Friday, December 17, 2010

This Changes Everything!

My children go to an ESL (English as a Second Language) elementary school with 500+ students and 14% of them are ESL students. We currently have 11 different countries represented within the children in that program.  Due to lack of dollars, our district unfortunately does not provide foreign language into the daily curriculum for the English only speaking kids to learn to communicate with the other children.  Yeah... a bit wonky, isn't it?

Granted, when you see the children, all out on recess, playing with each other and having fun, there's no translation needed.  Nor when you see them all sitting together at lunch laughing with each other.  Some really good things just don't need words.  

When they do...   I WANT THIS!

Can you say BRILLIANT?

Can you see this being used to increase world relief efforts so we can all understand each other and communicate better from the start?  I see this aiding Doctors Without Borders and the military and foreign exchange programs.  How do you see this being used?  Punch some holes in it... tell me why you don't think this is a good thing?

The world is getting smaller and more intimate every day and it makes me fall out of my chair with joy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Found Your Voice Yet?

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Alan Weinkrantz as he and Jeff Pulver were touring the nation on their 140 Character Conference, and they came back through Kansas City. We had an intimate little group from the Social Media Club of Kansas City meet up at the 810 Zone in Harrah's Casino, for some drinks a few laughs.  The beautiful part was... getting some one on one time with these amazing social media guys.

Alan said he'd heard I do social networking for some mid to large size businesses in Kansas City and was intrigued.  Then asked me a question that has resonated with me ever since.  Seriously... I think about it often and have since asked my clients the same question.

"What is your voice?"

Did that mean "what is the personality, the persona, the feeling we leave people with after each tweet or posts or blog?"   Well, yeah.  I think it does.  

Shortly after that meeting, I met up with social savvy sales guy Ken Miner, of Spiral 16.  We talked about how companies spend crazy amounts of money and time on training their employees to correctly translate the company's culture. Whether you communicate with them via phone or in person.  Is it a friendly company in person? When you walk through their doors, are you greeted with a warm smile and do they look you in the eye and welcome you in?  Do they ask how you are?  Do they really seem to want to help you?  Are they genuine?  How's their tone and inflection on the phone?   Are they trained to make you feel good before, during and after you communicate with them? 

How many of them have an accurate portrayal of their culture through Facebook, Twitter, community chat rooms, blogs, etc... ?

A great example of a company culture being portrayed from start to finish was, Longbranch Saloon, on the Plaza in Kansas City, MO.  It was the first snarky and sarcarstic sports bar restaurant I had ever been to, (1980's thru the 90's) that announced it from the moment you walked in the door. "Home of the meanest waitresses in Kansas City".  The atmosphere was fun and you got great food and good service, mixed in with comments like "You don't need one more French fry" "Stop talking so I can concentrate and write your order down" to "Now, get the hell out of here" after you've paid.  That was the reputation they wanted and you knew what you were getting in to the minute you arrived. You also left feeling slightly insulted and laughing hard about it.  I can't help but think the fun they could be having on Twitter... where snark is a value.

So now, I'm thinking about every connection my client's make online and about how you feel when you speak with them... and beyond.  Is it the right voice?  Have we found our voice yet?

What is your voice for your client or better yet, your own personal brand?  Think about it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Confession Time: I'm in the Witness Protection Program

Well, at least it feels like I am.  

Since my fabulous 1996 Jeep Cherokee was stolen 2 weeks ago... no one knows me.  I am driving my husband's Maxima and sometimes "Big Blue", a huge Ford pick up, and as I see my neighbors and families of my children's school, I wave.  They just look at the car like "who the hell is that"?   

It's me!  These are people who would all but flag me down as they saw me arrive in my old Jeep.   Damn.  It's like identity theft. I had my identity stolen when my 14 year old Jeep was stolen.

Time to work on re-branding myself... on wheels.  
Side note:  I joined a gym too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Perk #142 of Working From Home...

There are many obvious perks about working from home, but the latest became apparent on Monday morning. The #142nd perk is... when you're car gets stolen, like mine did two days ago, you can still make it to and from work.  

Yep, my precious 1996 Jeep Country, with a big ol' cracked windshield, license plate taped to the back window all classy like, fabric on the ceiling drooping down like a circus tent... was stolen.  It was a car only I could love... or so I thought.  Taken in broad daylight from a bookstore parking lot.  It's not as if I left it at a bar all night in some wild drinking district.  I also found out the police do not do APB's anymore.  (All Points Bulletin).  Don't laugh too hard... I really wanted them to do one.  Wouldn't you?  

