Tag Archives: MaryTrigiani

Social media and business strategy: What I learned from professional services marketing

Traditional, conventional business strategy has relied upon one kind of marketing for decades:  broadcast.  The advent of social media is doing more for what creative marketers have advocated for years — the actual engagement of each and every stakeholder in a conversation, or a debate, or a brainstorm, not a one-way blast.  But traditional marketers are afraid of anything they cannot control, so most are still waiting for the pioneers to show why we should embrace social media instead of fear it.

I think the real problem is that traditional marketers, some leaders among them, are actually threatened by the fact that social media is making it possible for communication between a company and its stakeholders to occur independently.  You can just hear them asking, "what about my job?"  Well, this post isn't for them.  Or for anyone who believes that the best route to job security is to keep corporate marketing in the dark ages.

I was fortunate to have learned marketing not in a college classroom or a consumer conglomerate but in what some would have considered a stuffy sanctum, the executive suite of an accounting and consulting firm.  The longer I'm at this, the more I appreciate my unconventional background.  It has given me the fuel to look at every new innovation, real or trumped-up, with an eye to what it will do for the relationship between my clients and their stakeholders.  Because relationship is where it's at with professional services.

This is the first of a couple of posts I'm planning about social media and the corporate marketing function.  I'm inspired by a couple of things right now:  my work with startups and the need to look at every penny spent on marketing, and an afternoon I spent this week as the guest of KickApps at a really terrific seminar they hosted for their clients, potential clients and the social media community.  It's great and it's fun that companies like KickApps even exist.  Great because it's about time the best marketers create firms like this that really help companies maximize their involvement in the worldwide web — fun because marketing is going to be fun again, thanks to the early case studies to which we were exposed.

Before I go into sharing what we learned this week, though, here's what it made me remember, courtesy of my still-relevant experience at Andersen Worldwide.

  1. The best marketers are not parked in the marketing function, they live at the front of the company.  This means all employees.  They are the actors, not just the symbols, of the brand.
  2. Relationships are the most meaningful platform for marketing.  When you look to establish a relationship with a customer or an influencer, like a journalist or blogger, you get yourself out of the sales or publicity mode and into a real conversation.  You learn what interests them and what they need.
  3. Whether a sales cycle is long or short, establishing a relationship depends upon understanding what the customer [or stakeholder] really wants, not what you want them to think or do.  You build a brand by understanding what your people and your products or services can do for the stakeholder, not how much money you can make from the relationship.  The money — and the success — will follow organically and easily.
  4. The best marketing happens face to face or one on one, which means that the social network is perfect for building and sustaining a relationship.  What we have today is akin to what we had yesterday — a means to connect over content.  It's perfectly fine that the connecting happens via digital correspondence.
  5. Authenticity will out.  You cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
  6. Some of your best ideas will come from listening to what your critics, including dissatisfied customers, say.  Whether it's about your company or someone else's, or even if it's about you.  Play on a team of rivals.

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Web 2.0 Expo: Adding a track on government

With a BA in government, you might say it's been a lifelong avocation to observe the workings of our republic.  And my academic studies certainly had an influence on my work a few years ago in the area of corporate transparency.  [I was either too early or too late.]

So in one of the notes we bloggers received today from the Web 2.0 Expo team, I was interested to see that they've added a track in government.  Here's the story, from Janetti Chon.

The Government 2.0 track
seeks to help the Web 2.0 community understand how they can bring their
skills and knowledge to bear on this critical problem, whether as
individuals seeking to enable change or companies looking for a new
business opportunity.

A related agenda opportunity is a hackathon sponsored by Sunlight Labs.  Here's that story.

Sunlight Labs is an open source development team that
builds technology to make government more transparent and accountable. Part of
the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, they are one of our favorite
organizations, so we’ve invited them to host a hackathon at Web 2.0 Expo, where
attendees build an application that promotes transparency in government. You
can vote now for the application you want to build (or think needs to
be built). We’ll post an update on Web 2.0 Expo’s blog when the
project is selected. We welcome you to join our on-site hackathon – stop by to
help out for an hour or a day, contribute to rebuilding our democracy, and meet
some great folks!  Open Tuesday 9am-6pm,
Wednesday & Thursday 9am-5pm.

Meanwhile, I'll be announcing a special offer for Web 2.0 Expo in the next few days — stay tuned.

