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Beyond Brand Beckham, 3 Keys to Success for Major League Soccer in South Florida

In a Soccer Newsday column at the end of 2013, I suggested that, in order for Major League Soccer to build a successful team in Miami, the new club would need to focus on two key market factors. Specifically, the new club needs to:

  • Target particular fan market segments – notably parsing out the term “Hispanic” in order to truly define this ill-defined “ethnic” market, and
  • Define which fans and demographic areas in South Florida will actually want to support MLS in Miami. In other words, due respect needs to be paid to the Fort Lauderdale area, with its own rich soccer tradition and existing NASL club. Miami-Dade County needs to build its own soccer identity separate from their northern neighbors.

The unanimous vote in December 2013 by Miami-Dade County commissioners to officially negotiate with David Beckham’s investor group about a privately financed stadium plan is an important step in grabbing the latest MLS expansion slot, notably considering MLS Commissioners Don Garber’s statement that a stadium deal is a must for any new expansion team.

In this column, prior to the early February announcement that is expected from MLS regarding expansion in Miami, I want to delve into three more areas of concern:

  1. attracting the college market,
  2. building on star power, and
  3. the importance of in-state rivalries to the success of MLS Miami and all of the state’s pro teams.

Please read the rest at Soccer Newsday.

Photo credit: friskytuna / / CC BY

How to Use LinkedIn to Promote Your Professional Services

The conversation went something like this:

Marketer: “And then use this ‘Share’ button in your LinkedIn account to share with your network the links to articles and blog posts you’ve written.”

Fee-earner/professional, with look of mild horror on face: “But, I can’t do that. That’s spamming.”

Marketer: “It’s not spamming. This is your network to communicate with. Either you asked them to dance and they accepted, or they asked you to dance and you accepted. It’s the safest and most important network you have.”

And then the light switches on in the client’s eyes: LinkedIn—like any social media platform—is there to help him reach out to clients and potential clients.

An Untapped, Free Resource

In this third of three articles focusing on how the professions—lawyers, consultants, accountants, etc.—can effectively market using new/digital media, I focus on LinkedIn.

So much has and will be written about LinkedIn. And why not? It remains a huge, untapped resource for professionals to achieve marketing success. And LinkedIn’s network continues to grow. From 2011 to 2012, for example, LinkedIn’s membership grew 45% worldwide, and 39% of members in 2012 had the title Manager, Director, Owner, Chief Officer, or Vice-President. (LinkedIn Ad Platform, via Amodiovalerio Verde.)

Getting value out of LinkedIn starts with the right attitude. In my book, there are three types of people on LinkedIn:

  • Don’t Trust It, Don’t Care. These people are ones who typically have one Connection or two, duplicate LinkedIn profiles, and they have never gotten a handle on what it’s about.
  • I Love Everyone! These are people who indiscriminately link with everyone they know or don’t know. They typically don’t understand that LinkedIn is a network that should be—like any good network—built on trust. Or that it is also aspirational: If the plumber won’t help you develop business, leave him out of your network.
  • I Play the Game With Others Who Play the Game. These are the people to emulate. They care about how they look on LinkedIn, taking time to develop their profile. They connect regularly with new contacts, and they visit the site regularly. It’s part of their daily good-habit routine.

So how do you become a part of the third group? Here are some thoughts and guidelines.

1. Think of LinkedIn as the new CRM System

Professional firms have invested years of effort and chunks of their budgets to develop sophisticated CRM systems. And these systems are important for tracking activity with clients, developing target market lists, and managing client communications and interactions. But the data is only as good as what is input into the system. Every system contains duplicates and old contact information. LinkedIn, however, updates itself and notifies connections when people have changed jobs. In these ways, at least, it is superior to many expensive CRM tools.

2. Integrate it into your routine

Make LinkedIn a part of your daily routine, the same way you check your email first thing in the morning.

Follow interesting people so that articles relevant to your work life show up in your email box each day. Review your profile every few days—it’s no different from looking in the mirror every morning. Just got back from a conference or cocktail reception? Pull out the business cards you just pocketed, link with those new contacts (be sure to customize your LinkedIn request with a special note!), and then throw out the cards.

