Testimonials Are Music to a Brand’s Ears

5-star-rating for Aleweb Social MarketingWe hear it all the time. Word-of-mouth referrals are a brand’s bread-and-butter.

No amount of traditional or social marketing can equal the power of a friend who recommends a product, service, book or experience.

Today is the start of the new week. You may own your own business and look for these longed-for referrals, but how do you get them?

Have you ever heard the adage “It is better to give than receive?” When it comes to referrals and endorsements, this rule holds true.

You can ask friends and close acquaintances to endorse your product or service, but after a while you’ll run out of people to ask.

As JFK was quoted as saying “…ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Or in this case “ask not who can recommend your business, but whose business you can recommend.”

Think over the past week.

Who have you interacted with? Where did you go to lunch? When you took your teenager to the mall, which stores did you go to? What book couldn’t you put down? Whose advice and support has been crucial to your own success?

I challenge you to come up with one thing each week for the next two months that you want to recommend to your friends. It can be a business that provided excellent customer service, an enjoyable experience, or that went out of their way to make your buying experience exceptional. Or it can be a book, play, concert, or any other experience that you loved.

Why two months?

I want you to establish the habit of looking for people and experiences you can appreciate. Enjoy that feeling. Appreciate the sense of gratitude. Pass it forward. Catch people “in the act of getting it right,” and let them know you’ve noticed.

It will change you too.

Being more focused on showing your appreciation for others will take the pressure off trying to get people to appreciate your brand too. You’ll internalize what you’re learning from brands that “do it right” and potentially improve what you’re doing as well.

Regardless, in giving, you will receive. And don’t be surprised if you start to see your own client testimonials increase as well.

So… Have you thought of someone for this past week?

Go ahead and think of one. We’ll wait for you…

Have it now?

Alright… Here’s the easy part. Go find that brand online. It doesn’t matter if it’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Angie’s List, Instagram, Google, their website or wherever else you feel comfortable. Just find their listing and post a review.

What should your review look like?

Write it as if you’re talking to your best friend. Tell them about your experience and what made it so special.

Businesses hear often when they’ve done something wrong. Give them a boost. Let them know when they’ve done something right so they can do it more often!

Wherever you posted that endorsement, share it with your friends.

People like to buy from brands they know, like and trust. Your recommendation tells your friends who you know, like and trust, and exactly why. And perhaps that experience is exactly what they were looking for too!

Share a link in the comments below to a brand that made you feel special recently and let us know how they did it.

Book Review: The Micro-Script Rules

The Micro-Script RulesI met author Bill Schley at the eMarketing Association’s Power of eMarketing conference in October this year, where we were both presenting. When he found out that I’m a blogger and sometimes do book reviews on my site, he gladly offered me a copy of his book, The Micro-Script Rules, in exchange for a review. The one catch? Well, he signed my copy with “Remember! You must blog or no Santa!”

I had every intention of reading and reviewing the book in November, as I’d originally told Bill. So I must start my review with an apology to the author… It’s Christmas week, and I’m still hoping that Santa will come! So, please accept this review and my apologies; unexpected life events side-tracked me for a time, which caused a backlog on my writing calendar.

That aside, let me tell you the key point of this book.

 It’s not what people hear.

It’s what they repeat…

Having told you that, you may think that there’s no reason to read the book now. Even the author suggests, after the first page, that all you really need to know is that the right 5 words always beats 5,000. He acknowledges that stories are more important to tell than ever, but that you need to know how to tell them in one line or less. That’s pretty much the central topic of the book.

If you already know that and have mastered the art of storytelling in one line or less, there’s no need for you to read the rest of the book. But for those of us who aren’t master storytellers yet, Bill offers the remaining 150+ pages that serve two great purposes. First, they use descriptive text and examples to identify what a micro-script is, how it’s used, and why it’s important. Then, the book goes on to help you develop the micro-scripts you need for your own purposes.

The clarity of the instruction and easy writing style of the author makes it a simple read, but a valuable addition to anyone’s book shelf whether you’re in business, or wanting to attract attention for other reasons. (I can see this being a great resource for teachers!)

So, if you’re looking to improve your storytelling skills in 2012 or to create great micro-scripts, based on your dominant selling idea, that people will want to share, this is the book that will help you to do just that. It’s one that I am definitely happy to have added to my bookshelf.

Following the author’s guidance enabled me to generate a new title my forth-coming eBook that is highly memorable as well as shareable. So, instead of telling my readers to be on the look-out for “How to Launch Your New Book Online” (boring!), I can tell them that they need to pounce on “The Plan that Launched a Thousand Books” as soon as they see it! Which title would you prefer sharing?

