Facebook has more than one billion users on its roster. This makes Facebook one of the most important advertising opportunities available today.
Thanks to the enormous profit potential, Facebook has gotten very good (and aggressive) about suggesting you boost your posts.
Boosting posts on Facebook can quickly become a money waster. Your fans’ friends may not be interested in buying your product or service. If so, you’re paying good money to show your ad to the wrong audience.
Adding insult to injury, targeting the wrong audience can hurt you more than help you. Users who are not interested in seeing your content can:
Whichever route they choose, it will negatively affect your Facebook account. It can kill your organic reach and make your future ads more expensive. In other words, fewer people will be seeing your free posts. And worse, Facebook will charge you more for the posts you do pay for!
There are much better and more powerful ways to target your ideal Facebook audience.
For example, my friend and author Bob Burg has 21,730 fans on his Facebook page. If Bob reaches an audience similar to mine, I could target his fans from my page. And if there are others who’ve written books similar to mine and whose audiences are like mine, I can target their fans as well.
This can have two very significant effects:
By the way, these techniques work equally well on other social media sites. For example, after I write my posts my assistant picks LinkedIn users who would be interested in them. Then he posts the articles in the user groups where the interested parties spend time. Thanks to judicious placement, in less than 20 months my LinkedIn followers have increased from 5,000 to almost 70,000. This has created many interesting opportunities for me and my business.
With a little work – and a clear strategy – it can work for you, too.
The Experience Economy
We live in a consumer society. Companies produce products and incent consumers to purchase. Media and marketing professionals build programs to create desire for those products, giving consumers more and more reasons to buy. And mass culture is created around building additional desire and compelling consumers to purchase.
But what happens when consumers have more than they need? And what happens when technology makes products irrelevant and unnecessary?
The answer to the first question is easy. When people have too much, marketers simply convince them they need even more.
The answer to the second question is more nuanced. Because while the steady wave of new technology does make many of the things we own obsolete, we continue our purchase pattern by replacing the outmoded with newly relevant devices.
The authors suggest that companies today must create memorable events for their customers. By doing so the memory of enjoying the product becomes the product itself. Gilmore and Pine further argue that as more and more products become commoditized, manufacturers must continue to evolve their wares to differentiate them.
But wait. As you move across the authors’ evolutionary ladder what disappears is the tangible product itself. Although this might not seem to be a problem at first, imagine what it does to conspicuous consumption. If one of the main reasons consumers buy more and more expensive products is to keep up with the Joneses, what happens when their money is not spent on a statusy car to show off in the driveway but an around-the-world trip or meal at an uber-exclusive restaurant?
Who’s going to see the experience if no one is present to share it?
Before continuing, let me make it clear that I am not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe people have much Machiavellian prescience. I don’t believe groups of people working sub-rosa can accomplish the things many conspiracy theories suggest they can. And I don’t believe any great group of people can keep a secret for a few days or weeks, let alone years.
That being said, Social Media in general – and Facebook in particular – is the great experience economy enabler. After all, the one way to transform personal experiences into status symbols is a democratized media that allows each of us to broadcast our activities to the world. This explains not only why the travel industry has embraced social media as its killer app, but why we are all so excited about projecting our lives and activities to the more than one billion people on Facebook and 100 million on Instagram.
Forgive and forget. I just read this post from my parenting guru, David Altshuler, and I thought it was meaningful and important enough to share with you. Next week we’ll get back to the subject of building brand value and making it All About Them, this week TurkelTalks is all about relationships.
A twenty-five dollar gift certificate, a $2.95 card that reads, “Welcome to the family,” and a 47-cent stamp can undo a year of misunderstanding. Total expenditure: $29.42. Not a bad price to pay for an adult child.
I know folks who routinely pay $29.42 for bad Chinese take-out food. Bad Chinese food is less likely to give you grandchildren never mind look at old family photographs with you. And you have never heard bad Chinese take-out food tell the story about how we got lost on that hike during the thunderstorm.
Fast forward 20 years and not even a $50 gift certificate and a card that reads, “I wish I had sent you this note welcoming you to the family two decades ago” will bring back the lost years. And I don’t even want to think about how expensive a stamp might be in 2037. You could spend $2942.00 but the adult child will be off the market.
I know your son has done more than his share to damage your relationship:
I understand you find these actions unconscionable and unforgivable.
But let’s face it: you haven’t exactly been blameless either. When he called to enthusiastically share news of a new job you said, “But you have no experience in that field; that will never work” rather than “Good for you, you’re going to be great.”
Whatever you think about his being gay, whatever your opinion about his marrying someone of another faith, whatever your belief about purple hair, he’s still your son. Whereas you can always try a different Chinese take-out place, you only get a certain number of children.
