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Showing posts from 2014

What's Your New Year's "Re-Solution"?

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New Year's Resolutions are most often pledges to rid our lives from nasty or unhealthy habits. A resolution is made when we choose to resolve a situation. As I started to make my list, I realized that the word "resolve" is re-solve and "resolution" is a re-solution. In other words, another try or a different solution. I like that better. It feels more like a step in the right direction rather than a self punishment or prevention. It's a new way to approach an old problem.

I think in business we tend to spend too much time looking for new solutions, rather than rethinking the ones we have. Our vision gets clouded due to time constraints or pressures to perform. Many of the answers are already there in place and just need tweaking. (That's tweaking not twerking).

Sure we have budgets, and schedules, and marketing plans. But what about business resolutions? Where are they? Maybe we need to pledge to ourselves and our employees to take a new …

The Holiday Office Party: 3 Sticky Questions to Ask Before You Go

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All ready for the holiday party: Ugly sweater? Check. Christmas tree tie with flashing lights? Check. Inappropriate behavior? Check. Wait. What? All one needs to do is watch an episode of MADMEN to learn how what we once thought was acceptable business practice is now at best horrifying, and at worst punishable by law. The business world has gotten wiser, more evolved, more sensitive but some believe the political correctness has it gone too far. Legal and its liabilities removed the libations. HR re-dubbed Christmas into Holiday. And the CFO changed the venue from cocktails at The Ritz to cocktail franks and Ritz crackers. It's often been my job to plan them, and I think most of the changes have been good for the Holiday Party (that is, if you're still lucky enough to have one).
Ho, Ho, Hold on there a minute. Just because the Holiday Party is not what it used to be, people still need to check themselves before they wreck themselves. In 2014, inappropriate behavio…

Should Your Business Close for December?

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For retail businesses, now starts the biggest time of the year. In fact, many retail chains report doing about 90% of their sales from now through the New Year. But for the rest of us, the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving is pretty much the last day of the year any business will get done. Break out the bubbly, the year is as good as over.

Though many like to deny it to the board, employee productivity drops significantly during this time. It's not just the Holidays to blame. Depleted budgets, holiday parties, "use it or lose it" vacations, associated family events, school closings, not to mention the flu season being in full bloom all add to making December the most infuriating month for upper management.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of this is for most of us who despite the temptation to slough off, procrastinate, and avoid, do the opposite during this time. We work harder in fact to meet those end of year deadlines. We have the reports ready, but…

2014: Year of the Wishy Washy Business Strategy

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I've been thinking about an article on the importance of spontaneity or perhaps indecisiveness? I'll write it when I have more time, maybe. Instead, I'll point the mic towards business. I've had a lot of contracted consulting assignments over my career, but the ones in 2014 win a unique award. I am deeming 2014 "The Year of the Wishy Washy Business. The one thing these companies had in common was they all were in a rush to avoid a decision.
I received urgent calls from referrals, past business associates, all in a different fields who "needed help ASAP." Sometimes it was me calling them. Sometimes it was the CEO or the CMO. But every time they claimed the monies were allocated in the budget. Everyone assured me they had to sign off and blessing from management, and everyone needed me to start "yesterday." But 9 times at 10 the deal fell through - not because of time or money or even won by another, but because of internal "ree…

Repost Without Reading: Are You the Unaware Sharer?

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I know you're busy...

Maybe you're one of the "lucky" ones who got to keep their job after the recession hit and now get the "privilege" of also doing the work of the three others in your department who are no longer there? Or maybe you're the new hire getting paid peanuts - no I mean actual peanuts and other snacks that corporate has replaced in lieu of monetary rewards. Or maybe like me you do all things marketing because, well, no one else will do it? Regardless, not being able to see over the piles of files on your desk is not just cause for sharing, forwarding, liking, and tweeting, articles, emails, blogs, tweets, and posts that you haven't actually read.

Everyone has a Top Sharing Offender in their lives. A friend, parent, acquaintance, or boss who needs to attend Repost Anonymous meetings ASAP.  But most of us are guilty of the occasional unaware share. I just did it today when I forwarded an article to my Harry Potter fanatic kid. Somethi…

Workplace Tattoos: Too much Ink in the Inc?

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"Tattoo? What Tattoo?"Regardless of whether you like them or not, does a visible tattoo influence your opinion of the person wearing it? Sure it does. It's why we wear a suit, shine our shoe and/or spend extra time on our hair for a job interview. Our appearance in the workplace says a lot. And tattoos can say much more.

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center last year, the percentage of U.S. adults age 26-40 who have at least one tattoo is 40%.  How people react to tattoos depends upon many different factors.  Your generation, your cultural background or religion, your views on self-expression - all of which has nothing to do with the subject matter of the tattoo, where on the body it's placed, and whose body it's on. But in business, there are a slew more of questions often going undiscussed as it's a slippery slope.

 First, it depends on the visibility. Business people have had tattoos long before their recent popularity --…

Can the Business Hug Be Far Behind?

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When did hand shakes and pats on the back get replaced by tight, long, two armed, bear hugs?

