Sep 21

It Takes Money to Get Facebook Fans

What?!?! You have to BUY Facebook Fans? That’s preposterous.

No it’s not. Consumers are lazy and often don’t care about you. You give them service, they give you money. The transaction has ended. They are under no obligation to fan you, friend you, or do anything beyond this.

In some way, you will have to spend money to get a huge fan base on Facebook. What am I talking about spending money on here?

starbucks-logo31.) Special promotions or deals. Starbucks offers deals for free or discounted coffee for participating on their fan page. I know that if I fan Starbucks, I will get news on the company, but there is an added benefit which just so happens to bring me back in the store. This is margin taken right off the top of their sales, but it’s a sacrifice they make to get more people in the stores and to continually be the #1 provider of fancy pants coffee.

Red_Bull_logo2.) Content that compels people to view and share. Red Bull has EXTREME content targeted towards their audience. They spent money and hours to find it and make it. News about the company hacky sack competition would not cut it, unless told in a super compelling way (which costs you money, because good story tellers don’t go cheap).

Note: if your business is content, you can suggest people fan you as a means for RSS or connecting with a similar community.

zappos-logo3.) Over the top service. Zappos is known for amazing customer service and over 65,000 people like them on Facebook. Customer service oriented companies often have to make seemingly irrational decisions to make customers happy. They have to have a lot of people manning the phones. They have to offer returns when others won’t. Customer service is not “efficient” in the bean counter sense, but having 65,000 fans on Facebook helps you make up the difference by connecting you with user evangelists who can spread the word.

Many companies promote their fan pages with Facebook ads. That costs money too.

Don’t think Fans are worth it? According to this study on GigaOm, the average Facebook fan is worth $136.38, as fans spend an extra $71.84 more than non-fans, are 28 percent more likely to be repeat customers, and 41 percent more likely to recommend a brand to friends than non-fans.

Jun 24

When Closing More Leads Can Actually Hurt You More

Marketing. It’s often considered a spin doctor-ish, slimy profession intended to deceive people into buying something they don’t need.

Marketing as it should be done is actually a very noble profession that can improve people’s lives. However, not only is pursuing “anyone and everyone” at the expense of their happiness unethical, it is stupid and costly to your business.

Bazaarvoice is a company that allows companies to increase and measure reviews about their products. Here are some stats they’ve gathered about word-of-mouth:

*The average consumer mentions specific brands over 90 times per week in conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. (Keller Fay, WOMMA, 2010)
*90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users. (Econsultancy, July 2009)
*Users put great trust in their social networks. One-half of Beresford respondents said they considered information shared on their networks when making a decision—and the proportion was higher among users ages 18 to 24, at 65%. (eMarketer, October 2009)
*Consumers trust friends above experts when it comes to product recommendations (65% trust friends, 27% trust experts, 8% trust celebrities). (Yankelovich)

Why are these statistics relevant? These along with reputable game theory studies show that people trust other people they know more than they’ll trust you. If you are doing the slimeball marketing tactic by focusing on sheer numbers and quotas, you aren’t focused on who is actually buying your product and if these people would actually enjoy using it.


Let’s say that your manager wants you to meet a quota, and so you sell 10,000 widgets like you were asked. Because widgets are rather obscure, you sort of fudged the benefits of the product and now only 25 percent of the people who use them are happy with the product. That’s 7500 people who now hate your widget and probably you for selling it to them. According to a study cited by the social network DoctorBase, if these are social media users, a negative review from them will reach 130 people. That’s:

* 130
975,000 people who now think you deceived them

Now let’s say you do this more responsibly. You ignore your manager’s quota and you say, “I won’t get 10,000 sold now, but I will have 3000 sold in six months, and 75,000 sold in a year, and I will do it in a way where we can spend much less in marketing and much more improving our product for the future”. How do you do this?

1.) Understand what your widget is, how customers use it, and how it compares to other products like it in the industry.
2.) Instead of figuring out how you can preach your product far and wide to everyone, figure out how you can get it to 3000 who would be insanely happy with it. This is a lot easier to achieve than finding 10,000 happy customers but requires a bit more homework.
3.) Make those 3000 people insanely happy with your widget. This may or may not cost money in product development, but that’s often what it takes to make people insanely happy.

