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Posts Tagged ‘business basics’

eddie mush

Hi, my name is John…and, a long time ago, I was a degenerate gambler.

Why do I tell this to the world…or, more accurately, the four people who read my blog?

Simple. Every time a “progressive” talks about “investing” my tax dollars, I get flashbacks to a time I’d rather forget. Hard core gamblers live in a fantasy land. “Make no mistake”, they often have fun, and, unless they’re “Eddie Mush” from “A Bronx Tale”, they even win occasionally; but they brainwash themselves into thinking that winning could be the norm. They have “hope” that their next “run” will be a big one and they “believe” that, eventually, their bad luck will “change”. Consequently, they “chase” additional “revenue” by spending (and losing) more and more. They borrow from their checking accounts. They borrow from their friends. They borrow from their credit cards and credit lines. They take out “markers” (casino loans) at the cage. And they lie…a lot…to themselves and others…all in a desperate attempt to prolong their fantasy. Believe me, this never ends well.

Over the past several years, the President and his Party have been “doubling down on dumb” by “chasing” a utopian dream that, like gambling, has no chance of “winning the future” in the real world. Even as we approach $17 trillion in debt, their “solution” is always to “invest” more of our tax dollars in failed policies.

Why do they continue to do this?

Simply put, we let them. They never get “shut off” by the voters or the banks. They raise taxes and fees, pile on costly new regulations and tell their friends at the Fed to print more money. Fearing no electoral consequences, they refuse to pass a budget so they can raise their debt ceiling to infinity. They say things that “sound nice” to various constituencies and, consequently, they keep getting elected by their “enablers”. When degenerate gamblers hit rock bottom, (often when they completely run out of money and credit), they have to stop gambling. There is simply no other option…other than suicide. If they don’t pay their debts, there are serious outcomes. Even their “enablers”–friends, family, banks, loan sharks and casinos–stop lending eventually. Folks, we are the “enablers” of our politicians.

It’s time for an intervention.

We need to shut them off before they destroy all of us. “We The People” are the bank. The “borrowers” have shown no willingness or ability to pay us back. Let’s close down their markers permanently because they are gambling not only with our money but with our children’s and grandchildren’s money. That’s wrong, but it’s our fault for letting it happen. I was fortunate enough to wake up from my dream and turn my life around. It’s never too late to start over. Let’s admit we have a problem, then stop the bleeding and embrace some “change” that actually makes sense for once. Vote the political equivalents of “Eddie Mush” out of office in 2014 and beyond.

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For decades, companies have mailed “thank you cards” to their clients and colleagues. Expressing gratitude is both a nice thing to do and a sound business practice. In fact, I still recommend this traditional tactic in certain circumstances. However, many  “greener”, cheaper, less time consuming and more modern versions of the Hallmark approach are now available online.

Let’s look at Twitter as an example. Assuming you’ve joined the “great cocktail party” called social media and opened a free Twitter account, there are four basic “thank you” tools immediately at your disposal. (These tools also serve other purposes which I will address at another time.)

The “Retweet” (RT)

(e.g. RT @jslconsulting)

Nothing says “I hear you” quite like the retweet. When someone posts a comment or link that you like, sharing it with your followers is a compliment. The RT is a great way to say “I agree with you…and thanks for providing good content” to a fellow tweeter. I assure you that RTs are appreciated, remembered and often returned.

#FollowFriday (#FF)

(e.g. #FF @ConsultJohn)

Without question, my favorite day to tweet is Friday. The # symbol is called a “hashtag” and it is a method of categorizing Twitter content. When people mention your Twitter handle after typing #FF, they are proclaiming to the world that you are a good “tweet” to follow. They are thanking you for your content and engagement as well as recommending you to their “friends”. Many “real world” business relationships and friendships have developed because of #FF “shout outs”!

Direct Messages (DMs)

RTs and #FFs are viewable in the public “tweet stream”. For a private and more personal approach, you can send a quick note to individual tweeters. DMs are essentially Twitter’s email. Recognizing someone’s efforts is always a good thing, but I would caution you not to promote yourself in the process. (e.g. Don’t “pimp your blog” in the guise of gratitude.) I would also remind you that if someone has 30,000 followers, they may have a backlog of DMs to review. Still, when used properly, kind DMs are generally well received.

Lists

A relatively new tool provides users with the capacity to organize, and share with the public, categories of tweeters. The Twitter “list” feature allows your current and prospective followers to quickly scan areas of mutual interest and see who you recommend in any given niche. Listing individuals by category is most often considered a compliment and reason for continued engagement.

RTs, #FFs, DMs and Lists can be deployed together to bolster your brand and build a following. Use them, (at least in part), to show your gratitude, nurture relationships and spread “good karma” on Twitter.

