And Now a Word on Facebook

Someone recently asked me which social media platform offers me up the most referrals.  And I almost laughed. When has someone called me out of the blue and said “I need my search engines optimized?” How about never.  And that’s just fine with me. Because I get new clients from my existing clients, that’s where. Yes even in this digital age, and the pervasiveness of social media, most of my clients come from personal referrals.

But hold on. Once I get a referral, there’s a great chance that those folks are going to Google me, search for me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram, look at my reviews, etc.

Super Chef!

Flashback to that time I went out on stage in a boxer’s robe while the theme from Rocky blared on the PA system.

Your business probably has a similar track and that’s the way it should be. Even though I’m in the social media business, I rarely get the cold calls from someone I’ve never met. Is that a bad thing? Not really. If I get a cold call from someone who has no understanding of me and what I do best then that usually means I’ll be competing against a host of other folks. Ugh! That’s so time consuming…I’ll have to do some background research, figure out who else they might be talking to, devise a pitch specifically for the client, rehearse my pitch, get all dressed up, wait in an office with bad music or tattered magazines…I could keep going.

Today I walked into an office of a prospect. It’s people that know me through two other clients and they follow me on a couple of my social media platforms. They’ve seen my videos, know my voice through my updates and tweets, and love my sense of humor. And even though I wasn’t wearing my finest prospecting suit, she hugged me and exclaimed “We can’t wait to start working with you.”  That’s so much better than having to get all dressed up and sit in some uncomfortable office.

The first rule of thumb in business is: take care of business!  Take care of your existing clients, deliver the goods, communicate, visit, say hello when you’re in the area then remember to ask for referrals at the appropriate time.  You never know which one of your customers will be your rainmaker so treat all of them like gold.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to bake cookies for a client.

Cookies

 

 

Giraffe for Rent in Greenville, SC

One thing’s certain in this brave new world of digital marketing, change. The arc of the social media landscape is as predictable as a handful of popcorn kernels tossed into a hot frying pan. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on the learning curve of social media, some platform throws a monkey wrench into the works and the popcorn starts popping. Right now I’m challenged by LinkedIn wanting to be Facebook, Facebook wanting to replace cable TV, Youtube wanting to be Spotify, and Twitter forgetting what made it cool. Even Instagram has forgotten what made it fun and interesting and so popular.  And Snap Chat? Sorry kids but now that Town & Country Magazine, Huff Post, and your local TV stations have Snap Chat accounts, the end of their cool factor is near.

DSC_0952

Autumn the Giraffe has a new Daddy.

One of my clients recently approached me and wanted to spend a chunk of money and they asked me to find an outlet. The client is Mark Muncy, a well-known Pediatric Dentist in Greer.  Mark’s office is heavily decorated in a jungle motif with parrots, tigers, monkeys, and plenty of tropical green plants. He’s also been known to don the occasional giraffe costume. Hey after all, he’s a Pediatric Dentist. And he’s sort of a big kid. You’d have to be to be in that business.

Dr. Muncy Logo RGB

And this is also my work, along with Curtis Newman and Sonya Brown.

So I thought about his needs, his customers, and how best to reach them. And then I went to the Greenville Zoo and found a huge opportunity for him. As of May 1st, Mark’s office now sponsors the Giraffe Cam and Giraffe exhibit.

Five years ago, heck even a year ago I would’ve come to a different conclusion. A year ago I would’ve spent some money on Google but take a listen, mobile web searches are now taking place in a handful of apps and that’s a trend that’s going to continue. How many of use now Facebook as a search engine without even realizing it?

“Hey friends, where’s the best place to get a tune up on a Lexus sedan?”

Every time you pose such a question on Facebook, a Google programmer gets that much further way from a 12% raise.

So back to those giraffes. Here’s why I think this’ll be a home run for Mark Muncy. The zoo gets hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and most of those are moms with their kids. And the Giraffe Cam gets tens of thousands of hits per month and in the end of the summer, we’ll get a third giraffe, a male that’s coming here to hopefully make giraffe babies with Autumn. Let’s hope, correct?

