Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Your Social Marketing Reflects Your Leadership

Have you ever considered how your social marketing may be a reflection of your leadership?  For example,  do you add people to your email list without asking permission? By taking this action what does it truly say about your leadership as well as your  business ethics?

Each day I must unsubscribe or mark as spam dozens of emails.  Many of these come from so called “experts” on sales, marketing, leadership and even business ethics. I guess they believe it is okay to add my name to their email lists.

Permission based marketing still exists and should be the best practice for professionals engaged in social selling or social marketing.  However given the increase in social selling, it appears permission based marketing has taken a bad seat to sales pitches.

When professionals regardless of their role ignore common courtesy and respect, this is a reflection of their leadership skills. Their actions only reaffirm my belief not to purchase from them or make any recommendations.

Additionally when SMB owners and sales professionals fail to identify identify their target audience, they may unintentionally send emails to recipients who would never, ever buy from them. I belong to several communities where we share similar solutions. Members on one community never ever add me to their email lists without permission and yet members in another community do so all the time.

When I email those members who add me without permission, I usually receive a contrite reply of “sorry for the inconvenience.”  No, they really aren’t all that sorry.

Leadership is the ability to secure the desired results using clearly articulated positive core values. This means no social marketing or social selling spamming and no sales pitches.

Yes any SMB owner or sales professional wants to increase sales and therefore hopefully profits. However, it is imperative that all behaviors reflect consistent and outstanding leadership otherwise the goal to increase sales will be much harder to achieve.

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Realtors Are You Missing This Marketing Platform?

Social media is a marketing platform used by many especially those selling real estate. Quite a few realtors have a significant presence on Facebook where they showcase their listings. Yet these same real estate agents ignore this other significant marketing platform which truly doesn’t make sense.



First for clarity, a marketing platform is essentially a very detailed marketing plan that includes:

  • Ideal customer (demographics and psychographics)
  • Your messaging
  • How you will reach your ideal customer or customers
  • Monitoring of the results through key performance indicators (KPI)

Second, many firms actually have identified more than one marketing platform within their overall strategic plan because of the rise of social media.

Third the social media marketing channel that is being missed or ignored is LinkedIn. Possibly the reason for this oversight is because LinkedIn is considered for those selling or working in B2B industries.  Yet upon review of the ideal customer (potential listing client or buying client), probably he or she is directly or indirectly connected to B2B industries.

As someone who has extensively networked locally to nationally, I consistently discover the majority of real estate agents with no LinkedIn presence or a poorly written LinkedIn profile. Maybe I am just different, but the first action I take after meeting someone is check to see if they have a LinkedIn profile. I am going to make a huge presumption here that forward thinking salespeople take a similar action.

If people buy from people they know and trust, then why ignore this free marketing opportunity?

Each day there are numerous free webinars to free articles on:

  • The value of LinkedIn
  • Specific prospecting strategies on LinkedIn
  • How to write an engaging LinkedIn profile

By investing 20 minutes a day within this marketing platform, you may quickly discover incredible prospecting (think sales leads) as well as build your own credibility and trust.  The sharing of content, writing quick comments and reaching out to others all have an impact on how to increase sales.

With marketing budgets being limited for most real estate agents who are independent contractors, then ignoring any solid free marketing is foolish especially when potential buyers and sellers are potentially active within this marketing platform.

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The Forgotten Word in Social Media

Social media has taken front and center stage in the B2B marketplace.  Yet as another report, the 2016 State of Social Business,  has revealed this one word – engagement – appears to be necessary in the digital marketing evolution. Yet from my experience in working with B2B salespeople and SMB owners this word is dramatically missing.

social-mediaHow many times do you receive an invite from LinkedIn and just accept it?  Do you make an effort to go beyond the initial acceptance to physically speak with that new LinkedIn connection?

Or what about those who like, share or comment on your LinkedIn Pulse posting to your blog content?  Again, what efforts do you make to engage in further conversations with these individuals?

Then there is the constant stream on Twitter where people maybe retweeting your posts.  Do you ever thank them or acknowledge their efforts?

How to engage people should be part of this social media integration.  People buy from people they know and trust.  People can’t know you until you authentically engage with them.  As the old expression goes, reach out and touch someone.

