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

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

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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

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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?

Things we like… Red Tettemer + Partners & Under Armour

The team at Red Stapler Consulting knows what we like and what we believe in.  One of the things we like to do is share.   In that spirit, we have decided to start a semi-regular series sharing things we find that highlight some of the things we like and believe in.

So what are some things we like?

Passion blended with creativity

Things that help businesses grow

Things that bring communities together

Things that help people

And the candle on this birthday cake of goodness – Effective uses of social media that do any or all of those things.

The inaugural entry in our Things We Like series is a campaign developed by the creative masters at Red Tettemer + Partners.  They have hit a trifecta!  A social media campaign that is creative, is helping a business (their client) grow and is helping people (college students).  Check out the Under Armour Ultimate Intern Team program.

Does it get better than this?  Simple, clean, straightforward, fun and giving a few lucky college students the opportunity to have “the most memorable summer of your life.”   It reaches the demographic where they like to communicate – on Facebook.  It is fun without being goofy.  It is intriguing. It tells you what you need to know, but holds back just enough to make us want to fill out the application to find out more and get to have the fun they are promising.  And it is all wrapped up in a solid marketing principles.

Definitely a +1 in the Things We Like category.  Head on over to Facebook and give them a Like – They deserve it!

Philly “BloggerGate”

Last night I attended the “Bloggergate” Happy Hour where city officials tried to answer questions and provide explanations of the current city tax regulations and how they are applied to members of the creative economy and freelancers.  There is an excellent writeup on the Phillyist site, so I am not going to summarize everything that was discussed.

I posed a question that seemed to be on the minds of many of the local bloggers I know –
The current Philadelphia revenue regulations require that anyone conducting business and receiving revenue in the city of Philadelphia is required to have a Business Privilege License.  An issue that arose among the blogger community is not the requirement to have the license and pay taxes on actual income.  The issue is the “recreational” blogger who does not blog for income.  They may place an ad on their site and charge just enough to cover hosting and domain renewal costs.  They are now being told because they receive revenue (the payment for ad placement) that they are a business and are required to have the Business Privilege License and pay taxes.  Obviously because it is a break-even financial arrangement, they will not owe any taxes, however, they are now being required to buy the Business Privilege License which likely amounts to much more than the amount they are charging for their blog ads.  Is this issue being looked into?

The city indicated that, because of situations exactly like this one, they are looking into the relevancy and applicability of the Business Privilege License.  They made no promises that change would come, but they are considering options.   They genuinely seemed to have had their eyes opened to some of the differences in conducting business in this new creative economy.   That the old ways of regulation and collecting taxes have to be re-evaluated to better apply to how a large majority now do business.  It is a start.

Several other freelancers and business owners asked questions and expressed their frustration with the current tax system and the complexity of starting a business in Philadelphia.  To the city officials credit, they listened and did their best to explain the current system.  The city gets props for showing up on “our” (the tech community’s) turf, National Mechanics (as opposed to say a stuffy room in City Hall), for listening to the questions and complaints and for, at least appearing to, trying to understand the issues and questions.  No one got the answers they wanted last night, but anyone who came expecting instant results was being unrealistic.   As I said to KYW’s Robin Culverwell,

“The fact that they called this meeting tonight, they’re willing to come out, they’re willing to take questions of any kind is a positive step forward.”

Twitter Tales

For her blogaversary Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni, asked her readers to submit their Twitter Tales.  She asked us to “write a short post describing how a connection you made on Twitter, first, lead you to an opportunity and opened new horizons”.   While I have many, many Twitter tales of deep and lasting friendships and professional relationships that have developed from chance meetings on Twitter.  There are a few that stand out as examples of how small and connected our world truly has become and how wide we make it when we reach out to those we encounter on Twitter.

The first story occurred shortly after I joined Twitter.  I had become “pals” with a wonderful lady by the name of Kim (Haynes) Hollenshead (@kimhollenshed) who lived in Austin (I live in Philadelphia).  Kim and I had exchanged pleasantries and had some Twitter convos for a few months when she happened to Twitpic a photo of her new home.  I responded that it looked a lot like my father’s house north of Austin.  We chatted briefly about the area and the fact that I am originally from Texas.  During our Twitter exchange and telephone calls to our respective parents, we figured out that not only were our families from the same very small town but also that her uncle had been my father’s best friend all through school.  Two women that would never have met, had it not been for Twitter, have now become close friends and have brought our families back in touch after 30+ years.

Not only has Twitter opened doorways for me personally, allowing me to develop deep sincere friendships with people I would never have met, but it has also been a cornerstone of my professional development.  Every day on Twitter I learn something new.  Someone reaches me with information and knowledge.  They open my mind and stretch my imagination.  Being actively involved on Twitter led me to people like Beth Harte (@bethharte)  and Annie Heckenberger (@anniemal) who welcomed me with open arms into the social media world and Social Media Club Philadelphia.  These generous women who took time to teach me, mentor me and eventually encourage me to start my own social media consulting practice.

