Tag Archives: Anita Campbell

Social Media Marketing Earthquake, Content Tsunami

(My latest column in the Eugene Register Guard. Click here for the original. Reposted here with permission)

content marketing tipping pointSocial media marketing earthquake

The social media marketing earthquake is already here. And, in keeping with the forecast theme in this month’s blue chip, here’s a prediction: content marketing tsunami.

The shaking started as social media took off with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and early blogs. It continued with Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

So-called content marketing emerged. Marketing is getting people to know, like and trust you. Content marketing does that with blogging, online videos and other online content that businesses offer to people for free, through social media. Content marketing is theoretically free to businesses because they don’t pay for space, like they do with traditional advertising. But what isn’t free is the production of content that is interesting, useful, funny or just plain not boring on social media and blogs, as an alternative to advertising.

You can find examples of successful content marketing on the Web. Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends turned a thoughtful blog into a multi-million-dollar information business. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing turned a book into a multi-million-dollar blog, consultant network, and speaking business. Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia made a fortune in writing and speaking. They were individual experts, but these businesses grew because people found their content interesting and useful. Readership became relationship, which led to customers.

This earthquake has already changed the business landscape. Marketing stories are more important than ever. Smaller companies with good stories can compete effectively against big brands. Advertising is no longer as simple as value proposition message repeated in media. The bigger budget doesn’t always win.

Content marketing tsunami

And the tsunami? Billions of dollars that have been flowing into big-brand advertising budgets are now going into social media and content marketing. What we’ve seen so far, however, is a trickle compared to what’s coming.

Those big budgets are managed by a generation that grew up with advertising as the key to big-brand marketing. Those people are being dragged, kicking and screaming in many cases, into this new world. They may not like it. It’s not what they grew up with. It’s not what they came to power with. But these are smart people and more of them get it.

For example, Target created a free iPad app, “Made For U College Styler,” that helps college students design their dorm room decor. It gathers information from their social media accounts to guess at style, then suggests items they can buy at Target. They want loyalty so they offer utility. Zappos, originally an innovative online shoe retailer, rode social media to a lucrative sale to Amazon and big-brand success. One of Zappos’ biggest successes was a Pinterest page that posted pictures of free products. Burger King, Snapple, Red Bull, and BMW are offering brand-related content on multiple social media sites.

The big-budget attention is going to create increasing competition in content marketing. The innovators had the field to themselves when it started 10 to 15 years ago. Not so much in the future.

Yet few people understand how evolving social media and content marketing will carry an implicit trade-off­ between short- and long-term success. The kind of tactics that might generate immediate business leads won’t work for the long haul. Long-term success in this new world is about legitimately helping people, offering useful information and being interesting — or at least not boring — to establish long-term relationships with potential customers.

Long-term success will be won by people and businesses that create, curate, and share legitimately good content, not self-serving, thinly disguised infomercial-like content. New technology has leveled the playing field in ways that neutralize advertising budgets and reward real sharing.

It’s going to take work and patience. But here’s the good news: Business owners who stick with it will be rewarded through long-term relationships with customers, which, by the way, is what marketing is all about.

5 Good Posts for Friday April 22

It is now fixed so I haven’t lost my last two weeks of blogging, and all of your comments, from yesterday’s Amazon Cloud server failure. In the meantime, life goes on. These are some posts I’ve collected this week, posts I want to recommend:

  1. Little Bets Can Make a Big Difference: Dan Schawbel’s review of Peter Sims’ new book Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries. I’ve been meaning to review this book myself, because I like it a lot. Dan beats me to it with an interview style coupled by some specific helpful lists. Here’s a good summary in one quote from Peter:

    I’ve heard thousands of entrepreneurial stories, some extremely successful, many mediocre, or not successful. That combined with the extensive research my team and I did for this book leaves it clear to me that instantaneous ideas are extremely rare, in business, art, science, or you name it. Mozart was an exception. He was a prodigy. But for the rest of us mortals, it takes lots of small steps and constant iteration to identify big opportunities and problems.

