Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Social Media Marketing Gurus Don't Want You to Know

I read this interesting article from Zeke Camusio of the Outsourcing Company in Aspen Colorado. It's a cool perspective on Social Media utilization that I believe is the right approach. Thanks Zeke!

Do you know why most people fail miserably at Social Media Marketing? Because they don't really get what it's all about. They think it's about promoting their companies. It's not; it's about MAKING FRIENDS.

"Really? Making friends?"

"Yes, really."

See, people like doing business with their friends. If your toilet breaks and one of your friends is a janitor, you'll ask him to fix it. If you don't have any janitor friend, then you might ask your friends if they know a janitor they trust. People do business with their friends for two reasons:

  1. They get a better service, price, deal, etc.

  2. They give money to people they care about.

So, how can you apply this principle to Social Media Marketing?

  1. Make sure your social media profiles say what you do and have links to your site.

  2. Make friends. Discover your target market and start talking to those people. Don't sell them anything; just make friends with them and check out their status updates. What are they doing? Is there anything you can help with? Are they asking questions you can answer or looking for something you can give them?

  3. After a few interactions, something very interesting will happen. They're going to ask you the BIG QUESTION: "so, what do you do for a living?". Just tell them what you do but don't make it sound like you're trying to sell them something. This is where your elevator speech will come into play. In case you want to know what an elevator speech looks like, this is mine: "I help companies get thousands of qualified visitors for their websites." Create an elevator speech and be ready to share it when people ask you what you do for a living.

  4. People will add you to their "mental Rolodex". It works something like this: "Joan P. - High-end catering services", "Marty K. - Real estate agent", etc.

  5. When they need a real estate agent, they'll call Marty. And, they'll also recommend Marty to anyone who needs a real estate agent (assuming that Marty took the time to build strong relationships with his contacts instead of trying to sell them his services).

I can't emphasize this enough: Social Media Marketing is about MAKING FRIENDS, not about selling your stuff. But remember: making friends is a great way to sell your stuff!

I believe that if we all understood the concept in this article, the Social Media Marketing world would be a lot more fun and efficient, so let me ask you a favor: spread the word. Send this to your contacts, re-tweet it, share it on Facebook, or share it any way you want.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Twitter Tip - 5 Proven Ways To Get Retweeted

I've got Twitter on the brain these days as I head to the California Gift Show in Los Angeles this weekend. I am putting on a three day seminar on Twitter so excuse me if I am "dialed in" on Twitter.

I came across this cool article on strategies to get retweeted by Kristin Burnham on IT World. Check it out:


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Retail Resurgence 2010 - Workshop February 23,24 Virginia Beach Resort and Conference Center

The Retail Evolution Is Upon Us. To Thrive In The New Economy Requires Knowledge And The Will To Change. Learning How To Effectively Connect With Your Customers Is Paramount. Consumers Perceive Brands And Stores In Ways Never Seen Before. How Are You Being Perceived? How Are You Performing?
Session Topics Include:
  • Creating Financial Success by Understanding and Using Retail Benchmarks
  • How to Connect with Your Customers More Effectively by Using Social Media Marketing Tools
  • How to Use Innovative Processes Utilizing the Voice of the Customer to Grow Your Business
  • Retail Realities and Trends – Learn How to Adapt Retail Trends as a Competitive Advantage for Your Specialty Business
Wednesday February 24, 2010
Virginia Beach Resort and
Conference Center
Registration 8:30 am
Program 9:00 am to 5:15 pm

Tuesday February 23, 2010
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Connections, Canap├ęs and Conversation

Session Cost: $139 per participant, $99 per additional participant from the same organization The value is unbeatable – this small investment will yield great returns!
Reserve Your Spot Today. Call or Email: or
Phone: 757-491-1411
Check or Credit Cards Accepted

For a pdf of this seminar flyer email

On the Road Again-- Trade Show Fever

January is always an exciting time for me as I get to head out to speak at various trade shows across the US. I'm always excited to talk to retailers about what happened this past holiday season and how they are planning for the upcoming year.

Planning is especially important in this challenging economy and sometimes, I don't think retailers give it a high enough priority in the day to day rush of getting everything done.

So for this post, I thought I would share a couple of ideas for retailers as they head into this frantic buying season full of excitement and Christmas dollars to invest in spring inventory. Keep these ideas in mind as you hit the road to fill your shelves and store rooms with merchandise

Determine Your Goals for the Trade Show IN ADVANCE

  • Set a budget by vendor and classification after reviewing last year's results and existing inventory - Stick To It.

  • Establish dialogue with suppliers on potential marketing support for this year

  • Network with other retailers and suppliers seeking new ideas to drive sales, market share and profitability

Prepare A Thoughtful Merchandise Strategy in Advance.

  • Develop a strategy for buying - number of units, sizes, classifications, vendors, dollars

  • Schedule appointments ahead of time with key vendors

  • Preview show map and develop a schedule and plan a route - don't just meander through the show aimlessly

Gather Relevant Industry Insights to Make Good Purchasing Decisions

  • Schedule time for relevant educational seminars during your trade show visit

  • Talk to key vendors about best practices for sell through and merchandising

  • Engage in conversations with key thought leaders - approach seminar leaders with questions

  • Gather contact info on opinion leaders and plan on following post show on twitter, blogs, websites and newsletters

Work With Your Suppliers

  • Pre-wire for support during the year and determine follow-up plan after purchases
    Request placement on their website - store locator, hyperlinks

  • Ask for information about best practices from non-competitor

  • Seek merchandising suggestions

Going into a trade show with a defined set of objectives and a plan to achieve them will go a long way to ensuring you have a productive trade show and a great start to 2010. Think strategically and stick to the plan!

I'm off to Los Angeles and the California Gift Show. Drop by and see me and my colleague Ruth at our hands on Twitter sessions....put it in your schedule :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reflections Before Resolutions

Every year we make resolutions in January for all the wonderful things we want to achieve in the next twelve months. Many times those resolutions are the same ones we made the year before....ever vowed to lose weight, relax more, or better yet- get more organized at work or home?

Whether it's for personal reasons, or professional ones, I think it's a good idea to reflect on the previous year before we start considering the next one. Time taken to reflect on the lessons we learnt will hopefully help us avoid making the same mistakes in the the coming year.

As we retailers head into the buying season and the trade show circuit consider, I thought I'd share some suggestions on how to review the prior year in order to make business resolutions that will have an impact on your business during the coming year.

  • Reconcile last years sales to determine sale by vendor, sales by classification, profitability by vendor and profitability by classification; Any patterns, trends or best sellers?

  • Take an accurate inventory by vendor and classification; Any gaping holes or excessive amounts?

  • How did various classifications and vendors sales grow over the past year; were they consistent across the entire product portfolio? Did they correlate with inventory investments?

  • Assess the impact of any trends on your pending purchases; What intelligence have you gathered in seminars, from customers and vendors? How credible are these resources based on last years actual results?

A little reflecting on last year will help with your planning and resolutions heading into 2010.

Be Smart About Debt

One of the most critical elements of learning to manage your retail business’s financial situation is understanding the difference between smart debt and dumb debt. Understanding the wealth building or destroying power of debt could be the defining element of your future success.

Dumb Debt

This is the kind of debt you rack up from making impulsive purchases that you cannot afford. Dumb debt often comes as a result of trying to do what you would like vs. what is right for your business. It’s the kind of debt incurred from the instant gratification of making excessive and unnecessary purchases. It only sets you further back financially and does not help you build assets or reach your financial goals. An example is buying a lot of inventory from a designer whose style you love, without considering whether your customers have the same admiration for the designer and the potential implications to profits caused by excessive markdowns.

While much of dumb debt comes from credit card spending, not all credit card purchases are dumb debt. In fact, using a credit card can help your credit score, because you are building a favorable credit and payment history. But if you can’t manage your payments and you are strapped for cash each month trying to pay your credit card bill, you are going into dumb debt and you need to rethink your spending habits. Dumb debt can often lead to dumb strategies in order to service debt. Only use credit cards for your business if your sure cash flows will enable repayments!

Dumb debt does not just come from credit cards. You can also rack up dumb debt by buying too much inventory, investing in non-productive, expensive store improvements, being too generous with employee hours, benefits and pay, expensing too many “personal” expenses through the business, or underutilizing payables terms.

Borrowing money for any reason must be carefully weighed against the financial (not emotional) benefit of the debt to be incurred.

Smart Debt

Smart debt is the kind of debt that helps your business financially. If you get the right loan, utilize the proceeds to develop incremental business profits and manage your payments well, debt is a great tool to leverage and multiply profits. Low interest bank loans, lines of credit and supplier loans can be smart debt, provided they drive increment. Even credit card debt can be a smart decision, as long as you pay off your purchases in full each month. The greatest businesses in the world were built with the assistance and leverage provided by OPM (Other Peoples’ Money). Debt is a tremendous tool…..used wisely!

Knowing the difference between smart and dumb debt is important. Resist the urge of dumb debt so you can reach your financial goals with smart debt.