J0289538When I taught new media marketing, I wanted so much to attend conferences and hear about the latest thinking in my industry. When my organization refused to fund my attendance, I took on a side job creating content for reputable industry sites, so that I could qualify for press passes to quality events.

Training and professional development meant that much to me (and still does), which is why I’m incredibly happy that I’m now part of MarketingProfs, one of the absolute best (and best known) resources for marketing training.

You might be a small business with limited resources, or an established company with an experienced marketing team. Either way, earmarking some of your budget for marketing training is a smart investment.

Staying current helps you

First, even if your marketing team is bringing in leads like crazy right now, the fact is that things change almost daily. We all know this, and yet we have a natural tendency to continue doing what works right now.

But even if you’re doing well, you could probably be doing better. More importantly, what works now will stop working once your competitors discover new channels (think Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine) and find ways to increase their share of mind and market.

You might undertake a skills assessment, so you can identify areas for improvement. For instance, if your team comprises experienced marketers who came on the scene before the advent of social media and mobile, it’s possible you’re not doing as much in those areas as you could.

An assessment will reveal this weakness, and you can invest in some targeted training experiences to bring everyone up to speed. Good for your team, good for your company.

You don’t know what you don’t know

You could be using LinkedIn to connect with clients and confirm sales appointments (which is great), but did you know that you can also use it for email marketing and targeted advertising?

Did you know that Facebook offers “custom audiences,” an advertising feature where you upload your email list into Facebook and it displays your ads just to that highly qualified group?

Maybe you did, but even so, there are bound to be features rolling out as we speak that you weren’t aware of. Channels, platform features, best practices, laws and consumer trends all change so quickly that it’s impossible for any one person to keep up with it all.

But you don’t know what you don’t know: marketing training will make you aware of emerging trends in your industry, and you can even focus on learning what’s new with the channels that interest you most. Which brings me to my next point…

You can tailor the training to your organization’s goals and needs

Whether you run a skills assessment to identify gaps in your team’s knowledge, or choose training courses based on your marketing goals (e.g. “expand our mobile marketing efforts), you can select the provider and the training experience that will help you to meet your objectives.

For some organizations, hiring a consultant to come in and conduct on-site training works best. For larger companies with big marketing teams spread out across the country or the globe, online learning may work better. In many instances, a blended approach (online training with an in-person component) gives companies the best of both worlds.

Whichever type of training you select, actively participate in the planning process: choose the topics you want to cover, the method of delivery, and the schedule. The best marketing training providers use established learning theory to guide their curriculum design, so ask about that when you choose a training vendor. Consider ways to measure the success of your training, as well. (More on this in a minute.)

Buy-in from managers helps ensure lessons are applied

There’s nothing more frustrating than returning from a conference or training event brimming with ideas, only to have them shot down. It’s enough to make you stow your binder of materials on a shelf, and never touch it again. What a waste!

If you’re supervising a team of marketing professionals, you’re uniquely positioned to see how marketing training benefits your organization. By facilitating the training, you will know what your marketers are learning, and can see how they apply their new skills and insights to upcoming product launches, marketing campaigns, and more.

Depending on your position within the company, you could even see ripples from your team’s marketing training affect sales through social selling initiatives and content marketing, improve customer service through social, and impact PR.

If you’re on the team receiving training, someone clearly cares enough to help you develop as a professional, which is the hallmark of a quality employer. Moreover, you can expect that your suggestions based on the training will meet with support, because management wants to see a return on their investment.

You can measure the results

Completing the training is just the beginning of the process: the ultimate goal is to see the learning drive real business results.

At MarketingProfs, we set narrowly tailored learning objectives for each training course, so participants know exactly which skills they will acquire from the training.

The goal isn’t just for your team to “know” or “understand” the latest thinking in marketing, but for them to apply this knowledge to your specific marketing goals and, in turn, support your company’s overarching business objectives.

The success of your marketing depends on the skill of your marketing team. Give them what they need to succeed!

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone is a writer, lawyer, speaker and educator. She’s also Instructional Design Manager, Enterprise Training, at MarketingProfs. Kerry hosts the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast. Find Kerry on Google+ and Twitter.

 

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If you missed tonight’s #Blogchat here is the transcript.

