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Happy New Year!

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(Posted on Dec 31, 2014 at 06:25AM by William Cosgrove)

HAPPY NEW YEARS!
Let's all help someone find their way in the coming year 


Your Most Precious Online Marketing Resource

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(Posted on Nov 1, 2014 at 05:41AM by William Cosgrove)
Have you read “Social Media Marketing Is A Dying Business Model” by Nikki Majewski ? The post covers a discussion at the at the 2014 National Radio Conference by Jules Lund who explains why organic social media marketing is a dying business and what he thinks it will take to succeed.

We all know that Facebook has been at the forefront of instituting paid social media content by drastically reducing the reach of organic content but the writing is on the wall because most other social networks are also experimenting with paid content.

The potential reach of these networks makes them places where businesses should have a presence but the bottom line is that you should never be totally dependent on outside forces over which you have no control.  There are sound alternative ways to capitalize on this by using the assets within your control in conjunction with and as part of a diversified marketing plan.

With social media channels bringing in a new era of pay to play and taking more control over the social media playing field this is a subject that needs to be addressed to find other avenues that can foster autonomy and provide stability and permanence in this changing virtual landscape of online marketing.

Regardless of the direction that the social media marketing giants or the online industry as a whole may eventually take and change through new technology there is a way to insure consistency, autonomy, online presence,  and potential reach and that is by “Marketing From Ground Zero” which starts by having a  community member platform on your website  that you can utilize and adapt to all prevailing winds and turn an existing company resource- your existing customer base- into advocates and influencers as an anchor for your online marketing strategy.

An onsite community can be the jewel in the crown of your online marketing and act as “ground zero” to fuel your overall marketing initiatives. Unlike paid advertising that is fleeting and exits only as long as you are paying, an onsite community is an asset that endures and can provide a solid foundation to continually produce benefits to both you, your existing and potential customers.

No matter what industry you are in an onsite community can create a customer centric culture and provide consistency that will resonate across all your paid, social and owned media channels. And no matter what direction social media marketing takes these communities will act as conduits to reach and attract an audience that can know and understand you and will result in increased brand perception and engagement.

Communities also become data centers for learning the needs, concerns and actions of its customer base through diverse interaction creating a virtual ecosystem that feeds on itself.

There are many different forms that an onsite community can take and each one can be customized to fit each businesses particular needs. In lieu of or in addition to paying professional market influencers you can create ways to make your own customers advocates and influencers by rewarding them with special discounts, offers, drawings and contests for community members along with content and a forum for communication that will keep members (customers) engaged and informed that will pay big dividends in retaining existing customers and attracting new ones for your business.

With social organic reach fast becoming a distant memory as social networks and online advertisers seek to profit from their platforms not to mention the countless vendors vying for your limited resources with the next panacea that will take you to the top “ It is time to Look Within”  to seek alternative ways in which to effectively reach and draw audiences to build a permanent foundation that can provide extremely cost- effective ways to control your own destiny and solidify your place for the long term in the online marketing industry.

By William Cosgrove

Do You Want a Company of Heroes or Zeros?

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(Posted on Sep 6, 2014 at 06:53AM by William Cosgrove)

Being a business owner, manager and employee in different industries over the years I have learned many things. I think the most important thing I have learned is that it all starts and is all dependent on the quality of people that you work with.

First you want people who are going to tell you “What You Need to Hear” not people who are going to tell you “What You Want to Hear?”

If you want your employees to take good care of your customers and to be creative and responsible then start by taking good care of your employees. Reward them and treat them with respect and get personally involved in tackling their issues and needs. Ensure you have outlets in place for employees to openly express their concerns without fear of retribution. Communicate what is expected of them what you are doing and how long it will take, and directly involve them in the solution.

Bottom line growth is not sustainable only top line growth is and only top line growth will get you the results that will take you where you want to go with the rewards and success that come with it.

So how can some think or where did they get the idea that they can get the best marketing, sales; service or support minds on the cheap? These people who are on the front lines day after day - Are you Business- and the ones who are going to make the difference in its success.

Saving money is something we are always looking to do but making money means that you are doing the right things to be successful and to be successful you need to have the kind of people who can get results and this means you need to “Pay for Performance.” If you want to save money save it on office supplies, Press your vendors for discounts, change your electric company but don’t think that a gift certificate for dinner or a pat on the back alone is going to recruit or retain the talent you need to drive and sustain your goals.

Were you born a business owner or senior level executive or did you have to pay your dues and earn what you have today? Did you seek out the companies that thought people with your experience and talent were a dime a dozen and didn’t want to pay what you were worth? I think not.

