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Marketing Is About To Get A Whole Lot Harder…And Other Lessons From #SBW2011

luv-my-chunk-of-change-business-tipsLast week, I was invited to be part of a really cool event in Santa Monica, California. Hosted by Constant Contact, “Get Down To Business” was held in conjunction with national Small Business Week (which was tracked on Twitter at #SBW2011).

The all-day seminar at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium focused on “Cracking the Code on Social Media for Small Business.” Throughout the day, various marketing and web experts (including yours truly), small business owners, and development agencies chimed in with their take on social media.

Not only did Constant Contact put on an A+ event, they did so at no charge to attendees (and also provided validated parking, a complimentary lunch, free massages, raffles, and more).  I’m not sure how they do it where you’re from, but in Los Angeles, this kind of generosity is unprecedented. Constant Contact = Class Act.

Their lineup of speakers was pretty great, too, and a lot of pearls of wisdom were delivered throughout the day…

Luckily, my friend Sarah Daniels at Play On Words was busily live tweeting and shared her highlights with me afterward.

For my perspective, the four main themes of the day were…

1.) Learn to love (and create) different kinds of content.

  • "Social media marketing is the new ‘word of mouth’ in this digital age. … You want to create content that inspires sharing. … But change your messaging for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter; they use different types of ‘language’." @kellyflint
    Kelly Flint, Regional Development Director, Los Angeles, Constant Contact
  • "[Social media] works incredibly well when you give, give, give! I mean, I suck at writing, but I can do 140 characters. It’s easy." @seo_kiwi @scorela
    Aaron “Kiwi” Franklin
    Internet Marketing Specialist, SEO Kiwi
    Counselor, SCORE Los Angeles
  • "[Editorial] is important. Tonight, send your story to an editor on LinkedIn. … Also, be sure to make a list of bloggers who are writing within your [business] community." @monicarayes
    Monica Rayes, Marketing and Sales Counselor, California Small Business Development Center, Los Angeles Regional Network
  • "[Video] is where it’s at. … Product pages that have video sell at twice the rate of those that don’t." @sunnylandpics
    Katie Covell, Founder and Executive Producer, Sunnyland Pictures

2.) Be everywhere you can be online.

  • "I think [social media] is an ‘and’ situation. You need a website and a Facebook and a YouTube and, and, and." @stuatkins
    Stu Atkins, Owner, Atkins Marketing Solutions
  • "Your contacts want to stay connected with you on *their* terms." @kellyflint
    Kelly Flint, Regional Development Director, Los Angeles, Constant Contact
  • "Many of your big competitors aren’t on this [social] stuff yet. You can take advantage of that situation." @seo_kiwi @scorela
    Aaron “Kiwi” Franklin
    Internet Marketing Specialist, SEO Kiwi
    Counselor, SCORE Los Angeles

3.) Don’ be afraid to ask for help—or money.

  • "Listen to what [customers] want and then tell them what *you* do." @hutdogs
    Dave Finstrom, Owner, HUTdogs
  • "It’s one thing to think that your business won’t qualify for a loan, but it’s another thing to understand why." @marticedmills
    Martice D. Mills, Manager of Business Development, FAME Corporations

4.) Find a balance between your business and your social media efforts (if possible).

  • "Doing social media right does not mean doing it a lot." @gailgoodman
    Kelly Flint, Regional Development Director, Los Angeles, Constant Contact

    quoting Gail F. Goodman, Chairman, President, and CEO, Constant Contact
  • "Get your friends and other small business owners to help you go outside your circle." @enCOMPASSlife
    Elizabeth Gordon, Owner, enCOMPASS Your Life
  • "The internet’s important, but don’t forget the human element. … Kindness is important too." @stuatkins
    Stu Atkins, Owner, Atkins Marketing Solutions

My sense is that “cracking the social media code” is all about realizing that you’re selling much more than products and services; you’re selling relationships. I think that Mister Kiwi hit the nail; on the head when he said, “Marketing is about to get a whole lot harder. You’re going to have to really work at it and show you care.”

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