So, What the F**K is Social Media?

I am a strong believer of the power of Social Media. I try to envision Social Media as a complement to traditional media although I believe that one day, Social Media will have completely changed our media consumption behaviors to the point where traditional media will be unprofitable for the media companies nor completely ineffective for the advertisers. But in the meantime, traditional media is necessary for many brands to reach their segments. (I did not say convert…)
Social Media is cool and hype but can be more that just that. It can also be profitable for your business. I recently shared with you that you can generate qualified leads with Social Media. We see more and more top brands using social media effectively. Even hard rock music bands use social media to enhance their presence and grow their fan base. Fine, but you will say, I am not working for a big corporate cheesy organization and I am not managing the rock band that will kick Bono’s ass, (like the vast majority of marketing managers in North America) should I be spending time in Social Media? YES! As I mention in one of my  post (in French), I think there are even more benefits to embrace social media if you work in a Small Business. You can also get other arguments why I think SMEs have no reasons to post-pone social media initiatives here.
In one of my recent post, I briefly discussed how to sell Social Media to your boss:

If you are about to go through the difficult task of selling the idea of Social Media to your boss nor to the management team of your company. …  I highly recommend that you “invest” 1hr of your time to present social media the right way. Download Chris Brogan’s presentation and watch the video here.

Today, I have found this great presentation via SlideShare. Before you get your act together to demonstrate the incredible power of Social Media to your boss, have a look at this self-explanatory slide show. Nice pics, nice stats. Very convincing. Fits perfectly the Garr Reynolds‘ Presentation Zen Principles. Find them here in pdf.  By the way, they chose the title: What the F**k is Social Media: One Year Later.

Note: It has been created by an Agency named Espresso Brand Infiltration but trust me, it doesn’t look like an infomercial to sell their services… 😉 Also I haven’t received any commission to insert their presentation here!

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5 Outstanding and Inspiring Corporate Blogs

iMediaConnection.com has tons of great resources for Social Media Marketers like me who are learning everyday about  new communication/conversation techniques. I am always looking for nice examples of Corporate Blogs. Most of the blogs I have seen so far were BIG Corporation blogs. The following article by Chris Bagott is characterized by blogs maintained by relatively small companies  which have given outstanding results for their owners. Enjoy! Click here to access the article.

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Smaller=better

It is not in every aspect of my life that I think that Smaller is better but marketing-wise, I believe smaller organizations will be in a better position to face the challenges of the post-recession economy.

Let’s face it, I love Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).  I always liked the entrepreneurial culture that often emerge from them. It ignites me. However, as a marketer, I went through many frustrations in the past because most SME cannot afford the old School marketing tools (TV Advertising on TV, major promotional campaigns, billboards, big sponsorships and so on). This stuff was meant for Big National brands… Although the cost of traditional marketing is expected to go down, I do not think that lower costs should drive SME to use more the aforementioned traditional tactics to build their brand and be successful.

I am not the only one to advocate that small is beautiful,  Peter Brugman on his Harvard Business Review blog said « Small is the new big. Sustainable is the new growth. Trust is the new competitive advantage. » 

Seth Godin, recently did also a nice post about The Right Size of organizations. He gave numerous examples that show that bigger is often worse. He advocates that companies should not aim to get bigger. 

And that is the whole point, we use to hear the bigger, the better? (it is sometime part of corporate mission statements) Yah right. I think this era is about to end. The post recession-era will greatly favor the Small and Medium Sized organizations. Why? It is plain and bold common sense. Let me give you just a few arguments

  • The new economy requires more flexibility than ever. Organizations must be able to adapt their business model to the new reality.
  • Post recession consumers will be seeking for « trustable » brands. Big corporations will have to re-build that link with their consumer base and one-way traditional marketing campaigns will not be enough. (And that should start with the big financial corporations…)
  • The era of conversational marketing has begun and small companies will be better equipped to leverage the new 2-way marketing communication tools (blogs, social media, etc). Why? Because of their human scale and their true authenticity. Also, the very affordable nature of the new tools make them awfully attractive to SME.
  • Post-recession consumers will buy more locally. To encourage the smaller local manufacturers and to show a greener attitude.
  • Smaller companies, because of their size, are more capable to adapt their business model to serve The Long Tail.
  • Small companies are usually more agile in their market-based decisions. Therefore, they are less liklely to be stucked in the « paralysis by analysis » syndrome that often affect larger organizations.
  • They are also more willing to take risks, I mean calculated risks. In that sense, the new marketing tools represent very low risk alternatives to traditional marketing media.