Book Review: Cracks in the Sidewalk

While most of my book reviews are relevant to social media, business, job seeking, technology or leadership, I recently was offered the chance to read some lighter fare; a book by Bette L. Crosby called “Cracks in the Sidewalk,” which is an award-winning novel about a grandmother’s 20-year search for her missing grandchildren. Since I knew I needed a break from what I had been reading and the holiday season is upon us, I thought perhaps you might enjoy something different as well.

I first met the author, Bette, on LinkedIn, where we both participate in the Book Reviewers group. She shared an excerpt of “Cracks in the Sidewalk,” and I got hooked on the story right away. Bette creates characters that are believable and who struggle with the events of their lives. Some of the characters accept that life is not always a bed of roses. Others play the Blame Game, and do all they can to avoid responsibility for their own problems. As I read the excerpt online, I found myself wanting to learn more. Read the opening lines yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.

“I’m an old woman now. Some might say too old to dream, too old to still believe in miracles. But a dream your heart has held onto for the better part of a lifetime doesn’t disappear easily, it tucks itself behind the everyday worries that pick at you and waits—waits until theday you can again feel your heartbeat and know that hope is stirring insideyour soul.”

With those first few words, I knew I wanted to learn more about what was going on, and the rest of the story didn’t disappoint me. I walked alongside Charlie and Claire as they wrestled with the terminal illness of their daughter, Elizabeth, and the inconceivable response of her husband, Jeffrey. I was there as they made every effort to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives, even while mourning the loss of their daughter and fighting against the manipulative resistance of their son-in-law.

Each chapter is told from a differing viewpoint, so you are granted glimpses into the minds and hearts of the four main characters and those whose lives they affect. Perhaps we aren’t given as much insight as we, the reader, might like, but to do so would have made the book intolerably long. As it was, the story kept a brisk pace with lots to keep my attention.

If there were any significant disappointments at all, it wasn’t in the story or character development, but in the fact that the book could have used a thorough editing. There were many missing quotation marks, and repeated or misspelled words, which I personally find distracting and frustrating. But they did not detract from the quality of the story or the fact that I grew to dislike the antagonist more with every page turned, and that I admired the way the protagonist handled all that she went through.

Oftentimes, we can look at our lives and wonder why things happen the way that they do. We can even be tempted to feel cheated or gypped out of what’s rightfully ours. We can let bitterness rule our hearts, as Jeffrey does, or let acceptance and forgiveness rule, like Elizabeth. In the end, we may even be granted a second-chance we never thought possible, as Claire receives.

Book Review: Social Media Judo

Social Media Judo coverWhen I was offered the opportunity to review a book entitled “Social Media Judo” by Chris Aarons, Geoff Nelson, Nick White and Dan Zehr, I jumped at the chance. I was informed that the book was written by Ivy Worldwide, an award-winning agency for effectiveness, and revealed the secrets to revenue-driving social media campaigns.

Any effective social marketer knows that this is more than just collecting friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. There’s a real art and style that goes into effectively marketing on the internet, and cutting through the clutter of videos, social networks, blogs and more that clamor for the attention of a prospective consumer.

The book promised to give a deep insight into how top worldwide brands (such as HP, Lenovo, Microsoft) are having success with social media and how they are using it to drive sales and revenue. As a martial artist and a student of social marketing myself, I loved the idea of blending the philosophy and mindset of martial arts with the mechanics of word-of-mouth marketing to generate real results.

The style of martial arts that I study is a Korean form called Tang Soo Do (most closely related to Tae Kwon Do, and the same style that Chuck Norris studied prior to founding Chun Kuk Do). In it, there are 7 tenets that we highly value: Integrity, Concentration, Perseverance, Respect & Obedience, Self-Control, Humility, and Indomitable Spirit. As I waited for my copy of the book to arrive, I thought perhaps these were some of the topics that would be touched upon.

Instead, Social Media Judo focused on four, just-as-important pillars to judo and the philosophy of social marketing.

  1. Minimum effort and maximum efficiency – Tapping into the network of key influencers already in place to use their existing momentum to help spread your message.
  2. Mutual benefit – Crafting programs that generate a strong return for the company by also provide an equally beneficial outcome for the influences and partners with whom you work.
  3. Etiquette – Creating personal relationships with online content producers and influencers, rather than merely trying to exploit them when you need them.
  4. Physical education – Building a bridge between philosophy and practice. The judo mindset challenges the ways you think about and interact with your key influences, both on- and offline.

The book demonstrates, through real-world examples, how important it is to master the philosophy as well as the mechanics of these techniques. As the authors point out, “You can’t merely mimic the moves of a judo expert and expect to become a great fighter.”

