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Growing Your Brand and Business: Using LinkedIn Groups

With LinkedIn operating the largest online professional network with some 160 million users across 200 countries, it is clear that being active on this site is essential to growing your brand and business. However, being successful at generating business on LinkedIn requires developing and following a plan of action to ensure that the optimal results are achieved.

Being part of LinkedIn groups is an important part of an individual marketing strategy.

According to the most recent statistics provided by LinkedIn, “members are sharing insights and knowledge in more than 1.25 million LinkedIn Groups.” By joining groups that pertain to your industry (or not – your niche or other area), you are able to interact with like-minded groups of people, regardless of your connection to them. “One major reason for me to be involved in a LinkedIn group… I can have access to other group members, whether I have a direct connection with them or not,” says Jason Alba, author of I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???: A Guide to Getting the Most OUT of LinkedIn.

Create Your Own Group

Creating your own LinkedIn group provides you with even more benefits and opportunities to interact with the right prospects. The added bonus of creating and managing your own group is that you have control over the group and its focus. By having your own group, you highlight your expertise in the topics being discussed and have more of a say in what topics are covered in the group.  As group manager, you are able to list your events, connect to members directly and can even choose who will be allowed in the group.  One of the most effective ways to connect with members is to welcome new additions to the group with a personalized message. “My experience is that few people acknowledge new connections with a personal reply, something that takes just a few seconds,” says Jeff Korhan, author of 10 LinkedIn Tips for Building Your Business. “This is why this strategy is so valuable for developing relationships and standing apart from others who are just collecting connections.”

Stay Active

LinkedIn users should remember that, like real world networking, to receive the greatest benefit you must put in the effort and remain an active participant in groups. One strategy is to become “very” active in three or four groups.  Being very active means checking in at least 3 to 5 times a week.  When you check in, get involved in discussion, post questions, share articles and look for ways to help people find solutions to their challenges.  Work to create a reputation as a giver and provider of expert information.   The more active you are on LinkedIn, the more you will get out of it. “LinkedIn Groups provide you with an audience of interested individuals who are there to learn and share,” says Susan Shapiro, Operations Strategist for Bralan Consulting. “By actively participating, you become an expert, a resource your listeners may turn to for themselves and/or their clients.”

The State of LinkedIn

c/o viralblog.com

LinkedIn and social media in general should primarily be used for networking, branding and relationship development.  If you use LinkedIn as a vehicle to push sales messages and sell aggressively, success will be hard to find.  Make your LinkedIn efforts part of your personal marketing and branding strategy.  Selling will push people away and, if you spam, might even get your account suspended.  People in the real world and on LinkedIn want to do business with people that they know, like and trust.  Use this site as a vehicle to advance your brand and to get people to know who you are, like you for the information that you provide and trust you as a person who provides good content and delivers.

LinkedIn Groups offer a tremendous opportunity to meet people and expose them to your expertise. Leverage the relationships you create in groups and make personal connections.  Begin conversations and demonstrate that you can offer value and support.   These efforts will lead to relationships which will grow your brand and build your business.

Author:

This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm.  For more information, go to corbettpr.com or to his blog corbettprblog.com.  He can be reached at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com or @wjcorbett.

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It’s Time To Upgrade Your Marketing – How to Keep Your Brand Fresh

Why do some companies seem to be stuck in the 70’s and can’t seem to move forward with a new look and feel? I can’t tell you how many clients come to me who have not updated their marketing collateral in 10 years.  Some CEO’s are stuck in the old way of doing things and seem to not want to change. The word “change” scares many business owners and keeps them from updating the company’s brand. Is your company’s logo and marketing materials out of date and tired looking?

Even If It’s Not Broken, You May Still Want to Fix It

The old saying if it’s not broken don’t fix it holds true to many CEO’s who have been running businesses for 30-40 years. These types of business owners do not want to utilize social media and online marketing.  They want to stick with traditional advertising and telemarketing initiatives to drive new business.  However, they are missing out on new ways to promote their business and receive additional leads.  It can be frustrating for employees that are up-to-date on the current marketing trends to convince the CEO to change their ways. The key is to show the CEO valid reasons to change their ways.