So those are the few top-of-mind-reasons why I think smaller organizations will succeed in the post-recession era. As a SME marketer, I can tell you that we are presently sowing all the seeds required to harvest market success when the economic storm will be behind us. What about you? Are you busy managing the status quo or preparing the ground to build your future growth?

A new Marketing Q&A Section on my blog (Mmm Cool Dude!)

Thanks to Pierre Pelletier’s suggestion, you will now be able to share with me your marketing questions, dilemma or post topic here, ina very straightforward manner. This section could have been called Ask Etienne but I rather named it Marketing Q&A. I will do my best to answer your questions.

Depending on the number of questions received, I will do a specific post on the most relevant questions with your name quoted. Wow, what a deal!

Hey, seriously, I look forward to hear from you HERE!

Etienne

10 Free Tips for a Remarkable Marketing Plan (Part 1)

I have been developing marketing plans for the past 10 years or so. Over this period, I have written, a few 5-year plans,  a couple of 3-year plans and numerous one-year plans. I do not pretend I know everything  but I wanted to share, in a very candid manner, the few lessons learned from my past personal experiences in marketing planning . So here we go, in bulk, and not in order of importance…

  1. Do not ever try to plan for 3 or 5 years in advance. You can certainly work on your wished positioning and vision with a 5 year span in mind, but do not waste time trying to figure out the details of a tactical activity you will do during the summer of 2011. A well articulated 1-year plan worth much more than a 5-year plan full of motherhood statements. In most marketplace, nobody can predict what will happen in 6 months from now (Was the financial crisis part of your last year’s plan?). So, there is no value in trying to plan with precision what you will need to do in 3 years from now to be successful in your environment. But yes, having a good idea of where you are heading can certainly help you building your one-year plan. 😉
  2. If you look back at your previous year plan (if you had one…). You can monitor whether you achieved the expected objectives or not. (Many marketers do not have the courage to do that. Be courageous and admit what did not go as planned). Then you should ask yourself if you could have achieved same (or better) results in a more cost effective manner.
  3. Do not mix up « Marketing Plan » and « Marketing Research. Your plan should be focused on actionable stuff you will do in the forthcoming year,  not what you’d like to do nor the tons of information, market data and methodologies you have gathered to come up with these strategies. Yes, I know you are really proud of all the homework you did and you’d like to share it. Resist. Give access to the people who might be interested in the  data demonstrating « how » you came with these strategies in another document.  You can put these marketing research reports in annex if they are not too heavy.
  4. As mentioned in my post on Powerpoint presentations effectiveness (in French), create 2 documents: A presentation document (real straightforward) of your plan and a leave behind document which is your complete detailed marketing plan (for the details lovers and for you to use it as a management tool throughout the year). Do not EVER  use the same PowerPoint document to act as both your presentation support document and your « leave-behind » document. Keep them separate. If you go with a one-doc-fits-all approach, you think you save time but you do not do justice to your work.
  5. Before I start to work on the PowerPoint or on the complete written document, I always try to  throw my core  ideas, structure and informal thinking in an Excel Spreadsheet. If you suffer from the White Page Syndrome, this could be a good starting point to tie your ideas together. However, I recommend doing your plan in MS Word Format. Use a nice template  with lots of free space to ease the reading and let the reader take hand written notes on the  printed document.
  6. When writing the plan, make sure you include all the details about your data sources whether it is in the text body or in the foot notes as long as it is there (Quite basic but often forgotten) and the main highlights about how the research you did carved your proposed strategies. Marketing research details should be put in annex.
  7. Do not work completely alone. As you move forward in the writing process, make sure you validate your direction and core concepts with key people in your organization. Typically, your sales team, R&D team and operation’s folks are must-see people in order to avoid wasting your time on stuff that is too funky for them.  This validation exercise will help you to build a realistic plan.  Ask them to feed you with their ideas, comments and thoughts. They will become key ambassadors of YOUR plan. Make sure they own portions of it.
  8. Invest the equal amount of time in your PowerPoint presentation document than you did writing the detailed plan. Typically, we start working on the presentation the evening before the event… Try to plan ahead. See Garr Reynolds discussion on presentation preparation here. Last minute presentations done by pasting your key elements in bullet points format do not do justice to your work.
  9. Make sure your plan answers the key questions identified in my post « Le plan Marketing le plus court du monde » or Guy Kawasaki’s « Shortest Marketing Plan« .
  10. Invest time and efforts. It worth it. Remember, in your complete marketing plan document, the more efforts you put in crystallizing your ideas and your vision  in a very clear and concise manner, the easier it will be for you to develop the  impactful PowerPoint presentation that goes along with it. If your presentation document is well done (following the Presentation Zen principles), you will be more convincing when presenting to your colleagues. (Thoroughly practice your delivery before the real show). If everything is clear for all the people who will make your plan happen, it eases your day-to-day management job in the course of the year and you will be able to spend more time thinking about the strategies for the year after…;-)

Ok, now you have your plan. I will discuss the execution of it in a future post.

