Social Media Marketing – The ZEN method

social media, zen, amazon

Zen of Social Media Marketing

Many people believe that since they already know how to use Facebook for their personal profiles they are perfectly capable of using Social Media in their business. And I guess that is true to a point. There isn’t anything ‘hard’ about using social media. But ‘using’ and ‘successfully using’ social media to grow a business are two very different things.

The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Kabani is a perfect tool to make sure that you’re using social media successfully for your business.

When it comes to ‘successfully using’ social media, you need to understand more than just how to post or to like. You have to understand the selling process, how it works traditionally and how social media is different than traditional advertising practices. To cross the social media line with traditional marketing can be more damaging than not marketing at all.

Shama walks you through the differences in traditional and social marketing, breaks down some of the more popular social media networks (the ones that she believes ‘provide the highest return of investment), and explains how to create a social media plan for your business.

The guide isn’t exhaustive. It gives you a good beginning education into the world of Social Media. You’re not going to read this book and be a social media marketing god, but the book attempts, and succeeds, to create an understanding about what makes social media different and how to properly plan that social media for your organization. She has outlined the building blocks you need to create your social media presence. Zen isn’t about all-encompassing knowledge, rather it’s about success through understanding. Knowing the ways of something instead of the step by step instructions allows users to better adapt to the ever changing social media world.

Even with a couple years of experience in Social Media, I find new ideas every time I read this book. This is the third addition in of the book and while some of it has changed only a little, social media is an ever changing platform and each edition has been updated to take into account new networks, tools and methods. I used to own the first one – I’m pretty sure my boss took it back to Atlanta with her, but I still hold out hope that I end up coming across it one day in my library at home. When I bought my second edition, I made sure to buy an e-copy so I didn’t have to worry about loaning it out permanently again. My third edition is once again paper, but it isn’t leaving my sight.

Reading through some of the reviews on amazon have been interesting. There are as many theories on what does and doesn’t work in social media as there are reviewers on amazon so it isn’t a surprise that some people tend to think that there are better ways to work with social media. Maybe there are, but Shama is a pretty good authority on the subject. Her company, The Marketing Zen Group, is a well regarded company that has worked with many businesses to create strong virtual presences with fantastic results. The tactics and strategies that Shama teaches in The Zen of Social Media Marketing are the same strategies that The Marketing Zen Group uses to great effect. These are proven and trusted ways to harness the power of social media for your business, whether you are your only employee or you have hundreds of employees.

If that still doesn’t convince you, the book isn’t only written by Shama. There are many quotes from some of the best and most successful people in social media today, including a forward by Chris Brogan, co-author of Trust Agent, so there are many voices explaining the concept. Sometimes a different way of saying something helps make it that much more clear. Shama also took questions from her blog readers to better clarify some of the points that her readers had been unsure about in previous editions.

Strategies in a vacuum are easy. If they don’t have to hold up to real world challenges, it’s all too easy to say what should and shouldn’t be done. Shama shows how the lessons in this book can work in real life by giving us a dozen case studies of real life companies and organizations that have taken Zen marketing to heart to increase their social and virtual presence as well as their bottom line. In their own words they tell about the changes they made to create their social media presence.

zen, marketing
Whether you’re a newbie or a pro at social media marketing, the first thing to remember is that you should ALWAYS be learning – technology is always changing and you have to keep up with it if you want to be successful. Zen of Social Media Marketing will keep you headed in the right direction.

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With Friends Like These

photo credit: daniel_iversen via photopin cc

photo credit: daniel_iversen via photopin cc

Today’s business world is tough and awfully competitive. So when it comes to Facebook we have a perfect opportunity to spy on our rival businesses and to flat out steal their posts. We can use their posts against them, see how they are running their social media campaigns and find out what they are up to! This is prefect! It’s just like finding the other team’s play book the night before the big game.