So as of the end of this week, my official search will begin for a new, or rather "another" car.   Being I am a bit of a JEEK (Jeep Geek) the new Call of Duty Black Ops Jeep Wrangler has caught my eye...   Maybe it could stay with me for 14 years like my M.I.A. Jeep now has. (still might... we'll see)

This time, I am getting The Trunk Monkey to protect it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

13 LIVE Tweeting Tips

I've LIVE tweeted for 22 events in the last 10 months.  I'm anxious to share with you, what I've learned...  through some interesting trial and error.

13 LIVE Tweeting Tips:

  1. Create an easy short #hashtag for the event. Tweeple enjoying the LIVE tweets can play along simultaneously and you can track and interact with them.  Keep the #hashtag short, so there's more room for the meat of a tweet.
  2. Give plenty of promotion to the fact the designated twitter account (yours or if you tweet for a biz or venue) will be posting LIVE from and during the event, what time it will begin and of course, the #hashtag.
  3. Encourage others attending the event to also LIVE tweet from the event and promote the #hashtag to them.  Getting their attention early, setting the desired expectation and asking for participation well ahead of the event has worked well for me.
  4. If possible, get the Twitter account name of key people you will be tweeting about ahead of time. (bands, members of the band, athletes, speakers, etc..)   
  5. When you tweet about this upcoming event in the weeks/days before it, be sure to include the guest of honor Twitter accounts in your promotional posts.  The chances of them seeing, interacting and RTing your posts will increase dramatically and you'll build a relationship with them by the time the big event arrives.  This will help for tip # 6.
  6. On the day of, introduce yourself and be sure to let the guest(s) of honor know you will be LIVE tweeting (for yourself or a client) and check to see if they have any concerns.  Overcome any objections and put their mind at ease by letting them know you are wanting this to be a positive experience for them, the venue and viewers alike.   You're root'n for them and that nothing compromising, or that could be misconstrued, will be posted. You're probably at the mercy of how they feel that day and at that moment, but your enthusiasm for what's about to happen, can help set the tone.  Historically, most have been grateful for the extra publicity.  Agree to any restrictions they may put in place and be sure to honor your word 100%.
  7. Tweet frequently and consistently.  Remember, you want to virtually put the viewer there with you.  Personally, I prefer photos with the majority of my tweets.  It's a great way to gauge how many people viewing took the time to open a photo. You can see the number of views each photo received.  If the event is not too loud (near the speakers at a  concert and NASCAR are poor choices, trust me) then using TwitVid is a great option too. Short n sweet... tops, :30 second videos.  That's all anyone seems to want to commit to viewing these days for they don't want to miss a large chunk of the LIVE tweeting.
  8. Encourage and actively RT! Retweeting quality posts or Twitpics (or whichever photo site you use for posting on Twitter) will draw more people in (people are by nature curious and visual) and make the audience interacting feel valued for their efforts too.
  9. If possible, just before the event, take the viewers places they wouldn't normally be able to go, in order to maximize the uniqueness of what you're doing.  With permission, I show the green room at a concert venue where the bands are preparing to take the stage.  Sometimes they ham it up and some times they just go about their business... but it's special.  The people at the venue and behind their phone/laptop/monitor screens, rarely get to see it.  If you are to remain only in the audience, keep on tweeting.  That perspective is just as important.  Consider moving about the room/venue/facility during the event to get different angles for a variety of photos. 
  10. Invite a Guest Tweeter to join you.  If someone has expressed a, dare I say, "fanatical" interest in the event you'll be tweeting from and better yet, they are an influencer with many followers in your client's demographics, by all means have them join you!  The more the merrier. They too will promote the #hashtag and your tweets to about the show.  See if the event you are tweeting for will provide a pass for that person too, in exchange for your guest's genuinely enthusiastic tweets.  (I would set some simple guidelines of no cursing, keeping the tweets positive
  11. After the event and as soon as you can, search Twitter for the other tweets you may have originally missed (easy to do when there's lots to tweet).  Retweet the interesting one's and by all means, thank everyone who got involved and posted along with you.  Appreciation is... well... appreciated.
  12. I like to capture all of the tweets on a document and post it a day or two later for everyone to enjoy.  They will.  I've even captured an entire season's worth of hilarious and thought provoking tweets for a team, and posted for all to see... It was a big hit and sparked even more conversation! 
  13. In the end, you now have a nice archive of the event.  You can comment on any photos of particular interest to blast it out on Twitter again and retweet any posts you think viewers will find funny or informative.  It'll keep people talking long past the event.

