business, customers, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media

Your Business Needs The Digital Touch

Are you thinking this is a SciFi post about virtual realities? No Sir, this is about your business success.

The “digital touch” I am referring to is CONTENT. And “content” is not some technical, marketing lingo. It is your new reality as a business. It is something that has to be accepted, learned, and given priority to help your business grow. Here is a definition that I like:

Content: Something that is to be expressed through some medium, such as speech, writing, or any of the various arts.

In other words, “content” is merely INFORMATION. And Information is what people need to buy products and services. And where do they get their information?

Oh yeah, through digital media! Ahh, now you know where the digital touch comes from.

Start with this question: Why is posting information about your products and services – via digital channels- so important to the growth of your business?

It is important because “information” (content) is essential to a buyers journey. It influences their decisions on what and where to buy. Just look at this awesome graphic below:

So, as a business owner do you want to influence the outcome of the purchasing decisions made by your customers? Sure you do!

Well, regular content is your best way to do that.

A study by Google shows that 10 pieces of content (information) are consumed before a purchasing decision is made.

Every post, every article, every blog has the power to direct attention to your business. It is the digital touch–tap-tap-tap and your future buyers are looking you up while waiting to get their teeth cleaned. Cool article on Twitter? Tap-tap and it’s bookmarked in the Pocket App for later. I do not think anyone can dispute the reality of our Digital World but is your business “digitally touching” potential buyers as he or she are browsing the world wide web?

HERE ARE THE PROBLEMS OF AVOIDING “CONTENT”:

  1. Customers do not have to go directly to you anymore to find the information they are looking for. That is why your phone doesn’t ring! If a customer saw something at a friends house, they turn to the Internet to find the answers to their questions. They go to your website first to see what you have, who you are, and if you have written any articles that address their questions. They look up at the top and click your social media links going to their site of preference–some Facebook, some Instagram, some Twitter. They ask themselves: What do they post? Are there pictures? Events? Anything useful? And then, they go back to Google and find more.
  2. Technology is embedded in all Generations. Sorry, it’s not just the young’uns anymore who live and die by their iPhones. Grandma has figured out that she does not have to get in her car to drive across town in the rain or snow to shop for something to give her daughters on Valentines Day. So if you are on her “Favorite Facebook Pages” and you have not started posting your Valentines quotes and ideas then some smart, savvy business is going to entice her to click on their paid AD along the right side…and off she goes gathering her ten pieces of content for when she is ready to buy, from them.
  3. The most painful of all is that you NEED NEW CUSTOMERS. The collectors, the rewards members, the people who have bought every model and color…they eventually move on and you need someone “new” who has never heard of you or your awesome “thing-a-ma-jig.” These folks have to find you, then read your ten pieces to learn more about how a “thing-a-ma-jig” works, and then they have to trust that you are real and not some Russian hacker trying to get their credit card number. The digital generation is everyone now. Just like when automobiles eventually replaced all the horse-drawn carriages–we all use digital media for information.

It’s Time To Start Saying “Content.”

These are not confusing times ruled by millennials with selfie sticks. It is 2017, and we are all part of the social media marketing universe—all of us. So go ahead, say it:

That is the first step in reaching across the digital aisle to potential customers. And although you will need a strategy for posting and content the hardest part is accepting reality. Your charming personality, your creative store windows, the coupon in Valpak, well, they just are not enough to keep your business a float. You must first accept “content” as your key to success in the digital world we live in.

#Content #BuyersJourney #BusinessSuccess #Customers #SocialMedia

Maria Bereket is a Digital Media Marketing Consultant and Coach, LinkedIn Strategist, and Social Media Trainer. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their business through social media thought leadership. She is an innovator and creative task master, so don’t contact her if you are not looking for growth and change. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power. Connect @mbear88 or email her at Maria@DesignBearMarketing.com

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Eventually an Egg Walks!

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I still remember the first time I got behind the wheel in my driver’s ed class car. After two weeks in class, I finally got to sit in the back seat waiting for my turn to drive. When I finally got into the drivers seat, I was informed that I would be getting on the highway.

I recall feeling as if I would throw up as I approached the “on ramp.” My instructor, a retired policeman, kept telling me to put my foot down on the gas. “You have to merge at the same rate of speed,” he kept saying.

I could feel the sweat dripping down the back of my shirt, and my hands were so tight on the steering wheel that my knuckles were white. I am not sure how I got on the highway or even how long it took to get to my house. I was in some time warp with strange sounds whizzing alongside my ears and deep, muffled voices from behind me that sounded like a horror movie.