There is even a great way to protect yourself from others seeing what you’re up to on Facebook. As Buzz Bishop of cyberbuzz points out, if you create a fake page you can follow all your competitors without them seeing that you are following them.

And I guess in some ways I can see the point. Because of Facebook’s referral ads, there is a chance that suddenly there will be a post on someone’s wall saying that your page Likes your competition’s page. Facebook has basically advertised your competition directly to your fans.

And that is just horrible!

Except that it really isn’t.

Like, Thumbs Up

photo credit: owenwbrown via photopin cc

I know what I am about to say is counter intuitive and very likely will be ignored by many people, but before you immediately scream about how big an idiot I am just hear me out.

My suggestion is to Like the other page. Not to steal or to spy, but to participate in social interactions. Comment on their posts, share and interact with their page. Show that you have similar views and ideas. Build the relationship. Invite them to like your page as well. Begin conversations. Engage. Share those posts that you like of theirs. Give them a reason to interact with your page.

How is this going to effect you? Well the easiest effect is simply this – you will have a chance to draw in new fans. And essentially you have the PERFECT place to draw those fans because if this is a direct competitor then their fans are already going to have an interest in your page as well.

Of course don’t expect to STEAL those fans. They already made their choice and it wasn’t originally your page, but they may absolutely like your page as well. Which is just as good.

The less obvious effect is actually more important. Businesses have the need to post and to interact of social media. Simple fans of a page don’t. They might, but they might just as simply be lurkers. But the other business isn’t going to be a lurker. And more importantly they can’t really ignore a comment from your business.

If you comment intelligently on one of their posts they will respond. By opening the dialog you will give more people a reason to join in on the conversation. A post with one comment is usually more likely to have more comments because it shows that it is active.

Finally you can create good will. Businesses don’t have to be enemies. In fact competition will make your business better because it will make you strive to be the best. Because you are paying attention to your business you will be able to comment when good things happen or when they do something great. A ‘congratulations’ or a ‘good luck’ at the right time will go a long way to making your competitors appreciate you a little more and will also let your competition’s fans know that you’re a good group as well.

Now I am not saying that every company should like their competitors. In some cases you really won’t want to. Coca Cola will never like Pepsi. But on a local level, such a Buzz’s use of radio, there is a very limited audience and by interacting with other businesses will allow you to come into contact with a larger number of people.

I know – this is completely against standard marketing and business principles. But social media isn’t really a standard marketing tool. Actually, let me correct that. Social media isn’t A TRADITIONAL marketing tool. The number of likes doesn’t equate to your success or lack of success. More likes than your competitors certainly doesn’t mean that your business is better or more successful. Likes is not a way to keep score other than knowing that you can directly communicate to a specific number of people.

It’s too easy to assume that someone who likes you is a customer. The fact is that the number of likes means nothing if you don’t have an interaction with this people.

Social media isn’t traditional marketing and to treat it as such really defeats the purpose. If your reason for following a competing business is to steal that business’ posts, you are working against the current of social media (you are also being a lazy marketer but that is none of my business).

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Why I LIKE to see SHARES

Untitled-4In a world dominated by likes it’s easy to get caught up on a high like count instead of focusing on the more important aspects of Social Media.

Social interactions. You know the thing that makes SOCIAL MEDIA different than media? A like is really not all that different than Nielsen Ratings for a TV show. Sure, it’s nice to see that 8 million people watched my show, but that doesn’t tell me WHY the people are watching or even if they are enjoying watching. How about all those guilty-pleasure shows? I might tell people that I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead, but I’m less inclined to talk about that soft place in my heart for America’s Next Top Model.

