Posts Tagged ‘EntreQuest’

Twenty-One Ways to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business

Friday, February 19th, 2010

As Twitter, blogs and the many forms of social media continue to dominate all conversations about sales and marketing, Robroy still hears from doubting CEOs.

“Who cares if I’m hauling out the trash or playing with my kids on a snowy day?” they scoff.  “Give me one good reason to take my company in this direction.”

Will you take twenty-one?  Because that’s at least the number of fundamental changes in the way the marketplace communicates today.  Here are some of the ways you can benefit from joining social media:

  1. Let people know who you are
  2. Reach people quickly
  3. Build company culture
  4. Give voice to the company’s personality
  5. Release new features and ideas
  6. Get the truth from the community, like a focus group
  7. Interact with users and fans with questions and comments
  8. Recruit talent
  9. Share company content
  10. Share customers’ content
  11. Generate Web traffic
  12. Get answers quickly
  13. Correct mistakes / improve products
  14. Stay informed on industry trends
  15. Get feedback on what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and what you should do next
  16. Make the company feel smaller and more cohesive
  17. Use as a sounding board
  18. Establish expertise
  19. Attract the media
  20. Humanize the company
  21. Build your brand

In the old days, no one expected to befriend a CEO, or know what he did with his personal time.  Social media changes that.  It makes everyone more accessible.  And if everyone is accessible, including your competition, my friend, do you need another reason?

(How are you using it?  Please comment below.)

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Dumb question

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Whoever said, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” didn’t know Robroy.

In a cavernous lecture hall for Biology 101 — the first class of my freshman year at University of Illinois — I sat with Mike Hoffman from high school and around 400 strangers.  The professor, a widely acclaimed scientist, according to Mike, was wrapping up his opening remarks by encouraging our participation because, as he said, “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.”

Always one to test this theory, Robroy raised his hand.  The prof nodded.  Mike cringed as I called out, “Do frogs have bones?”

It was supposed to be funny.  I always thought I could catch a teacher on that one.  I envisioned him rubbing his chin and saying, “You know what?  I’ll be damned.  In all my years, that’s the dumbest question I’ve ever heard.”  He could get a laugh, improving the lecture, and I could spread my mayhem.  Win-win.

Unfortunately, the professor took me seriously.  “Oh, yes.  Frogs have many bones,” he said.  “Now, please turn to the syllabus.”

I sat there with the smile drying off my face while everyone turned to the syllabus.

At first, I felt foolish.  Then a wave of embarrassment, deepening to shame.  Ug, my ego, my horrible ego!  It was costing me an education.  Had I accepted his authority, and my own anonymity, had I insisted on the natural order of things, and not my own agenda, I could have asked so many better questions: Will I ever be loved?  Do I even belong here?  What am I supposed to do with my life?

So that’s what I learned.  Any questions?

(please comment below)

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Robroy says goodbye

Friday, January 29th, 2010

The worst part of moving away at age 8 was saying goodbye to Patricia Wood.

It was a Saturday morning in Englishtown, New Jersey, about one hour before we left forever for Illinois.  Patricia was hugging me goodbye.  Her mom had errands to run; we would be gone by the time they got back.

My bike had not yet been packed.  I grabbed it as they got into their car.  Riding behind them, I could see Patricia’s round face in the back window.  I had the unbelievably painful urge to impress her one last time, so much that she’d never forget me.

Now, in our neighborhood, in the 70s, the curbs were not cut for wheelchair access.  To get from the street onto the sidewalk on your bike, you had to stop, lift your front wheel, roll forward, lift your back wheel, roll forward, and get on.  Unless you were excellent.  In that case you simply jumped the curb, and kept on going.  As for Robroy, earlier that very morning, for the very first time, I had become excellent.  Patricia did not know that yet.

Her face was getting smaller.  It was now or never.  Do or die.  At top speed, I hit the curb.

“Yah!”

The last she ever saw of me was flying head-first over the handlebars and onto the sidewalk.  I smacked the ground and rolled over with the bike crashing down on top of me.

By the time I looked up, she was gone.

The memory comes back to me now.  Robroy is moving again.  No big deal this time.  It’s just the blog that’s moving.  We’re saying goodbye to WordPress and saying hello to our own domain, robroysblog.com.  That’s all.

But deep down, I’m nervous.  I worry.  What if I leave my readers behind?  What if I try too hard to impress them, and end up making a gigantic fool of myself?  What if they get home and find no Robroy, only a ghost town, a wasteland of words?

I’ll be honest.  I don’t want to lose another friend.  Too painful on the knees.

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More sales turtles

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

But Robroy, you say.  In sales, you can’t catch every turtle by pouncing on it.  It would be overkill to catch a box turtle that way.  A snapping turtle would make you very sorry for trying.  So would a sea turtle, most likely.  What are the best ways to catch other kinds of sales turtles?

