The Art of Digital Leverage

During my LinkedIn course at UNF last week I recommended the free version of the platform. I believe in mastering the free versions before investing in the paid version of any software. However, leverage comes not from acquiring more tools, it appears in the moment you invest in developing your talents and those of your team. Every business professional has access to the tools of technology. I work with successful companies that have all the tools. The key to their success is their commitment to learning. If everybody has access to the same tools, your firm's best opportunity to create competitive advantage starts with education. It is the #1 way to leverage technology.

Tear Down the Walls

The pace of learning has failed to keep up with the rate of digital transformation. Since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn a year ago the user interface, features and content have experienced radical change. When was the last time you invested 20 minutes learning what's new, what's changed, what's gone? LinkedIn has changed direction. They are moving away from Groups and toward Messaging. Advanced Search is one of LinkedIn's most valuable features. Do you know how to use it for prospecting? 

Investing in more technology, or even infrequent training sessions won't deliver the ROI you seek. You have all the technology you need. It's time to invest in yourself. 

Leveraging your digital skills takes more that a New Year's resolution. I'll bet your gym was packed last January. By February things had returned to normal. The best approach to modern learning is to break it into bite-sized chunks. Here's the plan I use.

Add Tech Training to Your Schedule

Open your calendar and make a tech training appointment with yourself. Find 20 minutes on tomorrow's schedule. You get bonus points if you make it recurring. Pick a day and time when you have the energy to focus. Don't worry about the topic or learning objectives just yet. Commit to the goal, the process will appear just in time. Already making excuses? Don't have time? Too Busy? Successful business professionals are disciplined, organized, and committed. Don't worry if you are feeling uncomfortable right now, it's not fear, but excitement you're feeling.

Document What You're Learning

They are called progress notes for a reason. Choose now how you will take notes of what you learn in a way you can retrieve them when needed. I use a plain piece of paper to scribble and scratch out ideas, new words, unfamiliar concepts. I created a Learning notebook in Evernote. I add a note whenever I learn something new. Although I learn best when I write longhand, handwritten notes are difficult to catalog and retrieve. Using a digital notetaking platform and keeping it simple increases the future value of your learning investment.

 Pick Your Shots

Business professionals often use the word overwhelmed to describe their relationship with technology. You will never learn it all, so don't even try. Instead, focus on what you need to learn most. Learning keyboard shortcuts is a quick way to increase work productivity. Learning how to automate tasks you perform frequently increases productivity. Guided discovery is an effective way to increase the value of your investment in technology tools.   

Guided discovery is another way to increase the value of your investment in technology tools. Endeavor to learn something new each week. Modern software programs, Apps, and cloud-based platforms are tremendously powerful tools. A small investment will pay big dividends.    

What's Next

Creating a process and a plan for keeping up with digital transformation will increase the value of your technology investment while reducing that feeling of being overwhelmed. 

I'm planning a Summer Learning Series for many of the major tech tools you use every day. Produced locally, they will be available globally. Interested? Call me at 904-566-8325 for an invitation.

It's not a protest movement or an attack on dining out. Millennials are voting with their feet. SFGate.com reports in an article, Millennials are killing chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee's, that generation Y is to blame for declining revenue in the Fast Casual sit-down market. A similar situation exists right here in downtown Jacksonville with brick and mortar restaurants who have requested "protection" from food trucks. Applebees was singing a different tune two years ago when they announced, Applebee’s Recasts Itself as Millennials Bar

It sounded like a great plan: “We’re changing things up and going back to what we do best.” The journey from bright idea to monumental fail was doomed from the beginning. Two words sealed their fate: "Going Back". Like it or not, the world is moving forward. Dining, lodging, and transportation are not the only industries who are facing digital disruption. Your industry is next. If you don't see it, your business will fail. My research indicates 2020 is your deadline. Speed has become the #1 competitive advantage. Your window of opportunity has narrowed. Here are some ideas you can use today to start moving forward.

Stop Buying More Technology

You (and your competitors) have all the technology needed. Digital transformation is not about technology, it's about mindset. Take an inventory of what you have and let go of the technology that no longer serves you. Build a strategy before filling your toolbox with any more tools.

Engage With Your Newest Customers

Not with fancy online marketing or stalking. Stop shouting at them. Start a conversation, engage in social listening. The change you see in your industry is not in technology. It's in the behavior of your customers.

Create Digital Leverage

There are three specific, very important, ways that you can use technology to grow your business success. The technology can help you reach farther. It can bring customers closer while building stronger relationships. It can increase the speed of your execution, operations, growth, and profits. 

The Best Investment You Can Make

Applebees invested $40M in wood-fired ovens for each of their restaurants. Millennials didn't care. As a business owner, your best investment is in building a new mindset. Applebees had all the tools they needed to find out what Millennials DID want. Change isn't about disruption, it's about transformation.

 

I work with established organizations who want a return on their digital investment. When you are ready, let's talk. 904-566-8325.

 

  

At least, it is the end as we know it. The term "content marketing" was coined by Penton Custom Media in 2001. The original concept, according to Content Marketing Institute, dates back to 1732 when Benjamin Franklin first published the yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack. Author Joe Pulizzi goes on to say, "But despite the age of the technique, the power it wields hasn’t diminished at all. In fact, examples of brands using content marketing – and the impact of those efforts – have increased exponentially over the years."

More is Not Better

The increase means that your prospects are drowning in content. The onslaught starts early each day with social media updates, blog posts, whitepapers, online videos, and infographics. It's enough to make them want to turn off their phones, or at the very least, tune out your valuable digital content. Value the central issue, followed by who decides what is valuable? The ability to share via copy/paste gives you and everyone you know the ability to share everything with everybody. Content has now become a worthless commodity.  In the recent article, The Content Trap: When Content Becomes a Commodity (and Three Ways to Break Free) MarketingPros suggest a solution.

