Monday, April 7, 2014

With social media, your trade and business secrets can zip around the planet instantly. As usual, the technology is outpacing the law.



By Mark Helfen


Protecting your business’ valuable trade secrets may be more difficult than you think. In a social media world, there are lots of new ways for secrets to be quickly and widely shared, and valuable new information to be created that never existed before.

As usual, the technology is moving faster than the law can keep up.

At next week’s SVForum Marketing and Social Media SIG meeting, Paul Cowie will be speaking on the topic Not So Fast! Employment, Ownership & Privacy Concerns When Using Social Media. Our meeting will be Monday, April 14 at our very nice new location, Detati Communications.

Cowie is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group at the firm Sheppard Mullin, in their Palo Alto office. His focus is on helping companies protect their valuable data in a world where LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social venues allow information to be widely and instantly shared, sometimes without considering their value and importance to the company.

What kind of valuable information? Maybe your customer list. Or possibly your pipeline of current prospects and (hopefully) future customers. Maybe the features being planned for you next release. Or a planned price change. As your employees form connections to the broader world using LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Twitter, who owns the connections, and how do you control what information gets shared? To further complicate the situation, more and more social network communication is done with mobile devices owned by the employee.

As an example of where the law is today, Cowie writes about a recent court decision. The company involved had encouraged employees to connect with customers.  “In the first trial of its kind, the court in Eagle v. Morgan held that absent a social media policy, a LinkedIn profile - and all of its connections – belonged to the individual and not the employer.”  You can read the article here.

If you’ve been in the social media and marketing world for a while, have probably heard stories of companies losing valuable connections and information when an employee leaves a company, for example taking all of their Twitter followers with them. Cowie’s view is that you need to think about these problems in advance.

A company would be “crazy” to not protect their technology with patents, said Cowie.  But trade secret information, customer lists, etc... are also valuable. The law isn’t very clear here, and you might be surprised by how little control you have over what employees do with their personal social network. But the first step is a policy, in advance of when you need it.

Another place where employee and employer interests collide are devices like cell phones or pad computers. BYOD, or bring your own device, is popular with both employers and employees. But if you build a list of contacts on your personal phone and then leave the company, who owns the list?

When I interviewed Cowie, I asked who owned the cell phone he was talking on. It was his personal phone, though it can be erased by his law firm if it was lost, or presumably if he left the firm. He predicted that “black phones” the emerging products that are supposedly secure from interception, will be the phones of choice for executives in the future, particularly those that travel outside the U.S. 

So do you need an attorney sitting in on your marketing planning sessions with your social media team? Companies need to protect their assets, but doing what’s practical may outweigh legal concerns. But the first step is a policy. So come by Monday night, and begin to learn how to balance risk and reward in the social marketing environment.

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




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

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

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

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

There's a surplus of content, and a deficit of attention...


By Mark Helfen



The world is filled with content. In fact, it’s overfilled, overflowing. Despite this, content is still king.

Or so says Michael Brito. If you want to connect with your market, prospects, or customers you need to break through this deluge of content. At next Monday’s SVForum MarketingSIG meeting, Brito will help you start the process of creating content that engages and conquers the clutter.

We will meet next Monday, February 10 at our usual time and place – the Citrix Startup Accelerator, at 6:30.

Brito is Group Director of Media and Engagement at WCG, an integrated media company. His business includes what he described as “the full spectrum” of customer engagement – PR, social media, web development, paid advertising, and web analytics. Most relevant to his upcoming presentation is his focus on helping his clients with developing a more effective content strategy.

He lists HP and Siemens as examples of his large business clients. He also works with small startups, such as Inrix, a Seattle company that helps deliver traffic information (as in road traffic) to various users.

Brito is the author of Brand, The Next Media Company: How a Social Business Strategy Enables Better Content, Smarter Marketing, and Deeper Customer Relationships. He will bring a few copies of the book to the meeting to give away.

Despite the fact that the world is overfilled with content of all kinds, “content is still king” when it comes to engaging your market. The presentation talk about how to overcome the paradox – a flood of content, yet content is still the best way to reach your customers and prospects.

