How to Hire a Social Media Manager Who Can Sell

Need to hire a social media manager, freelancer or agency … or get your current resource focused on sales? Here’s a quick way to get everyone aimed at the goal: engagement that creates leads, referrals and sales, not just shares, comments and followers.

Need to hire a social media manager, freelancer or agency … or get your current resource focused on sales? Here’s a quick way to get everyone aimed at the goal: engagement that creates leads, referrals and sales, not just shares, comments and followers.

3 Phrases to Watch Out For
There are three “red flag” phrases to watch out for in the interview process, during weekly meetings or in performance reviews. These are:

1. “People are not on social media to be sold.” If your social media manager or candidate tells you this, it’s a warning sign. Pay attention! I’ll show you why this belief is so dangerous in detail below.

2. “Marketing and advertising are long-term, not instant.” In short, any good seller or marketer (you) already understands and appreciates this. The statement is a hedge.

3. “Social media marketing is mostly about building brand equity (as opposed to selling).” Indeed, but this presumes getting and maintaining brand equity is not about selling.

“You don’t sell someone something by engagement, conversation and relationship. You create engagement, conversation and relationships by selling them something,” says Bob Hoffman, CEO at Hoffman Lewis.

In many cases, any one (or all) of these phrases can be signs of a belief system that does not take responsibility for strategies like blogging for lead generation. Tactics supporting this viewpoint are often made by social media managers who don’t know how (or don’t want) to take responsibility for generating sales.

To be clear, this exercise is not about judging your social media manager personally. I’m sure he or she is a great person. This is about making sure you know how to hire a social media manager who can sell.

“People Are Not on Social Media to Be Sold”
This one is the most dangerous. It sounds totally rational and a little part of each of us can relate to this claim—until you think about it for a minute.

For the sake of argument, let’s say it IS true. People don’t go to social media to be sold. But do they turn to social media to solve problems? Have you? Or have you ever turned to Facebook to discover short-cuts to doing something really important to you?

Do people ever turn to blogs or YouTube to discover new ways to achieve goals?

Sure they do. As people do these things they often end up meeting businesses that can help them. Some people end up being courted by those businesses via social media or email lead nurturing. Some prospects even convert to customers—they purchase!

Many of us are selling on social media every day.

Consider the millions of people each day that:

  • query Google about a problem they need solved or a goal they want to reach;
  • end up at a blog;
  • sign up for an ebook or educational video series;
  • end up buying from the blog owner a few months later.

Sandy Isaacs, owner of events company, Break Away Moments, said to me recently, “Why would one opt to become part of (social media) sites if you are not wanting to either promote yourself with what you have to offer or, in turn, wish to gain as information from others especially, based on your own interests as well?”

You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry
You’d better not pout about the in-effectiveness of your social media execution. I’m tellin’ you why. Saying that people are not on social media to be sold ignores both reality and the central tenant of effective online lead generation:

Helping customers (who are hungry for solutions) problem—solve in ways that give them enough confidence to buy.

Bottom line on how to hire a social media manager: Don’t hire anyone who tells you that marketing isn’t responsible for generating sales in directly or indirectly … in some way, shape or form. Watch out for the above phrases exiting the mouths of your interviewees or employees.

Also, remember to focus on the questions your social media manager asks YOU … not just answers they offer to questions you ask them.

That’s how to hire a social media manager who’s focused on leads and sales.

Good luck!

13 Things You Must Do This Year To Boost Your Biz! Part Two

In Part One, I mentioned some great, low-to-no cost tactics to help boost your business this year, including affiliate marketing, content syndication, search engine optimization, online lead generation polls, viral marketing and cost-effective media buying.

[Editor’s note: This is Part Two of a two-part series.]

In Part One, I mentioned some great, low-to-no cost tactics to help boost your business this year, including affiliate marketing, content syndication, search engine optimization, online lead generation polls, viral marketing and cost-effective media buying.

Today, I’m wrapping up the list with even more tips and tricks to get the most out of your marketing efforts (and marketing budget!) this year.

7. Pay Per Click (PPC). Many people try pay per click only to spend thousands of dollars with little results. Creating a successful PPC campaign is an art—one that I’ve had success with. If PPC is new for you, then don’t start out with the big guys like Google or Yahoo, run your “test” campaign on smaller search engines such as Bing, as well as second-tier networks, such as Adbrite, Miva and Kanoodle. In addition, you must make sure you have a strong text ad and landing page and that the ad is keyword dense. You must also have a compelling offer and make sure you do your keyword research. Picking the correct keywords that coincide with your actual ad and landing page is crucial. You don’t want to pick keywords that are too vague, too competitive or unpopular. You also need to be active with your campaign management which includes bid amounts and daily budget. All these things—bid, budget, keywords, popularity and placement—will determine the success of the campaign. And most campaigns are trial and error and take anywhere from three to six weeks to optimize.