I remember not wanting to get out of the car because my legs felt like concrete–until they hit the ground–then they quickly turned to jello, unwilling and unable to move toward my house.

Eventually, I got to the front door but was unable to turn the knob because my hands were shaking so violently. I was relieved when they finally pulled away so I could slump down against the brick wall and gather myself.

This flashback came about when I was reviewing a month end posting report on a recent client’s Facebook posts.

They had paid me for my “advice” on social media and only wanted a strategy for posting with content ideas and direction. Unwilling to see the value in training or social media management, they felt confident that things would just roll off the page as simply as it was outlined. I pointed out that the person who was the “communications coordinator” already had a busy job and may need some guidance, but the owners thinking was that she already had her own Facebook page, so it would be easy to get this going, right?

I recall leaving that meeting feeling nauseous.

I had been driving in the front seat with my parents for 16 years before I took that ride on the highway. I can tell you that none of that observation and keen attention to the turn signal movements helped me at all that night–or many other nights afterward for that matter. Learning to drive, like learning how to implement a social media strategy requires training….lots and lots of training, and even more practice.

The simplicity of social media is a concept that comes from the idea that it is free.

Free is not free when you calculate the number of hours it will take someone to set things up, make a plan, write and curate content, follow up, analyze, readjust, and then post and post, and yes, post again, daily.

It must have been great to be a Yellow Pages Salesman back in 1980’s. Pay, create, and print. Done. All that what was left was for the phone to ring, again and again.

Not so simple today. But really, nothing is that simple anymore. Business is driven by a presence on social media, not a specific need, but more about people’s desire to learn more, perhaps even own the thing that caught their eye while scrolling through images on their phone.

It’s tough out there today!

Social media is advertisement/journalism/newspaper ad/business listing/inventory and billboard sign. The “small shop” is no longer products and a salesperson, but rather a whole world of experiences. Consumers today expect to log into your website and find all the answers to their questions—visually, thoughtfully, and graphically pleasing. It has to be simple enough to find what they want quickly, but detailed enough that they can go deep inside the culture of the business.

A flat, yellow paper ad from days gone by did not even scratch the surface of “experiential.” And placing an ad took maybe two hours back then with a payment plan! You had all the details done—hours, logo, address, perhaps clip art—it all came down to size and budget.

So why isn’t marketing today operating like that?

Why is it so hard to see that marketing a business today is more than a few posts and fans to “thumbs up” our information? Why isn’t there more of an effort to bring people on board who can really grow an organic program that is fun and part of the everyday culture of the business?

Oh yeah, it costs money.

I am always clear when talking to people about social media marketing. “It is an egg,” I tell them. “eventually, it walks.”

But who has ever seen an egg hatch?

Not in this grocery store nation. So, I am thinking, I may need to find a new analogy….perhaps that’s why I had my flashback this morning.

Social Media is like learning to drive a car!
You will feel unbelievably nauseated, sweaty, out-of-control, and utterly fearful of every single moment,
until one day, you just don’t.

I like that.

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Consultant, LinkedIn Strategist, and a very animated Speaker. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their brands through thought leadership. Her passion is working with small businesses and non-profits because she feels that it is through their work that our communities will be stronger and better for everyone. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power! For a different perspective follow her @mbear88 or just email at mbear88@gmail.com  (Originally Posted on LinkedIn)

business, customers, innovation, Leadership, Marketing, Uncategorized

Distraction or Reluctance? It’s Time To Decide.

business, customers, innovation, Leadership, Uncategorized

Transparency is the Enemy of the Outdated.

glassdoor-culture-code-quotesIt occurred to me, as I was watching three days of recorded nightly news, that we are in the most exciting time of history!  Annoying of course, but exciting. For those of you who want to tangle and fight over politics–please don’t read any further.  This is about The Digital Divide of Generations, and I am using politics to illustrate a point.

Let’s start with the obvious:

Bernie Sanders is bringing to a head the reality of the digital divide. His lifetime of actions — worn on his very transparent career sleeve– is one big Millennial Hug!  Bernie is old with a young heart filled with passion for doing the “right thing.”  If you accept that it is “his” right thing, then his record–illustrated so nicely in 25 + years of videos, is not the norm.  He took his punches all these years holding his ground and fighting for his values.  No one paid much attention to him until America lost its footing.

As for the rest of candidates, we have a series of complex maneuvers.  A whole generation of “adults” who are more than willing to forgive and forget all the changes of opinion and irrelevance that our elected officials spew on Twitter and their favorite news outlet.  Today they may support the “Hispanic” audience and tomorrow they may just throw them back over the border despite years of living here and paying taxes.  Political “positions” mean nothing!

