Elizabeth Keserauskis

Building relationships and making connections

A Few of My Favorite Marketing Resources… What Are Yours?

A friend recently asked me for suggestions of books she could read to help freshen her marketing skills, and bring them up to the bleeding edge of the social media marketing/technology/SEO/SEM world. So I responded to her via email, and then thought I might as well share my thoughts here as well.

My first reaction to that question is that the technology and user interfaces are changing so quickly that books teaching applications almost immediately become obsolete when they are published. There are a few that address theory and approach that are applicable whether there is a shiny new technology object.

My favorite book:
The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 2nd Edition by David Meerman Scott (amazon affiliate link). This has helped me re-frame the way I approach marketing drastically.

Next up on my reading list (after the mindless, yet terribly entertaining, crap I am currently reading):

Tribal Knowledge: Business Wisdom Brewed from the Grounds of Starbucks Corporate Culture by John Moore (amazon affiliate link). This came highly recommended to me by a new colleague as I am navigating the new waters of radio station management.

Also, blogs I follow include Mashable, Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert, David Meerman Scott’s Web Ink Now, Sysomos for research, Dan Zarella, and Marijean Jaggers.

Google has a whole slew of free training videos for Google Analytics and Google Adwords. The Analytics for Dummies book may still be useful, but they keep changing the interface of both so books quickly become obsolete. I’d use the free online tools.

LinkedIn groups I belong to: Web 2.0 for Higher Education, Marketing Profs, the Social Media Marketing Group, Southern IL Marketing and Communications. Connect with me if we haven’t already: linkedin.com/in/BethKeserauskis.

July 19, 2010 Posted by | engaging, marketing, social media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s No Crying in Volleyball…or Marketing

volleyball as analogy for marketing strategyMy team and I experienced substantial frustration this weekend as we played in a grass triples volleyball tournament, the US Open of Grass Volleyball, or the Waupaca Boatride tournament in WI. Our fatal error causing the frustration: assuming. Yes, I admit our frustration was largely our doing thanks to assuming that the rules would be what we were used to, and assuming that our fellow players would have the same integrity and honesty that we did.

Without going into excruciating volleyball detail, essentially our competition was not holding themselves to the same high quality play standards we have grown accustomed to in outdoor play. Additionally, since the rules were essentially “police yourself”, there were a few dishonest folks who did not call their own net fouls.

So we lost more than we should have. However, that is no excuse for us not playing at minimum to our potential to overcome that. OR, changing our strategy to adapt to the “new” rules.

Yes, I am about to turn a volleyball tournament scenario into an analogy for marketing. I can’t help it- it’s what I do.

All too often the rules change at some point throughout our execution of our carefully planned marketing strategy. What defines us as marketing strategists is whether we can see that the rules have changed, and adapt our strategy and course accordingly. So many factors can change: the economy, a natural disaster, a product failure, a PR crisis, etc. We cannot possibly predict all of the options. We can however have a system in place to help detect the change in rules and help us adapt to a new direction. To me, that is a sign of a top notch marketing strategist.

Clearly we did not identify the changing landscape during our volleyball tournament and adapt our strategy accordingly. So for a few days I will just complain about the unfairness of the situation to anyone willing to listen. But then, I will be sure that the next time I play, I am ready to meet that challenge.

July 12, 2010 Posted by | leadership, marketing | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Importance of Doing the Right Thing

I know, it sounds like a lesson you learned in kindergarten. Unfortunately, many companies still don’t understand it though.

I’ve had several conversations lately about the PR implications of negative actions taken or substantial errors made by companies or employees. And inevitably, there is always a suggestion that we figure out how to “cover this up”. I shake my head, and my response is typically the same: has anyone thought about perhaps admitting an error, issuing a heartfelt apology, and outlining the steps you are taking to fix the problem and safeguard against repeating history?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Wouldn’t you find it easier to forgive a company for a wrongdoing if they apologized and fixed it, versus tried to cover it up? How about Toyota’s recent mechanical problems–they were slow to speak in the public and apologize, but once they did, it focused the conversation away from trying to catch them to talking about how the problem is going to be fixed.

