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, Inbound Marketing, Marketing

Branding Is What People Say About You

The hardest concept for a business owner who has been around for more than ten years is “Branding.”

Branding was your logo.

Branding was your Est. Date.

Branding was the product.

Branding was actually never those things, but it was easier back then to draw in customers with those details.

Today, in the Digital World, Everything is About Information.

Our hand-held devices are the authority on just about everything. Should we eat at the corner restaurant? Ask Yelp. Should we buy that pair of shoes? How many stars does it have? Is this business something I can trust? Let’s Google them.

And I know that you know this fact, but do you really understand that telling customers how great you are is not the same as building your brand?

Look closely at this illustration. Now compare it is message to your last five Social Media Posts. How much information are you sharing? How often are you yelling at people to Buy Me? How many posts are sharing about why you do what you do? Customers want to “see” behind the curtain. How often do you do that?

How Do You Think Customers “Understand” You?

“Back in the day” there use to be that wonderful marketing principle about “three people who tell three people.” Remember? Personal recommendations, key placement print advertisements, and those loyal “three customers who told their three friends” were what made the lines of people wrap around your cash register. Today things do not quite work like that. Your customers are not placed within a 25-mile radius of your location (thankfully!) The promise of the Internet was that if you built a website, people from around the globe could possibly be your customer, right?

Google is Searching For Thought Leaders Who Share Information

All that you posts, write, and share about you and your business are thrown into a large river called “Google.” This large information system is hungry for anything that can be offered to the millions of people asking questions on their hand-held devices. Questions that need answers, right now!

Consumers do not want to know how great you are. They want to learn more about you through reviews, blogs, articles, and posts that you share. They have a very sophisticated way of determining if you are worthy of their time and trust and it is not just those “Millennials” who use this information system anymore. The fastest growing demographic for tablets and iPads are over 65! We are all using the Google-sphere to direct our attention– and our dollars–whether we like it or not!

And you want to know what’s even worse?

We Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish

In 2013, statistics noted that we had an 8-second attention span when it came to digital information. By many accounts, today it is merely 6-seconds to catch me before we “X-Out” of a page to find something more interesting. You have less than 6-seconds to catch people in your headlines, articles, advertising, and even in the books, they read…..

“Front-load your best material in the first few chapters before readers put your book away.” -publishing agents everywhere

So How Does This Determine Your Brand?

Ask yourself the following questions: Where are you supplying information? What are you writing about in your Blogs? What new information are you sharing in your posts? On your Instagram feeds? How often does the content on your web page change? How often are you sending interesting content via email?

Information is what we seek. Problem-solving posts. How To’s. How Not-To’s. Content, rich with keywords and images that delight us in the first six seconds of our interaction with you and your business. And don’t be fooled by the occasional article in your local newspaper or local living magazine—these PR tactics will only enhance the regular and consistent information that your business is already sharing on a daily basis.One-hit-PR does not a brand make!

Thought Leadership is How You Get Found

And thought leadership is a long-term view of a digital marketing strategy. The question is: How are you sharing information that will get you found?

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

Original Post on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariabereket/recent-activity/posts/

Design, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media

5 Valentines Posts To Do Right Now

I am a huge supporter of the Annual Content Calendar for social media posting. With Valentines Day fast approaching its time to get serious about using it. So I will start with a few statistics and then share five ideas that you can incorporate in your posting efforts over the next couple of weeks.

Let’s Start With The Numbers by Statistic Brain

$116.21 is the average amount people spend on Valentines

61.8 % is the percent of consumers who do celebrate Valentines Day

Why are these important?

53% of women say they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentines day.

I love the 53% break-up statistic! Serious business Valentines Day! It’s the war between the sexes: Women want to be thought about and rewarded for all the things they do – even when they say they don’t want anything it doesn’t hurt to surprise them with a small token of your love. Same goes for customers. They say they don’t want you to post too much, but when it comes to dropping some dollars, they only are kind to those who share information.

So as a small business, you can (and must) help your customers by offering them information and ideas–for Valentines Day help them know what to write in their cards, put in their gifts, or just keep them focused on the most important events of the day. In other words, be relevant to your customers so they don’t “break up with you.”