Our all-star lineup of special guest-hosts for the 2nd half of 2014 begins tonight as Joe Pulizzi co-hosts #Blogchat!  Joe is known as ‘The Godfather of Content Marketing’ and runs the wildly-successful Content Marketing World events.  The next CMW is in September in Cleveland.  I spoke at the first one in 2011 and it’s a wonderful event.  And if you’re thinking of attending, register and use code BLOGCHAT to get a $100 discount!

Here’s what we’ll be discussing tonight(all times Central):

8:00-8:20 PM – How do we get started creating a content strategy for our blog?

8:20-8:40 PM – How does a blog fit into our larger content strategy?

8:40-9:00 PM – What’s next in content marketing?  What should we be focusing on?

Thrilled as can be to finally have Joe co-hosting as everyone in #Blogchat will lean a ton about improving their blogging efforts by creating a solid content strategy.  See y’all at 8pm Central on Twitter and check out the other all-star co-hosts joining us in the coming months!

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A few years ago, the band Blink 182 was getting ready to release its new single.  It went to YouTube and found thousands of instances where fans of the band were illegally using its music in homemade videos.

The band cataloged over 100,000 instances of copyright infringement by its fans, then instead of sending lawyers after them, Blink 182 made the video for its new single from videos created by its fans.

Then the band thanked its fans.  For stealing its music.

This example is in contrast to how IKEA recently reacted when it discovered a popular fan site called IKEAHackers.  The site, which is where fans of the brand share their ‘hacks’ for making its products better, has been delivered a Cease and Desist letter from IKEA.  According to its lawyers, the brand objects to the fact that the fan running the site has inserted advertising on the site in an effort to offset the costs of maintaining it.  As the site’s owner explains:

Needless to say, I am crushed. I don’t have an issue with them protecting their trademark but I think they could have handled it better. I am a person, not a corporation. A blogger who obviously is on their side. Could they not have talked to me like normal people do without issuing a C&D?

IKEAhackers.net was set up in 2006 and truly not with the intent to exploit their mark. I was a just crazy fan. In retrospect, a naive one too. It is not an excuse but that was just how it was when I registered IKEAhackers. Over the last 8 years the site has grown so much that I could not juggle the demands of a full time job and managing IKEAhackers. It also costs quite a bit to run a site this large. Since IKEA® does not pay me a cent, I turned to advertising to support myself and this site.

To clarify, IKEA has every right to do what it feels is necessary to protect its brand and its images and likeness.  My guess is that’s the true motivation behind IKEA’s actions, and it feels if it spins that it doesn’t like the site due to the advertising on it that it might lessen the negative PR hit.

It’s also worth noting that this story will be hot for about 3-4 days, then most people will forget about it. Except for fans of the site, many of which were also IKEA fans.  Were.  

I mentioned the Blink 182 story at the start because it along with the IKEA story is a perfect example of the difference between how most rock stars view its fans and how most brands view its fans.  Both the brand and the band saw that its fans were acting in a way that could be viewed as damaging to its image and even copyright infringement.  But while Blink 182 saw fans illegally using its music as a possible opportunity, IKEA saw fans running the IKEAHackers site as a possible threat.  

That’s an incredibly important distinction.  And it brings up another equally important distinction between most brands and most bands.  Most brands have little to no connection with its fans, so as a result they don’t understand them and they don’t trust them.  While most bands are connected with its fans so they do understand them and do trust them.  Blink 182 understood that its fans weren’t trying to hurt the band with its videos on YouTube, they were trying to help the band.  IKEA apparently doesn’t see the IKEAHackers site as being helpful to its brand, instead it sees it as being hurtful.

How could IKEA have handled this situation as if it were an opportunity instead of a treat?  If the brand was really worried about advertisements on the site, then make a deal with the fan running it to have her remove all ads, and in exchange IKEA would sponsor the site for the amount she would have earned in ad revenue.

That turns a negative PR event into an incredibly positive one for IKEA.  It generates new fans for the brand, and everyone wins.

It also validates to IKEA’s fans why they were right to be fans of the brand.

The lesson: When you feel your fans are acting in a way that could hurt your brand, understand that your fans love you, and look for a way to work with them, instead of against them.  The only thing worse than ignoring your fans, is giving them a reason to stop loving you.

