Friday, March 26, 2010

Selling to Socialites

This week I had the opportunity to share the company of a few very established and credible Internet Consultants in the car business on a conference call including one dealer who had reached out for help, and (I think) 100 more across the country just to listen in. 

In the 'car biz', that is a huge leaping bound of success to be able to come together and share information to help each other.  In the rest of the 'social media' world, these things happen every day, but for car dealerships (not all, but a lot) that once denied the importance of the Internet with every last shed of their being, it's an awesome step forward. 

The following is a synopsis of what I shared on the call.  I hope that all of the knowledge and success I've had as a BDC Manager and now Social Influence Marketeer shone through to offer up some helpful guidance...and sell more cars!

Rocket Science.
 Seems like an untouchable subject unless you're a
science geek, right? Feel the same way about your Internet process
on a slightly smaller scale? What about Social Media?...GASP!
Well, you shouldn't. Here's why.
Good salespeople thrive on connecting with their customers and
providing great customer service in order to gain repeat business. Oh,
and to earn referrals! That's social media, in a nutshell.
Social Media is going to help you create a community again. To
"humanize" your brand/dealership and engage with your customers to
that they spread the word about why it's good to buy from you.
No one should be captalizing off of the social media surge more than
car dealerships.

Social Media = Buyers
 Social Media and Blogging have taught me the importance of information sharing. "Free" information.
There are plenty of big name players in the social media community (Brian Solis, Chris Brogan) that share oodles of free information without losing ground in their extremely successful careers.
Same rings true for brands/business...and car dealerships across the board: the more free information you are willing to give, the more people will follow you...the more customers will trust and buy from you...the more they will spread word of your value.

Action Plan:
1. Be accessible: Someone needs to be in charge of keeping your social media content current, and
consistantly pointing that traffic back o your website.
2. All customers are Internet Customers: Don't separate the process. Be transparent throughout
3. Process: Everything you want to accomplish must be written down, mapped out, and passed out.

Action Plan in Action...some examples.
*To increase a marketable fan base from your Facebook Page:
1. Create an engaging landing tab.
2. Design an opt in form to collect E-mail addresses.
3. Make customer surveys routine.
4. Provide engaging content: contests, video, photos, blog posts,
discussions, etc.
5. 10% of the Facebook Page should be "Deals" and "Sales"
6. Involve Management, Sales, Finance, Service, and Parts.

1. Attracts a different audience, therefore requires separate update strategy.
2. Use Hashtags, Tweet-Ups, etc. to promote events and sales.

*Track it all back to your website:
1. Google Analytics.
2. for all social media links.
3. SEO
*How many of these people are buying? Consider all sales "Internet"...are they increasing?

Internet Leads...what's in a lead?
*The most common problem I ran across as a BDC Manager was lead crossover...leads that had 2 or more different lead sources. It can make it difficult to determine which source handed you the sale. If a lot of those leads are duplicated with leads from your own website, drop them. Try to capitalize on leads from your website first and foremost. I found that those are the most valuable, because they are statistically the most likely to buy from you. That's why all efforts on social media should be pointed back to your website in order
to convert that customer to a lead.

*The process for Internet Leads should be the same in concept as any other lead. Be transparent. Give the customer the information they ask for, and then engage them. Avoidance is standoffish, and in the age of smartphones, will make you look stupid. They'll stand right in front of you, now, and look up the information.
That's why every customer needs to be considered an Internet customer, even if not an official "Internet Lead." Don't let a salesperson take an up without knowledge of how your customer got to your lot in the first place. I guarantee you they did research online...on you...on the brand you sell...what their friends think...and they are all just a click away in their pocket, now. Not sitting at home on their desktop computer. Same goes for finance, service, parts...dude...they know. BUT...are still willing
to pay for quality service.

The 5 P's (Key Processes to Success)
1. Website:
a. engaging content
b. transparency (i.e. inventory with prices listed. put someone in charge, or hold everyone accountable as part of your process.) media buttons- be legit. it human? photos/videos/spotlight on human involvement.
e.SEO-are you doing the "free" stuff?

2. Tracking: you have to actually KNOW what's working.
a.Google Analytics on your website.
b. for social media links.
c. Facebook/Twitter fan/follower increases
d. Your sales! They should increase overall!

3. Marketing: consistency amongst all channels
a. website
b. social media
c. Email campaigns
d. traditional media (tv, radio, newspaper,mail, signage)
e. your dealership.

4. Social Media: Be there and make noise.
a. Facebook, Twitter
b. Blog (depending on amt. of content)
c. You Tube, StumbleUpon, Digg...
d. SEO: can people find you right now?(Google Live Search/Google Buzz.)