There are always a dozen reasons to end a relationship: a $25,000,000 business deal, a $25 lunch check; a perceived insult, a real insult; a large difference of opinion, a small disagreement. There’s only one reason to stay the course and maintain a relationship with your difficult progeny: having a connection to your kid, even a problematic one, is better than not.
And it could be that no matter how thin you make the pancake, they always have two sides. Is it possible that the offense has as much to do with you as with the person who has offended you? Yes, your son is gay or married someone of whom you disapprove or went to the wrong medical school or has the wrong color hair. But isn’t it YOUR issue with same sex marriage that has caused the kerfuffle?
You don’t HAVE to go back to a crummy restaurant, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a relationship with your kid? I’m not saying that you must forgive and forget; I’m just suggesting that SOMEBODY is going to be picking out your nursing home. Wouldn’t you rather you had sent that person a “We welcome you and your spouse to the family” card rather than cutting them out of your life?
Because there is still so much more for you to share with your kids – even when they’re older. The first time your son rode his two-wheel bike without training wheels won’t come again. But what about listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s Silent Night with the newscaster talking about Martin Luther King’s march on Selma in the background? Who’s going to share that brilliance with him if you don’t?
Forgive and forget? Thank you, David.
Do You Know What You Want To Do?
When I went to college I wanted to study art and design. But after a lot of thought I decided I’d be better off getting a business degree. It wasn’t until Introduction to Accounting with professor Doug Snowball that I discovered just how wrong I was.
A few weeks of accounting passed without incident. I was mostly lost and mostly bored but I kept attending Accounting 101 because of both professor Snowball’s funny top ten lists and because a big part of his class grade was based on mandatory attendance. I might not have had any idea what amortization meant, but I was certainly capable of showing up on time.
But this day was different. After attendance, professor Snowball posed this question to the class: “Tell me,” he asked with his Australian accent, “is a client deposit an asset or a liability?”
My hand shot up. For once I knew the answer to one of Snowball’s questions!
Professor Snowball looked confused as he examined my raised hand. Because I had never opened my mouth he had no idea who I was.
“Yes, Mr…” Snowball paused while he scanned his seating chart looking for my name. “…Mr. Turkle?” (people who don’t know me pronounce my name “Turkle” instead of “Tur-Kell.) “YOU know the answer?”
“Yes sir” I responded excitedly.
“Okay Mr. Turkle. Please tell us. Is a client deposit an asset or a liability?”
“It’s an asset!” I said, proud as punch.
Professor Snowball looked crestfallen. “I’m sorry Mr. Turkle, a client deposit is a liability.”
“No it’s not sir. It’s an asset.”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Turkle, but a client deposit is a liability. It belongs on the right side of the balance sheet. When you receive a deposit, you owe either products or services against it. I assure you a deposit is a liability.”
“With all due respect sir,” I answered, “if I have YOUR money then it is an asset. I believe most small businesses would pronounce that working capital. And my name’s pronounced Tur-Kéll – not Turkle – by the way.”
With that professor Snowball burst out laughing.
A couple of weeks later my dad came to Gainesville on a business trip and took me out to dinner. We were chatting about this and that when my dad asked how I liked the University of Florida.
I liked it fine, I told him. I was in a band, rooming with friends. There was lots to do and lots of cute girls and I was glad I was there.
My dad shook his head. That wasn’t what he meant. He wanted to know about my studies. Did I enjoy studying business?
“Actually,” I told him “I hate it. I don’t understand accounting at all, I can barely stay awake in my finance class, and I’m sure business ethics is an oxymoron.”
Then I told him the Snowball story.
“What do you want to study?” my dad asked.
“Art and design.”
“Then why are you studying business?”
“Because I don’t want to be a starving artist. I figured that business was the responsible thing to study. I figured if I get a business degree I can always get a job.”
Thanks to my dad’s good advice, I applied to the UF Design School. There was a bit of a sacrifice involved because the design school required different mandatory classes that I hadn’t taken and those mandatory classes added a few more semesters to my college career. But once I started taking classes in type design, printmaking, drawing, and graphic design I loved what I was doing and the people I was doing it with.
Why am I telling you this? Because my fondest hope for you in the new year is that you are either doing what you love or will make a new year’s resolution to figure out how to do so. I’m sure Professor Snowball — and my father — would both agree with that course of action.
All you need to decide is what you want to do.
Years and years ago I came up with a brilliant idea for attracting new business. In my daily scouring of newspapers, magazines, and other media (thankfully this was before the Internet) I’d look for advertising that I thought was poorly done. I’d rip the offending page out of the newspaper or magazine and slap a bright orange sticker on its face. The sticker said, “You would get better results with a better ad.”
Then I’d shove the marked-up ad in an envelope and send it to the CEO or CMO for whom I thought I could do better work. I’d include a note introducing myself and my agency and telling them what I could do for them.
Shockingly, I didn’t get any responses. And at first I didn’t understand why.
