People are astounded and maybe appalled when I tell them the number of twitter accounts I have. And the fact that I tried to log on Facebook while already on Facebook is a bit embarrassing. However, the amount Social Media Certifiedof time I spent on and talking about social media is most likely why I have a career in social media today. I didn’t major in Facebook, and Twitter was not even a thought. In fact, the things closest to social networking while I was in college were chat room, AOL Instant Messenger, and Black Planet. But through a bit of personal obsession and a ton of learning, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Understand the foundation

Whether you love me or hate me, it looks like I’m here to stay. In case you don’t know who I am, let me introduce myself. I’m officially known as social media – and i have no idea how that happened, but when marketers, publicists, and business owners got ahold of me, I had an identity change. Frankly, the name change happened in the blink of an eye. One day I was known as social networking, and then I became social media. And while it may not seem essential to know my history, it’s imperative you know my true inner workings before believing you’ll become a social media pro.

People say “you never know where you’re going until you know from where you’ve come.” Since the foundation of social media is actually social networking, you’ll realize those who do it good have valuable interactions, good conversations, and “listen”. The basics of creating a maintaining real-life relationships offline are true to social media; just with a bigger audience.

So what makes you stand out from the crowd?

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula. It can be different for each user. However, I do have a REAL LIFE advice that you can put into action today. It’ll take a bit of patience and trial and error, but I hope these tips put you on the road to doing social media marketing like a pro.

  1. Become obsessed with media. To become great at it, you have to immerse yourself in it. It’s like learning a second language. You can’t just read it or listen to it, you have to actually use it…and a lot. The same is true for social media. One or two times a month is not nearly enough. You have to REALLY use each site. By using the platforms, you’ll get to know what they have in common. You’ll also get a gist of what works. Start with personal accounts, operating as a person and not a business. Then once you have a better idea as to how each site works, try pages and accounts for your businesses.
  2. Read. There are a ton of articles, blog posts, and books on social media marketing. Since social media wasn’t yet a trend when I was majoring in marketing, I had to – and still – obtain knowledge the old school way; by doing and reading.
  3. Talk to people. People are the real users of social media, not businesses. Even when you’re selling to businesses, it’s a human that’s making a decision. Therefore, you want to know what makes them tick. Get to know why they use the sites, what they do when on the sites, who they follow, and why they choose to follow who they follow. Also, ask how often they’re on the sites and at what time of the day. Finally, ask why they don’t follow or stop following people or businesses. And while it’s best to talk to people within your target audience, if you’re just getting started, friends, family, and colleagues are a good starting point. (BTW…don’t forget to tap the brain of the marketing friend or other business owners who are willing to give you free advice.)
  4. Read. You will never come reach the bottom of the barrel on social media articles and blog posts. And since social media is ever-changing, reading is one of the only ways to keep up on the trends. Social Media Examiner is a great site to stay up-to-date on social media trends.
  5. Start small. Don’t take your business to each social platform at once. Instead, choose one or two platforms to get your feet wet. Then branch out if necessary. If you’re a business selling to customers, I recommend starting with Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a business selling to other businesses, I recommend LinkedIn and Twitter.
  6. Read. Be sure not only read how to “use” the social media platforms, but also take time to read about social media analytics, or metrics that help you determine how effective your methods are. These metrics can help you determine what’s working and what’s not working. Some tols even allow you to see how your competition – or even brands in which you aspire to be – are doing.
  7. Pay attention to yourself. While what you do should not be the “be all, end all” determinant for how you use social media platforms for your business, your personal use of social media will tell you a lot. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like, the things you respond to and don’t respond to, and even how much time you spend on each platform.
  8. Read. Run out of ideas of what to post? Try looking for articles on content ideas. I’m sure you’ll come across a few. Here’s an article by Copyblogger and 101 Web Content Tips, Ideas, and Resources by Nick Usborne to get you started.
  9. Pay attention to other people. If you watch close enough, people will tell you how they use social media without you even asking. For example, if you watch close enough, you can tell who has their Facebook and Twitter accounts linked, what location someone posted from, and even from what type of device they’re posting. You can also get a good idea of demographics, interests, and personalities.
  10. Read. You may realize that keeping your social media pages up-to-date can be very time consuming, thus causing this to become a backburner tactic. Don’t let the temptation settle in. There are several tools and articles out there with effective time management in mind. Before giving up, take time to learn about and make use of this advice. It can drastically change how you go about managing your social media content.
  11. Pay attention to other business. Both your competition, compliments, and even businesses that seemingly have nothing to do with your business will provide hints as to what to post, how to post, and how often. It’s no shame in my game to say that I’ve frequented the Facebook pages of Target, Disney, Meijer (regional retailer), and Walmart to get ideas. They have good ideas, and I have no problem in CASE(ing) the joint…in an oh so legal manner. (FYI…CASE = Copy and Steal Everything)
  12. Did I mention, read. Reading and talking to others will be your biggest asset to becoming a social media pro. And not only will you know what to do, you’ll be equipped to know truth from lie as well as what works and what doesn’t work for you.

