Finding Flow, A Higher Purpose & The REAL Bottom Line

Attraction Engine JL via PaperThere’s more to New Marketing than the traditional bottom line.

When I speak and lead workshops, I use terms like “New Marketing” and “Humanistic Marketing” to differentiate what is truly alive online from what is all too often useless noise. In my view, the “Alive Web” is empowered by the people power. I experience this humanity as the heart of social media.

This is clearly different than content where the focus is how to make more money. This difference is important to and underscores the dimensions of what I do that are most important to me. And, from a marketing perspective, this is a meaningful dynamic that leads to authentic engagement, meaningful value exchange and real relationships.

And, I think it’s also worth noting that all that noise and manipulative selling is what gives the ideas of marketing and engagement a bad name.

In this post, I want to focus on the “what’s most important to me” part; but, I’m not doing that just for me. If you are in my Tribe (and I’ll get to that), it is very likely to be what’s most important to you too. And, that is actually my point.

As my hand-drawn “Attraction Engine” iPad sketch shown to the right indicates, I’m a believer in the power of enthusiasm, authenticity, and leading with value. Those are the ingredients that lead to the kinds of meaningful connections that are beyond the more traditional marketing creative’s superficial positioning and messaging.

An Awakening & Authentic Truth-Telling

I realized in conversation with a dear friend today that I need to reach out specifically to you all, My Tribe, more often. I need to do this in order to expand my work in the direction that I want it to evolve.

The truth is that despite my own enthusiasm and the real value that I know I provide, like the rest of humanity, I can personally fall off the social media marketing communications track. I get derailed by my own resistance. We all know this truth: Resistance happens. And it’s important for me to name it by telling the truth about it when it happens.

My blog doesn’t lie. This is my first post since late January. Yikes!

Stepping into the Light

Thus, this new blog post (and the new content which will follow) represent the beginning of another reinvention or refocusing of my work and offerings.

Yes, I will continue to share about innovative social media and video marketing strategies, tips and insights; but the real fuel for what I consider to be meaningful success is my authentic connections with other like-minded people. I find those to be more important and valuable than I can express. So, while I’ve always been about better communications rather than just being about the exciting new technologies (as much as I love them too), I’m refocusing on the real bottom line.

The real bottom line for me is making the world a better place. I’m clear that that doesn’t come from more “noise,” nor fresh eye-candy, no matter how well crafted, no matter how efficiently delivered with the latest technological innovative automations, etc.

Successful communications (at least by my definition) connect people in meaningful ways and thus lead to collaborations and/or authentic relationships where real value is exchanged.

Are You In?

Tribe Circles by JL via PaperMy personal intention is to shine in a way that inspires and supports others to shine from their soul, reflecting their own Divine Purpose. (FYI, I’ve never spoken this spiritually in a business context.)

Ease and grace ARE present as animating forces when you allow them to be, but the necessary resting in and allowing of the “Sounds of Silence”—the slowing down and deep listening, the actual prayers for guidance—can be uncomfortable and require the development of a new skill. I’m working on that. Are you? If so, how can I support you? I’d love to hear from you about this.

Thus, what I am putting more front and center in the services that I am offering—albeit through my online marketing communications support—is fundamentally NOT about the “stuff,” i.e. the technology, nor the material success. It’s about the connections, the communities and the relationships. Truthfully, that’s the kind of abundance that I care about and value most.

Playing with My Tribe in Order to Truly Thrive

This expression, “Play with My Tribe to Strive” jumped out in another conversation recently, and it kind of summarizes what I’m talking about here.

First of all, I want to play. In a business context, what that means to me is that when I’m at my best and offering my greatest value, I’m having fun, playful, joyful and free. That’s the kind of relationships I want to have. Personally, professionally, and via social media. Wanting to have fun every step of the way is a quality I’m looking for in my ideal clients as well as in friends (both virtual and otherwise.)

Secondly, I know that what I’m doing and where I’m coming from won’t appeal to everyone. That’s GREAT! I’m interested in nurturing my relationships with authentic members of my “Tribe.” What I mean by that is an informal extended network of people who are also aligned with these same values (see above), who want to play together, i.e. collaborate joyously and communicate for mutual benefit and the highest good of all.

