Friday, September 3, 2010

You Talkin to Me?

If so, you can also (these days, more often) connect with me here or on twitter. Newer casual content is on the site The more buttoned-up stuff of course is at TTYL

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Resource for Small Businesses

Just a quick post announcing there’s a short presentation* available now for any small or micro business owners/executives asking:

  1. Why should my company be concerned with process?
  2. How should we develop processes for our business?


*A version of this can also be presented to your organization’s leadership upon request.

Comments, questions, and feedback welcomed here!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why I Write Boring Stuff

To some, it might be utterly shameful to have someone call your writing boring.  It happened to me twice in the last six months.  Am I completely ashamed to admit it? Not really.  (Warning: I can be feisty as evidenced by #tracysfeistytweets and this previous post.  Not scared? Read on about why I wrote boring content.)

Scenario #1: “I want to do an e-newsletter article on X,” says the Entrepreneur.

Even the best writers have been there. Whether an independent contractor for an agency, a solo practitioner, or a freelance writer, the client (in this case an entrepreneur) uses the two dreaded words, emphatically, “I want.”  The decision has been made.  The idea has been handed to you to make real. There’s little you—as the grunt writer—can do to influence the topic decision.  You are not paid or contracted to advise, guide, educate, or instruct. Maybe you tried before and it fell on deaf ears. Maybe you have not been brought on as a trusted advisor.  Someone else in the organization might be expressing concern about the topic as dangerously close to becoming a technical dissertation.  (But isn’t heard.) In this scenario, you are paid to put words together that make sense under the buyer’s (Mr. Entrepreneur’s) direction.

[So I mumble to myself, and blog about it later] Against my better judgment to ask your readers (aka target market) what interests them, I will write your topic.  While normally I would advise that we at least brainstorm to develop content topics according to your audience (based on where they fall on the continuum Unaware>Aware>Understand>Believe>Act), I will write your topic.  Although I think your staff has valid concerns, I will ignore them and write your topic.

The Comment: “It’s not very exciting (translation: it’s boring) and it’s not going to win any Pulitzers.”

The Downfall:  It’s an educational e-newsletter article based on a particular topic that the audience probably does not care about in the first place.  Sure, it positions the company as an expert on technical execution concerning X.  But there is little marketing value in that if prospects don’t value having an understanding of X.  In fact, they may opt-out and therefore cease to be part of your reachable target market.

The Saving Grace:  Some readers might find it endearing that YOU are interested in and passionate enough about your field’s technical details enough to want to share them.  You probably won’t lose a sale for lack of passion for what you do.  Even if they opt out, they may remember your name because of your expertise. 

The Take-Away: Approach your writing project (whether marketing or any kind of communications) as a means to deliver value and quality as defined by your market, not you, based on research and input.

Scenario #2:  Web Page Content for a Small Business

I’m working with the ideal small business client.  She has the basics—a logo, a sparse but professionally built website, business cards, and a brochure. She also has a combination of factors I admire—past technical expertise in her field, curiosity, a willingness to understand marketing options, open to a variety of solutions, good decision-making skills, and an appreciation for the value of marketing and her hired marketing professional, whom she treats as a trusted advisor.

We agreed developing web page content for a specific service she’d like to promote was a top priority for the first phase of our work.  Three things are in short supply, however: time, money, and general awareness about the importance of the service.  Whereas PR and other efforts might help with the latter, more well-rounded communications efforts are hindered by the former.  The result was a more educational web page vs. a sales-y web page.  A call to action and rationale for choosing her small business as the service provider were included, of course, but much of the content was value justification.

The Comment: “It might be just me, but is it, er, kinda boring?”

The Downfall: It’s true that with a small budget and a lot of ground to cover, our communications sometimes have to do “double-duty”—informative and persuasive—at first. 

The Saving Grace:  Once we have a better sense of  key metrics (e.g., impressions, bounce rates, referring sites, keywords used, SERPs, etc.) and we expand content development across media and touchpoints (e.g., published  online articles, stories produced and covered by appropriate media, press releases, etc.), we can refine the content for a sales focus and off-load the “educational” stuff to more suitable venues.  In the meantime, the page serves as an awareness-generator about the problem you solve—which is not a bad thing!