  2. Anita Campbell posted Are You Too Old to be Innovative on the Amex OPEN.  One of the highlights is that being holder helps to spotlight trends. I hope so.
  3. And on Anita’s Small Business Trends blog, Lisa Barone posted The 7 Types of People to Avoid in Social Media. Do you recognize yourself there? Scary question.
  4. My thanks to John Jantsch for pointing me to 5 Tips for Better Business Storytelling, by Jeanne Hopkins, on Hubspot. Very practical tips. I think story telling is extremely important, and not just for blogging.
  5. Andrew Sullivan’s Look At Me When I’m Talking To You. Very disturbing. I’m guilty of this. Read it.  By the way, has anybody else noticed how prolific he is? Like 10 blog posts a day?

Endorse Me, You Gypsy Savage, Endorse Me!

On the one hand, who likes big government? The FTC, Federal Trade Commission, sounds like the feds. Gear up your paranoia. On the other hand, who likes fake endorsements? And then — can I borrow your hand to make the third hand, please — wow! How can we resist highlighting this:

theifOn Monday the FTC published a bulletin with the catchy title: Firm to Pay FTC $250,000 to Settle Charges That It Used Misleading Online “Consumer” and “Independent” Reviews. Here’s a summary, direct quote from that document:

The Learn and Master Guitar program promoted by Legacy Learning and Smith is sold as a way to learn the guitar at home using DVDs and written materials.  According to the FTC’s complaint, Legacy Learning advertised using an online affiliate program, through which it recruited ‘Review Ad’ affiliates to promote its courses through endorsements in articles, blog posts, and other online editorial material, with the endorsements appearing close to hyperlinks to Legacy’s website.  Affiliates received in exchange for substantial commissions on the sale of each product resulting from referrals.

I’m glad they got them. Fake endorsements are dishonest, they dilute real endorsements, they pollute the Web, and they tarnish the wisdom of the crowd. So hooray for the FTC, catching the spoilers who make it worse for everyone else. Get those evil-doers.

But then, wait, what was that? This is a more direct quote from the same document:

According to the FTC, such endorsements generated more than $5 million in sales of Legacy’s courses.

Now that worries me. I can subtract $250,000 from $5 million in my head, without needing an accountant or even a calculator. It comes to $4.75 million. What’s wrong with this picture?

My thanks to Anita Campbell who pointed on Twitter to Geno Prussakov’s blog post on this.

(Image: Oleg Golovnev/Shutterstock)

Take a Break. Get Out for a While. Do Something for Yourself.

I really like Anita Campbell’s How to Put the Life Back Into Your Company post yesterday on the American Express OPEN Forum. She starts:

After the past two years of the recession – watching expenses like a hawk and keeping a close eye on receivables – it wouldn’t be surprising if you ended up with a bunker mentality.

That certainly hit home for me.

Anita goes from there to some very good suggestions taken not from the standard small business cliches we’re all tired of, but rather, from real experience, related to real people. Like get out of the office for a while, for example; and do something just for you. This is good advice.

Here’s Anita’s list. My advice is that you read the original post for her full suggestions.

  1. Remind yourself why you started or entered the business.
  2. Reflect on those who rely on your business.
  3. Get out of the office.
  4. Find something to celebrate.
  5. Do something just for you.

For that last point, I can’t resist finishing this one with her explanation:

Getting burned out won’t help a thing. It saps your energy. Do something just for you… a family vacation, some golf, reading a book, visiting an attraction. Find time to recharge your body and soul and you’ll bring more enthusiasm to your business when you get back to work. Encourage your staff to do the same.

And I’m glad to report that this post today catches me practicing what Anita suggested: I’m on vacation in the San Juan Islands. I took the picture below yesterday, from cliffs where we were sitting and watching when a group of Orca whales swam by, diving and blowing and jumping, as close as 50 yards away. This impromptu iPhone picture isn’t great, but the moment was. The picture includes two Orca whales, four of my grandsons, two of my daughters, my son-in-law, and my wife. Life is good.

whale watching

(Image credit: me and my iPhone)

10 Blogging Tips. My 1,000th Post on This Blog

Last night I was halfway through a draft post patting myself on the back, illustrated with champagne glasses, when my youngest daughter, Megan, called from San Francisco, where she lives now. That’s @MeganBerry to you, blogger and social media expert,  marketing manager of Klout.com. So I asked her this: “What do I do with my 1,000th post?”

stacked stones“Do something that matters,” Megan answered. “Do something special.”  She talked about favorites, lessons, advice, and reflections.