8. Free Teleseminars or Webinars. These are a great way to collect names for list building, then cross-sell to those names once they’re in your sales funnel. You can use services like FreeConferenceCall.com, where it’s a toll (not toll free) call. But in my experience, if the value proposition of the subject matter is strong, people will pay that nominal fee. Promote a free teleseminar or webinar to prospects (that is not your internal list). Remember, this is for lead generation. So your goal is to give away valuable information in exchange for an email address. You can have a ‘soft sell’ at the end of the call and follow up with an email blast within 24 hours. But the most important thing is getting that name, THEN bonding with them through your editorial.

9. Free Online classified ads. Using CraigsList or similar high traffic classified sites is a great way to sell a products or get leads. The trick is ad copy that is powerful and persuasive, as well as geo-targeting—picking the right location and category to run your ad in. Hint: think of your ideal audience. Ads are free, so why not test it out.

10. Reciprocal Ad Swaps. One of the best kept secrets in the industry: Some of your best resources will be your fellow publishers. This channel often gets overlooked by marketers who don’t give it the respect it deserves. In the work I do for my clients, I spend a good portion of my time researching publishers and websites in related, synergistic industries. I look for relevant connections between their publications (print and online) and list (subscribers). Let’s say I come across a natural health e-letter that has a list of readers similar in size to one of my clients, who is a supplement manufacturer. Since many of their audience share similar interests, cross-marketing each other products (or even lead gen efforts) can be mutually rewarding. Swapping ads will save you money on lead-generation initiatives. Since you won’t be paying for access to the other publisher’s list of subscribers, you can get new customers for free. The only “cost” is an opportunity cost—allowing the other publisher to access your own list. It’s a win-win situation. This technique also opens the door to potential joint-venture opportunities for revenue sharing (sales).

11. Guest Editorials and Editorial Contributions. Another popular favorite used in the publishing industry is editorial contributions. This is where you provide quality editorial (article, interview, Q&A) to a synergistic publication and in return get a byline and/or editorial note in your article. In addition to an editorial opportunity, this is a marketing opportunity. You see, within the byline or ed. note you can include author attribution plus a back-link to your site. Some ed. notes can even be advertorial in nature, linking to a promotional landing page. Relationship networking and cultivation come into play when coordinating these, as it’s usually someone in the editorial or marketing department that spearheads such arrangements. These are great for increasing exposure to other lists, which can be beneficial for increasing market share, bonding, sales and lead generation efforts.

12. Snail Mail. Direct mail is still a consumer favorite—and another good way to get your sales message out. It can be especially effective used in conjunction with another effort, such as an email campaign. Studies indicate that 70 percent of respondents prefer receiving correspondence via mail vs. email. As with any marketing medium, though, you can end up paying a lot between production costs, list rental costs, and mail shop/postage costs. The most costly direct mail packages are magalogs and tabloids (four-color mailers that look like magazines). However, 6 x 9 postcards, tri-fold self-mailers and simple sales letters are three low-cost ways of taking advantage of this channel. Note that copywriting, list selection and geo-targeting can be crucial for direct mail success, no matter which cost-effective mail format you pick. Although 100 percent ROI (return on investment) is what you should aim for, many direct mailers these days are content with 80 percent returns. This lower figure takes into consideration the lifetime value of the names that come in from this channel, because they are typically reliable buyers in the future and snail mail address are more solid—they don’t change as often as email addresses.

13. Print Ads. This is another channel that gets a raw deal. One reason is because it can be costly. To place an ad in a high-circulation magazine or newspaper, you could shell out serious money. But you don’t need a big budget to take advantage of print ads. If you don’t have deep pockets, consider targeted newspapers and periodicals. Let’s say you’re selling an investment report. Try using the Internet to research the wealthiest cities in America. Once you get that list, look online for local newspapers in those communities. These smaller newspapers hit your target audience and offer a much cheaper ad rate than some of the larger, broad-circulation publications. You end up getting quality rather than quantity. I once paid for an ad in a local newspaper in Aspen, CO, that had a flat rate of less than $500 for a half page ad. My ROI on this effort turned out to be more than 1,000 percent. Most important rule: Know your audience. That will determine placement and price.

