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Do you know what people are saying about your company at any given time? Perch can help.
The internet and its countless social networks provide you with tremendous opportunities – and formidable challenges.
You can be as visible as you want, at very low cost. You can say what you want to say about your company and its products or services.
But so can everyone else. And therein, as they say, lies the problem. How in the world do you know when someone mentions you or your business? You can set up Google Alerts, spend a lot of time combing through sites where your industry peers hang out, or pay someone (at great cost) to do it for you.
Perch is another alternative. It’s a free app available for both iOS and Android smartphones. It’s not brand new; in fact, it’s been around long enough to have won an Appy Award for Best Business App in 2013.
I don’t usually use this space to promote just one product. There are many that are worthy, but I figure you do a lot of investigating on your own.
This one is worth it. It tracks reviews, social posts, and promotions where you’re mentioned, on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google+, Instagram, Foursquare, Groupon, and Living Social.
It couldn’t be simpler to use. Once you’ve downloaded and installed it, you simply type your company name and its city into the Search fields. If you’re already in the system, Perch will present you with a streaming feed of related mentions going back 14 days. You can, of course, click on an entry to view it in its entirety.
If your company name isn’t found, you can do one of two things (or both). Perch uses the Foursquare database of businesses. If you know you’re not listed there, you can go there to add yourself. You can also click on a link to send an email to Perch and ask that you be included.
You’ve probably caught on to another powerful use of Perch by now: You can enter the names of your competitors and see who’s talking about them – what reviews they’re getting on Yelp and what pictures are being posted on Instagram and where they’re being mentioned (as well as what they’re saying about themselves) on Facebook and Twitter.
And why wouldn’t you?
Perch is a surprisingly simple but potentially very effective way to watch how your company’s name and products are being treated by the social networks. It’s free. It’s simple. It’s a tremendous time-saver. And it meets a need that every company doing business on the internet has. Try it.
Stock image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you just can’t write one more tweet or LinkedIn update or blog post, try some alternatives.
We’ve all experienced it. Writer’s block. We just cannot for the life of us come up with any content to share on our blogs and social networks. That dog won’t hunt. Everything we try to write sounds trite or repetitive or dull or otherwise unpalatable.
At times like these, don’t force it. There are other options. Not only do these lighten the load on you, but they also give you a chance to introduce your visitors to other voices besides yours.
Just as some of your own content is more appropriate for Facebook than LinkedIn, or Twitter than your blog, these suggestions should make their way onto your most appropriate piece of online real estate.
Retweet others’ tweets.
There is some research that says retweets actually get noticed more than original tweets. This makes sense. Anytime someone reacts to something positively enough to retweet it – rather than listening to the sound of his or her own voice – it’s likely to have some merit.
You know what curators of museums or art galleries do. They “own” the collections on exhibit there – not literally, of course, but in the sense that they are often responsible for acquisitions and for making the pieces accessible to visitors.
This means that they must be very familiar with everything that is put on display. So, too, should you be if you curate content on your blog or other social site. Read each piece completely and thoroughly to make sure that you want all of its messages to be passed along to your readers.
Museum curators don’t display absolutely every piece from any one source, and you don’t have to reproduce an entire article from an original site, especially if it’s lengthy. You can pull out the best parts and comment on them, adding your own particular view.
Curating is easier than starting from scratch, but it still requires work on your part. You must include the author’s name and the title of the original work (you will, of course, introduce this material by coming up with your own title for the entire post, which will include the desired excerpts, your commentary and calling out of critical points, and your request that readers join in on the conversation). Include a link to the site where you found the content.
Get a guest blogger.
This goes on a lot. It gives bloggers a break and gives readers exposure to another perspective. You may want to simply ask someone whose work you admire to contribute a post (they may want some kind of payment, which you may or may not be willing to do). Bloggers frequently swap spaces; they each write for the other’s blog.
Dust off your greatest hits.
If you’ve been active on your blog and social networks for 18 months or more, there’s no shame in re-posting something you’ve done before that got a good response. Readers will come and go, and you probably have a new set of visitors who haven’t reached back into your archives. Certainly update the original, and improve on it if you can.
Whatever you do, don’t let your social properties go dark. Use outside resources when you’re running dry. This injection of fresh content may give you the shot in the arm you need to move on.
Stock images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
LinkedIn has been introducing new features that can punch up your Profile – and there are more coming.
