Twitter Business Owners in Portland Mostly Women?

I have been playing with TweepSearch recently thanks to my colleague Dan Berne. It is a simple tool that lets you search Twitter through keywords in the owner’s Twitter profile. I am interested in what small business owners in Portland Oregon are saying so I did a search based on “business owner portland”. There were a few ah has.

  1. There are not that many business owners in Portland using those keywords in their profile
  2. Those that do are roughly 80% women
  3. They don’t talk much about their business

I’m not sure what to make of that information but will ponder it some more. Got any ideas?

Times When Social Media Doesn’t Work for B2B

Casey Boggs pointed to me to this interesting post the other day. I thought much of it was pretty accurate. Social media is not the be-all-and-end-all. It has a role but it can’t do everything. Here are the main points of when social media doesn’t work for B2B from the post on the blog Social Media B2B.

  1. Your product has less than 5 customers or is extremely niche.
    This makes sense. Sometimes there are online groups where specialists hang out but at some point there is not enough critical mass. When this happens you had better plan on getting on the phone!
  2. Your decision makers spend all of their time behind a highly secure firewall – e.g. military, electrical power grid maintainers, If your target customer is locked down they won’t be spending a lot of time on social media sites.
  3. You don’t have an internal advocate for social media
    The point here was that if your company does not support the idea of using social media then it is probably a non-starter.
  4. You need to generate a high volume of short-term sales
    For the most part it takes time to generate trust. Social media requires patience and relationship building. If you need to grow sales quickly then other marketing and sales tools may be more appropriate.
  5. If you don’t have the resources to be successful
    Social media while free in terms of spent dollars, is most certainly not free in terms of time – particularly since it is a strategy with a pay-off in the long-term.

You can read more details at Is Social Media Right For B2B? | Social Media B2B.

Grow Your Business with My 10 Session Group Marketing Program

The economic news seems to be improving and even though we don’t see the effects on a day to day basis, the indicators are moving in the right direction. What does that mean for your business? One thing it means is that gradually prospects who have previously canceled or postponed projects will start to reconsider. It is the time of year that budgets are being put in place for 2010 but will your company be top of mind when there is buying to be done?

If you want your company to be well positioned for upcoming growth, now is the time to get started. It takes time to get your marketing engine up to speed so you need to be creating your marketing plan now.

Fortunately our 10 session Duct Tape Marketing Catalyst program starts on October 1st. It is a program designed to help you create a practical and cost effective set of marketing strategies.

To lean more consider attending one of our two preview webinars:

  1. Thursday, Sept 10th at 8:00 AM PST
  2. Tuesday Sept 15th at 10:00 AM PST

As a bonus, if you attend preview webinar #1 and sign up for the full program I will give you a 6 month subscription to Search Engine News and a copy of their eBook the “Unfair Advantage on Winning the Search Engine Wars”, together worth $97!

Visit our Duct Tape Marketing Catalyst Group Marketing Coaching minisite for more information.

Does Bally’s Customer Service Help or Hurt?

For quite a few years now we have had a membership at Bally Total Fitness Health Clubs here in Vancouver WA. I guess the club has not been thriving and just recently they decided to close down. It was a bit disappointing for us as the club is just around the corner and they have a lovely outdoor pool.

The nearest other Bally location is in Portland around 8 miles away so we decided that was too far to go. My wife called the club to cancel our membership and gosh did they make it difficult for us to do so. She was on the phone for ages and to top it of they required a letter sent to them by registered mail. I don’t know about you but this was a bit of a pain as we had to get the letter, go to the post office and pay $5.

As a marketing person I ask myself, “what are they thinking?”. It feels like they are making iit difficult for a customer to cancel and want to hold onto that revenue stream as long as possible but in the long run it hurts them considerably. I for one will never take out another Bally’s membership again and here I am blogging about it telling you.

I don’t know if that is a deliberate strategic policy to tick off their customers but somewhere along the line their customer service has taken a detour. Perhaps they reward their people based on retention numbers instead of satisfaction. Whatever the reason it is damaging to their business.