I stayed at the last business I worked at because they knew the value of people from management to salespeople to every worker there. I and my talented co-workers made more money than we could elsewhere and the business made even more and were consistently at the top of their region and district. Here is a business that to this day continues to prove this all out. How can this be? It is a direct result of sharing with and respecting the people who make it happen for you. It means making an investment that unlike the stock market is guaranteed to pay off. There is no complex formula here to figure out.

Do you want to attract Independent thinking people who can create value for your business? Or do you want parasitic people who are going to attach themselves to you on the cheap because they have few or no other options?

We all lose sight of things that were in front of us all the time. Open your eyes and you will find the key that will open the door to reveal who will take you to those next levels of success and beyond- Your Employees.

William Cosgrove

What is Influence Marketing To You?

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(Posted on Aug 23, 2014 at 05:46AM by William Cosgrove)
I was out for an afternoon walk recently and was walking along the edge of a wooded area when a maturing fawn with its fading white spots ran up to within 20 feet of where I was standing.  I was so influenced by its natural beauty and the wonder I have for all things wild that I could not move and somehow felt connected to that young deer and could not wait to share my experience.
 
The influence this young deer had on me is just one of the many ways we have been being influenced and influencing for millennium. The internet being a fairly recent addition offers a host of new opportunities to influence others.
 
Through an active online presence of blogging, commenting, participating in forums and on social networks or through word of mouth we all are in a way looking to influence and find influencers. Those that are actively involved in particular areas may be researching, simply voicing opinions or trying to draw attention to a product or service albeit from a positive or negative aspect.

Using influencers to increase market awareness among target markets is a method that can increase your visibility and culminate in getting known in circles that can have a huge impact on one’s success.

All of us who are actively involved in social networking whether it is online, offline or a combination of both are all looking to influence others to further ourselves and or our business in some way.



Getting noticed by these influencers whether it be a decision maker in a company with whom you would like to do business, one who is well connected with key people in your industry or a current or potential customer can often act as an accelerator for business.

According to Wikipedia, Influencer Marketing, as increasingly practiced in a commercial context, comprises four main activities:

Identifying influencers and ranking them in order of importance.

Marketing to influencers to increase your awareness within the influencer community

Marketing through influencers, marketing with influencers and turning influencers into advocates of the firm.

Influencer marketing is enhanced by a continual evaluation activity that sits alongside these four main activities.


 In many circles it has become increasingly accepted that companies should be identifying and engaging with influencers. Exactly what is included in Influencer Marketing depends on the context (B2C or B2B) and the medium being utilized.

Marketing experts Keller and Berry note that “Business is working harder and paying more to pursue people who are trying to watch and listen less to its messages." Targeting influencers is seen as a means of amplifying marketing messages, in order to counteract the growing tendency of prospective customers to ignore marketing.

Onsite social communities are an extremely effective and low cost method in which to engage with and gain valuable knowledge from influencers both in B2C and B2C.
 
It is making more and more sense to have an onsite community. According to recent data form  33Across, in a recent article at MediaPost “Dark Social” or private social represents 71% of all social sharing. Enlisting employees, current and potential customers can be very effective in getting your message out and to reach this private social community.

Onsite social communities act as ground zero to allow businesses not only to connect, follow and be followed by existing and potential customers but also to engage with their employee base. This is a centralized non-intrusive way in which to communicate with, retain and turn your existing customers and employees into marketing influencers and brand ambassadors.

It is said that one in every 10 Americans is what they call an "influential." These people have a tremendous impact on the rest of society because their ideas and opinions are sought out by the colleagues, friends, family, and community members around them. The conversations they hold and the examples they set have the power to shape behaviors and attitudes across your digital marketing and social media channels.

Based on this statistic, how many untapped influential customers or employees might already be in your database or working within your organization? And with a one in ten chance of finding an influencer and making them an advocate for your business through an onsite community it is an economical avenue worth pursuing that can provide substantial long term rewards and help you adapt to trends in social networking.

William Cosgrove

The Social Animals We Humans Are

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(Posted on Aug 12, 2014 at 03:52AM by William Cosgrove)
Human beings are social creatures whose lives depend on other humans. We are born unable to care for ourselves. We develop and learn about the world around us through social interaction. Our connections to others are key not only our survival, but also to our happiness and the success of our careers.

And with being social creatures comes the need to interact with others to reassure ourselves that we are liked, admired, respected and noticed.

Then on April, 30th, 1993, it was announced that the World Wide Web would be free to everyone and the rest is history. Since then, the introduction of social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even AOL in the beginning, to name a few, has transformed the way we communicate. Along with the internet social media will probably go down as one of the major influencers of every generation since the Baby Boom generation and take its place as one of the wonders of modern time.

