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    Women Business Leaders: IBM study predicts the end of advertising as we know it

    January 24th, 2013

    The next 5 years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did. How will women business owners take advantage of these changes?

    The information for this post is from an IBM global surveys of more than 2,400 consumers and 80 advertising experts … the report is titled, “The end of advertising as we know it.”

    Imagine an advertising world where ... spending on interactive, one-to-one advertising formats surpasses traditional, one-to-many advertising vehicles, and a significant share of ad space is sold through auctions and exchanges.

    Advertisers know who viewed and acted on an ad, and pay based on real impact rather than estimated “impressions.” Consumers self-select which ads they watch and share preferred ads with peers. User-generated advertising is as prevalent (and appealing) as agency-created spots.

    Based on IBM global surveys there are four change drivers shifting control within the ad industry:

    1. Attention – Consumers are increasingly in control of how they view, interact with and filter advertising in a multichannel world.
    2. Creativity – Thanks to technology, the rising popularity of user-generated and peer-delivered content, and new ad revenue-sharing models (e.g., YouTube, Crackle, Current TV), amateurs and semi- professionals are now creating lower-cost advertising content.
    3. Measurement – Advertisers are demanding more individual-specific and involvement- based measurements, putting pressure on the traditional mass-market model.
    4. Advertising inventories – Will be bought and sold through efficient exchanges, bypassing traditional intermediaries.

    There is no question that the future of advertising will look radically different from its past. The push for control of attention, creativity, measurements and inventory will reshape the advertising value chain and shift the balance of power.

    Change has been a part of every industry but the changes we are seeing now are coming more rapidly than ever before. These changes in communications technology also greatly impacts how women business leaders should consider promoting their businesses.

    Stay informed and prosper in this changing environment.


    4-Step Approach to a Social Media Plan for Women Business Leaders

    December 6th, 2012

    POST is one of the most effective acronyms since the four P’s of marketing. It’s a four-step approach that can help women marketers define a social media marketing plan for their business and/or clients.

    The POST method is the heart and soul of the book, Groundswell, written by Forrestter Research analysts, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoffand. It is  highlighted in Josh Bernoff’s Groundswell blog post, The POST Method: A systematic approach to social strategy. The POST Method serves as a guide to help you determine the right strategy for the right audience.

    Josh says, “Executives are going about social strategy backwards: picking technologies like blogs or communities first instead of focusing on what they want to accomplish.”

    Your purpose should dictate strategy and the tactics used for reaching desired goals. A few common outcomes for your social media marketing efforts should include:

    • Gain insight into your target audience – You can use all the qualitative data you want, but some of the most interesting and helpful market research can be found within the social communities where your prospective clients interact, share information and make recommendations.
    • Link building for traffic and SEO - According to Marketing Sherpa, 80-90% of business to business transactions begin with a search on the web. Creating linkbait and promoting it to social media news and bookmarking sites can attract a slew of links from bloggers that read them. Creating value for the community is not the only rule, creating value and behaving according to formal and unwritten rules is what sustains social media sourced link building.
    • Build brand visibility and authority - You’ve heard it before,“Conversations are happening online about your company’s brand, with or without you.” You might as well participate and do so in a way that pays close attention to the interests and needs of your prospective clients – providing them with information and interactions that further support your company’s brand.


    7 Social Media Tips for Women Business Leaders from 7 Experts

    September 18th, 2012

    As I have become more involved in social media, both on a personal and a professional level, I often see the same tips and suggestions about social media in online blogs and articles. I thought this list of tips from social media experts was refreshing because it offers advice for women business leaders from real industry experts. Many of the tips are not what you would expect.

    I’ve condensed this list from an article by Amy Porterfield, author of  Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies.

    1. Offer live events on Facebook
      “To provide additional value and fresh ways for your fans to interact with you, periodically conduct live chat sessions or live webinars or teleseminars,” says Mari  Smith, co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day.
    2. Help others who aren’t necessarily famous
      “Don’t try to build your personal brand or company brand alone. Go out of your way to look for opportunities to help others and give others credit,” says Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business. “Easy ways to do this include recommendations on Twitter of others’ work, retweets and hot tips on the comment section of blogs,” Erik added.
    3. Don’t over-focus on marketing
      “All too often, businesses overlook the ‘social’ part of the phrase social media marketing and jump straight into the ‘marketing’ part… to their detriment,” explained Hollis Thomases, author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day.
    4. Research what your customers are saying
      “Stop reading the success stories and best practices to model your social media strategy. Use them for inspiration, but my best advice to you is to go figure out what your opportunity is first,” said Brian Solis, author of Engage: The Complete Guide to Building, Cultivating and Measuring Success in the Social Web.
    5. Meet people in real life
      “You can meet people online, but solidify these online relationships face to face,” says Steve Garfield, author of Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business. Steve founded a networking group that meets in person each month. “What’s very important is that the meeting is free, we never cancel and everyone is welcome,” explained Steve.
    6. Invest in social media after you do your research
      Corporations should gauge their own social business maturity and prioritize spending decisions based on the industry benchmarks, according to a study by the Altimeter Group. “Just as you would invest your personal finances based on your family size, age and market conditions, you should be spending in social business with the same industry knowledge,” Says Altimeter’s Jeremiah Owyang, partner of customer strategy.
    7. Share the knowledge of experts with your audience
      “Get experts involved with your content. Determine who the experts are in your industry. Then go to them and offer to interview them about their hottest new project,” said Mike Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner.

    As the owner of a strategic communications firm, I was surprised to find a social suggestion on this list I haven’t yet tried. Tell me what your best social media tips are, and if you try any of the tips above, let me know how they worked for you.

    5 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Embrace Their Femininity

    July 22nd, 2012

    Women who are running  businesses should detach from feminism and embrace their femininity.

    My daughter started her career in a high stress male dominated industry. We were reflecting on how a woman can succeed in this environment  without becoming masculinised. Women who are running  businesses should detach from feminism and embrace their femininity.

    The truth is that women have been liberated. We no longer need to spend our energies proving that we’re equal. We own our own companies, we assume leadership roles and we don’t have to wear ties to work.

    Here are 5 ways to create this balance while getting respect from both males and females:

    1. Don’t pretend that you’re one of the boys – you’re not. But at the same time don’t play the “us girls” game.  Work at your individuality as a person. Use your unique leadership strengths when dealing with an issue.
    2. You shouldn’t dress provocatively but you also don’t need to wear a burka.  You have a wonderful opportunity to express yourself  and your femininity.  Make sure that you are dignified and professional and let your gender work for you.
    3. It’s OK to talk about kids, make-up and hair but please consider your audience – these discussions may be boring to whomever is listening. Be yourself but remain sensitive to the situation.
    4. Respect both male and female employees. Disparaging remarks about men set a feminist tone and put a line in the sand when there may not have been an issue to begin with.
    5. Watch out for “womens only groups” why would you want to segregate ideas and talent. Position yourself as an entrepreneurial leader rather than a proponent of  “Women rule”

    You have a real advantage as a woman running a business – don’t blow it by  wearing workboots and snarling at men, rather walk around in your stilettos with strength and conviction.


    Why Every Woman Business Leader Needs to be Adaptively Strategic

    May 20th, 2012

    photo by Sean MacEntee

    Most of the work that I do in my firm involves leading with a clear understanding of the end goal and developing strategies to get there. Whether its for my client’s business or mine, strategic principles prevail. As a women business leader, I have had to use many of my innate traits to employ original and effective strategies. Drawing upon guiding principles of authenticity, intuition, curiosity and experience, I have enjoyed the notion of being adaptive and nimble.

    Here are six things you can do to be adaptively strategic:

    Most of the focus at most companies is on what’s directly ahead. The leaders lack “peripheral vision.” This can leave your company vulnerable to rivals who detect and act on ambiguous signals. To anticipate well, you must:

    • Look for game-changing information at the periphery of your industry
    • Search beyond the current boundaries of your business
    • Build wide external networks to help you scan the horizon better

    Think Critically
    Conventional wisdom opens you to fewer raised eyebrows and second guessing. But if you swallow every management fad, herdlike belief, and safe opinion at face value, your company loses all competitive advantage. Critical thinkers question everything. To master this skill you must force yourself to:

    • Reframe problems to get to the bottom of things, in terms of root causes
    • Challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own
    • Uncover hypocrisy, manipulation, and bias in organizational decisions

    Ambiguity is unsettling. Faced with it, the temptation is to reach for a fast (and potentially wrongheaded) solution.  A good strategic leader holds steady, synthesizing information from many sources before developing a viewpoint.

    To get good at this, you have to:

    • Seek patterns in multiple sources of data
    • Encourage others to do the same
    • Question prevailing assumptions and test multiple hypotheses simultaneously

    Many leaders fall prey to “analysis paralysis.” You have to develop processes and enforce them, so that you arrive at a “good enough” position. To do that well, you have to:

    • Carefully frame the decision to get to the crux of the matter
    • Balance speed, rigor, quality and agility. Leave perfection to higher powers
    • Take a stand even with incomplete information and amid diverse views

    Total consensus is rare. A strategic leader must foster open dialogue, build trust and engage key stakeholders, especially when views diverge.

    To pull that off, you need to:

    • Understand what drives other people’s agendas, including what remains hidden
    • Bring tough issues to the surface, even when it’s uncomfortable
    • Assess risk tolerance and follow through to build the necessary support

    As your company grows, honest feedback is harder and harder to come by.  You have to do what you can to keep it coming. This is crucial because success and failure–especially failure–are valuable sources of organizational learning.

    Here’s what you need to do:

    • Encourage and exemplify honest, rigorous debriefs to extract lessons
    • Shift course quickly if you realize you’re off track
    • Celebrate both success and (well-intentioned) failures that provide insight

    30 Tweeting Tips for Women Business Leaders

    May 8th, 2012

    As the owner of a strategic marketing and communications firm, the biggest Twitter fear I hear as my clients pursue a social media presence is this: “What should I Tweet about?”

    Personally, I enjoy Tweeting and blogging and posting to Facebook for myself and my company. But, as a woman business leader and business owner, I’m not surprised to hear this question. One of the challenges with Twitter is the 140-character limit. Many find this to be the most daunting aspect … how do you say what you want to say in 140 characters or less? For me, that’s not a problem. But I’ve been at it for a while. If I think back to when I first started, I think it was mostly an issue of just doing it. Once you get into the habit, it becomes much easier.

    My advice is to give it a try and look over this list of “30 Things to Tweet About,” from blogger Sorav Jain for inspiration:

    1. New announcements from your brand
    2. Teaser previews of offerings you are working on
    3. Related interesting news from the industry
    4. Trivia related to your product: history, technology, anything!
    5. Ask for suggestions: people love to help someone out
    6. Events you are holding: this informs as well as gets you attendees
    7. Events you are participating in: this shows you are active
    8. Witty one-liners: this can be (appropriate) jokes, daily wisdom, or just about anything else
    9. Helping people find opportunities: Helping people solve problems is the best thing you can do to promote your brand
    10. Popular events: tweet about the upcoming sports events, festivals, etc
    11. Unexpected developments: Was Gmail down today? Tweet about it!
    12. Regular industry news: yup, this doesn’t hurt if mixed in
    13. Sales announcements: Tweet about any sales announcements you might have
    14. Job openings: Tell people about open positions, both with your brand and at other places you know
    15. Ask for customer feedback: Invite people to share their experiences with your brand
    16. Participate in the relevant hashtags, and get more visibility
    17. Set up and announce tweet chats based on brand-related hashtags
    18. Follow people and make acknowledgement via tweets
    19. Thank people who have recently followed you
    20. Post the latest updates from your blog along with the link
    21. Direct people to other social media channels you own by tweeting about them
    22. Search on your brand name and respond to tweets that are about you
    23. Create Twitter lists of industry-relevant analysts, well-wishers or customers, and announce the lists publically. This sends a positive message to the mentioned people
    24. Participate in trending topics and viral hashtags to rope in some attention. Ensure your opinions are related to your brand
    25. Tweet-greet your followers daily. Saying small things like “good morning,” or asking about their health goes a long way in forging ties
    26. Tweet and tag your best employee of the week. This keeps the staff motivated and gives them a platform
    27. Announce weekly deal, tweetpon (coupon), etc., and evaluate its viral reach to understand how influential your brand is
    28. For B2B brands, find out analysts on Twitter and build up conversations with them. Twitter is the best place for making your opinion heard
    29. Give daily twitter tips on usage of your brand’s products/service or on the basis of the industry expertise. Tips sell well on Twitter
    30. Make regular #FF Friday Follow recommendations or announce fan of the week with some incentives or freebies to the winners

    Many of these tips are extremely helpful and will provide you with ideas for months. I’m always looking for more tips, though, so give me yours and I’ll add them to the list.