Everyone is not well-versed in blogging and nor should they be. Your main objective, to say what you have to say. To give advice, sell your product. or whatever you do best. My objective, to help you know how to get them to read it. So as your write your post, be sure to keep these tips in mind.

Blogging tips that'll get them reading.
Blogging tips that’ll get them reading.
  1. Write about something your audience cares about. We often make the mistake of writing what we care about only. Well, what if no one else care?  If you’re a makeup guru, the majority of what you talk about should be makeup and fashion and not about what you did at school, unless you’re going to school for beauty and fashion. Similarly, if your audience is into gaming, the latest MAC beauty products shouldn’t be at the heart of your discussion – even if you are into beauty products.
  2. Write from your heart. There’s nothing more painful nor more dishonest than writing what you think they want to hear. Real content and authentic passion can only be conveyed when it comes from the heart.
  3. Capture their attention at the beginning. Start with a short story, statistic, or anecdote that the reader can relate to to capture interest. Then
  4. Select a title that captures your audience but is also SEO-friendly. Your title is crucial as it’s used to entice the reader. And it needs to be SEO-friendly because you want to entice the search engines.
  5. Make it plain. A blog is not a scholarly journal and your readers shouldn’t have to feel as if they’re looking to obtain their post-graduate degree by reading your blog. Even if the topic is more academic or advanced by nature, be weary of using terms that may trip them up or stop them from reading all together. Just because the topic is of interest doesn’t mean your audience is well-versed in the jargon.
  6. Use formatting and bullet points to draw interest to key points. I’ve said this many times and I say it again. This helps draw the eyes to important points to those with short attention spans (ahem, me).
  7. Get to the point and keep it short. Eliminate unnecessary works and back off the fluff. We get it. You like to play on words. Well, your readers like their time. There’s a time to be clever and a time to simply say
  8. Choose good pictures. While not even close to the most important pat of the blog, pictures add a visual element to a blog, breaking up the redundancy of the black and white. (Even wonder why people like to read magazines? Nothing scientific, but based on my 2 cents, I would say the images are why.) Start here for free pics.
  9. Vary the type of content you publish. Blogs don’t always have to be words. Think about embedding a video or maybe an all picture blog post. Reading is not everyone’s thing. Video engages the visual and audio learner. And pictures are just a good way to convey information differently.
  10. Provide the audience with a glimpse of your personality. People relate to people, and the words on the page have a way of conveying who you are. Leverage your uniqueness to add flavoring that only you can do. While there may be many who provide similar services, there’s only one you. Use that to your advantage.

Until next time

RP

We all know they say a picture is worth 1000 words. However, I’d have to argue that not all words are created equally. Before adding that picture to your website, blog or other marketing piece, here are some words to consider. Some good. Some not so much.What 1000 words do you want your picture to convey?

What do you want your picture to say? (And by all means add to the list. Good, bad, and ugly.)

Stunning.

This is what you’d call a vacation.

High class is how we do weddings

#teamdirtybathroom

Vacation? Yes, please.

Ummm. No, thank you.

This reception is pretty awesome. You need THIS DJ for your special day.

That’s a unique piece of jewelry? Yes and now.

Not creative at all. My three year old could do that.

Nothing but the best for our clients.

They should probably invest in a photographer.

Your life wouldn’t be right without [insert product] in your life.

Yep. I really was taken on top of my kitchen counter top.

Grunge is in.

