owen at owengreaves dot com

Marketing

Is Your Business Community Listening?

Is your business community listening? I ask the question in all seriousness, I’ve discovered the business community in my area is very much asleep on social networks. It’s not only sad, but alarming at the same time. The problem is more about marketing, or how they acquire customers, after all, everyone wants more customers right?

It doesn’t matter what market sector you belong to, most still use social networks no different than they use newspaper, radio & television, they sell till their blue in the face. Yelling their heads off and hoping you will pay attention, you will be convinced to come to their businesses and buy what they were yelling about.

I’m going to share a very small case study with you, and I am the case study. You see, I have made it known on social networks, primarily Twitter, that I am shopping for a new fridge, hardwood flooring, and that I am painting two rooms called the Kitchen & Family room. I’ve been sharing that home upgrade project to all who follow me, and of course the many in the town and area where I live. Something interesting happened, nothing!

I’m surprised for a few reasons, for one, I have one of the largest followings in my area. Two, I hold workshops and teach business owners and entrepreneurs how the future of business has changed, and will continue to change. I even teach them how to listen in social networks. Three, I do a considerable amount of public speaking, to Chamber of Commerce groups and the like, on the very topic, and the future of business. Four, I was certain business owners in my area were actually listening and paying attention. I was wrong.

I even went so far as to Tweet this:

I was, I am that customer, I’m doing household improvements, I’ve been sharing, I truly believed that a business in my area would have been listening, paying attention, and would have connected with me, but nothing. I am not only disappointed, but actually surprised. The fact that no one contacted me to do business, this had me wondering, how many others like me on Twitter (put your favorite social network here)had money to spend but businesses aren’t around to get it. Why do local businesses ignore this apparently untapped market?

I’m even more surprised when I see these social networks getting so much air play on TV, Radio and to a lessor extent newspaper. It’s like saying you don’t know Jesus, but everyone has heard about him. Yes, he is still ignored by the masses too : )

So how is it that a city of 150,000 have missed this opportunity, they are leaving money on the NET (table), they are not listening here on social networks. I am just one of many that I know who are doing home improvements, we’re blogging, Tweeting about our projects, and yet not one business has contacted us.

Imagine, if one person (me) has 20k to spend on paint, hardwood flooring, and appliances and you had been listening on Twitter, your business could of had that business. But what if there are a 100 people like me with that kind of money to drop on goods and services. And as I mentioned, I’m not alone, there is potentially 100k up for grabs with the few friends I know in the same position.

There’s much to be said about marketing and advertising on social networks, but more needs to be done about teaching business owners how to listen and find customers like me.

That’s it, a short case study of me, a 20k bill waiting to be collected, and no one was paying attention. Imagine that. Many of the big name social media marketers preach to listen, to grow bigger ears, and yet, like common sense, there appears to be a huge shortage. When are you going to catch up, the tidal wave is coming, don’t be looking the other way, because your business will lose people like me.

So how would you fix this listening problem in your business community?

One might consider this a business opportunity, educating business owners. Oh and by the way, it’s too late, I spent the money already.

Is your business community listening?

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Brands Built Without Advertising

Brands built without advertising, it sounds impossible right? I can’t imagine anyone saying you should never advertise, and when is not a good time to advertise? It’s a mystery for sure, but there are some huge brands out there that indeed did not advertise, and you know them very well. What a concept, that’s like saying, let’s give everything away and we will make money. Well, that is true also, competing with major companies by giving away core product and services is hard to walk away from, it’s even harder to compete against FREE.

But I’m not interested in talking about free, I want to talk about free from advertising, as in not advertising and still making billions. Imagine that, no advertising and creating a huge cash machine at the same time. How you ask, that’s the 64 million dollar question isn’t it? I mean, if you knew the answer, if we all knew the answer, we would have these mass fortunes ourselves. It’s not as simple as not advertising, but it’s close, it’s called Word Of Mouth, sound familiar? We practice it everyday on Social Networks.

Have you heard of Wayne Gould? He is the creator of Sudoku, the secret of Sudoku’s success was this, he offered the Times an endless supply of puzzles at no cost, there’s that FREE again. He offered the free puzzles with one request, that the times put a tiny credit on each puzzle, his website URL. Mr. Gould never purchased any advertising, it was a barter of sorts. The rest as you know it, is history.

Imagine this, you can’t just walk in a buy this car, you are selected. That’s right, no matter how much money you have or the position you hold will get you in the door. This brand has yet to purchase advertising, not one dime. Why? Because their customers are their marketing. They rely on word of mouth, special events and Social Media. The car? Ferrari.