5. People
a. First Response Team
b. Sales Staff
c. Follow Up Team
d. Management Accountability

Process 101
How do you create these processes? And how do you keep up with the ever-changing-by the minute element of social media? Well, that's why geeks like me exist. To take the time you don't have to pick it all a part and put it back together. I live in my (what I consider to be pretty awesome) world of connectivity to stay up to date with social media that you know how to apply it to your business before the next thing comes out and it doesn't matter anymore. 

It works, but so do you. You know your business better. Just a fact. I'm here to be an aid to your success with what I know is best, not replace what your doing with what I think might will work.

I never use ALL CAPS because it's unnecessary and ensues rudeness most of the time, but I will here just to stress (not in a berating tone...but rather a picture-me-jumping-up-and-down-on-a-trampoline-with-a-megaphone-and-a-smile tone...or a picture-me-running-alongside-you-at-every-moment-with-a-sign-that-reads-this tone) the importance of a couple of points I'll leave you on.


From the top down, hold your team accountable. Realize that what you do know is more than what you don't know.  Involve your people in creating the process, in the training...approach them with some predetermined
basics that can't be changed, and mold the rest together from there.


You'll do great.
And if you still need my help, here's where you can find me:

Megan E. Bucher, Social Influence Marketeer
Twitter: @MeganBucher
Google Profile

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"There's No Bad Ideas When You're Brainstormin'"...a message to the 'newbies.'

For all the newbie's out there, and those in need of some motivation...this one's for you.
(photo source)

Often, I take lessons from my almost-2-year-old.  The most recent being from the Imagination Movers.  "There's no bad ideas when you're brainstormin'," they sing happily.  Besides the show being a genious motivator for kids to think outside the box with confidence, it speaks to us adults, too.  How many times have you taken a pass rather than dig for a solution...or quit for fear of failing.  Isn't it funny how we're taught to do the very opposite right from the start?

I've recently discovered the adult version of the Imagination Movers...The Third Tribe.  This group of social media marketing professionals has
created an atmosphere that not only makes it fun to brainstorm again, but also fun to set goals for and go after it's end product.  Similar to college alumni and other business networks, The Third Tribe allows you to express your ideas in a forum where it's met with brainstorms...not cynicism.  It's the ultimate competitive environment.  Like a forum full of runners trading training secrets on things they have not yet mastered, and sharing on what they have.  In the end, we're pushing our industry to the next level, and making everyone engaged sharper.

For anyone sitting at the edge of the cliff thinking of taking the risk of a social media venture of their own...I say jump.  Jump now.  Don't wait.  Learn to lean on those around you who are willing to help you achieve your goals.  Then, as you learn, give back what you now know to those searching for it. 

Here's your motivation in 3 simple steps.
1.  Brainstorm.  Let it storm a Nor' East-er on Mother Lake Erie.  Write down that hot mess.  Mold it into some sort of madness that makes sense to you, and then begin extracting goals and steps to their achievement.

2.  Get an Education.  College?  Yes.  There are qualities of stamina and fortitude that you take from there along with the knowledge that you pack into your brain that will take you to the top.  Not to mention the extremely huge network of alumni that you take with you.

Know the market you wish to attract, and what attracts them.  Subscribe to at least 15 blogs in the field you wish to master or be a part of.  Join a forum to interact with those doing what you want to do.  Engage yourself.  Set a goal at the beginning just to read through all of your RSS feeds by the end of each week, commenting on 2 or 3 a day.  For Social Media, no one says it better than Brian Solis.  This should be an automatic subscription add...invaluable content. 

3.  Network.  If you like someone's blog entry, comment on it.  Then, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, subscribe to their blog...and whatever else you feel obliged to do.  Most importantly, get out there and start joining the conversation.  You never know where your next opportunity may come from.

Have confidence in Social Media Marketing.  It's not going anywhere.  In fact, it's growing faster then just about any other segment of Marketing in existence.  It'll eventually be the core of every business's Marketing plan, instead of just an add on or an afterthought.  It'll be necessity. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"The Hardest Part..."

"The hardest part...," pulled from one of my favorite Cold Play songs, seems applicable to this month's blog-a-roo.

What a month of change. Of course, right? I'm in Social Media. It's always changing.

And with that in mind, I'd like to give a shout out to one of (I feel) the biggest changes this year...Seesmic. I'm completely impressed and blown away and have started using the multiple versions. Tweeting from Look is so much easier than any other method of tweeting. There are a lot of people that are going to Tweet more because of it. I said Twitter would have to do something big to gain on Facebook? Well, Twitter should 'Tweet" Seesmic a big ol' thank you note. If you're a business looking to make a mark on Twitter, a Channel through Seesmic is the coolest way to interact with your Tweeters that I've seen yet. Check out Red Bull's always, they are right on the cutting edge of the extreme...and this is extremely awesome as far as Twitter goes.

