Monday, April 06, 2009

Invest in Your Community for the Compound Interest

So I was talking to someone who had the following story for me as we discussed social media and it’s important role in brand building and community & employee engagement.

Associate:  Social media is a waste of time!  I started a Facebook page for my business, I did some blogging, I twittered…heck I even went to a SM focused conference and I have not had one lead come from it yet.

Me: How long have you been active in your community?

Associate: ALMOST 6 MONTHS (read with disdain and frustration), and I don’t have forever to wait to get an ROI, I only have so much time & I don’t see how this is helping me grow my business?

Me: You’ve barely even started!?  SM is not a lead gen program and is not a short term tactic.  Marketing through and participation in SM is an investment in your community, your space, your employees, your business, your customers, etc.  Think of it like a bank or any other long term investment.  Investing your hard earned money in an interest bearing bank account is not done because you need more money next week or next month.  It is done as a long term strategy and to leverage the power of Compound interest.  The reward is not immediate and your “investment” in time and effort contributing authentically to your community in a regular, repeated, valuable way will pay dividends for you and for your community over the years.

Associate: I need to drive business & cash immediately, don’t you know what is going on in my market right now?  I invested my time in this to turn my business around and sell through this medium.

Me: Then you didn’t understand how this medium worked before you engaged, you didn’t do your homework.  If you have short term business issues I can work with you on some tactics to preserve cash and sustain your business but this isn’t one of them.  You need to keep investing in SM but it isn’t your short term saviour.

Have you had this experience?  How have you handled it?  What guidance would you give an associate?

Too many people in my opinion are looking to capitalize on a short term lottery win through jumping on tools like twitter and thinking it will immediately turn around there business.  I empathize with many than NEED short term fixes but encourage you those people to address short term business issues aggressively and effectively while still participating in and building their community over the long haul.

BE Authentic & Caring with your community

BE Patient & Persistent with your contributions and willingness to help others

BE a Trusted Advisor that people can go to and follow for genuine guidance and real feedback and support

DO NOT be a used car salesman or a pompeous ass

DO NOT be condescending and arrogant

Some will disagree and I have no doubt that there are some examples of short term surgical tactics that have utilized SM tools to disseminate and drive promotions and programs with short term impact but don’t blog, twitter, vlog, FB, etc for a short term fix.  Compound your interest over time and lead your community towards a better ecosystem for all.


David Meerman Scott has a great example of a some relatively short viral programs including one that Universal Orlando did with their Harry Potter Theme Park.  I’ll discuss David’s thoughts in a later post but I highly recommend his new book World Wide Rave!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Seek Out The Truth…

As you engage with your community and especially your customers, prospects and trusted advisors ALWAYS seek, ask for and encourage the truth. Too often people meet with others in their industry and have drinks and chat over how great everything is going and how wonderful their respective companies are. It is nice to meet with friends and exchange pleasantries but DO NOT mistake these meetings for confirmation that you are doing the right things. If you want to get better YOU MUST seek out the truth.

Here is what I believe…

If you are not getting better every day you are getting worse. There is no such thing as standing still.

In order to improve your business you need to understand your strengths yes but you also must understand your weaknesses either real or perceived. If you are not meeting the needs of your community and fulfilling your deliverables than someone else will. Engage in REAL conversations with people who are friends and foes. Here are some of the people you should seek out:

  • customers
  • employees
  • industry experts
  • competitors
  • business partners
  • lost customers
  • customers on deals you lost

Some of the questions to ask and data to acquire about your company:

  • Did you end up purchasing a solution to assist with your business needs ?
    • if so who and why
    • if not, would you consider doing business with us in the future, why or why not
  • How would you describe your experience in dealing with us
  • What could we have done differently in the sales process
  • Were there aspects of our product/solution functionality that did not meet your needs
  • Were there aspects of our implementation/methodology that caused you concern
  • Was our pricing competitive
  • Was our sales representative professional and effective at addressing your questions
  • What is your perception of our Company
  • How would you describe us versus our competitors

It is important that you talk to many different people and get many different viewpoints. What you are looking for is a pattern that comes across from several non-related sources that become themes. It is this data that you need to assess and evaluate as you look to steer your business forward and become the better tomorrow than you are today!

Don’t let people tell you what they think you want to here DEMAND the truth. Good luck and let me know how it goes.