Here are some tips to help convince “old school” CEO”s to upgrade their marketing:

English: Creating lifelong customer value with...

English: Creating lifelong customer value (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Old Collateral – A great way to convince a CEO to change their collateral is to show them a brochure of a competitor.  The new brochures have more white space and are concise.  Developing a new brochure is a great way to rebrand your business and upgrade your marketing.  Costs range depending on the type of brochure you would like to produce.  A simple tri-fold brochure can cost under $1000 to design and printing costs are low.  The style today is more photos and less text..keeping it light and airy.

New Website – A website is the face of your business and should be consistent with your marketing material.  Many companies have not upgraded their website and are using an outdated website.  New websites can be upgraded with flash and new photos that make it look up-to-date.  The cost to redesign a website can be kept low if you provide the photos and content to a website developer.

Trade Show Booth – An old booth design can destroy your brand at a trade show.  It’s important to keep up with your competitors and design a new booth.  Show the CEO’s a competitors booth and explain that it’s important to keep your marketing materials consistent.  The cost can be high for this depending on printing costs…but you will use the new trade show booth at all shows.  It won’t go to waste and is a very important investment.

Social Media Marketing – Show the CEO your competitors page on Facebook and Linked-In and explain that it’s good to have a page as well.  There is no cost to develop a FaceBook page for your business…so there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Why not?

The most important item to a CEO is the ROI and if you can show this over time..then you hit a home run.  Set goals up front for the CEO and show him results and you will be a “star”.   Dealing with “Old School” CEO’s can be extremely frustrating..but learning how to work around them and show the benefits of upgrading can be rewarding.  Take it one step at at time and don’t hit them with too much change at once.  The turtle always wins the race!

Author: 

Monique Merhige is the President of Infusion Direct Marketing & Advertising, Inc.  She has over 15 years of marketing communications experience with technology companies ranging from small service firms and equipment manufacturers to a 1.5 Billion dollar division of Motorola.  Infusion is a marketing consulting firm that specializes in the security industry and delivers marketing solutions that include Public Relations, Direct Marketing, Branding, Collateral Development, and Social Media Marketing.  Visit:  www.infusiondirect.com or call 631-846-1558

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The Hard Truth about Facebook: Why the Facebook IPO looks like a Bad Investment

  • Facebook Does Not Produce any Content
  • Facebook May be Maxed Out!
  • Facebook Lacks Innovation
  • Facebook Does Not Replace a Conversation!

Facebook DOES NOT Produce Any Content!

We have been told time and time again, “Content is King”. As an avid digital user, I have found this to be absolutely true. You may be hard pressed to find many who disagree. If this holds true, then Facebook is the biggest flakey investment you can make, in fact, it shouldn’t even survive much longer.

Facebook capitalized on technology – it was a place for people to come to connect and learn. This was at a time when content was still struggling to make its way to digital avenues. In fact, iTunes was in its infancy and did not even hit the top spot until 2008. This gave Facebook the edge as The Place to interact and learn. Think about content producers like the NY Times, they too, were late to the digital era.

What is Facebook and how does it generate revenue?

Users that create content! Every time you participate in Facebook you give them content. This was a fair tradeoff in 2008, perhaps even in 2011, but times are changing. If 2012 is the year of content, then Facebook may be in trouble. While there is likely not going to be a wild withdraw from Facebook at this moment, trust me when I say content providers are starting to see the value in limiting their content and perhaps even withdrawing future content from social sites like Facebook.

If the NY Times stops posting on Facebook, the NY Times will still have increases in readers and perhaps an increase in viewers. It’s arguable about whether or not the NY Times has made a terrible error in posting anything to Facebook. If I know that I count on the NY Times for my “content” but also know that I have the NY Times in my Newsfeed on Facebook, than I am much less likely to visit the NY Times app, website or open the email because I am counting on seeing the NY Times content on my stream. In fact, I even get a small preview that will likely let me know what the “content” is about and so there is no reason to visit the NYTimes.com or their app on my iPad. This is arguably a terrible business model for the NY Times!