Comedy show? Yes. Her abs did just get a little tighter from laughing so hard.

I’m worth every dime. #luxe

You’ve never seen ribs this mouthwatering before.

Yes and yes.

Work *in my fashion show voice*

Ratchet

Lame and more lame. Wait…lamest.

I’m a pretty small house, and you won’t be able to do anything with me.

Granite countertops. Absolutely!

So elegant!

Ummm pass.

Her hair is so pretty and healthy.

Look at that growth. WHATEVER she did, you should do too.

You could totally do this.

His line is crispy and his fade is on point.

This outfit is not only practical, it’s so you.

Now that’s organization. You’d practically sell your firstborn for an organized pantry like this, won’t you? (Winks, nods, and says “come to mama”)

Gorge. (sometimes you don’t need 1000 words)

New mom? You gotta have this. It’ll make your life soooo much easier.

Customers first.

We sure look like we can sing. And we even look like we look like we’re enjoying it.

Your little one is this adorable too…especially of they’re wearing [insert adorable hoodie with screen print here]

The person who took this picture didn’t even take the time to find a suitable backdrop. I’m even ashamed to be in the picture.

These nails are gorgeous. You too can use these colors to achieve this look. Now go to your closest drugstore cosmetic section, and pick us up.

Bet you’re ready to leave the Michigan brrr.

Just click here and here and you’ll be at your dream destination in no time.

Inspired

Time for the weekend. And you deserve every moment.

The wild and the wacky. Do these words scare you? Do they make you want to go into a corner and shut down? Do you get all uneasy when you’re asked to do something that’s against the status quo? If so, chances are you have yet to unleash your inner creative. Your life is as boring as dull grays or maybe you’ve turned up the volume by adding the bold colors of black and white. Nine times out of ten, you do things the same way and prefer the same habits – and that’s perfect for you. I mean, who wouldn’t want routine. Routine is safe. You know what to expect, where to go, and even the result of the foods you eat. One extra gram of fat, and it’s going straight to your hips.

But what if I asked you to shake it up? Would you retreat from the conversation or would you be all in?

If I said, come up with a new idea for your business today, would you instead come up with all kinds of reasons as to why new ideas won’t work? Or would you go for the gold?

I find it shameful that many of us, myself included, settle for being Clark Kent when there’s a superman inside of us. We settle for the status quo. We do what others do; you know the things that are tried and true. That’s cool and all, but if it’s a bit boring. And you know what boring gets? IGNORED!

So what does this have to do with marketing?

Have you ever read the book, “Blue Ocean Strategy?” If not, get it. It’s a great read. (Well at least the first few pages were. I’m horrible at completing books.)

Anywho, the book discusses the notion of being creative to be competitive by not doing the same thing everyone else is doing. It’s about using your what you know to inspire thinking. Instead of running on the same field everyone else is running on, it’s about finding a field of your own to run on. And if you’re the only one running on the field, but you have a captive audience, you win.

The same is true with marketing? Marketing channels have increased and so has the advertising on these channels. Don’t expect it to get any better anytime soon. Commercials are here to stay, “print” is here to stay (whether it’s in traditional or digital format), and social media is going to be here for a while. With that being said, you’re going to have to get a bit creative to stand out from the crowd.

Here are some conventional and unconventional ways to unleash your inner creative.

  1. Turn off the TV. “What? But that’s where the advertising is. That’s how I get my ideas.” You’re right, and that’s the problem. You’ve had all your life to watch TV, and I’m sure you have more than enough “market research” in your mind to fuel your thinking. The more you watch TV, the more you’ll be encouraged to do what someone else is doing. However, with the TV off, you can think for yourself.
  2. STOP. Whatever it is, just stop. We’re on the run so often, thinking of what we have to do or where we should be, we don’t have time to simply think.
  3. Write an episode of a TV show. Think about the emotions you want your audience to feel. Think of the characters and lines that will help elicit these emotions. Think about the environment?
  4. Say yes to something new. It is so easy to say no, especially to the unknown. However, when you say no, you hold yourself back from an experience. And every experience is a chance to learn. And knowledge actually empowers creativity.
  5. Do something adventurous. Generally when you do something adventurous, you conquer something. When you conquer something, your self-esteem goes up. When your self-esteem increases, you feel like you can do anything. You are now on top of the world. [Note: RRP Marketing will not be held liable for any unwise decision]
  6. Unleash your inner child. Yes. I have a coloring book and I play video games. Stop saying you’re too old to do something. This is nonsense. Just do it. One of the best designers I know has a ton of toys, is in love with ComicCon and is pretty awesome. She does what she wants to do- and guess what else. She’s super creative and innovative, and it’s probably because she’s a free spirit not bogged down with what everyone else thinks.
  7. Participate in a brainstorming session, and don’t say no to anything. Ideas build off of one another – good and bad. So let go of your negative Nancy for a couple of hours, and just let the ideas flow. If you allow yourself to be free, you make room for creativity.