So Let’s Get Started with Your Posts

You should be scheduling a post every day no matter what the theme or holiday. Let’s start with some post types: quotes, articles, images, stories, and offers. Use a program like Canva (below) to help you make pretty posts for your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Then start off the year by beginning to think about your products and services differently (like through the eyes of your customers, especially those who have no idea who you are) and then think about how you can repackage and offer them in ways that appeal to a different generation. The goal for every business is to grow your customer base.

So let’s begin with Valentines Day. I know what you are thinking: a good number of people only buy chocolate and flowers on Valentines Day, but offering your customers a warm, fuzzy feeling over the upcoming holiday theme of “Love” is good customer service. And remember: not everyone cares about Valentines Day as a day to “get something.” But we are all aware that the day is happening and it is nice to be included in some way.

Here are 5 ideas to Inspire Your Valentine Content:

#1 Create Gift Guides – Who doesn’t love a good gift guide? Come on, we are all really, really busy lately and spending a few hours figuring out what to get our significant other is a huge pain. So make it easy and fun by putting together a few of your products especially for Him or Her. Just in those two groups are lovers, spouses, family, and friends. Why not share the “love” with everyone by including everyone to give gifts? My Dentist is quite creative by offering unique gifts for his customers at Valentines—he buys a few boxes of chocolate and wraps them with a Teeth Cleaning Certificate!

#2 Contests – “Best Engagement Story”, “Silliest Valentines Gift”, “Cutest Pet Couple”…the possibilities are endless when it comes to contests that ask customers to share their stories with pictures. Ask people to post them onto your page with your specific contest Hashtag. Offer them a movie night as a prize. Why would you do that when you are not a movie theater? Because it is relevant to the holiday and the contest. But most important is that the more people who post on your page, the more they share with their friends (who don’t yet know you), and the more people who see your page, the more engagement your posting will have—and that is the goal here. Traffic and engagement! Becuase that will lead to sales.

#3 Date Night Ideas – This is a good time to think about your neighbors and ways to co-brand your business. What could be a fun “Date Night” on your main street? Outline it, have menus, ask people to share their ideas. Post lots of fun ideas, silly ones, and of course, ask people for their stories and ideas so they will share. Magazines are filled with ideas right now—share the links to the articles and offer your personal take on them. Be the source for information.

#4 Love Notes – Post some interesting poems and even some famous love letters to give your fans and customers ideas on what to say to their beloved. Do some DIY ideas here too—perhaps hosting a Valentines Card get together with craft items so people can make a personal statement and then post the card onto your page to enter them into a drawing. Emojis may be fun but they do not say “I love you” like a love note!

#5 Anti-Valentine’s Day – So think about my dentist for example. He is taking an anti-teeth product (sweets) and placing it with something he does (teeth cleaning)—and it says I love you, right? Well, there are plenty of people who hate sweets, hate romance, hate spending money on holidays. Post comics, gag gift ideas, and anything “Anti-Valentines” that gets people sharing your posts from your business page. Have fun and be sure to ask people to share their stories with you!

So now, just get to it and make the posts. Track your fans, likes, and foot traffic. Notice how many people are noticing that you are posting something daily and relevant instead of just “Buy My Stuff” content. And please, share your stories with me on well (or not well) things went.

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

Original Post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/five-valentines-post-ideas-do-now-maria-berekethttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/five-valentines-post-ideas-do-now-maria-bereket

business, Marketing, Social Media

Damn, You Missed Your Exit. What Now?

Damn, You Missed Your Exit. What Now?

Who has time for delays?  Business is slow, the days are shorter and shorter, and did anyone realize that Christmas is like six months away?

Now you have that nagging feeling that everything is out of control. You got into your own business to have freedom, joy, flexibility, and the right to miss an exit once in a while and be late.  But this?  This is just too much to bear. Curse you social media I have got enough on my mind without having to worry about missing my exit to your lane to the future!

