Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: May 2009

Social Media Experts are Like My Chiropractor

I love seeing the give and take on the marketing forums like MarketingProfs and LinkedIn’s Q&A. But, I have to chuckle at times when I see the advice given by social media experts. In a way it reminds me of my chiropractor.

My chiropractor is the best doctor I have ever been to. He knows what he’s talking about and he’s great at what he does. His specialty goes beyond aligning bones and into nutrition and sports therapy.

I have jokingly suggested that he thinks everything can be solved with chiropractic care. According to him, one of the best times to see him is when I have a cold. Apparently, alignment can make all the difference.

He is also a strong advocate of eating right and exercise. That may be putting it too mildly, but he knows that without a strong foundation no amount of alignment is ever going to put one on the path toward better health.

I trust him - certainly more than any MD. But, it’s because of the breadth of his knowledge and not because he’s a chiropractor. It’s also because of his integrity. I know he’d tell me if he couldn’t help me and I needed to see another type of specialist. He cares about the rest of my health and not just my alignment.

So why do social media experts remind me of my chiropractor?

No matter what kind of marketing dilemma the person asking the question on the forum asks, it seems there’s always a social media expert to suggest that social media is the answer.

I respect the social media experts for their knowledge and skills, however, suggesting that someone who barely understands the basics of marketing that they should start blogging seems a bit like telling a sick person who is not taking care of themselves that a weekly visit to a chiropractor will do the trick.

Before someone gets involved in Blogs, Twitter, forums etc, I’d suggest they master the basics and develop a marketing plan that will give them some consistency in their lead generation. Many of these elements of their plan are likely to be much more traditional in nature. e.g. a well-defined target market, traditional campaign development, and a lead nurturing program. Social media may be part of the plan, but like chiropractic care, it is part of a much larger equation and not the sole answer.

I applaud the social media experts who truly are like my chiropractor and who see the big picture. These professionals usually developed a strong foundation in other marketing disciplines before they got involved in social media. Those of you without this breadth of experience would do well to broaden your horizons so that you can see the “whole patient.”
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Full Disclosure – I’m no longer unbiased about marketing consultants

I write so often about using outside vendors that I need to tell you all that I have recently become one. I try as much as I can to make this blog about you and not about me, but humor me this one time and let me share what I’m up to.

I left my current employer last Friday and have been busily setting up my consulting business. As those of you who know me understand, I love to write and to tell people what to do. Consulting is perfect!

All jesting aside, I’ve always loved the Zig Ziglar saying, “You can get everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

I learned that while in sales and driving around Chicago early in my career. I actually think I spent more time on the expressways than in customer’s offices so I heard it a lot as I listened to Zig’s tapes. (CDs weren’t invented yet)

This saying has been a primary motivator behind my marketing career. You might even say I’ve been using it as my mission statement. Although I certainly didn’t write it, it feels like mine. And, it’s an attitude that has served me well over the years.

In marketing, I can get everything I want if I help enough sales people get what they want. As a manager of marketing teams, I can also help other marketers get what they want by mentoring them. Now, as a consultant, I can help other businesses get what they want by helping them avoid so many of the mistakes that marketers make.

I’m really looking forward to this new chapter in my career and I’m eager to continue to reach out to all of you through my blog and help you get what you want out of your marketing campaigns and careers. Thanks for keeping me on your reading list.

All the best!

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Can a Salesperson Be a Good Marketer?

Yes! Unlike some of my fellow marketing professionals, I think a background in sales is a stellar base on which to build a marketing career. Maybe it's because that's how I got to where I am, but I've also seen it work for others. With the proper guidance, a salesperson can make a great marketer.

If you have a marketing post to fill and are thinking of moving one of your salespeople into the role, here are some suggestions for the types of roles that fit well and what you can do to help prepare them.

Demand Creation – This may be the best fit for a salesperson since this role is so close to the world they are familiar with. Salespeople have a natural sense of urgency that is unfortunately often lacking in marketing professionals. They understand the connection between marketing and sales and how marketing drives sales performance. They are comfortable being judged by the numbers so they more readily accept performance plans based on results. Finally, their natural competitiveness may make them eager to show other marketers how it’s supposed to be done.

If the salesperson needs to work in a group, you may need to provide careful coaching so that the sense of urgency, competitiveness and other “sales traits” don’t drive the rest of the marketing team batty. There are usually a few “coachable moments” as salespeople accustom themselves to the world of marketing. Stay close and be available as a sounding board.

I would also invest in a Marketingprofs or Marketing Sherpa subscription so that the salesperson has ready access to the latest marketing ideas. Watching the webinars as a team can promote camaraderie between the new marketer and the rest of the team. It also ensures that it gets done.

Product Marketing – Also an excellent role since the salesperson readily understands how the collateral and messages get used in the field. They probably have a good understanding of what materials still need to be created. And, if they’ve gone through a decent sales training program, they should have a decent grasp of selling benefits and not features.

This was the role I first moved into when I left sales. I had a marketing degree but no practical marketing experience. The biggest challenge I had was getting a true grasp of the responsibilities of a competent professional product marketer. There was a lot more to the job than just creating whatever brochure sales wanted.

To help prepare a salesperson for a role in product marketing, I highly recommend sending them to a Pragmatic Marketing course.

Product Management – I moved fairly rapidly from Product Marketing to Product Management. The line between the roles varies from company to company but Product Managers usually drive the future direction of the product and may be responsible for the P&L for the product line. In my case, I also managed the Product Marketers so having filled that role helped prep me for Product Management.