Let’s look at that for a second – If I watch a show but don’t tell anyone about it then I might be one of the 8 million people watching it, but I’m not really doing anything to support the show. My watching creates nothing. There really isn’t an advantage to the show itself. However, if I watch a show and tell everyone I know about it, talk it up and invite groups of friends to the house to make sure they see it, then I am actively building the audience for that program. *

Likes are easy. I can like something without worrying about what others think. A like is simply me telling a page that “I” think it’s cool. It’s a nice thing to see, but really it’s just a message between me and the page I’m liking. Maybe someone in my feed will see that I’ve liked something and check it out, but that isn’t the point (and in Google+ it’s not even possible). It’s like wearing a t-shirt with my favorite band on it. Maybe someone would be interested, but I’m only wearing the shirt because I like it, not to consciously advertise.

share

A SHARE, however, is not a communication with the page, but rather a communication with your friends (or fanbase) extolling the virtues of a page and making an active suggestion that they participate in that page’s social media circle. I’m actively suggesting to someone that this is something that I think that they should view. It’s like giving them a copy of my favorite band’s CD and telling them they should listen to it.

Social Media operates on the principle of word-of-mouth advertising but in a much larger scale. I can physically tell only a small number of people about a product I like, but if I share it on Facebook, I’m actively telling ALL the people on my friends list which could easily number into the hundreds (or in some cases thousands or more!). That’s a pretty powerful message.

Strive for SHARES over likes. That’s done by providing compelling and important information that will make people want to share it with others. Of course, it also can be done with pictures of cute cats, and if that works for your market, there isn’t anything wrong with that. The fact is that whatever works for your business WORKS FOR YOUR BUSINESS. But remember that your job in Social Media is to grow that business and talking to the people who are already your customers isn’t growing your business, it’s sustaining it.

*Okay, so maybe some of you have spotted the one gaping hole in this argument – it doesn’t make the metaphor less valid, but it should be noted that people watching a show does make a difference as those numbers are used by advertisers to determine where, when and how often they will buy advertising time. So someone benefits from the flat numbers. Now we just have to figure out a way to sell commercials on our Facebook pages…
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Jumping through hoops

Bob and Doug McKenzie rocking Touques
Photo from Wikipedia, owned by MGM

I’ve lived in Canada for 5 years now and I’ve embraced the culture. I use specific measurements like ‘wack’ or ‘Skiff’ (Wack being lots and Skiff being just a little – often used when talking about the amount of snow on the ground.), I have to have my Timmy’s coffee in the mornings and in the winter I wear a Touque. A touque, for those who don’t know, is a knit cap and referred to as a beanie in the states. It can sometimes have ear flaps or a pom-pom on top of it.

Now, I will admit that a touque is a good idea when it’s -35 degrees outside, but it’s more than just a knit hat. It’s a fashion statement and a true piece of Canadian culture. So not only have I embraced it, but I’ve also decided to have fun with it. pook touque, awesome

So I found a great touque called the Pook Touque. The website is fantastic – it’s fun and interesting and makes it VERY VERY easy to order. In fact they even include shipping within Canada. I want to order one when I go to their webpage.  It’s a great example of a product that I will buy, mainly, because of their website and the obvious fun they have in creating and selling their product. They also make mittens, scarves, monkeys and (of course) socks.

Knowing that I have a sense of humor that makes me want to buy novelty toques, you might not be surprised that when I saw this ad on Facebook:

facebook ad, beard, touque

I had to click the link to see what these were about.

And that’s when things went horribly wrong. The website comes up, grays out and I get a pop up telling me I have to log in in order to proceed. Log in? I have to log in to browse your product?

Fab not so fab, sign in

I don’t even know if I am going to like your product, so why in the world would I tell my Facebook friends that I do, or why would I give you my email address so that I can receive updates about a product that I may or may not ever look at again?

It turns out that the website is actually a daily-deal webpage where every day they have a new product that they you about, so I understand that it’s part of their business model to get you to enroll in their program, but I can’t help but feel that they are putting the cart before the horse here. I don’t feel like enrolling and even if I did feel like enrolling, I’d probably like to see what your program is about, but instead I have to decide to sign up right then and there.

