SMBH 114 – with Linda Popky




Award-winning marketing expert Linda J. Popky, the founder and president of Redwood Shores-based Leverage2Market Associates, transforms organizations through powerful marketing performance. Her clients range from small businesses and consultants to mid-sized companies and large Fortune 500 enterprises. She’s been involved with many of the Silicon Valley companies who developed and deployed the technologies that have changed the world over the last twenty-five years, including Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, NetApp, PayPal, Plantronics, Autodesk, Applied Materials, and others.

A consultant, speaker, and educator, Linda has been named one of the top women of influence in Silicon Valley and inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame. She is the past president of Women in Consulting and is a member of the Watermark Strategic Development Board.

The first marketing expert worldwide certified to offer the Private Roster™ Mentoring Program for consultants and entrepreneurs, Linda has taught marketing at San Francisco State University’s College of Extended Learning, University of California Santa Cruz Extension in Silicon Valley, and West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.

Linda holds an MBA and a BS in Communications from Boston University. Her new book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters¸ was released in March 2015. A classically trained pianist, Linda has also produced Night Songs, a CD of classical piano music.

How To Get Your Message Heard Above The Noise

There are so many ways you can market your products and services to your prospects. Your message can be heard by sending messages and “shout outs” using your mobile phone.  The nice thing about using mobile to market, is you can also receive messages, news, content posts and advertisements. Nowadays, reaching out is very easy. The only issue is, most of these types of messages are just plain old noise. Sending your Communications and messages in this way for the most part, is no longer something that your prospects want.

The worst part is, this noise being sent from other business owners and marketers are becoming louder and louder as each day passes.

2 Types Of Noise That Every Business Owner absolutely must Be Aware Of

How do you get heard above the noise? There are primarily, 2 types of noise that every business owner and entrepreneur needs to be aware of.

  • General Static Noise – This noise occurs when you are trying to reach out to your customers in the marketplace and the noise is pretty obvious. That “General Static” noise can be your competitors or their products. Sometimes static noise might even come from your own consumers and their actions.
  • Internal Static Noise – This type of noise normally happens when you are trying to get out from your own organization to create your own. Also, internal noise can happen when there are disagreements between organizations within the company. A prime example of this is: When the Sales team doesn’t talk with the Marketing Team and the Marketing Team doesn’t talk with the Product Development team…because of this, the Customer Support Team suffers.

If you belong to a large organization, this noise can turn into a very big problem for you. If internal organizations don’t talk with one another, what quickly starts to happen is they get in their own way.

Eventually this continues to get worse and worse eventually, leading to low customer satisfaction, customers leaving and product dissatisfaction in the marketplace.

We need to be part of the team and be respected for what we bring to the table.

“We should do a better job of being good team players. As marketers, we should do a better job of being conscious of the fact that it is not just us anymore. We need to work as part of the team” – Linda

8 Simple Ways How To Rise Above Noise

Marketing has changed dramatically over the last few years and some practices haven’t changed in thousands of years. Having a good business strategy is a must, but understanding the following is a great start to an even more stable business.

  • Know the basics of your company
  • Know and study your competitors
  • Spend time getting to know your customers
  • Have a sales funnel and understand it
  • Build a good brand
  • Figure out how you can provide a good demand generation
  • Learn to measure your progress
  • Have a base business strategy: A kind of strategy that helps people and keep people on track.


The 2 biggest Reasons For Miscommunication In An Organization

Why are people not talking to each other?  That’s the foundation for communication, after all…

  • Culture – Our culture today is just go out and do things quickly. Almost everyone has the ability with all the technology available at our finger tips, to just get out there, work and respond quickly…not thinking that we need to take a step back, to communicate our intentions to others.
  • Very Short Attention Span – Our generation has a very short attention span. Normally, if something happens, most of us tweet about it or post an update in Facebook…only then afterwards, move on to communicate with our team. Back in the old days, advertisements are 30 to 60 seconds or more in length, but now they are just 10 to 15 seconds but we still consider it too long.

The problem is that all of us want to move quickly and no one wants to be left behind.  Therefore, we go out and execute without considering the fact that sometimes we have to go slow to go fast.

“Sometimes, we have to go slow to go fast” – Linda

How To Build Your Organization Through Effective Communication

Building strong communication within teams or organizations is a must for all businesses.  Ideally, effective team communication is not like a team building activity.  During many team building activities, everyone participates in exercises like being tied up in ropes and running obstacle courses as a way of showing the team, that they are a team. “Real life” is just not that way.

To build your organization through effective communication, you should start with the Senior Executives setting the stage.  They need to set an example for the rest of the organization and that they are NOT pitting one internal organization against another.  They should demonstrate that they know how to reward and compensate everyone for supporting the overall organization.

