If a Woman in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan can do it, so can you!

Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week!

What does that mean?  For 1 week, across the globe in 138 countries, entrepreneurs are making startup magic happen.

In a nutshell it’s the world’s largest celebration of innovators, movers and shakers and it’s happening right now:

 

So in honor of this awesome event within this post  you will find :

 AND

If you’re local and are hankering to get your entrepreneurial groove on, this weekend in Elon, NC, Triad Startup Weekend still has tickets left. I will be there to facilitate and participate in all the #shenanigans. Plus as a participant, you have the opportunity  to  be a part of the great Global Startup Battle with $500k in available prizes.

Now for the Book Review –The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

I know the title of the post is a bit sensational, but that is exactly what this book made me think about. I actually said to myself, if a woman in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan can do it, so can I!  It’s true.  When you read this book and follow the main character, entrepreneur Kamila, you can’t help but be inspired. I promise you this isn’t a chick book.  Nope … it has suspense, intrigue and war. It is so well written – perhaps because it is written by a former journalist, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, who is a well accomplished, brave entrepreneur in her own right!

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

The premise of the book is this: The Taliban has taken over Khair Khana, Women are immediately required to wear the chadri or burka upon occupation. In a war-torn city quickly on the decline, women are immediately pulled from work and school.  The  men leave to find work, families are starving, strict curfews have been instituted and women are required to have male escorts when in public.  It is oppressive. It is scary.  And yet, Kamila and her sisters risk certain death to feed their family by starting a dressmaking business. They take it a step further by helping other women in their community  learn and earn for their families.

If you ever thought you couldn’t start a business, this book will help inspire you.  More than likely hunger and safety aren’t motivating you to start something, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try something small. You don’t have to quit your job to start something. You don’t have to have all the answers to start something.  You just have to start!

For those of you that don’t want to be an entrepreneur, this book is still for you. Especially since we are so close to the Thanksgiving holiday … this story is poignant in that it will make you thankful for everything you have and more.

Cheers to all entrepreneurs especially during Global Entrepreneurs Week, which aims to celebrate and inspire.

And on a personal note, bravo to entrepreneurs everywhere especially those in war zones.

After reading The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe, I have far more respect and admiration for those brave war zone entrepreneurs than ever before.

Go Kamila! You inspire me.

Internet Summit 2013 Recap, Innovation Edict and an eBook.

Picture credit: Brian McDonald @bmcd67

Internet Summit 2013 (#ISum13) was this week- November 12-14 to be exact and as the current Vice President of the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association, TIMA, I thought what better way to showcase the marketing talent of the Triangle to a national audience than creating an ebook sourced from the Triangle marketing rockstars called “Triangle’s 101 Innovative Digital Marketing Tips.” If you want a copy, Tweet me @kmelissakennedy or send me a Linkedin invite with “I need that ebook” in the message.

TIMA is all about educating and building solid relationships. So we wanted to give back, educate and offer a platform for some of the brightest minds to be heard.  The days leading up to #isum13 my team and I worked tirelessly gathered 101 marketing tips. (I’ll save that story for another post 🙂 Unfortunately, as with any time-sensitive project there were a few that didn’t make it into the book, here are some of my favorites:

 

 

 

The community seemed to be really responsive to this initiative and were overwhelmingly excited to share the community’s insights.  Our goals seem to align with what the conference headliners were saying.  Gary Vee, aka Gary Vanderchuck inspired with this zinger: “People get fat and stop innovating,” he went on to add that they get successful and think their brand alone will keep them in business. He also mentioned how “you’re f%$^cking screwed without innovation”  While his language makes me blush, I am in complete agreement.

There were about 2000 people in attendance and every person I came across were smart, innovative, and, well, frankly, my competition, one way or another.  I whole heartedly agree with Gary Vee’s advice- Innovation is the only differentiator. That’s what I strive for both personally and professionally.

All in all #Isum13 was fantastic and I will leave you with some of my favorite conference chatter/tips of wisdom:

 

 

 

Blurred Lines: The NEW Relationship Rules in Business and How to Avoid a Price War.

Personal and professional boundaries are blurring. I guess sorta like the popularly, risqué song by Robin Thicke:

And that’s a good thing, because access to so much information makes price a big factor these days.  Relationships are the only way to prevent costs being the only decision factor.

 

Curious if you’ve ever thought about how well your clients actually know you?  Of course they know your company, maybe the school you attended?  But how much of a connection do you really share with them? On the flip side, how much do you know about them?

