Good or Bad..7 things about me.

I have been tagged by my friend Beth Harte to share seven things about me that you might not know (or want to know). I would say this though, as much as we all are about transparency, choosing 7 things can be tough without challenging  The Communications Decency Act. But here goes.

1. In college I majored in Political Science and I hate politics. I just don’t have the passion for it like others, but there was nothing else that interested me or perhaps I didn’t try hard enough to find the right fit. Though I did minor in French…Why?

2. Because I was born and raised in New Orleans, and spoke french throughout my childhood; as it was taught in school and I had lots of cajun friends. My Family moved completely away a year before Katrina, but it still took a heavy toll on me personally. I lived nearby the fairgrounds which is home of the Jazz Fest which I would highly suggest attending if not for the food, then for the music of course. i could hear the music from my front porch.

The house in N.O. 5 minutes from the Jazzfest

The house in N.O. 5 minutes from the Jazzfest

3. Speaking of music, I have a tremendous passion for it. Perhaps because of my heritage and the fact that though I couldnt get into the bars on Bourbon St. until I was 16, I still would catch a bus and go down and listen to the music emenating from the bars for hours on end. With that being said, I have about 600 cassettes, 800 CD’s and roughly 2,000 songs on my ipod. It was this love for music that prompted me to…

4. Sell concert t-shirts for almost 5 years. After I graduated from college, I realized that my degree was pretty worthless, so I decided to go to Graduate school for a masters in sport management. While in school I met a guy that sold concert shirts, not just any kind, they were bootlegs. That’s right, the guys outside the arenas and stadiums, hustling. It was the perfect college job. I just didn’t know it would suck me in for 5 years. There is a book forthcoming of what I saw and experienced. BTW, I have gone to over 500 shows from Hawaii to NYC. But once I got done with my degree, was pretty much fried from all the travelling and realized that the business of sports paid nothing if you wern’t a “playa”, the internet had arrived. Thank god.

5. So I decided to create 2 websites, one devoted to concert t-shirts and the other devoted to music reviews. I learned as much as I could and built them from scratch. One tanked and one thrived. The review site thrived and I started receiving demos and samples and tons of music from the major labels and the  indies. I just couldn’t keep up. Though I loved doing it.  A shell of it’s former self is still up, but it is so neglected and I still don’t have time to manage it which is a pity. The original business plan was so before its time too…oh well. But that initial experience led to more tech related jobs, so I thank music for getting me started.

6. In between tech jobs I also was the Dir. of Mktg for a now defunct alt. music  radio station in Pittsburgh, PA. The gig lasted less than a year. Why? As stations are wont to do, they changed formats from alt. rock to smoooth jazz. Oh and they did it while I was on my honeymoon in Greece. I came back and my stuff was in a box with 2 weeks severance and the smooth sounds of Kenny G wafting through the hallways. Sweet. Oh did I mention I moved to Pittsburgh right after college? Guess not. Try melding a New Orleans/Pittsburghese life into some sort of twisted “Yat-Yinzer” accent. But I love Pittsburgh, which many might not know, but hey that’s what the point of this is right?

Lastly, 7) I have 2 kids who rock, a wife who I married because when I asked her what her favorite music was, she answered that it was the blues, when I pressed her to elaborate, she said, “Stevie Ray”. At that point, she had me. When we met, I had insanely long hair and I owned a motorcycle. I also have roughly 11 strategically placed tattoos as well, but you would never know.  One of the tats is an image from an Alexander Calder painting I own that I bought with my college student loan money that  was supposed to go towards a class…By the way my 8 year old son just asked me how to play the blues…:)

Now that that’s out of the way I’m going to tag the following people:

Valeria Maltoni

Paul Chaney

Ari Herzog

Liz Strauss

Ken Burberry

Kyle Flaherty

Adam Cohen

Here are the rules:

  • Link your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged

15 questions the small business owner will ask about social media

I was reading Peter Kim’s wiki of social media marketing examples which I highly recommend, and thought that I’d follow that up with the following short post about the types of questions and comments you might be getting from business owners about social media. This differs somewhat from say Chris Brogan’s post about selling it internally to your boss-but the questions and comments might be very similar.