As you read through the book, it also covers the importance of falling, and the view of it that students must learn to adopt in order to adapt. By learning about how to fall properly, companies can overcome their fear of failing with social media, and derive lessons from the experience that enable them to see the upside that’s possible, even in the risk of the downside. When these risks are mitigated through traditional marketing efforts and effective planning, the potential that exists is huge for any company! You’ll also learn the basics of marketing, along with strategies to maintain the balance between “going with the flow” and keeping your message intact.

Each of the examples that are given, and the analysis that goes into why they worked or didn’t work, is invaluable. By studying them, marketers can begin to develop their own plans to increase sales, cut marketing costs, and boost engagement, all while paying for themselves with real revenue!

If I had any real criticism of the book to offer, it’s that it neglects social networks beyond blogging. But the thought there is that it gives your key influences a larger platform that can ultimately be promoted using other social networks. So, they become a means to an end, instead of the destination themselves.

Overall, the book is well-written and useful! There’s something in it for both novice marketers and more experienced individuals, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you get something more out of it on subsequent readings. It’s definitely a book I’m happy to add to my Social Marketing bookshelf!

Book Review: What Color Is Your Parachute?

Parachute Cover

As a child back in the early ‘70s, I can still remember my father coming home with a book one day whose title jumped out at me. It was a title that seemed silly and compelling all at the same time. “What Color Is Your Parachute?” I’d never been interested in one of my Dad’s books before. But this one caught my attention… Did the color of parachutes mean something? Was there some great mystery that would be revealed as the final pages of this book were read? I have to admit, I didn’t find out the answer to that question until much later…

I recently had the opportunity to review the 40th anniversary edition of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” by Richard N. Bolles, and decided to follow up on that missed opportunity from decades ago. And am I glad that I did!

Dick Bolles has revised and updated his book almost every year since it was first released, ensuring that it remains current and relevant to today’s job seeker. But this book is also a book for truth seekers, which is why my Dad had first picked it up. He was employed, and wasn’t looking for a new job. But he recognized that his young life hadn’t gone exactly as he’d hoped thus far, and he wanted to figure out the reasons why.

As Dick Bolles walks you through the things you need to know as part of a modern-day job search, he also provides exercises that help you to know yourself more, and in so doing, to find that job that is ideally suited to you. He covers how to find hope, deal with depression, and survival skills you need in today’s world, how to deal with handicaps (real or imagined), how to find job vacancies, whether or not resumes are still relevant, how to network using social media and in real life, tips for interviewing and salary negotiation, what you need to know before you start your own business, why being inventive is key to survival, and how to choose a new career. Exercises help you to look closely at the skills that you enjoy using the most, finding your mission in life and coming to know yourself better, and then figure out how to transfer those skills into a career. But it doesn’t stop there, because then you need to teach someone else how to do the same.

One of many statements that jumped out at me was that the key to hope is that, in every situation, we have to have at least two alternatives. So long as two alternatives exist, there’s always a reason to hope. The greatest thing about that is that hope gives you wings, persistence and energy to face whatever challenge you may find before you.

After reading this book, I can understand why my father turned to it when he was trying to figure his own life out. We all go through periods of doubt where we wonder why our lives didn’t turn out the way we’d planned on, and how to get back on track to living a fulfilling, meaningful life. While Dick’s book is specifically geared towards the job seeker, the same principles can be used by the entrepreneur, the student working on college entrance applications, the retiree, and anyone else interested in discovering a more satisfying life.

 

Review: Is the WordPress Plug-in Backup Creator Worth the Price?

Backup Creator logoFor those of you who don’t know, I’m a big fan of using WordPress, not only to blog, but to create websites. My own site, and those of clients whose sites I create, are all WordPress-based.

However, when I decided to migrate from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress site earlier this year, I found the whole experience to be a major hassle. The theme I use is still not working the way I’d like it to, since there are plug-ins I used on the old site that no longer function here.

Have you had a similar experience? Maybe you weren’t migrating your site. Perhaps you were recreating it because it crashed, got hacked, or otherwise failed on you? For a business owner, it’s a huge headache! Between the cost of having someone recreate it, and the headache of going through the restoration process, it’s enough to turn any day into a “not so good” one…

A blogger I follow recently did a review of a WordPress plug-in called “Backup Creator.” I clicked on his link, and watched the promo video, but didn’t really feel I had a good enough sense of the plug-ins usability, pertinence, etc. At $37 for the tool, I didn’t want to buy something that was going to be a waste of time and money. So, the browser window stayed open, and every time I restarted my computer, the video played again.

After sometime of playing this game, I decide to spend some time today going through and looking at all those open browser windows. (This wasn’t the only one… It’s a bad habit of mine to open windows with the intent of coming back to them. But I never do until my computer starts struggling under the load.) So, today was the day I sought out reviews for this product.