Now I know that this is a successful company. I know that there are plenty of people that sign up without a second thought. And I guess that’s great for them. But I won’t buy from them. And when you’re running a business, don’t you want everyone who is interested in buying your product?

When I used to work at a bookstore, people would always ask what type of payment I accepted. When someone asked if I took checks I’d tell them, “Of course we accepted checks, we want to make it as easy as possible to spend your money in our store.” I’d get a sale and they would get a laugh and a great book.

The point is that if your business is about making a sale, make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy.

Putting roadblocks in their way only serves to block the road.

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Mars Fever – 7 Minutes of Terror

The challenges accepted and conquered that allowed Curiosity to land on Mars.

This is a fantastic piece of advertising. It shows the challenges that this team had to get past in order to land Curiosity on Mars. More importantly – it makes the viewer want to see if it works. This is a worst case scenario. This can’t possibly work, but we’re trying it anyways.

I was too young to remember it originally, but it’s like Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes back:

(Spoiler Alert)

  • The Rebel alliance has been scattered and their main base destroyed.
  • Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and being sent to Jaba the Hutt
  • Luke has ignored Yoda’s advice, walked into a trap and been severely wounded.
  • Darth Vader claims to be Luke’s father.

It’s as bad as it can get. There is no way our band of heroes can possibly come back from this. The odds are just too much!

George Lucas set the stage to make people wonder and question the future of Star Wars. Surely the good guys would win! But…

It worked. People couldn’t wait for the next movie to come out. They needed to know how it would all work out. How do they rescue Han? What doom has Luke brought upon himself by leaving his training? Is Luke’s dad really James Earl Jones? And will we finally get to see Leia in a metal bikini? Tune in to the next movie!

Mars Curiosity, rover, landing, sky crane

Photo by: AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Mars rover Curiosity has everything against it. The atmosphere that is able to burn it to a crisp but thin enough that it won’t slow the rover down. Technology that has never been tested, let alone used. A series of events that all have to happen perfectly. Any one mistake. One miscalculation (Hubble needed glasses) can cause this entire mission to be a failure and we won’t even know until 7 minutes AFTER the event if it was successful.

That’s so serious prime time level viewing right there. Passion, danger, excitement.

(Spoiler Alert)

It worked!

Oh.. and Curiosity landed safely too.

Curiosity, Success, Mars, NASA

Photo by: AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Thinking outside the box

I was shown this video by a friend. Take a peak.. (naw, it’s okay.. I’ll wait.. Just don’t forget to come back for the rest of the blog post! )

Spider and the Fly

Now it’s out of context because I’m sure there was a listing website and such, but what you’ve just watched is a walk-through video for a home that was for sale in Malibu, CA.

Go ahead and watch it again. I’ll wait.

There is some discussion on the web about whether this video was a good marketing idea or a bad. Sure, this won’t answer all your questions about the home. How many bedrooms, how many baths, does it have an attached garage, do the servants come with the home? But that’s not the point of the video.

I WANT to know more about this home. Where is it? What’s it look like? What famous person has lived there? And really, good marketing is more about making someone interested and wanting to ask the questions than anything else.

I’m not going to suggest hiring a professional production studio to create a video like this for all marketing, but you should always consider the options out side of your box. Billboards, newspapers, radio and television are always options, but coming up with something different is what will really stick out in a person’s mind.

Make that ad special and memorable.

Because an ad that people don’t remember is a wasted ad.

And in case you are curious about the Carbon Mesa house:

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Social Media is the New Public Relations

Social Media IS Public Relations.

Established media has always been the ‘gate keepers’ of information. Ten years ago if you wanted to contact a large group of people you had no choice but to go through television, newspapers and radio. Today’s technology allows businesses to bypass those ‘gate keepers’ and directly deliver their message to their audience. Established media still plays an important role in a public relations strategy, but that role is shrinking and will continue to shrink as individuals have more power in this age of global communications.

