Hearst Taps Yahoo Vet Khemlani as VP, Digital Media

I just have to add this — that right after I wrote my post on Why Big Brands Struggle with Social Media (see below), this announcement was made.

Hearst Taps Yahoo Vet Khemlani as VP, Digital Media.

I rest my case.

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Newspapers Getting Smarter – Taking it Local

Image representing New York Times as depicted ...
Image via CrunchBase

Now, we’re starting to see some smart things happening in Media. But unfortunately for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, it may be a too little too late.

However, one of my favorite iconic newspapers, The New York Times, is finally getting smart. From my local Brooklyn blog, Brownstoner, it was announced today that “The New York Times is introducing a hyper-local neighborhood blogging initiative today accepting postings on cultural events, bar and restaurant openings, real estate, arts, fashion, health, social concerns and anything else that goes on in the ‘SoHo of Brooklyn’. Beginning with pilot sites covering Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn and Millburn, Maplewood and South Orange, N.J., each site will accept text stories, photos and short films and will be overseen by a writer/editor from the Times.”

What I love about this announcement is that the Times is figuring out a way to build community. What’s also interesting, is that they are focusing on a very specific audience segment. Another really smart move. They are taking what’s important about Social Media – making it authentic, transparent and relevant and they are bringing passionate people together who love their neighborhoods — and connecting them. What’s also interesting is that I personally know that there has been a huge migration of people from these Brooklyn neighborhoods to these NJ, suburban communities. The authenticity by bringing neighbors together and connecting them is spot on. Maybe this is a real estate strategy too?!

What I don’t think people, who are new to Social Media understand, is that doesn’t always have to be about Facebook, Twitter or MySpace. That’s where other so-called strategists fall down when working with clients. They push to develop communities on these sites as a band-aid approach, but never really take a look at the over-arching digital strategy for the brand. That’s where I differ from other strategists. I want to know the business objectives and the total brand strategy when working with my clients. Shame on those who just push Facebook pages at you.

Sorry, I digress…Social Media is very much about connecting people with aligned interests. That’s what brings value to your readers and audience. And, in this case, the funny thing is that I happen to live in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, right in the footprint of this social exchange — with many friends and relatives in South Orange/Maplewood NJ area. That hits me right in my “community”. So, NY Times, nice job. Really nice job. I just may go and contribute some valuable content to my community. Isn’t that what being social is all about?

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Why Big Brands Struggle With Social Media

Compact Disc
Image via Wikipedia

While I was on Twitter today, I came across this article on Mashable a few times, Why Big Brands Struggle With Social Media. It’s great, you should read it. I always look to my friends on Twitter to expose me to new and better ways to use Social Media.

As a Marketer for over 15 years now (yes, 15 years), I have always been at the forefront of Marketing. I have worked for some major companies including MTV, VH1, USA Networks, Universal and Hearst. I’ve had clients like: HBO and AT&T. No, this article is not about name dropping. It’s about being enough of a pioneer and risk-taker to enter into new ways of marketing. To find new ways to talk to consumers. What frustrated me most about some companies, is how some of them live in a silo. I know, there are some of you right now from big brands nodding your heads. Frustrated sitting in your chairs. Half the reason I am a consultant is because I’m about moving forward quickly and finding new ways to communicate and learn from the consumer. To me, you don’t wait until something is tried and true. By the time you’re tried and true, time has passed you by. Someone else nabbed your audience, your customer. (I’m also someone who was on the waiting list for the iBook when it came out. I wasn’t waiting for the technology to be perfect. It served me well for 5 years by the way.)

We have been blessed by some brilliant minds in marketing and technology over the past 20 years. I was just speaking with a colleague the other day about how the transformation of marketing is completely parallel to the transformation of music formats. During my lifetime we’ve gone from the 33, to the 8-Track tape to the Cassette to the CD to the MP3. That’s like a lifetime for some people. Heck, my niece is younger than that and she can drive. Marketing has seen the same transformation.

So, I dare you. Be bold. Try new things. Get familiar with social media. Instantly you’ll see how it can benefit your brand. What’s the matter? Afraid the consumer might find you out?

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Business Development in Today’s Economy

View of Wall Street, Manhattan.
Image via Wikipedia

It’s no secret that budgets have tightened up, businesses are scaling down and that cash is king.

Business development efforts are becoming the lifeline of companies right now, but there are still some simple, strategic best practices to implement that can help you close more business.

There are 4 simple mantras, which I call the 4Cs. They are:

•    Connection
•    Collaboration
•    Clients
•    Criteria

There’s a 5th mantra, but I’ll save it for later.

Connection: It’s exactly what it means. It means finding new and different ways to connect with people and companies that creates awareness of your brand/company as well as driving leads. Connection means reaching out to your current clients who can direct you to other companies that may benefit from your product/service. It also means have a lot of conversations with people in an industry that can lead you to more people. It means being courageous to really put yourself out there. It also means having a refined position or elevator speech that can get someone’s wheels turning on how to help you right away. Offer to buy someone lunch or coffee. People always need to eat, right? Other ways to find new people are through social media (LinkedIn), industry organizations, networking events, your family and friends. Don’t know how to really leverage social media? More on that later.

