Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Spring Cleaning & Buzz Marketing

How can you create some buzz and eliminate clutter at the same time? I have been going through old files and stacks of papers and following up with the people and places that caused the paper, then pitching the paper out. This technique is the same as going through your older emails and touching base with people. It is great because you can send them a quick email saying.. "I was doing some spring cleaning and came across that brochure you sent me (proposal I sent you...). How are you doing?" Not to mention that being more organized and clean will help you better manage your relationships, partnerships and client opportunities.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Buzz - Know where you stand

I was coming back from a meeting today and lost a belt on my car. I limped into a random place in downtown Akron and knew I was at their mercy. What a pleasant surprise. I am always skeptical about an auto repair place, but The Parrish - McIntyre Tire Company helped me push the car in, fixed it in an hour, and only charged me $86. Consider that I was at their mercy and in a tie, and they knew they could have gotten away with charging me much more. As I talked to the guy running the place, he told me about how this was one of their shops that they bought. They did not know it when they bought it, but it had a terrible reputation. They have worked hard since the purchase to change that reputation to one of high standards. Everyone deals with word of mouth. These guys may not have a website, but they understood it very well.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Acknowledge Your Customer

One way to get your customers to talk about you is to publicly acknowledge them. Include them in things you do publicly, just be sure to ask permission first. Here is a list of things you can use to include customers, and most likely get them to tell their friends about you.
  • White Paper
  • Testimonial
  • Podcast Interview
  • Nominate them for an Award
  • Find a speaking opportunity for them
  • Blog Post
  • Link to them on featured client list
  • Introduce clients to each other when they have a good fit
  • Talk about them and send referrals their way
  • Feature them in an enewsletter article or a print newsletter article
  • Include in promotional video

There are probably many more ways to do this. If you think of another please add it to the comments.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Free Speech & Employment

I did a talk just recently and the topic of free speech came up from one employee. He was proud of the fact that he bashes his employer all the time. Some people felt this is a free speech issue. I would agree that you have free speech but remember, at least here is Ohio, employment is at will by employer and employee as well. So you have free speech, and your employer is free to fire you for expressing your views. No problem in my book. Some employees think that free speech means no consequences for expressing their views.

What do you think? Please post comments on this topic.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Staples takes my advice

A little while back I wrote about a piano instructor using the Staples Easy Button. One or two days after I wrote that, I got the Staples eNewsletter. I took 30 seconds to reply to it with one sentence saying they may be interested in what I wrote about them on my blog. Today I got an email from Kay Hooper --------- HI, Ron, I thought you would be amused to find out that I received a free Easy Button from the brand management VP of Staples today. No TV offers, unfortunately!!! Best, Kay -------- Kudos to Staples. That email probably went to some IT person who took the time to forward it to the right person.

Kids and Connecting

Last night at the SMEI Banquet I met a financial advisor that was talking about how he helps his client's kids learn about money and plan for the future. He said that the impact it has on those people's lives is incredible and it creates a stronger base of customers and more referrals for him. I suppose it is like getting 2 clients in one (or 3 or 4) because if he signs them up as teens, he is going to have a lot of client in the pipeline over the upcoming years that are going to see their investments go up. Imagine how much people are going to talk about you if you help their kids, that they may be frustrated with themselves. Buzz Buzz.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Down Time - Make It Special

When considering how to get your customers talking about you, take a moment to review what happens during down time. For instance, if I go to the doctor I may wait a half hour. What could a doctor's office do to make that half hour memorable instead of miserable? Personally, if they served me a Cappuccino I would tell all my friends, but that is just me, the coffee fiend. What about when people are on hold? What about as they wait for the Novocaine to take effect? What about the line at the check out? What about before the meal comes? I rarely have memorable experiences during any of these things and they are a gold mine of opportunity to get people talking about you.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Buzz Podcast

The people over at Lodestone do a great job with their podcasts, and they featured me in one. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It's Not the Story YOU Care About

All too often when I meet with people they think they know what their success stories and buzz stories are. It reminds me of another thing I noticed over the years: Every time I worked somewhere, someone would always comment that a movie should be made about their workplace. Grocery Stores, Restaurants, Book Stores... Everyone thinks their particular brand of the human condition is special. I am guessing that is why The Office is doing so well. They finally did make that movie. The truth is, people outside the organization do not care about what you think they care about. Your story should do the following:
  • Make them want to tell others
  • Give them a behind the scenes peek
  • Give them intellectual capital that they can spend
  • Make them seem smarter
  • Make them say wow
  • Appeal to their personality traits

What would make your story make me want to tell my friends?