This is a fantastic time for businesses to reach out and connect with their customers and potential customers. By building relationships through social media, a business can help recruit and build a loyal customer before that customer has even had a chance to purchase the product or service.

Businesses can also post news or respond to crises in a much more personal and time sensitive way than ever before. Because a business has a direct line to their client base they are able to instantly respond to any problems that they may be facing.

Of course this does lead to complications as well. Because we’re no longer in a ‘push’ media world, where a business can send out a message without thought to the response, and are now have an ‘exchange’ media, where the public has the ability to respond directly to a business, good public relations strategies are more important than ever. The message that goes out MUST be well thought out and very transparent.

Another concern is that because the audiences have the ability to directly contact the company, on a public platform, we must be more aware of the answers we provide. Whereas before we could simply ignore a complaint because the only person who knew about it was the person who wrote it, we now must realize that a single negative comment posted on a social media site has the potential to be seen by our entire fan base.

KLM is a good example. When they had delays due to a volcano they used social media to work directly with their customers through their Facebook page. If you visited KLM’s Facebook during that time you would find hundreds of people complaining or trying to reschedule flights. While in the end it seemed that most of the people were understanding and did get the help they needed, because it was completely public many people may have visited the KLM page and gotten the wrong idea. Suddenly all of KLM’s ‘dirty laundry’ was being aired over a public and very visible channel.

I think that traditionally Public Relations has been a department that focused on the big picture. Press Releases and crisis management, but because the reach of social media public relations professionals have to be more aware of the general status that their company is held in and adapt to individual changes in a much more fluid manner. It’s not about sending out the big press releases and talking to a few important news makers. When anyone and everyone has a voice, businesses must make sure that they continue to respond to the individuals and individual groups.

Public Relations is more important than ever before.

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Hopefully Less of me will be headed back to Texas this year!

In just a few short months I’ll finally be making that long trip back to my homeland – Texas. It’s been five years, and as much as I love my new home here in the Great White North, I can’t wait to get home for a couple weeks. Big Skies, Warm Sun, Mexican food and Barbecue! And I’m not just talking about tossing a-steak-on-the-grill-barbecue. I’m talking good old fashioned slow-smoked for hours fall apart in your mouth brisket with spicy BBQ ‘Sause.’

And what do I need to get done before I make this pilgrimage? Lose a few pounds of course! I can’t go down to Texas looking like this! Marriage has been good to me and It shows.

How do you start losing weight? Oh, let me count the ways! There is the cabbage soup diet, the no bread diet, the low-fat diet. Adkins, South Beach, Flat Belly. Should I be ‘Eating Right for My Type’ or looking into something called my G.I.? There are so many options that even a few moments wandering through the cyber-stacks of Amazon has my head spinning.

This doesn’t have to be THAT complicated! Taking off a couple pounds doesn’t have to take joining a cult, chanting long into the night and sacrificing snickers bars to the gods of weight loss.

Here are a few quick things that I’m going to take to heart before I head out to Texas (where I plan to gain every single calorie back with the aforementioned barbecue). As always, check with your doctor before beginning any weight loss program and remember I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, so don’t take my word for it. This is what I’m doing. Nothing more.

I’m going to eat less. Sounds easy, I know, but it’s surprisingly difficult to do. It’s just so easy to go back for seconds or to take just one more spoon full of spaghetti sauce. I’m going to watch what I put on my plate, not just what I’m eating.

I’m going to exercise more.  My puppies are going to LOVE me for this! Every day, weather permitting, I’m grabbing the leashes and we’re going out to explore.

I’m getting rid of the junk food in my home. My kids like chips occasionally in their lunches. They are going to be disappointed to know that it’s not going to happen anymore. It’s just too easy to grab the bag when sitting down to watch Big Bang Theory on Thursday nights.

Agua. H20. Water. Call it what you will, but it’s awfully important. I guess I could quote some doctors or organizations that talk about how important water is to weight loss, as well as just being healthy, but I’ll leave this up to you. Don’t believe me? Google it! I’m planning on downing lots of it!

