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How do I broadcast my message?

In this modern environment, people are bombarded daily with numerous advertisements through email, telephone, television, radio, standard mail, magazines, movies, and so on. We live in a time of advertisement overload. People will delete unread emails, toss unopened envelopes, fast forward through commercials on the TV and change radio stations during commercial breaks. With all these seemingly impenetrable walls in between your message and a possible client, donor or vote, how do you get others to pay attention?

The answer can me summed up in two words: RELEVANCY and COMMUNITY.

Relevancy – People will seek you out if you provide a product or service that is related to what they are interested in. You want to create a product or service that improves the lives of individuals or groups.

Community – A community is a group of similar-minded individuals who communicate with each other related to a specific subject matter or idea. You want to build a community of like-minded individuals that know what products/services you offer.

If you master these two concepts, you will develop trust and through it you will accomplish much. The following information takes these two concepts and turns them into specific task-oriented activities that will, over time, generate results, and save you a lot of money and headaches.

1) Get Organized

Being organized is the first and most critical step for managing any campaign or event. The more difficult the endeavor, the more crucial it is that people know exactly what is going on. During the Summer Olympics, there is much to do and keep track of. There are dozens of competitions with thousands of athletes, trainers, and employees, not to mention the millions of fans who will be attending events in multiple venues.

So how does one get organized? The most fundamental of tools is the business plan. Before you spend a large amount of money and time, both you and your investors what to know what you plan on doing with the money and labor that is, or will be, available to you. The business plan is generally organized into the following sections: Executive Summary, Company Description, Products and Services, Marketing Plan, Operational Plan, and Financial Plan. There is a new section I would strongly recommend adding: Technology Plan.

Action Item(s):
* Create a Business Plan

2) Technology Infrastructure Recommendations

You will want to determine the hardware and software you will want and need to efficiently and effectively operate and manage your organization. How many computers will you need? Will you need a server? What software do you need? What other equipment will you need? Do you have a person that will manage your technological infrastructure?

The #1 mistake I see organizations make when it comes to technology is to hire or contract someone who does not have integrity. Integrity is much more important than ability. Your “Tech Guy” will often have access to credit card information, personal emails, login passwords, customer contacts, etc. They could easily, and often legally, control your access to the technology that you paid for. You as the leader of the organization must be able to trust that person to not only get the job done, but to not take advantage of you in the process.

Here is some more advice that could save you thousands of dollars. Software can become very expensive. Microsoft, Adobe, and Norton are companies that provide common mainstream software solutions. The price tag for each of these products can run into the hundreds of dollars. There are free alternatives to these products, but keep in mind that free software does usually not have all the features paid software has. But if you are on a tight budget, they are good enough to at least get you going.

Brand Software {Free Alternative}

Microsoft Office {Open Office (openoffice.org)}
Adobe Photoshop {Gimp (gimp.org)}
Miva Merchant {Zen-Cart (zen-cart.com)}
Norton Antivirus {AVG (free.avg.com)}
Adobe Acrobat {Open Office (openoffice.org)}

Action Item(s):
* Setup Your Technology Based Systems (Internet, Document Development, Financial Tracking, Customer Relations, etc.)

3) Websites

Over the last few years, I have built dozens upon dozens of websites that rank very high in Google searches, automate the ability to purchase products online, and send direct messages to and from clients. A website is part of the marketing arm of an organization. It, if designed properly, will do much of the heavy lifting necessary to create social and political change. If you plan on operating a business, non-profit organization, or political campaign, it is critical that you have a website that accomplishes 3 goals:

a) Branding

People need to quickly look at your logo and website and instantly recognize who you are and what products or services you provide. Many American political campaign websites are in various shades of red, white and blue with a visible American flag. When you look at the top of Storiesofusa.com, you see American patriotic symbols and images, such as the American flag, Abraham Lincoln and the Liberty Bell.

