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What Keeps You From Becoming A Commodity?

I saw a tiny red “20” over one of the apps on my phone this morning. So, to try to catch up just a little on channels I follow, I tapped the YouTube icon. I caught Gary (@garyvee) Vaynerchuk’s Daily Vee #356 today. (Yep, my phone took me to yesterday’s today. Thank you, phone.)

About 12 minutes in, he said, “There is ONE THING that will keep you from being a commodity: your brand. (Emphasis: his)

Commodity vs. Differentiation
…and it really got me thinking about my Gulf Coast Virtual Tours business. I realized that some of the things I do, brand-wise, push it toward “commodity” instead of toward distinction & differentiation. So let’s do an exercise today…

Take out a piece of paper, or create a note on your device. List 3 things you do that tilt you product or service toward becoming a commodity. Then, list 3 things you can do to “un-commoditize” it with your branding. THEN, circle the most important one, and get started on it before the end of the week. BONUS POINTS: share 1 thing on your un-commoditizing list in the comments below.

No more clicking “Like” or…NOT clicking “Like”

Today (02-24-2016), Facebook is rolling out an expanded set of emoticons called “Reactions”. The intent is to convey a broader range of emotions, beyond clicking LIKE or… just not clicking anything.

Facebook’s new “Reactions” buttons: Like – Love – Haha – Wow – Sad – Angry

facebook-new-like-emotion-buttons

I’m not going to pass judgement yet on whether it’s a good idea/bad idea. I’m curious how having five new “Reactions” will play out in conversations on topics that are important to people. For example, will this be the improvement that Facebook believes folks want? Or, will it just be another way to mire discussions in negativity?

“Why did you click “Haha” on this story about animal abuse? #disgusting”
“I didn’t, you tool! I was laughing at comments from my friend who shared it!”

Did Facebook go far enough? What do you think is missing? My immediate reaction is that Facebook should have also included a “Seriously?” face. Many folks would describe this as the “Eye Roll”, but I would prefer more of a scowl, personally.

(COMING SOON: Body language “Reactions” such as “shrug”, “facepalm”, and “turns to leave”. I’m just kidding. That’s not really happening, as far as I kow. However “facepalm” would be a big help. But I digress…)

I think the emoji for “Seriously?” could use some improvement, and perhaps Facebook can do better. The folks at emojipedia.org  believe that the “dissatisfied face” is the way to convey the reaction, “Seriously?”

Seriously-emoji

“Dissatisfied Face” Emoji from emojipedia.org

In order to post a “Seriously?” in a text or comment field, use these symbols: ಠ_ಠ

You’re welcome.

What “Reaction” do you think Facebook should have included? Which one of the new “Reactions” makes you think, “Wow, FINALLY, I can express my feelings!”

Facebook’s New “Save” Feature

Figure 1

Figure 1

When I began to surf the Facebook news feed this morning, I noticed a new item in post menu: “Save…” (See Figure 1)

So, I started looking around the screen for other changes, and found the “Saved” item in the left column, in the main section below my name.

The explanation screen you see when you first click on “Saved” in the left menu bar explains it like this (see Figure 2 below):

“Save links, places, music, and other things for later. Only you can see the things you save. You can choose if you wan to share them.”

Seems like perhaps life just got easier. I wanted to jump right in and see if it was true! (If you want to cut right to the chase, see THE GOOD NEWS & THE BAD NEWS below.)

GETTING STARTED

Right away, I saw that you can’t SAVE just any old post you want. The explanation screen (Figure 2) offers the following list across the top:

Links – Places – Music – Books – Movies – TV SHows – Events

Figure 2

Figure 2

But how does this really work? After perusing my entire news feed for about 30 minutes, I found that the “Save” option only occasionally appears in the post menu (that little downward arrow in the upper left corner of each post – see Figure 2 again).

Apparently, at this time, Facebook allows you to SAVE stories someone posted using a link from another site. You can also SAVE a “shared” post from a fan page.

I noticed that I could not SAVE:

  • Text posts from friends
  • Photos posted by friends
  • Photos shared from fan pages

This last item makes the new feature especially confusing. The confusion comes from the fact that almost every article or blog post on-line – especially from Facebook fan pages/business pages – features a photo. As you scan down through your news feed, these kinds of posts look almost identical:

  • Photo posted by your friends
  • Photo shared by your friends from another friend
  • Photo shared from a fan page or business page
  • Check-Ins at businesses or locations
  • POST shared by a friend from a fan page or business page (S)
  • POST liked by a friend from a fan page or business page (S)
  • POST submitted by a fan page or business page (Some can, some can’t – still working on this.)
  • POST from a blog shared on Facebook (S)
  • News article from any source outside of Facebook (S)

Even though these appear REALLY similar because they feature a photo, only the items marked with an (S) can be SAVED with this new feature.

