Autospeak-Straight Talk contains articles covering digital and social media marketing social communities and events marketing

Do you need a Mobile Solution?

(Posted on Mar 4, 2014 at 02:01PM )
Delivering marketing messages and content on mobile platforms has become essential as part of any digital marketing solution.

You need to have a mobile solution that responds to all device screen sizes for optimal viewing. Some websites are recording 30-40% of all traffic from mobile devices. This should not be ignored. If you are not reaching the mobile user you are losing a lot of traffic to your website.

More than 50% of the pages for local search visits are made on mobile phones and local search is projected to surpass desktops by 2015 and increases outside the U.S. and England because a higher percentage of people who use mobile phones as their primary or only device to go online.

Mobile subscribers worldwide:

There are 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, estimates The International Telecommunication Union (February 2013). That is equivalent to 96 percent of the world population (7.1 billion according to the ITU). And is a huge increase from 6.0 billion mobile subscribers in 2011 and 5.4 billion in 2010.

 Mobile subscribers in the developed world is rapidly reaching saturation point with at least one mobile subscription per person. Mobile penetration in developed nations is around 128 percent of the population. This means market growth is being driven by demand developing world, led by rapid mobile adoption in China and India, the world's most populous nations. Mobile penetration in developing nations is around 89 percent of the population, according to the ITU.

At the end of 2012 there were 5.2 billion mobile subscriptions in the developing world (76.6 percent of global subscriptions). Mobile penetration in the developing world now is 89 percent, with Africa being the lowest region worldwide at 63 percent.

 Portio Research – in the excellent free Mobile Factbook 2013 predicts that mobile subscribers worldwide will reach 7.0 billion by the end of 2013, 7.5 billion by the end of 2014 and 8.5 billion by the end of 2016.

 Over half of the world’s mobile subscribers are in Asia Pacific. Portio estimates that Asia Pacific’s share of the mobile subscribers will rise from 51.3 percent in 2012, to 52.3 percent in 2013 and 54.3 percent in 2016. By 2016 Africa and Middle East will overtake Europe as the second largest region for mobile subscribers.

List of countries by number of mobile phones in use

Courtesy of Wikipedia
William Cosgrove
Bill Cosgrove Straight Talk


4 strategies for getting ROI from Facebook Ads

(Posted on Mar 3, 2014 at 12:31PM )
Are you caught up with the most recent online marketing changes, updates and theories? Wishpond’s James Scherer, in this four-part series, will examine the most influential changes that have happened in the past six months, and how those changes affect you and your business on a daily basis.

In this final installment, Scherer will discuss four strategies for getting a solid return on investment from Facebook Ads. In Part 1, Scherer looked at the rise of social media optimization. Part 2 covered Content Shock — what it is and why it matters. Part 3 examined what Facebook’s Edgerank changes mean for marketers.

Facebook Ads often get a bad rap, but they’ve been steadily improving. The average click-thru rate for Facebook Ads has jumped 275% since 2012. ROI has increased 152% in the past 18 months.

There are countless ways you can dive a little deeper into Facebook Advertising to find an ROI that works for your business. Learning the strategies below requires a bit more time and effort, but it can also open up a whole new platform for generating brand awareness, promoting your products, and even generating leads.

Here are four (somewhat advanced) strategies to get a workable ROI out of Facebook Ads:

1. Facebook Ads can be used for way more than just promotion of a sale. You can create an ad used to generate Facebook likes for your page (say, with a like-gated contest or promotion) and set the payment plan to Cost-Per-Like — meaning you pay based on how the ad performs for your brand. (Well-designed, optimized ads can have a CPL of only 30 cents!) That’s pretty cool given that Syncapse found that a Facebook like was worth, on average, $174 to brands.

2. They’re awesome for lead generation. You can target Facebook Ads so specifically that only people who have stated (in no uncertain terms) that they’re interested in your field or sector will see them and traffic through to a lead-generating landing page. My favorite way to generate leads with Facebook Ads is to promote an e-mail-gated ebook to people who have stated they are interested in that ebook’s subject. Target the ad as specifically as possible and then connect it to an optimized landing page, which discusses how the ebook can benefit its reader and provides an e-mail-gated download button.