Perhaps you are the Preschool Owner who is trying to figure out how to balance the needs of communication with a younger demographic vs. the attention paid to the education of young children.  Parents want tablets, pictures, real-time communication…you get it, but all that requires skills and time, and oh yeah, training. Training costs money and time. How can you pull teachers off the floor and make this work? How can you get the word out about the importance of education at this age? Without social media, the good work fades alongside the trends.

What about the executive who is more likely to embrace the challenge of tweeting or updating profile headlines, but has an almost arrogant perspective that succumbing to the social media pressure will lessen their experience and skills?  These young kids are at your heels dreaming of your job while they are posting updates and comparing the newest apps for productivity.  When is there time to learn all this technology, and still lead a team of people who roll their eyes at you every time you pull out your mobile phone?  How do these kids afford these phone upgrades?

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

Small business owners have the greatest career challenge when faced with the social media “elephant in the room.”  Most act as if the “exit” sign came up without warning and yet most of these platforms have been well embedded in marketing for over ten years now.  While you were paying the Yellow Pages for their “better deals” year after year, the marketplace turned to experiences.  Your websites are outdated; your employees untrained in new customer service skills, and what about Amazon? How does one compete with the king of online sales?  When is there time?  How can staff be trained when you are learning too?  And then, all of sudden there is a fury of activity from that Facebook ad you ran but no sales. Does this Social Media Stuff Work?

There is a time when you have to stop everything you are doing. Clean off your desk.  Wipe your calendar free and just decide what to do, learn to do it, and then get it started.  Social media is a living, breathing, circulatory process of marketing–so whenever you jump in–you are on your way!

The problem is that most people of a certain age, are their own worst enemies. It’s not technology that changed, its the process of making decisions that changed.  We [the buyers of the world] needs lots and lots of information to make decisions.  And we [the buyers of all ages] want that information right now. So why do business owners think that we [all the buyers in the world] will just walk in and say, “I HAVE TO HAVE THAT!”?  Is there no dating before marriage? No dinner before dessert?  Where is the story? Where is the process? The information that captures my attention and stirs my emotions? That is where the circulatory system of social media comes into play.  It spreads information.  It gets the heart beating.  Social media is not optional, it is breath.

So think about that exit sign that you passed: THE FUTURE.  We cannot blame “the past” for the future, so why try to blame “lack of time”?  Personally, when I miss an exit, I just get off at the next one and circle back.  Or sometimes I just let my GPS recalculate—and sure, it may bring me into a few sketchy neighborhoods, or over a pothole or two, but I get there….. and isn’t that the goal?

So pull over and figure it out.  It is not the process of learning that is hard–it is accepting reality.  So stop fighting, blaming, justifying, and avoiding….Download Waze and find a new, faster route into the future.

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  

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Eventually an Egg Walks!

image001

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)

Personal Brand, Social Media

The Awkward Feeling of Standing Out

duckWhat if Prince had decided to be like Hall & Oats, Billy Joel, or U2?

Those were the top names when he recorded Purple Rain.  He didn’t choose to have the same 80’s look and feel of those other guys, no, he became different because he was different.  And his career grew larger than life the more  “himself” he became.

Today it doesn’t take songwriting or a purple velvet jacket to become a “pop star” in your career.  It takes a personal style that means you must stand out, be taller (or shorter) than the competition.  It takes acceptance of that slightly off person that you know you are. Are you the square peg that squeezed into the round hole your whole career? Own It! You have to find yourself and stand proud.

To be the “pop star” of your world….it takes a voice.

Sorry folks, what it really takes is a Blog.

So Here is The Short List:

#1 A Blog Sends People To Your Website.

Interesting articles and materials that are found on Google searches mean that people, potential customers, will eventually click through to your website.  This is the virtual goal of anything social.  Clicking through to the home base of your business.  Sure, you could run $500 a week ads on Facebook, but why not find people genuinely interested in what you have to offer?

#2 A Blog Helps to Market Your Products & Services

What better way to give us all the behind-the-scenes look at who you are and what you do?  Selling art? Caring for children? Cleaning teeth? Bridging the digital divide?  They are all problems that need solutions. And the super highway of information can collect your thoughts and show me the roadmap to all the things that you can offer to help.

#3 A Blog Exposes You As An Expert.