If you think can ignore this trend much longer maybe you should take a look at the “share-worthy” articles of the week like McKinsey & Company‘s We’re All Marketers Now and Forbes’ Everything We Knew About B2B Marketing Is Wrong  really got me thinking how social media and the almighty Google are changing the boundaries and accelerating the commoditization products and services.  The only remedy to prevent that price war is to BUILD meaningful relationships. For example, when I traveled to Iowa for the 3rd annual UPsummit, you can read more about the event here.   I met awesome connections like:

Lee Watson (@rleewatson), serial entrepreneur, under 30 mind you, who is trying to make Little Rock, Arkansas into an Big Data entrepreneurial hot bed.

And Susie Steiner (@SQQZY), Transportation executive turn recent mobile app entrepreneur trying to solve your Valet woes with the new Valet Boss.


Every single one of the connections I made in Iowa were all great additions my business network but during the conference I was able to build a more personal relationship.  I am sure festive beverages makes that part easier, but to be completely honest, social media is like the festive beverages at a conference.  You are able to follow people and learn more about people their interests, etc.  A simple google search can show more than a conversation over a cocktail can these days!  Hence why I would suggest that the personal and professional lines are blurring.

And it’s time to get on board!

Here are 3 Tips to help build  the NEW Business Relationships:

  1. People buy from people: so while you feel like you can control what your LinkedIn profile says to just highlight your professional skills, what really makes the sale is the connection and the relationship, so be sure to include a fun fact or two to humanize your description.
  2. It’s ok to be a fan of (x).  Here in the Triangle, one usually falls into one of 3 categories: Are you a…TarHeel, Wolfpack or Blue Devil?  You don’t have to be boring and not be passionate about your fav basketball team.  Go ahead…admit it online and use it to help share more of yourself with your clients. <I am a Tarheel, BTW>
  3. Be vulnerable.  If you are open and share things about yourself, then others will too and that is how you create meaning relationships that last.

In Summary: Sharing personal connections in the professional world = more meaningful business relationships and just may stop your client from only considering price as a decision reason when they buy.  So let the blurring continue!

From Krispy Kremes to Mini Coopers…13 Halloween Marketing Campaigns that Shine

Halloween

I hope you all had a sweet Halloween.  It’s definitely the time of year to let out your inner child. Holidays are also a time where marketing can shine. Marketers let their hair down, have a little fun and get really creative.

 

 

Here are 13 Brilliant Halloween Marketing Campaigns. Enjoy!

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Up Up Up and Away We Go to #UPAmericaSummit2013

Farm road in Champaign County, Illinois Españo...

Shocker, I am traveling again.  Who am I kidding?  I live for this stuff!!

This trip I get to enjoy the great Midwest in Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

UP America Summit is where the top startup community leaders from the US come together.  I’m among such amazing people who make a difference every day by helping to create startup communities and ecosystems throughout the country.

There is loads of information here and as always tons of bright and innovative peeps.

One thing I love about any Startup gathering is the collective audience knowledge sharing.  Here are some of my favorite insights thus far here at #UPAmericaSummit13:

Great advice from meetup.com‘s CEO Scott Heiferman

Remember the little startup called priceline.com, quoting Scott Case –

And my two cents-


But before this fabulous town hall gathering, the fabulous University of Iowa hosted day sessions at the amazing Kinnick Stadium.  BTW Kenan Flagler Stadium doesn’t hold a candle to the size of this epic venue.  It is actually sunken and almost half of the seats are below the road level.

Here is Kinnick Stadium in all it’s glory-

We heard tales from the “Makers Movement,” and how to host a Makers Startup Event using Raspberry Pi or going to a Fab Lab and how to use a “Top Chef” model to gather materials. We talked about how to help cross generational collaboration to help grow and connect startup communities and how it is mostly a language problem. Among many other insightful nuggets from these no talk, all action people. Of course no Summit would be complete without a little #shenanigans, which leads me to end with this-

Take it from me…you should look in your community and try to experience your startup community first hand.  I challenge you to go to a startup event be it Startup Weekend to TechCocktail or Pitch party.  Get it involved…you won’t be disappointed.  BTW – There is a StartUp Weekend coming up in Chapel Hill, Nov. 15-17, signup here.

 

Interactive Marketing Going Mainstream? Trends from the Annual IMA National Conference 2013

Baker Beach, San Francisco

The Interactive Marketing Association (IMA) held their national conference last week and I had the opportunity to travel to beautiful San Francisco.  You are probably saying “duh” seeing as I am the Vice President for the  Triangle Interactive Marketing Association (TIMA) but for what it’s worth I felt very proud to represent the Triangle area.

