Profiting From Online Social Networking
This is the second in a series of articles we will be publishing relaying thoughts and ideas from the Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago, which occurred June 5th through June 7th. Peter Kosciewicz, Director of E-Commerce for the Eastwood Company, and Chris Saito, Senior Director, Shopping Products for Yahoo! Shopping, delivered a presentation entitled “Social Networking: The Peer Pursuasion Marketing Tool.”
According to Kosciewicz, the Web today has grown into an “architecture of participation” that facilitates social networking through devices such as blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, and more. Forrester Research has published studies that show that traditional marketing is continuing to lose credibility. For example, in 2002, 78% of respondents in a survey said that ads are a good way to learn about a new product. In 2004, that number had dropped to 46%. In 2002, 14% of respondents agrees that companies generally tell the trust. As pathetic as 14% is, in 2004, it had declined even further – down to 7%. Social networking as a means of marketing overcomes this lack of consumer trust because it relies on the word of the consumer rather than the word of the producer. Research from Datamonitor reported that 85% of repondents in a survey indicated that word-of-mouth from friends, family, or colleagues is more trustworthy than corporate-generated content.
So how do you take advantage of social networking to sell more product? Simple – you open yourself up. You plant the seeds of a community to grow up around your site by using devices such as blogs, customer reviews, and forums to give a voice to your customers or prospective customers. The caveat is that you must be high quality. You must have high quality service and a high quality product. If not, avoid this marketing method.
Kosciewicz outlined four important rules for using social networking on your web site:
1. Guide but don’t control.
2. Never censor.
3. Don’t be afraid of the negative.
4. Don’t be paranoid.
If you open up a forum on your site but then restrict what people are allowed to say, such as removing posts that are negative toward your company or that mention your competitors, then you will do more damage than good to your reputation. Use negativity as a way to improve your business. If people are negative, look at that as feedback and act on it. Make changes, and then let your community know about it. Don’t worry about your community talking about your competition. Your attitude has to be that you are the best, so why worry about it?
As a community develops around your web site, certain members will establish themselves as more influential than others. They will be more outspoken, and will be the ones who often respond to others. Cultivate these members, because they can be powerful allies. Once you have identified the more influential members of your community, contact them regularly, give them free product, become their friend. Feed your influencers information, and they will distribute it for you. But do not make it appear that you are only interested in them because they can help you sell stuff. You need to be genuine.
Measuring the impact of social networking is difficult. Unlike other forms of marketing, there is no direct connect between social networking activity and sells. What you will want to do is track traffic to pages such as customer reviews, referral links, etc.
Social networking can be a powerful marketing tool, if you have a high quality product and are not afraid of an open dialogue with your customers.
If you would like help implementing a social networking strategy for your web site, please join our live seminar
Three places to find new clients without a lot of work
1. Don’t ignore your own “Acres of diamonds” – ask your existing clients to refer some of their family, friends and associates to you. If they’re happy with your service they will be more than happy to do it and your job will be much easier since they are coming recommended by someone they trust.
2. Former employers and associates in other fields can be a great resource for finding new business. Give them a call, or better yet – <a href=”http://www.wildfiremarketinggroup.com/blog/index.php?title=can_you_increase_business_without_puttin&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1“>have lunch</a> and catch up with them but don’t be shy to ask for referrals!
3. Ask your current prospects who they know that may need your products or services. It may sound odd at first but give it a try and your opinion may quickly change. Especially if you’ve gone out of your way to help them.
Remember that most good people generally enjoy helping others when you make it easy for them. When you ask the people inside your circle of influence to help you by referring new clients, you’re helping yourself, you’re helping them by enabling them to help you, and you’re helping the potential clients by providing a quality product or service that they need.
The Elevator Pitch: First Contact
Entrepreneurs with businesses in early start-up differ on what they believe to be the most important element, although many professionals will argue that creating a solid business plan should definitely be the first step. A well-crafted business plan lays out all the details and strategies, includes projections for revenue and spending, and will be reviewed in detail by bankers and venture capitalists. But in fact, the most important document that should be created even before the business plan is the ìelevator pitch.î
The fact is, most people will not read a business plan unless they have been motivated to do so beforehand. The elevator pitch is that motivating factor. It’s the hook that gets them into the room. It’s the catchy jingle that gets people to pay attention to the ad. It’s the best parts of the business plan, without the boring details. The elevator pitch is the place for the excitement, not the place to include all the technology, buzzwords and explanations.
