Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

Getting Down to Business with Constant Contact, Social Media, and Daniel Nuccio
May 31, 2011

Last month I had the opportunity to attend Constant Contact’s “Get Down to Business” seminar in Chicago.  Not only was I able to meet with a variety of people working in social media, or at least implementing it for their businesses, as well as see presentations from several top people in the industry, but I was also able to attend a special lunch with Steve Robinson, Gail Goodman, and a small handful of respected guests and loyal Constant Contact customers.

Now, trying to sum up a morning-long seminar with about half a dozen speakers, followed by an hour and a half lunch in only four to eight hundred words would be a bit of a challenge, and I know I surely would have to leave a number of things out. Therefore I will just present some highlights, and interesting pieces of information I learned, or had reiterated to me, that I believe may be beneficial to those I share them with. Some are deserving of full length blog posts, which, if you are one of our loyal readers, you may see in the future, while others are just small golden nuggets.

Everyone’s doing it…or at least soon will be. The numbers show that more than 160 million people are tweeting while 500 million people actively use Facebook. And, according to Sprout Social’s Justyn Howard, in the near future, more small businesses will have a Facebook page than a website. Similar numbers Howard presented at the seminar indicated that in 2005 marketing efforts typically consisted of TV commercials, emails, phone calls, and face to face contact, whereas today, many of those older forms of marketing are being overshadowed tweets, check-ins, and Facebook status updates

Get involved where your clients, prospects, and potential customers are involved.  If you do not know where they are involved, ask. There is no point in using LinkedIn if everyone you either have or want to have a business relationship with is on Twitter, and vice versa.

Social bookmarking sites are dead…or at least soon will be. The only people who still use them are diehard social bookmarking site users. Unless you know your clients or prospects are diehard social bookmarking site users, don’t waste your time on Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or the others.

When you do get involved, be a concierge, not a salesman. There is a commonly used analogy in social media circles that going on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media site is like going to a cocktail party. When you arrive, you do not go to a bunch of random people saying “My name is Mr. X.  I sell Y. This is why Y is so great. Would you like to buy Y?” Instead, you mingle with people. You join the conversations already going on. Many of these conversations may have nothing to do with business. But, while you are mingling with people, you are building a certain level of rapport with them, and, when they need Y, or know someone who needs why, they will be more likely to think of you.

Social Media is not a quick fix! If your business is failing or has a bad business plan or has an ill developed sales process, social media probably can’t save you. Implementing social media takes time. Again, it is about relationship building, not selling!

People trust third party recommendations more than they trust you! There is a lot to be said for the idea of social proof. But, put simply, when you say good things about you, you come off as a salesman who will say what he has to make a sale. When others say good things about you, such as those you have been building rapport with through your social media tools over a period of time, they come off as satisfied customers, and are seen as more trustworthy, or at least less biased.

People are terrible at measuring the indirect effects of social media…probably partly because doing so can be difficult…if not near impossible. I am aware of how this sounds…It sounds like an easy out for any social media consultant not doing their job properly or investor in a bad social media tool trying to convince others things aren’t so bad, and unfortunately the above can be used this way. But, at the same time, simply taking a look at whether your business is doing better now compared to before you implemented a social media program may not necessarily give a clear answer given the myriad of factors that can influence success or failure. Now, I suppose an experiment or quasi-experiment can be done, things like the number of retweets you get or the level of activity on a Facebook page can be measured, and new clients/customers, can be asked or surveyed about how they found you, but, at the end of the day, activity on a social media page is not always converted into new business and even when asked, your new client/customer may not be able to tell you that they received your contact info after a friend recommended you after checking out your website after seeing a tweet of yours retweeted by a different friend.

