Thursday, August 20, 2009

Staying Relevant in a Tough Economy

c21’s Sharon Goldmacher shared the stage with Patrick Fitzmaurice of The Capre Group and Moira Vetter of Modo Modo Agency at a recent American Marketing Association luncheon. Richard Warner of What’s Up Interactive moderated the panel, which addressed how small businesses can effectively market in the tough economy. Click to hear the full hour-long podcast, including valuable tips such as:

· View the current economic climate as an opportunity to invest and experiment – you’ll be surprised how quickly your competition will zoom past you when the economy recovers if you’ve dramatically cut your marketing efforts.
· Treat yourself as a client – test the techniques you’re selling. This gives team members first-hand knowledge and demonstrates that your company walks the walk.
· Consider developing a board of advisors to assist with business development and major operational decisions. An outside perspective can be invaluable.
· People look for capabilities; they hire people – a company’s employees are a differentiator. Communicate not just what you do and how you do it, but who is going to do it.
· If you pursue new business but don’t win the account, ask why. You can’t change your pitch unless you know why it wasn’t effective.
· Focus on a product. What “space” do you own? Everyone can be a generalist – identify your core capabilities and communicate them.
· BusinessWeek reported that 18% of Fortune 500 companies are reducing salaries across the board and 24% are considering it. Be clear and transparent about business revenue and forecasts – communicate openly with employees to alleviate fears and dissipate rumors.
· Develop your business pipeline with a mix of industry and trade involvement, social media, e-mail marketing and other tactics where you can measure audience response.
· Industry associations are ideal for sharing best practices and gaining skill building opportunities. Trade associations can get you in front of customers through networking, white papers, speaking engagements and more. Don’t fall into the trap of finding yourself in a pond with your peers, but not your buyers.

To learn about other upcoming AMA events, click here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reinventing the wheel…

Something happened to me in May: I became a Twenty-Something.

Although I’ve only been in these new shoes for two months, already the gap is growing between college life and the real world.

Ads on Facebook remind me that I’m no longer the target audience for beer commercials and spring break rentals in Panama City but instead for diamond rings and

Friends only a year or two older are constantly asking me: “Wait, what’s Twitter?” While those a year or two younger are beginning to refer to me only as @Wbiber.

And, as I watch the way my friends still in college use Twitter and Facebook versus the way companies, such as c21, use the same social media sites, I realize my feelings of being caught between two very different worlds are legitimate.

For the last four years, every professor, counselor and career advisor warned us to deactivate from Facebook prior to beginning the job hunt. We were told that employers were creating Facebook accounts solely to watch us and make sure we behaved in the ideal manner for a potential employee. College students all around me constantly changed their privacy settings, took their last names off their account, or deactivated altogether.

But when I began working at c21 this summer, I quickly realized social media had changed, and we’d been so busy hiding from employers, we failed to notice.

We thought employers were on Facebook to find us (college kids tend to be narcissistic- which I can say now that I’m a Twenty-Something), when in actuality companies are using social media for their own advancement.

Facebook, a social site we thought only our generation had truly mastered, can be an amazing and inexpensive engagement tool for companies. While my peers use Twitter to discuss plans for the evening, my colleagues use it to gain insight into their clients, discuss marketing trends with other industry experts, and facilitate relationships. Although the two are equally as proficient and reliant upon the resource, each one uses it for entirely different reasons.

This versatility is what makes social media so genius. We all need it. We all forget what life was like without it. And we’re constantly asking ourselves why we didn’t think of it first.

Social media has become so engrained into our lives that “I heard it through the grapevine” really means “I saw it on Facebook.” It’s part of the daily routine for computer-users both young and old.

Although I was sad to say goodbye to college, I’m grateful for what I’ve already learned and excited to watch my perspective continue to change as the definition of “public relations” evolves.