Even though the job market in Charlotte (and the rest of the US) continues to struggle, it never fails to amaze me how many opportunities there are for those that use the Internet intelligently.
I’m not talking about shopping the job boards, submitting resumes online all day, or chasing every “expert” that has the next get rich quick scheme.
I have always enjoyed meeting other businesses and learning from them.
I especially enjoy small businesses with just a few employees. I think that’s the sweet spot and it’s where I try to keep my business. They are typically more diversely capable than a freelancer, yet not as cluttered with politics and meetings as a larger business. They require good teamwork and appropriate leadership. They can offer comparatively great pricing. In my opinion, that’s the ideal size.
In fact, I’ve noticed that small businesses (with just a few employees and some contractors) are typically best suited for providing solid, personalized services to other businesses. When I was taking clients, I knew that 9 out of 10 times I could out-perform and provide more personal services than most of my competitors that were freelancers or larger businesses.
That’s what I like about Knowmad Technologies.
By now, you have probably noticed that I launched Hippo Academy on April 19.
The launch involves making three videos and then a sales page. The first video is giving some general ideas of why you can believe me. The next video will explain the actual details of the academy and why it will work for you. The third video will answer any questions that come up.
But you want the inside scoop, right?
The reality is that I stopped teaching my classes about six months ago for two reasons. Read More
For those of you in the Charlotte area that are into marketing, we’ve got some great events coming up. Here’s the ones that are catching my attention.
(I’m attending the ones in RED. I’d like to attend them all and recommend them all, but I just don’t have the time. I’m working on my new academy.)
One area of Internet marketing that most tend to ignore is advertising. It’s understandable. After all, the incredible opportunity of search engine marketing and the power of work of mouth in social media is more exciting and interesting than a boring ad.
However, at times you need to get your brand and message out there on a large scale to those that may not even know you exist.
Web advertising still works. In fact, it has advanced a lot from the banner ads you may remember. Different formats, interactivity, and even social components have been added.
This is well illustrated in this recent article by Interactive Advertising Bureau. They are highlighting six cutting edge advertising format options as used by Google, Microsoft, AOL, and others. (Watch each of the videos to see how they work.)
I look at these marketing opportunities as partnerships.
As online marketers, we need to be careful not to blind ourselves to the other options that exist, even if they are not our favorites. Please watch the videos in the link above.
HIPPO ACADEMY is getting close to done.
I know some of you have been waiting a while. But we’ll be opening our doors soon to the Hippo Academy. It’s taken me longer than expected because it’s going to be much more than I originally planned.
This week I’m creating video training and posting it. That way, once you get in, it will be waiting for you. But we’re not stopping there. Being a Hippo Academy member will get you some other pretty cool perks.
We’re not open quite yet, but will be soon.
PS: If it sounds interesting to you, feel free to visit Hippo Academy now and leave your email address to stay informed.
You know me. I’m a small business owner, consultant, trainer, and entrepreneur. I’m also an Internet marketer at heart.
But I’m also a stickler for not wasting time. I feel very deeply that how you use your time is critical to the success of your business (and of your life in general).
Given this, I’m not always the first to get excited about social media. Facebook, Twitter, and other similar tools are fun and interesting. But they can very easily be a total waste of time. So it’s a constant challenge to know how much time I should spend with them. (And by extension, how much I should recommend using them to my students and clients.)
Up until now, I’ve mostly spent a little time here and there in Facebook and Twitter just to be informed, experiment, and stay in touch with those that know me. But with the new features in Facebook this week, I’m making some changes.
In case you have not heard, Facebook made some changes to the way Pages work. Most of them were no big deal and mostly cosmetic. My colleague (and Social Media Speaker) over at Social Fresh made a little video that shows you the 7 changes here.
What’s the big deal?
The one change you need to note is the last one. Namely, you can now use Facebook as a person (yourself) or as a page (brand). This means you can now follow other pages and comment on them as your company or brand.
For those that have worked in Internet marketing for some time, you know this is huge, right? For a year or two now, anyone that wants to build attention and get noticed online has realized that commenting on blogs absolutely rocks. You can now do something very similar using Facebook.