Let’s be very conservative here. If you make people insanely happy with your product, asking them to tell their friends about you is actually quite easy. They feel like they are doing their friends a favor. So let’s say those 3000 people only reach out to an average of 25 people and convince them that your widget will totally change their lives.

* 25
75,000 people bought your widget and love it.

That’s 7.5 times what your General Manager asked you to sell.

By marketing to those 10,000 instead, you now have to do damage control for your brand’s reputation. You have to spend more money sustaining growth because people aren’t talking about how awesome you are. You have to spend money on customer acquisition and retention. That means less money for product development. This hardly seems sustainable.

By being a marketing sniper versus a cannon, you can trust your community of users to do the marketing for you. Plus you can sleep at night, which is always a plus. 😉

Aug 05

Why “The Oprah Effect” Can Trump “Free!”

I don’t watch the Oprah. Maybe this makes me callous because I’m a woman and therefore am supposed to, but I can live with that.

As a marketer, I LOVE the Oprah. Oprah is a landmark. She is the only person who can legitimately be afraid of beef and then gets sued for it. Oprah’s endorsement has sparked careers (see Jill Scott and Barack Obama), sparked new martini crazes, and books like The Secret. Oprah’s blessing on your brand is basically money in the bank, and well, I think she knows that.

WHY is Oprah’s endorsement so powerful? Because it’s genuine. When Oprah recommends her favorite things, they actually are her favorite things at that time. People don’t have to figure out if she has ulterior motives or not and they know she doesn’t need the money. She’s also not doing it as a favor to someone else.

So all this talk of “Free!” being the new economy. I admit, free can and does work. I’m not telling you to ignore Chris Anderson’s book because I haven’t read it although I’m a bit afraid of the hype (that goes out to Seth Godin). The hardest part of getting customers is acquisition and if you reduce the barrier it takes for customers to get to you, they are more likely to use you. But “Free!” is not and will not be a savior. If you give me something for free and it sucks, I will not only not use it again, I will tell my friends not to use it either. Or I’ll tell them, “Hey, it’s not bad for being free, but I wouldn’t pay for it”. You can fix it to be better, but you’ve already given me the first impression that you aren’t the best out there. Why would I get burned again by even spending the time to listen to your “Hey, we fixed it” pitch? My time is my money and you’ve already burned me once.

So back to what I deem “the Oprah Effect”. Oprah is genuine and she is powerful. Her viewers know that she is picky and intelligent, so she has basically sorted through the crap (free or not) to show them ONLY things that are good. So sight unseen, free or not, they will buy what she recommends to them in droves. If you are a competitor to this product, people won’t care if your product is free if it isn’t good.

A truly genuine endorsement from an intelligent and powerful person will trump something that is merely free every time. The only way to get an endorsement is to create something people like and then ask them to spread the word. If you are launching something for free that sucks, admit in your marketing that you are looking for feedback. Let people shape your brand to make it not suck. Grandfather those people in at free for helping you out, and start charging for the product.

THEN get on Oprah. Or if you can’t get on Oprah, get on the equivalent of your Oprah in your specialty field. Or make customers feel like Oprah for recommending you. That’s for you to decide.

Aug 03

Are You Empowering Your Organization to Use Social Media Effectively?

social media cheerleader

Your PR team reads books and articles with titles like “Social Media for PR”. Your marketing team reads “Social Media for Marketing”. HR reads “Social Media for HR”. The developers or tech support teams may not be involved on purpose. Everyone gets stuck in their little worlds about what social media is for and what their role is.

Guess what? Your customers don’t see these roles as clear as you do. They see “This person works for Company X and therefore should be able/willing to solve my problem in some way”. That’s it.

Think of blogs, Twitter, etc. as hyperconnected cell phones. Anyone can find your number or where to find you. So if are in marketing mode and someone pings you on Twitter saying your technical support team dismissed their problem too soon, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Why? Because you could wake up, check your Google Alerts, and then find a nasty blog post pop up that not only mentions that your rep was bad, but that YOU are bad for ignoring their plea for help. All you had to do was tweet, “Please DM me your ticket number and I’ll have someone look into it.”