Monday, February 13, 2006

$10,000 and 8 Years

In 1997 I was working at Ernst & Young. We had a new baby and things were going just fine. I am never a big fan of fine though, so I shook things up. Some family and friends invested $10,000 and I left my job to build a revolutionary education system. Of course, that was very naive of me. I was out of money in three months. Now I have 4 companies and have launched a revolutionary education system with my daughter, who is 8 now. www.kidsroar.biz - Not what I expected, but in many ways better. Nothing has gone as planned, but the journey has been spectacular. Buzzoodle is about stepping outside of your comfort zone and connecting. About doing something remarkable. About not settling for fine. This morning it hit me how important that $10,000 was. It gave me the courage to change my road. Take a moment to think about how the small things you do today for someone can effect their life years from now. This is true with creating buzz, connecting people and with just being kind.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

What kind of sales person are you?

Normal Advertising has about a 50% trust level from consumers. Word of mouth has over a 90% level of trust. So what is a sales person? They talk, but that does not mean they are word of mouth. More than likely, they fall into the advertising category of being trusted about half of the time. So what is the point? Sales people are important for closing sales, but generating leads can be done through a concerted effort with your non-sales staff and by having products and services everyone wants to talk about. That will create the highest trust and interest in getting noticed. These stats are generalizations taken from some of the presentations at www.womma.org

Friday, February 10, 2006

Two Events - Meet Interesting People

If you are in NE Ohio or do not mind traveling, there are two interesting things coming up that are geared towards young people and entrepreneurship. www.redroomrevolution.com - FREE! February, 23 at the Idea Center at Playhouse Square from 6:00-9:00 p.m www.kidsroar.biz - Free - February 18th, at Kent State University Moulton Hall Ballroom from 1:30 - 3:30 (Followed by free passes to the rec center.) This one is for kid entrepreneurs age 6-13. Both have limited seating and are a great opportunity to meet new, interesting people.

Long Term Web Traffic Strategy

Mr Godin has a nice post today about getting more web traffic. It goes nicely with my last post on free tools for creating more buzz online. His post brings out the fact that all the techniques, tools and tricks will only give you a temporary boost in traffic. You have to become remarkable.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

10 No-Cost Tools to Create Buzz on the Web

Here are ten no-cost items that you can use to create some buzz online and meet more people. It takes more than signing up, you have to think about what the people using these tools will be likely to notice.

  • Blogger [http://www.blogger.com/] - Free Blog Service that will get you noticed if you create regular, quality content on focused topic.
  • Squidoo [http://www.squidoo.com/] - Build an expert lens and focus people to your site.
  • Del.icio.us [http://del.icio.us/] - Social Bookmarking for your sites and resources
  • Digg [http://www.digg.com/] - Publish an IT related resource and watch the buzz grow in this social rating system for news.
  • Shoutwire [http://www.shoutwire.com/] - Another social rating system but the news topics are broader.
  • ODEO [http://www.odeo.com/] - Make podcasts and share them with the world.
  • PR Web [http://www.prweb.com/] - Send free press releases out to the world. Pay for higher ranking if desired.
  • LinkedIn [http://www.linkedin.com/] - Build and network with your extended network.
  • Yahoo Groups [groups.yahoo.com] - Join a group that interests you and participate.
  • Email - There are plenty of free emails out there. Email is a powerful tool. Make a habit of researching and emailing one person per day that you do not know but would like to. People do not mind email from a stranger as long as it is personal and well intended.

While all of these tools are free, they do require an effort on the part of the user. Just like the Buzzoodle system, it only works if you work it.

Free Meat and a Tough Act to Follow

If you have an opinion please express it in the comments area. I just heard from Peter Hall and he is not happy about the accusations that he is conducting a SCAM. Here was his reply (3/27/2006) : ------------------- I can tell you this...North Coast, under my supervision, gives $1000's of dollars worth of free product to teachers EVERY SINGLE WEEK without any expectation of return revenues. Teachers across America, use $100's of dollars of their own money for student supplies/functions/events/etc. every year without being reimbursed. We are committed to giving back to teachers in the form of gift boxes...free. You, yourself, saw the buffet of free gift boxes that were to be given to the teachers. While some teachers purchase (at cost!), no teachers are ever obligated to purchase in order to receive free boxes. Ron...I do this every day now. It was such a hit on that over-shipment, we have opened a division just for the sake of giving boxes. We get our "write offs", the teachers get freebies, and overall, it gives to the spirit of the community. I hope you will pass this news on to all that could benefit from our generosity. ----------------------------- This was posted one week before: I just got a report that this person is conducting a SCAM and ripping off teachers. I am leaving the post in tact so that if it happens to you or you meet him, you are aware of what is going on. Here is the email I got. ------------------------------ The man you are praising is a scam artist!!!! He goes around to schools and delivers the same pitch to everyone. I find it hard to believe that they have so many problems with their orders since they ordered too much in December too. Many of our employees ordered from him and did not get what they were promised. When we contacted Mr. Hall he made promises to compensate us with free hams, chicken and shrimp. That was 3 months ago!! We have yet to see the products. He says he'll show up on Friday and never shows up or calls. When we call to see what happened he acts like he's never heard from us. Did you ever try to get on his web site? You can't because it doesn't exist. Try going to the address given by the Better Business Bureau. It's an vacant office. Don't fall for his scam. He is a liar and a cheat. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but I don't want anyone to have to go through the experience we've gone through. You may want to rethink your blog. Sincerely, A very disgruntled customer of Peter Hall and The Northcoast Gourmet Company ------------------ I just got back from a presentation at a high school. Before I spoke, Peter Hall of North Coast Gourmet Company came in and told the story of how his company ordered 10x the amount of shrimp, chicken and fillet that was supposed to be ordered.

