At the same time, a number of new hair stylists and barber shops have opened in downtown Ontario. Trust me, there’s a bunch of them.
I don’t know if this is public knowledge (it’s been discussed at the Ontario IDEA Exchange and other B2B forums), but downtown Ontario is even on track to have an establishment that combines the two business types. (Of course, a few of you have already figured out who I’m talking about.)
Without a bridge, you’re stuck at one place and can’t get to the other place. Or you can try to get to the other place, but you may get very wet.
Businesses need bridges to connect with their customers. When the bridges are erected, the customers understand what the businesses can do for them. If the customers need those particular services, they can buy them.
Back on October 23, 2007, I used my then-active Twitter account to tweet about the #sandiegofire. The San Diego fire was arguably the first mass adoption of hashtags, building upon pioneering work by Stowe Boyd and Chris Messina and acted upon by Nate Ritter and others.
The tinyurl link directed followers to my post detailing how the aforementioned San Diego Fire was displacing sports teams, including the San Diego Chargers. (Yes, kids, the Chargers used to play in San Diego.)
Of course, hashtags have changed a lot since 2007-2008. After some resistance, Twitter formally supported the use of hashtags, and Facebook and other services followed, leading to mass adoption beyond the Factory Joes of the world.
Ignoring personal applications for the moment, hashtags have proven helpful for business purposes, especially when a particular event is taking place. No, not a fire in a major American city, but a conference of some sort. Conferences of all types have rushed to adopt hashtags so that conference attendees will promote their conference attendance. The general rule is that the more techie the conference, the more likely the attendees will use the conference-promoted hashtag.
I held various social media responsibilities during my years at MorphoTrak and IDEMIA, some of which were directly connected to the company’s annual user conference, and some of which were connected to the company’s attendance at other events. Obviously we pulled out the stops for our own conferences, including adopting hashtags that coincided with the conference theme.
And then when the conference organizers adopt a hashtag, they fervently hope that people will actually USE the adopted hashtag. As I said before, this isn’t an issue for the technical conferences, but it can be an issue at the semi-technical conferences. (“Hey, everybody! Gather around the screen! Someone used the conference hashtag…oh wait a minute, that’s my burner account.”)
A pleasant surprise with exhibitor/speaker adoption of the #connectID hashtag
Well, I think that we’ve finally crossed a threshold in the biometric world, and hashtags are becoming more and more acceptable.
As I previously mentioned, I’m not attending next week’s connect:ID conference in Washington DC, but I’m obviously interested in the proceedings.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that nearly two dozen exhibitors and speakers were using the #connectID hashtag (or referenced via the hashtag) as of the Friday before the event, including Acuity Market Intelligence, Aware, BIO-key, Blink Identity, Clearview AI, HID Global, IDEMIA, Integrated Biometrics, iProov, Iris ID, Kantara, NEC and NEC NSS, Pangiam, Paravision, The Paypers, WCC, WorldReach Software/Entrust, and probably some others by the time you read this, as well as some others that I may have missed.
And the event hasn’t even started yet.
At least some of the companies will have the presence of mind to tweet DURING the event on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Will yours be one of them?
But company adoption is only half the battle
While encouraging to me, adoption of a hashtag by a conference’s organizers, exhibitors, and speakers is only the beginning.
The true test will take place when (if) the ATTENDEES at the conference also choose to adopt the conference hashtag.
According to Terrapin (handling the logistics of conference organization), more than 2,500 people are registered for the conference. While the majority of these people are attending the free exhibition, over 750 of them are designated as “conference delegates” who will attend the speaking sessions.
How many of these people will tweet or post about #connectID?
I was looking over the Bredemarket blog posts for September, and I found some posts that addressed the content side of Bredemarket’s services. (There are also blog posts that address the proposal side; see here for a summary of those posts.)
As a starting point, what content services has Bredemarket created for its clients? I quantified these around the middle of the month and came up with this list.
