Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is The Social Medium the Message?

I'm on Facebook but I'm not on Twitter. I'm on Plaxo but I'm not on Foursquare. I'm on LinkedIn but I don't Flikr. Yet. I've been asked to join Referral Key and Ace of Sales, but I'm not sure what distinguishes them from other variations on those themes.

We're merely on the cusp of the social media revolution and already my head is spinning.

Welcome to the Summer Solstice edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

And as a hot summer day is wont to do to me, I'm starting to stroke from all the virtual means there are -- with surely more on the way -- to help "connect" me with my social and professional brethren. (And sisteren...or is that cistern? Never mind, that vessel has sailed...)

We all gotta do it to remain viable in the business world, though, right?

It's when these online and electronic outlets are touted as the only ways to achieve meaningful connectivity with our markets that we perhaps lose sight of more universal "truths."

Peter Shankman is the founder and Editor of HARO, about which I've written in the past -- "Help A Reporter Out," which offers subjects for both print and e-media for folks like you and me to contribute our expertise to -- but now he's weighing in on why "I Will Never Hire a Social Media Expert, and Neither Should You." This is excerpted from his blog, http://shankman.com/i-will-never-hire-a-social-media-expert-and-neither-should-you/ :


I was going to call this article “All “Social Media Experts” need to go die in a fire,” but I figured I should be nicer than that.

Being an expert in Social Media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator. You might be the best bread-taker-outer in the world, but you know what? The goal is to make an amazing sandwich, and you can’t do that if all you’ve done in your life is taken the bread out of the fridge.

Social Media is just another facet of marketing and customer service. Say it with me. Repeat it until you know it by heart. Bind it as a sign upon your hands and upon thy gates. Social Media, by itself, will not help you.

“It’s not about building a website anymore! It’s so much cooler! It’s about Facebook, and fans, and followers, and engagement, and influence, and…”

Will you please shut up before you make me vomit on your shoes?


It’s About Transparency. It’s about not lying to your customers, and thinking that a good Twitter apology will suffice when you’re caught. It won’t, and you’ll lose. Customers will run away in droves, because they can. They can go wherever they want now – It doesn’t matter how loyal they were in the past. Lie to them and get caught, and say goodbye. It’s about using the tools to market to an audience that wants to help tell your story, because you’ve been awesome at providing them with the service they deserve.

It’s About Relevance. It’s not about tweeting every single time your company offers 10% off on a thingamabob. It’s about finding out where your customers actually are, and going after them there. If you’re tweeting all your discounts, and none of your customers are on Twitter, then you sir, are an idiot. Marketing involves knowing your audience, and tailoring your promotions in specific bursts to the correct segments. “Social media experts” don’t know this. They’ll build you a fan page, and when all that work doesn’t convert into new sales, they’ll simply say “Well, we’ll just post more.” Don’t be that guy. Real marketers know when to market using traditional methods, social media, or even word of mouth. Go ahead. Ask a “social media expert” what a traffic planner does at an agency, then laugh as they quickly ask Google for help finding the answer.

It’s About Brevity. You know what the majority of people calling themselves “Social Media Experts” can’t do, among other things? THEY CAN’T WRITE. The number of “experts” out there who can’t string a simple sentence together astounds me. Guess what – If we have about three seconds to get our message across to a new customer, you know what’s going to do it? Not Twitter Followers. Not Facebook Fans. Not Foursquare Check-ins – NO. What’s going to do it is GOOD WRITING, END OF STORY. BAD WRITING IS KILLING AMERICA. Good writing is brevity, and brevity is marketing. Want to lose me as a customer, forever, guaranteed? Have a grammar error on any form of outward communication.

Finally, it’s about knowing your customer, and making sure your customer thinks of you first. When Barry Diller was running Paramount, he’d call ten people in his Rolodex each morning, just to say hi. That translated into all of Hollywood knowing this previously unknown executive’s name, because he took the time to reach out and communicate. It also translated into Paramount making billions in a time where other movie companies were struggling. Do you know your audience? Have you reached out to them? I’m not talking about “tweeting at them,” I’m talking about actually reaching out. Asking them what you can do better? Asking those who haven’t been around in a while what you can do to get them back? It’s not about 10% off coupons or “contests for the next follower.” For God’s sake, be smarter than that.

Social media is not “cool.” MAKING MONEY IS COOL. Social Media is simply another arrow in the quiver of marketing, and that quiver is designed to GENERATE REVENUE.

If you’re doing anything else with social media, here’s a book of matches, and I expect to never see you again after the smoke clears.

Whew. And I thought I had the market on rants...