“Brands need to think like publishers,” with a content mindset and strategy to get attention, whether written, audio, video or other. If you are a publisher then content is your business, and you need to have an operational plan to generate, distribute, and maybe even get paid for your content. In other words, creating content is not a special, one-off task, but a daily part of your marketing operations.

Your brand is already a media company, even if you don’t recognize it yet.

Brito is a fan of developing an operational strategy for content development and publication. It requires an understanding of the “busyiness” of people in your target market. Social media isn’t free, and requires human thinking and time (and money.) He promises a meeting filled with actionable information – “no fluff.” Attendees will leave with a 5-step approach to operationalize their content strategy.

“There is so much going on in the world. There is a constants surplus of content, and an attention deficit.” There are automated tools that can help create content, and measure the results, but strategic thinking is needed. Sometimes this might be changing your organization to reflect the geographic requirements for different kinds of content. Another approach might be developing an editorial boards. By building your content operation, and making content generation a regular part of your marketing operation, you can generate and distribute compelling content that engages your market every day.

So come by Monday, and turn your brand into a media company.

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






http://www.meetup.com/SVForum-MarketingSIG/events/161560502/



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

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

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Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Years reset for Your Marketing Program


By Mark Helfen

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The start of the year is a good time to re-think your marketing. From Linda Popky’s view, it’s time to start with the marketing basics. At next Monday’s meeting, she will provide a framework to help organize your thinking, prioritize your time and money, and maybe help you find things you can stop doing that use up resources but don’t benefit your program. The presentation is titled Setting the Right Coordinates: 7 Ways to Jumpstart Your Marketing in 2014.

The meeting will start 6:30 Monday, January 13, at the Citrix Startup Accelerator, our usual time and place. Along with our usual snacks.

Popky is the founder and president of Leverage2Market Associates, Inc., a strategic marketing company that helps organizations transform their business through marketing. Her consulting clientele includes companies sized from individual entrepreneurs to large Fortune 100 enterprises.

She was a speaker at an earlier MarketingSIG, focused on your personal career development. At that meeting, she talked about her first book, Marketing Your Career: Positioning, Packaging and Promoting Yourself for Success.

But marketing programs that are successful, efficient, and effective are the core of her consulting practice. Most of her focus is on business-to-business sales. For that, she goes back to the basics, referencing markets from the beginning of civilization. The basics of marketing “haven’t changed in thousands of years. You are a farmer with too much milk, someone else has too many eggs, how do you exchange. The definition of market is a place of exchange.” 

Understanding your customers, the unique benefits of your products, how customers will value it, how to price it, and how it will reach your customers hands all need a clear understanding. The key factors need to be identified, and must be measurable to understand if you have hit the target. Her measurement strategy is focused on “external metrics,” things that “move the needle” in ways that advance your business. Like maybe more sales, or increased profit.

Interestingly, the words “social media” weren’t mentioned until I brought them up.

“Just about everyone needs that, but you don’t start there.” Social media is a tactic, based on your strategy. She sees the intense focus on social something like buying furniture for your new house before construction has started.

At Monday’s meeting, she will help you with a 7 point list to start setting the right goals, asking the right questions, and launching your “trajectory” for the coming year. A hint to her viewpoint is the working title of her next book, Stop Marketing Madness: Achieve Better Results with Less Marketing. Addition by subtraction. Not only what to do, but what you can take out and not do, to move the needle.

So come by Monday, and reset your thinking for the new year. Perhaps not the full map – that’s your job. But maybe the starting and end points.

“Start with the end, and then understand what you need to get there. A different way of approaching marketing.”



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






http://www.meetup.com/SVForum-MarketingSIG/events/155837782/


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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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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Marketing 2014 – what are your looming challenges?


By Mark Helfen

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And now for something completely different…..

Most months, the SVForum Marketing and Social Media SIG has a knowledgeable speaker who gives a presentation on an important marketing topic.

This month you - the audience - will be the “speaker.”

In an abbreviated unconference style, the group will list the marketing issues they will face over the next year. We will break up into groups, and brainstorm ideas. Then see what ideas seem to come up most often. Finally, we can crowdsource some possible solutions from the many years and wide expertise of the marketing experts in the room. In a single evening I think we will just scratch the surface, but the discussion can continue on the MarketingSIG LinkedIn group over the next few weeks.

