Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

The Main Reason to Ignore your Target Audience

danny-nov-2015If you’re a PR, marketing or branding professional—or you work in sales—you probably spend an inordinate amount of resources trying to “get a handle on your target audience.” It’s time to dump the demographics and toss the generational preferences pie chart.

You must drill deeper than demographics. These days, you must market—with clarity—to one person. It’s essential to create a buyer persona and profile of your ideal client. Note that “client” is singular, not a community or demographic. One human being.

A profile or avatar will provide you with a deep understanding of your prospect.

Think about it. Consumers are craving—no they are demanding—personized attention and nurturing. They want to know that brands—and the people behind them—have invested the time and energy to get more than just acquainted. For this reason, you mustn’t communicate with a mass group such as millennial women or Baby Boomers.

What can you do without a demographic? Focus on one person. Create an avatar as you have done for your own business or personal social media accounts. For example:

Who is your ideal audience? To reach young men ages 18 to 25, how would you create a social media profile for someone in this group? Take the time and energy to brainstorm and create this one avatar.

You may:

  1. Assign him an age.
  2. Determine his level of education.
  3. Think about the region and country where he resides. Does he live with others or alone? Does he own or rent? Is he a college student?
  4. Identify your person’s likes and dislikes. What does your buyer enjoy on Netflix or iTunes? Which social media channels does he prefer? Does he loathe or love tattoos and piercings? Consider his friendships, online games, favorite sports teams and foods, hobbies, clothing and political affiliations.
  5. Understand how he consumes information and communicates. Does your buyer prefer BuzzFeed, The Wall Street Journal or Inc.com? Does he favor online tutorials, podcasts, YouTube or written blog posts?
  6. Consider how he spends his time. Does your person enjoy the outdoors or a gym membership? Does he stay up late?
  7. Think about those closest to him. Is he family-minded, close with his parents, siblings and extended family? Does he have a significant other or partner? Does he have pets? Does he have a lot of friends?
  8. Get a clear understanding of your person’s aspirations. Does he work (or plan to work) in a corporate setting, remote job or part of the gig economy? Is he a spender or a saver? Is he a risk-taker?
  9. List his social values. Is he an animal lover, an Eagle Scout, a volunteer at the local food pantry, or an annual participant in a 5K race for breast cancer awareness? Does he litter? Does he vote?
  10. Focus on your person’s concerns and challenges. What keeps him up at night? What worries him? What scares him?

The next step is to give your person a first name. It’s probably Hunter, Tanner, Matthew or Quinn. (If you’ve named your avatar George or Robert, you may need to rethink some of this.)

The final step is to find a picture (an avatar!) of your person. He may be a face in the LL Bean catalog or on the Best Buy website. You may find him in your local newspaper circular. Clip the picture to the responses you’ve written above. Meet your buyer. Keep him front and center in every aspect of your marketing, PR and branding brainstorms. Think: What would Tanner do?

The real application

Now, market and communicate with this individual. You have taken the time to get more than just acquainted with your prospect. You’ve gone beyond a crowd of young males ages 18 to 25. You’ve paid attention. How can you show your buyer he’s special?

  • Market to his needs.
  • Communicate in the language, phrases and buzzwords that will resonate with him.
  • Choose images, memes and graphics with care.
  • Customize Snapchat stories and Instagram accounts.
  • Invite user-generated content from events that he can relate to, and share with his friends.
  • Use list-building and auto-responders tactics to share free content in the format HE prefers.
  • Follow him on different social media accounts and share his content when appropriate.

Compare this approach to reading one of your favorite books. If you’re like me, an author who can make the reader feel as though they are speaking directly and only to him is magical. Millions of copies of the book may have been sold but it was written in such a personal style that readers feel an emotional connectedness to the author. It’s memorable.

Is your marketing memorable?

8.5 Creative Ways to Grab People’s Attention

New research finds that we have just under 9 seconds—8.5 to be precise—to get someone’s attention. Our attention spans have decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.5 seconds this year. No surprise here, but the culprit is external communication.

Video, of course, is the hot commodity these days. And short videos are ideal. This graph reminds us about the importance of snippets:










Based on our limited ability to focus, here are 8.5 things communicators, PR pros and entrepreneurs can do to grab—and hopefully keep—someone’s attention. Whether you’re trying to reach a reporter, your target audience or a social media connection, short form content reigns supreme.