He then announced it was all free for the teachers. No strings attached, no collecting names, just free.

He said he wanted to turn a negative into a positive.

The funny thing is, did he imagine a buzz marketing expert would be in the audience and want to blog about his generous buzz? No. He just wanted to help some people out.

I do not have a website to forward you to, but his phone number is 440-221-0565 if you want to call him and say nice job.

I had to present after him. I did not like having to follow free meat. Everyone just wanted to finish up and get their fillet.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The more people you meet...

The more people you meet the more buzz you can create. Each person is connected to over 200 people and could pass along interesting stories about you, introduce you to interesting and influential people, and buy things from you and your company. [Not to mention they may just be fun to hang out with.] David has some blogs going on that have articles about networking. Here are some links: The People you know Networking and career development

Monday, February 06, 2006


I played around with Digg this evening. www.digg.com It was very interesting to see how it increased traffic to the website I pointed to. This is a very good type of tool for measuring the buzz a news story creates. Digg is very tech focused, but I am sure there are others like this out there. Please post in the comments here if you know of other "reader moderated" news services.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Saturdays and the Economy

I do not know what it is over the last two months, but Saturdays are booked for me at the request of many clients. I am wondering if that is a good sign for the economy... when people start doing extra things on the weekend. I just hope I get all my work done and don't miss the Super Bowl.

Friday, February 03, 2006

How to meet someone new through email

I did a presentation recently and people asked me how to meet people through email. They did not know how to find emails and did not want to SPAM the person with a success story. I thought it would be useful to address it here. I am a bigger fan of talking with someone first, but emails are a good way to ping. It is easy to find an email address.
  • Read a blog - email usually listed.
  • Visit a website with a valuable resource - visit contact page
  • Go through old collection of business cards from people you have met once, but do not have a close relationship with.
  • If you read about someone in the paper, call their company and ask for their email address.

The best way to approach someone you do not know via email is to make it about them. "I read your blog post and I thought it was brilliant. It tied in so well with what we do here at the Red Monkey Inn where I work. I think my tips will go up once I put your advice into action. Keep up the great blogging."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

SEO and Metaphors

Why are metaphors an important element in your SEO toolbag? First: Why am I talking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? Because when you blog and publish article online, you are hoping to create some buzz. The more people find your articles and blog posts, the more they will spread what you are doing, if it is good stuff. You can always come up with new approaches to your area of expertise. However, you will probably write with much the same language and that will not help you reach a wider audience as much. Writing a blog post or article that uses metaphors to illustrate your point expands the vocabulary of your site and will attract some additional visitors over time. They may not be the optimum keyword visitors, but just because they are looking for pudding recipes does not mean they may not be interested in Buzz Marketing. I do not mean search engine spamming here. (Using keywords falsely to attract unwitting web surfers.) I mean being creative with your articles and expanding your vocabulary to create more roads to your website and also create a more artistic and emotional response to your writing. Isn't the web itself just a metaphor for a bunch of computers that are connected? So how is buzz and word of mouth marketing like pudding? You take quality products like milk and pudding mix and you get an advocate (known as the beater) and you mix it up until the loose stuff becomes more substantial and tasty.

Weak, I know. But you get the idea.

PS: Google search Buzz Marketing Pudding Recipe in a few weeks. I will own that one!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Podcast Top 10

I made the top 10 podcasts for January at SMB Trendwire. I beat Andy Birol, but he has still published more books than me. I have to work harder.

Complaining about your Company

We all have heard the stories of people being fired because of an email they sent, or a blog post complaining about their job or boss. It just makes sense, from the business perspective, that you are either supportive of the company paying you or you should not work there. Consider that Word of Mouth is the most persuasive form of marketing and if you tell something to the right person, you run the risk of igniting a fire of negative buzz. With that in mind, you may consider adding a clause to your employment contract such as: Positive Word of Mouth is import to any company. Anyone found complaining or speaking poorly about the company to people outside of the company's management team may be terminated. This is going to seem harsh. We all complain at times. But think about it from this perspective. If I placed an ad in a local paper that stated that the company was bad, it would be obvious that I must go. If I blog about the buffoons in our office (mostly me) I would be a bad employee that is damaging the business. Telling stories is the same. The juicier they are, the more they will spread. One friendly spouse of an employee could tell a few people that could set your sales off for the year. The best thing to do is create an environment where there is just nothing bad to say. Employees should also feel free to express complaints to the management team. That said, let them know there are consequences to creating negative buzz to the company and for them.