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Corporate Strategy

Without Structure, Strategy Goes Nowhere

By | Communications, Corporate Strategy | No Comments

Lucky me! Two organizations I work with are beginning strategic planning at the start of this new year. It gets a little confusing, bouncing back and forth, but what I learn in sessions from one, I’m able to apply to the other, so I figure that’s a win.

What has worried me in past strategy sessions is the possibility that the plan will sit on a shelf and not get put into action. I bet you’ve seen that in your work place or volunteer efforts. To combat that, we like to recommend a specific structure for follow up, either quarterly or every six months.

When it comes to strategic communications, the follow up and structure for implementation need to be waaaay tighter. Our clients benefit from a weekly structure, where those responsible for outreach and engagement truly have a DAILY checklist of tasks related to the strategic goals. Maybe that sounds like a lot, but when small steps are taken, great leaps can be made toward big goals.

We’re gearing up for an upcoming workshop for small businesses and nonprofits to help smaller teams or individual team members responsible for communications get a good structure set up so the rest of the year will run smoothly, and make real progress toward goals. More soon!

Resisting the Distraction of Baby Goats

By | Corporate Strategy | No Comments

One of my favorite movie lines comes from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when the creepy, high-achieving mom says, “Eyes on the prize, Violet. Eyes on the prize.” There’s just something so delightfully disturbing about the way she delivers that line. What Violet’s mom knows, though, is that it’s important to stay focused. Clients and potential clients often get mired in discussion of one-off tactics. “How do we leverage Facebook?” for example. It’s our job to bring them back to a total strategy view, to remember that Facebook is a tool but not the overall strategy, that the content is the most important element to create, THEN we can determine where it goes and how.

But darn it, if I even mention baby goats in a meeting, I’ve lost them completely.

How Social Media Has Actually Made Marketing Easier, Not Harder

By | Communications, Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

There are a LOT of articles and blog posts out there warning the business world that social marketing is the One True Way. CMOs that are not using Big Data acquired through myriad, massively integrated social platforms might be out of a job soon. Social has replaced advertising. Etc. Etc. Etc. It can be very intimidating if you’re used to marketing your products in more traditional ways. The ROI of a social program can be hard to calculate. There are many companies making a nice living just trying to help marketers compute it!

But I’d like to argue that the era of social marketing has actually made your job easier.

Social tools add complexity, it’s true. They can fragment the marketing budgets and team. Hooking all these social listening and sharing platforms up so you can make sense of your customers’ online habits and predilections can add a lot of work, both in the short and long term.

But the transparency of messaging that social marketing requires actually takes a lot off the table. Since spin and backpedaling are really not effective anymore, it’s actually easier to decide what to do. The kind of content you create, the strategy you develop, and the systems you use to communicate can all be much simpler because they are designed to do one thing–explain what you’re going to do and how. You’re not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince someone to buy something of questionable value anymore. Their peers are going to provide the validating information about you and your offering that they need, not you.

It all comes down to doing what you promise and then enabling the satisfied to amplify their satisfaction via social channels. No more lying, covering, shaping, hiding, reacting. All you have to do is explain, clarify, and deliver.

Isn’t that why you’re in business to begin with?

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Four Ways to Use Social Platforms to Drive E-commerce Sales

By | Communications, Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Social Media | One Comment

With all the blogging, sharing, news articles and conferences that tout and exploit the uses of social media, you’d think the idea of using it to drive e-commerce sales would be a no-brainer. I mean everyone’s doing that, right? Anyone with an online storefront MUST be using their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and Pinterest boards to drive traffic to product landing pages, right?

Turns out, not everyone understands that, especially in B2C. I was at a training session yesterday with one of our favorite retail clients, teaching them the amazing benefits of Sprout Social. This is a pretty great social media dashboard tool that allows you to manage all your social media presences from one location. As I was helping them hook it all up, I was also asking how these platforms were being used so far. Were they promoting items in the store? Sharing design ideas from their own people? Promoting designers and products outside of the store? Driving traffic to their online web store?