  1. Record a Twitter video. To truly connect with your followers on Twitter, put in some extra (video) effort and you’ll both be amazed. True to his style of recording quick videos on the fly, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, aka @GaryVee, takes us along on a cab ride in New York and shows how easy it is to use Twitter video. A 10 second clip can truly differentiate you from others, and if you’re pitching tech reporters, this will be impressive.
  2. Nail your headlines and email subject lines. No one will read your content unless the headline or subject line is so brief yet compelling that they simply can’t resist. Choose each word carefully with a focus on a benefit for the reader. Put yourself on the receiving end and be relevant. BuzzSumo can help.
  3. Use Periscope in the morning. Interact with your morning news anchors with Periscope. The early morning news is a fabulous time to use this technology because most people are half asleep and the news anchors are more apt to interact with the few who are engaging and interested in their programs. You’ll feel like old friends in no time.
  4. Read a journalist’s last five posts. Before you pitch a new contact or reporter, read —don’t skim—their last five posts or articles. When crafting your pitch, mention specifics from their previous work. We all appreciate when our efforts are recognized by others. Let reporters know you’re paying attention.
  5. Keep an eye on trending topics and hashtags. These hints can help dictate your content. Run with it while your competition is distracted with other external noise and nonsense.
  6. Incorporate easy tools that help with micro content. Less is more in our attention-starved world. Use memes, Inline Tweet Sharer, Canva and Facebook videos to keep things brief and interesting.
  7. Consider Snapchat. According to Social Media Examiner, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social networks, with more than 100 million daily active users. Some 70 percent of Snapchat’s U.S. users are between the ages of 18 and 34. With Snapchat, you can create a video narrative with filters, emojis, music and text that will pique the attention of your audience. You can promote a contest or offer a glimpse behind the scenes of an event or conference.
  8. Look at new ways to encourage engagement with millennials. Are you familiar with Comment Bubble? It’s a free tool that allows people to react to videos. You can specify the type of feedback you would like to receive—text, audio, video, or by clicking instant feedback buttons. Here’s an example from SocialMediaSlant.com:










8.5. Repurpose longer content into micro content on Pinterest. If you have a tip sheet-style press release or valuable piece of advice, create a visually appealing image with one or two quick tips. Post it to Pinterest, with a link to the longer content. Many businesses generate a significant amount of revenue from Pinterest. Don’t miss this easy opportunity.

The bottom line: Be brief.









The guerrilla marketing genius of Jay Conrad Levinson

IMAG0387Many of you recall the old commercials and ads that turned Charlie the Tuna, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and the Marlboro Man into household names and brands. I remember watching the TV commercials, in the pre-remote days when people actually watched commercials.

The common thread behind each of these products was Jay Conrad Levinson, who worked on the creative teams that developed these brands.

In the early 1980s, Levinson coined the term “guerrilla marketing,” which sparked a revolution in business marketing, advertising, and PR. He would go on to author and co-author some 60 books, selling more than 20 million copies worldwide.

The “Father of Guerrilla Marketing” passed away on Thursday at the age of 80.

During the past three decades, Levinson was able to use his talents and genius to morph his guerrilla marketing brilliance to include technology and social media.

What exactly is guerrilla marketing? It started with three points, and over the years, has grown to 15.

This is how Levinson has described his concept. “I’m referring to the soul and essence of guerrilla marketing which remain as always — achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money.”

Entrepreneurs, myself included, can relate to the energy over money method, just as Gary Vaynerchuk writes in Crush It: “The best marketing strategy ever is to CARE.”

It is Levinson who encourages small business owners to “get back to basics” in marketing. On his list of 200 guerrilla marketing weapons, he includes:

  • A street banner
  • A landing page
  • A vanity phone number
  • Patience
  • Business  cards
  • A meme


According to Levinson’s official website, guerrilla marketing is needed because it gives small businesses a delightfully unfair advantage: certainty in an uncertain world, economy in a high-priced world, simplicity in a complicated world, marketing awareness in a clueless world.

Thank you, Jay Levinson, for sharing your clues and knowledge with generations of marketers and small business owners around the world.

12 insights from Seth Godin on the emotional marketing revolution

godinWant to learn from one of the best social media marketers and business leaders?

Today, best-selling author Seth Godin shared his thoughts on social media marketing, creativity, and business relationships. Godin was the guest on a webinar organized by Vocus, a provider of cloud marketing software.

Godin says the Energy, Industrial, and Mass Media revolutions have given way to the “revolution of our time, the revolution of connection.”

