I’ve moved!

July 1, 2010

For the, like, two people who visit this blog, I’ve upgraded!!! Visit my NEW! IMPROVED! HOSTED BLOG at http://www.nikkibenner.com. Like my name, Nikki Benner. Sneaky, huh? Kind of funny, how that is… or not funny at all… I’ve answered to Nikki for most of my life (except for one job, where they insisted on calling me Nicole, which in all fairness is my given name) so I see little reason to start answering to “IntegratedMC.” Although if I do ever decide to throw down some phat rhymes, I may go by IntegratedMC… or not. Anyway, visit me at www.nikkibenner.com, because that’s where I am now.

A common objection to sharing ideas in a blog is the fear of losing business as people use the advice you offer for free. My position is that sharing your expertise positions you as a leader in the field and will, in the long run, win you more business than it may potentially cost you. People hire experts for a reason – lack of time, lack of resources, the preference for an expert… MackCollier.com recently blogged about this, and offers what I think is a great answer to that objection:

Seems completely counter-intuitive on the surface, but the content helps businesses learn how to better use social media AND that makes them more likely to want to hire me to help them with their efforts.  So by empowering potential customers, I am actually growing my business.

I also liked the first comment:

Excellent piece, Mack. I try to do the same thing and tell all my clients to do this: use your blog to give out free content, advice, etc. This really helps to build trust among your constituency. If a mechanic teaches you how to change your oil, you will be appreciative as a consumer. And there will be times when people need car repairs that transcend their abilities. Where will they go? To the person they know and trust.

Read the full article, “Try to Blog Yourself Out of Business” here: http://bit.ly/b6vk7G

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From 4/24’s Saturday Night Live, a commentary on how Girl Scout cookies are only available once a year, and only for sale by an actual Girl Scout.

When developing a marketing plan, where you’re going to sell your product and how it will get there (the Place) is part of your marketing strategy, as are the promotional tactics you’re going to use to build awareness and sell your products. The Girl Scouts have other considerations besides earning money from the sale of the cookies, which is part of the reason the cookies are not available online or in retail outlets. It’s just funny to consider the Girl Scout cookie business model and compare it to traditional business plans.

Social media platform logos

image borrowed from Search Engine Journal

My newest “boyfriend” is social media. We’ve been dating for a while now. We’ve started slowly, with more obvious sites like this blog on WordPress, Twitter, Linked In and Facebook. If you’re looking to start a relationship with social media as well, I recommend starting slowly, with one or two sites at a time. I also recommend listening and contributing to existing conversations as well as starting your own. I recently read a great article on Social Media Today called “50+ Ways to Search Twitter” that lists a variety of tools that can help you find conversations on topics you’re interested in. I’m enjoying “TweeTag” because it’s easy to use… Are you using a tool like this to search Twitter? Which one(s) are you using, and why?

Aggregated list of Franklin Covey's recent special offersI love making lists and organizing my day. There are lots of services you can use, and even just an old fashioned pen and paper, but I’m a big fan of Franklin Covey‘s planning products. I receive their email newsletters, which always contain a special offer. On their website, they also have a page that aggregates all of the recent special offers. If your business has a similar program, I recommend this idea. If your current offer isn’t what someone’s looking for, this offers them the chance to revisit other deals, and you can track how popular offers are over time, instead of just having one month’s worth of data (or however frequently you create a new special offer).

To Be Continued...I highly recommend you click here to read this article from My Venture Pad about using “cliffhanger” marketing strategies. This sort of idea, when executed with consistency, gets your readers used to expecting content at a specific time on a specific topic, allowing you to better understand your prospect’s interests to better segment and market to your prospects. This strategy also creates content with lasting value.

In particular, I like the idea of  “Next Steps” :

Let’s say you have a 10-step process your prospects find value in. Post an article discussing step 1 and then tell your audience that the next steps will be posted each Tuesday (or whenever) for the next 9 weeks. If possible, invite them to opt in for notification about the  the next installment.

As the article suggests, cliffhanger marketing just requires some creative thought and creating (and following) an editorial calendar.

Regardless of your business, you should consider the experience your customer will have throughout the entire sales process. This includes any online portals, brick-and-mortar stores, conversations with your receptionist, your waiting room, conference room… you get the picture. Even employees walking through the office discussing whatever it is they discuss needs to be considered, because these things tell a person about your company.

Brand is more than a logo – it’s your company’s attitude, font, phone voice, furniture… these things communicate something to your clients and prospects. Consider the experience of your firm, be it a phone call, online shopping experience, or in-office visit from the perspective of a stranger. Take notes. Ask yourself if the experience matches your brand.

These thoughts came about during a recent shopping trip – read about the experience below, and weigh in on your thoughts regarding your experiences where a brand revealed itself through the sales experience…

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