blog. Their major concern seemed to be, "What do I write in a blog?" (this even before identifying their audience)
Wrong question, according to the blog post I was reading. I am embarrassed to admit that I don't have the link for you – but I remember it well, nonetheless. The reason I remember it is because the expert writing it said the "what do I write" question was the WRONG question to be asking.
The RIGHT question is: "What do I want people to do after they finish reading my blog post?"
That really gave me pause. I began to wonder what I wanted people to do after reading my blog posts. Did I want them to just go away and come back tomorrow? Did I want them to click a particular link – to download a PDF? Did I want them to buy something?
Dang! I never considered any of those issues and yet, they are all very relevant to being profitable at blogging.
Today, most bloggers have an idea – not necessarily a good idea – of what they hope to gain by blogging and using social media. They want more traffic. More eyeballs. More conversation. All of which will, they hope, lead to more sales. But, do they participate in social media with that in mind? I know I don't. I would like more eyeballs (if they're the right eyeballs), and I'd like more conversation…but I seldom write blog posts with those goals in mind. And, I don't nudge people to hire me or buy product (mainly because my product is not tangible – which begs the question: why not create a tangible product?)
Here's the scoop on getting it right – our own Lena West has the best social media program online. It's aimed at the women who want more business and who know they need help tackling the ins and outs of social media. Heck, I think I need to sign up for Lena's program! She calls it Real Women Do Social Media, and she's about as real as they come.
That article I read years ago still stands today. It's not about you or me – it's about our customers and clients and what we hope they will do after finishing a post. Without selling, without lecturing, without pushing, we need to write blog posts and twitter tweets and respond to folks on Facebook with a clear view of how our writings will make sales (for us, we hope, but maybe for someone else, too).
So, here's what I'd like you to do now – contact Lena about her Real Women Do Social Media program.
You'll get the best advice and input from Lena. Lena writes with purpose – that's why she's the go-to person for your social media training. Sign on today and be prepared to learn from someone who is in your peer group. Get no nonsense information and case studies that will propel you to higher levels of success, this year.
By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt Marketing Troubleshooter, LLC
Apparently, fast food logos make you impatient.
"…those jitters you feel after eating a McDonald's hamburger may not just
be the contents of your meal eating away at your insides — it's your
brain getting stressed out. As the Daily
Mail reported today, a study by researchers at the University of
Toronto (which will be published in the journal Psychological Science)
has found that exposure to fast-food symbols — including the logos of
McDonald's, KFC, Subway and Taco Bell — make people both less likely to
save money and more likely to feel like they're running out of time."
Which makes perfect sense if you're trying to sell a lot of FAST food. People are driven to gulp and go, not really tasting the stuff. (Full disclosure: I actually enjoy a McD's filet o' fish and an order of fries on occasion – like every six months or so.)
The researchers concluded "fast food, originally designed to save time,
can have the unexpected consequence of inducing haste and impatience"
and "preference for time-saving products when there are potentially
other important aspects upon which to choose a product."
This logo issue may or may not be intentional (I think it's not) – but even it is…will stressing us really work in the long run? In other news, Fast Food:
KFC’s Stunts Make Nightly News But Don’t Stop Sales Slide
"The fast-food chain formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken seems to
have tried everything. It's changed its name to initials, then back to
words, then back to initials. It's leaned on cheap marketing stunts such
as moving the secret recipe, taking Colonel Sanders to the U.N. and,
most recently, launching the 500-calorie Double Down sandwich."
The company also changed its logo a few years back – with a younger, hipper looking Colonel (trim those waddles!) to attract a younger, hipper crowd. Quick! Did you notice this earthshaking change? Or, did you want to rush right out to KFC when you read about (supposedly) being able to see their logo from space? Of course not. If you're into chicken, you're probably a loyal Chick-fil-A customer. The company has developed a cult-like following for their tasty sandwiches (and they were first with grilled chicken.)
Hmmmm…taste – now there's an idea. But Yum Brands (KFC's parent) Chairman David Novak calls the Double Down a "portable product innovation." Now, doesn't a "portable product innovation" sound delicious? And, it'll also add to your stress!
I'm having a slow food lunch today – it's Friday after all. I'll be savoring my entree at a locally-owned restaurant that has terrific quality food, excellent service, and loyal customers…even if you'll never be able to see their logo from space…;-)
Obviously one cannot escape Earth Day. And, this gal thinks it's something we should observe every day. Each one of us needs to perform those little tasks that can make a difference, because each little thing adds up. Just ask Mary Hunt or Paul Valenti.
