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Where they are is more important than where you are

El Pulpito (Noruega)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Angel T.

Coincidentally, that was the premise of one of those annoyingly “innocent” questions I like to ask.

The question on Twitter? “Does your church podcast their sermon recordings?”

Note the assumption – that your church already records them. I asked that way intentionally so that anyone who doesn’t know would think to themselves…”do we even record them?”

A pastor saw my question on Twitter and asked “Why should a church podcast its sermons?”

Which is exactly what I hoped would happen: We’d talk about what “other people” do.

Many churches don’t record, much less podcast their sermons – but some do. Meanwhile they have all kinds of programs in place to reach out to shut-ins, the infirm, nursing homes, traveling church members (many folks are working away from their hometown these days) and so on.

Think about it: Who doesn’t have an iPod or access to the Internet these days? Not too many folks. The last numbers I saw said that 77% of the US population has high-speed internet access (I think that’s a bit high, but that’s another discussion).

Apple’s free iTunes podcast service (like many others) will let you broadcast audio (or video) recordings globally. The price is the same to your local shut-in, a traveler on the road or a deployed soldier.

Free. And most importantly for them, they can listen on their schedule.

If you had to choose between folks not hearing your sermon all vs. not hearing it until their Monday workout or during their commute (very high focus time), what’s your preference?

When I asked Twitter and Facebook why their church podcasts sermons, this is just one of the responses: “We are reformed so this past year I did look for podcasts about John Calvin since we celebrated 500th anniv of his birth.”

People are looking to consume (learn / read / watch ) info that’s important to them. Their lives might not allow them to be in church every week. I suggested to this pastor that during his next sermon, he should ask this question: “Raise your hand if you’re on Facebook.”

Where are your customers when they aren’t in front of you?

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Automation Blogging Business culture Customer relationships Employees Productivity Small Business Social Media Twitter Web 2.0

Overheard in the frozen food section: What’s all that crap you post on Facebook?

Last night in the grocery store, 2 moms stopped me in the frozen food section. I thought I was safe since their kids swim with mine on the Columbia Falls Swim Team.

As I stood embarrassingly close to the frozen sausage and egg biscuits and pre-fab hamburger patties, they did it…

They asked me a question about Facebook.

If I remember accurately, it went something like this:

“Mark, What’s with the gibberish-filled crap you post on Facebook?”

Specifically, they asked about posts like “RT @idealfool Lakecam now!!!: http://bit.ly/pfsn0“, specifically wondering if I was speaking Klingon or some other language that few people speak here in Northwest Montana.

They asked because most of the stuff I post on Twitter (anything that isn’t a reply or a direct message) is automatically reposted to Facebook. And then they called me a geek. Ouch.

There’s a business lesson here, so keep up, will ya?

Twitter lingo

Twitter has its own lingo that you pick up pretty quickly if you use it. For example, RT means “retweet”.

When you “Retweet” someone else’s post, you are saying “Someone else posted this and I think its important / funny / stupid /sad / amazingly cool / etc enough to repeat to the folks who read what I post”.

The @ sign is also Twitter-speak (mostly). @WSJ, for example means “The Twitter user named “WSJ”, whose posts you can find at http://www.twitter.com/WSJ

I don’t think I need to explain HTTP://, but the rest of the URL looks weird and it’s easy to either think it is a typo or a link that no one in their right mind would click on.

Normally you’d expect a .com, but a lot of these URLs coming from Twitter posts end in .ly, .me, .gd and other really short abbreviations rather than .com.

No way am I clicking on those“, you’re thinking.

These sites are URL shorteners – though it does pay to be careful…

URL shorteners take a really long URL like this: http://ittybiz.com/customers-cant-afford-it/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Ittybiz+%28IttyBiz%29&utm_content=Google+Reader and turn it onto something rather compact like this: http://is.gd/4WLix

The reason URL shorteners are used so much is that Twitter only allows 140 characters in posts placed there. That URL above is longer than Twitter’s message size limit, so my Twitter program automatically shortens it using free services like http://bit.ly, http://is.gd or http://tinyurl.com.

Yeah, but what did you REALLY say?

We’re getting there.

The bit.ly URL in that “RT @idealfool Lakecam now!!!: http://bit.ly/pfsn0” post goes to http://www.nps.gov/ns/featurecontent/glac/webcams/popup-lakemcdonald.html, which is a glorious view of the mountains of Glacier Park as viewed from the south shore of Lake McDonald (cloud cover and darkness notwithstanding) – which is obviously what the original poster means by “Lakecam now!!!“.

@idealfool is the alter ego of Barry Conger, the volunteer Executive Director of the First Best Place Task Force, a seriously cool community organization here in Columbia Falls. Yes folks, Barry is one of those community organizer folks – and he’s read Hildy’s book, so now he’s really becoming dangerous.

