Light a F.I.R.E via Twitter

I’ve been encouraging my small business clients to utilize Twitter as a piece of their word of mouth strategy. To those familiar with Twitter, this is a no-brainer, but to many, Twitter remains a world of mystery and pure self-involvement. “Why should I tell the world that I’m clipping my toenails right now?” is a composite of the kind of puzzlement I’m greeted with when I talk about Twitter with someone who hasn’t jumped on this particular bandwagon.

I’ll frame my encouragement around the F.I.R.E acronym used by my close personal friends at Brains on Fire. The F.I.R.E. acronym stands for Fascinate, Inspire, Reward, Engage. Twitter, among other social media platforms, can be really well utilized in helping “fuel the flames of fandom” for who you are and what you do. In other words, social media is a way to stay connected with and encourage some of your strongest advocates. Here’s a brief overview on lighting a F.I.R.E via Twitter.

BOF emblem

Fascinate. Use those 140 characters as a platform to bring fascination into the lives of your followers. It can be about what you’re selling: “Here’s why local, organic produce is important to us…” if you are a restaurant owner (for instance,) or something you’ve seen online and just want to pass along. This is your chance to offer something of value and interest – to bring a bit of “wow!” into people’s lives.

Inspire. Tell people about the 10k run you are participating in. What inspires you, what breathes life into your day, will probably do the same for someone else. @kriscolvin and @createtomorrow are some folks I look to for inspiration during a given day.

Reward. Lots of businesses have taken to offering special discounts and other offers specifically to those who follow them on Twitter.

Engage. This is where the real power of social media connects with your business. @BlackForestDeli in Bethlehem, PA does a fantastic job of this. They talk about what’s happening at the store, but they ask questions, they check in. When I posted about a nasty cut on my thumb, they were quick with first aid advice. Being a nice human being goes a long way in bringing a customer on board.

Twitter and other such applications are just a piece of the marketing puzzle. They are tools that are there to be utilized, along with more traditional ways of getting the word out. But they are tools at your disposal right now. As you become familiar with the platform, you can nuance and bolster its use in your marketing mix. There are tools within and beyond Twitter to monitor the chatter about your product or service, to analyze and to determine more precisely who your audience is and how to tap into potential new audiences, to discover and engage in topics of interest to the people who are or should be using your product or service.

Community Banking is a Local Treasure

local bank2This is an article I wrote for Examiner.com. It’s one more example of the power and multiple layers of potential for positive/negative customer experience.

Years ago, I did my banking at a large national bank that soon got swallowed up by an even larger bank. The weekend of the takeover, I called the branch, now under new management, where I had done my banking for several years. The outgoing message mispronounced the name of the town where they had just set up shop. My home town! They lost my business, and that branch soon closed.

I quickly moved to a much smaller community-based bank. The manager knows my name, says “Hello” every time I’m in the place. Transactionally speaking, I get what I need from a bank, plus the trust that comes from a relationship with a bank staff I also see in the grocery store and at the post office.

Smaller, local banks are gaining cache in the current financial climate. I spoke with Fred Schea of First Savings Bank of Perkasie. You know it’s a local bank, because Fred’s title is President and CEO, yet he took time to talk with me for this article …. (Continue reading article HERE.)

6 Reasons I Love Brains on Fire

Brains on Fire is an identity development/word of mouth marketing shop in the micro city of Greenville, South Carolina. I learned of them just a few months ago, and this little shop away from the traditional meccas of marketing deserves the growing reach it is extending as ambassadors of cool but conscientious marketing strategies. Here’s a few reasons I love ‘em:

1. The People.

I don’t know the whole gang, but the folks I’ve been in touch with over the past few months, Spike Jones (Chief Fire Starter) and Geno Church (Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer) have extended kind words and precious time to me again and again. Geno and Spike respond to my tweets and crazy e-mail questions. We’re not in each other’s back yard throwing another shrimp on the bar-bee, but they know how to keep it real with cyber relationships. They’re good folks.

2. The Haka.

Haka is a traditional dance of the Maori people of New Zealand.  As a demonstration of team and community building, BOF choreographs and performs haka dances. Here’s their explanation and a haka performed at this years’  Fire Sessions

3.  Fire Sessions

An annual gathering, the FIRE (Fascinate, Inspire, Reward and Engage) Sessions bring together best practitioners in branding and word of mouth marketing. They invite speakers like John Moore (Brand Autopsy and now WOMMA), Jackie Hubba (Church of the Customer) and Dan Heath (Made to Stick), providing a great learning environment with thought and practice leaders from far-flung places.

4. Memorable Origins Story

In 1998, two local Greenville shops came together to form Phillips, Goot, Greg & Greg. Most agreed this was a bad name with which to launch into a positive future. One day, during a particularly memorable rant about a particularly potent idea, the ranter (Greg Cordell) mussed up his hair and said, “That really sets my [blinkering] brain on fire!” History was thusly made.

5. Passion

These people are passionate about the work, and about things that touch them. I probably would not know about Love 146, an anti-child sex slavery organization which BOF tirelessly promotes. When BOF get a new account, they throw a giant “Jolly Roger” pirate flag (with skull aflame) over the side of their building. Arrrr! And you should learn more about their tequila shots.

6. Thanks to BOF, pinking shears are back, baby!

One of the most storied case studies in the BOF portfolio is Fiskars, a Finnish maker of crafting and gardening tools, in business since 1649. BOF found the fans of their products, and the “Fiskateers” were born. BOF teaches us how to stoke the flames of fan-dom.

Are there other good regional ad shops around who are doing similar things to BOF? Probably. But they’re in my orbit because they preach AND demonstrate the power of relationship. They remind their clients that it’s the customer who really owns the brand. They set my [blinkering] brain on fire.