With over 90 Billion in sales, this company has yet to purchase advertising, and you most likely are a card holder. COSTCO. Imagine gaining 66 million members that pay $55 or more for the privilege to shop, access to the COSTCO buying power is at your finger tips too.

This next one surprised me, The Body Shop. You’ve seen these stores everywhere, in every mall, and they don’t buy advertising. With no marketing department, they relied on one thing, a clearly stated purpose that the public could align their values to, not too mention word of mouth. With over 2,500 stores in over 60 markets worldwide, the business model seems to be working. I love this quote, I grabbed it off the Body Shop website:

“The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.”
-Dame Anita Roddick. Human Rights Activist. Founder of The Body Shop.

As crazy as it sounds, using FREE and Word Of Mouth can build a massive brand, maybe even an incredible way of life for you and the many being served by your business. It’s all possible, it also comes with a price tag called work, lot’s of it. In building anything there is always some level of risk, but these are examples of how a simple idea can lead to something far bigger than you ever dreamed of.

You don’t have to build a business of this magnitude, but you can build a legacy that provides a modest living. What’s your dream dynasty, what does it stand for and against?

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The Future Of Business – What Could The Hardcore Hockey Fan Tell You?

Abbotsford Heat

I know the question is odd when talking about the future of business, but I ask you to play along. Let’s see where I take you : )

If you were hired by your local hockey team (In my case, the Abbotsford Heat) to market the club in the digital realm, what might be there first question out of your mouth? No it’s not how much do I make. If the resources were in place, funding and say personnel, what would you ask?

Lets consider that all the questions are not dumb questions, no matter how obvious they might be, what would you ask?

I would most likely ask what the current cost is for customer acquisition, there is a cost with online marketing, so what is it?

Knowing that number would tell you at least two things, what they have been doing and, what they aren’t doing, that is provided you understand some simple marketing metrics and the overall understanding of what the strategy be.

You might even ask where the marketing dollars have been spent, like Google Ad Words and so on. Make a list. But there are two more important issues or questions I would be asking. Because frankly, I don’t care where the money is spent unless I know the answer to one primary question, and if I don’t get that answer, we are going to get it through some due diligence.

My first question is more about what the hardcore hockey fan wants, do the fans want free tickets to games, food or beer, or would they want dedicated, intimate free time with their favorite Player / Coach/ or even Executive?

It’s an Access over Ownership question, if we don’t know the answer, we better find out, and fast, because everything else that follows will be based on that data. I’m certain the average fan will pay the ticket price, but how much would they pay to have one-on-one time with their favorite hockey player? Maybe over a nice meal, I mean dedicated time, an intimate time to just be. What would you pay for that? A better question to ask yourself would be, would we be willing to give that access away for FREE?

You see, it’s easy to sell tickets, it’s even easier to sell club merchandise, but give the hardcore hockey fan access, and you have something really exciting.

The digital strategy will be built around what the hardcore fan really wants, and I’m willing to bet access is the secret sauce to your marketing efforts. The future of business as I have researched it, over the next 3 – 5 years will be Access over Ownership. Fill that need, and your hockey club will have a whole new set of marketing tactics to play with, a new view of the community, and a great way to Connect With Fans. Add that with a Reason To Buy, and you have a thing called revenue. (CWF + RTB = $$$$)

There are many, many more questions to ask, and this is a very low level, very loose post, but I’m flying at 50,000 feet and blue skying it.

If you knew access was the key, what other great ideas come to mind? Share them here in the comments, it would be great fun.

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Real Estate Agents, Politicians & Social Media GURUS

First a disclaimer, I am in no way claiming I have cornered the market on Social Media Networks, I happen to use them for my business. I’m also generalizing, you can find many that don’t suffer from the problems I rant about below. The three sectors, niches or whatever you want to call them, all three have something in common. They don’t know how to listen, nor do they know what their constituents want. All three claim to know that building relationships is paramount. All three claim to understand how to use Social Media Networks, but have been failing miserably. So what’s wrong?

Let’s start with a short story. I attended a MeetUp some 30 minutes down the freeway from me, I got there a little late, but as I walked in, I was introduced and then promptly put on the spot. I was asked, what top tip would I give a person or business in using Social Media. I had to stop and think for a nanosecond, and blurted out two things, one was to listen, and the other was to pay attention to the bigger picture. Now I can hear most of you Social Media Experts cringing, but I don’t mean what you think I mean.

The listening part, and the paying attention part are not separate, they are tied together. If you are a business, and you are just starting to dip your toe into the Social Media Networks, there are a few things you should do before you even attempt to listen or pay attention. But I was put on the spot, but I did clarify what I mean’t to ensure there was no confusion.