And I’ve been working on additional content projects for clients that I haven’t added to the list yet.
So now I am not only providing content for biometric firms (after all, I am a biometric content marketing expert), but also for technology firms (including one for which I completed a project this month) and for local small businesses.
Now that I changed my mind and have augmented my personal Instagram account with a Bredemarket Instagram account, Instagram is sending Bredemarket helpful tips and messages. Here’s part of a message I recently received from Instagram.
Let EVERYONE know how to connect with you, including friends and family?
What’s wrong with letting EVERYONE know about your business social media account?
While there is some merit in Instagram’s advice, there’s one very important caveat if you are trying to build a business, rather than just trying to build follower count.
Only invite people to follow your business account who are genuinely interested in your business.
Obviously current customers are interested in your business, and inviting them to follow is a good idea.
The same goes for potential customers, a category that Instagram inadvertently left out of its pitch.
And some of your friends and family who are knowledgeable about the issues in your business may be good invitees, because even if they can’t provide business (and sometimes they can), they can serve as evangelists to others. Someone of my Facebook and LinkedIn friends have already helped me in this capacity.
But I haven’t gone out of my way to invite my friends who do not own or work for identity, biometrics, technology, or local (Inland Empire West) firms to follow the Bredemarket Instagram account. Why not? Because it provides no benefit to Bredemarket.
So why does Instagram want me to invite friends and family to follow the Bredemarket account? Because it does provide benefit to Instagram. The more people engaged on Instagram translates to more opportunities for Instagram to display ads, which benefits Instagram’s bottom line. But it won’t benefit your bottom line as a business.
So if my European daughters’ retired high school teacher is waiting for that Instagram invite from Bredemarket…keep waiting.
Shameless non-sponsored plug for Ray of Social
Incidentally, my thoughts on WHO to invite to follow your business social media accounts have been heavily influenced by Georgia of Ray of Social. Her Instagram account is here. Pay special attention to her “3 things that harm your growth,” especially thing 2 (although thing 1 and thing 3 are also important).
Like any good process, the not-so-new-anymore Bredemarket content creation process asks a lot of questions up front. These questions ensure that I perform the project in accordance with the wishes of my client.
Because, as we all know, it costs more to rework a project at the end than it does at the beginning. (Or maybe you didn’t know that; it’s something I included in some work I did for a client. But the client knows.)
Specifically, early in the engagement I reach agreement with my client on all or most of the following questions on the content:
The target audience.
The section sub-goals.
Relevant key words/hashtags.
Interim and final due dates.
When you break it out, that’s a lot of stuff.
And there’s more stuff that I need to know from the client that I’m not sharing publicly. But I’ll give you a hint: some of the questions are driven by a recent experience with Google Docs, and the fact that two different people weren’t using the same fonts, sizes, and styles. Well, if Google Docs can’t take care of it automatically, I can ask about fonts/sizes/styles (when applicable) so that the issue can be resolved manually.
So I’ve created a form that I can use for either the content or proposals sides of the Bredemarket business, and the form contains all of the questions that I need to ask a client at the beginning of an engagement.
Or at least I think it contains all of the questions.
In the course of doing business, Bredemarket has created some dedicated social media accounts, while also using some existing social media accounts of my own.
As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, Bredemarket has its own dedicated LinkedIn page, LinkedIn showcase pages (including my new one), Facebook page, and Facebook groups.
Bredemarket doesn’t have its own Twitter account, but Bredemarket content is posted on the “professional” of my two Twitter accounts, @jebredcal.
Finally, as of yesterday Bredemarket didn’t have its own Instagram account.
Why didn’t Bredemarket have its own Instagram account? For three reasons:
Reason 1: Bredemarket is a TEXT creation service, and that doesn’t lend itself to Instagram’s image-heavy environment. Let’s face it: if I were to take a picture of myself typing away at my computer right now, it would be VERY boring.
Reason 2: Instagram is primarily an environment for influencers, viral content, and the like. Bredemarket wouldn’t really create content that fits into that environment.