After you’ve employed a couple of tactics to unleash your inner creative, come back to your marketing plan. Look at what you’re doing, and ask yourself, “what here is status quo? What can I enhance? What can I do differently?” Then give yourself the freedom to let go of Clark Kent and make way for your inner Superman.

If you can’t seem to get out of your rut, give me a shout. I’m sure together we can come up with something.

Until next time,

Live, love, prosper.

I get it. Marketing is the sexy beast of the business and communications world. I mean, who would want to do accounting and finance, when you could create tantalizing designs, hilarious commercials, and give people dollars off left and right? And who would want to spend the time speaking the economics of supply and demand when you could be on site at a photo shoot or creating the next YouTube video that is sure to go viral? Who doesn’t want to be reminded of the final product wrapped in the glorious wrapping paper of Christmas past?

Frankly, many of us in the creative field think of marketing in the same way. Like the LMFAO song says, “[we’re] sexy and we know it.” Yep. everyone wants to be like us.

Or do they?

For some reason, people are oblivious to the road – the thoughtful, time-intense journey – taken with every creative project. And for some reason, I think we, marketers, must forget he labor-intense, spastic, frantic, desperate road we took take to get to awesomeness. To be honest, sometimes that journey is a perpetual state of hell that you only wish you could escape anytime today, yet, the vortex of creative thinking and fast-approaching deadline laced with ungodly amounts of caffeine keeps us coming back for more. But, as usual, I digress.

The point is, marketing is work. And in order to get a great outcome, you have to be willing to put in the work.

So let’s spend a minute discussing 5 key elements that goes on behind the scenes.

  1. Business goals. Take time to know what you want to achieve. And let’s set the record clear right now. You don’t just want a Facebook like and you don’t just want your video to go viral. That sounds great and all, but friend, you need to dig deeper. Your goal is much bigger than that. So think why is this important. Let give you a hint. It’s because you want more people to know about you and eventually buy from you. This is what you want to strive for. And you should go even deeper. How much do you want or NEED to sell – and in what timeframe… Now we’re talking. As a consultatnt, before I get into the nitty gritty of anything, I take a step back to this very question… what do you want to achieve. This sets the foundation for EVERYTHING going forward. Why? Well, what good is a bullseye without a target?
  2. Budget. What type of money do you have to spend? This is in no way, shape, or form a superficial question. The budget let’s me know what amount of money we have to spend, which in turn determines the marketing channels to use, designers to outsource, and frankly how much work you may have to do on your own. If you have limitless budget, well then, you can go all out. Agencies, top designers, billboards, commercials, social media, catalogs, email campaigns, and the list goes on. However, if you’re working with a modest budget, you’ll have to be a bit more selective with channels and/or have to pull a lot of the weight on your own. You may find your best bet is to make social media and old-fashioned networking your best friend. Or you may find yourself creating emails using MailChimp. And frankly, if you don’t have the skills produce quality outputs, I say leave it alone or take the time to acquire the skills. In the world of marketing, it’s either time, money or both. Your budget will often determine the balance. (Find free marketing tools here)
  3. Research. It happens all the times. Research is one of those step that happens throughout the entire marketing process – before, during, and after execution. Things you need to research include competition, audience, what you have to offer, marketing channels, other parts of your business. And this is where the infamous SWOT analysis comes into play. Do you know you’re strengths and weaknesses. What about your opportunities and threats? Whp’s out there doing the same thing you’re doing? Why would the audience want to buy from you? Why wouldn’t they want to buy from you. How do you look different from the competiton? How do you look like your competition? What other factors may affect reaching your goal.  Is black the new pink (i.e. what are the hot trends?) What is you audience willing to pay? How much disposable income do they have?  Where do they spend theirt ime? What other things are going on within your organization that are also competing for your audience’s attention. What are the current marketing trends? You want to ask these and so much more. Plus, you should keep track of and recap the performance of your marketing efforts both during and after executing. In a nutshell, at this time, you’re looking to see if you need to make quick changes, whether or not you met your goal, and whether your efforts should be repeated.
  4. Strategy. In its simplest form your strategy outlines:
    1. Objective and goals: What are you planning to achieve? Sell $5000 in shoes? Increase clientele by 50%?
    2. Tactics: What marketing channels will you use? Will you have a giveaway or contest? Will you offer a discount? How long will your offer run?
    3. Location: Where will you tactics be executed? Right dead smack in the middle of the shopping mall? In the local beauty salon? Online? All of the above?
    4. Message: “Come in today and…” “Save $5” “We provide the best… this side of the Grand Canyon”
    5. Voice/Tone: How will you talk to your audience? Will you be witty or does your audience and/or brand call for a more sophisticated tone?
    6. Timing: How long will your marketing campaign run? Two weeks? A month? A year? (Try to always have a place of end date or frequent check points.)
  5. Getting ‘er done. Once you’ve outlined your strategy, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal. This is where writing, design, video production, proofing, editing, Facebook posts, blog posts, website goodness, and all that other good stuff happens.