There are no social media experts…just people who might know a little more and have a little more experience. Everyone who works in social media knows this. Anyone who says differently is likely doing so either due to ignorance or deceit. Now, again, this is not to say that there are not people who know more or have more experience, and if you are hiring someone to help you with social media you should be able to reasonably expect (or demand) that they have a certain level of familiarity with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, that they know which sites are being phased out, and that they know how to use some of the more prominent social media management tools like Hootsuite and TweetDeck, but, that said, there are changes being made to all the major social media sites quite frequently, and new social media sites, management tools, and other various instruments to make any number of social media related tasks easier are being developed everyday, and even people like Steve Robinson, Gail Goodman, and Justyn Howard, among countless others, will admit that there is always more to learn.


A Night at Marcello’s with the Midwest Society of Professional Consultants
March 9, 2010

Last Wednesday I attended Rich’s talk at the Midwest Society of Professional Consultants’ monthly meeting at Marcello’s in Chicago, titled “The Last Day of the Project Is the First Day of Unemployment.” Rich initiated a conversation, gave his audience a few questions to related to the topic to think about, then moderated a highly interactive group discussion before dinner, followed by smaller peer advisory sessions in groups of three or four afterwards.

The topic for the evening officially was “What do you do once you reach the end of a big project?” If you planned ahead, and your circumstances allowed it, you should either be continuing work on a different project because you make a point of working on multiple projects at one time, or you should be starting a new project because as you neared the end of your previous project, you were carving out an hour each day to search for new business. However, if time or other circumstances did not permit you to work on multiple projects or take steps to find a new one before the old one was complete, this is when you would need to begin searching for new business.

But what do you do to find that business, before or after that big project is finished up?

This is what much of the discussion Wednesday focused on because most consultants, unless they’re like Rich, did not go into business to be salespeople, but are forced to fill that role anyway to sell their expertise. Sometimes they welcome this added challenge. Other times though, they find that they are uncomfortable with the task, not good at it, or left feeling that their time would be better spent elsewhere.

Now, if you choose to handle the sales aspect of your business on your own, how do you do this? Well, if you are familiar with this blog, or know Rich, there should be many obvious answers: you can join professional organizations, sit on boards, give lectures, do trade shows, write articles, implement the social media, or partner with other professionals, among any number of other things. Essentially, you show people how good you are rather than just telling them.

It also helps to ask yourself basic sales questions such as do you want to take a scattershot approach or a more targeted one (or a combination of the two). Are you comfortable building a long term relationship with a prospect’s voicemail? Can you afford to turn clients away if they cannot offer the kind of project you are looking for? Who is your perceived competition? Who is your actual competition?

The questions that were focused on at the meeting on Wednesday when the audience broke up into smaller peer groups included things such as “What do you do?” “Who needs you?” and “Who can introduce you to those who need you?”

Now even with this guidance, some people will still not feel comfortable handling the sales end of their business, or still find it personally difficult, or simply feel their time would be better used elsewhere, and this may be a good time for them to consider hiring an outsourced sales team.

FabTech 2009
November 24, 2009

Recently, I attended FabTech, a large trade show at McCormick Place in Chicago.  It got me thinking about how important these shows are and the value to a company when they attend.

If the economy is in a slump, it certainly isn’t evident at these shows.  A single booth is expensive and there were a large number of displays that used the space of ten or twenty booths.  The displays can be elaborate, from a small semi trailer, with the center cut out, to companies having couches and chairs for people to sit and rest.  And, the manpower that a company sends to these shows can be impressive.  While most booths had two to six workers manning a booth at one time, I counted over twenty red shirted exhibitors for an electric company.  You can imagine the size of that display.  And, they weren’t the only ones.

What else intrigued me was how companies got attendees to stop to see what products and services they supplied.  There were people out in the aisles grabbing anyone walking by to talk to.  Some companies did the exact opposite and sat down, watched everyone go by, and if someone actually stopped, then they would slowly rise and talk to them.

However, my favorites were the companies that had a gimmick to get people to stop.  This included a large bowls of candy or other treats, to a NASCAR racing car sitting at one display.

