The Reason

Every morning, the first thing I do when I get out of bed is to hobble into the living room and do some stretches. Yeah, part of it is the ‘old guy’ in me who took playing shortstop a little too seriously and has dues to pay for game time acrobatics from years past. The other part of it, though, is that I truly enjoy waking up with the feeling of gently pulling my muscles in different directions. And, when I’m done, I like to lie quietly for a few minutes and listen. There are some great things that come down the pike sometimes. Like today, for instance.

Today, I heard these words… Crystal clear… And unprovoked:

“Money is a reason. It isn’t the reason.”

Yeah. That.

There are two other posts I’ve been meaning to write for some time now, but this one just seems more appropriate right now.

Why do you do what you do? Whatever ‘it’ is… What is The Reason? Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you race around in a mad dash to get ready for work, fight the traffic on the commute and hustle to get your backside in your chair before 8am?

I’m not going to pretend here… I don’t have the answers. But I’m going to be doing a lot of thinking to try to find some of them. I hope you do, too.

Do you like great music? Then support touring bands!!!

Just a quick follow-up to my post below about The Greencards

The band will be playing in Oklahoma City this Sunday night (March 20th) at the Blue Door.

If you haven’t heard the band before, check them out. They are really cool. Some call their style of music “new grass”. I just call it awesome. Real musicians putting it out there every night. I am really excited about their forthcoming album, too. This is good stuff!

And, if you haven’t been to the Blue Door before, you NEED to check it out. You can’t get a more personal experience with a band unless you have them playing in your living room. Intimate. Cool vibes. It’s a wonderful place to catch a show… And this is the perfect band to introduce you to this gem.

I hope to see you there Sunday night!

(Blue) Grass Roots Marketing on the Interwebz

 If you have been around this blog for any length of time, you have probably realized that I have strong feelings about “content creation” (thanks for the term, Bobby Lehew!), marketing and music, just to name a few things. And, I absolutely love it when someone combines all three together! Check this out…

A couple years ago, I had the chance to go to a bluegrass festival in Kansas called Winfield. OK, so it’s actually called the Walnut Valley Festival, but everyone I know just says “Winfield” and immediately heads begin to nod. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. If you ever get the chance… GO! You can thank me later.

Anyway, while I was there, I had the opportunity to hear a great band called The Greencards. They play some great bluegrass, with incredible harmonies and pretty darn fancy string plucking. I was so taken with them that I purchased a cd after their set and waited in line to have them sign it. This was the only cd I bought the entire time I was at Winfield.

So, flash-forward to the present day. I’m on The Greencards’ email list. I like knowing where they’re playing, when a new album is coming out, etc. I’m not a die-hard fan or anything, but they’re cool and their emails are always non-intrusive and written in a friendly voice. I like that.

Earlier this week, I received another email and this one took things to another level. Here’s what it said:

Be a Part of Our Next Album

 

You better believe this got MY attention!

With visions of myself in the studio trying to keep up with these talented folks, I quickly clicked on the link to see how I might be able to become immortalized on this album. Well, not only was I relieved to see that I didn’t have to audition to join them (which, for the record, I could not have done!), but that playing music was absolutely not required. They have an entirely different approach to this.

The Greencards are offering fans a chance to “buy a brick” on the artwork of their next album for a very small fee. Now, how cool is that? You can forever have your name on the album art of a wonderful band. Can you imagine? These folks are already successful… This album could be the one that sends them into super stardom! And YOUR name will be on the artwork.

So, let’s recap here: Great band who plays awesome music. They keep in touch with their fans via a permission-based email newsletter. They engage their fans rather than market TO their fans. And they are offering people a chance to be a part of their newest project.

Yeah. The Greencards are definitely “Turning It Up To 11”!!!

Turn It Up To 11!

What’s Your Story?

 

Is the story you’re telling matching the tale you’re living?

We all want to look good, right? We groom ourselves… Dress up for an event… Create an image of how we want others to see us, even if it isn’t the way we see ourselves… Or isn’t who we really are.

In business, it’s very easy to go down this same road. We create marketing collateral that highlights all the wonderful features of a product, yet omits any shortcomings or concerns. We tout how we specialize in customer service, yet react to phone calls as a nuisance. Over-selling and under-performing at its finest. We are simply putting up a front to ‘look’ like the type of organization we think we ‘should’ be, even if we’re not.

The web has changed our world in immeasurable ways. One of the most important aspects is how quickly and easily an individual can research another person or a company. The image you are taping up in the window quickly fades away and the ‘real’ you is seen.