Don't mistake me, I'm still a loyal Facebook cheerleader. It still reigns at the top of the Social Media kingdom. If they could only come up with a valid way to receive alerts from Administered Pages it would be a perfect world. Until they do, however, they now offer Page Administers a statistical view of how comments and post are being perceived and interacted with right under the said text itself. Pretty cool...and a great step forward. After all, Facebook would be wise to head the advice of Page Administers...

Important no-brainers for your Facebook fan page. "Content is King!" For marketing's sake and sanity, engage your fans with what I like to call "human" stuff. Sales/promo's should only account for 10% of your social presence on any given medium. That doesn't mean that 10% isn't important. It is....extremely! A majority of your fans are either loyal to your brand already or looking for a deal. Once fans, they want to be a part of your brand. Create an interactive community.

The word interactive leads me to my next two insights. The first on Haiti. While I hate to call attention to this tragedy in terms of Social Media, it created a powerful message to the world on the most productive way to achieve a cause or purpose. Cool how the entire world interacted live on the Twitter map at to rally support for Haiti. If you haven't seen now how Social Media is encapsulating the human spirit worldwide than you just might not ever. Out of tragedy the human spirit becomes stronger and more united. Neat that what I used to call my 'small little nerdery' has now become enormous enough to hold a strong foot in such a noble cause.

Interactive, in second, is now synonymous with Smartphones. Seesmic and Foursquare are two very powerful apps I'd be involved in right now. Though less than 20% of the population owns one, the next wave has already crashed down in Smartphone-ville. Apps will be a huge market for businesses to reach out and converse with their target markets this year. It will be a break out year, and with competition from Android, I personally look for Smartphones to become a more accessible form of cell phone communication for the general public. Come on, 4G...let's go!

Social Media is new age 'word of mouth' marketing. As eMarketer smartly pointed out this month, it's not the ads that sell your brand, it's the marketing.
So brilliant, and makes me feel needed and loved as a Marketeer. Even a Social Influence Marketeer. "Word of mouth and conversational marketing, up more than 23%..." Music to my ears, since my whole blog is about using Social Media to 'humanize' your brand and create buzz (word of mouth!) I love it!
OK, soap box temporarily retired.

I'll leave you with my reflection on the loss of a 'car biz' colleague.

For those who've never done a stint in the car biz before I'll paint the picture as I experienced it: scary and miserable but funny as hell. If you've ever seen a spoof on car dealers and thought it was completely unrealistic, you never met Greg. I often wanted so badly to hate him for his 'sense of humor' but just couldn't...because he was hilarious...and always made a point. I learned a lot from him in the short time I spent as his office neighbor. That "a lot" fit's in very random categories of my overall learning experience...but I developed a respect for him in spite of it all, and it felt good that the feeling was mutual.

I will forever bust a gut picturing him during a Saturday 'Slasher Sale,' megaphone in hand, running around the lot slashing prices.

He was one of those people that just 'get it.'

RIP, Greg. You're irreplaceable.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"The Times They Are A Changin'"

Who could say it better than Dylan? Well, maybe not say so much as moan and groan it out of his being...but nevertheless...

Year end reflecting is annoying at best, but necessary I suppose to move forward without repeating the same blunders...and repeating the same successful strategies that forged us forward this past year. "Don't Look Back" (Boston) is still engraved in my skull from old Track days, but a lot of simple missteps can be avoided by a simple glance over the shoulder now and then...or once a year.

I absolutely love my career in Social Media Marketing because I love the challenge of change. Good thing, too, because this year I not only turned 30, but am pregnant again. Believe me, if you can't welcome change you have about as much business being in Social Media as you do being pregnant. (That's business.)

As I review the years best Blogs (in my favorites, anyway), I am once again amazed at how the landscape of Social Media changes so vastly and rapidly. Look at Twitter. What did you honestly think of it last December. Now, you can't avoid thinking of it. The standout winner of progress this year is indefinitely Facebook. I've been rooting for Facebook for a while now, and even though Twitter has the buzz's really going to have to come up with some whammy apps and developments if it wants to take on the book of face. The demographics of Tweeters and Facebookers are slowly aligning. Will it be necessary to have both? Just my educated take.

