danniewriter

Embrace role of ‘own worst enemy,’ then learn

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The saying goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

You may think peace, love, and a chicken in every pot when you hear the phrase. It’s likely that was the original intent of the author, however, for someone who frequently shares advice on writing, marketing, public relations, and other topics, the mandate resonates for the more mundane, too. Examples:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Links
  • Contact information
  • Call to action

In other words, the blogger/consultant’s equivalent to making sure the proverbial fly is zipped.

A couple of resources I happened on since last week have driven this point home. Now, both of these authors offer products and services, and if that is off putting to you as a shoestring marketer (such as myself), I encourage you not to tune out. There’s excellent insight here even if you don’t purchase a thing.

First up is Courtney Johnston’s post about email marketing from her company, The Rule Breaker’s Club. I found myself nodding as I read. A bonus is her assurance that email marketing has not gone the way of the Dodo, MySpace, or the Blackberry. Email is free, free, free. If you aren’t using it consistently and strategically (and yes, somewhat sparingly) for marketing and fundraising, you are making life tougher on yourself.

Johnston points out several things I need to be doing, and I also like the fact that she cops to having her own struggles in some of these areas.

A much more comprehensive “best practices” piece comes from Social Media Examiner. It didn’t take long for me to get a bit overwhelmed, and even slightly discouraged, at seeing the number of loops I have yet to close in my own work. And that’s what it’s about, closing loops.

It won’t help your business to introduce a great new product or service if the link to your online catalog is broken, or if the street address ends with the word “Lane” instead of “Boulevard.” (Try doing the latter in Atlanta with the word “Peachtree” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.)

Are you a non-profit communicator? What good is a heartfelt challenge or appeal without giving your prospective donors and volunteers a starting point to meet that challenge? When is your office open to receive volunteers? How secure is your online giving tool? Where’s the list of donations? Is it posted online and in a print-friendly format?

That’s loop closing.

Are there times when I am my worst enemy? You bet. But rather than be overwhelmed by Ben Sailer’s excellent post on Social Media Examiner, I’m going to print it out and use it as a checklist with the goal of addressing a few of these each week until I knock them all out.

Need some help closing your own loops? Give me a call.

Tendons, social media engagement; it’s about bridging gaps

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For nearly nine weeks, one of my digits has been in a splint, which is why the blog has been on a bit of a hiatus. It’s a case of mallet finger, which isn’t terribly painful, but at my last checkup, the ruptured tendon in question still had some mending to do. I certainly hope the splint is effective, otherwise I’ll need surgery. Based on the one YouTube video I dared watch, the procedure may involve hammering a piece of what looks to be the world’s thinnest rebar through the top of my finger.

Now that I’ve given each of us the willies, I’ll let you know what mallet finger has to do with marketing.

The splint forces the ruptured ends of the tendon together and promotes healing. If the splint doesn’t keep the joint fixed in the extended position, in comes the rebar to bridge the gap.

Take heart, dear reader, let me assure you that bridging the gap between your business or non-profit and your audience is must less painful!

You’ve probably read, repeatedly, that social media is about relationships and “engaging” with your core audience of customers, donors and other “stakeholders.” Here’s a quick recap on the concept from Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

Just like bridging the gap between two pieces of torn tendon, dialogue is needed to connect you to your stakeholders. This is achieved by inviting feedback from your audience and then responding to what they share.

Sometimes it’s as simple as asking questions via your Facebook or Twitter feed. Remember, you’re looking for useful feedback that will help you better connect with your core audience. Phrase questions so you get more detail than a “yes” or “no” response. Questions that begin with the words “how” and “why” should stimulate conversation.

Ishita Ganguly penned a great post for Social Media Examiner that should give you several good ideas. Like so many efforts, follow through is key. Make sure your social media account is set up to notify you when someone has commented. You can have notifications pushed to your cell phone so you won’t miss an interaction. Thank the commenter and see if you can keep the conversation going. Chances are other followers will chime in.

If you’re nervous that your effort won’t yield results, enlist a few of your most faithful customers or donors and ask them to share their thoughts to get the thread moving. The more time and effort you put into your first interaction, the more steam you’ll have to develop an online environment that embraces dialogue and responds to stakeholders’ questions, concerns and opinions.

Need more assistance? Consider giving me a call. There’s no charge for an initial consultation.