Here are 12 takeaways on the human connection in digital marketing:

  1. “The only asset you can build on the Internet is the connection to people. Connection, the idea that someone knows you, trusts you, and works with you, is not new. It’s 1,000 years old, but it’s new because the people marketing Burger King and Procter and Gamble in 1980 didn’t have this ability to hear back from customers.”
  2. “Highlight and cater to small groups of people who care desperately.”
  3. “Marketing used to be the same as advertising, but not anymore. Marketing is the act of making a product or service that’s worth talking about.” 
  4. “The essence of marketing today is to tell a story to people who want to hear it, in a way that resonates with them so they are likely to either respond or connect to you, or tell their friends.”
  5. “Don’t yell to the masses; whisper to a few. People will choose to talk about it. Give away your ideas. When your ideas are widespread and you are trusted, you don’t have trouble making a living.”
  6. “If you’re not ranked first, second, or third on search pages, you’re invisible.”
  7. “What products are you going to make that are worth talking about?”
  8. “Permission marketing is real permission—the privilege, not the right but the privilege—of delivering personal, anticipated, and  relevant stories to people who want to get them. Not to everyone, not by spam or exploiting your company’s privacy policies. But instead by earning one person at a time; it’s the privilege of showing up. Here’s the measure: If the recipient thinks it’s spam, then it’s spam…Here’s how you know if you have the privilege: ‘Would we miss you if you were gone?’”
  9. “The Internet takes word-of-mouth and leverages it by a factor of 1,000…every single day.”
  10. “Remarkable means worth making a remark about.  Not you making a remark because you work for the company. It’s about people making a remark because they choose to, they want to, because they can.”
  11. “We can’t sell everything to everyone. The market has fractured. Instead of radically shifting the way the media has, most companies and charities have only shifted a little. The fast-growing public or private companies who have made a huge impact in the last five years (e-Bay, Instagram, Facebook, and Amazon), are built around connecting tribes. Connecting people who share a passion and interest. All human beings want to feel like we are a part of something.”
  12. “If we expect to build connections, we have to expect to be generous. There are no secrets or shortcuts. No one wants to connect to the selfish person.”

Nos. 5 and 8 are among my favorites.

Which points can you relate to? Which ones do you need to improve?


(Image via)


What does social media mean to you?

fence graffitiCommunication, conversation, and connection.

These are just a few of the words used by 10 Twitter stars who I asked to define social media.  Don’t mind the abbreviations; the goal was to offer a definition in 140 characters or less. 

Feel free to comment below and share your own 140 character snippet.

1. SM allows me to participate in discussions about entrepreneurship that I hope will one day change the world. I also get to give back. @BrianMoran

2. Social=meaning friendly gathering. Media=form of communication. Reminding us to gather friendly when we communicate with others. @JessicaNorthey

3. SM has totally shifted the way that small & large businesses connect with audience. It is about the hand shake, conversation, relationship online. @MamaBritt

4. Social Media = Global Diversity – The ability to have a local, national or global & inclusive conversation. Do you have what it takes? @FleeJack

5. Social media is a great way to share insight & connect with people globally. It’s the perfect give & get communications medium. @Rieva

6. Welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience, build relationships, effect change… and make a difference. @TedRubin

7. Social media is a great way to connect and inspire your target audience. It is also a great place to build real relationships with those you want. @RayHigdon

8. It’s an opportunity to ‘meet’ people you would have never met otherwise, to share what you know and learn some too! @LeadToday

9. SM is an unprecedented opportunity 2 elevate/expand ur influence. Each tweet/share is a chance 2B more informed, amazed & appreciative. @AngelaMaiers

10. SM gives me the ability to make wonderful connections with people that would be all but impossible in an analog world. @MackCollier

Be sure to follow these folks on Twitter and other social channels. They are smart, savvy, and succinct!

5 secrets to relationship-based selling online

Communicating online isn’t about technology. It’s about tapping into technology to connect with human beings.

With all the typing and tablets — and the absence of seeing a human face — it’s easy to forget that your online credibility is directly linked to relationship-based selling.

Don’t think numbers, think people.

Relationship-based selling is about helping people and organizations solve their business problems without the hard sales push that all of us loathe. It’s about truly putting the needs of others before your own.

This is the secret to building credibility in your social media circles. The digital landscape is vast, yet there is no room for selfish.

Yes, you have a mortgage to pay. Yes, your car needs an unexpected repair. Yes, your kids need new sneakers.