The challenge for salespeople moving into a Product Management role where they are going to drive the future direction of the product is learning to balance the different drivers on product direction.

To a salesperson in the field, the most important driver is adding the features that can help them close the latest sale. Product Managers have to balance the requirements based on which features are required by the highest number of future customers in the agreed upon target market. Then they need to balance that against features that are required for current customer satisfaction. Sometimes this means they will need to disappoint their former teammates in sales.

Once again, the courses from Pragmatic Marketing can be extremely beneficial for new Product Managers.

There are, of course, other roles in marketing like website development, public relations, analyst relations and branding. These roles are further removed from sales and not usually attractive to someone who was originally drawn to the world of sales. For example, I can’t imagine any salesperson actually wanting to be part of a branding project. These folks are a breed unto themselves.

All the best!

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What New Ideas Have You Considered Lately?

I would contend that if you aren’t on at least a half a dozen email lists from marketing vendors, you aren’t serious enough about your profession.

How’s that for a different take on spam mail? And, for those of you who don’t know me, I do not work for a marketing agency so I have nothing to gain from making this statement.

So many people complain about the “spam” they get from vendors. If you aren’t getting regular emails from vendors with offers to download their latest thought leadership white paper or attend a webinar, then your are probably doing the same things this year that you did last year. And, although you may be working harder at it, you’re probably not making much progress.

How many email lists you are on is a reflection of how much searching you do for a better way. What are the stumbling blocks in your organization? Lead nurturing? Getting to the decision maker? Low direct mail response rate? Poor targeting? Lack of Competitive intelligence? Poor website traffic and retention? Lack of qualified leads in general?

Take those terms, or ones like them, and Google to see who has something to say about tackling these issues. Attend the webinars. Read the white papers. Do not be afraid to talk to vendors who have something to say and a service or product to offer. You never know when you’ll find what you are looking for. If you aren’t finding it, don’t be afraid to say so.

Yes, your inbox will grow in size, but you have a delete button for a reason. If the subject-line doesn’t compel you, don’t read the email.

If vendors flood your inbox with irrelevant or less-than-useful info, you can always ask to be taken off their mailing list. I would suggest that you should have regular turn-over in your vendor solicitations as you want to keep the ideas coming in as fresh as possible. There will, of course, be a few standbys that have good ideas year over year.

By the way, if any of you put me on your mailing lists after this blog post, please make your emails pithy and show some thought leadership. I do opt-out regularly.

All the best!

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Words of Wisdom

In this fast-paced world where hardly anyone gets the ackowledgement they deserve, I think this quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln is precious.

“Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”

Apparently, recognition was something people craved in the 1800s as much as they do today.

Take time out from your day today and say thanks to someone who really deserves to be thanked. I recently said thank-you to a co-worker who handles a mundane, administrative task. It's not a difficult task, nor is it time-consuming, but she does it extremely efficiently and reliably. She also seemed genuinely grateful for the small bit of recognition. (Which made me feel really good in return.)

All the best!

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

LinkedIn Rides to The Rescue

I’ve had this blog for quite some time and I’ve really enjoyed writing for it. I’ve been a little disappointed with the sparse number of comments I’ve been getting. I didn’t think it was my topics so I thought it might have been my writing.

Finally, Mark Smith from InTouch, told me that it was a bit of a hassle leaving a comment because you had to sign-up for a Google account. I hadn’t uncovered that in my own testing because, of course, I already have an account. Thank you, Mark!

Not being a professional blogger, I wasn’t sure what to do. I wanted people to leave comments because that’s half the fun. I didn’t want to use a new tool because I was afraid I would lose all of the history with my blog. I was sure there had to be a way to do this within the Blogger tool, but like most people I never RT*M. (ask your IT department if you don’t get the acronym.)

I decided to ask the question in the Blogging section on LinkedIn. Pretty soon I had 8 answers. WordPress got a pretty strong endorsement from most of the respondents. With such a strong response, I may try it out in the future. And, many of the respondents told me how I could export my current blog information to WordPress so I wouldn’t have to start all over.

But, a special thanks goes to Anthony Shireman who told me in clear simple terms how to change my settings so that anyone can leave a comment. Anthony, thank you, thank you, thank you!

The generosity and helpfulness of complete strangers never ceases to amaze me. The internet is a powerful and sometime dangerous tool to be sure. But it also brings out the best in people. If you have a question, chances are good that someone on LinkedIn has an answer.

Now that I’ve changed my settings, I hope a few of you can try it out and let me know how it works.

All the best!

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Is It Important to be Liked - Part 2

I thought it would be interesting to see what the LinkedIn community thought about the importance of being liked to effective leadership.

Here’s a link to the original question and the responses: Do you need to be liked in order to lead?
There were many thoughtful responses along with some great suggestions for additional reading. The most interesting suggestion was to download the Army Field Manual on Leadership. I’ve added it to my reading list.

As I expected, the majority of responses (8 by my count) said that it was not necessary. A couple said that it was necessary. Several said “it depends.” Maybe they were afraid they wouldn’t be liked if they took a stand.

“Respected”, “Honest” and “Ethical” were all mentioned as necessary traits in several responses.

Other adjectives included: visionary, intelligent, inspiring, compassionate, respectful, humane, humble, fair, unbiased, and trusted. There was even one that said it was important to be “acceptable.” That last one seems like a fairly low bar to me.

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