I think the most telling example of the generational divide in this election was a comment by woman, a baby boomer from Wisconson, who was asked about a statement that Donald Trump made and she said:

“I can’t believe he would punish women….but oh,  I wish I could put a piece of tape on his mouth sometimes…”

Saying what you mean. Doing what you say. Walking the walk.

Companies and leaders of those companies must do what they say in their mission statement and employee handbooks. The idea that subordinates or the public for that matter, are on a need to know basis, with mostly the companies and leaders, never feeling that we “need to know,”–well hang on to your hats cause that just isn’t gonna work that much longer.  Millennials want transparency.  We all want transparency!

We want companies to speak the truth and then back with action.  Things marked “organic” should be, water tested by government agencies must be accurate and disclosed, and when people lie or change their minds we cannot merely put tape on their mouths to resolve the problem.

From Boomer To Bust

Older generations “forget” or have just accepted that our government officials do not do what they say   Election after election, we have overlooked the failings of our elected leaders to do what they say and now we have roads that are collapsing, water that is hurting children, gas leaks destroying entire neighborhoods, and an election that has spotlighted a cancer that needs to be removed. Saying “you are the best” is not the same as being “the best.”

Old School Vs New School

In my line of work, I am oftentimes seen as a disrupter. I recently sat in a room of high-level professionals facilitating a discussion about the opportunity to connect with their community –making them advocates for their important and incredibly stressful line of work.  I, of course, brought up using social media to help.  Still reeling from the crash of 2008–like so many businesses and professionals–with reduced budgets that didn’t get refilled when things began to turn around, they felt burdened by their inability to reach the decision makers.  Why is that?  I wanted to say to them.  Why do you think the budgets remain slim?

The battle is not about money.  The battle is about value, vision, and purpose.  Years of “need to know” pulled the cord in ’08.  Managers were managing managers and nothing was getting done.  CEO’s and Politicians were changing strategy and cutting budgets without regard to the original goals.

And I asked one telling question that I ask in every group, every industry I speak with:  When was the last time you went down through your company/department and met with your staff and talked about the mission and purpose of your work?  Deer in headlights for half the room.

When did our “work” become so important that we forgot to communicate and support our “subordinates”?  In this case, they are called “direct reports,” a term that just cut into my soul –as if they were numbered prisoners.

Innovation cannot work if we do not communicate at the very basic level of our most valued assets–the people who work with our customers.

I know that I am disruptive–a role I have come to accept.  I live on both sides of this generational/digital divide.  I climbed the ladder but I failed miserably because climbing to the very top didn’t mean I was successful.  I read our mission statements and took it to heart that we had a purpose.  Eventually, I had to go out on my own because at a “certain age” people just expect that you want to climb up the next rung on the ladder.  I was too busy circling the desks and inspiring the masses.

The Election Is a Mirror

Holding on to what we had has always been the job of the outgoing generation. They feel “owed” and justified in moving on, hanging on and complaining about the young guns without experience. But this time the young guns don’t really need what is being offered because they have redefined success.  They don’t want to climb ladders to nowhere, they want collaborative teams with goals and support for their efforts.

I remember telling my sales team that the “big bosses” were busy solving the big problems, and that is why they didn’t once attend our customer events—but who were we kidding?  They were busy holding on to their rung on the ladder.

Using Social Media to connect is scary because it means you have to declare something and then hold true to it.

My favorite question as a consultant is “Why do Millennials leave a new job after a few months?”

It’s not an answer most businesses want to hear.  Bosses want it to be about the “Me Generation”  with self-centered kids who don’t know how to do anything without their cell phones.  But that is not true. Millennials have not only figured out that they are a numbered and expendable commodity in the workplace, but they feel empowered to leave before they turn into the huddled and afraid “direct reports”  like their parents were before they got laid off after years of loyal service.

So Donald, Ted, Hilary, and Bernie…

…you are at the tipping point in history when it comes to elections, and most likely, our culture too.  This will be the last presidential election where you say whatever you must to get into the office and then back pedal your way into the next election.  We want change.  We want communication and support.  We want you to speak your mind…and hopefully, what comes out of your mouth will be a passion , purpose and real plan of action to make our country stronger…without the use of tape!

Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business owners because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. E @mbear88  or email me if you need a different perspective mbear88@gmail.com

 

Originally posted on LinkedIn

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Are Millennials Aliens From Another Planet?

