Just Say NO to Jargon

The following is an excerpt from “42 Rules of Marketing” by yours truly

NOTThis rule will empower you to leverage your thinking and step outside the box so that you can help customers find solutions to their problems. Huh?  In an effort to sound smart, different and credible,  the language of corporate marketing has taken a  turn for the worse. Complete websites,  brochures and datasheets are written that don’t mean a darn thing. We understand all the words, but when they are put together we don’t know what it means. What, for example does “we provide technical solutions for progressive companies” mean? How about; “technical innovation is the foundation of our best-in-class industry leading solutions that exceeds customers’ expectations.” What in the world does this actually mean?

This type of corporate gobbledygook is not helpful. In fact, it has just the opposite affect. Customers read your brochure (or website or white paper) and are left with more questions than answers. Since it would require effort on their part to figure out what you do, they move on to the next guy – and you’ve lost a potential customer.

It isn’t very often that a customer says to themselves, “I need an innovative solution to exceed my expectations.” They probably think “I’ve been trying really hard to solve this problem and I just can’t – maybe someone else can help.”

So what is a marketer to do? Well, some clever folks at Deloitte Consulting took it upon themselves to create “BullFighter” – a clever piece of software that looks at all your copy and identifies all the “bull words.”  The software plugs in to Microsoft Word and works much like spell-check or grammar-check. You select “Bullfighter” and it finds “bull words” and suggests alternatives. Just for fun, I did a before and after test of several phrases. This is what I got:

Stakeholder: Alternative words were vampire slayer, victim and forks.  “Overused to the point of pain by consultants.”

First-Mover: “Battle cry from the first Internet boom-bust, one with little remaining credibility.”

Empower: “A grandiose word…solidly enshrined in the Consulting Cliché Hall of Fame.”

Hatsize Learning Corporation took this lesson to heart when they revised their corporate positioning and messages. Initially their top three messages were: optimize resources & hardware; reduce delivery costs; and increase training revenue. After much discussion the team found the underlying benefits and got straight to the point. Their new message is: more revenue, higher margins through increased product knowledge. The impact was to get away from buzz-words that mean nothing and say what you really want to say.

The point is, make sure what you write actually means something. Make sure it means something to someone who doesn’t work for your company. Make sure it means something to your customers and potential customers. How do you know? Just ask them.

Book Excerpt: You don’t need a million friends

social_media_3dThe following is an excerpt from 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business by Jennifer Jacobson.

Defining your goals is an important part of any business campaign, whether online or offline. It is important to define your social media goals and ask yourself if you want millions of online followers, or a select group of online friends who will gladly do business with you. While having millions of friends on your Facebook page or millions of followers on Twitter may sound appealing, it’s not always a realistic goal, and it may even be counterproductive to your business’s social media efforts.

Imagine you won the lottery and you could have any amount of cash you desired. How much money would you ask for? Chances are you’d want millions, possibly billions, of dollars. Considering the government bailouts that have recently been circulated, you might even ask for trillions. In reality, what we claim to want and what we would be comfortable with can be two very different things.

Let’s take a look at what can happen when we get what we wish for. An individual given millions of dollars suddenly has a new set of concerns and questions. Who will inherit the money when they die? How will they spend their money? Will they donate any of it to charity? How will they keep their money safe? Do people like them because they are rich or do they like them because of who they are? Sometimes, as many good stories teach, getting what you wish for isn’t
really in your best interest.

Social media is very much the same; while many people say they want
a million friends, it wouldn’t meet their business needs or goals. First of
all, if all of these friends decided to visit your company’s website, could
your servers handle a million hits? Second, real friendships are more
than a shout out. People who are the most valuable to your business’s
social media efforts are actively communicating, commenting, posting
pictures, and videos, and learning about your product with the intent of
doing business with you either now or in the future. Do you have the
capacity to communicate with a million people like this?

Take, for example, these thoughts on the importance of strategically
socializing, as opposed to the spray and pray spam method. Susan
Gunelis, President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc. says, “Social
media is the key to brand-building these days. People are online and
it’s the perfect place to connect with them. More people are influenced
by blogs and online relationships than by traditional media.”
“My favorite social media story comes from Universal Studios in
Orlando, Florida,” Susan says. “In 2007, with a virtually limitless
budget, the marketing exec at Universal was tasked with announcing
and promoting the new Harry Potter theme park that would open in the
coming years. To spread the word, she didn’t turn to traditional advertising.

At the risk of being fired for her out-of-the-box approach, she
announced a webcast to just seven people who were also popular
Harry Potter bloggers. The webcast required a password that only
those seven people had. During the webcast, she revealed the news
of the upcoming Harry Potter theme park and, within twenty-four hours,
there were hundreds of thousands of Web searches for the Harry
Potter theme park. From zero to nearly one million people within !
twenty-four hours. Now that’s the power of social media!”

Your social media efforts will be much more effective if you set goals.
Unless you’re selling ad space on your social media page, it doesn’t
matter if you have a million friends. It just matters that you have the
right friends; friends who will promote your brand, and do business with
you. For most small businesses, it is better and more realistic to
maintain the friends they have and look for qualified potential social
media friends. Try to connect with businesses and companies that you
have done business with and let your network grow from there.

