About a book: momentum by Shama Hyder

Six years ago, when I reviewed her previous book The Zen of Social Media Marketing, I wrote about how smart Shama Hyder is. So, when her team asked if I'd review her new book, momentum, I said absolutely.

SH-Book-momentum_03momentum landed at my doorstep at a tumultuous time in my life, and I'm embarrassed to say I sat on it for a few months until I could find the focus.

I'm glad I found that focus, though. The book is absolutely worth a read if you're starting a business, in business, or need to rethink your social marketing strategy.

It's most important if you're not integrating your online and real-world marketing strategies.

Hyder details five principles: Agility, customer focus, integration, curation and cross-pollination. She also includes a bunch of tools and takeaways, and I'm not going to spoil those, or you won't need to read the book, which means you won't need to buy the book, which means she would have sent me a book to read for free and then I gave away the good stuff. Instead, I'll clue you in to my notes.

I will say, first, that the book is astoundingly simple to follow. Hyder includes real-world examples, and runs a narrative of a fictionalized sports drink company throughout the book, so you'll be able to see what the strategies she outlines look like in action, rather than having to figure out how the strategies apply to you.

I have two different note-taking strategies for books. One is to use a single notebook, which has the drawback that if I'm taking notes on multiple things concurrently, they get mixed. The other is to use Post-It Notes upside-down (so that the sticky bit is at the bottom), so that when the note is full I stick it to the last page I took a note on and the notes are right-side up. That has the drawback of a bunch of little pieces of paper, but more continuity.

I used the latter method for momentum. Here are some of the highlights from my notes. Bold items are my favorites.

• Targeting very specific individuals is now very easy.
• Marketing used to be an outward push; now it's an inward pull.
• It's easier than ever to analyze effectiveness and change strategy mid-campaign
• There's a ton of data now; use it to be agile. Track and adapt.
• "Agility in marketing leads directly to marketing momentum" (p. 20) — when the lights went out in the Super Bowl in 2013, Oreo took to Twitter for an unplanned campaign
Nothing is sacred
• Identify your goals, make them clear and understand who is in charge of them
Be specific about your targets
• Create overall strategies, then drill down to individual campaigns, and be willing to change those individual campaigns
• Be patient, track, change and automate
• All your online activities should be integrated
• People use social media to show themselves off, not to connect; that makes it easy to figure out how your target customers present themselves and you can then make that happen with your product
• Sometimes going viral is luck, but by making a campaign personal, you can get there predictably
• Use existing data to answer specific questions about your customers
• Create a customer persona with a detailed background — it will help you understand the customer better
• Survey, analyze, listen and test
Conversations are better than monologues
• Connect with influencers among your customer groups
• Your customers should have a consistent brand experience whether they find you on Instagram, Twitter, a radio ad or a billboard
Stop separating your digital and traditional marketing groups
• Find ways to integrate your digital and traditional marketing, such as posting radio and TV ads on YouTube and asking someone to like a Facebook page on your company's business cards
"Information is not a substitute for knowledge." (p. 99)
• Outside content is important — don't only push your own content.
• Partner with your partners — if a store that sells your product is having a sale on other items, promote that sale and maybe people will pick up your product, too.
Close the loop: Introduce your partners to each other
• Return on investment (ROI) is no longer about money coming in, it's about relationships being built

I hope you go pick up a copy of momentum, wherever you are in your business. Take the advice personally, and take it seriously. It's meant for everybody.

Disclosure: Book provided for the purpose of review.

Work-life balance for the perpetually busy: Join my Circle

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Before you read this, you should go learn about Creative Coast Circles from the other two charter hosts, Andy Cabistan and Casey Herrington.

Look, we all struggle from "busyness." We're all employees or employers or entrepreneurs or parents or husbands or wives or children or siblings or, more likely, some combination of all of those things. We all need sleep, exercise, food and a bunch of other things for healthy living.

Before you get mad about being asked to do one more thing, remember the old Zen proverb, "You should sit in silence for twenty minutes a day, unless you are too busy, in which case you should sit in silence for two hours."