The Take-Away: Having the means to produce and distribute multiple content types is ideal.  Get together with your marketing person to plan a communications strategy with the right messaging, collateral, and media and put a good budget behind it.  Reserve some investment for public relations, especially if awareness-building and community involvement are needed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stuff I Don’t Do: Automatic Recommendations on LinkedIn

(NOTE: This is a series of occasional posts clarifying the things I don’t do, business-wise, marketing-wise, or social-media-wise.  Same format each time.)

What: After approving a recommendation from someone, LinkedIn prompts you to “return the favor” by recommending the sender.  I don’t make it standard practice to automatically recommend everyone back—especially clients—but am happy to do so if asked. 

 Why I Don’t Do It: When I see profiles with too many reciprocal recommendations, it makes me question the intent of both parties and the validity of their statements.  Did one person proactively recommend another for the purpose of receiving a rec in return?  Regardless of how the recommendation came to be, is there a sense of required reciprocity at work?  If so, how does this affect the content, veracity, or quality of the recommendation?  (In other words, does this “return the favor” message prompt a generic-sounding quid pro quo response, devoid of any real specific value?)  I don’t automatically recommend someone right back because I’d rather know that the other party values a recommendation from me (i.e., will ask for one directly). The reverse is true: I don’t want someone to recommend me back automatically.  I’d prefer for my profile (and those of my networked professionals!) to reflect authentic recommendations from various sources. 

 Stuff I Do Instead: I enjoy recommending people without expecting or requiring a recommendation back.  If I’m asked to provide a recommendation, I will do so if I have significant direct and positive work experience with the requester.  Luckily, I’ve had positive experiences with and I really like everyone in my network who has asked for a rec from me, but I shy away from writing one if I know others have had more significant and direct  interactions with them and have more meaningful, specific evidence of success to report.  If I wrote a generic recommendation saying something nice about them but without the aforementioned evidence, I wouldn’t be adding value to their profile, IMHO. And as a marketer I am all about adding value and providing meaningful messages!  Instead, if I am in a conversation (such as networking or social) where it’s appropriate to put in a good word about someone, I try to do so.  The advantage to this kind of word-of-mouth promotion is that it’s contextual (and arguably more powerful due to nonverbals, etc.) than the written recommendation. 

 Additional Comments: There are so many different approaches to social networking with tools such as LinkedIn and I’ve noticed we all have varying “rules” and criteria for using them.  It’s interesting to have open dialogue and really understand the boundaries and expectations we have of our networked colleagues.  I invite you to explore and/or share your thoughts on the subject here. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Stuff I Don’t Do: Follow Friday (#FF)

(NOTE: This is a series of occasional posts clarifying the things I don’t do, business-wise, marketing-wise, or social-media-wise.  Same format each time.)

What: Follow Friday or #FF on Twitter (or other microblogging platform).  Essentially, someone tweets a list of Twitter handles/names (I’m @tracydiziere for example) as a blanket recommendation of people to follow. 

Why I Don’t Do It: Recommending people to follow, while a nice gesture, makes the assumption that all of your followers will value the tweets (consisting of news, opinions, personal updates, etc.) of these people.  It’s just too generic.  There’s no way in marketing I would recommend every product or every service to everyone.  There are market segments, ideal clients, target markets, etc.  I apply the same logic to microblogging.  Unless I can ensure that I’m delivering a meaningful message to a specific, interested group, it’s not worth it.  However, if I could segment my updates and/or customize recommendations for following based on an industry or interest, FF would be appealing to me.  Without this ability, I’m not providing value to followers with respect to their specific variety of shared interests with me—from jewelry/retail sales, to marketing/PR, food/wine, small business, instigating (you know who you are), and all things Arizona.  I never want to treat these  followers (or clients!) as an indistinct mass of an audience.  For tweeps with a lot of influence, however, I realize it makes sense.  It’s like they are referring people they trust, which is cool.  I just prefer to do that on a smaller more personal scale. 

What I Do Instead:

(1) Re-Tweet. When someone I follow has a tweet that is relevant (Relevance is key!) or that I believe will be interesting to a segment of followers, I will re-tweet (RT) it.  I don’t limit the number of RTs from any one person—it’s a matter of relevance and those who are more relevant are RT’ed more.  I typically don’t RT quotes (nor do I tweet quotes from famous people often).  This is because I do value information that is specifically directed at and appropriate to my followers. 