One of the first things I did, was write down some objectives, outcomes, before I even setup any kind of listening system. I wanted to know up front what I wanted from this exercise, before I began the listening, I also wanted to collect data from a higher level. I wanted a 50,000 foot view of what I was looking at, I wanted to see patterns and trends. But I’m getting sidetracked.

Now let’s get back to the real reason I’m writing this rant.

After the MeetUp was over, a small group of us went out to a local eatery for some chit chat and finger food. A funny thing happened while eating, I was noticing some tweets from all three of these sectors or groups, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. And these tweets were being done by people I know, people I have talked to on the topic, and thought they had a grip on things from my perspective. Afterall, this is all from my perspective, which means you can disagree, and it’s also subject to change without notice : )

REAL ESTATE AGENTS

If you talk to any Real Estate Agent, they will tell you they understand or have been coached by someone who claimed to understand, ya you know who you are. If these agents even remotely listened in anyway shape or form, they would know that posting every frigging listing on Twitter, FaceBook or what have you, is not what the consumer, the person(s) looking, or wanting to buy expects from them. I mean really, is that what you Agents think, really? A blast of 6 to 9 Tweets or Updates, all listings, tell me I’m completely off base here, I triple dog dare ya. I work with enough agents to tell you, some get it right, but very few do. If spamming 3 to 6 listings is building a relationship, then you clearly don’t know how to do it. But wait, if you ask a Real Estate Agent what’s the best part of what they do, it’s the relationships they build, it’s the most important part of being successful in the business. Is it possible? Are Real Estate Agents that out of touch? It would appear that they haven’t learned or figured out how to take relationship building into the digital realm.

POLITICIANS

Here is another group of people that seems to miss the listening part, maybe it’s the asking part. We have an election happening in my province and or community, it’s always a tenuous time. I was meeting with someone who is handling Social Media for a person running for city council here. They wanted to know what I thought, so I told them. Most people don’t follow politics that closely, if they did, voter turnouts would be at all time high’s and the world would be a happy place right? The truth is, politicians are no longer trusted, just like bank managers and the like, why? All they want is your vote, they don’t really want to know what you want, they don’t really want know your problem, they have their own agenda already.

I did say this, if you want to get votes, connect with your constituents, keep things simple, in such a manner in which they can understand what you are saying and asking. In simple terms, answer the damn question(s). I also said, asking broad global questions only tells your constituents you think they’re stupid. There is always a small percentage of people who enjoy or even understand the global questions, but most don’t. The average person wants to know what you are going to do for them. Don’t ask me broad questions like, What’s your vision of (enter name of city here) 2, 5, 10 years from now? I don’t know where my next pay cheque or meal is coming from, and you’re asking me about the vision of a city? Is that what your constituents said they wanted? I want to know what your vision is, not mine, you tell me and I’ll decide if it makes any sense. Then I’ll vote accordingly.

Anyway, it would be to a politicians advantage to keep things simple and bite sized, so the average person can chew on it and actually provide a proper response. If politicians are listening, or asking, then why does it appear they all ask the same type of questions? Because it works, probably not, it’s because people can’t and won’t answer broad global questions. So the politician gets elected with a false sense of security, and can’t figure out why the people at large aren’t happy…it’s because they didn’t listen and  pay attention in the first place.

SOCIAL MEDIA GURUS

You know who you are, you need to stop pretending you understand the larger picture of what all these Social Media Networks means to the business world at large. No one does! There are some common practices now, but just now. Social Networks have only been around a short while on the Internet, there is too much to know, and too much to understand for anyone person to claim they are an Expert or GURU. And I’m certain most don’t fully understand ROI, and the global effect on human behaviour in these circles. I can only count on one hand how many people I trust to tell me about what’s going on, how is it that the plethora of Consultants, GURUS and Social Media Experts have miraculously figured it out for all of us? I think not.

CLOSING COMMENTS

As you can see I’m barely scratching the surface here, the truth is, these three sectors are only three, and it’s not all there fault. But it’s mostly the snake oil salesman called a Social Media GURU / Expert, all in the name of making a buck. Or worse yet, to expand an already out of control ego. It is and always will be a Buyer Beware world, find people you know and trust, then ask them who to seek out for sound information and direction.

Good luck, and please do leave your comments, I love hearing from you whether you agree or not.

 

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The Future Of Business – The Future Of Shopping With PayPal

Look at what PayPal is introducing in the future of shopping, when systems of this nature are implemented, over time, it’s usually impossible to go back to old ways of doing things. But it is fun to use new technologies and new ways of getting things done.

Hope you find this interesting, or at least eye opening, would you use PayPal’s new system?