Monday, October 6, 2014

LinkedIn as a platform for engagement and brand awareness



By Mark Helfen

The new LinkedIn has moved way beyond being a repository for resumes.

Well, to be fair, it was always more than that. But recent news reports about the network have noted its success in helping, or even replacing traditional recruiters. Job seekers and recruiters looking to fill positions use LinkedIn to connect with potential employers, find employees, or get a reference into a company.

It’s still the premier site for business to business networking. But they have expanded their role, becoming a platform for engagement, and now, promoting your brand or company. If you come to Monday’s SVForum MarketingSIG, you will leave with a concrete understanding of you can use this for your business.

At the next SVForum MarketingSIG, Yumi Wilson will speak on the topic How to Leverage LinkedIn to Raise Brand Awareness. We will be meeting Monday, October 13 at Detati Digital Marketing, starting at 6:30. Ms. Wilson’s title at LinkedIn is Corporate Commutations Manager. Her other title is Associate Professor of Journalism at San Francisco State, which gives some flavor of her focus.

I first met Ms. Wilson about a year ago when she conducted a class for journalists in using LinkedIn to find sources for news stories. It might not be immediately obvious, but another way of looking at LinkedIn is a very large worldwide network of subject matter experts – and potentially the perfect place to hunt for that elusive news source. In her role she started the LinkedIn for Journalists group, which currently is at close to 70,000 members.

Her job has now expanded to helping corporate communications people raise awareness and promote their businesses and brands, and as has formed a new LinkedIn group – LinkedIn for Corporate Communications. Monday night’s talk will included concrete and specific ways to use the network gain from the expanded capabilities of the network.

One example is Pulse, a new feature that allows you to write and publish a blog on LinkedIn. Your writings are available to all 100 million or so LinkedIn members, are searchable both on and off LinkedIn, and can gain you followers in addition to your network connections.  Your writings are shared with all of your connections and followers. Originally the ability to publish on Pulse was restricted, but now any LinkedIn member can use the feature. It’s always hard to get a new blog noticed, but the business focus of LinkedIn might give you an edge in connecting and engaging with an audience.

Company pages are another feature that can be used to promote and raise awareness of your brand or business. The basic company page is free, but there are also paid services to promote your posts to selected audiences.

Wilson also spends time counseling people on “optimizing” their LinkedIn profile. A more optimized profile will appear higher in search rankings. LinkedIn’s search function has become quite sophisticated, and getting found among 100 million people is a challenge.

The session promises to cover specific features and how to best use them to promote either yourself or your brand.

 Sign up on  ---->

http://www.meetup.com/SVForum-MarketingSIG/events/202140692/




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Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

He can be reached at: mhelfen@wordpixel.com
Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/markhelfen
Facebook: facebook.com/mark.helfen
Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mark_helfen
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Social media is over. It's just a part of the broader digital transformation.



By Mark Helfen

Social media is over.

That doesn’t mean it’s unimportant, or not useful. But the digital transformation of businesses is happening so quickly that individual technologies like social media platforms are “embedded” in broader changes. Social media is but one piece of a larger digital revolution. It combines with technologies like mobile, big data analysis, geolocation, and an ever growing list of new ideas that together upend old business models.

How can companies respond to such radical change? One way is to create a single point that will focus strategic thinking on an effective evolution. Assigning a person the role of Chief Digital Officer, or CDO is a start.

At our August 11 SVForum Marketing and Social Media SIG meeting R “Ray” Wang will speak on the topic Demystifying Digital Transformation: Do we All Need a CDO. The meeting will be at our usual very nice location, Detati Communications, starting at 6:30.

Wang is Founder and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research. Founded in 2010, Constellation has 20 analysts serving 300 clients. They describe themselves as providing “disruptive technology research for market leaders,” helping their clients transform their business model in response to the avalanche of change. Wang promises to think “beyond the orthogonal” and to be intentionally provocative.

“The business model is changing so fast that a better product or better service is no longer enough,” said Wang. They may not even be required. The “sales funnel” is broken, the “customer journey” model is broken. Customers now hold all of the power.