(2) Reply. Another way I indicate someone is worth following (and why they are—the component missing from the generic list and hashtag) is by Replying to them, or starting a conversation.  Replying using @ lets me tell that person (and my followers) that I’m interested in what they have to say with respect to a certain topic or communication instance.  Followers who see that we’re communicating about wine, for example, and like wine themselves (or sell it, make it, write about it, teach others about it, etc.) can follow that person.  It’s a slower process, but for me, it’s more genuine and thoughtful than the  “This-is-who-I-think-is-important-for-everyone-to-listen-to-regardless-of-who-you-are” message I get from #FF.  Maybe that works if you’re already a social media guru with thousands of followers.  That’s not who I am or  aspire to be.  I also will reply using a bunch of people if I think they have something in common.  That way I’m recommending (or referring) people within a certain context, subject, or niche.  And I’ve pre-selected that group to ensure they have interests in common. 


Additional Comments: I noticed recently #FF isn’t as big as deal as it used to be (thankfully!).  Is this your sense as well?  Is this because others feel as I do or something else?   I’d like to think Twitter users on the whole are getting smarter and more considerate of audiences/markets and really wanting to tailor communications (e.g., tweets) to them.  Also, if you think I’m really missing out by not participating or want to share your reasons for doing it, chime in!  If you’d like to connect, follow me: @tracydiziere.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

E-Newsletter Title of the Week

It’s only Wednesday but—Stop the Presses!—I have found it. The best subject line (aka title) from my email inbox comes from’s newsletter and article by Ariel Schwartz:

Would You Live in an Abandoned Mental Hospital?

You’d have to be crazy not to open that email.  Of course, I expected the article to be about micro-businesses or small businesses who allow their “houses” to run amuck—from a lack of process, leadership, time management, or strategic planning

Not so! (Although I will have to add that to the list of future blog topics because the metaphor is too pertinent to ignore.) The article really is about the renovation of these old mental institutions into modern living quarters. Check it out . . .

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Alternative to Firing Your Clients: Better Screening

In my earlier post Firing Customers: Why and How,  I referenced Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails. This is a book by Scott McKain and although I haven’t read it yet, he has published an informative article on Why You Should Fire (Some of) Your Customers.  Herein, he recommends who to keep and who to discard by category (very helpful!) and  smartly states: “We spend more time than we really have to give pleasing a customer we never should have solicited in the first place.” (Emphasis mine.)

This last bit by Mr. McKain leads me to the crux of this post: Better screening.  I admit that I have fallen victim to a big name, a glowing referral from a colleague, and a market underdog with potential (if only they’d been open to change), but I am trying—and encouraging my marketing strategy clients to try—to do a better job of what I call “selective engagement.” 

With a little process development and strategic thinking, small businesses can establish criteria for selectively engaging clients who are well-suited to their business models and financial goals. This includes ideal client persona development as well as the means to attract them and the process of identifying them.  With this type of planning and supporting processes in place, you can prevent the firing mentality or  “culling phase” and instead be more exclusive with building your client base upfront.  Yes, this takes great effort, bravery, and budget, but given the alternative—having to gracefully back out of an engagement—it might just be worth it. 

Today I came across an excellent example from a marketing person I respect, Allan Starr. In his Marketing Monthly newsletter,  he states his criteria, including this specific requirement, “If a client doesn't at least believe they are better than their competitors, we don't take them on (we are opportunity agents, not turnaround artists).”  Starr makes a bold statement about what his company does and what they need from potential clients, which will allow prospects to identify or walk away.  (Bravo Marketing Partners, and feel free to refer those who need more confidence to Tracy Diziere & Associates.)

As many marketing colleagues acknowledge, it can be hard to walk away from prospective business, especially when you know you can help them and see how much they need help—and given this economy. But you will SPEND more money in terms of  time and energy trying to please them than you will MAKE. 

Not only should small businesses have a defined process in place (as well as the means to communicate that to the market), they should also seek to improve upon it.  I have a process for lead qualification, but it is constantly being refined based on experience.  Practicing continuous improvement is key, not only in manufacturing but also in your sales cycle.  I advise clients to create and refine their lead generation and client acquisition strategies (as well as client education efforts).   In my experience, it is easier to do this for others than to do it for one’s self—due to perspective-taking abilities, the need for thick skin, and the ever-illusive time for  working on the business as opposed to delivering client results. 