The meeting will be Monday, December 9, at our usual time and place. The Citrix Startup Accelerator, starting at 6:30.

The process will be managed by Kevin Cox, Vice President of Marketing, Yeti Data. He is an expert in digital marketing, awarded BtoB Magazine Top Digital Marketers 2012 & 2011, with 17 years international marketing experience.

The real list will be generated at the meeting. But to give people a few ideas to start their brains working, I polled the MarketingSIG co-chairs for their lists. Here, in no particular order, are some ideas to begin your thinking. I have taken the liberty of summarizing and paraphrasing the contributions, so I am to blame for any errors.

- Marketing technology requires more and more IT budget – possibly exceeding other IT spending. How will Marketing justify, acquire, and manage the systems, software or services used.

-  Social listening and sentiment measurement will become increasingly important. What are the best tools

- People are becoming ever more sensitized to privacy issues and how their data is stored and used. How can marketing programs both be effective and manage customer expectations.

- The rules for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keep changing. How to keep up.

= Is Facebook over? Do you need a presence on Google+? Is Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest the future or social marketing. What are the social media tools that will be useful for your marketing efforts in 2014.

- Marketing budgets are always tight. How to decide how to allocate your resources. How can you measure ROI for everything you do.

- Where should a new company start.

= Mobile continues to grow (or maybe explode.) News reports this last week talked about how much purchasing was done using mobile devices before Thanksgiving dinner was even over. How can your marketing program take advantage of mobile technology.

- Keeping up is a challenge – more technology, more social media channels, more options. Marketing is becoming more and more specialized. How can a marketing professional keep up. How broad versus deep should your expertise be.

- Communities are critical to success. How can you build communities, both for yourself, and for your customer base.


This is just a short list. Hopefully this will give you a place to start, to bring your own ideas to next Monday’s meeting.

And a big THANKS to the co-chairs for their help.

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




http://www.meetup.com/SVForum-MarketingSIG/events/152073582/

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

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

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You can pull a “PR-180,” engage highly influential people, and energize your content marketing strategy


By Mark Helfen

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What if you could engage with well-known and influential “thought leaders,” and in the process both develop a relationship and increase the credibility of your content production efforts. David Spark has a way. By pulling a “PR-180,” you can engage influencers, establish a relationship, and increase the reach and influence of your blog.

Spark is founder of Spark Media Solutions, a content production company. He describes himself as a “brand journalist,” and creates content of all kinds – video, written, podcasts, and more. He is about to produce his first e-book. His objective is building an editorial brand for his clients. Spark will be speaking on the topic Building Influencer Relations through Content at our next SVForum Marketing and Social Media meeting at 6:30 on Monday, November 11 at the Citrix Startup Accelerator, our usual time and location.

From Sparks perspective, content is an absolute requirement – see his post here. But attracting people who are well known influencers, who you might “never dream” could help you, increases your influence. In other words, you can create interesting content, increase its value, and develop relationships all at the same time.

The normal path is to contact the PR or media relations department at the company the influencer works for, and hope for an eventual interview. But Spark is more closely aligned to the Woody Allen quote – “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” So his interview strategy is to just show up. At trade shows, conferences, or wherever the person he wants to connect with will be found.

Of course, it not quite so simple. You need to be totally prepared. His example is a video interview, where you need to be able to have your equipment on and operating within 10 seconds, to show professionalism and competence.

An interview with an influencer posted on your blog or YouTube channel brings three values: It’s a great reason for engagement with the influencer; the credibility of your content goes up with the implied endorsement of the person being interviewed; and you can follow up and build a professional relationship.

I asked Sparks if this strategy is easily copied. Everyone does it and eventually the idea wears out its welcome. His reply was that after 7 years, “he’s still waiting for direct competition.”

Not everyone feels that they can walk up to someone they don’t know and ask to interview them.

“The first time is really uncomfortable,” he said. But you keep trying, and it gets easier. You learn to overcome what he refers to as the “the last three feet” problem approaching people at a trade show or meeting. You can also practice in a safe environment, with friends or within your own business.

So you can editorial brand value with the help of key influencers. Learn how next Monday night.



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




http://www.meetup.com/SVForum-MarketingSIG/events/146287112/



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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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