On the second Wednesday each month at 1 p.m., I will host a Circle at Gallery Espresso, on the southeast corner of Chippewa Square in Savannah. We'll limit the group to seven participants, and we're willing to be flexible on the time and location after a few meetings, BUT understand that The Creative Coast requires commitment for this: you must attend each month.

We'll discuss things like routines, understanding the difference between important and urgent and in general flush out how everyone deals with the everyday challenges of being able to enjoy your life.

Our first meeting will be August 10. Fill out this form to RSVP. Hope to see you there.

Know what you’re good at, know what you’re bad at

Last week at our local 1 Million Cups event, we heard from Ted Dennard of Savannah Bee Co..

The company has been around for a while now, and has grown greatly thanks to Dennard being willing to step back and admit what he's not good at. This is him:

A photo posted by Savannah Bee (@savannahbeeco) on

Dennard told us he graduated college with a degree in religion and philosophy, and went on to become a beekeeper. "Is there any money in that?" people would ask him at networking events. "Now that you mention it, no!" he'd reply.

So he started bottling honey. And making labels. And putting labels on the bottles. And fulfilling orders. And then remembering to get his bees to the right place for the one week a year they could make honey from tupelo, or another place for the week a year they could make honey from sourwood or whatever else.

And then he bought a giant warehouse, and the bank gave him $150,000 to fix it up. He didn't realize that amount of money goes very quickly.

When the company started to grow, Dennard realized he couldn't do everything. So he went back to the stuff he knows well, and hired a CEO.

Savannah Bee now has five owned-and-operated retail stores and has products (honey, honeycomb, honey-based products like lip balm and lotion, and mead) distributed all over. The company recently landed a seasonal distribution deal with Target for this year, so look for products wherever you are.

All this growth over the past ten to fifteen years because Dennard knew he was good at beekeeping and bad at business. Remember to take stock of where you are, and not only what you need to improve, but whom you need, as well.

How to publish an ebook on Amazon

Something I did recently was this. I compiled some of my blog posts, edited them a bit, and put them together in an ebook to sell on Amazon. It's called Resolutions for the Rest of the Year, and is meant to give you the tools to set and accomplish goals now that most people have given up their New Year's resolution.

Almost as important to me as putting the book together (it's short; go ahead and give it a shot, why not?) was the process. Let me tell you how I did it, so that you can do it, too.

First, I redeemed a coupon I had for Scrivener, an amazing $40 piece of software (that's without the coupon). It makes it really easy to organize a book, and will help you compile it for pretty much any format — Kindle, iBooks, hard cover, soft cover, PDF — and provides you with a bunch of tools for proofing and organizing research and putting together keywords to embed in electronic versions.

Next, because it's such a complete piece of software, I took advantage of a special on a Udemy course on Scrivener (at this writing there's not a special, but almost 20 hours, it's still a deal at $169 for Mac or Windows).

Then I put the actual product together. If you're going to try this, be honest with your self and understand that the software's easy enough to learn, putting the product together is the hardest work.

I did some searching for royalty-free art to turn into a cover (feel free to pay for some, too), put the cover together, spelled a word wrong, went back and did the cover again, and thanked my eyes for catching that.

Next, I signed up for Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon's Kindle publishing platform. It's a fairly simple process (it took about 15 minutes) to upload the book and cover, add some keywords, price it, confirm that I own the copyright on the book and click the submit button (which is the scariest part, but that was the goal of the whole project — pressing that submit button).

I sent that on a lunch break, about 2 a.m., and by the time I woke up about 10 a.m., I had a book on Amazon.

Your turn. Go!

On entitlement and your right to work hard


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We were walking around downtown not long ago, talking with some friends about a new "work" culture. The sort that was really spearheaded by Avon and Tupperware and has since blown up. You can have parties now with representatives selling organizing totes to sex toys to low-cost energy (though that last one is a a tough business to get anything out of).

