As small business owners, sometimes we get so focused on the “tasks at hand” we forget the “bigger picture.” Unfortunately, that happened to me last week. CreateWOW had a couple of projects “Pop Up” that HAD TO get done before the week was out. So, being the eternal “people-pleaser” I am, I did my very best to deliver. (Sound familiar?)
In a caffeine induced, gel-crackling, bearded blur, I dug in and wrote scripts, created and produced radio and webinar spots, coded, designed and delivered as quickly as I possibly could. Logos. Creative outlines. Proposals. You name it, I was a laser-focused marketing production time machine. I posted web articles (blogs) and wrote drafts for review and scheduling. I designed, tore apart and redesigned whole websites, and the clients were happy…
Sure, when the week came to a close, a handful clients were happy (thrilled?), but others were standing there with project outlines, drafts and schedules hanging in the cold winter breeze like forgotten laundry. And we all know how laundry seems to pile up – like it or not…
I walked away confused and dejected.
So, was I focused on my clients or oblivious to my actual job?
In my business plan, I professed it was my
“…duty to create the most effective and efficient marketing solutions for our clients while integrating emerging technologies for optimal return on their marketing dollar. We (I) commit to perform my duties while maintaining focus on all clients’ needs and directives and supporting them at every stage of their marketing programs …”
(Yeah, I tend to get a bit wordy.)
So, where did I go wrong? Considering all of the work put into last week, why did the “to-do” list grow instead of shrink?
As a small business owner, I’m certain this won’t be the last time “focus” turns my attention from the bigger picture (working ON the business instead of IN it). But to maintain that production level (and constant flow of income) what should I do to keep it from happening again?
All of the above…???
As a small business owner, I had to make a cognitive decision to be responsible to the company, not just the bottom line. If not, I / We, as small business owners, will simply spin the wheels of progress and growth – sinking deeper and deeper into the dirt.
How do YOU keep your focus when a deluge of “To-Do’s” come across your desk? Do you line ‘em up and smack ‘em down as they come in or do you prioritize and then delegate? Often times the answer is based on the size of your company. I’d love to hear your story.
Whatever you do, keep moving forward!
Keep Cooking (’cause that’s all you have time for…)
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef
If you didn’t realize it, AGRICULTURE is big business – not just the growing of plants and livestock production aspects, which luckily has seen an uptick even in the struggling financial economy as of late. We’re talking the business of being involved in the “Ag” world.
Agritourism, Ag education, Ag sciences and others have all seen a huge surge of interest and involvement in the past decade. No longer do we drive through the green fields of Iowa, Nebraska and other Midwest states and just see corn, beans, pigs, cows, more corn, more beans, more pigs… well, you get our point. You see business – farm tours, farmers markets, roadside stands, even fields held for special events like reunions, weddings, class “field trips,” and games.
Over the last year, CreateWOWmarkeing has been blessed with many new clients from the agriculture industry. From the interest and the drive we’ve seen from these customers, marketing and the use of TRUE strategic branding has had the heat turned up and is ready to boil over!
And CreateWOW is ready to help them find the way.
In this short news clip from CRI News in Oskaloosa, Iowa you can see the impact that marketing and branding is having in the Ag industry.Thanks to Practical Farmers of Iowa for the opportunity to work through our TRUE Branding seminar and “Putting a Face on Your Farm.”
For more on our Branding seminar or to sign up for today’s (July 12, 2011) “Putting A Face On Your Farm” webinar, please check out the Practical Farmers of Iowa website.
Keep Cooking (and remember, “Eating is an agricultural act.” credit: Wendell Berry)
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef
A rising junior at Georgetown University majoring in English and minoring in Chinese & Women’s Gender Studies, Anastasia is back from Washington D.C. to work this summer at CreateWOWmarketing, LLC, before heading to Beijing, China in the fall to study Chinese language and literature. Anastasia was one of those sickening overachievers in high school, and continues to be one in college, though the intensity of university life forces her to pick and choose which few activities will fill her time. She writes a column for Georgetown’s oldest student newspaper, The Hoya, offering bi-weekly dating advice to readers as the Dating Dalai. She is an active member of the Georgetown chapter of Alpha Phi Omega—a national co-ed service fraternity founded on the ideals of the Boy Scouts of America. In addition to completing over thirty hours of service each semester, she travels twice a week to D.C.’s Chinatown in order to tutor an ESL high school student. On campus, she has also been involved in the Tae Kwon Do club and Equestrian team. Long story short: Anastasia doesn’t sleep.
Among the passions Anastasia has developed in her relatively short life, writing is probably the most important one of all. Writing is what drives her forward, it’s what keeps her up late at night, it’s both her master and her subordinate. Those one-entry diaries she used to make in elementary school and promptly forget morphed into strange short stories that transformed into the beginnings of a novel. Her two favorite novels are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and 1984 by George Orwell, which put together would make one very strange book.
One of the consequences of identifying as a writer is that her iPhone notes application is jam-packed with random ideas and nuggets of thought. In retrospect, some of them make absolutely no sense, but a few hold the promise of spawning an entire article, perhaps even a novel. Writing is her future, and it is what brought her to CreateWOWmarketing, LLC.