Now don’t get me wrong the Triangle has many local rock stars but I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of knowledge all the IMA leaders possessed.  The conference provided room for us to swap war stories, ideas and trends from each region.

Here are the 3 top trends revealed and why they have led me to believe that interactive marketing has made it to the big time:

  1. Sponsorship dollars are harder to find.  You may think that this is a direct result of a slow economy and at the macro level, yes, that is probably true.  But at the micro level, traditional associations like the AMA (American Marketing Association) and others have only really been concentrating on digital, interactive, and other channels for the last couple of years.  These larger organization’s focus in earlier years have been different than us (which points to the viability of interactive marketing.) Now with that being said, it means these organizations are now going after dollars that would have otherwise been previously reserved for  interactive groups and associations.
  2. ROI and measurement are top of mind and required.  If you are in the industry, you know it.  There is more demand for marketers to be quantitative and prove the function’s value to the bottom line. Interactive – (digital, mobile, social, and the like) is the most trackable media in history, making it easier for marketers to showcase their value and accomplishments.
  3. Certificate and Certification are on the rise in the space.  We heard from the VP of Training and Development at the IABMichael Theodore .  He discussed the organization’s focus on creating programs and standards that, in his words, “ensure that partners, employees and new hires have the basic knowledge to perform their respective jobs.”  This is exciting because it offers accomplished professionals and newbies the ability to learn and most of all for peers to recognize this as a legitimate profession.

The percentage of B2B marketers using social platforms is enormous not to mention the increase of funds companies are budgeting for is very exciting.  Marketingprofs has a great in-depth article highlighting the trends for B2B Content in 2014.

Kate Maddox from btobonline.com wrote a very insightful article back in August about the top marketing spending areas of 2014.  In her article SAP‘s CMO, Jonathan Beecher, noted that the top areas where there will be an increase in marketing spending are marketing automation, content marketing, social media and mobile.  Beecher also noted “A lot of our emphasis in 2014 will be on partner enablement—how do we increase the number of people telling our stories, from business partners to systems integrators to OEMs.”  Beecher never did tell the real dollar amount of the spending increase, but he did mention that it would be on a global scale.

So here is my question with interactive becoming the mainstream platform for so many marketers should we drop the “interactive” and just call it marketing? Thoughts?

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Well, does she walk the LinkedIn walk? Find out her BIG Mistake. Guest Blogger Heather Kilcrease: @Mrheather Reviews K. Melissa Kennedy’s Profile

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

Well, does she walk the LinkedIn walk? Find out her BIG Mistake.

Reviews of K. Melissa Kennedy’s Profile.

by Guest Blogger Heather Kilcrease: @Mrheather

LinkedIn is funny, it’s a tool that can work for or against you.  Aligning with the New Sales Series, Melissa has written about over the last few weeks, she asked me to tear into her profile for her readers this week.  Of course I said yes, but soon realized tearing apart perfection is hard to do.  🙂  Seriously, this gal has her act together, she does what she recommends and these days that is hard to find!!

Before I dissect and dive in: Score 9 of 10. Find out her BIG MISTAKE below.

2.5 Seconds


Melissa often speaks about how in the digital age we have less than 2.5 seconds to make an impression online.  LinkedIn is no different and in this first screenshots of Melissa’s profile she really captures her professional image succinctly.

Lets see how Melissa stacks up:

  • Professionally taken photo
  • Melissa presents a professional image, the picture fits and is a headshot, which works best for LinkedIn, being that it’s a professional social network.
  • Creative/differentiated title explaining what you do
  • Melissa nails it, but I would have her change is the casing Innovative Marketing Pioneer that Delivers since it is a title not a sentence. <And, no, this isn’t the BIG MISTAKE I claimed>.
  • Work and education experience completed
  • Check and check, plus she sprinkles in keywords that align with her skills. BONUS.

Contact Information

This is a touchy subject for some.  Some people just do not want people knowing their information, whether it’s avoiding sales calls, spam emails or whatever else might make them tense.

I am a strong believer that the easier you make it for your CUSTOMERS to get in contact with you the less they will seek out your competitors.  The key here is transparency and as you can see Melissa is just that.  Plus, she customized  her profile url  (www.linkedin.com/in/kmelissakennedy). It’s easier to share with people networking, plus its help with those Google rankings for your name. 

Activity

This is hard, but it is also how your profile comes alive. It’s how people associate you as a helpful, trusted advisor in your area of expertise. Melissa consistently offers helpful resources and articles in her feed. Don’t think you have time for all that?  She does all that in 10 minutes a day, check out her post on it here.