3. Targeting by custom audience. Using this method, in which you import your business’ e-mail list into your Facebook Ad tool and find the corresponding Facebook user, means you can re-target those lapsed customers who haven’t bought from you in a few months, or reward your loyal customers with a Facebook-exclusive offer. Before you import your contact list, be sure you’ve segmented it intelligently based on your ad goals. Consider importing only your most recent merchants (past 6 months) and targeting them with an ad with copy such as “How are you liking [Your Business]? Click to get our exclusive 50% off coupon available only to loyal customers!”

4. Targeting by lookalike audience. Available only with the Power Editor plugin, lookalike targeting finds Facebook users similar to your imported custom audience list. This means you can generate leads with all the characteristics of your existing customers – thereby dramatically increasing your ad click-through-rate. Lookalike audience targeting is effective not only based on a custom audience who have bought from you, but how about targeting Facebook users exactly like your custom audience of ebook subscribers? Your CTR can be awesome, but be aware you’ll need at least 10,000 people in your custom audience to find results!

James Scherer is a content marketer for Wishpond and author of the ebook The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads.Wishpond makes it easy to run Facebook Ads, create landing pages & contests, email automation campaigns & manage all of your business’ contacts.

OBB News Page In Review

(Posted on Mar 1, 2014 at 11:37AM )

One Big Broadcast In Review

Friday February 28, 2014
There is not a more cost effective way to leverage your W.I.T.T.s  than by including an Onsite Community as part of your social and digital marketing mix and the advantages are real and the reasons all around us.There is not a more cost effective way... READ MORE

Wednesday February 26, 2014
Local area marketing gives your brand the opportunity to leverage your messages to create a solid community of loyal customers who live or work close to your market area. Local area marketing provides the best opportunity for your business to... READ MORE

Tuesday February 25, 2014

Events anchor any business to their local community. Which is why real-time event ‘live’ media marketing that broadcasts across every online digital and traditional marketing channel can be a game changing experience.If you are planning an event...READ MORE

Monday February 24, 2014
Social media marketing has changed the approach to selling today and requires a new perspective on how to attract clients. If we listen to what is happening in the marketplace today across social media channels inbound marketing offers a higher... READ MORE

One Big Broadcast News Page

Your W.I.T.T.S hold the keys to Social Success

(Posted on Feb 28, 2014 at 01:35PM )
There is not a more cost effective way to leverage your W.I.T.T.s  than by including an Onsite Community as part of your social and digital marketing mix and the advantages are real and the reasons all around us.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people from the online community.

Crowdsourcing is best achieved at scale by first using your W.I.T.T.S to pull it all together into a social networking ecosystem that is managed, monitored and revolves around one central location-Your company website.

By now you are probably wondering “what is W.I.T.T.S?” W.I.T.T.S is the first step in forming a truly effective social networking ecosystem.

1.       First Identify the influencers Within your community and rank them in order of importance and

2.       Turn those Influencers within your community into advocates of the firm by

3.     Marketing To these influencers with special incentives to increase awareness of the firm within the community and finally

4.       Marketing Through your community using the influencers within your community to increase market awareness of your company amongst target markets.

Exactly what is included in Influencer Marketing depends on the context (B2C or B2B) and the medium of influence transmission (online or offline, or both). But it is increasingly accepted that companies should be identifying and engaging with influencers.

As marketing experts Keller and Berry note, " Business is working harder and paying more to pursue people who are trying to watch and listen less to its messages." Targeting influencers is seen as a means of amplifying marketing messages, in order to counteract the growing tendency of prospective customers to ignore marketing.

Onsite social communities and newsletters are an effective and low cost method in which to engage with and learn from influencers both in B2C and B2C.

Social Communities allow businesses not only to connect and follow and market to existing customers but also to engage with their employee base. This is a centralized way in which to communicate with, retain and turn your existing customers and employees into marketing influencers.

But a large part of the problem is that many companies view social technologies as yet another tool to be implemented rather than as an enabler of organizational and marketing transformation.

It is said that one in every 10 Americans is what they call an "influential." These people have a tremendous impact on the rest of society because their ideas and opinions are sought out by the friends, family and community members around them. The conversations they hold and the examples they set have the power to shape your community's and hence your social networking ecosystems behaviors and attitudes as a whole.