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Welcome to the fourth episode of The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show!  Yesterday during the #Bizheroes chat on Twitter, we were discussing the power of communities.  I wanted to talk about that a bit more in this episode of #FanDamnShow.

Here’s the transcript from yesterday’s #Bizheroes chat, please let me know what you think about this episode!

 

Here’s a direct link to the show and you can subscribe in iTunes if you like!

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Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would like with #Blogchat recently.  This is due mostly to client work and also launching my new podcast The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show.  But all that is about to change.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s your lineup of #Blogchat co-hosts for the second half of the year:

BlogchatCoHosts

Here’s the schedule and topics (subject to change) for each co-host:

July 6th – Joe Pulizzi – How to Create a Content Strategy For Your Blog

August 10th – ProBlogger – How to Build a Blog Worth Monetizing

August 17th – Scott Monty – How to Build an Awesome Hobby Blog (This will be a LOT of fun!)

September 14th – Ann Handley – How to Weave Storytelling Into Your Blog and Improve Your Writing

October 5th – Jay Baer – Your Blog as a YouTility, Creating Content That’s Useful For Your Readers

November 2nd – Gini Dietrich – Why Your Blog Can Be Your Company’s Best Friend During a Social Media Crisis

November 9th – Kerry O’Shea Gorgone – The Legal Ramifications of Blogging: What You Need to Know

December – TBA

Are you excited about lineup as I am?  It’s worth noting that I asked 8 people to co-host #Blogchat, and the 7 you see above accepted.  The 8th person has tentatively agreed, just waiting to see when their schedule will allow them to join.  That’s because these are all experts and thought leaders that are giving of their time, but they also understand the value of connecting with the #Blogchat community.  Y’all do an amazing job of supporting #Blogchat and that’s a big reason why we are lucky enough to have such amazing co-hosts to learn from.

Also, here’s the topics for the rest of June:

Tonight (June 8th) – Breaking Blogging’s Unwritten Rules (Posts shouldn’t be too long, you should post at least once a week, etc)

June 15th – How to Get More Comments on Your Blog

June 22nd – Your blogging strategy for the second half of 2014

June 29th – OPEN MIC

Also, if you are interested in sponsoring any month from July-December, check out the #Blogchat Sponsorship page as there are new terms and rates available.

See y’all tonight starting at 8pm Central!

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Welcome to a third ‘marathon’ episode of the Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show that clocks in a just over 11 minutes! I talk about:

1 – Kerry O’Shea Gorgone’s amazing opener and her podcast for Marketing Profs called Marketing Smarts.

2 – How Club Carlson saw big gains on Twitter by breaking one of the biggest rules for how brands are ‘supposed’ to use Twitter.

3 – Why you should view most of the ‘rules’ for using social media as really being guidelines for how your company should be using social media.

Here’s the direct link to the show.

And you can now subscribe in iTunes!

As always, let me know what you think here, via email or on Twitter with the #FanDamnShow hashtag!

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Email subscriptions, increasing email subscribers to your blog, rss, feedburnerBy now, most companies use social media as part of their marketing mix, but only 63% have implemented a social media policy according to a 2014 study from Protiviti.

Jay Shepherd has suggested that organizations adopt a very simple, two-word policy relating to employee blogging (which he’s since extended to social media): “Be professional.”

I might double this in size and suggest “don’t be a moron,” although the results should be largely the same.

If you hire the right people (professional non-morons), their use of social media should not expose you to an inordinate amount of risk. In some instances, having a policy could cause problems you didn’t have before.

For instance, most employees are “at-will,” meaning they can be fired at any time for almost any legal, non-discriminatory reason. However, if you adopt a social media policy, then use that as the basis for firing someone, that employee might appeal their termination to the National Labor Relations Board.

Depending on the nature of their social media offense, they might be able to have their termination declared illegal. Posts complaining about working conditions, for instance, are protected according to the NLRB.

You now have a problem you didn’t have before, and even if you ultimately win the argument, you will lose money and time in the process.

If you do elect to formalize a social media policy, there are examples from which you could draw. (See 5 Great Corporate Social Media Policy Examples.)

Here are some provisions you’ll want to include.

