What It’s Like to Be a Guest on Marketing Over Coffee

26 May

marketing over coffee podcastThis week, I’m honored and excited to be a guest on the podcast, Marketing Over Coffee. I’ve been a fan of the show for years. I’ve been a fan of John Wall and Christopher Penn for years. Luckily, I’ve had amazing opportunities to meet both of them. Luckily, I was able to get this opportunity. Here’s how it played out.

Since I joined RingLead, John Wall and I stayed in touch. As a past customer of our apps, a fellow marketer, and a continued friend, it has always been easy to chat with John. Our conversations are fluid. He’s funny and openminded, while remaining insightful and tuned in to the latest topics and trends in the marketing world.

John and I recently met for dinner with Zorian Rotenberg, Brian Schwartz and Steve Garfield before the recent Salesforce World Tour in Boston. Over shaved ice and green cotton candy (Lolita’s in Boston is a strange yet delicious place), we talked about the marketing world, the sales world, the Salesforce ecosystem, and how the three worlds intertwine. We each play a role in these ecosystems, and brought different perspectives to a table covered in bottomless chips and rows of salsa.

Before the night was over, John mentioned the idea of me coming on the show to bring our dinner conversation to a world outside of Lolita’s.

John is a man of his word. We planned to meet up again at GaggleAMP’s first user conference, AMPlify 2015, at Bentley University on May 14th.The conference featured many great minds including Lori Ruff, Mitchell Levy and Neil Schaffer. In a small black duffle bag, John brought his podcast recording equipment to the event. During some down time, we walked the halls of Bentley University for a spot to record Marketing Over Coffee. At the end of a long hallway, we found a Starbucks-like lounge area with cushy chairs, small coffee tables and big windows. All we needed was a barista.

John opened his bag and took out two big microphones, a DSLR, and his recording equipment. My mind was buzzing with the questions he might ask, and the answers I might give. At the same time, I had to Instagram the moment (see the picture above), and as a nice icebreaker/necessity, we had to take a selfie.

Now, we were ready.

Once the recording was on, John’s smooth and comfortable approach made me feel at ease. Our conversation was effortless. He asked conversational questions that took me back to our dinners and fun conversations from years past. The structure was very similar to our dinner in Boston (without the Mexican food). He asked open-ended questions which can be determined and answered in many different ways. There’s no right or wrong way to answer John’s questions, and there’s no pressure to be right. It’s about conversation, comfort and covering the topics and interests that marketers care about. He kept it cool and casual in order to get the best content without the nerves interfering.

Before I knew it, 20 minutes had gone by and we were done. He made sure we covered everything we both wanted to cover, while still having a great time. He had it edited and ready to launch within a week.

You can listen to the session here. I wish I had a chance to mention all of the people that impacted the stories I shared during the podcast, including David B. Thomas and Jeffrey L. Cohen, who were instrumental in our content marketing success at Radian6 and Salesforce. I also want to credit Jeff for his post on Mark Zuckerberg’s hatred for B2B companies, which was a fun topic during the podcast.

I hope you have as much fun listening to it as I did recording it. I’d love your thoughts and feedback. And ’til next time, enjoy the coffee.

To the Motherless on Mother’s Day

10 May
mothers day

Me, my mother and my brother in 1992.

The majority of us are excited to celebrate on Mother’s Day. Whether you can’t get enough of mom, or she drives you crazy, Mother’s Day is a time to focus on the woman who brought you into this world.

I was lucky enough to have the world’s most dedicated mother for 16 years. She knew how to light up a room, light up my face, and light up the world. She was passionate about everything and everyone she loved, including me.

I lost my mother for as long as I’ve known her. She passed away when I was 16, which is 16 years ago. Taken by mental illness that still surrounds and haunts me to this day, I think about her nonstop, especially on birthdays, anniversaries and, most of all, Mother’s Day.

Since I was 17, Mother’s Day has been a day I tried to forget. It was too hard to think about, so if I just forgot it existed, perhaps the pain would subside a bit. However, now that I’m a mom myself, I can’t escape the holiday. People wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, and I can’t accept it. Yes, I’m a mother, but I’m so new at it. It’s only been three years. The real person who deserves those words is my mother, but she’s not here to hear them.