Between 2000 and 2002 the number of users on the internet grew a staggering 566.4% Nowhere else nor at any time in history has there been a forum even close to the scale of the World Wide Web. According to Internet Live Stats  (www.InternetLiveStats.com) by 2014 it is estimated that there will be close to 3,000,000,000 internet users globally representing around 40% of our population.

With all this connectivity we are now being faced with the loss of our privacy being subjected to Government agencies and even Employers spying on us and collecting information. By putting it all out there for everyone to see one should expect and understand that they are relinquishing their right to privacy to a large extent.

We use all this technology to interact with friends and family, to get the latest news and entertainment, and to research things we want to know about. It was only a matter of time before business saw the opportunities that Social Media offered.

Business saw the opportunity that getting involved with social media would open up a huge potential resource. Social Media presented Business with ways to reach people in ways that were never possible with other forms of media. It allowed them to put a face to their business and to identify them in new ways. Today, social media and the need to understand it has become an essential part in the success of marketing for business.

But this new social medium also comes with risks that if they are not socially responsible in their advertising and communications or have any kind of misstep the consequences could be very costly.

It is all boils down how you use this knowledge to your advantage or disadvantage. We are influenced by, and we are able to influence people who we know as well as people we never met.  We can influence others and gain recognition by posting blogs, getting involved in discussions, participate in forums and even help people by informing and educating them on any of the many sites available on the World wide Web.

We need to look at what social networks hold our and our customers interests and the ones we will benefit from and decide if the people we are interacting with are the people we want to influence and want shaping our lives, careers and businesses.

Social interaction can open doors to job or other opportunities. You can meet like-minded people and have discussions with people who can give you new perspectives. The possibilities for whatever we are looking for or want to accomplish socially are limitless.

In the end, we need to gain the knowledge necessary and take responsibility for how we act and market socially on the internet and conduct our business because in the end the internet as a social whole will make the final judgment on how it reacts to, responds to and accepts what it is being disseminated.

William Cosgrove

All Aboard For 'Ground Zero Marketing'

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(Posted on Aug 2, 2014 at 05:09AM by William Cosgrove)
Now that “Ground Zero Marketing” has already left the station and is gaining momentum I’d like to re-iterate some points from my article last week and bring up some new ones in hopes of continuing the momentum to enlist and educate business that it’s the website first and foremost that should provide the base from which all their its initiatives should originate and link back to directly.

So let’s rev up “Ground Zero Marketing” and invite everyone aboard.  There will be many stops along the way for those of you who are late to get on board but just remember that the first ones to get on board always get the best seats.

Technology today provides business with the tools to build and maintain their website as “ground Zero” to give them greater control and to reap all the benefits that increased exposure and community brings to organic search, natural link building, and search ranking.

.Your company website should be where all your marketing and communication efforts originate and directly link to where you can provide visitors with a customer centric culture enhanced through community. 

Why would you subscribe to a company whose platform requires you to use their website to do your marketing or distribute content? Your website is where you should concentrate on building your brand. Today it is important to note that it not only does not make sense to market from someone else’s site it simply diminishes the reach and effectiveness your most valuable online asset-Your Website.

From service to sales to customer service your website should be the main vessel used to attract traffic from all your organic and social media channels and an online community can tie it all together.

Unless you are a national or international company your efforts should also be on marketing locally to your local community and using  community to become part of it and to make them part of yours. This is where you are going to realize the most benefit and where you can show your support for your community through customer service, sponsorship and education to show them that you are more than just another sales machine.

The basics of earning respect and loyalty have never and will never change. Digital marketing has just given us newer and different ways in which to do it

These efforts are what are going to create the advocates that will repay you with their loyalty by patronizing your business and referring friends, family and others through WOM (Word of Mouth) advertising on and offline.

Ground Zero Marketing provides better and more stable ways of attracting customers and communicating with your existing customer and employee base from your most important online asset-Your website. Having your message emanating from and traffic directed to your website is the only way you will reap 100% of the benefit that SEO and link building provide.

All this interaction being streamed across your organic, social media and paid channels will engage potential customers by showing them that you have a customer and employee centric culture. This builds trust and confidence in your brand that will:

Increase visibility

Increase site traffic

Increase recommendations and testimonials

Increase employee advocacy

All of which combined will set your brand apart and result in higher sales and a fatter bottom line.

Use Ground Zero to show that you believe in your employees, your customers and yourself.  Show your customers and employees that you know they are the reason you exist through community, sharing and establishing a dialog that flows in two directions. Then you will have a solid foundation for continued and sustainable growth-ALL Aboard Yet?