Based on this, how many untapped influential customers might already be in your database. And by finding and utilizing those existing untapped influencers and making them an advocate for your business is a treasure waiting to be utilized.

By using your W.I.T.T.S as a base from which to launch your crowdsourcing, you will have created a permanent infrastructure to form most effective social networking ecosystem that will live on and survive all the trending fads that are inconsistent and constantly being replaced.

Also read Online Community Benefits

William Cosgrove
Bill Cosgrove Straight Talk

How do you feel about your current Marketing initiatives?

(Posted on Feb 27, 2014 at 01:43PM )
I would like to step back from posting an article today to get feedback from you on how you feel about your marketing initiatives and answer questions that are important to you.

This is an opportunity for you to get questions answered and get information on how you might initiate or improve on your current marketing platform and initiatives.

 We would like to hear from you about your individual needs, concerns and problems you may be experiencing in relation to your particular business.

None of us have all the answers but our experienced staff will do its best to answer your inquiries and get you the information you need to make informed decisions.

Below are some general questions we would like you to think about and add any inquiry or comment you may have in the comment section. All inquiries made are on our secure servers and held in the strictest of confidence.

  1. How do you fell about the overall performance of your Marketing Department?
  1. Do you think there is room for improvement?
  1. What areas would improve if you could?
  1. What would you like to implement if it was cost effective for you?
I think that we might have some answers that may surprise you or you may not have thought about that can help you be more efficient and effective in a cost effective way.

The Time is Now for Local Marketing

(Posted on Feb 26, 2014 at 02:54PM )
Local area marketing gives your brand the opportunity to leverage your messages to create a solid community of loyal customers who live or work close to your market area.

Local area marketing provides the best opportunity for your business to connect with your customer base to show them that you actively support and give back to the community and are concerned with your customers’ needs by promoting workshops on product and service related topics and by posting relevant content to educate, inform and answer questions regarding your products and services.

It’s knowing what messages to market and where to market to your customers based on local knowledge and trends; this is the key to Local Marketing that turns campaigns into success stories. A great resource for obtaining this knowledge is within your organization-your employees.

Promote your team.  People like to do business with local people and be consistent, reinforce your marketing messages, have a local marketing program in addition to your stand-alone campaigns.

Advances in integrated technology has provided business the tools to directly market through their own websites. Marketing Automation allows businesses to use their site as the center for conducting all their marketing initiatives which makes your business more efficient and gives you more control over your initiatives, saves time, and reduces the need to look outside for solutions.

Part of your integrated platform solution for your site must include mobile. Fully integrated sites attract more visibility and therefore more traffic compared to using different solutions and vendors to fill your needs – And with mobile it is widely expected that in the near future, local searches will account for the bulk of all mobile searches annually. If you don’t already have a mobile solution integrated into your website's platform you’re losing ground every day.

The following article by ZOG Digital fills us in on just how important mobile is to have as part of your total marketing solution.

William Cosgrove
Bill Cosgrove Straight Talk


Mobile: The Future Of Local Search


The time for businesses to jump onto the mobile search bandwagon is now. Waiting, even just a few short months, will put businesses at a disadvantage that will impact future sales. Mobile use, especially when it comes to local search, is growing at an increasing pace that will force marketers to adapt and optimize in the near future.

According to a new study from Nielson, Americans spend more than 40 hours every month surfing the web, watching videos or using apps. That’s more time than they spend using any other media device, including gaming systems and desktop computers, except for live television. A study from InMobi shows that outside of the U.S. and the U.K., mobile media is even more prominent than television.


The reason smartphone market penetration and mobile use is important to businesses is because of the expansive use of local search. Local search creates moment of interest connections between searchers looking for specific products or services nearby and local businesses. Overwhelmingly, those local searchers, both on mobile devices and at home, buy something from a business they found online.

Local SEO, which optimizes local search results, puts businesses in front of local consumers with the greatest possible visibility. In essence, local search helps businesses drive live foot traffic and sales by creating a digital presence that can be easily found by local searchers looking to make a purchase.