LIVE tweeting works beautifully for a few simple reasons:  One being that if a consumer/fan cannot be there, they can still feel included.  On the flip side, if a consumer/fan CAN be there, it can create a sense of urgency and will enticed them to get to the event.  It's a great teaser.  A "you shoulda been here... better make the next one" taste of what they are missing.  Not to mention the high frequency of so many pairs of eyeballs seeing your/your client's name.  Can you say #BrandAwareness

Let me know if you're going to be LIVE tweeting this year.   It would be my pleasure to follow your tweets at the event.

Social Media Mamapreneur

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Soon A S D F and ; L K J Will Be M.I.A.

When email was in it's hay day (not that long ago) middle schoolers who started typing class, came in at 70 words per minute.  Why wouldn't they?  That was their main form of communication and typing teachers worldwide were happy.  Now however, with cell phones in 1 out of 6 grade schooler's hands and texting can be done blindfolded, typing appears to be evolving right before our eyes... er... our screens.

The hunt n peck typing technique reminds me of my dad clacking away with a steady speed on his heavy cast iron Royal typewriter.  Great for multiple layers of carbon invoices.  He was fast but not nearly as fast as my mom on her electric Smith Corona.  Her fingers looked robotic with their speed and accuracy. Shock and awe!

I've been closely observing my two elementary age children on the computer these last few months, with curiosity.  I've tried to teach them to use the traditional finger placement of A S D F and ; L K J on the keyboard.  Works for me and it's what I was taught in Jr. high and I'm fast as hell on the keyboard.   My 6th grade son types his own book reports and tries to use the finger placement, however, when I've observed him hunt n peck, he's much faster and has fewer errors.  Hmmmmm.  My daughter, who is in 3rd, is typing with great accuracy and speed using the old hunt n peck method as she chats away on Club Penguin or any of her other kid based social networks.  My children are certainly in front of a keyboard more frequently and younger than I was.  Another hmmmm.

With all of the varying keyboards for phones... it's no wonder A S D F and ; L K J are harder than ever to get the hang of.  Especially with the phone keys being so small, using our thumbs seems to be the best solution.  Discussions with peers about using their phones to leave status updates/tweets/texts are certainly more prevalent than email.  This leaves me wondering... what will become of typing classes for children as we move forward? 

Will there be texting classes as opposed to typing?  I can hear it now... "Welcome 2 Txting 101 Plz Take Out UR Phones"

Will there be classes to learn texting language as opposed to regular writing classes?  (Every parent should sign up now so we can break the code and communicate with tweens and teens)

Will this shortened style of language ever be mainstream?  More like "when will it be?"  Check out this article regarding teacher concerns.  On the flip side, check out this blog stating completely the opposite.

Not only have we become extremely accessible, but we're far more efficient than ever before.  Whether you like it or not... our communication style is changing and it's kicked in to high gear with the generation who will be leading companies, solving world problems and becoming doctors in the next 10 years. 

Don't think too hard or too long about whether you should evolve too.  I think you should.  Mainly so you don't get left in its wake, but so you can continue to communicate with ALL generations.  Finally... we'll all be bilingual.    

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Confession # 88

Motor oil is motor oil, right?

My confession is...  I spent almost a solid 30 seconds at another car trying to get in it, before I realized it wasn't  our car.   

Granted, ours is a new car (month or so old) and it's not my primary car.   The twin car I tried to take home with me was the same color, had four doors, four wheels, a sunroof, a windshield.  How could I have confused it?  

I know diddly squat about cars.  I'm also the same girl who thinks Pacers and Porsches  look a bit alike... with their wide bottoms and all.  Now, if the new car looked like this, there wouldn't be a problem.  I'd just have to park it and position it like this every time I got out.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Say West, You Say Side!

I recently had the rough assignment to live tweet at the Snoop Dogg & Ice Cube concert for Voodoo Lounge in Harrah's Casino, North Kansas City, MO.  Can you smell the sarcasm?  I was thrilled!  I'm a concert fanatic!