    10 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Ensure They Are Working Smarter

    April 15th, 2012

    Over the past few months, I have been fighting and conquering breast cancer, an event that has thrown me into a retrospective state of evaluating my life. And while I travel this journey as a woman business leader and breast cancer survivor, I keep coming back to authenticity, facing fear, trusting my intuition and accepting my weaknesses while embracing my strengths. If you have been reading my blog, you know that these are subjects that we keep coming back to. So, in our continual journey to find our core and make meaning of what we do, I offer you some of my observations :

    1. Maximize dreams and aspirations – As you imagine “what can be” open your mind a little wider and imagine the path to get there.

    2. Seize opportunities — Stay open and tuned in to opportunities by focusing on the outcomes rather than fear the unknown.

    3. Accentuate your strengths — Don’t put energy into working on your weaknesses, rather use and cultivate your strengths, which will override your perceived weaknesses.

    4. Cultivate a culture of care and service — This notion extends to everyone who you come in contact with from your customers to your co-workers and everyone in between.

    5. Focus and commitment — Once you have set your goals stay committed and focused on where you are going and articulate this to your team.

    6. Innovate –Continually look for new ways to solve problems and come up with solutions that meet your needs and your principles. Look beyond the norm and expected with creative ideas that can be put into action.

    7. Develop win-win strategies to benefit all– I know that the notion of win-win sounds like a cliché but it’s all about balance. Make sure that your partners, co-workers and associates feel comfortable with outcomes.

    8. Lead & brand — Be a leader in your field and stay true to your value proposition.

    9. Listen to & reward your team -Believe that people on the front lines are literally your most important people. Ensure that every team member feels valued and is essential to the overall health of the company.

    10. Stick to principles & core competencies – Markets change. Competitors appear. Do not compromise the essence of what your business is and the principles for which it stands. Stay passionate and true to your beliefs.

    I hope my suggestions give you some inspiration. Here are a few more of my of my favorite blogs: “5 Qualities Women Business Leaders can Cultivate to Become Remarkable,” and “7 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Encourage their Team’s Creativity.”

    5 Social Media Mistakes and How Women Business Leaders Can Avoid Them

    December 6th, 2011

    As savvy women business leaders and entrepreneurs, we know that social media is here to stay. It is no longer a trendy way to engage customers but rather an essential component of any sound communications strategy. New media thought leaders like Brain Solis believe that if businesses are not embracing “disruptive” technology they will be left behind.

    Here’s a list of some common social media mistakes to avoid that I’ve condensed from an article written by Brian:

    1. Showing up isn’t enough
      Customers and prospects are busy, connected and interacting with everybody but you today. This requires an engagement program — that is, a plan for using social media to meet goals — that extends beyond the typical marketing of “follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook.”
    2. You can’t be everywhere, nor should you
      Many entrepreneurs are excited about technology and they overextend themselves because they want to be part of the latest trend. The key is to only be where your customers, prospects and those who influence them are.
    3. Authenticity and transparency are nothing without a connection
      The two magical ingredients to a successful social media effort are: authenticity and transparency. However, without delivering value, conveying a meaningful mission and vision, or establishing a connect-worthy presence, authenticity and transparency have nothing to reinforce.
    4. Talking to people isn’t a business strategy
      Some people run effective social media programs by listening instead of actually saying anything. But no matter if you converse with customers or not, you must have a purpose before you can engage. Don’t get caught up in only replying to brand mentions. Your real opportunity is to also engage and convert those people not already talking about you.
    5. Keep your core customers tuned in
      Companies believe that uploading a video to YouTube is the key to anything going viral. What they don’t know is 48 hours of video is uploaded every minute to YouTube. The chance of your video going viral naturally is basically nil. Remember, going viral only counts if it impacts your brand. If it creates lift, leaves an imprint or if it drives action or outcomes, that’s when you’re going viral.