Local search via smartphones are about to outnumber local searches on desktop devices. According to research fromBIA Kelsey, mobile local search volume is on pace to intersect desktop local searches in 2015, and exceed desktop searches in 2016. One important note to remember, this projection includes both web and in-app searches.


The research assumes the number of mobile searchers per smartphone user will grow from 14 a month to 42. It’s also based on the number of mobile search users growing from 44 percent today (about 118 million smartphone users), to 75 percent (225 million users) by 2016. This is a massive amount of mobile searchers and opportunities for businesses to create moment of interest connections with local customers.

How Businesses Can Build a Presence Using Local SEO

The advent of local search opens new opportunities for businesses to create visibility with the potential consumers that surround them on a daily basis. To create that visibility, businesses must first focus on creating a digital presence using local optimization techniques. Then, a business can tailor its digital offerings toward mobile users. By optimizing mobile offerings with content that is geared toward the usage patterns of these local searchers on the go, businesses can create greater visibility for themselves. As the number of local searchers on smartphones continues to grow, this visibility now will create exponentially higher dividends in the future.

The first thing businesses need to do to create a local digital impression is claim search engine listings and upload location data to online directories.

The three biggest search engines, Google, Yahoo! and Bing, all have their own, unique local listing opportunity for businesses. Claiming a listing on each of these sites can improve local visibility for businesses when users conduct local searches.

Online directories are important because each directory is a mention of a business, and the more mentions each specific location has, the more credibility it is given by search engines. Large data aggregators like Infogroup and Localeze will populate popular and niche directories like Citysearch and Tripadvisor. Additionally, the search engines look to these data aggregators as an influence on their own local results.

For both search engine listings and online directories it is important for businesses to complete all of the available fields with the most detailed information possible and keep that information both accurate and consistent across every platform. Small changes in addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation or anything else will cause search engines to question the accuracy of the information and potentially cause the results not to show in searches.

There are also on-site efforts businesses can take when attempting to create a greater local impression. The most common mistake businesses make is not having a separate web page for each location. Search engine crawlers see local information on individual landing pages differently than if the information is stored on a single page or in a mapping program. When spread out, search engines consider the local information to have more credibility and authority, therefore giving it more prominence in search results.

How to Optimize Digital Content for Mobile Users

Optimization for mobile includes adjustments in strategy, design and content. Mobile users, with smaller screens and no keyboards, have different needs and abilities than desktop searchers, so businesses must adjust to them instead of expecting searchers to change their habits.

Mobile strategy includes creating a unique mobile keyword strategy. Mobile searchers use different keywords when on their mobile devices compared to when they’re at home. The reason? Because they have different need, they’re searching on a smaller screen and because they don’t have a keyboard. To find the keywords that work for a specific business, marketers need to think like consumers and use the analytics already at their disposal, which may have the ability to break down what search terms mobile users use to find a specific site.

One way businesses can adapt their digital offerings for mobile devices is by updating their website to an adaptive design. Adaptive websites automatically adjust based on a user’s screen. 72 percent  of consumers expect brands to have mobile-friendly sites. As new devices sizes are unveiled and tablet popularity increases, this will hold true for all screen sizes. Look into responsive design today to begin optimizing your multi-screen digital presence.

Consumers desire different content when on the go compared to when they’re at home. Businesses should focus on what their local consumers want, and create mobile content that caters to them, which may include easy to use location finders, searchable product information, consumer reviews or simple basic information about hours of operation and pricing. The key is to provide what consumers demand.

Together, adjustments in strategy, design and content will create a richer and more valuable experience for mobile users. Search engines recognize this, and give prominence to businesses that optimize for mobile over businesses that done.


In less than two years, local searches and mobile devices are expected to outnumber local searches on desktop devices. Local searches, specifically those using a mobile device, convert into in-store sales at a high rate. Therefore, businesses should be actively working to gain visibility with these local searchers on mobile devices. To do that, businesses must optimize for both mobile and local SEO. Businesses that neglect either mobile or local, or both, will be at a disadvantage compared to competitors that are already optimizing their mobile offerings.

'Real Time' Events Marketing

(Posted on Feb 25, 2014 at 01:37PM )

Events anchor any business to their local community. Which is why real-time event ‘live’ media marketing that broadcasts across every online digital and traditional marketing channel can be a game changing experience.

