The Motivation of a Marketer

By Griffin Jones

“By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising…kill yourself. There is no rationalization for what you do, you are Satan’s spawn, you fill the world with vile and garbage,” –comedian, Bill Hicks.

No, I’m not offended, I think it’s hilarious. And I can easily rationalize what I do.

Bill HicksWhen I was a radio AE, I remember asking a client what he liked about his favorite rep. This was at the very beginning of 2009–the bowel of the Great Recession.

“She doesn’t push me to do stuff,” was his answer.  He liked that she didn’t nudge him out of his comfort zone. That place has been out of business for three years now.

He was a good guy, had been in business for a long time, and he knew his product as well as anybody. We’re marketers because we know that isn’t the point. In my not-so-long career I’ve seen this more times than I can count.

Like most marketers, I don’t like the feeling of pushing people. It’s not natural to me. But I would rather deal with that brief uncomfortable feeling at the very beginning of a relationship than ever have anyone describe me as their favorite because I “didn’t push” them enough.

Buffalo’s Best In Social Media: Real Estate

By Griffin Jones

When it comes to social media, I don’t know of any category like real estate. Imagine if the restaurant category were like the real estate category. Instead of the restaurants themselves having the largest followings, it would be individual waiters and chefs who had bigger presences than their companies. That’s real estate.

I can’t speak to the relationships between brokers (the real estate companies) and agents (the licensed individuals who work for them). But no broker in Western New York has established dominance in any of the major social media platforms.

I wonder why, because I can tell that many of their agents see the value in it.

sold_house_family11

A quick search for an agent who I see advertising her own Facebook page shows Beth Stablewski with far more (post) likes, comments, and shares on her page than any WNY broker. Beth has really great content on her page (photos of sold homes, features of her team) that definitely differentiate her in my eyes as a customer.

That’s also true for Rob Measer who answers local WNY real estate questions in his well optimized blog, www.realestatewny.com.

I’m one of Colleen Kulikowski’s nearly 3,000 Twitter followers. She has relevant information every hour and I don’t see any broker with that kind of following.

So for this year, best in social media goes to the agents. They’ve taken the initiative and have a lot more to offer current and potential clients because of it. I hope, by this time next year, I can say the same of the brokers.

The simplest way to know if my business HAS to use Twitter

By Griffin Jones

A peer of mine wisely said, ‘you don’t have to be active in every form of social media. You have to master one thing, and then maybe move on’. He’s right. My advice: reserve your real estate on Foursquare, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ but focus on where your customers are.

At time of publication, for most direct to consumer businesses, that’s Facebook. More than 60% of all US adults are active on Facebook. Therefore, your customers are most likely to interact with you and refer their friends through that platform.

But how do you know if Twitter is a priority? Do an advanced search for your business name in http://www.twitter.com/search-advanced. If you see that people are talking about your business on a regular basis (this is different from tweeting to your handle), then you have to be on Twitter.

People use Twitter to talk about what’s on their mind or on what they’re doing at the very moment. If that involves you, wouldn’t you like to have a voice in that conversation?

 

Buffalo’s Best In Social Media: Grocery

By Griffin Jones

I see a lot to be desired when it comes to small businesses  taking ownership of their social media communities, so I better be fair and give credit when it’s due.

Wegmans dominates the grocery category with likes, as well they should. They are an outstanding business that gives people a lot to talk about. I could write a whole post on them and maybe I will. But pound for pound, I’m really impressed with Budwey’s Supermarkets. Through their work with the talented Kevin Evanetski and his crew at ‘SocialYeah’, Budwey’s has racked up outlandish stats like these:

14,152 likes

640 check ins

1,231 Talking About This

Stolen from www.facebook.com/budweys. Check out their page!

Stolen from http://www.facebook.com/budweys. Check out their page!

That last number is what really impresses me. Scroll through their posts, and you will see hundreds of people who are really engaging with Budwey’s. They give us plenty to talk about with recipes, community stories, and top down staff involvement. In a marketplace where the fate of most independent grocers is uncertain, Budwey’s has made a huge investment into the only asset they can fall back–on their customers.

Way to go, guys. It’s encouraging.

2013: Long Past Time to Disrupt Local Business Complacency

By Griffin Jones

It’s 2013. Has been for sometime actually. I’m just not sure if many small business owners are aware of that. According to USAToday, 61% of small businesses don’t see any Return On Investment from their social media activities. Translation: At least 61% of small businesses are using social media incorrectly. Social media scaled in 2008. They’ve been around much longer than that, but we’ve been PAST the cutting edge for FIVE years. I’m deeply concerned about the fate of local businesses over the next few years. Major corporations have developed/are developing technology based on eye movement, algorithms of interests, and readiness to purchase, that can all be executed with an instant transaction from a smart phone. Meanwhile, 61% of local businesses can’t even nurture their customer relationships on Facebook or adapt to feedback from Twitter or Yelp. I took a look at the Facebook pages of the two businesses that the USA Today story featured. Between the two of them, they mounted a whopping 57 likes, had no compelling content, and (at least according to the narrative of the article) have concluded that social media does not work for them. Small businesses are on the burning platform and so am I. That means sticking with the status quot is more dangerous to small businesses than trying to adapt. I’m at the same point. I’m running out of patience and I’m going to start pushing. This is not cutting edge technology. It is the way people communicate, and we are late. Very late. The success of local businesses affects our livelihoods, the control we have over our communities, and our overall quality of lives. We have to disrupt the complacency of small businesses now. It’s too dangerous not to.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/04/16/small-business–social-media-facebook/2075123/