Search, my friends, is on fire. We all know the importance of being up on your 'Google' if you want online success, but up on your 'Social?' Real time search is the new wave. It will push those that are not already hooked on social media to be involved just to survive in the market. When given the choice to search for current or NOW...what would you choose? Human curiosity can barely stand it's self as it is...we have to know and be in the know. Trust me, be in the social media search light.

Video speaks for itself. The first thing I do when a commercial makes me bust a gut is share the link to it on YouTube on my Facebook and Twitter. If you are a company trying to make headway within Social Media and you don't have an established theme and plan for video then forget it. Interactive apps are going to start becoming more prevalent on Facebook, and you're site is going to lose traction if you don't have it. Don't just copy to keep up with the big boys, because it will translate as a desperate attempt to be a part of their wake. Look inside your business, your brand, yourself, and find what makes you and/or your company or brand move. What fuels it? Once you find it, make it original. Spin it to coincide with the rest of your mission statement.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of good customer service. When my computer caught a virus this week, because of something I clicked online, I almost melted down. One, because I of all people with a trained eye should have know better, and second because my computer is just as much of a lifeline as my cell phone. Never have I been so impressed by the Geek Squad as they broke down the steps of how to fix it. And I did. I fixed it myself. Here is an entity seemingly not in it to rip my face off to fix my computer, but to help me understand what happened and how to correct it. Knowledge is power, my friends.

The same results are achieved with Social Media everyday. It's the perfect outlet for customers to ask questions and place gripes. They expect a scripted answer or their comment to be deleted just like I expected to have my face ripped off to service my computer. When you floor them with helpful advice...when you go the extra mile to be helpful and inform them beyond what they asked for...that's when you gain major traction in Social Media. That's when you gain and keep customers. That's when those customers spread the word.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, readers!
Looking onward to the changes of 2010.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's in a Status Update?

"What does it all mean, Basil?"

What's funnier than a list of the best Facebook updates? Well, a whole lot of other things, actually. However, humor me as I go with an answer that will suit this blog topic. What's funnier than a list of the best Facebook updates? Witnessing and/or imagining their misinterpretation.

Example status update: "I'm tired." Could be interpreted to the moon, right? Tired of what? OMG, tired of me? Quitting their job? Dumping their boyfriend? Could mean just in sleepy...right?

This may seem like an over dramatized example, but definitely proves that misinterpretation could befall any status update.

Now, as far as my status update, it most often says straightforwardly what it intends to say. My husband, God love him, has asked on more than one occasion for me to clarify that my current Facebook status update didn't mean he screwed something up. The answer is always a resounding no...but see? It happens. Misinterpretation.

So, as I slowly get to my point...what's worse than an individual abusing the status update?

Businesses abusing the status update. Or owners that try to fuse their business profile with their personal one. Here's some PG examples...

"Great night out at the club!"

"Baking apple pie!"

"So laying out today! Sunny and 80!"

Is any of that appealing to your customer base?

Do what you all will do, but just keep in mind who is seeing your messages when you post them. I don't think your manager cares to know the real reason you were late yesterday more than you care to know what the car dealership owner down the road did last weekend. The esteemed blogging community that you have worked so hard to network with does not want to be involved in your Farmville campaign. Seriously, I know it'll take a little modesty and forethought...but we're all capable...well, maybe not all...

Social media does make it hard to separate your personal life from your business goals. Everyone is easy to find, and it's easy to share what's happening. To be successful, you have to realize on a personal and a business level that you can be found by what you are talking about. Oh, yea, my friends and has gone futuristic, and it's WAY COOL. However, it won't be cool when someone stumbles upon your inappropriate discussion as they search for the best credit union in the area. Talk about a snap judgement...try a click judgement. If you thought word of mouth traveled fast, try word by text messaging, comments, and retweets. Yikers!

It CAN work, having just one landing spot for personal and business use, but it takes some honest soul searching. If you have a completely different personality outside of your professional life, than it's obviously...or maybe not so obvious for some...a bad idea to fuse the two. It may be that your personal and professional life bleed together because of the time spent there, but keep in mind that to much information is a turn off your your customers and patrons that do business with you. Even though you can be found both places, customers and friends a like will appreciate the effort to separate the two.

Once again, I'm advising that you have a plan. Build a process. Execute it faithfully. be consistent. Even on a personal level. You don't want your Kindergarten teacher, who you thought would be cute to friend request, to know who you did or where you didn't make it to last night. Have some quoth... and be conscious of what is offensive to the general population. As a business, separate it just a little bit from your personal outlet of social media. The occasional cross-over is acceptable, but your friends don't want to be blasted by your occupation any more than your occupational circle wants to be blasted by your personal detailed weekend updates and photographs.

Businesses and professionals, severely reduce your chances of embarrassing yourself out there, and build a successful process for social media.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

But Miley doesn't want to be a pirate!