In the sales world, the quick fix has always been present.  Technology has opened up this world of social media and coined a new term social selling.  Old habits are hard to break and social selling for many translates into social sales pitches.

From this report, the shift is to integrator which requires considerable strategic thinking.  To be efficient and effective from a strategic perspective requires a strategic plan.  Unfortunately, many SMB owners have never invested in creating a comprehensive strategic plan.  Instead they believe a marketing plan is all they need.  BIG MISTAKE!

Additionally, building deeper relationships through engagement is the held as the second of five top external objectives by 53% of those who responded. Internally, closing the people and process gaps in this social business evolution is critical with the development of new skills leading these internal objectives.

Engagement is the bridge between marketing and selling regardless of the platform.  Within social business, the digital marketing trend will return back to the buyer and his or her experience.

Remember: No one wants to be sold be it face to face; tweets, LinkedIn Pulse Postings or updates, podcasts or blogs.

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Where Realtors Are Missing Sales Opportunities – Part 2

The world of sales is changing and this includes the real estate market. Finding new sales opportunities in an evolving marketing requires thinking and doing things differently.



Currently the majority of business models within the residential real estate market is a 50/50 split of the commission paid by the owner of the home being sold. One realtor lists a home and usually a realtor from another firm sells the home.

Even though many realtors only want to list a home because this is the way they have done it for years, they are missing sales opportunities when the home does not sell.  Depending upon the time involved, there could be tens to hundreds of hours wasted when the home fails to sell.  All those hours devoted to marketing are lost and worse yet there is no revenue.

Enter the For Sale By Owner sellers and realtors are even more entrenched into just listing the house.  How ridiculous given there are a plethora of sales opportunities to be had to increase sales.

For example, instead of fighting the For Sale By Owner seller, why not act as a real estate consultant? Create a an affordable, alacarte fee schedule for the following:

  • Advising on how to make your home “show ready”
  • Providing more professional looking photographs to even taking a video
  • Writing actual marketing copy to be placed on free real estate listing websites such as Zillow
  • Offering to provide a lock box to even just a MLS number
  • Establishing a dedicated website
  • Posting to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Instead of hoping to get paid for marketing services, now the real estate agent gets paid for his or her efforts. Even better, the real estate agent is now developing a relationship with the For Sale By Owner seller.  Since people buy from people they know and trust, the realtor is becoming a trusted resource. Here is a potential sales referral resource as well.

As it has been said, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results, you are embracing insanity.  Now is the time to get ahead of the residential real estate market and actually get paid for your marketing services (listing) instead of hoping another realtor brings a buyer to your listing.

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Time to Fall Clean Your Marketing Toolbox

Fall is here.  Now is the perfect time to clean out your marketing toolbox and refresh it for the forthcoming last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year. So what is currently in your toolbox?

marketingUpon opening your toolbox, you will have a removable upper tray that contains your lightweight marketing tools. Down below is a larger compartment to hold those heavier tools.  All of your tools have a cost.

For example, your lightweight tools include your elevator speech, business cards, stationery from envelopes to letterheads, brochures, postcards, postage, promotional items or giveaways CDs or DVD’s, Costs for these tools range from pennies to hundreds of dollars.

The heavier tools at the bottom of your toolbox have a lot of variety.  There are speeches that you can deliver to local organizations or to larger conference audiences.  Printed books such as Be the Red jacket or Fail-Safe Leadership along with published articles are always effective heavy marketing tools. Paid advertising, membership in referral groups, local chambers and other B2B networking groups are other heavy tools.  Finally, there is that all important website. And let us not forget your blog or other social content marketing channels such as LinkedIn Pulse.  These heavy tools costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, but may also provide you a steady stream of passive income.

When you analyze all the costs within your toolbox, you will be amazed at the total investment. For some this may quickly exceed $50,000. Whatever the costs, the results from these tools deliver must be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure their value.

Is your 30-second elevator speech effective?  How about your 60 second and three minute elevator speeches? If no one is seeking you out after you deliver your infomercial, then it is definitely time to refresh that tool. Have you updated your website to make it search engine friendly? By being proactive now will keep you from being reactive later.

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Got Discipline To Market Your SMB?

