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Human Communication vs. The Social Network

Netiquette Rule #1 - Remember the Human!Our daughter Leah’s family lives some distance away. Our son-in-law Charlie sends me, via a social network, pictures of their daughter Katie all of the time. I love it. Little did I suspect that this act of generosity could be perceived as unsocial.

I witnessed just such a breach of sociability in social networking just this past weekend when we were visited by Leah, Katie, and Charlie.

Leah is a busy lady. Even though it was a Saturday she was phoning and texting throughout the afternoon. Charlie was just relaxing and occasionally taking pictures of Katie and sending them out to friends and family via a social network. On one occasion I walked into the room and both of them were texting simultaneously.

Each was in a world of his/her own, communicating via cyberspace. Even though I was in the same room, for a brief moment I could have been in another world. I was not noticed.

Now I’m not making a big deal about this because I wasn’t noticed, I’m making a big deal about this because during those moments there was no sociability present. No insult was taken, and I know, no insult was intended. But I certainly see a society that is getting more and more unsocial in person because we’re so focused on sociability and business online.

A TV commentator pointed to the use of smart phones becoming more and more prevalent at traditional social events. One example she gave was the number of people you see openly texting, browsing, or even playing games, at a funeral. My wife is in the funeral business and nodded her head when she heard the observation.

Lord knows, with the capabilities built into what we used to call telephones, with all the opportunities currently available on a 3 inch screen for the expansion of the human consciousness, it’s becoming easier to overlook the actual human in the room.

As stated in the first rule of netiquette (http://www.albion.com/netiquette/): Remember the Human!

Are we becoming a world that finds relief in the fact that soon each of us will be able to go an entire day without actually having to talk to somebody face-to-face? If this trend does indeed exist, think how differently your great-grandchildren will communicate.

We have to work to make sure that live, in-person communication with others does not become passé. Let’s find a friendly, and yes, sociable way, to live in a world where cyber communication exists side-by-side with “look you in the eye” human communication.

I cherish the time that I get to spend with Leah, Charlie, and Katie. I don’t even mind the times when they are absorbed with their phones, and Katie is on a laptop playing some game on NickJr. In those moments I cherish the time when we actually talk and smile at each other even more. Maybe that’s a good thing.

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Be My Friend on Facebook. Now Buy from Me.

I was just looking through my Facebook invitations and noticed that the first communication I get from many of my “friends” is an invitation urging me to buy something, or listen to something that will end up in me buying, or buying into something.

I tried to find prior Facebook posts from each of these friends that had a message that I might find valuable on a personal level. Nope. None to be found. All I could find were posts trumpeting the product in question or no additional posts at all.

I wish I could command you to remember that nobody likes to be sold to (not even you). Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer in Facebook for Business, but please, unless I ask directly, can we do business a little later down the road?

Networking online or offline flourishes when there is at least an attempt at creating some type of personal relationship before you start selling. Facebook is a great way to initiate and maintain those relationships, and you have to work at it.

Sending out mass invites certainly works for some and I know sales can be looked at as a numbers game, but I don’t want to be looked at as a number. Especially not from someone who claims to be my friend.

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Sure… I Want You to Hire Me!

One of my friends on Facebook, Gina, commented on an article I shared on my business page. The article, written by Brian Solis, gives a detailed account of steps needed to convert attention into action with your social media marketing.

Gina wrote, “Every time I read one of these articles, I get lost in the lingo and apply none of it. Maybe that’s the point: they want me to hire…them!”

I sent a reply that attempted to clarify the article, which as I look back, may not have addressed Gina’s reason for writing at all. I then turned my attention to the final part of her comment, which in hindsight is actually the bigger issue of the two. 

Initially I figured it would be a good idea to avoid addressing the “they want me to hire…them” comment, but it occurred to me that Gina was absolutely correct. The goal of the information I share, whether authored by me or someone else is to help you succeed in your business. If you think the information is valuable but can’t, don’t know how to, or don’t want implement the tips, tools, and ideas on your own… then YES! I’d like you to hire me.

My wife likes to remind me… my business is not a hobby. I have a marketing agency specializing in Social Media, and just like all of us who go into business I want to make a profit. But, the first goal of my business is to help you solve your problems.

That’s the reason Ike Krieger, Brian Solis, and others write articles like the one in question. We want to share our expertise, become a trusted resource, and when the time is right… do some business.

 I actually define business as the ability to solve other people’s problem and make a profit. Using that definition clears the way for me to focus on solving your problem instead of mine. If business is the ability to solve other people’s problem and make a profit… and I solve your problem… what happens to my problems? They are solved also.

This kinder and gentler marketing and sales mindset is contrary to the one most of us are used to. As soon as those in your market believe that you’re in business to solve their problem rather than your own… your business will have a much better chance to grow and prosper.