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Hypothetically speaking…

If the real Jesus Christ were logged on to Twitter today, what would he “tweet” about?  Would you follow him? Would he follow back?  Would he engage or just “broadcast”? Clearly, nobody knows for sure, but it might be fun to speculate.

Heresy?

I know I’m on dangerous ground, so let me preface this by saying that there are no heretical intentions here. I am a believer who tries to live by “The Golden Rule”. My mind simply works in strange ways, and I just thought this particular twist might capture more interest than a piece on “Best Practices for using Twitter Hashtags”. I don’t speak for Jesus Christ and he did not approve this message. My goal here is to inspire creative thinking about social media and make a few people smile in the process. I may go straight to hell for many other reasons, but this post will not be one of them!

Any social media “gurus” interested in this job?

OK, with eternal damnation (temporarily) averted, let’s think together. Assume that Jesus Christ, or “@therealJC”, has decided to open a Twitter account (despite being all-knowing and therefore having no need to do so). What would his strategy be? Who would he target? What would he say? Would he use Tweetdeck to categorize his followers? How would he measure the ROI, or results of his campaign? Again, we can’t possibly know, but I challenge all the social media “gurus” out there to think about how they would help @therealJC grow a following and spread his positive message.

I don’t claim to be a “guru”, so I have no intention of creating a campaign in this post, but I do have some thoughts to share.

I BELIEVE that @therealJC would:

  • “get” the general concept of social media
  • see the benefit of  “going viral”
  • love the testimonials and retweets
  • use many “best practices” to grow his following
  • take the time to engage followers individually
  • inject some humor and personality into the conversation
  • retweet good quotes and links to positive articles and videos
  • follow people who offer “value” and are “real”
  • give lots of #FF “shout outs” to good people and non profits
  • share GREAT CONTENT!

I BELIEVE that @therealJC would NOT:

  • @spam
  • just preach or “broadcast”
  • only talk about Himself (or his Dad)
  • Link to the Bible on every “tweet”
  • pay to get 15,000 new followers
  • purchase teeth whitening products
  • keep following anyone who “auto-DMs” Him
  • tweet excessively
  • follow any politicians (none of them “get it” yet)
  • be negative (He might DM the spammers and false prophets though!)

So what might some of Jesus Christ’s tweets look like?

(forgive me Father, for I may be about to sin)

therealJC Just talked with @DAD. We’re cool now. I saw the big picture and got over the tough assignment. #forgiveness

therealJC @porngal272  FYI…you’re beautiful, but no need for you or anyone else to show me hot pix…nothing I haven’t seen or created before.

therealJC @susanboyle You go girl!

therealJC I still cry every time I watch “Brian’s Song”…how about you? Great movie!

therealJC Love you all, but @chrisbrogan is really a great tweeter! #socialmedia

therealJC #FF shout outs to every community group that helps kids at risk! You know where its @!

therealJC RT @DAD “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”

therealJC @lazarus You’re welcome. Nice comeback! #gratitude

therealJC RT@Job “Patience is a virtue!”

therealJC @Judas @Pontius @orneryatheist All is forgiven.

therealJC Went to a party and they ran out of just about everything. Problem was solved…no harm done…good time had by all. Who needs a caterer? LOL!

therealJC Do you treat others as you would like to be treated? #goldenrule

therealJC @Job — recommend you connect with @CubsFan and share. #sympathy

therealJC Look past the teeth and $– @tonyrobbins makes some great points!

therealJC Want inspiration? Check out http//www.thebible.com (New Testament section is an easier read!)

therealJC Who is @ashtonkutcher and why is everyone following him?

therealJC about to experience a fantastic meal with the perfect wine pairing– “heavenly” –tweet you later! PEACE! #food #wine #happiness

Summary/Apology/Last chance for Redemption

So, having not yet been struck by lightning and not wanting to overtweet on behalf of @therealJC, I end with this. I don’t presume to know what Jesus Christ would tweet. I wanted to use an unconventional method to trigger some creative thinking. If anyone is offended, I apologize. But this blog post was more about #comedy #Twitter #Web2.0 and #socialmedia than #religion.

Sixteen years of Catholic school down the drain. I hope it was worth it. If you read this, feel free to comment…and pray for my soul!



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Ah, the cry of the Twitter newbie! I’ve heard it several times now. At first, I just smiled and offered some basic tips; but when I thought about it for a while, I saw some deeper relevance.

Where are you going? That’s a really important question to ask yourself or your company before you start “tweeting”.

Are you on Twitter just to see how it works? Are you just scouting the competition? Are you hyping a new product or service? Are you running for office or conducting personal promotion? Do you want to focus on events only? Do you have a target audience in mind? Is your company special in any way? How do you want your “brand” to be perceived? Are you willing to “engage” or are you just planning to “broadcast”. (I don’t recommend the latter, by the way.) What “value” do you bring to the table?