Anytime you see an @ followed by a reasonably short name, it’s usually someone’s Twitter name. If you were around during the heyday of CB (citizens’ band) radio, the @idealfool part is pretty much the same as a person’s “handle” on the CB.

And the lesson?

Don’t assume that your wicked cool lingo from one context, group, environment, industry, peer group, media (or whatever) will be crystal clear to and perfectly understood by people in another.

Communication is critical. Don’t assume.

No, I’m not sure how to resolve that in this case without turning off the automatic repost of Twitter messages to Facebook. Yes, I’m thinking about doing exactly that.

Update: Today’s Freakonomics post in the NY Times is another fine example of a message that means one thing in one group and something vastly different to another – the term “Shovel ready”.

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Business culture Community Competition Customer relationships customer retention Leadership Marketing Media President-proof Public Relations Restaurants Retail Small Business Social Media Strategy The Slight Edge Web 2.0

Good enough for the Pope. Good enough for your business?

hoje é quinta
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ana_Cotta

Yes, I’m talking about social media.

Think about it. The Pope has a new website dedicated solely to connecting people to the Catholic church via social media.

The key part of that sentence is not website or social media. It’s “connecting people to the Catholic church”.

It’s another media and they’re doing more than dipping a toe into it.

But why?

Despite having all these “stores” (ie: churches) that “sell” the Catholic faith, they felt that it was worth the investment to create a Facebook application, an iPhone application, a Catholic-specific Wiki and a YouTube channel.

Communication – maintaining a connection with your clientele – is what social media is all about.

Silence is what sends customers somewhere else. Not knowing what’s new in your business and why they should know about it is what makes customers fall asleep.

Do you really want your customers hearing about that great new thing from your competitor?

Meanwhile back at the ranch, there YOU are. What will you do next? Who will know about it?

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Competition customer retention Direct Mail Direct Marketing Email marketing Internet marketing Marketing podcast Positioning Small Business Social Media Strategy Technology The Slight Edge

What makes the phone ring in any economy?

[audio:https://www.rescuemarketing.com/podcast/HowDoYouMakeThePhoneRing.mp3]
Princess on the Phone
Creative Commons License photo credit: Yogi

There are no secrets around here.

I am busy as crap. Some weeks, so busy that I’ve had to let the blog slide a bit (Horrors!)

I’ve made it quite clear that I expect “well-behaved” readers to be contacting their clients, customers and prospects at least once a month – and not simply to say “Whaddaya wanna buy?”

I’ve also shown that I do this in a number of different ways, using a number of different media.

Why different media?

Different strokes for different folks

Because some people like email, some like using Google Reader, some prefer audio podcasts, some prefer video (still working on that one), and still others prefer direct mail. And so on.

Likewise, some of media is about access and exposure.

Not everyone has (or wants) access to radio or RSS or email or whatever. Are you willing to give up an awesome new client because they aren’t into Twitter or RSS feeds or email?

I’m not.

Just the other day, someone emailed me to ask me about doing some work for them on a big project they’re working on.

They don’t read my blog. They don’t get my print newsletter. They don’t listen to my radio show (or podcast) on iTunes. They didn’t find me on Utterli.

They found me through my newspaper column.

Their comment was this: “Though we are strangers, I feel Iâ??ve gotten to know you fairly well through your weekly articles”.

I’ve never met them, never talked to them, yet they feel they know me.

How much of advantage do you think I have over competitors that they don’t know?

Ideally, my competition just sits around getting splinters from the bench. They never get a chance to take a swing at this work if I have anything to say about it.

The Temptation

The temptation with communication like this is to depend solely on email because its cheap.

That’s a big mistake.

Why? Because cheap only reflects your cost. It doesn’t reflect the results. Cheap ignores the return on investment (ROI).

If you want cheap and you don’t care about results, you can get yourself 50 million email addresses for $30, but you probably won’t make a sale to more than 50 of them (depending on what you sell). Worse yet, by emailing them – you’ll end up on every email blacklist there is.

If the result is your focus, then you should be thinking “I only want to use the media that have a great ROI”. In that case, I might suggest some slight adjustments (ie: don’t use just 1 media regardless of the ROI), but otherwise you’d get no argument.

The lesson

A long-time client of mine recently switched from printed newsletters to email (still using my service, just a change in media). I suggested *adding* email, not using it as a replacement.

One of the first response emails he received from a client and good friend was “I don’t have time to read another email every week”.

That same person has demonstrated (through their actions/responses) that they do have the time to read a 4 page printed newsletter once a month, yet an almost immediate reply email said they just don’t want more email.

I made note of that irony to the client, pointing out that his client’s reaction to yet another email is a great illustration of why printed newsletters just plain work.

His reply: “No kidding.”

What makes your phone ring?

Where do your customers/clients/prospects get their information? What do they use to consume the news? That’s how you should be providing info to them.