Plus the Giraffe Cam is so darn cute. I dare you to watch Tatu the baby for less than sixty seconds because you won’t want to miss her doing something baby giraffy.

So how can I help you? Is your business looking for an out of the box cross-promotional opportunity? Then give me a call and we’ll talk. (864) 616-7171. There’s a giraffe out there waiting on you.

Super Chef!

I’m the Chef that knows his way around SEO, Google, Facebook, and a kitchen.

 

 

A Case Study in Cookies

I love making people happy.

In late December I bake chocolate chip cookies and bring big plates of them to my clients as a way of saying Thank  You and Merry Christmas. And today I dropped off some to one of my new clients, a law firm. Recently they had found themselves in a tough situation. This particular firm has been around for 20+ years and they’re seen as the old guard in their particular discipline. And for years they would get four or five referrals a month; new clients sent to them by other firms or previous clients. And life was great until about three years ago when their referral rate started to drop off.

Why?

Greenville, SC has grown tremendously in the last five years, likewise all of our town’s industries. The legal profession is no exception. We’ve had all sorts of attorneys move into this town and open up shop without any regard to tradition. They hang a shingle, have a professionally built website, then optimize their sites for Google, Bing, Yahoo. They get on Twitter, Snap Chat or LinkedIn and tell the world who they are and what they do. And they get out to Chamber meetings, sponsor beer tastings, 5K runs, and they blog twice a month. And soon they’re taking away business from the established law firms that have failed to keep up with the 21st century’s preferred forms of communication.

When this established law firm called me, I knew I could help. They didn’t use Facebook, did not utilize LinkedIn, didn’t have web links on their email signatures and they showed up on page seven or eight of Google’s search results. Yikes!  They approached me and asked for some help so I made some recommendations, built some snappy LinkedIn profiles, created a Google+ page and so on.  I also found one of their partners that can write like nobody’s business and set him up on a blogging schedule and we were off to the races. A great writer is key to a solid online strategy because you can blog all you want but if no one’s enjoying your words, they will not share, comment or engage with your blog and you will not get the most out of your SEO strategy. I cannot say this enough: An effective social media strategy requires a solid, creative writer.

It’s been about thirty days since we got everything up and running and today I was delivering those cookies. The paralegal at the front desk smiled broadly when I walked in.

“Oh John, they’re so excited. We got our first client from our Google page this week.”

Wow. I was floored but damn happy, too. And when she saw the cookies, she was doubly excited. And I got a quick thumbs-up from one of the partners as he headed to a conference call.

Social Media Greenville SC

Chocolate Chip, Oat, Malted Milk Cookies. Got Milk?

Now I don’t promise results like this because advertising is something we should look at with the long distance approach of a telescope, not a microscope. Though I do promise cookies at Christmas time.

Perhaps I can help your company. If you’re not getting the results you desire from your social media or you’re just too darn busy to properly manage it, give us a call. We’ll ask the right questions, plan a strategy then get to work. And we’re anonymous. Your customers will believe it’s you on Facebook or Twitter, and not some guy on the other side of town.  Got Milk?

Googled

A thousand dollars a month.  That’s what my client was spending on Google Ads.

Yikes!

Yet when he came to me, he had one goal.  “Keep me up front on my Google search results.”  Well sure, that’s easy if one has a significant budget for Google Ads but eventually that money’s going to run out.  Then what? He had a significant following on Facebook but lately it’s been tough to get noticed on that blue juggernaut unless you’re willing to put money behind your updates.  And how do you get Facebook money turned into meaningful Google search results?  Most marketers know that one needs fresh web content to make a dent in Google, but with everyone else in a competitive segment creating fresh content, one’s content better have legs.

Legs

Will your content turn the right heads?

 

And that means publishing something of value, an essay that will be enjoyed, shared and commented on. So I wrote an emotional post on how quickly our children grow and change. That’s a familiar theme that every parent can identify with, yet I kept it around five hundred words. Then I utilized his significant Facebook following by posting at the right time, in this case on a late Sunday afternoon.  I put $20 behind the update to make sure that a majority of his followers had the opportunity to engage with his website. And 24 hours later, I had the desired results.

