My friend, and a truly intrepid marketer Todd Schnick recently took on a large and ambitious project. He wanted to create a book, a mini-MBA of sorts for recent college grads so they could learn from and be mentored by folks who had been out of school for a while and had some experience. Todd created a simple but effective platform #40in240. Todd gathered 40 of “Atlanta’s best and brightest.” his words not mine and asked them to write in 240 words or less something for the college student just getting out of school. I’m proud to be part of the elite group of individuals who contributed to this project although I’m not entirely sure I’m qualified to hang with many of these awesome contributors.
I want to sum up and share a few of the main points shared throughout the book.
Find what you love and do it.
Get started and don’t quit
You’ll be afraid. That’s okay do it anyway.
You’ll fail that’s okay do it anyway, and do it again.
Forget what critics say
Trust your own brand of crazy
Take Risks – they often aren’t really all that risky
There are many many many more lessons to be taken from this wonderful and free book and the lessons are really for everyone not just the recently graduated.
I’d like to thank Todd for pulling this project together and including me with all these wonderful and talented people. Todd thanks for being an example of what can be done when you DO what you love.
When I first started working for IBM back in 1999, they sent me to basically what I would call a training camp. At the camp they taught us project management, selling, consulting, negotiating and Listening skills. The truth is to be effective at any of the first four skills I mentioned you have to be an effective listener. We learned what it means to actively listen and how to use the information we gather to best serve our customers. I didn’t realize at the time how much value there was in learning that skill but it has served me well in my professional life and has allowed me to advance in my career.
Listening however is a skill that is changing. Years ago listening meant you were hearing what a person said to you in a face to face or phone conversation. Today people talk using other communication devices. Today when people talk they don’t always speak to you and often you are not the intended audience of their communication even if they are talking about you or your brand.
What you do with your listening and how you respond hasn’t really changed as much as the tools you use to hear what your customers are saying. I’m going to cover some of the free tools available to you today so you can better hear what is being said about you and your brand.
The first tool is really understanding what you want to listen for. This at first may seem simple but it honestly takes quite a bit of both skill, and refinement.
I feel the best way to explain this is with an example:
For simplicity sake I’m going to use the keyword – Shipping. If you do a search on the word shipping using some of the tools we discuss momentarily you’ll see that you get a bunch of stuff about free shipping but for our purposes we don’t care about free so I’ll use a negative work Free. So any tool I use will search for: Shipping -Free
Over time you may see other key words that you do not wish to show up in your search such as FedEx. Then your search would look like this: Shipping -Free -FedEx
The point here is that you can and should truly refine your search so you get the most relevant responses to the information you are looking for.
Now that we covered how to narrow your keyword set let’s look at a list of tools and what you can expect from them:
Technorati Blog Search – Save the RSS to a reader and get regular updates on your topics. Google Alerts Search – See new results as often as you would like in your email. Twitter Search Twiter Search – Save the search as an RSS feed and see what has been said about your topic lately. Addictomatic Searches Bing, Google, YouTube, twitter and a host of other networks. Brings back the most recent conversations about the search topic . How Sociable Looks at mentions and provides a score based on how often a brand is mentioned in social networks and search engines. IceRocket Blog Search looking for mentions of a term Back Type Looks at mentions on twitter mainly. Social Ping Active monitoring and notification from twitter Google Insights Shows trends for searches Allows you to see search volume across multiple keywords Google trends Shows trends for searches Shows volume over time on a single keyword
OMGILI search forums Social mention Blog Search
Is service a standard for your business? How far will you go to ensure your customers are satisfied? When service is a standard you don’t have to get hung up on issues of how to satisfy a customer you just do. We experienced an excellent example of service as a standard over the holidays.
We drive Toyota’s and over the holiday’s Toyota did a lot to ensure we continue to drive Toyota’s for a long time. We were driving from Atlanta down to Orlando so we could visit Disney for a few days. It was an exciting trip to be making with the family. We stopped in Valdosta Ga to get gas. I was inside with the kids and somehow my wife managed to insert 3 gallons of diesel into our gas tank at which point it occurred to her that something was wrong. So along with a few headaches we brought the car to the local Toyota dealer at 5:00PM on December 23rd. This was just going to be a nightmare, or so we thought.