I looked for “Save-able” items in a couple of the Facebook Groups in which I participate. It seems that “Save” is not available inside Groups, even if the posts match the kinds of Save-able posts listed above.

THE GOOD NEWS

So far, I am very interested in using this feature. Of course, I can utilize it for items that match my personal interests. I’m actually more excited to try it for organizing information that will help me continue my business growth (helpful articles, tips and tutorials). In addition, I’ll be able to easily retrieve posts and links that I can use for the several fan pages for which I gather content on a regular basis.

Even better – a “Share” button appears below many of the items I’ve SAVED (see Figure 3). I don’t have to click on a SAVED item, and find the “Share” button in the original post. I can directly and easily share it on my wall, send it to a friend, or share it to a group or fan page that might find it valuable.

facebook-save-share-feature

Figure 3

THE BAD NEWS

However, the challenge of remembering the kinds of things you can and cannot “SAVE” will build frustration, and cause many folks to just ignore it. I expect that Facebook will continue to evolve this feature to make it easier, but I hope they move quickly. Already, the info screen above declares you can “Tap the Save icon…”, but I found no such icon anywhere at this time.

Just like almost any topic, if you search Google, you can find a huge number of articles and videos that will go into great detail about how to use Facebook’s new SAVE feature for various purposes.

And, since this is a marketing blog, I would be remiss not to include a link to one detailed article that I found very informative. Here is Mike Gingerich’s post from yesterday on the Business 2 Community blog:

http://www.business2community.com/facebook/facebook-save-feature-use-content-curation-0969609#!bzUx1E

I hope you find Facebook’s new “Save” feature useful. The more folks that use it, the more likely Facebook will be to improve upon it, and integrate it better into our Facebook experience. Without a doubt, Facebook will use the items we SAVE to further personalize the content that appears in our news feeds, as well as the advertising it shows each of us.

Open Now – Enrollment for FUELTANK(13)

My excitement in starting this program may only be matched by my gratitude for the people who have helped and are helping make this possible: my coaching program, called FUELTANK(13).

Rather than explaining it here, it would save us both time if you would just click over to the FUELTANK(13) page, read about it, GET EXCITED, and then enroll, of course! I understand, it may be the kind of excitement you feel when you finally get a deep splinter out of your hand, but that’s a WIN too, right?

When you sign up, you’ll get an e-mail soon, welcoming you to the program. It will include payment information and more complete details. You know, the ~real~ exciting stuff. Fasten your seatbelt – it will be a challenging but fun ride, I promise.

 

Getting Over the “Hiccups”

 

Due to some unusually large orders in the month of April, I have shot, reviewed, edited, and delivered about FOUR TIMES the photos in the last month than ever before!

Just having a little fun with one of the "outtakes".

Just having a little fun with one of the “outtakes”.

This wore me out physically, and I got sick this first week of May. Just a bad cold – fortunately nothing too serious.

STILL – NOT GOOD.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful for some new opportunities that came my way.

Here’s the catch. May and June are traditionally my busiest months. And I started the month of May “under the weather.” Not only did I struggle for most of April to keep up with the workload, I got way behind on my home lawn care responsibilities. This time of year, that means that, among other things, my grass got REEEEALLY long. I had to hire a pro to come and “mow me out”! Not that big of a deal for some of us, but I actually enjoy mowing. It takes about 3 hours or so. I listen to music in my big earmuff headphones, and think, and sometimes pray. And, I get some much-needed exercise.

What’s worse is that, during this rough patch, I’ve neglected the platform I use to keep in contact with you – my blog, my Facebook fan page, Twitter (@mmercenary), and even some networking opportunities. When you don’t stay in contact with your audience or customer base, people will look elsewhere for the resources you provide.

What did I learn from this hiccup in the generally smooth Marketing Mercenary process? Two main things:

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Grab That Testimonial – Part 2

Capture that testimonial! (See Part 1)
Yes, I’m a professional videographer/director/editor (I could add some more slashes, but that’s enough for now). Why would I suggest that you capture it yourself? Well, you might have a customer standing at your counter, telling you how much your great products and service make their life better.

Get out your phone camera, or Flip Cam, or laptop webcam. Record it yourself, right then, to capture two things:

1) The words and ideas that convey the true emotion your customer is feeling.