Reason 3: If I were to create an Instagram account, that would be just one more social media mouth to feed. And I as well as anyone else know that if you don’t feed the content beast, people will think you no longer exist.
Well, that sounds like three pretty convincing reasons NOT to start a Bredemarket Instagram account.
So why did I do it?
Because I looked at those three reasons right now, and decided that I was wrong on all three of them.
Start with reason 1, content creation. As time has gone on, I have created more and more visual content, including images of my (finally received) business card, brochure images with QR codes, and pictures of locations relevant to Bredemarket’s markets.
True, but as reason 2 asks, would this content fit into Instagram’s environment? Actually it would if used properly. After all, while perhaps the influencers receive the primary attention on Instagram, many of my people are there too, including biometrics companies, technologists, and (becoming more important) local businesses and organizations. My personal account has been interacting more and more with these accounts.
Finally, reason 3 and the whole “feed the beast” issue. Well, I’m already feeding the beast, because I’ve been creating Bredemarket posts on my personal Instagram account @johnebredehoft. So many Bredemarket posts, in fact, that I started a highlights category on my personal Instagram account for Bredemarket content. I’ve highlighted blog posts, podcasts, a video, Instagram posts from others, and related content.
Interestingly enough, one of the stories in that highlights category reminded me of something I had forgotten about. Obviously I’ve been weighing the question of a Bredemarket Instagram account for some time. About twenty weeks ago, I asked my personal Instagram account followers if I should create a separate Bredemarket account, and 60% of them said yes.
Of course, I’ve concentrated more on local business in the last twenty weeks (although I’m still addressing identity/biometrics/secure documents), so the case to market on Instagram is even more compelling.
So look for @bredemarket on Instagram. I’m just getting started.
(But I still wish that links in Instagram posts were clickable…)
At the same time that Bredemarket helps other firms to market themselves, Bredemarket has to market ITSELF, including social media marketing. And for the past year I’ve subscribed to the following formula:
Use LinkedIn for professional marketing to biometric/identity and technology clients.
Use Twitter as a supplement to this.
Use Facebook as a supplement to this, and also use Facebook as Bredemarket’s sole foray into “general business” marketing.
It sounded like a good formula at the time…but now I’m questioning the assumptions behind it. And I’m hoping that I can prove one of my assumptions wrong.
My initial assumptions about marketing to local businesses
As I write this, Bredemarket has no clients in my hometown of Ontario, California, or in any of the nearby cities. In fact, my closest clients are located in Orange County, where I worked for 25 years.
It’s no secret that I’ve been working to rectify that gap and drum up more local business.
So this was an opportune time for me to encounter Jay Clouse’s September 2021 New Client Challenge. (It’s similar to a challenge Clouse ran in August 2020. Repurposing is good.) Clouse’s first question to all participants asked which market we would be targeting, and in my case the local small business market seemed an obvious choice.
And this dialogue played in my mind…
So when I market to local businesses, I’ll want to do that via relevant Facebook Groups. Obviously I won’t market the local services via LinkedIn or Twitter, because those services are not tailored to local service marketing.
Questioning my assumptions
Then I realized that I was wrong, for two reasons.
First, there are LinkedIn groups that concentrate on my local area, just as there are LinkedIn groups that concentrate on biometrics. I had already quit a number of the dormant Inland Empire LinkedIn groups, but I was still a member of two such groups and could (tastefully) market there.
If LinkedIn doesn’t provide an opportunity for me to do something, why don’t I tailor my use of LinkedIn and provide myself the opportunity?
Specifically, some of you may recall that I only have two LinkedIn showcase pages, but I have three Facebook groups.
“Bredemarket Identity Firm Services” is present on both LinkedIn and Facebook.
“Bredemarket Technology Firm Services” is present on both LinkedIn and Facebook.
“Bredemarket General Business Services” is only present on Facebook.