Here’s another supporting tidbit from the 1to1 Media Blog which asks the question “When Is It OK to Fire Your Customers?”  Ginger Conlon notes, “Others say: Don't acquire potentially unprofitable customers in the first place.” That’s what TDA helps micro and small service businesses do—with the process and tools to support such a customer acquisition strategy. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Internal Communications and the Olympics

In 1996, I worked at a large international accounting firm’s Atlanta office in the Marketing Department, where we produced the internal communications newsletter.   We developed some pretty original and impressive content in those days.  One of my favorites was this co-authored article about all employees who had participated in the Olympics—or were training to do so. 

My colleague and I interviewed employees all over the world to share their stories.  Here’s a screenshot of the final result:

aa-newsletter-olympics (Note: We had a team of awesome designers as you can see, and I don’t think the word “budget” was mentioned. Ah, the good old days!)

The point here really is  . . . Any event that draws people together, such as The Olympics, makes for excellent reporting at the micro-level in any organization.  Did your employees attend or participate?  Capture their stories, even in a small profile section.  Hold a contest for the best photo.  Ask employees to submit recommendations for a top 10 list.  The possibilities for employee engagement in content creation are endless. 

Although I can’t take credit for the original topic idea, it’s a great example of how a company can make its communications meaningful and personal—thereby creating interest and connection in the workplace.  That energy, excitement, and involvement is what’s missing in a lot of company newsletters--and corporate communications.  If you don’t believe me, ask Steve Crescenzo.  That guy is the Jack Bauer of employee engagement w/ internal communications.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lean Services Marketing

Just a quick post here for small businesses in B-to-B services.  Regardless of your knowledge of (or initial interest in) Lean, you can use some key questions to tighten up your service delivery. Why is this important? On-target marketing and delivery of services translates to less costs, increased revenue via more focus on the customer, and more fulfilled employees.  That’s what I’ll help you with here.

First, a brief intro to the concept of waste.  Waste is defined as “any activity that uses resources, but creates no value for the customer” by Natalie J. Sayer and Bruce Williams* in Lean for Dummies.  There are 7 ways that waste manifests in manufacturing companies: transportation, waiting, overproduction, defects, inventory, movement, and extra processing.  Here, we’ll just look at preventing the types of waste that relate to marketing and delivering  services, primarily overproduction, extra processing, and inventory.

To deliver and market B-to-B services efficiently, the small business owner should ask the following questions to reduce waste:

1. Am I producing more (volume) or more options than my clients want? (Even at the proposal stage.)

2. Am I producing deliverables sooner than they need them?

3. What quality levels are required by the clients/customers?

4. What quantity of deliverables/materials do they require? 

5. What materials/deliverables can be re-purposed into something that clients value?

6. Is there anything that needs packaging/promoting to create value in the clients’ minds? 

With the answers to these questions, you can begin to plan with greater efficiency and make better use of your time and resources while ensuring you are meeting client needs.   That, after all, is the benefit and goal of eliminating waste.   


*Bruce spoke last month at an ABPMP-Phoenix event.  This link contains his bio and information about Business Transformation Through IT, co-sponsored by ASU’s WP Carey School of Business’ MSIM Department.  To learn more about our local chapter of the Association for Business Process Management Professionals, visit our website.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Will My Blog Get More Hits if I Write About Tiger Tonight?

I’m just curious.  In all seriousness, Peter Shankman has a post tonight about Tiger and his pseudo-press conference tomorrow.  It says all the things about Tiger that I’ve been hearing from other, albeit less famous people, all week.  And the post does a great job of getting a helluva lot of “Tigers” into one, er, den. 

What I really like about the post is the comments—to hear what an awfully lot of PR, crisis communications, journalists, and all-around (mostly) bright people are saying.  Even if they are link junkies.  (That’s not a slam. I am writing about Tiger and I’m not a journalist,  sports media person, or avid golf-watcher, although I like the sport and my mom is a Tiger fan).  

So that you don’t have to sift through the comments (and I wonder sometimes if anyone reads them or they are just there for the main post), here are my favorite good/original ones:

1.  Jonathan Bernstein tells his crisis management clients:  “ . . . no ‘spin’ in the world will save their reputation if they don’t stop doing the things that got them criticized in the first place.” I love this.  I tell friends, family, colleagues, anyone who will listen that companies who spend a boatload on marketing and then turn around and treat their employees poorly might as well light that money on fire. (Maybe that’s a non-sequitur but at least it’s in the spirit of spirited advice-giving?)

