You Know You Want to Work With Me

The really observant of you may have noticed that there is a new section over there on the left side bar titled Hiring Gloria.

Yes – I am “back on the market”.  Now that the family obligations that have kept me so busy the last year are winding down, I am looking to take on more speaking/training engagements and consulting projects. Know of a job that would challenge me and allows me to use my full skill set to make a real impact on a company’s bottom line and growth? Let’s talk about it.

Take a moment when you are done reading this and wander over to take a look at my bio in the About Gloria Bell section and the information about hiring me for speaking, training or consulting in the Hiring Gloria section to learn more.

So why  would you want to work with me?

It is pretty simple – I am about building bottom lines.  Every action we take and every element of strategy I recommend is tied directly to the business objectives that You have identified as most important.

I believe in holistic digital marketing.  My speciality may be social media, but I am going to work with you to make sure your entire digital presence is working together.  My mission is to help you and your business get the attention you need to grow and to make sure that you understand the social media landscape and can navigate it effectively while avoiding as many pitfalls as possible.

The best social media strategy, email marketing strategy or website will only get you so far if it does not all work together.  I help you fit the puzzle pieces of your digital presence, your offline marketing, your customerBell Digital Strategies  service and your business development and sales together to build an integrated marketing strategy that achieves your business goals.  Together we evaluate your entire digital footprint and your business processes to figure out what works, what needs tweaked and what needs to be added.  Rather than just turning over a pretty strategy document and walking away, I work with you to develop and implement the most effective strategy to maximize your online presence and make sure it and your internal operations are working like a well-oiled machine delivering the best results possible.

I don’t consider myself  just a digital marketer or a social media strategist or a business process specialist.  I strive to be a business builder. 

My newest passion and current consulting focus is on assisting companies to truly maximize the effectiveness of their digital presence by analyzing and evaluating business processes to ensure that no gaps exist that would hinder meeting the goals and objectives their social media presence seeks to fulfill.  Yeah, even saying it is a mouthful, can you imagine tackling it without the experience and expertise of someone who knows both the social media and the business operations worlds?  Most business owners are great at one or the other but there are not many who can manage both which is why I am so excited to be concentrating in this area.  Watch for more blog posts talking about the necessity of this focus coming soon.

Want to know a little more about me? -Scroll through some of my prior blog posts or wander over to Twitter or LinkedIn and take a peek.

Have a speaking engagement, project or job that you think I am fit for?  Let’s chat!

Just want to know more?  Email me at belldigitalstrategies@gmail.com

Books Can Change Your Life

I  am a voracious reader. Yes, I said voracious.  I have an unquenchable appetite for the written word and am usually reading 3 – 5 books at a time.  Some of them are business related, some insightful, some great literature and some of them are just good thought-wandering pulp fiction.  I wish I could describe how I choose a book – what it is about the title, the cover, the story – that draws me to them, but it is just a feeling, just an unspoken pull that says “you need to open these pages and see what they have to share with you…”

Books have always been a constant friend and the ultimate escape.  The ones that took me from boardroom lessons to foreign shores and everywhere in between.  Books are a part of what made me who I am. Lessons learned and stories absorbed from their pages helped mold not only my personality but my curiosity about the world.   Then there are the books that change your life…

There have been a lot of books that had a profound effect on me, many of them, but there have been three, and one very new addition, that struck such a cord in me that they changed the course of my life.

IMG_2072The Bible — I don’t care what religion you are, or are not, everyone should read the Bible cover to cover at least once.   Not only is the basis of one of the largest religions in the world, but it is full of lilting prose, majestic stories, unforgettable characters and ethical lessons of how to treat your fellow man that should be learned by everyone.  Whether you choose to accept it as the Word of God or not, you will not have a true understanding of the world without reading it at least once.  I would say this also goes for the rest of holy books of the world’s major religions.  I have the Torah and the Koran and the words of Buddha scheduled as part of my “required” reading for this year.

Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead  – A very dear friend gave me this book 9 years ago and it literally changed the course of my life.  The words in this book sung to the entrepreneurial spirit in me and prompted me to take the leap from 25+ year, very stable, very successful career to radicalcareeringworking for myself. The simple to follow insights led me to questions about what I really wanted from the activities that were going to fund my life.  It was the both the scariest and best move I ever made.  It would not have happened had I not read this book.