Summary – THE BIG MISTAKE

I know Melissa.  I have met and worked with her.  And when you meet her, you immediately connect.  She is energetic, open, transparent and always willing to help.  BUT this summary, while professionally true…that third person perspective – KILLS IT for ME.

This section is about telling your story from your voice.  It offers a platform to not only talk about your experience and ability, but also who you are.  What is something fun and unique about you?  People buy from people, NOT profiles.

Melissa – Correct this BIG MISTAKE. Write an elevator speech from your voice, not a radio announcer.

But of course, she redeems herself and a fabulous tip for you all: Under the summary section, showcase your projects, especially when you have complex projects or products.

Experience

Now here is where you could get away with speaking in third person.  You are essentially explaining your organization and your accomplishments at that organization.  My suggestion for Melissa would be to almost move her Ester Mae experience into her summary and take her “about “page on her website and enter it in.

Her experience seems to go on forever, because she is a total rock star but it is a little unnecessary.  I didn’t even want to include the screenshots because there were too many.  The rule of thumb of noting experience is 10 years.  Anything other than your present position is pretty unnecessary information, as your clients want to know what your CURRENT skills are anyway.  Also certain industries, such as tech and science will have a shorter relevance term.  As an example the “camera phone” was the best invention in 2003.  Try passing that off as innovative these days. Instead put your accomplishments for years past in your accomplishments.

Awards, Organizations, Groups and Following

This is a great place to round out your experience and interests.  Someone will be looking deep within your profile to get this information, so it make sure you complete the sections. Melissa has this covered – I hear, though, the groups and following part is more about education and gathering intel vs just for show.

Recommendations & a Wrap Up

Recommendations are like customer testimonials for a company or Amazon reviews.  They offer third-party perspective and can add a lot of color commentary on how it is to work with you.  Melissa’s profile has a good mix of managers, colleagues across all her experience.  You can see trends that align with her summary, title and keywords. BRAVO.

And that’s a wrap.  The New Sales Series: What the heck does that even mean: WTHDTEM; Profile pictures that will make you laugh and lose business; Your B2B Social Profile – Are you trustworthy enough? The Knowledgeable B2B Buyer; offers some easy ways to present your best professional self, as well as, help customers and prospects through social media and LinkedIn, in particular.

Here is the last tip from me: Just as Melissa was brave enough to have a colleague review her profile, you should too.  It can really help get you started, help you progress or just add the last touches.  Nothing like an outside perspective.

WTHDTEM

Yeah I said it…WTHDTEM… or as I like to call it, What The Heck Does That Even Mean?!?

You don’t have to look at many LinkedIn profiles to realize that every industry, company or organization create their own acronyms.  You have seen it before, JAVA, PHP, BI/BM Architect, Head of SP Cloud, MS Architectures, Cisco EMEAR, SAP MM/SP, SEO, CFMT, SCRUM, PMP — jargon gibberish.  It may make sense to your colleagues but it might be making an outsider’s head spin.

Does using these acronyms make me approachable?   Are you using your profile as a tool to clearly and concisely explain what you do?  More often than not you are probably confusing people.  In any position you are in you are going to have to deal with all facets of the organization.  Human resources, finance, sales, marketing and so on – each have their own acronyms to help speed up their day-to-day.

 

 

 

So should this alphabet soup be in your professional profile?

Here are 3 tips to help you answer whether to include the acronym:

  1. Is this a universal acronym (aka – did you learn it in high school?) Like FBI, HTML, URL
  2. Do people actually use the acronym instead of the term more often within your industry?
  3. Is this an internal-only acronym?

But, to be safe, and to make sure you are perceived as open, spell them out upon first note and put the acronym in parenthesis.

Would you know what this was if someone’s profile you were browsing had listed this current position?

“SCM SPOC-PL PNW Div.”

Who got it?  This is really someone’s title…  It stands for Supply Chain Management Single Point of Contact-Project Lead Pacific-North West Division.  Now, I understand, a 13-word title is a little excessive and needs to be shortened internally.  But my point is that it comes off as gibberish, don’t come across aloof – come across as a thought leader, a teacher and an explainer.  By taking the time out to explain your acronyms you will be adding another layer of trust and transparency to your professional brand.

ACTION: Review your profile with special attention to acronyms – apply the rules and leave gibberish behind you.

 

 

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Profile Pictures That Will Make You Laugh & Lose Business

You have 2.5 seconds to make a first impression online. That’s the time a Formula 1 car’s pit crew aims for a stop.