Snap Out Of It

By Griffin Jones

No matter where you are in life, there are always times when you feel like you can rebound from anything, and points when you feel like all is hopeless. I really try to snap people out of the hopeless phase. The world needs you to make it better. You can’t do that when you’re frozen. But how can I unfreeze others when I fall into that trap myself? There are times I want to stay in bed. I want to make excuses for why we (I) can’t get things done. That’s when we need to find someone else to pick us up. Mark Andol of the Made In America Store may feel beaten down every night of his life. There must be times when he feels like  trying to save the American economy is impossible. But if he does, you would never know it. I hung out with Mark a few weeks ago at his General Fabricating and Welding Plant. If you’ve seen Mark fired up on a TV interview, that wasn’t for the cameras. He sleeps, eats, and breathes the mission of saving the American livelihood. If he really feels that way 100% of the time, or if he has to phone it in sometimes for us to feel better, either way, I’m grateful.

Photo shamelessly stolen from https://www.facebook.com/madeinamericastore

Photo shamelessly stolen from https://www.facebook.com/madeinamericastore Like their page!

Because it’s people like him that fire me up. Owning multiple businesses with tons of overhead, against fierce competition, and a fickle economy has to be daunting. But it’s the people like Mark that are at the hardest part of the long chain reaction of snapping people out of the hopeless phase—the beginning. I may get down sometimes, but when I see Mark fighting the good fight, all the time, I can’t quit. I can’t let him down a guy who refuses to say die in the name of making life better for us, his neighbors. And when we feel better, we can pull someone else up.  Somehow I think that chain reaction isn’t a line, but a circle. Hopefully we  reinforce to Mark, Dan, and all of the people in the Made America movement that what they’re doing means the world, and we couldn’t keep on with out them.

Who snaps you out of it?

What Is Our Generation’s Martin House?

If you need any evidence to how unsustainable we are as society, look to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House in the city of Buffalo. Wright finished the Martin house in 1905. Thirty two years later, one of the most remarkable mansions in the richest country in the world was abandoned. It wasn’t until 1992, that the Martin House Restoration Corporation was formed. Think of the craftsmanship, the detail, the pride, that was put into that house; given up on, after one generation.

main-entrance-darwin

I recently saw Martin House Executive Director, Mary Roberts speak about the painstaking detail that has gone on over the last two decades to restore the buildings. She talked about the tremendous demand there is from people all over the world to visit the property. Thanks to Mary and countless others, we have a chance to redeem ourselves from the guilt of our hindsight. We shame that time when a relic of one of the world’s greatest architects could be left for ruin. But it made me ask, what is that we’re missing today? What’s going to ruin right now, that we can save? What will people forty years from now be ashamed of us for abandoning?

Help Us, Help You

By Griffin Jones

Business owners are the captains of their own ship. They are in the weeds. They don’t get paid until all of the bills are paid. Most of the time that’s overwhelming. When that bottom line is threatened, how could you possibly think about anything other than your immediate survival? That is the eternal dilemma that  usually dooms small businesses. By focusing on their survival, they’re focused only on their problem. In business, that problem is perceived as self-interest. We as human beings, are not drawn to, or compelled by others’ self-interest. I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Conte, President of Shea’s Performing Arts Center. He became president at one of Shea’s lowest points. Their survival was in immediate danger. Many business owners would just desperately beg people to patronize their business at that point. Reasonably, that problem would consume them. But I took a lesson from the examples Tony mentioned of Shea’s turnaround. He immediately started looking for ways to solve other people’s problems. He talked to all of his employees, from the ushers to the custodians, asking them what they would like to see in sales and marketing. He reached out to third parties’ who needed space for housing prom dresses, and provided his wardrobe staff for alterations.

charlie brown

Now that Shea’s is back in the black, they’re helping to solve yet another problem: the former Studio Arena Theater. They’re solving our problem (Buffalonians not having to look at another heart-breaking shell of something that once was). And they’re solving the problem of local theater companies who occasionally need larger space for their productions. That’s what makes me interested as a customer. That’s why I’ll go there. Helping someone else’s needs is the only way to get people (customers) to care. If we want to be successful in this area, we have to genuinely solve Buffalo’s problems, one at a time. Expect something in return, and be disappointed  Self-interest is as clear as day, and it’s not the “all-in” that people are longing for. No bones about it, that can be really hard. Sometimes we get nothing in return, and we’re fighting to make it for ourselves. But if you really care about solving the problem, then the reward is in and of itself. And that’s what makes us care about you.

By the way, the reason Tony was asked to take on the job of President…he volunteered there for thirty years.

What problems do we need to focus on right now as a city?