 

 

amazing thingsAmazing Things Will Happen by C.C. Chapman –  We all have moments when we are unsure, when we are scared, when we are convinced that nothing is going to work out.  I was at that point when C.C. published this book.  I will be honest and admit that I originally ordered the book and planned to read it because I respect and admire C.C. and consider him a friend.  Then I opened the book and began to read… All of a sudden all of the uncertainty that had been swirling in my  head and heart began to settle.  C.C.’s words reminded me that what I was feeling was natural and that if I just took the time to look at them and then work through it, that amazing things would happen.  Not only was it an inspirational book, it was actionable.  It gave me step by step what I need to figure out how to keep amazing things happening my life and to quiet the voices that tell me that they can’t happen.

All three of these books are well-worn. I am on my 5th new Bible.  I have actually gone through 2 copies of Amazing Things Will Happen and am on my 6th copy of Radical Careering.  I wore out the previous copies.  I have given these books as gifts more times then I can count.

A new book has recently been added to this list – Seth Godin’s  What To Do When Its Your Turn. godinbook
The visual style of the book is stunning and the words profound.  Reading it I realized how often I still “wait” to take my turn.  How often I still wait for permission.  No more!  Another twist in the path of life, but one that heads to a better destination.

 

 

This is by far, not an exhaustive list of the books that have had an impact on me.  It is a list of the ones that have had a more then profound impact on the direction of my life.

So what are YOUR life changing books?

Snake oil…Part 2 – It Just Keeps Getting Worse

UPDATE 3-17-2015:  The email exchange below occurred 2 months ago.  As of this morning,  my email has been opened 537 times, from 18 devices in 14 locations.  (Thanks Yesware for the awesome tracking!).  It is not possible to know if the email was just opened or was actually read, but, as of this morning, I have had no response of any kind from Web.com.

 

Thank you everyone who read, shared and commented on my post yesterday  – We All Have To Work To Stop The Snake Oil Salesmen 

Since I was contacted by the “Executive Escalation” team at Web.com, I felt it was only fair to keep everyone up to date on what was happening.   Rather then possibly mis-quoting or allowing for mis-interpretation of our correspondence, I have copied in both their email to me and my response in their entirety (see below).   We’ll see where it goes from here.   I may end up being the lucky recipient of a cease and desist or a libel and slander suit, but we’ll see.  Hopefully the good folks (and I am sure there are a lot of really great ones there!) at Web.com will realize that 1) these are not only my concerns but the concerns of multiple people in the industry and they really need to look at what they are doing and 2) they will get someone in (Heck, they could even hire me!) to fix their social media program and the social media services they  offer to clients.

Fingers crossed and I’ll be sure to keep you all informed if anything else develops.

FYI, I did leave off the name of the person from Executive Escalations intentionally.  I don’t want to beat up on an single individual who, I am sure, is just trying to do their job the best they know how.

FROM EXECUTIVE ESCALATIONS at Web.com 

Hi Gloria,

I work for the Executive Escalations office, monitoring our social media communication channels from within. I wanted to reach out to you to address what appears to be an unpleasant experience you had yesterday via our Twitter channel.  

 My sincerest apologies for any sort of frustrations, disappointments, or overall aggravations you experienced yesterday with our company, both on and off-line. We never want our customers, be they already established or potential, to feel as if they’ve been overlooked, mishandled, or challenged in any sort of way. Our goal when monitoring SM channels is to maintain an open, non-combative lines of communication, offering to help facilitate assistance however we can. We also value any and all feedback, be it negative or positive, as we report results on a weekly basis and implement changes to our policy and training as needed.

 If there is anything I can do to further assist to ensure you leave this experience with a lighter, more positive outlook on our company, I’d be more than happy to accommodate. Thank you so very much for your time, and again, my sincerest apologies for any and all frustrations.