The last couple posts have been informative, but a little wordy.  Lets have some fun for a change and go through some profile pictures that will make your customers run away.  FAST.  

  • Be self aware…check your teeth, hair, background images and yes shadows.  While the professional pictured below might be fresh and clean his shadow looks like, well…

 

  • First impressions matter. Don’t give your customers a reason to think you are weird.  It is hard enough to build trust.  While it might have been hilarious when your colleague took that picture of you lovin’ up the machine at that trade show, your customers want to see you.  Let them see you -show a warm and inviting smile and send them that picture after they’ve known you a while, don’t let it be a first impression.

  • Wow.  Just wow.  Alcohol is a fantastic ice breaker, but your profile picture defines you professionally and being defined as a professional margarita/cerveza  chugger or a wild lush is probably not what you want to go for…unless you are a sales rep for Jose Cuervo.

  • Have your picture align with what you do.  If you are saving people “truckloads” on their taxes, creating an anonymous persona will probably send a mixed message.  Same goes for anything else in your picture next to you.  Leave spouses and pets out unless of course you happen to work with your sweetheart or train dogs for a living.

Next week: We talk acronyms and the world of online alphabet soup.

PS: For those whose pictures served as examples for our key takeaways on photos and professional online reputation, we were just having a little fun.  No bad will is intended and we worked hard to help you stay anonymous.

 

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Your B2B Social Profile – Are You Trustworthy Enough?

For sales teams, online platforms have proven an affordable and effective tactic to get the word out about your product, gain market trust and build relationships with your clients all at lightning speed.  Nowadays, social interaction and amplification has progressively become more important to the sales process.  Given that these platforms offer the ability to deploy or promote content to both prospects and current customers the possibilities are ever expansive.

But what happens when your customer or prospect doesn’t know you?  What happens when they Google your name?  Do you know what they see?  Are you easy to find, can you even be found at all?

We challenge you to go ahead and Google yourself…

Well…

Any funny surprises?

If so, guess what you are not alone!  And your secret is safe with us!

The key is to build a successful social footprint that will work for you not against you.   If your customers are checking you out on Google and the first result they get is a person with the same name and an extensive law-breaking background you will automatically have to work to regain trust.  For something you didn’t even do!

Social media has changed the landscape and puts buyers in charge not sellers, not marketers, not you.  As explained in last week’s post, The Knowledgeable B2B Buyer,  your customers have a tendency to be overly skeptical and have become super researchers.

If all this transparency scares you, take a deep breath and follow these simple steps to get you in the game.

Six steps to building a trustworthy online profile:

  1. If you didn’t earlier, Google your name and ask yourself, can I be found easily?
  2. Update your social profiles with current information!!!  THIS cannot be stressed enough, what is the point of knowingly giving out misinformation.  There is none.  Stop being lazy and just do it, your pocket will thank you later. $$
  3. Google your customers names, do they share the same platforms as you do?  Asses their social activities.  Are you where they are?
  4. Figure your short and long-term goals.  BE REALISTIC.  Make sure you take into account building a solid social B2B profile will take time.  Just like a flower they do not grow over night and the more finesse they receive the prettier they look when coming to bloom. Consider this handy 10 minutes a day to social media success guide.
  5. Once you see where you need to be and have an idea where clients might get the most information about you–position yourself to be found them.
  6. This is our favorite step, stage and engage
    1. {STAGE} Include the links to your website and social media platforms in your email signature.
    2. {STAGE} Include links to your website on your social media accounts and vice versa.
    3. {STAGE} Wherever people are interacting with your organization, let them know they can interact with it elsewhere. Your customers will be pleased you have enough consideration to engage them on their preferred platform.
    4. {Engage} Talking at people is NO LONGER effective. Customers listen to their networks; they trust their friends, families and business partners. Therefore, getting networks talking about you and your brand is priceless-give them something to share.
    5. {ENGAGE} Talk to customers when and where they want–try to carve out 5 minutes a day to reach out, we all know you are busy, but so is everybody else.  If you don’t make time for them, news flash, your competitor will.
    6. {ENGAGE} Don’t reinvent the wheel to give information.  Leverage your organization’s marketing department use white papers, eBooks, press releases and the like to educate your B2B customer.  Make them work less the more info you give the less they have to dig for it.  Here is a great article from SEO watch that outlines 5 cleaver ways to leverage your PR for social success.

It is clearly a smart business decision to engage in social selling, or what I like to call social solving. Follow these steps and start building that engaging brand of YOU.

 

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