An elevator pitch should be able to be condensed into a single-page presentation, short enough to be memorized, or read easily within a few minutesóthat’s how it got its name, it’s a pitch that’s short enough to be presented during the course of an elevator ride. The elevator pitch condenses your business concept into something that can be presented in about a minute or twoóessentially, the parts that matter, the very ìessenceî of the business.
The elevator pitch skips the hard-core financials, and gets straight to the heart of what it is about the business that really gets you excited. That’s what this pitch is aboutóyou don’t need the proof of concept here yet, that comes in the full-length business plan. The elevator pitch is the commercial that gets people interested.
The elevator pitch should be inspirational and creative, hitting the high points of your business concept, and should accomplish the following:
ï Hit the high points of what it is you hope to do
ï Summarize the problem/solution aspect of your concept
ï Describe the business modelóhow is it going to make money?
ï Create excitement on the part of the reader/listener
ï Describe the profit potential without having to bring out charts and graphs
ï Tell why you/your company are well positioned to accomplish your goal
ï End with a call to action
The first couple sentences are the most critical, and should present your core concept. If you can’t tell what it is you want to do in two sentences or less, then you need to simplify your concept. There will be plenty of time to get into all the details later, once you’ve captured your audience’s interest.
The rarely told truth about network marketing
Today I am going to talk about something that seems to be one of those things that people either love or hate. What I am talking about is network marketing, also called mlm or multi-level marketing. Right from the beginning I will say that there is no need to have extreme views about this, it is simply a business model that you can use if you wish.
However, it is crucial that you understand HOW the business model of network marketing works.
I think there are basically two reasons that some people seem to be almost electrocuted, simply by hearing someone mention the word network marketing. Either they have tried it themselves, and because they didn’t have a clue on how to do it they failed miserably. Or they belong to the group of people who can’t get the idea that mlm = pyramid scheme out of their heads.
This second misconception is easy to debunk. Pyramid schemes are illegal almost everywhere, do you really think large multinational companies could operate year after year on an entirely illegal basis?
Secondly, this view on network marketing shows that the speaker is ignorant. He or she hasn’t done an ounce of homework on the various businesses that are available to each of us today, and they are ignorant of the industry itself.
This means they aren’t serious. It means they “would like” to make more money, but have no intention of making it happen. They continually “look” for home businesses, which is enough to satisfy their minds that they “did everything they could”, but everything they find out there is flawed and are “scams”. They are looking to buy “hope”, not a business.
There is a Chinese saying that goes something like this:”If you spend too much time thinking about your next step, you will be standing on one leg for the rest of your life”. Yes, there ARE scams out there, but mlm is not a dirty word and it is not a synonym for scam. Get over it!
BREAKING NEWS! Corporate America a Pyramid Scam?
As for the comparison to a pyramid in general – think of any company that comes to mind. The company will probably have a CEO, president, vice presidents, middle management, a sales force, and hourly employees.
It goes without saying that the guy at the top, the CEO, is going to make the most money, and the compensations continue to decrease down the ladder which starts at his cushy leather chair. The only way to get paid more and move up the ladder is to boot someone else out of their spot – and this is what people call okay and normal!
Not to mention the fact that the corporate slave masters seem to have no problem with working people to the limits…and then kicking them out the door before any of the benefits kick in. (As always there are some exceptions, of course). How is this any less pyramid than network marketing? All people in the company work hard, but ONLY those at the very top has “permission” to make a lot of money.
Now, in network marketing the basic idea is that it will be of great benefit to everyone involved to help people who are new reach the top. In fact the whole business idea hinges on this idea – the only way to become really successful in the long term is to help others. Of course there will always be a mathematical limit to how large a network can become, but with todays global marketplace, and a suitable compensation plan, there is usually plenty of room for everybody.
A network marketing company can diversify and find new markets, just like all companies have to.
But what about the miserable statistics of network marketing, the over 90% drop-out rate etc.?
This is mainly caused by the simple fact that not that many people know how to do network marketing correctly. And I must admit that some network marketing companies are responsible for this themselves, by providing useless ideas like making a “100 list” etc.
You see, this is a somewhat unique industry. Most people don’t realize that network marketing is a business of marketing and promotion pursued by people who have NO IDEA how to market and promote.
Read the above paragraph once more and let it sink in…
If you are going to be involved in network marketing you need to develop both the right mind set and acquire the right knowledge (no, they usually don’t teach this in college).
You must learn that when you do this business right:
* You don’t have to “sell”
* You don’t have to ask people to join your business.. They ask you!