Box – she may be slow and shy, but deep down this buyer is motivated by the chance to make a difference in the lives of others.  To catch her, be persistent.  Be steady.  Look for ways to let her help you.

Snapping – he’s dominant and forceful and feared by all.  Be prepared.  Be bold.  State your business and skip the niceties.  Show him how you can make him more dangerous.  But stay in front of him – and keep your distance.

Sea – she’s powerful and beautiful and loves to ride the waves.  Research this buyer’s business associations and community connections.  Attend her groups’ activities, and see if you can have fun together.  That’s all she wants.

Painted – he’s smooth and polished but very cautious and rarely visible.  This buyer is motivated by what the facts tell him.  He does all the research and won’t talk to you until he’s ready to buy – then, he’ll reveal himself.  Be ready to jump.

Understand the sales turtle types, and what motivates them, and you’re on your way to becoming a sales turtlogist.

What turtles am I missing?

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Turtle king

Friday, January 15th, 2010

It’s a dark afternoon.  It’s freezing outside, and I can’t seem to sell anything.  Times like this, my mind goes back to sunnier days, when I was the turtle-catching king of the world.

At age 12, Robroy was incredibly lucky.  We had our own private pond in the back yard, and it was stocked with turtles.  My younger brother Jim and I used to chase them on hot summer days in our canoe.  As we came close, they slipped off the log and vanished into the murky gold, but that never stopped us.  The trick was to scoop about 3 feet ahead of where you thought they were going.  By the time you got your net under water, they would swim right into it.  If your timing was right.  If your aim was true.

One summer day after church, rather than go inside with the rest of the family, my dad and I walked around back to take a look at the pond, as we often did.  Now, my dad was a salesman — still is — and he could talk.  So I’m standing on the bank, listening to him explain an idea he was wrestling with, gazing at the water, when all of a sudden I see a shadow rise from below.  It was about 4 feet off shore.  A turtle pierced the surface with his snout.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I leaped.  He turned and angled for the bottom.  But my timing was perfect.  My aim was true.  I crashed onto the water with my hands clutching down onto him.

Too easy!  Skimming along the muck with him swimming in my hands, I was laughing inside.  I decided to stay down as long as I could, just to make a bigger impression on my dad.  When I could hold my breath no longer, I burst to the surface, raising the turtle in both hands.  Dad’s eyes were round as two robin’s eggs.

“You nut!” he shouted.  “I don’t believe it!”

“He put up a — hulluva — fight!” I gasped.

Dad grabbed my elbow and helped me out of the water and up the bank, laughing and clapping me on the back.  “Wait till your mother and brother see this!” he said.  “Cynthia!  Jim!  Get out here!”

As he dragged me squishing in my church clothes toward the house with the turtle swimming in my hands, I felt wet and muddy and very, very satisfied.

♥  ♥  ♥

Back then, I knew the value of training.  Anticipating.  Recognizing the opportunity.  Of diving in, giving it your all and landing the deal.  And most importantly, I knew the value of communicating, sharing success and being joyful.

And that means I can do it.  Of course I can do it!  It’s really just a matter of doing it again.

I reach out and grab the phone.

Wait til Dad hears about this one.

(read the sequel)

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Madman, craftsman, critic

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

With more and more businesses participating in social media, the pressure to be creative is getting intense.  Now every tweet needs to be interesting.  Every blog post, a ‘wow’.  And so everybody wants to know: Does Robroy have a process for that?

Hold on, let me check.  Why, yes, here’s something.  I call it the Madman, Craftsman, Critic process.  Catchy name, I know.  You can use Madman, Craftsman, Critic (or Madwoman, Craftswoman, Critic) to develop everything from business growth strategies to sales presentations to marketing content, tweets, blogs and more.  It also works for paintings and poems and love songs.  And Robroy posts.  Anything creative.  But only if you are willing to concede that you have three strong-willed personalities within you who all want to dominate the creative process, and it’s your job to keep them in line.  They are:

1. The Madman

His cheeks are tight and bright from holding back gales of laughter while dashing around the room goosing people.  The Madman is you at your irrepressible best.  Your passion, your spark, your zest for life.  He loves what he does and is inspired by finding original ways to express it, regardless of what anybody else is doing.

2. The Craftsman

After the wild hilarity has blown over, enter the Craftsman.  This is your technical side.  Fastidious, skillful and proud, the Craftsman makes logical sense of what the Madman has left behind, which he measures, cuts, joins and assembles into something structurally sound and useful.

3. The Critic

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” says the Critic, peering over his glasses.  “Your masterpiece is stirring, indeed, but riddled with errors.  A detail is missing here and here.  And the surface must be rubbed, sealed and smoothly coated.  Really, gentlemen.   In the future, I insist we bring me in sooner.”