b) Usability

The site must be easy to use. You want to make it easy to receive feedback from people that are using your website. Put yourself in the shoes of a visitor. Can you find the information you are looking for? Are all the links working? Does it load quickly? Is all the content spelled correctly and easy to understand? You will want to make sure you add photos, graphs, and videos to improve the comprehension of the ideas you are trying to explain. StoriesofUSA.com contains hundreds of photos and videos. The website is composed of over two thousand pages of content. If I had two thousand links on every page, a visitor would quickly feel intimidated and would quickly leave the site. There is a visual menu on top with seven choices. And if you click on the image of Abraham Lincoln, it takes you to a page with a list of major historical events in US history that are in chronological order. A person looking for information on the Civil War can quickly find it.

c) Searchability

A website must be tailored for a human being. It must also be developed to be compatible with search engines, such as Google and Bing. Content must be visible and organized properly. Content on a website is not all treated equally. I could write an entire book on the subject of the relationship between a website and a search engine. I will instead try to highlight the most important items. If I were to tell you that StoriesofUSA.com gets thousands of visitors daily and that we do not pay for any of that traffic, would you believe me? So how did I accomplish this?

Action Item(s):
* Create a Properly Designed Website

4) A Memorable Name

Create a business name that people will remember and that reflects the product or service you provide. When selecting a name for your website, there are 2 trains of thought:

A) Choose a domain with your business name (ex: facebook.com)
B) Choose a domain that contains keywords associated with your business (ex: socialnetworking.com)

Now that you have chosen a domain name, go to Godaddy.com and register it. I recommend Godaddy over the other website domain and hosting companies because of their pricing, reliability and customer service. There are other many options, such as Network Solutions, 1 & 1, and Host Gator.

Action Item(s):
* Register Domain and Hosting with GoDaddy.com

5) On Page Content

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) was initially developed to put newspaper articles online. HTML provides the ability to control style and position of content on a web page. Great content is the most important part of great search engine rankings. If people like your content, they will read it. If they love your content they will link to it and tell others about it.

Writing for the Internet is much different than writing for printed media, such as postcards. At the heart of Internet search is keywords. Keywords are words or phrases that people input in search engines such as Google.com to find information online. Make sure you choose keywords and phrases that are searched often (ex: car repair, auto repair). You will also want to use keywords that are searched often that have less competition than other terms (ex: bmw auto parts, auto repair los angeles).

It is very important to keep the content on the website fresh and new. The fundamental philosophy of a search engine is RELEVANCY. A website that has fresher well-written content will usually be ranked higher than websites that have little to no content.

Action Item(s):
* Good copywriting (On page content is readable, relevant and contains keywords)
* On page content should contain relevant bold words, links to other pages and bullet point lists
* Routinely add and edit content on the website

6) Offsite Content

Once you have your website up and running, it is now time to get your message out there. The basic concept is to cast a wide net. And do it over and over again. There are a number of strategies that can be used that can increase the number of visitors to your website.

A) Register your website domain name with search engines and directories, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, DMOZ and Ask. There are search engine submitters that will submit to many search engines at the same time. Use http://www.submitexpress.com/free-submission.html.

B) List the website on all marketing material, including emails and business cards.

C) Link Building – A link placed on another website that points back to your website. Talk to your friends and associates. If they have a website, have them place a link that points back to you. This is an ongoing process, and I would recommend hiring someone to do this for you, or at least train you how to do it correctly.

D) Article Submission and Content Syndication – Write articles, newsletters, and press releases related to services you provide and events that you will be hosting. If you are not a good writer, you will either learn to become one or hire someone who is. Once the articles are written, you will want to distribute them to many locations. You can submit it to article submission sites, like: Articlezilla.

http://www.styopkin.com/article_submission_sites.html contains a large list of sites to submit to. You will want to setup accounts for sites like Technorati, BlogCatalog and Feedburner. Then you can automatically submit your content to these sites.

E) Blog Commenting – Find blogs and websites that you can leave comments. Then find articles on those sites related to your message. Comment on the article and add a link pointing back to your site. You want to portray yourself as someone who is knowledgeable in a subject. Don’t just leave a comment that says, “Look at me. Buy my product.”