I love all kinds of music, but admittedly, I'm not a rap fan.  Short of Sugar Hill Gang's "Rappers Delight" and some goofy Will Smith stuff like "Parents Just Don't Understand", I am ashamed to admit I am not well versed in rap.  However, I do know a potentially good time. What wasn't going to be fun about this show?!   It had fun all over it from the git go!

I learned several new curse words, met rapper/actor Ice Cube, had a great time chatting it up with the entourage from both artists, opening DJ's, the site photographer Jeff Knights of Snap the Moment , the DJ at intermission JT Quick , security, the Voodoo staff, the cops and all the while, my husband who does like rap, and graciously joined me.

Here's a recap of the show from my perspective:
I'd been pumping the show on twitter for a few weeks before July 30th.  The pre-show tweets on Twitter are always interesting and people get excited...
People were jammed up to the stage from the moment the doors opened. There were no chairs on the main floor, thank gawd.  Unless you're Yanni, I will never understand why an artist would want seating on the main floor for their show.  If a person is standing, more than likely they will dance, at the least a little.  Sway.  That's far better than a bump on a log.  A.K.A.: a person in a chair.

I was backstage as Ice Cube was preparing to take the stage.  He was charming, funny, gracious, all smiles... just the way I wanted him to be.   As he was holding the microphone in his left hand, at the bottom of the few steps leading up to the stage, I said "Ice... one more before going on" and held up my camera phone. In what I guess is typical celebrity behavior, he struck a "bad ass" pose.  It's not indicative of the guy we were just talking to, but it really is a great shot.
This is a pathetic pic of he and I.  I was hot, sweaty and well... a little overly giddy.  Ice on the other hand looks like a baby doll.  I shouldn't even put it up, but it's too funny not to.

Those with "media passes", like  moi', could stand between the stage and the barrier/wall o' fans, and take pics, touch the artists shoes, get some sweat flung on us... and boy did we!  LOL!!!
Ice Cube was difficult to take photos of because he was always moving so fast. He was full of energy and so were the guys in his "crew" er "band" er, whatever you call them.   I did however, get a sweet shot of his sparkled glittery shoes each time he stood in front of me.  My 8 yr old daughter gave this a big thumbs up.  Ice Cube saw me snapping this shot and gave me a wink like "I know. They are so cool."   It's all about the BLING baby.
Ice did a full show. Truly... it was longer than most opening acts and the crowd was really engaged with him.  Ice Cube's energy and audience interaction made his performance, for me, the best of the night.

Right after he was done, a DJ from Hot 103 Jamz, TJQuick entertained the crowd.  I love how the computer and the turntable are so portable and he was amazing!  Kept the audience upbeat despite being jam packed to the stage waiting for Snoop Dogg.. (photo via Jeff Knight)
JT Quick is a super nice guy, confident and charming.  He was notified that afternoon he would be doing this intermission set and he did it like he had been planning for a month.  He also did the same thing Ice Cube did for me.  When I asked for a pic, this sweet faced smiley guy went from that .. to "Bad Ass"
It was getting warm and it was one of those days earlier with a heat of index of 110 degrees and humidity at 110%.  The security and cops came out and tossed out cases of bottled water to the concert goer's who started out boo'ing them... then realized what they were doing and cheered for them.
I didn't get to visit with Snoop Dogg like I did Ice Cube. He was M.I.A. backstage and the green room and when it was time for him to go on stage, BAM! There he was!  He was however, much easier to photograph. He doesn't sprint or jump across stage.  He uses his swagger to get from one side to the other.
Check out  his "ring" that says "Snoop Dogg". At least, that's what I think it says.  It's like a set of brass knuckles... really.   (via Jeff Knight)
He struck a lot of poses for the gazillion camera phones in everyone's hands... the crowd loved it!
and the crowd adored him! I mean really adored him!  And connecting gestures like shaking hands only fueled their love and frenzy for wanting to be closer to him...
Don't you love where I got to take photos from?   I know!!!!   The tweets from concert go-ers during and after the show were dynamite!  I love how social media can put even those who weren't there, almost there.

