The “Local Commerce 2.0″ Movement Just Got a BIG Lift today!

We @ Blending Circles have a serious pass for early adoption. It started out as a personal hobby – and has ended up becoming one of our client’s best assets!

Local Commerce is a top as old as the earliest settlements. But for the first time since the introduction of credit/debit cards, we’re experience a revolution in Local Commerce. That’s why we have 1 of our tabs/service pages dedicated exclusively to the opportunity right here.

Today, that revolution got a huge boost when Google introduced Google Wallet & Google Offers simultaneously. Here’s a link from TechCrunch

Google Unveils Wallet And Offers: An Open Platform For Mobile Payments

I won’t rehash the article, but, I will highly encourage you to take the time to read it in it’s entirety. Simply fascinating, futuristic & consumer friendly … all @ the same time!

Every retailer, bar, restaurant, hotel, B&B, artist, crafter … the list really goes on forever … should begin to rethink their approach to Local Commerce. The ways of the old world are changing – be there before your customers start choosing other options that are already there!

Learning to Speak to an Empty Room

One of the most common complaints I get from businesses just starting out w/ social media goes something like this.

“I feel like I’m speaking to an empty room”
“Very few people are commenting on my posts”

There are a few variations of these points, but the theme is essentially the same. Businesses (and people in general) are uncomfortable speaking to what appears to be an empty room. But here’s the thing – communities aren’t born overnight. They’re developed for long-term engagement by true long-term (and daily) interaction. Social media isn’t a direct sales forum – they’re interaction platforms. Don’t be discouraged if it takes time to create meaningful dialogue and relationships.

Furthermore, the real truth is that you’re NOT speaking to an empty room. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written posts, tweets, status updates, etc. that have garnered ZERO online response. But, when I meet up w/ my clients, friends, business vendors, etc., damn near EVERYONE always remembers one or more of the communications I’ve had w/ them in one social media forum or another.

If you take the time to develop your social media communities, you will eventually reap the rewards of your interaction. Just be genuine, be interesting, be dedicated & be open!

Need a Reason to Post on Facebook? How about 16,257 of’em!

I’ve spent a fair amount of time this month trying to develop a stronger presence for Blending Circle’s Facebook Page.

http://www.facebook.com/blendingcircles

W/in the past 30 days, I’ve been able to add over 200 followers to a page built from scratch just a over a month ago. Most of this growth was done organically (sending requests to friends, clients, vendors, former colleagues, etc.). A very small segment came from a very small Facebook advertising campaign. Not bad for a month’s worth of work!

I took a few minutes to have a look @ the Facebook Insights page. Lots of neat graphs, data points, etc. But one in particular jumped out to me. There’s a category called ‘Post Views’ which is essentially the equivalent of “Page Views.” W/in the past 30 days, I’ve had a total of 16,257 Post Views by doing nothing more then communicating/posting on a frequent basis. 16.2k views for a big business or developed business many not be much, but to a new & emerging business, that’s a whole lot of eyeballs!

Take the time to post on your Facebook Business Page @ least 1x-2x a day (not too much though; don’t want to annoy people). It’s free, it’s interactive, and it’s a chance to get your message out to a whole lot of people!

Why Having a Digital Presence Really Matters!

My wife & I moved to Vermont 6+ years ago after having lived in the NYC metro area & center city Philly regions for an equivalent amount of time. We’ve had the same address & same phone number the entire time.

I kind of expected I would get calls for whomever had the # before me for a bit after the # transition. Turns out I did. And it was for a restaurant called Lilac Cafe. As a courteous resident of a small town, I would tell them that business is no longer around – the # had been disconnected & reassigned.

As the years went on, I continued to get calls for the Lilac Cafe. Sometimes it was a telemarketer using an old list. Sometimes it was a person coming to Manchester, VT looking for a bite to eat. In fact, I get calls so often (10-20 times a year) that I now ask people what type of food they eat & recommend local restaurants accordingly.

Don’t believe me? Click on this link. The first post is for UrbanSpoon and lists my # right there!
http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=lilac+cafe

Then, you have the other situation where someone is looking for a real/live business and they can’t find their address or phone number in a search engine b/c that company doesn’t have a web presence (website, Facebook page, twitter page, address listing, etc.).

If you’re a business owner and you don’t have a strong web presence, you’re genuinely missing out on a lot of opportunities. If my phone continues to ring for a business that hasn’t been here in 6+ years, don’t you think you might get a few calls if you’re really serving up food?

Welcome to Foursquare Day, NYC Style!

So NYC is gonna have a Foursquare Day, eh?

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20110414/SMALLBIZ/110419911

Rest assured, when the Mayor of NYC is having a day in honor of a company, that company has arrived.  Congrats to foursquare on a major PR score on this one!

Side note – hat’s off to Mayor Bloomberg for being so aggressive to adopt new technology.  He headed up the QR Code on building permits by 2013 movement as well.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/22/nyc-qr-codes-on-buildings/

 

Powerful Statistics relating to Digital Presence & Small Biz

Small Businesses … please take note.  These are some powerful & compelling statistics to indicate how important a digital presence is to your company.  We are offering most of these services @ Blending Circles.  Drop us a note to see how we can help!

http://www.blendingcircles.com/?page_id=20

 

 

Streamline the Process of Email Acquisition

I’ve been a bit hesitant to publish this post b/c I’m about to talk about a dirty little secret of the email marketing industry.

Use a list broker to streamline your acquisition email campaigns.