Keep your LinkedIn profile top of mind: It’s a good practice to regularly update your profile so you stay relevant within your target markets.

3. Deepen your network

Now that your own LinkedIn profile is complete, reach beyond it. First of all, be sure to pay for a premium membership so you can have a more detailed view of who visits your profile. Also, be sure to join LinkedIn Groups that relate to your target niches. Can’t find a particular one you want? Start your own Group and become a leader in your niche. Even following specific people in your niche will help out. The interesting articles that will arrive in your daily LinkedIn email can help you develop ideas for new marketing outreach activity. Your network will be as active as you are.

4. Share, share, and share again

This is not the time to be shy. So you’ve been interviewed in an online article? Your article was just published? Your latest blog entry was just posted? Just like book authors have to start publicizing their work once the writing is finished, you need to share your work.

Post a link to your blog post on your LinkedIn homepage. Share the same link in relevant Groups that you’ve joined, and your article will show up in the email boxes of your network contacts and on their LinkedIn home pages.

Be active, and you’ll find that your network will be active in return—visits to your profile will increase when people “Like” your posts.

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Build a routine, deepen your network, and share. These practices have worked for decades in helping professionals earn new clients and matters. Now this same process can be done online, on LinkedIn. It would be a shame to waste the opportunity.

First article in this series: The New Normal in Professional Services Marketing.

Second article in this series: Marketing the Professions Hors d’Oeuvres Style.

Original article on MarketingProfs:

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Photo credit: TheSeafarer / / CC BY

Digital snapshot: Australians spend six hours a day on the internet, almost a third of it on social media


Australians are thoroughly wired into the matrix, spending over six hours a day connected to the internet with about a third of that time spent on social media, according to a compilation of data by We Are Social.

But while mobile internet penetration is rapidly approaching 60 per cent, the…

Where to find people? Customers? Clients? Prospects? On Social. 

Marketing the Professions ‘Hors d’Oeuvre’ Style

In the first part of this three-part series on new media professional services marketing, I explored the unique nature of professional services firms and why lawyers, accountants, and others generally find digital and social media marketing so challenging. This time around, I’ll explore two characteristics that are a mark of successful digital marketing: keeping your outreach in bite-size portions, and marketing with a personal touch.

Marketing as an Hors d’Oeuvre: Bite Size Over Kitchen Sink

Whitepapers play their role in marketing. In the legal world, for example, lengthy and heavily cited law review articles also play their role, displaying the experience and intellectual prowess of their authors. Yet in a social and mobile world, people increasingly want to consume their content in bite-size servings.

Do I want to buy that Costco-sized food item? Maybe. But my purchase decision can be positively influenced by nibbling on a piece of the product first, when it’s being cooked and served up on a toothpick just for me.

The point is, no one “reads” anything anymore. So, the first job is to offer a nibble—a tweet, a clickable link in a LinkedIn status update, or a 2-5-minute podcast or video.

How? Try this:

  • Get comfortable with brevity. The true professional may find such brevity difficult to achieve. Consultancies are used to providing in-depth reports to their clients, and many lawyers feel compelled to be exhaustive in their legal briefs and recommendations—the more footnotes, the better! They are accustomed to aiming for length and thoroughness. That may be fine for client work product, but not for marketing oneself.
  • Start with a simple outline. It’s been said that the easiest way to write a book is to write a top-level outline, expand it, and then write prose for each section of the outline. Filling it out section by section, you eventually end up with a book. In digital marketing, the process is reversed. That thorough analysis for a client should be parsed out and distributed in smaller pieces through the various digital and social media channels. Little seeds spread across a wider landscape increase the probability of success.

Bottom line: more frequent but shorter messages are perceived as more digestible to a potential reader, just like an hors d’oeuvre. So keep it short. With online tools, one can always provide access to deeper value by including a link to a more in-depth article.