The same can be said about entertainment – TV shows, Movies and Artists (i.e. musicians) that get little or nothing for producing “content” for Facebook. Why should Britney Spears keep placing “content” on Facebook? It’s not like Britney Spears needs 910 Million people to be introduced to her, does she? In fact even if only half of her “likes” turned into paid subscriptions at $1, she would have a entirely new revenue stream just based on the “content” already being produced.

Facebook May be Maxed Out!

We all know there is a peak in every business and venture but at 900 million how much further can you really grow? In fact, by recent number indications, Facebook may already be slowing down. Getting 900 million to pay attention to you is one thing, getting them to stay is another. As a Facebook user I admit I already spend a massive amount of time on Twitter and LinkedIn in comparison to Facebook. When Pinterest came out I gave up more of my Facebook time, not the other two!

Why are other Social Sites stronger then Facebook? They have a niche! Facebook has tried to be all things to all users and that’s gotten them lost! LinkedIn is where we go to do business and professional networking, Twitter is the top choice for news and chatting – after all you’ve never heard of a FacebookUp have you? Ever attended a virtual conversation on Facebook? In fact, Facebook completely dropped the ball when GooglePlus captured the world’s attention with Hangout! When you try to be everything to everybody you end up being no use to anyone, that’s Facebook’s grim future right now.

Note: Google may be the exception (Search and Social Come Together)

Facebook Lacks innovation

Let’s face it, when you fail to innovate you tend to open the door and show yourself out, Facebook showed early signs of that when Twitter was released. That was arguably the start of Facebook’s Why didn’t we think of that? Well lets copy it or better yet buy it!

The list goes on and on, Facebook got its status updates from Twitters innovation, Facebook Places developed from FourSquare and GoWalla, which was such a failure that later they bought GoWalla. Google Plus quickly trumped them with Video Chat and so Facebook tried to copy it. Once Facebook realized that Google was way too big and they could never compete with the inbound marketing of the search Giant, we then had a short lived Bing/Facebook Social Search integration. You love Google Video Ads, well Facebook copied that too. Fan of being able to Pin It! so is Facebook. If you really love the fact that a picture is worth a thousand words, then that’s the equivalent of a billion dollars as that’s what Instagram was acquired for, by Facebook!

We could talk about the business model, but after all the news about retailers flocking to Facebook pages and then running away clearly it’s not a primary place for business, no matter how many times they try to tell you it is.

Facebook is clearly over extended and in complete chaos with its inability to innovate beyond its checkbook. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value in marketing and advertising, after all 900 million emails is a safe list, just one that might not be quite as valuable as we have been lead to believe.

Facebook Does Not Replace a Conversation!

 It is possible that in the near future society  will hinder Facebook forever, a status update is not a conversation. Networking, Learning and Communications are greatly hindered by the existence of Facebook and its just a matter of time before our nation and communities around the globe shun Facebook as a major contributor to health issues and conflict. Facebook has little if any reality in it, it is a place for people to share what they choose, trying to showcase themselves, their family and their lives in the best light possible even if it is the furthest thing from the truth.

One might enjoy the idea that grandparents can see their grandchildren through the curation of an edited and extremely biased feed, the truth however could range from basic struggles to life threatening abuse that fails to get discovered from a lack of real world contact.

If you’re a friend, family member or loved one, I hope you don’t mistake the value of real life contact with the purpose of a feed. I most especially hope it’s not at the cost of a future or a life.

The Balanced Truth

While I spent most of the time looking at a few of the issues that will impact Facebook’s survival, I don’t want to be unfair. Facebook is a great tool, but it’s just that, a tool! Facebook has connected people like never before, contributed to the free dissemination of information and pioneered Social Media into the revolution of digital communications. However, it’s just software.

Facebook cannot replace real life communications or the desperate need we have for them as part of our existence. No child will be born because of Facebook, no war will be stopped, no product will be manufactured by it, and no business will grow simply because they were on Facebook.