The thriving part then emerges through the soul-nurturing flow of acting in alignment with Spirit/Higher Power/Love/God (or whatever you want to call Her/Him/That).

I love the expression that some NBA players use: “Let the game come to you.” This approach is not about “making things happen.” It’s about opening, softening and allowing something even better than we can imagine to unfold. In my experience, when that Game comes to you, not only are ease, flow and fun readily available… “Resistance is Futile!” 😉

Are you in?

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you with your thoughts, encouragements and/or suggestions. Thanks!

“It’s a Wonderful Web” ENewsletter Highlights Internet Marketing Tips, Social Media, and Overall Strategy

holidayThe December 2013 edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” e-newsletter is out. It includes:

  • New Blog Post: 3 Surprisingly Useful Internet Marketing Tips from Top Experts
  • Client Spotlight: Michelle Schmitt – Her Music & Heart Benefit Us All
  • Luscious Links
    • 7 Critical Mistakes You’re Probably Making On Social Media
    • The Top Social Media Mistakes of 2013
  • Please Help Me to “Triple Down on the Things I’m Best At”

If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to read it online.

Take Advantage: Social Media & Mobile Marketing Lead the Way for Black Friday, Cyber Monday Offers & Deals

Are you taking advantage of the major trends in online e-commerce by connecting with your customers where and when they want to do business?

Social media and mobile lead this seasons's online shopping

The year-over-year growth in the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals illustrates why your mobile and social marketing strategies are more important than ever!

As the venture capitalist, Fred Wilson recently said in a blog post (with chart) showing how “Mobile is Eating the World“:

“The jump from 2012 to 2013 should be terrifying to anyone who has a business based anywhere but mobile.”

As we enter this year’s holiday season, there’s no doubt that online shopping will play a bigger role. Last year, the big Cyber Monday sales climbed 30 percent higher (2012 compared to 2011). In fact, in 2012, Cyber Monday ranked as the best day of the year for online shopping, besting any day in December. This is largely due to people using their smartphones to shop. Approximately 12 percent more users bought items from a smartphone in 2012 than 2011, while 18 percent of total Cyber Monday sales came from smart phones, as reported by the 2012 IBM Software Report.

Mobile Friendly Marketing

People are discovering and ultimately buying products and services from what they see on the smartphone. They may text a friend just after visiting a marketer’s Facebook page and/or after viewing a new online store. And social media platforms are becoming synonymous with phone usage. In actuality, 78 percent of Facebook users are accessing the social media platform from a mobile device, and Facebook earns 40 percent of its revenue from mobile users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told TechCrunch. This confirms the importance of merging Cyber Monday promotions with the popularity and widespread use of social media. How is your business doing in this regard?

And, perhaps even more importantly, social media is built on sharing. Some 2.5 billion pieces of content are shared each and every day on Facebook. Only through effective, authentic social media marketing can marketers hope to get a small piece of this lucrative pie.

Directly Targeted Social Media

Popular, successful online specialty retailers set the pace by directly engaging with Cyber Monday via guerilla style marketing campaigns. For example, Tanga showcases a line-up of half-off products, and its direct social media efforts, including a staff of members posting about the savings, is just one method employed in the company’s completely online effort.

Integrating the power of “bricks and clicks,” the popular retailer Macy’s is taking full advantage of social media. Its popular ‘buy one, see another donated’ campaign is bringing increased attention to its social media feeds. Thousands are sharing the donation campaign to their respective followers on Facebook.

Twitter Hashags Push the Envelope

Facebook is not getting all the attention. Here’s an actionable tip for you: Cyber Monday marketers are also using the #blackfriday Twitter hashtag for added exposure. Going a step further, Shopping Blog has even implemented a distinct Black Friday Twitter account to fully realize the potential of its Cyber Monday and Black Friday promotions.

Strategic Marketing Plans Benefit All

Many companies have taken their long term social media strategies to a new level by thinking strategically about holiday shoppers. As we advocate and do when help companies with their marketing strategies, many online marketers have outlined detailed plans. For example, ReadWrite details how brands create a social media playbook that gives explicit ‘why’ answers and builds a goal plan hierarchy for continued success. Because social media has so many facets, companies need to outline exact strategies for harnessing its potential. Otherwise, the old axiom comes true:

“A failure to plan is a plan to fail.”

