If You Don’t Add Flour, Your Cake with Fall

Chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting a...
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Yes, I’m a baker! Love the smell of yummy goodness in the oven! But when you set out to make that wonderful chocolate cake, and miss adding flour, you might get something similar to fudge.  If fudge is what you wanted, then you are on the right track… if you were preparing to make a cake, then you got it all wrong.  And please don’t tell me about the awesome flourless cake you’ve had. That’s not relevant in this case, and besides… in this post I “ain’t” talking about cake!

I just read a blog post by Shannon Paul about the missing ingredient in many social media strategies, and I couldn’t agree more!  Feel free to read it for yourself, or just follow along here.

The Missing Ingredient in Most Social Media Strategies « Shannon Paul’s Very Official Blog.

There are several steps involved in preparing to bake a cake:

  1. Preparation
  2. Ingredients
  3. An Oven
  4. and Willing Consumers (you can’t have a cake and no-one eats it!)

The same applies to engaging in social media for your business!

  • Preparation = Developing a Strategy
  • Ingredients = The Messages you hope to Deliver + The Messages your intended audience want to hear
  • Oven = Mechanism for Delivery or  The Social Media Sites you plan to employ (where your audience is)
  • Willing Consumers = Your Audience, Your Followers, the People who want to consume to product or program you are offering

Everything begins with a plan (or recipe), but beyond the plan there is execution (baking), then testing (tasting), and listening (feedback).  And once you’ve measured the feedback, you can determine whether you should revisit the recipe, tweak a couple of ingredients and try again.

The most important thing to remember though, if you miss an ingredient, or even a step in the process, IT won’t turn out right.

Plan + Prepare + Execute + Review = 4 Steps for Success

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Moms Online – Shopping, Blogging, Networking

I just finished reading a quick synopsis of a report/study done by Neilsen on the power of moms online.  It is of no surprise to me that many of us hardworking mothers have the time to engage with each other across the web.  From sharing stories of daycare and doctor visit experiences, to exchanging recipes and favorite online shopping spots or coupons, and even promoting our businesses – there is a great bond that we share with millions of others.  Can you think of a better way to express yourself to someone who understands you?

Though not surprising, the numbers in the brief report (found here) are definitely eye-opening.  The report is a great enforcer of the power in numbers, and an interesting depiction of the segmentation of moms.  Yielding an incredible center of influence, Power Moms, aged 25-54, make up over 19% of the active online population.

With this information of course comes more targeted ‘mom’ marketing from a number a streams.  But with our track record of experience…I am sure we can handle it.  Take a look at the report, I am going to read more and post later – but tell me what you think…

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Skittles and Your NonProfit

The following is a comment I posted on the NetWit’s ‘Think Tank’ blog in response to a post written by Frank Barry. The post is about the recent social “experiment” by Skittles. This topic I am sure has been blogged about to no end. Originally I wasn’t interested in creating yet another post about it…but I am sure you would agree there are some points of learning to pull from this exercise. Please read Frank’s blog post first to understand the context of my comment below. I will end by saying one more thing…you can’t fly if you don’t first spread your wings...

Skittles.
Image via Wikipedia

Frank, great post! I totally agree with Rowan, this method

doesn’t fit with every non-profit…nor does it fit with every

brand or corporation. Mars tried this with Skittles versus anyone of their other brands. This was a test of the market, and by any measurement it could have been a sheer success. We unfortunately don’t have the honor of knowing which element they were looking to test.

On a global level…brand awareness/visibility and brand engagement are the central themes that can be measured. Those two areas also present a starting point for any non-profit. Sure any non-profit can do a quick constituent survey to find out what people close to them feel/view about the organization… but for those with a larger than community-based reach, or those looking to gain traction…why not think outside the survey box and find a way to gauge a larger base. Often times people are either not aware of an organization at all, or are unsure of exactly what the organization does, and what it could mean to them. This type of social experiment helps create that understand and potentially rally more people around an organization’s cause (see brand awareness & engagement). I will throw in the disclaimer that a campaign such as the Skittles campaign does take some time and labor (something many organizations won’t have the resources to dedicate to)…but again, this type of “out of the box” thinking can stir a small scale social experiment easily manageable by the smallest of non-profits.

