New Year, New News

A very Happy New Year to all my readers and friends, and to all the marketers out there who fought through another holiday season and are all geared up and amped for a new year with new strategies.

And, hopefully, new budgets! 😉

On the note of taking a good, long look at things that are new, I’m happy to say that in 2011 I’ll be writing blog posts for a very esteemed healthcare publication, Oncology Times. My content there focuses on marketing, branding and social media yet is geared more specifically for the cancer care crowd — physicians and front-line oncology professionals, as well as marketers and non-marketers in community and academic settings. Yet you’re invited to check it out and potentially pull out some relevant morals.

I’ll also translate salient points back into more generic marketing-speak, if applicable, and post them back here with any relevant morals easily identifiable.

My first post for Oncology Times kicks off a three-part series of posts on the necessity for oncology professionals to embrace social media. After spending the better part of the last three years involved in social media and oncology, I know it’s an area that’s fully engaged each and every day with rich social conversation that impacts the delivery of healthcare.

Here’s to a 2011 filled with new things, good things, and a whole lot of success. Do your homework, and charge ahead into the year with a determined and focused energy.

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The New Four P’s of Marketing — Part 3

So, we’ve looked at Proof and Presence and why they’re the lead tandem in the New Four P’s of Marketing.

Now let’s look at what you need once you have Proof and Presence: some Persuasion.

  • Persuasion — What good is Presence if you don’t use it wisely? If you don’t use it to demonstrate your Proof to potential customers? That’s what Persuasion involves: using your Presence effectively to deliver your Proof and persuade customers to, well, become your customers.
    How do you persuade? Well, I’m not suggesting you do anything that’s not genuine, as the word persuasion is sometimes viewed. What I mean is you need to develop market knowledge and a customer-first mentality, and leverage it to be an expert and give customers a reason to trust and do business with you.
    What kind of knowledge? Data and statistics about your market and about your customers. Unique experience or perspective. Customer needs and how to address them. Hell, even just having an opinion is market knowledge and worth something in terms of mental capital with customers. Even a forum or community on your site can be knowledge, even if it doesn’t come from you — if you bring customers together to discuss things and share thoughts, you’re the driving force behind their connection. You’re an expert.
    How do you leverage it? A variety of ways. Start a blog, and use it to craft an authoritative perspective. That’s Persuasion at its best, when your organization’s leaders — and even its front line people — share their expertise with customers via social media. That’s real enagagement. You can start an enewsletter, develop white papers, open Twitter accouunts, build a unique content area of your website. It may seem like irrelevant effort if it’s work that doesn’t focus on your products or company. But it’s not. You have to make a case for customers to trust you. You have to persuade them why you’re relevant, why you’re the best choice. Showing them Proof and having a Presence isn’t enough — you must deliver content and perspective that makes the case.
    Aggregating and sharing this knowledge is the Persuasion that helps you keep customers that your Presence found for you.
  • Next post discusses the final new P: Price.

Charge Ahead Blog Top 10 Posts

I launched the Charge Ahead blog a year ago, and have enjoyed sharing many a random thought about marketing. Many semi-organized ones too. So much has changed in the field of marketing, even in just a year.

To celebrate my blog’s one year birthday, I took a good, long look and gathered a list of my top 10 posts over the last year.

I thank you for your readership, and am ready to charge ahead with continued posts over the next year for you.

The Future of Content, Part 3

I feel refreshed today.

No, it’s not because I got to the pool today after along day on the road at a conference. 😉

It’s because, for all the journalists who don’t get it, like I mentioned in my last post, there’s one who takes a good, long look and sees it like it is. And by “like it is,” I mean “the customer now dictates what constitutes content.”

The Twitter phenomenon epitimizes the kinds of technology-enabled shifts seen in the ways consumers communicate and seek information over the past few years.

And yet again, I emphasize that the opportunity is there for marketers — we have as big a role in the future of content as journalists do. Bring people together with the content they want, and you are their trusted source. It’s news they want? Tweet from a show floor (like I’ve been doing all day at this conference), an event, a concert, a press conference. Expert analysis? Create a path to experts — a CEO blog, a unique Twitter solution like ExecTweets, or a mashup of content. Personal viewpoints or reality reporting? Build a community where people can identify and network, like Facebook or Sermo in the healthcare space. The list goes on.

The beauty of Twitter is its simplicity. Of course, that’s also what some dislike about it. But that simplicity, in all it’s brevity, makes for one whole boatload of content when you add up a few hundred followers, whether it’s your sister, five cousins and grandma or it’s Ashton Kutcher, Kathy Ireland and Sanjay Gupta. When you charge ahead with your particular solution, it may end up being as simple as Twitter or it may be much more complex.