Screen-Shot-2015-03-24-at-4.02.59-PM-675x320

I spent the weekend conducting a workshop for an aging group of small business owners. We were talking about the survival of the small town, the small business owner, in a world of  “me generation” customers who live online without ever lifting their nose from their phones.

I shared all the incredible facts about this amazing generation called Millennials. There was hesitation, of course. But insight is a wonderful thing. They learned what these “kids” are doing as they tap-tap on their screens and keyboard. They learned more about the world that we gave them, and what their observations about us have changed their view of work and life.

We ended the weekend with a question.  “What was that one thing that got them into the business over 20, 30 years ago?” The answers all sounded different at first but were in fact the same. We discovered that they each one of them was driven then and now, by a passion to solve the problems.

“When someone comes in with a problem, it just makes me so happy to figure out the solution and see them walk out the door smiling and carefree”

That is your passion, I told them. That is the wisdom that you must impart via social media–not sales, or product offerings–passion for problem-solving.

But what about those kids? Those Millennials and their Ipods? How can we compete with Tweets and posts? And what about all those tattoos?

Why is it that as we age, we forget our own drive for independence? We forget the crazy haircuts we had that made our fathers lecture us. We forget the long dangling earrings that our mothers swore would attract the wrong type of guy? We forget that we once wanted to do something worthwhile, in a world that seemed out of control?

This group of “young people” who make up the children and grandchildren of these 50+ business owners are driving change for all of us to embrace. Their observations of our work lives contain all the frustration that their parents lived during their lifetime:

  • Working more hours and getting paid less
  • Top level executives earning millions and millions
  • There were no bonuses, no training, no incentives
  • Creativity? Not a line item anymore
  • And how many parents were laid off, more than once in the last ten years as an expendable expense to improve the budget?
  • Banks: wasn’t it the banks that caused the crash, took houses, and drained any passion from our lives?

This is the world that they observed. So Millennials want to create a future for themselves that is truly independent. They don’t want to put flowers in guns, they want to get rid of the guns and be with their families. They want to define their careers by a passionate purpose. They want meaningful work that will drive them to change, not the world around them.

So here I was, in a room of once passionate entrepreneurs who had to face their ultimate demise or embrace this new world.They were faced with a generation of people who are attached to their phones, and talking in a language as far fetched as a Star Wars Movie. But we uncovered something very important for them and the future of their business survival: Find your passion and share it. Teach “them” what you know, in a way that “they” (the millennials) will understand–in Facebook, Pinterest, and yes, even Twitter can connect the old and the new. And please, please don’t lecture them, they just want information.

So the best part of the weekend was the realization was that a new generation was driving an older generation to recapture their youth. Looking Social Media in the eye, they were faced with an opportunity to turn back the clock and start to live that life that they once imagined. Taking their purpose and passion and offering it up on the information highway to connect us all in a way that wasn’t possible before.

I like these two pictures because they are at the core of change. Are Millennials aliens from another planet? Feels like it to these aging Baby Boomers, but in their hands are the key to their business success. A vehicle like no other–pins, posts and tweets that will offer information infused passion and knowledge. That is all they want, and exactly what they need to make decisions whether or not to come into your shop and buy what you are offering…

“Excuse me, I heard you could solve my problem….”

Maria Bereket is a Social Media and Branding Strategist. Her work with small business owners and early childhood education is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Her personal business mission is to educate every person on the importance and fun of living in a socially connected world. http://www.designbearmarketing.com @mbear88

 

customers, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media

Profile Mistakes: aka Why People Don’t Follow You!

Pop-Art-pictures-Evil-photo

You want to be a “thought leader”?

Have people “follow” you?

Take this with a grain of salt, but I am really tired of looking through profiles that are ridiculous.  Profiles are your life now.  Read anyone of thousands great articles on how to optimize your professional profile, and please, please do not make these mistakes:

PICTURE:  Let’s start with the obvious. And this is a dual whammy for sure.  Using clipart images, or your logo, or a flower for your photo, well, are you that horrid looking that we wouldn’t want to know who the hell you are?  We are searching for information, not a life partner. Get a picture.

DESCRIPTION:   Your quirky, hip tagline is so “hip” that no one understands what you are saying.  Nike already has the best one, so write out something and then ask a Layman before posting.

CELEBRITY:  Ok, so you are a published author, or something else super cool, and you think we all know you…yeah, all 400 billion of us know your book! Duh, come down to earth and write just a few more words about yourself other than the title of a book we never read.