Having people in your organization on Twitter or blogging without connecting them to every part of your organization is like putting someone on a company phone system but not allowing them to transfer or even see the phone numbers of other people they work with. The more you advertise their phone numbers, the more issues you will face and the more you will look like a big jerk for not giving your social media team the information they need to help customers.

You aren’t in control of how you use social media–your audience is. They will use it for sales questions, bizdev questions, HR questions, tech support, or whatever random use pops in their head. They will use it to complain about you publicly. It’s great to think of social media engagement as a means for consumers to shape your brand, but it’s key to get your head out of the clouds and to be realistic. I as a consumer could care less about shaping your brand. I want your product or service to do what it is supposed to do for me in the most efficient way possible. Is your organization set up so that employees using social media can do this?

Here’s an example of how angered my friend Dave Delaney by not having a specific crucial feature. Dave warned people of, and then a Meetup VP actually reached out to Dave via email and phone. Could your social media team respond to this, or are they just pushing out smiley faces?

The lack of constraints involved with social media can give you a lot of freedom. There is also a lot of responsibility involved with that as well. In order to maintain a good reputation, it is crucial to give the kind of service that helps you earn that reputation. You aren’t going to be able to make this happen if your team members don’t even realize your social media people exist.

Jul 19

How to Drive More Traffic to Your Site and Actually Make Less Money

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

Some people make an entire living driving and tracking traffic to a website. They make tweaks to the design or try different AdWords campaigns. The word that often seems to appeal to those looking for marketing is “more”.

More isn’t always good. Sometimes it is just more. It can also destroy your business if you aren’t careful.

Think of your website like you’d think of a store. Say you sell soccer equipment. At first, you sell to soccer aficionados. You build a following of soccer fans who frequently come to your store and recommend you to their friends. You then start to get greedy and start selling tennis, football, and baseball equipment. At first, your strategy works and you do indeed have more traffic. But you only have so many staff and so much room, so the soccer players go away. The tennis, football, and baseball players then realize that they can go to other, more specialized stores and get what they want. You are now left with no soccer players and without other sport fans as well.

Even if you sell commodities, “more” can actually hurt you if it’s done irresponsibly. You have to appeal to too many people at the same time, which will scatter your energy and prevent you from doing a good job. A marketing campaign should build a community of customers who believe in who you are and what you are doing. You can then spend less time simply churning and burning customers and more time actually making them happy.

Apr 22

If Your Customers Could Automatically Hear Your Product’s Story, What Would They Hear?

As cool as the concept is of new media, there are still some really great shows on old media. As of late, I have been fascinated by the NBC Show “Heroes”. A little late to the game I know, but hey, it’s better late than never.

On “Heroes”, there is a psychopathic killer named Sylar who kills other characters that have special abilities just so he can have them for himself. One of the abilities he acquired is the ability to sense an object or person’s history just by touching it.

Think about walking into a store and knowing where food was grown, where a garment was made, and who put it on the shelf. Think about your computers, cars, houses or antiques. Think about touching a person and knowing all the good and the bad he or she had ever done. If you could have this at your fingertips, would you even want it?

Every product and service has a story somewhere. As more and more information about these products and services comes out on the internet, you won’t have to be Sylar to figure out if it’s good or bad. You’ll know that your Puma shoes were made by young women working long hours for very little money. You’ll know that while the CMO of Unilever preaches about how marketers no longer own their brands, Unilever still produces “food” with trans-fat, which chemically isn’t a food at all and is a huge cause of cardiovascular disease. Whoops.

Some of these stories will be excessively harsh and sensationalistic. Some won’t be harsh enough. Eventually, there get to be enough stories to help you form a clearer idea of the truth. For in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “Perspectival seeing is the only kind of seeing there is, perspectival ‘knowing’ is the only kind of ‘knowing’, and the more feelings we get about a matter which we allow to come to expression, the more eyes, different eyes through which we are able to view the same matter, the more complete our ‘conception’ of it, our ‘objectivity’ will be.”