Senior Executives need to build a team – not just gather a team. They have to set the example and champion the right behavior by being a model for the entire organization.

How To Differentiate Yourself And Your Product

You need to differentiate yourself, your products, your services and come up with a specific uniqueness. If you are able to really drive home that uniqueness in your product, then it will help establish you as the one and only “you” out in the market.

You need to differentiate yourself by being clear about what you stand for and what values you have. Even if you are selling a product that is very basic, you still have to be very clear as to what value you are providing.

Differentiate yourself and your product by enlisting employees that will really support you, your customers and represent your brand well.

Don’t introduce new products or services just based on data, but also give importance to customer interaction and feedback. Always remember, customers always know what they want.

Lastly, innovate and focus on the marketing aspects that tell your customers what you can do for them.

“If you want to be innovative, you must look at “What could be” and understand that not everything is going to be successful.  -Linda 

Part of innovation is trying and failing but learning from your failures and moving on” – Linda


Read The Entire Show's Transcription +

Linda:              This is Linda Popky and I’m here on the social media business hour with Nile and Jordan. I’m going to tell you how you can be heard above the noise.

Woman:          In business and know the way forward most include social media. Perhaps you find it a bit confusing. Even frustrating. Well, you have no idea how to make it work for your business. Fear not. We interview some of the best social media experts in business who will share their experiences, ideas and knowledge. Plus offer tips and tricks to make using social media a breeze. Leverage the power of social media and grow your business now. Welcome to social media business hour with your host Nile Nickel.

Jordan:            Hello and thank you again for joining us. This is Nile’s trusty sidekick and co-host Jordan and I’d like to take a moment to share with you how you can benefit from Nile’s incredible experience using social media for real business success. If you’re an entrepreneur or thinking about starting your own business then using social media might be the most cost effective and time effective way to get your business real results. That’s not to mention much of what you can do to get those terrific results on social media is even free. Take Linked In for example. Nile always says it’s the best social media platform for business today. And that’s why I recommend you go to and start your social media education today. Sign up for Nile’s free tips, tricks and strategies. Once again, it’s free and it only takes a few seconds. Go to today. You’ll be glad you did.

Nile:                 Hey and welcome back. As you heard at the beginning of the show we have the award winning marketing expert Linda Popky and the founder -- who’s the founder and president of Redwood Shores based Leveraged to market associates. Now Leveraged to market associates is a -- we said Redwood Shores and Redwood Shores is in the wonderful Bay Area of California. Isn't that right Linda?

Linda:              It is. Absolutely.

Nile:                 Yeah. I’ve been to Redwood City a few time so we know where that’s at and wonderful good thing. So just to give you an idea. Her clients range from small businesses and consultants to mid size companies and large Fortune 500 enterprises. She’s been involved with many of the Silicon Valley companies who’ve developed and deployed the technologies that have changed the world over the last 25 years including some Microsystems, Cisco systems, Net App, PayPal, Plantronics, Autodesk, Applied Materials and many, many others. And really, if you’ve been in the Bay Area you know that the Bay Area has really changed the face of this country in technology in the last 25 years. As a consultant and speaker and educator Linda has been named one of the top women of influence in Silicon Valley and inducted into the million dollar consultant hall of fame. She is the past president of women in consulting and is a member of the watermark strategic development board. The first marketing expert worldwide certified to offer the private roster. Okay. I have to ask Linda. Private roster, what’s that about?

Linda:              Okay. so that’s a mentoring program that’s offered by million dollar consultant Alan Weis and it’s where mentors such as myself, people who are senior, have been around a while mentoring more junior people and consulting and help them build their businesses.

Nile:                 That’s an awesome thing. That’s a good way to give back.

Linda:              It is fun.

Nile:                 Awesome, awesome, awesome. Well, thanks for that. And listen, I could go on and on about Linda. She has all sorts of credentials in ways that you cannot even imagine and her new book Marketing above the noise, achieve strategic advantage with marketing that matters was released in March of 2015. She’s got a lot to tell us about that and I can't wait to hear about it so with that long introduction -- although I did ask a few questions, welcome Linda.

Linda:              Thank you Nile. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Nile:                 So you talk about noise -- and before I do that Jordan. We talked about pets earlier.

Jordan:            Linda, you can't see but he’s got that expression on his face.

Linda:              Okay. It’s that expression. Okay.

Nile:                 Trouble is coming. So we’re talking about different pet names and how people come up with their pet names because we’ve got some really strange pet names sometimes. Sometimes they’re very generic. So do you have any pets and if so any interesting pet names?

Linda:              I do. I have a Siberian husky whose name is Mocha which is short for mocha almond fudge and the reason he got that name was when we adopted him he was a rescue. We needed to give him a name because the name they had given him we just didn’t like and we needed a name before we left the rescue because we needed a dog tag and my daughter said he kind of looks like coffee. And I said well, you can't name a dog coffee. Well, cappuccino. No. you can't name a dog cappuccino. Well, how about mocha almond fudge? So that’s why he became mocha.