F) Videos, Images, Podcasts and mp3s – Create or leverage existing video and audio files. Create accounts on Youtube, iTunes, Vimeo, Metacafe and other sites where you can upload media files. You can often link back to your website from these accounts. And you can advertise your website within these media files. These forms of media make your content more interactive and increase the opportunities for others to easily find you and tell others about you. This is the essence of Viral Marketing. People like to share interesting content and links with their friends. So go and create interesting content, post it to your website, and share it with your friends.

Action Item(s):
* URL submission for new website – http://www.submitexpress.com/free-submission.html
* Create profiles and content with links on MercantCircle.com, Yola.com, Squidoo.com, Hubpages.com, Blogger.com, WordPress.com, and Tumblr.com
* Research competition and place links where they have links
* Reciprocal links with industry related sites, friends, clients, etc.
* Create accounts and submit articles to EzineArticles.com, ArticlesBase.com, ArticleSnatch.com, ArticleAlley.com, ArticleDashBoard.com, IdeaMarketers.com, ArticleCity.com, SearchWarp.com, GoArticles.com, ArticleClick.com, ABCArticleDirectory.com, uPublish.info, CarolinaArticles.com, ArticlesJust4You.com, ArtiPot.com, ArticleSphere.com, and ArticlesMagazine.com
* Comment on other blogs and online news articles with a link back to your site
* Viral Marketing through video, podcasts and mp3s – Submit to Youtube.com, Vimeo.com, Metacafe.com, iTunes.com, 5min.com, Buzznet.com, Blip.tv, Dailymotion.com, Veoh.com, Video.Google.com, Flickr.com, PhotoBucket.com

7) Standard Networking

Join business networking organizations and online groups, such as a chamber of commerce and Meet Up to create business connections and opportunities with local and similar minded individuals.

Action Item(s):
* Join Groups: Chamber of Commerce, MeetUp.com, Business Networking Organizations, Non-Profit Organizations, Political Organizations

8) Public Relations and Social Media

There are numerous ways to improve relationships with the general public, including newsletters, email campaigns, blogging and online social media.

A) Newsletters and Email Campaigns – Capturing email through your website and then sending follow up information to them through email is an important element of Internet marketing – sites that make this easier are: http://www.mobilestorm.com, http://www.contantcontact.com, http://www.aweber.com, http://www.icontact.com. Some content management systems (such as WordPress) have the ability to integrate these features. There are many sites that do this, so do your homework and find one that works for you.

Also, keep your emails simple. Most people will not take the time to read every word that you write in the email. Your main goal in the email is to get them back to your website and to follow further instructions. Setup a web page that has a clear Call to Action (What do you want them to do once they are there?). And then in your email that you submit, create short, but interesting, content that links to this Call to Action page on your website.

You will want to create a campaign in Google Analytics to track email campaigns and use a url tracker. (http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578)

And one last thing, everyone’s email is setup differently. Some can receive fully formatted emails with embedded images, links and videos. Others only receive text only email, that have no formatting. You will have to develop emails that are flexible enough in design that will still be able to get your message to them, no matter what type of email system the recipient has.

B) Blogging
* Blogging is a science and artform. Essentially, you want to create relevant content that is related to your industry, that people want to read about, that will create positive name recognition, and that will drive traffic to your website. If you are in the insurance industry, you will want to write about new insurance laws, new insurance companies, and new types of insurance programs that are available. There are numerous easy-to-use blog platforms to choose from, including: Blogger.com and WordPress.com.

C) Social Media Optimization
* Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and others help create social connections and a following of like minded individuals. It is not enough to just create a profile. It is an ongoing process of generating contacts, describing yourself and fostering stronger relationships. These are great places to foster niche and relationship marketing. Find like-minded individuals with similar hobbies and interests. Encourage them to be your “friend.” As a friend, you can send out info to them. Like-minded people are more willing to purchase from you, vote for you, or give you money. I strongly recommend starting with a Facebook Fan Page. – http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=904 and joining a Facebook “Group”. Once you get a lot of “friends”, you can send them messages to encourage them to do what it is you want them to do. Also, Twitter can be a way to encourage backlinking. Create a bit.ly account (url shortener). And when you want to post a website, post it as a bit.ly. It will shorten your url and it will allow you to track where you are receiving Twitter traffic from. Use the search features (http://search.twitter.com, etc.) to find discussions related to your topic. Remember that people will buy more from people they like or want to be around. Do not be pushy or overly aggressive. Social media is a complex area, not because of its difficulty to use, but by its myriad of options and the complex social interactions involved. Use a service like Ping.fm to coordinate your postings with various social media accounts.