You can find more great photos from the club photographer, Jeff Knight,  HERE and you can find my tweets and photos HERE for date July 30th.   The best part of the evening was watching the crowd. They were so happy and diverse and you could feel the good mojo coming from everyone of them.
You can follow Voodoo on Twitter at @VoodooKC and HERE on Facebook.  You can follow me on Twitter at @AlexisCeule too.

Next blog.... on the incredible Los Lonely Boys concert the night after this one took place!  Same assignment.   I'm one lucky girl.

Monday, July 19, 2010

There's Granny Throw'n Out a Knuckle Bump

My son and I played a wicked game of tennis at the Prairie Village municipal city courts over the weekend.  It was already 85 degrees by 10AM when we got there, but that didn't stop the 25 or so senior citizens we saw playing each other in doubles.  They were laughing and having a great time. Some in wife beaters and sweats, others in Fila and matchy matchy outfits.   Some were even using the old wooden Wilson rackets from back in the 70's (probably still in my parents garage too).  Nonetheless, we had to stop for a moment and watch.  The fun was contagious.

A particular match we were watching left me wondering if the couple was in their late 70's or early 80's.  This is significant because... as the couple we were watching scored against the other couple... they approached each other, smiled, and gave each other a confident knuckle bump.

Wha?  My 12 yr old son and I darted a look at each other and laughed out loud. That was awesome!!! And no matter where these old folks learned the knuckle bump, the fact was, they were using it.  And looking like they'd been doing it every score for the last several decades.  It looked natural because they embraced it.   I bet they have done that all their lives... rolled with the punches, tried new things, embraced change because Lord knows it's the only thing we can count on.

It gives me hope for the 50, 40 and 30 somethings who tell me they don't understand social networks or up to date technology, so they don't use it.   Get in the game friends...  EVOLVE before you get so far behind you won't be able to catch up!  Times are changing. Embrace green. Embrace technology. Embrace change.
I love these seniors using Wii to get back in the game at their retirement communities!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm Evolving

What a difference a year makes in social media and digital technology for the Social Media Mamapreneur!

I've gone from simply researching via social networks for clients to tweeting and Facebook updating for them, to live tweeting at events and now preparing to live stream video and tweeting from concerts.  Wow!  I'm having a blast, if you can't tell.  I really appreciate my clients willingness to try everything and anything through social media.  Every time I think this new industry has kicked into warp speed, I'm blown away by the clever new ways to use it.

If you haven't already, check out the Old Spice campaign and their online video blogs that respond to what some people tweeted to their @OldSpice account and to what bloggers have been saying about them.   It almost brings a tear to my eye how well they are utilizing social networks.  Smartly, they aren't overdoing it... it's coming to an end, but you can still view the numerous responses on the Old Spice Youtube page.  It's out there, forever.

Current accounts I'm fortunate to work with and who are willing to let me try whatever I can through social media are:  @SantaFeTow and on Facebook too, @JohnnysTavernPV (represents all 8 locations though and all 8 have their own Facebook page too), @HarrahsNKC , @VoodooKC and keepin it going for @BigSlickKC  as well as Facebook, as next years event is already being worked on.  2 new not for profit events are on the calendar.

I haven't been blogging due to time constraints. I'll try to remedy that, because there's tons to share right now.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today is Your Day...

If you're seeing this blog, you're either reading it as a subscriber, a stumble upon'r, via Facebook, or searching the web...
For the simplest of online users to those who write code... it's your day.  Thanks to the volunteers at the Social Media Club of Kansas City for organizing and promoting the event and now the dual and new members of the Social Media Club of Johnson County (KS) for getting the word out too.

I'll be celebrating in Kansas City at Johnny's Tavern on 119th and Metcalf, with other like minded social media fans, at 6pm this evening. Join us in raising a few glasses to an industry we're appreciating and enjoying very much.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Of All the Things To Do This Summer...

I'm really looking forward to doing a lot of this...

A little bit of this...

I want to see a lot of these...

I know I'll be found here...

I'll catch a handful of these... hopefully these guys (Train) too...

But most of all, I'm so happy the house will be filled with sounds of running, laughing, jokes, probably a few tears, and chitter chatter from these two monkeys...

Thanks to Jaime Jensen for her photo of the beer, poolside with me the first week of summer.  As well, the "Flying Squirrel" photo is of a high school friend and which one escapes me... I'll have to find out.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fly On a Wall

I recently had lunch with two of my favorite people in and out of social media ... Zena Weist (H&R Block) and Christine Hamele (Parris Communications).  We met up at Smashburger in Leawood.  It was a lovely day and one of the few over the last two weeks that wasn't raining.   Some how, some way, these two wonderful Kansas City ladies had never met.  It was my pleasure to introduce them.