I’ve repeated some of the same themes in this space for the last few years. They boil down to this: Online content is different than any other documents or marketing materials or fact sheets you’ve ever produced. Because you have so much competition for your prospects’ consideration – and because the internet has shortened our average attention span — you need to:
LinkedIn Supporting Best Practices
These are common bits of advice that many people share these days. LinkedIn has been following that model, adding new ways for you to present yourself to your audience.
Think about how long you look at a LinkedIn Profile. If you’re planning to interview somewhere for a job, or if you’re being interviewed for a new position, you probably take it all in.
In many cases, though, you’ll probably spend less than a minute. Maybe 30 seconds. And what do you look at? First, the photo. Does yours convey the impression you’re going for? Professional headshots rule on LinkedIn, but don’t be afraid to be a little creative with this if it “matches” your personality, your corporate culture, and your position.
Second, you look at the Summary. Is yours right at the top, directly below your Contact info? It should be. If not, make sure you’re in Edit Profile mode, grab the up/down arrow in the upper right of the Summary with your cursor and drag your content block into place.
Your text here should be some of the best you’ve ever written. Try to keep it to one concise-but-informative paragraph. Readers should get a sense of why you do what you do and what you excel at. Name a couple of past positions/companies if you want, but leave most of that for the Experience section. Who are you?
If you haven’t edited your Profile for some time, you may be surprised to see the buttons under your Summary (and under all of your job descriptions): Document, Photo, Link, Video, and Presentation. Add these items if they make sense, and be sure you follow the link to read Supported Providers, so viewers will be able to access them.
There’s 30 seconds. Your visitors may look at your current position and maybe one or two more, so make these pop.
New Features Coming
You may or may not have the new LinkedIn design changes on your Profile; the company is rolling these out in waves. They include:
Keep an eye on LinkedIn if you don’t already – they tend to slip new features in without a lot of fanfare. And keep polishing your Profile using the tools provided. People look you up on LinkedIn for all kinds of reasons. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to toot your own horn.
Spring is a ways off for most of us, but it’s not too early to prepare for a spring cleaning of your online content.
I don’t have to tell you that keeping up with your website and online social content is time-consuming. There are blogs to write, Tweets and other updates to post, follow-up with prospects who fill out contact forms, etc. You absolutely don’t have any more time to spend on your web-based presence.
But I’m going to suggest that you try to fit some extra hours in over the next couple of months. Not necessarily to add a lot of content, but to do a serious review of what’s there.
Maybe you do this on a regular basis already. If so, that’s great. But if you haven’t looked at absolutely everything you’ve posted or uploaded with a critical eye, you might consider setting a spring deadline for a revamp. I’m not suggesting a complete interface overhaul, unless you’re prepping for one anyway. Just a good, close look that will help you fix some things by oh, say, Memorial Day, and set some goals for more long-term renovation.
Here are some steps you can take:
If all this talk about hiring experts makes you check your bank balance, know that there are many talented individuals and firms out there who are reasonably priced because there’s so much competition.
Remember that your website and social network content serve as your 24/7 salespeople. Make sure they’re well-dressed and armed with the most current information.
Stock images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A small business can look bigger and more successful if the branding is done right. Or it can look really foolish.
GoDaddy learned a valuable lesson this week. Two, actually. One was about what happens when all of those individual voices on social media get mad about something. The second? How one bad decision can tarnish your brand – at least temporarily.
Here’s an example of the branding that GoDaddy would like to be associated with (though the company’s name still conjures up ads featuring scantily-clad women):
Long story short: Go Daddy produced an ad that was to be aired on Super Bowl Sunday. The company released it early on the internet. It was about a couple who rejoiced when their lost pup returned home. Not because they loved the little guy, but because they ran a puppy mill called Gabby’s Goldens, and they knew the pooch would probably bring in several hundreds of dollars.
So as least for now, here is the face – the brand image – for GoDaddy (how many people even knew that they were in the web hosting business?):
Animal rescue groups and animals lovers were outraged, and took to social media. An online petition garnered countless signatures, and phone numbers for management at GoDaddy were passed around. The company wisely announced that it would not air the ad.
Your business may not have the name recognition that GoDaddy has built up over the years, but your brand matters. Have you given much thought to it? Having matching logos and photos on all of your online social sites is a good start, but did you put a lot of thought into those images before you posted them?