But when you’re able to put these challenges aside and not be driven by your own drama, you will come from a place of service and gratitude.  Conversely, when you chase numbers, you almost always fall short.

Remember that desperation is very unappealing in business.

How do you let followers, friends, and connections know that you care deeply about their success?

Consider these five social media tips to build your credibility and relationships

1. Listen to the conversations. Don’t throw yourself into an online chat or dialogue until you have a sense of the players and personalities. The benefits of this are two-fold. First, you will determine if this particular forum is appropriate and hits your target audience. Second, you will gain insights about the players and their interests, areas of expertise, and work.  When you do your homework, your posts, tweets and content clearly show readers that you “get it.”

2. Stay up-to-date. Pay attention to industry twists, turns and trends. By keeping your finger on the pulse of the HR and recruiting industries, you will quickly discover the hot topics and issues your prospects are paying attention to. To save time, subscribe to e-newsletters, RSS feeds, and Google Alerts that filter important information from the Web.        

3. Focus on solutions. Write for the reader and forget the sales pitch. It’s easy to outline problems, but people are looking for answers. Be willing to offer your knowledge without the expectation of receiving anything back. Your day will come. That’s the way the universe works.

4. Share good information from other people.  Forget ulterior motives. The content you provide can — and should — come from other people and sources. Your generosity will be noticed — and appreciated. This also takes the pressure off of you to be the sole creator of content.  To ensure your credibility is being boosted, check the link and content for accuracy before sharing.   

5. Be a guest. Offer to be a guest blogger on a popular website. Offer to be the guest expert on a Twitter chat or webinar. Put yourself out there with the single goal of openly sharing your expertise and insights.

When you position yourself as a credible expert in your field, people will want to buy from you. You won’t have to sell anything.


10 everyday decisions for social media success

Verrazano Bridge, Brooklyn, NY

Every day, we make hundreds of decisions. Most are so mundane that we don’t even think about them. Things like hitting the snooze button, what shoes to wear, which bathroom stall to enter. I would hope that our business decisions take a bit more consideration.

What decisions and choices can you make daily that will impact your social media relationships, activities, and business results?

 Here are 10 ideas:

  1. Decide to stretch yourself. Mentally and emotionally. The results will appear in every area of your life, including online.
  2. Decide to join a new chat or online group that can help you learn more about your industry.
  3. Decide to share useful information from someone else, because it’s that good.
  4. Decide to explore (and even try) new technology that’s relevant to your work. 
  5. Decide to listen and observe more than you type. It’s OK to be a fly on the social media wall.
  6. Decide to work your lists, categorizing people with mutual interests and industries, and getting rid of those who you never interact with. You know, the retired lady in Montana who quilts and posts pictures of her grandbabies. She may not be the best fit for your business.
  7. Decide to respond to every comment or post on your blog or profile pages, and write meaningful and relevant comments on other posts and walls. This does not mean, “Great post, I really liked it.”  Decide that mediocrity is for someone else.
  8. Decide to think and add value to every interaction.  Hint: This also works IRL.
  9. Decide to find your voice.  If you want to be a mime, go to the French Quarter in New Orleans.
  10. Decide to be the most enthusiastic, sincere, and helpful person in the world.

Bonus: Decide to use this checklist as a map for the new year.

10 Ways to Transform Your Communication in 2011

I blinked and the decade was gone.

Here we are in a new year and a new decade. Consider the enormous changes we’ve experienced in the past 10 years. VCRs, fax machines, turntables, hard-wired phones, Sony walkmen, and clunky pagers are some of the communication vehicles and toys that have morphed into something else, or simply become obsolete. 

How has your communication changed these past 10 years? What will the next 10 years look like?

Let’s start slowly, with 10 ways to transform your communication right now: 

1. Simplify. Texting or 140 characters are great reminders that we need simplicity in communication is beneficial to all. It helps the speaker/writer distill key information for the recipient.   

2. Think headlines. Without being a total dork, communicate in eight words that are relevant, punchy, and captivating.

3. Write for the reader. Have you noticed we exist in a turbulent world?  Deliver your message with care and a willingness to help others. Your words can have a powerful impact on others. How cool is that?

4. Consider the platforms. Writing blog posts may be passé in a few years. There are new vehicles and mediums for the everyday Joe to reach millions of people. Discover what is available to you and what best fits your business, skills, and needs.

5. Remove the earbuds. If you truly want to alter your communication, get out of your own head. Listen to the sounds of the world around you, as annoying as they may be at times. Even if you don’t open your mouth, your nonverbal communication will be shouting.  

