“Hi Mitch. I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn. We share similar services. Can we schedule a phone call…”
I get messages like this all the time. The wording might be slightly different but it’s pretty much always the same. A variation on this is when someone says they’ve seen my profile and wants to consult with me about something and also want to speak to me on the phone.
Me & Star Wars guy
What’s the problem you might be asking? If you’re on LinkedIn you already know. If not, the problem is that either these people didn’t actually read my profile, didn’t understand it or are only reaching out because I posted something that got a lot of views. Continue reading How Not To Reach Out To Someone On LinkedIn→
A week and a half ago I bought a new mattress. It only took me 20 years to do so, and 20 years to realize how mattress technology has changed. Let me share the little video I did about it with you:
Kind of cool, right? For those who didn’t watch the video first, the company I bought this mattress from, Raymour and Flanigan, is the same one I bought my other mattress from along with the cool looking headboard. As a matter of fact, my previous dining room table, which is hidden somewhere in the basement, was also purchased from the same company; I’m saying it that way because the location of the main store has moved to a new and much larger location. In this area, this furniture store is one of the big names in town and because I’d purchased other things for them I trusted them much easier than I trusted a couple of the other stores I visited.
Also, because you might not have looked at the video (go ahead, look at it to see how neat it is lol), you may not know that I purchased a Beautyrest, which is a top brand name and one of the top ranked mattress companies in the country. I’d also heard of them so that also made it stand out in my mind and helped encourage me to buy it. Of course it didn’t hurt that it was on sale, and they threw in new box springs and added free delivery and they took the other mattress and bed springs away for free also; win! 🙂
The thing is, this isn’t where I started my research for mattresses. It started online, mainly because of my wife, who’d had some mattresses recommended to her. All of them were off-brands, and some of them were mail order only. Even with research I couldn’t imagine ordering a mattress that I couldn’t test first.
There were a couple other stores we checked out before I went to this store because one was closer and one we happened to walk by in our large city mall and decided to check out. I’d actually tested what I considered a perfect mattress, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on a $5,750 mattress! Maybe when I hit the lottery I’ll consider it. lol In any case, I didn’t know those stores all that well, so even if I’d found something I liked I probably would still have hesitated.
Let’s face it; we love what we love and buy what we know. I’m pretty loyal to foods and desserts that I’ve loved since I was a child. I still buy Tide because Mom bought Tide. I buy Ragu because it’s the first spaghetti sauce I liked. I’m a loyal Hershey’s chocolate fan, Miracle Whip fanatic and Velveeta lover because they’re foods I trust and the company’s behind them are brands I trust. It would take a lot for me to even think about trying something else, let alone switching permanently. That’s what branding does to and for us; it simplifies our life and makes us consumers for life.
This is one of the things most of us who blog or are self employed are working to be for someone else. I find it’s not all that easy to do, although I know it can be done. I know this because I can name names, although I’m not going to do it right now (I’ve done that before).
There are people making pretty good money online because they’ve been able to brand themselves well; I’m certainly not going to hate on them. I don’t want to be against them; I want to be in the place they’re in. I’m working on being seen as an authority in multiple areas, and I’m working on being more influential in those same areas. I don’t need thousands of people, but I’m definitely shooting for those 100 true fans to help me realize my long term goals.
I know what will work if I only want more traffic, but that takes a lot of time and effort and isn’t the best way to reach your target market. I know many people say success is in the numbers; that’s turning out not to be true anymore, especially for a lot of people on YouTube lately.
For once I’m not giving advice in one of these posts. Instead, I’m looking for a conversation to see what some of you think is the best way to build yourself as a brand. I know I’m not convinced in guest posting, email lists, Adwords or Facebook marketing. I’ve actually done all of those things and, because of stupid Google Panda I got smacked down like a lot of other people over the years. Who knows; maybe I did it wrong, so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all have to say.
Some of you know I own a blog about financial stuff. Some of you also know I used to accept guest posts on that blog, but ended it last December after being bothered by the types of requests I was getting, the lousy editing and, well, just the time it was taking away from doing other stuff.
Even though I still get those requests, I can easily deflect them. However, if the offers are good, I still entertain letters about advertising, although so far I haven’t found any of them to be up my alley. I’m just not going to allow links or banner ads to any businesses or companies that aren’t aligned with finance on that site; that’s the smart way to do business right?
One type of email I get, that most people get, is the form letter. You know it, where you see the same language all the time, the lies about how they’re impressed with your site, yada yada.
One rule I’ve always had, even with the guest posts, is if my name isn’t in the email I ignore it and move on. When I was accepting guest posts, if I got a second email I’d write back quickly informing them that they hadn’t read the guest posting policy; yup, I had one of those, fairly extensive. Nowadays I’ll ignore that second email and move on with life.
Well, the other day I got a third email from someone. However, in both the second email and the third, instead of writing something new, and still not having my name anywhere in it, the emails said “contacting you again; see message below.”
Since I got a third email from the guy, I decided to write him back. This is what I wrote:
I’m responding to this email because it seems ignoring it hasn’t taught anything.
Yes, I saw the other emails. Why have I ignored them? Because every single email is proof that you or nobody else who works with you has ever visited my website. If you had you’ve have seen that I have a name, I have an about page and I have an advertising policy.
Frankly, it’s always been my assumption that if people who say they want to work for me show that they’re too lazy to look at anything on the site that I don’t trust them to keep their word on anything they have to say, thus I’m not working with them. I’m only writing you because you’ve sent this more than once.
If you’re actually representing the company you state you are, you’re doing it poorly. Maybe you’ll treat your job and give the people you hope to work with a bit more respect after this email. In any case, at this juncture I’m not interested. I wish you well as you pursue your career, hopefully with a bit more circumspection on how to contact potential customers and partners.
Was that too harsh? I didn’t think so, and I actually felt it was a good lesson that might help make this guy a little bit better at what he does and how he works.
Y’all know I’m an independent consultant in health care. Because I can’t call all the hospitals within a 7-state radius all that often I have a set of marketing letters to help introduce myself to the people I need to talk to.
What I have done is researched every hospital I wanted to send something to and found the names of the people in the position, as well as the actual title they hold, and that goes on the letters I send out; almost never email. I do that because I know if a letter is a bit more personal there’s a better chance it’ll at least be opened, and hopefully read. I also try to mention something about the hospital that I’ve learned that might flatter them in some fashion, such as acknowledging a new service they have or an award they’ve recently won.
Sometimes you get a name wrong because, in health care, people move around pretty fast. But that’s not a big deal because you’ll get the correct name when you follow up by phone. And that’s interesting because at least someone will talk to you, maybe not your intended target, if you have a name.
It’s just lazy marketing if you don’t try to find out someone’s name, or if you haven’t even looked at the website or blog of a person or business to see if maybe the information you’re looking for is there already.
Add this to the process of networking, where you reach out to someone without even attempting to know something about them. At many networking events I go to people only talk about themselves, and are pushing their business card at you before they’ve even told you their name. Sometimes I don’t even reciprocate by giving my card out because I know this is someone who could care less about me. Who wants to spend money, or sometimes even make money, working with someone who doesn’t care about you in the least?
Am I in the wrong here? Am I not being forgiving enough to those who obviously don’t know any better? Or do you see where I’m going, what I’m saying, and possibly agree? Let me know, and thanks for reading.
In this particular case I’m going to revisit a subject I brought up in a post I wrote here back in January titled Why We Don’t Trust Sales People. The quick update is that this guy representing a store we go to often (didn’t work at the store, but the store, BJ’s Warehouse, contracted with these people to offer something special to their customers), sold us a picture window for our living room that, in my opinion, wasn’t giving what he’d said it would give us. Then, 10 days later when he came by to inspect it, I told him I wasn’t sure it was doing what he said it would, to which he replied 12 million people can’t be wrong.
First, the update. The window looks good; I’ll give that to everyone. My wife says she thinks it’s stopped all the leaking we had; I still have grave doubts about that. Maybe air isn’t getting in but the window still gets cold right now, which means it radiates cool air into the house. We had one very weird day last week when the temperature suddenly shot up to 85, breaking a record, before falling back into the 50’s the next day, and on that day the living room was really hot; the new window was supposed to stop that as well.
Then there was this thing about a rebate we were supposed to be getting back. This guy told my wife that she’d be getting a check. Then he told her it would come back through her taxes. I told her it wouldn’t come back through her taxes because one, we’re still paying on some back taxes anything that came would be absorbed into it, and two, he said it would be $900 and I said there’s no way that much would show up. I suggested to her that she tell him she wanted a check from the company, since that’s what he initially told her.
On that day she told him that, and supposedly he went to make a phone call and told her that a check would be coming within a couple of weeks. Fast forward to now. Not only did she never get a check from the company but she could never get this guy to call back from the few times she tried to reach him after that. And when taxes were done, not only did the amount end up being less than half of what he’d stated but I was right, it immediately went to our back taxes. She felt demoralized, and I didn’t feel vindicated in being correct; to me, it really wasn’t a win in any scenario.
Why is it hard to trust people? Because of things like this, where someone sells you a bill of goods that you might not know how to check up front and then end up with something that didn’t give you what was promised later on. Why do many of us have our Spidey senses up all the time? Because we have this fear of being scammed by someone else and none of us wants to be made to feel like a fool.
Trust by Mike Polo via Imagekind
In my mind, one of the best things about blogging is that it gives you an opportunity to try to build people’s trust in you. By being open and honest over the course of time, your hope is that people will come to respect you, and thus if you have something you want to market or a service you provide, people will look your way because you’ve established yourself and shown people what you’re all about. You’re now one of the most trusted authorities because of your social media presence, right?
Unfortunately, not even close. As I touched upon in my recent post asking if anyone’s listening to you on Twitter, the only people that might trust you are those people who know about you, and in the scheme of things, for most of us it’s not that many people. For someone like me as a for instance, blog is ranked well, over 1,000 posts, put myself out there for the world to see, but with under 200 RSS subscribers and a relatively small cadre of blog comments on a consistent basis what would make someone who’s not a consistent visitor here decide to trust me? For that matter, think about your own circumstance; what do you think could compel people to trust you?
I thought about this a little bit when there was a brief tet-a-tet going on at Tristan’s blog based on a guest post with a title that was, well, kind of inflammatory. Now, the post turned out to be kind of inflammatory as well, but it turns out that the post author hadn’t initially wanted to use that as the title. The title in the end was exactly what the post was about, so it hit it on the nail, but in my mind it brought up this thing about trust once again. I mean, Tristan had to trust the guy to write a post that he thought would be good. The guy had to trust Tristan that the title would be good. In the end I’m not sure that both guys got exactly what they wanted, but each guy got something out of it. But do they specifically trust each other anymore?
Frankly, as I commented there, I’d have never written the post to begin with and certainly didn’t like the implication of the post, but at the same time I’m not sure I would have wanted someone to rewrite my topic line either. I wrote a post on one of my other blogs called I Hate Syracuse.com, where I lamented the comments that newspapers and news sources online allow these days. I then had a long conversation with someone from that website who said he didn’t like the title or the implication, though he agreed with me in principle as to why they allow what they do. I said my title was no different than what newspapers have done for years and he said it was in their best interest to get people to the story, but mine seemed misleading since I didn’t actually hate the entire site. I was thinking that was “pot calling kettle black”, and then thought about the trust issue overall once more. I stuck with my title, as you can see, and they’ve stuck with the trash comments they allow.
Why is it hard to trust people? Probably because we don’t always trust ourselves to make the right decisions either. At least that’s my thought on things, as I think about all the people we’ve allowed into our home over the last 10 years that have given us a bill of goods that haven’t panned out. But maybe I’m being a bit cynical on this Sunday morning; not sure. But if anyone has a different viewpoint on it all, I’d love to hear it. And while you’re at it, if you’ve been coming to this blog for awhile I’d like to know if you trust what I’ve said in the past and why; if not, I’d like to know that as well. And we’ll still be friends afterwards; trust me. 😉
In my last post, which was kind of brief, I mentioned that I was trying something new. That was to see if I could create HTML pages and attach them to this blog in some fashion.
The immediate answer turns out to be yes. I don’t know why I’d never thought about it before, but just because one has a blog, what would have prevented me from uploading HTML pages? Nothing, it seems. After all, I’ve uploaded pictures and files before. That part was actually very easy, as I just added a pretty much nothing page with one line, and it worked just fine.
The next part wasn’t as easy, though. I thought about it, and wondered how easy it would be to make at least the header look like the blog header. The first thing I realized is that I couldn’t just look at the source code and get what I needed because much of what you need is coded into the CSS files, along with the PHP files.
But I’m not so dumb; where there’s a will, there’s a way. It took me about an hour, but I figured out how to get the image to do what I wanted it to do so at least that looked like the blog. Then it took me another 10 minutes to figure out how to get the blog name onto the image; that was just stupidity on my part, and that’s one of the problems with trying to do things really late in the evening, or early in the morning, since it was almost 1:30 at this point. I did get it on there, though, got the font correct also. What I can’t do, though, is get the spacing correct. So, it’ll look like the main page, but the name will jump if someone comes to the page. That may or may not be a minor issue for some people.
The next thing I wanted to try was to see if I could get my brief content to look like it does on the blog. I spent 25 minutes on that before I decided either I was too tired or there’s something I’m missing. When I got the font and color to look like it does on the blog, it also added this line in front of the content, looking like some emails do when things are repeated and people aren’t using the > sign to indicate it. When I didn’t have the font color looking like my blog everything defaulted totally to the left. I tried adding the “blockquote” attribute, and things went, well, weird. Seems the blog software, even if it’s an independent page, just doesn’t like that one.
In the end, I’m left with some conclusions. One, can it be done; yes. Two, is it worth trying to make everything look like the rest of your blog? No. Three, is that a major deal? Probably not, but I’m troubled with some of the formatting issues I was having, especially everything defaulting totally to the left. I’d hate to get into having to add that “nbsp” thing all the time (I didn’t type the code in correctly because then you wouldn’t see it here) to add spaces for every line; that’s ugly coding, and way too much work if you want to have a long page with lots of content and products on it. At some point it might be worth it to do things that way. For now, though, I think I’ll continue sending people to my S&S blog to see my weekly specials. So much easier to deal with.
Blogging, Social Media, Writing, Motivation and General Stuff