This is transparency.

Sure, companies and politicians are selling themselves on this concept already. The thing is, they are doing it in a strategic manner. By planting some information here and there, then telling the public “We want to be transparent, so look at this…” these folks are manipulating the public. And, it appears to be working to some extent.

This is a short-term strategy, though. It might work for a campaign or a crisis management response, but it won’t hold any validity for the long-term. Only honest, organic transparency will last.

What does this mean?

Remember that person you want others to think you are? Remember that company you want others to think you run? BE it. Holding up the façade won’t work in the 21st century. People are smart. They know how to see through the pretty picture you are holding up and find out what other people think about you.

This is where a social media strategy pays in spades. When you actively engage people in the digital world, you become transparent. If a customer complains and you respond quickly and professionally, people see this. If you ignore the customer or respond poorly, even more people see this… And post it everywhere. Then, when the next potential customer hears about you and does a little detective work, they see it, too. And you’re done.

By being aware of how the web can help and hurt you, it becomes easier to develop a strategy to excel in the digital world. And when you are doing the right things, there is no need to be afraid of transparency.

Social Media Is Dead. Long Live…

 Social Media

Huh?

Yeah, I know… It doesn’t make much sense… Yet.

Here’s the deal… So many people really like to categorize things. They like to put ideas, trends, music, art and     (enter your own example here)     into tidy little packages and slap a label on it. You see it everywhere. I guess that makes it “human nature”.

And, it happens in the digital world as well. That’s how we all came to know and love this wonderful concept called…

S O C I A L    M E D I A

But I don’t want to call it that anymore. I am SICK of that name and the connotation that often comes with it. Come on, folks… It’s the ninth month of the year 2010. Forget the buzzword, already. Let’s talk about what this really is and how it can best be utilized.

There is nothing new and cutting edge about building relationships with potential customers in hopes of selling a product or service. It’s called marketing. And it’s been around since before the day Al Gore invented the internet.

However, there are new tools available in the digital world that make it easier to find these potential customers and engage them in a conversation without being overly aggressive and scaring them off. Just imagine… You can find your target market at the precise time they are talking about the types of products you sell. This is absolutely amazing, isn’t it?

So, from a business standpoint, this is digital marketing… Or web-based customer service… Or part of the online sales process. What it’s not, though, is social media. Sure, I use Twitter to get my Breaking News. And, in that respect, it is a medium that is generated by people, so it could be called social media… But that’s not how we use it in business, is it?

I mentioned that I was writing this blog post to Tim Berney, president of Visual Image, and he turned me on to a new acronym (have I mentioned how much I like smart people?!)… POEM – Paid, Owned, Earned Media. This is what I’m talking about! I found this fantastic chart that illustrates all three types of media very well:

Paid, Owned, Earned Media
Click to Enlarge

When marketing your (or your client’s) business, you can control the Paid media (think advertising) and the Owned media (think about your own website), but it’s the Earned media that really counts… And this is the one you cannot control. But you can help to influence it.

Earned media is today’s version of the old PR – getting other people to talk about you. The thing is, that talk can be either good or bad… And a lot of people can see it… Immediately. This makes it critical for you to monitor the channels for mentions of your brand. You may not need to interact with every single comment, but showing some gratitude for positive mentions is smart. And, addressing negative comments is imperative.

Forward-thinking marketers are already finding ways to make the connection between the three types of media, and they are reaping the benefits.

What about you? Are you still living in the social media world? Or are you working to make your marketing efforts Earned Media?

 

Turn It Up To 11

Turn It Up To 11... With B2design 

For those of you who know me in real life or as president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Marketing Association, you know this is my new motto… My creed… It’s what I want to do. But, perhaps, there is a slight disconnect about what this really means. Let me give you some back story and then I want to introduce someone who is LIVING this message.

 

 

So… My position is that in whatever it is you’re doing, why not push it just a little bit up to the next level? Why not “Turn It Up To 11”? No matter what you are doing, it can be done just a little better. Imagine if we all did this… Every day. How much different would things be?

Several years ago, my brother-in-law introduced me to a musician who goes by the name G Love and Special Sauce. Well, he’s G Love, his band is Special Sauce. Anyway, this is one talented cat and I was instantly hooked. He’s created his own style of music that he calls “The Hip Hop Blues.” Catchy, isn’t it? Now, I’m not a big hip hop fan, but I am definitely a connoisseur of the blues and this man knows how to make his guitar sing.