Just make sure it delivers the content your customers want and you’re golden.

Steps to Improve Your Social Network

This may be preaching to the choir, but clearly I am not against that in this blog. You know this.

Marketers are, by and large, good networkers. This is probably due to the fact that, like I said in a recent post, we are in sales as much as we are in marketing. We’re accustomed to seeking and finding customers on an hourly basis, so seeking and finding others like ourselves either comes naturally or comes through experience. And as part of Brand Y-O-U, your personal brand, networking is critically important to the vitality of your career.

Yet for young marketers, those who’ve been in a particular job or field for a long time, those who are not either natural or trained networkers, or those executives who are not in marketing, you need to take a good, long look at your social network and get up-to-speed quickly with the power of social networking. And specifically, building the power of your own social network — the generalities and statistics and cool factor about social networking are great, but the ROI in social networking needs to include some tangible benefits for you and your personal brand, right?

Make no mistake — investing some of your time in establishing a strong social network for yourself is just as important as investing time to understand the social networking tools you use to engage and acquire customers. And it’s important to invest this time when you’re:

  • At an experienced career level, in the growth stages of your career, or just starting out
  • In a strong employment position, rather than just when you’re looking for a job
  • That’s because when you’re out of a job, of course you’re reaching out to people — and it’s perceived that way. You’re out of your comfort zone — and if you’re not a regular networker, you’re viewed as putting on a persona that’s not normally you.

    So, now that we’ve got the reasoning for networking out of the way, here’s the whole purpose of this post. A brief list of things you can do to be a marketer with a strong social network:

  • Build a power profile on LinkedIn — Keep it updated to-the-minute with all your experience, connect to people you work with and know, and ask people to recommend you. Sure, it may be a little cliche now, yet it’s the easiest and first thing to do, and it’s recognized by all. Make your profile a place you can send people to easily learn about your credentials. (Use my profile as a reference)
  • Read and comment on blogs — You need to read blogs for their valuable perspective and insights, so comment on them to put your thoughts on record, build a search-engine friendly way to find you, and establish your expertise. If you don’t have your own website or blog (which, if you’re considering starting a blog, ask yourself these questions first), link back to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Reach out to other professionals who are like you — Create relationships with people you can learn from, bounce ideas off of, and share insights with. They may work for your company, your vendors, other companies in your industry, or even your competitors. That’s right — competitors. Fostering a strong social network and empowering a give-and-take of knowledge is more beneficial than erecting barriers that diminish your network’s reach. Find these people on LinkedIn, at industry events, on blogs, on blog comments, on Twitter, on Google, on company websites, and via other colleagues in your social network. Reach out to them with an invitation to share expertise and discuss issues.
  • Stay in touch with your network — Don’t meet people and then just let the relationships wilt. Stay in touch with your network, where they are, what they do, and more importantly what and who they know. Find relevant reasons to communicate — share ideas, forward data and articles, set up meetings, propose partnerships.
  • These are the basics. There are other things you can do — start a blog, seek speaking opportunities, and more. If you’re new to being a social networker, start slow. Build a good foundation for your network before you charge ahead into the world of blogging and advanced social media.

    You’ve invested the time, money and effort in being a good marketer — don’t let it go to waste because you didn’t invest in your social network and Brand Y-O-U.

    Blogs as a Marketing Tool, Part 2

    Not too long ago, I pointed out the obvious that if you’re a marketer, you’re considering how to charge ahead and use a blog.

    As a follow-up to that, in addition to taking a good, long look at the post from Mario Sundar on corporate blogging, take a look at this great post from Chris Brogan on blogging.

    We’re getting farther into a marketing reality that merges Web 2.0 with marketing to more and more people who use Web 2.0. Yet don’t just throw up a blog, call it Web 2.0, and call it a day. The strategy has to be right, the traffic building has to be right…everything has to be right, or it just isn’t effective. It’s like buying media or buying a list that offers only 50% of the audience is your target. If you don’t put the right effort into your blogs and other social media initiatives, you’re missing out just the same.

    Blogs as a Marketing Tool

    If you’re a marketer, you’re considering how to charge ahead and use a blog. It’s that simple. If you’re not, then you’re really destined for some other line of work.

    Before you settle on how that blog fits your strategy, take a good, long look at this post from Mario Sundar on corporate blogging. It has a bunch of links to other resources, blogs and best practices posts. As you read about the types of blogs and the different facets of corporate blogging, you realize that using a blog is not always as feasible as you originally theorized.