Fight, Flee or Just Plain Panic!

Rome was not built in a day. Yea I know…so cliché, but so true. No matter what kind of business you plan on starting, the beginning is not going to go smooth. It never does and it never will.

Whether it is a restaurant or a dotcom, things just pop up and cause headaches. The only thing one needs to remember when this occurs is to stay calm and find solutions.

We unveiled our new menu tonight at my restaurant and it was chaos! It reminded me of our grand opening two years ago. Food was flying in all directions in the kitchen, customer wait times were exceeding 40 mins (yikes!), employees were getting into fights with each other and numerous other problems occurred. But as a seasoned entrepreneur, all I did was observe and learn.

Don’t try to fix all the problems at once. You’ll have a heart attack or your head will explode (seriously). Begin fixing problems or as I like to call them “inefficiencies” one at a time.

A clipboard and a calm demeanor can do wonders when observing your business (that not so well oiled machine) in action. I’ve noticed time and time again that many business owners get caught up in quickly “band-aiding” the problem instead of trying to understand why the problem occurred in the first place. That’s a total rookie move, and it took me 10 years to figure that out.

So when the sh%# hits the fan, just step aside, plug your nose and endure. If you keep a cool head and fix the cause of  the problems, everything will be just fine.

 

Social Media Marketing – No One Way Streets

There are no one way streets in a successful social marketing campaign. Remember that.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of businesses trying to harness the power of social media. They register their Twitter accounts, start fan pages on Facebook and maybe even create their very own blog. That’s definitely a step in the right direction. However, that’s only the beginning.

Many businesses think this is enough and simply start blasting away with ads and bulls%@$, as they did “back in the day” through more traditional channels. A TV commercial is a one way street, as are most radio ads or billboards. Marketing via social media is not.

All one has to do is look at the phrase “social media,” social being the keyword here. It’s all about interacting with your customers. Not by simply posting events, alerts and ads (dare I say spam) on social media sites, but by seeking out and responding to customer feedback. Empower the customer, give them a sense of belonging and they will love you.

If a user comments on your Facebook fan page, respond to it. If someone new begins following you on Twitter, acknowledge and thank them. It can be that simple.

For anyone that still can’t grasp the idea of social media marketing, here it is in a nutshell: Interaction with customers, or perhaps we should now call them fans or friends, on a two way street, where communication flows back and forth.

That’s it! Now go forth and start building a fan base.

-Mike Mulhall

Visualize and Achieve

It seems like the new buzz word these days is visualization. In the books, magazines and blogs I read, everyone is talking about the power of visualizing your success.

One book in particular said that visualizing your goals in your mind is one thing, but creating a tangible visual aid is even more powerful.

I always tell colleagues that one of my ultimate goals is to be on the cover of Wired magazine. I think about that every day. So I made the above picture last night and taped it to my wall. I stare at it constantly, and deep down, I can see it happening! It’s a great feeling.

I used Adobe Photoshop, but I found some great sites that will help anyone get on a magazine cover. Let’s face it, if you make it onto on the cover of your industry’s magazine, you’re doing well. The sites are:

And it doesn’t have to be a magazine cover. Get creative and try having fun with it. Maybe your goal is to buy a new car or a house in the near future. Follow my examples and see what happens.

So You Want to Start a Blog

Bloggers do it for the clicks

People start blogs for a variety reasons. Some start a blog to generate an income, some do it out of passion and many businesses create blogs to engage their existing customers. Blogging, which is an integral part of  any social media marketing strategy, can do wonders for a business, whether it be brick and mortar or virtual. The first question a potential blogger should ask is what are their motivations and expectations. Determining this will make choosing the correct blogging platform much easier.

Do you plan on creating an income generating website, or do you simply want to share your life, talents, expertise and opinions with the world? If the latter sounds more to your liking, then I would suggest checking out Tumblr or Posterous (a great mobile blogging platform). Simply sign up for an account and you will be blogging in less than two minutes. Seriously! However, these types of platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. See below:

  • Strengths: Simplicity, ease of use, ease of cross-platform integration (facebook, twitter, etc.) and a built in audience. These platforms are built more for “lifecasters,” which many predict to be the future of social networking.
  • Weaknesses: A lack of flexibility, they are very difficult to monetize, they don’t optimize well with search engines, they don’t have very much design potential and they lack features and add-on applications. These platforms operate in giant, semi-closed networks of  fellow bloggers that interact with one another, but have minimal contact with “non-bloggers” that are just surfing the net.

Now for everyone else out there that wishes to venture into the wild (the wild web that is), I would suggest checking out WordPress. WordPress is a blogging platform that requires more work and effort, but offers a lot more flexibility and potential. Here’s a simple breakdown of what you need to do to create your own self hosted blog:

  1. Choose a hosting service. I use Godaddy, but there are a lot of these types of services out there. I like Godaddy because they’re a one stop shop for everything, they offer WordPress specific hosting plans and they have good customer service.
  2. Choose a domain name. I think people over emphasize choosing a name for their website sometimes. Create good content and people will find it no matter what. Food for thought: Myspace was actually a furniture website before becoming a social network and Google was supposed to be spelled “Googol.” They messed up the spelling when registering the domain. Oops!
  3. Install WordPress. If you don’t use Godaddy, you’ll have to install WordPress. Go here for simple installation instructions.
  4. Choose a theme. This is the fun part. WordPress is incredibly flexible. Check out Themeforest, Rockettheme or WordPress Themes. You can choose any theme you want for your blog and it requires no programming and little design work on your part.
  5. Get some plug-ins. WordPress has thousands of free plug-ins / add-ons that range from creating a chatroom on your blog to adding a shopping cart to automatically optimizing your site’s SEO.
  6. Start writing! – And that’s it. Check out Mary’s post, Blogging 101, for great tips on how to successfully engage your readers.

For a great comparison of different blogging platforms, check out this article as well. It’s clear and concise.

Now get out there and start sharing. And if you need any help, don’t forget I’m always just a click away.

(You can also find this article at MoreThanMary.com as well as more very helpful articles on life, fashion, fitness and travel.)