Of course, writing in your own blog is important. This is similar to creating and growing your business as a Page on Facebook. Good idea! Once you have followers, it keeps them engaged and coming back.
But if you are starting out, how do you get people to come to your blog? Advertising works. But it costs. SEO works, but it takes time and links. So the magic bullet was to go find the relevant blogs in your industry. Find the ones that already have the attention of your target audience and comment intelligently on those blogs.
Now we can do that on Facebook! We know it works, because people have already been doing it. You know who the people with the most followers and friends are on Facebook and Twitter? The most active and interesting people.
Now, businesses and brands can do the same thing.
What should you do?
Game on, people! If you don’t have a Facebook Page for your business, now’s the time to get started. (Even just building something quick and easy gets you started.)
But the real trick is to “Use Facebook as your page”. Then go “Like” the businesses that already have the attention of your target audience and start commenting intelligently on those pages.
Of course, if your page has a good call to action, you’ll get more likes too!
PS: If you are really bored, you can start a conversation with yourself as I did here.
Tonight’s Charlotte Marketing forecast event is being sponsored by nine different organizations. The room is full and it looks like about 300 people are here. Before it started, the bar area was absolutely mobbed with people before it started.
Greg Caller (WFAE News Director) is the moderator.
Tonight’s panelists are…
Scott Pacer, Marketing Communications Director at Duke Energy
Scott Provancher, President of Arts and Science Council
Lori Wilks, Sales & Marketing at NASCAR Hall of Fame
David Oakley, Co-founder & Creative Director at Boone Oakley agency
The moderator started by asking the audience who feels we are out of the recession. Only about a dozen of us raised our hand. Most feel we are still in a recession.
(Obviously, we are. But some industries are thriving. The blanket question is really not fair.)
Duke is currently trying to market products that involve using less of what they sell – electricity. It is a new marketing style for them.
David Oakley was asked if people are starting to spend more. He feels businesses are just starting to spend more than they did two years ago. All agencies are starting to be held more accountable and there is a lot of belt-tightening.
Lori was asked how her marketing budget for the NASCAR Hall of Fame was affected. She says her budget is getting slashed based on the revenue. Everything has changed over the last three years because of the economy. Previously, it was “Build it and they will come”. That’s not true anymore. They have gone back to the drawing board to make sure the word gets out. They are fortunate that Charlotte is the home of most NASCAR companies. It is similar to the auto industry in Detroit. She is marketing to families and people “crazy” about NASCAR. She feels creativity solves all problems.
Scott Provancher says that people go to the Arts, even in a down economy. Ticket sales have been up. These opportunities are cheap and close to home. However, 50% of the money coming in is from donations, not from ticket sales. The Arts and Science Council has been spending less money on advertising and more on getting smart people. Smart people can pull off better marketing with less money if they are creative. That’s not the way they looked at it a few years ago.
Duke Energy is currently really good at energy. They are doing some soul-searching to see if there are others that they should be using for specific functions in marketing, such as customer insight, analytics, etc. They are looking at concentrating on their core strengths.
David Oakley just gave props to NASCAR Hall of Fame. He gives Charlotte credit for winning the opportunity to have it here. (True. However, we are Charlotte, the world headquarters of NASCAR. Sorry, I live in Mooresville and it’s hard to be proud of that at times.)
Lori was asked if you should spend more on advertising in a down economy. She says yes. You still need to prove ROI, but spend more in a downward time. The competition is less. She adds that they are budgeting that the economy is not going to change. They are budgeting that things will not improve. If they do, bonus!
What about social media? What have they learned? Duke Energy explains that their customers don’t necessarily want to talk to them on social media about the things they want to talk about. They would love to push new products via social media but see the need to have healthy conversation first.
How are you using social media? What’s effective? Duke is trying hard to not fill the air with fluff. They monitor what is said about them. They have made Twitter accounts specifically for when your power goes out. It allows them to get you information you want when you need it. It has grown to be more than just announcements. It is now interactive and they talk with customers. Right now, they feel social media is good for answering questions customers have. It is about value and education.