Nile:                 That makes perfect sense. Don’t you think Jordan?

Jordan:            Love it. Absolutely love it.

Nile:                 So you talk about noise and white noise in your book. Would you mind telling me what you mean by those two terms?

Linda:              Well, the thing about noise Nile is that we have so many different ways to reach people today. so many different ways that you can market to your consumers, you can get messages on your cell phone, you can get messages anywhere and the good news is that it’s easy to reach people and easy to do marketing and the bad news is it’s easy to reach people and easy to do marketing and so what starts to happen is everything becomes noise. It’s no longer something you want to receive but it just becomes more and more sound and it becomes louder and louder and louder and so it’s harder to get through all that. And so that’s in general what the problem is. Is if you’re a marketer how do you get heard above all that sound. And when I talk about -- I actually talk about static which is sort of the internal noise and by that what I mean is when you are trying to reach your customers in the marketplace there’s noise because there’s other competitors, there’s other products, there’s other things your customers are doing. When you’re trying to actually get out of your own way in your own organization, there’s noise, there’s internal static when sales doesn’t talk to marketing and marketing doesn’t talk to product development and nobody talks to customer support. There’s all that kind of static, the white noise that you need to get out of as well. And so those are the two types of noise that we need to be aware of as marketers.

Nile:                 It’s fascinating you say that because Jordan and I -- listen, our organization’s just about the two of us and I know sometimes he just withholds things from me then tell me about them and I know that he feels the same way.

Linda:              Well, then you might need some more noise then. It sounds like some silence going on there.

Nile:                 Well, I don’t know. There’s plenty of noise. Trust me. Jordan would say that I flap my arms and lips all over the place.

Jordan:            It’s deafening.

Nile:                 But in a larger organization that really becomes a big problem.

Linda:              Absolutely, absolutely. Because what happens is when you have organizations like marketing acting unilaterally because they think they have the ability or the charter to go do something but they haven’t talked to product development or they haven’t talked to customer support or more importantly they haven’t worked with IT to get the right data. What starts to happen is they get in their own way and the results aren’t often pretty and so we need to do a better job of being team players as marketers.

Nile:                 Well, I deal with data analytics in my core company which is called Balance engines and we actually identify a lot of those problems where somebody made a change and they didn’t tell somebody else and they then have to try to figure out how to calculate the impact of that change or pay commission on it, whatever it may be, and it just becomes a total disaster. And then another change comes on to make a bad situation worse and it just keeps going and going and going.

Linda:              Absolutely. Yeah.

Nile:                 And that happens frequently.

Linda:              Much too often unfortunately and as we get into more and more data we have more and more opportunity for that kind of thing to happen so we need to do a better job as marketers of being conscious of the fact that it’s not just us anymore. We need to be working as part of the team.

Nile:                 So what is the basic strategy that you identify that helps an organization maybe not eliminate that but certainly minimize that. I mean, we know it goes on everywhere.

Linda:              Well, there’s a couple of things and I think starting -- one of the key things to start with is you’ve got to go back to the basics. Some things in marketing have changed dramatically over the last few years and some things haven’t changed in thousands of years. So you need to have a good strategy, a good business strategy. You need to understand your products, you need to understand your market and where you’re competing, you need to know your customers, you need to understand your sales channels, you need to build a good brand and figure out how you’re going to do a good demand generation for them and then you need to figure out how are you going to go back and measure what you’re doing and all of those things. Having kind of a strategy and a plan to start with that first helps people keep people on track because you know when you’re getting off track and you know you have a plan to go back to as opposed to let’s just go out and execute and see what happens.

Nile:                 That sounds like pretty common sense but --

Linda:              It does. Unfortunately people don’t do it.

Nile:                 Yeah. I was going to say you find a lot of organizations that while it may be common sense -- and I bet you -- and I -- this is just a bet. I’m interested in your response. I bet you that you identify that problem with organizations and you’re saying here's what’s going on and maybe the CEO, maybe one of the department heads said no, no. That’s not going on at all. And then when you talk to the troops it’s a totally different story.

Nile:                 You’re absolutely right because sometimes it’s just not transparent to senior executives. They think everybody’s marching in one order and they’re all working together but down within the organization the communication isn't happening or we see people who are trying, they’re very well intentioned, they want to do the right thing but they’re not considering the consequences of their actions and how doing one thing might impact another organization, might impact customers or prospects in a different way and so we need to go back and stop before we execute and think a little bit more.

Nile:                 What do you think is the root cause of that behavior?