Join us again the first Tuesday of next month when we Morse-code you another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

704.846.4835 office
704.575.8850 mobile
Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo,
ISES, NAWP, Visit Charlotte

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why, and How to, Write a Book

Quick, what's faster than a speeding press release, more powerful than a rushing web site, able to leap social media in a single bound?

Look, up on your bookshelf -- it's a bird, it's a plane (Hey, I said look on your bookshelf..!)

It's a book.

Welcome to the un-bound edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Savvy marketers are realizing that, along with the conventional tools of the promoting trade -- web site, brochure, ads, commercials, a social media presence -- a good old fashioned tome can speak...pardon the pun...volumes about what one can offer in the way of expertise. While adding cachet to one's professional status that is virtually incalculable.

And that's whether the book is published through a literary press, or downloaded from a web presence.

There's a book in pretty much each one of us.

But rather than have me tell you about it -- I got Hooked on Phonics only last Thursday -- I thought I'd leave the real muscle to my friend, a former high school classmate of mine (who also lives in Charlotte), now a successful writer and author.

Jonathan Singer began his career at CBS in New York as a copywriter. He moved to Charlotte in 1988 where he has been a creative director and a ghostwriter (How Sweet the Sound, the autobiography of Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother, Doubleday, 1998) and an occasional contributor to Charlotte magazine. He considers Joel Kweskin a friend – this week. He can be reached at singer.jonathan@gmail.com.

Nothing Beats a Book

If you really want to do something for yourself, write a book. Nothing else compares with the impact, the instant credibility, the authority that a book conveys.

A good book can suddenly get you speaking engagements, and free publicity. It can also leverage you well beyond your current station where a whole new demographic of clients graze.

I can’t tell you how to sit down Friday night and have a finished book by Monday morning. What I can show you is a way to avoid getting stuck – which is when most people quit.

Go out and buy four packs of ruled, 3 X 5 index cards. I’m embarrassed to promise that something so utilitarian will revolutionize your life as a writer. But it will. I know because it revolutionized mine.

Writing is about two things: structure and creativity. Most people think they can do both at once. You can’t.

Our brains do one thing and one thing well, at a time. The index cards give your brain a green light to brainstorm all the things you want to include in your book. Clear off a tabletop. Now write one idea, one thought per card, starting on the first ruled blue line. The temptation is to start writing the book on the cards. Don’t. You shouldn’t be using more than a couple lines to express that one thought; that one fact (garnered from your research); that one quote.

Spread out those cards on the tabletop, willy-nilly. For one particular book I did with under 20 chapters, each chapter had as many as 100 cards on the table.

When you’ve put all your ideas/facts/quotes on the cards start grouping them together by subject. Expect to have several groups. Give each group a one or two word title and write it in red on the top red line, extreme right.

Now, within each group, put the cards in some logical order. Record the order you’ve put them in by numbering them at the top of the card, on the red line, extreme left.

Arrange the cards vertically like venetian blinds with just enough to show what you’ve written on each card. Paper clip the sides of three or four cards together in that position, keeping the whole row of cards in a neat vertical. From the first card to the last, you ought to be able to scan what you’ve written easily from bottom to top.

Continue this process until you have as many separate vertical rows as your narrative warrants.

By this time you should see some natural transitions between the end of one row and the beginning of another. Arrange the rows in some logical order.

From your position above the table (work with as big a space as you can) if it’s a “chapter” you’re working on, then at a glance you ought to be able to see in the first row of cards the beginning of the chapter and in the last row of cards, the end of the chapter.

What you have on the table is the structure of your manuscript, logically progressing from one thought to the next. That in itself is a major accomplishment. But the real beauty of the cards is that now you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to say. It’s all right in front of you. You can, at a glance, see the beginning, the middle and the end.

An added bonus of seeing your material flow in so graphic a manner is that by keeping an eye on the end you will know how much time you can spend on the beginning and mid-section. That’s pacing!

You’ll never write yourself into a corner again. Writing one thought/fact/quote per card in no particular order allows your brain to spill everything you want to say – without having to make any association between the facts.

With all the “information” on the table that’s one less job your brain has to do. That frees you up to just look for the relationships between your thoughts and ideas – connections that may have never occurred to you.

Finally, once you’ve ordered and grouped the cards, then arranged those groups in a pleasing, logical order, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You’ve got a clear field ahead of you. You know exactly what you need to say and in what order. There’s no mystery. With all the facts in order at your fingertips, your brain is free to just be creative and write.

Try the cards. If all else fails, hire a ghostwriter.


Join us again the first Tuesday of next month for another literati gliterati chapter of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin
704.846.4835 office
704.575.8850 mobile
Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo
ISES, NAWP, Visit Charlotte