So, about 12 hours later, this is it, number 1,000. Gulp.

I started in 2006, but did only a dozen posts in the first year. I really started in April 2007, with reflections on family business, a personal note about passing the torch to a second generation. I changed jobs then – my choice – from owner-entrepreneur-president to blogger president of Palo Alto Software.

My personal favorite posts are on the sidebar here to the right. My favorite search is the one for fundamentals, particularly the series of 5 posts on planning fundamentals. My favorite categories come straight from the blog title: planning, startups, and stories: that’s specifically the categories planning fundamentals, true stories, and starting a business. And I also really like advice, reflections, and business mistakes. But I like most of my posts here. You kind of have to, to keep doing it.

Here are 10 blogging lessons I’ve learned:

  1. Imitation isn’t just flattery, it’s learning. When I said I wasn’t a blogger, Sabrina Parsons said “you will be. Just start reading blogs.” So I did. And I imitate a lot of other bloggers I like to read. So many that I can’t name them all here; but my thanks to Guy, John, Pam, Anita, Ann, Steve, Seth, Matthew, Ramon, and so many others. Every blog on my blogroll here to the right.
  2. Titles make a huge difference. That’s not just blogging. It’s been true for a long time. My son Paul, CTO at Huffington Post, teamed up with his younger sister Megan to teach me titles. And Ironically, what they taught me was a lot of what I learned at UPI plus the power of questions, and lists of 5 and 10.
  3. Short and simple: short sentences, short posts. Short thoughts? I like one-word sentences, and one-sentence paragraphs. And short posts, in theory: despite how much I admire Seth Godin’s short posts, I try, and usually fail.   
  4. Break grammar rules. Carefully. Rarely. Like right here. There’s no verb in either of the previous two sentences, so this post would have gotten me an F in Brother Salvatore’s 12th grade English class. 30-some years later, I’m glad he gave me that F on a 10-page paper for using “it’s” instead of “its” once. That lesson was worth it. But jeez!
  5. Pictures add meaning. Thanks to John Jantsch for that one. And to Shutterstock for supplying me with the bulk of the pictures I’ve used on this blog for the last year. And don’t ask me to explain the illustration on this one. I didn’t want champagne glasses or cakes and candles.
  6. Write Often, and keep writing. Find your pace. Honor consistency. Once a month doesn’t feel like a blog, but three good posts weekly is better than two good and three not so good. Break your routine occasionally for mental health. I write a lot and like it.  I’ve done 1,000 posts here in three years. Plus 700 on Up and Running, and another 200 or so on Small Business Trends, Huffington Post, Amex Open, Industry Word, and Planning Demystified. Plus some guest posts on others. It’s easier to maintain momentum than overcome inertia.
  7. Love the comments. Thank you. Not you spammers. But even you critics with annoying comments. Especially you critics with smart well written disagreements. Not the dumb generic praise intended only for your own SEO benefit, which I delete.  But I love the comments, they make it live.
  8. Love Twitter. Twitter has done wonders for my blogging, my daily work flow, and my growing satisfaction with web 2.0 or social media or whatever you call it. If you don’t get twitter, it’s not clutter, it’s not what they had for lunch, it’s blog posts and links and what’s going on in the world, as shared by people you like, now. My 18-point Twitter Primer feels as valid today as when I posted it.
  9. Tell the damn truth. You can’t fake it for long. Keeping track of all your various personae is exhausting. Write as yourself, or maybe (just maybe) who you really want to be. I know this is a lame old quote, but I heard it first from Chris Guilleabeau and I like it: “I have to be myself. All the other people are already taken.”
  10. Tell don’t sell. Lots of us blog for business. Much as I sincerely love the books and software I’ve done, I don’t blog about them here. Sure, the sidebar sells, I hope, but my posts don’t. 

