Relationships Drive Business

Strengthening Customer Engagement to Propel Your Business

Four Ways Oprah Uses Email September 21, 2011

Oprah uses email marketing to engage with her fans even now that she’s not on TV.

 

What other media mogul do you know that gave out their personal email address on national TV? She gave it out during the very last show. The one where it was just her on stage for an hour saying goodbye after 25 years. Go ask your girlfriends, I bet they heard it, to.  I emailed her, that put me on her email list. Since then I’ve gotten a few emails from her. They read like Oprah talking, not like Oprah advertising.

 

O uses my email address judiciously. I have the sense she feels privileged to have it. She’s careful not to abuse the relationship.

There are 4 things Oprah does with email.

  1. Takes interest in my world – she asks how things are going.
  2. Updates on her – She tells me what she’s been up to
  3. Asks about 1 thing – She’ll ask my opinion on 1 topic
  4. No sell – She’s never asked me for money.

 

And BTW – she never uses a belittling Subject Line. There’s no “10 things you don’t know about X.” Her typical Subject line is “Happy 4th of July,” or “The next right decision.”  It’s respectful.

 

The opposite is true of another self-made millionaire who has an entrepreneur’s conference coming up in Dallas. I’m registered to go, but honestly I tuned out her emails 6 months ago. So much so, I can’t even tell you who the keynote speaker. Every email she sends is her trying to reach into my pocketbook to pad her own.  “Upgrade your registration for exclusive access” or “advertise my stuff to your friends.” It got old after email #2. She’s clearly only interested in how much money she can get out of me and my network.

 

Oprah has a lot to sell. Can you imagine trying to start a network? That’s a B-I-G job. In her email in August she said flat out it’s 10x harder than she thought it would be. And yet she’s never begged me to watch or asked me to buy an ad. She’s asked me what I think of a show. I mean, I know she’d like me to watch, sure. But she’s using my email the same way a girlfriend would – by asking my opinion and telling me a bit about her life.

 

I don’t have any friends who ask for money every time we talk.

 

Who else do you know who uses email really well?

 

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Grabbing Your Community by the Heart July 19, 2011

There's nothing better than community.

 

Today is the final day of voting for American Express Open’s Facebook Big Break for Small Business. The clock stops ticking at midnight eastern time.

 

The tiny community of Dixon, Il and their neighbors are pulling out all the stops to help Bud and Jim at Distinctive Gardens win. You can vote here, if you haven’t already.

 

Here’s the comment stream on the pic. Would your neighbors do this for you? Just fantastic.

 

An Adventure in the Midwest July 13, 2011

Distinctive Gardens put together this slide show telling the story of their AmEx OPEN Facebook Big Break adventure. This takes you from the time they considered entering to launch of the voting on videos.
 

15 Minutes of Fame for AmEx OPEN Big Break Finalists July 7, 2011

 

Despite the fun and excitement of the American Express OPEN Facebook Big Break finalist announcements, the work of running the business HAS to go on. Take a look at the Facebook newsfeed from Distinctive Gardens.

 

These are the moments you stretch as a business owner. Yeah, that can leave a mark.

 

Lisa typically man’s the Distinctive Garden Facebook page. She is getting a baptism by fire being Social Media Community Manager for a Facebook Page that has grown by 40% in 24 hours. Look at her post, she’s nearly overwhelmed at trying to keep up with the posts.

 

And look at the post about the event invite they did. It invited people to vote for them and to share the invite with their friends.  7000 invites in 3 1/2 hours. Wild.

 

Keeping up and running the business

 

Notice also the post from Laura, her wedding reception is at Distinctive Gardens Pavilion on Saturday. The wheels can’t come off, or Laura gets the day of her life overshadowed by a contest.

 

Correction: It’s not Laura’s wedding reception. She’s a guest. The newlyweds are Trisha and Zach Arquilla.

 

What do you think happens next? What do you think they should do next? Drop you ideas/suggestions in comments.

Carla

 

 

 

Two Billion is an Intimate Affair April 29, 2011

The Service

 

Today the world attended a wedding. All of us together. It was magical.

And there were plenty of obstacles. Security was the tightest in history. The church smaller than it need be. The crowd as big as you can imagine. And the engagement was a mere 5 months. Oh, and the budget, it was small. OK, small-ish. William and Catherine had requested a restrained affair, even requesting charitable contributions in lieu of gifts. Many of the guests arrived at the Palace in mini-buses. That’s budget constraint. (for royalty.)

And yet the 2 billion guest who didn’t get invitations had their most intimate access ever.  We could watch on close to 100 TV channels, or on live streaming video over the Internet. We listened on satellite radio while we drove to work. Read it in the newspaper on our iPad while we were on the treadmill. We could hear the hymns before the ceremony by downloading the music. And there were at least three official websites.
Yes, I watched. I watched the whole thing. I had it on two TVs and on Twitter. My girlfriend was in London Thursday at 5:00 pm for a meeting. She bought gifts for the kids at The Queen’s Shop in Buckingham Palace 16 hours before the ceremony. And got us flags from the stand at Westminster Abbey.  I talked about it with my friends on Facebook. I downloaded the Official Wedding Program. And the kid at our evening viewing party recorded a video for the bride and groom. It was a spectacular day. We did everything but buy plane tickets and new outfits.
None of this was possible 4 years ago. The royal team did an amazing job using the media available to give us access to so much. They deserve one heck of an after party. And then there was the social part. That was extraordinary.

Here are 6 ways social platforms were used in completely new ways:

  1. The Royal Channel on YouTube did more than featured background videos and highlights of the ceremony. The team did something to really leverage YouTube’s social element. They let us upload our well-wishes to the bride and groom. It was a guest book with videos instead of signatures. No need to be present to leave your stamp. Tell me that won’t become a HUGE wedding trend.
  2. Flicker The Monarchy has a Flicker photo stream.
  3. Twitter – Multiple tweet streams were produced by the monarchy. @ClarenceHouse @BritishMonarchy were tweeting up a storm. Not to mention all the news channels and anchors tweeting and the fashion police and all of us watching.
  4. Apps iPhone apps, iPad apps both for history, pictures, relationships of the family members. And design your own dress apps. And games. Yes, even games like this one where the bride is racing to the church on time dodging horses and by-standers. There are so many I can’t even begin to link to them all.
  5. Facebook has a  Page, The Wedding Book, for the couple created by fans. The Page has 151,670 fans of it’s own. That’s in additon to the wedding’s official page, The British Monarchy.
  6. Music – Want the Royal Album, download it from iTunes.

I hope the social media team takes a vacation and then comes to a conference to speak. I’d love to hear how they pulled it all together, how big the staff was and what they’d do differently if they could.

 

I know there are sites I missed. What did you find?

 

Homeland Security: Your Facebook Friend April 23, 2011

Terrorist threats will now be posted to Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes. When appropriate.

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that one way they will inform the public of terror alerts is by using social media. They will only bother with the biggies – Facebook and Twitter.

Take the word to the people, where the people spend their time. What do you think? Read more from the Associated Press article here.

Personally, I have a lot of questions.

Overall, I think it is potentially a good idea. AND it needs to be carefully planned. Otherwise it will nuts. Or invisible.

First question:  How? Here’s what I mean. On Facebook I get updates from friends in my newsfeed. Do I need to be a friend of Homeland Security to get that update? (I’d hope they would consider me a friend without my opting in.)

Maybe there will be an update window pop open as soon as I log into Facebook:

“Please read this important message from the Dept. of Homeland Security:  Terror Alert Elevated. Travelers through U.S. airports are asked to be extra vigilant from May 5-6. Click here to tell your friends.”

Do you suppose it will pop up on my phone when I open my Facebook mobile app? Hmm…

Now Twitter. Do I need to follow @HomelandSecurity so I get the tweet? Problem #1 – That user name doesn’t exist. People use it; they just type it in. But it isn’t anyone’s account.

@DHSJournal exists, and it is a verified account for Department of Homeland Security. The account has 32,698 followers. But honestly, if I saw a tweet like “@DHSJournal Travelers be cautious in US airports May 2-4” I don’t think it would register with me as a terror alert. Maybe they could let @LadyGaga know. She has 9,489,232 followers. That way her people could talk to the people.

The other thing is, we’ve seen hoaxes on Twitter. Big ones. Remember the boy who supposedly floated away in a homemade aircraft. The one that looked like a Jiffy Pop pan? I sure hope Twitter execs are in on how this is going to work.

So far I haven’t seen any details about how it will work. I’ve got my fingers crossed they are working on that.

Do you have any ideas on how to do this in an effective way?  Drop me a note in the comments section.

 

 

 

“Shine” a Women’s Entrepreneur Conference April 14, 2011

 

In January I registered to go to “Shine.” It is a women entrepreneur conference held in Dallas. The founder is Ali Brown, a self-described entrepreneurial guru for women. It’s the 1st weekend of November.

I first came across it while researching a client’s blog. Somewhere within Fabulous After 40’s blog posts and comments I stumbled onto conversation about Shine 2010 and it piqued my interest. The event is designed to help women entrepreneurs kick start and inspire one another. After poking around a bit more, I jumped in and signed up.

Three elements that pushed me over the edge to sign up:

  • The monthly payment plan. Instead of diving in with cash to register, I can bill $79/month on my credit card. That was brilliant.
  • Dallas is home to one of my oldest friends, Liz. And I can visit her. (we’ve been friends since Kindergarten) Bam. Double duty value.
  • As an early bird registrant to Shine, I get to bring a friend, for free. Guess who’s coming with me? Yup, Liz.

Since I signed up some of the communication I’ve seen from Ali International has me going “hmm.” She, Ali, is VERY self-promotional. “Buy my DVD set and change your life!” “I’m going to be on TV, don’t miss me!” ” Buy this and I’ll show you the secrets to success!” “Save $50 bucks for a limited time.”  “Don’t miss out!” Not exactly my style.

Most of this is on her Facebook Page. I finally “unliked” it. Her page is set up for one-way communication only. Just her.  If fans want to add a comment to what she says, OK. But a fan can’t just post “Hi” or “What speakers are on tap for Shine 2011?” That goes against the gospel of social, and rubs me the wrong way.

The email communication that has come through about “Shine” has encouraged attendees to go to Facebook and introduce themselves to each other. Except you can’t because we can’t post. I emailed her in February about the disconnect. No response, and no change to the way the Page is set up. And the “I’m selling this!!” posts just kept coming. Hence the “unlike” and the wondering about what’s really going to take place at “Shine.”

There has been an event created on Facebook for Shine, and the women showing up there seem cool. That’s what I’m interested in. Am I still going? Yes. (‘Cause I get to see Liz.) We’ll go to the first day of “Shine” and see what we get. If it’s a huckster fest, Liz and I will bail and turn Dallas upside down. She’s going to take me garage sale-ing, I just know it.

What do you think? Should I be suspicious or am I over reacting?

If you’re curious and want to come along, Liz and I would love partners in our adventure! Even if it ends up being garage sales.