Besides being one of the funniest moments in TV history, this is an exaggerated example of the consequence of poor communication.

Whether you just can't hear what your social media marketer is saying to you, or you simply aren't listening to the proposed plan, don't end up in a puffy shirt. Gaining influence in social media is tricky. You will have to trust someone else's expertise with the brand image you've sought so diligently to develop and protect. Although the most costly mistake for companies and business peeps getting into the game is to ignore what their social media expert's even worse to act like you comprehend what he/she is proposing if you simply don't. A humbling experience, maybe, to admit to needing something spelled out. However, the costly humiliation of a puffy shirt incident that could have been avoided exceeds any prior embarrassment.

What the heck do I mean?

Seek out a professional who is not a part of the flashy, 'I can solve any problem and shoot you to the top guaranteed', crowd. Someone not trying so hard to be hired by everyone. Try to find someone who just has a knack for this unconventional type of marketing. Of course, I'm going to use myself as an example. Seemingly self-touting bits aside, I found a way to establish the dream that I dreamt sitting in college lectures doodling on my notebook...a way to be a stay at home mom and still pursue a marketing career. I always wanted both, and I never gave up either dream. It's the normalcy that helps keep the words I write stay alive.

I don't want to be pirate!

Miley Cyrus might be have a point. Do you want to be known as the person who has 2 million followers on Twitter, or the one that has developed a manageable amount of solid, enviable relationships? I, myself fell in love with the little blue bird at first sight, but at times get a little burnt out and need to clean the bird house. It's insane to think that one Tweeter can have a personal relationship with thousands of people, and creepy to know that millions know what you ate for breakfast???(I wonder if they foster the same relationships with their next door neighbors.) But throwing the whole proverbial towel in on the tweetie? Not so smart for a business...which Miley kind of is...and she just alienated millions fans that connected with her that way. Who's her social media guru?

From a business standpoint, have a plan that includes developing a relationship with your fanbase on social media before blasting them with sales promotions. If you don't have time, you better hire someone like myself to establish a good process for you. Be efficient. My 19, yes 19, social networks are turned off when I want to be able to focus my attention on my, when she's awake. I live efficient processes.

I don't have all the answers for all that is social media, because no one really does. It changes daily, and I adjust daily. It's the beauty of it, really. There's no time to stop and cash in on a quick fix. By the time you implement it, it's outdated. Only a good process efficient enough to adjust to the constant change that is social media will prevail.

...I do know how to fix a boo-boo pretty quick like. Maybe their will be a time when I tweet each one and how I've fixed it...and 2 million people want to know...but for now, I don't want to be a pirate.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Social Media Overload, the next part.

U2 in Chicago

I was again reminded how important it is to use a communicative platform in just. Whether or not you agree with Bono's outspoken political stance, no one that can deny that he has advantaged his fame to call attention to causes that he feels are important to our world. He isn't afraid to make a scene or stop a concert to make sure unforgettable faces of this world don't go unnoticed, and moreover, to stay true to who he is. The music is a given. The humanity rocks.

The Social Media Overload I elude to this time is the 'flakiness' overload. The 'quick fix,' 'hurry up and build a social media site with absolutely no plan or direction accept that we have really good deals we want everyone to know about!'

It doesn't matter how many status updates you post, blogs you write, videos you upload, or tweets you send out if they are void of content. The crowd amassed on social media sites will see through any facade you put up in order just to sell them things. What do they want, then?

Look, we all know that everyone is trying to sell us everything all of the time. It's a given that if someone becomes a fan of your company's site that they either have the product you sell already or are thinking about it. Leave that hook for your TV commercials.

Here, you have to humanize your company and your product. People come to social media to socialize with their friends.

My dad gave me a pocket guide to Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" when I was young. In it are the invaluable truths that companies need to apply to their social media.

It's all about how many friends you have...not acquaintances.

The challenge of this media is that instead of simply finding what people are interested in and blasting them with it, they want to know who YOU are. And if you are a ga-zillion different personalities, and ever-changing depending on who your biggest fan base is this week, you'll fail. Take a stance. A stance. Not 5, 10, or 20 stances.... a stance.

Find and focus on your humans. Be human in your posts and updates. Be honest in allowing those that join your site to comment both positively and negatively. Being involved in a digital community is only different in the digital aspect than being involved in your own physical community. Treat is as such. BE PATIENT. Build over time, you'll have a fan base that tells their friends to be fans and so on. Oh, and they'll probably buy stuff from you, too.

Happy posting, updating, uploading, tweeting, friend requesting, following, content building, commenting.....................