If you’re in the process of creating a brand, or you think yours needs an overhaul, keep these issues in mind:
They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. And maybe GoDaddy even got some positive brand name recognition from the ill-conceived ad. I hope not, and I didn’t see any anecdotal evidence of that, but I have heard from GoDaddy customers who will now take their business elsewhere. Don’t let it happen to you.
Get creative, but be smart with your social visuals.
Social media venues, from LinkedIn and Facebook to Twitter and Pinterest, are image-oriented. Don’t you enjoy visually-interesting posts and share them far more often than plain text?
What that means is that using images socially to convey your sales and marketing messages should be an important part of your overall strategy.
What images, though? That’s a question with many answers. The real story each picture tells is the key. Here are some guidelines to help you tell a winning story — and to keep your images working for you, not against you:
Make Your Social Media Viewers Part of the Picture
Whatever your social media strategy includes, using photos and other images should be an important part of the plan. It’s far easier to get past the short attention span of social users with visuals than with words. By making top-quality, story-telling images a high priority, you’ll give your social marketing and branding a real boost. When they get the picture, you get the benefits.
Stock photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It’s just a new calendar page, really, but it represents new beginnings to many people. What you should do to make a fresh start — over and over — in 2015.
We’re a week into the New Year. The ranks that frequent fitness clubs have swelled. Smokers are trying to quit, and most people have cut back on their calories. Curmudgeons are doing their best to think positive and be nicer to people.
Many resolutions have been made – and already broken.
As for the overeating part: Some nutrition experts warn against dieting. Instead, they say, we need to find a way to eat that helps us lose or maintain weight – and that we can live with forever.
I like to take that approach when New Year’s Day rolls around. It’s a good time to tighten our belts (both personally and professionally), reflect on what worked and what didn’t in the previous year, and implement changes that can make the next 12 months more productive and successful. This “recommitment to excellence,” as I like to call it, can be energizing.
But I try to recapture that spark throughout the year, not just on January 1. For one thing, it works. For another, it makes my January re-evaluation that much easier since I’ve been through it numerous times during the previous year.
You might start by taking these steps I’m about to describe once a quarter. If you find yourself falling back into old habits, do it at the beginning of every month.
Too busy to do all of this now, not to mention periodically? At least try to do a couple of them at various intervals throughout the year. It’s bound to make your look back at 2015 more informed, more focused, and – hopefully – more pleasant.
The recently-released eighth version of the popular CRM solution remains true to the company’s founding principles, while improving usability, guidance, and customer relationships.
When I launched this blog, I disclosed my employment relationship with Pipeliner CRM. Obviously, we develop and sell CRM software for sales professionals. I am the company’s Vice President, Global ISV & Partner Alliances, a role I’m enjoying very much for a company that I’m proud to be aligned with.
I’ve stayed away from talking about Pipeliner CRM because I want this blog to be about you, about the challenges you face as a sales professional in the 21st century. But I’d like to use this space today to fill you in on the recent update to Pipeliner CRM: Elements. I’m really excited about it because it helps solve a couple of problems that we all face: managing the time we have for dealing with the sales pipeline and its numerous customer relationships well, and the confusion that can occur when we’re dealing with multiple contacts at a company.
The core product is a desktop solution; it’s available for both Windows and Mac. But its reach extends to the online universe when necessary – especially to your social channels – so you can work from anywhere (the company calls this hybrid approach the SMART Cloud). Pipeliner CRM supports deep, comprehensive customer profiles that simplify and accelerate your contact management tasks.
But it’s much more than that. Like the name implies, this smart application displays your progress with customers using a graphical pipeline, with your target goals always easily accessible. It provides a step-by-step path that takes you through each individual element of the sales process, with intelligent lead generation and business intelligence built in.
You can collaborate with your team in real time, and integrate your sales data with numerous applications, including Microsoft Office, Google Drive, and MailChimp. The application’s Dashboard pulls it all together, simplifying and accelerating information retrieval.
One of the many things that drew me to Pipeliner Sales was its sales philosophy. Pipeliner CRM is based on an economic theory that dates back to the mid-to-late 19th century: the Austrian School of Economic Thought. You may never have heard the name, but you’ve probably incorporated some of its management principles. Developed by management scientists and economists, this set of tenets continues to have impact on sales professionals in the 21st century. (You can read more about our philosophical foundation in our CEO’s ebook.)