Right away through regular ol' conversation, they rattled off a half a dozen names of people they had in common and had worked with.  Over the course of the next hour and 40 minutes, they engaged in some wonderful social media/marketing/public relations related conversations that left me feeling crazy fortunate to witness.   Of course they were inclusive with me during these discussions, but I didn't want to muck up the quality.  So I was the quietest I may have been in a very long time.

These are two great minds sharing ideas, experiences and opportunities...   would I have looked ridiculous taking notes?  I really wanted to.  I smiled ear to ear, like the village idiot and soaked up all the goodness they were providing. I was the happiest fly on a wall.

If you want to meet some great minds in Kansas City too, the Social Media Club of Kansas City has done an incredible job of pulling like minded folks together.  It's FREE... check them out.

Thanks Christine for treating us!  Here's our delish spread at Smashburger...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just What I Needed "An Unexpected Delight"

A friend of mine, Jennifer, recently said "I love how women take care of women".  I had one of those lovely moments a week ago.  I had just taken my husband to the airport (San Fran bound) and he'd be gone for a week.  I asked my children after he left, "Did Daddy have anything set up for me for Mother's Day?"  They blankly looked at me and then each other, shrugged their shoulders and said "No".  Hmmm...  really?   Crap.  I thought maybe he'd hand them a $20 and tell them to take me out to Sheridan's for ice cream.... or something.  My daughter said she made something at school and my son said he had something of his own too... and that's wonderful!  I was also hoping for something a little "grown up".  Does that make sense?

The day was fully under way and by noon, a knock at my door by a lovely delivery woman holding a large box, smiled and handed it to me saying,  "Looks like a winner to me."   

I hesitated opening it thinking for a moment it came to the wrong home.  The box was so beautiful and besides, the driver quickly drove away. I couldn't resist.  So I tore into it.  Lots of beautiful tissue paper (only a woman would appreciate that, right? LOL) and the first thing I pulled out was a gorgeous green etched glass pitcher!

Wha??  Certainly this isn't for me.  Who is this from?  I found a gold card with a hand written note from my friends via social media (and one from SME too) Christine Hamele and Kelly Cooper of Parris Communications.  "We wanted to recognize all of your efforts as a social media maven and Mamapreneur.   Hope you enjoy the exceptional gift experience from Cambria Cove!".   I had to sit down.

I was so excited and so happy they did this for me... just when I was feeling on the verge of neglected... and they saved the day!  I didn't open anything else but instead went right for the phone to thank Christine.  I was gushing, talking too fast and I hope she could tell just how appreciative I was.  Keep in  mind, I hadn't even seen the rest.  LOL!   Here is the jackpot they sent me... 

A wonderful candle in a pink ceramic container, WITH lid.  A gorgeous set of notecards that remind me of Amy Butler fabrics.  A gold and white zenia patterned journal that has a nifty built in pocket in the back.  Christine never could have known, but I love that stuff!  I tuck things away all the time ... now I have a spot with my journal!  Brilliant.  The two white doves are soap!!!! They came in the cool bird nest and there's a white ceramic little bowl they are sitting in too.  
Now look at this gorgeous bracelet!  KABLAM!  There's my Mother's Day jewelry I always secretly want!  Bonus: It's silver!

I am thrilled to the core with my unexpected gifts.  They were just what I needed.  You have no idea.  Well... maybe Christine and Kelly actually did.  I have been online with Cambria Cove this last week and on their Facebook Page which looks relatively new... so "like" them if these type of goodies are right up your alley.  The website has great ideas for Father's Day... calling them "Handsome gifts for dashing dads".  Love it!  

Thanks again Christine and Kelly for your timely thoughtfulness.   You are a shining example of people doing things right...  making someone feel valued.   MWUA!  XOXOXOX  

I'm a forever fan of Christine and Kelly. I'm a new fan of ...

Friday, May 7, 2010

They Have Far Exceeded My Expectations

I love a great sale and I adore great customer service. 