How to Break the Content Marketing Trap

It starts with basic economics. Businesses can create production efficiencies to reduce cost. They can differentiate their offering based on service delivery. They can re-engineer the commodity to add value. Efficiencies allow you to distribute more content, but buyers don't want more. My clients are finding success in differentiating by channel, including live video. Adding value is the easiest of the three. Focus your content on aligning tightly with what your buyer wants to hear from you, at the specific time they want to hear it is the key. Guide your readers to the right information that addresses their specific needs, challenges, wants, and interests. 

What's Next

Technology continues to provide tools and insight that allows you to target those you serve best. I see a shift away from mass marketing with a return to direct sales. Connecting the dots between your customers topics of interest and your expertise appears to be the shortest path to engagement. An email targeted to a handful of prospects will produce a greater impact that a generic broadcast to thousands.

Additional Resources

Ernie Smith of AssociationsNow.com published more on the topic in his article WHEN YOU SHOULD BUILD YOUR CONTENT AROUND YOUR USERS’ HABITS.

The primary business development goal for any organization is to start a conversation with suspects and prospects. Which is why I’m so baffled by business professionals who insist on pushing those valuable contacts away through the use of social networking. Under the guise of content sharing, they post tweets and profile updates containing links to anywhere but their own web presence. Pushing people away kills your opportunity to start a conversation. Path of Engagement Back in the day when our Internet platform was nothing more than a website the key to

Path of Engagement 

Back in the day when our Internet platform was nothing more than a website the key to attraction was Search Engine Optimization. SEO has taken a back seat to Social Networking. There are three destinations that matter when it comes to digital attraction. They all lie along the Path of Engagement.

  • Social Networking – PR
  • Content Marketing – Marketing
  • Engagement – Sales

When SEO was king the path was clear. Your mission was to publish content containing words and phrases your prospects might use while searching online for your services. Your audience has moved. Your new mission is to shift your mindset and your efforts to a new strategy. Social Networking. The new path starts with publishing the same words and phrases through social networking. Your profile updates must contain direct links to similar content on your website. Not to interesting articles somewhere else. Your social linking should always point to your site.

Drive visitors to your site. Use it as the destination where you provide value to your followers. Simply sharing content via copy/paste is lazy. It creates zero value. Is that the brand statement you had in mind?

Publish articles and posts that reference current events and trends then add value by sharing your insight, your expertise.

Internet Game Plan – Social Networking

  • Find Your Audience – Choose to invest in the social networking platform where your audience hangs out. Watch and Wait – Learn the ropes of building a profile to “dress to impress”. Seek to understand online social etiquette before attempting to be understood. Bury Your Treasure – Build a content marketing library so you will be prepared when asked to demonstrate your expertise. Draw a Map – Give clear, direct directions when linking from your social updates to your content. Never, ever direct prospects to visit your home page. Always treat them as VIPs by escorting them to a private entrance.
  • Watch and Wait – Learn the ropes of building a profile to “dress to impress”. Seek to understand online social etiquette before attempting to be understood.
  • Bury Your Treasure – Build a content marketing library so you will be prepared when asked to demonstrate your expertise.
  • Draw a Map – Give clear, direct directions when linking from your social updates to your content. Never, ever direct prospects to visit your home page. Always treat them as VIPs by escorting them to a private entrance.

Insight

Your prospects have left the [search engine] building. Meet them where they are, Social Networking. 

Hospitals proved to be the most vulnerable targets from last weeks ransomware attack—a type of cyber attack where criminal hackers encrypt data on individuals’ or institutions’ computers and demand a ransom to unlock the information.

As if that wasn’t a big enough threat, I’m learning that dental practices are also becoming targets, and in this case, it’s perfectly legal. My healthcare clients have reported receiving demand letters from lawyers threatening legal action to force compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

It’s a legal shakedown to extract payment for lack of compliance with the 1991 Act. It’s possible because of lack of awareness on the part of practices and their web developers. Non-compliance comes at a high price. They threaten legal action unless you agree to their demands. The good news is compliance is fairly simple to achieve and to maintain

It’s all about effective communications with people who have vision, hearing, or speech disabilities. It starts with your web presence and extends to communications by telephone and when they present at your practice. I was asked to weigh-in on this issue because of a scary sounding email received by a practice. I’m not sure what I dislike more, the demand letters from lawyers or "the sky is falling" messages from web developers. 

Fact or Fiction

Let’s start with the facts:

  • It’s not a scam. The requirements for effective communication under the act were published in 2010. 
  • The requirements are specific. No guesswork required. Developers have a checklist and a web-based tool they can use to test for compliance.
  • Staff training will be necessary to maintain compliance. However, your investment increases the quality of the patient experience while significantly reducing the chance your practice will become a target.  

What’s Next

Here at Leveraged Unlimited, we have developed a process to address this challenge. Below are some “First Steps” you take to learn if AwDA compliance is a concern for your practice.

  • Ask your web presence developer - contact your web professional to learn if your site is compatible.
  • Self-testing - use the WAVE tool to assess the risk.
  • Review existing procedures - Determine your level of compliance during your daily operations.

Take a Deep Breath

At Leverage Unlimited we believe regulatory compliance in highly regulated industries is fairly easy to maintain. Expectations are clearly spelled out. Uncertainty is eliminated. We also believe the cost of compliance is much less that non-compliance. In fact, it’s just good business.

