Join “trainers” Maria Peagler and me for some Personal Brand Pump Ups!

Are you feeling a bit weak when it comes to your personal brand?

Are you a little unsure of what a personal brand is but you know, that like daily exercise, you need to have it to thrive?

Then join “trainers” Maria and Mel for a fun, power packed hour of pumping up your personal brand!

Maria Peagler, Founder of Social Media Online Classes and I will be leading this free marketing webinar Thursday, September 13 at 1 pm ET.  And if you can’t make the date sign up anyways as we’ll supply the recording to those who are pre-registered. You’ll get the skinny on 15 action packed tips to follow to build your brand. Here’s our personal video invitation to you along with a link to sign up. We hope you will join us!

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MarketingMel is seen here with a couple of smart marketers: Ben Mezrich and Cathy Rodgers. Not everyone at this conference was so savvy.

My good friend Maria Peagler of SocialMediaOnlineClasses and I are currently  creating a webinar on personal branding.  We’ll be providing extensive follow-up materials to those who attend the webinar.  To get things launched for our September debut I share with you this real-life story of the power of branding on this one-minute video. It’s about the impact something as simple as your twitter name can have on other business professionals. I’ll post more details about the upcoming webinar here on this blog soon. Meanwhile, do you have some examples of your own of good (or bad) personal branding? Please share them in the comments here.

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Jane Maas autographed her book Mad Women for me!

Recently I had the honor of meeting and interviewing Jane Maas, the original “Mad Woman.” Jane, a copywriter for Ogilvy & Mather in New York City back in the 1960s, is the author of the book Mad Women; The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the 60’s and Beyond. The Peggy Olson character on Mad Men is modeled after Jane.

In a video interview I conducted with Jane immediately after her engaging and lively talk with our local advertising and public relations clubs, Jane, now 80, said today’s advertising and P.R. job seekers need to “get their foot in the door.”

“Advertising at its best mirrors society,” said Jane who calls herself the “mother” of the “I Love New York” campaign. She said she has watched the relationships between ad agencies and their clients change over the years. Where once they were long term, now clients will take their business elsewhere on a whim. She said that is not unlike today’s personal relationships.

As to the creative process, she said that research and knowing the consumer is key. “The best advertising is done by people with the brand DNA in their veins,” she said. Her mentor, David Ogilvy,  taught her to “immerse yourself in research, then in a bottle of wine.”

When asked what her favorite current advertising campaigns are Maas mentioned the MasterCard campaign that has endured through the years. “They did what all of those other credit card companies could have done; they put themselves in the place of the consumer with those ‘priceless’ experiences.”

Jane gets a gleam in her eye when asked about the racy combination of working women, booze and sex. Yes, she says, the Mad Men TV show is in fact, very real!

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MarketingMel speaks to ETSU's P.R.S.S.A student chapter

Last year’s blog post “How to Find a Job in Public Relations” was extremely popular, particularly with college students preparing to head out into the workforce. So I decided to turn it into a less-than-three minute video with the hope of helping even more people along the way.  For the pro’s viewing this, please share any tips you would like to add for our recent college graduates who are looking for communications jobs. Thanks!

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My sister, Ann Marie Plubell, holds pandas at Wolong Reserve, Sichuan China in 2000

My sister, Ann Marie Plubell,  is in China preparing to give a presentation at IPv6  and she’s asking her family members for last minute advice.  Now, speaking in the United States, generally before peers and fellow English speakers can bring about its own case of the butterflies. But the thought of presenting in English while simultaneously being translated into Chinese could make even the most confident of speakers downright queasy!

My brother and I both jumped in to assist her, making a few comments on her slides and passing along a couple of  our favorite presentation videos. I shared one from Guy Kawasaki. The social marketing guru has become synonymous with the 10-20-30 rule. I got to hear him present this information live when I met him at the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston last fall. He is so “enchanting” when he presents, he keeps the audience mesmerized.

My brother, Phil Plubell, a veteran teacher, provided the following outstanding suggestions:

  1. “Take notes when the other panelists are talking and refer to some of their points in your presentation, if possible.  “As Mr. X pointed out …”  That shows respect for your fellow panelists.  It also demonstrates to the audience that this is a “live” performance, and that you are not just “reading the slides.”
  2. Never appear to be rushed.  The impression is bad.There is a tendency to “rush through” a slide show when the time limit approaches.  If it looks like you are going to run long, right-click for the shortcut menu, then “Go to slide” and jump ahead a few slides if necessary.  This is more elegant than rushing through the slides.
  3. Have a strong opening and a strong close.  
  4. Don’t worry about “flop sweat” or “opening night jitters.”  All speakers experience it. My brother has taught thousands of classes.  Yet he still wrestles with; “Will the audience finally figure out I’m a fraud, and I’ve been in the wrong field all my life?” anxiety every time he teaches a new class. His answer to the self-doubt “Am I good enough?” is “I might not be the best, but I’m the best available to do this particular presentation right now.  It’s showtime!”