Studying brands, players and startups at Web 2.0 Expo

I'll be blogging before, during and after Web 2.0 Expo [March 31 – April 3, San Francisco's Moscone Center] about what's coming, what I see and what I conclude from the sessions and the encounters with other attendees.  I've attended the past couple of years, but this year, I'm one of the group of bloggers that will offer news and information about the experience.

Webexsf2009_125x125

This is an affordable conference for technologists and those of us who work with and for them — and there are attendance options that fit any budget or priorities.  One of the best aspects of the gathering is the people you meet.  From veterans to new faces, you have the opportunity to learn what's working and what they see coming.  I think this year will be interesting not just for the industry access but because for many attendees, it will be the first time you get to see how the tech industry keeps plugging in a down economy.  Innovators in all sectors of the industry will show us why we can't afford to lose heart or creativity.

Here are some places to visit for more information.

About the conference
Online registration

The free expo pass opportunity — use websf09tr3 for a $100 discount or the free expo pass

Taxes, bonuses and the crisis in leadership

Driving home last night, I listened to a San Francisco talk radio program dissect the the tax problems plaguing the Obama administration.  There are many perspectives floating around.  Sneaky politicians and lobbyists.  Arrogance.  Elitism.  Poor vetting.

I think it's a much bigger issue:  that the party which began in 1990s Washington and had satellite orgies in major financial centers also had an impact on the conscience, and thus the quality, of our nation's leaders.  We need to wrap our heads around the fact that the most professional administration we've had in two decades still cannot manage to find people with leadership credentials who have not ignored their responsibilities as far as the IRS is concerned — and goodness knows what else.

That's not to say that these tax snafus were deliberate attempts to steal from fellow taxpayers — which is what makes the whole situation even worse.  It's this:  our focus on ourselves and our own wallets and our own prestige clearly has made us sloppy and ignorant of the details that define ethical behavior.

This is why I strongly support the curb on executive pay for the confounded bunch that have just gotten truckloads full of taxpayer cash.  They clearly do not understand the correlation between their stratospheric living standards and the failure of the institutions which they lead.  So a grownup, in the person of no less than the President of United States, is finally stepping in to teach the schoolyard bullies, snobs and ignoramuses in the bunch just where to start in cleaning up the mess they made:  by looking in the mirror and learning how to live within a new mean.

Cuil. Too cool for words?

Richard MacManus of ReadWriteWeb wrote a post last night about the big coverage of Cuil, thought and/or hoped by many to be the Google killer.

The MacManus post muses about the coverage of the new search engine and the major criticism that followed its debut.  A lot of expectations mismanaged.  So MacManus cites the echo chamber and the hyperbole that stokes it.

But let’s not blame the PR people, people.  Yes, I find much of the language, elitist and cozy, too much to bear.  But somebody’s swallowing it.  And it’s not just the TechCrunches and the Valleywags.  It’s our highly trained, self-proclaimed highly professional mainstream media.

Here are the suggestions I just shared in a comment to MacManus’s post.  Let’s start stripping away the hype.  Ultimately, it’s the best thing for all concerned.

Lots of insightful comments on your interesting post.  This is not a criticism of Cuil, either.  Time will tell.

I do have comments to the press, bloggers, all the new media types “covering” startups, Silicon Valley, tech money:

1  You are part of the echo chamber.  Think before you write.  Choose your words carefully and wisely.

2  Talk with the potential enemies as well as the pals and coterie of the founders and the VCs.

3  Recognize that not everyone tells the truth.

4  If you don’t understand the technology, find someone neutral who does.  Neutral = doesn’t have an ax to grind.

5  In comparing products, rely on your own instincts and that of a true expert to unearth key points of differentiation between products and services.  Don’t just reprint what you’re being fed.

6  Start looking for the real stories of Silicon Valley.  Yes, you’re busy.  But when you take on the responsibility of distilling facts for others, you take on the responsibility to dig.  If you don’t have the work ethic for this role, find something else to do.  We’re sick of the hyperbole.  The real stories of Silicon Valley are not that far beneath the superficial surface on which you skate.

This is coming to you from someone who helps to craft and tell the stories of startups and corporations that are in this for the joy as well as the payoff — and who wouldn’t dream of yanking your chains.  Wake up.