TITLE: Let me be clear here—it is not what you do that interests me super-cool dude and dudette—it why and how you do it that matters to readers.  (oh, look, another author…)

SELLING:  In profiles, whether it’s your twitter handle or a “title” promoting your book or website….a little foreplay would be nice.

ADJECTIVES:  “Award Winning”, “World Renowned”, “Expert”….How about “Totally Egotistical”?  Yeah, that works for me, next!

TMI:  Which means, Too Much Information.  2 Categories here: 1. Waaay Too Personal Stuff.  No, we don’t want to know your “ew” stuff. Or 2. Every single title you have crammed in that small space? Pick one.  If you can’t, we won’t either.

AWARD WINNER:  Thank you, for thanking us, for encouraging you, to do anything in your profile.  “You really like me!”  No. No, we don’t.

CROSS DRESSER:  And I don’t mean clothing here people.  I am talking about the folks who start out being all professional listing their titles and jobs, blogs, and books and then say, “…and eat English muffins.”  First off, TMI, and second, pick your lane.

“HAS BEEN”:  New trend—squeeze in the “now I do this…” then throw in “has been that.”  Resume in 120 characters is really tough.  We are impressed with your ability to squeeze and minimize. Who the heck are you today?  That is what we are looking for! (FYI: includes “former”)

NAME ONLY:  Got it.  You are so famous and recognizable that we must know who you are, who wouldn’t?  400 billion of us are just waiting to follow YOU.  And I know, it could be the total opposite– you are anxious or shy.  Well, one says buffoon and the other is just sad.  Get off the internet.

LACK OF CONFIDENCE:  You are the ones—who explain your title, why you chose that avatar over a photo….Seriously? Get a profile photo and write a description for heaven’s sake.  We will like you, someone will like you.  Trust me, have I told you yet there are 400 billion of us out here?

TITLE ENVY: When you make it so complicated with acronyms and “@” signs, even throw in a cute quotation tagline, well, you got it bad sister.  Title Envy.  Size doesn’t matter.  Passion does.

OFF TOPIC:  This might just be a case of website confusion.  “I love my dogs, am funny, eat sushi…” Do you think you are on ChristianMingle.com? We don’t want to date you.  We want to read content, relevant content and your love of dogs has nothing to do with motivational writing.

THE VISIONARY:  I am not saying that a vision for a better future is not appropriate for your profile description, but when you use “head-in-the-clouds speak” without telling us what you do, how do we really know you are “the one?”

KISS:  To the extreme of Keep It Simple Stupid.  “Hi, I make nice things and I blog.”  Ok.  Cool.  Right on.  When you come down off your cloud, would you mind writing a description of those things you make?  I didn’t get the memo.

Finally,

YOUR PROFILE PIC: 

  1. You and you alone.
  2. Your face please, not your left ear.
  3. Unless you drew it, not a comic character.
  4. Biting anything is just disgusting.
  5. Looking disinterested is not a way to endear the masses. Moody sociopaths maybe…
  6. Surprised? Hysterical? Exaggerated expressions work for drama students and escorts.  Be real for once.
  7. Casablanca revisited might be creative, but it doesn’t really work in a small, very small, low-resolution space. That black and white, distant glance with you sipping, no smoking, no…what is that you are doing?  Are you picking your nose?

 

So there you have it.  The Good, Bad and the Ugly.

Bottom line?  Be real. Be who you are and we will find you.  Maybe not all 400 billion of us, but enough to make your world happy.

Maria Bereket is a social media and branding strategist.  Find me here, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @mbear88. Email me too: maria@designbearmarketing.com  I can help you change your profile!

 

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

How Do Buyers Find You?

The Information Highway

not found

“What is all the fuss about with social media?” the man asked during a workshop.  “I just don’t get it and I certainly wouldn’t pay for it!”

I had to take a deep, calming breath. Not because it was in the middle of my workshop, but because I want people to understand the power of what can be the game changer in their business.

I am an “early adopter” of Social Media, I admit it.  Not everyone jumps on board with new technology, but this technology has been around long enough, and I want, somehow to help this guy see the importance of something that wasn’t clear. I realize that despite its success and charms, social media marketing has not reached its tipping point when it comes to mainstream small and medium size businesses. It is dominated by million follower tweets by Ellen Degeneres and viral videos about grandma’s dancing. How could any intelligent professional think that this form of “marketing” was marketing at all?

But I ask you to take a moment and consider a few things….

Let’s think about your buyer.  That could be an investor, a donor, a volunteer, even a potential employee for your company. What gets them to make decisions to buy?