Into the maelstrom of change, the CDO needs to light the way. It’s too big of a job for one person. Rather, the CDO needs to enable the rest of the organization to be digitally savvy.  He or she needs to be an evangelist, calling to action the range of CXOs, where X could be CEO, CIO, COO, CMO, etc…

There is no single background for the job. Wang’s view is that the person needs to combine quantitative skills with poetry - a balance of left and right brain. If the CDO succeeds, they could very well work them self out of a job in a few years as digital thinking becomes diffused throughout the business.

This number of C-level executives might seem far away from a small entrepreneurial startup. But Wang believes there will be opportunities for small companies to support the digital business model.

So come by next Monday, and get a view of the future of the digital business.


Sign up on Meetup:


http://www.meetup.com/SVForum-MarketingSIG/events/166170842/



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Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

He can be reached at: mhelfen@wordpixel.com
Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/markhelfen
Facebook: facebook.com/mark.helfen
Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mark_helfen

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

If you want to engage customers, you need to understand the profound difference between storytelling and presenting the facts..


By Mark Helfen

If you want passionate engagement with your current or future customers, you need to connect “south of their head” – where their feelings, wants, and concerns are. You can’t lead with company or product facts when customers are now in charge of the interaction.

Or so says Barry Feldman of Feldman Creative, who will speak on Kiss My Glass - How to Create Passionate Relationships between Your Brand & Buyers at the next SVForum Marketing and Social Media SIG. The meeting will be on Monday, July 14, 6:30 at our usual location, Detati Communications.

Feldman has a unique view on communicating, branding, and positioning. His experience includes 25 years as a copywriter, so while he develops strategy and assembles and leads teams, he is a “word guy,” and still does the writing. He has an eclectic view of marketing – for example he recently posted a pean to his new, old fashioned landline telephone.

He has seen and contended with the marketing power shift from businesses to customers over the last few years. Before the millennium businesses, and money, controlled the brand experience using advertising and direct mail. But now Google, web pages, and social media have moved power to the people. Before your customers ever contact you, they have done their research and formed an impression.

Feldman’s response to this change is to create passionate engagement – the kind that gets attention, gets customers to care enough interact, to share what they have learned, and eventually to buy from you.

You can’t do this with web pages spouting facts about your products. Instead you need talk to your customers interests - “south of their head” to where their feelings are, the things they really care about in their lives. An example is Red Bull – “caffeinated sugar water.” The company displays extreme sports in their marketing, rather than talking about flavor or pharmacology.

It took me a few minutes to get the “kiss my glass” meaning, but after an explanation, it became clear. Feldman has clients all over the world, some of which he has never met in person. Instead of a face-to-face relationship, they have a screen-to-screen relationship. Or maybe better, a passionate glass-to-glass connection.

Feldman has spent time studying “the art and science of engaging real people,” and he will talk about not only why you need to create engagement, but also provide how-to guidance to get your engagement strategy going. In his words, “there is a profound difference between storytelling and presenting the facts.”

He has examples of engaging marketing programs, and maybe a few that don’t work as well. If you have a favorite web site, or work for a company that you want Feldman to show and comment at the meeting please send him a note, or bring it to the meeting.

Feldman also seems to have an eye for personal branding (note the hat.) While that isn’t the topic of this meeting, it’s worth checking out a list he co-wrote titled The Complete A to Z Guide to Personal Branding.

So come by Monday night, and learn how to create passionate relationships with people you might never meet.


Be sure and sign up at the Marketing and Social Media Meetup site:



http://www.meetup.com/SVForum-MarketingSIG/events/185462452/?_af_eid=185462452&_af=event&a=uc1_vm


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Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

He can be reached at: mhelfen@wordpixel.com
Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/markhelfen
Facebook: facebook.com/mark.helfen
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mark_helfen

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Content may be King, but context is queen, and conversion is the ace



By Mark Helfen

Content is king has reached buzzword status – the “phrase du jour” for digital marketing. But if everyone is creating piles of content, how does yours become noticed and effective. Effective, meaning it results in prospects entering the sales pipeline and eventually becoming customers.

According to Niki Hall, speaker at the June 9 SVForum Marketing SIG, you can “amplify” the effectiveness of your content by engaging the key influencers in your market. If content is king, Hall will extend you thinking to “context is queen,”, and “conversion is the ace.” Context is where and how prospects encounter your content. Conversion means a customer responds to the content and moves forward in the buying process.