I know there are other motherless women and men out there like me. Some of us have lost our mothers recently as they become elderly, while others haven’t seen their mothers in years, or ever. No matter how new or old of a motherless experience, it still hurts. It still creates a flood of emotions on Mother’s Day that leaves happiness, pride, hugs, kisses and smiles off the list.

There are ways to make the most of this day, because there are many people in our lives who are mothers, and we care about them very much. Our mothers may be gone, but they wouldn’t want us to cry about it. And so, I think about how to make the most of this day, because not only do those around me deserve to be happy today, but so do I.

Face the emotions

I recently read an article called A Letter to the Motherless on Mother’s Day. If you’re motherless, whether you’re a man or woman, you must read this. I promise you will read it through a cloudy haze of tears, that will cause you to re-read it a number of times to actually get through the piece. After a few deep breaths, you’ll feel better. The words are so true that they cut like a knife. However, it feels good to face the emotions, and experience someone else with the same emotional challenge.

Write about it

We all have our own outlets, and for me, it’s writing. If something is eating at me, whether it’s hilarious or extremely sad, I have to write about it. It could be in the form of a joke on Facebook, or a full blog post like this one. It could even be a private diary entry. No matter what, writing about your emotions gets it out of your head. It helps you make sense of it all, since you have to turn it into words.

If you’re not a writer, try dictating your feelings, or talk it out with someone you know. Heck, even Siri can take it.

Smile and enjoy the day

Now that you’ve faced your emotions, it’s time to enjoy the day. Celebrate someone you love on this special day. It could be a friend experiencing mommyhood for the first time, your sister and her furbabies, your mother in law, or in my case, celebrate you.

Being a mom is a special opportunity that doesn’t come easy. We sometimes take it for granted, and today is a day to celebrate. After all, that’s all our moms ever wanted.

How to Balance Work and Life During Conference Season

19 Apr

conference seasonConference season is in full swing, and I’m excited to see old faces and meet new ones. No matter your role at these events, they begin before they even start. In other words, you’re preparing for your conference days, weeks and even months ahead of time. If you’re sponsoring, you’re creating materials, promotion strategies, and booth swag. If you’re speaking, it’s all about writing and rehearsing a killer presentation. (Always strive for your next presentation to be better than the last.) If you’re attending, you want to make the most of your time, and create your own agenda. You want to find out who will be there, so you can schedule key meetings, register for the best parties, and attend the most relevant sessions.

Preparing for the Conference

Before all of this, you have to determine if you can attend. Is there too much happening at work? Can your significant other hold the fort with a smile? Attending a conference doesn’t just affect you, it affects the people around us. We’re out of the office and need coverage. We’re away from home, and need someone to get the kids off the bus, walk the dog, and mow the lawn.

The decision to attend events may not always be our choice, but when it is, there’s a lot to weigh. I always talk to my husband first, but I have a few key events that I love to attend each year, and we plan them in advance. We have a shared Google Calendar that we block with each of our favorite events — personal and professional — so that we can cover and support each other.

During the Conference

During the show, you’re completely enveloped in that world around you. From expo halls, to sessions, to parties, it’s a whirlwind of people and events. You’re sitting, standing, walking, and walking…and walking. Sometimes you forget to eat or drink for hours, and you can’t remember the last time you sat down, went to the bathroom, or had a drink of water.

With session after session, there isn’t much down time to check in at work or call your family. You could easily go the entire event without contacting either of them. However, it’s important to make time for both. My agenda may be packed with all of my favorite sessions, but I’ll skip one or two to use those 45 minutes to check work email, talk to my coworkers, and make sure I’m touching base.

Typically there’s a small break between breakfast and the start of sessions in the morning. There’s also a small break after the sessions are over for the day, and before the evening activities. I use this time to call and text my husband. I love to hear the voice of my kiddo, and the bark of my dog. I make sure my husband is well, and I hear stories about his day. These breaks are crucial, and while my husband would understand if we didn’t speak for the show’s duration, I truly want to make time for this.

After the Show

Once the event is over and you’re en route home, reality starts to flood back in. Your notepad is full, your iPhone is dead, you’ve got a big bag of laundry to do, and somehow, you have to digest the information overload, also known as your conference experience. Even more, you have to share your insights with your team, and apply them. Hopefully the conference was engaging, exciting and inspiring, so that you’re enthusiastic about bringing all of your new found knowledge to the table.