I receive a great note from The Nature Conservancy sharing 5 Simple Things To Do on Earth Day which I thought I'd share here. Then, I'm going to add five more, from my own life.
From The Nature Conservancy:
1. Know your carbon footprint. It only takes 5 minutes, they say. Hop over to this link on their site and figure out your carbon footprint. It will enable you to reduce that footprint, for the good of Mother Earth. (sadly, mine is above average…so I have work to do)
2. Less showers or less time in the shower. Do we really need to shower every day? If you answer Yes, think about shortening your shower time. Reducing your time in the shower by just a minute or two can make a big difference. (and shut off the water when you brush your teeth! that really goes without saying, doesn't it?)
3. Go for a walk. Save the planet, save your waistline, save the environment. Walk around the block. Observe nature. Enjoy your neighborhood. We try to walk every day. Of course, we have fantastic views here in Frederick, CO.
4. Support legislators who speak up for climate change. Find out who is in support of climate change and supporting Mother Earth, and congratulate them. Find out what you can do to help. Be pro-active. Your grandchildren will thank you.
5. Visit and utilize your local Farmer's Market. I love this one. We haven't done this yet, but my kids are totally into this locally-supported food idea. I can't wait to start shopping for fruits and vegetables at our local Farmer's Market. I bet I find great surprises there.
Now, my ideas on how to Be Kind to Mother Earth:
1. Turn off more lights. I don't see why people have so many lights on all the time. Especially in office buildings. Are they really needed? Find out and see if your office building could do with a little less artificial lighting.
2. Exercise. That could be talking a walk, or a hike, or riding your bike, or even signing up to run a marathon. Or, it could just be taking a walk during lunch around your office building – upstairs and down, more than once. Get that blood moving!
3. Leave the car at home. Or, at least drive to a location that allows you to park your car and walk everywhere else you need to be. I'm encouraged by new "communities" popping up that include old-fashioned shopping plazas with quaint stores selling local artisans works.
4. Bring your mug to Starbucks or Tim Hortons. I don't know if all the Starbucks and Tim Hortons allow it, but it will save a lot of energy and landfills if we stop using paper or styrofoam cups. Get a good mug or travel mug and use that.
5. Remember to bring your canvas bags to the grocery store. At our King Soopers, they give you a CREDIT on your groceries when you remember to bring your canvas bags in. If you forget, buy a couple of more and pretty soon you'll remember. How many will pile up at your house or in your car before you are more careful?
What are you doing today, on Earth Day? Will you continue during the rest of the year? Share…
Anyone else hooked on the new reality show, Undercover Boss? I watch it with a critical eye, hoping to find mistakes and areas where the gray of life is presented as black and white. But, I think it's well done and I find the employees credible.
The men who are the "boss" are credible to a point. Obviously, they have editorial control over what gets aired. And, I'm not at all convinced the employees don't know exactly why they're being filmed. Honestly, some of the things they share with this "new" employee, someone they've supposively never met before, is out of character.
Still, they say confession is good for the soul.
Which leads me to this post, today. I'm focused on inspiration. I'm not as interested in the marketing side of things, lately. I'm adopting a view on the personal – where stories people share (like the ones in Undercover Boss), become the truth of how to reach out to clients and customers.
Where stories, inspirational because they are true and they relate tales of overcoming the slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune, form the basis for how to be in a relationship – how to be a good listener – how to make your customers and clients your focus.
A very good friend of mine from high school sent me an email recently and shared a story that is sure to make you stop and pause. It's not about her. All the more powerful – it was something she felt she had to share, and I agree. That's why I'm sharing it here. In hopes that it will inspire you to pay it forward.
This is the story of Matt. Matt was "That Guy" who grew up achieving in every area of his life. He was a role model, active in his community, excelled in academics and athletics, earned himself a full scholarship to Temple University, and eventually signed a professional contract as a soccer player.
Now, Matt is "That Guy" – a drunk driver who killed an innocent man and who now resides in prison.
For want of making the right choice, the right decision, Matt will pay for his mistake for the rest of his life. He is trying to deal with this by keeping a blog which is a worthwile read. I am not sharing this to excuse him, nor to give him attention, and not even to help validate the senselessness of what he did. I do not suggest you model his behavior or accept the message in his writings.
I'm sharing this because Matt is a human being, like us, and we need to hear from others who make major tragic mistakes – all the more to understand that our little wrong turns on the way to work, or our forgotten lunch left in the fridge, are minor and not worth our tears. And, we need to understand that it's in looking inward that we will find the right answers.