Kindest Regards,

Nice note and all… but as you can see by my response, I’m not really buying it  –

Thank you for reaching out to me.  While I appreciate the effort, to be honest, I feel like I am getting the same SOP, canned responses I got from your social media team yesterday.  
I am not your customer or even a potential customer.  I am a social media professional who offers some of the same services that your company offers.  It would have taken your social media team all of 2 seconds to know that if they have bothered to just look at my Twitter profile.  The reaction I received yesterday on Twitter and again in this correspondence genuinely feel like you are paying lip service to the idea of resolving issues without really even knowing what those issues are.  I have to repeat the same things I said on Twitter yesterday, if this is the type of advice you give clients on how to handle their social media, I feel sorry for them because it will be impossible for them to truly be effective in their efforts. 
If anyone from your social media team was really monitoring the online discussion around your company you would know that this arose from my objections to the TV commercial you are running offering Facebook services to small businesses.  I called out your company because your ad is misleading and it is targeting people who do not have the knowledge to know that, given Facebook’s algorithms and terms of service, you can not possibly deliver on the promises you are making.  After the pathetic response I received on Twitter to my concerns, I ended up writing a blog post, not only about the misleading advertising but about the text book way your social media team showed how not to handle criticism on social media. 
If your executive team really wants to understand the issue, you might want to read my blog post and all of the related comments on my post, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Which, just as an aside, I shouldn’t have to be pointing out to you.  You should have sufficient monitoring in place to know that this conversation is going on about you out in social.  There are a lot of people who feel your advertising is misleading and makes our industry look bad.  The fact that your social media team was inept to handle the criticism just reinforces that Web.com should reconsider being in the social media consulting business because it is not equipped to give realistic, actionable, executable and strategic advice and services to its clients. 
Given how this has played out so far, I doubt this will happen, but if someone at your company is really interested in resolving what are obviously glaring issues with your own social media and the social media services you offer, have them contact me.  I have a lot of ideas that would get your social media program and your social media services back on track. 
And just FYI, I am writing a second blog post with both your email to me and my response included so that everyone following this story knows that you at least reached out and made an effort. 

We All Have to Work to Stop the Snake Oil Salesmen

Warning: I am taking the gloves off and calling out a company for making the social media and web development industry look bad. It is companies and practices like the ones described below that make the entire industry look like we are trying to sell snake oil by making promises that are deceiving and can not be delivered on in the way they are being advertised.

I know this practice is nothing new.  It has been going on since the dawn of time, continues today and will continue in the future.  But until we in the industry stand up and call out the people and companies who promote and sell this BS, all of us in the industry will continue to be looked at, especially by small businesses, as snake oil salesmen.

I do not call this company, or any others, out lightly.  As someone who helps companies build their brand and reputations, going after someone else’s is not something I like to see and even less what I like to do. It was only after I tweeted them (see the Twitter conversation below), hoping that they would open a dialogue and show me how how I was wrong about them, that I felt the need to go further.  Follow the story and see how it ended up as this blog post on not only false advertising about social, but a case study in how not to handle criticism on social.

 

Last night, I was hanging out with my Dad watching Shark Tank reruns on CNBC.  We both love the show and hold a running commentary on what we think about the pitches and the deals that are made.  My viewing fun last night was ruined by a TV commercial from a company promising to help small businesses make money by setting them up a “professional Facebook page”.  They made a ton of promises about the businesses growing their brand awareness and getting new customers just by having a professionally created Facebook page.  They will even create the content for you!

My Dad sat by listening amusedly as I ranted and raved about the fact that it is impossible for Web.com, given Facebook’s algorithms and terms of service, to deliver on the promises they made in that commercial.  The commercial was at minimum misleading and at most, blatant false advertising.  It infuriated me because they are targeting small businesses and small business owners who have little time, money, knowledge or experience in this particular area.

Having been the owner of multiple small businesses, I know what a God-send it can seem like to have someone offer you an easier way to do something, especially grow your business.  You are not only going to help me grow my business but you were going to do my marketing for me by creating the content (whether you know anything about my business or industry or not?!)?  People are going to come flocking to my business because they saw me on Facebook?  I don’t have to spend time marketing because you are creating my content for me?  And all for this for a “reasonable” price? Oh and once you have me signed as a client, you’ll build me a website and take care of all my digital marketing needs too?  Sign me up!

If only it worked that way!

Those of us in social media and digital marketing know that the promise of Facebook reach and an immediate growth in your business is hooey, especially now.   Maybe, if you have a big budget and can do a large Facebook ad spend you might see some quick results – Maybe! But this commercial made it sound like it was the easiest thing in the world.  Just let us build you a professional looking Facebook page and you will instantly grow your business!