Who wouldn’t want to stand next to Bill Gates when it comes to expressing your views on things that you are good at?  And don’t let the Bill Gates reference scare you away from standing up to thought leaders in a world of noisy advertisers. People today want genuine, authentic, organic information.  They want the voices of experience and understanding.  They want industry insiders who know how to change, correct, fix, guide, and fulfill all the promises that can be filled. We don’t want “snake oil” salesman with slick graphics and a cool video, we want authentic experiences that can impact us.  That would be (could be) you!

Think of blogging as an opportunity to contribute to the world’s problems.  One post at a time, reaching out to people, to your niche.  LinkedIn has over 414 million members.  What if just 1% of 1% of them read what you wrote and reached out to you?

You do realize that is over 40,000 people, right?

I don’t know about you, but if 40 thousand people were reading my thoughts and solutions, I would be a Pop Star!  

So Write.  Plan.  Solve.  And STAND OUT.

Note: I have one question.  When I “spell-checked” this piece the “snake oil” reference was flagged as “politically incorrect.”  Anyone have any comments on how this impacts society?

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  

Personal Brand, Uncategorized

BRAND YOU. It’s Time To Become You.

masks

It’s easy when it’s easy.

You know, to do things “the way they have always been done.” To set aside our desire to be heard and recognized for our work and let the “other guy” take the credit. It is even easier sometimes to forget our successes and hold our errors close to our hearts so that we don’t lose the memory of all the pain and agony of doing something new or different. It feels easy to be “safe.”

Being safe isn’t where our world is today.

The pace of society, technology and the overwhelming abundance of information does not work well with “playing it safe.” So why fight it?

Your career is the one thing in life that you control.

I don’t care if you were born in South LA or can’t speak English. In time, you can change the things that need to be changed to become something. I read somewhere that it only takes ten years to become someone else. In ten years a high school graduate can become a doctor. In a lot less than ten years, you could learn to speak almost any language fluently. And in a matter of weeks, you could learn one of the most important tools there is–that when mastered–can make you envied and admired, followed and liked by thousand of fans.

It just takes the desire to risk being yourself.

And why would we risk that? The best parts of ourselves are those that were learned from mistakes, yet we ignore those and focus on the one or two things that are acceptable successes driving our life and careers into safe harbors. Being safe is an illusion of the world of work today. Stifling your individuality and skills is a recipe for career disaster.

To really own your career you must accept who you are

Every piece of who you are, including all those eccentricities that your bosses have told you were “never going to get you anywhere,” are important today. Did it ever occur to you that the reason people tell you such nonsense is that they know the true value of that gift you have, and perhaps, they fear that if you really owned it, they would be out of a job?

Social media is that tool I mentioned that can make you into the “superstar” you already are. Mastering its ability to broadcast your unique skills will take you to the moon and back, right alongside the SpaceX team. Because social media is the way, we communicate today. It is the spaceship to the future of work and recognition. Social media is your voice. It has replaced the press release and the Rolodex of contacts that you inherited from your family connections. Social media can take you where you need to go. But it works best when you are your authentic self. No masks. No safety goggles.

So look in the mirror and decide what matters to you. Pull all those ugly, quirky traits out of the closet and try them on to see if they are your ticket to success. Funny? Detail-oriented? A visionary? A collaborator? A talker? A writer? An out-of-the-box thinker? All of these things are in demand, somewhere, and if you can wear them with expertise, then you too are in demand.

Accepting who you are is the first step. Step two is learning how to voice those skills in the most efficient way possible–through blogs and posts that solve people’s problems. So start with the “easy” part, you.

Own who you are! Be proud of what you are good at and wear all of you like a magic robe. Take pride in how you got where are and then learn to broadcast your story and your skills out to the world. It is the only way to head into the future of your career.

So share your “brand.”

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Consultant, Brand Innovator, LinkedIn Strategist, Small Business Specialist, and Energetic Speaker. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with people and organizations who need to find their voice in a world filled with noise. Her work with small businesses and non-profits is most important to her plan because she feels that it is through their work that our communities will be stronger and better for everyone. Follow her @mbear88 or send her an email if you need a different perspective mbear88@gmail.com

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?

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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

 

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