Linda:              Well, I think part of our culture today is just go out and do things quickly. We have the ability with all the technology we have to work very quickly and we can respond, if something happens we tweet about it, we see an update on Facebook, we have a very short attention span. We used to see advertisements back in the old days that were 30 and 60 seconds. Maybe even more. And now they’re 10, 15 seconds and we can't sit still that long. So one of our problems is we want to move quickly and we don’t want to be left behind and therefore we go out and we execute without considering the fact that sometimes you have to go slow to go fast.

Nile:                 Okay. That makes sense. Is that the only problem you see or do you typically see others that cause this?

Linda:              Well, there are other things and I think part of it is that people want to adopt new technologies, they want to do the best they can in terms of -- they don’t want to -- like I said, they don’t want to be left in time and so they see something that looks new, looks exciting and they jump on it. And they want to be keeping up with the competition, they want to be working to kind of outdo what other people are doing and sometimes they’re not taking the time to really understand what it is their customers are asking them for because if you stop and then ask your customers and listen to what they say they will tell you exactly what you need to do to make them happy. But a lot of organizations don’t do that. they think they know what customers want and they go out and execute on that and they may be somewhat correct but they don’t have it down exactly right and therefore they suffer for it.

Nile:                 I was curious and I didn’t want to bait you with this question but I’m curious if you see any domination or power struggles that go on inside of organization that also cause the same problems.

Linda:              Well, absolutely. Every time you have two or three people in an organization you have a potential for a power struggle. I was just talking to a client today and they’ve got a problem because somebody wants to take over one of their projects and they have to come up with justification as to why they’re doing a better job and it doesn’t need to be rethought out and redone and so that happens quite a bit. And again you see it very often between -- traditionally you see sales and marketing are sort of siblings that love to fight and kind of argue with each other even though they need each other but you also see it with other groups within the organization as well. and so a part of this is making sure that as marketers we have a good relationship with senior executives and that we’re understanding what the key business issues are and that we’re willing to work with the key players as a team player and not come in and again try unilaterally try to tell them that we know how to go out and do things better than they do. We need to be part of the team and be respected for what we bring as opposed to just being the people that deliver the nice website and the cute giveaways and all the pretty things. But we need to be looking at a more strategic viewpoint and to be thought of as part of the way to solve some of these issues.

Nile:                 Well, one of the things that I know that we’re talking about is noise and how it affects marketing. I hadn’t thought about going this direction with it but a question. Do you see that in order to eliminate some of that noise that it is critical for a C level executive to create team building activities so that you’re really able to communicate not only better but more effectively and you understand more of that internal team concept?

Linda:              Well, that’s a good question Nile. And I think we do need to think about communication but the problem with a lot of team building is tying yourself up in ropes and jumping off a cliff or whatever some of those interesting team building things are I don’t think relate that well to what happens on a day to day basis. And what I think is just as important is that the senior executives set the stage that they’re not pitting one organization against each other, that they’re rewarding people for supporting the organization overall. A lot of times this behavior happens because compensation says that my goals are to accomplish this particular project. My goals aren’t bigger than just my organization. So senior executives, they need to build the team not just by bringing in the team building people and going off in the woods somewhere but by modeling the right behavior and then ensuring that they’re asking and inquiring their members, their team members to participate and to play well with each other.

Nile:                 Yeah. I was getting excited there for a  minute Jordan. We’re talking about tying up people with ropes, going off into the woods. I’m going this sounds exciting. I’d never thought about these.

Linda:              Yeah. Walking on hot coals. There you go.

Nile:                 Now, we can leave the hot coals out.

Linda:              Okay.

Nile:                 Sorry. That was just too good to pass up. You mentioned how things are changing so fast so -- and you didn’t say it quite this way but I’m going to rephrase it. Chasing the new shiny object, the new piece of technology or whatever. So recognizing that things change so fast, how do you also keep up with all this new technology?

Linda:              Well, that’s a great question Nile and I think one of the things you need to do is again understand on a very deep level who your customers are, what makes them tick, where they’re found, where they’re getting influence, who are they looking to, where are they going and then try and be there. Don’t try and lead them to someplace else. So if you’re talking to customers that are in a certain age group. If they’re 25 to 45 you’re going to find them online in certain places. If they’re 45 to 65 you’re going to find them somewhere else. So even though there may be a way cool, really interesting social media tool you may want to try some things and pilot them but you really want to go where your customers and are and understand what works, try things, see if they work but on a big scale you don’t want to just be everywhere just to be everywhere because that doesn’t _____25:04 waste a lot of time and resources. But you need to be focused and makes sure you have the right message and that you have the right approach that you’re using these tools the way that they really work most effectively for you and your team.

Jordan:            Hey, Linda. This is Jordan. I have an off the subject -- sort of off the subject question for you.

Linda:              Okay. Shoot.