The modern economic model awards those who share information, and so content is formed from those nuggets of thought—some may remain nuggets, while others may spawn entire novels of information.
She finds that marketing closely resembles the writing process in many ways—one must distinguish the good ideas from the lackluster ones, whether it’s plot development or Twitter.
What she hopes to build this summer at CreateWOWmarketing, LLC is her understanding of marketing and constructing a brand through the tools of social media as well as more traditional forms. Now get ready to cook up some marketing mischief with the Brand Chef and the next generation’s “Jane Orwell”…or ”George Austin?” How about “Anastasia Taber?”
It was a great honor to have local marketing specialist and the Social Media Manager from The Des Moines Social Club, Laura Gaulke ( @allauremkt ), invite The Brand Chef (me) to do a presentation at the Social Media Love-Hate Affair.
Because of their deep ties to the local social media community, the cause, raising funds for The Des Moines Social Club building / relocation, was perfect. Eight speakers were lined up to present on their (or their business’) relationships with social media. Topics covered everything from personal and corporate security, to geo-location marketing and, of course, my presentation on T.R.U.E. Branding in social media.
There certainly IS a Love-Hate relationship when it comes to marketing and social media. Done right, it can build a brand in record speed and with MASSIVE power. On the other hand, it can destroy a good brand just as fast.
Brands on Twitter and Facebook have a unique challenge when it comes to building community and support for their brand. Do the brand managers monitoring their social media experience engage every tweet and post that mentions their name, product, service or industry? How appropriate is it to “chime in” on conversation streams with advice and “promotions?” When is the line crossed form Good Social Media Practice to Customer Stalking?
Choose Your Battles
As a brand manager, depending on the size and reach of your brand, you may not have the time or the staff to respond to every tweet, post or comment you stumble across. In these cases, be diligent with your engagement strategies (yes, strategies… plural). If you have the right tracking systems set up, you can be very involved with your brand community. If you react to every opportunity, it may become counter-productive. Test the waters and monitor the conversations. Based on a good brand strategy, you’ll know when a customer needs that little social recognition and engagement. It’s a great feeling to help, but even Mother Teresa couldn’t save everyone.
The social media manager should be aware of the brand perception with its community versus other brands. So looking at social media best practices from one brand to another will vary wildly.
For instance, the Target brand manager would advise quite differently than that of the brand manager from Dick’s Last Resort. According to the Target brand promise they are all about customer experience and pleasing the “Guest,” as if they were visitors in your own home. On the other hand, Dick’s Last Resort has been founded nationally on its reputation of being … uh… RUDE to it’s customers. So how they react in the social media world will be entirely different.
Ever pick up the phone to call a friend and POW, there they are on the other line? No ring. No dial. THAT’S FREAKY!
Social media can get that way some times. If a brand manager is doing her job correctly, she’s going to see mentions of their brand, product, etc. through a number of channels. Now, if she hyper-reacts and jumps on a tweet or a post like putting out a hair fire, then, watch the red flags start flying. Customers don’t want to have shop employees lurking around the corner to jump out at them as soon as they start to look lost. Give them a little space and react within your brand standards.
On the other hand, I’ve stood at service counters waiting for someone to greet me or even acknowledge my existence for hours! Okay maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but with the finite attention span of social media, if someone requests answers from a brand and it goes unanswered for even ten minutes, it seems like an eternity.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but really! If you’re RESPONDING to someone in the social media world, there’s nothing LESS SOCIAL than answering a plea of distress or confusion with “Hey, have I got a deal for you…!” Social media doesn’t need to be sold. If you build your community of brand advocates, they’re already sold. It’s your responsibility to build trust in your brand.
So, brand managers, go forth and Tweet. Set your sights on your target market and ENGAGE; but beware of overstepping your boundaries, for after all, you ARE a BRAND.
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef
Haley joined CreateWOWMarketing in May 2011 as an integral part of the growth that CreateWOW is experiencing. She graduated from Iowa State University in 2005 with a B.S. in Marketing. In May of 2008 she became a full time student once again at DMACC in the Graphic Design Program and soon after became Editor of the Urban Campus newspaper.
She found CreateWOWMarketing through one of her many Twitter browsing filled days. This past October at Freelance Camp Des Moines she was able to see what Andrew and CreateWow (The Brand Chef) was all about.
Haley has experience in public relations, marketing, design and social media. Her most recent role at Digital Royalty in Phoenix, Arizona, had her monitoring the social media efforts and reporting for the likes of the UFC, Monte Carlo, Delivering Happiness and DoubleTree by Hilton.
Haley can’t wait to put those student loan bills to practical use by combining a love of social media with more traditional communication and marketing strategies. She even has visions of one day having her own super short weekly web cast a la Sarah Haskins “Target Women”. Most days you will find Haley out enjoying the new and original events that Des Moines now offers.
You can find Haley in most socially connected ways including Haley@createWOWmarketing.com or:
On Wednesday of last week, I gave Mediacom a call on the Social Media Phone. HOW?