Concerned about your AwDA compliance? Give Jerry a call with your questions. 904-566-8325

Resources

If the sound of the word "Digital" causes you pain, you're doing it wrong. With all the hype surrounding the latest app, or really cool software, it's no wonder business owners are overwhelmed by technology. If the thought of posting a social update, or writing a blog post makes you dizzy, this post is for you.

Leveraging simple, inexpensive technology you may already have for more sales requires only three simple steps. Creating loyal customers starts with discovering your firm, building a relationship of trust, then engaging in a one-to-one conversation with them. Established companies already have a head start. Their existing customers. If you are one of those lucky souls, the process starts with rediscovery. How long has it been since you connected with them? If it's been more than 30 days, it's time to reconnect.

Discovery

Take a look at your customer database. Do you have email addresses? If so, great! If not, create an event or special offer (something you would normally offer is fine). Create a direct mail postcard with a link to visit your site to request this special offer. Now you have the email addresses and returning customers. Now you can use email announcements and social posts to stay in touch with current customers and reach out to prospects. 

Build a Relationship

The folks at Tide build a strong relationship with their loyal customers with a landing page. Tide.com/Remove-Stains. It creates value for customers without making a pitch for the product. What could you publish on a landing page to create value that would build a better relationship with your prospects and customers? Yes, it's that simple.

Engagement

Once prospects and former customers have discovered you, and you've built or reestablished a relationship with them, the next step is easy. All it takes is a written invitation. The customer journey is nothing but inviting those you serve best to take a single step. Stop long enough to see your post on social. The invitation is a link to the landing page. After you've created value and built a relationship, you create a link at the bottom of the landing page to Learn More. These small, easy steps allow future customers to get comfortable with you. They help your existing customers keep your business in mind.

Quick tips to creating the Perfect Customer Journey

  • Create a link from your social posts that lead to your website. Pick a page that creates value for those you serve best.
  • Review each page on your site. Make sure each page ends with an invitation to visit another page. We call it a Call To Action (CTA).
  • Make it easy to connect with you. When you include the phrase, "Call us" don't forget to add your phone number immediately after. 

I used to love Radio Shack. They had a repair facility that would fix broken technology. It died when replacing became cheaper that repairing. My affection switched to Sears Craftsman tools. Now that has also been replaced. So much is changing so fast.

It's the first thought that comes to mind when I'm asked to explain Digital Disruption. I say it's not about technology, but of course right at the beginning is the "D" word. It's no wonder we are all confused. Today I ran across what I hope is the perfect phrase to define the essence of the concept.

Digital DNA

It came to me by way of a Harvard Business Review IdeaCast with author Ray Wang, Making Sense of Digital Disruption. I've been told I should stop using the word disruption. I don't do it to scare people, but because it scares me. Transformation is much nicer.

However, the concept is still fuzzy. Wang goes further by defining the impact as a business model transformation in terms of how we operate and how we engage."

For established companies, the solution requires more than mobile devices or a new website or a social media strategy. To succeed in the future your organization must embrace a culture shift that goes all the way to your core digital DNA.

United Airlines had all the technology they needed, yet they failed to adapt their technology to meet the human need. Tools can help increase your speed, but transforming your business culture increases your revenue. 

Before you spend another dime on technology, buy Wang's book, Disrupting Digital Business

Additional Reading

This will be the last edition of the Digital Daily. 

Blogging fits under content marketing. Its purpose is to engage readers by building or maintaining a relationship. It's measured by the open rate. For Digital Daily it is more than triple the industry rate. I hold my publishing to a higher standard. I measure engagement. I ask, does it create value, does it create leverage? Digital Daily does not meet my standards. 

 

I'm often asked two questions about blogging: "How often should I publish a blog post?" and "How long should it be?" The answers have been the same since I started blogging a decade ago. Publish as frequently as people want to hear from you. Write only as much as they can comfortably read at that frequency. The other side of the equation is how frequently can you comfortably write articles of quality? And there's the rub. 

I can write daily, but I have to stretch to grasp ideas that create value. It's like watching CNN. During my 2 hour a day stint in a Hyperbaric Oxygen chamber as I recovered from a health issue, I was startled to learn CNN only had 15 minutes of news. Digital Daily started to feel like that. You deserve better. It's not honest. It's not me.

What's Next?

What is next always starts with what would be better. I believe it starts with more focus, more engagement, more awareness. After all these years, my goal for you remains the same. Whenever you finish reading something I've written or reflect on a take away from a coaching session or experience, or an "Aha" moment as you leave a presentation, I want you to have become the "Master of Your Digital Domain." Here are the three ways I intend to deliver on that goal.

The Art of Digital Leverage

I will continue my weekly newsletter on what's happening in the area of digital transformation published on Tuesdays at 10 AM Eastern. If it's not being delivered directly to your inbox, consider subscribing.

Digital Direct

Everyone says they are overwhelmed by technology. What if you are not? I've been informally sharing targeted, valuable content to individuals for years. It's time to make this legit. You can assist right now by replying with no more than three tech topics you'd like to learn more about. I promise I'll keep my eyes open for you. When I find something I think you need to know, I'll shoot you the link and include my two-cent's worth about why I think this is important to your success. Either hit reply or send me an email and share the three topics that interest you the most.  

Office Hours

The best method to leverage engagement is in person. Second best is live video. I invite you to join me at 3 pm Eastern each Thursday for an open discussion via live video. No appointment necessary. Just show up to ask a question, share what you know, or just to hang out and listen. If you are reading this as an email hit Reply to request a personal invitation or send me a message. I can't think of a better way to engage with you.

 

That's it. I hope this gives you one or more ideas on how I can help bring you success. Thanks for your support and may your day be, Just Another Day In Paradise!