Spring is Here! I’m going to enjoy the great outdoors and hopefully get a bit healthier in the process.

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Now that’s SOCIAL Media

Working with Facebook, I’d be pretty happy to have 100 comments or likes a day on a site. Heck, 100 a week would be seriously cool.

I ‘like’ a page that managed to rack up 12,000 likes on one of their updates in 12 minutes! 1,000 likes a minute. Seriously!

HOW THE HECK DID THEY MANAGE THAT???

Well, first, the Facebook page is for a very popular show that just had a pretty intense season finale, so they are riding a good high anyways, but it’s not just about popularity. Coca-cola is pretty popular, but they usually have a few hundred likes or comments at a time. Big Bang Theory, a show that is very popular in social media can also hit 12,000 likes, but even then only has a few hundred comments on a post.

I’m talking about the Walking Dead – whose stats are pretty amazing. It’s a show that has just finished its second season and only has 7+ million likes (as opposed to 20+ million for BBT and 40+million for Coca-Cola) but can reach 40,000 comments on a single post?

It certainly helps to have a popular product or show, but that won’t guarantee a good social media site.

The secret is CONTENT.

Let’s look at Coca-Cola’s Facebook page:

Now they do have regular posts – 1 or 2 a day, it looks like, but they aren’t much to look at. Nothing particularly engaging. No questions that will bring out the masses. No though provoking comments. Nothing that really bonds fans to their page. I might like Coke because.. I like Coke.. But I don’t have any urge to talk about coke and they aren’t giving me any reason to.

We see a great public relations page, here. Fantastic way of saying ‘Look! We’re involved in the community and we’re talking about our product!’ And that’s great, but I can go to Coca-cola’s website for that info. There really isn’t a lot of ‘social’ in this social media. I’m listening to them tell me about themselves.

What about Big Bang Theory?

We’re certainly getting more content – and the number of likes and comments shows that. They are continually posting full episodes, clips, pics from episodes and even a few bonus items, such as scripts or interviews with cast or creators. Definitely getting there. But I see a lot of ‘Check out this clip’ ‘Remember this scene?’ ‘We love it when…’

Know what that is??? PUSH ADVERTISING. They are pushing out clips, pics, episodes. No interaction beyond making it polite to say ‘Watch this NOW!’ I see attempts to drive to the webpage and to buy into a product, but no real interaction of the product. I don’t feel like I’m part of the story or that I’m really even needed. I like that I can find info, so I absolutely do go to their page (usually when my wife and I are trying to remember if there is a new episode on) but not just to hang out with other fans.

Both of these are great for public relations – they show their product and have great looking pages. Fantastic way to push info out, but they aren’t using Social Media. For the most part those pages are just plain ‘media.’

Now onto Walking Dead:

Walking Dead, Facebook, Experience, Interaction, Social Media

As you can see from this pic, they are certainly getting interaction. In the first 6 or so posts I’m looking at right now are pure interaction. We’ve got a great picture from the last episode. No comment about the shot from the Page – Just asking their fans to post their own caption. It’s a great picture and from an amazing (I loved the scene) part of the show, so there is no need to talk it up, they just put it out there and let their fans tell THEM about it. I see an interview where one of the creators of the show answers FANS questions. Maybe not my questions, personally, but definitely from people like me. We see notices for live twitter events where we are, again, asked to participate.

Twitter.. hmm. That brings up an interesting point. It’s not Facebook. In fact, that is a key to these results. We’re not focused on Facebook – We’re focused on Social Media where Facebook is just one part of the entire plan. We’re shown blogs, twitter events, live chats during the show. Heck, we even get to PARTICIPATE on a live TV show after the Walking Dead airs! All these things are designed to draw in participants. We’re not just an audience – We’re part of the event!

We are part of the event.

WE ARE PART OF THE EVENT.