2. “America loves reformed celebrity addicts,” says Jenna Petroff.  So well said, and good for you for linking your comment to your Twitter profile, Jenna.  I’m following you now. I like good burgers too.

3. Sheila Sheley and her marketing cohorts offered this formula: “Tiger wins golf tournaments + Tiger gets airtime = sponsors want Tiger.”

Any I missed? What do you think of these comments?  Wanna talk about Tiger? Weigh in!

P.S. Please don’t make me continue poaching comments about stuff that’s trending for blog posts.  It’s really not as fun as (although it is a bit easier than) developing original content.  I guess I am the hyena feasting on the scraps of the tiger’s kill. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Firing Customers: Why and How

Those of us in professional services or B-to-B services have no doubt encountered less-than-desirable customers.  Many articles and books have been written about firing those clients. (I came up with 1,540,000 results for Google with the keywords “firing clients.”)  Here is just a sampling of results worth mentioning:

  1. 1. Inside CRM: Top 10 Ways to Fire the Client From Hell.  Despite the irreverent title, this article plainly describes the type of situations a B-to-B and/or services company might encounter, from “penny-pinchers” to “unreliable” to “abusive” clients.  Sad but true, they do exist.
  2. Duct Tape Marketing: What’s the Best Way to Fire a Client.  Although the article is more about tactical execution, and I’m not a fan of raising fees as a tactic, this post acknowledges that “sometimes the best thing you can do is let a client go.”
  3. U.S. News & World Reports: You Don't Need the Aggravation: When to Fire a Client.  Many of the same points above made but backed  by national media and with a succinct summary of results: “bad clients may lead to all kinds of trouble, like low employee morale and the inability to adequately service good clients and find more profitable accounts.”
  4. Fire Your Bad Clients.  Again, national media backing the concept, this time invoking the 80/20 rule. 
  5. Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails. This is a book by Scott McKain and although I haven’t read it, he has published an informative article on Why You Should Fire (Some of) Your Customers.  Herein, he recommends who to keep and who to discard by category (very helpful!) and  smartly states: “We spend more time than we really have to give pleasing a customer we never should have solicited in the first place.”

A future post will highlight alternatives to firing clients for B-to-B service providers. Stay tuned or sign up to get feeds.

P.S. For independent PR people, I just found this excellent industry-specific post on SoloPR from guest blogger Heather Whaling of Geben Communication.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl 2010 Ads: Part 1

Once again, the Superbowl ads were not (overall) as effective and entertaining as they have been historically.  (See last year’s post.)Therefore, many of my picks are really just the best of the mediocre. 

Caveat: I’m only considering ones I saw and could hear well  for products and services we buy directly (not TV shows, movie trailers, nonprofit organizations, causes, public service announcements, government activities, etc.).  I also don’t include products that are bad ideas and ads with overly flawed logic (to be discussed in a Part Two on this topic).

Here are my picks:

  1. Mars’ Snickers ad was both relevant and hard-hitting (pun intended) with the tagline “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”  You as Betty White playing football=good call.  The Snickers candy bar is doing a good job of competing with the other categories for solving hunger and energy issues for active Americans: granola bars, PowerBars, and energy drinks.  Nice positioning.
  2. Monster has developed a brand as the cool job search website for the underdog.  At a time when unemployment rates are ridiculous, companies can pick and choose from pools of over-qualified applicants, and recent grads struggle to get jobs, it’s a weird to advertise such an empowered, er, workforce via a furry woodland creature aspiring to greatness and escaping his habitat.   The ad itself (Beaver turned Violinist) makes the list for creativity and consistency with branding efforts, although I’m conflicted about the message.
  3. Doritos: I do like that they held a contest and let the people make the commercials.  Great way to involve your brand advocates and attract more like them.  There were 3 that I saw, but my pick is “Doritos Kid Slaps Mom’s Date.”   Who doesn’t like the idea of kids being protective of their moms?  This kind of role reversal bodes well for women who do the grocery shopping. 
  4. E-trade babies, of course, make the list.  They’ve got the formula down with their two ads: “Girlfriend” (aka Milk-a-holic) and “Tears” (aka He’s Eating the Lobster Too). We’ll see how long the formula will last, but I predict we’ll have only one more year of babies.  I imagine their market is 95% men based on their ads.  A savvy competitor need only go for the women.  Who will step up? 
  5. BudLight delivers a consistent message with their ads’ tagline “Here We Go.” With synth voices, a house of beer, and a spoof on Lost, it’s clear that where there’s BudLight, there’s a party.  Priorities (and privacy) be damned.