Yes, there will be a time when their brand will suffer. However, they have worked very hard in the past to build relationships with their customers, to the tune of significant brand loyalty. It will take some time, but it will be easier for them to rebuild trust than if they had not built that relationship foundation.

Sorry for the brand loyalty digression, but the message is the same. If you do the right thing to fulfill your mission and satisfy your customers, handling times of crisis becomes so much easier. So when we ask ourselves what we are going to do about a particular situation, the answer to me is easy: what is the right thing to do for our employees, our customers, and our other publics?

June 12, 2010 Posted by | leadership, public relations, relationships, reputation management | , , , , | Leave a comment

Building Your Personal Brand

I saw a segment with Steadman Graham this morning on FOX 2 News, talking about how you have to know who you are before you can get out in the business world and trying to sell yourself as an employee to a company or as a resourcing company. It seems very appropriate to talk about how, as an individual, you need to also manage your reputation, in addition to your company or organization that you’re working for.

As I help someone near and dear to me work on her resume after 35 years at the same company, I’m reminding myself that we need to not only to fill the resume, we also need to discover what are her core strengths and how can we package that into a proposition for a company, a set of resources for a company that’s going to hire versus just an individual with a great resume. My challenge today is to think about how you can invent yourself as an individual with a value proposition–this is ironic because I spend so much time helping companies and figure out who they are and how to fill the need of their customers. My next challenge is going to be how to bring that down to the individual level, and help this person near and dear to my heart package and present themselves to companies as a valuable resource.

LinkedIn is a great tool I strongly advocate. I have several examples of success using LinkedIn as a networking tool, including as a way for companies to find candidates for their marketing positions. Now my challenge is going to become having a real example or case study of helping individuals create their strengths and package them as a resource for businesses in the area as they look to start phase two of their career.

May 28, 2010 Posted by | connecting, marketing, relationships, reputation management | , , , , | Leave a comment

Engaging Presentations

Last night I attended the Meet the Design Teams event for The City + The River + The Arch Competition at the Roberts Orpheum Theater in St. Louis. They have narrowed the field down to five design teams who are vying for the chance to design the landscape around the St. Louis Arch grounds on both sides of the Mississippi River and do a better job of incorporating this iconic piece of public sculpture into the city of St. Louis and it’s tourism industry.

I have to say it was very refreshing to watch Joe Buck as the emcee. He really injected some humor into it. He came right out of the gate saying that this was going to be a fun event rather than a formal event and almost took more of a approach of a traditional “roast” event rather than a formal presentation. So, immediately I was heartened to see that it wasn’t going to be a long boring night of presentations.

However, when the first design team got up to present their capabilities and their team members, I was a little disappointed the he was not as engaging a speaker as Joe Buck. I wasn’t expecting him to be a perfect speaker. However, I was asking for it to be a little bit more engaging and interesting and to capture my attention.

I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that the presentation set-up in the theater was poor. The image quality on the projection screen was dark and blurry at best. I don’t have the best eye sight but I don’t need glasses, and sitting in the back of the theater it was extremely difficult if not impossible to read any of the text on the slides and to make out the specific details and some of the images. And, his presentation was heavy on photography and imagery. So, I found that to be distracting and I lost interest very quickly in what he was saying because, I struggled to see what he was referring to on the presentation slides.

So, I guess my take away from this event was the importance of being an engaging and dynamic speaker. To capture the attention of an audience that can range anywhere from people who are specifically interested in architecture and design to just the general public interested in what’s happening in the community. You have to find that perfect balance between getting very technical to please the technical people but, also being very engaging and top of a strategy oriented to draw in the general public.

I also understood the importance of really understanding the venue in which you are presenting and the tools that are available for you, and tailoring your presentation to meet those challenges. I think that if any speaker would have paid close attention to the venue and the equipment available, they probably would have tailored their presentation a bit differently to meet those equipment challenges. And therefore, would have done a better job of engaging people.

Some of the best presentations I’ve seen interacted with the audience and really drew people with what interested them into the presentation. I know that it’s difficult to do with a large crowd but I think it’s possible.

So, my challenge to myself and to all of you is: What are you going to do to make each presentation different and unique and draw in that audience?