It’s a Social World: Marketing Is Now Personal

Congratulations, the blog post is up. Now the real work starts, and that’s where the bite-size pieces need to be funneled through channels.

That c. 2003 blast email list? Sure, it still provides value. But the better value is in one’s personal network. Personal networks have always been the place to unlock real marketing value. But now those networks can be harnessed even more via social media tools. Despite what some practitioners may think, social media is not impersonal—it’s personal.

To put it another way, the world of the Super Bowl in the year 2000 is still here. Remember the commercials during that exciting game between the Rams and the Titans? Well-funded dot-coms spent bazillions on commercials for one reason: simply to let you know they existed online. In those days, just like today, it was fairly easy to create a Web presence. Yet “build it and they will come” did not hold true then, nor does it now.

That’s why creating and posting online content is just the beginning. It’s one thing to get a URL for one’s content, but another thing to promote it. And this is where it’s wrong for practitioners to think of social media as a burden. Instead, it’s an opportunity that needs to be taken seriously. And instead of paying zillions on Super Bowl ads, we now have nearly free social media tools.

Once content is parked online at a URL—on a website, on a blog—the real work has to begin. For professionals of all stripes, the real product is the person—the consultant, the lawyer, the architect. And that means that professionals need to accentuate the human touch, exposing their expertise through social media. Chief of those is LinkedIn, which I’ll explore in the final article of this series.

Here are some other options…

1. Turn your blog into a PR machine

In my segment of the professional services world, we have noticed of late that blog posts are much more highly thought of as thought-leader pieces than so-called email “client alerts” that are pushed out to thousands of faceless email addresses. We have found that publishers take delight in asking either to reprint our blog content or to have the authors refine and deepen this content for their own publications.

2. Become a member of the Twitterati

Twitter is also a frequently mocked yet underrated source for distributing high-quality content and developing a positive professional reputation.

As I noted in the first article in this series, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that a mere 16% of networked users are active on Twitter. Yet, instead of thinking of this low number as a negative trait, it should be viewed in a positive light: Other thought-leaders, professionals, and journalists will find you on Twitter if you are committed to regularly posting original content (it takes just over 100 characters for each tweet!) and “following” other thought-leaders and listening to them.

The conversation is out there to be had, and those who are active on Twitter are actually building new relationships. Better it be you than the competition.

3. Be open to mobile, podcasts, and video

What else can be done? Shoot content into a mobile app (in other words, directly into prospects’ pockets via their smartphone) or otherwise make sure your online content is easily consumable via mobile devices. Repurpose content into podcasts and videos. “Like” one’s LinkedIn connections’ status updates and retweet a journalist’s article to get their attention.

Doing so is all part of a personal online mosh pit that can help those in the professions market with improved results. By developing a can-do attitude toward these new technologies, today’s practitioner will be ready to take on as-yet unseen new marketing tools when they appear on the horizon. Because those tools are coming.

In the final article of this series: my take on the untapped potential of LinkedIn, with strategies to make it work for those in the professions.

First article in this series: The New Normal in Professional Services Marketing.

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Photo credit: HAMACHI! / / CC BY-NC-ND

New Media Mosh Pit: The New Normal in Professional Services Marketing

The world of professional services marketing is not generally known for early adoption of cutting-edge marketing techniques.

As I see it, there is one underlying reason: Professional services practitioners (notably lawyers) exist largely as a safe haven for their clients. Their role is to help their clients reduce risk and navigate uncertainty in the turbulent seas of the business world.

So it’s not surprising that the culture of professional services businesses tends to approach the ever-changing world of “new” or “digital” marketing (including social media and mobile platforms) with some caution. For professions meant to provide stability to clients, tweeting, and commenting in an online mosh pit are not activities that come naturally.

Rather, marketers in the white-collar professions are far more likely to hear skepticism than excitement within their firms about using new digital marketing tools. We’ve all heard variations on this theme:

  • “How many clients did you actually get out of that blog post?”
  • “Who really pays attention to LinkedIn?”
  • “I don’t want anyone I don’t know contacting me.”
  • “I don’t know what a tweeter is and I don’t want to find out.”

