Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Education Is Flooding the Marketplace and Customers Are Winning

Not long ago, “associations” were the prime purveyors of how-to marketing information. Every industry had multiple trade shows, seminars, and workshops design to help “members” market to their customers. It didn’t matter whether the product was landscaping services or laundry. Every vertical and sub-vertical showed members how to market. No more.

Today, the best educators on the scene are the experts who actually do the marketing themselves: agencies, publishers, SEO experts, website designers, mobile app developers, database pros, research companies, publishers, copywriters, media coaches, PR folks, software developers – everybody is selling directly to the user.

The tools vary, but every channel is both digital and direct-to-the-buyer: blogs, whitepapers, webinars, e-newsletters, podcasts, videos, and apps. This is education when you need and where you want. Mostly, it’s free. That’s what content marketing is all about. And if my email inbox is any proof, many users get 10 to 15 shots per day at FREE “learning.”

It’s a rich time to be in business. But something has still been missing … and that’s the face-to-face, one-on-one, we’re-in-the-same-network dynamic that traditional “association meetings” have provided. Worry not, that, too, is coming for those who want it.

Blogger, writer, and business icon Rohit Bhargava hosted a "likenomics" webinar to celebrate publication of his new book by the same name. Since Likeonomics is a book about why we trust people we like, and how to be more trusted in business, life and work, the virtual event was conducted using a new platform called Shindig. Registrants were encouraged to enable their own webcams so everyone attending the event could see everyone else. Or, as the announcement noted, “Instead of having a one-way boring conversation with powerpoint, the session is fully interactive - with video chatting on both sides.”

Check out shindig.com for any number of fascinating groups to join and chats to embrace. For example, on May 16 at 6:00 p.m., Leslie Poston presents "From dummy to genius, monetizing social metrics,” a session based on her book Social Media Metrics for Dummies.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cash Mobs: Going from Bad to Good, One Flash Mob at a Time

The term "flash mob" used to have mostly nefarious -- well, okay, criminal -- connotations. But social media changed all that.

Flash Mobs have turned into Cash Mobs .. and that's a good thing.

Unlike groups incited to hit a retailer for an explosion of shoplifting, cash mobs have an altruistic intent: to support local retailers with consumer-supported shopping splurges.

That's the concept behind Cash Mob day organized by Cleveland lawyer Andrew Samtoy. His idea was to get 100 people to gather on March 24, with the goal of spending $20 each at The Nature's Bin, a local organic grocery store. As the happy recipient of Samtoy's spend-a-thon, Cornucopia, Inc., the nonprofit that runs Nature's Bin, couldn't be happier. "The cash mob made us all, once again, realize that we have a great story to tell, which anyone can relate to, and that it is our story that separates us from the competition."

How did Samtoy market the concept? One customer at a time. "We have a very limited marketing budget and [this effort] brought in people who wouldn't have been here. It sounds corny, but we really build a base one customer at a time," he added.

The cash mob concept is growing nationwide. The first on record happened a few months earlier in Buffalo, New York, organized by blogger, Christopher Smith, who calls cash mobs "a sort of reverse Groupon."

Cash mobs are organized via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter: San Diego Cash Mobs, for example, with 798 "likes," and Vermont Cash Mobbers.

Rich with innovation and new chapters on how to organize and motivate people, social media remains a marketing event waiting to happen.