D) TV, Radio, Newspaper – There are cost effective and creative ways to get media attention without having to spend a large amount of advertising dollars. If you get media attention, exploit it by posting the image, video or podcast on your website. Encourage them to link back to your website.

E) Be an Expert – Display your knowledge of a certain field. There are various ways to do this, but the bottom line is that you want to be perceived by a lot of people that you know what you are talking about related to concepts that they want to know about. Here are some suggestions: Be an expert on a radio or TV program, setup a profile on Yahoo Answers and answer some questions, etc. If you are a plumber or electrician you might want to be a keynote speaker at a Home Owners Association meeting.

F) S.U.C.C.E.S.S. – Secrets of Viral Marketing – Submit content that is Simple to follow, Unexpected, Concrete and tangible concepts, Credible thoughts and results, Emotional connection, tells a Story and is Shareable.

Action Item(s):
* Create newsletters and email campaigns
* Blog for more content – Blogger.com, WordPress.com
* Leverage social media for relationship marketing: Facebook.com, Twitter.com, Youtube.com, MySpace.com, Google.com/Buzz, LinkedIn.com, Indenti.ca, BrightKite.com, FriendFeed.com, Plurk.com, Jaiku.com, Bebo.com, Posterous.com
* Use Ping.fm to coordinate posts on various accounts
* Find creative ways to be mentioned in TV, radio or newspaper
* Be an expert and answer questions
* Viral Marketing SUCCESS (Simple – Unexpected – Concrete – Credible – Emotional – Story – Shareable)

10) Track and Analyze

It is critical to be able to objectively analyze where you are obtaining your clients from – http://www.google.com/analytics/. This tool, once integrated onto a website, provides a wealth of information about traffic on a website. Also, if you are spending money on banner ads, directories, etc., you need to make sure you are tracking the response.

Action Item(s):
* Attach Google Analytics tracking code to your website

11) Purpose, Goals, Passion

Technique is only half the battle. It is critical that you believe in your product or service, be willing to put in the effort, and have the passion and commitment to see it through.

List of Characteristics of Successful People:
Taken from: http://storiesofusa.com/top-characteristics-of-successful-people/

Passion, Purpose, Creative, Integrity, Initiative, Character, Dream Big, Hard Work, Innovative, Persistence, Clear Vision, Independent, Self-Confident, Have a Mentor, Inquisitiveness, Expert in a Field, Strong Leadership, High Energy Level, Tolerance for Failure, Calculated Risk Taker, Problem Solving Skills, Goal Oriented Behavior, Positive Mental Attitude, Effective Communication, Commitment to Excellence, Strong Management and Organizational Skills


Spotlight on AJ Bombers

Posted by Augie Ray on March 28, 2010 (Forrester.com)

I moved to the Bay Area from Milwaukee about five months ago. Among the things I miss from my hometown are my two favorite burger restaurants – AJ Bombers and Sobelman’s. Both have used Word of Mouth (WOM) to become successful small businesses, but while one built its buzz over 10 years, the other used social media to become a success in just one year. The stories of these two businesses can provide insight and inspiration to much larger brands seeking to create benefits with social media.

Sobelman’s is a little hard to find – it’s located in an industrial part of the city rather than in a fashionable neighborhood – but that didn’t prevent it from building a broad-based following since opening in 1999. While dining at Sobelman’s, you’re equally likely to find guys with hard hats, students in Marquette colors and professionals in suits or khakis. Sobelman’s created its success the old-fashioned way – with a great story (Dave and Melanie Sobelman worked the grill and took orders), a delicious product and a smart mix of traditional marketing, such as sponsoring Marquette University events.