Jordan:            I imagine that when you’re out there talking to so many companies you eventually will run across somebody who is more determined to tell the customers what they want versus really listen to what they want. When you run into that kind of personality what kind of conversation do you have with them? What kind of things do you find yourself saying to them?

Linda:              Well, it’s funny because sometimes it can be a very short conversation. But what I tell them is to stop and listen to what your customers are saying because if they say they know it all they -- there are times when you do know something and the one time where that seems to work is when you are the same demographic group as your customers. If you’re an engineer and you’re selling to other engineers you may have a really good idea what they want. but even that changes over time and certainly if you’re selling to someone who is not exactly who you sold to before or not exactly who you are and you don’t have that insight or perspective what’s wrong with just bringing your customers in and listening to them? So you don’t have to change your strategy, you don’t have to do anything different. just come in and let them tell you, let them reaffirm if you’re so sure you know exactly what they’re saying then let them reaffirm for you. and what usually happens is even though you could be somewhat on track they’ll tell you something, they’ll give you an insight that you didn’t have before and again if you ask your customers the right question and you listen to them they will tell you exactly what you need to do to keep them happy and satisfied and in the pack and so it’s at least worth a conversation.

Nile:                 We’re talking about marketing and part of marketing is if we all have the same product or all the same service we want to be different. We want to be perceived as why we’re different and better than somebody else that’s selling the same product or service so what recommendations do you have to differentiate yourself from the pack?

Linda:              Well, the first thing Nile I would say -- and you’re absolutely right that we need to differentiate ourselves because very rarely do we have a service that is so unique that there’s only one of us out there because even if we do create something like that somebody else comes along. If you create Uber then Lift comes along, right. You create your B and B and somebody else comes along and does that. So you need to differentiate yourself by being very clear about what you stand for, what values that you have and where you’re going to go out and where you’re going to compete in the marketplace so I am yet to meet a single product or a single company that is applicable to everyone. Even if you’re selling something very basic usually there’s someone that you’re focusing on as your target market so you need to have -- be very clear as to what value you’re providing, what the brand is it that you’re providing, how you’re going to enlist using your employees and customer service and support. Very often the key differentiator between two different organizations is the way that their employees treat customers and very few companies take that seriously. I mean, just call half a dozen companies and listen to the response you get or if you email them and you never hear back. I mean, we’ve all had these stories about problems we’ve had and the poor customer support we get back and we can all name probably on one hand a couple of companies that do this well. So you can differentiate yourself by how you support your customers and by how you have your employees living embodied the brand that you have and also by how you focus on where you’re marketing and what you’re going to go out and really tell customers what you can do for them and then follow through with that. so there are a number of things you can do but it starts by really understanding where you have value, how you are different from other alternatives that customers have to do what you do and then how you’re going to get out and communicate that to them.

Nile:                 That sounds absolutely awesome. And you’re listening to the social media business hour. Nile and Jordan. Our special guest tonight Linda Popky. Linda, I didn’t tell people that you are a classically trained piano player and that you’ve also produced night songs, a CD of classical piano music which the listeners know that I am totally in love with music. It’s really one of my great passions and there’s so many questions I want to ask you about this. One of the things I noticed about your book and I love by the way because it’s where your passion comes into the book as well. And the book that we’re talking about for all of the folks that weren’t around for the first segment is Marketing above the noise, achieve strategic advantage with marketing that matters. And the thing about the book is you write it from a very musical sense. I like the heart of the noise, the tempo accelerates and so on and so forth. The musical terms that you use and sprinkle throughout the book. It’s a great thing. So kudos to you.

Linda:              Great. Great.

Nile:                 But one of the things that I was fascinated with was a history lesson about a man in the music business that you started off your book with. Would you mind sharing a little bit of that story?

Linda:              I love that story. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed that Nile. There’s a man named Gorge Gershwin who most of us have heard of and back in the late 1923 he was approached about being part of a new music jazz symposium and they wanted him to write a concerto and he said I don’t have enough time for this. I can't do it. And he thought that was the end of it until he saw a notice in the newspaper, a local New York newspaper saying that his new piece would be premiered in three months and he said wow. I need to do something. And so he actually wrote a good portion of this piece on a train and he talks afterwards about how some of the noises on the train kind of appeared to him and he tried to include it in the music. But what was interesting is the day that it was premiered which was in February of 1924 in this old hall in New York City there were 24 pieces on the agenda and Gershwin’s piece was next to last and all of this stuff sounded more or less the same even though it was supposed to be new music it was all pretty much the same stuff. In addition to that the ventilation system in the building wasn’t working so it was hot and stuffy and people were getting tired, they wanted to leave and the next to last piece on the agenda is George Gershwin and the applause stops and the piece starts and there’s this haunting clarinet solo that starts Rhapsody in blue. And American music was never the same since. It was just -- it’s just been one of the pieces that has really epitomized 20th century American music and for better or for worse Untied Airlines has kind of used that as their theme song for over 30 years so there’s a whole generation or two of people who think of that as the United music. But it’s just -- it was just powerful because it changed the way we thought about what jazz was in music and what Gershwin did in that stuffy hall in New York back in 1924 was he got above the noise. And so what I loved about that is that that’s what we need to do. We need to make sure that we’re not just making the same sounds as everyone else but we need to figure out how to get above the noise.

Nile:                 Such a beautiful story and it really dovetails into where I wanted to go next. Third chapter in your book, you talk about what hasn’t changed. Timeless marketing truths. And you have a number of them but I thought it might be good to talk about some of those things that just really haven’t changed. They’re sort of cornerstones and things that we need to pay attention to.

Linda:              You’re absolutely right Nile and like I said, some things have changed in the last few years but what hasn’t you’ve got to have a solid business strategy and that’s not a strategy for approaching how you’re going to do a marketing campaign. It’s what am I here for as a business and what do I want to accomplish. You need to understand your market. You need to have a good product or service. If you don’t have a good product or service it doesn’t really matter. But even with that you need to understand the market, who are the competitors, who are you playing with, what’s the whole environment like, you need to understand everything from your customers and again what motivates them, who are they, where do I find them, how do I know what makes them different than people who are not my target audience. So you need to understand that. You need to be clear about your brand and what you stand for. You need to be clear about how you communicate and you do demand generation and how you get out there and really explain what that brand is. You need to understand your sales channels and you need to understand how to go out and measure all that. So all of those things and there’s eight factors there; all of those things are extremely important because you can do all kinds of fun things but if you don’t have the basics right it’s not going to matter. And those organizations that do succeed -- if you go back you can kind of check off those eight basic pieces and say they’re doing all of those things correctly.

Nile:                 After you talk about what hasn’t changed you talk about what has changed. What’s the biggest thing that you’ve seen that has changed?

Linda:              I think the biggest thing Nile that’s changed is that we now are working in a much faster world and in a world where we can customize things. We can create products that are customizable for an audience of one if necessary and we can do things very quickly. We also are working in an era where we are focused on three big things. Content and conversation and communities. And content means not just putting out a message that’s about how good you are and why I should buy it but adding value, providing information that the customer then says hey, this is useful to me. Because we’re finding the customers today don’t call a sales rep at the same point in the process that they used to. They do a lot of investigation first. They go and they look online and they look at ratings, they compare different things and they talk to other people to see who referred what and how you’re ranked by some other customers. So you’ve got to put the right information out there for them to do this investigation. You’ve got to be able to get engaged in conversations with customers so it’s not a one way here’s why you should buy this and here’s why we’re great but it’s talking and it’s understanding what their concerns are and what they’re thinking etcetera and you need to be involved in communities. And that doesn’t mean creating communities from scratch. It means going where your customers are and the communities that they’re engaged in and being useful there and participating, listening but also becoming involved and figuring out how to help them so much and I see something that’s just happened in the last week or two which I think is just fascinating is we’ve had three different things happen. We had the unfortunate tragedy in Charleston where nine people were killed in a church. We’ve had the Supreme Court affirm the right for same sex marriage and then yesterday or the day before we had this big to do with NBC and Universal about Donald Trump and the Miss USA pageant and in all three of those cases brands got involved, companies got involved and said -- NBC said hey, we’re not going to be a part of this because we don’t want to be associated with some of the things Trump said. A number of organizations splashed rainbows all over the place in regard to the same sex marriage affirmation that the Supreme Court said yes. You can go ahead with this. And how quickly the confederate flag was taken out of stores including Wal-Mart and eBay and Amazon when that became associated with the tragedy in Charleston. So here we have brands that are reacting very, very quickly to what’s going on in the news around them and that’s new. We’ve never seen that before. So it’s very fascinating to me to watch that happen.

Nile:                 No musical pun intended but I feel like during this time together that we’re sharing we really have a dance going on because you talked about all of that. The next thing that I’m thinking is you talk about getting the message heard, striking the right cord. When we talk about social media we talk about engagement, engaging with your customer and so obviously we’re social media focused but we’re talking about getting the message heard, communication, striking the right cord, I suspect there’s some engagement there. So tell me a little bit about that but how do you recommend using social media to do that.

Linda:              So I think Nile what’s absolutely important is again that you understand what social media is really good for and which channels can do various things. So there are things that you will do on Facebook that you won't do on Twitter and there’s ways that you would use Instagram that you wouldn’t use Linked In. And so understanding kind of what you want to accomplish and what your goals are and where’s the best tool to use it. So I think of social media kind of like a -- an electrician or a carpenter comes in with a big tool box and they’ve got all kinds of tools in there. They’ve got hammers and they’ve got wrenches and they’ve got screwdrivers and electric drills and they say what do I use? Should I use the screwdriver or should I use the electric drill? When do I use the hammer? And so I think if we think about social media in those ways and when is each tool most appropriate, that’s the best thing that we can do to really focus our efforts because there’s three types of investments we make in marketing. One is an out of pocket cost so if we’re going to go buy a banner ad or we’re going to produce something there’s some dollars out of pocket. The second one though is time and that’s what people forget when they think about social media. They say hey, there’s no cost to this. It’s free. But that’s not true because it’s a huge time investment to do it right so what we need to do is we need to really focus on those areas that are going to move _____39:51 and move things forward in the right way. And then the third marketing investment that’s very big is expertise. So you need to have the right person doing your social media. You can't just have someone who’s young and eager and wants to help out and is going to tweet whatever’s in their mind. You need to make sure that you have someone who understands the conversations you want to be participating in, the communities that you want to be involved with and will add the right tone there and represent you appropriately.

Nile:                 Man, I think that’s great advice and it’s what so many people don’t do with social media. It’s like yeah, my niece could do that or my nephew could do that and yeah. I’m just going to have them take care of my social media for me. They don’t realize some of the messages that could be communicated or miss-communicated.

Linda:              Absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s so much harder to undo something. You can't really unring a bell. So once that’s out there it’s so hard to go back and fix it.

Nile:                 Absolutely. Well, do you believe that social is good for sort of amplifying your reach?

Linda:              Absolutely. Absolutely. I do believe. That’s what social does. and again the right channels but you’ve got to understand first where you want to be and what you want to say and who you’re talking to so having those key core pieces in place first and then go out and absolutely -- I mean, I don’t know that you can survive today without doing some form of social media but you need to make sure -- if you’re -- again, if you’re on Facebook and you're a B to B business and you're trying to engage with your customers because they're there they may not be on Facebook to engage with you. Context is really important. They’re on Facebook to see their kids and their grandkids and who they went to school with and the latest cat video and they may not want to engage with you in that way. So you may need to go to a different social medium to accomplish what you want to accomplish and that’s what I think is absolutely critical is knowing when to use the right tool at the right time.

Nile:                 Makes perfect sense. Thank you for that. One of the things that I’m fascinated with -- I work with big data all the time and you’re talking about a lot of things in marketing. You really deal with the structure and the organization, internal communication, knowing your customer, getting outside your organization as well but one of the things that I’m noticing is in this same book you talk about the big deal about big data and exactly how important it is today. Can you maybe spend a few minutes with me and our listeners on that just to help me out there?

Linda:              Absolutely. Absolutely. And we have created more data in the last five or six years than in the entire history of the universe up to that point and I suspect that that number will keep doubling in a faster time period. We now have this internet of things where you have wearable devices whether it’s an iWatch or a _____42:41 or something that’s collecting data and transmitting it back. Our refrigerators are going to be connected, our phones are now on Wi-Fi -- or not phones. I’m sorry. Our cars now have Wi-Fi. So we have all these devices generating more and more data about us and what starts to happen is this stuff gets back into organizations, into companies and they're drowning in data so very often it’s not that they don’t have enough data but they have too much and the question then becomes what do we do with this and how do we use it in a responsible manner. So you want to make sure that you’re analyzing it correctly. You want to make sure you’re asking the right questions because data gives us information, information gives us insights and from insights we can _____43:23 and make good business decisions. And one of the business decisions that we need to make with data is when we use it and when we don’t and it’s not just a privacy thing but it’s a good business judgment type of issue because we need to be careful that our customers don’t feel _____43:38 upon. I mean, it’s bad enough to get spam on your -- first on your computer and now on your smart phone. But you don’t want spam on your watch and you don’t want spam in your car. So how do we use this in an effective manner that we don’t upset our customers and prospects and yet -- and generate great insights that we now have the ability to mine for it we didn’t have before.

Nile:                 I think that’s great insight. One of the things that you mentioned too and I see this more and more often in the literature today; you mentioned the internet of things and I see it the literature talking about social marketing studies and things like that as IOT so I mention it to people because this is becoming a much more common term today.

Linda:              Yeah. Absolutely. And I think that it’s something that a lot of folks may not be thinking about. Certainly when I was back in Microsystems more than a decade ago we started talking about this and people didn’t quite get it that everything would be online and everything would be connected and at that point people said no. why would I do that? but again, you have all these different devices that are collecting data and transmitting it and beyond the issues of privacy and security which is a whole another issue the question then becomes what do we do with all of this because some of it is useful and some of it isn't and some of it is useful only when it’s aggregated as a whole so what is the society doing with this types of things, what are groups doing with these types of things. We see -- from the medical perspective we see people taking various types of devices and uploading your medical results so that organizations can start to look at patients as a population and say what kind of trends do we see. So there’s an incredible potential for all of this but there’s also a potential for abuse and for misuse and so we need to be careful as marketers that we don’t jump in and run with this without understanding the repercussions and what our customers are expecting from us in terms of good behavior.