Then my brother suggested the “Ba-Da-Bing” video where the instructor illustrates her example by using the simple method she designed to help children craft sentences and stories. Love that teaching concept and it may prove helpful to my sister as she visualizes her presentation.

What are some of your favorite presentation tips? I don’t know if my sister will be able to read your comments in time for her speech in China, but surely we can help her (and others) for the next time! Thanks for participating. I’d love to hear your stories of what works for you.

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Editor’s Note: This launches the first in a month long series  on Relationship Marketing.

`Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ (asked Alice.)
`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat. 
`I don’t much care where–‘ said Alice. 
`Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

Ryan Sauers, MarketingMel and two Milligan students, Lauren and Brittany

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Ryan Sauers speak to the Knoxville Social Media Club. Ryan, a consultant who’s an excellent communicator and speaker, gave us the highlights from his new book, Everyone’s in Sales. He began by discussing the era of “transformational change” that we live in and the fact that, “We are all communicators. Right now there are 23 ways to communicate with me.”

Did all of this technology cause us to gain more hours in the week? No.

“168 is the great equalizer,” says Ryan. “That’s how many hours we all have. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or how old you are. It’s not that you didn’t have time, it’s that you didn’t make time. You have a choice. ”

“Be unique and be authentic it all comes back to real world relationships,” says Ryan. ” You are not filtered anymore. The world is so wide and yet more connected than ever.”

Here are some more great comments that Ryan made during his talk:

  • Don’t become complacent! In life you are either going forward or backwards.
  • Your brand is what people think about when your name comes up. Tell me about your company, engage me!
  • Reputation, attributes, name and distinctiveness Be purposeful deliberate and intentional in all your communications. Think it through.
  • The longer a problem sits the worse it gets. Decision by indecision is bad. Paralysis by analysis is bad. Sometimes it’s ok to get a B plus.
  • As the Cheshire cat said to Alice (above) when she asked, If you don’t know where you’re going then any road will do

Ryan reviewed the 5 Cs of effective communications

1. Clarity: Are you clear in using clarity on every post? In what you are trying to communicate?

2. Consistency: Are you consistent in what you do day after day? Can people count on you and your message and tone?

3. Content: It’s  what you’re writing about, your core

4.Connections: Do you work hard to connect others?

5. Creativity: Allows you or me to be you or me.

Reframing communications as sales as he discusses in this short video that I conducted with him.

Ryan concluded there are three types of communicators: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and  those who wonder what happened.”


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Photo credit: José Manuel Suárez

Editor’s note: The following is a guest blog post by Ken Fairbanks, a lifelong learner who is now Director of Distance & Distributed Learning at Wytheville Community College. 

Distance learning, cloud computing, social networking, desktop virtualization, augmented reality, smartphones, tablets and the arrival of the post PC era… this all sounds a little scary, huh? Welcome to the world we live in. A world impossible to predict. A world characterized by disruptive technological, social and economic change. How do we prepare ourselves, our employees and children for the future?

The answer is “Lifelong Learning.”

Disclaimer: I work in higher education. I am the Director of  Distance & Distributed Learning at a community college and what you are about to read is more than a little biased.

I just want to get that out of the way!

This should not be news to you. Most of us, who have survived the business climate changes over the past two decades, have internalized the idea of lifelong learning and adaptability. How many job and career changes have you experienced? Depending on your age, you’ve probably had at least two or more. It’s now predicted that new high school graduates may experience 8-10 career changes in their lifetimes. That’s career changes… no wonder my college student son can’t decide on a major!

What we need is a new educational model that is focused more on creating a new breed of entrepreneurial workers, who can adapt to rapid change. A system more about knowledge acquisition and problem solving and less about taking standardized tests.

I think Sir Ken Robinson in the video below and a recent manifesto by Seth Godin are on the right path.

The biggest changes occurring now… are how, where, and when we are learning. When I transitioned into higher education in 2001, distance learning was still pretty new and many thought it was a fad, while others dismissed it as inferior to the traditional face-to-face education model. Today, that has changed and around 30% of all college students nationwide are enrolled in at least one online course and by 2014, that number is predicted to increase to 50%.

Being part of the change doesn’t make us immune to change. Distance learning itself is undergoing massive upheaval… the past two years have been all about mobile devices. Our assumption that students taking online courses, were using a computer to access their materials and perform their work has been shattered. Increasingly, students are using smartphones and tablet devices to complete online coursework. It’s simple economics, smartphones and tablet prices are falling making these devices ubiquitous and our primary tools for accessing the Internet. Students can also use their mobile device to interact with the world around them in real time and share their experience with fellow learners and instructors. Now we have mobile learning… talk about a game changer!

