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Glad You’re Here. Now Come On Over…

September 26, 2009 Leave a comment

There’s new stuff (and a lot of it) on the new site. Please come join me there… 🙂 The blog is way more active on the new site, and some great people regularly join the conversation. The new site is live at mandyvavrinak.com. The new blog entries are also there. Please come check it out… !

Also on the new site is more information about me and my professional services.

If you need:

> Marketing Strategy

> Writing, Editing or Design work

> Advertising or Media Planning, Production or Buying

> Social Media Consulting

> Branding

> Economic Development Marketing or Retail Recruitment

I’m your girl. Well… me and a team of talented folks… Give me a shout and let me know how I can help you 🙂

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5 Basic Communication Rules

August 25, 2009 3 comments

I dropped my oldest child, now a freshman, off at school to attend his first high school dance tonight. I’d already cautioned him about appropriate behaviour, being where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there, etc., etc., when I realized I was delivering the same admonitions my own parents slung at me before my first “real” dance way back when. I took a deep breath, looked him squarely in the eyes, and told him I knew that he knew what I expected from him, and I knew he’d come through. And to have a good time.

Now, I’m not a new-age parent, or parent-as-friend practitioner, either. We walk on the stricter side of life when it comes to expectations and consequences. I know that my son understands what my expectations are because I’ve clearly communicated them to him over the course of many, many interactions. I also know he understands the consequences if he violates my trust in him because he’s experienced those many times as well.

Clear communication is the foundation for successful interactions, be they in business, among friends and co-workers, or between parents and children. Do you…

  1. Clearly communicate what you want to have happen in a given situation? Be home by 9:30. Call us to set up a free appointment to evaluate your current materials. Order online.
  2. Clearly explain any options or choices? Think of menus in restaurants, options on cars, travel packages… so many things could be improved through clear communication of any choices the buyer may have. My kid can either have me drop him off and pick him up, or one of the parents I know and trust among a select group of his friends. Those are the options.
  3. Set expectations for timeframes and urgency? If the deal expires at MIDNIGHT, let me know! If your grass seed only performs optimally when planted in March, tell me. If coming home 2 minutes past 9:30 is still considered late, better let the kid know.
  4. Revisit the important points as needed? Did your kids eat their vegetables after only telling them to do so one time? Mine didn’t either. Sometimes you need to repeat yourself in your copy, in your verbal presentation or in your parenting.
  5. Deliver the promised results? If he’s late, he’s grounded. When we say it will ship today, it will ship today. It really is a free, no strings attached evaluation of your current marketing material.

If you clearly set expectations with your customers (or your kids), including noting the choices or options available, sharing any relevant urgency, reminding them of the important parts and delivering what you promised, your interactions will be much more fruitful.

Have any additional basic communication rules? Please share them in the comments.

Gravity is a Bad Filter

August 20, 2009 1 comment
image by eric skiff, flikr / used under creative commons 2.0 license

image by eric skiff, flikr / used under creative commons 2.0 license

Social media allows good ideas to quickly surface. It also allows – encourages, even – idiocy to surface & spread. Launch a bad idea in a meeting and it will hang out there for a moment and then fall to the floor, with the other chaff, due to lack of support.

No one asks you about it, talks to the boss about it, tells their buddies about it… You hear crickets.
In social media, sometimes it’s the bad ideas that get talked about the most. They are shared & discussed… The opposite of what happens in the real world.

In offline sharing, gravity works as a filter… Good stuff rises, usually, because it takes effort to support it. No one invests effort into things, people or ideas they think are doomed to failure.
Online, gravity isn’t a good filter for ideas… It’s nearly effortless to retweet a link to something bad with a (LOL) or (what were they thinking?) addition. Since online gravity doesn’t pull at us with the same weight, we are willing to fight it for the bad, or worse, the just mediocre ideas.

The danger of living too long in a low-gravity environment has been proven by astronauts… Muscles atrophy, bones weaken. Don’t let the weak online gravity atrophy your mental muscle or your support system.

Do You REALLY Need These Experts?

August 14, 2009 6 comments

Disclaimer >> I’m upset. This post will be a bit snarkier than usual. You’ve been warned. Few things upset me like lies, and here’s a whopper I found today:

I saw a message in my LinkedIn digest of activity about a Social Media seminar. It was posted in the Oklahoma Networking group, so I clicked to check it out…

LinkedIn Post

LinkedIn Post

Being the curious person that I am, I looked at the name and affiliation of the poster. Didn’t recognize the agency, and I’m familiar with most in the Tulsa/OKC area. So I clicked to check out her profile:

Profile

Profile

I am tired of all the spam out there. I know this post won’t change anything, but I also know that all of us doing nothing won’t work well, either. So I decided to keep digging…. I followed the tinyurl to this page:

landing page

landing page

Not content to just feast my eyes on the ugliness… I mean, really… it’s ugly. I clicked the Register link. Here’s what you see next:

Register

Register

Note that no where yet have we seen any promise of speakers/teachers we can check out, or actual content or any other thing that would validate this program. But hey… you say… it’s free, right? Not really. It is in the sense that you don’t pay anything for the seminar (except for the cost of that 90 minutes of my life). It’s NOT in the sense that the whole thing is a hook for their “Social Media University” (see tiny link to “University” at the bottom of the the landing page?) which costs $597.