 

 

 

Your new title will be, Entrepreneur. Oh, not me, you say? In a classic article from Forbes.com titled, Why Everyone Will Have To Become An Entrepreneur they recall a scenario from 20 years ago. It's full of CD's, record stores, maps and pay phones. It would be full of warm nostalgia if not for all the people who were put out of a job when these products were no longer in demand. Author  Paul B. Brown, puts it in perspective with, "As you think about this scenario, and countless others you could imagine, you realize that it’s easier to list the tiny handful of professions and industries that will remain unchanged in the next 20 years than it is to write down the ones that will be altered—radically."

I don't have "5 Tips" or the perfect strategy to share with you today. Just a question. If your job went away today, what would you do tomorrow? I know what I'm going to do. If you'd like, I can share it with you. Just make a note to return here tomorrow at 10 am Eastern.
http://leverageunlimited.net/blog/digital-daily 

 

 

 

 

I don't mean alcohol, I'm talking about the Hooch App. The title above is a quote from Lin Dai, CEO of NY-based Hooch. The premise is that everyone want's a free drink. The magic behind the concept is bar owners want measurable ROI. 

An article published on Medium.com, Free Drink App Hooch Is Growing A Market By Giving Its Products Away makes the case for metrics. Hooch has been steadily growing their audience to 100K subscribers, many of whom are paying $9.99 per month. Dia touts tcustomer data as the most important factor behind the success of Hooch. 

The Gold in Data-Mining

 Using technology to extend your reach drives value. The wealth of data generated by growth sustains profitability. The platform gathers info on product, location, and even time-of-day to provide valuable metrics the company provides to bar owners in real-time. Current research methodologies produce PR metrics in 6-8 weeks. The question for established organizations is this. What if you knew, right now, what your customers are doing? Not what they are thinking about doing, actually doing? 

Adopting a Digital Mindset

The benefit of real-time data collection is often missing from the ROI calculation when making a case for digital transformation. Adopting a digital mindset is the first step toward growing sales and profits in the digital age. Better data leads to better decisions.

 

I've been told not to use this word.

I'm told, "People don't like it, it makes them uncomfortable, even angry." I get it, but like it or not, change is coming to your business, (Like when the Apple store moved just a few blocks). Then I read an article and a lightbulb went on. After reading the article, Tommy Hilfiger on a Game of Hangman, I realized what was different. 

The word? Disruption. I wouldn't be surprised if you winced just now. When I use the phrase "Digital Disruption" it evokes the fear of an uncertain future. However, in the article chronicling Tommy Hilfiger's big breakthrough, it's a celebration of his success. Back in 1985, Hilfiger was introduced to George Lois, as an "advertising genius". Tommy wanted an ad campaign that was the same old, same old. George offered a different idea.

Lois displayed campaigns from a lot of the big brands. It was hard to tell the difference between them. “This”, he said, “is the problem. Unless you do something different – something disruptive – nobody will notice.”

It worked. the so-called "hangman" ad positioned Hilfiger as on of the top four fashion designers. It caused an uproar in the community and yes, made some designers angry. Calvin Klein, confronted George in a restaurant, ‘Do you know it took me 20 years to get where Hilfiger is today!’ I politely grabbed his finger, bent it, and answered: ‘Schmuck! Why take 20 years when you can do it in 20 days?!’”

Established businesses here in Jacksonville don't have 20 years. Digital disruption is changing the way business is done. Besides, why wait for disruption when you can profit from a digital transformation, right now?

When you're ready to hear more about tapping into the transformation to enhance your bottom line, call me
904-566-8325

 I'm sure this is no surprise to you, but in a recent article from MarketingProfs.com titled, Your Buyers Are Experiencing Marketing Fatigue; Here's What to Do About It, the author, a marketer admitted he was tired. No kidding. The post lists 5 items to work on. There is even a fancy metric to go with it, "Outreach Cadence". The thought appears to be that we are sending way too many messages. No kidding.

Each of the 5 items makes sense, but only from the marketers' point of view. I believe the central issue to why buyers have stopped opening your emails is you are bugging them way too much. If you are a sales professional using more technology but getting much less return, here are some ideas to disrupt your rut.

  • Tighten your reach, expand your pool. If you find yourself returning to check in with the same prospects, stop. Return to your target prospect. Are you engaging with your perfect prospect? Tighten your definition, then expand your reach to a larger audience. When those folks you've spoken with are ready, they will contact you.   
  • Go legit. Authenticity and transparency create value. Drop all the lame excuses for reconnecting. Use social listening to create legitimate reasons to connect. Focusing on what's going on in their world opens your eyes to opportunities to be genuine.
  •  Sharing is caring. Stop sharing everything with everyone. Add "favorite topics" to your contact records. Which topics do prospects follow or need to know more about? Instead of one size fits most, tailor your info sharing to earn your place in your prospect's inbox.  

It's time to stop kidding yourself, prospects are not waiting for your generic email followup. Rediscover your creative side, stop being hard of listening, demonstrate you have respect for their time, effort and attention.

 

My client was walking on cloud 9, "I'm going to be on TV!" After I congratulated their good fortune, I asked, "How will you leverage this opportunity?" I didn't mean it as a buzz kill, simply as a call back down to earth. A TV appearance is a perfect opportunity for exposure and so much more.

The Art of Digital PR 

Both our current and former presidents have mastered digital PR. President Trump understands that by using Twitter, there no longer is a need to wait for the media for him to speak directly to the American people. Former President Obama continues to leverage social media to extend his reach. In traditional PR, communications professionals would call on all their media contacts to leverage a TV opportunity. With access to social media via mobile, the PR machine is always available at a moments notice. Taking a page from the presidential PR playbook, here's some tips you can use to leverage your time in the spotlight.