That’s the difference. It’s not JUST CONTENT. It’s the interaction of content. With 1/3rd the amount of fans, The Walking Dead can easily get 5 times the amounts of likes and comments on their Facebook as some other Pages. That’s startling numbers!

And this is comparing a show that is in it’s 6th season with one in its 2nd. Think those numbers are going to go up in 4 more years?

In the end, does it matter? Probably not in these cases. All three of the examples I’m using are pretty solid products. And all three have numbers that I would be ecstatic to even have 1% of on my pages. What does matter is the lesson we can take away from the crew over at AMC – Don’t attempt to create a page and just push information to your audience – instead build an experience.

Create a plan to build the social media experience. Interact with your fans in new and interesting ways. Think outside the box. Build a following that WANTS to go to your page every day to see what new treats you have.

Social media is an amazing tool, but just like any tool out there, it has to be used correctly and in accordance to a plan. A really nice hammer does you no good if all you have are screws. And Facebook isn’t nearly effective when you use Push-Advertising instead of Exchange-Advertising.

What do you want to accomplish with Social Media? How can it help your audience? What else, besides Facebook, can you use to create your brand and the need for that brand?

Don’t just build a page – build an experience!

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New Opportunities

I’m currently looking for a new job. Now, if you know me from work please realize that, for the most part, I LOVE my job. I find every day a challenge and really do love being able to help build a cohesive marketing plan for all of my offices. It’s a challenge that I really do look forward to every day.

BUT…

And there is always a but.. And actually in this case there are two ‘buts…’

First off I find parts of my job extremely frustrating. I’m not a graphic designer, though I spent years telling people that I was. And there is a great reason for that. I really do enjoy the graphic design side of my job. I love creating. But in this position, I’m finding that graphic design is really the least I should be doing. Social Media, marketing plans, new concepts and new ideas – these are what will build businesses in the coming days. As I’ve said so many times before – The days of uni-directional advertising are gone. People don’t want to be pushed on, they want to be a part of. Billboards are GREAT! but they don’t talk back. Neither do bus benches, garbage cans, business cards and radio ads. The fact is that I spend much of my time fueling a dying marketing paradigm instead of breaking ground on new technologies and helping my agents to do the same. The marketing challenges are so much greater than ever before with so much greater chance of success.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a place for bus benches, billboards, sponsored signs at the local arena. But they are no longer the end-all be-all of advertising.

And as bad as all that is, it’s not actually the main reason I’m currently looking for a job. If anything it’s the most recent motivator, but even then.. just barely.

No. The fact is that I’m currently looking for a new job because everyone should be looking for a new job. So often we end up as turtles, pulled deep within our shells, dealing with our lives as we see them without ever looking up to see what’s around us.

6 months ago I missed out on applying for a job as a marketing person/ graphic designer for the provincial side of Alberta Health Services. Maybe I would have gotten a job that pays (A LOT) more than what I’m making now, with better benefits, better hours, more excitement and … wait for it- a retirement plan! Maybe I wouldn’t have. Maybe all I would have gotten was an interview. Maybe just a note saying ‘thanks for applying… Heck, maybe my resume would have ended up in file thirteen only to be seen by the seagulls as they wandered across it looking for scraps of food at the dump.

The thing is this. I will never know. I have no idea what that door might have lead to. There isn’t any way to know. And that’s fine. No use in crying about it now. But it’s making me think. While I keep my head down doing the job I’m doing, what else am I missing?

When one door closes, another one opens. But that’s not always how it goes. Sometime the second door opens and it’s up to you to walk through it and then close the first on your own.

It doesn’t matter if you’re extremely happy or supremely unhappy with the job you’re in. You owe it to yourself to stop, look up, see the world around you and watch out for those open doors.

And don’t be afraid to walk through them.

And just as importantly – don’t be afraid to close them and stay where you’re at.

Opportunities aren’t always right- wrong time, wrong place, wrong for you. You just need to know they are there.

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