Why Everyone from the CEO to the front line should read “Crush IT!”

November 9th, 2009   •   no comments   

If you haven’t read Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Why Now is the time to Crush IT!” run—don’t walk – run to the nearest bookstore and get it.  In my opinion, it is one of the best business books I’ve read in a long time—and maybe ever!  In less than 140 pages of quick reading, Vaynerchuck nails down what it takes to be successful in any business from wine distributors to law firms.  Relevant and timely in today’s world of Twitter, Facebook and Internet marketing, the book embraces traditional core values presented in a straight-forward way (my kind of author).   So, here are a few of the key points made in the book in hopes that you will enjoy and embrace some of these principles in your own business and life!


·       Live by 3 Rules:  Love your Family, Work super hard, Live your passion

·       There is room for everyone in social media.

·       Social Media = Business. Period.  The game has changed with technology: Use it and win!

·       Do what makes you happy. Keep it simple, Do the research, work hard, look ahead

·       Your success is entirely up to you!

·       You gotta be You! What’s in your DNA?

·       Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill in business.

·       Developing your personal brand is key to monetizing your passion online!

·       Authenticity is key.

·       Do not fear noise and content on the internet: Quality is a tremendous Filter

·       Social networking gives us “Word of Mouth” on Steroids.

·       Decisions are made because of personal connections

·       Through content, people know you personally and professionally.

·       Capitalism always wins.

·        Any company that doesn’t allow its talent to talk to the public is missing opportunities

·       Twitter has become a verb and is perhaps the most powerful branding tool in your toolbox

·       The best use for Twitter is to lure people to your blog (visit my blog at www.howell-marketing.com)

·       Invest in the important stuff!

·       Succeed with good old-fashioned Hustle.

·       Creating Community is about starting conversations

·       Best Marketing Strategy Ever: CARE!


Social Media Tides: Are You Getting Swept Away or Swimming with the Currents?

November 6th, 2009   •   no comments   

From small businesses like the new “South of Beale” in South Main (where Elvis used to hang out) to big businesses like FedEx, companies around the world are listening to the social media “conversation” and executing appropriate strategies to join in, improve customer communications and loyalty as well as churn a profit (there’s the ROI plug).

It’s important to remember that while the waves of social media are crashing all around us, businesses are in the game to make money, and, if social media channels help a business make money and/or secure brand integrity and loyalty, they will embrace it, nurture it, expand and invest in it. Many Fortune companies are using social media to boost sales, get the word out, motivate employees and retain loyal customers.

People ask me daily about social media and it has been fun as well as challenging to try and figure it out, but that’s the whole point— nobody has it all figured out although there are a lot of smart people out there blogging and discussing issues. The thing I personally like about social media is that nobody “owns” it and there’s something there for everyone.

Since May, we’ve been hosting business and social media “conversations,” and as we’re mapping out our next one (you can find details on my website at: Howell Marketing Strategies, we’re talking a lot about policies and corporate strategies—all important for any business. Another important element of social media is PR and media issues.

What Twitter and You-Tube allow is immediate posting of news without a media “filter.” That, of course, creates all types of challenges but is also the exact reason companies should be paying attention and investing in social media strategies and policies.

You cannot control the tides of social media, but you can control your corporate message and your strategy to tell your story—good or bad. You don’t have to look very far to find daily examples of how Twitter or You-Tube can impact a business in minutes. Recent stats report most businesses don’t use social media but plan to in 2010 (I have posted a lot of these articles on my Twitter page).

Here are some of the leading “Trends” of Social Media for this year (and I predict they will grow):

* Traditional Media and marketing has been revamped, replaced. Much of what we did to market and tell our stories within the last year has been crushed.

* Social Media corporate marketing budgets are on the rise.

* Retailers need to be savvy online; Customers researching and buying online. One word exemplifies this: Zappos (435 Zappos employees use Twitter!)

* The Recession is helping Social Media as a cost control alternative.

* News is 24/7 now, and customers won’t buy week old news.

* Well known bloggers and influencers on Twitter are getting every media message out.

* Lots of good applications and increasing technology tools like the iPhone will advance the Social Media cause.

In closing, I will tell you that if you feel overwhelmed or intimidated by social media, internet communications and all the applications that are out there, you should! Even for some of us practicing it daily, it is like nothing since the Industrial revolution.

Use of the internet will continue to grow and smart companies are looking now at how they can plug into the dynamic—and fascinating tools out there to turn the tides of social media to their benefit.

3 Business T’s for Twitter: Telling, Talented & Tangible

November 6th, 2009   •   no comments   

Advice I give my clients often is that you have to tell your own story or someone else will tell it for you. There’s been a lot of focus lately on the dynamic, changing role of social media in journalism and PR and I am amazed by the sheer volume of information on Twitter everyday. Last week I successfully demonstrated to a new client how her iPhone and Twitter could help her advance her business.

She’s committed and is appreciating this newfound leverage which we both believe will yield added revenue to her business. Oh how I love the process of conversion! However, the corporate jury of social media is still out and, for a business to use Twitter, it has to have what I call the 3 Business T’s: Telling, Talented and Tangible.

Telling: PR is about storytelling and to quote a fellow Twitter friend (@TrendTracker) “nothing thrives more in social media than a rich character.” I believe smart companies and organizations (especially non-profits) will benefit greatly by telling their own, unique story through the social media channels.

It’s both what you say (content) and how you say it (style, message). Clients I’m helping use Twitter to tell their story include restaurants, non-profits, and even a real estate professional. We’re taking the strongest, most compelling information about their business and posting it strategically on Twitter. And we’re following the people who want to hear those messages.