Are you having conversations like this? I’ve had these type of questions thrown at me over the course of the last few weeks and months. If you are not getting these type of questions, then maybe you should get out there more. But the flip side is this: You better be prepared to answer them.

  1. How much is it gonna cost?
  2. But first tell me what exactly it is?
  3. Is it like Facebook or Myspace? Because that’s all I really know.
  4. Twitter? I’ve heard about it, but I’m not really sure what that is.
  5. A blog? I don’t see what I blog is going to do for my business, besides, I don’t have time nor the desire to write one.
  6. So you’re going to “show me” how social media is going to drive business? Ok…(proceeds to wait)
  7. Who else is using it?
  8. Are there any companies like mine that are using it?
  9. So can you guarantee this?
  10. Who’s going to do this? You? or us?
  11. How long is this going to take?
  12. I still don’t understand but I’ll take your word for it.
  13. Can you get our website ranked higher in Google?
  14. Will I make money?
  15. Will I save money?

Interestingly enough, even the ones that do “get it” will still ask a lot of these questions.  You see, the issue is that social media and all it’s moving parts really involves putting a value on the engagement and then equating it to dollars earned or dollars saved. That’s what the business owner wants to see. We need to start putting what social media is and does into more equitable simplified terms that the public and small to medium sized business owners can understand, that they can wrap their arms around.  And if you are truly challenged, and you are “that person” that works for the small to medium sized business, then maybe you might want to check out this post by Mark Story, it may help. I know I get it, and maybe you do too, but can you articulate it?

10 quick tips to remember when pitching the client

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately how marketers and social media “experts” or consultants talk to their clients before they have the client in the fold.  Given today’s economic climate, it’s a delicate fine line in the ways we talk or “pitch” the client with a solution.  Since I have been having a lot of those conversations of late, I have been told in equal parts, “man you don’t understand”, “wow you get it”, “what are you talking about”? and “you know nothing about our challenges.”

These are serious times, and rolling in touting social media is completely missing the mark.

So I decided to create a short list that both we the marketer/social media/seo-sem practitioner should read or remember before we have any future conversations with potential clients and prospects. Trust me this is purely subjective.

  • People still don’t get it, never assume they do.
  • There’s always a disconnect somewhere.
  • People are hurting, don’t underestimate how much.
  • Life gets in the way…
  • They really might not have any money but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them.
  • You don’t know their pain, don’t pretend to.
  • You don’t walk in their shoes.
  • They need what you have, but you need to speak their language.
  • They need what you do but might not know it, help them understand.
  • Be respectful

You know, a lot of this is common sense but I think sometimes we want so much to get the project and get the deal that we forget who we are talking to. We end up forgetting the tremendous challenges that not only do we face, but that our potential customers are facing.

Essentially what I’m saying is that it’s always a challenge to get a new client or a new customer, but now more than ever, we have to understand that these are not normal times. I’m going to explore this more at length because i think it’s a topic that will eventually make us all better at what we do if we can understand the challenges facing our  current and potential clients.

The 10 points above, make sense in any economic situation but they resonate more today December 9th 2008.

Jerry doesn’t get it.

Social Media Today principal Jerry Bowles  last week wrote a post called Twitter is for birdbrains I read and said to myself, “he’s kidding right?” I guess he wasn’t. The problem with Jerry’s post was that he runs a site that has the tag line- The Web’s best thinkers on social media and web 2.0. This post would not comprise some of the “best” thinking associated with the site. If anything it comes off as the man who walks around with a shot gun and keeps yelling at the kids to get off of his property. Or the guy in the old Scooby -Doo cartoons, who says, “if it wern’t for you meddling kids…” Or the person who can’t stand that new group the Beatles, and doesn’t understand what all the hoopla is..

how-scooby-doo-works-11

Go read the post if you haven’t and tell me what you think.

My friend Paul Chaney, whose opinion I respect very much sums it up this way.

