The Business Of Happy Birthday

Just how many people are born in February, anyway? It seems like there are 3-5 people daily with birthdays I know within my little network. How about yours?

Since the snail mail snafus with postage increases galore (who knows the price of a postage stamp right now?), the volume of personal mail has subsided to a dull meow. When it’s your birthday, the tried-and-true BFFs from college send a greeting alongside mom, but everyone now sends global greetings the easy way — prompted by Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype and Google+.

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Credit: Jayme Soulati

BTW, thank you EVERYONE for my birthday greetings! I remember about three years ago when I sat in front of my social channels until noon thanking every single person for my birthday wishes; it was a grand feeling for the whole day. About three years ago, it was a huge novelty to say happy birthday to everyone online. Now, you can even send gifts, and my goodness, I got one to NOT Dumb Starbucks (watch Steamfeed for the post I just uploaded on that topic!!).

Several weeks ago, I began to get birthday cards and I knew from the tell-tale envelope it was a personal greeting. Alas, not until I more closely looked at the marketing promo did I see that my birthday cards were from Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Sunglass Hut, and my financial adviser (who always sends the best home-made cards, BTW.

Inside the retail cards were discounts on goods and services in honor of my special day. I could come on in and spend some money while getting $10 off that $75.

The business of happy birthday has gotten wayyyyy out of hand, but is it smart marketing? Do you rush to the retailer to cash in on the little discount they’re sending, or do you file the coupon? I did manage to use a Chico’s coupon for $10 off only because I was shopping for a business trip — see, still business!

Do you use birthday databases in your business? Tell me if you’ve had success with that and whether you recommend it as a good marketing strategy. I’ve never been a good birthday-rememberer, so I know already it wouldn’t be a strategy I implement, but I sure do enjoy saying happies to everyone else online!

(Please do note the very interesting compilation of blog posts from folks I don’t know writing about anyone’s birthday.)

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Your Blog, You and 2014

Confidence-Thermometer.jpgBet you didn’t notice this blog had nearly a two-week hiatus, or maybe you did. There wasn’t a day that went by I wasn’t guilty to not be writing despite the lowest-trafficked periods of the year.

What I continued to tell myself is that this holiday break was critical for my need to rejuvenate and refresh my moxie while getting inspired to write about a whole bunch of new topics.

You see, blogging becomes part of you; it gets under your skin, and courses through your blood. There’s never a conversation or interaction in which I don’t identify a topic or two to write on. It makes me a better listener; it’s inherent now with easy thought to add to the endless stream of ideas.

How about you?

If you’ve been blogging on nigh a year, perhaps this sort of topical instinct isn’t happening yet; no worries! Trust me when I tell you it will!

If you’ve been blogging three years, you should absolutely have blog topics written all over the place on scraps of paper. Maybe you’re truly an electronic wizard (which means you use the other side of your brain a tad more than creatives), and you can organize your thoughts into a list. Does List.ly have private list-building?

It’s A New Year

What I’m trying to say is that a new year is always psychologically, well, new. You know? The ball drops at midnight, and the pressure is on to be more…you know, more.

Let me try to explain.

As the years go by and blogging becomes part of your inner psyche, you want to grow. Your blog has to change with the times and become more exciting in parallel to your own growth journey.

As you transform, so, too, does your blog.

This morning, I just read a friend’s post about taking a huge hiatus and coming back to find fewer folks who’ve stayed the course, fewer comments, and fewer success stories with nil banter. Indeed. Bill Dorman is right; it’s a tough road blogging. That’s why you need goals and aspirations.

Have you thought about how you want your blog to grow and what you’d like to see happen in your house? Do that; it’s time.

Used to be we blogged more for the fun of it and to have a party in the comments; maybe a good old Team Blog Jack, too. Now, though, that’s pretty much dried up; you’re gonna need to reach deep within and find the divining rod into your heart. Then? Let the floodgates open and turn it up a notch; pour out your passion like never before aligned so closely with your business goals. You need your blog to make that happen; it’s the only steady you have on the social sphere.

Blowing Up Your Business

In 2013, I successfully blew up my business. I’m told that’s what entrepreneurs do; they reach a brick wall and rather than go over, they dynamite. Perhaps they get to the other side, or perhaps they drown in TNT. I’m the latter, and here’s the good news. I KNOW IT. I know I blew up my business (and only I can define internally what that means), and I also know that 2014 is critical to regroup and rebuild.

What that also means is the blog is part of the larger plan, too.

Want to know something really simple? There’s nothing like blogging to showcase smarts, expertise, personality, and to give gifts.

Soulati-’TUDE! Is Turning Four!