April 29, 2010 Posted by | connecting, engaging, public relations, reputation management | , , , | Leave a comment

Ed-Glen Chamber Presentation

Today I spoke with the members of the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce. They invited me to speak with them about incorporating social media tools in their marketing strategy. If you missed the event, or are just plain curious, you can download my slide deck on SlideShare, along with several recent presentations I have made on web user behavior (specifically millenials) and more (http://www.slideshare.net/bethkeserauskis).

April 27, 2010 Posted by | connecting, marketing, relationships, reputation management, social media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Customers Telling Your Story

I am sitting here in Clayton Studios working with Dick Ulett and Brenda Bertts Long to record the radio ads for SIUE. Our first campaign about a year and a half ago told the stories of success at SIUE through the eyes of faculty and students. We had such a quick turnaround time that we chose to use professional voice talent.

This year, we decided to tell the stories of success literally through our students and faculty. We asked for nominations from our staff and faculty of students who had great stories of success to tell. We then auditioned everyone, and selected a great pool of students to be the “voices of SIUE”.

I have to admit, I was extremely nervous about the level of talent we would find in the student body. Boy was I pleasantly surprised! We have amazing talent on campus for radio voices! Now we are in the studio today recording the ads with our students. It is amazing. They are so inspiring and have such great stories to tell with such energy and excitement! Talk about authentic—most places strive to bring this out of their actors. We are getting it right out of the gate!

Having your customers tell your story for you (and yes, students are our customers!!) is so powerful. I am excited to also see how this will play out in the rest of our media—billboards, print ads, blogging, and so much more. I really do hope that this strategy will resonate with prospective students and parents—hearing the stories from our students.

And by the way, Brenda Bertts Long, Dick Ulett and Clayton Studios are absolutely amazing and great to work with! I highly recommend them.

April 26, 2010 Posted by | connecting, higher education, marketing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tree Pollen Distribution Has Similar Success to Direct Mail

It dawned on me the other day as I was trying without success to get the pollen off my windshield that the pollen distribution strategy of trees in the spring is remarkably similar to the traditional, unsolicited direct mail strategy. My gross overgeneralization of unsolicited direct mail strategy is that you cast a HUGE net over a very loosely targeted area to people who have not tried to start a dialog with your company or about your product/service with your direct mail pieces, hoping you get a response that will eventually turn into a sale.

Trees release a HUGE amount of pollen, over whatever area they can get using wind as the distribution strategy. That area is not necessarily the right area, as much of the pollen lands on concrete, houses, cars, etc. Then the tree has to pray that the seeds can make it into the ground, that rain falls, and then that successful germination occurs. We still haven’t made it to the “sale” part of the equation, because now the tree has to hope that someone doesn’t pull it out of the ground, or mow their grass before it can grow tall, or that some animal doesn’t find it a tasty treat.

See how this is remarkably similar to unsolicited direct mail?? The advantages that the trees have that has allowed this strategy to remain successful are:

  • They have a lot of time to be patient and wait for success. Their life cycle is long. If they don’t have successful germination and growth in one spring, they can try again for likely several hundred more springs.
  • There are a lot of the same trees out there doing the same thing.
  • They have “ambassadors” in that people are actively planting trees in the spaces they would like them to grow.

So can you and your business afford to spray your direct mail once a year, hope something sticks  and if not, just wait until the next spring? I would venture to guess not. Just one more piece of evidence why unsolicited, unqualified direct mail cannot be your only strategy.

April 26, 2010 Posted by | connecting, higher education, marketing, sales | , , , | 2 Comments

The Jury is Still Out on Twitter

I have seen some successful customer service interactions on Twitter and experienced not some not-so-great customer service interactions on Twitter, specifically involving Dell. I am still not exactly certain how Twitter can be successful from the individual user, or customer, perspective. If you are a corporation looking to get involved in Twitter from the perspective of generating original content, how can you generate content that people actually want to read? Obviously, most people don’t really care about the mundane things, such as me sending a tweet saying that I am driving to work this morning. The people who are preaching about Twitter as an opportunity for your business to get engaged with social media seem, to me, to be more interested in increasing their number of followers or the number of tweets they send versus really trying to engage with the audience. I question, do you actually [have a signal with] your customer or you are just generating a bunch of noise? If you have 100,000 followers, I challenge you to show me that you actually can have an interactive relationship with all 100,000 people. So if you are just generating and broadcasting content for the sake of hearing yourself talk, and that’s your objective, maybe Twitter is for you. If you are actually using it to try to connect with people, I still have yet to see how that is actually a viable option.