The fact is, it is counterproductive to think of digital/social/mobile marketing efforts as something newfangled and scary. Though in many cases such tools are new and cutting-edge (note the meteoric rise of the use of Pinterest), the proper approach to them is to embrace the world of change and consider this embrace as completely normal. Why? Well, for example…

  • 53% of in-house lawyers—the target market for law firms—are reading daily general business media on their smartphones. (“2013 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey,” Greentarget, InsideCounsel, Zeughauser Group.)
  • A practitioner’s content marketing is trusted more than third-party rankings. (“2013 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey,” Greentarget, InsideCounsel, Zeughauser Group.)
  • Only 16% of networked users are on Twitter, which means that many Twitter content generators are the “digerati,” or subject matter experts or journalists. In other words, it’s good to hang with these key influencers to build your professional reputation. (Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 2013.)
  • 91% of US mobile device users have their mobile device within reach 24/7. These users are accustomed to consuming bite-size pieces of content while on the run. (Morgan Stanley.)
  • From 2011 to 2012, LinkedIn’s membership grew 45% worldwide, and 39% of members in 2012 had the title Manager, Director, Owner, Chief Officer, or Vice-President. It’s a growing directory of potential clients, colleagues, and referral sources. (LinkedIn Ad Platform via Amodiovalerio Verde.)

If this is the “new normal,” then it requires a change of thinking and of habit on the part of professional services marketers and their firms.

In a series of three articles on this subject, I’ll share some guidelines to make sure that a professional service firm’s digital marketing efforts are as effective as possible. This first installment focuses on the importance of creating marketing “campaigns.”

Stop Thinking ‘Blast’; Think ‘Campaign’

Blast-emailing a PDF to clients and potential clients is so 2003. Emails in the in-box are easily overlooked or ignored. A campaign, however, can last for weeks.

An important aspect of embracing new technologies is the ability to move from a “blast” concept to a “campaign” format. I recall the dusty stacks of print newsletters at the “Big Law” firm where I worked a decade ago. I had been hired in part to help the firm move from the world of print-based marketing to the digital world of email marketing, and our marketing department succeeded in this task. We rebuilt old contact lists and created newly segmented ones, designed HTML-based communications, and fine-tuned our content offerings to target markets.

Yet, 10 years later, I am still amazed to see firms relying so much on this (now old) way of marketing, blasting out their intellectual capital in the form of PDF files—no matter how nicely designed those PDFs are.

The main point here is that unless an email is opened, it is gone forever, often passing unnoticed through cluttered in-boxes and then off the bottom edge of the computer or smartphone screen in a matter of minutes. What’s more, to open a PDF attachment requires a double-click—not a single-click or tap—and in this day and age, such things matter. There’s a big difference now between a smartphone tap and a desktop double-click.

I’m not saying that email newsletters are dead, or that you should never email out a PDF attachment. While PDFs and blast emails have their purpose, modern communication should take advantage of all the tools currently accessible.

How do you move from blast to campaign? Some options:

  • Make use of each URL. Each segment of content you produce should have a home on a website or blog, with a distinct URL that can be promoted in other digital communications. For example, one email blast can point to multiple URL sources or articles on a website.
  • Tweet—regularly and over time. Each of those URLs can be tweeted multiple times in just one day, and can be tweeted regularly over the course of a week or two using various tweet messages (each with unique editorial content), in order to reach a broader audience and increase the probability that eyeballs will see it. Twitter is so easy to use that compelling content is often retweeted by other users to their own networks.
  • Make use of personal networks. Every practitioner should be engaged on LinkedIn. These personal professional networks are the ideal place to push URLs out to audiences that have already bought in to having a professional relationship with the practitioner. More on this subject in article three of this series.
  • Your Blogs are not the same as your websites. The content in your URL on your website should also be re-channeled through blogs that are branded to specific target audiences. Statistics show that blog content develops earned media mentions better than website or blast email content. Blogs can and should be PR-generating machines.

Second article in this series: Marketing Hors d’Oeuvre Style.

Original article:

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