Originally posted as a comment by Nishland on Kintera Think Tank using Disqus.

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Lesson in Customer Service #2

Rapid Response.

Being prepared with a quick and courteous response to your customer or client can win a lot of hearts and smiles.  Every customer/client likes to know they are valued. Once upon a time we interpreted a customer’s response and repeat visit as satisfaction with our service.  As people’s tastes and wants have grown over the years; so have the business owner’s methods to capture, better understand and attempt to meet their customer’s desires.

The basic premise…rapid response.

In the 21st century, we want to know, and we want to know now!

Even the President adapted to our new culture need to “be the first and always in the know” by utilizing an expansive customer relationship management (CRM) model during his campaign.  Many have blogged about the success of his campaign and method of delivery.  See one of the posts about the President’s CRM here. The author, Ericka Morphy wrote about Obama being on the cutting edge during his campaign, and even now in office.  So far, people seem to be happy with the new design of the official White House blog and open access to information.  The ‘game’ has changed.

Now what are you and your organization doing to be more transparent and open to your customer/clients? Are they aware they have access to you?  Can they count on hearing from one of your quick and courteous representatives in their time of need?

Rapid response. It’s not a new trend…it’s been here all the time.

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Power of Presentation

I had an appointment today to tour a local charter school in preparation for my son’s first year in middle school.  I learned of the school at a school fair earlier this year.  The teachers and volunteers working the booth for the school were well versed in the school’s activities and curriculum, and they brought along with them an interesting display of a school project.  I admit I was intrigued.  My son was…slightly – he was more focused on a much larger demonstration by another school.

Builletin board on the Infinite Corridor at MIT.
Image via Wikipedia

Allow me to step back for a moment and mention – in our area, there is a magnet school system as well as school choice.  The public school system promotes the two very heavily (as if neighborhood schools aren’t good enough…but I will save that for another post). Parents have become more proactive in selecting a school to meet the interests and needs of their children, and the lottery process has become quite competitive.

Now prior to scheduling the tour for this school, I of course looked them up on the web.  The website for the school is quite engaging, and presented much better than the majority of the public schools in the area.  The site is nearly the caliber of a private school who has dedicated resources to their web presence. Reviewing all the activities and programs the school had to offer, I was hooked.  I began to look forward to my visit today.  I expressed my excitement with my son, who was still not moved.

Insert the hoodwink.  I arrive at the school, five minutes late because I couldn’t quite figure out where/how to enter. Instead of the warm reception I anticipated, I stepped into a very junkie make-shift reception/office area that had a direct entrance to the gym for the school. We begin our very brief tour with a stop by a very warm (tempature warm) science classroom before proceeding to the gym/cafeteria, of which serves as the center of the building.  Classrooms are set up at either side of the gym.  We walk into another classroom, and instead of seeing the charts and posters and bulletin board cut-outs I’ve grown accustomed to seeing in public elementary schools, I see torn paper, handwritten words and ragged carpet and very bare walls.  Not to mention students were not in their seats and seemed to have the run of the small school.

Thoughts of disorganization, fear and chaos ran through my mind. How could any one of the parents of the 300 students accept this as their school of choice?  Couldn’t the school leaders request corporate support to upgrade their facilities? What happened to the great presentation and website that brought me to this point?  Is this what I want for my child? I tried not to let the disappointment show on my face as she concluded my tour.

The point I want to make here is that the power of good marketing can draw someone in, but thought must also be given to the system that is going to keep someone there.

The school may or may have not been aware that their website (and ‘trade show’ presentation) could draw so much attention.  If they are, then they are guilty of a poor follow up.  If not, they are still guilty for a lack of positive physical presentation.    I wonder how the school could be in such poor shape.  Perhaps I am the only one that really noticed, or am I just too picky?

My grandmother always told me that I could not invite company over to a dirty house, and I teach my kids the same thing.

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