People quit their jobs to sell stuff that is often highly marked up to handle their commission. And if you get an invitation to a party with a consultant, expect someone to try to guilt you into buying something.

"Remember, I have fun doing this, but if you don't buy anything, I can't put food on the table." OK, but if I don't like your products or your prices, why would I buy something?

You're entitled to try to sell me something, not to my purchase.

It's not just about work. Entitlement is about a lot of things. Did someone delete your comment on a news website? Yes, the company believes in freedom of speech. Do you know what you're not entitled to? Publication. You have the right, in the U.S., to say pretty much whatever you want (there are some limitations on that, of course). You do not have the right to expect someone will listen. You do not have the right to expect someone to provide a platform. You certainly have the right to create your own.

The "American Dream" has had various incarnations over the past 240 years. But I think we're at a point where many people need to be reminded that you have the right to work your ass off for your chunk of the American Dream. You have no right to just expect a chunk of the American Dream to fall into your sedentary lap.

The return of the polymath: The best is yet to come (summer hiatus)

Last September, I set a rule for myself: that I would blog every Wednesday, allowing me to publish on a schedule and to reserve the blogging for good stuff that inspires me, rather than putting up something every day just to get something up. And I've stuck to it, but I'm taking the summer off for bigger things (things like getting married and selling a house and other projects that make blogging a distraction and burden instead of something useful).

Before I do that, I want to share one more thing in the learning from podcasts series (I'll of course not stop learning and not stop sharing; make sure you follow me on Twitter for that sharing).

This is something that's been very important to me the past year, and Tim Ferriss and Chase Jarvis discuss it on Ferriss's podcast.

This is not a new concept, of course. But it's becoming less and less for the visionary (think Buckminster Fuller's take on General Pirates in Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, and more for the everyday person. As in, you don't have to be the 1% (smartest or richest or whatever) to find a niche and do a little bit of everything in earning your place in the world (creating, revising, accounting, business plan, raising money, building, hiring, managing, etc.), and thriving while doing it.

Jarvis – a photographer, filmmaker and founder of CreativeLIVE – and Ferris, maybe best known for The 4-Hour Workweek but who also does a lot more, certainly fit those descriptions.

Take an hour and a half and learn from them. You can watch the full episode here, if you wish (I prefer to listen, since it allows me to do something else, too):

Learning management from Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin

I write a little thing every week about press conferences given by Southeast Conference (SEC) football coaches. For those not into the college football scene, the SEC is the top conference in the sport. One of its teams has won the national championship the past seven years; they have a shot this season but are probably going to be underdogs in that game.

Aside: To play in a national championship game, you have to be picked by a computer and a bunch of humans based on who you beat and who beat you during the season, so out of more than 110 teams, you have to be that good.

You're probably familiar with programs like Alabama and Texas A&M and Florida (the Gators, for whom Gatorade is named), just from existing in the world. You may not know much about them, but you've likely overheard a conversation somewhere, even if you're in the northeast. Or northwest, for that matter.

But unless you're an alum or from Tennessee, you're probably not too familiar with Vanderbilt football. I wasn't, either, until I started writing this piece every week, midway through the season.

Statistically speaking, Vanderbilt is middle of the road. But they make that work for them.

James Franklin is in his third year coaching the Commodores. With the announcement that they'll play the Compass Bowl this year, that makes three straight postseason appearances. That means more money for the school and more exposure for the football team. That's a huge deal in college football.

The press conference above took place two days after Vanderbilt won its sixth game of the season (that's the mark you need to reach to become eligible for a bowl game – you still have to get a bowl that wants you to play). So keep that in mind as you watch some of it. He's not real interested in talking about the future or the past. He does a quick review of the win over Kentucky (which was expected, given their injury situation) and looks forward to the upcoming game against Tennessee, and he's only interested in the task at hand. He jokes a little bit with the press, but he's not giving them any chance to think about the future – not to a bowl game, and not to the possibility that he might get some job offers after his success at Vandy.