A phenomenon happened in the past 20 years or so where now full on embraces have become quite customary in the most casual settings and public spaces. World leaders do it at summits. World Series winners do it preceded by a run and jump. Actors do it after each performance. So yes, it's more than okay when men hug. But to me, the platonic embrace seems like it's being overused and more from as a calculated tactic than a genuine display of emotion.

Odder still to me is the opposite sex, platonic hug. Now, when I walk into my local Japanese restaurant or sports bar I am greeted by a long warm embrace by the hostess and/or waitress. Believe me, this divorced middle-aged man is not complaining. And there are no ulterior motives implied by these women, as I may tip well, but I don't tip with Lamborghinis. But in the single evening I can go from meeting the new bartender to rece…

SEO vs. SEM: the Real War for Top Placement

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Forget net neutrality, there's a bigger war taking place online today. It's the battle between search engine optimization (SEO) versus search engine marketing (SEM) to get to the top of the search engine result pages (SERP). And the most shocking thing about it is most business leaders don't realize that the two practices are working against each other.

Wait a second? Did he just say SEO and SEM compete against each other? Yep. Most companies erroneously use the terms interchangeably which is at the crux of the problem. So let's first start with an explanation of terms.

SEO is a practice of tailoring or "optimizing" the contents of your websites, landing pages, pdfs, videos, and social media posts so that your brand (product, service, company, or client) comes up at the top (or close to it) when someone performs a search. While SEM is the practice of bidding on placement of your brand in the designated marketing areas of a search engine and/or their partner s…

Filling Open Spaces with Your Marketing Brand

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Maybe it's a sign of age, a growing reliance on technology, or just impatience, but when I'm introduced to someone now I forget their name literally the moment they mention it. But then there are things that people say that I wish I could forget but can't. I'm not talking about disturbing, unsettling, or insulting remarks - my mind does a good job of erasing those memories. No, I'm talking about random thoughts that are seemingly insignificant at the time, not good or bad, but somehow stay with me forever.

For instance, every time I wash a cooking pan, I think of an old co-worker named Chuck. When I was a newlywed, Chuck goadingly quipped to my new bride how he'd bet that I was so lazy that I didn't wash the handle when washing the pan. (It turns out he had been admonished by his wife for the same oversight.) "Yes," my then wife replied in a frustrated voice, "and it drives me crazy!"
Not only did Chuck's off-the-cuff remark land m…

Face Palm: Monetizing Facebook and Other Websites Made Easy

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Facebook revealed this week that it will be tagging news items from "The Onion" as satire as it has received many complaints from members confused the style of humor. This announcement comes just days after Facebook's decision to begin charging a $9.99 monthly subscription fee for  membership beginning in September for its satire-challenged members. OK. The part about the social networking king charging was satire about satire. But Facebook, like many free websites are not joking about looking for innovative ways to monetize. And it's been a tough road to hoe and the road just installed toll booths. But I always know a short cut.
I make a large majority of purchases online, so I don't begrudge any website trying to monetize its efforts. But when you start off as free, it's difficult not to mention risky to start charging for your intangible services. Their remuneration is paid in data. Our information currency. But security issues and privacy acts have be…

Pride and Prejudice of LinkedIn Membership

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You've probably read a lot about it in the news this week, so let me finally address the event:  I am about to hit the 500+ connections milestone on LinkedIn, and frankly the business world is abuzz about it. At least that's what LinkedIn would have me to believe.

The business networking site has done a great job at making a name for itself as an Internet standard, mentioned routinely in the same breath with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Now, any article you read usually offers the LinkedIn share button, but being an aggregated news source is just a caveat of the business professional powerhouse that it has become. But LinkedIn has achieved much more than being the online Rolodex replacement that it had set out to be when it was first founded.But it's done so by redefining its own rules. 

I don't remember when I joined LinkedIn, but it was early on, and earlier then most anybody I know. Being an early adopter is part of the job description for an Internet mar…

How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Social Media Manager - Part 2

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As I pointed out in Part One, social media marketing is still figuring itself out, so finding the right person to be your social media manager is no easy task. Simply charging the youngest person in the company to handle such an increasingly vital and visual role just does not make sense. Just consider how today I walked into my local Verizon store to ask some questions for my elderly parents.

"Hi. Do you have phones designed specifically for senior citizens?," I asked the young Verizon employee.

"Is this for you?," she replied.

I paused for a few moments until the Frankenstein veins on the side of my head stopped throbbing, then replied: "What's your cancellation policy?"
What we've all learned very quickly is that social media is akin to preparing blow fish, or the Japanese sushi known as "fugu". Prepared correctly and you'll be treated to one of the most delicious meals you have ever had. Prepared incorrectly, and it could very w…

How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Social Media Manager - Part 1

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One of the challenges all organizations face today concerning its social media campaign is not so much how to to do it, but selecting the right manager to run it? Tapping the right person, persons, or company to lead the social media charge is unlike filling spots in other departments. So some of the tried and true processes you've used for years are about to backfire and can do damage quickly.

At this point, whether you run your own business or are the CEO of a multinational, you know a little about social media. Maybe even a lot. And if you're like most leaders, you really don't want to know more about it, but you know it makes good business sense that you do. Your job is to make sure the person in charge knows it inside and out.