I use the plane ride home to start crafting my next steps and notes. If I lack WiFi, I draft emails and blog posts in Word docs, and I plan the meetings that I need to schedule, including the agenda and who should attend. After a few hours of this work, I take a look at my phone and scroll through pictures and videos of my family. It psyches me up for the moment I drop my bags on the kitchen floor and open my arms for a running hug from my son and dog. Then, over a glass of wine, my husband I recap the week, sharing pictures and stories. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, and after a long conference, that couldn’t be more true.

To Reach Vacationers, Advertising Needs to Change

28 Feb

advertising vacationersLast week, I escaped the cold New England winter for the warm, sunny skies of the Florida Keys. (Yes, that’s a photo from my stay. Did it grab you, or what?!) While driving on and off of the famous Seven Mile Bridge, I thought about the advertising techniques of the local and big box businesses that reside there.

Billboards plastered the sides of the highway touting everything from fish dinners to sandals to dolphin encounters. Much like any other mainstream vacation spot, this is a common practice, but for how long?

Businesses need to realize that traditional advertising, such as billboards, should not be the next thing around the bend. Change is coming, and in many cases, it has already arrived.

Instead of the construction of more billboards and signage, businesses are — and need to be — moving their messages to the palms of our hands. Today’s vacationer is not reading billboards, but rather searching their smartphones for the information they need. It’s about providing information at the time and place the consumer wants it. I’m not looking for dolphin encounters today, so why is that billboard telling me about it? That is not the right message.

There’s one more shift impacting today’s consumer. Today’s consumer is looking for information from their peers, not from companies. A vacationer wants to hear from other vacationers. Peer review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp are answering all of the questions consumers are asking. It’s immediate. Gone are the days of searching the local paper for restaurant ads. Now I can search for top restaurants in Key West faster than a chef can serve up oysters.

Today we have the opportunity to be targeted marketers with the right message, at the right time, to the right audience. It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Take down the billboards and replace them with nests for the endangered birds. Let consumers do the talking to inform other consumers. Whether it’s cooking fish or selling goods, be exceptional at what you do. Only then will the vacationers come….and tell their friends.

 

 

Why True Happiness is the Answer to Life’s Toughest Questions

29 Jan

true happinessIt’s not often that the big questions and challenges in life are clearly marked with a right or wrong answer. Oftentimes they require deep thinking, the involvement of others, and time to debate it on your own.

Since my preteen years, I’ve been making lists to help me make those tough decisions, although back then, the challenges were more focused on which guy to date. Pro: John was funny. Con: John recently dated a friend of mine.

Nevertheless, I created lists of pros and cons, which I still do to this day. It helps me organize my thoughts and determine the most practical route possible. New wood floors. Pro: Pergo needs to go. Con: It’s a lot of money. The list goes on.

As we get older and face tougher decisions, ranging from career choices, to love, to growing our families, lists have a hard time giving us the answer. Perhaps lists never really provided the answer, but rather served as a way to organize our thoughts enough to help us find the answer for ourselves. No matter the case, lists don’t work all the time.

Therefore, I started seeking a new way to find the answers to the toughest questions. Recently, I think I found it. My husband and I used to talk for hours at a time, sometimes until the sun came up. We’d cover topics about our past, our future, and our hopes and dreams. Our conversations were inspiring and helpful and always ended with a smile, except for the sadness I felt when the conversation was over. I couldn’t get enough.

Recently, my husband and I had one of those conversations. It was 2am, a time I typically avoided given that we just recently got our nights back as young parents. However, that conversation was all about us, and it exhilarated all the feelings of love and hope that I’ve felt for the past 14 years that we’ve been together.

Of course, that conversation covered our challenges. And while all of these challenges couldn’t be solved in one night’s conversation, I realized that there was one thing that answered all of my burning questions. The answer was a question. The question: Would this provide true happiness?

I could now apply this question to concerns about career, growing a family, love and even wood floors. The yes/no answer to this question was deep. It came from the word “true” in the question. Would wood floors make me happy? Yes. Would wood floors provide true happiness? No. OK, off the list.

The answer to this question will not always be as easy as the wood floors answer, but it will come. We all know deep down whether what we’re doing, or not doing, is making us truly happy. Does your day-to-day job make you truly happy? If it does (like in my case), then smile and know you’re where you’re supposed to be. If you have major doubts, then maybe you need to take a second look.