13 Things You Must Do This Year To Boost Your Biz! Part One

OK, so 2011 was a tough year for a lot of business owners. Perhaps you got caught in the maelstrom of economic uncertainty and your business paid the price. Maybe you neglected your business by cutting down or eliminating marketing efforts. Or maybe you got duped by so-called “online gurus” who promise the world with their wonder products, all to fall short of their promises.

[Editor’s note: This is Part One of a two-part series.]

OK, so 2011 was a tough year for a lot of business owners. Perhaps you got caught in the maelstrom of economic uncertainty and your business paid the price. Maybe you neglected your business by cutting down or eliminating marketing efforts. Or maybe you got duped by so-called “online gurus” who promise the world with their wonder products, all to fall short of their promises.

Boosting your business doesn’t have to take a lot of time, or money. Certain marketing tactics are tried and true because they work year after year, decade after decade. They’re proven. And they get results. Best of all, I’m going to reveal them to you … all for free.

Today, I going to go over some proven winners to help create visibility, drive website traffic, increase sales, generate leads and produce buzz. These are low-to-no cost tactics that fit most any budget and most any business niche. All you really need is the manpower to implement them. And the few that do involve a budget are extremely cost effective. So, without further ado, here’s numbers one through six:

1. Affiliate Partnerships/Affiliate Marketing Plan. (Includes joint ventures, also known as ‘JVs). This tactic is having other people market (promote) for you in exchange for a commission. It’s extremely effective and cost efficient. On the JV site, the key is having some kind of leverage when approaching publishers with a similar list size and interest as your own list. In exchange for content or revenue share efforts, you and the other publisher agree to reciprocate either e-news ads or solo emails to each other’s lists for cross-marketing purposes. You have an agreed upon, competitive affiliate split (net commission on each sale) and forward payment either monthly or quarterly. Or, you can agree to reciprocate efforts and both agree to promote to each others’ lists and keep whatever sales (or leads) you each get from the efforts. It’s also a best practice to advise deliverability and performance stats. On the affiliate marketing side, many online affiliate programs are robust and offer real-time access to a control panel where affiliates can download creatives, check status of payments, and view campaign stats. Creating an affiliate program and marketing plan for that program can be turn-key. There are several off-the-shelf programs and softwares, such as DirectTrack and WordPress; as well as online networks such as CJ.com (Commission Junction), Clickbank.com, Linkshare.com. What’s most important as with any affiliate marketing plan is the PR. That is, getting the news out and marketing the program itself to as many targeted locations as possible. If you have a product to sell, not having an affiliate program is simply leaving money on the table.

2. Content Syndication Plus. A recent article by Forbes, which was actually featured here on TargetMarketingMag.com, mentioned 2012 was going to be the year of content and social marketing. Content is king and you can leverage it via the SONAR Content Distribution Model:

  • (S) Syndicate partners, content syndication networks, and user generate content sites;
  • (O) Online press releases;
  • (N) Network (social) communities;
  • (A) Article directories;
  • (R) Relevant posts to blogs, forums, and bulletin boards.

SONAR works hand-in-hand with your existing search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing (SMM), and search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. If you have original content … you can do SONAR marketing!

3. Search Engine Optimization. In order to drive as much organic traffic as possible to your website, you need to make sure your site is optimized for the correct keywords and your target audience. Once you optimize your site with title tags, meta descriptions, meta keywords, and alt attributes/alt tags, you need to make sure you enhanced your site to harness the traffic that will be coming. That means adding eye-catching email collection boxes to the home page; relevant cross-marketing banners; obvious links to get to product pages; keyword-dense, search-friendly and consumer-friendly content pages; a site map; and more. You don’t want to downplay the importance of SEO. Site already optimized? Great. But remember that you need to review your analytics and visitor usage patterns and keywords on a timely basis, as algorithms and search behavior are always changing.

4. Online Lead Generation Polls. Incorporating a lead gen poll on your website, or having a poll on another site or e-newsletter (via a media buy or ad swap) is a great way to build your list. It’s important to spend time thinking about your poll question—something that is a hot topic, controversial, and relevant to the locations where you’re placing your poll. You want to pull people in with your headline and make the poll entertaining. Your answers should be multiple choice and have an “other” field which encourages participants to engage with your question. I’ve found this “other” field as a fantastic way to make the poll interactive. Many people are passionate about certain subject matters and won’t mind giving you their two cents. Then, to show appreciation for talking the poll, tell participants they are getting a bonus report and free e-newsletter subscription (which they can opt out of at any time). And of course, make sure to mention—and link to—your privacy/anti-spam policy. After you kick off your list-building efforts, make sure you start tracking them so you can quantify the time and resources spent. This involves working with your webmaster on setting up tracking URLs specific to each website you’re advertising on. It also means looking at Google Analytics for your website and corresponding landing pages to see traffic and referring page sources.