Get Ready for Your Close-up 

The producer will give you a specific time to arrive for the taping. What you really need to know is the specific airtime and more importantly, where and when your appearance will appear online. Where refers to the URL. Telling your followers to "tune-in" is pointless. No one watches live TV during the day. The invite you share online must include a web address. A live feed is perfect. A generic link to the station of fine. An archive link after the event is great for your mom. She's the only one who watch it once it's old news.

We are Live in 3-2-1

Local Jacksonville PR legend (and client) Rebecca Hart taught me to stick to three, short easy to remember points during an interview. It is your #1 priority to include the organization name in your response to an interviewer's question. NASCAR drivers are famous for including the names of every sponsor in response to the question, "So how did you win the race?" It can be as simple as, "At XYZ Corp, we believe..." Don't assume the media will include your contact info. If you get luck, and they ask how to reach you, provide the easiest method. I recommend your web address as long as it is easy to say, spell and type.

And We Are Out!

You'll hear someone on the production team use this phrase to let you know when to start breathing again. It may be the end of the taping, but it is not the end of your PR promotion. If you've done your homework, you will be ready for all those new prospects who just discovered you or your organization through your interview segment. If you chose to send folks to your website, acknowledge them on your home page and extend an invitation to take a single action. Give them too many options and they will disappear. Post the web link to the segment and include a text invitation with a link to an appropriate landing page.

Being on TV is exciting. Leveraging the opportunity for PR for your cause or organization is very exciting. Technology provides you with the tools to extend your reach to new members, sponsors, and patrons. Keep Calm and PR on! 

[Editors Note] This TV PR strategy is part of Jerry's upcoming course, Social Engagement for Public Relations at UNF.  

Resources

 

It's a scrap of a lyric from a classic from Bob Dylan, "Like a Rolling Stone". It starts playing in my head each time I see a social post without a link to drive traffic to the organization's website. I've heard the justification for not linking to your site or linking to valuable content from other publishers. The irony is it's often shared by the same folks who wish they could increase the traffic to their website. If you are seeking a position online as an influencer or expert, it's time to deliver your own intellectual property (IP). Here's why.

You owe it to your followers. Photos are nice, but after a while it begins to feel like vacation syndrome. I'm glad you had fun, but I didn't get to go. If you create a link that leads to something I can learn, I'm engaged. If all I see is a photo, I'm gone. 

I won't remember you. If you share a link that leads away from you or your web presence, I will forget the source. I can't even remember what I ate for lunch yesterday.

A photo leads to a limited engagement. If I click the image you shared and all I get is a bigger image, I've already seen it twice. I may add a comment, but that's about the extent of it. Seems like a lot of work for so little engagement.

Delivering Value to Those You Serve Best

Developing unique content you deliver directly to your community creates value, builds trust, and top of mind awareness. Here are some quick content ideas for a successful landing page.

  • A blog post a new development in your customer's world. Create value by including your two-cents worth.
  • A news page covering the local angle on a national story.
  • A customer success story.
  • An update on your hours of operation.
  • Your new menu items.
  • Today's special
  • A short page with tips on how to receive more value from a purchased product

Landing pages bring prospects as well as loyal customers closer to you when you can't be there in person. What will you publish on your landing page? 

 

 The idea that your business success depends on buying more technology is a myth. You have suspected it for a long time. The truth is your business can profit from a digital transformation. If you are a business leader who wants to gain an ROI from your technology investment, you'll be surprised to learn it's easier than you think. All you need are 5 essential technologies

Technology, What is it good for?

Each of the five essentials creates value for your organization by extending your reach, bringing prospects closer, increasing your speed of execution, or reducing expenses. As you consider each of the following technologies, make sure your decisions are grounded in where they create value.

Social Media

It's not about pictures of what you had for dinner, it's all about discovery. The first step to transforming prospects into loyal customers is helping them discover your organization. There is only one tool that deserves your attention and investment. It's the social platform your customers use.  Not sure? Ask them. All you have to do is show up and execute two essential techniques; engage in conversations that replace shouting with listening, master the art of the written invitation. All your social media invitation requires is colorful visuals, details about who, what and why, and clear directions in the form of a link to learn more about your organization.

Content Marketing

If you use social media to invite prospects to your party, make sure it's memorable. Their first impression is critical to the decision to stay or leave. The best technique to build the relationship is to create a landing page. Think of it as a VIP entrance to your world. The best tool for this assignment is a blog. The content changes frequently and provides prospects with a sense of urgency. The key here is to provide information that answers a prospect's needs. Jot down a list of the questions customers ask, like, "What are your hours?" Where are you located?" or "Do you have this in stock?" are examples of content you can use to build trust.

Sales Automation

At no time in history have so many, had such vast access to so much information about everyone on the planet. Yet we squander this fortune when we craft emails addressed to, "Dear valued customer." The traditional sales funnel has been replaced by the virtual sales pipeline. The customer journey starts long before prospects become customers. A Contact Relationship Management system is the perfect tool to document where your prospects are in your sales process. More importantly, it transforms data into actionable information.  

Customer Service

User experience (UX) attracts customers. Support experience, (SX) converts them into raving fans. Take a good look at any of the major Internet platforms and you will see a robust, valuable customer service and support strategy. When the student community for a client's learning management system designed for 1,000 students exploded to 22,000 students, we build a support platform. Once you have customers, what will you do to keep them?