* You don’t have to post “work at home” flyers!
* People will PAY YOU to prospect them
You should learn that this is not at all about the Vitamins or whatever product your company is selling. In fact, this is one of the single biggest mistakes people make in network marketing.
ProBuilderPlus Review ñ A Venture Into World Of MLM
I want to start with simple statement ñ I have always told myself that I will never fall for Multi Level Marketing or as itís called most often MLM. I have always believed that most MLM business opportunities are nothing more than glorified pyramid scheme brought online. So what changed my mind? How did I, a self taught Internet Infopreneur got sucked into it? Read on Ö to learn how, why, get the skinny on the latest hottest MLM opportunity and see my real day-by-day experience.
So, lets start with why. I run a website dedicated to affiliate marketing and home based business. I investigate and share my experiences with anyone willing to read my articles and make recommendations on what I consider a solid opportunity. I make my money on Yahoo ads and on multiple affiliate sales I get, when people do follow my recommendations. In last two month I have gotten at least 10 emails from my visitors asking me about different MLM programs and my personal opinion. Since I have only had experienced myself only with SFI, a known affiliate MLM I could only answer based on that, which wasnít enough Ö So here I was. I have picked the hottest MLM I could find currently running and one of the youngest with low membership fees ñ ProBuilderPlus. This review is dedicated to my readers and hopefully my experience will help you make your decision.
Now to the how part we move Ö How do you make money using ProBuilderPlus business opportunity? Itís really a quite simple forced matrix with 3 levels of payoff but quite a bit more intricate system of payments. Once you build a matrix of 9 people in your downline, doesnít matter how far, you guaranteed a weekly check of $30. But it doesnít stop there. You also get $10 for each paying member you personally refer and then $3 for second level from that member and $2 for 3rd level. All this in addition to payments based on maintaining your minimum matrix. As your matrix grows, so does your weekly income.
The system is quite simple but letís have a look at how effective it is and what does it takes to recruit new membersÖActually this is the part that surprised me most and quite pleasant surprise it was. It was designed to be used by anyone, with no marketing experience and no prior knowledge and recruiting is a lot easier than I thought was possible. I have joined this system for free, while doing evaluation of multiple MLM programs about 7 or 10 days ago. As soon as I did I started receiving emails with interesting subjects:
“Here you go Alex, we put Kathy under you…”
“Here you go Alex, we put James under you…”
“Another One Alex – Joseph just joined YOUR Powerline…”
“Alex – AWESOME Mark just Upgraded to Member in YOUR DOWNLINE…”
And they just kept on pouring in. Before I knew it I had 587 pre-enrolled members, free members but all interested to learn how to make money, all with an open mindset and just waiting for a push to be converted. And believe you me, emails with subjects like I shown above was powerful push even for a skeptic like me, so I decided to join, reasoning that I can always cancel.
And now I move to the tools that system provides, and their quality. It comes pretty much with everything one might require:
1. An autoresponder follow-up system that makes you want to upgrade.
2. A matrix structure and pay plan that almost guarantees you make money.
3. Lead capture pages that get the job done.
4. A traffic rotator that allows you to funnel traffic to your downline.
5. Online training that highlights simple steps to success.
6. A Contact Manager that allows to to stay in touch with people you personally sponsor.
7. A tool that allows you to send a voice message to thousands of people per MINUTE.
Quality design shows in every tool and all of them quite compelling as far as MLM goes.
All we are left with is my personal experience. I have had accounts already with several traffic exchange programs that require members to click on your add and actually look at page. I have found them quite effective for building my mailing lists, so I figured I would just add my link from ProBuilderPlus to rotation and see what it brings. Completion of that part only took me a few minutes and once done I had a chance to have a closer look at all tools I described above and specifically training. Nice day of work, if I can say so myself Ö
Day two went pretty much on autopilot, due to my preoccupation with regularly scheduled job and I only had an opportunity to check my stats on third day. To my surprise I had over 530 views of my signup page and one paying member! That is $10 back to my pocket, 2 more and I will return my investment. Not bad, not bad at all.
To do a quick summary ñ I donít know if you can become filthy rich using this system or not but looking at weekly leaderboard I can see people with over 414 paying members enrolled, and that is for one week. So what I will do is continue to investigate this opportunity and post updates on my regular site, so feel free to visit and read them if you liked this article or just want to learn more from a person who is doing it and honestly sharing. No hype, no fuss, just an honest opinion.