True happiness is not always about us. If you want to move to a new city, but your spouse does not, or your kids have friends and a great support system where you are right now, would you really be happy with the move? True happiness, for me, is about the happiness of others. When my husband, son, brother or best friend is happy, then I am, too.

True happiness came to me at 2am. If someone asked me if my life equates to true happiness, I would shout, without a doubt, yes.

LinkedIn Publishing: Should You Do It in 2015?

20 Dec

2015-blogging2014 was the year of publishing for LinkedIn, as they opened their publishing platform to its members, enabling their influencers to create content. Soon after, the flood gates opened and anyone with a LinkedIn profile had their chance at publishing on the social network.

At the start, Forbes contributor, John Hall, feared the worst in this article, stating, “I had mixed feelings. The notion of a flood of terrible content on LinkedIn worried me.”

I have to admit, I felt the same way initially. With over 300 million members worldwide, the potential for finding strong, meaningful content amongst a sea of junk was much like finding Frosty the Snowman in a snowstorm. It was a free for all, with no consistency, structure, or strategy in the way content was created.

After LinkedIn publishing came out, the notifications started. For every LinkedIn published post, a notification was sent to the author’s network (depending on the notification settings), which meant more emails and LinkedIn notifications to comb through while using the site. It was becoming as messy as John Hall feared.

However, in the world of social media marketing and content marketing, one blog post on one website will be as loud as Silent Night. You spend all of this time crafting and creating it, only for it to die a quick, quiet death.

You’ve got to place your content where your audience spends their time. Cross-posting your content on Medium, Business2Community, LinkedIn and other sites will boost the exposure of your content, making it more accessible to those who want to read it.

With all of this in mind, LinkedIn is a great outlet to post content in 2015, if it’s a place where your audience spends their time. However, post there with these points in mind:

  • A regular cadence: don’t overload by posting everyday, but keep it consistent with weekly or monthly posts
  • Reuse/re-purpose content: reinventing the wheel with brand new content is not required here. Re-post existing content with a few tweaks to the headline to breathe new life into it. Think of it as a way to promote the content you already have.
  • Embed content: Get additional exposure of your infographics, Slideshare presentations, videos, etc. by embedding them in your LinkedIn posts
  • Relevant content: Share content relevant to your LinkedIn connections and the LinkedIn network overall. In other words, would I publish this post on LinkedIn? You bet I would.

I can guarantee there will be new and exciting technologies and channels to try in 2015, but LinkedIn is not something we should ignore or forget.

Happy Holidays and happy blogging!

Why We All Need a Personal Blog

22 Nov

personal-blogsWriting has been one of my favorite hobbies since I was 10. I have stacks of diaries, notepads, journals and blank books filled to the brim with my ideas, feelings, inventions, poems and short stories. Once my father bought the family’s first computer in the mid 90s, I was hooked. I’d open up text file after text file, writing short stories and poems. It was there that I wrote my first manuscript.

And so, as an adult, it’s no wonder that I have been blogging and managing blogs since 2011. Blogging was a natural evolution for me. It took my short stories and ideas out of blank books and let them live online. It enabled me to share my ideas with the world, gather feedback and revise. Blogging lets my ideas come alive, enabling me to learn more about people and the world than ever before.

Whether you’re a writer or not, blogging is a healthy way to share your ideas and thoughts. Having a personal blog creates a judgement-free zone for your ideas to thrive. You don’t have to be a great writer, or have a big following, or be an expert in a certain topic. Blogging enables you to write about what you love. It’s a breeding ground for creativity. And no matter who you are or what you do, you’re creative. We all are.

Personal blogs don’t require blog editors, editorial calendars, SEO, or a rigid approval chain. While all of these things are crucial in the business blogging world, personal blogs can defy all of that criteria. Reason being, personal blogs do not have the same goals as business blogs. Business blogs might look to grow pageviews, conversions, blog contributors, etc. A goal of a personal blog can simply be to have a place for the blogger to share and be themselves. My personal blog goal is to achieve a mental break (for myself and the reader).

Since I’ve been blogging, I have not written in a journal. Sometimes I think about the nostalgia of writing, and how I can tuck that away in a box that no one can open but me. However, for some reason, I stray from it. I think it’s because blogging has opened up a new world for me. I’ve met amazing people, worked at great companies, read some awe-inspiring posts, and written more than I ever have before. The writing doesn’t have to stop when you hit the last page of the blank book anymore. With blogging, your words live on forever, and the last page may never come.

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