Remember the Got Milk campaign?  Possibly it may make sense to adopt your own Got Discipline campaign as you market your SMB.

SMBOne of the most frequent complaints I hear from SMB owners and salespeople is “I don’t have time to market my business.”  This complaint reflects a simple lack of discipline. And is 100% false as most people admit to wasting 12 minutes a day or 1 hour a week.  Time is not the issue but rather self management through better discipline is.

This week I will be attending a monthly B2B networking event, traveling with another colleague who invited me to a business breakfast; meeting another colleague for breakfast and then working and meeting with several clients.  Additionally I have 5 incoming phone calls scheduled and a lunch tentatively scheduled with a client. Since I will be out of town later in the month for 7-10 days, I must honor my writing commitments to the Post Tribune/Chicago Tribune, Worldwide Coaching Magazine as well as to this blog.

Yes marketing a SMB feels like a 24/7 job.  Checking email to ensure sales leads receive a quick response to reviewing comments and shares on LinkedIn Pulse postings all take time.  A schedule is definitely required along with daily to do list.

For SMBs marketing is difficult.  Wearing all the hats including, sales, operations and actually being the delivery person takes incredible stamina and energy.  Yet, no one said being a SMB owner or independent sales professional was easy.

This is why each morning I have the discipline to monitor the previous 24 hours of marketing actions, to handle all emails, to attend to any pressing operational issues before I start making phone calls or meetings.  Additionally, by having a process for researching sales referrals as well as other sales activities helps to reinforce my own internal discipline.

WAY SMART goals also support me in ensuring I maintain the discipline necessary to keep moving ahead of the flow. Without a marketing plan and my WAY SMART goals I sincerely doubt if I could have maintained the discipline necessary for marketing my executive coaching and talent management consulting practice.

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Content Marketing Is the NEW Be There or Be Square

Over 10 years ago, content marketing was not on many business people, sales professionals or SMBs radar screens. I remember reaching out to the local SCORE group. When I talked about content marketing specific to the effectiveness of article marketing or having a blog, the advisor looked at me like a deer trapped in the headlights.  He was definitely no help because in his business experience there wasn’t anything called blogs or article directories.

content-marketingFunny, 10 years later SCORE in Washington, D.C. just published some interesting statistics on this now very prevalent marketing channel:

  • 32% of B2B marketers and 37% of B2c  marketers have a content strategy
  • B2B marketers allocate 28% of total marketing budget to content marketing
  • B2C marketers allocate 32% of total marketing budget to content marketing

Social media is the primary delivery channel for content marketing.

For me, content marketing has become the primary source for my sales leads. This past week I just published by 500th consecutive column for the Post Tribune/Chicago Tribune. I write one solid and informative LinkedIn article per month and write this blog 5 to 6 times per week.

With so many SMBs being single office/home office (SOHO) or non employed as per the U.S. Census Bureau, marketing through writing content is an affordable marketing strategy.  This strategy works very well when the overall focus is education based marketing and not product based.

Of course, as in any endeavor, practice does make for continual improvement.  There should be research respective to headlines, key words, length of postings, graphics as well as general overall readability and structure.  The use of automation tools such as Hootsuite must be understood because with the plethora of content being produced having someone read your content is much more unlikely than likely.

Content marketing demands building at least one if not several communities for amplification of your message.  The more people who share your content the greater likelihood your marketing efforts will generate actual sales leads (results).

Yes today to increase sales leads content marketing must be present.  To ignore this viable marketing strategy will doom your SMB believe it or not.

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In Sales Thinking You Are Different Does Not Mean You Are Different

Sales differentiation is not an easy task.  With the Internet and all the experts in marketing (branding), having a unique message requires considerable work as well as having the ability to change as the market changes.



Yesterday I received a handwritten postcard from a realtor.  I was impressed by this direct mail marketing effort.

In today’s busy world, sending a handwritten piece of correspondence is sales differentiation.  I have received dozens of direct mail postcards during the last several months, but this was the first hand written one. However, the message was not different even though I believe the realtor thought she was being different.

This realtor wrote “Let me prove to you that I’m the realtor who will take care of you and get your house SOLD not just listed.”

First, this realtor failed to do her homework.  Had she invested a few moments of time in doing some quick sales lead online research she would have learned of my background in sales.