Collaboration: Who could add a vertical channel to your business? Who could you be aligning yourself with strategically? You offer X to clients, and you know someone that offers Y, so how can you pool your resources and knowledge to win new business? Seek out partners that bring something to the table that you don’t, but have a shared sphere of influence where you can both reap the benefits. Be willing to share as opposed to keeping it all of yourself. 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

Clients: For god sakes, know whom you are talking to before you contact them. Research their vertical. Read their website. Google them. Find them on LinkedIn. Read the trades, WSJ, get on to Hoovers. But make sure you do your homework before you have a conversation. Your potential client wants to know you have an understanding of their business. It makes for a productive and intelligent conversation and believe it or not, many people don’t do this simple exercise. Clients want empathy and want to know you understand their challenges. Do the same when you’re networking with someone as well.

Criteria: Before you ever pursue a particular business vertical, establish clear criteria upfront on what would make a good client. I know, right now you’re thinking, jeez, anyone will do. No, they won’t. You still have to grow your business smartly and strategically. You want to have clients that you can bring value to, but they should bring value to fuel your growth. Are they a portfolio/client list builder? Is there a service you don’t get to offer often, but can with this particular client/vertical? Is it a good case study? Will it give you entrée into a new vertical you haven’t pursued, but are well positioned to capture? These are just a few things to look at, but you should determine what the exact criteria should be for your business.

Oh, so, I promised you a 5th mantra…It’s P, for Passion. Be excited, be motivated. You should be driven to pursue this client, business, vertical. It should inspire you. It will actually take you further – to work harder, later, smarter, faster. Clients can smell that. They want to know you’re excited. And during this difficult time, there’s something intangible but yet measurable about Passion.

Questions, comments? Please send them my way.

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Ladies, patronize your local lingerie store

Old school bra ad

Old school bra ad

Today I went and visited a women’s lingerie store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This store has been in business for multiple generations. It’s beautifully merchandised and managed by some lovely older ladies. The quality is incredible and it’s a classy operation.

What dawned on me when I walked in the store, is that the only time that I’ve been in a local lingerie store was when I had my first “fitting” — oh, like 25 years ago. I forgot how the art of buying lingerie (yes, even your every day panties) has been lost on mass merchandised stores like Victoria’s Secret and select-it-yourself department stores. Rarely do you find someone who will provide you with service — and frankly, they don’t care “if your boobs hang low”.

What I think the problem may be is that the way the store is merchandised may be too intimidating. There’s a lot in cases, and not much to touch and feel. I don’t know about you, but I like to touch everything! I still think this is a personal business. It may make it a bit weird to ask someone “can I see the panties that are a little risque” or, “the ones that remind me of my Grandma“.

But stay true, stay strong. Having the right undergarments actually makes a difference in how your clothes fit you. I’ve had several “fittings”, and now I’m converted.

So, calling all ladies in their 20s and 30s — go to your local lingerie store, get a “fitting” and have an expert select your dainties. Be prepared to pay more, but you’ll receive better, quality goods and professional service.

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Who says you’re not creative?

I’ve been in the business world for the past 16 years – but I graduated from college 1 year younger than my classmates, so you do the math. My POV is that by your mid-30s we are all segmented into professions, with titles, that are supposed to mean something. We are evaluated on what that means, and what we get paid, and how that translates to our bank account…you get the picture.

So what I think happens to a lot of people, is that they “become” their assigned professional role. They become their company. They start to embody their professional life and it becomes their identity. My POV is that with few exceptions, and I’ll point to them later in another entry, you become your job.

What I have also seen, is that a lot of people become their societal roles — Mother and Father specifically amongst the 30+ gen (and by the way, I think those are the BEST roles in the world and look forward to when I have that role). What I see is that we lose our sense of self. We “become” what society tells us to become — our work and our role.

What we lose sight of is our dreams. We lose sight of how we want to continuously evolve — and that we have the choice to evolve. We achieve specific life goals, but we forget about what we dreamed of becoming as a child, a teenager, a college student — what we specifically aspired to in life.

However, with that said, I think that the creation of online communities, such as WordPress and Facebook, have allowed “my generation”, if you will, to pick up pen to paper or paintbrush to canvas and start to dream again.

I was first adverse to Facebook — I was like, “who has the time for this?”. I’m busy working. I am doing something important. The online medium is just another escape. It decreases our ability to communicate with humans. It is a barrier to open communication and it shuts us off. (I have a whole POV on texting and Gen Y regarding this, but for now I’ll remain silent)

But I think that the 35+ generation have really leveraged this medium beautifully. They are usually, and I say usually, expressive and are open to sharing themselves, and usually doing it with decorum and taste. There’s still a bit of mystery and getting to know you. They talk about their lives, their dreams, their fears, their hopes, their successes and their failures. It is refreshing to me and inspiring. It causes me to become creative.

Whether someone reads it or not. Reacts or not. Validates or not. We can be expressive with ourselves. We can also create.

I could get more spiritual, on how we have the ability to make choices and create our lives. I’ll talk more on that later. I also want to explore “choices” as it relates to the state of our economic environment…

But for now I’ll have you ponder on how you want to create, express yourself and dream. What are you dreaming of next?