After all, I had taken the time to look at their advertising materials and even offered to help them out. It couldn’t be a matter of money because I hadn’t told them what I would charge for my services. So why weren’t they calling and taking me up on my generous offer?
What I’ve learned through hindsight, maturity, and the experience of getting knocked flat on my ass one time too many is that people don’t like being told they’re idiots.
And that was exactly what I was doing.
Instead of being helpful I was being presumptuous. Instead of being insightful I was being irritating. Instead of being enlightening I was being insulting. And instead of giving my prospects a real reason to contact me and do business with me I was giving them every reason to stay as far away from me as they could.
How many people who are concerned about their weight enjoy shopping in the “portly,” or “husky” department? How many people like asking for a seatbelt extender on an airplane? How many people who are concerned about their age enjoy requesting the senior discount?
How about asking the price of the special on the menu? Why do restaurant owners think it’s okay to post sumptuous specials without a price and then make us shyly ask the waiter how much it costs (or worse yet, simply not order it)?
Who wants to buy a computer from a knowledgeable IT salesperson who makes it clear we don’t know what we’re buying? Who wants to buy a car from a salesperson who asks if we “…need to check with our spouse first?”
What middle-aged person just getting back into a fitness regime wants to walk into a hard body gym? What father wants to be asked by his child’s preschool teacher if he’s “babysitting today?”
What voters like being told they’re racist, misogynistic, uneducated, deplorable, elitist, close-minded, dishonest, lazy, immoral, unengaged or crooked?
No, few consumers like to be told they’re stupid, over the hill, overweight, clueless, unwelcome, cheap, or uninformed, even if they are. Nobody likes being called an idiot. Instead people want to be treated with respect, compassion, interest, concern, politeness, and graciousness.
Yes, there are nightclubs that fill their tables by making people wait behind the velvet line hoping to get in. And yes, there are upscale boutiques that sell outrageous amounts of clothing at outrageous prices simply by looking down on their customers (Pretty Woman, anyone?) but the Internet is making that reality rarer and rarer. Because in a world where almost anything is instantly available and anyone can comment on anything anytime, consumers have more choices than ever.
And when they have all this choice, you can be sure they’re not going to frequent businesses that make them feel badly about being there. Or worse, make them feel badly about themselves. And you can be damn sure they’re not going to call the ad agency that suggests they’re idiots.
All About Them is not only the title of my new book, it’s also the three-word mantra that can transform your business in the new world we all find ourselves. By making sure that you’re always looking for ways to not talk about yourself and your company but to talk about how you make your consumers’ lives better, you can change the relationship you have with them. And that simple shift will generate increased inquiries, increased sales, and increased loyalty.
All About Them is not just a book title. It’s a way of life.
To understand the need for change, let’s review the history of the advertising industry.
The business was started in the 1800’s when the publisher of a farm journal realized tractor manufacturers, seed companies, and the like couldn’t get reach all the farmers themselves but they could reach them by placing ads in his publication. So, he spread the word, became an “agent”, and the first “agency” was born.
For the next hundred years the business didn’t change much. Agencies represented newspapers which were not too much different from farm journals. In the 1920s agencies started representing radio stations. The technology might have seen change — aural instead of visual — but the concept was the same.
In the 1950s, agencies added television. Now they were selling a medium that consumers saw and heard, but it was still the same concept. And, of course, billboards, magazines, and direct mail were added. But the business did not change substantially until the 1990s when — BOOM!! — the Internet became important. What the Internet did — and what nobody realized in the early 1990s — was that it democratized media. Thanks to Internet access almost everybody had the opportunity to reach consumers. And online vehicles (like this blog for example) could reach huge groups of people without ever paying a penny to a magazine, newspaper or
Of course, the reason for marketing hasn’t needed to change despite all the new technologies. If you don’t actively sell things, people aren’t going to buy them. Because if you already run your business well and constantly improve everything you can improve, then one of the few places to build real value in your company is to build your brand. Done properly, branding can become the least expensive way to generate more revenue and make your business more valuable.
Advertising agencies continue to run their businesses the same way their predecessors did more than one hundred years ago.
It’s like the newspaper business. The problem with the newspaper business is they have the word paper in their name. And so most newspapers thought they had to print their information on paper. And they’ve paid the price in diminished circulation in the wake of emerging TV and Internet news sources.
But if newspapers realized that what people want to buy is news, not paper, they would change their business model to brand and sell what they do so well and what people want to buy.
But companies — like people — don’t like to change. And worse, they don’t like to be told to change. Do you? What is it you’re not doing — or not changing — even though you see the writing on the wall?
Saying No To Business.
My buddy Mike and I were driving back to the Albuquerque airport early on a frosty November morning. We had just enough time for a hot cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito before we took off for New Orleans.