I explained the rationale for the lack of a third LinkedIn showcase page in a nice neat summary:
Using myself as an example, I have segmented my customers into markets: the identity (biometrics / secure documents) specific market (my primary market), the general technology market, and the general business market. I don’t even target the general business market on LinkedIn (I do on Facebook), but I’ve created showcase pages for the other two.
If you consider that “local business services” is a subset of “general business services,” some of you can see where this is going.
But it took a while for the thought to pound its way into my brain:
Why DON’T you target the (local) general business market on LinkedIn?
I could just create a new showcase page, a process that would only take a few minutes. I wouldn’t even have to create any new artwork, since I could simply repurpose the Facebook general business artwork and use it for a LinkedIn local business showcase page. (Repurposing is good.)
Technology is second on the list. As a matter of fact, Bredemarket’s first customer was a technology firm. And while I can’t necessarily speak to technology in the same depth that I can devote to identity and biometrics, I can clearly help technology clients with their content marketing and their proposals.
Getting more specific about “general business”
Which brings us to general business firms. (This post won’t even touch the fourth market, nonprofits.) This is obviously a broad category. Even if you don’t count sole proprietors (such as myself) or freelancers, there are somewhere around 7.7 million businesses in the United States. (This figure is from 2016; I’m not sure if it’s gone up or gone down in the last five years.) Now if you include sole proprietors in the total, then you’re talking about 32 million businesses. (This particular number may have actually increased over time.)
And the vast majority of those millions of businesses aren’t working in identity, biometrics, or even technology.
Obviously I can’t target them all. Well, I could try, but it would be a little ridiculous.
So what if I took a subset of those 32 million businesses and tried to see if Bredemarket could serve that subset?
The local small business persona
When you want to market to a particular group, you develop a persona that represents that group. You can then develop a profile of that persona: the persona’s needs, aspirations, and expectations; the persona’s underlying goals and values; and perhaps some other elements. The persona may be developed via extensive research, or perhaps via…a little less quantification.
So I began musing about a small business owner in my hometown of Ontario, California. Perhaps someone whose business is located here.
For those who aren’t from around here, the Emporia Arts District is in downtown Ontario, California, west of Euclid and south of Holt. While much of the activity is concentrated in the set of lofts/working spaces whose entrance is pictured here, there are also surrounding businesses that can be considered part of the district. And of course you can walk east of Euclid and north of Holt and find a wider variety of businesses.
But I concentrated on the businesses in the Emporia Arts District, noting that they’re…well, they’re arty. Let’s put it this way: my stick figures would not be attractive to them.
Looking at my two general offerings, proposal services and content marketing, it’s fairly unlikely that my proposal services would interest this crowd. If these business ARE submitting proposals, they are most likely applying for federal, state, or local grants, and that’s somewhat outside of my area of expertise.
(Tangential comment to those who click on links: having fun is good.)
But can my content marketing services provide value to the businesses in the Emporia Arts District (and elsewhere in Ontario and the surrounding cities)?
I realized that I DID have something to offer here.
What if your local business needs a short text piece?
After all, my writing services can be fairly flexible. While I originally envisioned that my Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service could apply to content such as blog posts or LinkedIn posts, it could just as easily apply to a general brochure of 400 to 600 words with customer-provided pictures of artwork, classes, clothing, haircuts, or whatever.
Chances are it will be a little more exciting than this.
Or maybe not. (The story behind the piece of content above, developed when my business card order got delayed, is told here. Storytelling is good.)
The same overall process can apply to a small craft brochure just as it can apply to a discussion of the benefits of using an Adobe-trained marketing systems consultant. In either case, the engagement would start with a series of questions:
What is the topic of the content?
What is the goal that you want to achieve with the content?
What are the benefits (not features, but benefits) that your end customers can realize by using your product or service?
What is the target audience for the content? (I’m not the only one who’s establishing personas.)
There are other questions that I may ask, but you can see the whole process here.