Keep in mind that my client is in a fairly competitive field and his business model requires a significant number of daily visits to his medical office.  His patients are his lifeblood, but his patient’s parents are paying the bills.  My post appealed to the parents, tugged at the necessary emotions and reminded them why they patronize my client in the first place.  And the client got what he was looking for: Google search results, shares, comments, and thank yous.

Would you like to read my post?  I’d love to share it but I can’t because I promise this particular client anonymity.  When his clients tell him “I love your writing”, he just smiles and says “Thank you.”

Hey, he’s signing the checks, right?

May I help you?  My rates are affordable and I can customize my services to fit your needs.  And I’m a published author that knows how to get readers. Give me a call and we’ll talk.

 

Will it Crush Ice?

I bought a blender a few months ago.  An Oster bar blender.  I paid $39.99 at Target.  My old Cuisinart blender gave up the ghost and a couple days later I was hustling through Target when I saw a big display of  these blenders, so I picked up my new blender.  And barely two months later, the plastic base had worn out.  So I got on their Facebook page, sent Oster a close-up photo and a description of the damage, then assumed that would be the end of it.  After all, this was a $40.00 blender and I’ve had plenty of disappointments when dealing with the social media accounts of large corporations.  Trek bicycles, for instance, is great at telling the world that there’s a handful of men that get paid to travel the world and race on Trek bicycles, yet they’re lousy at the rest of their social media.

About three hours later I received a reply from Oster.  Then a phone call from a very courteous gentleman.  After discussing the issue, Oster decided to send me a new blender.

Oster B

“Um, all I really need is a new plastic collar.”

“Well, we’d like the whole thing back so we can see if there’s any manufacturing adjustment we need to make.”

“Well sure, of course.”

 

About ten days later I received a brand new blender from Oster.  I packed up the damaged blender in the same box, and the next day  off it went.

And that is a great example of customer service and the efficacy of social media.  I recently gave a presentation on my services and issued this statement: “Your customers would much rather interact with your company through social media than through email or your website.  And the potential client wasn’t sure that was accurate.  And I’m here to say that it is.  If your business is on social media, you better make sure that it’s social and that you’re using it to take care of your customers.

And now I need to crush some ice.

Would you like Onions with That?

John, when is the best time for me to send my company’s weekly email?

That’s a great question.  And the answer is, when it’s ready.

I believe in great content.  And I’ve also been told that Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday night, and Sunday mornings in February are the best times for Facebook interaction.  And the best time to send out your company email is Thursday at 2:00 pm.  However, just because your timing is impeccable doesn’t mean you should cut corners on your content.  What exactly does that email say?  Is it carefully written, with an interesting subject line or are you sending out a bulk email just because it’s Thursday at 1:45 pm?

Before you hit send, think about how many emails you personally delete.  Maybe it’s the sender (Aldi has expired flour on sale!), maybe it’s the subject line (Bob, Senator Jones needs your $50) or maybe you just feel like making something disappear.  I’ve read that perhaps only 20% of all email is actually opened.  If you don’t want your email to end up on the virtual cutting room floor, think about a few things before you compose that note.

Does it have to be said?  If the answer is yes, make sure your email is clear and concise.  Get to the point on the opening line.

“Dear Bob.  We need your liver.”  You wouldn’t delete that one, would you?

“Now allow me to explain.  Veal Liver is delicious and a great source of high-quality protein.  And this week, Bistro Bistro is featuring our best customer-submitted liver recipes.  Submit your liver recipe and perhaps next week we’ll feature your liver.”

Does it include a call-to-action?  In other words: do this; buy that; call this number; eat at this restaurant.

“Dear Bob.  Your neighborhood bistro market has liver on sale!  So stop in (Stop In.  That’s the Call to Action) and pick up a couple of pounds today.  We’re here until 9:00 pm and while you’re waiting for our butchers to trim your liver, take a look at our award-winning produce department.  We’re featuring fava beans for only $3.99 a pound.  And fava beans make an excellent accompaniment to liver.”

