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Liz Goodgold is a branding author, consultant, coach, and motivational “speecher” who gets entrepreneurs and corporations to brand out, stand out, and cash in on their business. Download her free Confessions of an Entrepreneur: 99 Indispensable Lessons to Build Your Brand and Business or connect with her at [email protected]

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Before we start, could you first explain how the advent of intranet, social networks, mobile revolution changed branding and how digital branding is different/similar to traditional methods used pre-2000s? 

LG: Branding has forever changed with the advent of the Internet and social media. Everyone today has a voice and the opportunity to influence perception. Most importantly, customers want to engage with brands the way THEY want to; the days of one-way communication are over! 

Influencers expect your response via Twitter within hours; they demand clarification via Facebook; and they want answers via Instagram instantly. Ignore social media and your brand plummets. 

Many digital branding books rely heavily on punk aesthetics. Be yourself, break the rules, polarize, etc. Is ‘provocation’ really the only way to get noticed today? What’s your advice? 

LG: Let’s be clear: shock, controversy, and sex sell. You are only allowed to represent your brand consistent with its DNA. The Pillsbury Dough Boy, for example, doesn’t get to rap, attend a cocktail party, or confront the Jolly Green Giant. He belongs in the kitchen being his cute, cuddly, and lovable self. 

One of the trends most visible today is that corporates brands increasingly depend on personal brands of business leaders. Apple – Jobs, Tesla-Musk, etc. Could you elaborate on this dichotomy and synergies/pitfalls that come with it? 

LG: Having a strong CEO brand builds awareness, generates expectations, and pre-sells the company to stakeholders, customers, and consumers. However, a few leaders are so powerful that they are transformed into superstars such as Richard Branson (Virgin), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jack Dorsey (Twitter) and even the legendary Steve Jobs (Apple). The problem, however, is that these star brands can overshadow the main brand, shifting the power so that when the leader leaves or dies, the perception of the whole company is in a precarious position without a clear brand identity. 

What branding mistakes (digital or otherwise) do you see companies and individuals make most often. 

LG: 1. Brands Giving Up Too Early – Marketing messages, campaigns, strategies, or tagline take time to get traction. How many times, for example, has El Pollo Loco changed its tagline just in the last 2 years? It’s flirted with Mexexcellence, Crazy You Can Taste, and even held a contest that yielded “Without the flame, it ain’t the same” which never was fully deployed. Wear out is always quicker internally than externally. 

2. Letting Fear Overwhelm New Ideas – Brands must step out of the ordinary and take controlled risks. UBS stepped out of the ordinary financial planning rhetoric to serve up its “Asking Life’s Tough Questions” ad; it stopped us in our tracks, yet the message was on target and on track. 

3. Believing social media is a strategy – Social media is a tactic that demands a solid strategy. Chipotle is a company that has used social media to its advantage, especially during a time of crisis. It responded quickly, efficiently, and answered what it could when it knew answers. Of course, it was also part of a bigger public relations campaign of putting its CEO front and center. 

What resources, blogs, books, podcasts do you recommend to our readers who want to build a successful digital brand? 

LG: Of course, I welcome readers to my blog, Words of Lizdom, but I also believe that great branding means remaining aware. You must know who won the Super Bowl, watch the Grammys, follow presidential politics, and immerse yourself in the media if you are trying to own a piece of it. If 4.5 million folks are tweeting about Kanye, you need to know why! 

Thank you for the interview. 


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Matthew Paulson - entrepreneur, investor and author of Email Marketing Demystified

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What is the biggest email marketing mistake or mistakes that you see companies make every day? 

MP: The biggest mistake that companies make regularly is that they email people they have no permission to send mail to. Many companies, especially small businesses, will enter the email address of everyone they know or have gotten a business card from into their mailing list without asking permission from them. Inevitably, recipients of their email will click the “report spam” button and all of their messages will start going into the spam folder or not delivered at all. 

The other big mistake that people make is that they fail to segment their list. I can’t count how many companies I’ve purchased a product from and then gotten an email from them promoting the product that I’ve already purchased. Every email marketer should break down their list based on their subscribers’ past behavior (such as purchasing products, signing up for a lead magnet, etc.) and then only email the people who are relevant to any given email. 

There have been a lot of changes this past decade – CAN-SPAM act, mass migration of personal communications from email to social networks, meteoric rise of mobile messaging apps and so on. Which email marketing strategies still work despite these changes, and which ones are now obsolete? 

MP: Mass email blasts to everyone on your mailing list are a lot less effective than they used to be because of the sheer volume of email that people receive. If a message that an email user receives has no relevance to them, it’s going to be ignored or deleted without being read. What continues to work well is sending relevant content to people based on their past actions. In the email marketing world, this is known as marketing automation. More and more companies will need to move toward sending much more targeted email toward subscribers that show interest in a specific product or services and away from sending generic blasts to their mailing lists. 

How do you see email marketing change during the next 10 years? 

MP: It’s going to become harder and harder for email marketers to get their content into their subscribers’ main inboxes. Gmail’s inbox tabs is the first wave of innovation in email that cordons off commercial messages into a separate folder that people will rarely (if ever) look at. There are dozens of apps that are trying to “fix email” by making it only so the most relevant content shows up in a user’s inbox. Email marketers are going to have to make sure their list stays very engaged with their mailing list to make it past the filter of this new generation of “smart email” apps. 

Given how popular WhatsApp, Viber, SnapChat, Telegram and others have become, how is this going to impact marketing, since it’s MUCH harder to reach clients via IM than email? 

MP: I think that SMS alternative apps like SnapChat are great communication tools for individuals to chat with each other and can be good ways for brands to advertise, but I don’t think that they will replace email. Email remains the preferred communication channel for most people to do business, receive order receipts, get coupons, etc. A 2015MarketingSherpa survey showed that 72% of consumers say that email is their favorite way to communicate with the companies that they do business with. 

Self-restraint is probably one of the most important traits for email marketers. Do you have any tips how to resist the urge to send emails to clients or prospects too frequently? 

MP: The key with email sending volume is to determine what the right volume is for your clients and set that expectation from day one. Depending on your industry, it might be appropriate to email your subscribers daily or only email them once per month. A lot of it depends on how much your subscribers want to hear from you. If your industry is in a niche with a lot of hyperactive fans, you might want to email them three or four times per week. If you’re in a slow moving B2B industry, you might not want to send out more than one or two emails per month. 

Would you mind sharing a few tips and tricks from your book Email Marketing Demystified about growing your subscriber list, writing subject lines that get emails read, and cold emailing effectively? 

MP: Growing your list – Try to get past the mindset that your website is the only way to build your email list. You can do cost-effective list building campaigns through co-registration advertising network, Facebook Lead Ads and Twitter Lead Cards to build your mailing list. You can often pay as little as $1.00 or $2.00 for a new email sign-up on your list. You can also leverage your other channels, such as social media and in your physical location (if you are a retailer), to build your mailing list. The key is to attack list growth from every angle. Yes, you should put highly-visible opt-in forms on your website, but you should also work other angles as well. 

Good subject lines – If you want to get your email opened, the best way is to make the message appear personal in nature. The “from name” of the email should be your full name and not the name of your business. The subject line should be something simple like “Quick question for you”, “I had an idea the other day…” or “Hey, check out this thing I made.” 

Cold Email – I wrote a blog post about this in detail. 

What resources should email marketers use/read to stay on top of their game? 

MP: I like to read the blogs of major email service providers: 
https://sendgrid.com/blog/ 
http://www.activecampaign.com/blog/ 
http://blog.mailchimp.com/ 

Thank you for the interview. 

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A branding enthusiast, serial entrepreneur, and resilient businesswoman, Karen Post helps businesses stand out & step up their brand. 

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Before we start, could you first explain how the advent of intranet, social networks, mobile revolution changed branding and how digital branding is different/similar to traditional methods used pre-2000s?
 

KP: There is a lot of common ground in both traditional and digital branding. 

Same path forward 
Attraction, belief/values, attachment and advocacy. 

They both are reputations, images and perceptions of business entities, products and or services. The brand is that mental impression and emotional connection with the seller and prospect or the buyer. Both are created by a sum of actions, communications and experiences. While the consumer makes the final decision about a brand, the brand owner has a lot of control to drive the opinions around its brand. 

Big difference 
Digital is 24/7, real-time, responsive and can be personalized. The experience is limited to visual and audio senses. Relies on data and must be fast. 

Traditional means has a heart beat, a human smile and can leverage all 5 senses. Humans still need humans. 

Many digital branding books rely heavily on punk aesthetics. Be yourself, break the rules, polarize, etc. Is ‘provocation’ really the only way to get noticed today? What advice do you give readers of Brain Tattoos? 

KP: The degree of provocation should align with the brand’s essence. If your brands is edgy, extreme measures makes sense. If your brand is conservative stay true to who you are. 

One of the trends most visible today is that corporates brands increasingly depend on personal brands of business leaders. Apple – Jobs, Tesla-Musk, etc. Could you elaborate on this dichotomy and synergies/pitfalls that come with it? 

KP: There are pros and cons to mixing personal/leadership branding with corporate branding. 

Pros 
People like to do business with people they relate to and admire. If your leader is likable, that’s a plus. 

Cons 
People are human, they can do stupid things and get hit by a car. Both can hurt a brand’s image. 

What branding mistakes (digital or otherwise) do you see companies and individuals make most often. 

KP: 

  • Lack of focus, by trying to be everything to everybody, they end up being nothing
  • Complexity, simple brands are smarter.
  • Being tactical instead of strategic. This means not working from a brand essence (purpose, points of difference, promise and personality)


If we go outside the usual suspects (Apple, PayPal, Tesla, Google), can you name a couple of smaller companies that do outstanding job with digital marketing and are good role models? 

KP: 
https://www.simple.com/ 
http://movement.com/ 
https://www.canva.com/ 

What resources, blogs, books, podcasts do you recommend to our readers who want to build a successful digital brand? 

KP: 
Branding 
Mine: Karenpost.com/blog 
https://www.martinlindstrom.com/ 

Content 
http://www.copyblogger.com/ 
Entrepreneurship/innovation 
http://theleanstartup.com/ 

Thank you for the interview. 

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Being creative and solving problems are important skills for any team, no matter the area or project. Getting those creative solutions can be difficult, though; it’s not easy to help your team develop a skill that is not quantifiable or formulaic. The very nature of creativity and the demands of problem solving make both endeavors difficult to standardize. 

 

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Asking questions–lots of questions–is one way to help your team think more creatively and see more potential solutions. Asking the right questions will get even better results. Here are several questions you can adapt to use with your team. 


1. What would you do if there were no risk in trying it? 

Your people are smart. They know that risk is, well, risky. They know that creative solutions don’t always work well for the first thirty or so iterations. They may want to be creative, but feel that their job security isn’t worth losing just to be the “rockstar idea person” for this one project. So they dumb down their suggestions, going with the tried-and-true approaches rather than striking boldly into creative but very risky territory. 


When you ask them to imagine solutions with the risk removed, you’re telling them it’s okay to get crazy in a theoretical wonderland. Encourage discussions here; you’ll get quite a few unrealistic ideas, but out of those may spring something both creative and actionable. That’s your gold nugget. 


2. What’s another way we could ______? 

This is a question to spring after the discussion has been going for a while and the standard solutions presented. Keep asking for alternative after alternative; eventually, you’ll find people willing to voice the ideas that didn’t make the initial cut. 


You have to be patient with this approach, not pushy. Most people do not respond well to pressure, and if they feel like you’re tyrannizing a discussion that could have ended a long time ago, they’ll shut down. Instead, appeal for different methods or approaches on specific aspects of the idea in play. Offer your own ideas–however outlandish–as well. The goal isn’t to come up with a hundred doable ideas; it’s to throw about a thousand ideas across the table, and find the few creative and doable gems in the pile. 


3. What are the main obstacles to _____, and how will we overcome them? 

For some reason, negative events and emotions stand out more than positive ones. Framing the need for creativity as an open-ended, fun-filled “let’s create a solution!” time might turn off your more realistic or even cynical team members. But presenting obstacles, or better yet, asking for others to come up with them, will open the door for information and insight. 


The next half of the question is when the creativity comes in; now that the obstacles are out there, turn your team’s collective brain power to figuring out how to get past them. Try to come up with a five or ten item list of potential solutions for every single obstacle. 


To come up with a cohesive approach for a set of obstacles, you and your team can review all the potential solutions and look for patterns or connections. There might be a few solutions that solve multiple problems. Or, in the midst of the discussion, those creative brains might see the pattern that exists and create a new comprehensive solution, or find a better way to connect the existing ideas. 


All of these questions help your team to realize that it’s not only okay, it’s great to present ideas and solutions that might not work. The presenting is only the first step in the creative process; it’s often in the subsequent discussions that you’ll find the best creative ideas and innovative solutions. Asking questions helps your team keep moving that discussion forward, taking it deeper, diving into their reserves of creativity and breaking out of the security mindset. 


Bitrix24 is a free web based CRM system available both in cloud and as self hosted solution that you can deploy on premise. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

 

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