In short, why are you doing this at all? You must be able to answer that question with some degree of specificity or you will waste precious time and resources on a long, winding road to nowhere.

Social media is revolutionizing the marketing business. I believe it’s one of the greatest tools currently available for both B2B and B2C communications. But without strategic planning and careful tactical implementation, “Web 2.0” is far from a panacea. In fact, you can do a lot of damage to your company or brand if you don’t use this powerful medium correctly.

So whether you’re thinking of using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or any of the others, take the time to first ask yourself what exactly you’re trying to accomplish and why it would benefit your target audience. Focusing on the “what?” and “why?” will help you choose the “how?”. It will limit the parameters of your social media policy, prevent costly mistakes and increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of your campaign.

Like kids who always ask “why?”, Twitter newbies sometimes say the “darnedest” (and, however unwittingly, “profoundest”) things!

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I have met with many business owners over the years, and one of the most important questions I’ve asked them is: Who is your target audience? Unfortunately, the answer I have most often received is: “Whoever will buy my stuff!” This response is both insufficient and dangerous.

Targeting is a crucial element to any advertising, marketing, PR or HR campaign…especially in difficult economic times, when resources are limited. If they are to survive, companies need to focus expenditures on the right prospects in the right areas. They must identify need, “pain” and price points. They must analyze margins on specific goods and services and gear their communications toward attracting the customers to these profitable items. In short, they must do their homework.

Targeting is both art and science, and effective targeting requires research and effort. It’s not enough to hang a shingle and hope people will come to the shop. It’s not enough to build a web site and wait for orders. Well before the “grand opening” (preferably), businesses must KNOW who their ideal customers are, why these individuals need their products or services, why they are different or better than the competition and how they plan to reach and influence key prospects over time.

Targeting, repetition and exposure are the keys to great communications and recruiting campaigns. If a business fails to perform its due diligence on the targeting component, the entire equation is skewed–this will lead to wasted time, energy and resources…and eventually to another vacant storefront or unvisited web site!

Most start-ups fail. Data varies, but the numbers generally exceed 80% within the first three to five years of operation. Why does this pattern hold true in good times and bad? Business owners tend to know their own product or service, but generally have NO MARKETING EXPERTISE. And when they find out what business consultants or agencies charge, they balk immediately and choose to skip the most important meetings they will ever have.

Strategy must precede tactics. Do your homework. Get some help from experts if you know how to make a pizza but have never written a business plan. Identify your real target audience and have a well researched, cost effective strategy to reach them in a way that is consistent, memorable and persuasive.

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Many business clients want to “try things out” in an attempt to grow their companies. I hear things like:

“Let’s run an ad for a month and see what happens.”
“What if I did a video–would that be a good idea?”
“What do you think of  ‘Constant Contact’?”
“Should I join BNI?”
“I need better web site content–can you write something up for me?”
“Should I pay for search engine optimization?”
“How about Facebook–could I get some business there?”

While I certainly can help with specific tactics, and will charge for my time, I prefer to give my clients a chance to succeed so they will recommend me to their friends! That’s why I provide a complimentary initial consultation and a strategic analysis of current communications. I then formalize this “back to basics” approach with a framework called “B.R.AC.E.”, which stands for Budgeting, Research, Action Plan, Communication and Evaluation. Absent this type of exercise, clients tend to waste money on poorly targeted initiatives that are difficult to quantify.

How much money have you budgeted for external communications?

What about staff?

Are you reaching and engaging the right people (and how do you know)?

Do you make a compelling argument for using your business?

What are your short and long term goals and objectives?

What’s your plan and how will you decide if it is working?

A cost effective communications plan is well researched, repeatable, flexible and measurable. And, particularly in difficult times, it is absolutely essential.

Using “B.R.A.C.E.” as a foundation will simultaneously reduce your costs and increase your market share.

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In a difficult economy, it’s important for companies to take the time to reassess their business strategies. Time and time again, I have encountered sole proprietors (and even some CEO’s!) who rush to tactical measures before having any good reasons to do so. The inevitable result is a complete waste of time, effort and resources.

“I need to get up on Facebook and Twitter.”
“We need to fix and optimize our web site.”
“I want to run a TV ad for a week or two to see if it works.”

The list could go on indefinitely, and all these tools could be effective–but STOP BEFORE YOU SPEND and ask yourself some basic questions:

  1. Why should anyone do business with me?
  2. How is my company different or better than the competition?
  3. What is my target market?
  4. Who are my current customers?
  5. Why do these customers stay with me?
  6. What kind of human and financial resources do I have at my disposal?

Start with these as an exercise. You would be amazed at the number of business owners who simply cannot answer “101” level questions.

Without value propositions, a solid business plan and a marketing strategy based on sound research, all the tactics and tools in the world will not solve your problems. Get back to basics first. If you don’t, you are building a house on a foundation of sand.

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