On Networking Groups (Part One)
I have been trying to think about how I can talk about this subject and address it in a way that would be fair and balanced without injecting too much personal opinion and have decided to first talk about the types of groups and then later on be more specific. It is important to remember that you will have preferences that may not align with mine, but that each of us share a common goal in our networking. More business and possibly more friends.
So lets begin by analyzing the various types of groups. There are many different types of groups, but it is easier to categorize them by the meeting format rather than using individual categories like chambers of commerce or women’s groups.
Most groups fall under one of 4 main categories. These are Social Networking, Business Networking, Leads Groups and Networking with a Program.
Social networking is a part of our daily lives whether we realize it or not. Each time we attend any function that involves a group of people we are networking on a social level. Whether we are attending a charity event, going to a party at a friends house, going to a religious service, or attending an organized social networking event, we are in a networking environment.
In most cases a large part of participation in these groups is not related to business. However, there are always opportunities to meet people who could be or know prospective clients. When you attend these types of functions, it is advised to have some business cards in your pocket in case you meet someone else who is networking for their business, but remember that business networking is not the primary purpose of the function, so be very casual in the way you approach others about your business.
Social Networking Tip:
Never assume that any individual at these functions is not a good prospect for your business. You will find many opportunities there. It is just good to remember that people are there for many reasons and may not want to talk about business.
Believe it or not there are very few groups or organizations that are simply “business networking groups”. This category, for the purpose of our discussion is reserved for groups that do not have speakers or programs. An example of business networking would be similar to a chamber of commerce after hours. In business networking, you simply gather together with other business associates to talk about your businesses.
I find it much better to have a lot of time to talk to people about my business rather than have a brief period to talk and then have to sit down and listen to a program. This format enables you to really get to know people in the allotted amount of time. In some cases you can even do business with someone who you have met for the first time.
This format allows you to get to know people very well and sometimes helps to jump-start the relationship without having to meet for lunch or coffee at a later time. The only thing that makes this format difficult is if you are shy. For the shy individual it is sometimes not easy to just walk into a room and start talking to people they do not know.
Business Networking Tip:
Build a core contact group of people that you see at several different meetings. This will give you a broad base of contacts through these people as they are building their networks. Always get to know the “most popular people” in the room. They will often know most of the others and can help to expand your network quickly
Leads groups are very structured. This is the largest segment of business networking. There are several formats to leads groups that vary in slightly different ways. In most cases the leads group involves sitting around a large table. Usually a leads group is limited to one person per industry. So if you wanted to be a part of a leads group that already has one of your type of industry, you could not join that group until there is an opening for you created by that person leaving.
Usually leads groups are about 5 to 20 persons in size. In most leads groups you are given a set amount of time to stand up and talk about your business ranging from 2 to five minutes depending on the size of the group. This is a dedicated time, no one else speaks and you take turns.
Leads groups are good for people who are shy or for those who have difficulty in a meeting with no structure. If you are a member of a good leads group, members are actively seeking referrals for other members. This can lead to a great deal of business if you consider the fact that everyone has a personal network of about 200 hundred people. This does not mean that it is the best format of meeting or not a good format, but rather it is good for you if you prefer structure.
Leads groups generally meet early in the morning or for lunch.
Leads Groups Tip:
Be sure to enable the members of your leads group to help you. Give them tools that they can carry to represent you when they encounter someone who needs your product or service. Be sure that everyone understands what you do and who your best prospects are.
Networking with a Program
A lot of trade associations and chambers of commerce follow this format. The meeting usually starts with open networking for a period of 15 minutes to an hour. It is then followed by a presentation by a guest speaker or a current member.
In this environment, you will not have much time to really get to know people unless you always attend the meetings. In most cases these meetings are best for initial contact followed up by meeting prospects for coffee or lunch. It is advised that you use a system of taking notes and qualifying prospects for later follow-up.
Generally these meetings end after the presentation and people linger for 15 to 30 minutes before clearing the room.
Networking with a Program Tip:
Get to know the leaders of the organization. In most cases they will know a great deal about the members as they work their way up the ranks into a leadership role. These individuals can be of the most help when seeking prospects or referrals.
As I said at the beginning of this article, your feelings on these definitions may vary from mine. It is important when seeking meetings to attend or groups to join that you have defined goals on what you are trying to accomplish. Be specific when setting these goals.
Remember business does not always come in the first contact or meeting. Be consistent for best results. Try to balance your networking with a combination of the types of groups and meetings that you attend. Each has it’s own unique benefits and can help you with a well rounded presence in the business community.