“Buyers” make decisions based on “information.”  They use to read newspapers and books, or even scroll through the Ye Olde Yellowpages. Today, however, they scroll through newsfeeds on their smartphones, jumping from one article to the next.  They watch (and share) news videos, links from tweets, Facebook posts, and alerts that “ding” all day long.  It is the information age, right?

So what happens when your “buyer” can’t find any information on you? You know, the information on their smartphones?  They never heard of your school, your growing non-profit, or your word-of-mouth investment company…how do you expect people to find your business on the information highway when you are sitting in the parking lot?

Do you have a Brand?

Well, a very brainy MIT professor gave a lecture last year and said that

“When people don’t have information about a product or service then they turn to the Brand to make their decision.”

Makes sense, right? That recognizable Logo and tagline that you have all over your stationary and business cards. But your press release was sent out to the local news and didn’t hit any of the big newsfeeds.  If your buyer can’t find information on your business on their smartphone, why would you think they would know your brand?  Sure, it’s a very cool logo on top of that annual report, but if only your existing customers are on that mailing list, how might new buyers become familiar with that brand?

Brainy MIT professor says that buyers will then go on their experience to make that decision. So let’s look at an example: A buyer is looking to donate some money, and they cannot find your awesome cause. So, they think, “Hey, my folks always gave money to the Bla-Bla-Bla Organization I will do that too.”  Done! Experience kicks in, and you are overlooked because you are invisible.

Same goes for the school up the street.  Why do you think parents choose big chain preschools, even when they suspect that it might not be the right choice for their kid?  Well, for one thing, they do not know you exist, or if they drive by you, how can they trust you without any information about you? It is all about trust says the Brainy MIT professor. Let me repeat that…

“It is all about trust,” says the Brainy MIT professor.

Think about this:   Posts on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest are not really what you are about,  but they do serve a purpose.  That “social-media imprint” that you are making every day with articles and quotes, pictures and stories, are reaching out and offering information to a world of buyers who want to find the right places to buy, enroll, invest and donate.  But if you are not participating in the process, then you might as well turn off the engine and close the shop because people today are hungry for information. And information equals trust.

In our society today, buyers do not make decisions about where to put their money without a glimpse into the culture and values of the businesses they support.

Information is powering business.

So go ahead, make the decision to get back on the highway, but let me remind you of this—there are semi’s and mini’s and motorcycles moving fast and faster out there!  So despite what my Heckler said at the workshop,  think about hiring someone who can ease you back onto the information highway.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because social media is free that it is easy too. It might just be the best investment yet.

Source: Brainy MIT Professor, Duncan Simester

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She loves marketing strategy, and social media, especially LinkedIn; and she helps business owners and professionals feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. @mbear88

customers, innovation, Leadership, Social Media

The IPad Exception: 15+ Experience Need Not Apply

generation conflict at work comic

What Happened to the Value of Experience?

Awesomeness. Excitement. The magic of selfies. Does that make you think of the youngest guy on your team?

Relevance. Research. The magic of taking notes in a spiral-bound notebookDoes that make you think of the oldest guy on your team?

It isn’t Them vs. US.  It’s all about speed and value and it’s going to make a difference at some point. This point in time actually.

Now I can just see the eyes rolling back when anyone under 35  reads the headline. Even before all this wonderful technology invaded the workplace, younger workers were rolling their eyes back at the word “experience”.  It’s what youth does. They are workers who give wings to ideas and passion and force the work environment to move forward at a greater speed. That is progress.

What is missing today is a coordinated plan to value those with  15+ years of experience.

They are not “outdated” in the value they can offer, even if they don’t have a profile photo and aren’t  on Snapchat. In fact, if anyone under 35 would take a moment of interest in what that 15+ person thinks then perhaps you could offer to mentor them in the value of texting while they could mentor you with a few tricks on how to get ahead.

You see it isn’t that both generations don’t have much to teach other, it is that the workplace is so focused on optimization: salaries and office politics.   I see that co-working  environments have removed the cubicles but they also revealed the ugly truth about mentoring: mostly that there is none anymore.

Oh, it’s in the job descriptions. “Can mentor younger team member”, but when it asks for 3-5 years experience for a “senior” job position how is that an age when one can be a senior member who mentors?

Our lifeline of technology has overshadowed the importance of knowledge and experience.  We value new and shiny as a workforce and have completely turned the reins of “business” over to the gadget gurus.  Oh, we need gadget gurus, but we need a voice of one or two understands the value of time. There must be a balance, a bridge between the two!