Brand Reputation

In the age of Twitter, your good name is a fragile commodity. A social monitoring tool is the first step. Training your team to respond when things go wrong is a talent development imperitive. Having a disaster recovery plan is the best technique to guarantee your organization will not only survive but thrive.

Connecting your digital dots is the ultimate goal. The first step is to pick one of the 5 essentials. Focus in one area then move to the next. Before you know it, you will have become the master of your digital domain!

The question, "Does Social Media Make You a Better Leader?" is more than a trivial pursuit. As customers and staff become increasingly connected, social media skills have become an essential skill for budding CEOs. The article cites a recent report by Development Dimensions International, a leadership development consultancy. As part of its High-Resolution Leadership study, DDI examined different aspects of leadership among potential CEOs and,  "Not every CEO is savvy on social media, but the ones who are often have a lot of other traits considered desirable in leaders".

 More than just some nice to have traits or behaviors, the study found that those executives who were active on social media were stronger than their counterparts in key metrics; 89 percent stronger at empowering other people, 52 percent stronger at compelling communication, and 46 percent stronger at influencing others. 

I find the last metric to be significant. Traditionally, CEOs were measured on their ability to direct others. The rise of the Internet has elevated the extended network over the organization. In the digital age, leaders must learn an indirect application of power. Social media is about infulence, not control.

 

 

At first, I thought I had stumbled across an article authored by my trusted advisor Frances Pound Fisher. Chances you've heard of those courageous folks who work without a net? Frances works without a To-do list. It was the article, Could Time-Blocking Replace Your To-Do List?  from Fast Company that brought Frances' lesson to mind. 

The logic is simple. Since completing tasks on your to-do list takes time, why not schedule them in advance? Frances' top tip is to create 20-minute blocks on your calendar. When the time arrives, start immediately. Make the call, start writing that blog post, commence working on the next task to move your project forward.

Two key finding from the Fast Company article by Gwen Moran. The first is paying attention to cycles. I plan my week in advance Sunday evenings. I schedule early meetings at a nearby undisclosed location to avoid rush hour. The second key is known as the Zegarnick effect. We remember what we haven't done better than what we have done.

I recommend reading the full article. If not now, consider blocking out some time on your calendar.

 

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With giants like Target, Yahoo and the DNC victimized by hackers, it would be easy to throw up your arms and give up on cyber security within your organization. A recent report from TechCrunch on a leak of exploits by Shadow Brokers reveals the single most important, simple to execute solution to protecting your computing environment. 

First Step to Cyber Security

What is the first line of cyber defense? Keeping all your software up to date. A spokesperson from Microsoft confirmed that the majority of the exploits leaked had already been patched. In the blink of an eye, an urgent call to action switched to yesterday's news. 

The continuing shift to cloud computing means that the day will come when your software and systems will be up-to-date the moment you log into the cloud. Until then, take action when you receive a software update announcement. Immediate inoculation is the best defense against the nastiest of Internet viruses. 

Don't blame technology. For more than three decades business leaders have fought a business arms-race by investing in new technology. You buy the latest cutting-edge software. Your competitor follows your lead. You try harder to keep up by updating to the latest version or investing in the premium version. All you get is parity and a closet full of abandoned technology.

Mindset Over Matter

When you hear the term, "Wall Clock" what image comes to mind? How about "alarm clock"? If the clock on your wall is round, it indicates an analog mindset. If your alarm clock displays the time horizontally, you're working with a digital mindset. Each day our culture moves forward from living in an analog past toward a digital future. The #1 reason established companies are losing market share, much of their profits and most of their customers is the fear of changing to a digital mindset. Analog is too heavy, too slow, too hard to execute.  

Digital Transformation, 1-2-3

Digital is the future of business. Not only your future but the future for your company. All you have to do is change your mindset. All it takes is three easy steps.

  1. Ask your customers. Here in Jacksonville, Downtown workers are flocking to Food Trucks for Lunch. Where are you customers headed? Meet them there.
  2. Review your business processes and procedures. Where can you reach farther, move faster, increase the value of the service?
  3. Adapt technology to meet the human need. Don't spend another dime on technology unless it creates value for those you serve best.

On a Personal Note

I invite you to join me Tuesday evening April 18th at UNF to celebrate the launch of our first Digital Transformation course here in Jacksonville. It's the first course that goes beyond which button to push or where to click. The focus is a digital transformation for Communications and Public Relations professionals.

Learn More or RSVP

Effective Social Engagement for Public Relations

 

I delivered your signature "TuneUp" report to a client yesterday. The verdict? Overwhelmed. What I learned is that quantity doesn't equal value. The report is meant to be inclusive. More that an inventory of the tools, it assesses skills and talents and wraps up with a list of specific actions to streamline business processes. However, the result should be excitement, not terror.

But wait, there's more. The I accepted an assignment to beta test a new expert system App. It was more Alpha then Beta. I deleted it. Next I received a special invitation to a restaurant opening. All I had to do was download an App, signup for an account, login and register for a wait time. I didn't.

I replied, thanking the owners for their invitation but declining because it was, "Just too hard to figure out." Then something extraordinary happened. I received a very nice reply from Sarah, the owner. I was stunned that she stopped all of the urgent tasks on her plate to respond to me. Not a loyal customer, not even a customer. Just some guy who's email address was in her database. I will become their loyal customer, as soon as they launch.

Today I intend to slow down, be present, reset to zero as appropriate. What is on your plate today? How are you planinng to create value today?  

Ps My love Deborah dedicated this song to me. Thank you sweetie! This is Why I Need You.