This really gets my dander up. Not because you feel so negatively about Twitter (though I think you’re perspective is ill-informed), but because you’re principal of a company whose sites have, according to Robin, several Twitter accounts and runs a Twitterfeed in the sidebar! Jerry, at best that’s hypocrisy and ludicrous at worst. Most certainly incongruous.

It’s as narrow minded, off base, and completely wrong a post that I’ve seen on Social Media Today since I’ve been a contributor. If it was to get a rise and nothing more, then how about letting us in on the joke Jerry. If it wasn’t and you truly believe what you have written- then maybe you might want to backtrack and claim that you were doing it just to get attention to the site.

My  main complaint? You barely use or have used Twitter, so I’m not sure how you can definitively make the statements or claims that you have. They hold no weight. If it was someone with 500 followers and was following 500 and had 500 tweets, well then maybe I might seriously consider what you said, or at least respect your opinion- but I can’t even do that.  I’m trying to understand, really I am. That’s it, I’m out.

3 things to do when getting started with social media

I have a new scribe and I need to get him up to speed fast with social media. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he is not alone. I talked to him for 2 hours yesterday and felt like I dumped wayyy too much info on him. With that being said, I decided to quickly enlist the Twitter nation for the 3 things that they would suggest when first jumping into social media. Here are 7 responses I received in the span of 10 minutes:

@portentint: Learn Google Reader, Sign up for Twitter, Use LinkedIn

@spartanvikas: start a blog and learn to link, read a lot about the sub from net, and self brand online and see for urself

@leahjones: find a few blogs that matter to them personally and add to rss reader. Personal interests draw you in.

@mhames: join Facebook, then join a group, do a Twitter search for their brand/keyword, join LinkedIn, answer a question.

@kenburbary: 1) Listen first to what you care about (keywords – you, your company, etc) using blogsearch, technorati, G alerts, twtter search 2) start to talk – tools depend on the situation/person. Could lead w/blogging, or twitter for example. pick the 1 that works 4 u

@Adgenius: 1) Goals: what do you want to accomplish 2) Target group: who do you want to reach 3) Start listening.. Without 1&2, don’t start then I’d say: 1) Listen 2) Trial 3) Engage

@AmberCadabra: 1) Read blogs in their area of interest, comment often 2) Get on Twitter and play 3) Read the Cluetrain to understand the “why” A big part of getting “feet wet” in social media is about understanding what makes it unique.

Great advice here, don’t you think? So if you’re just starting out, don’t be intimidated. Take it slow, and most of all…Listen! Any other suggestions? Feel free to chime on in!

Twitter is killing my blog

I just read a tweet, yep that’s right a tweet in which David Armano pondered whether Adam Kmiec’s blog post about the quality and frequency of some notable bloggers is diminshing because of Twitter… is true. 

Kmiec mentions that not only Armano, but Peter Kim and Joseph Jaffe are guilty as well of producing substandard  quality and quantity. I say he’s right. And though I’m not on the same level as those guys, I see it happening to me as well.

The proof:

David Armano yesterday penned, The world’s shortest blog entry

Joseph Jaffe recently wrote the post titled, “Who gives a shit about toilet paper?”

I’m not using David and Joseph as the poster children here, Adam already did, but I did think it was funny to look at their most recent blog posts. I liked both, but there was some delicious irony in it all. I know there are lots more of us twitter/bloggers out there whose craft might be suffering because of Twitter; and I can without a doubt tell you that I have tweeted wasted? some great blog post topics which have then transformed into some great twitter conversations. My posts are becoming shorter. Any coincidence? They’re becoming more rant-like. I feel like I’m mailing it in some time. Or maybe because there are so many good conversations going on, on Twitter, all the good stuff is being said in real time and doesn’t need to be elaborated on? I’m speculating, but you get the point.

 So what happens?

The digital footprint isn’t the same as if it were a blog post. It’s there, sort of, but for the most part it is gone.  I’m not sure how to strike the happy medium because I like both worlds. But my blog is suffering.

Thoughts?

Where are your customers?

Are you where they are?