This isn’t speculation and is based on empirical evidence. Statistics show that there are more and more people participating on the web in every region and demographic. Internet and social media usage is going up in every single age demographic according to a Pew Research report. In just eight years, internet usage has increased over 1100 percent in Africa and 1296 percent in the Middle East. Twitter is a great way to find trends and opinions, and has gone from one million users to over ten million in one year.

Look around you. If you could hear the story of items around you by touching them or reading about them on the internet, would you like what you heard?

*P.S. Hopefully NBC won’t ask me to take this post down. Watch “Heroes” on Mondays at 9 PM EST/8 PM CST.

Apr 07

Gratuitous “Life of Brian” Clip! Hurrah!

Are we trying too hard to put meaning behind our shoes or are we using them?

Mar 04

Is Twitter Mainstream Yet? No (and That’s Okay).

From all reports, social media is going nowhere but up in every age demographic and geographic place. Twitter gets mentioned on CNN from time to time. Even FoxNews makes its usual mockery of it. With all this traditional press, is Twitter going mainstream?

There is no mainstream media anymore. And that is okay.

Due to the low barriers of entry the internet introduces, anyone can be “media”. There are many channels that can be used to introduce media and like Twitter, they can be created quickly and for little expense. This results in segmented media or niche media, a concept Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson calls “the long tail”.

Put it in perspective: Figures are not exact, but back in the day, up to 109 million people purchased Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. 24.56 million people in the U.S. alone watched American Idol just last Wednesday. 95 million people watched this last SuperBowl. Twitter has just under 6 million users despite being 100% free and unlike the SuperBowl, international. It’s not mainstream. That is okay.

Why is that okay? Because unlike other traditional mainstream sources, there is no overhead associated with it. The SuperBowl ad GoDaddy put out cost them at least $3 million. The Twitter contests I run for NameCheap, a rival registrar, cost around $15000. I can’t reach 95 million people, but I don’t have to because my costs are 200 times less. I am appealing to a niche, and since Twitter seems to be full of people who are at their computers a lot and therefore buy a lot of domains, it’s a much more targeted approach than the machine gun approach of a SuperBowl ad.

When printing presses were rare, the only book people could get their hands on was the Bible. It was “the mainstream” of the time. As printing presses were created en masse, people could increasingly print information that was more specialized to a local area or subject. We now have a medium (the internet) that allows people to create all sorts of different types of content in all sorts of forms. The overhead is lower, so more people publish in more ways and in different subjects. The diversity of media is amazing these days. In this way, the internet is destroying what we formerly knew of mainstream. When you tell someone that Twitter is now “mainstream”, please bare in mind the common perception of what mainstream actually is and the numbers associated with it (Michael Jackson, Super Bowl, Coca Cola, etc.).

Not everyone is going to like Twitter. Some people like videos. Some people like LiveJournal. My sister has a whole community on Flickr. Go to the DMV for ten minutes, look around, and tell me you are excited for Twitter to go mainstream. Media is segmented, will be segmented, and that is okay.

Jan 07

Seven Things You Probably Did Not Know About Me

Apparently Sara Dornsife, a partner of crime of mine here in Austin, feels either 1.) ridiculously compelled to pass along chain blog posts or 2.) thinks you should know more about me. I’m voting for #1 but humoring you anyway.

So here goes:

1.) I’m the youngest of seven kids. My parents were Catholic and apparently glutton for punishment. I have three sisters and three brothers. I like to think they stopped only when they finally got it right.

2.) My dad was in the Air Force, which meant my family moved around a lot. I’m surprised my parents didn’t completely forget one of us somewhere.

3.) While at Dell, I was notorious for a being on the other line of a man calling in to buy a computer so he could “look at porn”. I figured he could use a fair amount of RAM and a good processor as well as a nice monitor. The call was recorded and the managers all laughed while listening to it.

4.) In college, I was a bit of a hippie and bought my clothes at resale shops aside from underwear and socks. I soon gave up after writing a senior thesis on sweatshop labor and realizing that being a Nike laborer is a lot nicer than working all day in a rice paddy.

5.) I was interviewed by Ananda on MTV. The crowning achievement of my career.