6. Get in front of the camera. Video is hot this year, and isn’t going away anytime soon. Forget camera-shy or a bad hair day. Learn how to be comfortable in front of a basic flip-cam. It’s a huge opportunity for engagement.  It’s no longer a medium that’s exclusive to Katie Couric or Anderson Cooper. We all have access to the same tools. These tools have power.

7. Tell the story. Develop your critical thinking skills by refining your written and verbal communication. Understand the importance of connecting to other human beings through the fine art of storytelling.       

8. Use metaphors. Metaphors are extremely influential in business, sales, and leadership. They offer a simple analogy and image to others that they can immediately relate to. They evoke emotion. When used correctly, metaphors build consensus and bridge communication gaps.  

9. List things. When writing, use bullet points; when speaking, go for numbers. This separates ideas and helps people to quickly “get it.” When talking to someone, try phrases such as, “There are three reasons we should amend the budget…” This mentally prepares listeners for what’s to come. It will also help you relate only concise and key information. “First, we need another public hearing on the budget. Second, the current proposal will force us to break a promise and raise taxes. Finally, we should rethink our emergency spending allocation.” Bang, bang, bang.   

10. Consume carefully. Be selective with how you consume news and information. How do you share and communicate with people, both online and IRL?  Mix it up a bit. Ipads, Kindles, Facebook, text messages, YouTube, and tweets shouldn’t be your only forms of communication and learning. The human factor can not be ignored. Oh, Skype doesn’t really count. 

What would you add to this list?

P.S. I’m getting rave reviews from people who have signed up for my free, 21-day video series, “Speaking of Communication.” I invite you to access the series here.  Become an ace communicator!

2 Reasons Your Company Needs Brand Ambassadors in Social Media

Who is the president of your fan club? You know, your biggest cheerleader. Who is the person with fierce loyalty who absolutely believes in what you represent? (Let’s exclude relatives from this.)

In our world, these fan club presidents and cheerleaders are also known as your brand ambassadors. Regardless of their title, social media channels will help them cheer you on and tout your business far and wide. They market for you when you are asleep, in meetings, driving your  car, or coaching soccer with the kids.

I recently interviewed Shel Holtz, an online communication authority with more than 30 years of experience consulting with companies including PepsiCo and National Geographic. He told me that its essential employees in small and large companies have access to the Internet and social media channels while at work.  Shel maintains if they don’t, you’re missing huge opportunities. 

1. “Superficially, organizations might think they’re protecting themselves, but in keeping employees from networking in ways that they’re comfortable doing it, it prevents employees from engaging on behalf of the organization. I don’t mean as official spokespeople, but to talk enthusiastically about where they work.”

2. “There is no better way to get someone to believe in a company’s product than employees being enthused when talking to their social networks about the quality of the products and services that they work on.  There are countless ways that employees can improve a company’s bottom line by engaging with their own networks.  So this really means that there has to be a shift away from preventing contact with employees to educating employees how to behave in those kinds of contacts.  There is no better recruiting tool.”

Consider these brand ambassadors the new way of gathering testimonials or business references. The greatest difference is that brand ambassadors do what they do without being asked. Talk about authenticity and credibility.

Unsolicited testimonials from people who think you’re the best thing since sliced bread are priceless. 

10 Sound Bites and Quotes from the Rescued Miners

miners exit mineshaftReporters and news pros around the world are already jockeying to snag the first interview with just one of the rescued miners in Chile.

While we wait for these brave men to recover from their ordeal, I wanted to share ten sound bites and quotable quotes uttered when the  survivors were brought to the surface. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone what I overheard.

1. I have great content for my blog. Wow!

2.  No thanks Procter and Gamble. I don’t want to be a spokesman for your new deodorant.

3.  Damn, I could have scheduled 70 days worth of Tweets.

4.  I knew Courtney Cox would leave that bum Arquette –just in time!

5.  I’d like to thank my family for deleting the following songs from my i-Pod: “I Feel the Earth Move Under my Feet” by Carole King and  “The Fire Down Below” by Bob Seger.

6.  I never did like that dress code at work.

7.  Did anyone Tivo the new season of “Jersey Shore?”

8.  Elliot Spitzer on CNN?! I thought my nightmare was over.

9.  No way Verizon, I am NOT paying the $93,000 bill you texted to me on September 27th. Your roaming charges are outrageous!

10.  So cool! We beat Larry King in the ratings.

Welcome home.