Not on Linked In yet? C’mon!

brand-called-you-coverBack in 1997, Fast Company made the cover of their magazine with a very punchy Title: The Brand Called You. At this time I felt it was very insightful but the proposed means to properly brand yourself were quite limitative at this time (Internet was not at full cruising speed yet!). Although the suggested  approach was interesting, many advices sounded  like motherhood statements

Now, you have no excuse not to brand yourself.

In 2009, it has never been easier to brand yourself, brand your ideas, brand your work experience, brand your creativity and so on. As mentioned by Mitch Joel in his post entitled « Owning You » , « I’ve found tremendous value in places like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn« . From a professional standpoint, I think these 3 tools do not have the same Return On Investment and shouldn’t be put on the same level. If you are a Business Professional, you can certainly add value to YOUR brand by increasing your presence on the web with Linked In. It is free. It is easy. Just do it.

I started my Linked In Profile in February of 2005. At this time I felt a little bit alone in my circle of friends. Nobody was on Linked In. Many colleagues were questioning the value of being present and active on this new gadget. Some have perceived that as a waste of time or worst,  an ultra-narcissistic move. Not anymore. These pre-conceived ideas have been dissipated and replaced by real added value. Guy Kawasaki also proposed Ten Way to use Linked In back in July 2007. These are still viable.

Not convinced yet? Do this quick test. Just « google » your name on google.com. If you do not appear in the first 2 pages of results (I am generous), you are a nobody (in the eyes of Google, I mean!;-)). With a Linked In Profile, you increase your chances of being referenced by Google.

Want to connect with me on Linked In?

If I know you and I remember you, I will accept with pleasure. If I can’t remember where I saw your name, I do not want you to appear in my Linked In list of connections. This is my Linked In principle and should be the same for you. Click below to access my profile.

View Étienne Chabot's profile on LinkedIn

Updated on Feb 2nd, 2009

You are looking for a new job? Have a look a this top 10 list from Guy Kawasaki of how you can use Linked In to find your next job?

Updated on April 7th

Check out these 5 tips on effective personal branding posted on the Linked In blog here.

How many times a week should you visit my blog?

Since I started blogging (and this is quite recent…), a few people are asking me how I can write posts on such a frequent basis?  The question should be in fact, how can you write original and insightful posts on an almost daily basis knowing  that you have a day job and 3 kids that awaits  for their dad at home? I do not pretend that is what I did so far but at least, this is what I am aiming for. Follow me on this blog and judge by yourself!

In terms of post frequency, there are several schools of thoughts in the community of bloggers. Some are saying you should just post ultra-original content even if it only happens once or twice a month.I disagree. It is a matter of perspective. Your content could always be original for someone. It is a matter of reaching these people. Some others are saying, you should post a minimum of 2-3 posts a week to keep your blog alive. It could be true…

Seth Godin , the famous marketing guru, is posting on a daily basis since many months, see the Advertising Age interview here about his posting frequency strategy. His blogging goals are:

  1. To spread ideas
  2. To put his ideas out there and get them out of the way of the next idea
  3. To encourage people to add alacrity to their diet

You could also add, to relentlessly build HIS brand, which is a very noble objective when your day job is to write and sell marketing books.

Mine are somewhat different.

My objectives with this blog are to:

  1. Create an exchange platform where marketing decision makers could spread and share ideas and experiences. If I can act as an igniter or at least an idea funnel, this will be a great achievement.
  2. Build a better marketing practice. Especially within Small and Medium sized Businesses that are often struggling with the challenges brought by modern marketplaces.
  3. Have fun! This is why the tone of this blog will NOT be 100% serious and professional.

To achieve that, I will post every time I think I have something that could help me attain one or many of the above-mentioned objectives. It could be daily or once every 2 weeks. 

I am my own editor so if I fail to bring you content in-line with these objectives, be honest and drop a comment. I will rectify.

PS: For the non-geeks, RSS feeding is an amazing tool. Subscribe to it for free on this blog and receive the headlines of my posts directly in your reader. You will be able to filter by yourself what is interesting for you.