Social Media “Planning”

I prefaced a recent social media proposal with the following:

“I have always believed that failing to plan is planning to fail and failing to plan within a social media strategy is planning to fail in public! But I have always struggled with the concept of creating a social media plan. I believe that planning is a crucial part of any growing business but in the case of social media, writing a plan makes us feel as though we are in control of things we can’t actually control. The entire social media experience is about granting control to the consumer. The consumer is going to follow the path of his own choosing and we’d best follow.

As plans are traditionally inconsistent with improvisation, it is imperative to understand from the beginning that this plan must be held loosely enough that changing direction may happen because that’s what makes sense today.

Similar to a boat captain guiding a crew onto the ocean, I am familiar with the journey we are beginning. The most valuable lesson I have learned in my years of working in social media is that the journey is unpredictable and will take us where it wants. Our job is to steer the boat into the waves and enjoy the ride!”

What do you think?…too Jerry McGuire?

Social Media Plan


There’s No Place Like a New Home….Kansas!

I would like to place blame for my most recent extended period of not posting on the fact that I moved to mid-America from the east coast.  I am settling in to a new position with a growing company and a new city.  Wish me Luck!

Holiday Q4 2009 Challenges – Quick & Dirty Facts for Online Retailers

2009 Holiday Shopping Trends

1.) Customers are shopping later this year.

“Despite the talk of low inventory, many shoppers seem to be slow to head to the stores this holiday season. According to the survey, 52.4 percent of consumers have not yet begun their holiday shopping, and an additional 21.2 percent said they have completed less than one-tenth of their list.”

2.) It will be imperative to engage plugged in consumers.

“’Consumer behavior has changed, permanently,’ said Lisa Wehr, founder of Oneupweb, an online marketing firm that conducts holiday shopping research. ‘Budget-conscious shoppers are now looking online to conduct their shopping, and they’re searching for product information on social media networks.’”

3.) Free Shipping is a given this holiday season.

“Four out of five retailers told the retail group that they’ll offer free shipping with conditions, such as a total purchase minimum, during the holiday season. And more than half of retailers surveyed, 57 percent, said they’ll offer free shipping without imposing conditions on customers.”

4.) Home & Garden categories are down.

“Housing-related categories, such as furniture and home improvement, reported declines.”

“Furniture and home furnishing stores were down 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted for the month-to-month and down 7.6 year-over-year. Similar areas in decline included stores selling building material, garden equipment and supplies, which dipped 2.4 percent from September and dropped 16.6 percent from same period a year ago.”

5.) Consumers are much more patient and will wait for deals.

“’While last holiday season was filled with chaotic confusion, adjusting to uncertainty has now become routine for many Americans,’ said Tracy Mullin, president of National Federation of Retailers. ‘This holiday season will be a bit of a dance between retailers and shoppers, with each group feeling the other out to understand how things have changed and how they must adapt.’”

“Americans’ eagle-eye on bargain hunting is adjusting the priorities of many shoppers. According to the survey, more than half of holiday shoppers say that sales and price discounts (43.3%) or everyday low prices (12.7%) will be the most important factor when deciding where to shop. Factors like selection (21.0%), quality (11.8%), convenience (4.9%) and customer service (4.4%) declined from last year.”

6.) Nearly all retailers are planning to offer steeper discounts this year.

“Retailers last week gave muted holiday outlooks as they reported third-quarter earnings. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. both said they plan to discount aggressively. J.C. Penney said it expects sales for the quarter that includes the holidays to fall.”

7.) Customers are more likely to opt to use cash for purchases instead of credit cards.

“A shift away from credit cards could make what is expected to be a difficult holiday season even more challenging for retailers. Store clerks have long found that it’s easier to persuade people who are using credit cards instead of cash to spend more than they were intending, says NRF spokeswoman Ellen Davis.” Online Shopping Trends for Retailers

“According to NRF’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, one-fourth (24.9%) of holiday shoppers will pay for gifts this year with cash, a 9.1 percent increase from last year’s 22.8 percent. In addition, 42.5 percent of shoppers plan to pay primarily with debit or check cards, a 2.5 percent increase from last year. The number of shoppers who will rely on credit cards is expected to fall 10.1 percent, with 28.3 percent of people using credit this year compared to 31.5 percent a year ago.”

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Finally, A Place for me – A Social Media Addict

Finally a support group for people like me. My wife will be pleased to know that there is a place where i can get help.  Too bad it’s in the UK!

They say there is a difference in having an avid interest in social media and having a rabid interest in social media….who knew?

Great Information on Social Media

If you CEO doesn’t “get” social media yet….send him this video:

Concrete Countertops – Update #2

We will eventually tile the backsplash with white subway tile.

We will eventually tile the backsplash with white subway tile.

I have been working rather slowly on my concrete counter tops that I mentioned in an earlier post.  I have poured and finished most sections.  I only have one section remaining. The final section is the one that will house the sink.  I have been procrastinating because I am nervous about making it correctly.

We used double the charcoal colored tint recommended and they still seemed lighter than we expected.

We used double the charcoal colored tint recommended and they still seemed lighter than we expected.

The one piece that we have installed is a short section just beside our stove.  It has been in place for about  months and has weathered fine.  This little section gets lots of traffic from cooking and as it is right by the door as you enter the kitchen.  I hope to finish polishing the other pieces soon and get them installed.

I would like to have installed the other pieces by now but we have had a very busy last six months.  My wife and I tend to work long hours and not spend much time at home that shouldn’t we shouldn’t be sleeping or reconnecting.  Our busy lives got even busier last week when after a bad fall, my mother was rush to surgery and them rehab.  While she is in rehab, my wife and I are taking care of her two adopted daughters.  My little sisters are 5 & 7 and the never stop moving, talking, eating…..and most time consuming: needing attention. I have a new respect for parents and how to accomplish anything.

Hopefully we will install the other two large pieces this fall and maybe pour the final piece.  I’ll update you guys as the slow progress happens!

Channel Advisor Catalyst Coference – Raleigh, NC

That's right boys, listen up...Walt's dropping some knowledge on you.

That's right boys, listen up...Walt's dropping some knowledge on you.

I have been asked to speak about search marketing techniques to retailers for the last two years on behalf of Channel Advisor.  CA is most widely known for their eBay selling tools, but in the past few years, they have made a strong push into being one-stop for multi-channel retailers who want to control all of their channels from one platform.  I have been impressed with the functionality and reliability of the products they offer, as well as their service.

The session was called Paid Search: Rising above Brand Terms for Success.  (NOTE:I did not pick that title.) I shared the stage with Marketing VP’s from Croc’s, Meijer, and Ulta.  We each had very different SEM strategies. Mine was, of course, far superior.  I hope to post a link to a video when it is made available.