6.) My boyfriend is from another country. Oooh, who is he?

7.) I love writing six real facts about me and one fake one and making you guess which one is a lie.

So now, so the blogosphere really gets to know each other, I’m passing this on. Hugh MacLeod, Cody Marx Bailey, Alex Jones, Ryan Joy, Ed Schipul, Giovanni Gallucci, and Mike Chapman, it’s your turn.

Jan 05

Everything I Learned About Marketing I Learned from my Garden

One day I went to Home Depot and found a yellow rose bush for five bucks. Most traditional roses do very poorly in Austin because we don’t get the rain they need and it gets too hot for them. For five bucks though, I couldn’t resist.

I did some research on the variety and figured it would last through the spring, but that I’d have to trim back for summer. No worries. Unlike many roses in the United States that are cross bred for their looks at the expense of their smell, this rose had a sweet aroma that struck you every time you passed by. Worth the risk.

I gave it rose food, plenty of water, and put it in a good spot with just the right amount of sun. And sure enough, I had a huge yellow rose bush that all my neighbors loved. It was every Texan’s dream.

So how does this relate to marketing campaigns?

Preparation is key. Before you plant anything, you want to make sure the soil is the right pH for the plant. You should lay down some compost to enrich the soil. I’ve seen products launched before they were ready and the result is a disaster. You can try to be agile, but if people already have it in their minds that your product sucks, you could be doomed. Or at least, having to work a lot harder than you should have to be.

Some businesses will be doomed from the start if you don’t know where to put them. English roses are beautiful. I’d be an idiot to put English roses in Austin because we get a fraction of the rain they get. I’d really be stupid to put it out in full sun and somewhere far from me where I couldn’t water it easily. Where are you marketing your company? Are you putting it in the right target audience? Putting a company in an inappropriate spot is just wrong, because everyone else in that company is working hard to build the product, and you are squandering it by not putting it out there to the people who want it.

Certain businesses need certain elements to grow. Roses generally need very acidic soil. They generally do best with rose food. Are you supporting your team properly? Do they have the tools and knowledge they need? Do your customers have the information they need to differentiate your product from someone else’s?

Don’t be lazy. If you clip roses back, they grow back stronger. If you water them regularly, you get better results. Having a routine helps you figure out what you’ve done and what you need to do. This could be checking analytics, reading blogs, or sending newsletters.

Plant at the right time, and diversify
. Yesterday I ate a salad from the lettuce I’m growing in the side yard. I want to plant zucchini, but you just don’t plant zucchini when its cold. It just doesn’t get what it needs when it needs it and it can’t take the frost. If you have to wait to launch a campaign for the right moment, wait. It could give you exponentially better results.

Don’t grow what you don’t understand
. If I moved, you better believe I’d be studying up on my zone before wasting my money on plants. Home Depot makes a fortune off of people who couldn’t tell you the difference between a perennial and an annual. These people pick based on “what is pretty”. If all the bloggers are talking about an industry, don’t just decide you want to do marketing for that company because “it’s shiny”. You could end up with nothing but a pile of dead snapdragons in your yard and a huge balance on your Home Depot card.

Be prepared for the worst. I was out of town and it snowed out of nowhere. My neighbor, who shares the plot with me, didn’t cover my basil and I lost all of it. I should have told him to watch out for it but was not anticipating such wacky weather. Sometimes disaster strikes when you least suspect it. That’s why it’s important to know every objection for why someone would buy your product before you go in. It’s also important to have a strategy if your budget gets cut. Bad things will happen.

Pick and maintain relationships with your partners, affiliates, employees and any alliances wisely
. Why is that rose bush dead now? Because I moved out of my ex-boyfriend’s house, and he purposely killed it. The little boys across the street would have no more random roses to deliver to their mother. :( One person can really poison a campaign if they want to.

And most importantly, if you don’t like it or can’t grow to like it, don’t grow it
. It doesn’t matter if you have a great spot for a particular type of bush. If you don’t like that bush, don’t grow it. By working for a company whose products you don’t believe in, your campaigns will never be as good as those done for a company you love. Remember that.