Cyber Monday, in particular, only accounts for a small component of the much larger Internet marketing, social media and mobile game plans. But it’s a great place to start. Please let us know if we can help.

Wishing you every success as well as a peaceful, nurturing and satisfying holiday season.

Mobile Apps and Mobile-Friendly Websites for Business: 
The Next Big Thing in Internet Marketing?

Shortly after Internet accessibility via mobile phones started to take off, marketers started to encourage businesses to build mobile versions of their websites. But there is always a gap between innovations and those who follow up in order to take advantage of the latest technologies.

mobile-friendly website with responsive WordPress theme

ComBridges’ new mobile-friendly website design uses a responsive WordPress theme

But, now that there is a meaningful volume of web visitors checking out every website (yes, even yours!) via mobile devices, spanning this gap is becoming more of a requirement. And yet, there are still a very significant number of businesses who don’t have mobile-friendly websites. The really bad news, particularly for those who are falling behind, is that the gap is widening between those who are meeting the demand for mobile-friendly web communications and those who are not. The good news is that there are a new generation of business communication tools arising in the form of apps and new kinds of websites that make meeting this need increasingly accessible. Illuminating these trends with specific examples is the purpose of this blog post.

The Mobile Web is Exploding

These changes are unquestionably dramatic. While the Web was born on desktop computers, it is obviously no longer simply a desktop medium. By May 2012, fully one tenth of the world’s web traffic was arriving on your digital doorstep via mobile phones and tablets. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the “developing” world that is truly leading the charge. In those countries where cell phones have long outnumbered landlines, more than one-half of web use is now coming via mobile devices. This demand for mobile delivery is now forcing the issue and providing further fuel for the shift in how websites are designed. In this environment, for a company to ignore the need for the mobile-friendly delivery of its Web content not only limits that company’s engagement opportunities because they are essentially “dissing” a significant segment of their audience. In the US alone, mobile is now estimated to be about 15% of web traffic. Bottom line, this form of resistance to change (or upgrades) will also exclude that company from a significant component of how the next billion people will get online.

Chinese woman with iPad

Photo by Robert May, April, 2013

Not Your Father’s Website Design

Web development for the mobile age itself is advancing quickly. One of the latest innovations is called responsive website designs. Because responsive designs automatically adjust their layout to suit the device being used, they offer a relatively simple solution that can eliminate the complexity of having to create a separate mobile-friendly version of your website. But this means that those—like my company recently—must invest in a redesign in order to keep pace with the mobile revolution. But that’s not all. The pace of change does not slow down. It accelerates.

Span the Gap with an App

Now, at least for marketers who are committed to the leading edge of engagement with social media savvy users who love their mobile devices, a responsive design may not be enough. Mobile apps are yet another important innovation because they combine the emergence of ever-expanding Web access via mobile devices with the ability to communicate directly, in a native form (i.e. within the mobile medium) via customized business-specific functionalities from Facebook feeds, to special offers, to location-based components.

A recent article by SmartMediaTips on mobile statistics points out that over 50% of an individual’s time spent on a smartphone is spent using apps. In 2011, smartphone users downloaded 17.7 billion apps, and this number is expected to increase to 108 billion by 2015. As a result, more than 300,000 apps were developed in the last 3 years. In a sense, apps are the new websites (just like “60 is the new 40.”)

The good news is that some newly developed Web-based SaaS (software as service) resources are make building basic apps far more accessible and affordable than previously imagined. The result is a new trend in mobile marketing: the development of business apps that can be used by companies of virtually any size. Of course, many large, enterprise-level businesses have already jumped on the app bandwagon, including banks, Starbucks, Google, and even Walmart’s new checkout app. Now, there are mobile apps for the rest of us.

Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Websites

A business mobile app means that your website can be programmed to offer mobile users an interface for your website and social media content that is all the more friendly, not only with a vertical layout that fits a smartphone screen, but with an interface that features icons (rather than web-style text links) that are also a natural for the touch of a screen. Thus, an app offers more than a responsive website design. An app gives your business a mobile presence that can put local or social media interactivity in a more prominent position. In particular, an app allows your loyal customers and followers to retrieve content, like audio podcasts or video commentaries for example, that are more conveniently accessed while on the move. Likewise, Facebook posts and tweets, which are commonly accessed via mobile, can become part of your business app’s featured content.

One logical strategy is use the app to make your social media marketing and content marketing outreach more accessible. For example, when individuals are standing in line at the bank or at the grocery store, with an app at their fingertips, they will much more easily be able browse through your Facebook posts. In fact, they are certainly more likely to visit your Facebook Page while on your app rather than from Facebook’s own app where they are far more than likely to be distracted by their family’s photos, etc.

Likewise, if you host a contest, offer a coupon or some other form of promotion, those who get involved with your app can much more quickly check contest updates from an app and receive automated notifications (with permission of course). The app makes waiting for your responsive website to load, asking the user to find the contest page, then wait for that page to load, etc. seem prosaic. An app simply makes any interaction with your web content immediately available with a simple touch of an icon, rather than forcing a web page and more complex navigation through the smaller screen.

Learning from Experience

Small Business mobile app example

ComBridges’ Facebook Feed in our test mobile app

By way of example, as a boutique web design and marketing agency, our company, ComBridges used to have a mobile-friendly version of our website that was visible via smartphones. This was developed using a WordPress plug-in called WPTouch Pro. Recently, we have redesigned and relaunched our own site with a responsive WordPress theme.

What opens up the opportunity for a small business like ours (and so many others) to have its own app is online software services like Conduit.com’s Mobile. While these apps do require a small, additional monthly hosting fee, they are easy for developers like us to implement. So much so that some do-it-yourselfer small businesses could even build apps on their own. It’s a work in progress, but if you have a smartphone, you can preview our first generation mobile app via any mobile device at combridges.conduitapps.com.

You will notice that what you see on our app looks very different than what you see on our website. It’s designed for mobile interaction. In fact, thanks to Conduit, much of the content is automatically derived from our Facebook Page, Twitter feed and more. As you can see, many of our social media pages are featured along with easy options for contacting us, including click to call functionality.

Greeting the Mobile Future

According to Morgan Stanley, 91% of individuals who own smart phones keep their phone within reach 24/7. And 5.1 billion of the 7 billion people on earth own a mobile phone. With these numbers in mind, why wouldn’t every business want to make it easier for their customers, blog readers, Twitter or Facebook followers to engage with them via a mobile app?

Another benefit is that if you develop your business app now, before the gap widens further, you may well be seen as an innovator. At the very least, you will prove yourself smart enough to get an early jump on the next wave of mobile marketing strategies, rather than letting the gap widen between you and your competitors, as well as between you and your customers.


Jon Leland is author of “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts that Every Business MUST Know” and is the president of the boutique web design, video and Internet marketing agency, ComBridges.com. He was assisted in this article by Tara Hornor who also writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company.

 

“It’s a Wonderful Web” 2013!

cb-ipadThe first edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” e-newsletter for 2013 is out. It includes the following articles:

  • 2013: The Year of Anything is Possible
  • Special Offers!
  • Free 1-Hour Audio: Web Radio Interview
  • Luscious Links

If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to read it online.

New YouTube Video Invites You to Our Online Course in Internet Marketing

I don’t know how to get more personal than creating a 3-minute video invitation that explains the real value that I know will be available to those who join me in the four-part online course in Internet marketing, Start with a Solid Foundation: Building on the 8 Key Concepts of Sustainable Online Marketing. At the very least, I’m “walking my talk” about using online video; but I hope it’s more than that… By the way, I have a few discount coupons for anyone who signs up by Saturday. Please let me know if you’re interested.

Please check out this video and let me know what you think:

You can also click here to check out an online press release overview of the new book and the new course, “Internet Marketing’s Missing Links Revealed and Illuminated by New Book and Online Course.”

I hope you’ll join us! Any questions? Please use the Contact Us form and I’ll do my best to get right back to you.