The other thing that I have noticed is that many of those who are preaching about twitter or generating the most content or the most followers also happen to be male. Now, this may sound exceptionally reverse-chauvinist or reverse-sexist, but I wonder if what is at play here is that women in their 30’s and 40’s have kids and careers and families and are trying to balance them all. The things that get cut from your time are those things that don’t have the biggest bang for their buck.  I am wondering if Twitter is one of those that has yet to show a big bang for the buck and is, therefore, being dropped from the radar of some individual women. Now again, I don’t have any substantial proof to make these statements but it is just a feeling I have, especially when I am talk to several women also in the field of marketing and advertising that feel the same way about how can you incorporate Twitter as an effective communication strategy.

In the subsequent post, I will talk a little bit about the rich customer service opportunities that abound, monitoring the conversation about your brand using Twitter, and finding ways to have conversations with individuals that I have seen to be successful. But –just Tweeting for the sake of hearing yourself talk is not an effective communication strategy unless your whole goal is simply to make yourself look good and make noise.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | connecting, marketing, relationships, social media | , , , | 2 Comments

Convincing the Curmudgeon

What happens when someone in your organization, particularly someone who has decision making authority or budget control, is not convinced that the rules of marketing and public relations indeed have changed, especially with the advent of the internet and social media tools available to you?  What do you do, especially when they adamantly argue that if the process isn’t broken, why would you fix it?  How could you convince that type of curmudgeon to start employing some of the new techniques that will allow you to reach a greater audience, in a more authentic fashion, resulting in a greater return on your investments?

It is indeed a challenge and one that I recommend you tackle by starting with small victories and small samples of success.  For example, if your organization has never attempted to deploy a Google AdWords campaign or other search engine marketing strategies, perhaps you’d start with one small product or program, build that case and work then to show that there is value and a return on investment with a Google AdWords strategy. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop doing everything else that they’ve always been doing to promote that particular product or program, but you do this in conjunction with it so that you can compare the results of both strategies.

Interestingly though, if you’re embarking on a new strategy like Google AdWords, you’re often going to find that there are some other key pieces of your communications program that are not up to snuff in this case.  For example, when you’re starting a Google AdWords strategy or an SEO campaign, your website has to be written such that humans actually want to read it, but also contain the key phrases that are relevant to your particular search strategy. You’re going to have to start creating several variations of landing pages to test effectiveness of copy, call to action, and other parts of the sales process.

Almost equally important is whether your website or that particular micro-site or section of your website is doing a good job of moving people through the sales process. Traditionally, especially in higher education, people have been resistant to consider the recruitment and enrollment process as a sales cycle.

The reason it is important for everyone to understand that your website is a part of the sales conversation is that if you’re suddenly driving all of this great traffic to your website – potential customers, potential students, whoever it might be – but your website does not do a good job of converting them into true leads for your business or, ultimately, purchasers of your product or service, then you might as well burn a pile of dollar bills . If, when they get to your website, they are not converting, it’s like opening the doors to your business and allowing a bunch of people to come in the door but then telling them that we don’t want you to buy anything.

So, you really need to pay full attention to your web content before you embark on the search engine marketing strategy or search engine optimization strategy. Not only are there practical implications of your Google AdWords quality score getting slapped if the key phase is not on the page, etc., but also now that you have the great inquiry coming to your site, potential customers want to make sure that you’re converting them and leading them into, ultimately, sales – however you might define that.

It is mission critical to be sure and convince that program or service area of your website that it needs to a well oiled sales conversation machine and moving people though that great content. In a later blog post I will discuss how to develop the best content to move people through that great sales conversation.

In the meantime, be sure to create a few small victory opportunities to convince the curmudgeons in your company!

April 8, 2010 Posted by | higher education, leadership, marketing, sales | , , , | Leave a comment