My blogging birthday is coming up; we’re gonna be FOUR! That is HUGE! It’s so #RockHot I can’t even tell you.

I’m seeking ideas for how to celebrate Soulati-’TUDE! IS FOUR.

Perhaps I’ll plan a virtual party; perhaps I’ll launch 4 guest posts on the same day, perhaps I’ll donate to four charities, or…what? What shall I do to celebrate?

My journey has been so rewarding, and here’s a secret. Without this blog and you, I never would’ve made it (I am not kidding).

 

 

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG!

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Content Marketing Needs Mobile Publishing Apps

Soulati-Media-mobile-marketing.jpgWhen you say and see content marketing touted all over the Interwebz, it’s more about blogging, right? But what about the other pieces of content so critical to attaining goals and objectives? The white paper is one of the most important documents a business can include in its content marketing strategy; yet, few engage with white papers?

Why?

The first reason there are fewer white papers is obvious – they are more challenging to write, right?

Secondly, if a business does not have a solid inbound marketing strategy to use white papers as a lead generator for sales, then companies merely rely on blogging.

Revisiting Inbound Marketing

As a digital marketer, the goal for inbound marketing is to feature content as the lure, if you will, to generate leads from external audiences which turn into conversions.
Think of a funnel when considering what inbound marketing looks like. At the top of the wide open funnel is a wide berth of content ideas e.g. 10 reasons why you need a certified plumber; 25 social media tips from an SEO consultant; 7 critical mobile apps to fuel your mobile marketing strategy in 2014, and more.

These pieces of content can be blog posts, lists, tip sheets and even broader white papers on related topics to these respective themes. They are offered to interested prospects via a call to action in a sidebar of a website on a website page and even more pertinent – on a specialized landing page.
Once the individual indicates they want to download the content, they are asked for their email via a form and the free content is made available.

Publishing Formats for Content

Because a white paper is lengthier than a page; they’re often about 2000 words, give or take 800, the immediate format consideration is a PDF. Think about PDFs a moment. This file format is ubiquitous, and everyone relies on it. However, is it the best file format for your content marketing strategy?

No, and here’s why…PDFs are one dimensional without hyperlinks and without the ability to convert leads, without SEO, and basically, they are DEAD!

Now think a moment about your company newsletter (yes, there are still b-to-b companies publishing newsletters). Typically, it’s posted in a news center as a PDF or sent as a PDF in an email marketing campaign, right?

New Mobile Ways To Publish Pieces of Content

The proliferation of mobile marketing is the biggest trend since sliced bread. I’m not kidding. There are data galore shoving businesses to responsive mobile marketing, and your company needs to get there, too.

The first step is to make your website mobile responsive. You want the pages and elements of your site to scale to any portable and mobile device. Just last weekend, I sat in the movie theater during the pre-movie junk surfing sites on my iPhone, posting to Twitter and resharing content plus commenting on blogs. Look around the movie theater next time and see if others are doing the same? Then, think about your company’s website and worry that it’s responsive for this mobile audience.

Secondly, explore mobile publishing platforms. I recently explored a web app that makes publishing live content, such as white papers, magazines and newsletters, a breeze. Check out this demo of Readz right here. What you’ll see is the ability to scroll pages, click on hyperlinks, enlarge images, and simulate reading a document page by page – from left to right (unlike a PDF that is up to down in a vertical orientation).

You may use the cool iPad apps like Flipboard or daily newspapers and magazines? These apps make the user experience way more intensely entertaining. It’s time for you to do the same with your mobile- and-inbound marketing strategy. Eliminate the dead PDF file format from your content marketing and put in a live publishing platform for all your documents; your audience will thank you.

{Disclaimer: Sponsored Post}

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Startups Should Hire PR Early

What-is-the-plan.jpgDuring the earliest stages of a startup, there are many discussions and decisions about how a business will launch and with which bells and whistles to go to market. Marketing needs to be involved in these earliest stages; does public relations?

The very lawyerly answer is, it depends.

When you work with a hybrid public relations professional who brings 30 years of experience to a team, then public relations influences a startup’s business strategy. There is even counsel delivered by public relations that can influence business model. This expertise comes from years of innate knowledge acquired from representing clients across industries.

A public relations professional is a startup’s single-most critical member of the team, especially during pre-launch.

Why?

While marketing morphs the business, public relations stands in the wings absorbing the dynamics of company culture and adding expertise from the outside looking in. While executives are safely spinning their business model, public relations contributes external perspective from the vantage point of a variety of stakeholders.

  • What will media ask; what will executives say?
  • What would investors and boards of advisors want set up at the start point?
  • Will consumers be able to understand why this company matters?