This is you and your high standards.  Ultimately accountable for whether the thing works or not, the Critic controls quality in matters large and small.  It would be a disaster to involve the Critic too soon in the creative process, as he would scold and nit-pick and criticize his brothers until they broke his glasses and made him cry.  Another common mistake is letting the Madman hang around so long that he burns it all down with his hair.  Finally, try not to allow the Craftsman to start or finish the project, as it will end up technically perfect, but emotionally stiff as a board.

Madman, Craftsman and Critic, in that order.

But, hey, you’re creative.  How does it happen for you?  Have your Madman/Madwoman leave a comment below.

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Poking fun at the networking event

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Sales is a numbers game.  That boring cliché is true.  But you know what happens when you get too focused on the numbers, and not focused enough on what the hell you’re doing.  Things get un-boring, quick.

Take Robroy.  In my first year of sales, I was all fired up in my suit and tie at the early morning reception for Baltimore business leaders.  My goal was to shake at least ten hands and get at least ten business cards.  Unfortunately, with time running short, I reached out a little too fast for one guy.  He had a coffee in one hand and a pastry in the other as he turned and walked right into: “Hi!  I’m Rob Macdonald!”

He doubled over with a “woof!”

I was mortified – horrified! – for him and for myself.  I felt like I was the one who’d been punched in the gut.  I rushed to say how sorry I was and see if he was OK.  Was there anything I could do?  He just waved me off.  Knowing that he would never forget me, and not wanting to add more memories, I sorta allowed myself to be swept away by the crowd.

Ever since that morning, Robroy has worked hard to stay calm and be present to the other person and not worry so much about the numbers.  But one thing will never change.  Danger is my calling card.

(read more posts below.)

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Generosity on a budget

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

You know you’re cheap when, year after year, you put off buying holiday gifts or cards for your most important clients until it’s all over and everyone’s forgotten, including you.

Robroy had his frugal Scottish heritage to blame for this stingy procrastination.  I never could stand to “invest” in cups and hats and shirts with our logo splattered all over them.  With so many unique individuals on my list, I wanted to give thoughtful gifts but didn’t know how.  The holidays made me feel terrible, until …

… I heard about LinkedIn recommendations.

A LinkedIn recommendation is your personal endorsement of someone you know, posted where all of your social network and theirs can read it. Recommendations on LinkedIn are personal and yet professional.  They are brief and yet long-lasting.  The tool lets you make your contacts look great in front of their peers.  And did I mention it’s free?

The only catch is, you have to take a minute to really think about the other person.  Really ask yourself, What impresses me most about them?  What’s their strong suit?  Be generous.  A few words from the heart can be very powerful.

So what do you think?  This is a pretty big gift.  Can we afford it?

(read more posts below)

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Tender

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

As a hyper-sensitive writer, Robroy has to wear special equipment to protect his feelings.  And yet I still get stung.  Most recently, a former high school classmate and I reconnected via Facebook.  She recalled my sense of humor as “cruel.”

goalieThis surprised me.  I wondered if it came from assignments I read aloud in our English class, like the one about my favorite sport, hockey.  In that essay, I described the goaltender’s gear: He wears oversized leg pads.  Protection for his abdomen, chest and shoulders.  A large rectangular forearm blocker, and a padded catcher’s mitt.  He has a helmet, chin guard and facemask.  In fact, except for an inch and a half of neck, the goalie’s entire body is completely protected.

In my paper, I asked, What’s the object of hockey?  To hit the goalie in the neck.

That’s irony, right?  The opposite of what you’d expect, and (given that I played goalie) the opposite of how I really feel.  I’ve always preferred deflective irony to cruel sarcasm — but I should not be telling you this.

I don’t want you to know my weakness.

(Read more posts below.)

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The f-bomb

Friday, November 6th, 2009

The dramatic theory of bombs, according to Alfred Hitchcock, says that if a bomb goes off under a table where two people have been idly chatting, that’s surprise.  If the audience knows there’s a bomb under the table, but the characters don’t, that’s suspense.  In film, suspense is better than surprise.

F-bomb graphic

In business, neither is good, as Robroy learned the hard way.  It happened several years ago, when I was trying to win an important partnership for my young creative company, Smith Content.  The meeting was with two somewhat intimidating advertising executives in their stainless steel office downtown.  Now, Robroy generally likes to keep it clean, but that day, in a pitiful attempt at bravado, I let fly with: “We know what the @#*! we’re doing.”

Yep.  The f-bomb.  The execs were clearly underwhelmed.  One cocked his eyebrow.  The other drummed her nails on the table.

If only it were a movie.  The director would have jumped up, waving his arms and yelling, “Cut!  Cut!  What were you thinking, Robroy?”  Then he would have given me a “take two.”

But this is real life.  I had one chance.  And I blew it.

@#*!

How about you?  You’ve been sitting there so politely.  Have you ever been blown up by an f-bomb?  What happened?

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