To our knowledge, we’re the first and only software company that has built its application on these principles, and our users would agree that this theory is quite effective in practice.
Pipeliner CRM was already an intuitive, flexible application that incorporated a sleek graphical interface to simplify information and task management. The new, retooled Pipeliner CRM Elements builds on that solid base, adding:
Pipeliner CRM Element’s pricing structure is simple: $35 per user monthly. If you make a two-year commitment, an end-of-2014 special gives you a 20 percent license discount. A free trial is available.
You have numerous choices when it comes to selecting a social CRM solution, and I would never make a blanket recommendation for an application without knowing that it was a good fit for your organization. Pipeliner CRM Elements may not be the right choice for you, but I do think it’s worthy of your consideration.
I don’t often dedicate an entire blog post to one product, but this one’s worth it.
Finding information about your prospects and leads on the internet isn’t difficult. You have access to an embarrassment of riches between Google and its Alerts tool, social media, pricey data tools like Hoover’s, and the companies’ sites themselves.
The challenge is to do your research in a timely fashion – to find sources that consolidate the information you need without a lot of extraneous content.
I recently ran across a new tool that does that that: Gagein. Odd name, but very promising new site for getting the scoop on businesses that look promising — and on finding them in the first place. This is what you see when you choose a company to “follow:”
This image is a little fuzzy, but you can see the elements that comprise your company profiles, including:
Gagein has data on over two million companies in its database. If it’s missing one you’d like to see, suggest it, and it will be added in 72 hours or less. You can also import business information from Salesforce or a CSV file.
You can simply enter the name of a company you’d like to follow, or you can use Gagein’s powerful search tool. You click in the box at the top and select either Build a company list or Build a people list (companies and people can also be assigned to groups that you define). The Triggers list opens, displaying the same filters you used when looking for relevant news stories; you can select an historical date range here. You can also search by parameters like industry type, headquarters locations, employee and revenue size, and ownership type.
Gagein’s Scores offer insightful customization tools that help you gauge the likelihood of sales to specific companies. The businesses you follow are ranked from 0 to 100, “…based on sales triggers and adapted to time value, company size, and market momentum.” You can go to the Edit screen to give each of Gagein’s triggers a priority score of from 1-10. A “1” would display a minimal number of companies with news related to that trigger. A “10” would return the most. Gagein also keeps track of your news story Likes and shows you your most relevant sales triggers.
I recommend you take advantage of Gagein’s free trial. After that, it’s $9.99/month for individuals, $12.99-27.99 per seat/per month for teams, and $14.99-32.99/seat/month for Gagein for Salesforce.
2014 hasn’t brought any significant new messages to social selling. Some of today’s most promising voices are reinforcing what we already know.
As every year winds down, I like to spend some time replaying the last year in my mind. If I’ve been diligent enough to keep copious notes about my successes and failures, this task is a lot easier.
If I haven’t, I try to put in writing my thoughts about what worked and what didn’t work. I ask myself a variety of questions during this process, including:
Like a journalist assembling the critical elements of a story, my own story starts to take shape. By being brutally honest with myself (since I don’t share of the results of my reflections with anyone else), I critique the last year’s highlights and lowlights – not unlike a sports coach reviewing games tapes and seeing in hindsight what wasn’t obvious at the time.
Compare and Contrast
I’ve been reading a lot of advice from the country’s top sales leaders lately. I think it’s important to see what the most successful people are saying about the current state of the sales process, though I encourage you to listen to your own inner, critical voice.
You know the one. It’s not the one that just tries to cheer you up after a rejection. It’s the one that you know is being objective. Seeing the whole picture. Telling it like it is. Pick your cliche.
Sometimes it takes awhile to hear that voice. Wait for it. That’s why I do this comprehensive analysis after a year has passed.
Hearing From the Pros
Once your marketing efforts have delivered a prospect, it’s time for you to put in practice those basic principles of social selling that have been repeated over and over the last few years. They’re said over and over — by people who’ve been there — because they work.
Not in every case, of course. Some prospects can’t be converted to sales, no matter what you do or say. But play the percentages.
So at the risk of being repetitive, here’s what I’ve gleaned from my recent reading:
No Magic Formula
You know as well as I do that sometimes you have to throw a Hail Mary pass, to use yet another sports metaphor. The internet — as well as your own personal research, skills, and knowledge — should make that a rare occurrence.