Are You Listening?

Our first guest blogger post! Beth Schillaci, owner of Village Works, who's business focus is providing strategy, execution and training for social networking, has been my go to gal as JPD has entered into the world of social media marketing. Beth keeps her own blog Marketing Roadhouse.

When it comes to social media, I feel like you have one of three choices to make:

1. Put your head in the sand and keep thinking social media will go away.
2. Begin the journey to integrate social media into your marketing plan and engage.
3. Sit on the sidelines, but be an active listener.

Today I'm going to talk about option 3 and more specifically the active listening part. Social media is not the right approach for every company due to a number of reasons including lack of resources. It may also be because of a fear of the two-way conversation. I totally understand that, social media requires a major shift in company culture and thinking, as well as a perceived loss of control of your marketing message. Lean in close now, and I'll tell you the secret that you need to know, just because you are not talking to people through social media doesn't mean they aren't talking about you.

That's right, even if you don't want to be involved in the conversation, the conversation still exists and could very well include you, your competition and your industry. Wouldn't you want to know what public perception of your company and product is? Who wouldn't want free market research? I see it every day on Twitter and specifically in Frederick, people talking about local businesses in both positive and negative light who have no clue it is taking place. Imagine if you were able to listen in on those conversations and getting your own focus group.

The good news is you can easily tap into these conversations and leverage them to your advantage. You can use free tools such as Google Alerts and Twitter Search, or more sophisticated paid services. By creating your listening post, you can take a pulse on what the public is feeling and even saying. You can use this information to improve customer service, alter your marketing material, gain a competitive advantage and even learn how to improve your product or service. This information could provide you with information into your strengths and weaknesses.

You may find from just listening (which is the first step in any social media strategy) that you are ready to jump into social media. You may have found some great opportunities to take advantage of by engaging champions of your brand as well as some threats to your brand that you had no idea existed. I feel strongly that knowing where you stand with your audience is the most important thing, even if you have some work to do to improve your position.

If you aren't quite ready to take the journey into social media marketing, take the first step by becoming a good listener.


On behalf of local Ad Club, Lisa Gorham was honored with a US Flag flown over US base in Afghanistan

You may recall reading about Lisa’s recent US Army Freedom Team Salute commendation for contributions to the Army community on the news page of the Jean Peterson Design website. Last month, on behalf of the Greater Frederick Advertising Federation (GFAF), Lisa was honored again, receiving a United States flag and an accompanying certificate that reads:

“This is to certify that the accompanying American Flag was proudly flown in the face of the enemy over the American compound, Forward Operating Base Rushmore, Headquarters of 2nd Brigade RCAC-E, 203rd Corps, in Sharana, Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom on the 11tth day of November in 2009, Veterans Day. Flown by SFC Bruce A. Lyon in honor of Lisa Gorham and all the members of the Greater Frederick Advertising Federation.”

As part of Lisa’s work as GFAF Public Service Chair she has directed several campaigns including the successful Troops Care Package–AnySoldier.com campaign. This year-long mission has so far seen 110 care packages delivered overseas to US troops who have registered with the AnySoldier.com program. Not only has this campaign been a success because of the generosity of the GFAF members, but also due to the compassionate Frederick community who fill these packages with comforts-of-home donations. Lisa and the GFAF have received countless letters and cards from servicemen and women with messages of deep gratitude for the thoughtfulness of the “people back home”. One of the campaign’s recipients, SGT. Bruce Lyon of the US Army, who honored Lisa and the GFAF’s hard work with this incredible honor, was stationed in Afghanistan for a better part of 2009 before completing his final tour this past January.

The GFAF Troops care package campaign will continue to compile and ship care packages overseas throughout 2010. Donations from the public are welcome. Please contact Lisa Gorham at lisa@jeanpetersondesign.com for more information.