Sales and Social Media: PB & J or Oil and Water?

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of delivering a presentation to our company’s Business Development Directors on the benefits of considering certain social media tools to reach their goals.

My First Prezi Presentation

Mixing sales (or marketing) and social media is, of course, done by companies and individuals all over the world every day.  But, if your social media approach is lead by what you’re going to get out of it (ulterior motives) as opposed to shining the spotlight on other people (altruistic motives), make no mistake that people will see right through it.

My main point then was two-fold.  If you’re not participating, that doesn’t mean the conversations aren’t happening, they simply go on without you.  And, once in the game, are you there for the right reasons?  If it’s primarily to add value to whatever community you’re in and to help whenever possible, then the answer is yes.

Thanks to Brian Solis, Olivier Blanchard, John Haydon, Chris Brogan and everyone else who inspires me every day to aide those around me in their quest to make sense of all this stuff.  By the way, I tried embedding the presentation here but apparently wordpress.com doesn’t like Prezi.  At least they’re not playing well together.  Instead, I’ve included the public link.  I hope you like it.

Sales and Social Media: PB & J or Oil and Water?

Chris Brogan, Trust Agents and Social Media: Old-Fashioned Common Sense

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation made my Chris Brogan.  Through Thursday you can purchase a DVD of the eventChristine Taylor and JTMar partnered with Stage Post Studios to not only make Chris available in person to several hundred Nashvillians, but they also streamed the event online, including incorporating questions via Twitter and by phone all in real time.  Everyone in attendance also receive an autographed copy of Chris’ new book Trust Agents, written with Julien Smith.

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan, co-author of Trust Agents

Photo credit, affiliatesummit

The name Chris Brogan has become synonymous with all things social media.  Many consider him to be the authority on the subject and the single best example for individuals desiring to be viewed as thought leaders and influencers and for companies hoping to more intimately connect with customers.

Needless to say, none of us were disappointed.  However, I did find myself continually thinking, “This all sounds so familiar.”  Chris himself mentioned more than once that so much of what works in the online world is truly nothing more than good ol’ fashioned common sense.  Help other people first.

I think Zig Ziglar said it best years ago:  “You can get everything in life you want, if you can just help enough other people get what they want.”  You could even go back a little further.  Remember the Golden Rule?  To paraphrase, it says, in essence, treat other people the way you yourself desire to be treated.  Or, as Chris so succinctly puts it,  exercise some “common sense.”

Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents

Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents

Photo credit, affiliatesummit

It shouldn’t be hard, right?  Yet every day, each of us finds ourselves interacting with someone who has either failed to understand it, or understands it and is simply choosing to ignore it (maybe, heaven forbid, it’s that person in the mirror).  The best illustration I’ve ever heard that really helped to put this into perspective came from Chris yesterday.

Imagine someone you’re being introduced to for the first time has just reached out to shake your hand.  You oblige and then waste no time as you stick your tongue in their mouth.

As extreme as that sounds, it’s essentially what so many who don’t “get it” are doing every day.  How many times do you receive a friend request on Facebook (or a “follow” on Twitter or, name your platform) from someone you don’t know – and who hasn’t taken the time to even include a personal message of introduction – that is soon followed by a note about what services or product they offer that you might be interested in?

If you’ve ever chatted with someone with experience waiting tables, you’re likely to find they view the Sunday “after church” crowd as one of the worst group of tippers around (at least that’s what my anecdotal research reveals).  In some cases, the waiter or waitress is more likely to find a tract (a plan of salvation) than a tip once the table empties (just what the world needs: Christians who go around sticking their tongues in people’s mouths).

I’m embarrassed to admit that 25 years ago, as a young believer, I actually did this.  Mind you, I left a tip too, but apparently had no problem with leaving a stranger’s eternal destination up to a piece of paper.  As far as I was concerned, I’d fulfilled my obligation.  If the message didn’t sink in, that was their problem.  Investing in people’s lives was hard.  This was so much easier.  “Hurray, I planted another seed,” I told myself.

Did any of them take root?  The evidence is weak at best.  Let’s just say that if and when I get to heaven, I doubt there will be anyone eager to shake my hand.