And one more thing.-

Keep your eyes open so you don’t miss this important message that has been posted on along the way to “Ground Zero Marketing”: 

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All Aboard!!!

Marketing From Ground Zero

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(Posted on Jul 26, 2014 at 07:32AM by William Cosgrove)


Would you do a little research to increase sales, customer retention and to more fully utilize your marketing dollars? Then take the time today to read this and research this important topic and you will discover the tremendous benefits and cost savings that an Onsite Social Community can provide.

The process of buying a product is fleeting in terms of the length of time it takes. After the sale your relationship can last for years when it comes to servicing, communicating and establishing a positive relationship with that customer who can also in turn make a positive impact in influencing potential customers.

These communities can take many forms to fit the needs of any business and can be utilized across your social networks and digital marketing campaigns to provide a customer centric message that no other social tool can.

Social communities provide customers a central place in which to directly communicate with a business and gain valuable information about all of the businesses services and offerings. Social communities also provide an ongoing opportunity for the business to gain knowledge about the customer as an individual by listening to and addressing their constantly changing individual wants and needs.

Social Communities also provide a forum in which customers can ask questions relevant to them and share their feelings with others on why they like doing business with your company. What better way to get to know a customer than genuinely listening to their wants and needs and providing the solutions and answers that concern “them” from one central place-your website.

As well as enjoying the rewards of being a customer of a business through special member discounts and drawings they get to know you as a business and you get to know and maintain contact with them as a customer.

The cost effectiveness of having that customer on your site as a community member is immeasurable when comparing it to the cost of campaigns to reach them. (See Know These Must Have Social Media Marketing Tools)  Your communication also becomes expected and not intrusive to them.

Also, by having one central landing page for community members to provide helpful information from provided services to sales, events and relevant topics with the ability to ask questions they have that concern them will turn your customers into brand ambassadors to provide invaluable marketing opportunities for you to increase you customer base.

Online social communities can also be combined with on and offline events marketing to provide powerful and effective marketing campaigns that will stand out and which cannot be accomplished by any other means.

Analytics have provided more and more insight into online users behaviors and have started to provide more insight into target marketing to the individual. Onsite communities provide a cost effective and direct way of providing invaluable insight on targeting to the individual, and monitoring their changing behaviors.
 
The rapid advancement in technology as a whole promises to bring new and better ways to measure and market online much more efficiently but an onsite community can live on to be utilized with all the current technology available today as well as newer technologies that are made available on an almost daily basis.

More and more businesses are embracing the advantage of onsite communities to integrate current customers and employees into the company culture to better leverage these existing resources.

Would you do a little research to make a big difference? Then take the time to research and discuss the tremendous benefits an onsite community customized to fit your needs can bring to your business and you will discover that “Marketing from Ground Zero” will add more zeros to your bottom line.

William Cosgrove

(Photo courtesy of abramarketing)

Marketing Has Changed-Get Over It

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(Posted on Jul 19, 2014 at 05:45AM by William Cosgrove)
Digital Marketing has shaped the way we market as a whole and the rapid advancement of technology is changing the marketing landscape and is demanding newer ways of marketing to get your message out consistently and effectively.

But in today’s fast paced business environment of being ROI focused at all costs it is hard to see the long term benefit  marketing as a nurturing and information tool to gain and retain customers over the long term when today’s results driven bottom line engrained  corporate culture does not support it.

In other words if you can’t see past the bottom line it is hard to develop a marketing strategy that is designed solely to inform and educate consumers to bring them to you instead of pushing yourself on them.

Back in 2006 the power shift in marketing as a whole was already being talked about. Stephen F. Quinn, senior vice president for marketing at Wal-Mart Stores, stated that “Today, the customer is in charge and whoever is best at putting the customer in charge makes all the money.”

And as consumers “wrest control away from brand-management control freaks,” Russ Klein,  president for global marketing, strategy and innovation at Burger King advised his peers, “get over it,” because “turning your brand over to the consumer is taking control — and in fact, if you do, they’ll return it to you in better shape.”

Still today it is hard to see that this power shift has been or is being accepted. Is it that business has yet figured out how to do it? Is it that the brand management control freaks are still in control? Or is the shortsighted profit mentality of business still the driving force?

We all need to make a profit but whatever happened to when businesses had a longer than a monthly or quarterly plan they used as a benchmark to build their business?