Startups Spend Time Inside

The formation of a company requires intense focus on the inside of a company. There’s so much more that happens beyond writing a mission statement or determining company values, structure and model.

What’s likely most confusing is the fact that public relations, in the presence of marketing, will not influence the inside of a company as much as it will influence how the company is positioned for external consumption.

Please read that again.

Therein lies the major differentiator among marketing and public relations – we who do the latter will always be listening for the language we need from marketing to describe and position a company for audiences who reside outside the company.

Throughout my career, I have influenced the business model of a startup. Because I bring such a breadth of experience across industries, it’s comfortable for me to share insights based on three decades of influencing results and driving measurable campaigns.

Ultimately, the best team for a startup is one where marketing and PR work hand in hand so all the expertise is conjoined with the same goal. Usually, that’s rare as the startup budget cannot afford a seasoned or deep team with these key players.

Would I to choose which professional to hire at the outset, it would be public relations – a seasoned, hybrid professional who has continually innovated and morphed alongside industry and technology.

PR And Marketing

Public relations is blending more with marketing than ever before; that’s nothing new, it’s been happening for years, yet now everyone is finally labeling what’s happening. Although the disciplines of marketing and public relations are blurring, there is still a major gap in understanding of how public relations delivers.

The logical progression for a startup is to hire marketing to morph its insides with branding, mission, vision, values, etc. When done, public relations enters from the wings during pre-launch. The positioning begins.

  • Public relations rolls in with a message mapping process.
  • Executives are trained to deliver strong messages to external audiences.
  • The business model is tested with all the key audiences in mind.
  • A strategy unfolds to announce the company’s existence with the differentiators in place.
  • A media relations strategy is launched to announce to the market this company exists and is serious about earning a spot in the vertical market.
  • Social media and blogs are launched to continuously push content.
  • Public relations and marketing blend and work cohesively to execute strategy.

No Budget? Hire PR

What if a startup is working on a shoestring budget? There are seasoned public relations professionals who can bootstrap alongside a startup.

When a startup needs communications and marketing counsel, a public relations professional is the best hire at the outset. Someone who knows enough about technology, business, messaging, strategy, positioning, marketing blend, and much more.

Having the ability to write professionally is critical; adding someone to the team who is a professional blogger and media relations professional is smart for a startup.

To understand more about why PR is a better hire for startups than marketing,

contact Jayme Soulati at jayme at Soulati dot com. The hands-on experience is there.

You may dial 937-312-1363, as well.

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Social Media, IT And Analytics Have Created Title Soup

soup.jpgAdvertising Age featured a story, “Don’t Call Me CMO: Top Marketers Say Job Has Evolved Beyond Title,” I find quite amusing.

The giggle is more about the why.

Why do people feel the need to define themselves based on a single three-to-five word title? When a professional reaches the level of chief anything officer, they have successfully moved along the professional development career path to become a chief.

Why don’t we call everyone in the C-suite “Chief Cook & Bottle Washer?” That would sum up the role we’re all playing in the workplace today, right? Technology, analytics and social media have created a pea soup of necessary qualifications, and the chief marketer appears to be the most confused.

According to the article, some of the “better titles than CMO” proffered are:

  • Chief Value Officer – what does “value” really mean? Value of what?
  • Chief Growth Officer – isn’t marketing about growth already?
  • Chief Innovation Officer – ah-hah, but limiting right? You come up with the ideas only and don’t put them into action?
  • Chief Commercial Strategist – as opposed to residential?
  • Chief Customer Officer – Who is the customer? Inside, outside? Maybe this means a sales person who is adopting a role in the C-Suite.

Title Soup in PR

Coming from a discipline of marketing frequently at odds about titles and roles, I get the confusion and need to create identity in the marketplace. Public relations professionals have been grappling with professional branding for a very long time; of late, we’ve been quite clever about hiding behind a really cool title to mask the fact we’re in public relations.

Perhaps it’s cool to be in public relations again?

I have now adopted the new label of “hybrid PR” for myself, thanks to Gini Dietrich’s blog post awhile ago when she described all the things PR peeps do in the marketing arena and it matched my competency. The only problem is it still requires explanation. At least hybrid vehicles paved the way for a combo engine, and people looking at a title can guess that hybrid means many things added to the mix. It’s pretty easy for me to just be president of Soulati Media, Inc. because that it indeed the title put on incorporation documents to get my federal tax ID number.

For those who lead teams in a corporate environment, there is so much merging and blending happening that I can see why the title thing has become an issue.

I don’t think there is a title for the chief marketing officer that can capture everything they’re responsible for, do you? The kettle has to simmer first before anyone will be able to tell.

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