Now that I think about it, I agree. Marketing is sexy. It takes time, money, and a ton of work. Just like in the real world. — Makeup anyone?

As we know, not much in life is free. And whoever said love was free lied. That’s like saying social media is free. Everything in life comes at a cost. If currency isn’t the cost, then you better believe blood, sweat, tears, time, energy or some other type of emotional or physical output will be required. That’s just reality. So when you read this list, rejoice only momentarily. Though these are free tools, please expect to invest blood, sweat, tears, time, intellect, and a bit of frustration to make these free marketing tools worth your while.

Now that I have that out of the way, here’s my list of top tried and true free marketing tools and resources:

Blogs & Websites

WordPress.com. Whether you’re looking to produce a simple blog or a full-fledged website, WordPress is my top pick. With customizable themes (and a little design talent), you can easily create a unique website or blog that you can truly call your own. Don’t get me wrong, those in the industry often can spot a blog from a mile away. However, blogs are becoming more acceptable for use as a website. Not only are small businesses using them, well-established organizations are also using blogs to publish and house content. WordPress.com also integrates easily with top social meida sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which makes it just that much easier to drive traffic to your blog. Finally, plug-ins, mobile apps, and other tools adds convenience while simplifying the management of your WordPress.com account. (Note: WordPress.com isn’t to be confused with WordPress.org. WordPress.org should be left to those who are more tech savy. Plus, you will incur costs as you will need to house a blog or website utilizing WordPress.org on an independent server.)

Social Media Management

HootSuite. Perfect for managing multiple social media accounts. Hootsuite integrates nicely with Facebook (including Facebook pages), Twitter, LinkedIn, and WordPress. Whether you need to post in real time or want to schedule posts, HootSuite makes it easy to do either. In addition, with a web app as well as mobile apps, Hootsuite lets you keep up with your social media accounts whether at a desk or on the go. And with Twitter notifications pushed to your cell phone, you have the option of being notified of customer engagement without the need of actually going into an account. The main areas of content I have with Hootsuite is 1) posting links and 2) posting images. For some reason, posting links seems to be fickle. You have to post it in the area with your content instead of the area that asks for a link. If you put it in the area that asks for a link, it will only post if you shorten it using the tools. Not good for me since I create custom links with bitly for future measurement. And neither links nor images seem to show the preview on the actual social media site. Since I believe previews and images increase engagement, I take the extra step to increase engagement. There is a paid option that allows more capabilities, however, if you only need lightweight management for up to five social media accounts, you’re golden.