Before long we passed a sign for “Cesar’s Mexican/Greek Diner.” It looked like the perfect spot so we turned around and pulled into their parking lot.
We hopped out of the car and were confronted with these two signs on Cesar’s front glass:
Even though all of us see these kinds of signs often enough to ignore them it’s still interesting to take a moment and think about what Cesar’s was doing.
Clearly, Cesar’s employees have been bothered by solicitors, barefoot diners, smokers, and people who expected to pay for their meal with a one hundred-dollar bill.
Of course they’ve had to deal with unreasonable customers who wanted their money refunded.
And surely their time has been wasted by non-customers who wanted to use their bathroom.
But are those enough hassles for a business to tell us all the reasons we’re not welcome there before we even set foot in the place? Are those good reasons for saying no to business? After all, the only things Cesar’s left out were “Our food sucks” and “If I were you I’d be leaving.”
Lucky for my readers Mike and I were willing to venture inside simply because I wanted to see how else Cesar’s could try saying no to business and turn us off.
Needless to say, we were the only customers inside the little diner.
The counter clerk was a master at what my father used to call “friendly incompetence.” And the guy who took our money (Cesar?) made it quite clear that he was not the slightest bit interested in us being there. Luckily the coffee was hot and the breakfast burrito was surprisingly good. But just in case they weren’t, the receipt warned us that even though it was “extra delicious,” “complaints in person with the food” would still get “no refunds.”
At least they were consistent in saying no to business.
Okay, okay, I can hear you chuckling from here. And yes, it is easy to laugh at Cesar’s egregious practices. But sniff at your peril. Because if you do you’ll miss the opportunity to improve your business and your brand. So instead of judging, why not look at your business systems from your customers’ point of view? See if you’re unwittingly throwing obstacles in their way and saying no to business.
These little problems are all ways you’re saying no to business and reasons for your customers to look elsewhere. After all, it’s not like they can’t find what you do somewhere else. And as we’ve said so many times before, in today’s connected world the function of your business is simply cost of entry.
Instead, it’s the way your brand makes your customers feel about themselves that creates both value and desire. And that’s how to differentiate yourself from the clueless companies by simply thinking about your customers.
I readily admit that this post is going to piss some people off. Especially the ones who were nice enough to send me the gratuitous greetings that inspired this rant. But please bear with me and read on. You’ll find there’s something valuable here to learn about building your brand.
Each year about this time the digital holiday cards start to fill my email box. And you know what I’m talking about because you’re either receiving them or you sent them.
As I’m sure you’ve found, the Thanksgiving designs tend to use a stock photo of a cornucopia or an autumnal field. Sometimes it’s a pumpkin or a cartoon of a turkey ironically dressed in Pilgrim attire.
The Christmas cards usually feature a pastoral winter scene or a semi-religious theme or perhaps a Christmas tree festooned with lights.
Each sports a headline that reads something like, “Warmest Wishes for the Season,” or “Happy Holidays,” or maybe a poem that starts with words like, “At this special time of year, it’s good to hear…”
I’m sure you get these gems too.
But when you open these emails do you ever think, “Oh my goodness, how nice of my insurance company (or cable provider, or septic tank service, or accountant, or power company) to take a moment in this busy season to actually think of me and send such a warm personal greeting.”
No, you do not.
If you even think about it at all you’d probably think something more in line with, “how gratuitous of the people I send money on a regular basis to have their social media person select a stock greeting template and mail merge it with their CRM software.”
Per TechTarget, “customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth.”
Borrowing from that definition of CRM, good branding strategy also has “the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth.” But as we’ve seen for the last ten years that I’ve been writing this blog, great brands are All About Them. In other words, great brands provide an authentic truth about their company (or personnel or reason for being) that their consumers can use to self-identify with and to enhance their lives.
The screaming eagle tattoo on a Harley-Davidson rider’s shoulder? All About Them.
The flannel shirts at a Melissa Etheredge concert or the Juggalo makeup at an Insane Clown Posse show? All About Them.
Apple Watches, Fitbits, Panerais and Rolex Daytonas? All About Them.
But fake greetings that transmit fake emotions? At best they get a passing nod or chuckle. Mostly they are invisible. But for some thoughtful receiver these soulless mailers further amplify the nihilistic emptiness that can be so painfully prevalent in both today’s digital society and the holiday season. After all, these are the days when our expectations of Christmas past can easily outpace the reality of our lives and our relationships.
At its most fundamental, building brands IS about building relationships.
So before you hit “send” on that CRM-approved generic mailer why not think twice? Instead of sparing every expense and doing the simplest thing possible, this year make an effort. Make your outreach All About Them.
Send a real hand-written note of thanks, a gift that shows you thought about the receiver, a donation to a charity in your customers’ names or something else that expresses how you truly feel.
At the very least your action will make at least two people feel good: