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Friday, February 26, 2010

Simple Pleasures: 2/19 - 2/25/10

Simple Pleasure: Smoke Rise Beach from St. Hubert's clock tower Diva Marketing Toby Bloomberg dubbed me 'diva of simple pleasures' earlier this week. I was so taken with the notion, and with the marvelous simple pleasures that a Twitter search uncovered, that I decided to share #SimplePleasures on Twitter on a daily basis.

I also thought it would be valuable to capture others' simple pleasures and share them with you here on a weekly basis.

My hope is that you'll find them grounding, inspiring, whimsical and heart-warming. And, perhaps, you'll start thinking about the simple pleasures in your life and consider participating in this celebration.

To take part, simply share your simple pleasure and be sure to include #SimplePleasures in your Tweet. If you have any questions, let me know.

Here, then, is the transcript for #SimplePleasures from 2/19 through 2/25/10.

This photo, by the way, was taken in July 2009 from the top of the clock tower of St. Hubert's Chapel on Lake Kinnelon in Smoke Rise. Normally, the clock face occupies this space. Our friend, Tom Kline, removed the clock face to reveal this delicious view and unexpected perspective of the lake and beach. Definitely, a simple pleasure.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How Do I Craft a Blog Welcome Post?

How Do I?

How would you go about crafting a Welcome post for your blog?

To craft your Welcome post, I'm assuming you've done some preliminary homework and established your social media guidelines. If not, then go to How Do I Start With Social Media Guidelines?

At this point, I try to 'feel' the space I intend to create with my blog. Is it a living room? More of a kitchen table, a backyard BBQ grill? Or, perhaps a cozy fireside chat? Note that these are all places where conversation takes place.

Start, then, with a greeting. If your blog [or other social media marketing platform] is to be a conversational setting or virtual third place for gathering, then how might you greet or welcome visitors? What should newcomers know about? What about those who have been coming for a while? How do you get the two groups to interact?

Describe how the concept for your blog came about. Was it the result of a conversation? An Aha moment? What was the impetus for wanting to create a social media beachhead and commit to it and to the conversation that you hope develops?

Next, offer a 'tour' of your space. Will others be contributing or is this your sole space? What topics will you address? How do they relate to the overall purpose or vision for your blog? Do you anticipate any recurring series ideas? Expect things to evolve over time, but think about how you are adding value to your audience.

You should definitely address the 'fine print' or your social media policy or guidelines and set expectations for behavior. If you prefer not to include this in your Welcome post, definitely make it your second post. It's critically important to address how will you interact, what's on topic and off-topic, whether any topics are confidential, will you moderate comments, would you rather have specific customer issues addressed elsewhere, and how do your social media platforms relate to those existing customer service platforms... For ideas, read through How Do I Start With Social Media Guidelines?

To put you in the right framework for welcoming visitors, readers and future community members, I suggest that you read Jason Falls post titled How To Become Your Customer's Valentine. There, he explores how social media has brought humanity back to marketing - something that your welcome message should convey. He reminds us how important listening, honesty, trust, consistency and freshness are, urging us to:

1. Expect less, get more
2. Give incentives and rewards
3. Have daily briefings
4. Implement change
5. Keep costs low, benefits high

Welcome to the marvelous world that social media marketing has brought back to our customers and us!

What would you add to this post and to your Welcome Post?

Image credit: Wordle How Do I" by C.B. Whittemore

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Social Media: Fad or Revolution?

SocialnomicsI believe in the Social Media Revolution. If you have any doubts, I recommend that you watch the video below titled "Social Media Revolution" created by the author of Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business, Erik Qualman.

I mention the video for two reasons.

1. We tried to show it during our Surfaces 2010 Marketing In A Recession 101 workshop on 2/1/10. Unfortunately, we lost the connection early on and had to keep moving with our presentation.

2. The data is intensely compelling.

Erik Qualman published Social Media Revolution on 8/11/2009. Keep that in mind when you read through the statistics from the video and watch the video.

Note the change in technology adoption rates. [BTW, Facebook is now up to over 400 million users.]

Think how these tools democratize access to information, enhance communication, facilitate interaction, and support education. [Read through the comments to Statistics Show Social Media Is Bigger Than You Think and you'll witness some of this in action.]

Here is the video: Social Media Revolution: Is social media a fad?
[Subscribers, click on this link to view Social Media Revolution: Is social media a fad? directly on YouTube.]

[Note: There's also a short 2.35 minute version of Social Media Revolution.]

You might want to check out Socialnomics - Social Media Blog and its page full of all kinds of videos and interviews.

Now, how might you be part of the Social Media Revolution?

Added 3/30/2010
Social Media ROI: Socialnomics
[In case you can't play the video, here is the YouTube link to Social Media ROI: Socialnomics.]

Added 5/12/10
Social Media 2 Refresh issued on 5/5/10 with updated statistics.
[Here is the link to YouTube for Social Media 2 Refresh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Do I Start With Social Media Guidelines?

How Do I?

Social Media Guidelines or Policy: How Do I Start?

You're ready to get started with social media marketing. You've gone through intense soul searching and decided that engaging with existing and potential customers and sharing valuable, relevant content with them on an ongoing basis is the way to go. An important next step, particularly for a corporate or business blog, is developing social media policy or guidelines.

An Overview of Social Media Guidelines & Policies

Why? Because they force you to think about scenarios and let you anticipate responses. They allow you to set expectations for behavior and interaction - not too dissimilar from the rules your parents established when you were a kid.

Social media policy and guidelines fall into two camps:
+ internal guidelines
+ external or comment policy

Internal social media guidelines mean that everyone in your organization will understand what can be discussed in a public forum and what can't, and how to behave in such a forum: transparently, responsibly and consistently.

They are particularly relevant to large organizations where many may engage in industry conversations. In my Solutia days, I had to review and renew the employee code of conduct on a yearly basis. Although social media wasn't specifically mentioned, I understood completely what the communication boundaries consisted of. If I had questions, I knew who to ask and I understood the consequences.

From an external perspective, it's important to let your readers know what to expect on your social media site: what kind of discussion will you encourage, how you handle comments [are they moderated?], what about product complaints or transactional issues, whether your response will be timely...

I equate this to welcoming someone into your home or store or classroom, offering an overview of where things are and explaining a few rules [i.e., please leave your shoes as the door; here is the lay of the land; please don't interact with the students...].

Crafting Social Media Guidelines

What I find helpful at this stage is absorbing how other organizations have approached social media guidelines and policy. Not all of what they include may be relevant to me, but their guidelines may remind me of a point I missed or encourage me to address an area I had glossed over.

Here, then, are resources/ideas relating to internal and external social media policies.

+ Diva Marketing's Toby Bloomberg has assembled a marvelous list of social media policy examples. These are real examples from real companies. Note the variety of approaches, but also the commonalities.

+ I love this Mashable article about 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy. It includes a video clip of Barry Judge, CMO of Best Buy, explaining how increased transparency and trust provide value to customers. The means to this: the tools of social media. The post also includes a sample internal social media policy.

Some examples of social media comment policies:

+ Nuts About Southwest
+ Intel Blogs
+ Two I have written: Simple Marketing Blog and the Carpetology Blog

What would you add? Are there other examples you've come across? How did your social media guidelines help you anticipate certain scenarios?

Additional Information:
I wrote an article for the MProfs DailyFix titled "Which Comes First: the Policy or the Blog?" which refers to a few more examples.

Added 3/16/10: just came across PolicyTool for Social Media. If you give it a try, let me know what you think.

Added 5/31/10: How to Write a Social Media Policy from

Added 6/1/10: Policy guidelines For Mayo Clinic Employees

Added 2/2/11: Why You Need a Social Media Policy

Image credit: Wordle "How Do I" by C.B. Whittemore

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Whittemore On Social Media & Flooring

Whittemore on social media and flooring

Interview: social media and the flooring industry

In mid December 2009, Emma Jamieson, editor for Networks Ltd, of a series of flooring trade publications in the UK, contacted me for an interview for the launch of a quarterly online magazine titled E-Floors. It's the only quarterly magazine for the digital flooring industry.

The interview has just published in the inaugural February 2010 issue of E-Floors [see pages 14 and 15].

Emma's focus was on flooring retailers and how they might make better use of digital technologies to strengthen relations with customers. I was intrigued as I hadn't had many opportunities to compare flooring retail experience notes beyond the US, let alone hear about the use of social media.

These are some of the areas we explored during our conversation:

Why haven't more flooring companies gotten involved in the Internet's vast array of opportunities, including social media marketing?

E-Floors February 2010How am I monitoring performance (e.g the Social Flooring Index, etc.) and improvements?

How effective is social media to "befriend" the consumer, gain their trust, act as a trusted adviser, thus driving consumers to the store and retaining their loyalty?

What flooring examples have I come across in the US that are making efficient, remarkable use of online opportunities?

Who is the flooring consumer of tomorrow? What will their shopping habits be, what will they expect as far as customer service, online retail experience, etc? How do we approach them?

I thoroughly enjoyed exchanging perspectives with Emma.

The interview is also available on Interior Floors.

Many thanks, Emma Jamieson and E-Floors magazine!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Press Release Archives - 2009

Simplify Your Marketing With Simple Marketing Now!Below are links to Simple Marketing Now LLC's 2009 Press Releases.

2009 Archives - 2009: Simple Marketing Now Press Releases

11/30/09: Simple Marketing Now's Social Flooring Index Captures Social State of Flooring Industry [release available in HTML[#10] or PDF[#10]

10/19/09: Bathroom Blogfest 2009 Draws 20 Bloggers To Focus On The Recession & Cleanliness in Overlooked Spaces [release available in HTML[#9] or PDF[#9] versions]

9/24/09:DOMOTEX & Simple Marketing Now Launch DOMOTEX Blog [release available in HTML[#8] or PDF[#8] versions]

9/3/09: Whittemore Publishes "Social Media's Collective Wisdom" e-Book [release available in HTML[#7] or PDF[#7] versions]

7/29/09: Whittemore Delivers Social Media Presentation To NJ Executives In Transition [release available in HTML[#6] or PDF[#6] versions]

6/24/09: Whittemore Joins Columbia Business School Alumni Club of NY Board of Directors [release available in HTML[#5] or PDF[#5] versions]

5/19/09: Whittemore Re-Appointed to SURFACES '10 Education Advisory Council [release available in HTML[#4] or PDF[#4] versions]

4/27/09: The Carpet and Rug Institute and Simple Marketing Now Announce the Launch of The Carpet And Rug Institute Blog [release available in HTML[#3] or PDF[#3] versions]

4/20/09: Whittemore Joins Floor Covering Institute [release available in HTML[#2] or PDF[#2] versions]

4/6/09: Whittemore Forms Simple Marketing Now LLC [release available in HTML[#1] or PDF[#1] versions]

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Transparency & Social Media Marketing

Diva Marketing Blog

What do you think of 'transparency' & social media marketing?

Have you considered the importance of 'transparency' for your marketing and your social media marketing in particular?

As Wikipedia defines transparency, the term refers to "openness, communication and accountability." It's a concept that has become increasingly important in the marketplace as I describe in 2010 Consumer & Marketplace Trends.

In a retail environment, transparency means that a customer understands that product pricing is fair, consistent and comparable to pricing elsewhere.

In a social environment, transparency means that the person you encounter is the real deal and not pretending to be someone else.

And, yet, in a social media marketing environment, transparency isn't always quite as transparent... or is it? What happens when an organization brings in outside expert help? What works? What doesn't?

My friend, Toby Bloomberg, author of the inspiring Diva Marketing Blog and John Cass, PR Communications, recently discussed "where does the concept of transparency fits into the new social media marketing model - content developed by people outside of the enterprise."

As Toby describes:
* Bloggers have long discussed the importance of transparency when writing content on a blog. With the growth in the adoption of social media marketing, many marketers now wonder how would they develop enough content for all of their new social media channels.

* When a client hires an agency to write content for their blog, twitter account, Facebook page, we are wondering about the level of transparency by an agency writer on a client's social media channel.

* We ask you: What are the practices that you think should be followed? Feel free to tell us if you have differences of opinions across social media channels.

The end result of the conversation was a collaborative cross-post project where -- "as any good social media citizen would do" -- they invited the community to discuss the matter of transparency capturing the responses in two posts:

+ Where Does 'Transparency' Fit In The New Social Media Marketing Model?
+ 30+ Diverse Opinions On Social Media Agency Transparency

PR CommunicationsIn total, 39 people, all active in social media, shared insights.

Their views ranged from total transparency to not necessary.

My favorite quote is from Yvonne DiVita who reminds us, " .. in the end it isn't the bloggers, the company or the agency that will dictate the success... it's the customers."

In case you hadn't yet decided, my response falls in the 'total transparency' camp. More specifically:

Toby, thanks for this timely and relevant discussion. It's interesting to step back and appreciate that social media tools are communication tools [marvelous ones in my opinion!] and they can be used in the traditional push format or to engage & interact & be social. It's a subtle difference if you're in the traditional mindset and a glaringly obvious one if you're already on the social side.

To be effective in a social environment, you must be human, authentic, responsive, consistent and genuinely interested. It's what you so often remind us of: it's like being invited into someone's living room.

I recently set up the "Social Flooring Index" to monitor the social state of flooring - an extremely traditional industry mostly committed to push marketing. It's been fascinating to observe the process of evolution from traditional to social, and what it takes to get immersed in the social aspect. What this tells me is that the more transparent and authentic the effort, the more credible it is.Better not to delegate all responsibility for your social efforts to 3rd parties who - for the most part - really can't speak competently to your customers. Get guidance, include them, but own it.