Once these major items are established (starting off a project correctly is good), I can get writing, you can get reviewing, and I can provide you with the final product. You can then post an electronic version of the content on your website, or you can hand it out to people who stop by your business or loft or farmer’s market stall or whatever. (Intangible and tangible content are BOTH good.)
What if your local business needs a longer text piece?
Maybe 400 to 600 words isn’t enough. Maybe you want a longer piece, such as an entire product/service catalog, or a catalog listing a whole slew of businesses (maybe all the businesses at a farmer’s market).
As you can guess, the target number of words for my service is 2800 words, or up to 3200 words.
The process can be a little more intricate also. Because there is more text to review, the review cycles can be longer. And I may ask a few more questions at the beginning. But in essence it’s similar to the process for the shorter writing service, with basic questions about the topic, goal, benefits, and target audience. You can see the entire process here.
What if you want more than 600 words, but less than 2800 words?
I’ll work with you. (Flexibility is good.)
If you can use one of my content marketing services, what are the next steps?
Share this online in places where you may see it. (Targeted content distribution is good.)
After that, repurpose (repurposing is good) this long, meandering blog post into some other type of content that I can distribute to businesses in the Emporia Arts District…or north of Holt…or in Upland or Montclair. Blog posts are transitory, and I’ll often express something in blog form and then pin it down in another format later.
Perhaps you can do the same, once I’ve created content for you.
This meeting (which also happened to be the national Freelancers Union meeting for the month; our chapter rules!) was led by Cara Raffele, who spoke about “The Power of Storytelling.”
I’m not going to talk about the ENTIRE meeting, but will focus on the last part of the meeting, during which Raffele discussed “understanding your brand for maximum impact,” or brand archetypes.
The idea of archetypes started with Carl Jung, who defined them as images and themes that derive from the collective unconscious.
Jung claimed to identify a large number of archetypes but paid special attention to four. Jung labeled these archetypes the Self, the Persona, the Shadow and the Anima/Animus.
In modern-day marketing, this “large number of archetypes” has been boiled down to twelve, and it was these twelve that Raffele referenced in her presentation.
Raffele encouraged all of us freelancers to listen to all twelve, and then to select multiple archetypes (not just one) that seemed to reflect our freelance brands. So I iterated a first cut at the archetypes that I believed applied to Bredemarket; my preliminary list included Sage, Creator, and Explorer.
Why Sage? That particular one resonated with me because of my experiences with my clients (educating on benefits vs. features, expanding the understanding of law enforcement agency stakeholders), and because of the way I’ve been marketing myself anyway. After all, when I self-reference as the biometric content marketing expert and the biometric proposal writing expert, then it’s obvious that I can add the sage to my clients’ parsley, rosemary, and thyme. (Sorry, couldn’t resist, even though I know it’s bad.)
But after guessing that Bredemarket is Sage with a pinch of Creator and Explorer, I realized that I might not know myself as well as I thought, so I asked if there were some type of online “archetypes test,” similar to the online Meyers-Briggs personality tests, that could help you semi-independently discern your archetypes.
(One aside before moving on to Putnam’s test. A few of you realize that I did not come up with the section title “Jung and the restless” on my own. Yes, I stole it from a Steve Taylor song title (and he stole it from a soap opera). I used the title even though Taylor is frankly not that positive about secular psychology. But he did say “some of my best friends are shrinks.” Oh, and that’s obviously Gym Nicholson of Undercover fame on guitar.)
My “Brand Personality Quiz” results, and Kaye Putnam’s recommendations
If you’ve taken an online Meyers-Briggs personality test, or any other similar online test, the process of the Brand Personality Quiz will seem familiar to you. Putnam’s quiz asks you a series of independent questions, some of which have as many as twelve options. It then tabulates your answers against attributes of the twelve brand archetypes, and produces a final result listing a primary brand archetype and some secondary archetypes.
Here are my results.
So if you take Putnam’s quiz as gospel, I was somewhat accurate in my initial self-assessment.