Here’s advice, in honor of this being post number 1,000:

  1. Anything anybody can believe is an image of truth (paraphrasing William Blake).
  2. Time is the scarcest resource. Time, not money.
  3. Your relationships with the people you love are WAY more important than proving that you were right.

Dear reader: thank you. 

(image credit: Arsgera/Shutterstock)

Why Men With Pens is Written by a Woman. And Why That Matters.

Honestly, except for the name itself, I’ve never cared or wondered whether the author of Men With Pens was man or woman. It’s a good blog for writers. I did assume man, of course, because of the name of the blog, and the byline. This isn’t something I think about.

But I was shocked to read Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants as a post in CopyBlogger yesterday. It turns out that James Chartrand, author of the Men With Pens blog, @menwithpens on Twitter, is a woman, not a man.

Why do I care? I don’t care that she’s a woman and not a man. It makes no difference to the value of the content.  But I do care about the story she (James Chartrand) tells, and why she uses a man’s name.

Taking a man’s name opened up a new world. It helped me earn double and triple the income of my true name, with the same work and service.

No hassles. Higher acceptance. And gratifying respect for my talents and round-the-clock work ethic.

Business opportunities fell into my lap. People asked for my advice, and they thanked me for it, too.

Did I quit promoting my own name? Hell yeah.

I do believe that the difference between genders is the most interesting thing in creation. But I don’t believe in gender differences in jobs or opportunity and particularly not in writing. My favorite bloggers are about half and half, men and women. I just want the posts to be useful, interesting, amusing, and good. I’m as likely to read Pamela Slim or Anita Campbell as I am to read Seth Godin or John Jantsch. I like to think the world has come a long way since I was born in 1948. That the chauvinism we took for granted without even thinking about it in the 1950s and 1960s has given way to a better, more equal world.

Maybe so; but “more equal” isn’t the same as “equal.” Damn. Ask James Chartrand about that.

Everybody should read Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants. And everybody who cares about writing and blogging should subscribe to her blog – not because of her gender, or her surprising revelation about gender disguised, but, rather, because it’s got a lot of good content.

Can You Do It: Business Pitch in 140 Characters

Brevity is good. Brevity for business pitches is good too. The idea of pitching a new business in a single 140-character tweet (pardon the expression) is intriguing to me. Do you think you could do that?

Celebrity entrepreneur Richard Branson is pitching a Twitter pitch contest as part of a startup training program he’s involved in.

That idea’s intriguing, but not completely new. I thought I’d heard of something like that before so I Googled it and discovered that none other than my friend and world-renowned blogger Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends (@smallbiztrends on Twitter) won a Twitter business plan contest last year, with this 140-character business plan:

Monetize answering research questions for readers on a section of my website – ad supported – listing fees featured research

And the runners-up were pretty good too, in my opinion:

  • zackgonzales @hoovers pink eraser scentd cologne in pink parallelogram bottle, distro thru urban outfitters, archie mcphee, and scholastic book fairs
  • AndyBeard @hoovers Business plan by tweet? Sim Startup (All formats – I am sure I could get Activision to publish)

I think every business owner, operator, and manager should be able to boil the core of a business down into 140 characters. Can you? Can you do that for your business?

Here are some of my favorite businesses, in 140 characters (and, to keep it honest and because I included that “hard sell” jab above, I’m skipping Palo Alto Software and/or our products). All of these are less than 140 characters. Most of them leave 20 or more characters for retweeting:

  • Trunk Club: good-looking men’s clothing with personal online service for men who need clothes but hate shopping.
  • Cafe Yumm: Really healthy really tasty fast food with slow food values in Oregon. Franchisor too.
  • Mini-Cooper-S: bite-sized transportation for one or two with a kicker: unbelievably fun to drive.
  • Klymit: simple knob insulation adjustment in high-tech sports clothing.
  • Zapproved: Add-on magic to untangle email threads making group decision making faster, easier and more accountable.
  • Java Juice: easily transportable high-quality great-tasting condensed coffee for coffee lovers who travel or backpack. Just add hot water.
  • In Context Solutions: amazing 3-D retail modeling revolutionizing consumer in-store on-shelf research in an online virtual model.