Lori adds that social media is about more than just Twitter and Facebook. It is good to find various spaces, including niches. She feels it is not about a consistent sales message, but about developing relationships. You have to be in the space. The successful campaigns have dedicated personnel. You have to be on it all the time. You have to pay attention and nurture it.
(Interestingly, Lori says she feels that good social media marketers are typically just interns around 18-20 years old. There was a low and steady boo from the audience. I gotta agree with the audience on this one. I know my work with Harris Teeter feels that they would never put their social media brand in the hands of a teenager. Unfortunately, this was a passing comment and the Twitterverse lit up about it. Poor Lori.)
David adds that social media is so hard and so different from everything we’ve done. Honestly, the whole growth of the Internet and social media is an explosion and is scary. Yet, it is also exciting. The advertising business can be really repetitive and boring. This change is exciting. It’s good to have young people involved. But everyone in the room should be completely engaged in social media. Everyone should use it. People have helped him learn Twitter. He is fascinated with Quora right now. (He is clearly excited about social media. Good answers.)
Scott Provancher adds that social media opens up new opportunities that were not available before. They use integration with Facebook to spread the message.
Lori is asked about the balance between legal and marketing. She apparently has been an attorney. It enables her to communicate well with lawyers. She feels lawyers should not get in the way of marketing. Make lawyers prove risk.
Lori was also asked why the NASCAR Hall of Fame uses a marketing agency outside of Charlotte. She says they use Wrayward as the agency of record. (Duh!) Nice answer, Lori.
What do you consider metrics for success? (I turned to Nathan Richie at this point and said “money”. We laughed and I think the moderator might have heard us because he mentioned that money is the ultimate metric right after.) NASCAR Hall of Fame says ticket sales and rentals of rooms for events. David adds that Bojangles gives them a report every day on sales from the day before.
What should marketers know? Lori says we need to have a lot of different skills and tools. In this region, we are seeing an increase in diverse business during this downturn. We need to be adaptable.
(NOTE: I just asked on Twitter what people would rate this meeting so far on a scale of 1-10. I’m getting mostly 3’s. The highest mark was one 5. Also, people are starting to walk out now. That’s disappointing to me. I had high hopes for this event. It was not terrible. The turnout was fantastic. But I have to admit, it could hav been better.)
How should marketers with little to no marketing budget reach their goals? Lori says “be creative”. She gave props to the Charlotte Checkers for the things they do with little or no budget on social media. (YEA! Way to go Checkers! – One of my students was the social media director for the past year. He credits Brandon Uttley and I for helping him.)
As a final question, the panelists were asked what important things they want to add before ending. They said things like “Content is King”, “Be true to yourself”, “Know your marketing objectives”. David Oakley said that “All marketing is conversation. Don’t just talk about yourself.”
Tonight (Jan 12, 2011) is the big marketing event of the year in Charlotte. All the local chapters of the marketing organizations get together every year to listen to a panel of local experts explain where they think 2011 will hold.
Here are my notes from last year’s.
I’ll be holding a similar event next week for INTERNET marketing with Brandon Uttley.
So what do you think the experts will say tonight? Let’s hear your predictions.
The general topics will be:
But what are your predictions?
What will be unique about 2011 in marketing?
This is the last day of 2010, so it is time to look back at what we’ve done.
This was so important to me and required so much of my efforts, that in August I announced that I am stopping my classes, also.
In the middle of it all, we moved into our new office in March. Here’s the pictures of it.
Given this, I blogged less this year (only 55 times) than since I started this blog in 2006. I just didn’t have the time. I had to focus.
(But my focus is about to change.)
I’m happy to report that the efforts were not in vain. In all honestly, much of the effort I put forth had little to no effect. But some things worked VERY well. In fact, December was our best month in two and a half years. SCORE!
Looking back, here are the 6 posts I thought were my best. I hope you like them…
I can assure you that 2011 is going to be VERY different for me and my business. HIPPO Internet Marketing is about to announce some big news next week.
The work I did for the e-commerce side of my business was not in vain. I’ll continue that work. But my focus is about to shift over to the Internet Marketing Training and Social Media side very quickly.
If you’d like to stay informed, please be sure to sign-up for updates via our newsletter at www.HippoIMT.com.