Give me what I want and based on that, give me something more that you know I'll need soon.   Convey to me you are the expert I will need when I have a question about your industry.  Leave me uttering the words "Wow".  Make me smile the entire conversation because you've not only fixed my challenge but cut another one off at the pass... one I didn't even know was looming off in the distance.   Leave me with the sincere impression that you care about my business and how I can help the businesses I care about too.  Actually give me the inspiration to write your name and direct number/email down when you offer it up unsolicited.

Then... two days later, send me an email you're having a 2 hour FREE seminar 5 miles from my house in the same month on the same issue I was contacting you about.

OMG...  Constant Contact.  I love you.

Friday, April 30, 2010

OMG! The Sun Has Risen in the West!

As you know I love social media and social networking.  I love the people, the nature of engagement, on my terms, on my time.  So when I meet people who don't "get it" and don't see the value, I can't help but feel a little sorry for them.  For them and the boat they have turned their backs on and are now missing. 

My twin brother, Owen, (the blonde toehead on the far right) is an excellent example of this resistance. He says he doesn't have time to sit there and "chit and chat"... "I hardly have my time to do my work and then I go home and do THAT stuff... it's a full day."   OK, I get that.  But all work and no play make Owen a dull and bitter boy.  You have to engage with other people about things you like... hobbies, passions, movies, music, etc...   There are a million ways to connect and it can be as little or as much as you want.  Staying connected makes us human again. It raises our awareness and compassion. If anything it's good for a really good laugh, at least once a day.  

Owen is a sales manager for Neal Harris Heating & Air Conditioning & Plumbing & Duct Cleaning & Frontal Lobotomies & Dry Cleaning...  the last two are jokes, but they actually do a lot and have been servicing Kansas City since 1953.  I know!!!  1953!  They were bought out by a national brand a few years back but maintain their hometown personalized service.  The "Mother" brand has allowed Neal Harris to keep their longstanding name as a distributor of their products.   I can't help but think with their history and the national brand behind them, that no way do they not have a fan page on Facebook at the very least! 

I've been encouraging Owen for the last 9 months to get Neal Harris in the game.  He'd probably call it hounding.  It's pretty clear that times are changing and his business needs to evolve.  Go where your customers are when they are there.   It seems so easy... because it is... more than ever now!  Then I got the ... "our customers are older. They aren't on computers." (our 81 year old father is... I rest my case)  My comeback for that flim flam excuse is... "Your customer base is dying off and you don't want new customers?  Younger customers (65 and down) who can be loyal to for the next several decades?  You don't want those people?"   You'd be surprised how many people with businesses, I have had that casual conversation with and that is their defense for not changing what they do.   Unless you're selling Geritol or Depends, you should be reaching out to qualified demographics for your product or service, don't you think?  Incredibly discriminatory and naive to think younger adults don't have heating & a/c problems.  On the contrary... they are probably buying older homes that come with those exact kinds of problems.  Who are they gonna call?  They are going to ask their friends on Facebook and Twitter for suggestions and their personal experiences ... they are going to Google and Yelp for local businesses doing a good job.  They are going to ask their peers, who they trust, to help them decide.  Where would Neal Harris fall into that discussion?  Neal Harris and other non evolving companies have marketed the same way for years... doing the same things and getting the same responses.  No wonder they have the same database. 

Owen tells me it's not his decision. It's corporate's, out of Dallas. (since when was he such a rule follower?!)   I like the school of, you don't get anything unless you ask for it AND it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.  "Owen,  ask for the Facebook fan page or start your own, but do it now before this window of opportunity shuts on your fingers as you're peering in from the outside!"   I dread the extra work companies will have to do to catch up with those who were more willing to look at and do things different earlier in the game.  As for Owen and Neal Harris...  It was a no go. I'm not saying ditch traditional advertising and marketing, I'm suggesting adding on to it.  Social networking is FREE... today.  It might change.  Alas...  The status quo of snail mailed newsletters/postcards and a little email marketing to former customers... will continue.

I called him this morning to visit and prepare to post this blog.  Right away he sounded chipper and excited!  Low and behold, THE SUN HAS RISEN IN THE WEST!  Neal Harris started a fan page... TODAY!   I was the 28th person to "LIKE" it!   It's not being updated and managed by his office at his location, but it's up damn it and I couldn't be more thrilled for them!   Being a sister, I had to bring up "Owen, if you'd been on Facebook the last year, you'd more than likely have a few hundred local friends... and that's without even posting on a regular basis.  How nice that would have been for you to suggest to your friends your new company fan page to 'like' if they were inclined.  They care about you... they'd join.  SOCIAL BRANDING & MARKETING.  SOCIAL BRAND RECOGNITION.  WORD OF MOUSE!"