I read today that another company is taking over the facility so I hope they are better. I need to whip this body into the art form it deserves to be!

Direct Mail Marketing – Podcast Interview

Photo of Kurt Johnson

Many small business are interested in using direct mail but you need to know what you are doing in order to be successful. In this interview with Kurt Johnson, one of the founders of PostcardBuilder.com, we learn some tips and tricks in creating direct mail campaigns that will result in increased leads and business success.

Here are some of the questions I asked Kurt:

  • When is direct mail a good choice?
  • How about for B2C vs B2B what differences should we take into account?
  • Give us some examples of best practices. What helps get a good response rate?
  • What about testing? How many would we need to send out to get a good read?
  • How about direct mail no-nos?
  • Any successful case studies you can talk about?
  • How should we evaluate a direct mail campaign?
  • Tell us a little about your service? How are you different from other providers?

Hope you find it interesting. You can listen here using the player below or visit my podcast site to download the audio file to your mp3 player. You can also find it on iTunes using this link. (note will open iTunes on your computer)

A Marketing Transformation is Underway

It seems we are hearing more and more about social media. Everyone and their uncle are getting involved — literally.

According to an article by Strategy Labs, Facebook users of age 35 to 54 grew 276.4% from June 08 to January 09. The numbers come from Facebook’s own statistics. The growth for this demographic is roughly doubling ever 2 months! Wow.

I know more and more of my friends and relatives are now on Facebook. It is very convenient to share photos, ideas, politics, etc. And the more of your connections that are on Facebook, the more attractive it becomes.

I suspect it is the same story with other social media like Twitter. More and more people are telling me that they Tweet.

All of this has marketers drooling. But not so fast. Another research survey I read recently showed that very few people currently use social media for buying or researching what to buy.

So what is a company to do? A lot of marketers will tell you to create your own Facebook page for your business or use Twitter for some commercial purposes.

Unfortunately like most things, it is not an instant panacea. Remember when websites first became popular? Companies were told they had to have a website and would be rolling in business. The reality of course was a little different. The mere presence of a website does not cause business to hot foot it to your door.

Traffic, whether website or social media comes only when your audience is interested in what you are doing or offering. Website traffic is drawn by good content. People tell others only when there is something worth the telling.

Lots of companies will start Facebook pages for their businesses but will get little traffic. The business Facebook page will become just another website — except hosted on Facebook.

The bottom line is that I don’t believe the new social media changes the fundamental reasons why certain business are popular but they do change the ways you have to reach your audience.

Perhaps that is more how we should think of it. You don’t have prospects but an audience. And your audience is looking to be educated and entertained.

Get More Pages From Your Laser Printer

A couple of years ago I bought a color laser printer. I used it fairly often and after 6 months the out of toner warning came on and I dutifully changed the toner.

About 5 months ago I discovered an override button which allows the printer to keep printing while you obtain a new cartridge. It is now 5 months later and the printer is still going! Print quality is fine and the new cartridge is still sitting on the shelf. That is almost double the life. Hmmm, I think HP might have been ripping me off.

Is eMail Dying and Being Replaced by Social Media?

My kids hardly use eMail any more. It true. I was surprised when I learned this the other day. It is not that they don’t use the computer to communicate – far from it. They use Facebook and Twitter extensively. Both Facebook and Twitter allow you communicate both publicly and privately. They can involve others in the public discussion but still use the direct communication tools when they have something they don’t want others to read.

The big advantage of both however is the ability to control who sends them messages. Both Facebook and Twitter function as a giant spam filter.

On Facebook, the default is to be able to read the “public” messages or send a private message you have to have been accepted as a “friend”. There are ways to have an open-public account but most (thankfully for safety’s sake) don’t.

On Twitter you can only send a direct message if that person if following you -i.e. they have chosen to read your feeds.