This post is dedicated to my grandfather, William Otis Holladay, who, at 91, passed away earlier today.  A veteran of World War II, he was the epitome of common sense.  I have no doubt that in heaven, there is a long line ready to greet him.

Are You Social Media Director Worthy?

Earlier today, I read a week-old post from Olivier Blanchard on what companies should look for in hiring a social media director (not quite sure how I missed it originally).  In a word, the post is simply fantastic.


The Brand Builder

If you’ve been handed your company’s social media reigns, charged with hiring this person for your company, or hoping someday soon to be that person that gets hired to spearhead social media for a given company, this post contains most everything you should know or at least start working on in the meantime.

I challenge you to read the entire post (it’s a little long but hang in there) and NOT imagine which of the three “types” you are.  It’s an exercise I think you’ll find quite valuable.  I know I did.   And be sure to peruse the comments too (93 at this writing).  There are some great conversations happening here.

While you’re at it, if you’re on Twitter, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re following Olivier.

Invoicing Doesn’t Have to be a Pain

If you’re like most people these days and you work for someone else, chances are you’ve at least considered doing a little moonlighting or venturing out on your own altogether, especially in this uncertain economy.

life before week-end. business scream

None of us knows if or when it might be our turn to get the axe, so it never hurts to have another iron or two in the fire.  Only recently have I even given any thought to what I would do in that situation.  “What’s my Plan B,” in other words.

For me, I’ve had a few close colleagues recently recommend I branch out by consulting other small businesses in social media, particularly in the area of brand monitoring.  While I’ve not officially attempted that yet, I have seen requests increase recently in an area closer to my current profession: voice overs.

This was not something I planned or marketed in any way (when it rains it pours I guess).  It’s picked up enough, though, that it was time to find a better way to keep track of it all.  I was especially interested in an easy way to invoice and track payments from clients.  Ultimately, I wanted to find a program I could use in the cloud.  The ability to track payments, invoices and clients all online would be the perfect solution.  If I could send invoices easily by e-mail, then all the better.

I began my research on Twitter, asking those that follow me – about 700 at the time – what they might recommend.  I ended up with three different suggestions in all.  The one that intrigued me the most though was FreshBooks.

I’ve been using it for just about three months now, and I’ve found it to be the perfect solution for my situation.  If you’re just starting out as a freelancer or small business owner, or your business operates on just a handful of clients, then you may be able to use the free version.  Once you reach 4 clients or more, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee.

I think the subscription-based pricing structure is very reasonable.  If you manage anywhere between 4 and 25 clients, the cost to you is only $14 per month.  26 to 100 clients is just $27 per month.  Prices go up from there, but I think it’s a pretty good deal.  Having said that, I haven’t compared FreshBooks’ pricing with that of other, similar services.  I do like their 30-day money back guarantee, and the fact they’re no contracts.  You use it on a month-to-month basis and, if at any time you decide to stop using it, no problem.

The FreshBooks software even allows you to track by time.  Personally, that’s not something I use, at least not yet.  I especially like the professional look and the credibility I feel it adds to my over-all presentation.  According to the FreshBooks website, it’s simply an online invoice and time tracking service that saves you time (I can attest to that).

With FreshBooks, you can:

  • Create, send and manage invoices
  • Track time (for you and your staff)
  • Send invoices by e-mail or US post
  • Accept payment with PayPal, Authorize.Net and more
  • Automatically send invoices and late payment notices
  • Create reports and import/export your data

I’ve been really happy with it.  One of the aspects I liked most about the software was the ability to open an account and create and send my first invoice in the span of about 15 minutes.  Not bad.  Though I’m only using the free version now, I’m confident that once I add more clients, I’ll stick with FreshBooks and move up to the next tier.

What about you?  What invoice software do you use?  Have you used FreshBooks?  If so, do you like it?  If not, what are your gripes?

Note: Thanks to Christopher (@side3media on Twitter) for referring me to FreshBooks.  I owe you one.  Also, the FreshBooks links I’ve provided in this post are referrel links unique to me.  If you prefer to by-pass this, simply go to freshbooks.com.