Monday Mornings with Madison

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November 2017

The New LinkedIn: A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

When LinkedIn launched, it was a social media site that encouraged people in the work world to connect with other known professionals for networking and career development. People were categorized as either (1st) which were direct connections, (2nd) which is someone who knows someone you know or (3rd) someone who knows someone that knows someone you know. They tracked up to three degrees of separation between people. In the early days of LI, someone with over 500 connections was considered to be a mover-and-shaker. The site discouraged linking to people outside those known at work, school or social circles. In turn, people were hesitant to link with people they didn’t know for fear that the site would be abused by salespeople and scammers.
Now, 15 years later, LinkedIn has evolved, describing itself as “a business- and employment-oriented social networking service that operates via websites and mobile apps.” The LI website says that “LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with more than 530 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.” Their mission “is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” Besides having direct connections, particularly “popular” people also have thousands to hundreds of thousands of “Followers” who simply want to read (articles and posts) what that person has to say. (For those unfamiliar with LI, a Follower isn’t necessarily a connection, but all of a person’s connections are Followers.
Some may wonder why anyone wants to “Follow” a person on LinkedIn that they don’t know and will probably never meet, and who might not even be in the same country and is likely to not even be in the same industry or field. Think of an Airline and Hospitality manager in Mumbai, India “following” a Chief Technology Officer at the Daily Mail in London. On the surface, they have little in common and are highly unlikely to ever interact. (These real contacts are, in fact, connected.) So what does an Influencer do that is deserving of so many Followers worldwide? Welcome to the new LinkedIn. It is a social media site where people not only connect with people they know, but actually seek to connect with people they want to know and people who offer information and insights of value. It serves as a public forum for professional voices. Some become so active that they are invited to be “Influencers.” Many of these Influencers are Recruiters and HR professionals, who are in the business of finding and knowing top talent. But many others are “gurus” in their own field such as leadership, management, marketing, technology, or sales. They not only offer advice and insights, but they also help those in their network in a variety of intangible and tangible ways. And even those who aren’t Influencers are helping contacts they hardly know, even when there is absolutely nothing in it for them. That’s because the focus of the new LI is not “what can you do for me?” but “what can we do for each other.” Continue reading

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The Smallest Gestures Can Have the Biggest Impact

Companies today compete furiously for market share. We see brick-and-mortar retailers fighting for every sale and struggling to survive. The Street announced that “Ailing department store operator Sears Holdings Inc. will shut down 63 more Sears and Kmart stores, the latest step as it hobbles to a likely bankruptcy.” [1] Restaurants are slogging it out with special offers, gimmicks and unique approaches that will attain and retain patrons. The New York Times recently reported that “There are now more than 620,000 eating and drinking places in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the number of restaurants is growing at about twice the rate of the population.” [2] Competition is tough, and marketing research shows that businesses in most industries are spending increasingly larger budgets to reach potential customers and woo existing customers. Clutch, a Washington, D.C.-based ratings and review firm, conducted a 2017 Small Business Digital Marketing Survey of 350 small business owners and managers (500 employees or less) in which 49% of entrepreneurs said they plan to spend more on digital marketing to boost sales and brand recognition this year over last year and 36% said they aim to boost their marketing budget by 11% to 30%. They are doing it all. PPC campaigns. Social media ads. Retargeting efforts. Network commercials. Seminars. Webinars. Video infomercials. Presentations. Mobile automated notifications. Text ads. The efforts are increasingly sophisticated and expensive. You name it. Businesses are doing it. Creating it…. deploying it…. and measuring the effectiveness of it. That’s a lot of time and money spent to cut through the noise and grab the audience’s attention with the hopes of driving sales and increasing repeat business.
The need to reach ever-larger audiences and cut through the ever-growing din of marketing noise is prompting companies to further automate sales and marketing efforts. Personalized eblasts are sent in bulk. Robo text messages pop up when a customer is near a store or eatery. Retargeting ads appear on websites that are completely unrelated to the site visited. Mass promotions are designed to have a “just for you” look. Websites welcome visitors back by name. And yet, despite or perhaps because of all those faux-personal, automated actions, many companies are finding that it is actually the one-on-one efforts and little niceties are having the biggest impact on capturing and keeping clients. Genuine, personal interaction and one-on-one service wows clients… and it doesn’t have to be costly or complicated. It’s often the modest gestures and pint-sized details that have the biggest impact. Continue reading

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Creating Great Digital Presentations Today

Auyush Jain of Microsoft once said that “A single 10-minute presentation has the power to convert an idea into reality.” That is perhaps why most companies that sell a product or service (something that is not a commodity) will use a “presentation” to explain their product or service to prospective customers. This is especially true for high ticket items, complex services and B2B sales. A typical presentation explains the product/service benefits and features as well as the company’s story and expertise. In the “old days”, before computers and software applications, salespeople would work with marketing to create the presentation on either boards or in a flip book or binder. In 1990, Microsoft revolutionized presentations with the launch of Powerpoint (which was invented in 1987 under a different name by a different company). Suddenly, anyone with basic technical skills could use software found on most desktops to create a digital presentation. Slides replaced boards and sheets. A presentation could be emailed to anyone, anywhere, at a moment’s notice. The use of presentations grew. They were no longer just used for sales pitches. Today, presentations are used for operational training, educational seminars, HR onboarding, and more.
Technology has evolved in leaps and bounds since Powerpoint launched and, yet, many people still use Powerpoint. On the 30th anniversary of this ubiquitous presentation software, business people everywhere still use the program even though it hasn’t changed much and functions in much the same way it did decades ago. Imagine if 30 years after automobiles became ubiquitous they still looked like Ford’s Model T. Absurd. So why is Powerpoint still so widely used? The reasons are varied. First, the software still comes with most computers, so why spend money to buy other software when Powerpoint can get the basic job done. Also, some people just don’t like change and see no need to find a new presentation tool when the current tool is still perfectly adequate to get the job done. Still others just don’t want to take the time to learn new software. And a Powerpoint presentation is familiar to most anyone who receives it, making it easy to open and view However, given the multitude of presentation programs on the market today, it is time to consider other options for creating and sharing great presentations today. Continue reading

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