Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Marketing observations

I exhibited at the Baltimore Washington Chamber of Commerce (BWCC) Annual Procurement Fair today (11/28/12) and I have a few observations from my travels to the event, and while I was there.

First observation: On the way to the event, I was driving down RT 32 in Maryland approaching Fort Meade. Just before turning onto the BW Parkway, I see a sign on the side of the road, one of those signs that tells you which company picks up the trash along the road.  While looking at the sign, Fort Meade and NSA are clearly in the background, and Praxis, an engineering firm with contracts at the Fort, has its name nicely placed on that sign.  A little road pickup and an absolutely great placement for your company name. Anyone approaching Fort Meade/NSA from the West sees your name every day. I need to approach from the East and see if they do it there, too. Very effective and huge on the reinforcing name recognition scale.

Second observation: At the event, most of the exhibitors were small business specialists from state and federal agencies. I was one of the few exhibitors that was not a government agency. A few people stopped by and asked if I could put them on a "bidders list". I explained that the Government Market Master (GMM) program was not a government agency, that we offered continuing professional education for professionals selling to the government. Their response: "We just need bidders lists" and they quickly moved on. Reminds me of Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action every day.  Too many people like this attending procurement events and thinking "all I gotta do is get on the right list..."  This is a myopic approach and it will not work.

Third observation: Exhibiting at targeted events still works. Several people stopped by to ask pertinent, intelligent questions about the GMM program, and some of these people will be attending seminars in December. Some people stopped by to say they had read Selling to the Government, or to say they like my posts on LinkedIn. I am certain more people know me from LinkedIn than from my books, radio show, articles or speaking engagements. It is a great tool if you use it properly.

Final observation: I spoke at the pre-Fair event a few weeks back. I teach people what to do before, during and after their first OSDBU/small business office visit. I have been doing this for BWCC for three years. This year one of the attendees was from Red Roof Inn. During the Q&A, they asked what they could do to raise the awareness of Red Roof for government and government contractors. I suggested putting the Inn locations on a map and listing all of the government facilities (federal, state and local) near each Inn. They exhibited at the Procurement Fair, AND they had a map with the government facilities listed under each of the three central Maryland Red Roof Inns - nearly 60 government offices and installations in all. Very cool, and a great "leave behind" fr all procurement offices, as they will be asked about local hotels.

btw, Red Roof is in the process of upgrading Red Roof Inns around the country and they are looking very good while maintaining a modest price.

Kudos to Praxis and Red Roof - and to Walt and all the folks at BWCC!

And fyi, GMM classes for December...

Tues, Dec 11, 8AM-noon:  (GMM 208): LinkedIn for Government Contractors  

Wed, Dec 12: 8am-noon: PR for Small Government Contractors

Wed, Dec 12 1pm-5pm: The Competitive Advantage: Market Research for Small Contractors

Call me for details - 301 924 0058, or send me an email:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Learning Linkedin from a "Black Belt"

One of my clients recently attended a "Become a LinkedIn Expert" seminar where the instructor was not able to answer several basic questions posed during and after the session.

Kind of makes you go "Hmmmm..."

Whenever I see an announcement for a LinkedIn seminar, I look at the profile of the presenter. Rarely do I find see a profile that tells me this is someone who should be the instructor of the course.

My LinkedIn headline reads "Leading GovCon consultant, luncheon & keynote speaker, author & columnist, LinkedIn Blackbelt & sensei, radio host."

I don't make any of these claims lightly. I work hard at consulting, speaking, writing, interviewing and being a LinkedIn sensei.

When I coach individuals and companies on maximizing the value of LinkedIn, one area I spend time focusing on is the "headline", that area right under your name. If you do not edit this area, the default for the headline is your job title, which shows up on your profile a little further on. Rather than re-state the job title, I suggest emphasizing the skills you bring to the niche you serve, positioning yourself as a subject matter expert or professional.

My headline highlights five skill areas: consulting, speaking, writing, radio show (interviewing), and Linkedin skills.

The question about the headline that people ask most is how I got a Black Belt in LinkedIn.

The short answer is that it is self-awarded.

Several martial art disciplines were started by those who went out on their own. Although I gave it to myself, it was earned the traditional way: long hours, weeks, months of practice, developing the skills necessary to excel.

I have been on LinkedIn almost none years, since February 11, 2004, long before most people knew it existed. I am member # 222,445. To put this in perspective, I joined LinkedIn the week after Facebook was started at Harvard.

Although an early adopter, I did not adapt until 2007, when I read a book which changed my attitude about social networking: David Meerman Scott's the New Rules of Marketing and PR.

Scott's New Rules propelled me into the world of social networking so much so that he has been a guest on my radio show (see my headline...) 4 times, most recently just a few weeks back, discussing his new book, Newsjacking. My copies of  his books are highlighted and tabbed, and referred to regularly.

Mr Scott is a true social media guru and his books have been translated into dozens of languages and sold tens of millions of copies.  They are also fun to read.

But until early 2012 he was not on LinkedIn. He had explained to me that he wanted to be very good at a few things, not OK at all. That made perfect sense, as his books were geared to the general public, not simply business people.

But when he was invited to keynote the international LinkedIn Summit in India and he had to get on LinkedIn and get acclimated pretty quick. In part, this is how he did it (this is his recommendation for me on LinkedIn):

In early 2012, Mark coached me on how to make my LinkedIn profile stand out. His ideas for improvement were personal for me (not canned) and while they made perfect sense the moment he said them, I was too close to my profile to see the need for change myself. The difference is dramatic and worth 100X what I paid Mark for the service. I'll most certainly hire Mark again for a LinkedIn profile tuneup or to learn how to become a power user. February 21, 2012 .

If you need to develop LinkedIn skills for yourself or your company, check references carefully before you hire someone.

Or you can attend one of my upcoming LinkedIn sessions at Capitol College. The next one is December 11. email me for details.

Here is a link to my latest interview with David Meerman Scott:

And, btw, one of the visible results of getting active on LinkedIn and working hard at being good was being one of seven profiles selected as the best on LinkedIn in November of 2009. LinkedIn experts Mike O'Neil and Lori Ruff ran a contest, Rock the World with Your Online Presence (also a book) that asked Linkedin members to select and vote on the best profiles.