Nile:                 Yeah. I think that’s also a great insight but one of the things that I think is useful for people to know is sometimes the data that we collect today may not be useful today but it may be very useful tomorrow and a lot of times we don’t look at that time shift and we think that all of the data that we use has to be current data and something that we just gathered but some of the data that we may have from our recent past or maybe even our distant past may have tremendous value.

Linda:              Absolutely. And we see that if we think about all the crime shows etcetera. How they dig up DNA that’s been stored and they’re able to connect it when they couldn’t have done that go back and solve murders that were 10 or 15 or 20 years old. So that’s kind of a simple way of doing it but we may be able to make comparisons and be able to look at things in the future that we can't even think about today and I think particularly when it comes to medical applications that’s incredibly powerful. We may not know the right questions to ask for example about Alzheimer’s but if we’re asking -- if we’re collecting that data today and we understand in 10 or 15 years where the connections are we can go back and analyze some of that data and perhaps make some really important discoveries. So it’s fascinating. It’s a fascinating era to be in and lots of interesting things happening.

Nile:                 Absolutely. One of the things though that I -- again I think I’d stress is sometimes we introduce new products or services based on the way that we read the data at the time. What we thought our customers were telling us. After the product was introduced or the service we may go back and find that people are engaging with that new product or service very differently that what we expected based on the data that we had at the time and we could see that based on the interaction today so sometimes the data could be useful in other ways as well.

Linda:              Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think we learn things about our customers because we -- again, this goes back to what you said earlier where people say I know exactly what the customer wants. You don’t know until the customer starts to play with something and say here is something I hadn’t even thought of before but I can use this device in this way or I can use this product very differently. And so we have to watch because none of us have this entire view of the world that’s complete. We only see a piece of it and we make the best decisions we can but then we need to be able to react to what’s really going on and take advantage of those opportunities.

Nile:                 It’s funny you say that because I could think of the last two or three products that we introduced that customers have asked for those products, we delivered what the customer asked for but the way the customer was integrating or interacting with that product today and the type questions that they were asking today were very different from the questions that they asked before we had that product or service there.

Linda:              Oh, absolutely. And so this is why you can't always ask customers what it is they want. I don’t believe that any customer 20 years ago went to Steve Jobs and said I would like an iPod and here’s what I would like done there. So customers didn’t know how to articulate that but what Steve Jobs is able to do is say they’ve all got these music devices and they’ve got -- at the time they were walkman or whatever. And they’ve got these libraries of CDs. What if I found a better way? Really, the key point of this was iTunes. I have a better way to put this in a centralized space and you can access it. Many people would be interested in that. And that was one big insight that he had but again no one said to him to my knowledge hey Steve, could you create a little white device and put headphones on it and put all my music library there. I don’t think that was in anyone’s head. I think it’s one of those things that evolves over time and it’s part of innovation that you need to be looking at what could be. Here’s where we are today. If we want to be innovative we’ve got to be looking at what could be and we have to understand that not everything is going to be successful. So part of innovation is trying and failing but learning from the failure and moving on.

Nile:                 Absolutely. The fail faster statement.

Linda:              Fail faster. Absolutely.

Nile:                 Absolutely. Love it. well listen, we’re going to have the link to your book up on our website but if people want to engage with you, they want to find more about what you do and what you offer, how can they do that?

Linda:              So you can go to my website and to make it easy just go to and you’ll find resources there, you’ll find information about the book. I do a weekly -- a short video. Just a moment about marketing. There is a quick email blast about topical subjects. All kinds of interesting and free resources available. I would love to hear from your listeners and find out what their thoughts are about how they’re -- what they're doing to get heard above the noise.

Nile:                 Well, we’ll absolutely share that out and we’ll share your other websites out as well but this is some fascinating stuff. I love the book. I love the way the book engages with music and it’s just such a beautiful delivery. Thanks so much for that. And thanks for being our guest today as well.

Linda:              My pleasure. It’s been great. Thank you Nile. Thank you Jordan. It’s been wonderful being here.

Nile:                 Great. Well listen, to each of our listeners I’d like to thank you for joining us on the social media business hour. Hopefully you learned a few new ideas or concepts. Maybe you were just reminded of a few things you already know but you haven’t been doing to improve or grow your business. You know that my desire, my sincere desire is you take just one of the things that you learned or were reminded of today and you apply it to your life or your business this week. We know that just a small change can make a big difference. I’m committed to bringing you at least one new idea each week that you could implement so go back and identify just one small change you could make to your life or business this week and see what a big difference it will make for you. So until next week, this is Nile Nickel. Now, go make it happen.

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