Blended with traditional PR and marketing, Twitter is like adding a megaphone to your business’ communication plan. There’s no limit to the number of people who can see tweets and can re-tweet them (like compounding interest).

Talented: The talented are thriving on Twitter! You don’t have to look far down your Twitter “stream” to see real talent right there in front of you. I’m getting direct access to some of the best PR folks out there such as @MikeLizun, @TheRealPRMan, @markwschaefer, just to name a few, and businesses can access these folks too!

If you want talent in the social media world, look no further than @jeffbullas, @socialnetdaily, @trendtracker, @mashable (of course), @treypennington, @Twitter_Tips. So much talent, not enough time to learn it all! I am working now with clients to help them identify talent that’s on Twitter and that is relevant to their business. Once identified, we follow, listen, learn and apply complimentary strategies!

Tangible: In the corporate world, everything revolves around one thing: revenue. As a small business owner myself, you have to financially benefit from Twitter and social media or you can spin your wheels and end up with a lot of wasted time and the doubters who will love to say “I told you so”.

So, here’s what Twitter HAS to do for your business:

It has to provide tangible results. Can you point to a new client as a result of being on Twitter? Have you found a new employee through Twitter? Have you had more traffic in your restaurant because of Twitter? Can you point to news coverage for your business as a result of being on Twitter? The real strategy with Twitter’s tangibility for results is in what you say (content is king), how you say it (strategic style) and how often you tweet (consistent messaging).

PR and Twitter: Your Own CIO—Chief Information Officer

November 5th, 2009   •   no comments   

I have written often about all the reasons I use Twitter—and the list continues to grow.  The most important way I use Twitter is in the strategy of who I follow and what I keep up with.  For example, I follow the national and local media on Twitter, other professionals in my industry and most importantly my clients and thought leaders in my clients’ industries. Not a day goes by that I don’t get the “ROI” (return on investment) question.  My perspective on this as it relates to Twitter is based on the understanding that for me, Twitter is all about getting real time, great information as well as communicating with those that can add value to your life and business.  So often I come back with this question: How can you measure the ROI of conversation? Isn’t that what’s at the “heart” of social media?  Don’t we all use conversation to generate revenue in most businesses? 


 As I work with clients in the traditional space of PR and marketing we are increasingly applying social media strategies mainly to their communications and PR efforts. Through this dynamic and rapidly changing process, I often find myself doubting, questioning my own opinions and challenging my brain to think differently—as a skeptic of social media.  That is a difficult thing for someone who loves “conversation.” So, as a communicator and advocate of using social media for business, I am committed to think seriously about the other side of the coin and—by doing so—I am becoming better at my pitch and persuasion tactics. One thing I will tell you for sure is that the internet is not going away and as social media will continue to evolve, but today I read that 42 million women use social media and they are the consumers most corporations need to reach!


So here are the top skeptical comments brought straight to you by real life experience:


Skeptic 1: “Twitter is a Time Waster”

My Common Response:  It certainly can be, but it can also be a time saver as it will help you organize information and easily sort out what you want to see, find what you need and monitor what your customers are doing. (Ah-ha! That will start the questions)


Skeptic 2:  “I mean, who cares what you are drinking, eating, going to…I mean I don’t even care what other people do! Who wants to know that stuff?”

My Common Response: Absolutely true! You should only follow those that give you information you want. (Huh? This usually results in raising of eyebrows, scratching of head, more spamming of questions) People who say this obviously are not on Twitter and have no idea how much information (information + communication = profit) that can be derived from being on Twitter.


Skeptic 3:  “I don’t even have time to answer all my e-mail much less Twitter!”

My Common Response: You can answer 10,000 people at one time. Can’t pay for that kind of word of mouth advertising, huh?




Skeptic 4:  “That chatter out there is too noisy and I have no idea what I’d say”

My Common Response: How about finding 500 of your best clients, friends and prospects and saying what you know is great about your business?  (hmmm…they are thinking about all the money they spent on print advertising maybe)


Skeptic 5: “Nobody can measure the ROI of social media”

My Common Response:  Do you value communication and efficiency in mass spreading of information for your business?


Skeptic 6: “Most companies aren’t using social media and many are opting out of it”

My Common Response: Thanks to Twitter, I can show you many examples of those that are using social media successfully and I can get you real time stats on what corporations are doing right now in the social media space (Did I mention Twitter is my CIO—Chief Information Officer)


Skeptic 7:  “It’s a fad like all other technology”

My Common Response: The internet is not a fad. Then I whip out the latest article in the NYTimes about growing trends in social media (amazing how quoting the NYTimes can help with persuasion: Oh and I just saw on Twitter that they now have over 2 million followers!)


Skeptic 8:  “I don’t have time”

My Common Response: Neither do I


Skeptic 9:  “I don’t like people knowing so much about me”

My Common Response: Control your message (As I say all the time, be careful what you post on the internet. Comments are 3 things: Global, Permanent, and Discoverable—as in a court of law).


Skeptic 10:  “I don’t get it and I don’t want to”

My Common Response: OK, let’s find you somebody who does (often times if we can find a social media champion, we can at least get businesses to monitor what’s going on).


If Twitter is anything to me and my clients, it’s easily a monitoring tool and, for me, it’s information that I use daily: news, trends, best practices, great blogs by smart people, statistics, great resources, etc.  It’s like having your own Chief Information Officer!

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