Over time, I have come to own virtually every album Mr. Love has put out. Heck, even my four-year-old daughter can sing a handful of his songs and she recognizes his harmonica playing on other people’s tunes. Cool, huh? Anyway, one day I decided to check to see if he was on Twitter. He was. I followed him.

I was pleased to see what he was up to… The occasional picture… Tour dates… Set lists from the previous night. This is all good stuff. Then, G Love decided to ‘Turn It Up To 11’.

Broadcasting to his fans was no longer enough. He wanted to interact with them. He wanted them to promote his ‘brand’ to their networks. And, really, isn’t that what all of us marketers want to do when we use social media. Here’s where Mr. Love was smart, though… He didn’t say “I’m coming to Tulsa… Please RT (re-tweet) this!” Instead, he started offering a free pair of tickets to an upcoming show by Tweeting:

“Tweet ‘I wanna see @Glove in Tulsa tonight!’ One lucky person will get a free pair of tickets!”

Now, how easy is that? Yeah, It’s That Easy. Can you imagine how much free word-of-mouth promotion he gets by doing this? Every day? In every city he visits? You can’t buy this kind of promotion. This is social media at its finest. It’s grass roots… And it works!

And what do the winners think? Well, let me tell you… I won those tickets to the Tulsa show to see G Love & Special Sauce… And… I won a pair to see G Love open up for Jack Johnson in Dallas last week. Not only did it solidify Garrett’s position in my ‘Book of Cool’, but it also made me realize what a great marketer he is. He is all about The Hustle. He is willing to take a few minutes out of his day to interact with his fans… And give them a reason to help promote him. Now, that is how you ‘Turn It Up To 11’.

G Love doesn’t stop at Twitter when it comes to social media, though! He also does a short, 30-second video blog every Thursday at 12:07. Everyone on his mailing list gets an email when the new video is posted to his website. Not only that, he lets people download exclusive live tracks… FREE. Talk about creating a community! This is how you do it.

 

Without a doubt, G Love knows how to Turn It Up To 11. What about you?

It’s HOT in OKC!

 

Newsflash!

It’s hot in Oklahoma City.

No, I’m not talking about the 100+ temps we’re experiencing right now. That’s a given. It’s August. In Oklahoma. Duh.

I’m talking about what’s happening in Oklahoma City right now. This is the place to be! Things are happening in OKC. It’s HOT!

Jobs. Yeah, some folks have lost theirs, and I feel their pain (Honestly, I do. I have been there!). But I also know that more jobs are being created every day. For instance, I know that Boeing is bringing 500+ here. CASS Polymers may be bringing a few, too. And, probably the coolest trend I’ve noticed lately is how many folks are stepping out and doing it for themselves. Entrepreneurs! I love it.

Social Media. People here (in general) get it. I think it’s a Midwest thing. We like to talk to people. We like to know who you would recommend to do a particular job. We expect businesses to be engaged with us. It’s normal in these parts. So, it really isn’t very surprising that social media is being embraced here. What’s really exciting about it is that this type of personal interaction over the digital waves is the future of how business will be done. And, the savvy folks in OKC are already doing it!

This extends beyond Twitter and Facebook, of course. Oklahoma boasts a huge number of bloggers (who said we were illiterate?!), too. Want to talk about generational issues, books, new media, market research or local gossip ? We’ve got it. Plus thousands of others covering every topic you can imagine.

Smart Business People. It’s hard to make a blanket statement like that because there are always a couple bad eggs in the group. Overall, though, we have some really smart folks in our fair city. They are busy bringing in new businesses, growing existing ones, creating new opportunities for the people in the area and selling our goods around the globe.

I meet each month with an incredibly sharp group of marketers (Full disclosure – I am the president of the OKC chapter of the American Marketing Association). The industries they represent are all over the spectrum: marketing services, education, manufacturing, retail, banking, utilities, technology, printing, etc. Even during an ‘economic downturn’, these folks are using a mix of traditional marketing tactics and cutting edge technology to make their businesses profitable. This is ‘smart’ in action.

Real Estate. Yeah, yeah, yeah… ‘Housing slump’, ‘Economic downturn’… I know. I hear it, too. But you know what? Property is still selling here. No, it’s not booming like it was 5 years ago, but that’s good. Things were not being done the right way during the ‘Housing Boom’. But I’m not really talking about houses here. I’m talking about Oklahoma!

We are located at the “Crossroads of America”. This is the perfect place to set up a business. Centrally located, access to three major interstates, inexpensive housing… Again, this is the place to be!

So, yeah… It is Hot in OKC! And I like it.

(And so does Billy Idol!)