Do you have a compelling subject line?  Because I’m going to decide whether I’ll delete or open based on your subject line.  If it’s the standard “Our latest news…” then you can bet I’m headed for the delete key.  So think about your subject line and write something compelling.  Get your recipients to take that next step.

“Our livers really quiver.”

And with that in mind, if you’re haphazard, you can produce emails that are akin to a  fried liver drenched in gravy.  It’s drenched because very little care was taken in the actual preparation.  Coat it in gravy and perhaps 20% of the public may order it.

liver-and-onions-with-spuds-and-gravy

Overcooked peas, instant mashed potatoes, and too much brown gravy. If this dish represented a paragraph in your company’s weekly email, would you want to read it?

 

 

Or you can take a moment to refine your company’s weekly emails, carefully read them three or four times looking for unnecessary words, frivolous sprigs of parsley, or too much breading.  Only use what is absolutely necessary to produce your statements, your emails, and your dinner.  And instead of drowning your liver in gravy, produce something your customers and clients should look forward to receiving, much like an appetizer at your favorite restaurant.

liver_onions_perse

Liver and Onions, courtesy Thomas Keller’s Per Se. If this dish represented a story, I would want every bite.

 

If you’re looking for clever, knowledgeable, and affordable help with your company’s social media, call me at (864) 616-7171.

John

“Is This Your Car?”

 

We’ve known for months that a new contractor was about to build in our neighborhood.  We were excited as well as a bit nervous.  New home construction comes with all sorts of variables and challenges for the existing neighbors.  There’s the headache of construction debris, the constant traffic, the noise, and the influx of the labor force. Yet we’re looking forward to a new set of neighbors.  Our quiet, unassuming neighborhood was about to go through a 180 degree about-face.  But we needed it.  We needed someone to come in and turn our neighborhood around, fix our pool, finish the clubhouse, and maintain the amenities.  So although the transition could be challenging, the end result would be worth it.  Or so we hope, because the jury’s still out.

The builder would also come into this relationship with challenges.  And as the tenant of the home across the street from their new model home, one would assume that the builder would want to start off on the right foot with the new neighbors.

So imagine my disappointment when the first words out of the mouth of the initial point person in this new relationship were: “Is this your car?”  Not good morning, not my name is…, not hello.

“Is this your car?”

“Yes.”

“Well we’re about to start building here, you need to move it.”

“And good morning to you, too.”

Sheesh!

Here’s the deal folks.  You only get one shot at a first impression.  One.  Who’s going to make that impression?  Not your CEO.  Not your CFO.  Not your Director of Human Resources.

I don’t care if you’re selling dreams, a new lifestyle, horsepower, bicycles, or an opportunity to retire in luxury.  You best make the right first impression or all of that goes right down the drain.

Now imagine if that first encounter with this builder came with a greeting:  “Good morning, I’m Robert Jones.  I’m head of construction for West Field Construction and tomorrow morning we’re going to start building across the street.  This is Julio, he’s our Construction Supervisor and here’s our contact information should you ever have any concerns.  And your name is?”

Your social media should be in sync with your company’s.  If you’re going to be on social media, no matter what you’re selling, make sure that your people are portraying the same image as their employer.  If you own a strip club, no one will be surprised to see photographs of pole dancers showing off their legacy.    For the rest of us, your people better have it buttoned up.   If you want to go out on the town with your co-workers on Friday night, go right ahead.

But DO NOT post anything on your social media about how you “Love hangin’ with the Wild Bunch at Company  XYZ!”

sams_hofbrau_girls_facebook_thumb_560x384

Gettin’ hammered before the slammer with our awesome HR Director!

 

Remember, your social media may be someone else’s first impression of your company.  And when a prospect interacts with your social media,  what will their first impression be?  Make sure it counts.  And if your team isn’t accurately representing their employer, perhaps it’s time for some counseling.

As for my builder,  there’s always the next project and another shot at making a better first impression.