The dealership luckily was open and the service manager hadn’t left quite yet but they had already sent home all the mechanics. The did have an apprentice on duty but the service manager wasn’t comfortable having this guy work on the car. He wanted to make sure the job was done right. He asked if we could stay overnight. We reservations for that night in Disney and breakfast with the characters the next morning. Obviously staying in Valdosta would have killed that. They started calling rental companies but everything was closed. We were obviously upset and that is when Toyota made me a customer for life.
The Service Manager said look, no one will come in here tomorrow looking for our loner car. You guys can take it and just bring it back on Monday to pick-up your car on the way home. WOW! He got us to Disney and saved our vacation. But this story isn’t over.
On Monday when we drove back and picked up the car they didn’t charge us for the loner car.
NOW THAT IS CUSTOMER SERVICE!
Do you go the extra mile to ensure you have lifetime customers? What do you do to ensure customer come back?
2010 has been a great year for me personally and I’ve built quite a following in my DADvocate Project. I’ve also seen much success throughout the year. Interestingly I didn’t really set 2010 goals. I wanted to but for some reason I never really sat down and took the time. I guess I was really quite busy at the beginning of the year with launching the DADvocate project so I never got around to setting goals or resolutions.
This year I’ve decided to take a different approach. I’ve decided to choose three words. As a fan of social media one of my favorite bloggers is Chris Brogan. He has been choosing three words a year as guide posts since 2006. I read about this for the first time in his January 1 2010 Post My 3 words for 2010. Chris does a much better job of explaining that the three words should serve as a guide post for the year and has talked about how to choose the words. I’m not going to attempt to explain the process or reasoning, I’m just going to share mine for 2011.
Health - Health is about making choices. Choosing to pick the better option doing it constantly. Health is physical mental and societal. Health is also educating my self and my family. Health is choosing the best option in business decisions. Always ask when thinking about a topic is this the best healthiest decision?
Connect – I’ve spent time building community and content over the past year and I need to continue building that content, I’ve also connected with the dad community and special needs community to some degree. I need to connect more broadly across communities and stay connected. I need to always ask how can I connect deeper? How can I grow this relationship?
Mastery – I chose the word mastery to drive myself to build stronger deeper and more complete projects, further my skills and build accomplishment. I thought about words such as plan and execute but they were not broad enough. I want to master my projects and my skills. I will ask does this task or decision drive me closer to mastering this project or skill? Mastery also means that I have to measure results and adjust to see what works best. Mastery means being thorough. Mastery is a powerful and awesome word and will create some powerful movement.
As I mentioned in my post The DADvocate Project Branding Contest – Win a free Twitter Background! I wanted to open up this branding process to the DADvocate community at large and and gain some feedback. Admittedly I also want to give my designer some exposure since I think she is AWESOME. So please leave some comments about your thoughts and you’ll have the opportunity to win a free twitter background designed by Havana. Check out her web site Kokographix.com
One of neatest things about this process was her introduction of children into the design during her creative process. It was something I would never have thought of but I really like how she worked it in. What do you think?
How sad, less than two weeks of focusing on Job creation and were already back to Health Care Reform, something that has mistakenly had the limelight for a year. We’re also back to Tea Parties, the KSM trials and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that dilute the focus on Job creation. Important no doubt but not the priority that Job creation can and must be.
If the economy was strong we could deal with issues we WANT to tackle but they are unnecessarily taking the emphasis away from the NEED to create Jobs. As a country we need to distinguish between Needs and Wants. I’m fine with Reforming Health Care and debating those other issues but they are WANTS and not NEEDS (yes, there is already a way for the uninsured to get health care).
The statistical anomaly that recently brought down the unemployment rate at the same time as unemployment rose must be ignored. What we should be more concerned about are the tax cuts that will be allowed to expire at year end and the elimination of the program to buy Mortgage Backed Securities by the Federal Reserve in less than two months. The Congress and the administration must increase demand which will ultimately put people to work. Forget targeted stimulus – it has no lasting effect and is rife with waste and abuse. There are plenty of examples from the past year to prove that. Stop the plan to take more taxes from the American people. It may create a double dip recession.
The solution: reduce payroll taxes, reduce corporate taxes, eliminate capital gains taxes, keep the “Bush” tax cuts, eliminate the “death” tax and watch the economy “SNAP” back. Tax revenues will rise, we’ll be able to balance the budget and pay down the deficit and the country will recover. Let’s strengthen the employer class, put people to work and then address our WANTS.