Jailtime comes from the cover-up, rarely the crime. Customer service failures stem from the response, not the incident. Employing even a smidge of Emotional Intelligence (EI) would have saved United Airlines, not to mention their customer a whole lot of pain and suffering. The importance of customer service was driven home by Darren Bounds, Founder, and CEO of Breezy.hr at a recent StartUpJax Meetup. As I understood it, a customer's UX [User eXperience] gets them to try your product or platform. their SX [Support eXperience] convinces them to become paying customers. 

I'm researching a brand new expert system platform. I had trouble completing a specific process. I submitted a support request. Here is their endearing reply:

"Hi Jerry, Thank you so much for your feedback. Oh dear, we didn't expect this to happen. This has not happened before. We're checking the app to see what's happening now. Meanwhile, if this issue is still happening, could you take a screenshot of where it's stuck? Thanks."

 Yes, that's what they said. Really. Here's what I heard: Gratitude, empathy, acceptance, responsibility, action, engagement. Priceless. Not only for brand building, but also for building the bottom line. United Airlines lost 1B in value in less than 24 hours.  

Digital Transformation - More Than Technology

The gap between established businesses and their digital replacements is more about mindset than technology. Digitally aware organizations leverage technology to deliver better experiences based on human metrics.

What quality of experience do your customers expect? It's worth a lot. In fact, it's priceless.  

Air carriers use a unique vocabulary and terminology to describe their actions. Although the word "involuntary" is in the dictionary, "reacommodating" trips up my spell checker every time. I had to manually add it to my Grammarly App.  The recent incident on a United Airlines aircraft (they never use the word plane) was more than unfortunate, it was a crime. Yes, it was legal, but it was also immoral and very short-sighted. It was an act of terror.   

From this moment on, I will never be able to look upon air travel with a positive attitude. I will be flying to Utah later this month and I dread the experience. I planned to write about the one thing employers can offer young employees as an incentive to stay with their companies. Spoiler Alert! It's Guidance. In the Inc.com article, "Want to Keep Your Millennial Employees? You Have To Be Willing to Offer Them This 1 Thing" author Nicolas Cole makes the case for leading your younger colleagues by example. Treating them as mentees. 

I'm meeting with Christian Binganisi this week, an entrepreneur I met at StartUpJax last week. I've found that associating with younger business professionals is the quickest way to make you feel younger. I learn so much when I share what I've learned. I hope I'm worthy of the opportunity to share how to treat others.

This was the first question I received after signing up for PopDQ.com. It's all about "Questions and Answers by Experts". Early in my digital career, I discovered the best opportunity of learning comes when I'm asked a question. It makes me think, and I get immediate feedback on what clients are thinking. It often leads to new services and products that allow me to deliver value to those I serve best. Here's my first PopDQ question, and my answer.

What are the best business and finance magazines to subscribe to?

Great questions DanBolVi!. An even better question is, "What do you want to know?" Think of the process as research to provide decision support. Since we have scant time to read, I recommend creating a list of periodicals that cover topics you need to know. Start with general knowledge, then create a narrow focus on specifics that support your needs. With your list in hand, seek magazines that deliver information that help you make better decisions.

Subscribe or Simply Read?

I have only one print subscription. The Economist provides me with broad information on the world, from a higher altitude. It allows me to step back from my narrow US point-of-view and receive the 40,000-foot perspective. Visit the site index to see the comprehensive list of information and special reports available.

Continue down your list to choose specific publications that create value. Which ones? I would try, not buy, your top choices. Subscribe to their blogs to receive notifications. I try different ones each week. I also evaluate the ones I've been reading to decide if they should remain on my short list of those I actually read. Check your local library for print editions. Here in Jacksonville, our library provides digital editions of a vast array of magazines. All you need is a library card. Once you find a keeper, invest in a paid subscription, either print or digital as you prefer.

Your Personal Library

I'm not embarrassed to say my print editions reside in the bath. As for those that arrive via email, I have a News folder. As they arrive I open, scan for value, then choose, move to Trash or to the News folder. If Trash becomes a frequent choice, unsubscribe is a better option. Finally, add the task "Read News" to your daily schedule.

 Okay, I made that term up. What if, instead of pitting startups against traditional businesses, we combined the best of both? Not just competition or collaboration, but a combination of both? Here in Jacksonville, we are having a public debate about the challenge of Food Trucks. Established downtown restaurants say it's unfair competition. In the age of technology disruption, digital leverage creates a disadvantage to incumbents.  

Is it fair to keep new businesses out? Is it fair to use technology to put established restaurants out of business? In Why Millennials Prefer Collaboration Over Competition author Joel Goldstein explains not how technology has changed, but how the population has changed the way they use technology. Customers are using technology to change our culture, how we shop, and how we buy. There are big problems in the world. It's going to take all of us to create solutions. I'm just saying. 

Resources 

Membership Hack: Young Members Pitching In

Remember the really loud, obnoxious TV commercials from the '60s? They are back. It started with the video slide show. All text, delivered using the typewriter effect, one letter at a time. All of it set to music. You endured it simply to see where it would end up. Now it's evolved into a monster. In the last two weeks, I've endured the mutation. A single slide, no animation, cheesy music. It appears, then just sits there while you wait for something to happen. Nothing! The image doesn't change. The music just plays on. I know 40 seconds doesn't seem like much, but in Internet time, it's an eternity. 

Marketing By Interruption 

It reminds me of the really loud, obnoxious TV commercials from the '60s. You know, the ones that inspired the invention of the TV remote, then later, the DVR. It's the latest in marketing by interruption. It's not going to work. I'm going to stop following those who use them. We have evolved. Most of us now have favorite programs we watch. What's not changed is that marketers and advertisers continue you to cling to the notion that permission-based marketing means that they have permission to forces us to stop and watch what they consider to be the most important message we will be forced to watch today. 