If you are planning an event there are many things you can do today to enhance the impact and reach of your event to gain a much larger audience.

You already have an audience in your database of existing customers. By creating an onsite community you can make existing sales and service customers and employees members all of whom can help you get your message out by commenting and blogging about you and the event before, during and after the event takes place.

Enlisting them in your community can provide many other benefits that can draw you existing customer and employee base much closer and if structured properly can benefit both you and your members in many ways. (Social Communities Can Redefine Customer Experience)

Imagine blog casting, social casting, and mobile applications all working together to engage existing, potential viewers and fans with GPS galleries that comb your area to attract visibility to the event both during and after it’s over. By creating and implementing social casting tools and applications that span the digital realm all integrated to take your business right into the heart of the action.

Events Marketing can also be used as a multichannel online sales or advertising event tool to enhance your inbound leads.

All this combined with an onsite social community platform gives you the most powerful socialcasting capabilities available in the marketplace today.
Picture What is Socialcasting?

Socialcasting is not a new phenomenon but new technologies have provided more effective ways in which to capitalize on it.

It has developed out of several technology trends including instant messaging, videoconferencing; social networking; blogging; video sharing and streaming information and photos in “Real Time” across the internet.

Socialcasting is a movement in online and onsite video and generated content that combines traditional media content, social networking, and interactive community to create a unique experience for viewers on the internet.

Some have called socialcasting where Web 2.0 meets TV 2.0, offering new ways for video content to be experienced and shared by viewers in an online community.

A Web 2.0 site or a social community allow users to interact and communicate with each other as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where people are limited to the passive viewing of content.

This Social integration is the process of linking information--whether in blogs, forums or other networking options--to the Internet. Search engines and communities are instantly alerted to the presence of a particular item. This allows users to quickly find what they need when they need it.

More and more companies are creating onsite social communities for their customers in which to interact. Companies can read the needs and concerns of their customers in new ways and can benefit from the relevant content being generated in the community via comments and articles that can be integrated into their Digital marketing initiatives.

Socialcasting is also seeing a lot of success in “real time events marketing.” On site events are seeing a much greater impact and reaching a much larger audience by going beyond the physical location and traditional medias by simultaneously broadcasting the event over the internet and through social channels. Through streaming photos and video, texting, blogging and social networking many people are engaged which causes the event to virtually feed on itself before, during and after the event.

This all draws attention to drive traffic that otherwise would not be reached.

The use of Socialcasting in digital marketing has increased in popularity but has been being used very successfully for many years. Sporting events of all kinds have been big beneficiaries of socialcasting using the internet and is now being utilized more and more for conferences and onsite promotions with great success.

Socialcasting in its many forms can boost page ranking and drive traffic in ways that no other form of media can.

Socialcasting can make a big impact in your overall marketing efforts and is something that any business can benefit from. Technology is constantly providing us with new and creative ways of marketing. Socialcasting is a product of all this new technology and is an indirect social content driven way of getting your message out, creating attention and driving traffic.

William Cosgrove
Bill Cosgrove Straight Talk

10 Ways To Teach Your Customers to Buy From You

(Posted on Feb 24, 2014 at 05:12PM )
Social media marketing has changed the approach to selling today and requires a new perspective on how to attract clients. If we listen to what is happening in the marketplace today across social media channels inbound marketing offers a higher probability of conversion than outbound marketing strategies.

This applies not only to the B2C sector but also to the B2B sectors where people’s expectations have shifted to being educated and informed first and engaging with a company in their own way in their own time.

Another point to make is how important the relationship is after the sale.  In Gerry Morin’s article below he indirectly refers to a fact that I and others have been stressing for years,  “I have purchased over 10 cars in my lifetime and cannot remember any of the names, faces or other details of the people who sold them to me. However, I remember every car mechanic I’ve ever worked with. I remember each of them because we built a trusting relationship. They taught me and did not sell me. They showed me how to maintain my car and advised me on what to look for when buying a new car. They were my trusted advisor who helped me fix my current problem and frame my future purchase. Wow!”,

The sale takes but a fleeting moment to conclude compared to the relationship with the customer after the sale that will last for years if nurtured properly and pay you back many times over. See Focus on the Heart and Not Just The Wallet

William Cosgrove
Bill Cosgrove Straight Talk

10 Ways To Teach Your Customers to Buy From You
When it comes successful social selling and meeting your sales quota, being more like a car mechanic, instead of a car salesman, might be the key to your success. Huh? How are you going to meet your quota if you don’t act like the tenacious and famous car salesman, Cal Worthington?