I recently found LogMeIn.com. This is a wonderful free remote control services that allows you to remotely control either a Mac or PC. It even works with smartphones. You can actually control your PC or Mac through a smartphone. This is a truly incredible service and if you are a small business and have used GoToMyPC this service can save you $30/month.
They also offer paid services such as tech support, virtual networking and an advanced version of remote control that allows you to transfer files and use remote resources to print copy past etc. It’s all very cool. Check it out! It’s free and Freeing.
Okay maybe I’m just a tech geek but I want an iPad. I love apple and have even before the release of the Mac. My first computer was an Apple IIC and was this amazing thing that if manipulated properly allowed me to write my own games.
Today the iMac we own renewed my interest in computing and is still allowing me to define my own games. The release of the iPad will take defining your own game even further. You can now take the game with you. As a blogger and tech enthusiast I love the product.
As a blogger and tech enthusiast I wonder why a few things were left out: Here is what I would have liked to see in addition to the incredible technology that is there. I want an iSight built-in on both sides so I can do video or video chat. I want the computer to do flash – this is a common technology used on many web sites and for many video presentations. I want the iPad to run more than one application at a time. And I want the iPad to be able to make and receive calls with a blue tooth headset and voice commands.
All the above said I think it turns out that the tweet I sent out on Tuesday before anyone else was saying it is going to turn out to be true “Somehow I think Steve Jobs speech tomorrow will be more impactful than the State of the Union !” For some reason I was thinking the State of the Union Speech was Tuesday.
The reason I think I’m right is because we have seen, even with some missing pieces, the introduction of a complete change in computing!
This is a video interview with Security Expert Ben Halpert. Ben has two daughters and a son on the way. When his first daughter was born he began thinking about the security risks for being on line with children and how and when that conversation should start to take place. Ben decided that we are probably reaching out to children too late in life to begin this conversation. Much like teaching your children to say please or thank you Internet behavior conversation needs to start when your children are young and still listen to you.
Ben has started the Non Profit Savvy Cyber Kids. This organization is dedicated to providing resources to parents and teachers that will help them in educating their children on internet safety. Currently Ben has a number of resources available on his site including:
An interesting question was raised by Julian Smith about how people spend their time acting desperate to get seen by the big names in Social Marketing. I formatted the following response but then realized it was more the length of a blog then a comment so here it is.
9 months ago I started my blog MySpellingSucs.com – an unedited discussion of my dyslexia and ADD and my daughters Cerebral Palsy. I started it just to start writing something and do it consistently. I wanted to just say what I felt and do it the way I wanted to. I was tired of listening to fast easy money crowd who really didn’t know what they were talking about and I just wanted to do it my way. I write about how I have learned from my children and parenting, specific issues on CP, and I occasionally interview or write about inspirational folks with disabilities. I love writing there and it has brough me great pleasure as well as some recognition. I was awarded 2009 East Cobber Father of the year and this happened when my readership was only from my local network of friends.
Then about 6 months ago I started getting involved in community – twitter, expanding Facebook and LinkedIn, commenting on other blogs and that kind of thing. I found more readers coming to my site and then I really started getting interested in and attaching to people who were leading this revolution. Julien – Yourself included.
After a few months I found myself backing away from the “Guru’s” and focusing in the “Second Tier.” I do this because they have more time they are just as educated and have as many new and innovative ideas and they communicate more. I know the “Guru’s/First Tier” used to communicate with their audience as much as the “Second Tier” now does but the “Guru’s” don’t have the time to communicate with new folks as much as they would like and they need to keep their loyal audiences loyal so they communicate with as many as possible and are diligent about communicating with the folks that have helped them along the way.
It’s been in working with this “Second Tier” of bloggers that I have found I have the most pleasure and have begun to get the most recognition from the Guru’s. It makes sense.
In any community you want Gate Keepers. A Gate Keeper helps you know who the good and who the bad are when you don’t have the time to figure it out yourself. If the people I trust vet you and say your good than I’ll (as the guru) take a little additional time to find out more about who you are.
I guess what I’m saying is I like the idea of being yourself. That may have something to do with connecting with the crowd but do it your way and find the folks you enjoy communicating with.
This was originally going to be a comment in response to the blog post Reeking of Desperation but was too long. Julien thanks for the inspiration.