I delivered a keynote yesterday at BlogWorld Expo (Dave Thomas from SAS has great notes here). In it, I called for us bloggers that have been around for a bit to step up our game, to get to work, to bring this all up a level. The speech was one part arrogance, nine parts passion. For what I think happens next is this: companies either do or don’t get into these tools. We, however, have to consider the tools and the business and what we’re going to do with it all, whether or not the mother ships in our lives are ready to come along.
Here’s some of what I pointed out in my presentation.
Set Up Shop – if you’re an independent business and you’re blogging to make content marketing for your business, be sure you’ve built “how to do business with me” into your site. Do you have a “work with me” page? Do you have a “contact me” page? Are you putting out obvious calls to action? Take it from blogging about what you know is cool into blogging about ways to help the customers you hope to attract.
Think Like a Business – if you’re in this for business, always ask yourself how this work ties to more sales (and if you’re not trying to make money, think of “sale” as whatever you hope to convert. Hint: it’s not “more audience.”). If you’re just writing to write, shooting video to get it up there, tweeting because people said you should, rethink all that. Decide what’s going to ring your register and work on that. Use this as marketing if you want, but be sure to have a call to action, then, so that it’s really marketing and not just words.
Be a Consistent Brand – make sure that everything coming out of you syncs with your brand. It’s okay to talk business and personal (without the personal touch, you’ll miss some of the beauty of the human web), but make sure all that you’re doing is as consistent as possible. If you’re positioning yourself as a luxury expert, do you have all kinds of junk ads on your site? If you’re saying that you’re into relationships and quality human contact, are you spamming people with a newsletter they didn’t opt into? If you have other people working with you, are they representing the feel you’re hoping to portray with the EXPERIENCE of working with you?
Extend Your Platform – get beyond the blog. I don’t mean to just tweet, either. Get out into physical space and start meeting people from time to time. Don’t go to social media events, only. Go to the events where clients are, instead of the events where the cool kids hang out. Move your voice into as many places as you can. Consider video. Write speeches and things you’d love to say on a stage on your blog (it’s how I got my start speaking professionally).
Build Small Powerful Networks – go beyond using social media tools just to chat and keep up. Stop playing Farmville and start building networks of people you feel are important, energizing, uplifting, and potentially useful to your future business plans. Get into collaborative efforts with people who share your thoughts. There are lots of people going solo when they could team up and have even more power from the small organization. Don’t overthink this one. Just build networks that extend beyond having a “groups” tab in Tweetdeck.
Equip Your Customers – instead of writing about your stuff, write about your customers. Give them ideas on how they can improve their world, and for a REAL strong effect, don’t even mention your product every post. Your customers need much more than your product to succeed. How else can you equip them? Giving people useful information, useful things, a step up on the world is a powerful way to build new relationships and deliver potential sales.
Focus on the Relationship – to me, the new unit of business should be relationships. You get more fruit from an apple tree if you nurture it and pick apples when it’s ripe, instead of uprooting the tree and forcefully shaking the apples into your barrel. It takes a bit longer, but you’re a farmer and a steward, not a machinist. (This is a great part of why I feel many businesses failed over the last two years)
Make Trust a Must – If you’re in this for the long haul, work to earn trust. People want to trust you. It’s a matter of giving them signs of trust, including being there, being consistent, being everywhere they need you to be, and being authentic to your internal and external needs. People aren’t stupid. They need to feel your conviction and your support all the way throughout the experience with you.
Beyond that, I’ll save the rest for another post.
Does this make sense? Are you ready to get to work? Can you see what should come next from this?
photo credit saad.akhtar