Social media: Bad reviews are better than no reviews at all

Developing a social media community can definitely be an intimidating leap of faith.  Business owners, executives… they can easily be scared away when they weigh the “pros” against the “cons.”  Trust me when I say I’ve fought this fight.

When I was first setting up social media accounts for the insurance company, the same question was posed to me in different ways multiple times:  What if people comment or post negative things about our agency?

As Gary Vaynerchuk so boldly expresses in The Thank-You Economy (paraphrasing here),

Bad reviews are better than no reviews.

If people have negative things to say about your brand, they are going to say them – regardless of whether or not you provide a platform for them to do so.  It would be to your benefit that unsatisfied customers are ranting in a place that you can see it & address it.

I believe that if you are doing business ethically and transparently, you might lose business from a customer that you downright can’t make happy.  But you won’t walk away the bad guy.
Providing a place for people to give honest reviews allows you to hear what your customers like, want, & need.  And here’s the kicker: you can talk back.

“Social Media” isn’t a scary marketing tactic you, as a CEO or business owner, know nothing about.  (Hint: you’ve been doing it for years.)  It’s just communication… with technological advances that enable you to do it in a different (and much broader) way than you’ve ever done before.

Don’t be scared. Jump in!  Remember: your customers are already talking about you.

So little just does, but some things just are

I tend to think a lot in questions of What? & Why?  I have always been so curious to find out why something – anything – works the way it does.  I don’t care as much to know how it accomplishes what it does, but to know what it’s purpose is.

What I’ve learned in the years of asking myself “Why” questions is that while so little in life “just does,” so much “just is.”

C.S. Lewis is one of my examples of a brilliant mind that asks the “Why” questions.  He breaks down ideas into the most basic principles; he was a king of analytics.  But even he makes the statement

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Some things just are.  Like our strengths.  And our passions.  Some things are learned and cultivated.  Others are what we call ‘natural,’ inherent pieces of our DNA.  They just are.

And this is what I feel differentiates me from those who have come before me.  Whatever questions we naturally want to ask, sometimes we should stop asking and accept that we don’t understand.  Only then can we open our ears to counterparts in our lives, in our work, in our office to collectively find solutions and reach decisions that we can’t make when we’re just asking a “Why” question.  Or a “How” question, and so on.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: tomorrow’s CEOs were brought up in an era of innovation and quick adaptations.  And the smart ones know to use the strengths of our culture that have made it easier for us to stop talking and listen.
(Despite the noise, which in itself is another blog post entirely… Stay tuned.)

Education Advice from a College Dropout

It is not relevant to this post, nor is it important, to know why I dropped out – only that I did.

Many of my peers’ lives revolve around a GPA.  Whether it’s to maintain a scholarship or to simply make it to graduation, for many, every day of class is about getting the grade. Paying attention for those key concepts or formulas that might appear on that test.  For so many of us young adults, the majority of the first 18+ years of life that we can remember are spent in classrooms – absorbing, understanding (and/or memorizing) information.

You go through high school focused on getting into college.  You go through college focused on getting that degree.  And then you get it.

So then you’re expected to practically apply all of those textbook ideas.  And you realize it’s no longer a grade on a paper you’re working toward.  You don’t get 4 tests before you fail.  And you can’t just retake the course.  I mean yes, you get up and try again after you’ve failed, but it’s rarely as simple as re-enrolling for the next semester.  You’re working toward real goals, not grades.  This many sales.  That type of quality.  Relationships with customers; respect from competitors.

There aren’t enough people in our lives telling us that success isn’t in numbers or grades.  It’s in quality and value.

So I’ll tell you: as someone who took education for granted, learn all you can from everyone you meet.

Professors. People who have studied your field for years. People with integrity & passion for what they do.  Ask those people questions.  And listen.  Not for a grade, but to learn.

What The Go-Giver Taught Me about Passion in the Workplace

I am going to start this off by stating that every bit of this simple parable by Bob Burg will feed your mind.  Seriously, go Google the reviews, order it on Amazon, and read it first.  Then you can come back to this one thought that can’t possibly give the entire piece justice.

The idea that resonated most with me was a very simple statement that could almost be buried under the larger points of the book regarding success.  But I felt it was pertinent to the overarching theme that kept coming back to gaining success by maintaining relevancy, reliability, and integrity with your clients.  The idea was this: People work for 3 reasons- to survive, to save, and to serve.

It has stayed with me months after finishing the book because it is something that has become more and more apparent as I move my life closer toward a career.  The truth is- some people live their whole lives surviving.  They make it from paycheck to paycheck, all the while working in a miserable environment.  Others make a very comfortable living and work solely to provide that for their family, while putting money away for the future (kids’ colleges and a comfortable retirement.)  These people may sometimes believe that’s as good as it gets.

But the real jackpot is serving.  If you work to serve, you enjoy your job.  Your contribution is significant; you matter.  You have the distinct pleasure of doing what you love and feeling good about what you do.  When you are happy to do what you do everyday, you can serve your clients, your colleagues, your managers, and the vision of your company. Good luck serving a company, or industry for that matter, that you aren’t passionate about.

Find something to be passionate about, a career that will give you joy and that will allow you to pour joy into it.  And be a part of the lucky few that work to serve.

How could the innovation of entrepreneurship benefit from an attitude of service?

Now That’s What I Call Marketing

Recently, on my way out of Walmart, I saw an advertisement for a CD we all remember: NOW! That’s What I Call Music.
The ad was promoting the 40-something volume. I had Now! 7 back in the day. And I was tired of it in about 5 seconds. Maybe that’s just me…

I can’t help but feel sorry for this compilation CD that will have no chance in a world of iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify.  When was the last time someone asked you, “Hey, did you get the new NOW! CD? It far exceeded my expectations.”  Or even the last time you saw a commercial for it, or heard about it on the radio?   And yet, they’re still in production.

You have to wonder: where did all the compact discs go?  In this rapidly evolving world we moved from vinyls to computer managed music faster than you could say m-p-3.
The majority of CD purchasers these days are either supporting a band or artist that they respect, or they have just not moved into this century.  The chances of either purchaser wanting a mixture of the most recent worn-out radio play are slim.  And when you can just create the same playlist or stream ‘Everything Popular‘ on the online radio of your choice for free, why pay?

In marketing, understanding culture is essential.  Otherwise, how will you know it’s time for your NOW! to become something of the past.  When is it time for a good-or a not so good- product to die?