Today, we are celebrating the 5-year anniversary of the IPad as if it were the answer to global warming. Everyone is happy and shocked at the five years because, well, what technology last five years?

We give the IPad and exception. People, on the other hand, well that is not the same value we have on people.

The younger Steve Jobs offered us so much as a society and a workforce, but aging the Steve Jobs, the one we lost, is missed for his confidence and long-term vision. His cockiness was tempered by his complete confidence in the value of his people to bring beauty and utility into our lives. For him, his age and experience brought us the ability to be new but also incorporate core principles and experience.

Look across your cubicle at the oldest and the youngest member of your team and stop seeing dollar signs and health-benefit calculations.  Isn’t it time we fostered a workplace where both sides began to listen to each other?

Embracing technology is merely about being heard and valued for the older workforce. It is shoved in their face by the newest employees who immediately discard their value because they don’t text or have an Instagram account.

Is that what will change your business–everyone having an Instagram account?

Or would it be that side-by- side, the ones with a longer-term vision and the ones with a short-range technology passion start to listen to each other and share their own unique knowledge?

Perhaps if the 15+ employee wasn’t in fear of being fired in our “at-will” workforce and replaced by a lower salary in the 5+ category, there would be more sharing of core strengths. Just as the 3-5 employee wouldn’t feel the need to roll their eyes to management in an effort to be valued for something they know so much about.  Both sides equal value to a company. And it would be a whole lot easier if management began to value the combination of youth and experience and not just the visual appearances of technological trends.

What we hate about Gen Y is their brashness and disconnection. And what we hate about the aging Gen Xers is their stubbornness and disconnection.

The insight here is that they are both disconnected from each other. 

That is a management problem.
That is a mission statement problem.
That is a company culture that forgot why it does what it does problem.

Valuing employees shouldn’t be generational.

It should be focused on the value of their creative union.  Some bring “awesomeness and energy” and some bring ” realism and practicality”.

That is what wisdom is.  And that is what we all miss about Steve jobs…. his phenomenal, 15++ wisdom.

When was the last time you were asked to mentor someone?  Is there a mentoring program at your workplace?  Can you share how it works?

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She is a Social Media Trainer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals and educators feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. And if you are curious, she is an Aging Gen-Xer with the heart and soul of Gen Y! Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88 http://www.DesignBearMarketing.com

Source of photos: Dave Simons, The Economist; and Time Magazine.

Originally Posted on LinkedIn: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/mariabereket

business, customers

Are You Forcing Customers to Quit?

business man and woman at desk sign quiet on phone

Here are some interesting numbers that I came across this morning:

Why Customers Quit:

  • 1% die.
  • 3% move away.
  • 5% develop new friendships.
  • 9% for competitive reasons.
  • 14% product dissatisfaction.
  • 68% quit because of an attitude of indifference toward the customer by some employee.

I know that this is true because I have been one of those customers–many, too many times–in almost every area of my life.

Restaurant: Friday night I sat in a restaurant with good friends laughing and talking and waiting for our food. 30 minutes after ordering I began to notice that there was no waitstaff to be found anywhere. I assumed it was a back in the kitchen, and when I got up to find someone, and it took a minute or two, the waitress came out and went over to the table behind me–the only person with food!

There was a flurry of activity after that. The manager came out to deliver meals, discovered that one order was put in wrong. He asked me if everything was alright and I told him our experience and that his waitress needing some re-training. He took care of the meal and made us feel better, but the young lady never came back until our bill was paid, and she straining to apologize for the mess up on the meal–not her avoidance of us. My friends left a horrible review on Yelp.

Medical: Visiting my father in Rehab following surgery, we asked to see the nurse discuss medicine changes. Two hours later as we were walking out, she was defensive about her schedule and inability to see us, jotted down our number and said she would call later. At 11 pm, we called them and the nurse on duty told us that “When we called she was supposed to help us.” Sadly she said she was new and didn’t have much information. The next day I asked to see the nurse again (same day nurse) she remembered me and said she would be in. Nowhere to be found after 45 minutes later, I went to the supervisor on duty. She came and was immediately defensive about what I was saying. She told me the nurse last night was “wrong and that what she meant to say was she was off duty for a week” (hmmm, how did she know that?) and then defended the day nurse, told us too much about the weekend staff and left. Our concern is dealt with as “complaints” and there is a terrible awkwardness to the relationship now.