Note that “Sage” came first and “Explorer” came second in the quiz results, and those were two of the archetypes I initially tweeted about before taking the quiz.
Considering the personal writing style I use in my blog, tweets, and elsewhere, “Entertainer” wasn’t much of a surprise either.
Upon further personal reflection, “Royalty” makes sense also. (So bow before me, serfs.)
And after reading Putnam’s description of “Creator” and its emphasis on visual presentation (rather than textual presentation), I can see why this was NOT on the list.
Along with my results, Putnam provided a link that allowed me to download a brief description of my primary archetype, Sage. Now this brief description doesn’t include all of the detail found in Putnam’s 12 Brandfluency courses (one for each archetype), but it does include many actionable items.
The “Sage Inspiration Kit” provides useful tips for Sage businesspeople to include in their brand marketing. The kit asserts that if the tips are followed, the results will produce emotional responses in potential clients that will increase brand attractiveness, thus allowing businesspeople to win more business (and win better business).
Tips are provided on the following:
Obviously that’s a lot of stuff to absorb, even in this brief kit. (The paid course offers tips in additional areas.) And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t change all the colors and fonts in my marketing overnight.
But I could look at Putnam’s word suggestions.
Ignoring the expert
Now Kaye Putnam’s word suggestions are freely available to anyone, but I’m not going to just copy all of them and reproduce them here. Request them yourself. (The link is for the Sage archetype)
But I’ll offer comments on a few of the 18 words and phrases in the kit.
First off, I’m NOT going to use “think tank” in Bredemarket’s marketing. Perhaps this phrase may resonate for a larger firm, or even for a smaller firm with a team of people addressing their clients’ needs. But it would take a lot of stretching to describer a solopreneur think tank.
Another term that DOESN’T make sense for Bredemarket is “engineering.” Now obviously engineering is a good thing, although I’ve seen cases where engineering is overemphasized. But it doesn’t really make sense for my business, in which I make a point of emphasizing my ability to communicate engineering concepts to non-engineers. The same issues apply with the phrase “the code.”
I won’t go into all of my concerns, but there are several “Sage words” in the list that I would never use for Bredemarket, or would use very sparingly.
When someone gives you advice, whether it’s Kaye Putnam or John Bredehoft, you have to judge whether the advice is good for YOU.
Even if you narrow a brand down to one archetype, there are innumerable differences between individuals who align with this archetype. One size does not fit all, and I personally may love the term “experiment” but hate the terms listed above.
Now perhaps I may be wrong in rejecting Putnam’s advice. Perhaps there’s a really, really good reason why I should sprinkle the phrase “think tank” through all of my marketing materials.
But in the end it’s up to the recipient to decide whether or not to follow the advice of the expert. That applies to people giving advice to me, and that also applies to the advice that I give to my clients. (If a client insists on using the phrase “best of breed,” I can’t stop the client from doing so.)
But several of those words and phrases DO seem like good ideas, and I’ll probably make a concerted effort to sprinkle the GOOD words and phrases throughout Bredemarket’s website, social media channels, proposals, and other marketing.
Even though this might require me to re-revise the content creation process that I just revised.
Oh well. It’s good to…experiment with things. After all, Bredemarket is in effect a laboratory in which I like to try solutions out myself before I try to make a case for them with my clients. It’s easier to speak to research-based proven solutions than ones with which I have no experience at all.
Did that paragraph sound sage-like? I got six of the words/phrases into that paragraph!
Oh, and if you’re looking for a Royally Entertaining and Exploring Sage…
You can read here about how my content creation process ensures that the final written content (a) advances your GOAL, (b) communicates your BENEFITS, and (c) speaks to your TARGET AUDIENCE.
If Bredemarket can fill a gap in your company’s needs (NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT MENTION PARSLEY. DO NOT MENTION PARSLEY. DO NOT MENTION PARSLEY.), then feel free to contact me and we can discuss your needs and possible solutions.