university

university

The worst part is that a visit to the home site will tell you that this is a “we’ll do it for you” system. It’s not that they understand how to build connections any better than you do, it’s that they intend to set up an auto-profile, auto-manage your online presence and you’ll somehow make lots of money. They’ll only take another $297 per module (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) of your money. Up front, of course. Plus $597 per platform, per month. Guess who’s making all that money on social media?

the payoff

the payoff

The lead guy? Here’s his Twitter page as of today:

Twitter

Twitter

Um, yeah… expert connection wizard, to be sure. And the Shottiger Agency in New York? A Google search reveals exactly 1 (yes, uno) result… Lia Moores’s profile on LinkedIn. Created August 1st, 2009. Go ahead… try it… I know this kind of crap is everywhere out there, but I am so tired of being treated like I’m stupid. I love social media. I like learning about it, using it, sharing it, speaking about it, teaching others to use it and use it well… and set ups like the social media magic one are why everyone with knowledge in this space is afraid to be called an expert. If these are the “experts” I’ll happily stay a novice.

Some Days Are Better

Some days are better than others. It’s true for me, true for you and true for your customers. Some days really, really make you wish you’d stayed in bed. I had one of those yesterday. Won’t share all the details, but it culminated in a whole meatloaf I accidentally threw away (don’t ask) and an appointment at the Genius bar in the Apple store…. Except my appointment was made for the Woodland store (in Grand Rapids, MI) not the Woodland Hills store here in Tulsa, OK.
Nothing that happened qualified as a disaster or life-altering tragedy… Been through those and I *do* understand the difference.
What do you do on those days? When nothing is really wrong, but nothing is right, either? I think those days are the true test of our resolve to go forward, to be nice, to choose good. Even the selfish can respond unselfishly to a tragedy, but how we respond to the minor annoyances, set backs and irritations on a daily basis is indicitive of our true character. And, fundamental to the character of our business.
Would you want your clients to watch you deal with rude people in line at the movies? Or with the drycleaner counter staff who mixed up your clothes? Guess what… Potential ones ARE watching. Act accordingly.

Making Social Media Matter For Business (Pt. 2)

August 2, 2009 5 comments

I shared some of what I’ve learned about making social media work for business with the Social Media Mastermind Tulsa group last week and in this post. I promised to follow up with a blog post including some of the references I’ve found helpful, and here they are:

Five Social Media Wins for Your Small Business

The Art of Business Blog Writing

Fundamentals of Facebook

Social Networking for Business on Facebook: Rules You Should Know

Twitter 101 for Business

How People Share Content on the Web

Social Network Marketing: What Works

Study: Social Media Pays

Relevance: The Digital Fabric of our Lives

Engagement: Brands Who Are Most Engaged (PDF report, lots of info)

What does all this mean? It means that marketing hasn’t changed… it’s still connecting people to other people, ideas, products and services. Social media can provide a useful, powerful platform to initiate and cultivate those connections, but it’s not an automatic event. In other words, just being on Twitter or Facebook, etc., won’t create connections. Like nearly anything else worth doing, it requires planning, effort, thought and dedication to make the best use of social media tools to help market your business. Remember that social media is first and foremost, well, social. If what you’re doing (or about to do) would be rude at a party or other social gathering, it’s rude in the social media space. Would you go up to random people at a party and say, “Hey, buy my widget!”? Probably not… you’d probably start with names, small talk, maybe some “so, what do you do?” talk and then move on to “we should get together and talk about that XYZ problem your company is having… I think I might be able to help.” In other words, you’d get to know each other before you pushed messaging at each other.

Treating social media like mass marketing is a critical mistake many businesses new to this space make. People on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, blogs, and so on have chosen to hear what you have to say. Make what you say, and what you seek/hear/respond to worth the investment of their time. I say “hear” because one of the most powerful things we can do as humans is to really hear another’s thoughts, desires, wants and needs. Nothing validates us like someone really listening. The same is true online (remember, marketing is still marketing… it’s the tools that are different). Make use of Google alerts, advanced Twitter searches, third party apps (I could go on) to listen to the social media sphere…. what are people saying about not just your business, but your field? What are their pain points? What is keeping their current experience from being wonderful? Can you fix it/change it/offer them an alternative? Listening first, then engage, and you’ll be well on your way to social media success.

It’s Complacency That Breeds Contempt – For Your Audience

from photogirl7 on Flikr

from photogirl7 on Flikr

I’m preparing to speak to the Social Media Mastermind (Tulsa… @smmtulsa on Twitter) group tomorrow. It’s not going to be a large crowd nor a long speech or involved presentation. It’s material I’m comfortable with (see earlier post on Making Social Media Matter For Business). And yet I’m still a little nervous about tomorrow.
Why the butterflies? I speak often to groups and long ago worked past my formerly-paralyzing fear of public speaking… it’s not that. I am not out of my depth (I don’t think, anyway) or presenting on short notice… it’s not those things, either. After some reflection, I think the wee bits of panic have surfaced because I really admire the people I’ll be speaking to. I learn much from them every time we meet and I hope the content I share will be as valuable to them.
A few butterflies before a presentation is a good thing… it’s been said that familiarity breeds contempt but I think it’s complacency that breeds contempt for your audience. If you approach every speaking, writing, sharing opportunity with a healthy respect for your audience (perhaps they DO know as much as you do about some things!) you will prepare more thoroughly, speak or write more thoughtfully and succeed in what really matters… sharing quality content and creating connections. Real respect for your audience means you’ll be motivated to give them your best. And what better way to build your business or brand than by showcasing your best in front of an interested audience?
Though I think the butterflies are healthy… what do YOU do to quell them?