This is a big step and I realize it.   I suggested he become an administrator on his page, so he can see the insights provided by Facebook and the demographics of the fans who are engaging with the page and of those who have joined.  It'll tell him by age group and what sex the fans are of Neal Harris on Facebook. It's huge information as they begin their brave new world of social marketing!   I am so proud of them!  Now if I can just get the sun to set in the East and get them on Twitter, so they can see real time, who needs their services, locally!

Good job Owie!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You're My Hostage Now

My son is 11 years old.  We like to hang out.  Probably  more than his friends think is cool, but if he doesn't care, we'll just keep on keep'n on.  I find when I'm with him, I want to look at things through is his eyes, which isn't so tough, really.  I like to point out things I think he might like or think is funny.   The same things amuse me too, so it's like 4 eyes looking for a good joke, constantly.  He can easily be talked into running errands with me using the simple phrase "Come keep me company."  That's something I learned from my wonderful father and my obnoxious but charming twin brother... "It'll only take a few minutes".   That's code for "You're my hostage now".  Mwahahahaha!  Off we go.

I tend to take the scenic route when going to ... well... just about anywhere. Why? Because there's usually something interesting along the way.  On a recent errand back from renting movies, we drove past a slowly dying shopping center.  One of the ever changing restaurants was wisely holding a classic car get together.  Bring your classic car, pop the hood and we'll all walk around and admire them.  Sounds boring?  On the contrary, look at the beauties we found:
I told my son to casually lean on the car, as if it's his... but don't really touch it.    Mission accomplished.
This old one looks a bit like a spiffied up one my twin brother had when we were in high school. It was an antique then too.
hmmmm... I want to like it. Just not sure yet. I like the bones.
It should be luxurious but reminded Jackson and I of a hearst.  #FAIL
I want it.  Don't you? Yeah... I want it.

I had a dear friend in college that would see something unusual and not hesitate to pull over and check it out.  While vacationing with him in California, we saw a worm poop business and how it makes compost.  He turned into the long driveway as if that was the plan all along.  Pull up around the back of the barn, hopped out of the car and introduced himself, hand outstretched to the first person he saw... the owner.  We got the whole shebang on the worms and how they make the best damn compost and we even played with his puppies... for 2 hours.  We all hugged and said goodbye when it was time to go, like we were long lost friends bidding farewell yet again.  That's how he was/is... making friends all over this planet mainly because he was like a little kid...  always curious, respectful, interested and itching to find out something about everything.  He didn't drive past this place every day for 5 years wondering what worm poop was all about. He saw it, he went in to investigate and I was his happy hostage. He's an NFL football coach now... using his positive outlook and curiosity to make himself some of the finest quarterbacks in the league.  Many times over the last several years, I think of him when I see something that piques my curiosity.  I make a concerted effort to actually stop, investigate, engage with whomever is behind it all... and hopefully,  I will always have a happy hostage to enjoy it with me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Scared Straight in 2010

I've been swamped lately... but I made some time to share one thing going with one of my clients... Santa Fe Tow.  They provided two wrecked vehicles from drunk driving accidents, today at the St. James Academy in Lenexa, KS.  Not only did the high school age kids get to see these mangled wrecks, but they also got a nice demonstration about how the accident might have gone down when a teenager is driving under the influence of alcohol.  They were needless to say, VERY attentive.  Rightly so. 

The Lenexa Police Department, the Fire Department and the nearby hospital all worked seamlessly to show these kids what takes place with such an accident... how many people it takes to work on this kind of accident and what it takes to get it done.  Very sobering.  Like out of the Scared Straight movie from the 80's.

The victims and witness were 5 of the theater students from the drama club at St. James Academy and they did a very convincing job!  For a full view of the experience click here for Santa Fe Tow's Facebook Fan Page photo album of today's excitement.  Special kudos to the firemen, policemen and Med Act employees of Lenexa, who volunteered their time and talents to bring such an emotional and teachable opportunity.  Bravo to Santa Fe Tow for supplying the cars for these efforts throughout the metro, to hammer home "don't drink and drive" and "don't text and drive" to teens.