    As the owner of a strategic communications firm, I agree with Brian’s comments above. I also believe that as this medium becomes more sophisticated … so should your business approach. For more on social media strategies, see my blog “7 Social Media Tips for Women Business Leaders from 7 Experts.”

    12 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Become Recognized Experts

    November 27th, 2011

    Have you ever read a blog or website article authored by an “industry expert,” and wondered how they became an expert? While being a woman business leader and entrepreneur have certainly helped me in my networking and business connections, it wasn’t until I started my blog, became a speaker and joined several select and respected industry trade groups that my “expert” status started to take off.

    While I achieved my status as an after-effect of my business activities, the tips below, from an article by Donald Todrin, will guide you toward becoming an expert using a methodical, step-by-step approach:

    1. Learn about what’s important in your industry today and become current. Every commercial niche has one or more trade magazines. Obtain a few back copies, three at least, and read them cover to cover.
    2. Note the advertisements. These will also tell you what’s new and important to the industry, as well as what the leading businesses are talking about and selling.
    3. Write an article and submit it for publication in one of the industry magazines. This often isn’t as hard as it seems. Once done, you are a published writer in the industry.
    4. Create a website and a blog. Begin to communicate with your market, discussing industry issues and creating an open forum with you as an expert.
    5. Create podcasts (video or audio) based on your blog entries. Post the video on YouTube.
    6. Offer to speak at a local college. Offer a professor or department head the opportunity to have you speak at a forum on a subject relevant to you and the educator’s interest group—at no charge, of course.
    7. Offer a local club, association, or service organization the opportunity to have you speak on a relevant subject – at no charge.
    8. Run your own seminar. This is a smart way to continue to build your credentials.
    9. Become a corporate speaker. Being a public speaker at leading businesses and corporations adds to your credentials.
    10. Send out media releases to the local press. Repeat your credentials and promote your speaking, writing, seminar or whatever you have to promote.
    11. Join a national trade organization for your industry and offer to write a monthly column on interesting aspects of the industry for the organization’s newsletter or magazine.
    12. If you can afford it, give a seminar at your industry’s national trade show. Or have a booth, or get on the board or any committee for the organization.

    10 LinkedIn Tips for Women Business Leaders

    November 11th, 2011

    I am continually surprised – in a good way – by contacts reaching out to me on LinkedIn.  As a woman business leader and entrepreneur, LinkedIn is my professional “comfort zone.” Of all the social media platforms, LinkedIn gives you the ability to control and even manipulate your message. It is a “living brochure” for your personal brand.

    In this article, Guy Kawasaki provides some useful ways to maximize your exposure with some great LinkedIn tips:

    1. Acquire new customers through online recommendations and word of mouth
      Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers.
    2. Keep in touch with people who care most about your business
      Sites like LinkedIn help keep your business alive in the minds of the people who care most about your business
    3. Find the right vendors to outsource services you’re not an expert on
      LinkedIn makes it easy for you to find vendors through the network of your peers.
    4. Build your industry network—online and in person
      Search LinkedIn’s Groups directory to find industry associations and networks to take part in.
    5. Get answers to tough business questions with a little help from your real friends
      LinkedIn Answers and Groups let you find answers to vexing questions quickly by tapping into the wisdom of your network.
    6. Win new business by answering questions in your area of expertise
      Use the many forums on LinkedIn to share the knowledge you’ve gained in your area of expertise.
    7. Raise funding
      You can use LinkedIn to find mentors or potential investors for your startup.
    8. Network with peers in your industry for repeat business referrals
      With over 2000 groups dedicated to small business topics, you’re sure to find a relevant group to network.
    9. Convince potential customers of your expertise by sharing unique blog content
      Small businesses smart enough to create unique content on their expertise should link to it from their LinkedIn profiles.
    10. Keep your friends close and your competition closer
      Not only do company profiles give you unique insight into your competition, they also give you an opportunity to stumble upon potential hires.

    You hear a lot of “buzz” about other social media platforms, but I think it’s time LinkedIn got a little more respect. How have you used LinkedIn to grow your business connections?