I have learned that before any communication involving a prospect or existing client I should ask myself the following questions:

  1. What problem am I trying to solve?
  2. Whose problem am I trying to solve?

Here’s the tip:

Before any communication involving a prospect or existing client learn to consistently ask yourself those same questions.

So Gina… thanks for your comment. It reminded me just how valuable those two questions really are and the reason I ask them.

There’s so much marketing and sales information available on the internet. Some is very helpful, some not so much. Some is available at little or no cost; other sources require payment. Bottom line… if you don’t have the time, desire, or know how to address a critical business issue … seek out and hire a trusted business resource to help make your life easier and your business more profitable.  I look forward to being on that short list.

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Do You Sell Too Soon?

When it comes to business… social networking and face to face networking aren’t that different.

You’ve probably seen others interact with new contacts, open a channel of communication, and then start selling their butt off.  

Now don’t get me wrong. Selling is good. Nothing happens until something gets sold. However, there’s a time and place for everything and starting to sell too early in the networking process rarely produces the result you’d hoped for. Do you begin to sell too soon?

Whether you’re communicating on the internet or in person… avoid selling too soon.

If you start to sell too soon… YOU become one of the main causes of objections.

Do you start the sales process by presenting information that you believe will lead to a sale? In Contrary Marketing™ this is referred to as “Backwards Selling”™.

Your prospects are listening and digesting your information trying to figure out how your ideas and solutions will impact their business… and their wallet. Your prospect is in essence qualifying you.

If the way you communicate makes them think about their wallet, you’ve created a speed-bump in the decision making process.  If they’re not ready to buy… what you say functions like an ignition switch that activates your prospects’ concerns and questions.  These concerns and questions show up in the form of objections and stalls.

Issues and concerns that might keep your prospect from buying must be addressed before you begin to sell. You must diagnose before you prescribe. Your willingness and ability to address your prospect’s issues and concerns before you start to sell… by asking the right questions… is THE vital stage of a successful sales process.

Here’s the tip:

In social media, on the phone, or in person you should enter into an authentic conversation with your prospect before you begin to sell. Ask questions that provide both of you with enough information to clear a pathway to “yes”… or uncover a “no” that was going to happen anyway. You must do this before you start pitching, presenting, or proposing. This step will make your online and off line sales efforts more profitable, guaranteed.

The uncertainty of the today’s economy coupled with a highly competitive marketplace makes this information gathering step more important than ever. “Think like a Doctor” is one of the main principles of Contrary Marketing. Just like a Doctor you must diagnose before you prescribe. This tip alone will help you make more sales, more easily, and more often.

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Baby Boomer Business People and Social Media

Speaking today for an organization where most of us in the room were baby boomer business people, I did an informal survey of those who had not yet ventured into the world of social media marketing. I waited to hear reasons that would give me a new mantra, but it kept coming back to, “I don’t have the time, or the know-how.”

Nearly forty percent of those in attendance claimed to be social media virgins. Ninety percent of those said they were too busy, busy enough, filled to the brim, clueless, and my favorite, from a non-virgin, was “Yeah. I know what you mean. I’ve got 140 friends on Facebook… Now what?”

Here’s my counsel for those of you who fit into the unlisted categories above.

If you have a computer, I want you to “give it up” to the cause and commit to the deed. I’m talking about lurking (just watching) on Facebook for a few minutes a day. All you have to do is pay attention to the posts of your friends, (If you have no friends… contact me, I’ll be your friend) and soon you’ll get the urge to respond or comment authentically, briefly, and tastefully, or you won’t.

What you will see is an amazing and equally dynamic communication process within which the world of sales & marketing functions marvelously. In other words, social media is a great place to conduct business in a kinder and gentler way.

It’s vital to remember that the selling part of the equation occurs only after the types of engagement that are already familiar to those who network in the physical world. Follow up, support, acknowledgement, and a genuine interest in the success of others are prerequisite.

Explore the world of Social Media marketing as soon as possible. Approach the process as an adventure. You’ll discover a whole new world of possibilities, and I’m certain that you’ll be fascinated with the opportunities for positive and profitable two-way communication with your market.

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Do You Use A Sales Sledge Hammer in Your Social Networking?

Visited with my friend Bob at his auto body shop here in Northridge, CA. (He’d just made my car look pretty again). He told me a tale of two sales calls that he’d experienced first hand. His story amplifies the reality that “nobody likes to be sold to”, especially if they get hit by the “sales sledge hammer.”

The Story

Bob got a call from an insurance agent that he’d met at a Chamber event. The man asked if he could bring in his car for an estimate. Bob remembered meeting the man, and said, “Sure, bring it in to the shop.”