Children come from physical contact, wars are averted through communication that requires we hear, see, touch and smell each other. Facebook is not going to get on the assembly line and build your Ford, stove or Mobile Phone. Facebook will not report the news, and ask the tough questions. Facebook will not repair your roof or rescue you during an emergency. Facebook will not raise a child, nurture them, inspire them and provide for them. No business will be successful because they got on Facebook, that’s up to the entrepreneur, their vision, passion and hard work. 

I am taken in awe by Facebook’s Innovation to come to existence and serve a purpose, it has changed lives, some for better some for worse. Facebook has value and can be used as an effective tool, just not one that a reasonably educated and experienced person can see growing much further. Facebook has been a consumer of great ideas and innovative content, but that’s the problem, it consumes, it doesn’t create.

Author:

@BasilPuglisi is the Executive Director and Publisher for Digital Brand Marketing Education (dbmei.com). Basil C. Puglisi is also the President of Puglisi Consulting Group, Inc. A Digital Brand Marketing Consultancy that manages professional and personal branding for Fortune 500 CEOs, Hedge Fund Managers and Small Business Owners.

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***Disclaimer, The article is meant to share the opinion of the author based on availble informations and data, it is not an investment tool.***

Consistency Is Key In Your Integrated Marketing Strategy

Consistency is an important concept in marketing that many companies fail to deliver. It’s the key to success…so why is it overlooked by so many marketing executives?  The answer is that most marketing is fragmented and coming at people from too many different directions. Between TV, radio, print, outdoor billboards, email, direct mail all competing for your attention – consumers don’t know where to look next.   It’s important for companies to integrate their campaigns and not rush launching too many campaigns at one time.

Here are some guidelines to help deliver a consistent identity with a cohesive integration plan:

Select Your Logo, Tagline, & Colors – Keep your colors and logo consistent in all marketing messages. This includes print advertisements, TV Commercials, direct mail, etc.  Your tagline needs to be present on every single marketing piece to drive home what you do!  Be clear in telling people what you can offer them.  However, this is still not full integration.  Integration requires the entire company being able to state what you do in the same manner.  You need to integrate your message throughout your entire organization.

Message Longevity – Marketers tend to be in a rush to meet the next deadline or get the next campaign out the door.  It’s important to realize that integrating your brand takes time. Don’t continue changing the direction of your campaigns. Keep it consistent for years if you need to…….there is no time limit to branding your company.  Don’t lose patience and stop the momentum of keeping the same messaging out there.  The worst thing you can do is confuse people with mixed messages.

Verbiage – Create messages that can be easily understood by your target audience. Don’t speak in terms that people don’t understand. A perfect example would be a company that has technical terms in a print advertisement that would be better suited for engineers.  It’s important to make sure that your audience clearly understands what you sell and how the product will benefit them.  Focus on the solutions you offer to take their problem away.  This should be in every single piece of marketing communication that is sent out by your company.

A perfect time to use integrated marketing communications is during an acquisition. When a large organization acquires another company…..it’s important to have an integrated marketing plan in place. The time right after the acquisition is crucial to branding the new company and making sure people understand how the brand integrates into your own.  An example would be a security integrator who installs security products and just purchased a security software company.  Your marketing message would need to show how this new software company integrates into your existing company.  The security integrator should show how they are working hand and hand to produce the ultimate security solution for the end user.  In my experience, the company that is acquired usually changes their brand image to reflect the parent company. There have been some cases that the brand image was changed over time.  As long as you have an integrated marketing strategy in place that delivers consistency….you will be ahead of the game.

Author: 

Monique Merhige is the President of Infusion Direct Marketing & Advertising, Inc.  She has over 15 years of marketing communications experience with technology companies ranging from small service firms and equipment manufacturers to a 1.5 Billion dollar division of Motorola.  Infusion is a marketing consulting firm that specializes in the security industry and delivers marketing solutions that include Public Relations, Direct Marketing, Branding, Collateral Development, and Social Media Marketing.  Visit:  www.infusiondirect.com or call 631-846-1558

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