Second, before I responded I did my research and learned she was not even on LinkedIn. Most of the realtors who had contacted me in the past were either not on LinkedIn or not active.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Most sales professionals in B2B along with many in B2C are on LinkedIn.

Third, the business model for this particular realtor is the same as the super majority of other realtors.  Listing the house is the priority not selling the house.

Given this realtor said she found the house on Zillow and if she read the information, she would have noticed the following statement “We will cooperate with realtors.”  This statement means we are willing to pay a sales commission if a realtor brings a qualified buyer who makes an offer.

Fourth, possibly the most serious sales marketing (messaging) mistake is not recognizing that today’s home sellers are more educated than in the past.  The sales data in the real estate market suggest anywhere from 80-90% of all homes sold are sold by another real estate firm not the listing firm.  With much of the marketing being free, receiving 50% of the standard 5-6-% commission does not make sense to the educated seller.

Thinking you are different in sales is not the same as being different. To truly Be the Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits requires any salesperson to be ahead of the market flow not in it or worse yet behind it.

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LinkedIn Summary, Why the Third Person or Queen’s We?

If people buy from people they know and trust, why in the world would any reasonable thinking salesperson speak in the third person on LinkedIn?  I can appreciate the third person’s biographical summary on a publication or book.  That makes sense. To speak in the third person on probably the most recognized B2B social media site is beyond comprehension.

LinkedIn-SummaryThe third person’s summary ranks up there with the Queen’s We Summary.  Using this prime marketing space to speak at a distance instead of up front and personal really is such a waste.

The LinkedIn summary is the rest of YOUR story.  This is not a regurgitation of your resume.  No, this is your chance to touch a potential sales lead with your unique story.

What makes you different?

What specific skills do you have?

Why should people take that next step to reach out to you?

The rest of your profile can detail your work history, your education to even your endorsements and referrals. Leave your summary to be a powerful story.

If you are stymied, consider using the six (6) sentence Pixar approach that Dan Pink outlines in his book To Sell Is Human. In this approach you tell a tale that begins with Once upon a time and then illustrate the problems faced by your clients. The last sentence is the results of the impact of your solution.

Your summary has 2,000 characters. This is prime marketing space and should not be wasted.  Use as many characters as possible.  You want the read to keep reading beyond the summary to your work history, your education and your interests. LinkedIn is a powerful sales prospecting tool.  Like any other sales tool, use it wisely.

P.S. If you read my LinkedIn profile summary, you will learn I start with a question.  Personally I find those summaries that begin with the letter “I” to be somewhat ego driven with the focus on the individual and not the reader. Again, that only is my opinion.




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Are You Being Too Comfortable with Your Content Marketing?

B2B buyers are becoming far more educated and astute. A 2014 DemandGen reported:


  • 65% of the buyers shared the winning vendor’s content marketing had a significant impact on their buying decision
  • 68% indicated they increased the amount of content used to research and evaluate their purchases

Of course it is easy to be comfortable about writing posts on building rapport, asking open ended questions, to what CRM tools a salesperson should have. Then there are all those comfortable postings about attitude, motivation and the necessary talents.

The necessary  question to ask yourself is “Does this content make the sales lead think differently about you, your company or your solution?”  To think differently make require your perspective to challenge the status quo.

For example, I do not believe in value creation.  This goes against many of the recognized experts.  I do believe top salespeople connect to the value drivers of the sales leads, the ideal potential customers. This column has discussed this issue numerous times and does make other uncomfortable.

Listen to the podcast “Can Salespeople Create Value” between David Brock and Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Uncomfortable content marketing makes the reader think and take notice.  For example, discussing risk does make most people uncomfortable.  People especially salespeople want control because they want to “close the deal!”.  The more risk results in lesser control.

Have you ever thought about risk from the perspective of dissonance?

If the goal is to increase sales through content marketing given how much content is being consumed by sales leads and the ultimate decision makers, then shouldn’t your content Be the Red Jacket by standing out among all the other gray suits?

The status quo also applies to your state of being comfortable. And if writing the content makes you a little uncomfortable, this probably means you will be making the reader also uncomfortable. Of course, always be mindful of being respectful to the reader by applying emotional intelligence to your word selection.



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