The man arrived, arms filled with flip charts and diagrams, and went immediately into an unsolicited (and unwanted) insurance sales presentation. Bob said politely that he was busy and needed to get back to the tasks at hand. The man continued his pitch until Bob said, “We’re done. We’ll have to talk another time.” The man never even mentioned his car, or the estimate.

Bob told me that the man returned a few more times and went right back into his pitch. Bob continued his story with an even sadder comment, “If I saw this guy coming down the street, I’d hurry to the other side.”

The second example was strikingly and refreshingly different.

A representative of an auto paint supplier that Bob had never met came into the shop unannounced. The man said, “Hi. I just wanted to introduce myself and leave a card. I have 17 years experience in the world of body shop paint supplies. If you ever have any questions… let me know.”

Bob did have a question concerning  a relatively new painting system he recently had installed. The man responded with an answer that was so helpful that Bob tried to buy the proposed solution right then and there. The man declined the opportunity to sell because the device in question was not designed for Bob’s current system. Bob was so impressed with the way the man handled the call that he’s actually considering making a transition to the system offered by his new-found resource.

What does this have to do with social media? Everything!

I see posts all the time that have one message: Buy From Me! Buy From Me!” This doesn’t work offline and the tactic is even less effective online.

Here’s the tip:

Before you give in to the initial urge to sell, take a deep breath and focus instead on establishing an authentic relationship. This process can happen in a moment, as with Bob’s experience, or it can take a while. Either way… it’s better than hitting a new contact over the head with the sales sledge hammer. As a tool, the sales sledge hammer will hurt your selling effectiveness rather than help. Guaranteed!

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Stop Selling… Start Listening. A Tip That Also Applies to Social Media

We’ve gone from the horse and buggy to the automobile. We’ve gone from lanterns to electricity; and we’ve gone from traditional marketing to social media marketing.

The switch from the old marketing media to the new didn’t diminish the need for effective marketing and sales skills.  Sales and marketing tips that worked before the advent of Social Media still apply.

Even though a strategic Social media campaign can produce unlimited leads at virtually no cost, you still have to sell.  In business… nothing happens until something gets sold.

For the last 25 years, that’s just what I’ve been teaching people all over the world to do: market and sell effectively. Since 2008 those thoughts have become part of what is known as Contrary Marketing™.

I pledged to share these thoughts with you because they work, and from time to time you’ll find posts that reflect that pledge.

This little story covers a really big Contrary Marketing sales tip.

What happened was… I forgot to practice what I preach. My bad.

I didn’t listen. I didn’t diagnose before I prescribed. I didn’t manage the buying process. I tried to sell. It nearly cost me the opportunity to help a friend.

I fixed it. It’s all better now. Here’s the story.

I have a client who happens to be a friend of mine. He runs an optometry clinic.

He came to me and asked me to work with his staff. He wanted them to become more effective at featuring additional products and services during patient visits.

This was perfect timing because I’d been busy updating a six week sales and customer service training program and wanted to see how the new stuff worked.

We talked. I followed the steps in my Contrary Marketing selling system, for a little while at least, but since I had a solution for him already, I stopped helping him buy what he wanted to buy. I began selling him something I wanted to sell.

I didn’t ask what he was looking for specifically. I didn’t ask what type of training he had done in the past. I didn’t uncover budget. I started to tell him about my super-duper program.

I told him how this training would be perfect. Plus, this was a new version. I wanted to try it out on his staff. I would value his help during what was basically a BETA test. I would reduce the fees accordingly. Blah, blah, blah. He listened (which meant I was the one talking… another bad sign in itself).

I understood his problem. I was talking to the decision maker, but I stopped using my system .

He said he would get back to me.

We played phone tag for a few days, and when we finally spoke, I sensed something amiss. He said, “You know, the program you told me about is not really what I was looking for. It sounds great, but not right now.”

OOOPS!

I was ready to start selling again. Then, I heard the little voice in my head say, “Use your system. Ask a question.” Duhhh.

It’s amazing how a little question like, “What do you want?” can make such a big difference.

He wanted me to conduct a 90 minute, motivational/new sales ideas session. I do that for companies all the time. It’s a cost effective way to share the basic principles of Contrary Marketing and have an instant impact on sales.

He was happy. I was happy.

So here’s the tip: Stop Selling and Start Listening. Diagnose Before You Prescribe.

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What is your Social Media goal?

If you don’t know where you’re going— that’s where you’ll end up.”


Active with online social media?  Working on a project? Getting ready for an offline phone conversation, or an appointment? — What is your outcome?

Success overall, and strategy development in particular demand that you be clear on your outcome, and your outcome should be stated in the positive.