I love the approach that DC Goodwill has taken to make the transition in DC Fashionistas and establish connection/continuity for its audience. About developing enough content. Companies develop content ALL the time [or they should be!]. With social media, they have the opportunity to multi-purpose their original content work and distribute it in a variety of forms. It takes some effort at first to proactively think in those terms, but it's effective. When I did that in pre-digital days, I referred to it as 'merchandising my marketing.'

Thanks again for this marvelous discussion.

I encourage you to visit Toby's and John's posts. Read through all of the contributions, including those in the comments.

Then, would you let me know what your thoughts are on transparency and social media marketing?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jeff Jarvis Discusses Customers in a Googly World

Jeff Jarvis at BRITE '09BRITE 09 offered me a chance to listen to Jeff Jarvis, CUNY professor, author of and the new book What Would Google Do? and furious consumer behind Dell Hell back in 2005 when Dell hadn't yet realized the importance of customer focus and service in a 'Googly' world. Jarvis is now a Dell fan.

In a 'Googly' world, customers are your ad agency.

You see, in the Google economy, your worst customer is your best friend - if you listen - and your customer is your ad agency. The more public you are, the more Google juice you have, and the more Google juice you have, the more likely you are to be found on Google.

Brands, by the way, are your people and your customers. Brands stand out by simplifying, helping people do things better and getting out of customers' way.

Additional observations:
+ Google facilitates search and discovery; the more we are able to see the world as Google does, the better we will be able to connect with customers.

+ Small is the new big. It is successful when it is part of bigger networks. Mass markets are dead; we have never liked being lumped into masses. They have been replaced by a mass of niches.

+ Google commodifies everything. Standing out means managing abundance rather than scarcity.

+ We are all in different industries: transportation rather than cars, information rather than newspapers...

+ When you start to trust people, they trust you back. That requires listening. When you hear customers, they make suggestions and co-create solutions rather than complain.

+ Google is transparent in its habit of releasing betas. In so doing, Google acknowledges that it is far from perfect. Betas demonstrate humility and imperfection and a willingness to collaborate for improvement.

There's more. I recommend that you listen to the 20 minute video presentation of Jeff Jarvis video at BRITE 09 and review the Slideshare of What Would Google Do, the PowerPoint presentation. Last, but not least, here is a link to the book What Would Google Do?

What do you plan on doing differently?

By the way, Jeff Jarvis is scheduled to return to BRITE '10 which takes place March 31 - April 1, 2010. That's something to look forward to!

Other BRITE 09 Presentation Posts:
+ BRITE 09: Innovating During Downturns & Surviving the Worst
+ Links of Note: BRITE '09 Conference
+ Steve Rubel on Digital Trends - BRITE '09

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Women, Flooring & The Retail Experience On FloorDaily

Christine Whittemore on FloorDaily: Women, Flooring & The Retail ExperienceMany home focused industries share interesting dynamics. They sell predominantly to women, yet manufacturing and retailing is mostly done by men. You can imagine the friction inherent to the resulting retail experience -- as is often true in flooring.

On January 23, 2010, I had the opportunity to touch on the very subject of women, flooring and the retail experience at the Big Bob's Flooring Outlet Annual Meeting in my presentation titled Flooring The Consumer: In-Store and Online.

Thanks to Kemp Harr from, here are some highlights to share with you from 1/29/10.

Christine Whittemore Discusses the Proper Way to Position Flooring To Women at Retail

Here's how Kemp describes the interview:

Christine Whittemore, with Simple Marketing Now, and Kemp Harr discuss the nuances of selling flooring to women. Listen to the interview to hear some statistics about women and to hear what their hot buttons are when it comes to buying flooring.

Listen at -- The interview lasts approximately 8 minutes and touches on:

Some of the stats from my presentation. More specifically:
66% of all personal computer purchases
67% of financial services
80% of home-improvement
83% of all consumer purchases
88% of retail customers in the U.S.
91% of home sales
94% of home furnishings
The importance of product quality [i.e., 'value' does not necessarily mean cheap].

The layout of a retail store

Banishing the hard sell [i.e., do more listening, ask questions, be a consultant/interpreter]

Women pay attention to details, so be sure to have a consistent in-store and online experience.

For additional perspective on the event itself, I also include a link to the interview Kemp had with Big Bob's leaders. They explain how my presentation helped them tell the story about the importance of service, how to take care of customers and 'crowning the customer.'

Big Bob Leaders Discuss Selling To Women and 2010 Outlook

Kemp's description of the interview: David Elyachar and Scott Perron discuss the highlights of their 17th Annual Convention. Listen to the interview to hear about how this year's convention focused on selling to women and also what their outlook is for 2010.

As I detailed in Women: Separate, Equal & Consumers Worth Appealing To, there's definitely opportunity associated with focusing on women and improving the retail experience in flooring and other home related categories.

I'd love to hear your reactions.

Thank you, Kemp!
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