By doing this, I posted on Twitter:
“Hey Mediacom, my web connection is on the fritz, can you guys please give me a call?”
Why did I post it to Twitter instead of just picking up my “real” phone? Well, a couple reasons:
I HATE being on hold. And anyone that’s EVER called Mediacom knows that’s their favorite game. And
Remember when customer support via email was first introduced? It was a harder transition that one might think, especially for larger companies. But with social media, some companies have already jumped in while others are just beginning to recognize that potential. In time, I it will become a standard practice.
There are major differences here, however. Adding email to the customer service mix was just another technology or mechanism by which companies could have private conversations with their customers. This is not the case with the Social Media Phone. These conversations (unless direct messaged or texted) are public, and that changes everything.
It also flips something else upside down: businesses now line up for customers instead of customers lining up for businesses. Rather than asking customers to do the searching, to find the businesses, to initiate contact, to get in line (or call center queues, etc.), it reverses everything and “puts the burden” on businesses to listen and respond to customers wherever they are.
This marketing reversal from “Supply -> Demand” to “Demand -> Supply” model was outlined quite thoroughly in a book I recently read. “How Companies Win,” by Rick Kash and David Calhoun. They explain that reversing the traditional train of thought from “I have this ‘stuff’ to sell, I need to find a market…” to “This market needs this ‘stuff,’ we poised to fulfill that…” has been perpetuated through social media channels.
Companies who choose to jump in early will benefit the most. Right now, this practice is remarkable. It gets noticed and gets talked about. It represents an opportunity to delight customers with remarkable service.
Meet your customers at their point of need.
Has your company picked up the Social Media Phone yet? Can you cite other instances where social media has enhanced / solved trying customer service issues?
Chime in. Let us know how you’re integrating the Social Media Phone into your marketing plans. Or better yet, pick up the Social Media Phone and ask us how!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef
ALL good things, right?
If you have a desire to join a nimble, progressive marketing and communications company with a drive to change how companies use media, then I want to hear from you.
CreateWOWmarketing, LLC has brought on a handful of new clients that will require talent and support from:
And while I want to “Do It ALL,” I just can’t…
I’M not looking for just anyone. The people that are brought into the CreateWOW culture will need to be inspired by creativity and driven to create WOW for our clients using traditional and emerging marketing tactics.
These positions are to be considered “Internships” until the candidate has proven him / herself in the job.
Don’t throw your resume at me and expect a call. Connect with me on a unique, engaging and relevant level to the position YOU hope to fill. And for God’s sake, be Truthful.
I want the team to reflect CreateWOW. I want the team to GROW CreateWOW.
So, there you have it. The proverbial ball is in your court.
And for ever and always…
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef
Another Web site:
There are a lot of positive signs that small businesses are starting to adopt social media marketing as an integrated component of their overall business plans. One significant change, based on a February 2010 Small Business Success Index report, is the fact that social media usage among small business jumped from a meager 12% in 2008 to 24% in the following year (Yes, doubled).
Of those using social media, 69% post regular updates / articles of relevance to sites like FaceBook and LinkedIn. Two additional stats that made me smile were: 54% monitor positive / negative feedback via social networks, and almost 40% of the small businesses author a blog pertaining to their field of expertise.
But hold on, that’s still only 1-in-5 of those surveyed.
So, let’s address some of the restraints keeping small businesses form jumping on board?
According to the report, 50% of the users say it takes more time than they expected.
This is a surprise? Okay, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but the reason they may have been caught off guard is a result of one or a combination of following:
Of course social media marketing takes time! Just like scheduling time to check voice-mail or email, small business owners need to adapt to make time for a little proactive community engagement. It pays off in the end.
Then there’s the statistic that made me laugh the hardest. 17% expressed that social media gives people a chance to criticize their business on the Internet.
Do they actually think criticism won’t happen if they stay away? Go ahead, try it. Then, call me when the business folds. I know Realtors that need the square footage.
Come on, folks, this should stand as a call to action for all small business owners (as well as those that market to/for them). Social media is not going away any time soon. And the quicker you figure out how to use it to your advantage, the better chances you’ll have for surviving the years to come.
As with any marketing tool, social media has a unique profile in each company’s marketing plan. While a blog is a great core component to a social media marketing strategy, Twitter, YouTube and FaceBook may not always apply. Heck, If your target audience isn’t active online, don’t be a fool and put your time into broad social media integration. Just make sure to do a little research before jumping in and you’ll know what’s right for you / your company.
Where does your small business stand when it comes to integrating social media into your marketing plan? Is it an add-on that will eventually fade away? Or do you have the plan and vision to make social media work for you?
If you’re a small business that hasn’t embraced social media as a marketing tool, then I have two things to say:
Food for thought.
Keep Cooking! (Purposeful, results-oriented decisions)
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef
Entrefest was such a HUGE success this year that we just HAD to show the world how much fun we had.
The EntreFest program covered workshops and seminars for small to medium sized businesses (SMB) and entrepreneurs covering everything from social media, marketing and search engine optimization to financial structuring for small business, sales and networking.
It was a VERY full few days, but we ALL took something valuable away from it.