What “social media” means.
Everyone has a slightly different idea of what is or isn’t covered. Most people would assume the policy covers Twitter and Facebook, but what else? Pinterest, for example, is a “taste graph,” technically speaking, and not a social network, but clearly it has social elements. Does your policy apply to Pinterest? Online forums? Comments on third-party sites or blogs? Define what’s included, but try and leave room for the evolution of new social networks and platforms. You don’t want to edit the policy every time a start-up gets funded!

A caution against sharing confidential information.
Explain what kinds of company information are confidential and should not be shared via social media, email, or other channels (client data, upcoming plans, trade secrets, other intellectual property, etc.). Take care not to be too broad in your phrasing: if your policy might apply to employees discussing working conditions or wages among themselves, it’s very likely that the NLRB would not enforce it.

A statement against speaking as the company’s official representative (unless you are the company’s official representative)
If your company is large, name the point-person (or position title) responsible for fielding certain kinds of inquiries.For instance, media inquiries should be directed to the Director of Public Relations, customer service inquiries should be directed to any member of the Customer Service department, employment inquiries go to the Human Resources Coordinator, etc.

However you want the workflow to go, specify it in your policy. Explain the protocol for crisis communications, as well. Otherwise, loyal employees might make well-intentioned posts that reveal information before the company’s ready, or else misstate the situation because you don’t yet have all the facts.

Specify who is authorized to speak on behalf of the company during a crisis situation, and consider assigning someone different for each type of crisis (your CFO for a financial issue, CMO for a social media gaffe, CEO for a general organizational crisis, etc.).

No anonymous posting
It’s natural for employees to feel protective of your brand: ideally, they are your biggest fans. However, employees posting anonymously in response to negative reviews or comments about your company will ultimately do more harm than good, because the identity of the commenter always comes to light sooner or later.

Let your employees know that if they speak publicly about your brand, they must use their own identity and disclose their relationship with your company.

State who owns your brand’s social channels
This should be an easy one. If someone at your company creates an official presence online, anywhere other than your site, the company owns it. Specify that any profiles or pages created by employees in their official capacity on behalf of the company are company-owned.

Require all online accounts be opened using a company email address (ideally, Facebook@YourCompany.com) or something similar, so you can easily reset the passwords and restrict access if an employee leaves the company.

Clearly explain the consequences of violating the policy
This is the “or what?” If you tell employees they can’t do something, they need to know what happens if they do it.Typically, you’d want to extend the penalties for “real world” offenses to social media, as well. If calling another employee a “whore” offline would result in firing, the same should be true for an online posting.

Explain which person or department is in charge of enforcing the policy, and what procedures you will have in place for appealing decisions.

Overall, the benefits of implementing a social media policy outweigh the risks, because they help to clarify what’s expected of everyone involved.

Do consider the appeal of a four-word policy, though: most of the time, “don’t be a moron” just about covers it.

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The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, Episode 2: The Power of Amazon and Online Reviews

May 20, 2014

Thanks SO much for the feedback on the first episode of The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, I really do appreciate it!  If you have any feedback on this episode please leave a comment here, email me or leave it on Twitter with hashtag #FanDamnShow. In this episode I’ll be talking about how you can leverage online […]

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The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show is LIVE!

May 13, 2014

I’ve been waiting 7 years to say this, but I have a new podcast to tell you about!  The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show will be focused on marketing topics and how companies can better connect with their customers and covert them into passionate fans.  If you’ve read this blog or Think Like a Rock Star you […]

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How Figures Toy Company is Masterfully Using Social Media to Build Product Demand, and Giving Me Back My Childhood At the Same Time

May 8, 2014

If you grew up in the 1970s as I did, the odds are you owned a toy created by the Mego Corporation.  The company made its hay with dolls (today called Action Figures) and its most popular line was The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes, giving children everywhere their first exposure to characters like Batman, Spiderman and […]

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Amazon Introduces #AmazonCart, Social Buying Just Got a LOT Easier

May 5, 2014

This morning Amazon introduced a pretty interesting new feature called #AmazonCart.  The idea is dead simple: If someone tweets a link to a product on Twitter that you want, reply to the tweet with the #AmazonCart hashtag and it gets added to your cart on Amazon!  Of course you have to have an Amazon account […]

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