I have purchased over 10 cars in my lifetime and cannot remember any of the names, faces or other details of the people who sold them to me. However, I remember every car mechanic I’ve ever worked with. I remember each of them because we built a trusting relationship. They taught me and did not sell me. They showed me how to maintain my car and advised me on what to look for when buying a new car. They were my trusted advisor who helped me fix my current problem and frame my future purchase. Wow!

Whether you are selling enterprise software solutions in the cloud or trading show shipping services you can position yourself as a teacher, like my car mechanics, and reap the rewards of being a top seller.

Social Selling Lessons | Be A Teacher Not A Seller1. Differentiate Yourself From The Sales Sharks. With InsideView reporting that 90% of CEO’s do not return cold emails or calls, becoming a trusted advisor and teacher to your customers makes sense. It’s the only way to break through to them. Don’t ‘look’ like the typical sales professional and you will separate yourself form the herd of sales sharks.

2. Don’t Be All About Making A Deal. Instead of focusing on a small amount of sales, build a large social network people modeled after your customers and their influencers. 75% of B2B decision makers use social media to learn. So, plug into this larger network, to bust your quota.

3. Pass On Valuable Information. Don’t use your social media and network channels to promote your solutions. Pass on valuable information, instead, to lead the conversation to you when the time is right to buy. You want to be known for handing out knowledge and not brochures.

4. Associate Yourself With Great 3rd-part Brands. You are the company you keep, so keep good company. Associate yourself with great knowledge brands, like Harvard Business Review, Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, to build your reputation and brand.

5. Think Outside The Trade-Show Booth. Cast the trade booth sales mentality away and spread your knowledge so people will eventually visit your trade booth when it’s time to buy; 73% of customers are willing to engage with you on social media, so get to it!

6. Use Social Media To Teach And Not Sell. Selling is best done face-to-face. However, Social Media Today reports B2B buyers look at an average of over 10 digital resources before ever making a purchase. Since customers need to learn before they buy, use this opportunity on social media to connect. Your customers are there whether or not you are.

7. Teach And Connect With Today’s Technology. Connect and get on the radar of your customers and potential networks by retweeting, sharing, commenting and favoriting others’ content. Intersecting with their learning tools is a great way to build a relationship instead of finding and phoning them from a LinkedIn search. LinkedIn reports 85% of IT Decision Makers use social networks for business, so your future customers are waiting for you to socially engage.

8. Develop Insights. Before you teach and connect with your customers, you need to listen to the customer and their customers. Listening is a great way to prepare for your connections and calls. SirisuDecisions reports 82% B2B decision makers think sales representatives are unprepared for meetings, so this insight-driven approach will help you build the best social selling lesson plan.

9. Tap Into The Ready-made Network. There is an entire social community on LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs, where customers are tapping to learn how to be smarter, more effective, more efficient to make more money. Determine how to tap into this potential, leverage the rules of engagement, and position yourself as a teacher; especially since the Sales Benchmark Index reports reps with 5000+ linked in connections have a 98% chance of attaining quota.

10. Be A Publisher. In addition to curating and passing on the great content to your network, create your own assets on a blog. Blogging is the social selling secret weapon. Hubspot reports that 92% of companies that blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer from their blog, so this strategy seems like a no-brainer!

Do you have another teaching tip to share? If so, please comment below. Or, contact me directly at, on LinkedInTwitter or Google+.

If you are looking to set yourself up as a social selling teacher, you might enjoy learning how to:

So, quit selling the sales sizzle to focus on educating your customer. If you are looking to make quota then a differentiating social selling approach, like an advising car mechanic, will place you in the driver’s seat to success! And if you have a recommendation for a new mechanic, let me know. Mine just retired!