Just Announced: My New Online Course on Internet Marketing

I’m thrilled to announce a brand new online course as part of our NewMarU.com start up:

Start with a Solid Foundation: 
Building on the 8 Key Concepts of Sustainable Online Marketing

There will be four one-hour state-of-the-art online sessions, all within a two week period. Here’s the dates

  • Tuesday Nov. 6th
  • Thursday Nov. 8th
  • Tuesday, Nov. 13th
  • Friday, Nov. 16th

All at Noon PT, 3pm ET (9am next day in NZ)

Helping people to do Internet marketing right is why I wrote my new book, Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know.

NOTE: This will be a small group. There will be time for you to get your questions answered personally, and I will also give you direct feedback on your progress and step-by-step accomplishments as you grow your own online presence.

Each one-hour sessions will have a specific area of focus:

  • Session 1: Know Your Fundamentals
  • Session 2: Choose Your Building Blocks
  • Session 3: Be Your Best By Using Best Practices
  • Session 4: Marketing Fueled by Your Own Sustainable Energy

Please click here to learn more! And please let me know if you have any questions whatsoever. I’d love to see you there.

Wishing you every success,

Jon

Modern Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Advantages and Techniques

This Guest Post is by Tara Hornor of Creative Content Experts

There was a time when word of mouth marketing could only move at the speed of human speech. Business owners handed out stacks of business cards to customers for their referral program. Neighbors leaned over fences to discuss the finer points of various products and services. Life was about keeping up with the Joneses. Oh, how times have changed.

Radio and television sped up this marketing technique significantly. Word of mouth marketing grew exponentially as use of the Internet became more popular. Now word of mouth marketing moves at the speed of social media, which sometimes seems faster than the speed of light.

Consumers are more likely to make a purchase or use a service if the product or service has positive reviews from family members, friends, acquaintances, even fellow consumers who are otherwise strangers. While word-of-mouth marketing sometimes just happens, there are a few techniques you can employ to help encourage and speed up the process.

Here are a few of the advantages of Web and social media powered word-of-mouth marketing follow by some useful tips to help you get the most out of your efforts.

Can’t Avoid Word of Mouth Marketing

Studies confirm that word of mouth marketing drives 20-50 percent of purchase decisions. First time purchases are especially affected. Purchases that offer a higher risk benefit the most from word of mouth exposure because consumers have much more at stake. For example, if your company is new, try to get some reviews of your products. This acts as a word of mouth reference for peers.

Consumers trust friends more than ad campaigns. Of course, circles of trust now include virtual friends as well as real friends. Word of mouth marketing offers businesses a host of tangible benefits, including:

Stand Out in the Crowd

Consumers are faced with abundant choices. Everyone is competing to be heard. Word of mouth marketing silences the competitors more easily by using trusted recommendations. This is where reviews, Twitter tweets, and Facebook posts about your products and services are priceless.

Leverage Authorities

Savvy business owners who cultivate and nurture relationships with influential bloggers and commenters can leverage their authority. With the right tools and incentives, businesses can turn influencers into brand advocates. Having an influencer who authentically puts their weight behind your products and services can easily be the difference between a sale and a click away from your site.

Speed Up Sales

Word of mouth marketing enables consumers to decide faster. Input from trusted sources allows consumers to put aside any reservations and take a chance on a new product or service. Instead of “thinking about it” and maybe coming back to your site, with some word of mouth support an immediate sale is far more likely.

Modern Word of Mouth Advertising 101

The Internet offers an almost infinite number of hubs for virtual meetings to occur. Today’s version of the “fence out back” encompasses the entire world. Businesses can create virtual storefronts and communities for visitors to socialize in. The corner store has now housed itself in social media. Businesses can easily build brands by following a few simple word of mouth marketing techniques:

  • Put audience interests in the forefront by engaging them with interesting posts and updates.
  • Use photos and videos to show audiences, instead of telling.
  • Design all content around the interests of the target market, focus on their agenda, nor yours.
  • Show people using products, not just product still life images.
  • Integrate reviews, likes, shares, and tweets from various social media resources.
  • Encourage customers to write reviews on your site as well as via review sites such as Yelp.
  • Provide incentives for reviews, both negative and positive, such as a discount or free gift.
  • Make sure to include negative reviews with the positive, as this validates reviews.