The road to success for AJ Bombers was considerably shorter, although there were plenty of reasons to think the business would fail quickly: It was launched in the middle of the worst recession in generations and was located at an address that had seen at least five businesses fail in recent years. AJ Bombers’ one-year path from grand opening to the pages of the Wall Street Journal speaks volumes about the way social media is changing business.

Of course, just like Sobelman’s, AJ Bombers’ success starts with a great experience and a great product. (All the tweets in the world won’t overcome a poor consumer experience.) But while the two restaurants share that much in common, it is AJ Bombers’ use of social media that demonstrates the power of the medium. The restaurant’s constant attention toward building awareness and energizing fans has included:

Active engagement on Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, AJ Bombers has tweeted more than 10,000 times to its 3,000 followers. On Facebook, the restaurant updates its status several times a month and engages with 1,000 fans.

Offering new FourSquare mayors a free burger and fries, encouraging repeat visits and checking among its fan base.

A special event that drew a mass of FourSquare users who earned the midwest’s first “Swarm Badge.” Over 150 people turned out for the eventb-bmore than one-quarter of all FourSquare users in Milwaukee – and AJ Bombers saw revenue more than double from the same day the previous week. (AJ Bomber’s innovative use of FourSquare will continue: The restaurant was recently among 30 small businesses to test new FourSquare analytics technology to track user data and create more engagement.)

A promotion launched with a YouTube video, creating a contest that permitted one lucky winner to earn free burgers for a year.

Regular tweetups to draw fans to different events, such as a holiday party and Bloody (Mary) Brunch.

Turning a stolen sandwich board into a local news item thanks to a reward offer and smart use of Twitter.

A new campaign (in partnership with Sobelman’s) to attempt to bring the Travel Channel’s “Food Wars” to Milwaukee for a showdown between the two competing burger bars.

While it’s interesting to point out everything AJ Bombers has done, it’s what they haven’t done that is worth noting. For example, the restaurant has not spent a great deal of cash on their social media success (although time is money, and clearly there’s been significant time invested into these efforts.)

Even with little monetary outlay, success can breed problems. I spoke with Joe Sorge, owner of AJ Bombers, and he noted that “in some ways we backed ourselves into a corner – guests expect immediate responses in social media” but he added, “I don’t mind the corner!” Sorge still enjoys personally monitoring Facebook and Twitter every day as often as possible, but he is beginning to delegate some of the responsibility. Sorge is training others to monitor and respond to fans on Twitter (with individuals’ initials at the end of tweets to make it clear the human behind the tweets).

Another thing AJ Bombers hasn’t done is turned their Twitter and Facebook stream into a string of direct marketing offers. Unlike some brands that use their Twitter and Facebook profiles as a replacement for FSIs (Free Standing Inserts) and direct email marketing, Sorge instead points to inspiration from Seth Godin to pursue “the opposite of interruption-style marketing.”

Sorge isn’t interested in one-way communication but instead praises the value he receives from input and feedback. “Customers are becoming the business,” he says. “We had no idea that the ‘Burger of the Month’ would be so popular and that we’d have to change it the ‘Burger of the Moment.'” In fact, one of their most popular burgers was created by a customer, @KateBarrie; the Barrie Burger features peanut butter, bacon and cheese.

Another thing Sorge does not (and cannot) do is measure ROI. He says he measures what he can – for example, he notes that FourSquare promotions have allowed AJ Bombers to increase sales 30% on select items – but that isn’t what Sorge sees as the true value of social media to his business. “This is a restaurant built by social media. This is the only way we know it. We can’t say what it would be like without it.”

The final thing AJ Bombers isn’t doing is waiting for someone else to prove ROI before experimenting with different social media programs. Sorge is unafraid to try new things in inexpensive and small ways. The owner of AJ Bombers knows his customers, understands his brand and recognizes that social media is a way to connect the two. Really, how hard is that?


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