Vanderbilt wound up with eight wins in the regular season, including over a Georgia team that was ranked 15th in the country at the time. Their four losses during were to teams that spent at least some time in the Top 25 (some of them spent time in the Top 10) over the season.

That's some pretty solid success for what isn't a tip-of-your-tongue football program, and I think that's a credit to Franklin's style. Here are some things you can take from it:

Take care of the task at hand. You hear him reference early on that he's excited about being "1-and-0" this week. In non-football terms, that means there was a complicated problem to solve that was just one in a four-month series of complicated problems, and they solved it successfully without worrying about their past successes or failures.

Give credit where it's due. You hear Franklin express shock that one of his players hadn't won any conference-wide awards yet. And when he did, the coach said, "great job," but then went on to credit the guy who gets Jordan Matthews the ball, the guys who block for him, and the assistant coach who works with him.

Have some fun. Why hadn't Matthews won any awards? "It's a conspiracy." Franklin manages to get at least a little humor in each press conference – even if he has to explain the joke, which he does sometimes.

And when you come out of it, you want employees, students, whatever, who will represent you, your company or school well. And it looks like Franklin has that. Keep in mind that this next video is a pep rally; the idea is to get people keyed up. Franklin comes out at about seven minutes in, and students come up about two minutes later.

How I’m increasing my productivity

Over the past month I've taken on a few things. A new promotion at work, a few house projects, and I'm working on a few personal projects, like seeing more people and fewer computer screens.

I also, as some of you know, am involved in several local non-profits.

Here's what I'm doing to keep sane and get more productive.

Tools

Workflowy. Workflowy is an online to-do list that comes to me as a suggestion from Phil. I've never really been one for to-do lists (just like I keep my shopping list in my head), but I've been using Workflowy for a week now and I love it. I keep a browser tab on it at all times, and I use it for everything from long-term projects to an editorial calendar. It has a simple hierarchical structure so you can include details, you can mark either parts or the whole complete, tag things you need to get done today or make a higher priority, and you get an email each morning letting you know where you are.

Dropbox. I've been using Dropbox for a couple of years, since I began using multiple devices (laptop, netbook, smart phone, iPod). It's a virtual hard drive, with public sharing capabilities. It syncs when you're online, but if you're not online you can still edit items that have already been synced on the device you're using. Also, it's free, until you need more than 2GB of space.

Google. I figured you didn't need a link. Google docs, Google calendar and Google groups have been a big help across the board, primarily because of the ability to share and group-edit.

Habits

Facebook. I dumped the game apps from Facebook, which means no more Scrabble or Words With Friends until I get the other stuff straightened out. That means I won't be checking to see if my opponents have played their moves. And in fact, I'm only opening Facebook when I want to check on the pages I administer.

Email. I've set up a work email filter, so that I'm only checking work emails when I am in a position to get work done. That's saving me a lot more time than I expected.

Wellness. This should be a no-brainer, but it's so often overlooked. If you eat well, get enough sleep, get a massage occasionally, get some exercise and some fresh air, you'll be sharp, quick, and alert. You'll get your stuff done, and you'll have energy beyond that.

Skip artificial borders. And by that, I'm really talking dates. I've already published my New Year's post. I don't feel the need to wait until a new year, or a new month, or a new week to start something new. Just start it. The sooner you do, the sooner you'll be happy you did.

What are your favorite tools and habits for productivity?

How not to ask for business advice. Plus: Where to get business cards

I got off the softball diamond this morning to this text message from a Syracuse-area phone number I don't recognize:

Hi Josh

Im starting new business managing estate sales. Where can I get a business cards?
Thanks

Here are the things that bother me about this message.

Don't make an inquiry by text message unless you know it's the right way to ask. First, don't assume, unless we regularly text back and forth, that I know who you are. At least tell me who it is asking. Also note that texting is the least professional way to go, so unless we've explicitly had a conversation that included the phrase, "Text me if you ever need something business-related."