Bonus resource: If you want more info on how to engage “influential talkers,” here’s a useful educational video via WordofMouth.org -> Ant’s Eye View’s Jake McKee on how to work with influential talkers

The typical social media user has an average audience of 100 or more. For the average person, that’s 4 times the immediate influence than in days gone by. Word travels much faster than it used to. Therefore, get customers excited about and involved in your company by engaging them on social media sites, your website, and blogs with interesting and helpful information.

Social media tools provide an excellent vehicle for businesses to connect with more consumers more efficiently. The modern water cooler conversation now takes place on social media sites and through product reviews. So get involved with your customers on these sites and be a part of the conversation. As the buzz around your business grows, keep an eye out for an increase in sales to increase alongside of your success with word of mouth marketing.


Tara Hornor has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design. She writes for PrintPlace.com, a company that offers online full color printing for business cards, catalogs, posters, brochures, and promotional postcards. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.

NEW “Wonderful Web” ENews: “New is New Again”

The new edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter is out. It includes the follow short stories:

  • It’s All About YOU (including Paul Simon quote)
  • New Marketing in Another New Era
  • Whipping Up Lower Cost Websites (fresh offer)
  • Make Your Marketing More Effective
  • New Custom-Designed Client WordPress Websites
  • Is Your WordPress Website Safe? (new services)
  • New News About NewMarU (update on our educational site)
  • Luscious Links: More Useful Info, Just a Click Away (valuable!)
  • Quick Hits: About the New Enews Format

If you’re not already a subscriber, you can read it online by clicking this link.

Luscious Links to Unlock Pinterest: Free Resources Show How to Pin Your Marketing

Just when you may have thought that social media marketing has settled down to the “big 4” (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube), Pinterest breaks new ground. It’s actually fun to use, highly visual and growing like a weed.

I’ll have more to say about why I think Pinterest is a real trend setter in a future post. Meanwhile, here is a choice selection of way luscious links that will help you get started or understand more, no matter whether you’ve already pinned your first board or not. These free resources should be useful in improving your understanding of how to create effective social media marketing via Pinterest. Or, perhaps you might prefer to start by checking out my Pinterest boards by way of example? 😉

Pinterest:  Everything You Wanted to Know About 2012’s Hottest Startup
InfoGraphic and impressive data from Mashable.com

The Remarkable Rise of Pinterest:  Chart
Get the picture literally via this chart from Business Insider.  See how many people are already spending more time on Pinterest than on other big social sites like Twitter and LinkedIn!

The Big Picture, Big Changes.  How Pinterest is Leading the Way for “The Next Social Networks”
An intelligent perspective from “Trust Agent” Chris Brogran

How Pinterest is Becoming the Next Big Thing in Social Media for Business
Jason Falls makes the case for Pinterest for business on Entrepreneur.com

Pinterest: 13 Tips and Tricks for Cutting Edge Users
Mashable’s how to guide will help you maximize you Pinterest activities.

56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest
A cool & comprehensive blog post by Beth Hayden

30 Resources, Tips and Tricks for Marketing Your Business on Pinterest
A very useful collection from Jeff Bullas that also includes many more “luscious links”

The Ten Most Followed Brands on Pinterest
Mashable’s selection shows the woman-leaning bias of Pinterest, except I’m a Whole Foods and Mashable kinda guy and those companies are way into Pinterest too 😉

Dozens Of Major Companies Failed To Secure Their Brand Names On Pinterest
The name game is under way and lots of businesses are not paying attention… at their own peril. Are you and yours all set with the Pinterest name you love and deserve? 😉

Pinterest Data Analysis: An Inside Look
Research firm RJMetrics delivers some fascinating insights about Pinterest’s rapid growth as well as its “growing pains”

A Pinterest Board of Cool Pinterest Stuff
And, what selection of Pinterest links would be complete without a link to a Pinterest Board packed with cool Pinterest stuff? This is also a great example of how a Pinterest Board can be useful, interesting and creative.

Enjoy and please comment. Do you like this kind of link aggregation? Did you find this post useful? Thanks!