Augmented Reality (AR) will be the next evolution in technology to impact education. We are currently planning AR campus tours using Google Earth and the Layar app. Google has announced that they will be releasing AR glasses by December 2012,  very similar to the Nokia prototype highlighted in the below video.

The future of higher education and distance learning is evolving, as new competitors from the private sector enter the marketspace and big brands like MIT, Stanford and Harvard reinvent themselves. The ideas of open source content and education are gaining popularity. MIT and Stanford are now placing many of their online courses on Apple’s iTunesU for free download by anyone interested in learning. Of course, if you want their degree you will have to pay… but the learning is still there for the taking. Companies have formed their own universities for training and new entries like Khan Academy that are blowing up the traditional education model. The key over the next few years, will be the accreditation of these new open source forms of education.

Add to this disrupted reality, the recession driven increases in college enrollments and decreases in government funding and you will find higher education scrambling to embrace new technology to drive down costs and remain competitive.

I’m proud to say that community colleges have been in the forefront of many of these educational advances. I think the reason for our success has been our small size, connection to the community and ability to adapt quickly to meet the needs of today’s business and industry leaders. Community colleges have become the higher education equivalent of the start-up tech firm that can easily adjust and seize new market opportunities.

As business leaders what do we need to take away from this?

  1. We need to embrace change and look for value adding employees capable of adapting to the changes and competitive forces in the marketplace.
  2. We need to continuously invest in ourselves and our employees (human intellectual capital) through internal and external educational opportunities.
  3. We need to stay abreast of new technologies and leverage them for training and building value in our employees.
  4. We need to realize that the new generation of workers coming up, will expect instant access to education and training through mobile technology.
  5. We need to recognize that our current education model needs to change, if it’s to be successful at meeting the demands of our new economy.

About the Author: Ken Fairbanks is Director of Distance & Distributed Learning at Wytheville Community College, in Wytheville, Virginia. Ken also works as a multimedia designer and provides corporate training in leadership, problem solving, marketing and team building. Prior to moving into higher education, Ken was Director of Marketing for a successful advertising agency in the Tri-Cities and also worked in the television news business as a reporter and anchor for several years. Ken currently lives in Abingdon, Virginia with his wife Beth and two boys. When he’s not developing online courses or blowing up Facebook and Twitter with his latest thoughts… he’s probably running, walking, or biking on the Virginia Creeper Trail! You can contact Ken via Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook

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Just recently I had the pleasure of meeting Erik Proulx, the creator of Lemonade on a Google Hang-out. Lemonade was a 35 minute documentary that came out three years ago. With its theme “is it a pink slip or a blank page?” the film featured creatives who had lost their jobs and gone on to far greater things. I loved the movie and thrived on its message. It was just what my late father, an entrepreneur himself, always taught me: “When life gives you lemons, honey, make lemonade.” Now Erik is shooting a new documentary called Lemonade Detroit and I am celebrating three years as a marketing entrepreneur. In reflecting on the past three years, things have changed quite a bit. Now we have iPads and Pinterest  and I get to “meet” cool people like Erik in a Google hang-out. My once indispensable Blackberry has been replaced with an iPhone. And, I find the general public doesn’t find my fondness for twitter quite so odd anymore. It’s been a journey.

This is my lemonade story.

Three years ago my former co-worker Tim Story and I sat at Panera Bread sipping coffee and planning our futures. Both of us had recently been laid off from an interactive agency that was hit hard by the recession. I did not even own my own laptop yet and Tim was using a borrowed one. Tim knew I was an entrepreneur at heart who wanted to start my own marketing and public relations firm, so he volunteered to register my domain name. In betweeen sips, he looked up from his machine and asked for the name of my new company. I said without hesitating, “MarketingMel.” I had already established the name on twitter and when you googled “MarketingMel” it soared to the top of the page, far ahead of a well known actor whose first name I share. Who could argue with that? A company was born.

Tim has gone onto success in his new career and he has helped me as a freelancer with SEO work for some of my clients. For three years I’ve had the privilege of working with fantastic business professionals, guiding them with their communications and awareness efforts including marketing, public relations and social media strategies. Together with my “virtual ad agency team” we’ve collaborated to create award winning web sites, logos,videos and more.

When I tell people I’ve been in business three years they generally congratulate me and comment that many entrepreneurs don’t make it past the first year.  Shortly after that groundbreaking cup of coffee I attended two workshops at the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at ETSU including one on writing a business plan.  For those of you who may be thinking of starting your own business, here are some pitfalls to avoid and tips on starting a small business. Chief among those, writing and then working your business plan.  I would add to that be sure to have an annual strategic planning session for your company (even if you’re a solo) and refer back to it often throughout the year. And as for your business’ name, well, I recommend something with staying power. I am MarketingMel and I’ve been in business three years. Let’s have some lemonade to celebrate!

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