Turns out they were really only using their social platforms to promote things outside their store–designers, other Pinterest boards, other blogs. They weren’t really using the social tools to drive everyone back to their OWN store, either online or bricks and mortar.

I was very surprised, to say the least. But it made me think that maybe they weren’t alone, especially if they were a small business with limited time and resources. So here are some things you can do right now to help drive more sales using social tools.

  1. Set up a Facebook page and update it regularly. MOST people who buy things online have a Facebook presence of some sort. 67 percent of B2C companies and 42 percent of B2B companies have acquired a customer through Facebook (Hubspot, 2011). Use it to drive traffic to your blog, your Pinterest page, or better yet, specific product landing pages on your site. Facebook is a great way to stay in front of customers generally.
  2. Set up a Pinterest page to showcase your products. According to a recent BizRate Insights study, “sixty-nine percent of consumers who visit Pinterest have found an item they’ve purchased or wanted to purchase.” In some studies, it’s even outpacing Facebook as a product purchase influencer. While both sites are used to connect with people who share common interests, “Pinterest is more of a product finder and decision influencer.”
  3. Set up a Twitter account for sharing thought leadership. Post content from your blog, and ideas from others, along with deals and ides on your OWN site. Twitter is less effective as a sales tool for consumer products, but it’s great for business solutions and products.
  4. YouTube is still one of the largest search engines, so you have to have a channel. This can really enhance SEO as well. Post weekly video tours of section of the store, specials, or events you might be hosting in your brick and mortar store, but link to corresponding product or category pages in the online store!
  5. Make sure to set up Google Analytics on your web store so you can see what links drive the best results. It’s pretty easy and Google already tracks the major social platforms. You’ll quickly get an idea of what each platform brings to the table in terms of traffic and sales. The key here is to be everywhere, targeting each platform to do what it’s good at. But don’t be afraid to drive traffic to your store, rather than just your blog.

Need help? Call us!

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Three Ways The New MySpace Could Challenge Facebook

By | Communications, Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Social Media | 2 Comments

Here is a demo of the new MySpace, which was tweeted about by Justin Timberlake a few days ago. It’s pretty compelling. According to Chris and Tim Vanderhook, who bought the company in July 2011, MySpace’s new design now focuses on emerging artists who hope to be discovered. The Vanderhooks bought MySpace from News Corp. for just $35 million, after News Corp. paid more than ten times that for it in 2005.

I think it has the potential to do an end-run around Facebook for a few big reasons:

It’s clear that the designers and developers have been paying very close attention to what social networks are good at and what people use them for–sharing their life in pictures, connections and music.

First thing you notice is the prominent role music plays in the site. The musician in me loves this. It’s like you can create a soundtrack of events that can be tied to the images and posts you create. Very cool. The timeline is horizontal and everything in is a visual mash that ties posts, video, audio, connections and photos together around those events. It’s loose, slick, and sexy, and seems to borrow a lot from Path and Pinterest. If nothing else, it mimics how we act as expressive people and provides a refreshing antidote to the stodgy Facebook vanilla. It even lets you log in using competing network profiles.

It Appears to Be Anti-Grownup.

This demo looks like my daughter acts. She will sit in her room with music going while she texts friends, adds photos, connects music to pages, teases her Facebook friends, and does homework. The new Myspace seems designed to be immersive for teens. Good call, since their parents (and grandparents) have taken over Facebook. According to Will Oremus over at Slate.com,  “it’s going to focus more narrowly on becoming a social home for musicians, artists, celebrities—and their fans.”

Privacy Will be Paramount

Myspace got in a lot of hot water for their privacy violations a few years back and as a result they are on a pretty tight leash. That actually plays to their advantage right now, as Facebook users start to rebel against the shameless exploitation of their data by Zuck’s public company needs. It also maps closely to teens’ desire to get away from their parents in the digital spaces they are forced to share.

I have yet to see any mobile demo or vision, which they absolutely MUST deliver to have a chance to really succeed. But they are presenting a pretty impressive alternative to a suddenly tired Facebook, especially for the younger and more artistic set.

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