TweetDeck. This is one of my favorite social media management tools. Frankly, TweetDeck is what got me hooked on Twitter. If you’re using Twitter from the Twitter.com website, do yourself a favor and use a different program to access Twitter. It’s so much more fun. TweetDeck was my first choice, and I haven’t gone away from it yet. (Though there was a scare before. I digress). Like HootSuite, TweetDeck is perfect for managing several social media accounts. TweetDeck is another free marketing tool that plays nicely with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I have found it a little harder to link Facebook pages to TweetDeck and I haven’t found the mobile app to be as friendly as Hootsuite. The inability to manage Facebook pages and the lack of a mobile app I like is what places HootSuite above TweetDeck in my book from a professional point of view. However, due to it’s desktop application that allows you to view multiple columns simultaneously, TweetDeck is a winner in my book. (Not only does TweetDeck allow you to show columns related to specific social media accounts, TweetDeck also can be customized to show columns including tweets related to a search term or hashtag (#) even if you don’t follow the user. This is perfect for industry research or stalking the competition. (Come on. We’ve all done it.)

Email

MailChimp. I’ve done the research. MailChimp won over Constant Contact as the preferred email tool. Here’s the scoop. MailChimp allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month to up to 1,999 subscribers (mailchimp.com – view the details). If you’re just getting started or don’t have a massive email list, it’s a no brainer. MailChimp provides email templates, stores your email lists as well as integrates with Facebook and Twitter. Moreover, with MailChimp, you have access to important stats that help you determine the effectiveness of your email program. Here’s the caveat, I highly recommend you invest the time into choosing the right template and customizing it based on your needs. If you need to hire a designer to help with your template, please do so. And if you need to hire a consultant or content specialist/strategist to help determine the appropriate content strategy for your email program, please do so. Otherwise, you may just be spinning wheels. That’s worth the investment.

Yesware. As a plug-in on Google Chrome and Gmail, this is one of the best friends a person in direct sales could have. Not only does it allow you to create templates for sales letters, Yesware also allows you to track your emails. And it doesn’t just show you whether or not the email has been opened/viewed. Yesware also tells you the number of times the recipient opened/viewed your email as well as how long ago the email. Note: This is only free up to a certain number of tracked emails.

Research

Public Library. Remember all that work you did trying to identify your target market. From books to databases, the public libaray may have what you need to make market research a little easier. Since the tools may not be staring you in the face, do this: walk to the information desk and ask about the available small business resources. It will definitely take time to do your research and put the tools to work for you. Large organizations have access to sophisticate marketing tools and you may have that access also. Remember, my goal is to promote smarter marketing. Stop wasting time pushing messages to the wrong people and stop being in the dark as it relates to industry trends and best practices. It’s time you grow your business up with sophisticated tools that will only benefit you in the long run. #enoughsaid

Webinars, White Papers, Blogs, eNewsletters, Magazines: Okay. Organizations don’t provide free webinars (seminars via the web), white papers, blogs or newsletters simply out of the kindness of their hearts. All of these efforts are part of their marketing strategy. With a variety of goals in mind, from positioning themselves as experts and industry leaders to generating leads and awareness, organizations provide a wealth of information through these tactics. Though you may not be ready to bite on a paid service, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of the free knowledge they’re providing. Since this information can become overwhelming, be sure to only attend, download, and subscribe to items that are beneficial to your organization. And even with that you have to be sure to be conscientious of information overload. My top 5 organization to follow are: Social Media Examiner, HubSpot, Marketing Profs, AdAge, and Mashable. (Note: Certain organizations may require you to download specific software to access their information or attend their webinar. For “print” applications, the most common software needed is the Adobe PDF reader.)

Free Classes/Seminars: Your local SCORE chapter – who is part of the Small Business Administration – and other organizations may provide free offline classes and seminars. Take advantage of these. First, determine the local organizations that provide assistance to small businesses. Then make an appointment to see a rep to learn more about the organization. Ask if they provide classes, workshops or other resources. And don’t forget to visit their website often and sign up to receive their emails as this may be where they push information regarding upcoming classes, seminars or workshops as well as other useful information.

YouTube: Make this your friend and search for your topic of choice. I bet you’ll find something. Once again, organizations and consultants are looking to generate leads. They’re willing to provide information in order to establish themselves as an expert. Be cautious of the information you receive. Remember anyone can put information on YouTube, meaning that the information they give you could be as wrong as someone calling a blue wall red. So if you aren’t well-versed on the topic, be sure to run the information by someone who is. Even a well produced video could give you horrible information. Just saying. As my friend says, “you’ve been warned.”