Her presentation is titled Playing the Influence Game – Powerful Tools to Win The Hearts of Your Customers. She will give tips and strategies to implement your engagement program, with the intention of increasing conversion. With 60 to 70 percent of customers researching on-line before contacting your company, your content strategy needs to work well.

The meeting will be at our new and very nice location, Detati Digital Marketing, starting at the usual time of 6:30.

Hall is Vice President Corporate Marketing at Polycom, Inc. Polycom makes those cool star shaped speakerphones you've probably seen in many meeting rooms. The company has expanded their product offering to a much broader range, supporting human collaboration over a dispersed geography with the idea you can “defy distance.” Her range of responsibilities is also quite broad, including brand and reputation management, content strategies, and all web marketing. Her responsibility for analyst relations reflects both her background, and the essential ingredient for multiplying the effectiveness of marketing content.

Hall will bring her own guest with her - Zeus Kerravala, principle and founder of ZK Research, to give an analyst point of view.

She created Polycom’s influencer program, which was effective enough to win this year’s Influencer of the Year Award from SiriousDecisions. The award notes how the program “can help an organization drive more valuable influencer relationships and outcomes by using unique approaches to target and interact with both traditional and non-traditional influencer types.” Exactly what she will be giving tips and tools on at our meeting.

The right influencer can help validate your product or your company’s value proposition, and amplify your message. Hall relates one case with Polycom where conversion reached 70 percent, much higher than the typical 10 percent.

“But not all influencers are created equal,” said Hall. She looks for three criteria to decide on which analysts or influencers to engage: Customer reach, share of voice, and ability to reach the financial decision makers on Wall Street.

At Monday’s presentation, Hall will talk about the difference between influencing and engaging the analysts that can help you multiply the reach of your message. Her talk will include tips and tools on finding and identifying the right influencers, how to best engage them, and how they can help your marketing effort. And for a small startup, some help in getting noticed.

Please sign up:


http://www.meetup.com/SVForum-MarketingSIG/events/175225062/




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Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

He can be reached at: mhelfen@wordpixel.com
Linkedin: hlinkedin.com/in/markhelfen
Facebook: facebook.com/mark.helfen
Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mark_helfen

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The old model of selling doesn’t actually benefit buyers, or sellers. Learn a new methodology at the May 12 Marketing SIG




By Mark Helfen

Sales prospects have changed. Access to information has increased. The web of social and information interconnection has exploded. Google and other internet services, along with continuous connectivity may have actually changed the way you brain works. It has certainly changed how much information is available to a potential customer without ever contacting your company.

Your sales methodology needs to change to stay effective. Or so says our speaker at the May Marketing and Social Media SIG meeting, Adam Metz. He is the founder and sales coach at The Social Concept, and executive coaching firm that helps his clients “acquire, monetize, and retain the elusive ‘social media’ customer.” His presentation is titled Saying Goodbye To Persuasive Selling: Giving Customers What They Really Want.

The meeting will be at our still new location, Detati Communications, May 12 at 6:30. Rumor has it that in addition to our regular bill of fare, you may be able to get a glass of wine.

According to Metz, the old solution selling concept is no longer effective.  “The customer calls sales when 80 to 90 percent of the sale is done.”

Intelligent selling, dialogue, storytelling – these are the paths to be effective. You need to engage customers early and be the vendor in “column A” during their selection.

“Even technology buyers don’t like to read boring stuff,” says Metz. The shift is to selling that is cool, fun, and funny.

Research over the last 10 years has shown that the more traditional sales strategies don’t actually benefit buyers or sellers. In the social media age, you need to get customers to “that aha moment,” by being the first to engage, early in the buying cycle. The sales influencers are 80 percent sales, 10 percent marketing, and only 5 percent product – obviously a sales centered view of an effective technology business.

The route to this engagement is social media, using “friendly” marketing that doesn’t feel like you’re selling. Or as Metz describes it, “non-persuasive selling.”

In addition to direct selling, channel sales are a focus of his consulting. He described managing channel sales as the “funnest job ever.” Indirect channel sales are hard for a new startup until there has been some demand and track record created, but then it’s another path for customer engagement.

Be sure and sign up at the Marketing and Social Media Meetup site:



http://www.meetup.com/SVForum-MarketingSIG/events/165764002/



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Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

He can be reached at: mhelfen()wordpixel.com
Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/markhelfen
Facebook: facebook.com/mark.helfen
Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mark_helfen

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