Twitter has touched me in multiple ways, personal and professional, and it has also touched my heart and my compassion.  My first couple hundred followers were the result of meeting Connie Reece (@conniereece) and Susan Reynolds (@susanreynolds) and becoming involved with the Frozen Pea Fund.  Twitter helped me find others who were as passionate about the fight against breast cancer as I am.  From these initial connections has grown my Twitter “family”, the people I laugh, cry and share triumphs and tragedies with.   Twitter’s involvement with my philanthropic side does not end there.

I first met Melissa Thiessen (@melitami) at PodCamp Philly 2008.  We shared a love of so many things, geeky and otherwise, we quickly became inseparable friends.  One of things that Melissa and I share is a belief that life is about giving back.  That we are not complete as human beings unless we are doing our best to help others.  Twitter has allowed us to live that belief in the form of Twestival.  When the announcement was made last year that they were recruiting volunteers from cities all over the globe to hold events that would raise money for charity:water, Melissa immediately stepped up to make sure that Philly was represented.  Knowing me the way she does, she never even had to ask if I wanted to participate, it was a given that I would be her partner in charity.  Together with a wonderful team of volunteers, we built Twestival Philadelphia.  On February 12, 2009 Twestival Philly joined 201 other cities globally to raise $250,000 to bring clean drinking water to third world countries.   And we did not stop there!  Twestival HQ decided not to wait another year so the Twestival cities were encouraged to choose a local charity and hold a Twestival Local event between September 9th and 13th.  Cities around the globe, including Philadelphia, again brought together their communities to raise money for deserving charities.  Twestival Philly’s charity was Gift of Life Family House.  We helped this deserving organization raise money to build a safe, supportive affordable place for organ transplant patient families to stay.

None of this – my friendships around the globe, new business relationships, the speed and depth at which I learn and grow from shared knowledge, the privilege of being a part of something so much larger than myself – it would not have been possible without the power and reach of Twitter.  There are not enough words, time or space to acknowledge all of the people from Twitter who have touched my life.  Everyone I have met, interacted with, developed relationships with, they all have a special place in my heart.

My final words are a Thank You to Valeria for collecting these stories.  Showing the world what Twitter means to us.  How powerful these 140 character conversations are in building meaningful, productive personal and business relationships.

Are you running your business or is it running you?

As entrepreneurs, freelancers, small business owners – take your pick of what you want to be called – we are called upon to not only wear many differents hats, but shoes, shirts and pants too.   In seconds we may have to go from being the receptionist to the CEO to the janitor.  Then, somewhere in the midst of doing all of that, we also have to do the things we get paid to do, the things we are passionate about, the things that we took that risk and started our businesses to do.

When a business fails one fairly consistent response from the owner, if they are being honest, is “I was overwhelmed. There was so much to consider”.  There is a lot to consider and a lot to do.  The key is to stop your business from running you and turn to running your business.  This means spending significant time identifying just what your goals are and a solid, realistic plan on how to achieve them.  It also means accepting your limitations and knowing when to ask for help.   We are not all good at everything, as much as we might like to be or think we are.  Most of us have gone into business for ourselves because there is one or a few things we are really good at.  One of the keys to making sure we are running our business rather than it running us is to acknowledge what we are not good at.  You may be The Rock Star graphic designer, but if you are lousy at writing, your proposals will suffer and so will your business.  If you are the world’s best writer, but you are lousy at math, your books are going to suffer and so will your business.

Almost as important as what we are not good at, is what we don’t have time to do.  The bottom line to having our own businesses is exactly that – the bottom line.  Primary in our decisions should be the lifestyle that being an entrepreneur allows us to have, but if the bills are not getting paid, there is no lifestyle.  If you are spending too much of your time running your business and not working on the things that build your business and bring in the money, you are losing out on opportunities.

So how do you make sure that you are the one in charge of your businesses destiny?  Start with identifying your end goal and your plan to get there.  Then take a long, hard, probably soul-searching look at yourself and, if necessary, your team.  What are you good at?  What do you like to do? What are you passionate about?  If a team, what are your combined and individual strengths, and more importantly, what are your weaknesses?   Once you have honestly assessed what you should be doing – the things you are good at and passionate about – now you can begin to evaluate the things you are not good at or don’t have time for.   Is your bookkeeping piece the one that needs work?  Do you fall behind on new contact/potential lead follow-ups?  Are you bad about remembering appointments or your clients’ birthdays and company anniversaries? Are you lost when it comes to marketing or think that social media is filming your friend’s birthday party?    Once you know what you don’t know, you can begin to develop a plan to overcome the gaps in your knowledge or your processes.

Maybe the answer is something as simple as taking a quick class and re-learning skills you already had, maybe you need to reallocate the resources your team already has to better play to their individual strengths, maybe the answer is to turn to a professional.  For everyone and every business, the solution will be different.  One key thing to remember is that occasionally spending money to hire someone to do the things you don’t like to do or are not good can ultimately be a savings.  It is a savings in the aggravation, wasted time, worry and lost billable hours you would otherwise experience.  Now this does not mean turn over the reins to your business to someone else!  It is still your business and you should always be actively involved in every aspect of it.  What it does mean is you find someone with skills you do not have to be your partner.  Make sure they understand your business and your vision as clearly as you would have your team or employees understand them.

So now, the question for you is what do you need to do to stop your business from running you? Or more importantly, away from you?  I’d love to hear your answers – so please keep the comments coming.