My favorite though was a double booth where in one was a camera where anyone could have their picture taken with two young girls dressed like construction workers in shorts or skirts.  The other part of the booth had six young, mostly blond, girls with their poster hung up behind them.  Now, that booth was always busy with attendees.  Everyone stopped there.

What is the quality of leads generated from these booths?  Just because I wanted a piece of candy, does that mean I want to buy the product?  I like racing, so does stopping to look at the car make me a good potential customer?  I can tell you that not one person I talked to had any idea what the company did that had all of the pretty girls.

Were those good leads?  The next step is what are those companies going to do with those leads, good and bad?  Most of us would assume that if a company is spending all of that time and money on a trade show, they would automatically follow up with any potential new customers.  Not even close.  Some statistics show that less than one third of those potential leads will ever be followed up on.  From my years of experience in sales in various industries, I am surprised that the percentage is that high.

One aspect of our business at Randolph Sterling is to do the follow up work for companies after these trade shows.  We separate the actual potential customers from the ones who stopped by to just to look at a pretty face or have a bite to eat.  We build relations with future customers and set appointments for our client’s sales force to sell their products/services to companies who are looking to do something now.

Art Crowley

Art’s Initial Thoughts on the FabTech & AWS Welding Show
November 20, 2009

Went to trade show in Chicago the other day.  The Fab Tech & AWS Welding Show was held at McCormick Place.

Among the many exhibitors, there were some outlandish display booths, including a small semi trailer truck with the center cut out for their display.

Everyday there were various presentations, including ones about the industry, safety and marketing.

I listened to Rob Johnson give a marketing presentation that was really interesting.  Rob is a Vice President at The Job Shop Company and has been doing this for about 25 years.  His talk had to do with websites and how to use them to attract clients.   Phrases such as photo galleries, flash animation and streaming video are now set in my mind for whenever I talk to IT marketing people.

I’m looking to learn.

I’m planning to post more about this soon.

Art Crowley

30 Days and Going Strong
November 12, 2009

My name is Art Crowley and I have been with Randolph Sterling, Inc for just over 30 days.  I am a Sales Executive with Randolph Sterling and will be responsible for adding new clients.   What a whirlwind these first weeks have been.  I feel like I have learned so much yet, at times, it feels like I know so little.

Just like anyone else, starting work with a new company presents its own opportunities.  There are company policies to learn, a different customer base, new products and services as well as adjusting to your new supervisor.

I am on my way to becoming more comfortable each day.  Rich has helped make the transition to Randolph Sterling as seamless as possible.  Being the first Sales Executive added to the team, it has been a learning experience for both of us, yet we are moving forward and making progress.

One thing I do know is that each day promises to be challenging in one way or another.  Whether it is cold calling, talking with companies that we can partner with, networking or meeting with clients, something interesting always seems to be going on.  I have not had a position where networking was as important as it is now.  You talk to everyone, never knowing who will know a company that can use our services to improve their bottom line.  I’ve attended networking events looking to connect with companies that we can partner with and with potential clients.  I will be going to my first speed networking event soon.  I think this is like speed dating, where you have a minute or so to make a good first impression.  For the record, I haven’t done speed dating.  Not that there is anything wrong with it.  My business cards are with me wherever I go.

Our product line offers its own opportunities when meeting with clients.  This is not the sales situation where you go in knowing exactly what product or service you will be selling or talking about.  You have to be able to think on your feet and be ready to move back and forth between services.

What I work on every day is product information, what we can do, and for whom.   Learning what we have done and what specific projects we are capable of doing for our clients now is a work in progress.  We can assist our clients in so many ways.  I am confident that with a little time, experience and some mistakes, I will have all the information I need at my fingertips wherever I am.

Thirty days and counting,  I am excited to be here and look forward to the future.  I will be writing on a fairly regular basis both here and on Randolph Sterling 2.0, the company blog, so you will get to know more about me as we go.