Excuse my language but BULLSHIT!

It nagged at me all night and all morning.  I went to the company’s website and checked out their other offerings.  Website design and development, social media marketing… the list goes on and on – if it is digital related, they do it.  Maybe they it do it well, but based on the commercial I saw last night, I had my doubts.

So after pondering it and tweeting about it without mentioning their name, I decided to call them out.  As you can see from the following thread, it went downhill from there.  They replied with obviously SOP canned messages.  They offered to assist me.  With what? Did they not bother to look at my profile and see that I am a social media professional? Apparently not.   No opening to discuss my complaint.  No interest in hearing what I had to say.   They then stopped responding at all.   If there was ever a textbook case on how NOT to handle criticism or complaints on social, this is it.  From a company who sells digital and social services to small businesses – Shameful!

My first tweet and their response

My first tweet and their response

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 12.05.53 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 12.11.51 PM

And the canned responses just keep getting worse

And the canned responses just keep getting worse

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 12.12.37 PM

And there was no response to either of my last two tweets

And there was no response to either of my last two tweets

Are You There In That Moment?

Several headlines/links float through my Twitter stream every second.  Most of them I glance at, maybe favorite to read later or if they are really compelling, I’ll click through and take a look now.  90+% I just let float by.   Same with TV commercials or print ads or even songs on the radio, just about anything type of media I consume.  Most of it floats in “one ear and out the other” metaphorically speaking.

It is not that they are bad headlines.  It is not that the articles are not meaningful.  It is not that the commercials are not entertaining.  It is just a matter of timing.  My brain, like those of every human, has been conditioned to be drawn to the thing that we most need IN THAT MOMENT.

How often do you stop and think about what the customer you are trying to attract needs IN THAT MOMENT.   When I think about a business’ failure to give a customer what they need or most want IN THAT MOMENT, an image that constantly comes to mind is the store changeover at the end of a holiday.

I walked into a major drug store chain on December 26th and the previous holiday items were already gone and they were on to Valentine’s Day.   They were rushing me into THEIR schedule.  Never paying attention to what I needed IN THAT MOMENT (which, coincidentally, happened to be a New Year card) They were forcing me to jump immediately into the next thing because it was what was on their schedule… not mine.

Digitally we see it all the time. Another great example –  I saw my first “year end wrap-up/year in review/lessons we learned in the past year” posts before the end of October!  In this industry staying current and knowing what worked and didn’t in social media in the past year is important stuff, but I don’t need a year end wrap-up in October.  I need it at the end of December because at the speed digital moves, what you wrote in October is unlikely to be accurate or relevant by the end of December.   We do such a disservice to our current, future and potential customers when we fail to pay attention to what they need IN THAT MOMENT.

Our failing to give our customers what they need IN THAT MOMENT is rooted in our general failure to pay attention to what they need and our insistence on giving them what we think they should need.  The sad reality about all business today is we are so busy trying to be/do/say/deliver the next big thing and make a buck that we rarely really ask ourselves – Is this…

  1. something that our customers really want or need
  2. is it something they need now

So what is it that your current or potential customers need?  Are you giving them access to it when they need it or when you think they should need it?  Are your messages relevant to them IN THAT MOMENT or are they memorable enough that they will remember them when they need your product or service?  Have you learned to walk that fine line between inundating (and probably annoying) them with messages they don’t need IN THAT MOMENT and making sure you are top of mind when they do what you have to sell?

All tough questions that can be fairly easily answered by talking to your customers and asking them.  When was the last time you actually did that?

50 Ways to Leave Your… Client

Note: This was originally posted on an old site of mine in December 2008 and is one of my most popular posts.  I have been seeing a lot of questions lately from people about how to end client or partner or vendor relationships, so I figured it was time to recycle this one.

You just slip out the back, Jack

Make a new plan, Stan

You don’t need to be coy, Roy

             Just get yourself free

(50 Ways to Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon)

Every once in a while we come across that situation with a client (or partner or vendor – for the sake of continuity, we’ll just go with client throughout this one, but the principals are the same) that we know we just can not make work.  Whether it is an unreasonable client, changed expectations or just personality differences that are preventing us from doing our best work, the reality is that sometimes we just do need to fire our clients.  For our reputations, for our pocketbooks and most often for our own sanity or the collective sanity of our teams, we just need to walk away.