5. Viral Marketing. Make sure you have a “forward to friend” feature in your e-newsletter to encourage viral marketing. It’s also important to have what I call a “content syndication blurb”—both on your website and in your e-newsletter. This blurb simply states that anyone can republish your free content, as long as they give attribution to the author and publication, as well as provide a back-link to the original article. This encourages other websites, publishers, editors and bloggers to republish—creating buzz and back-links, both of which help SEO. You can set Google Alerts for your articles (buy using keywords of article title, author, topic) and then see when the article has been picked up by another site. You can also look at your site’s back-links, as well as referring traffic sources, to see which sites you didn’t push the article out to, but republished it from a viral standpoint.

6. Cost-Effective Media Buying. To complement your “free” online efforts, you may want to consider targeted, low-cost media buys (paid online advertising) in the form of text ads, banner ads, blog networks/ads, or list rentals (i.e. e-news sponsorships or solo emails). You’re paying for the placement in these locations, so you must make sure you have strong promotional copy and offers for the best results possible. Blog ad networks and online ad networks are a great, cheap alternative and they have a wider reach. Networks to consider: BlogAds.com, Advertising.com, ValueClick.com, BurstMedia.com, and FastClick.com. You can also find a full list of sites. Make sure you’re savvy as to what comparable rates are (CPMs, CPCs) and try never to pay rate card. It’s all about the power of negotiation.

Stay tuned for the next article which will feature more tips (#7—#13!)

An Online Lead Generation Chat With LeadsCon Founder

Jay Weintraub, founder of LeadsCon, a conference and expo focused on online lead generation, believes that online lead generation is alive and well — and getting stronger. That’s what he told me during the recent discussion we had about online lead generation, and he certainly ought to know: Following stints with Advertising.com and Oversee.net, Weintraub’s annual LeadsCon conferences have taken off since the first one was held in April 2008.

Jay Weintraub, founder of LeadsCon, a conference and expo focused on online lead generation, believes that online lead generation is alive and well — and getting stronger. That’s what he told me during the recent discussion we had about online lead generation, and he certainly ought to know: Following stints with Advertising.com and Oversee.net, Weintraub’s annual LeadsCon conferences have taken off since the first one was held in April 2008.

As he was preparing for LeadsCon’s third conference to be held next February in Las Vegas, I asked him about the state of the online lead generation industry. The following are highlights from our discussion:

Melissa Campanelli: How would you define online lead generation?
Jay Weintraub:
There are two distinct types of online lead generation. One type involves an expression of real-time interest by a consumer, whereby the consumer completes an online form about himself. Then, in real time or near real time, that information is in the hands of the buyer or the person who’s interested in using lead generation.

Another type involves prospecting and what people tend to also call demand generation. Here, I may sell high-end databases and I may want to purchase a large file of names of potential prospects. Then, I may follow up with them on the phone or via email. The folks I am contacting didn’t request that I contact them, but they’re part of a data set of people that fit my criteria.

These two online lead generation worlds are very different. Not one is better than the other. But it shows that the term “online lead generation” is very broad.

MC: What are some trends in the online lead generation space?
JW: I’ve seen an emergence of consumer-facing sites that offer great value but only get paid when some sort of action happens.

One example is a site called BillShrink.com, which I call “LowerMyBills.com 2.0.” The site, which compares gas prices, credit card offers and cell phone plans, and then directs consumers to buy the best plan for them, only gets paid on a performance basis. The company only gets commission when people sign up for plans they were directed to by BillShrink.com

Another example is Mint.com, which was recently purchased by software giant Intuit. This site, a provider of free online personal finance services, generates revenue by recommending personalized financial products to its users.

MC: What are some best practices for using online lead generation as a marketing technique?
JW: As dumb as it sounds, know if you’re a B-to-B or B-to-C company. Know who you want to go after. This will dictate very much which online generation techniques to use or which companies you’ll choose to work with.

Also, know your cost per acquisition. Look at what you spend today to acquire new customers, because you may very well not know, or, more likely, underestimate this cost. A referral from a buddy, for example, will most likely close at a high rate, while a lead from someone who doesn’t know you will most likely close at a lower rate. Knowing this information is prudent when trying to figure out how much to spend on online lead generation.