I was reading an old post by Drew McLellan in which he basically asks the same thing. He says, “Where do your customers gather?  What are you doing to make sure you’re there too?”

Good point.  Might make sense on Twitter too. If you’re a marketer and your hangin with other marketers, then you might not run into many clients or customers or leads. That’s not actually your fault, it’s the nature of the way we follow and are followed. But maybe it might make sense to find people in a certain vertical and follow them? I’ll give you an example.

When I was in college, I sold concert t-shirts. It paid well, I loved music, and it was a helluva gig. There were a couple of challenges though. First, they were bootlegs, and second, I wasn’t the only one selling them. So whenever there was a big stadium show for example, every t-shirt seller from here to BFE was out selling them. Too much competition. In fact, there was so much competition that we would all end up clustering by the same places hoping to make a sale and ultimately end up talking to each other and selling/yelling at customers. Oh and third?  Some of the shirts were of lesser quality and limited sizes and yet, some of the sellers would sell at a lower price that ultimately disturbed the economic balance of the business. Sound familiar?

bootleg

However the shirt sellers that hustled, broke off from the rest, and found quieter pockets of customers that were tailgating for instance, had a much better chance of talking with the customer and also having an exclusive captive audience, thus resulting in not just one sale, but perhaps selling 4-6 shirts at a premium price.

I know it’s a stretch for an analogy but the point is that now more than ever, your strategy needs to be more focused, refined, flexible and targeted. Instead of yelling and selling, go find the quiet bunch of tailgaters chillin and grillin and ready to buy. But don’t wait for them.

Lets Focus

 tiger-woods-focus-on-what-to-do-next-accenture1

When thinking of writing another blog post, it’s often about social media, or marketing, or web 2.0. All really big topics, and all with champions and thought leaders in each. But chances are if you come here to my blog, you’re looking for something. I want to give it to you. But today what I’m going to give you is some advice. It’s advice I need to heed but don’t from time to time.

It goes something like this.

How many blogs are in your feed reader? Mine? Somewhere between 150 and 200. I would love to read them every day but I don’t. Maybe I should focus on about 10 per day and rotate them from time to time? Want some suggestions?  Instead of the obvious, here are some with some variety in the content like Valeria Maltoni, Mark Story, Peter Kim, Toby Bloomberg, B.L. Ochman, Paul McEnany and Beth Harte

How many social networking sites or groups do you participate in? Me? At least a half a dozen, maybe more. How many can I actively participate in? That’s a good question. Maybe 3, maybe 6 and not much more. I’d rather be really active in 3 instead of marginal in 6-10. How bout just Linkedin, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and your blog? 2 of those are somewhat passive so you could manage them all fairly effectively.

How often do you read email? Me? Too often to really even narrow down. But it least 2-3 times per hour. I’m not sure what I’m hoping to get, but surely it can wait an hour or 2 before I respond. I believe Tim Ferris says read it twice a day?

How often do you use Twitter? What actions during your day revolve around the usage and participation of Twitter? Me? I have Tweetdeck running from the moment I step in my office. Not sure if that is wise. Does Mr. Tweet enhance or hinder this?

I think you see where I’m going, but let’s continue.

What amount of your day is spent reading about what is going on in our country right now? I admit that my day revolves around what is happening on a local level (Naples, Florida) a national level, an economic level, and globally. Does it consume me?  No, but It concerns me, so I read a lot. Should I reduce that amount like I should email?

What am I doing about IT? and what can I do about IT? What can you do about IT?

You see the challenge here is that we have a tremendous amount of tool sets and new web sites at hand right now, from social media tools to web 2.0 tools, and we can use them to improve what we do. We can also use aspects of them to improve our companies, our clients and our prospects, but we need to focus on which tools will work best for whom. We need to focus on doing what we do better. We need to refine it. Hone our skills, if you will. We need to better manage our time, our focus and our ability to cut through the clutter of filling up our day with a lot of social media bullshit apps and web 2.0  alpha and beta sites. Focus on what you know and do it better. I know I’m going to try. I need to. We need to. I don’t have a choice and neither do you.