By Gerry Moran

Image Source:

Lessons from Threadless: Why building online community can unlock e-commerce success

(Posted on Feb 23, 2014 at 01:50PM )
The success of companies who have found the value of having an onsite community is all around us. It lets you connect and stay close to your customers and employees in ways that cannot be accomplished by any other means.

More and more companies are creating onsite social communities for their customers in which to interact. Companies can read the needs and concerns of their customers in new ways and can benefit from the relevant content being generated in the community via comments and articles that can be integrated into their Digital marketing initiatives.

It shows that you are customer and employee centric and can produce a culture of brand ambassadors that can be broadcast across the internet and your social channels to greatly increase traffic to your site by people who will already have confidence in you as a company who is dedicated to serving its customers, employees and community.

These communities provide for limitless marketing opportunities at a fraction of the cost of any other form of marketing.

 Below Caitlin Fitzsimmons social media editor for BRW shares another success story that an onsite social community has brought to this ecommerce company.  However, onsite communities can be customized to any company in any industry to provide the same kind of results.

William Cosgrove
Bill Cosgrove Straight Talk

Related content:
Focus on the Heart and Not Just The Wallet

Threadless is a T-shirt company with a twist: artists submit designs, Threadless members vote on their favourites, the winners get paid and the T-shirts are produced and sold online.
Chicago-based Threadless started in 2000 with $1000 and is now widely estimated to have more than $30 million in revenue.

The intriguing thing about the business is how it was borne out of the idea of an online community of artists and designers. Artists submit designs, Threadless members vote on their favourites, the winners get paid and the T-shirts are produced and sold through the shop at It is worth reading this profile of Threadless (and the reader comments) in Chicago Magazine.

Threadless has more than 2 million members and a social presence that includes more than 800,000 fans on Facebook and 2.2 million Twitter followers. Chief marketing officer Todd Lido is giving a keynote at the E-commerce Conference & Expo in Melbourne from March 26-27 on the company’s strategy for community building and engagement.

BRW: What was the initial idea behind Threadless and how did it all start?
Picture Todd Lido: The idea for Threadless began when CEO and founder Jake Nickell began hosting T-shirt design challenges on a design forum. Jake saw how much everyone was enjoying these challenges, and realised it could be a great model to source incredible artwork for T-shirts.

BRW: How has Threadless grown and changed since then?

Lido: Over a decade later, the community continues to grow. Artists from all over the world submit on Threadless. We received submissions from artists in 71 different countries last month.

One of the great things about the community-based design model is there is no singular Threadless look or design sense. That said, it’s been interesting to see the aesthetics of what the community produces and which products are popular evolve over time.

We continue evolving the model to make it work better, both for Threadless as a business and for the artists who participate. We want to make sure Threadless stays the best platform in the world for artists to come together, share and monetise their work.

BRW: How is community and social marketing baked into what you do?

Lido: At its core, Threadless is a platform for connecting artists. So a community-centric approach to communication is very natural for us. We aim to inspire creativity and individuality and keep Threadless fun. It’s partly about managing a community of artists – engaging them in design submissions through themed design challenges, encouraging constructive feedback and collaboration and celebrating success in the community. And it’s partly about making a meaningful connection between artists and the rest of the community that supports them. We really want to keep a focus on the idea that when you buy from Threadless, you are supporting independent artists.

BRW: What have you learned about social marketing that might be useful for other companies?

Lido: Think about what makes your offering unique and what resonates most with the audience. Where is the emotional connection that’s going to make the audience want to share your content? Strive to mirror the tone of your communications with the conversations that are happening within your community. I’m sure that some marketers, especially in the business-to-business space, might think that doesn’t apply, but keep in mind at the end of the day your goal is to connect with people too. I definitely encourage as much playful experimentation with different types of content as possible. And pay attention to your social metrics while you experiment. You might be surprised by the results.

BRW: What have you done well and what would you do differently if you had your time over?

Lido: I’m most proud of the work we’ve done celebrating artists and telling the stories of the real people who make Threadless what it is. (Some great examples can be found here.)

I’m always dissatisfied when we do anything that doesn’t reinforce the narrative of community-based design. If we have a promotion which is only about “buy these discounted tees”, then it could be a promo for any retailer. If what we are talking about doesn’t represent the community behind Threadless, we might as well have stayed home that day.