At this time, I can say that the reviews were the only disappointment to me thus far! There were lots of them, but they were all identical… I’m all for syndication, but not in this form! None of the posts were attributed to a specific writer, but they all were in first person, and told a personal story.

Thankfully, I stuck with the search and hit a pot of gold! Not only did I find a legitimate review, but it included video instruction as well. After spending the 12 minutes watching Roger Easlick’s video and reading through his review, I felt that the plug-in was sufficiently demonstrated in terms of its ease of use, and that it was something I could easily do myself.

So, I went back to my original window (sorry, Roger!), purchased the plug-in, installed it on my system, and backed up my site. And, yes, it was as easy as Roger made it look.

I also restored my site to a temporary location, and got everything I wanted from it with few small exceptions. First, the site’s heading needed to be reset. It simply showed the domain name. Second, the stats for my ShareThis plug-in are no longer available. But, all comments, plug-ins, widgets, configurations, database info, blog posts, categories, tags, images, etc. were successfully restored to the new site. All this in less than 15 minutes! Now the peace of mind and potential future time-savings are worth the $37!

Just so you know though, the price is due to go up soon. The creator of the plug-in plans to raise the price to $97 in increments over the next few months. Within the past 90 days, the price was only $7! So, if you’re interested in getting this for your site, don’t waste time like I did. Do your due diligence now, watch Roger’s video if you need more information, and come back here to click the affiliate link below!

 

I want my copy of Backup Creator!

Book Review: “The Final Summit” by Andy Andrews

I first “discovered” Andy Andrews when he started following me on Twitter. (He’s @AndyAndrews.) Exploring his website led me to The Noticer Project, a nationwide movement to “notice” the five most influential people in your life. From that point onward, I was hooked on everything he did. I’ve since read all of his books, heard him speak in person, watched many of his videos, and always look forward to his next project. So, I was thrilled when his publisher, Thomas Nelson, gave me the opportunity to review his latest book.

The Final Summit book coverSo, let me ask you this… If you were able to travel through time meeting some of the greatest leaders throughout history, what would you hope to learn from them? In Andy’s book “The Traveler’s Gift,” the main character, David Ponder, gets just such an opportunity at the absolute lowest point in his life. Through the course of this New York Times bestseller, he meets King Solomon, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Columbus, Anne Frank, Joshua Chamberlain and the archangel Gabriel to learn The Seven Decisions for Success that shaped their lives.

David then spends the next 28 years applying The Seven Decisions to his life and business, benefiting himself, his family, and countless other people around him. His success hit a snag at one point, only to rise to even greater heights as he embraces Truman’s lesson that “Adversity is preparation for greatness.”

In the sequel, “The Final Summit,” David Ponder’s world has once again been shaken. His beloved wife, Ellen, suddenly and unexpectedly dies in her sleep, and he’s at a complete and total loss without her.

It’s at this point that David learns that all of history’s Travelers are being gathered together for one last summit meeting that he is to lead, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Centuries of greed, pride and hate have sent mankind hurtling towards disaster, and far from its original purpose. The question is simple, “What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?” The answer? Only two words… But can the greatest minds in all of history find the right ones?

Hal Sutton, the PGA champion, describes the book this way: “Is it possible to mix C.S. Lewis, Alfred Hitchcock and Tony Robbins? The Final Summit is a unique and powerful blend of mystery and suspense, and principles and emotional fire. Wow! Bring your highlighter to this party. You’ll want to remember every word!”

I couldn’t agree more! As with the first book, I learned fascinating bits of history and the roles that specific individuals played in affecting the outcomes. But I also was led to explore my own thoughts and feelings about the very same topics that the book’s characters were wrestling with. Are leaders perfect? When they fail, are they still a great leader? How can one seemingly minor choice influence the course of history? Can the wisdom of the past unlock the secrets of success today? Are my day-to-day actions really all that significant? Do I agree with the Summit’s final answer?

The book is an easy and enjoyable read. (I received it on Friday and was finished on Sunday, and I did do other things this weekend besides read.) But it’s the kind of book that you’ll want to refer to over and over again, and it can only serve to guide you in your efforts to become a better leader and individual. So, I highly recommend reading “The Traveler’s Gift,” “The Final Summit” and, for a little extra practice, “Mastering the Seven Decisions.” You won’t be disappointed!

Interested in reading “The Final Summit?” Thomas Nelson has been kind enough to provide me with an extra copy to give to one of my readers. Leave a comment below with your two-word answer to the question “What do you do when you don’t know what to do?” and why you think it’s the right thing to do. You’ll be entered into our drawing to receive a free copy of “The Final Summit!” (The drawing will be on June 7th.)

Want to learn more about Andy and his life-changing books? Follow him on Facebook or visit his website.

“In reading about the lives of great people, I found that the first great victory most of them won was over themselves.” ~ David Ponder