The problem is that the medium, its tools and its best practices, changes pretty much daily. Keep in mind that social media employees are not only doing their job, they are schooling themselves on how to do their job. The changes are constant,…

What I Just Read About Digital Marketing Will Shock You. And No. 3 Will Change Your Life.

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Sorry. Did you believe that headline?  It's called clickbait. Don't feel bad if you were misled. Unfortunately, we have all fallen prey to these social media bear traps. Several of these fallacious posts bombard us each day on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like. So suffice it to say, there won't be any panaceas in here to change your life, no earth shaking news, no online marketing solution that will make you gobs and gobs of money utilizing social media. There won't even be a No. 3.

These kinds of sensationalist posts are the latest trend to hit the Inter-webs and what I've dubbed tabloid social media. The subject is usually about some amazing act of kindness or feat, by a dog, baby, or an elderly or physically impaired person. It's really no different from what the media has done for years. They promise something that will tug at your heart strings, give you belly laughs, or change your life.  All high claims that rarely deliver.  And fewer ironicall…

A Remedial Lesson in Social Media Protocol

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So what do you do when your "funny" social media post is universally attacked for being in poor taste, insensitive, and flat out not humorous?  As one celebrity of a poorly-crafted Tweet found out, don't try to explain it, defend it, and then attack the masses who've pointed out your grievous mistake.

It's just the latest example of social media gone wrong.  In fact it's the equivalent of the home owner who paints his house fluorescent orange and green. When his neighbors complain and he refuses to repaint it, he replies: "Fine. I'll just burn it down."

Deleting an egregious post is the first thing to do. It doesn't make the problem go away nor is it meant to pretend it never happened. And though some might contend that it's an admission of fault, it's not. It's an admission of at the very least a post that wasn't completely thought out and one that is causing outrage instead of providing entertainment or information. And th…

Avoiding Careless Brand Strategy

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Yet another nail salon opened up in my neighborhood. I think that makes 20 in a three block radius. Like many men, a "nail salon" for me is a hot shower and a nail clipper that my Dad gave me 20 years ago. In my book, if the nails are trimmed neat and clean, then I've done my job. I don't begrudge anyone -- man or woman -- who patronize these establishments. But for me, color on the tips of my fingers and toes is way down on my priority list. Just ahead of starting a wasp circus.

I walk by the new nail salon sometimes four times a day. And if I see the proprietor in the window I'll smile and nod.  Yesterday I introduced myself and welcomed her to the neighborhood so it came as a surprise when she looked at me contritely and did not introduce herself.  Instead of shaking my hand, she grabbed my hand without saying a word not to shake it but to examine it. "You need a manicure," she said. "Come inside now my girls need the work." Most peop…

Living with Your Social Media Regrets

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Have you made a post, shared a photo, or commented on one of your social networks that you later regretted?

If you answered, "no," then you're doing it wrong. It means you're not posting enough. We all have regrets in life, and I'm willing to bet it's more what you haven't done than did. If you're in social media, you've got to be in all the way. Not that there's anything wrong with reserving comments. I think there are many people who post far too much -- or more to the point, far too much uninteresting junk. No one's ever gone to a comedy show and complained "He was great, but he made me laugh too much." Like wearing yoga pants, everyone has the right to post, not everyone should.

However, if you answered "yes" to the question, then congratulations are in order. Not for your poor choices, but for your decision to take chances and recognize your mistakes. Most successful people do both.

When I post, I do indeed envisi…

No ROI from your Social Networks? Change the Channel

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If your marketing department hasn't gotten the results you expected from your social networking by now, it probably never will. It's not their fault. It's just the wrong channel.

I'm a digital marketing consultant who spend his days as a social media strategist, write a syndicated column on social media, have authored social media best practices eBooks, and by some standards, am a pioneer in social media. And I consider myself a social media student as you can't be much of an expert on what's been around for such a short time. So it always puzzles me when a client reaches a frustration level with the results, or rather the lack thereof, that they are achieving from their efforts. They'll say: "I've got my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages up. And I'm paying some kid to write content and post and tweet and blog and...I'm not seeing anything." 

Sound familiar? Measuring ROI on social media certainly is possible though since there is …

Your New Year's Social Media Diet

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Like most of you, my resolutions this year involve healthy self-improvements. Starting with food: I will try to eat less of the bad stuff and more of the good stuff. I don't believe in cutting things out cold turkey (even if it is leftover with plenty of stuffing) but rather, cutting down. I seem to work better that way.  By the way, that's a photo of my breakfast this morning, pancakes, syrup, biscuits, bacon. Sorry, I forgot to mention, unlike you, my resolution begins tomorrow. It's the one advantage of having a birthday today. (Please remain seated as envy green is not a becoming color on you.) In short, I get to procrastinate my diet one more day. Even as it applies to social media.

What? You don't do resolutions? Don't need a diet? Great! But everyone needs a social media diet for healthier communications. And like me, you get the extra day or four as it were and can start Monday. That's because no one's around. A mid-week start of the New Year is al…