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.

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).

Different marketers will give you different advice as to whether or not the head of a company should be the voice of the company on a blog, twitter, or other social media. One school of thought states that if the owner/CEO has the time to tweet, s/he isn’t working hard enough at the helm. Others say that if you’re truly a thought leader, you should be the voice of the company.

I personally believe there is no “one size fits all” approach to social media. Integrated marketing communication strategies advocates a total approach to marketing – first decide what your company culture will be, then develop your marketing (including social media) strategies around that idea. If your company’s culture advocates transparency, someone else writing your company blog (even as a ghost writer) is a betrayal of that transparency.

Social Media Today recently ran an article discussing a gentleman who hired an outside company to “ghost tweet” for him while he was away at a conference (http://bit.ly/cMfHlI). A central question of the article, besides the ethics of the idea, was whether or not you need to tweet at all at times?

I again think the answer lies in your overall company strategy. Sometimes the CEO should blog. Sometimes the strategy is one of listening. Sometimes (especially in a creatively focused company) there should be many voices.

I believe in authenticity. Integrated marketing communication strategies are about developing a central message around your product or service, and using business and marketing strategies to reinforce that message.

Epic Win Dry Cleaner

Hat tip to Epic Win FTW – Proof there is still at least one nice person left on the planet:

The sign says, “If you are unemployed and need an outfit cleaned for an interview, we will clean it for free.”

What a simple way to win new customers! People needing the service may reward the cleaner with future business. People who are touched by the service may renew their loyalty to this company. I know that if I lived in Portland, I would consider going out of my way to use this dry cleaner because of this.

Will someone take advantage of this? Possibly. But the good-will engendered, the potential new customers, the renewed loyalty of existing clients, and just the idea of helping others who need a hand in a trying economy probably offset the risks. I’m not familiar with dry cleaning, but I’d imagine that one or two additional suits in the mix will not increase the cost to the cleaner.

Even though it’s tough out there, opportunities to grow your business exist at little or no cost to a company, other than perhaps changing your short-term strategy from how you can profit to how you can help.

Has your business changed its strategy because of the economy? Have you considered giving away your product or service for those in need (eg: resume reviews, assistance with personal brand-building on sites like Linked-In, etc.) in the short-term? If you’ve considered it but decided not to, why?

ElektrikInk Blog imageIntegrated marketing strategies include multiple platforms with a coordinated message. There’s a lot of discussion about social media with respect to marketing – how much time to spend, what social media platforms, and whether social media should replace traditional media.

I share the opinion that social media should integrate into your overall marketing strategy and business plan, and should not stand apart from or replace traditional marketing tactics. Rena Bernstein of ElektrikInk wrote a blog post recently about integrating your social media tactics with more traditional marketing methods. Her four points are:

  • You can’t control social media
  • Traditional marketing clarifies Social Media
  • Social media amplifies traditional marketing
  • Testimonials: the mother load of social media

In particular, in the “social media amplifies traditional marketing” section, I liked the example Rena shares about Estée Lauder cosmetics:

Estée used social media and online PR to offer free makeovers and free professional headshots. After each makeover, women would have a glamour photo taken of them (including of course an Estée Lauder logo in the background) and upload the image as their social profile photo before ever leaving the counter.

Have you heard of similar creative cross-media techniques? I’d love to hear ones that moved you…

I recently came across, through a LinkedIn discussion, a marketing blog for John Fatteross Communications, LLC called FattLipp. A December blog post discussed the company’s holiday card campaign.

Watching the three Flash animation cards, I immediately engaged with the campaign. Watching the videos back to back, I immediately recognized common elements, and in the 2009 card was even looking for the snowman (it appears in the reflection of the ornament after the ornament rolls toward camera).  The blog post goes into detail regarding the strategy behind the card:

“Within each execution, a winter-related icon with a round shape — e.g. ornament, wreath, skating pond — would morph into the client’s logo (also round). To further a campaign feel, Fatt Lipp proposed to use the same placid music bed in each execution.”

Considering all of the thought that was put into the overall theme of the cards, and how excited I was about finding some of the common elements across years, my only critique was that the e-cards didn’t appear to link back to the company’s website (although they may have linked to the site during the campaign) and it didn’t appear that there was the ability to watch the previous years’ cards.

Integrated marketing communication strategies encompass all marketing opportunities, including holiday cards. I know that, in January, it’s too late to think about last year’s holiday card. But now is an excellent time to think about this year, and begin strategizing on how you can integrate a bit of your company into your holiday card.

I’m usually not a fan of e-cards as opposed to print cards, but if the e-card is engaging, people will read it. Even better – if you use flash animation and provide a little movie, people will watch it. Even better is taking the holiday card to the next level, and providing a multi-level campaign across time to actively engage your audience.