BRW: What are some of the key things you plan to cover in your conference presentation?

Lido: I’m really looking forward to it! I actually think I’m going to get more out of the experience than anyone. I’m looking forward to telling the Threadless story and relating ideas for sustainable community engagement. Threadless certainly has a unique story, but there’s a lot to draw from which is relevant to almost any organisation seeking to grow its online community.

I’ll talk a little about our core mission, the business model and culture and how they inform everything else we do. I will walk through examples of how community participation informs business decisions. I plan on going into detail about our content marketing strategy and how we pull stories out of our community. There will be relatable examples of what has worked for us on a channel and campaign level, especially social media examples. And I will also talk about the balancing act of driving marketing strategy with both community and e-commerce goals, and how these don’t have to be at odds with each other.

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

'Bad Management' is Just Plain Bad for Business

(Posted on Feb 22, 2014 at 02:06PM )
Picture As promised, I am following up on my article from yesterday “Do You Want a Company of 'Heroes or Zeros?' which came about from an article that received a lot of comments entitled “The Secret to Delighting Customers? Put Employees First” That brings up problems in the workplace that we all have encountered and all need to find solutions for.

Bad Management

Bad management runs rampant in organizations.  Always be suspect when in an interview when a manager says “What goes on here stays here” or “It’s my way or the highway”.

A good manager is secure in his or her position and is someone who can encourage ideas and foster an atmosphere of openness and collaboration. An insecure manager or bad manager will not hold on to good people and many times staff does not want to go to upper management for fear of retribution. This has devastating effects on performance of the department.  

All emotions stem from insecurity and must be controlled because it has no place in a workplace setting or anywhere else for that matter. It is a disease that will eat away at and hold back any organization.

An insecure manager will isolate themselves and more often than not hold people their ideas and consequently the business back because he or she are afraid of losing their position to someone else who they feel may be seen as more qualified. If someone is in fear of losing their job to someone under any circumstance, they probably should not have gotten the job in the first place.

There are many other factors that define a bad manager. One kind of manager is the one who is inconsistent saying one thing and doing another without explaining their actions and who is arrogant in believing they are always right and makes sure everyone knows it. This type of manager is often egocentric and makes every issue about them, doesn’t listen to advice offered but ignores it before even considering it. This inhibits the staff from even mentioning any ideas they may have and leaves them feeling helpless and feeling that nothing will ever be done to improve on a bad situation.

 These managers are also often self-centered and do not support, encourage or look out for their team. The worst are mean and abusive and make people feel bad for no reason.

Then there are managers who micro-manage and refuse to delegate anything, despite what they say. This isolates them so they often don’t involve others in decisions and rarely look for ways to support or encourage the work of their team. This is often is caused by incompetence or the lack of basic communication, intellectual, or emotional skills needed to for their role.

 And the complacent manager is content with the way things are and is not open to change. They like things the way they are because they have become lazy or are afraid to rock the boat for fear that things might take a turn for the worse or jeopardize their position.

One experience I had when I was still a salesperson at a dealership where there were 24 salespeople we had a GM who we called “Little Caesar.” This title came from his short stature and dictatorial style of managing. He would hold three to four meetings a day and would rant and rave and almost every day a salesperson would end up getting fired. He would always say “Your weak, give me your plate and keys, you’re all done”

Another time The GM as the son of the owner who raced sailboats and was rarely at the dealership.  I believe this had an effect on our GSM because he spent more time outside the dealership hobnobbing with hockey players from the Boston Bruins who were spokesman for the dealership and relying on myself and my counterpart to run the daily sales operations.

I have also be part of organizations where a manager spent valuable company time in generating options as solutions to a problem but the problem was created by this same manager. Incompetent managers create more problems than they solve and then waste time to solve the same problems they created in the first place.

I have given some example here of what I have run into over the years being part of the workforce. These experiences convinced me to spend most of my working career being self-employed trying to avoid the pitfalls that bad management can inflict.

Let’s hear some of your experiences of how it has or may be affecting you and thoughts on possible solutions for this age old problem and human condition that affects the performance of so many businesses.

William Cosgrove
Bill Cosgrove Straight Talk