Other – You

Your Yapper (AKA Networking). From local meetups to simply talking to a person at the local starbucks, networking is a key marketing tool. I sometimes think people get tired of hearing about my consulting business. And they probably do. But guess what? When they’re looking for a marketing consultant, I am top of mind. Goal achieved. So, toot your own horn. Even if the person you’re talking to doesn’t have a need for your product or service, they may know someone who does. Don’t count anyone out. However, do be wise about who you should spend more time vs. those who would simply benefit from a business card, warm smile, and quick overview of your offerings. And here’s what’s even better about networking – people take the time to tell you about resources you didn’t even know existed. (Shout out to my friends and family for being on top of it. They’re always sending or telling me about something that they believe I may deem valuable)

Blood, Sweat & Tears (AKA Hard Work). This is your number one free marketing tool. Either you put the time and energy into it, you pay someone to do it, or it doesn’t get done at all. It’s as simple as that. Blogs don’t write themselves, emails don’t send themselves, and you can’t benefit from the research if you don’t take the time to gather AND process it. From anxiety to hours of writing to bonafide tears, I’ve experienced it all. Like I said in a different post said, “Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it won’t cost you.” I’m a personal witness. But I can also testify to the fact that it truly is worth it.

Live, love & prosper

You say, “I need a creative person on my team.”

I say, “be careful what you ask for.” Creative people (also known as Creatives or creative types) are strange beings. I’m one of them. We find excitement in things the rest of the world cares a little less about, and we’re okay with it. In fact, we have our circle that’s just like us. And organizations love us because we keep things fresh. We think out of the box. In fact, many like to live vicariously through us. We have guts! Guts to live on the edge. And we love it.

Since Creatives have a hard time conforming, there are those who have a hard time with how we operate. It’s not that Creatives are bad. We just like to have fun. Those of us who learn how to balance the road between comforming and creativity do well. The others, well…have you ever heard of a consultant…or a beach bum…or someone simply chasing their dreams?

Now that we have that out of the way, the fun stuff – spotting your creative:

  1. They’re either a hipster or a geek. Their either socially awkward or they like to live on the edge – or they may be both. Allow this in the organization. It’s good for their creative minds.
  2. They get a little too excited about words, colors, typography, photography, and the arts. It’s okay you don’t get it. This is just part of their natural make up.
  3. They have (or used to have) random hair coloring, ink on their body, or some redunkulous (ridiculous) hair cut or hair style. Face it. Living with the same hair color style is B-O-R-I-N-G. I change my hair who knows how many times in a year. It’s all professional and presentable. If I had to stay the same…[insert scream]
  4. 9 time out of 10, they’re going to say something you don’t want to hear. Be okay with this. This is why you hired them. Creatives invent and take things to new levels. If you stunt their ability to be creative and push against the grain, you may stunt your organization’s success.
  5. They think of something that you didn’t. Be open to their ideas. They use a different side of the brain than others, and they help explore opportunities other people in the organization didn’t (and may not ever) think of.
  6. They’ll look like they’re slacking. They may not come in on time and they may seem to socialize a little too much. Clocks and boxes are not meant for Creatives. They have to be able to express themselves openly. When you box in a creative person, you also box in their creativity. Don’t do this. When you get the right one, they will work their butts off.
  7. They’re in tune with the latest technology. Creatives are early adopters of technology. Why? Because it’s different and cool. They don’t like to conform. Don’t expect their technology to conform either. They are the first with the latest devices. They know what creative programs to use. They know when it’s worth getting the upgrade and when it’s not.
  8. They’re surrounded by other Creatives. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Where there’s one creative, you can be sure to find another, and guess what they’ll be talking about? Music, TV, typography, grammar, their blog, their website, their next personal project, their next professional project…you get the gist.
  9. Drama is part of their life. Yes. Creative people can get a bit dramatic. Expression – or should I say over-expression – is their thing. Frankly, they consider the dramatic expressions kinda fun. (Note: This type of drama is not to be confused with the petty “drama” that harms relationships.)
  10. Their cubicles are, well, different. From pictures to posters to trinkets to random personal or professional creations, you’ll see this at the desk of a creative. While everyone likes to make their cube “at home,” Creatives take it just a bit further. You will be wowed, inspired, or appalled by their unique expression. However, whether you’re wowed, inspired, or appalled, the one thing you won’t say is that it’s status quo.