So what does this mean for the future of eMail? It would seem one implication is that eMail as we know it will become less important unless the eMail companies start building in some of these social networking capabilities. It also means that it will be increasingly important for businesses to be “opted-in”. The requirement for trust just went up a notch.

Practically speaking though I can’t imagine too many people allowing a company to be a Facebook friend unless something changes sufficiently for a company to truly act as a friend.

On the other hand, perhaps there will be new media developed that will allow people to separate out “business” from “friends” That is one of the problems of email today. Messages from both are mixed together. There is still a need for product and business information but with much more opt-in control. Perhaps a parallel Facebook (“ProductBook) that contains all the commercial communications that individuals find usedful?

How do you see it?

Does Your Face Help or Hurt Trust in Your Business?

I was listening to Science Friday on National Public Radio today and they had an interesting segment on trust. The whole thing was inspired by the death of Walter Cronkite and that he apparently was a figure that inspired a high degree of trust. The host and guests were discussing why some people are more trusted than others.

If you read this blog much or are a fan of Duct Tape Marketing you will know that we define marketing as “getting someone with a need to know, like and trust you”. So this issue of trust is an important one. One of our principles is that your marketing activities should build trust.

It turns out that one important element of initial trust is your face. Over time of course your actions become more important but in the short run what do we do about the face (yours in particular)? I usually encourage clients to put a picture of themselves on their website or in the e-newsletter. I plaster mine all over the place and I usually get a good response from doing so. The Science Friday program however indicates that some of you reading this blog should not put your photo on their business website!

But how are we to know who should and who shouldn’t and who wants to be the person to tell the client….”er, actually you look more like an axe murderer than a financial planner”?

What would you do? Does your face inspire trust?

Web Based Conferencing Tool a Steal!

Since January I have been using a web based conferencing tool called Cool Conference Live and I have been very pleased with it. What is more, it costs less than $50 a year to use.You can try it out for free but your participants will see ads. Much better is to spend the $50 which allows you to place your own ads.

Your own custom ads are a perfect way to promote your upcoming events. Just the other day I gave a preview webinar to some business owners and at the top of the page was my “ad” consisting of the name of the full, paid event plus a link to it’s landing page.

Cool Conference Live operates around the concept of rooms. You upload a presentation or document to your selected room where it is converted to the format that Cool Conference uses internally. It seems to support the most common formats. Uploads are quick and work well. Once the room is created, you can schedule events for each room. You can make these events public or private and can decide whether they should appear on your “widget” (more about that in a moment) or not. You can also select if you want to be notified as attendees sign-up.

Once you have created your event you get a link that you use to send people to register. You can also use Cool Conference Live to send the invitations if you prefer.

The system also gives you access to a widget which you can place on your website or blog (like the one to the left). This is a nice way to promote your event.

You also get access to a free telephone conference line which has a variety of capabilities such as being able to mute all attendees (presentation mode) or allowing attendees to unmute themselves individually. This is helpful when there is a lot of noise in the background. The audio can also be recorded and downloaded later but the quality of the recording is pretty poor.I use it as a backup recording and use my Zoom H2 recorder instead.

During the conference you have even more tools at your disposal. The two most useful are “chat” where you can send a message to all attendees or to one individual privately. There is also a polling feature which is basic but very helpful. There is also a file sharing feature and you can play an audio or video file. I haven’t actually tried those features yet.

Attendees also get to put a little about themselves including a photo and website link.This shows up in the right hand side in a box so you know who is attending.

The system appears to be very stable. I have had no issues with it at all and nor has any of my attendees.

There are only a couple of things I would like to see added, well ok, three things and they are:

  1. a way to capture an attendee list. Currently there is a registration list but it would be nice if it showed if the person actually showed up
  2. a way to show a live desktop session. Sometimes I would like to demonstrate how to drive a software or website
  3. a way to have a special password for sessions that I want to keep private to paying customers

But hey, for $50 for the year, you really can’t complain. For the added features, I would gladly pay more.

When you compare functionality with some of the other “big” company offerings Cool Conference Live is really a steal.