For Part Two of Superbowl Ads 2010 covering what didn’t work and why . . . see the comments to this post.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gorillas, Guns, & Tumors, or Do You Need an Industry Expert?

Occasionally I meet the small business owner who wants to hire an industry expert, or someone who specializes in their industry, to do their marketing.   While I won’t go into all the strongly held positions on both sides here, I heard this program on NPR yesterday that seemed to make a good case for “fresh perspective.” 

The program is called Guns, Tumors And The Limits Of The Human Eye by Alix Spiegel. It is about how human ability to detect certain things (i.e., weapons in luggage and tumor in breast tissue) is decreased over time when the sought-after things are not found frequently.

One of the most eye-opening (pardon the pun) tidbits for me was from Kyle Cave, a cognitive researcher at Amherst University.  The program states “Cave says there's not yet a definitive answer [to whether well-trained, full-time experts in non-lab-environments will miss what they seek often], but he points to a famous research study from the 1970s. In that study, people were trained for weeks on end to look for certain letters in the alphabet among a garble of letters. Eventually, says Cave, they came to be incredibly good at it.”

The pr0gram goes on to explain that it even became hard for those subjects to ignore the letters they were trained to find when they were simply reading.  (Read the full article or listen to NPR’s program for the details.)  Lots of implications here for training and for diversification of work.  For me, if I don’t continuously seek out new interactions and possibilities, I risk providing the same solutions because I am prone to seeing the same problems. Essentially, any client would become Everyclient.  And I don’t want that!

Another consideration: If you’ve ever seen a video where you were told to count the number of times a basketball is passed, only to be asked at the end a strange question about what you saw, you know that focusing on one thing might result in missing something.  (That video was produced by the University of Illinois Visual Cognition Lab.) The same might be said for the industry expert. 

This is the reason I don’t specialize in an industry. I’d rather stay sharp by looking at small businesses individually.  Then, from working with small businesses’ varied challenges, I can leverage solutions from other disciplines to help my marketing clients differentiate and innovate. 

I’m interested in hearing others’ opinions on these matters. Please share your experiences and scientific knowledge or your take on the value of industry expertise.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whether to Outsource and How to Value Your Marketing Efforts

Here is a quick guide to help the small business owner determine whether to outsource specific marketing tasks and how to decide what his/her marketing efforts are worth.

Should I Outsource?

  1. Try the classic litmus test for delegating: “If someone else can perform this task at least 75% as well as you can, delegate it.”
  2. Do I have the necessary expertise to get it done at the desired level of quality? This is particularly important if more than 75% is desired.
  3. Is my time best spent on this or something else?
  4. Do I have the necessary raw materials sitting around (e.g., notes, samples, drafts, etc.) but can never find time to get it done?
  5. Do I have all the ideas in my head but no one to share them with who can run with them?
  6. Will it take more time for me to find someone to do this task or do it myself?

What Is It Worth?

  1. What are the potential results (i.e., what do I stand to gain) from having this marketing task complete? Assign a dollar value to that. It could be a percentage of sales, a number of new leads, etc. Find a metric that will mean something financially to your business.
  2. What is the value of my time (and my staff’s time) and how long would it take us to do this? Assign everyone an hourly rate and estimate the time it would take.
  3. Given our schedules, is the duration of the task appropriate/acceptable? For example, you may have determined that a task will take you 8 hours to complete, but it may take you a month to carve out those hours and complete the task. Is that going to work for you? If not, to have this solution expedited, what does mean for your business (in dollars, if possible)?
  4. If there is an impending deadline associated with the task, will we be able to meet it working regular hours and without sacrificing our client work? What would eliminating the stress be worth to us?
  5. What is it worth to me to have someone transform my raw materials and ideas into a finished product in a measurable and valuable way?
  6. If someone could provide me with the tools to perform this function better/faster/cheaper in the future, what would I be willing to invest in my future?
  7. If I were to hire a part-time employee to perform this task or block of tasks, what would the expected annual salary be and what percentage of that would be dedicated to it? Consider that dollar figure as a potential gauge for incoming proposals.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, and questions on this post are welcomed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Who Are You on Facebook? A Short List of Users

In thinking about who uses Facebook (and why), I’ve developed this short list of the likely and usual suspects.

