Lighting the social media fire @TheSocialCMO

When I was a boyscout I learned how to best set and build a fire. First you needed the right place, then some kindling, small wood and finally to lay on the logs. Then comes the most important element required to bring a roaring fire to life and that is when you strike the match or scratch out a spark.

Over the last several weeks we have been learning to build a new kind of fire by combining people, ideas, technology and community to build something called The Social CMO. This upstart social media fire began with the construction and linking of two simple WordPress blogs in combination with the @TheSocialCMO Twitter account.

The kindling for this fire was collected imperceptibly through participation in a growing network of likeminded tweeters, great people like Amy @HowellMarketing, @TedRubin, @KentHuffman and @EricFletcher to begin with. And of course every team needs some cheerleaders and one of our most fervent from the start has been Cheryl Burgess @ckburgess!

Shortly thereafter we were joined by @SamDecker, Ryan @sauerscomm, @AnneDGallaher and of course the one and only @b2bspecialist Chris Herbert!

The small glow already emanating from this modest group led us to believe that something more was happening here but clearly some really large logs were now needed. However, it turned out that not elongated chunks of wood, but social media and community pros @Ambercadabra, @TreyPennington and @TrendTracker Glen Gilmore were all that was required to fuel the spontaneous combustion that is now taking place.

It took man thousands of years to fully understand and harness the power of fire to form tools and sharpen weapons, melt sand into glass and launch ourselves into space. But there seems little doubt this new fire will have the strength to not only improve us all as individuals, but also to create and deliver grand new discoveries through this collective entity The Social CMO.

@JeffAshcroft

Tough Love: We Have Work To Do

I say “we”, because I include myself in what I’m about to say.

whip

Yesterday, I posted that what we really need is more people with solid business skills. And Justin commented, rightly so, that many of the people shouting AMEN might just be part of the problem. He’s not wrong.

It’s not likely that each of you reading this post have all of your business skills down pat, even as you agree with me about the need for them. I know I certainly don’t. But I’m working on it.

For example, financial operations is something I know at a basic budget management and profit-and-loss level, but I don’t always understand financial management strategy and revenue modeling. So I’m learning from people that do, so I can be less ignorant in that regard, and more useful to my business and projects. That’s just one thing on my list.

Go back to the second to last point on yesterday’s rundown:

People who can admit what they don’t know, and seek knowledge or help.

That means you, too. US.

Each of you undoubtedly has a solid set of things you do well. Meg Fowler is an outstanding writer and wordsmith. Bill Sledzik is an experienced educator. Kellye Crane is a solid PR professional.

But each of us could do with a gut check about the things we need to improve. And we can help hold each other accountable.

I’m thrilled beyond measure that you guys come here and comment and like what I write. It makes me feel good to know you’re out there, and that you want to spend time to connect with me. I love that people shared yesterday’s post on Twitter and Facebook and said how much they agree with the premise. But here’s the thing.

Don’t you dare come here and say “great post” or “Amen”, write a few words of endorsement, and walk away. That’s lip service, and I’m challenging you to something better than that. Something bigger.

Don’t comment here that you agree with me. Don’t tell me this post was awesome. I’m here to change the way things are done, and that means mobilizing people to action, not talk.

What I need is for you to know what you don’t know. Have the stones to face it down. Think about and communicate what will help you be a better business person, and then do something about it. Share it here if putting it out publicly motivates you. If it doesn’t, leave here and go do whatever compels you to move. I would much rather your silence than your inaction. Please.

If you share this post, please do it because you’re encouraging others to get real, too. My having a voice out here does very little good if all I can ever get people to do is read, tap out a few words, think briefly, and go back to doing things as they always have. There’s work to be done, is there not?

Are you with me?

It’s NOT about the money!

What is the goal of business? As one classically trained in American business, I can confidently quote to you the textbook answer:

The goal of business is to increase shareholder wealth.

While one might think “shareholder wealth” would be open to interpretation, I’ll put your mind at rest by letting you know the almost universal understanding of the term is MONEY.

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Marketing on a Shoestring: 10 Ideas to Gain Visibility and Market Presence

It is said that money is the great inhibitor of innovation. When businesses have to trim budgets and increase market share—the scenario most of the business world found itself in these last eighteen months—it presents an opportunity.

Wall Street Journal owner Rupert Murdoch seems almost prescient with his 2008 statement: “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small, anymore, it will be the fast beating the slow, the nimble beating the bureaucrat, the aware beating the asleep, the world is flat and opportunities are for the taking.”

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Empathy: The first step in creating value

The first step in creating something valuable for your audience is to think and feel what your audience is feeling. Tom Asacker in A Little Less Conversation, p. 61

Empathy: getting really close to folks so you can almost see it from their eyes and feel it as they do

empathy

There’s never been a better time for small businesses and independents to leverage technology and excel! Asacker says you’ll need to “go deep” in your relationship with your marketplace. Deep enough, in fact, to be close enough to them during those precise times when they’re exposed to your types of products and services, evaluating options, receptive to messages, and making decisions, so that you can make informed predictions about how to stimulate their desire, have them care about and relate to you and your offering and, subsequently, make them happy (p. 61).

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Social Networks: the new “black book” and more

A research study conducted by Don Bulmer and Vanessa DiMauro concludes that Social Networks are becoming more important in the day to day lives of business professionals. The big three networks are Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.

Over 350 senior level business professionals took part in this survey. Here are some of the interesting findings that b2b marketers and business development professionals would be interested in knowing:

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Be different, but not THAT different!

“Differentiate or Die!” Great title for a book. Sound objective in practice, too. Here’s the big question: what’s your referent? What exactly do you want to be different from and where are you looking for your benchmark?

On purpose, I ask small business owners this specific question, “How are you different?” I say, on purpose, because I purposely keep the question short, leaving it wide open for their own interpretation. You probably already know how every single answer begins. (Want me to give you a minute to think about it? Okay…ready?)

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The Discipline of Listening vs. The Art of Messaging

Listening doesn’t come easy.

For anyone (or any business) with a point of view, an opinion, a measure of conviction, and the means to disseminate a message, listening is rarely what first comes to mind when addressing the communication process.

Client feedback initiatives and market research notwithstanding, from the instant an infant realizes what it takes to relieve the pains of hunger, our practical view of communication focuses on creating and delivering a message. We are conditioned to view charisma, wordsmithing and creative genius as the components of great communication. Result? We equate message delivery with communication.

Listening is…well, just silence. Golden, perhaps. But certainly not communicating.

(We could spend a couple of paragraphs asking how this view has worked out thus far; but let’s get to the good part.)

Here’s the proposition: communication is one of those counter-intuitive disciplines that works exactly opposite of the way we think; it begins when we learn how to listen.

And the discipline of listening is what gives shape to the creative art of messaging.

Discipline and art are not at odds when it comes to communication; rather, they are two essential halves that create the whole. For marketing professionals, this gives rise to a two-fold go-forward challenge:

• Beef up the portfolio of proactive listening tools (Social Media affords great possibilities here); and,
• Practice resisting the temptation to go straight to messaging.

Thoughts?