Be professional in your asking. The grammar in this text message is terrible. If you know me, you probably know I'm a grammar guy. And if you don't know that, assume it anyway. You're representing your business poorly, and I'm less likely to want to help you if I think you're going to half-ass things (because you've definitely initiated the conversation in a half-assed manner).

Don't assume I'm going to give you free advice. I give away a lot of good information that I have in my head. I do it willingly, and happily, and I think it's important. I assume your business model is not managing estate sales for free. So why assume I'm willing to give you free advice? An initial consultation with me will cost you $150, and if you hire me, that will be put toward your project cost, but I don't go around giving away good ideas for nothing.

Ask yourself if you really need to ask the question. If you were asking specifically about where I got my business cards, or if I knew any locally owned design-and-print shops I would recommend, that would be one thing. But where to get business cards in general? How lazy can you be? Use Google. Or the phone book. Why would I do your leg work for the simple stuff?

Where to get business cards

You want free advice on business cards? Here are some options. And now, whoever you are, you'll need to share my advice with everybody.

Locally owned. I would start by searching the Syracuse First business directory. Not only are all the businesses in the directory locally owned, they have specifically said, "I want to be recognized as a local business, and I support local businesses."

Also, check out Dock 2 Letterpress. They're a Rochester-area design firm with an honest-to-goodness moveable type press in their warehouse. They do some awesome stuff.

Free. Go to VistaPrint. They have a whole bunch of free templates. You pay shipping, and they put their advertising on the back (you can pay to get the advertising taken off).

Cool. Moo. (No, really, that's all I have to say.)

Cookie cutter. Walk into your local Staples, Office Max, Kinko's or any other print shop. They'll walk you through putting together a business card and they'll print them for you.

Business card tips

A couple of things you should do.

• Proof your cards before they go to press. I've seen some really bad proofs, and I've had cards handed to me without phone numbers, with spelling mistakes, and without names, among other things. Big no-no.
• Make your business card stand out. Make it an unusual shape (but still make it easy to carry). Add a QR code, or a fun photo. Or print something funny on it so that I'll keep it in mind.
• Make it clear what you do. I have two primary business cards. One says "Community Manager, Gold's Gym." It lets you know I'm employed by a gym, and I'm their community manager. I have another that says "Internet Marketing Consultant." It lets you know that I consult with people and businesses on marketing, particularly in the online realm. It does not say "free advice for lazy business owners."

Promoting vs. Engaging

There's a product I've been following the last couple of months, and, while I find it intriguing, I haven't tried it. It's called Fitness Coffee – a coffee meant to aid in weight loss (my best guess is there's some additive, probably natural or near-natural, designed to kick your metabolism into high gear).

They're fairly active on Twitter and Facebook, and they're looking to get further into the social space by giving away an iPad.

You can enter by sending them a picture, blogging, vlogging or doing some Facebook or Twitter something.

OK, comprehensive-ish, but there are some instructions I just don't get. For the blog entry:

Blog about us on your blog with by posting the following and send us the link...

Twitter:

Once you are signed up and following us, simply tweet this to your list of fellow tweeters...

For Facebook:

Simply become a fan or like of Fitness Coffee on Facebook and post the following on your wall...

So, rather than hearing what their customers think about their product (except the vlog, where they want a 15-second clip – not exactly a review), they're steering the message. Why bother?

If you really want to spend $500 on a give-away, get something out of it. People who read blogs, by-and-large, are not stupid. They'll know the copy was written by someone other than the blogger, and they won't care about your product.

Instead, ask for links of reviews to your product. You'll learn where you can improve, and...wait for it...when you get a positive review, you'll get more customers. Because I read blogs written by people I trust, and if someone I trust thinks enough of your product to write a positive review, that might be the thing I need to push me over the edge to spend $10 on an 8.8-ounce bag of your product (when I'm more than happy to spend $6 on a 40-ounce tin of Folger's at one of those bulk membership clubs).

When people are talking about you on the social web, are they really talking about you? Or are they just regurgitating canned copy for a reward?