Using a list broker isn’t for every business. Nor is it for every agency. But – I can tell you this much – almost every single B2B or Technology company in the US & int’lly) are using email for acquisition purposes.

When large companies begin to utilize multiple publishers for different business units, offers, etc. – things start to get both tedious and complicated. Each publisher uses their own email delivery platform. They all have different creative standards and timeframes for turnaround. And let’s not forgetting about the joys of testing email. 1 Text, 1 HTML test per publisher per creative offer. An A/B creative split when renting 10 email lists can mean @ least 40 tests in your inbox … on top of all the other email you have to check.

Sorting through the data to determine the right publisher, the right links and everything else can be incredibly time consuming.

Using a good list broker can make the process as painless as possible for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, using a list broker is FREE. Yep – that’s right. List brokers get paid from the publishers 90% of the time. All that research, coordination, testing, approval, compiling of tracking results, etc. are @ no cost to you.

Additionally, brokers provide a singular point of contact for all RFP’s, data sourcing, testing, approvals and reporting. They do the all the dirty work so things shine for the client on the front-end.

I’ve helped B2B, B2C & Agency clients rent tons of email (and direct mail and/or newsletters) for acquisition purposes over the years. I even currently help 3 clients w/ annual revenues in excess of $3.8 billion, $4.5 billion, & $16 billion respectively. Sure they have money to spend – but they also have the intelligence on how to spend both their money & time wisely.

If any business ever needs help w/ these sort of services, definitely let me know. Having someone do dirty work for free while making a process better is usually a good thing!

PS: Never use a list broker or any email publisher for that matter that ‘sells’ email data. Good email data is always rented & kept w/in an arm’s distance of the publisher. Selling data leads to misuse, abuse & data fatigue.

The Passionate are Divided on Quora

Most early adopters are passionate people.  They have opinions, dammit, & they want the world to know.  I’m no different.

Quora recently won best new company @ the Crunchies (a show put on by TechCrunch). And I’m not surprised one bit!  Crowd sourcing has never been more popular.  The people have never had more power.  It may seem that we have too many social bubbles to keep up with, I’m advocating making room for 1 more.

Quora, in it’s most basic format, is a Question & Answer platform.  To those of us that have been using, it’s quite possibly the great concentration of bright thinkers on the web.  This will change as more people join – but – I expect the platform will remain geared towards truly intriguing topics, ideas, etc.

I’ve already been able to gain a considerable amount of insight on topics that I knew a little about but could definitely stand to learn more.  The more I use the platform, the more excited I get.

Much as we promote our blogs, linkedin, Twitter, etc. accounts – we will eventually be doing this w/ Quora.  And while these other forums give you a chance to speak, it’s in snippets & brief statements.

Knowledge can’t always be summed up in 140 characters.  Sometimes, we need to roll up our sleeves and dig deep into the thought stream to discover the answers.

Sign up for an account.  Setup a few questions and answer a few questions.  And start building up some credits in the intellectual currency department.  You might be thankful you did down the road!

((NOTE: I have no affiliation w/ Quora @ all other then being a user))

 

Content vs. Context – The Eternal Struggle

This blog topic is a slam dunk.  We can all relate to it.  It’s communication’s classic struggle – Content vs. Context.

People and Marketers often view one of these 2 perspectives as a standalone idea.   And the first perspective viewed and focused upon is Content.  Why?  It’s the most obvious.  We see Content.  It’s right in front of us.  It’s tangible so to speak.  If you see something you don’t like, you just change it and hope the change works.  If your ad works, you feel good about your content.

I maintain there’s a missing element to that perspective.  And it’s Context.

For me, Content can mean nothing without Context.  B/C of it’s perceived vague nature, Context is often the forgotten sibling in most forms of communications.  However, I’m here to argue that Context is @ least as (if not more) important then Content … and here’s why.

1. Context gives body, depth and meaning to Content.  It renders the idea in 3D.
2. Context takes in to account the other variables in the communications equation.   There’s a time and a place for certain Content to be successful.
3. Context reaches people on a deeper level then just Content.
4. Context let’s people and businesses know you actually understand their needs vs. just simply trying to push a point or product down their throat.

I’m not saying Content is irrelevant.   Quite the opposite.  Content should represent 50% of the communications equation.  W/out good content, you run the risk of  miscommunications as well.

I’m simply saying that Context can not be forgotten and needs to be 50% of the communications equation as well.  The more we all try to understand the dance b/t Content & Context, the better we’ll all become @ personal and professional communications!

 

Local Business + Global Business = Endless Opportunities

When I began my digital marketing career in NYC back in 1999, almost all of my clients were based in the US. Especially in the major markets like NYC, SF, Chicago, LA, etc.

Along the way, a funny thing happened.  One of my global clients (Billion $ plus company) gave me an opportunity to not only work on domestic business but also on their int’l business as well.  One project lead to another project, and well, you can see where I’m going w/ this.

Culture are different throughout the world, but there’s one thing that every culture has in common – the desire to be happy people and provide quality services or products to their customers.

By opening up my mind & learning and by embracing these opportunities, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience new cultures while meeting wonderful people along the way.  And – as importantly – I’ve been able to diversify my business portfolio so that I can hedge my risk on any 1 particular economy succeeding or failing.

Who knew that a person living in Vermont would be able to work with clients in places like Munich, Germany & Mumbai, India?  Not me – but – I’m really thankful I stumbled upon the opportunities.  It’s a pretty interesting world out there!