Unfortunately, like any relationship, we have usually gone into these business relationships with high hopes of this being “the one”.  The long term client that we enjoy working for, doing work that intrigues and inspires us and making a decent buck doing it.  Now, like a bad boy/girlfriend, we have to figure out how to disentangle ourselves from this client.  Just like you would in a romantic relationship, do a truly honest evaluation for yourself. Is this an irretrievably broken situation?  Are there changes that could be made on either side to alter the situation and make it reasonable to continue the work?  If you have done that and still feel that you must fire the client, then the sooner the better.

It is always a tricky situation.  The first thing you must do is look at the “out” (cancellation, exit or termination) clause in any agreement or contract you have with this client.  What are the terms that allow either of you to exit the relationship and what actions have to be taken before you are released from your contractual obligations?  Don’t have an out clause in your contracts/agreements?  Get one. Now!  Consider it your prenup – we never want to think about getting divorced, but if we aren’t protected before the rings go on, we can lose it all.  Make sure you understand the contract cancellation terms and that you fulfill them to the letter.  Do you not leave yourself open to claims of breach of contract because your agreement required something as simple as delivery of written notice to a specific address and instead you sent an email to your contact at the company.

Second, you must make sure that you have performed all of the work that you have already been paid for.  Either that or be prepared to issue a reimbursement to the client for any prepaid, uncompleted portion.  You never want to leave them in the position to say that you were paid for work that you did not do. Have all the financial details worked out before you communicate to the client that you are ending the relationship.  Know exactly how much has been paid, for what specific work and be able to clearly and accurately communicate that to your client.  Also be able to articulate how much may still be due to the client (or in some cases to you), what it is due for and when you expect to issue the reimbursement to them (or expect payment to be issued to you).  Also, be prepared, per the terms of your agreement, to turn over any and all documentation or work product belonging to the client or that is a result of the work done for the client.

Third, if there is uncompleted work, have a contingency plan ready to give the client.   Be the kind of contractor that you want working for you.  Don’t leave them completely in the lurch (unless they have never paid you, then maybe they deserve it).  Lay out what additional work may need to be done.  It does not have to be a detailed plan for them, that is their responsibility, but at least be able to say, “I was retained to do X,Y & Z and only X & Y have been completed, you will need to make alternative arrangements if you still wish to proceed with Z”.  Simple but courteous.  Often clients have hired us because they don’t know what to do, at least if they have a direction, they can take the steps necessary to replace you. And you take less of a risk of the client badmouthing you to anyone who will listen.

Now to the tricky part, telling them.  The best way to accomplish this is to be short and sweet.  Don’t get into pointing fingers or accepting blame.  Don’t go into any deep details, only those that are necessary to conclude any outstanding business.  Just advise the client that you no longer feel that you are in a mutually beneficial relationship.  Always stress that you regret taking this action, but you feel it would be in both of your best interests to dissolve the relationship.  If you have someone else that you can refer the client to, that is always a nice way to end the communication.   If the client comes back and wants to know why, then be prepared to be tactful, but honest.  You are probably doing them a favor by telling them the truth.  Be sure to have examples ready if they question you.  Also be prepared to stop discussing it.  Like most difficult breakups, some clients will keep trying to get you to go round and round, basically trying to wear you down. Before you get into the conversation, know your stopping point so you do not get frustrated or angry and leave the conversation on a bad tone.

Try to do the “break-up” in the manner in which you had most of your communications with the client – ie. by phone, email, face to face.  It is only respectful.  If you feel it will be accepted better in writing, then do so. If you end the relationship face to face or via telephone,  I also recommend following up with a letter or an email just reiterating what you said, confirming that any prepaid work has been completed, any final details that have to be resolved (payment, document or work transfer, etc…) and wishing them the best.

This is never an easy or pleasant situation to be in.  it is however necessary to know how to handle the situation in the most professional, mature manner possible.  Your reputation depends on it.  The client will probably not be happy, but if you can walk away on civil terms with no one screaming lawsuit or breach of contract, it’s probably a win-win.