Childcare: I spoke with a woman from one of my trainings last week who told me that she moved her child from a preschool recently because the teacher in the classroom was always telling her how busy she was, how little she knew about what was going on in the center, and recently her attitude that she (the parent) was taking up too much of her time. The parent tried to stay positive, complained a few times, but decided that if her child’s teacher was always too busy to know anything or help, then she needed to put her child in a safer environment.

All three are employees who are perceived as “not caring” and much too “distracted” to be serving customers. Looking closer they are all empathy issues, with a strong touch of “lack of training”—leading to the destruction of the relationship.

What is the purpose of our work? We are all here to serve customers. We all have them–every single person who works has customers. Yet we forget that without those people who pay money for our services and products, there would be no job in the first place.

So what needs to be done?

First, there is a huge gap in training these days. People are put on the floor, at their desk, in front of customers without the proper training and understanding of the company mission and values. How can anyone do a proper job if they don’t know what that job fully entails? My waitress didn’t know how to deal with the kitchen, nor did the other wait staff, so management is cutting back on something key here–train and teach your people their job! The preschool teacher and the nurse supervisor are both fighting the same battle: Their stress and overwork make them oblivious to their customers needs. They are so involved in their issues that they cannot understand what the customer feels.

Secondly, with budgets so tight, someone needs to sit down and figure out that losing customers costs more in the long run than training staff. Empathy is key. Knowing what the customer is feeling and needing is the first step to responding. Knowing your job. Here is a great video that can help us all to remember that our customers are living their own lives (https://youtu.be/Wl2_knlv_xw)

In the meantime, sit down with your team and ask them to put on their customers shoes for a moment. Write out what they are thinking, dealing with, and how they got to be in your business in the first place. What would they say? How do they feel?

Now step back and see if you are responding to them, or just pushing your own expertise or stress back as an excuse for not being kind and serving them.

I would love to know what exercises you use to train your staff in empathy. Are you talking about it? What are you saying?

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She is a Trainer, Designer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals, business owners, and educators feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88 http://www.DesignBearMarketing.com

Source: Fotolia

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Speak in a Language we all Understand!

 

 

 

 

 

social-networking_110003875-012814-int

I saw this quote on a webinar from the Content Marketing Institute that immediately struck me as something I knew that I would have to save, share  and often recall its wisdom when writing a post. It’s simplicity and wisdom are worth repeating:

Speak to the dog in the language of the dog, about what is in the heart of the dog!

How simple is that to remember when reaching out to clients and people in our blogs and posts? Too simple it seems. Every morning I read newsfeeds, twitter feeds, pulse pages and articles and I am always surprised at the number of would-be articles that are filled with tech talk and self-promotion. I feel dupped when I am drawn to a wonderful article that is eloquently titled to solve my problem and then am put to sleep with a bunch of “blah, blah, blah” phrases filled with technical language and statistics. Uh, that is why I am searching for you…I do not understand your business!!

And don’t get me started on the sheer quantity of posts that are so self-promoting. Take out an ad, please! So jot this wonderful quote down and pin it next to your computer for it contains two wonderful pieces of wisdom:

#1 When you are talking to me (or any potential client) we do not have a dictionary of terms about your SEO, Tech-talk, or special product lingo….we have a need and you are there to help us resolve it. We are searching for information to help us because we are not in your industry and have no clue what is required to make our problem go away. That means that when you want to help us solve a problem with your product and service we want you to learn our language. Get down off of your knowledge-filled podium and remember that your customers are looking for answers to problems. Speak to the dog in the language of the dog!

#2 We are assuming that you are fabulous, that is why we are reading your article or blog in the first place, but do not tease us with your catchy title and then give us all your self-promoting, greater-than-thou phrases about all your fabulous clients and how you solved this and that problem. We want you to get down in the trenches and remember that we feel special, rather we want you to make us feel special, by speaking to us with relevant information that gives us confidence in your services. Who wants to be sold in an article that should be giving us insights into problems? Take a moment (or two) and figure our what is important to us, and then offer some insights–uh yeah, for free–so that we can take those few tidbits of knowledge and start to trust you with our business. Speaking to what is in the heart of the dog is akin to being our friend and ally–and that is who we want to do business with, not a circus promoter!

It is as simple as that. We, the customers of the internet world, are searching for information that speaks to us, informs us, guides us, and ultimately, helps us to choose the right person to solve our problems.

So take a moment and re-read your latest post and put on our glasses. Forget all the certifications you have, and keep in mind that we have no clue what your technical background is–and talk to us as if you spoke our language.

Image source: CMI

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She is a Trainer, Designer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals, business owners, and educators feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88 http://www.DesignBearMarketing.com

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