You should write a book

driving_success_3d1The following is an excerpt from 42 Rules for Driving Success with Books, by Mitchell Levy.

As a business person in today’s turbulent times, you must be wondering what you can do to demonstrate your effectiveness. The key question you must be asking yourself when you wake up each morning is, “What am I going to do today to bring in more business?” What if prospects came to you asking:

  • How do I buy your product?
  • Can you please speak in front of my group (e.g. your prospects)?
  • Can I please get some of your brochures to share with decision makers at my company?
  • I love the brochure you sent in the mail, can I please get some more?
  • In a book I picked up at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, I read about your product/service. Can you tell me more?

A dream? Science fiction? No! You get all this and more with a book. You’re reading this and you’re excited until you think about what it takes to write a book. Then you ignore the idea because you’re thinking you don’t have 1,000 hours and can’t wait 1–2 years to create a book.  Myth!

Yes, a book published by a traditional publisher will take 1,000 hours to write and 12–18 months to publish (once you secure the publisher).  But, a book published by Super Star Press or Happy About will take 60–150 hours to write and 2–4 months to publish. For a 42 Rules book
(see Your Rules at the back of the book), you can have folks collaborate to help you create a book in as little as 60 hours. So the question arises, “Is a 100-page book that took 60–150 hours to create going to be effective?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Please read on, as many of the authors featured in this book created books that achieved amazing results. Those results are within your reach too, with a 42 Rules title to your credit!

Let me talk about the benefits of writing this book. From the time the concept was originated to the day when the book came back from content layout was 3 months. During that time, I spent 50 hours of time. Yes, just 50 hours. With the writing and other odds and ends before having a book in my hand 3 weeks from now, I would expect to have spent 60 hours. Even before publishing (see Rule 17) the benefits are amazing.

  • 4 new authors (contracts signed) and 18 others that have expressed interest.
  • 1 new executive editor (contract signed) who is searching for authors to write books in his series and 8 others that have expressed interest.
  • 8 marketing firms that have put us on their radar and we’ve hired one of them for 2 of our authors.

Let me repeat, amazing results for 50 hours of work. Absolutely the best bizdev tool I’ve ever deployed!

Book Excerpt: Social Media for Small Business

The following is an excerpt from42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business by Jennifer L. Jacobson.  To get your copy, visit:  http://42Rules.com/jenniferjacobson

Rule 20:  Know Your Social Media Platforms
You don’t have to know all of them, just the right ones.

While it is not necessary to memorize and keep track of every new social media platform available, it is essential that you have a fundamental
understanding of the types of social media platforms you can use for your business.

Social Networking

Audiences of the social networking sites vary from quilters, pet owners, teens, and tweens, to die-hard musicians, writers, and physicists. The MySpaces of the world where all the cool kids hang out, have evolved into sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Today there are many hybrids where grownups can blog, connect with their colleagues, see pictures of what their friends had for lunch, and buy their buddies a “virtual beer.”

The features and interactivity of these social networks change weekly. Your job is to establish yourself on a site that meets your needs while learning what that social network does well. Some sites have great community forums where people of a certain interest talk about their experiences and share what they know.

Blogging and Web Publishing Services

Use a blogging platform that makes it easy for your customers to find you. Some sites, like Facebook, require anyone viewing your site to have their own Facebook account, and nothing turns a customer off more than having to give Web companies their personal information to view a page. Find a service that you can easily use. Read the company’s about us page. Make sure they are not one of the “fly by night” dotcoms that may be gone tomorrow, taking your
hard-earned blog with them.

In-House and Independent Forums

Chances are you already have a company website and, if this is the
case, your in-house Web guru should be able to add a “blog” section
to your existing web page. If they are really good, they will be able to
have a section where your customers can discuss their thoughts in an
open forum. If you do not have an in-house forum, there are plenty of
online forums already in existence that should be appropriate to your
business’s area of interest. Depending on the type of company you
have, and your closeness with your customers, a forum can be a
wonderful thing. Many of your die-hard-loyal customers may be thrilled
to spend lots of time on your forum, answering questions for you and
raving about your products and services. These types of fans are worth
their weight in gold because they’re writing for the “love of the sport”
not because they are a paid viral marketer (but we’ll get to that later).

Photo Sharing

Depending on they type of business you run, this may be a great option
for you. Artists and comic book writers love this option because it gives
their fans a place to rant and rave about their work, and it establishes
them as a force to be reckoned with in their field. While a photo sharing
service may not be suitable for businesses selling accounting services,
they work well for businesses that sell specific, one-of-a-kind products.

Audio and Video Sharing

If your company has commercials that have aired on television, it might
be worth it to digitize the tape and upload the footage to YouTube. You
can then embed your YouTube video into your website for your
customers to watch. Be sure to customize your video or audio sharing
account with descriptions about your business, pictures, and other
videos, when appropriate. YouTube has a good variety of community
features, including the ability to subscribe to other people’s video
channels. Remember—only upload music and videos that you have
the rights to.