Most people, maybe even you, tend to take on projects or business activities for which there is no set or definable outcome or goal. What’s really interesting is that most people seem to know what they don’t want, but have a difficult time clarifying what they do want. Some go so far as to state their outcome in the negative.

An example of this “backward” approach to goal setting might be, “I want to play a round of golf where I don’t hit the ball into the water.”  The positive counterpart is, “I want to play a round of golf and keep my ball on the fairway.”

Here’s the tip.

Clarify your outcome, and state your outcome in the positive.

Watch out for this trap!

Too many times we forget about our outcome so we can argue a minor, time-wasting issue or… focus on proving ourselves “right.”

Remember to remember your outcome.

Maintain your outcome, not your position.

–A distracted existence leads us to no goal. –Goethe ~

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Are you being asked to do more marketing on a smaller budget?

This is from an article by Ike Krieger & Andrew Sokol featured in the LA Times Sunday Magazine

Q: My marketing budget has been cut, but my need for results keeps increasing.  How can I create marketing that gives me the greatest return on my investment?

A: Whether you own your own small business; are the marketing decision maker for a mid-size business; are a sales professional; or are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company; maximizing the return on every marketing dollar you spend should be among your highest priorities.

When your budget is cut, or the economy shrinks, that priority becomes even more critical.  It sounds like both of those situations exist for you right now.

Contrary Marketing LogoAccording to international business consultants Andrew Sokol and Ike Krieger, the solution lies in a new approach to your marketing and sales strategy.  Based on over 60 years of combined experience in marketing, branding, and sales, Sokol and Krieger have developed what they call Contrary Marketing™.  Here are their recommendations.

Stop what you’re doing! At least, for a moment.  Why?  Because you need to step back and ask yourself the most important question in business which is: “On what are you basing your business decisions?”

When we ask most business owners and manager that question, they usually respond with a long pause, a blank stare, and a shrug of the shoulders.  That’s because most businesses are doing what we call “Backward Marketing.”  It’s the most common marketing mistake in business, and it’s the most damaging.

“Backward Marketing” describes the process of implementing marketing tactics before there is a Brand Strategy to base them on.

Let’s take a moment to define our terms.  We define a tactic as the things you do – or implement – to market or run your business.  Your logo, for example.  Your website. Your slogan.  Your location (if you have one).  Your personnel.  Your sales presentation. Even how you answer the phone and communicate with prospects and customers.  These are all tactics.

A Brand Strategy is something entirely different.  Your Brand Strategy is a perception you create that differentiates your business or service from your competition.  Put another way, in a world full of competition, your Brand Strategy answers the question: “why you?”

We believe your Brand Strategy must come before any of your decisions about any of your tactics.

We often meet business owners who show us their pretty new logo, or funny new slogan, and inform us they’ve branded themselves.  Wrong.

Remember, a brand is a perception or idea you create in the minds of consumers that differentiates you from your competition. Everything else – your tactics – must communicate that perception.  If they don’t, they aren’t strategic, and it won’t matter how pretty or funny they are because they won’t help you grow your business.  Every business has tactics, few businesses have a strategy.

As most businesses have painfully discovered over time, marketing before strategy usually results in disappointing results.

O.K., if you’re with us this far, we know you’re asking: “what should my strategy be?”  Unfortunately, we can’t tell you because we don’t know enough about your competition and your market.

Notice, we didn’t say we don’t know enough about your business. Why?  Because knowing about your competition and how they’re perceived is more important than knowing about your own business.  And it’s far more important than knowing why you think your business is better than your competition.

We’re going to repeat that.

Knowing how your competition is perceived is more important than knowing why your business is better.

Here’s the secret of marketing success.  Listen closely; we’re only going to say it once:
Being better is one thing, being different is everything.

Think about it.  If the goal is to give consumers a reason to buy from you, rather than your competition, then you have to create a perception of difference between you and your competition, and the only way to know how to create a different perception is to know how your competition is perceived.  If you don’t create that perception of difference, you will be left to compete on price, and that’s no way to build a business.

Many business people we talk to believe they are creating a perception of difference by saying they have better “service,” or “quality,” or “value,” or “experience,” etc.

But remember the secret of marketing success: Being better is one thing, being different is everything.  There, we said it again.

Remember also that your competition is using all those same words, so when you use those words, they don’t differentiate you at all.  Besides, we’ve all heard promises about service, and quality, and value, for so long – and been disappointed so often – that we just don’t believe those claims any more.

So here’s the tip: Strategy before tactics.

There are a half dozen or so strategic ways to create your perception of difference.  Establishing a Brand Strategy that’s right for your business is just one of the marketing services provided at Social Media Perception.

Contact us by e-mail at info@socialmediaperception.com or reach us by phone at 800-700-4334.

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