William Cosgrove

How To Get More Social

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(Posted on Jul 5, 2014 at 05:50AM by William Cosgrove)

Have you overlooked the potential of harnessing and combining your own social network or community in a niche social community network with your overall social brand strategy?
The benefits that these networks will bring are the most cost effective way in which to engage, retain, manage and form alliances with your community members that will not only foster retention but promote your brand in the most positive ways imaginable.

Companies with private social networks can experience better employee relations, customer service, reduced customer complaints and even higher brand loyalty. Think of having a central place in which to read and understand your customers’ concerns, wants, needs and expectations.

Onsite social networks can also connect to onsite/online events marketing allowing businesses their customers, employees and event sponsors to manage their own profiles – including creating their own content– which can all be administered with specified permissions tools. This “conglomerate”-style online network harnesses the power of multiple which acts like a magnet to attract search back to one central place- your site.

An onsite social network offers many benefits for you as a business, your employees and the customer that cannot be duplicated elsewhere-providing a win-win situation for all.

Below I have outlined some examples of how you can setup and implement an onsite social community to start reaping the multitude of benefits and good will through engagement, referrals and recommendations that no other form of marketing or rewards program can offer. The possibilities are only limited to your creative ideas and can benefit any business.

Community Members:

Existing members will automatically be made members and sent an e-mail to inform them. How many existing customers do you already have in your database?

New customers will automatically become members of the community as part of the benefit of doing business with your company.

Site visitors will be invited to join to enjoy member benefits who can be nurtured for future business.

Member Benefits:

Discounts on  purchases

Discounts on Extended Warranties, Maintenance Contracts and/or Services

Discounts on financing

Drawing, contests and Special Offers:

Have a monthly drawing for $$$ In free services and or product discounts that broadly cover individuals current needs that members can entered every month with their e-mail to keep members engaged and visiting your site. Take a picture of winners, see PhotoRep, get a testimonial and post it to your Customer Satisfaction Page and Social Media Sites.

The upside potential of having and utilizing an onsite community to engage and interact with customers are enormous. Showing your existing and potential customers that you will be there before and after the sale will create a customer centric culture that will foster customer loyalty that will extend across all your earned and social media to benefit you and your customers each and every day .

By William Cosgrove

Also read Social Networking at Its Best

(Photo courtesy of personalitytutor.com)

What Can We Learn From Events Like the World Cup?

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(Posted on Jun 21, 2014 at 05:59AM by William Cosgrove)
The World Cup an event that occurs once every four years is one of the greatest sporting competitions on earth. Large events like this are fun and entertaining but also give us a unique opportunity to study in “Real Time” how advertisers and businesses are leveraging their brands, where they are concentrating their efforts and across what medias they are having the greatest impact.

Today’s technologies are playing an increasingly important role in the ratings for popular events. According to ESPN, during the World Cup's first three days, 65% of the audience viewed it via television only, while 24% of consumers combined viewing TV with other media platforms and 11% watched exclusively through a non-TV platform. 

Popular events and campaigns give us insight into which medias are dominating and the tremendous impact that the internet has today on how information is processed and shared.

What we can learn from these popular events is how people are reacting to them via these media channels and what devices they are using which can help us in planning where and how to concentrate our own efforts in promoting our brand and content across these media channels.

According to a Crowdtap poll of more than 850 men and women in May, the poll found that the Facebook  at 65% and Twitter at 17.6% are by far the preferred social channels viewers use to share ads, updates and  message about their favorite brands and teams to friends and family.

“Although different platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) work best for different activities. When it comes to fostering a community or organizing an event, Facebook is key. And nothing beats Twitter for "day of" promotion of your event.” Ritu Sharma Co-Founder and Executive Director of Social Media for Nonprofits.

Also, Social Communities are redefining the customer experience and how businesses interact with their customer base by taking rewards programs, customer service and feedback to a whole new level. Onsite Social Communities shift customer support and service to being part of the brand marketing mix.

Likewise according to Crowdtaps poll cell phones at 58.4% and computers at (58.1%) were evenly split in devices of choice with tablets coming in 3rd at (37.5%)

It becomes obvious, as events like these point out, how important digital marketing and mobile has and continues to transform media communication as a whole and what is today:

* The social channels where the most engagement is presently taking place and

*From which devices all of this communication and engagement is being received and shared.

To shed some perspective on all this sharing, according to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, which surveyed more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries, 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising—an increase of 18 percent since 2007.

Online consumer reviews come in second as the most trusted source of brand information and messaging, with 70 percent of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust messages on this platform, an increase of 15 percent in four years.

Global events like these give us a unique opportunity to get a broad and current picture of where we might want to consider concentrating our marketing resources most effectively and the diverse and incredible ways all this technology is impacting our lives and the future of commerce.

By William Cosgrove
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