2) The ~willingness~ of that customer to share their feelings with you at that moment.
This video clip can be edited to remove the stumbles, or to enhance the audio and visuals. I can add a logo and title at the beginning, your customer’s name where appropriate, and your contact information at the close.
“But what if it’s really noisy and shaky, or the customer had an embarassingly awful time getting their words out?”
DON’T DELETE IT YET.
Let’s use that “outtake” to write a script (or at least an outline) for a reshoot, where the customer can prepare, and we can set up lighting, a microphone, control the background noise, and get a much more professional-looking and great-sounding recording. Once it’s edited, you’ll have a great story to let potential customers hear from one of your happiest clients!
This social proof helps change a person’s mind, from “will they buy from you?”, to “when will they buy from you?” Happy shooting!

For more unbelievable helpful advice, feel free to shoot me an e-mail: jr (at) marketingmercenary.net. Or, call (7650 997-8687.

Grab That Testimonial – Part 1

You may have heard that the personal testimonial is the most powerful way to influence would-be customers to patronize your business. The second-most-powerful marketing tool is a similar testimonial, captured on video. A testimonial is a great example of “social proof”.
You can use the video (or a link to the video) in the following:
  • Social media posts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, CraigsList, Yelp, or almost any other)
  • E-mail
  • Printed link in your brochure or business card
  • QR code link for mobile consumption
Because of this flexibility, video is a perfect tool for all businesses.
I’m not going to be one of those “marketing experts” that tells you what a great idea something is, without telling you how to accomplish it. Tomorrow: Grab That Testimonial – Part 2 (How and Why)

The “Likes” You Like – Clean-Up Time?

(Post updated on 9/29/2016 to reflect changes Facebook has made since originally posted. Thanks for reading!)

Do you use a Facebook Fan Page to promote your business or organization? On your page, there’s a panel on the right that shows the Fan Pages where you have clicked LIKE. Coincidentally, it’s called “Likes.”

Have you clicked LIKE on the Weird Al Yankovic fan page? Are you personally interested in beekeeping or origami?  Are you a fan of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders?thumbs up

I’m not judging. I’m simply here to ask you if these pages reflect the professionalism and personality of your business? Does that include everyone at your business?

I’m also not saying that you should take a vote among your co-workers. I’m suggesting that the LIKES that your Fan Page displays be focused on pages that would be appealing to the largest number of your customers. Visitors to your fan page should only see items that are consistent with YOUR brand image.

So, if your brand image is all about fun, you might actually click LIKE on Weird Al’s fan page, and show that goofy mug on your page. But if your brand image is about helping homeowners save money, you might restrain your LIKES to DIY fan pages, big box stores like Lowes and Menards, and financial services.

What if you’ve already clicked LIKE on the “horrorcore” hip-hop group, Insane Clown Posse? Again, I’m not judging….

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Strategic Power: Your Content Calendar

It’s tough for some folks to create a 12-month “marketing calendar”. Do this anyway: create your content calendar – topics for each month, and if possible, each week.
► Once you have your your topics for months & weeks, use them to brainstorm blog posts, videos, and social media updates throughout the year. This process is now easier because the topics are already decided!
► Plus, if you have an idea for something that’s on your calendar for November, put it in a file. Soon, your file will be overflowing with ideas that can help you generate MORE ideas!

With this under your belt, when marketing ideas or advertising opportunities arise, you are already following a plan. If the idea or opportunity fits into your plan, you can jump on it, or you can adapt your content strategy to fit the opportunity (if it’s too good to pass up).

An alternative tactic would be to share your content calendar with your trusted advertising reps. Then, they can bring new or “classic” packages to your attention when they a great fit for your upcoming content plans.

What other benefits do you find when you’ve planned your content creation ahead of time?

Follow Marketing Mercenary on Twitter: @mmercenary

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Facebook Users: Time to Shop for a New Pen?

Keep using Facebook, or go shopping for something new?Facebook is your old, favorite pen. You’ve been using it for years. It’s always at your disposal. You’ve been trying to ignore this fact, but increasingly…

Your dear old pen starts to skip. It doesn’t write perfectly when you try to use it. You shake it down, trying to get the ink to flow like it used to. It works again, for now. You keep doing this because you can’t find ink refills for it.

The part of this analogy that’s the most useful for us all is right here: When you have an old, favorite pen, you keep trying to use it while it’s clunky and unreliable – it’s getting in the way of what you really want to do. So, you fail to do what you really should do – look for something else that will work better….

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