More Than Change The Channel

No, I'm not going to do it, you can't make me do it. They don't work. In fact, they create a negative impression. Be advised, if you create or share these monsters I will stop following you. I love all of you, but not enough to endure this attack on my time. Please make it stop. 

 

Everything about live video has changed. How it's shot, how it's used, where it fits in the customer journey. The concept of live video has changed in less than 2 years. John Chappelear is a perfect example of this evolution. Each week I receive John's Positive Thought for the Week (PTFTW). I discovered it in the back of John's bestseller, The Daily Six.

John and I just started working together. He and his team member Teri Coutu of Teric Enterprise Solutions met last week to discuss some new ideas to extend John's reach. Teri and John have created synergy by combining intuition with intention. John comes up with the crazy ideas, Teri turned them into action. John has agreed to share his latest video to help illustrate how you can leverage live video.

 The Art of Effective Video Promo

The current edition of PTFTW is on the topic of Self-siloing. I don't want to spoil it for you so I save the newsletter link until it is published. For now, let's focus on the promotional video. Watch it first, then return here to learn why it's perfect:

  • Background - if a picture is worth a 1,000 words, a video background is worth 10,000. John's outdoors, not at his desk. He's moving which keeps viewers glued to their screens. The right background tells the story, so he doesn't have to. 
  • Sound - Combining the right background with perfect audio increases the value to 100,000 words. How did John train those birds to chirp on cue?  
  • Purpose - This clip is all about promoting his post. It's PR, not Content Marketing. I doubt it will be archived on YouTube or added to a blog post.
  • Speed Bump - In this case, the purpose of the clip is to slow down the reader to give them a moment to attract the clickthrough.
  • Movie Mode - Video is the perfect format for a professional speaker. John is at his best when he's speaking. 
  • Focus on Why - A promo clip is not about how to do something. It's all about why. The Call To Action (CTA) is read John's newsletter.

The only suggestion we had for John was to shoot in landscape. Not sure what I mean? Grab you phone and go stand in front of your TV or screen. Hold up your phone. If they are both wider than tall, you've got it right. The only exception is when your video is for Snapchat.

I'm most excited to be working with John and Teri to extend his reach beyond his subscriber-base.  

Resources

If the headline about made you feel a bit queasy, it's a sign that at the very least, you are aware of what's about to happen. Almost 70% of 1,300 business leaders worldwide agreed with a key finding of KPMG International's CEO Outlook report. The next 3 years will be the most challenging, all because of digital disruption. Will you be ready? Three of my Digital Daily posts last week outlined the problem for restaurants here in Jacksonville. In less than a month, the Hogan Street Food Truck Court has literally taken the lunch of established downtown restaurants.  The Jacksonville Business Journal quoted one owner, "We just want to be on even playing field". With the digital disruption technology brings to the table, "Even playing field" has left the building.

Dealing with Digital Disruption

It's not going to go way. Established companies who hold out the hope that it's just a fad are the ones who will go way. Here are three ways your company can get ready for the disruption to come and an opportunity.

Connect Your Digital Dots

Draw a single vertical line down a blank sheet of paper. In the left-hand column, write down all your business processes that are slow, tedious, repetitive. In the right-hand column, jot down the technology you already own or are looking to acquire. Now, draw a line to connect the processes with the tools. Congratulations, you've just identified where disruption will occur in the near future. 

Focus on Techniques Instead of Tools 

Far too often businesses focus on acquiring technology tools instead of focusing on business processes that will increase sales and profit. Technology should never be an expense, it should be an investment in growth, efficiency, effectiveness. Pick one process and go all in. Combine the tools you already have to with a process to improve your business performance. 

Develop Your Talent 

Not your personal talents, your people. Like you, they are more than a bit puzzled and overwhelmed by technology. Creating a learning plan that leverages free and low-cost learning resources available from technology vendors often doubles, not the cost, but the value of your technology investment.  

Opportunity to Disrupt

All industries will be impacted. What I am most excited about today is the opportunity to transform an industry right here in Jacksonville. I've been hired by the University of North Florida to teach Jacksonville's very first, "Dealing With Digital Disruption" course. It for public relations professionals and those who practice PR on a daily basis. I will be speaking about the topic and wil introduce the course on April 18, 2017, at UNF. Please Save The Date now, and get ready to hear more about this exciting opportunity.   

This week we have focused on spring cleaning. First your inbox, then your Apps. Yesterday I shared an inside look that using Evernote to capture ideas and information as it streams by on social. Today let's get real about the Cloud. J. Kevin Parker's post, Why You Need a Unified Information Strategy lays out a strategy you and your organization can use to deal with all that data.

 It's 8:15 am. Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

It's time you moved your data files to the Cloud. It's where all your programs and Apps live. It's time to move your data off your hard drive. I know what you're thinking. What if you get hacked? The only folks who need to worry are political parties and celebrities with sex tapes. For everyone else, the benefits of Cloud storage vastly outweigh the unreasonable fear of breach of privacy or data loss. The benefits include:

  • All your data, available all the time, from anywhere, on all your devices. I have a Kindle library. I can read any book, on any device. It's part of Amazon architecture.
  • Never lose another file, ever. I use Dropbox for Cloud storage. It's integrated into my folder structure. It performs a backup (syncing) in the background, continuously. Eliminates the need for a separate file backup system.
  • Collaboration is much simpler with the Cloud. You can share a file or an entire folder with members of your team. 
  • Storing your data in the cloud eliminates the need to track duplicate copies of your file. 

Two years ago I moved all my files to the Cloud. In my experience, not only does the Cloud have a silver lining; if you are ready for a unified information strategy, it's golden.