And that, doing it for these seven companies I happen to like, was fun and easy. What would your 140-character pitch look like? Could you tell your company from your competitors, with that limit on the text?

(Image by Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten via Flickr)

Dan Schawbel, Me 2.0, and Personal Branding

What does personal branding mean to you?

To me it used to be about well-known experts whose names became brands in an almost-traditional business sense: Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Tom Peters; they were experts whose names sold books and speaking engagements. Lately my view of personal branding has expanded as I start following John Jantsch, Anita Campbell, and Pam Slim, for example; bloggers, tweeters, authors, and experts.

I like to think that my favorite experts, my favorite personal brands, are authentic. Guy Kawasaki really is an investor, really was an Apple evangelist, and believes every word he says. Seth Godin has built his remarkable name around remarkable marketing. John Jantsch lives for Duct Tape Marketing, and Anita Campbell for Small Business Trends. These are real people.

And, whether you like it or not, you too are a personal brand. Much as I dislike the phrase personal branding it’s not just for big names any more. It’s for just about everybody who has enough online access to be reading this post.

Whether you like it or not. Which brings me to Me 2.0, Dan Schawbel’s new book — due out today — on personal branding. 

Reading Dan Schawbel on personal branding is something like a mirror image of a mirror. He has a great personal brand. He’s always on Twitter, often on major business blogs (not to mention his own) and is frequently quoted in business magazines. And he’s only 24 years old.

Like his book, and his quick career success, Dan is completely immersed in the realities that have grown up in just the last few years: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on.

It may be that being young wasn’t even an obstacle, in his case, because that whole world began on college campuses (mostly) and then spread to the old folks like me. So of course he’s only 24. How could he not be?

And he’s got some very good advice to share. Beginning with his main point, the “like it or not” truth about it. Personal branding is no longer an elite concept reserved for a few big-name authors, columnists, or experts. The new world of the 21st century, with social media and Web 2.0 and Google and friends, makes it a fact of life for just about everybody.  He tends to focus a lot on the Gen Y college student looking for a job and starting a career,  but he would, wouldn’t he. There’s a lot of specific, detailed, real-world advice here about how to get your first job and manage your career, in the context of social media, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and friends.  And a lot of what he says applies just as well to an old guy enjoying his journey into social media. I had to chuckle: what is “Me 2.0” to Dan is something like “Me 11.0” to me. I’ve been around longer.

I still hate the phrase. Personal branding sounds to me like white suits and pink ties and gold chains. I wish we’d called it personal footprint, or something like that. Maybe just engrave the phrase “this goes on your permanent record” on every keyboard.

When I started in journalism close to 40 years ago, one of the better teachers suggested that we also keep an ego file, always, of things we’d written. Today it’s almost reverse — Google and friends keep the file of things you’ve written, whether you like it or not. And Dan points out that you should think about it ahead of time, and make sure you like it.

He tells some good stories: Facebook stupidity, for example — the guy who was convicted for a crime from evidence he posted on Facebook, and the almost-urban-myth of the woman who skipped work because she was “sick” but posted her free-day fling on Facebook.

Much more important than that, however, is a well structured review of how the new world almost requires an awareness of personal branding. Unless you’re outside that new world you can’t escape it, and you can, with some good thinking and organization, manage it. Visibility is there.

Some key points that apply to me and my baby-boomer friends as we enter into social media:

  • Authenticity: You can’t fake it for very long. You have to actually be yourself, or the effort to be that other person is overwhelming.
  • You have to live with who you’ve made yourself to be in things that show up in Google and friends.
  • Better to think about it and organize it — like a standard profile, picture, and personal statement — than to let it be random.

It’s amazing to me that Dan is only 24 years old. But maybe that’s the point. He’s onto something.