Review: Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business

Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business

Larry Weber describes in his updated and expanded Second Edition of Marketing to the Social Web how marketing the social web requires a new way of communicating with potential clients. It doesn’t mean that you should forget everything you ever learned about marketing, it means that you have to adjust to the new digital way and open up your mind to the new social marketing possibilities.

He introduces the reader to the social web, how to make the transition to the social web and cut your marketing budget while reaching even more buyers. Part II of his book provides the Seven Steps to Build Your Own Customer Community, from observing and creating a customer map, recruiting community members, promoting your community to the world to improving the community’s benefits.

The author then explains in great detail the advantages of the new digital marketing methods including MySpace, Facebook, blogging, Web 4.0, E-Communities and how to reach customers through this media. He also shows ways for companies and marketers to assess the monetary effectiveness of their social media campaigns.

This book will provide every reader and marketer with all the necessary know-how to react, compete and succeed in this fast-growing digital marketing world with the help of new marketing strategies.

Find out more here:

Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business

Review: ePublish Self-publish fast and profitably for Kindle, iPhone, CreateSpace and Print on Demand

Steve Weber, the book marketing guru and author of “The Home-based Bookstore”, the No. 1 book on online retailing, gives insight into how to sell your books and ebooks.

Ebooks and digital content have become the fastest growing publishing sector for the past five years. The author talks about their importance, no upfront costs for printing, storage and shipping and also introduces the reader to Amazon’s ebook reader device, Kindle. He provides information on how to publish to the Kindle store, how to solve formatting issues, pricing and other related topics.

The author offers advice and tips on how to target the mobile reader, i.e. iPhone, Mobipocket, App Store and Amazon.

Other topics include:

  • How to get free exposure with no marketing costs
  • How to get reviews for your book that will turn into increased sales figures
  • How to price your ebook for best possible profit
  • How to market with podcasting
  • How to use affiliates to drive sales
  • How to expose yourself on social websites
  • Google Adwords
  • How to design your book cover
  • How to design your pBook
  • Fulfill pBook orders
  • Sell on Amazon
  • And lots more

ePublish by Steve Weber is a book every aspiring author should own and read. It gives clear and detailed advice on how to self-publish your own books with no start up costs and publishing companies.

Find out more Here: ePublish

Outsourcing Your Way To Bigger Business


I’m working with a Sweetie, and you can too! 🙂

This is a completely honest review of the service I use, and have used since it launched in December 2007. This is truly the BEST thing I’ve ever done for my business.

When building your online business and presence it takes alot of work to stand out. It takes time and dedication to work on your sites, have them perform properly, and draw new visitors.

My online journey started solely because I wanted to build something that didn’t keep me locked up inside a retail store for hours on end. That was my main goal, was to break free. If you’ve ever owned your own traditional physical retail business, you know exactly what I mean.

You are stuck to a contract that says, “You must be open during these times of the day, and if you’re not then you’re just out of luck… we will fine you.”

My kids were growing up before my eyes and I was not really living life, I was existing.

Before Alice Seba launched her Outsourcing Sweetie, I was building my business but did not have a specific formula I was using. I did daily what I felt was best for building my income and presence online.

But there’s one thing that stopped me. I’d get stuck on installing a code, or just plain caught up in everything that I had to do and get done that I couldn’t focus on the big picture, the big plan.

Getting back to running my own traditional business where I had 5 retail stores I think back to the many conversations I’ve had with business owners from all walks of life and in different locations. Over 12 years I got to know people even on a personal basis, we were friends.

We often would talk about our business in passing or we would visit each other in our stores to see what’s working for eachother. But I can tell you not once, did we ever discuss how to brand our business better, not once in 12 years did I EVER have that conversation.

The only time we discussed branding was when we were picking our store name, or when we were having a beautiful new sign created. That’s it.

Our focus was not on branding our business (which it should have been) but on how to get more customers, how to sell what’s hot, how to be more unique than our competitors. I guess yes, that does fall under “branding” but it never came out like… “So how will you build your brand today?” It was more of a side effect of what we were doing.

Fast forward to December 2007, yes I was making an income online. But my goal has always been to go over and above anything we ever made with 5 stores. If you imagine, we went from a 5 store income, down to nothing. That’s a pretty drastic change.

Getting back to Alice Seba. One day in Spring 2004 when I was working from home, I noticed an article in the local newspaper about a lady who was helping moms work from home. I thought to myself, “sure but how can you make a living without a traditional business?” It certainly peeked my interest and I knew I had to meet her.

I believed with my whole heart that Alice was the real deal, I knew she was making a full time income online, I just knew it. And I knew I had the smarts to do this too, I was going to create my online business and I dug my heels in.

Today as I type I have an incredible business that is growing by leaps and bounds. I have a happy husband, and children who get to see me every day, for years that just did not happen.

But what changed?

Secretly I wished that I could know exactly what kind of “system” Alice used which I knew she had one, and she started all this talk about outsourcing parts of your business. So I went ahead and started outsourcing, but came against a few roadblocks.

1) I had to train someone
2) I had to rely on someone to get the work done
3) I’d get stuck on something technical

But because I didn’t treat this “online gig” as a real business (remember I’ve been stuck in the traditional brick and mortar mindset), I didn’t treat it as such. I’d get sidetracked with my “real” business and think of my “online play toy” as something I’d get to when I learned how to fix whatever got me stuck.

I don’t know why I did this, call it a strange thing. I just believed it was something that would eventually do well. I truly did NOT treat it with the respect it deserved. I did not use the business sense that I had and apply it to my online business.

When Alice opened Outsourcing Sweetie, I’ll be honest. I was definitely making an income online, but nothing that would compare to my goal of owning the 5 retail stores. I joined to “try it out” and learn her “system” with full intentions of maybe staying for 1 or 2 months.

But well into my 1st month I knew that this was something that would need to run my online business. I swear I would be 50 steps behind right now if I didn’t use OS services. Seriously.

I can now focus on the big picture of my online business, I can focus on branding, I can focus on solutions, I can focus on moving forward while all the little and big tasks are being taken care of for me.

Even the entire transfer of this site over from Yaro was completely handled by the programmer inside OS.

Now I was thinking to myself for the last while here I am, making an incredible income (also largely due to this site), how can I help you? How can I help everyone here at Small Business Branding?

Ah Ha! I figured I’d offer you services too, I know this outsourcing gig pretty well now and I can help you build your business with my intricate knowledge of offline AND online business.

But guess what? I’ve been hesitating..

I hesitated because I know the WORK it takes to build an online business, now imagine if I try and take that over for you and everyone else here. Not a good plan. I will take my focus away from my own business and growing what I’m already doing.

The best way to serve you is to leave the outsourcing to the EXPERT staff inside OS. Plain and simple. There is no need for me to do this, I don’t have the time or the desire. So here I am, recommending to you what has helped me grow my business.

By not outsourcing you are limiting your own growth. I can highly recommend using Alice’s Outsourcing Sweetie. I know if you do this, you will thank me for it. 🙂

Grab Your Spot To Alice’s $10 Trial Here

How To Make Compliance Branding Work For You.

No matter what industry you are in, there are regulations in place to make your company comply with preset standards of practice. These standards are known as compliances. Some are set in place by government agencies and the others are professional compliances both internal and external. Government compliances in many cases deal with health, safety and security to name a few. Business owners have mixed emotions about compliances. In most cases, compliances are viewed with distain for many reasons over and above the expense of it.

Ed Roach

What should be recognized as important is the effect on your brand your compliances have. If your corporate brand values are based on values such as integrity and due diligence, being compliant is very important to you. By complying you reduce the risk associated with running your operation. Deficiencies in the implementation of compliances can lead to unfortunate outcomes that essentially take a sucker-punch to your brand. No business can afford to run rough shod over their compliance obligations. Safety compliances protect your brand from being exposed due to employee injuries. These high profile events draw undesired attention to your company. Any adverse news makes your company look sloppy and insensitive.

Your brand is everything to do with your reputation. Not only is being compliant of importance to the health and welfare of your company but also by extension to your corporate brand as well. Industry compliances are more specific in nature. They typically associate themselves with standards of the type of business you are in. Architects for instance must adhere to compliances that allow them to promote themselves as architects. These industry compliances set the bar high for entry into the industry and protect the public in their quest for your services. Following these compliances assures the public of professional standards of practice. Detering from professional compliances sets your brand up to take the fall. Failure to live up to your compliances and accepting deficiencies exposes your company – and thus your brand. Any loss in professional designation will ultimately cost you money. Your brand loses its expert status in the eyes of your customer.

A third and often neglected area of compliance is the self-administered compliance. These are compliances that you have personally put into place to react to a cultural shift in your industry or to raise the bar from within. Self-administered compliances are very real opportunities. Corporate standards put in place within a company do so to provide an assurance on the level of quality of operation and service within the company. Self-administered compliances are a perfect opportunity to develop a more effective model of operation.

Now that we have looked at the 3 main types of compliances and recognizing their importance to the running of your company and their positive impact on your brand, now we must be assured that they are being implemented effectively. It is one thing to recognize a compliance need, it is another entirely that the compliance is being administered properly. There must be processes put in place to be sure that those rules and regulations are being followed and understood by all stake holders in the company. Any negligence in the implementation of compliances weakens the compliance leaving your brand exposed by association. Your marketing efforts often position your company in it’s best light. You simply can not afford sloppy compliance practices. It has a negative effect on moral and leadership within the corporation.

Once you have determined that all compliances are in place and that they are being adhered to according to processes developed to that end, it is important now to market compliances to your advantage. Being compliant on multiple levels can become the basis of a strategy of differentiation. Compliance icons can be used to shout this message out to your target audience. Stepping up as a leader in your category, not only raises the bar but puts barriers in place that impedes the forward movement of your competition. In order to match or beat you they have to invest considerable effort and expense to catch up and surpass you. Being the leader allows you certain bragging rights that gives your customers maximum confidence in dealing with you.

This confidence equates to a stronger brand relationship.

Brand Values In A Recession

I recently attending a breakfast discussion at the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor. It was facilitated by Dr. Fritz Rieger. The subject being discussed was how to anticipate the outcome of two companies joining forces, through Acculturation – a model of cultural adaption.

Ed Roach

He essentially outlines four directions the corporate cultures would go. First of all they would either assimilate completely into the new culture or the opposite, separate themselves and the stronger entity would continue their home culture. The other two directions are the softening of the model and probably the more desirable positions. They are that the companies would integrate and benefit from their mutual contributions or they would de-culture and assume an entirely different model unique to either side.

Dr. Rieger then gave real-world examples of this and their outcomes and where they fit into the diagram. His best model was the American company Chrysler and the German company Daimler. Each company has a traditional cultural difference. It was a great example for his model. A question from those assembled intrigued me. It was asked,” Where might a company typically fall into the model, when their motivation to partner is desperation due to a down-market?” – the key word (to me) here was “motivation”.

When desperation is the motivator, how clear is a company in making rational decisions that may in the long term be detrimental? There may be some immediate return in moral support (strength in numbers) but what is the potential damage to your brand, if you are even able to maintain your brand or will it be absorbed into the other partner’s culture? The Dr.’s acculturation model is a good one if one is considering a move to partner but maybe hasn’t thought through the possible brand impact due to differing corporate cultures. The model nicely takes into account egos and maturity.

If your brand is a strong one, but numbers have slipped across the board due to the economy, many companies in their war rooms entertain many solutions. If partnering is considered – the fit is naturally one consideration. Invariably one of the candidates will be the stronger company with the deepest pockets, but lets say that this company has actually the weaker brand at this point in time. Which brand will rise to the surface in the partnering? If both parties can put aside egos, would the resulting corporate make-up see an opportunity in attempting to grow the stronger brand as opposed to the one of the richer company, which may actually be the weaker brand. Would they recognize that the stronger brand has a better chance of returning bigger profits in the long run and benefit more from the combined strengths of the partnering or would the relationship implode?

Ed Roach

I contacted Dr. Rieger and shared my thoughts with him. He proposes the following scenario would probably happen based on his research:
“At the end of the day, the stronger (takeover) partner (with the deepest pockets) will be the one to decide how the “acculturation” will take place. If the stronger partner believes that adopting the brand of the weaker has commercial value, then it may indeed choose to adopt that brand name and identity. However, in much the same way that the incoming settlers may choose to “go native” in order to survive in a new land, over time, the conquering settler will seek to modify the “native” culture to better fit their own customs. Often the only aspects that survive of the native culture, or brand, are the external commercial trappings and everything else (management) reflects the takeover partner. Over time, there will be little left of the stronger brand, since all of the “culture” that supported that brand has been stripped away.

A good example is the Sears takeover of Eaton’s (in Canada). Eaton had the stronger brand and Sears kept the name in hopes of retaining the customer base but ran it much like Sears. Customers noticed the difference and the customer base shifted. After a while, even the name was abandoned and takeover Sears became Sears in name as well.

While it is possible to “assimilate” in one aspect, to remain “separate” in another, it is really quite difficult. The result doesn’t last because cultures (and companies) are holistic. Management affects operations affects morale. ”

So, in the world of corporate branding, Dr. Rieger’s scenario adopted the brand image but NOT the brand values. They maintained their own values, which of course would work against the company with the stronger brand recognition. That brand being built on “their specific values”. Without those unique brand values the conquerer fails because a brand is the sum of it’s many elements. (Values are not interchangeable)

When I discuss branding with companies, one key element in our discussions are the company brand values. It is commonly understood and agreed that with out them the company would cease to exist. They are the foundation of the company. So then Eaton’s had to fail. Sears were not prepared to just be a silent partner, and the customers were not prepared to accept the altered brand – it was not what they had grown to love. Once you change the brand values the customer loves, the brand withers. This betrayal of values is what Starbucks is going through this very moment – they moved away from the customer which was the core of their brand values – the customer moved on – now they are back-pedalling as fast as they can.

How Bad Do You Want It?

I had breakfast with a friend recently who wanted to discuss personal branding. They felt that if they determined what their brand was or could be, it would change everything. But the truth is the real problem wasn’t necessarily their personal brand but their passion.

Ed Roach

Right of the top we put cost on table. “How much might this cost me Ed?” they asked. I just as quickly threw $5,000. at them, knowing the reaction – “5 grand, whoa that’s way to much.”

Think so?

Here’s the thing, 5 grand was not the issue. $100 might be too much, who knows. The issue here is passion. How bad do they want it. I know that they just went out the week before and dropped 5 grand on a flat screen TV. It didn’t take much too thought either, as a matter of fact they went out “just to look” and came home with the baby.

I asked them at this point – “How much is your personal grow worth to you?” and of course they said – “A lot”, this is where I jumped it an retorted – “Obviously not as much as a big screen TV.” That last comment was just for fun. The truth is they were passionate about their entertainment, not so passionate for personal growth.

At this point in the conversation it got pretty SELF-analytical. My friend wanted to know what might be wrong with them, that they just can’t get their act together as far as their personal growth aka personal brand. My opinion was there is nothing “wrong” with them, they simply didn’t want it bad enough. They love talking about it, they loved planning it, but they don’t really want it, or they would do it. They replied ” no way, of course I want it.” “If that is the case,” I asked, “why is it that for the last few minutes you told me several reason why you CAN’T do it instead of why you CAN?” You can’t find the time to work out in a gym because there is no passion to work out, BUT if your doctor say’s you will die if you don’t, then guess what, your passion to live opens that gym door.

YOU DON’T WANT IT BAD ENOUGH, YOU DON’T HAVE THE PASSION.

Not having the passion to improve your brand, personal or corporate is not really a bad thing but a personal determination of goals. What do you want out of your personal and corporate life? What is your overall definition of success? If you are passionate about a goal, then money is not so much of an issue. What is more important in your life, professional growth or the big screen TV? There is no right or wrong answer to this. It is what is important to you right now at this point in time.

The one thing you have to come to gips with is the truth. Don’t lie to yourself about where your passion lies. If you truly want to grasp greater things then you have to come to grips with your own personal demons and ignite your passion to obtain it. Stop talking about it and DO IT! If the big screen TV is where it’s at right now, then embrace it and enjoy the sucker with everyone you love.

Passion is why we do the things that are truly important to us. To say you are a procrastinator is just a crutch to not have to come to terms with the fact that there is no passion in doing tasks set out in front of you. Find out what motivates your passion and embrace it. If you feed your passions with positive energy, you will do it. Even if you fail in the attempt, the approach is re-directed but the passion doesn’t die, as a matter of fact it is stronger.

Passion feeds on our efforts, just as little effort starves passion. How bad do you want it?

“Punching IN”- A Reality In Print

One reviewer’s opinion of “Punching In” a book by Alex Frankel.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to work at UPS, The Gap, Starbucks or Whole Foods? Well Alex Frankel takes us on an inside journey in his new book: “Punching In”.

In 200 pages, Frankel gives you some very good honest insight into the cultures that makes these companies stand-out brands. In many ways the experiences remind me of the rash of reality shows we see on television. Corporate voyeurism at the front-line level. I found it an amusing read, quite unlike many books I’ve read discussing the reason for the successes of these businesses. ‘Punching In’ was from a different perspective. It reveals the real people behind the building of customer relationships and the depth of their sincerity in spreading that culture of brand.

You might also read this book to discover the nitty-griity details that make up a brand experience we all have experienced with some of these businesses. It was a pleasure to review this book, and I would recommend it because of its honesty. Alex Franken could have easily taken a lower road in the writing of this book but instead just told it as he saw it – no dirt – just good clean fun.

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