Creatives are meant to create. Creating means inventing or modifying. This is just a natural extension of our DNA – and  it’s a huge pro for all organizations. Creativity is needed for growth. Accept it. You need us. We need you too.

Live, love, prosper.

Part 1 focused on general Twitter rules, where rule 5 was build relationships. As stated in Part 1, this isn’t to be an all-inclusive guide on all things Twitter. Instead, this is intended to help you understand what it means to be polite and acceptable when using Twitter. While this is intended for businesses, I’m sure there are individuals who can also benefit from these Twitter tips.

The Next 5 Lessons: Building relationships & beyond

  • Engage with you followers by using speaking to your followers using “@” mentions, sending a direct message, or even retweeting something they’ve posted. This is a great way to build relationships and say, “hey I’m interested in you too.”
  • Respond to people who have given you a shout out, “@” mentioned you, have sent you a direct message, or retweeted one of your posts. If you don’t respond, this is almost as bad as not speaking back to someone who said hello to you – and frankly, that’s rude. (Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to respond to people who send you SPAM.) Hot Twitter tip: Using a smart phone app and setting up a notification should will greatly help monitor these interactions.
  • Be a person. For some reason, organizations forget they are human. Instead, they become this brand or icon. While you need to be consistent with your brand, a simply random post lets your follower know you’re a person. Maybe you can talk about a remodel. Talk about what the environment in the office is like. Or just maybe even tweet what you’re having for lunch and how great it is. If you can tie it in with your brand, even better. This just lets people know, “Hey. I’m a person.” By the way, this means you can’t schedule everything  – you’ll actually need to be on Twitter (or a Twitter app) sometimes.
  • Say something valuable. Many times on Twitter we like to businesses like to push their product or service. ROI is the final goal, right? It is. However, you have to balance pushing your offering with actually saying something your user wants to hear. In fact, I know one brand who doesn’t directly push their product often. Instead, they reinforce their brand using humor, thus, building brand equity. This along with the other tactics they’ve used to in a rebranding effort has made me consider making the purchase over other top names.
  • Follow back. When people follow you on Twitter, it means they have interest in what you have to offer. Don’t be so rude to not follow back. I know that when you follow a lot of people, your Twitter timeline becomes hard to manage and follow. However, this gives you an opportunity to put the Twitter list function to use.

NOTE: This message is intended for twitter novices and even some who think they are twitter experts. This is NOT intended to help you know how to use Twitter or help be an all-inclusive guide on all things Twitter.  Learn what annoys Twitter users, can potentially get you blocked by users, can get you reported as SPAM, or can simply hinder your number of followers. If you think you know everything, maybe you don’t want to read. All others…enjoy.

The First 5 Lessons in Twitter Etiquette

 

  • Tweet. No, seriously. Do you know the amount of people who create Twitter accounts but then don’t tweet. This is not cool. In fact, if you’re looking to increase your number of followers, be sure that you have a significant number of tweets under your account. If you don’t tweet, there’s a chance that the end users won’t follow you.
  • Tweet frequently. Not just do you need to tweet, you need to tweet more than every once in a blue moon. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean tweet obnoxiously. By tweeting, you help others know “who you are.” And once you start engaging back and forth, you may even build some valuable relationships.
  • Complete your Twitter profile. This is how people know who you or your organization is and what you represent. This is also a way people decide whether or not they want to follow you. No profile is super suspect, especially with the number of Spammers out there.
  • Get to know the language. It’s TWEET people. You can tweet something or have a twitter post. I hate when people say that they like to Twitter something. There’s also hashtags (#), at mentions (which looks like “@”),DM which means to direct message which goes directly to your user, and RT
  • Build relationships. Social media is a thing of the new. Social networking is how the social sites began. Media is a one way street. Networking implies a give and take. It implies building relationships and getting to know one another. However, organizations make the mistake of being just one way, and this can be simply due to the fact that they’re oblivious to the fact that they don’t know how to interact. To determine how to interact, you have to determine how your audience is using the social networking site. This may take a bit of primary and secondary research, including simple observing to make this determination.