1. Gamers. They rarely post updates and news about themselves or reply to others’ wall posts. Instead, they play Farmville, Sorority Life, etc. and answer quizzes. They may join groups, but really Facebook is just another platform for games, albeit perhaps a bit more social. Although they may be any age, both my nephew and niece (a teen and pre-teen) fall into this category, so I wonder if there are any trends/data? Do you and/or your family members fall into this category of Facebook users?

2. Networkers. They have tons of friends and will usually friend-request you after just meeting you, seeing you post to one of their friends’ pages, or even just finding you online. For them, it’s mainly a numbers game, although they can be open and frequent posters. Networkers do seek to engage their Facebook-friends, with links and thought-provoking questions, however.

3. Activists. They primarily post about causes they feel strongly about or policies and politics they object to. They may join or start such groups, as well as send you invites to do so. Activists can be great sources of news and perspectives about our culture by providing such links, especially when they are interesting, multi-faceted people to begin with. Some, however, are single-issue advocates, and their multiple posts about the same thing over and over can create a major tune-out effect, which is exactly the opposite of what they are trying to achieve.

4. Promoters. Internal company marketing, sales, or PR people fall into this category as do independent marketers, PR professionals, and social media companies. Their Facebook use is goal-oriented, primarily to create and maintain a fan page, whereby they promote the company’s products and services, provide important updates, interact with the public, generate special offers, drive traffic to their main website, encourage referrals, create leads, get the word out about events, and the list goes on. In best case scenarios, they are tracking the results of their efforts and are seeing some traction and conversions with respect to key metrics. I’ve mostly seen one-way communications from this group, so don’t expect them to post on your wall or visit your website. They want the love and support of the general public, and their job is to work for it. Facebook is just another means to market something. In cases where Promoters do not have a Fan page, their wall posts may often be related to their company’s successes or newsworthy tidbits. The best of them will reply to you if you write on their wall. As this group grows, it will be interesting to see how the other users react.

5. Shooting Stars. They figure it’s better to be there than not, so they’ll show up from time to time, albeit briefly. They rarely post updates on their wall but may have a ton of friends, like Networkers. They may not log in often nor read everyone’s updates, mainly because they are just too busy to fuss with another application. (Wasn’t LinkedIn enough?) Usually a Shooting Star’s contacts are strictly professional. No games, no groups, no photos, and (for heaven’s sake!) don’t tag them without their approval. Facebook is serious business. If you are a true friend, they’re more likely to email you (through Facebook or not) or call you directly. And they have a good point . . . Facebook doesn’t replace face-time (or voice-time, if distance is an issue).

5. Connectors. These folks joined Facebook primarily to keep in touch with the people they care about (or just used to know!). They keep their Facebook-friend group small, typically, and won’t accept just any invitation (such as from Networkers and Promoters). They may also be reluctant to become a fan of companies and brands unless they know them and/or are passionate about them. Connectors may also dislike Networkers and tune out Gamers, since these types don’t really fit with their goals. They are happy to tell you what they (and their kids) are up to and look forward to reading and commenting on your posts and photos. Connectors may even ask for advice in a post or encourage a discussion. They may take quizzes or participate in activities that are interactive in nature (pokes, birthday gifts, etc.) as a way of connecting/reconnecting with friends. (This happens to varying degrees; I’m a prime example of one who doesn’t do any of that stuff). Facebook is also like an extra email account for Connectors, especially since the Inbox supports an email-type exchange among a group of friends. If they are having a party, they might just use Facebook instead of evite.

6. Newbies. They may have just joined, at someone’s urging perhaps. Usually mid-40s and up. They aren’t sure how they will use Facebook or which type of user they’d like to be. (Maybe this list will help!)

Final Note: Not everyone falls into a single category, of course. Some may be a combination of two or more types. ( I am a Connector/Promoter, for example, which is an odd mix and somewhat conflicting at times.) Feel free to weigh in here about what type(s) you are and/or what you’re seeing within your Facebook circles. Did I miss any types? Did I misunderstand or misrepresent the type that you most identify with? Any reactions to this post are welcomed.