Also, be aware that every lead you have will not close and that it’s up to your lead provider to give you a valid lead. Finally, know what you’re going to do with your lead in advance of getting it, and be ready to follow up on it immediately.

Ed Ojdana at LeadsCon

If there truly is a rock star in the world of online lead generation, it is Ed Ojdana.

If there truly is a rock star in the world of online lead generation, it is Ed Ojdana.

Ojdana recently retired as global president of Experian Consumer Direct, a division that was created in 2002 to focus on the consumer credit management market. Experian Consumer Direct combined the operations of CreditExpert, Experian’s consumer credit management group, and ConsumerInfo.com (also known as FreeCreditReport.com), the largest provider of online credit reports and other credit-related information to consumers. Ojdana founded ConsumerInfo in 1995.

At LeadsCon, Ojdana spoke with Jordan Rohan, founder of Clearmeadow Partners, an investment firm that focuses on the Internet space. Previous to founding Clearmeadow, Rohan served as managing director and Internet analyst for RBC Capital Markets.

The two discussed trends in lead generation.

“Going forward, we are going to have to start tying more content to lead generation,” said Ojdana. “The landing page will have to have something more there than just an offer to buy a product or service. People today are looking for information.”

While Rohan thought Ojdana’s point was a good one, he wondered aloud whether or not there is a need for a “full-frontal” approach, where visitors click on a landing page with an offer they can buy immediately.

While Ojdana said there is a time and place for that kind of lead generation, the content play usually leads to better leads.

“If you’d like to just have folks buy an item on a one-time basis, that would work,” he said. “But the key to content is [how it can help build] lifetime value with the consumer, as opposed to the consumer signing up for something on an impulse.”

Rohan asked Ojdana to discuss other things a lead generator should do to generate quality leads.

Ojdana spoke of the importance of good segmentation.

“To do a good job of that, go back to your advertisers and really find out who their customers are,” he said. “ If you are [targeting ads to] a school, and 90 percent of the people who are converting are Hispanic, that means you have to get up there on some Hispanic sites, as opposed to blasting [ads] all over the place.”

He also said that lead generators should “live and die for analytics.”

All true words, indeed.

LeadsCon: Everything You Want To Know About Online Lead Gen

Had a great time at LeadsCon this week.

I was invited to serve on an expert panel of judges for LeadsCon’s “In the Spotlight’ Company Showcase.” The showcase, which took place on April 3, the first day of the first LeadsCon, provided a stage for some companies that may not be well known to a general audience, but had something truly unique to talk about.

Had a great time at LeadsCon this week.

I was invited to serve on an expert panel of judges for LeadsCon’s “In the Spotlight’ Company Showcase.” The showcase, which took place on April 3, the first day of the first LeadsCon, provided a stage for some companies that may not be well known to a general audience, but had something truly unique to talk about.

Other judges on the panel included Jodi Harris, managing editor, iMediaConnection; Mike Kelly, media advisor, investor and chairman, Eyeblaster; and Jay Webster, general manager, lead generation, Yahoo.

Each company presented for seven minutes. Us judges then had two to three minutes during which to share our impressions with moderator Saar Gur (Partner, Charles River Ventures). The companies represented a broad mix, and each were selected for bringing something slightly different to the table. They were all really neat.

Two companies aid in the acquisition of customers (MarketingAnd and Creative Calls), while another was one of the pioneers in the new era of ad networks (SocialMedia Networks). Others were AdReady, which makes display advertising as accessible as search; GLAM Interactive Group, a women’s-only business networking group; and Mint.com, a consumer-oriented Web site that shows what happens when you focus on the consumer and build something they can’t live without. And, one company was well established (TARGUSinfo) but presented a new product helped make quality a focus in this space.

The winner? SocialMedia Networks, because they have built an innovative platform for publishers of social media applications to monetize their traffic.

I thought they were all great, though!

The conference in general has been great as well. LeadsCon was created and produed by well-know online lead generation guy Jay Weintraub. It is a conference and expo expressly designed for companies and individuals in the online lead generation and customer acquisition industry.

Many conferences address online advertising and marketing, and some vertical confercne address online lead generation in their industry, but LeadsCon is the only event I know of to focus entirely on the challenges, issues and opportunities that are unique to the fast-growing, sometimes controversial and ever-changing online lead generation and customer acquisition segment.

The conference was targeted, well attended (over 600 total attendees, according to Jay) and interesting. It also had a warm, family feeling to it. In fact, Jay’s mom helped out with registration! And most speakers were fiends with Jay from his background –he worked at Advertising.com and Oversee.net—and all commented on what a great guy he is.

Congratulations, Jay!