Another reason I'm sharing is because within her email, my high school friend also shared another link. This is to her son Paulie's website (you see, we still call him Paulie – as if he were still a baby; we Moms do that)- where his focus is on inspiration, courage and motivation. All the things that give life promise. Paulie recommends that you Push Yourself – here's his homepage intro:
To inspire, encourage and motivate people to make a difference. "Push Yourself" is the act of stepping outside of your comfort zone to stir and cultivate a movement that changes the world. If everyone pushed themselves to do more, the world would be a better place. One person going above and beyond can be infectious to those around them, creating a ripple effect of positive and uplifting actions. "Push Yourself" is not just a movement; it's a way of life.
And so, what HAVE you done today? Are you undercover or standing with arms open? What can you do today to pay it forward? What can I do to help?
Anyone else feel like social media has taken over the world? I'm a big social media fan, I have lots of blogs, and I love discussing the benefits of engaging in social media, but sometimes I feel as if we folks who promote the use of social media don't spend enough time exploring how people did business before social media. Stop and think about it – how did businesses in the pre-web days connect with their customers?
What did those good businesses do about communication and connections? We know they used fax machines a lot. We know they talked on the phone a lot. But, those are not actions that bring you closer to your client or customer.
If we look back, we can see that companies of old attended conferences. They held events. They sponsored TV shows and held focus groups. They spent a lot of time and money wondering what their customers thought about them, and remained clueless for the most part, because customers don't really get personal on the phone or in focus groups. Customers want the face-to-face meeting (let's look at the incomparable Mary Kay and how successful she was – because she knew how powerful that face-to-face meeting was). But, they kept trying to make the connection happen, and some of them must have been successful. Else, they would not still be around, yes?
I suspect that the march of time and the introduction of new technology has improved customer communication, for most. Those businesses that value customer engagement welcomed new technology and the use of the Internet, with open arms. I'm not saying they grasped the enormous opportunity – I'm saying they saw the possibilities and carefully explored their use.
The key, however, is to remember that they did not throw the baby out with the bathwater. That is, they did not stop using tried and true methods of business engagement. They merely started looking at what they had been doing with different eyes. And the smart ones kept doing what worked, while exploring new options – they learned to adapt. The not so smart ones threw out the methods of old and rushed headlong into the future – before they (or the future) were ready.
Where are you? Are you working to understand the benefits of following good advice given by mentors who were here long before you? Are you dismissing them, perfunctorily, because they lack the skill to get you noticed on Twitter or Facebook? Are you tied up in knots wondering what to do because you feel as if social media is holding you hostage – not performing to the degree you want, while you allow your newsletter and your website to languish in never-never land?
Don't buy into all the hype. But, don't ignore the opportunity. Don't be too smart for your own good. Be open to new ideas, without trashing the old ones before their time. Be observant. Ask questions. Explore options. Find a way to meld tested methods with untested ones, and be open to failure.
Failure is a teaching tool. If you are sailing along on a smooth sea, with no storms on the horizon, you are doing something wrong.
What is it?
By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
A frequent question from my marketing consultations: How do I stand out on the Web?
My (sometimes) answer: Maybe you don't have to (you should be there, but it doesn't have to be a leadin' bleedin' bells & whistles site.)
Thanks to technology these days, it's relatively simple to have a basic informational site in a few hours. Nothing fancy, but people can find you, if they're looking.
One way they may come looking is if there's something fun in their old-fashioned mailbox.
Like a postcard, which – if you're going to do direct mail – can be the lowest cost/highest impact choice. And, these days it's easy to do your own card (just as you can do your own web site.) As my colleague and good friend Mary Ellen notes in Postcards Add to Marketing Synergy, "If you’re a service provider such as a coach, consultant or
solopreneur, you can easily augment your marketing with postcards." (At the usps site; read the post for the step-by-step instructions.)
Personally, I prefer postcards to email "blasts." (Shudder) I stare into a computer screen for hours a day earning a living, and have enough biz-related emails to plow through. Getting a "special offer" email doesn't thrill me (I'll likely delete unopened.) But, a little something different and special in the mailbox? Cool! In nice weather, I typically take a break, sit on my front porch, enjoy the day and review my mail.
Postcards are particularly cool because it's easy to very quickly get the gist with a flip of the wrist. And, if they're well designed, I may even keep them (which will also consistently remind me of the sender – so when I do need that service or product, they're already at top of mind.) Even if it is junk – it's easy enough to toss. It doesn't really irritate me. It's not cluttering up my e-office (where, right now, I've got about 500 emails in my inbox.)
So – have you put some fun in your customers' mail? (I also got a coupon for a free birthday cupcake from my insurance broker – nice touch!)
Now, I need to go check my mailbox. Happy Friday!